Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Era or Just New Carpet?

Like everyone else this week I awoke to hear news of a new Prime Minister. For a moment there I felt like I had been out of the country. How quickly they can accomplish change when they want it! Whilst I'm not a fan of any politician really I am warmed about the realisation of a female leader. I'd like to feel that times have changed but I know it's just a matter of time before we get wall to wall reviews of her lifestyle choice, hair colour, favourite lipstick or flower - all the ground breaking journalism that is required to remind us that she is not a man. On an evening out last night a now very rare opportunity came up to see a band at a Fitzroy pub. The usual men in gorilla suits were on the door trying to be testing until they came to me and got a response that reminded them that mother still can be scary and that he was not too old to be slapped on the legs. The pubs I went to during the early pac-man era had gaffer tape on the floor to hold the sticky beer carpet together and at some point during the night there would be a skinhead fist fight over who exactly did come from Brighton England and not from the well to do south eastern suburb in Melbourne. In the pub of last night the punters sat quietly on the non gaffer taped floor and listened to the band swathed in the swirling sounds of reverb pedals and sparkling laser lights. The lack of cigarette smoke and movement from the audience was eerie. It was however an enjoyable gig and standing at the back of the room it was only then that I felt a sense of a new era coming in. At least until a sustained moment in the middle of a song when my reminiscing same age colleague yells out "US forces give the nod..." For him the pub will never change even if the carpet does.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dial #1 for No Responsibility, Dial #2 for Couldn't Give A Shit

It's wrong to yell at call centre operators. It's wrong, it's not their fault and they are only doing their job. Yawn. They are just a front for the evilness of (insert telco/insurance company name here) that hide behind them with their no care policies and piss of disclosure statements. If more people scream down the phone (sorry 24 year old Customer Care operator) at these companies the more they might sit up and take notice. Why is it that your customer care operator can care until his nose bleeds but he can't ACTUALLY help you? "I'm not authorised to that ma'am but if you call back tomorrow...". Why pick up the goddamn phone if you can't actually do anything, and why get paid for it? Like yelling at the television every time an overpaid 'hero' gets away with another criminal act sprouting they made an 'error of judgement' (which to me would be making a wrong turn into a dead end street, not assaulting someone), somehow it just feels right. So the next time someone gives you the 'sorry the accountability department have gone for the day' keep them on the phone and see if you can get them to actually DO something for you. Remember, nice people are poor people...oops did I say that out loud? Sorry, error of judgement.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Game on

Is anyone excited about the world cup this year? Is it lacking some robust discussion or has our patriotism hit the dumpster faster than a used vuvuzela after the 4 nil result? Having a deficit knowledge of sport myself, I can only guess the decisions leading to the recent showing of a shiny red card to some of our better players and the resulting effects on the rest of the game. I am sure however that there are some learnings we can take from the beautiful game. Wouldn't it be good if we could have a red card in many other daily activities. At the deli counter if some women pushes in front of you a man in tight shorts appears and shoots his hand up in the air and a red card is shown. Woman sent off to the carpark. The man in front of you at the bar spills beer over your new shoes, the ref appears, man sent home in a cab. This could be useful. However there will be protests, I can imagine the arms going up "I didn't touch her, she knocked me", sorry sport, the ref has spoken, home you go. When I think of it we have a sort of red card in place already. A recent incident (of which we are yet to get the gory details) of a local retail CEO who was red carded about some bad behaviour got the 'sorry mate' and told it's time to walk the walk of shame. We desperately need a political red card, in fact we need a whole pack for them and for the NRL and AFL they need to be red carded for life, sorry love you have no respect for women and you think black people are not equal to you, off you go and become a call centre operator if you're lucky. Failing that we should be able to just sit in their homes and blow loud plastic horns at them until they learn to behave better.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

We are ze people in your neighborhood

It's time to think about travel. I am heading off to France in January and need to start making plans. This will be about my fifth time to the pastures of pastry and to date have only made petite attempts at any language learning. I can navigate enough French words to eat, drink and shop in fact I probably have a collection of at least 10 French words that revolve around my favourite wine, food and basic greetings. My usual approach is to sit around and wait until one of my 10 words comes up and then I say 'oui sil vous plait' and I'm sorted. I've tried listening to the french language CDs in the car but they are usually circa 1980 and the voice overs sound just a little bit 'Allo Allo' for me. I don't think it's been really helpful. When I travel I can't imagine any situation where the opportunity would arise where I would ask 'how do I get to the camping ground?' or when I'm visiting the local market where the women at the cheese counter would sooner stab me in the eye with an artichoke before letting me in, and all I can say is 'I like dancing'.

I'm considering private tuition only because I've tried the group classes and for some reason they believe that when you walk through the door you have reverted to a toddler and Sesame Street learning skills are the way to go. I actually attended a language course where the teacher asked everyone in the room to form a circle while he asked us to throw an Elmo toy to each other in order to learn how to count. This happens so often in Paris. I want to be able to string a sentence together with some of my 10 words and not have to stumble for the point and smile fallback position. I need to know how to hurl good french aussie abuse at a rip off taxi driver and be able to have a conversation with the man who brings his dachshunds into the restaurant to sit at the same table every night. That's life and language. I can find my own way to the train station.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

If I could turn back time

I was speaking with my Chiropractor today whilst he was working on my leg that somehow fell off and ended up being put on backwards. We were talking about how our memories of ourselves and our fitness levels often remain stagnate. In my mind I am physically capable of everything that I was 20 years ago and will attempt to lift furniture and conduct spontaneous fits of exercise without any adjustment or thought put into natural degeneration, hence the good relationship with a Chiropractor. It's true of so many people that suddenly decide to run the marathon as they did 10 years ago or play tennis like they can still get away with wearing white shorts. I have a similar theory with parents. I believe that parents have their children firmly wedged in an era of childhood in their minds that no matter how many times you marry, divorce, have children again and again, to your mother and father you will always be 12. In my case it's my father who carries a photograph of me and my sister in his wallet to show to enquiring friends (they don't really enquire, it just happens). In this photograph I'm with my sister and I'm holding a teddy bear. When I visit my parents and we decide to go out for the day I will be placed in the back seat of their car because in my parents mind I'm not old enough to drive a car. They'll check on me to make sure I'm not getting car sick and ask me if I can feel the heater/air conditioner every few kilometres. I'm sure if I look hard enough there are probably colouring books under the seat somewhere. I will be told to eat all of the food on my plate and I'll be criticised for spending money and not saving it (for what, my funeral I'm already grown up?). So with the long weekend and a visit to parentville coming I'm already mentally preparing for the reverse degeneration and anti aging atmosphere. I wonder if this is what Cher was singing about?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What the?

When I was in Singapore I caught a bus to the Chinatown district and stumbled across what looked like a Chinese shopping mall that very little done in renovations since the 1970's. It was shop after shop of poor quality shoes, travel agents that will sell you a ticket on a train to anywhere so long as you don't mind sharing with a live chicken and a few other suspect outlets that looked like they had to close in a hurry. One stall holder amused me greatly because she had the courage to set up her stall right in the middle of the mall. She was offering to remove moles. Yes, that's right, she was waving some rusty implement in the air spruiking for customers to come and have their moles removed. I politely declined as I failed to select the Gangrene Extras cover on my insurance. Who would have thought to combine medical procedures whilst shoe shopping. Apparently our State Government and a major city department store thought this was just the ticket. Whilst not happy with plain old mole removal, they've decided to install a breast examination booth smack bang in the middle of a department store. Gee, I don't know about you but I always forget to put that on my shopping list, handcream, mascara, mammogram, moisturizer. Now why should this sit so uneasily with me? Because I know that the items in any department store are there not because they care about me, but because the department store wants to make money. And so do medical franchises even when it's a 'free' service, someone is getting paid. I don't want health check booths to block up the perfume aisles any more than a man would want a prostate screening booth in front of the Foxtel in the local pub. So with the upcoming sale season will I expect to find 20% off or a scan one get one free offer? I suspect not. Take your boob bashing booth and bugger off, I'm here to shop.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Viva Las Bogus

Because I now live on the 8th floor I believe I should be lucky. For those who believe in such things the number 8 is the luckiest number of all. People pay high prices for number plates and houses with the great lucky number 8 and believe that it will bring them good fortune. I'm still waiting. I don't have a good history of luck. I don't gamble generally, not because I have any moral fibre, it's more because I'm so incredibly bad at it. If I put money on the stock market the next day I would be woken up by a crashing sound of free falling markets plummeting through the floorboards. A colleague of mine today received a call on her mobile phone from a complete stranger telling her that she had won a trip to Florida and that all she had to do was pay $900 US with her credit card, pay for her own airfare to the States and when she got there she would receive her prize of a world cruise. She politely told the caller that she was at the gym and didn't have her credit card details, she suggested he call back another time. He responded, very concerned that she would only be able to claim her prize today. She politely ended the call. I admire her for her restraint. I don't think I would have been able to get through that conversation with at least giving the caller some direction of what to do with his prize and what part of his anatomy I suggest he insert it. I did however get a call once and was told I had won a trip to London and accused the woman on the end of the telephone of trying to sell me something and just before I was able to hang up in her ear she reminded me that I did actually enter a competition 2 days prior and I had actually won. And I didn't have to give my credit card details. So on lucky number 8 floor any minute now lady luck or her slack cousin should be knocking on my door any minute. I hope I'm home.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Some things are best left in the dark

Self tracking devices are the newly desired apps to load onto your phone according to today's Sunday Age newspaper 'self accounting' they tell us is all the rage 'digital heart-rate monitors and running watches with inbuilt global positioning systems; websites to monitor alcohol consumption, calories, illness, mood or sexual encounters; mobile phone applications that lie next to your pillow at night, tallying your sleep'. Who are these self obsessed people? The need to monitor your life through internet spreadsheets and a personal pie chart sounds just a tad indulgent more so than anything Bridget Jones could have come up with. Awesome, today I've reached my maximum heart rate while opening the fridge door to consume no more than 200 calories to reach my recommended daily intake to match my low mood cycle that peaked during the first 3 hours of tracked rapid eye movement sleep. Wow, could life get any more fun than this? Tracking your weight loss doesn't require much more than noticing that your pants no longer fit and recording how many litres of water you drink a day can only lead to counting how many times it comes out the other end. Personally I think sleeping with a mobile phone under your pillow would be as healthy as sleeping in an electricity substation and if you need technology to remember how many glasses of Chardonnay you have had then you probably have a problem. As for sexual encounters being put into a colourful graph, now that would be such a turn on for any prospective date now wouldn't it? I'm sure there are some out there who would derive great pleasure from comparing each others graphed peaks and falls however the prospect of last night's encounter being captured as a year to date figure is not the stuff that dreams are made of. So even if things are trending in an upwards direction, I'm happy to carry on in the dark.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

And on the 7th day God did laundry

At this time of year the watercooler and shopping mall conversations describe plans to go away somewhere warm and the latest flu virus hits homes faster than anything Apple could release in stores anytime soon. More often than not we continue on while throwing down pharmaceutical efforts to ease our pockets of cash and maybe or maybe not ease a few symptoms as well. But we soldier on as if to give in to illness is somehow seen as defeat. I'm reminded of an episode of Dharma and Greg where Dharma decides to run for the local council and pushes herself to extremes in trying to please every single minority group in the neighborhood. She pushes herself to the point of exhaustion trying to please everyone and as everyday passes she develops more and more health problems. She gets ugly red sores on her face, she has a limp, her hair begins to fall out and she loses a tooth along the way but she is compelled to see it through to the end. You don't need to be a script writer to determine the lesson learned in this episode however I wonder if we ever write a lesson learned in our own episode? This week I felt like Dharma with that little voice in my head saying I'll just get through this next period and then I will take a break... as I limped down the street with a numb right leg. I'm too busy to go to the Chiropractor because I'm too busy going to the dentist for more root canal treatments where I've had so many of them I'm almost ready for the home do it yourself kit. I have a feeling that this particularly 'soldering on' gene is more prevalent in women. The smarter male of the species with a mere sniffle takes a swan dive onto the couch with remote control in one hand and the sporting pages in the other. I blame the superwoman myth. If men want to be super they put on a pair of tights, fly out the window and call themselves a hero. Women just put on another load of washing. I declare this day a day of rest. As soon as the spin cycle finishes.