A journal of questionable quality

Friday, December 28, 2007

fatalities

Benazir Bhutto, who at one time had my vote for best looking head of State, is dead. Assassinated in her beloved Pakistan. All hell will now break lose. It's good to see that both India and Pakistan have nuclear arsenals—makes me feel warm all over. Expect a blast in your neighborhood anytime soon.

Parents, estranged, are fighting over the right to unplug their daughter, the quicker to begin a lawsuit against the hospital. So much for playing with her brain. You turned it off.

A tiger managed to get out and maul a bystander to death, and carve up another 2 as well. It was a big day for tiger rights. Later news opines that the tiger may have been goaded. How cool would it be to be known as 'the guy who got eaten by the tiger'? You'd have to inscribe it on the headstone wouldn't you—people looking through the tombstones are going to have to be so impressed, I know I would be.

A circus elephant apparently managed to fall on a handler and kill him, although there seems to be some dispute over whether he died of a heart attack before of after (the guy, not the elephant). Dead, however, is still dead. You'd think the elephant would remember if he sat on someone though—wouldn't he? So, no ones knows; did he sit on a live body or a dead body seems to be the only question.

I decide that having a realtor's licence might be a good idea as the news breaks that US housing is in a ever increasing slump for the 10th month in a row.

I finally discover what the icon of an open jar with numbers on it, found on most products, but more importantly appearing on my shampoo bottles (yes, Mildred, it's true, hair or not I still use shampoo) is. Shelf life after opening. I seriously have been trying to find the meaning of that. Now I know. It's the European symbol if you're wondering.
Thanks to Bush's disastrous foreign policy, the next president will inherit a nation whose power and prestige have been severely eroded.
LA Times Editorial

Six members of a family are shot to death by a daughter and her lover. Now, that's spectacular really isn't it? Shot the lot of them. Amazing stuff. I do love a good drop of madness.

An ex copper is fingered for the disappearance of his third wife. No one can find her. But, where is the blue barrel? Where is the body?

Even more blunders by the CIA are uncovered, painting the organisation as a seriously failed institution that should have been thrown out years ago. It appears they won't go.

George W Bush, failed politico, allows a budget bill worth $550 billion, just so long as there's plenty left for the Iraq 'situation'. Calls for Bush's execution go unheeded.

As I write a 15 year old Latino boy is gunned down in Hollywood. Life goes on.

A Long Island man was freed, 17 years after being possibly wrongly convicted of murdering his parents. Large slice of life missing there. Suitable lawyers are being employed.

The space shuttle fuel gauge is buggered and they don't seem to be able to fix it. Remember to shut the door before you launch.

If I could just remember the reason for this post...

Fact is, there is really a lot of weird shit going on, and it doesn't stop for Christmas. We're going to have to take Christmas back. It's broken.

But, it's raining, and we're in a drought.



there it was

Nothing like it. Christmas I mean. Nothing like it at all.

This year we had the coolest Christmas for 400 years or something - maybe not 400 years but a lot of years. Rain has been hanging around, clouds scudding across the sky visible from the window here.

Took the bike out for a ride on Christmas Eve, a few kilometres to keep me going; several of them in my bare feet pushing the bike—managed a clean puncture from broken glass on lap one. Nice to see that the population still has no reserves about breaking glass all over the road. Possibly the very same people who complain about liquids packed in plastic.

Walking home in bare feet, a requirement because my shoes are complete with cleats and make walking a rather comical effort, gives me a chance to view the scenery I ride so fast past normally.  Great.

Repairs complete. Bike ready. Next two laps and I'm looking at a very slow puncture again. More glass perhaps. Manage to get the thing home, a better choice that walking it.

Another repair and it is warning enough—Christmas Eve needs to be removed from the riding calendar.

Christmas Day, and as they go it did. Slow, deliberate, and sleepy. It's not the turkey, we didn't have any, in fact we never had a lunch at all. Possibly it's just a reaction around this time of the year. Obscure.

Always on the lookout for a good natural disaster on or around Christmas, the news channels were almost disappointed; saviour arrives in the form of a mud slide in Java, good stuff to open the otherwise bland news.

Boxing Day. Yvonne has money and militancy—she's "goin' shopping"—a challenge it more sounds like, but to who we will never know.

I risk another tour on the bike and manage 50 klms toward an undefined goal. No flats, no running over the bird life around the lake. Everyone happy.

Conditions are static. Cloudy. Some wind. Some rain.

This is the day after Boxing Day. I don't know if it has a name, well, in this case it would be handy if it was called Friday because that's what it is. I am seldom as aware of what day it is. I made the effort for you.

We are told there is a suspicious low off the coast which will bring gale force winds and torrential rain. So far we've had a lot of wind and sporadic rain. Too much wind for a kite buggy day; too much rain for a bike riding day.  Not enough of either to make you want to curl up in a chair with a copy of Dostoevsky's 'Notes From the Underground' - snapped up by Yvonne during her shopping epic.

You see, The Master and Margarita is finished. Really. I held on as long as I could but I had to give in and finish it. I was hoping it might never come to an end, but it did, as they do. It was almost sad to turn the last page, but I finished it as a Bulgakov fan. A committed fan.

The Master and Margarita is a delicious book, a delicious read, a satire, an amazing collection of believable characters, including poor old Satan himself, and a black cat, naturally, and Margarita reeeks of sensuality.

Who would be unable to read on a day with weather like this?  

So, there it was. The Christmas week. With no ad breaks.



Monday, December 24, 2007

and then it was Christmas...

...and all the people ran themselves ragged trying to pick up the last minute 'things', vital 'things', indispensable 'things', that may be the difference between a good Christmas and a great Christmas, and all those things will be lined up on Boxing Day, awaiting the inevitable sales where people will flock looking for bargains that they didn't get any of at Christmas.

I am a little jaded with the seasons greeting things—most people are. But we do it every year anyway because that's what we do. And if that's what we do...

To celebrate the event I took the trusty cycle out for a quick thrash around the suburbs. Not a god plan. Someone from on high was displeased with that decision and handed down an instant penalty—a serious, 'you have a puncture that sent your tyre flat in 30 seconds ', rather than the usual 'you have a slow leak that will allow you to get home', which we have become used to.

Walk home it was. Shoes not easy to walk in. Off. Helmet, off. barefoot and helmetless, 2klms home. Much sweat, surprisingly little cursing (amazing what medication will do these days), replace tube, put rotational tyre on wrong way around just because I can. Eventually back on the road. Rotating the correct way.

28 kilometers - slow flat is showing. Pinch flat will happen next if I don't get home. Home at 29.99 klms. At least I didn't have to walk. Replace tube. Park bike. Carefully.

Bike shop. Handfuls of patches. Many new tubes as well. Ready for the Christmas period when no bike shops will be open, lucky indeed I went out to pick up these indispensable 'things'.

How many millions of people do I owe an apology to?

It's on the way. The hype has almost quit. Advertising is at a crescendo.  Reruns on television are so familiar I can do all the lines myself. Tomorrow is the day.

Tomorrow people... wait until tomorrow.



Thursday, December 20, 2007

the Canon does sequential..

.. and other important discoveries

Panoramics hold sway over me at present. As do the tribulations of Roger Lee Dillon, Nicole Boyd, the perpetrators of a $7.5 million heist that went very well, for a very short time..
The two things are not connected in any way at all.. just in case you thought we were heading somewhere—we're not.

Fractured thinking processes lead to the idea that more time and effort needs to be put into stop motion animation - time lapse sequences and, mentioned above, panoramic's.

Is this a New Years resolution list? Nope. Just happened to be thinking along those lines. The bonus is Lee Dillon and Nicole Boyd getting on in there and having a go. We don't treat people who have a go at something as well as we should. I don't see anyone congratulating these people—why don't I see someone telling them they did good? They stuffed it up for sure, but at least they had a go.

Wall Street banks so far have reported more than $40 billion of losses as a result of the crisis in the mortgage market. More to follow. We have to accept it. I'm really not sure why. If it involved any of my money I would be sitting astride the bank managers desk with a Glock stuck in his mouth, just indicating my reluctance to accept the idea.

The total cost of the mistakes made by people who are paid not to make mistakes will be about $200 billion or more.

You might be able to see why I don't think that a couple getting away with $7.5 million would matter too much to anyone. Not when your local bank can lose $40 billion and just declare it a write down.

It all has nothing to do with HDR imaging.. nothing at all. And I'm not confident that it ever will.
Sort of like the video call facility on my beloved Nokia N73. Has nothing to do with any of this but I figured I might as well let you know that the video calling thing hasn't, so far, proved to be easy, or universal. Seems many people don't have a video phone. Even if they did I wouldn't answer them. I have to place the calls on my phone. I don't answer incoming—never do know just who that might be after all.

The fact is, the Canon, the cheap little PowerShot A520, does do sequential shots. I am pleased with that. I just can't seem to remember why I wanted it to. Had something to do with stop motion perhaps? I've been impressed with several stop motion efforts that have turned up in recent months. Impressed is a big word for me, anyone will tell you that - anyone.

And, I digressed there, not that you would notice. What I was thinking of was a combination of stop motion and panoramic, right?
Allow this video to explain:


Just kinda caught my eye as I was zooming on by.

And, lets not forget this beauty, an award winner as well:


Enough to have me stalking the streets, Canon in hand.

Bagged and tagged under:      

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neurocognitive deficient

Immune to Christmas?
Christmas. I deride it every single year.
I will continue to. Something about the guy in the red suit and the 3 wise men just refuses to add up—no matter what order you put it in.

We are at Thursday/Friday in the week before Christmas. People are already doing the shopping mall thing. Yvonne is anyway. She managed to take the day care kids, by bus, and meet one of her own at the biggest mall on this side of town yesterday. Such devotion to the art of shopping.

I know why people have big meltdowns in malls and shoot people, I understand completely. Not saying anywhere here that I condone it of course, although I might be prevailed upon to provide some ammo should anyone feel like going out in style. It depends on the weapon you're going to use. Anything as small as a .22 and you get nothing from me. Ramp up to a 9mm, auto, or more and I'm willing to look.

I try, every year, to get off on the idea of the season. The dude in the suit and the snow just doesn't cut it here on a 40 degree day. No snow. No need for a large red suit to keep warm. He should be banished to colder. more believable places on earth, let us get on with the idea of Christmas; drink too much at the office party, sit on the photocopier, bang the boss and make it obvious, and all the other unseemly things that happen when people forget they have to face the very same people, sober, possibly the next day.

Christmas Day here will be hot, sultry, humid, sweaty, possibly overcast, and totally uncomfortable. With luck we will manage to avoid the standard hot lunch—it was never designed for a tropical, sub tropical climate. We will probably end up somewhere with a pool.

I think I am the grinch in disguise. I abhor the Christmas morning rush. I refuse outright to drive a car anywhere least someone feels the need to run into me—worse still, run into someone else, which may require me to offer some sort of assistance—a Christmas charity. Like I feel like puffing into someone's blue lips - damn, what a horrible thought..

Was a time when on Christmas day you would find a deathly still over the place; nothing open, nothing at all, drive around in profound silence. The place looking like a ghost town.
That was before they managed to get into holiday trading. Open 24 hours a day. Every day of the year they tell me.

Why?

We have, after receiving all the Christmas gifts, hanging off an overworked plastic card, just time to eat and a quick nap before going back and doing it all over again.

The Boxing day sales. Where all the stuff that we paid an inflated retail for will now show up on a discount table. That's one thing I will ever get used to. Why not just go shopping on Boxing day, gather everything you need at a discount, and have a special 'after Christmas', Christmas if you see what I mean.

I'm still in favour of the madman with the gun, Not just malls, roaming the streets, suburban streets as well, suburban streets at random. Stop. Take out a couple of citizens, move on. Giving people something to make their Christmas memorable. Just do it. Just like they do in America every week. Make yourself famous this Christmas, go down in history.



a day off


Playing too hard


Thursday is not a day for relaxing. Unless you're me. If you are me you've already biked over a hundred kilometres, and spent a sweaty day baking in the UV's, fighting to maintain control of the kite that is intent on killing me, or at very least, ripping me out of the buggy and wiping me along the ground on my face. 

My legs are the main requirement for both biking and buggying. The same legs are indicating a major reluctance to doing anything listed above today.

Day off. Sitting down a lot. Legs feeling leaden. Arms sore. If I wasn't so incredibly lazy I would go out to the car, recover the camera and download the photos I took over at the park featuring the buggy. Too lazy.

The day then will include some seriously brewed coffee and a lot of surfing around the place. When in doubt surf. I am always amazed at the things I find, usually at the exact moment Yvonne announces dinner is ready.

A downside of age is getting tired more quickly. Hence today.

The penalty of staying at home is the collection of day care children constantly bitching; Yvonne's two bitching because they really don't have any clue how to entertain themselves without Mum telling them what to do. It's a sad state of affairs.

So, how it goes is like this; the children being in the house make me feel rather bland, really bland. I could entertain myself by knocking up a hideously grainy video featuring me, naturally, narrating the days past, but the minute I plug in a microphone the children will come alive and start screaming, something they seem to manage anytime I could really do with some silence.

We get around this by doing things that are not likely to be affected by children, weather, and acts of god.

Therefore:

We will mark time today. Recover. Relax. Avoid.
Make time for a decent read of Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita - still not fully consumed after all this time, a book to be gradually absorbed, rather than super speed scanning, the breadth of the wonderful story requiring several rereads of prior chapters, just to keep everything in perspective. I may never finish it.

Difficult now that I have ordered Dostoevsky's 'Notes From the Underground', and we all know I can't start that until I have finished The Master!

From where this sudden passion for Russian masters came I do not know - just seemed to form over the last year, something about the writing that really does make good reading. Maybe I was too young to appreciate them before; is there some rule that you have to be over 50 before you get involved in them?
Why didn't someone tell me? I would have laid back and waited.

The clouds are out. I am inside. Rain if you want. Rain a lot if you want. I'm staying here.



Monday, December 17, 2007

the wheels are off

things are loose
and then the year got too close to the end

Set piece; when the year gets to the month of December things get silly.

People do odd things. Odder than usual. Usual being defined as the months of the year not in December. I got it worked out. December will always be after November, 12 after 11. Took me quite a time. 53 years.

As I said, people do odd things. They make huge lists. Of anything. Often about food. And alcohol.  They don't only do that of course, other wise nothing would ever get done in December. You will have observed not a lot does get done in December.

December is indicated, via television transmissions, in the form of jolly commercials. Ya have to buy a lot in December.

I run slow. We know. But having figured out the certainty of the oddness  that will occur in the month of December I am now far better equipped to absorb this phenomena. My thing with December is to try not to explain to too many people that they really don't have to space out too much, just take it in their stride.

Anything, everything, must have the statement 'in time for Christmas', embedded somewhere in every sentence uttered during the month of December. 'In time for Christmas'. A powerful additive to any conversation. Required utterance in some societies.

Hell of a thing, this 'December / Christmas' trip.

I did actually have something else to tell ya, something had happened... damn, December got to me. It always does that.

..something was happening, had happened, arrived, went, purchased.. I'm thinking it could be the latest bike seat I have - damn fine thing it is.. but I just don't know. Video - I'm been remiss - is that where I was, video kind of hard to get done when the entire house is always inhabited..


Bagged and tagged under:
  
  



Friday, December 07, 2007

Back to the book

The Master and Margarita - still

Do you ever get near the end of a book and want it to last forever? Continually putting it down, just a few pages along, for fear that the end will arrive before you're ready.

Mikhail Bulgakov, 'The Master and Margarita' is one such book.

I must have been reading this thing for a year. I remember it arriving from Amazon along with an Elmore Leonard that had somehow escaped my clutches. Nothing as good as meeting the courier at the door bearing a package from Amazon.

I 'parked' Elmore's book. A crime fiction written beautifully as all of his are. I parked it to knock over 'The Master and Margarita'. I had read bits here and there, listened to a bit through LibreVox, followed the path through Moscow on Google Maps. One of these days I will remember the correct URL for it.

The Master and Margarita just seems to sneak up on you. It did on me anyway. Considered his masterpiece, the story is a fantasy, a real fantasy, and the more you read, the more you get drawn in.

I'm at the bit where the great ball has just finished, midnight has come and gone and the players are considering their next moves. If you've read it you'll know where I am.

I know the ball ending doesn't lead to the book ending; there's still more to be done in 'Yershalaim', there's still the fate to be decided. But the bookmark is suspiciously deep into the spine, a half full, half empty thing happening.

I sit down, I leaf through it, I back up a paragraph or two, reread, flick to the front, reread the notes. Anything not to get out of touch so much I forget the thing, but enough to give it a chance to live for another day.

I have to finish it. There is a new out - 'Up in Honeys Room'. Elmore is the greatest crime fiction writer in the universe and deserves top billing around here. Then again, so does John LeCarre.

Maybe I should read just one page... or two
Bagged and tagged under:      



Thursday, December 06, 2007

my week was better than yours

life my way


Monday Mondays are special. The weekend work is over and the poor bastards that have to do a 9-5 job are staggering off to their jobs.
I have major decisions; will the weather hold long enough for me to get a few kilometres in on the revered bike? (This week Monday was a 70 klm ride), or will i be forced to check into the local heated and undercover pool for a splash about?


Tuesday Tuesday - waking a bit sore from an extended biking session. Weather check. No rain. Variable winds.

Murrarie Recreational - a huge tract of land that sits alone in a near city suburb, flat topped, grassy and exposed to wind all round.

The buggy is out today. Car unpacked - all the cleaning gear belongs to a different personality, this bloke swaps it all for buggy and kites, sunscreen and harnesses.

A serious few hours practicing the finer points of being able to stay in the buggy even when the kite would like to pull you out.

Home. Relaxed. Sunburned. Sore. Happy. Car packed with cleaning gear - I'm back in my work personage.

Wednesday Wednesday morning  with dual punishment; bike on Monday and buggy yesterday. Legs sore from fighting the sideways pull of the buggy.

Brain sunburned from constantly forgetting it's part of my body. A ride is in order just to free things up.

Bike prepped, cranked out 50 klm. Easy. Hot, but easy. More sunburn. Damn.


An early evening wallkthrough of one weekend job - they produce rubbish on a semi professional scale I suspect.

Thursday Thursday is now you fools - why would I write about it now?
But I do.
Yvonne out. Shopping with friend. House would be perfectly silent other than the groaning of eldest son who seems to have managed to perfect the art of sniffing and talking at the same time. Mr Lethargy. Mr Cool.
I remember when I was 18. I don't think I had as much to bitch about at that age, not at all. I seem to remember holding down two jobs and a woman called Penny. A redhead. Stunning girl. Reason enough for not bitching I reckon. I made a mistake and traded her in on a Debbie model. No warranty. Bad move.

I also remember breaking both my arms in a motorbike accident. I like to think I did it so all the 'I told you so's' would have something to crow about. Gangrene in my leg almost made me a monopod but good luck and an incredible surgeon took care of that problem.

Fact remains that to get anywhere he is really going to have to work more than nine hours in any given week. Or stop eating and push the car where you need to go.
 
Thursday looks like rain. I don't care. I've done the miles. Flown the kites. Rode the bike.

Bagged and tagged under:      



The bear gets it..

it gets sillier

Sudan is a shithole - correct?
 

Sudan is a shithole.
Sudanese would rather fight each other than get an education.
So much so that no one in the place has a brain. No one.
Sudanese were / are willing to let anyone else educate their children.
English school teachers, any teachers, are imported because the place has no ability to offer an education.  
British school teacher Gillian Gibbons was one of the brave souls who thought she could make a difference.

She did. She was marked as dead meat when it was discovered that she had a small role in the naming of a teddy bear. Innocently she allowed a child to name it Mohamed.

Remember, a child named it.

Why doesn't the child get lashings and imprisonment?

After a long drawn out string of bullshit, the head layabout of Sudan allowed the teacher to be removed back the UK .

People gathered outside the President's residence demanding she be put to death.

What I want to know is, how come these people who seem to be a burden on charities world wide, manage to find the time to gather anywhere? Shouldn't they be out somewhere gathering something - perhaps food? Scratching about in the dust for a film crew to capture. It's obviously too much to think they would manage an education.

Sudan, the rectum of the planet, welcomes you and looks forward to arresting you for something you may have never done.

Stuffed bears, of any persuasion, are advised to steer clear of Sudan. Most Sudanese have a degree in genocide. They certainly don't have a degree in being sensible.

Leave then to their Darfur crisis, they love it.



Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Vertigo



The bass line in this is enough to make you want a Precision right now.. right now..