Monday, 27 October 2008

The Pie

I think that I shall never spy

A poem lovely as a pie,

A banquet in a single course

Blushing with rich tomato sauce.

A pie whose crust is oven-kissed

Whose gravy scalds the eater's wrist.

The pastie and the sausage roll

Have not thy brown mysterious soul;

The dark-hued Aborigine

Is less indigenous than thee.

Like Phillip Adams rich and chubby,

Tasteful as Patrick White,

With an ice-cold Carlton stubbie,

You're the Great Australian Bite.


Barry Humphries



He will bring balance to the force ...

Curiouser and curiouser ...  after a relatively unsuccessful evening of poker playing on Friday I came out $20 down (this was despite absolutely cleaning up in the first hand of the second game - three other players went all in and I took 'em with a straight) but on Saturday I came up $20 from successfully smashing the D-grade competition in a bike race.  Then, on Sunday, after spending an interminable time waiting for a steak sandwich at Fox Studios (with the most inefficient staff I've ever had the misfortune to be served by) I was told that he didn't have change and he owed me 15 cents.  I never got that 15 cents.  However, on Monday morning when I went for my fortnightly tobacco shop at Sol Levy (the tobacconist extraordinaire) I was asked if I had 20 or 15 cents to enable my change to be in gold coinage - I did not, and they told me to let it ride.  So, I came up 15 cents.  Even Stevens seems to be the name of the game right now.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Phase 1 Complete

It was an impromptu decision - stepped into one of my localish bike shops to get a few basic necessessities for the reconstruction of one of my velocipedes and I was asked whether i would be heading to the park for the race. What race? The one that's on every weekend. Well, my only plan that afternoon was a bike ride to assist one of my good chums in his preperation for the upcoming Gong Ride and I thought that could be worked in so I made a commitment then went home to prepare - which basically involved drinking lots of water and doing half hearted stretching (and gettign a new pair of pantaloons but they weren't used so I'm not sure that that counts as preparation). I had a vague idea where Heffron Park was but it turned out that I was very wrong (luckily Google Maps was there to rescue me) - bumped into Paddy Jone on the way in - a potential ally in the world of racing - upon arrival I wasn't sure which grade to go in but decided to err on the side of caution and go with D - last time I raced I was in D and i didn't win so I could hardly be blamed for underestimating the field. Not really knowing the protocol of the race didn't help but I knew the fat guy ahead was going to make a decent windbreak so staying behind him seemed like a good idea. It wasn't long before I found myself nearing the front - having been told many times that it's wise to stay near the front but not at the front I kept a pretty basic pace and apart from a few half hearted attacks by a couple of others (including a man with only one leg) I managed to find myself fighting the wind for the majority of the race - a very nice course - had been there before but had not realised that it's actually a rather fun place to ride around - before I knew it we heard the final bell and I started pedalling a little faster - not long after that a small bunch of the A graders including the good man Paddy Jone went past us - taking this as my cue I did my own version of the attack, thinking I could perhaps try to hide behind the A graders but overtook them in short time (good thing too, apparently that's against the rules) and before I knew it I'd crossed the line with nobody from my grade anywhere in sight. Still a few other grades had to finish so I wasn't quite certain that it was my race. But it was. And I won. And it's the first time ever. Little should be said about the fact that 2nd wasn't wearing bike shoes (means nothing - toe clips are just as good in a short race as cleats) and less should be said that 3rd only had one leg (he had the build of a very good cyclist and I'm sure he was) but there were some good riders in the bunch and I beat them. Huzzah.

Friday, 24 October 2008

I've got your goat

An almost bi-polar evening that hit highs and lows (ended on a low but will be sure to be followed by a high) - found ourselves at Dank St Depot, a place that is currently NOT on the a**ehole-bed (not my translation) list - a place I've been to before for an evening of fine wine, fine food and fine company (excuse me while I wash my mouth out) - the theme was Capra aegagrus hircus  and I would have to say that it was definitely one of the best meals I've eaten in quite some time (what there was of it anyway) - after an introduction by the extremely effusive chef, Jared (???) and the life story of the goat farmer (I'm glad you're enjoying your seachange mate but could you please sit down and let the food come???) who looked and sounded like one of his flock - we basically ate our way through the animal - lots of goats cheese and milk based products and various cuts from all over the generous beast.  Not a new animal for me (I was lucky enough to first try it in a Jamaican diner in Canadia) but definitely an improvement on that meal.  Just got to remember that drunk driving is bad and some principles are good.  But not all.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Barack Obama, Cigarette Smoker

One of the things that has popped up in the American Presidential campaign but which hasn't managed to get much traction is the sneaky little secret that Barack Obama has.  He's a smoker.  Bafflingly, some of the conservative bloggers have picked up on this as a sign of moral deviancy.  Barack Obama's "dirty little secret" is what it's been referred to and if he's keeping this thing quiet it's because he's hiding a lot of other bigger skeletons in the closet.  If someone hides the fact that he smokes then he'd also hide much worse characteristics.  I'm a smoker.  I'm not proud of it.  It's an addiction.  It's not good for my health?  Is it going to kill me?  Perhaps.  There is a chance that i could die of lung cancer one day but I've got a lifestyle that could result in death in lots of ways ... killed on my bike, killed as a pedestrian, killed by slipping in the bath.  Its all about calculating the risk and benefit.  Smoking is dangerous.  It's also pleasurable and there are some real medical benefits such as heightened concentration and mental faculty (not always) but it's slipped from public favour.  It's still legal in every society in the world.  Most of the people I know are aware of my bad habit.  Most accept it as well.  Still, I don't push it on people even though I demand my right to do it.  I follow the rules of smoking - I don't do it in places where it's not allowed and I pay the exhorbitant taxes that are slapped onto every packet.  That gives me the right to smoke.  I think it's a good thing for a presidential candidate to have such a vice (and it's better than Palin, zing!) - it shows that he's one of us (even if he is an American) - Obama seems so cool and so unflappable - yet he shares an addiction that haunts many.  He's tried to quit but he still smokes "three Marlbouroughs a day".  He's someone who is admired by many and probably emulated by many - he knows smoking is not a desirable behaviour so of course he's not going to do it in public.  The American presidency is held up to a standard which has never been exhibited by any who have ever held the office - if this is the future president's dirty little secret then I think he's not that bad at all.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Change Is The Only Constant

The proverbial "event" is always an interesting way to pass the time - whether it be a corporate function designed to quell worker complaints with a little social lubricant or a gala announcing the finalists of a national photo competition - they all seem to have the a few things in common.  Free booze, different and potentially interesting people (or at least the same old boring people in a slightly more interesting environment) and something to do (look at photos, play some trivia or bowls or any other inane activity to distract once the conversation gets a bit stilted).  As my ladyfriend was organising and a small (but doughty) man was DJing I had more than enough reason to attend. Had my credentials questioned a couple of times and nobody could really argue with my qualifications of 'Consumer of Journalism'.  As at all of the media union events there was the typical whining about the slow and steady destruction of journalism by the heavyweights and a plea to all and sundry of the importance of keeping things just the way they are.  Try as I might I can't completely sympathise with this argument - yes, it is not necessarily a good thing that the big media companies in Australia (and the rest of the world) are cutting back their investment in certain areas of their field - there are less journalists being placed overseas and there's more reliance on stories from the wire.  Is this a bad thing?  I really don't think so.  
I find it really interesting to hear the journalists, photographers and editors all complaining about how bad the quality of journalism is these days.  Basically, they're ripping into themselves.  When they complain about a story that's not properly researched, is full of errors or just doesn't have the right insight then the person to blame is the guy (or girl) who wrote it and the guy (or girl) who put it into the paper (or onto the TV or the 'net or wherever it goes before it's fed to the consumers like me).  The fact of the matter is that we live in a globalised economy which means EVERYTHING is being consolidated - the consumer only has so much time to devote to the consumption of news and there are a lot of alternatives out there - like it or not, but bloggers and foreign news outlets are instantly accessible to everyone these days - there are many alternative points of view available and of course I'll use a news aggregator to help me filter the crap out - I use Google to sort out all of the information I try to access from the web, with the huge amount of news information out there why wouldn't I use Google to consolidate that as well?  The only constant in this world is change - old school journalism houses realise this - cutting back on the number of journalists employed by their paper or their TV station is not a symptom of a decline in journalistic standards - it's these guys trying to adjust to the world they inhabit.  Yes, their executives are getting paid too much and their journalists too little but are their any industries in the world where this does not occur?  Car factories do this, agricultural industry does it and even the finance houses do it.  Living in the comfortable past is not going to save the world of journalism - change is always difficult - especially for those who have carved out their niche, but everything evolves or it dies.  The same is true of journalists.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

The Debut of ... Tim

Open mic comedy nights are always slightly risque things to attend - the lot is somewhat improved by the fortification of a Burgerfuel burger - one of my charges from the confidential place, subject to the whims and machinations of managerial largesse, decided to try his hand at the ancient art of comedy.  In a pique of curiosity and in the spirit of good sport I thought it timely to invite a small but doughty man to accompany me to the improv comic.  The William is probably not the best venue for such events - very poor air flow in the upper floor and of the twenty or so people in the room there were but a handful who weren't actually getting up on stage.  One sap after the other got up on stage to a reasonably receptive audience - some did pretty well and others less so - the reading of notes was certainly more subtle than previous nights I've been subjected to, and everyone was going to time like it was a high school debate - and more than once I was LOL.  However, when the epic entertainment finally ended I certainly wasn't screaming for more (and the headline could have trimmed what could have been hours off his 20 minute set).  Upon descending to the place where beer was sold I found my companions were so desperate to get the jokes and gags that couldn't be fitted into their 5 minutes that I was tempted to start heckling then and there.  But I didn't.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Just a challenge ...

Well, it turns out that a month of purely credit transactions had a slightly unexpected drawback - managed to survive relatively easily with bypassing the cash transactions but unfortunately the length of time between using cash machines meant that when I went to an ATM in a bar in Newtown I'd found that my overfull mind had overwritten the part where my PIN number was stored.  Quite strange that I'd managed to remember what it was a few days prior but it was obviously a delayed reaction.  It couldn't have been the alcoholic and herbal remedies that had been administered throughout the day in order to cope with the swarms of sub 5 year olds at little Coco's first birthday bash.  Perhaps it had something to do with the zen like state that comes from being volunteered to stake out the picnic spot in Coogee that was in such high demand that not other group decided to contest throughout the entire day.  In any event, the challenge of living off cash when one doesn't have any access of cash will only make Cashtober more exciting - already found myself sorting out piles of scattered coins of the realm (which turned out to be a handsome sum) - and it seems to me that most shops (especially run by their owners) are typically quite welcoming of a bag of sorted change even if they do have to go through the pretence of counting it out again.  Beats buying a coffee with a C-note anyday.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Sometimes ...

Sometimes the confidential place can have its moments - arrived late at work suffering from a relatively severe hangover due to over exuberant exertions at a team building company sponsored trivia night event - came in to find typical nightmare scenario of half the staff having called in sick (surprisingly not the ones who got drunk the night before) and an overstressed manager but managed to escape quite easily with a Meeting of Minds!  A bunch of analysts sitting in a room talking about numbers.  It's far more interesting than it sounds and a hell of a lot better than the stuff I normally do.  But even ended early so I could escape the heat by going to a recording studio to listen to some 'talent' record phone messages and by the time I got back the world was calm again. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Credtember is Over! Bring on Cashtober!

Well, it seems that I've finally reached the end of Credtember with no major scars – to celebrate the end of this section of the social experiment and also a particularly frustrating week at the confidential place (damn those Non-Disclosure Agreements!) I found myself reconciling at the Cricketers Arms – the irony being that of all the places to celebrate a month of pure electronic financial transactions I found myself at the one place that accepts cash only (not exceptions).  Once again, I got by.  I originally planned to end the experiment at the end of the month but after suggestions from others I've decided to extend it into October – this time, no cards only cash (should make it easier to survive on the blackmarket).  Certain transactions are probably going to be very improbable – rent and phone bills perhaps (perhaps) but everything else will be in legal Australian currency.  Paid off my tab at Platos in the morning in this form and basically wiped out my funds for the day (who'd have thought I'd have spent $130 on coffee???  Egads).

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