Thursday, 19 March 2009

...supermarket rant

I hate supermarkets. I always try to be in and out of them in 10 or so minutes, list in hand, bristling with optimism and impatience. However my plans for an efficient trip with a quick getaway are inevitably thwarted. Can anybody like a supermarket? How can you like a place where when you rock up and have to park miles away because noone can see lines on asphalt these days and leave three-quarter parking spaces everywhere? And then you go and get a broken shopping trolley with 3 wheels facing in opposite directions and when you push it the opposing forces threaten to blow it apart showering the carpark with twisted metal. And you have to dig up a gold coin for the pleasure and you soon realise an error in your planning as you rifle through your console looking under the multitude of silver coins and naturally fail to locate one that will work. So you have to enter the dreaded store prematurely and you wait with every leathery-skinned smoker in the suburb at the 'Customer Service' counter and after reading the entire day's Herald-Sun, including the 28-page formguide eleven times even though you remain strongly opposed to gambling and the whipping of large, dumb, animals with midgets strapped to their backs, you trade in your 20c pieces for a rusty old dollar so you can earn the right to re-enter the store and give them hundreds of your hard earned dollars and then afterwards return your trolley neatly to the trolley parking area so management don't have to pay some poor teenage refugee $7.25 per hour to round the bastards up.

So you enter, trolley groaning with pent up energy of unimaginable proportions, already half an hour past your planned time of departure after dodging the old codgers in Volvos and young powermums driving large, shiny, urban assault vehicles filled with 7-year old private school kids that are already smarter than you, busy finding cures for cancer and surfing Facebook on their iPhones as balding middleage men in Audi convertibles pop in on their way home to buy some flowers and a box of choccys for the missus to ease the guilt of spending the last two hours 'overtime' shagging the 23 year old admin lady as you run the gauntlet that is the carpark.

And your entry is inevitably thwarted by some confused person at the swinging-gate-thingy who is displaying all the symptoms of someone who has never actually been in public before, which could be quite interesting but you have no patience today as you make a break for the least congested direction. And you find yourself looking for that obscure ingredient that could be in this aisle, or that aisle, or possibly that aisle, depending on if the floor manager feels an egg is a "Cooking Need" or a "Fresh Produce" so you walk a distance equivalent to halfway to the moon and back until your feet get blisters and your knees buckle and it hurts to piss and you see a tall, young man who's badge thankfully proclaims him to be a "Fresh Food Person" and he tries not to make eye contact with you as he strides down the aisle pretending he has just been telepathically summoned by the manager to do something really important so you bail him up and demand to know where the fuck the eggs are hiding even though you've already walked past them 17 times and he says "Try Aisle 3", not because the eggs are in Aisle 3 but because he was getting scared from seeing a large blood vessel pulsating up your face past your red, twitching eyeball and just said anything to make you go away.

So you decide to go try the deli again to get a frozen piece of "fresh" fish but as you approach two dozen stocky, old Italian women armed with half-price ciabata loaves jump out from behind a pyramid of overpriced coliban potatoes big enough to be Tutankhamen's Ocean Grove weekender and each grab a little deli-ticket-thingy just before you do. So you diveroll away to find solace by the yoghurt fridge, but soon find yourself muscled out by power-shopping, lycra clad yuppies with ponytails trying to decide if they should grab the no-fat yoghurt or be really outrageous and let themselves go this week by purchasing the 99.99% fat-free, and you hate them for being so healthy and attractive as you lurch off down the aisle with the batteries and rat poison and clothespegs because noone is ever there, but you soon realise that noone is there because some homemaker with a 1-yar old has dropped a toe-curling fart with an aroma not unlike a broken jar of egg mayonnaise so you hold back the puke and nearly slip on a broken jar of mayonnaise as you sprint back to the deli with your screeching trolley which is now glowing red-hot and showering sparks and take ticket #36 as they call out "Number 37!" And you wait there for 3 weeks before asking the spotty, squeaky-voiced teen for some fetta until you realise they don't actually have any real fetta except for the one that is $1,579.99 per kilo so you buy the C-grade imitation Australian 'fetta' from Wonthaggi and a frozen fish stick labelled "Whiting" that is sitting in a puddle of translucent slime next to the mysterious "Ovenable Fish" and trudge off to pick up a bag of wet, unwashed lettuce wrapped in heavy plastic for $3.99 even though you know you'll throw half of it out because it only lasts 24hrs and you only need a dozen leaves but you have no other choice because you can't buy the stuff loose anymore. And all the while the background music switches between George Michael, Celine Dion, and some incredibly irritating song trying to convince me how passionate the kids working there are about 'fresh food' until you start to succumb to the brainwashing and feel happy that you aren't getting your gear from stale food people because apparently you can't get fresh food anywhere else in the fucking country as some boofhead bumps your vibrating, near-fission, glowing trolley and out flies the congealed fishstick and lands in a sticky patch next to the milk fridge that has turned black with the grimey footsteps of a thousand jokers.

Then you arrive at the checkout as the lady in the front of the queue looks up at you, startled and says "Woops! Won't be a min!" as she runs off and returns 1 hour later with an armful of chocoloate blocks, glossy magazines and some essential NibblyBitz for her ugly cat and then decides to pay the $48.73 bill in 5 and 10 cent pieces but realises at the end she is 15 cents short and the checkout kid dearly wants to say "Don't worry about it. It's only 15 cents" but she can't or else she'll be dragged off by a squad of men in black pyjamas from a secret doorway so the customer pulls out the EFTPOS card but enters the wrong pin number three times and you look at the other 2 open lanes and think if I had have lined up over there instead there I'd be home by now, I'd have had dinner and a bath by now, hell it'd be the bloody weekend by now, even if I'd gone through the 12 items or less aisle 4.3 times. And every time you make eye contact with the customer service manager she looks at the floor then runs away and hides in the back room and when it's your turn you step out of the large pile of dead skin cells accumulating at your feet and nearly trip over your long, grey beard and some smartarse comes up behind you and says "I've only got two things mate. Can I go ahead?" and you reluctantly say "Yes" because if you didn't you'd feel like a prick and generally try to avoid tension but you feel like a prick anyway for letting yourself be pushed around by tossers who think their time is more important than yours and when it's finally your turn you realise that you forgot to bring those green envirobags and you feel like the world's biggest enviro-vandal as the trainee-checkout kid puts 30 items into 52 plastic bags in 96 minutes, including that little blue bag that cleaning products seem to have to go in and you wonder "Isn't bogroll perfectly hygenic until you wipe your arse with it?" So you pay the $893.82 bill, walk the 121 kilometres to your car then make the return journey so you can get your bloody $2 back on the flaming, smoking, red-hot trolley that is behaving more and more like a doomsday device, a dangerous weapon of mass consumption.

Then you get home and realise you forgot the bloody bread!


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Monday, 16 March 2009

...please don't explain

Pauline + Hanson + Naked

Two of those words are disturbing enough as it is. 'Naked' is good, depending on who you happen to be looking at. But put all three words in a row and you've just created a monster that truly didn't need to rear it's head from the dark bowels and recesses of the entire history of human depravity. Alright, worst things happen in Zimbabwe, but only just.

Now I hope Pauline is highly succesful in sueing the paper and person responsible, so that no other newspaper editor will show such insolence toward the concept of taste and humanity. May she get millions. I'll even chip in a twenty if I have to.

It can be said of Australia that she takes her traditions more from the British than the American culture, and that, in my opinion, is generally a favourable arrangement. But if our tabloids are to adopt the British fascination with all things involving politicians + sex, I'll be handing in my passport and joining my bros in the shaky isles... and I'll go tomorrow to beat the rush. 'Politician', like 'parent' is a word that shouldn't even share the same sentence as the word 'sex', let alone have nude pictures circulating in the public domain.....

....unless of course we're talking about Kate Ellis.


....kind of.


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Thursday, 12 March 2009


Well the work trip to Woop Woop was called off due to flooding rain, so I returned from the lush, green Hunter Valley to crispy, yellow Victoria. It's like landing on a big Anzac bikkie. I got out of going back the following week due to a wedding that Sunday (who gets married on a Sunday night?), but didn't escape going back to finish the job off all last week, which involved lots of rolling around in wombat poo and wild dog piss (I end up in the strangest places for work). My laptop is still broke. Suffice to say blogging has been a bit tricksy of late.

But now I'm back in the office and have my favourite modus operandi ala procrastination! Wheeeee! So I thought I'd use valuable company time to finish this meme I got tagged for way back in 1792 by the irrepressible Kath Lockett. Today's meme is brought to you by the letter 'S'.


Simon was my best friend when I was growing up. Born six days before me, Simon was my 'best friend' because our mothers were best friends and for their convenience they told us we were "best friends" too. Only problem was that we didn't actually like each other. We were chalk and cheese. I like to think I was the cheese.

Simon was the type of kid my Mum (with 35 years teaching experience) would professionally classify as "a little shit". While I wandered around by myself looking for bugs and birds and trains, Simon was wandering around hitting people over the head with a cricket bat. He was aggressive, loud and a bad sport. I was a relatively peaceful, timid and hated sport of any kind (possibly because of Simon's behaviour, now I think about it). My dad recalls when Simon was a little kid he said "When I grow up, I want to be an army." When it was suggested that he meant to say "I want to be in the army" Simon said "No! I'm going to be an army!" Kind of cute, in a scary way.

But many moons ago our mothers had a major bitch-fight and I haven't seen my "best friend" for many years. He turned out alright, the last I heard he was marrying some horrible, pretty thing and was busy setting up a life of misery for himself. I hear a bit of goss from time to time from his older sister, of which my own sister and I remain good friends with. I have nothing against Simon and I'm sure he's a decent enough bloke, it's just that we were never destined to stay "best friends" for ever.


Hated it. Was good at about half of it. Despised the other half. Left it as soon as was legal.... and have regretted doing so ever since. School, for me, largely sucked eggs. But having qualifications is priceless (for where I want to go) so I'm slowly and painfully clawing my way back through the process of obtaining the pieces of paper I wish I'd got 15 years ago. I'm still not a fan of the system, but I've learned that you've gotta jump through the hoops, whether you agree with the hoop setup or not.

The Man at the Pub says, "Stay at school kiddies!"

3. SEA

Spending most summers of my childhood being tossed around in the salty washing machine of Sydney's north shore does things to a person. Aside from a snotty nose and sand in my jocks, I developed an obsession with all things marine. Whales, sharks, fish, seals, coral, kelp, whales, islands, coelenterates, molluscs and other bi-valves, I spent many happy days with mask and snorkel checking it all out. I even had a pet pippie called Kevin who lived in an ice-cream bucket. He died the night I brought him home. He's buried in a matchbox on a cliff overlooking his beloved Manly beach.

But over the years my obsession with the big blue wobbly thing has waned, to the point where I'm now a bit scared to be in it. Well there's scary shit under there man, ugly shit with sharp teeth and poisonous spines and stuff. Still interesting though.


Too soon? I've been puffing on something of both the legal and illegal kind since I was in year 8 and a packet of Peter Jackson Extra Mild 20's cost $1.88. Funny how the price of dope hasn't changed in 20 years.
Two months ago I stopped the chimney impersonation and it wasn't as traumatic as I expected. I should probably attribute much of this to the hynotherapy sessions I undertook. To me this shows that nicotine addiction is mostly psychological, and not as physical as the spruikers of patches and gums would have you believe. I saw you can buy "Pre-quitting patches" now. What a scam.
Things are great! I don't sweat as much, a have more breath and stamina when walking and engaging in other vigorous pursuits, and things smell much stronger, which is not always a good thing, depending on how much dahl I've eaten the night before. The only possible drawback is that I've put on a few kilos, which I was already doing after my pre-wedding diet ended last November anyway. But with saving $70 per week on fags, I've nearly paid off the hypnotoad already.


With all the loonies in my family and all the shit I've smoked over the years, I'm quite amazed that I never ended up hugging myself in a rubber room (touch wood). My dad did however, and my best mate... and my grandmother and her mother. And sometimes I wonder about my sister. And my uncle is suffers from epilepsy and my mother's neurotic ways borders on mentally ill.
It's really hard to help someone with schizophrenia because rationality goes out the window. What you say and what is heard are completely different, and what you hear is gibberish. On a sad note, my besty has been in the "Extra Care Unit" of the local loony bin since around New Years. Every time I go to visit him I'm told he's not well enough to see anyone. Looks like he may not bounce back this time... a lost cause perhaps? I may come across a bit blase about all this, but what can one do? Scream? Cry? Stamp my feet? Shake my fists at the sky?

Sometimes I think 'Schizophrenia' is a generic term for "We've got absolutely no idea what is going wrong with this person's brain".


Simultaneously the world's most brilliant and most evil invention of all time.

7. SELF CONTROL (or lack of it)

See above. But then again, see #4. It would seem I'm making some progress.


My sister is my only sibling. Two years older than myself, we've a close relationship for which we're grateful. When I hear about the estranged relationships common amongst siblings, I realise we're quite lucky to get along famously.... to a point that is.
My sister looked after me from the day I was born. She saved my life when I fell into our pool as a toddler (though I suspect she pushed me). We used to play dress-ups, which consisted of her putting me in a dress and mums old high-heels, loading me down with fake pearls and smearing lipstick all over my face. She used to let me hang out with her 'cool' older friends and gave me her hand-me-downs, like Wham and Culture Club 12" singles and Billy Idol posters, which with hindsight, I'm not sure I should be entirely grateful for.
Then came hormone-fuelled, psychopathic, adolescent rebellion, which I won't go much into but it ended in her leaving home at age 15 and I following her at age 16. She let me move in with her and her BF and I spent the next 6 months sleeping under a coffee table in Kilsyth, then a small shed in the backyard. We then all went down to Warrnambool to party study for the next three years. Since then we've lived together several times, I've nannied her children, we've travelled together to the Solomon Islands, West Papua, Bali and Jakarta. It's been great.

But over the last few years we've drifted apart. She lives in the country, 2 hours drive away and we've changed as we've gotten older. We have less in common these days, aside from our love of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. People have a strong reaction to my eccentric sister. They either instantly love her or are immediately suspicious of her. The latter is not entirely without foundation as she does tend to have a badly disguised, self-serving agenda behind many of her plans. She believes it's better to put people on the spot than ask for something in advance. So I love seeing my sister, but in increasingly small doses. I could write for ages on our relationship, but this is a meme, not a bloody psychology thesis. Oh, and her name starts with 'S' too.


Not the musical. I hates musicals! The ocean. You see I've got a thing about islands. I love 'em. I dream about them. Islands to me are mysterious, magical places. So naturally the South Pacific is Mecca for people obsessed with small pieces of land surrounded by large expanses of water. I've only been there once, well to the edge of it (three hour transit at Auckland excluded). I was lucky enough to spend three weeks on Buka and Bougainville in 2001, a year after the civil war ended. Sean Dorney, the ABC's man in the Pacific since 1974 once described Bougainville as "the jewel in the Pacific". While I have little to compare it with, I'd like to agree. Dense, verdant rainforests capped with smouldering volcanoes (in 'paradise' the beaches are black), cut by wide rivers and raging waterfalls and ringed by pristine, electric blue coral reefs of immense biological diversity. A land peppered with World War II wrecks and tiny villages of thatched huts and treehouses occupied by kindly folk of good humour. Sure life's pretty tough there, but I can't help but heap false, romatic notions on this 'paradise'. It's a western tradition.

My ultimate nerd adventure fantasy... island hopping from Sydney to Terra del Fuego on either a P-38 Lightning or a 18th Century Sloop (without all the friggin' in the riggin'). I'll need three years off for that, thanks boss. Well, I'll need a long holiday after all this blogging.

Here's some usesless Pacific facts.
  • The Pacific Ocean covers a third of Earth's surface, more area than all of it's land areas combined.
  • The deepest point in the Earth's crust of in the Pacific near Guam, at a depth of 10,911 metres. It is home to some seriously weird shit.
  • There are around 25,000 islands and countless atolls in the Pacific ocean, most of them south of the equator. Some of them have very exotic names, like Mangareva, Tikopia, Niue and Fraser and Hamilton.


Gee this meme is really bringing out my inner geek. Let's just say I have a telescope and I have magazine subscriptions. That sounds incredibly dodgy, so I might add that they are related to the science of astronomy. My interest waxes and wanes (a lunar pun! Ahh, astronomical humour) but thinking about space is my ultimate escape. It tends to put things into perspective for me and makes things such as schizophrenia and the South Pacific and Snooze buttons the minor oddities they really are. If this meme was for the letter 'D', 'Daydreamer' would top the list.

It's been a long post, so thanks for sticking with it. Regular programming will resume shortly.

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