a little east of reality

Friday, September 30, 2005

floriade photos

These are some digital photos I took at floriade. I will post more when I get my films back on Wednesday.

the salty junkman

I was scanning drip's poems recently because he asked for a top 15 list. One of them has the lines:
washed away into
the greedy surf
I liked that image of the greedy surf - instantly I could see the ocean sorting over the crap treasure people drop on the beach like a a kid let loose in a junkyard. I wrote this (kinda average) poem right then and there:
the salty junkman
slides his watery net across the shore
in one swift motion like
a greedy, stretching hand

what have you left for me,
you wanderers and ponderers?
an abandoned bucket, a bandaid,
a beaded bracelet with a broken clasp

he tosses a syringe casually
having no soft vulnerable soles

gathers odd treasures
turns them in his foamy fingers
again and again and
tosses them back onto the shore
when he's bored

I've been trying to write a song lately, too. Not sure where all this creativity is coming from, but I sure hope it lasts. That art course that was cancelled last term might be starting up again in a couple of weeks. I want to do it, but my drawing/painting sucks, so I can use all the creativity I can muster.

dreeeeeamin'...dreeeeamin' is free

I don't often remember my dreams, unless I do the snooze alarm thing (which is sometimes why I do the snooze alarm thing) and go in and out of sleep.

But now, with Gregor's dream generator I don't have to remember my dreams.

Last night, for example, I dreamt that: *consults the dream generator* some transparent art dealers were screaming at an orange.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

night watch

Ah that delightful chap from bma magazine has sent me more free stuff, may he be enveloped in delicious karma till Christmas. I love entering their contests now because I have this hope that I might actually win something. And can I just say how cool it is to open the mail and find something that is totally not a bill. I love that!

This time around I've won four tickets to a preview session of a new movie, Night Watch. There's just two in the picture as I already gave two to Neo.
Just after we've lived through Lord of the Rings and we can't even imagine another movie spellbinding us, along comes Timur Bekmambetov's fantasy masterpiece. Like Ridley Scott, Timur is an astonishing visionary and Night Watch is an epic of extraordinary power. (Quentin Tarantino)
Night Watch looks super scary. I may have to squinch down and keep my feet up on the seat in front of me the whole time - a technique I use to hide from the scary stuff. I'm in the same cinema, watching the same movie, surrounded by the same Dolby Digital sound, but somehow it helps.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

wednesday wt...?: summer with harry

Potter fan copies out whole book
A Harry Potter fan has wasted spent her summer holidays writing out the latest book because she has way too much time on her hands couldn't afford to buy it.

Sandra Luchian, 15, from Moldova, borrowed a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince from a friend and totally ignored copyright law when she wrote down the story word for word.

The book isn't available to buy outside the black market in Moldova, and her fellow coven members family couldn't afford to get the book smuggled in sent over from the UK.

So Sandra rather than finding a summer job and buying the book herself filled five notebooks with Harry's latest hot romance with Draco wizard adventures so she could add the book to her collection of stolen goods.

She even wrote dialogue in black, and narration in blue, to avoid quotation marks, which are a terrible insult in Moldavian make the story easier to read.

Copying down the stop looking pleased with yourself JKR and get writing book 7 already 607 pages took just over a month of her life she'll never get back.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

war vs anti-war

I loved this post by Ryland. The pro-war demonstration organisers were hoping for as many as 20,000 to turn up...they got 400.

Seems the tide is turning.

it's the little things that make a difference

Conversation on MSN:

me: I also just sent a couple of pics from our local flower festival, taken with the digicam. The first one is a bit blurry and I found that all the distant ones came out that way. The close ups however were great - check out the yellow tulips!

jojo: Did you make sure the switch on the side was set to mountains and not flowers? Otherwise anything over about 2 feet away is blurry.

me: oh...no I didn't. :$

jojo: :P I mentioned that one once already, easy to overlook and really ruins the pictures

me: yes I know...yes it is...and yes it does

Monday, September 26, 2005


Every Spring in Canberra there’s a flower festival called Floriade. It lasts about a month and they plant the flowers so that they bloom in timed intervals. This year’s theme is Rock’n’Roll and they seem to have mostly represented that as a colour theme based on song titles: Mellow Yellow, I See Red, A Whiter Shade of Pale, Strawberry Fields Forever, Paint It Black, Brown, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Fields of Gold, Blue Suede Shoes, etc. Each section also comes with trivia facts – did you know, for example, that The Rolling Stones’ manager locked Mick and Keith up until they came up with original songs. Festival events include bands and such, and a charity fund-raiser called Gnomestock, where thousands of garden gnomes have been painted by members of the public to look like their favourite rockers.

The flowers you see at the beginning of Floriade are different to the ones that are blooming by the last week. I'm always kind of amazed at how fascinating flowers can be. I mean they're just flowers. Sure, there's lots of them, but it's not that. I think I stop and look more closely at individual flowers. I forget how beautiful or interesting something so simple can be.

I took some photos with both my film camera and my digital camera. I won’t have the film developed till Wednesday but here’s a preview of one of my digital pics. I’m eager to see how Phi’s stuff came out as he has a way better camera than mine and can take very close shots that would blur if I took them with my film camera.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

do not discard

Wow. I'd heard that Garbage were good live, but I had no idea just how good.

Phi and I set off for Sydney at a reasonable time, but we didn't have a map until we got into the city and bought one. Sydney is one of those old cities that grew rather than being planned and finding your way around is a bit of a challenge, especially when you are reading the map by the interior car light. So when we pulled up and parked, there were just ten minutes till Garbage were due on stage. Mad scramble to pick up the tickets and buy a t-shirt while the crowd wasn't around the table, and then inside just as the lights were dimming.

And then Shirley Manson was on stage and time stopped. It's everything about her ~ her trashy, heavily-accented banter with the crowd ~ her deep, gravelly singing voice ~ her stark lyrics only accentuated by her snarling stage presence. She totally dominates the performance.

I'm no Barbie doll
I'm not your baby girl
I've done ugly things
And I have made mistakes
And I am not as pretty as those girls in magazines
I am rotten to my core if they're to be believed.

I've read that Manson thinks herself ugly. I think she misunderstands the nature of beauty. On (and from what I've read, off) stage she emits a dark light that reaches out into the audience and holds you by the throat until she releases you, stunned, back into the real world. I agree that she doesn't look generically beautiful, but she exudes a lot more heat.

One of the first thing she did was to say that in spite of the rumours they are definitely, definitely NOT breaking up. They are however taking a long holiday, at the end of which they hope to come back and create a great new album. I'm cool with that. Maybe their creative process demands it. As long as they come back, they can take whatever time they need.

The music was amazing. I'd seriously forgotten how good their songs were. I was a fan of their early music but didn't know much about the band at the time. They are labelled pop, but when the songs thump and the guitar wails and the lead singer rules the earth, to me that's a rock show. The crowd were a little too sensible for my liking - I came out of Powderfinger dripping with sweat and exhausted, which was not the case tonight. The crowd were totally into the band - they just apparently weren't into the whole hot, vibrant crush that tells you it's rock.

A fun incident came in the middle when the band started playing the wrong song. Manson stopped the song, explained the mistake to the crowd and then announced they'd be taking requests because:

"That's the way it is. When the band fucks up, there must be payback."
The first request was for "Supervixen", which went down well. Then she singled out a guy for his request and it was "Kick My Ass", a random b-side track.

"Are you fucking kidding me?" she screeches at him.

"I'm gonna need my lyrics book for that one."

She stalks off, yelling towards the side of the stage for her lyrics book. Someone brings it and she's flipping pages.

"I don't think it's even in here. Fuck, I really don't have it."

She started trying to sing the song, died after a line or so and then had the guy who requested it tell her the lyrics line by line so she can try to do the song. Finally she gave it up and asked for another request. He asked for "Trip My Wire" - yet another random b-side. She abused him some more, screwed up that song too, and then sang another song directly to him in apology. Sure they were screwing up, but it was real and she was funny as hell. I would've asked for 'When I Grow Up" but they played it later anyway so I was satisfied.

More than satisfied. Sated. Great show.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

end of the world

With all these natural disasters occurring, terrorism rearing its ugly head and Martha Stewart back on the streets, some people are probably wondering if this is the end of the world. According to Jeff at jeffiscool.com, this is not at all how the world is going to end.

Here's how the 'real' story goes:


(You need Flash to watch it. There's some swearing and Australia (along with the French and Canadians) are mocked a little. Don't say I didn't warn you!)

Friday, September 23, 2005

garbage, here we come

Last night Phi arrived home with news. Garbage had played that night in Canberra and we'd previously made a decision not to go (the available seats weren't so good, it was a Wednesday and he would have had to miss work to go). But last night he heard a rumour that the band was breaking up after their Australian tour, having cancelled the European dates that were meant to follow it. This was terrible news - we might have just given up our last chance to see them live.

"Where else are they playing? We need to go see them."

I checked the net and found out that tickets were still available for the Sydney show this Friday night. One online transaction later we were suddenly on for a roadtrip to Sydney to see Garbage. Yah!! And we got lucky too - for these last minute tickets there was a two-for-one offer. What we saved on the tickets will pay for our petrol.

Live is good. I love that we just decided and then went ahead. This morning I read that they are not breaking up after all. Even better.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

roofshadow's birthday

Happy Birthday Roofshadow!!

And for your birthday, in lieu of parcels that should be on your doorstep as we speak...and yet are not (soon!) here are a few must-see movie trailers:

Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire
and Pride and Prejudice

That last one...*sigh* I know Colin Firth is an adorable Mr Darcy (in both Mr Darcy roles), but even without him, I just know that movie is going to be delightful.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

juicy adventures

I just had the yummiest juice with my breakfast ~ an apple and strawberry mix that I juiced myself last night. I used Pink Lady apples, which are sweet but with a bit of a bite. It is SO GOOD! Usually I make a nice healthy detoxing juice like apple, carrot and beetroot. I made that one this time too, with a little celery juice for good measure. But the apple/strawberry concoction was purely for pleasure. The fact that it's healthy is irrelevent.

We did have a bit of adventure getting it from the fruit to the glass. I set up the juicer on the stovetop as normal. Halfway through the engine starts to smoke. Or so I thought... I of course stop juicing immediately to let the motor rest, but the smoke doesn't stop. Phi wanders over to have a look.

"Hmm, that smells like plastic burning..." he says thoughtfully.

Suddenly he leaps into action!

"Quick! Quick!" He reaches in and pushes the juicer back towards the wall.


"The stove is on!!"

That's right. In trying to clean up some spilled juice along the way I had unintentionally turned on the hotplate under the juicer. It's an oldish stove and the hot plates don't immediately glow red like some of the more modern ones do. The plastic cyclinder that catches the pulp was causing the smoke and now has a little melty scar on its bottom edge.The juicer itself was fine, thank goodness. I'm just glad I didn't discover this all by putting my hand on the hotplate. That would've sucked.

Anyway, as soon as the danger was over we laughed our asses off.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

be very afraid

Victoria was exploring the idea of fear and it set me thinking. I know that fear is not always a bad thing ~ sometimes it's appropriate ~ but I was trying to work out when that is and isn't the case.

My take on fear is that good fear prompts you to action. If the house is on fire and I'm scared to be burned, I will hightail it out of that house quick smart - good fear. Bad fears for me are the ones that stop us from taking action, paralyse us - fear of making a mistake, fear of looking stupid in front of other people, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown. A friend once suggested to me that most procrastination is born of fear ~ particularly fear of failure. Actually I don't wholly agree with that. I think some procrastination is born of tiredness and some simply of laziness, but I think it's true that sometimes we put things off because we are afraid we will fail in the attempt.

When we are young, the unknown is so fascinating to us that our parents are constantly running to stop us doing some crazy thing like reaching for a hot cup of coffee or sticking a fork into a power point. Sure, there's risk in being so unafraid, but look what comes of it ~ we grow and develop at a rate much faster than we ever do as an adult. We need to learn fear to survive to adulthood, but then I think we often use that fear to close a tight little comfort zone around ourselves and live a safe, and uneventful, life.

So once you realise that you're being paralysed by fear, how do you deal with it? Facing your fears is a nice idea, but how do you actually go about it? Any ideas?

Monday, September 19, 2005

US deficit

Some interesting information on the US deficit came to light today:

On the US budget, Clinton warned that the federal deficit may be becoming untenable, driven by foreign wars, the post-hurricane recovery programme and tax cuts that benefitted just the richest one percent of the US population, himself included.

"What Americans need to understand is that ... every single day of the year, our government goes into the market and borrows money from other countries to finance Iraq, Afghanistan, Katrina, and our tax cuts," he said.

"We have never done this before. Never in the history of our republic have we ever financed a conflict, military conflict, by borrowing money from somewhere else."

Clinton added: "We depend on Japan, China, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, and Korea primarily to basically loan us money every day of the year to cover my tax cut and these conflicts and Katrina. I don't think it makes any sense.

I was aware of the fact that the US deficit was funded by overseas governments buying US government bonds. I learned that in Asian Studies five years ago - that all Japan need do is stop buying US bonds in order to really screw up the US economy. The reason they don't do that is because the money comes right back to them when Americans buy Japanese goods. And they buy a lot of them.

What I didn't know was that this had now extended to them paying for a military engagement this way. I'm not a huge Clinton fan (being one of those weird people who actually thinks leaders shouldn't be liars) but I do respect the fact that he is saying this, even though he is one of the few who get the highest level of tax cut. I wonder if the rest of the 1% richest people in the US care. Maybe not. After all, it's the middle class who pay the bulk of taxes, not the super rich, and it's the middle class who will end up paying for this deficit.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

couldn't bear it another moment

Enormous bear went for a little ride today and didn't come back. *cue evil music*

I want to be humourously villainous about it, but it still feels too weird. I've never returned a present before...ever. I kept an ugly raccoon wind chime thing for years because I love the person who gave it to me. But that chime could fit in the palm of my hand. The bear, on the other hand, dominates any room it's in and the truth is that I don't even like small stuffed toys. A friend of Phi's came over and said how adorable it was and I nearly offered it to her. I even thought about giving it to some young kid who would be thrilled to have it. But giving it away seemed much more callous than returning it, as if I didn't even care that they had spent their hard-earned cash on me. And I do.

Now I just have to figure out when to tell them that I returned it. I don't think they'll believe he 'went to live on a nice teddy bear farm in the country'. Is it really that insulting to tell someone that they simply made a bad choice of present? It's amazing how much intentions count. Given how tactless the whole thing was in the first place, part of me feels like I shouldn't have to tiptoe around their feelings. Yet the rest of me just can't be like that, because I honestly believe that they thought I would find it delightful. And that is enough reason to be tactful about returning it.

*sigh* Sometimes life's just too hard.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

go the fro!

Tonight went to Tilley's to see Afro Moses perform African-Carribbean music. He uses traditional African instruments (hooked up to amps the way you do it with acoustic guitars) but his songs both traditional and more modern. Tonight he performed with a couple of guys, one from Pakistan one from Senagal both on types of drums, and a girl who sang backup. Sometimes he plays with a 12 piece band, but it would have been out of place in Tilley's which is a cozy venue.

His voice is amazing. Remember at the beginning of The Lion King when that startling voice just rings out? He actually did that song, because there were kids in the audience (they loved it!) and it was just so powerful. They also had the audience totally involved, singing, dancing and clapping rythyms. Something totally different to the usual night out, but great fun.

dave grohl

Drummer Boy was appalled to find out that I wasn't "much into the Foo Fighters". I'd only seen them perform one night on Rove Live and to be honest it was a pretty average performance. He adores them, not least of all because Dave Grohl is his hero. Like Grohl, DB plays more than drums and he'd love to be as good as Grohl on everything.

So I find myself lately checking out Foo Fighters' music and becoming more and more interested in what I read about Dave Grohl. I had no idea just how many musical incarnations the guy had been through. Back when Nirvana were huge I was into other grunge bands like Pearl Jam. I knew some of Nirvana's music, but not the name of the band members, so it didn't mean anything to me when Foo Fighters emerged, because I didn't know who Dave Grohl was.

Their single All My Life was the turning point. I love that song! Since then I seem to hear Foo Fighters everywhere I go. A couple days ago I came across the Hammer collector's edition mag on Foo Fighters - 154 pages of FF that is going to have DB worshipping the ground I walk on when I give it to him later today. And this week I heard Dave Grohl's CD Probot. This page explains the project better than I could, but basically Grohl wrote an album full of great metal songs and then involved all his favourite metal vocalists from his formative years.

The result is impressive. Generally my tastes stand on the hard rock side of the line between hard rock and heavy metal, but even I could recognise how good the album was - sharp, vibrant metal sung full-throated and pure. Nice. If you follow this link you can see Grohl's comments on some of the artists who sang on the album:

It'll be interesting to see where this leads me. I haven't been through a heavy metal phase (if that's what I'm in) since school.


This week I discovered last.fm thanks to Sclatchfan.

Last.fm keeps track of the music you play and compiles your music profile over time. After you've played about 300 tracks, and it has an idea of your taste, it starts identifying your musical neighbours. This means you can find people with similar music tastes and check out what they're listening to that maybe you don't know about yet.

I can play my own music or listen to their net radio in a format I decide through my preferences, either through tags like 'rock' or 'punk' or just by typing in a band or twelve and asking it to play 'bands like that'. There's also a journal feature which is intended for people to write specifically about music - whether opinions, reviews or concert reports. Obviously you could use it for other stuff, but I already have a blog and this is a music community, so why bother. I haven't decided yet whether to duplicate my journal entries over here A Little East of Reality...leaning towards 'yes' at the moment.

Anyway, if you want to check out my page, here it is.

Friday, September 16, 2005

click to see it full size

Thursday, September 15, 2005

she works hard for the money

I had a job interview today. It's for a promotion within the branch I currently work for. This was the first time I've ever been interviewed by people I work with - it was kind of weird at first, but they were really good at putting people at ease and getting a discussion going. Neo also applied and said the same thing afterwards.

Anyway, gruelling stuff: first a written exercise for 30min (I had to write a summary of a document on the evolution of the Australian telecommunications industry) and then an interview with a panel of three. Six questions, and I was there for an hour and a half! I'll post the questions later maybe, but I have to wait until interviews are over to get a copy of them. When I first read them I felt a bit out of my depth, but once I started talking I realised that I knew more than I thought I did. (At least I hope so!! It might have all been rubbish.)

The nice thing about this interview is that I am already employed and happy where I am. It would be fabulous to go up a level and get a little more money each payday, but if I miss out it's okay. I don't need to feel bad if friends from the branch are successful and I'm not, because nothing crucial is riding on it. I really like the lack of pressure to compete. I like knowing that when I wish them luck I mean it and am not secretly thinking 'but not as much luck as me, please!'

I won't know the outcome for almost a month, so I'm just putting it on the back burner and forgetting about it for now. I'll let you know how things turn out.

how to make chosha blush

I went to a birthday party tonight and someone asked for my phone number. This was the second time I'd met him - he's nice, pretty easy to talk to. I was all super casual about it, but inside I was blushing like the proverbial schoolgirl. Eek. *^_^*

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

kudos to you, dagnabbit...

Okay so I've decided that today I need to do something I just hate doing. I need to compliment some people that technically I loathe. But you know, sometimes you just have to acknowledge that they occasionally get it right. Maybe it's a good karma thing.

Firstly, kudos to the English test cricket team for stealing back the Ashes from Australia for the first time in 18 years. For you American types not familiar with the noble game of cricket, this link explains the origins of the Ashes series. The Ashes stay with England or Australia, depending on who wins the series. We've had them 18 long years and England has been seriously partying since winning this year's series.

Secondly, and this is much harder to do, kudos to Dubbya for taking responsibility for the federal government's poor response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster.

"Katrina exposed serious problems in our response capability at all levels of government," Bush said at joint White House news conference with the president of Iraq.

"To the extent the federal government didn't fully do its job right, I take responsibility," Bush said.

The president was asked whether people should be worried about the government's ability to handle another terrorist attack given failures in responding to Katrina.

"Are we capable of dealing with a severe attack? That's a very important question and it's in the national interest that we find out what went on so we can better respond," Bush replied.

Compare this from September 1:
"George W Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday," says the New York Times in an editorial.

"He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end.

"And nothing about the president's demeanour yesterday - which seemed casual to the point of carelessness - suggested that he understood the depth of the current crisis."

Don't get me wrong. I still think the man is an oaf and has been a poor president. After all, the above only took place two weeks ago. However, today I have to give credit where credit is due. Some have quoted Kerry, who is right when he says:
"The President has done the obvious, only after it was clear he couldn’t get away with the inexcusable."
But the point is: it was the right thing to do, and he did it. So just for today, Dubbya, kudos to you.

raphael's portfolio

Keyboard Kid and I decided to delve into the heady world of international fashion. We were shooting a billboard shot for a car advertising campaign but our model, Raphael, convinced us to do a few extra shots for her portfolio. Here's what eventuated:

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

two poems from drip

drip writes a poem each day. Recently he wrote a couple poems I really like:

this one on September 11:
a fostering light
grows dim
with the steam
of her energies
I am swallowed
by time alone;
I put my shadow on
like a cloak
I will learn to
embrace this decay,
plans crumbling like my teeth
I will never suck
the pink of her
full lower lip;
I will not lose
my fingers in
the thickness of her hair
I cannot thank her
for projecting me
through the frantic wealth
of my dreams.
And this one on August 23:
my love is a soft light
slipping through
your morning window
It wants to hold
your body,
to feel the rise and fall
of your chest
It wants to dance along
each slope, each sinew
in a perfect motion
of devotion
This sacred architecture
speaks to me
when you can't.

Monday, September 12, 2005

answering prayers

The waiter guy over at waiter rant wrote a wonderful post today about an incident that occurred in the floods in Louisiana. He described his thought process in trying to make any kind of sense of some poor guy having to listen to his mother plead for help day after day when none was coming.

He said:
I shut the radio off and kill the engine. I have tears in my eyes. Tightness constricts my chest. I imagine it’s my mother pleading for her life. I try and shake the imagery out of my head but I can’t. Adrenaline pumps through my system. My hands start shaking. Sick desolation spreads out from the pit of my stomach.
He asked some poignant questions about God and prayer, and gave some interesting answers.

“God is weak and powerless in the world, and that is exactly the way, the only way, in which he can be with us and help us.”

The guy who said that was a Lutheran pastor named Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was executed by the Nazi’s for trying to assassinate Hitler. This man knew Evil up close and personal. But he still cherished his faith in God and his belief in the goodness of the world. How did he do that in the face of such monstrosity?

Because he realized that God was not all powerful. He knew God wouldn’t swoop down and save him from his jailors. He understood there’s no division of sacred and profane, any secular and divine. He saw there’s only one reality and he believed that reality was God. And from within that insight he wrestled with the mystery of suffering.

God, Bonhoeffer would say, suffers with us. He shares in our pain. If you’ve ever been to a child’s funeral you know the only thing you can do is cry. God is like that person weeping in the funeral parlor. It was God who was pulverized when the Towers fell, it was God who burned in the Nazi’s ovens, and it was God who drowned in that nursing home in New Orleans.

If you have the time, read the whole post. In amongst his funny stories about bistro life, he sometimes gives real insight and wisdom.

This is the comment I added onto the post, slightly edited to add a thought I had later:

There's so much we blame God for not doing that we could do ourselves. That woman didn't need to drown. Her prayers should have been answered - through other people. There was almost a week long window of opportunity there and no-one took it. We can say no-one could take it - certainly her son would have saved her if he could - but the most I hear about the lack of response to this disaster, the more I wonder how much more could have been done if the will was there to do it.

You know, natural disasters (the tsunami, the hurricane) do happen, but most of what ails this earth is caused by people. I would include the neglected levee, but it's much more than that. Most human suffering comes from other people. And I understand why God doesn't intervene in that (the only way to take away the consequences of free will after all, is to take away free will) but it still hurts to see so much of it happen. Isn't life hard enough already without us hurting each other? Why do we try so hard to step on top of other people on our way to places and powers we don't really need to have a happy life?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

bai bai tamaki

Tamaki left today. We had a bit of an adventure when I ran out of petrol two streets from the university. That hill never seemed so steep till I was trying to hurry up it with a very large suitcase. Tamaki ran ahead and got someone to come back with a car. She was already emotional because it was her last day, and this just made her moreso, so she was a bit teary when she got on the bus.

She gave me this letter:
Dear Chosha

I really appreciate your kindness for 3 weeks. You always speak in plain English for me, so I could understand. [smiling face]

I'm sorry that I was always shy so I couldn't talk with you so much. But, you are always very kind to me and make me laugh. [laughing face] Thank you for teaching correct English and helping my presentation. I learned that 'th' sound is very important in speaking English.

I want to stay here but I have to go. [crying face] I'll never forget my pleasant memories in Canberra. I'll send you a letter when I come back to Japan.

Thank you very much! [heart heart heart]
Take care!!!
Tamaki [picture of a rabbit waving and saying 'goodbye']
Cute, huh? In regard to the 'th' sound, for those who don't already know this: the Japanese language has no 'th' sound, so it's always a challenge for Japanese when they learn English. Her presentation was on the Australian climate and was good I thought. The teacher liked it anyway.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

in other birthday dinner related news...

There were ten of us around the table and it was extremely festive looking, including silly hats, which everyone actually wore. I got to choose my meal and went with something simple that I know I love: chicken schnitzel, mashed potatoes and corn on the cob. The birthday cake was a coconut cake. Trevor's coconut cake has been my favourite for a long time. It isn't the most complex, or truly even the most delectable, cake he makes (that award would go to his chocolate cheescake...to die for), but I love coconut flavour and the simplicity of the cake appeals to me.

Presents: flowers for my window sill (very pretty), a photo album, a votive candle (votive meaning 'made or done to express gratitude or devotion'...yeah I don't get why either, but the smell is nice), a small Japanese wall hanging and the afore-mentioned enormous bear.

It was a low-key night. Some singing, a game of charades (which is fun with the kids playing) and some football on TV. We're from Adelaide, where Aussie Rules Football is popular (here it's rugby). In Adelaide there are only two AFL teams: the Adelaide Crows, or Port Power. Tonight they were playing each other and we are all diehard Crows fans. So in spite of it being a birthday dinner, we couldn't resist watching part of the game (the Crows totally won, by the way, 123 to 40).

I found myself often wondering what Phi thought of it all. I've known this family half my life - they are a quirky bunch and I love them heaps, but I did wonder what his perception of it all was, especially because the kids all like him so they can be a little overwhelming when they try to include him.

my new boyfriend...NOT!

Tonight I received this enormous bear. He's beautiful, and his 'fur' is soft and woolly to the touch. As bears go he's quite lovely.


I received it, not because I like stuffed animals particularly (which I don't) but because it 'will give me something to cuddle at night' (My friend actually told me this in front of the whole birthday gathering in a tone that clearly said, 'isn't that a fabulous idea?'). Poor me...all alone and no-one to hold. Obviously what I need is an enormous stuffed animal to fill the enormous space on the other side of my enormous bed.

I think I'll just kill myself right now.

Although I'd bet a million dollars that my friend had no intention of embarrassing me, I felt just like Bridget Jones at that dinner party full of 'smug marrieds':
"Yes, Bridge, why is it that there are so many unmarried women in their thirties?"
"Well, it might have something to do with the fact that underneath our clothes our bodies are covered in scales."
I suppose it could have been worse. They could have bought me one of these. Or had 'loser' tatooed on my forehead while I was sleeping.

Friday, September 09, 2005


I've seen this one a few times lately, but wasn't tagged, so I thought I'd take up Wanda's challenge for anyone who hadn't done it yet to get into it. Plus I love 7s.

7 things I plan to do before I die:
1) Visit Nepal.
2) Get a book published.
3) Get married.
4) Become a black belt in karate.
5) Own my own home.
6) Learn to play a rock instrument well (guitar or drums).
7) Become fluent in Japanese.

7 things I can do:
1) Negotiate fairly.
2) Write (various kinds of writing).
3) Make logical argument.
4) Be consistent when dealing with children.
5) Give sincere compliments.
6) Make up rhyming clues.
7) Find a way to explain things that people don't understand so that they do.

7 things I cannot do:
1) Hide my feelings.
2) Get to bed on time.
3) Get out of debt. *sigh* Working on changing this one.
4) Draw/paint.
5) Tell when people are lying.
6) Ignore emotional manipulation.
7) Anything mechanical/spatial/hands on.

7 things that attract me to the opposite sex/another person:
1) friendliness/inclusive of everyone
2) having an open mind (but without always vacillating in what you believe)
3) intelligence
4) talent (especially musical talent)
5) beautiful eyes
6) strong-looking hands/forearms
7) long hair (if it suits their face & personality)

7 things I say most often:
1) Actually...
2) The thing is...
3) I'd rather jab my eye out with a red hot poker.
4) So NOT going to happen.
5) That doesn't make any sense.
6) Wahhh, hoshiii!! (I really want that!!)
7) Whatever song lyric is stuck in my head.

7 celebrity crushes:
1) Michael Shanks
2) Orlando Bloom
3) John Cusack
4) Johnny Depp
5) David Krumholtz
6) Viggo Mortensen
7) Keanu Reeves (I know, I know, I don't care.)

I tag Rafe, Roofshadow, Walker and Nemesis. (Hey that's more than halfway to 7 people; it'll do.)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

from where I see it

A few weeks back I visited our Melbourne offices on the 44th floor looking out over Melbourne as far as the eye can see.

Today I visited our Sydney offices. They are only located on the 15th floor, but overlooking Darling Harbour. Sweet!

Our fourth floor view of...*sigh*...the car park is starting to look very shabby indeed.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

~~~ happy birthday to me ~~~

Today was my birthday.

How old was I you ask? Forget it! haha Nobody ever guesses right, so why should I fill them in?

My main celebration is actually going to be on Saturday, so more news then, but today I got three presents. The first was a small ridiculous Pokemon called Charmander, which I totally love because:
a) he looks cute on my computer
b) he has a wobbly head, and
c) one of my favourite things about the two people who gave him to me is how much fun I have talking to them about all kinds of ridiculous things, cartoon characters included, so he suits.

The second present was from Phi - a DVD set of Pirates of the Carribean with a bonus disc (previously unreleased material and the like). Given that I love Johnny Depp, think Orlando Bloom is the most beautiful man on earth (sorry Hyde) and enjoy all things piratey, it was a good choice.

The third present was not specifically for my birthday, but I'm counting it as such because it was a present from jojo and arrived on my birthday. It was the digital camera that took the photos in this post. I love that I can now get photos of something I'm posting about and add them in, rather than having to wait for them to be developed. Expect more pics from me.

Anyway, it was a pretty low key birthday. Saturday there's a birthday dinner thing happening.

Happy birthday to me, yo!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

can you spell 'manipulative'? F..O..X

I am very irritated by Fox at the moment.

I know they're pro-Bush and have a Republican bias, but how dare they use a natural disaster and the suffering of thousands of people to further their own agenda! In a bid to excuse the federal government's lack of response, they've been telling viewers that people have no right to ask for help in situations like this - that it's not the government's job to bail them out of trouble...they have to stand on their own two feet and help themselves...blah, blah, blah.

I bet that isn't what they would say if a nice big tornado ripped through the middle of the Bible Belt. But hey, it's that godless den of New Orleans, so clearly these people are just begging for government aid because they're lazy. Bastards. This isn't some straightforward argument about the welfare state. These are people who lost everything in one day. The very people they are railing on for not evacuating in the beginning are in some cases the most independent of the lot, who thought they could brave their way through it and not ask for help.

The worst of all is the way they are slagging off at the Louisiana government and saying that 'in a time like this you need a strong leader...just look at Giuliani - when 9/11 happened he was really there for his people, etc etc'. Now I'm not downing the man, but the disaster he was coping with:
a) was vastly different in terms of the nature and scope of what needed to be done, and
b) had the immediate and continued support of the federal government.

The bombing of the World Trade Center was truly terrible, but it did not create the kind of refugee problem that Louisiana is facing right now. So why are they comparing the two? Easy - the news is that Giuliani is running for president in 2008 on, you guessed it, the Republican ticket. Fox really are the most ludicrously biassed news source. A disaster happens and they immediately look for a way to manipulate the news to their cronies' advantage. I'd call it shameless journalism, but it isn't journalism - it's propaganda.

And people wonder why Chomsky damns the media. Well, duh. Watch Fox News for an hour or so and find out.

Monday, September 05, 2005

world response

Wanda asked in a post (Aug 31) why the world wasn't responding to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. This prompted me to a do a little searching. I knew how my own government had responded ($10 million through Red Cross and the offer of disaster experts) but I was curious about how the rest of the world was responding. I found this summary and it was a nice surprise.

A couple of the offers really touched me. The first was from Sri Lanka. Though their contribution (US$25,000) is relatively small compared to other nations, to me it had a feel of the widow's mite (vs 1-4) about it, because Sri Lanka are still rebuilding from their own devastation at the hands of the huge tsunami that hit last December 26.

The second was from Cuba. Yes, Cuba! After a 40 year US-imposed embargo designed to destroy the Cuban economy, Fidel Castro has put aside his fight with a government who has tried to have him assassinated no less than five times, in order to focus on people in need. Cuba has offered the very direct assistance of 1100 doctors and 26 tonnes of medicines, and judging by the information given in John's blog, I think the medicines in particular would be most appreciated. People before politics. I think that's absolutely awesome.

I also loved the response of the EU 25-nation bloc: "Whatever they ask for, it will be given, from reserves of oil ... to any other thing that they may need." As simple as that: what they need, we will give. That's beautiful.

Of course I was as upset as others were (Sep 4) at news that the US government was being slow about accepting these offers of aid while their citizens perished for want of it, but I couldn't let that blind me to the flood of compassion these offers represent.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

racism and the media

I was just reading this story about Kanye West's surprise comments at the NBC benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina victims.

Now I don't agree that the delays in relief are deliberate. I think they are just an example of a poorly prepared emergency plan, if anything. And as much as I find Bush scarily ignorant and hate most of his foreign policy decisions, I have no evidence that the guy is racist. But West's comments on the media did catch my attention and I think that there is some truth in them. He said:

"I hate the way they portray us in the media. If you see a black family, it says they're looting. See a white family, it says they're looking for food".

I decided to do a little searching. What I found was that:

All the photos of 'looters' were of black people

The majority of photos concerning home owners and people waiting to buy limited gas supplies were of white people.

The majority of photos mentioning refugees/displaced persons were of black people.

I also found a hot debate going on regarding the kind of wording West was talking about. One news photo comparison in particular has been used:

Caption 1 under the very dark skinned person: " A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans."

Caption 2 under the light skinned people: "Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store..."

It isn't the only case. Another photo of a white man, for example, outside a convenience store is described as 'looking through his shopping bag'. You have to at least wonder if that possessive 'his' would have been used if the man were black, given all of the looting photos featuring black people coming out of stores.

To be fair, this isn't conclusive evidence of racism - for that to be so the captions on the two photos would have at least had to be written by the same person or passed by the same editor, or there would have had to be many more examples than there were. However, I see this kind of pattern often enough in the every day media to know that it's true to say that the media reports in a biassed manner, not only in terms of race, but also religion. Here in Australia, they will never fail to mention if a criminal (or alleged criminal) is Aboriginal, or Muslim, or something else that isn't white, or mainstream religion.

I really hate that. It is almost never relevent to their crime and shouldn't be mentioned. Usually when I retell stories from the news I'll just leave those details out altogether. A couple of times someone has come back to me and asked, 'hey you know that guy you were telling me about yesterday - did you know he's Aboriginal?' and I just say, 'yeah, I knew that. I just didn't think it was relevent.' Sometimes it irks me that they even brought it up, but mostly I'm glad for the chance to subtly point out that maybe they should think twice before treating it like it's relevent either.

Because it isn't. And the media should stop acting like it is.

Anyway, just to finish up on a positive note, I did find this very much exception to the rule, which I thought I'd share. This is a picture of volunteers delivering MRE (Meals - Ready to Eat) rations to refugees who'd been in their cars for some time, waiting to evacuate the area, if I remember correctly. Although I still think that colour isn't relevent in a situation like this one, in amongst all the other news photos taken, it was nice to see.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

corners like it's on rails

Trumpets sound, and angels sing! I finally went for a ride in Phi's MR-2.

At first it was a bit anti-climatic - I mean come on! THREE MONTHS of anticipation factor? Whose car can live up to that? Especially when I'm not a car hound anyway. But then we settled in and put some heavy metal on. The sub-woofer was doing its thing and the car (along with us!) vibrated with the beat, and our coolness factor rose at least two notches. ^_^

On the way back I requested finding out what it meant when 'the turbo kicks in' (a phrase much bandied-about in our pre-ride conversations). This led to some ferocious driving which was a little scary, but also exciting. I told him afterwards that he really shouldn't be nervous about the idea of me driving his car, because I wouldn't dare do even half the stuff he did.

The seats are shaped like race car seats, so they hold you in snugly. Apart from that the boy knows how to drive his car. So when we went around corners fast it was like being on a theme park ride - as first it felt like you just had to fly outwards on the corner but then you could feel yourself being held and kind of swung around the corner. Pretty cool feeling that I won't be attempting to recreate in my Corona.

The only thing we didn't do was take the top off. But I figure that's better for a warm summer night when all the stars are out.