Thursday, August 27, 2009

Darwin rolls over in grave following gross trivialisation of life's work

When I was in year 10 I spent a week at the John Curtin School of Medical Research at the ANU. It was work experience, you see. I have no idea how I ended up there; I have a vague memory of not wanting to do hairdressing but I'm not sure how that made medical research the only other choice.

I suspect my week's placement may have had something to do with my childhood love of all things science and vet-related thanks to the triangle of happiness formed between Vicky from A Country Practice and Rob and Dean from The Curiosity Show but I really can't be sure and I don't want to lead any future biographers (especially of the psychoanalytic kind) astray with wild triangle-related speculations.

Whatever the origin, I'm pleased to say my early foray into science has served me well in the conundrum my wardrobe presented me with earlier today.

You see, this morning I pulled on a top I haven't worn since last year and found that the sleeves are now half-way up my forearms.

I understand, as a basic principle of biology, that carbon-based life forms experience periods of growth throughout their lives. I understand, also, that these growth spurts may be augmented by too-frequent trips to Portuguese chicken shops on Marrickville Road. But while these additions may increase my girth, are they also responsible for increasing my arm length?

The most plausible explanation I have come up with is that over winter I have experienced an accelerated, intra-seasonal evolutionary advancement. Sure it's improbable that such an advancement could occur over the course of three or four months, however it's not impossible thus I maintain that I am now a more highly evolved version of the me that I was in the late days of autumn.

You may be wondering what kind of evolutionary advantages my longer arms have delivered to me (you and Darwin alike), but clearly my new-found abilities to carry Ikea flat packs and lift suitcases atop my wardrobe make me a very desirable catch for, um, short-armed men everywhere. Go me.

What wacky scientific explanations have you been tossing around today?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Are we there yet?

I've just made a flying visit to Brisbane and couldn't be happier to be back in the smoggy environs of my beloved Sydney. While I'm sure there are many travellers who revel in the getting there bit (like those crazy brother and sister/re-united divorcees/large-breasted cheerleading best friends on The Amazing Race) I'm more of the "thank flippin' chroist we're there" persuasion; enough with the trains and timetables and hoo-flippin'-rah we got ourselves from Cooma to Budapest without a lick of English.

(Actually that's not really true, or at least it's only partially true. With sufficient time and imported beer I'll look back with fondness on my 48 hours of planes and automobiles; "what a journey," I'll say, "it's all about the getting there, isn't it?").

But at this post-immediate minute I can say with certainty that I would have had more fun listening to John Howard performing Equus (all parts) non-stop for the last 48 hours than I have had. But happily the flight home provided three delights to unfurrow my deeply furrowed brow.

Travel Delight Number 1
The woman sitting in front and to the right of me was reading a book called The Artist's Way. What caught my eye was this italicised heading: "Crazymakers are expert blamers". Perhaps they are, I don't know; who can say? But crazies reading crazy books make me smile so a big thumbs up to the lady in front and to the right.

Travel Delight Number 2
I love those maps with the little aeroplane marking your route so you always know where you are during the flight. I love that on domestic routes there's not enough distance to fit the aeroplane in between the origin and destination so at one point of my trip the tip of the plane was indicating we were in Dubbo while the tail was suggesting we were in Armidale. When we landed in Sydney the tip was in Canberra and the tail in Newcastle. Mercy!

I'm all for miniature vehicles of all descriptions marking routes on maps (after a happy childhood with such maps from the Indiana Jones franchise) but perhaps a little work needs to be done on scale.

Travel Delight Number 3
The chap two rows ahead on the left swiped his credit card and paid $4.90 to watch an entire episode of Jerry Springer. I tried desperately to read the issue of the day but the tiny screen and my myopia conspired to deny me comprehension. It could have been "Meet and Kill Truckers" or "Matt and Lynn Thingos" but neither a. made any sense or b. fitted the footage they kept showing of a rather muscular woman barging into a pole dancing joint and throwing a bottle of red liqueur at the guy behind the bar. At one point she started swinging a baseball bat but that didn't make the situation any clearer. Oh well. I love that there is someone left in the world, and on my plane no less, with absolutely nothing better in the world to do (work towards global peace, cure for cancer) than watch an entire episode of Jerry Springer.

From this handful of travel delights allow me to turn to one quick travel suggestion and one even quicker travel directive:

Travel Suggestion Number 1
I wish the plane speed was displayed in kilometres rather than miles. A speed of 507 miles per hour is, yawn, pretty unimpressive, but a speed of 815.937408 kilometres per hour - wow!

Travel Directive Number 1
No ad, displayed on the ground or at 40,000 feet, should contain the word 'chillax'. 'Chillax' is not cool; 'chillax' is lame. No more 'chillax'!

Hurrah for homecomings. Where would you rather be: home or away?

Monday, August 10, 2009

A meaty issue

There are many areas of life I know I come up a little short, like not being able to hit the sweet spot on the toaster dial, but one thing I pride myself on is not being easily surprised.

There have been plenty of times when I could have sent my eyebrows sky-ward and cried "bejesus!" but instead have chosen to simply share a few quiet moments with a bottle of beer and settle back in my hammock.

Like the time when the manager of the camping ground in Stuttgart told us to put up our tent on a cement slab and I just shrugged my shoulders and grabbed my trusty mallet. Or the time when I fished a trio of giggling two-year-olds out of the bath on the arrival of a mystery poo. Or when Big Brother hit our screens for the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh seasons.

But on the weekend I came across this little piece in the SMH's careers section that had me surprised all over the place:

In this photograph, taken on March 22, 1967, a butcher tidies a display cabinet at Super Meats, Wollongong Arcade. Retailers, processors and smallgoods manufacturers are represented by the Australian Meat Industry Council.

So far so good, we've got a date, mention of some ye olde arcade in Wollongong and something about a meaty council. All good. So we move on to:

According to, there are now 24,400 butchers working in Australia, earning an average weekly wage of $877.

All good here too. We've got some numbers, something about an average weekly wage which lends the whole piece a certain amount of economic gravity (or gravy, whichever you find most tasty), and one of those whacky we-are-so-like-a-government-initiative-with-personality,-man websites. Then comes the eyebrow-raiser:

A recent survey has revealed butchers are the happiest employees in the Australian workforce - and they're having the most sex. Forget counselling, the answer for frustrated couples is a certificate III in meat processing.

! and !! In five easy sentences we move from a happy happy joy joy skip down a memory lane inside an arcade in Wollongong to couples counselling through butchering, well, through butchering. And why are they the happiest? Because they get to talk about sausages all day while giggling like school kids?

Mercy. What do you think: would you enrol in a certificate of meat processing if it guaranteed more sex and/or a fulfilled and satisfying relationship or does that just sound like a meat-up to you?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

This is what happened

Last week I bought Sarah Blasko's new album, As Day Follows Night. I love it, it's given me real pleasure this week. It's like a dark forest and when I close my eyes I'm there, in the Grimm's fairytale, an imaginative world away.

I was going to write something frippy about it but the words keep evaporating. You see, my son was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder about two months ago and with this knowledge came sadness and worry, a different kind of worry than before which was just about colds and eating vegies and whether he had his hat on.

Now I worry about lots of things, but mostly whether he'll be happy in this life.

I've debated for weeks whether to write anything about it here because this blog is frippy and my son isn't. But if I don't say anything about it I don't seem to be able to say much at all.

So there it is.