a little east of reality

Saturday, April 30, 2005

formula movies


I watched Raise Your Voice last night. There was a lot that was good about it. Though I often felt like the script let them down, the characters were great:

Terry: Hilary Duff always plays a 'nice girl', but in this they used that effectively as a negative. Trying too hard to BE nice, she was also a pushover, not getting angry even when she should have because she was always trying to preserve the 和 (avoid making waves). I also found her storyline very believeable - that her brother's death would make her feel like it was wrong for her to enjoy life or pursue her own happiness. The connection between lights (particularly spotlights) and her flashbacks to the car accident (headlights) was cinematically clever, too.

Jay: Fairly complex for this kind of movie. I liked the sense of development in the character and his compassion. Some of his lines (eg, every time he talked about his feelings about his music) were shocking though - cliched crap that came out of his mouth and then clanged on the floor like a dropped pot.

Robin: not a bad villain, and not as two-dimensional as you'd expect. Her storyline left me feeling like there was more to her that ended up on the cutting room floor - it was patchy, incomplete.

Kiwi & Sloane: coolest quirky side characters I've seen in ages. Not only is his music great (if you like it, you so need to see the movie One Perfect Day) but their love story is SO CUTE. The scene in the drumming room made me laugh out loud and wish it was me all at the same time.

Okay, having said all that...

I could forgive the bad script...just. But I could not (would not, Sam-I-Am) forgive the Hollywood ending. Here's this totally unreasonable father who was so hard-headed that his son had made immediate plans after graduation to take a job in another state and never come back, and his daughter had to lie to him to be able to enter a perfectly innocent summer music program. And then, after one (admittedly great) song, he is so overwhelmed with pride and emotion in his daughter's achievements that he's admitting he was wrong all along and saying she can probably come back next year. Cue the Disney music. GOOD GRIEF! I wanted to kick the TV.

So much cheese I'm feeling lactose intolerent. I think I need to go watch Fight Club.

Friday, April 29, 2005

computer happy


My computer is finally fixed. Oh the joy!

Monday, April 25, 2005

word origins

I'm surprised how interesting things can be, even when they don't really matter. I was just reading how the Greek God Pan was considered to be the cause of that sudden fear that sometimes comes for no reason, especially in lonely places. That's why that feeling is called 'panic'.

Why is this so interesting to me? Every word had its origin somewhere, after all. Yet I honestly felt a tiny sense of revelation when I read it. 'Ohhhh, PAN-ic...right'.

Does it really matter that Shakespeare coined the word 'lonely'? Probably not. But I like to imagine him playing with words until he found the one that sounded right. Lack-lustre is a great word, but lack-company doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it? Alonesome? Solitarial? Loned? Loneful? Seriously, 'lonely' is a beautiful, perfect word.

Barrie created the name 'Wendy' for his Peter Pan heroine. Given the already romantic sound of the word 'wend', it's quite lovely. And it adds to Barrie's charm.

I'm such a word geek.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

how to become comatose in one easy lesson

Most people dread speaking in church. We don't do it very often. It's a bit nerve-wracking. If we're assigned ten minutes to speak we prepare a ten minute talk and then speak so fast for nerves sake that it becomes seven-and-a-half. We worry that whatever we've written will send people to sleep and then comfort ourselves with the thought that at least if that happens fewer people will be staring at us.

The first speaker today apparently decided that sending us to sleep was her preferred option. Sadly this did not produce a rapidly delivered seven-and-a-half minute talk. Instead, forty. Yes. FORTY MINUTES! F.O.R.T.Y..M.I.N.U.T.E.S. And not forty interesting minutes. Forty minutes of bonefide mind-numbing drivel. Forty days and forty nights in the desert could not have felt longer.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

spiders, wasps packing for extended holiday

Bass Boy came over today to do some work for me. I got him to sweep away spiderwebs from all the outside steps, balconies, etc and then surface spray around each door, window and anywhere else that seemed a possible in for the eight-legged kind. I'm hoping this will render us spider-free and discourage others crawlies as well.

It wasn't until after he left that I discovered the very small beginnings of a wasp nest being constructed on one of my outdoor lights (on the balcony). I used the same spray (from behind a screen door) to nip their construction in the bud. It was then I discovered that this tiny little nest foundation actually held roughly thirty wasps. That was an...interesting...moment. I hid behind the door, spraying when I could, until a mystical circle of dead insects appeared on the balcony under the light. The rest flew away. Now I just have to get brave enough to knock the bit of a nest off the light so there's nothing to come back to.

Why can they all just be dragonflies?

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

chocolatey goodness

I picked up my Max Brenner Chocolate Pack prize from the post office today. Two hug cups and two tins of hot chocolate powder – basically two of these. One was milk chocolate and the other is milk chocolate blended with orange peel oil (exotic jaffa basically).

I thought it would be hot chocolate heaven in two heaped spoonfuls. Unfortunately it's that coffee house hot chocolate that is rich and dark...and bitter as all heck.

Why oh why couldn't I have won the stereo? *sigh*

Monday, April 18, 2005


Finally, the ‘finding a flatmate’ saga is at an end. Phi moves in on Saturday and my gut feeling is that things are going to go well. Financially this is going to give me some breathing space and I’m relieved to finally have it all in place.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

potential flatmate

I might have found someone to share the unit. He came over today to look at the place and chat. Seems like a really nice guy...laid back, fun without being manic. We seem to have lifestyles that will gel well. I'm crossing my fingers.

This business of sharing a place is hard, simply because you can't know what someone is really like until you live with them. My sister has been lucky with flatmates over the years, but her current flatmate drives her a little mad. He never (ever) goes out, and his girlfriend is over all the time. No down time at all. Anyway, hope it works out.

Saturday, April 16, 2005


I'm editing again, this time for a friend's website. It's a English language website about Japanese music and they have a huge selection of lyrics translations, lots of up-to-date news and reviews.

They're a mixed bunch, each with their own unique way of a being a little out of the ordinary. It's a challenge to edit their stuff, because I enjoy their excesses. Unfortunately editing is partly about containing those. It makes sense - if every line is as 'out there' at the next, the overall seems not out there at all. Same for humour - sometimes I find myself pruning back the humour in certain lines just because they distract the reader from something truly hilarious that follows. Not easy, but interesting.

Friday, April 15, 2005


Concentration is proving impossible today. I am surrounded by paper that needs sorting and at least three documents I need are hidden in the misleadingly tidy, straight-edged piles to my left and right. Gloomy is quietly shaking his head in dismay. I may just let him shred the lot.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

nobody expects the spanish inquisition

Sky asked me to be one of her character references for the security clearance she needs to finally start her new job. It's weird the way that a simple set of questions become a potential minefield when you know that the person asking is S.E.C.U.R.I.T.Y. Even on the phone this guy radiated mistrust - and he was polite, quite friendly. But there was still something there. Snarky at my own workplace is terrifying, even when he's smiling (especially when he's smiling!) How do you train someone to do that - the Glare of Suspician, the Tone of Incredulity? It's a considerable talent.

Anyway, Sky being her starkly innocent self, she passed and tomorrow we are going out to celebrate her escape from the medieval torture chamber she currently calls a workplace. Just as well really...they've been stretching her so hard she's already hitting her head on door frames. Any more and she'd be tangling herself in telephone wires. And that can't be good...

how not to help someone

Fin 'helped' me to edit two reports today by sending me back changed copy. When I suggested that comments like, 'this paragraph needs to be more concise' would have been more helpful, he said (verbally patting me on the head) that he knew I was smart enough to read the new version and work out for myself what changes had been needed. Uh, yeah. Can we say, 'missing the point'? It also presumes that his version was better, which I find irksome.

*gnashing teeth...stamping feet*

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

back to work...with a thud

The job I'm doing now is my third job in this group. Mystic took over the first and Neo the second. Still being in the group (4 teams make up our 1 group & I've simply shifted teams) means that I've sometimes been relied upon to fill in when they are on leave or away sick. While I sometimes find this frustrating, it generally costs me little time and has not been that big a deal.

But I have to say, when I arrived back from leave this morning only to be informed that both Mystic AND Neo had found (and moved to) new jobs while I was on leave, I was a little wide-eyed.

I know it can all be worked out. I already told the Bear that he needed to go through my team leader to negotiate my involvement rather than coming to me directly and he was cool with that. Nevertheless I still find myself wondering if I'm just about to spend the next few weeks doing three jobs.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005


It was SO NICE to crawl into my own gorgeously comfy bed tonight. If I didn't have work tomorrow I would never emerge from its springy, quilty warmth. I will own that my sister's place (where I stayed last night) has an awesome shower, but nobody - NOBODY - I stayed with had good pillows. I love my pillow. I love all the pillows in my house. Were they each individually selected from the pillow vineyard in Pillowville, I could not love them more.

Monday, April 11, 2005

chick flick catharsis

I had promised myself at least one day of this break would be spent in total sloth and today was the day. Armed with Deb's collection of chick flicks, I spent the entire day on the couch laughing, crying, and generally wallowing in the mysteries of love and life. Sublime.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

happy families

Tonight was another night for seeing how time had flown. I haven't seen the Neills for 8 years, but the things I remembered best about them are the things that make them unusual as a family. One is that their entertainment is rated PG. I don't mean simply that their kids are not allowed to watch ratings not suitable for their age. I mean that they as a family, including the parents, do not watch movies or tv shows with ratings above PG. I would find this difficult. I'm not even sure it's what I would choose, even if I was strong-willed enough to live by it. But I do admire the fact that they don't expect the kids to live this standard just because they are kids. In this challenging area, they live by the same rules.

The second thing I remembered is how much D loves spending time with her kids. She enjoys the school holidays. When all the other parents are sighing with relief that the kids are finally back at school, she is wishing there had been a little more time. In fact, in spite of the normal sibling rivalry, this applies to the whole family. They love their family, and they love being a part of their family.

The third thing is how non-Stepford they are. In spite of being goody-two-shoes enough to make the Brady Bunch roll their eyes, this family can't be defined by some sort of pre-determined 'Christian family' template. They are very individual in their lives and interests, and have a lot of fun. They don't feel the need to be always pushing against their limits because the point of those limits is not to hold them back, but to help them seek out what's great in life and remember that no matter what might be considered 'normal' on TV, people don't have to be materialistic or violent, relationships dysfunctional, sex cheap or corruption inevitable.

I know people who would think the Neills are lame and blinkered, wrapping their kids and themselves in cotton wool and missing out on all kinds of gritty experiences in life. Some people think that you block out the real world that way. But the world is what we have made it. They're aware of the 'real world' - they just don't wallow in it and then wonder why life seems so murky. They live a very real life and they make their world a happy place. I saw it again today and was gladdened by it. They live life on their own terms and continue to thrive that way. Dinner at their house was as corny as an after-school special, but it was terribly heartwarming and I loved being with them.


My life is rated R.
What is your life rated?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

life's great pleasures

All the great pleasures in life are silent.
(Georges Clemenceau)

Georges was clearly not at Deb's dinner party, which was very pleasant and not at all silent. I enjoyed meeting Deb's friends - a disparate but vibrant group of people. We covered some interesting ground while ploughing through a lot of delicious Vietnamese food.

Were all of Georges' aquaintences boring or ornery? How is it that he missed the value of good conversation? Surely it must at least make the top 5 list of great pleasures. In fact, my list would include many noisy things: - music, laughter, sex (you know you were thinking it). Even food is rarely silent. Reading can be, unless I'm reading Mary Jane Davidson, who often makes me laugh aloud. (Dying to read her chick lit vampire stories!) But that crackly noise fires make? The sound of the ocean? Laughter? Huge, terrible storms? Or are these the small pleasures in life? Is this where I'm going wrong?

The sky is silent. I suppose love is silent as it creeps into your realisation like morning light spilling over the horizon. I wonder what other silent pleasures Georges had in mind.

Friday, April 08, 2005

catching up

Deb and I had a lazy morning in before visiting the 'Scrapbooking Superstore'. Though they had a bigger range of stuff than I've seen before, I was mostly considering what I should wait to buy until I'm in the US, as so much of it is imported from there. I'm thinking this might be a good thing to do if I visit Zen, who lives right in the heart of Scrapper Land Central. I like scrapbooking (though I prefer the term 'photo journalling' - more writing, more photos, fewer cutsie stickers) but it is an expensive business here.

In the evening I met up with Baps. We first visited Gio, who I haven't seen in a decade or so. He has no hair at all left and still looks utterly gorgeous...some guys just have the right face/head for it. Unfortunately he was working and couldn't come out and play. We headed over to a noodle place in Newtown. The food was good, the service sadly not. We left scowling to make our way back to her apartment, where we laughed ourselves silly over a home movie she found a couple weeks ago of some of the old crowd in Adelaide,including Gio with hair. I think he looks better now.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


I wandered rather absentmindedly into the Japanese cafe that's moved in across from Kinokuniya and was startled at the chorus of 'irasshaimase!'s that flooded out to meet me. It was a little surreal, like I had to think for a second where I was. They also yelled out the orders in Japanese. I swear it made everything taste better.

No sign of Gackt. I don't think I'm very committed to this stalking business. After all, I am on holiday!

wherefore art thou gackt?

Dragged myself out of bed for a 7am bus to Sydney this morning. Said bus was blissfully empty, so I made myself comfortable across a pair of seats and the next thing I knew, the driver was announcing our approach into Sydney. 3 1/2 hrs well spent.

Today is my Gackt-hunting day. Yes the much-worshipped King of Kakkoyosa (coolness) is in Sydney on an organised holiday with members of his fan club. As that is all the infomation I have, my stalking capability is pretty much reduced to the having my camera with me in case I happen to bump into him while shopping or hanging downtown. But hey, that's a LOT more chance than I have of meeting him when he's in Tokyo!

Anyway, I'm going to wander the town now in a constant state of alertness, and check out Kinokuniya while I wait for Fate to figure out where the heck he is and set him on my path.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

to boldly blog where no blogger has blogged before

Attended a course today called Advanced Writing Skills. Of course it was geared towards work, so we learned the difference between a submission and a brief (a brief is of course a type of underwear and therefore more difficult to write on) and how to create documents that people can understand (since when has that been the government's goal?).

The instructor was model thin and wore her considerable elegance like a weapon. When we gave an answer that was not the next phrase on her carefully crafted schedule of answers, she would pause, as if the words of her teacher's manual were echoing in her memory ~ "avoid criticising incorrect answers, or students may become discouraged" ~ and then say, "that's...good, but not quite what I had in mind." Her ee-nun-see-a-shun was so private school perfect that I kept wanting to mimic it like you do when you hear an interesting accent.

After lunch we had a grammar auction game. Me being such a grammar nerd, I just smiled when she announced it ~ and yes we won ~ but to give credit where it's due, she did teach us a couple of useful things, like that even though people in the Public Service get very finicky about split infinitives, there is actually nothing grammatically wrong with them. I must tell that one to Rev. Every time Rev mentions Star Trek at work, one of his colleagues points out that 'to boldly go' is a split infinitive (and they say trekkies are nerds...) Well then, no more worldwide shame for trekkies - the split infinitive is innocent!
The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
Okay I clearly need sleep.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

frank abagnale's word on real men & cheating

In an address at a business expo in March, Frank Abagnale (played by DiCaprio in the film Catch Me If You Can) talked about his life and how it was his wife and children who really turned his life around - not prison or finding Christianity.

I really liked the end of the article:

After all the pain he went through – most of which was self-inflicted – Abagnale said he felt “very fortunate” that he was able to turn his life around.

“To every man in this room…I would remind you what it is to be a man,” Abagnale said. “It has nothing to do with money, achievements, skills, accomplishments, education, awards, rewards…A real man loves his wife. A real man is faithful to his wife. And a real man, next to God and his country, puts his wife and his children as the most important things in his life.”

You know, I've heard guys mock other guys who like spending time with their wife, or who stay faithful to them. They tell them they're 'under the thumb', like it's a bad thing to be loyal and loving. It's so cool when a guy just says point blank, "no way am I cheating on my wife!" My dad is an entertaining type, always looking to enthrall someone with a story or make them laugh, but this is one thing he never jokes about. When someone talks about cheating he just tells them, "not me, man; not when I have the best woman in the world at home". I've always appreciated that.

It reminds me of the exchange between Karen and Harry in Love Actually.

Karen: Tell me, what you'd do in my position?
Harry: What position is that?
Karen: Imagine your husband bought a gold necklace and come Christmas gave it to somebody else...
Harry: Oh, Karen...
Karen: Would you wait around to find out if it's just a necklace, or if it's sex and a necklace, or if worst of all it's a necklace and love? Would you stay, knowing life would always be a little bit worse? Or would you cut and run?
Harry: Oh, God. I am so in the wrong. The classic fool.
Karen: [voice breaking] Yes, but you've also made a fool out of me, and you've made the life I lead foolish too.

There's nothing manly about making your wife (girlfriend, partner) look and feel like a fool for loving you.

Monday, April 04, 2005

speculation on the new pope

The death of Pope John Paul II has left the inevitable vacancy and already the papers are full of speculation over which candidate might be elected to take his place. There is talk of Italy wanting to reclaim the papacy and Dionigi Tettamanzi is the one the bookmakers have their best odds on. Nigerian Francis Arinze would become the first black pope if chosen. Interestingly, there are more English-speaking Catholics in Africa than in all the other continents put together.
Obviously I have no strong feelings either way (not being Catholic) but I do admit to a small curiosity to see what unfolds if the next pope is Jaime Lucas Ortega y Alamino, a Cuban. And this could happen, given that the southern hemisphere holds 40 percent of the world's one billion Roman Catholics, and 27 voting cardinals, though they do say that Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga is the Latin American favourite.

Overall I’m interested in how political all these considerations are. So far the only reference I’ve read to doctrine and style of leadership is that the cardinals are likely to choose someone more likely to be a healer than a confrontationalist. John Paul II was considered conservative, so they may choose to vote for someone more liberal. There was discussion on how the criteria for choosing the new pope often centres around what are considered to be the faults of the previous pope.

It will be three weeks or so before a decision is made. This had me thinking about succession in general. In Tibetan Buddhism the period of uncertainty is far longer. They believe that when a Dalai Lama dies he is reborn and a search is made for his reincarnation, based partly based on instructions left before his death. Of course once the child is identified, he will be taught for years before he really assumes the role.

For the Church of England things are simple, but narrow. The head of the Church is the reigning monarch. I must say I find all the hoo-hah over Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles getting married to be a little much. They can’t be married in a church because of the church’s attitude towards divorcees remarrying, particularly when their ex-spouse is still alive, as Camilla’s is. There’s a strong concern about Charles being the next head of the church anyway, given that he is not only divorced but also committed adultery while he was married to Diana (with Camilla in fact). The whole thing just strikes me as ridiculous. After all, the reason there’s a Church of England at all is because King Henry VIII wanted to get divorced and marry his mistress. Crazy stuff.

All this does make me appreciate the simplicity of the process in the our church. If the prophet were to die today, we already know who will succeed him; the most senior (by date called, not age) of the twelve apostles. This isn’t me launching into a comparison – there is plenty of criticism out there regarding our church leadership – I’m just saying I find this particular aspect comforting. I’ve been a member long enough to see three church presidents die, and it was a very smooth and easy transition each time. I like this because it gives everyone the chance to mourn for the president who has died without a wave of speculation and vying for position going on at the same time.

This I think is what troubles me about this current process. There’s a reason for the separation of church and state. Religion isn’t politics. Whoever they choose will lead a billion people from all over the world. I hope the cardinals making the decision are able to focus on the right leader for this time, seek God’s guidance, and to set aside questions about which country or region’s 'turn' it might be to provide a pope. And I hope the billion people praying about it right now are praying for them to understand who God wants to lead that church, and not just praying for their own personal favourite.

Quizilla Quiz result: Which solo Morrissey song am I?

Which solo Morrissey song are you?

You are "Tomorrow"! Dreamy, heart full of emotion, you want what you know you cannot have.
Brought to you by Quizilla

Ain't that the truth! Got me a whole list o'things I want but can't have. *sigh* Nice picture of Morrissey, though.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

band news and other knives through the heart

Monoral has started keeping a blog. It took a bit of translating (man, my skills are R.U.S.T.Y...even now I'm not certain I got it all right) but it was good to hear what they're doing.

Kind of.

I hear news of friends in Japan ~ getting married, going on trips, getting on with life ~ and I love it. It's good to keep track and know what's happening, even when the news is sad (a friend's restaurant closing, etc). But with my bands the opposite is true. Every piece of news I get, no matter how eagerly I seek after it, is like a bittersweet blade through my tender heart.

It sounds melodramatic to say it, but the music became the soul of my Japanese self. I don't care if that sounds silly; music has never been 'just music' to me. And Japanese band boys have something I've never found here in Australia. An innocence (in spite of their wicked ways, haha) and an earnest heart that endears. When you support them they love you for it and you want so badly for all their rock'n'roll dreams to come true.

And so, the fact that the indies scene goes on without me is wonderful (because how could I wish it otherwise) but it also kills me not to be there to see it. It's the one thing about leaving Japan that has never gotten any easier. Even when I get their CDs, it's not the same. Live rock is live rock...there is no substitute. I miss those guys. My emotional investment in them was so great, I think I always will.

The worst is when one of my Osaka indies calls it a day. I ache for them, for what they've lost, and I ache at the fact that I'll never see them on stage again. Sure, I might see those same guys again one day, but in a different band. And the songs are lost forever. I think that's the worst part. I learned that when LAID broke up. Awesome, awesome music gone and with it the best collaboration the band produced (Keizo's music/Ryo's words), with those two guys now in seperate bands and likely to stay that way. When Sclatch broke up all I could think of what that I'd never again stand in a crowd of Japanese girls singing that part of Neverplace that Tetsuya always left to the audience:

そこはみんなの楽園 さあきっと見つけられるから

Even so, there is still sweetness in the bittersweet. Just by chance (while looking for a link for this post) I found out that three of the Sclatch boys are in a new band, Crude, and maybe the best part is that their guitarist is none other than Hibiki (ex-Plastic). I wasn't sure I'd see him on stage again. Something to look forward to on my next trip there.

Now as to when that will be...

Saturday, April 02, 2005

happy birthday tetchan

It's Tetchan's birthday and I have her present sitting on my dining table. The problem? I'm on a different continent to her. I'm thinking it's going to be late. I got her a...

yeah AS IF I'm going to write that before she receives it!

One thing she won't be getting is the sequel to a Japanese drama she likes, as the episodes are on my computer and my computer's fried. *sigh* And after diligently collecting it each week. Very frustrating. And yes, Tetchan, it's the same star as the first one, but no Cletus. Pity - he was so good in Kimi wa Petto.

Hmmm...didn't know THIS guy was in it. おいしそう!!

living the moment vs capturing the moment

I've been browsing on mjp's site and found this interesting post from last year. Check out the half from the Iggy Pop photo onwards. It's thought provoking.

Basically he's bawling out our tendency to take a perfectly brilliant moment and ruin it by focusing on getting it on film. Instead of soaking up an experience that will never come again, you're mentally (maybe literally) stepping back to line up your shot. It's a solid truth that you can either live the moment or view it as an observer. But you can't do both.

Steve Chandler expresses a similar idea in his book 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back. One of those lies is "It's a shame we didn't capture that on video." He sees this as a motivation killer. It's LIVING life that urges us forward and makes us hungry for more, not documenting moments as if that record is proof we really did live.

I find myself doing this all the time, convincing myself that I have to get something in a photo. It's almost like if I can't put it in an album, it didn't really happen. Don't get me wrong. I know the value of a great photo. But I also know how easy it is for an experience to be stripped down to the point where the most exciting part becomes the photos you got.

I distinctly remember one occasion where I did pass up the chance to take a photo. It was a night in Tokyo when I went out post-concert with a couple of band members I liked. Now it seems normal, but at the time it was exciting because I'd never before been invited along. I liked being with them amongst their own friends, and I didn't even know that two of the other women there were also fans until the end of the night...when they took their cameras out. And I couldn't do it. I didn't want to need a photo of that night in order to savour it. I think that 'photo op' would have changed what the night was about for me, if I'd taken it.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Indian farewell for the Guru

I managed to evade three April Fool's Day trick attempts before heading off to the Kitchen of India for Cramer's farewell lunch. It was an awesome send-off with all the right components - good food, good conversation and lots of laughs. He's a regular at that restaurant and when they realised he was the reason for the celebration, they suddenly threw in a $50 voucher to go with his presents. Nice.

Cramer's one of those people who is undeniably wise, but still looking at the world with young eyes and eager to learn. Officially he's retiring, but he has lots of plans, particularly to pursue his photography and do some freelance writing. He said today that he feels like a base-jumper, perched on top of some high place, eager to jump but wondering what it's really going to be like once he does.

Hopefully he'll keep in touch. I have a strange feeling that, unlike most people, he will.

gloomy the protector bear

Gloomy's still perched on my shelf. No matter how much I try to remind myself that he's supposed to be a bear that would eat my innards out as soon as look at me, my brain keeps smiling and convincing itself that all that blood is from him attacking something else in my defence.

Of course the most fiercesome thing on my desk is the stapler, and there have been no stapling rampages of late, but still...