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Bad coffee, pumpkins and other endemic NQ anachronisms

Have you ever bought a coffee that was so terrible you winced as you drank it? I have. Don’t buy coffees from the ferry terminal in Townsville. They are bad. Maybe it was because I decided to be healthy and sample the “skinny cappuccino” – I won’t be doing that again. If I didn’t need the caffeine to I would probably have tipped it down the sink. I had to hold my nose to get it down. Seriously. Bad. Coffee. There are some good coffee outlets in Townsville – don’t let my experience curtail your plans to holiday here. Townsville is the tourism capital of the world. At least it will be. Maybe.

I had another strange North Queensland experience yesterday. My job is all about networking – and using this network for leverage to gain favours for other people in the network – it all balances out in the end. I exerted some leverage to obtain some video footage of the area for a conference organiser from the Burdekin (it’s in the sticks man… about 45 minutes south of Townsville). This guy has a reputation around town for being a pretty prickly character (or a bit of a …). He hassled me and hassled me on this footage – I can’t make the WIN production people do their stuff any faster, particularly when they’re doing me a favour – but I eventually produced the goods and this guy, as a demonstration of gratitude, produced the produce. He dropped a pumpkin, and some homegrown eggplants and avocados around to our office to thank me. I’m not sure what the message here is – pay peanuts you get monkeys, pay vegetables you get me? Hmm…

North Queensland people do some strange stuff… ‘ey. See I can type in their lingo. But to the MPC people going on the youth leaders training thing this weekend – be nice, and don’t tell any lies about me. I’m doing a good enough job of selling myself up here without your “help.”

There were a couple of noteworthy stories in the newspaper yesterday.

Apparently James Blunt’s song “your beautiful” (I’m not capitalising it because I don’t believe it deserves proper noun status) woke a young girl from a coma. I guess that makes the scoreboard on the damage wrought by James Blunt vs good stuff caused about 10000000000000000 – 1. That was a completely arbitrary number of 0’s you could add some more for good measure.

An employee at Australian’s money producing factory (I can’t remember what they’re called) made a mint out of his job (see how I set up that pun…poetry) – walking out of work with $600 worth of $2 coins every day for 10 months. He put the coins in his shoes and lunch box.

And finally a plug for two websites… Would a website unplugged be a blank screen? Or a letter? Interesting questions… interesting interpretation of the word interesting…

Scooter gave me an inside look into his upcoming Interesting Pigeon facts. I’d encourage all my readers to become his readers too. I imagine if a number of readers from here went there it would be a real coup/coop/coo (that’s two puns in one).

I can’t encourage you strongly enough to check out the works of those two crazilly flawed nuts at from Everybody’s second favourite segment productions – Phil and Smiley (I will refer to myself in the third person for the sake of this advertisement). Check out their all new comedic endeavours at philnsmiz.blogspot.com. At the moment you can read an exclusive interview with the cast from the highly successful, but never released, MADE IN CHINA – The Art Rock Musical. It’s highly likely that reading it will cause your sides to split – whether that’s from a skillfully inserted knife, or laughter, is yet to be determined. We’re not actively encouraging people to go developing post musical stigmata or anything… but hey.

Playing with knives and part 2 of the story of the crazy Japanese man

Well I do believe I’m a prophet… I’d just written that heading and was going to talk about the exquisitely sharp leatherman I’d just been playing with when BAM (or more correctly SLICE) I shut it on my thumb. It hurts. Blood tastes funny. Metallic in fact. But the med students I’ve asked can’t explain why. My guess is that it has something to do with the iron content, and because I’m an iron man my blood must be extra metally tasting. So I’m feeling pretty retarded at the moment (sorry to all the politically correct people out there – but it’s technically true – my movement and thinking is somewhat inhibited). I was using the knife to stab myself in the arm anyway, so I probably deserved it. I haven’t gone all emo or self harm crazy or anything – I just had a funny pimple that needed probing… that’s probably a pretty disgusting thing to put on my blog – but that’s what you get here – you get my life, pimples and all…

So yesterday’s Japanese man story has a sequel. There maybe some ethical ramifications for posting this story on the internet – so to protect the identities of the parties involved I’m going to rename them. For the sake of this story the Japanese guy who was last seen handcuffed and heading off to the hospital yesterday will be called Bob. And the med student who handled the admission of said patient, and tracked down his family, will be called umm Nyrrik. Don’t go reversing either of those names, because the first one is a palindrome anyway so there’d be no point, and the second one, well that wouldn’t really protect anyone’s identity would it.

As Bob was pushed into the back seat of a police car (note the indefinite article – it wasn’t “the police car” because there were multiple police cars on the scene… that’s what happens when two different people call the police and one uses 000 while the other dials the direct line) I realised that Bob would probably be being taken to some sort of mental health type place – given that he’d exhibited all the signs of being slightly (well probably more than slightly) crazy. So I sent a message to Nyrrik, who is currently on a mental health rotation for her med studenting… or for her degree… to tell her to watch out for the crazy Japanese guy we’d just sent to the hospital. It turns out she was on duty and got to spend the day making important phone calls to educational institutes and diplomatic organisations trying to track down Bob’s family. I’m told this was a successful process. Bob is now under observation in the hospital. I’ve met plenty of crazy people before (I mean really crazy, not crazy like umm… Annod or Noraa or umm… some other people that none of you know) but this guy took the cake. Bob appeared to have led a fairly normal and competent life before this whole incident so I guess we can only hope he’ll eventually snap out of it. I blame drugs. I’m not sure that they’re actually responsible in this case, but they make a convenient social scapegoat.

Part three of the story is that the girl from work who looks after the Visitor Information Centres and volunteers gave me a packet of Tim Tams today which just goes to show that heroism pays off. I’m thinking of resigning and donning a cape and some tights. Actually, I wonder if I’d have to resign to do that…

And finally, as promised, I have a photo from my fishing adventure with I Fish. I’m not sure when the episode will air – but I’ll be sure to keep you posted. This fish was actually a lot bigger than I remembered it being – but in answer to your questions – yes I caught it, no it’s not trick photography, and no I’m not a wimp who’s afraid of touching fish… That rumour circulated in our office for a while today. I’m going to put a stop to it by going to a fish shop, buying some bait fish, and throwing them at people.

Late nights, cereal killing and crazy Japanese people

Just when I thought my life couldn’t get any more interesting I found myself in the middle of a drama right out of the script worthy of Blue Heelers. Well worthy of Blue Heelers if it had been set in a tourist information centre (visitor information centre or VICs for those in the biz (in the bus would have been something quite different there wouldn’t it, english is a funny language (is english in that context a proper noun? I imagine it is, but putting everything in lower case on your blog is cool… moby does it on his myspace (his space) anyway)). I think to do the story justice I need to do it in a film noir first person type narration thing… so here goes.

“So there I was, sitting at my desk, leaning back in my chair, the rickety ceiling fan whirring in the background. It was the morning after the night before, or rather the morning after the morning before. The light from the overhead fluorescents was hurting my eyes. The words on the computer screen in front of me blurred into insignificance. The office phone rang… and rang. The usually reliable receptionist was not at her desk. The lobby area was empty. Empty like the black, vacant sockets of a skull. I picked it up. It was Annette. Annette, Annette? Where had I heard the name, it rang like a bell… like a not very big, but somehow significant bell. Like the bell of an icecream truck driving down distant streets… Annette? Who are you Annette? It clicked when she told me. Annette and Ray are volunteers at our visitor information centre. Annette had a case for me. A case requiring the indelicate touch of a brawny, burly male. She was out of breath with concern. A crazy man, crazy like a fox, crazy like a fox on some sort of trance inducing meds, was terrorising the centre. Could I help? Of course.”

Anyway, to cut an increasingly long story short – I had to go to the visitor information centre to deal with a crazed Japanese tourist. He had this whole silent creepy guy thing going – coupled with an unwillingness to break eye contact, or speak to, his target. I quickly became his target. Rescuing our vols from a rather uncomfortable situation and placing myself in the firing line. That wasn’t in my job description. The four female police officers eventually arrived to find me restraining the guy – preventing him chasing our volunteers into the “employees only” area of the centre. It was weird. That guy was weird. The police took him to the hospital. I hope I haven’t caught some sort of contagious super disease because of the guy’s lack of understanding of the concept of personal space. If you’ve seen Shaun of the Dead (or any of the non parody zombie movies) he was just like the vacant looking zombie people, only slightly more animated.

All this topped off a long weekend (not of the three day variety – but a weekend that took a long time) featuring a 4am bedtime this morning because somebody (me) decided it would be easier to stay up for the FOOTBALL (not soccer, I’m following the Fairfax style guide at this point) than it would be to wake up for it. To borrow a well coined Australian phrase… I’m buggered.

I’ve also rediscovered my love for eating breakfast cereal at all hours of the day. Have you noticed all the wonderful new cereals out there – I remember a time when there were only 3 or 4 options… or maybe that was just in our pantry when I was growing up. Speaking of the good ol’ days – have you noticed the price of bottled water in servos these days… ridiculous, and all you hear is people complaining about the price of petrol.

In Limbo

Dear Diary,

I’ve always wanted to start something that way, maybe I’m extra in touch with my feminine side or something. I should warn you all that I’m in a bad mood, and the contents of this post may offend. I might even delete it later. Who knows. If you’re reading it, enjoy it while it lasts.

A week ago I was pretty sure that Townsville was home, and Brisbane was just where I used to live. Tonight I’m not so sure. I think I’m feeling the first pangs of loss. I don’t know what set it off (actually I probably do, but it’s just been a progression of events rather than a single event). I think it’s the realisation that proper relationships with people take longer than 12 weeks to develop. It’s possible that throwing myself into the deep end in terms of my involvement with church up here has been a mixed blessing. On one hand I’ve developed relationships with a bunch of people really fast, but on the other I haven’t taken the time to get to know people in any deep or meaningful way. So now I feel relationally in limbo, and I think my visit to Brisbane may have hammered it home a little (or a lot). Don’t get me wrong (and this isn’t just a disclaimer to appease any Townsville readers) I do really like the people up here. Hmm, there’s an old rule somewhere about not publishing things you don’t want other people to read. It also applies for not saying something in front of a microphone you don’t want recorded (there’s a funny story about a sportsreader who got caught out when a story ended with the words “he was suspended” and the newsreader added “by his testicles” because he thought the microphone was still off.). Anyway, I’m beginning to understand the importance of welcoming, and the fact that welcoming is an ongoing process. Welcoming is an interesting concept, and I’m not sure that any church does it particularly well. I haven’t been in this situation too many times before, and in the past the churches I’ve been welcomed to have been “dad’s churches” which, in my limited experience makes things feel easier. Although I haven’t had to go through the process of fitting into a new church for a long time, and last time I had to fit into a new school too.

Anyway, back to the theories on welcoming and why I think jumping into serving at church as quickly as I have may not have been the wisest move ever. I think ministry requires trust. That goes without saying. I think trust takes a while to establish. I think trust is earned on the basis of a relationship where you demonstrate a level of trustworthiness. I don’t know how long it takes to develop that trust but it probably takes more than 12 weeks, and definitely takes more than the 2 weeks it took me to get involved with stuff. I think, to paraphrase Paul, I can teach or do whatever ministry stuff I’m doing all I want, but at the end of the day, without “love” I’m just a noisy sounding gong. And that’s tough. And interesting.

So in conclusion, it’s been almost 3 months since I moved here, and I’ve only just realised that while I really like the people around here it takes longer than 3 months to establish real, deep friendships. Which I guess some people might have expected. I think I’m just a specialist at superficial relationships.

Anyway, it’s late, I’m tired, I’m grumpy and I’m annoyed. Well Brisbane people, it looks like I might miss you afterall.

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So I was wrong…

Apparently it happens some times. Scooter and CB both took great pleasure pointing out that aspirin does not in fact thin the blood as I may have suggested in an earlier comment. It seems that’s a simplification of the chemical process involved. Aspirin actually prevents the blood coagulating as freely or something like that – meaning rather than thinning it just stops it thickening. Have I got that right pharmacy people (Mel I guess since you’ve got that pharmacy degree you keep telling us about you might even be able to answer this question).

I would like to point out three extra things tonight – firstly, lists are cool. Secondly, free food is cool, except when it’s lukewarm, then it’s too cool. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve started a second blog.

Why does anyone need a second blog I hear you ask? Well, let me tell you.
Once upon a time I went to a big university called QUT. To cut a potentially long story short I met a guy there with a very long surname that not many people can spell. His first name is Phil. His last name is Enchelmaier. It has several vowels. More vowels than any other surname I can think of in the time it took me to type this sentence – which is to say not very long at all. Phil and I were kindred spirits (We had lots in common). A common love for ourselves. A common love for funny things. A common belief that we were capable of achieving funniness. And a common willingness to look stupid in front of large groups of people. Now that we’ve finished uni, I’m missing all the avenues through which, or by which, we used (once) to, and used (utilised) to embarrass ourselves (I think I just realised there’s a pun in the Dandy Warhols song “We used to be friends”).

But I digress, you can find samples of our work – including the scripts for the infamous OCC project. I can also promise new works of a quality rarely seen before – including a soon to be released musical collaboration created in a single day.

You can find our amazing new blog RIGHT HERE.

Feeling Blue

I apologise for the title. Some times there’s nothing wrong with the obvious. Here are the three reasons Queensland won tonight:

1. They played very well
2. New South Wales were rubbish, mostly because of point 1, partly because of point 3.
3. Brett Finch is a gimp.

New South Wales took terrible options in attack and had an atrocious completion rate. There were way too many long, floating passes to no one in particular. And the Blues forwards were outmuscled and out enthused. And Queensland’s halves were halves. That probably helps.

Some people have complained that my posts are too long these days. I think those people should check out this site here.

That’s all I have to say for tonight.

Except that I think people should go out to their nearest, or most trusted, CD shop and purchase something by Lior. Lior is brilliant. And not at all gay, despite what my sister might have suggested at one point. That might be the sister who has posted a picture of a model as her profile picture…

Man of the moment

They say football (soccer) is a game of two halves. In reality its a game of 90 minutes where things can change in an instant. The beauty of the “round ball” game is the ability for games to dramatically turn around in the blink of an eye. The game’s critics in Australia cite low scores and the possibility of games ending deadlocked at 0-0 as reasons not to embrace the code. These detractors have failed to understand the drama involved in a game where just a momentary lapse in concentration can mean the difference between victory and despair. Australia’s world cup fortunes have been decided by a series of such moments. Some would say the moment Guus Hiddink put pen to paper on a contract agreeing to manage the Socceroos was one such turning point. The few seconds it took for Harry Kewell’s bungled shot to fall for Marco Bresciano to bury into the back of the net in the qualifying match against Uruguay were another. That goal altered the course of Australia’s World Cup campaign. The microsecond it took for Mark Schwarzer to choose the right (left) direction in what turned out to be the decisive penalty save was another key moment. All these moments played a part in Australia’s long awaited return to the world’s biggest sporting show.

Tim Cahill was Australia’s man of the moment last night. He was the man of the match too. Two moments of brilliance. Two vital goals. Tim Cahill managed to snatch Australia a victory from the jaws of an undeserved defeat. John Aloisi’s third gives Australia’s goal difference a vital boost in a group where for and against could be the difference between second round glory or an early trip home. Australia had the lion’s share of possession in the match and looked the better team in attack. Japan are a team seemingly more comfortable defending a lead than extending it. They seemed content to keep men behind the ball in defence, launching probing counter attacks down the flanks when given the opportunity. As Hiddink searched for the breakthrough he brought attackers on for defenders. His substitutions proved a masterstroke. The introduction of Tim Cahill, John Aloisi and Josh Kennedy were too much for Japan’s shaky defence to handle. Cahill buried his first through a sea of defenders. His second, coming as both teams looked content to battle it out for a draw, was a brilliant strike from outside the 18 yard box. The midfield dynamo gave some spark to an otherwise lacklustre performance from the Australian engine room. The truth is, for 80 minutes the Australian attack looked impotent. Shots were mistimed, miss hit and misplaced. Mark Viduka is potentially the game’s greatest defensive forward. His imposing physical presence keeps defenders on their toes, but he too often fails to the goal mouth itself. He looked lonely as the sole player in a one man front line. Josh Kennedy’s introduction to the fray injected some life into the Aussie attack. A regular partnership of Kennedy and Viduka as a strike duo would do much to allay concerns over Australia’s inability to get the ball across the goal line.

Schwarzer stood largely untested in the Australian goal mouth – his bungling role in Japan’s solitairy goal will be excused by some due to the attention he received from a kamikaze striker’s charge. In truth, a goalkeeper of Schwarzer’s stature should not be being forced off the ball by a diminutive striker. By rights he should have claimed that ball. Luckily he was spared further embarrassment thanks to Cahill.

Cahill’s arrival on the field last night also saw the introduction of product placement to a World Cup already teeming with sponsors. Cahill is sponsored by Weet Bix. A point the SBS commentator was only too aware of. “We can only hope he’s had his Weet Bix” he said as Cahill took the field. 33 minutes later when Cahill slipped the ball deftly between the legs of two defenders and into the net the commentator saw this as an opportunity to point out that Cahill must indeed have imbibed his daily dose of high fibre breakfast cereal. Of all the players involved in last night’s event it was the commentator who truly had a shocker. His outrage at the circumstances leading to Japan’s goal led to a constant stream of criticism for Egyptian referee Essam Abd El Fatah. As the whistle blew for half time he said something like “and perhaps fittingly the Egyptian referee has the final say, bringing the end to a sometimes controversial half of football.” Umm, could someone explain when the referee does not have the final say in a half of football?

Free speech and criticism

It seems that these days everyone’s a critic. I decided to post the following bits of criticisim from Mel and Sara in the interest of a free press, in a brutal body blow to the concept of blog censorship (I’m not sure it’s really an issue – some blogs need to be censored), and to promote freedom of speech. I really want to make sure that no one misses out on these gems – I really do value your feedback and opinions (that is to say I place value on them – not I hold them in high regard).

Sara says…
“This isn’t exactly what I had in mind Nathan when you said you might mention me in your blog… Oh well, I probably shouldn’t make assumptions. Really, I should have guessed how imprudently impudent you are. (I looked those words up in a Thesaurus, does that disprove Nath labelling me uneducated? And another thing, don’t unintiated and ignorant mean the same thing? So really, aren’t you just repeating yourself for the sake of making yourself look more intelligent? It could be similar to saying that your post alludes and insinuates that Mel and myself are uninformed. While each word had its own distiction, in this instance it’s clear that they both mean the same thing.)Now how am I going at proving my acumen? On a lighter note, CB; you’re a champ! Thanks for sticking up for us!”

Sara wrote that comment on Sunday evening. She was so passionate about getting everything perfect that she was late to church. I’m afraid looking up a thesaurus does not further your argument Sara. There would also be a subtle distinction between uninitiated and ignorant, but I can’t be bothered making it up. I apologise if you feel I either alluded or insinuated that you were ignorant. I meant to say it outright. That’s not true, it was just a good punch line.

Mel said…
“Nathan – you egotistical pig!It was great having you back… but may also be great you’ve left – I just read the blog & if you were still here, you’d be injured or dead…DON’T EVER COME CRYING TO ME ABOUT BEING SICK – I WON’T HELP YOU! My university degree mustn’t be enough to prove i have some intelligence, so I won’t use it to help you. You don’t need big words to be intelligent. I read plenty of books – maybe even more than you! I don’t see the use in talking myself up by pretending to sound smart. (Unlike some)Sara & I are intelligent.. perhaps you are just too thick to see it. Our suggestion was to make it more reader friendly – not so wordy… Or pretentious. Thanks CB – you are great!”

Mel, maybe I sound smart because I am? I’m not sure a university degree really says anything about anyone’s intelligence any more than owning a tractor says something about a person’s farming ability.

So, there you have it, according to Mel and Sara, I’m an egotistical, impudent, imprudent, and pretentious pig. On the other hand CB is a great champ.

For the record – all I did to encourage such thinking was refer to a conversation in which certain parties suggested that my blog was too intellectual for them. Obviously these people missed all the fart jokes, nudie runs, and other low brow content contained in the archives of nathanintownsville.blogspot.com.

For the record, my blog now contains a stirring 27,000 words. That’s over half a Mills and Boon novel.

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flights of fancy… and some other garbage

In the immortal (or somewhat unknown in this case) words of Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins. The aeroplane flies high. I can’t wrap (or rap) my head around the physics involved in getting a machine as big as…well for want of a better corroborative noun, as big as a jumbo, into the air and keeping it there. I sat just behind the wind on the way home today – there are a lot of little adjustments made to the wings during flight that I’m sure are absolutely necessary to keep it in the air. I’ve had some aeronautical engineering type people (who I guess technically are rocket scientists) explain all the updraft and stuff to me but it all boggles the mind. I wonder if boggles became a verb before, or after, the board game…

I flew home with Jetstar. Jetstar owe me $3.80. I don’t know who’s responsible for the coffee shop next to the terminal – but they should warn passengers that you can’t take your coffee on board. What did the hostess think I was going to do with a cup of coffee? You can’t exactly highjack a plane with a lukewarm cappuccino. If I was going to highjack a plane – hypothetically of course – I’d be more likely to use this (don’t miss the customer review at the bottom of the page).

The other question which has been weighing on my mind is a question regarding an industry with its share of critics (and a history of mafia involvement in the US ala the Sopranos) – the garbage disposal industry. Garbage disposal and waste control is something we all take for granted and probably don’t give enough thought to. It’s one of those industries where if you do happen to take notice something’s probably gone wrong. My question is this – how many wheelie bin loads fit in the standard garbage truck? I’m going to try to do some research and have an answer by the end of the week. It hadn’t occured to me that there must be a fleet of garbage trucks operating on any given bin day untilI saw two driving around at around the same time. nathanintownsville.blogspot.com – asking, and answering the questions that matter…

and finally – a fantail wrapper question just to get the comments rolling…

WHO AM I
Born Nigeria, 4/4/1960, he arrived with his family in Australia in 1976. He graduated from NIDA in 1981 and made his debut in Maybe This Time (80). He won an AFI Award for Best actor as the blind photographer in Proof (91); and was nominated for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; won a second AFI for The Interview (98); and was named the Australian Star of the year. He then starred in two blockbusters which would give his identity away.

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home page

I’m home. Or am I?

I’m sitting at mum and dad’s house, which hasn’t actually been my home for about 3 years, trying to figure out where home is. I’ve used my time in Brisbane so far to catch up with people who I hadn’t realised I missed as much as I think I might realise when I go back to Townsville.

Unfortunately some of these people (hello Mel and Sara) said my blog was too wordy and complex for them to understand… so for the rest of this post I’ll try to use words with one bit part (syllable for the uninitiated or ignorant, I figure I can write longer words in brackets and maintain consistency).

My small girl tribe mate (sister) plays her valved horn (trumpet) now (syntax is going out the window with this one syllable thing). She is quite good.

My flight on the day before the day that was (yesterday) was late by four hours. They had to send a new plane from this place to the place I came from due to bad stuff in the first plane. I had to sit at the plane place for what seemed like a long time (it was a long time) so I bought a thing made from trees with words in it (a book – that’s a tough concept for the ignorant reader to get their head around I guess). I think the plane group should give me my cash back for the book – they did give me six bucks to buy food. That is a rate of one and a half bucks per hour. I’d be paid more for my time if I worked in a sweat shop (technically one word I think).

I went to the pub last night and then to a shop that sells flat bread things with meat (pizza), I was with Nat and the guy whose name is like the nut group (Knobby). Those boys make me laugh more than any one else. It made me think of the game I want to bring in to the world. For the purposes of describing this game I’m going to use some two and three syllable words. I think people should play restaurant taboo – where you have to order without using the name of the thing you want or any words they use in the description – funny how stylisticly this would tie in with some of the sentences above, eg the pizza sentence. So you have to walk into maccas and order the thing with three bits of bread (big mac) or the bird burger (McChicken), or the tiny pieces of rabbit (chicken McNuggets), or the frozen pig fat with brown sauce (chocolate sundae).

The challenge is now out there. Sorry about all those big words.

I went back through some old posts to see if there were any comments I’d missed – Leah has made some interesting comments to some posts. Particularly her stance on chequebook journalism which I’ll address in my next “journalistic theories” type post. She also bagged out my headlines for my press releases. That wasn’t very nice Leah. I cried.

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How do you think?

Have you ever thought about how you think about things? Is your stream of conscious thought in the style of a documentary? Do you narrate events in your life like a detective in a film noir piece? Or does your thinking mirror a monologue to the camera like those annoying spots in Malcolm in the Middle?

Trolling through the links on Dan’s blog I found myself at the home of Michael Jensen’s blog. He’s one of the famous Sydney Anglican Jensen tribe. He’s doing some sort of study in England – you can find it if you like, but I can’t be bothered searching for the link. He posted an entry on viewing life as a stream of narrative. He’s a pretty smart guy. I didn’t really read all that much but it got me thinking about thinking and how I frame my thoughts. I think my stream of thoughts often flows like a stream of narrative – I do things in time and space, interacting with other characters and these interactions lead to outcomes – problems are resolved, conflicts arise… and my thinking reflects that. I think about how to solve things – and the voice in my head (which I guess is consciousness not some weird psychological condition) follows the narrative, or even pre-empts and influences the narrative, when the interactive bits of life are happening.

News stories are taking bits of a stream of narrative and analysing the elements. The journalistic definition of “news” is information that is of some interest to the public. The approach journalists take when they report news is to answer the big 6 questions – known in the industry as the 5 Ws and 1 H – who, what, when, where, why, and how. If narrative is a stream of connected events occuring in space and time then all these elements will be addressed.

Being of a journalistic, inquisitive bent I find that my approach to the narrative of my life has been somewhat influenced by this paradigm (paradigm is one of my favourite words). Not only do I approach any “conflict” or events that arise in my narrative (life) through the framework provided by these questions – but I’ve started viewing every event that occurs in terms of its newsworthyness.

There are a number of jokes out there featuring different professions and how they see the world – or the simple things in life. A true story I heard recently featured a group of people watching the football – a dentistry student, a med student, and an excercise/sports science student. During the game there was an incident where a player collided with another player’s head. Play was stopped while the player received some medical attention. The dentist commented on the effect the impact would have on the player’s teeth, the med student named the bones that may have been fractured, and the sports science student pointed at a guy in the background and said “he’s doing that static stretch wrong.”

And here, after that complicated five paragraph intro is the story that prompted this post… last night I was driving home from Mission Beach (where I’d been for a work function featuring Beechworth bakery owner Tom O’Toole (an interesting character)) with one other member of the Townsville Enterprise team. It’s a 2.5 hour drive to Mission Beach from Townsville – some say 3. Just outside of town we were stopped by a collection of emergency service vehicles attending the scene of a major accident… and do you want to know what my first thought was? Where are the TV cameras… this is a news story. I had my phone in my hand calling WIN television’s news director with the hot tip before I’d even considered the possibility that people may have been seriously hurt by the crash. When did I become so callous? Have I been that desensitised by years of watching and reading the news? Tom O’Toole made a comment about watching the news that was funny enough to repeat:

“If a dog came into your house and pooed on the ground while you were eating dinner you wouldn’t just sit there and watch him – you’d kick it out of the house, or worse… but every night we let the news do the same thing – it feeds half an hour of crap into our living rooms and we just watch it without thinking. I stopped watching news 20 years ago, and now when I turn on the television it’s the same news anyway – same wars, same crimes, same politics… you may not be what you eat, but you are what you fill your head with.”

Has anyone else been so obviously scarred by their profession? Do the teachers out there see every event in life as an opportunity to fill a lesson plan? Do opera singers see every tragedy as a potential aria (the style of song not the Australian Recording Industry Award)? Do IT people ever see any events that happen in the wider world? and do proctologists just think the world is a bunch of (feel free to insert an appropriate colloquialism here – I’m not going to do your dirty work for you).

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for those of you who care…

…there are now links to my 1 Peter studies on in the column thing on the right of the page.

At this point I would compliment those observent (or observative – it should be a word shouldn’t it Simon (I believe I had a similar conversation with RJB or CB on this topic as well. )) enough to notice.

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And now for some real news…

Here’s an update on some actual things that are going on in my life in Townsville…

Work – work is great. The people I work with are fun. My role is interesting and challenging. I get cool perks (reef fishing trips, a regular pay cheque, and stuff like that). You can read my press releases here.

Home – home is good. Tim is fun. He’s about to go to PNG for a month though so Dave will have to provide me with all my home based entertainment. Are you up to that Dave? Bring on the pranks I say.

Church – Church continues to be great also. My grade 12 boys – Dave and Isaac – are a pleasure to spend time with. Even if they’re wimpy and nerdy (I hope you’re reading this boys). Dave is Donna’s little brother, that creates a whole lot of issues as I’m sure you can imagine. Donna is a rarity in that both my Townsville and Brisbane readers know her. I should write about those sorts of people more often. I had a funny experience where I saw old photos of Laura Kennedy in a church photo album the other day… and I was talking to one of Kendra and Geir’s school friends the other day… that was an interesting conversation. I’m writing a series of studies on 1 Peter for our young adults bible study group. That’s been good fun. When I get some sort of web hosting space I’ll upload them and some other stuff I’ve been writing. I’m not sure why anyone would actually want to read them, but just in case… I led the singing again last week. I have never ever claimed to be able to sing – except for a little while in Maclean before my voice broke. I’m aware that most of the time I can hold a tune – but I think that’s largely due to the amount of practice I do in my car. I’m one of those freaks you see singing at traffic lights.

Soccer – Our mixed indoor team is on fire at the moment – the new season started a couple of weeks ago and we’re currently undefeated. The girls we get to play for us are better than most guys on the other teams (particularly our American import, Kasie, who’s better than all the guys on our team). We won 10 or 11 – 2 last night. I lost count. It’s good fun, but I miss the MPC outdoor team.

I think that’s all the important areas of my life covered – except the girls part that Serge asked me to talk about – but I’m not sure that’s the kind of thing it’s wise to be posting on the Internet – or anywhere for that matter.

I’m heading down to Brisbane for Maddie’s coming of age celebrations this weekend- that’s right my second littlest sister is becomming an adult on the 9th of June. I arrive on Thursday night – start booking times in my busy social calendar now.

Nicknames – nominal determinism in reverse

There’s a theory that’s been doing the rounds for many years that your name will determine the path your life takes. Thinking about it, this theory has possibly been around since Christ, or even earlier in Genesis, where names are given based on particular characteristics of the person they’re given to – eg Esau, which means Red… funny that these days in Australia’s ironic culture Esau would probably have been called Bluey. There are examples of nominal determinism out there in the real world – in the microcosim of Maclean there were several examples of this determinism in practice, or even in practise. The funeral directors were named Baker, and Dugmore. The electrician was named Watts. It’s not just confined to small country towns where people don’t necessarily think all that hard about their career paths. The head of Steggles Chickens was someone Poulter. A casino chief’s last name was Gamble. It’s been documented in lots of places I couldn’t find in preliminary efforts on the net.

I just saw an ad on TV for “Everybody loves Raymond.” I don’t love Raymond. I never have. He has a whiny, nasally voice that makes me want to do aggressive things and generally be a not very nice person. This goes to show that nominal determinism does not work in naming television shows.

Anyway, someone suggested I should do a “blog by request” on nicknames. I should note at this point that someone has suggested Mattias should start a similar column/regular entry on his blog doing pretty much the same thing. I’m all for competition. Everyone needs more choices for things to do on the internet. There’s really not that much out there once you’ve checked out all the good news sites (or the good, news sites [or the good new’s sites] – what do you reckon grammar nazi? have I got this right?) . Other than a quick dalliance at Homestarrunner or any of the other recommended internet comedy sites there’s just a truckload of unverified tripe, pages of useless wikis and copious amounts of unwholesome “fun” (I use the word fun very loosely).

But on to the topic at hand. Nicknames. According to answers.com nicknames have nothing to do with anyone named Nick.
“Etymology: In Middle English the word was ekename (from the verb to eke, “enlarge”; compare Swedish √∂knamn). Later, an ekename developed into a nickname when the “n” shifted through junctural metanalysis.”

So there you go. I would argue that nicknames are the procrastinators form of nominal determinism. I do wonder if they also play some part in some form of character development. I would contend that if you’re nickname was “Encyclopedia” you’d be a pretty boring person. The reasoning behind that suspicion is that if your friends are stupid enough to call you “Encyclopedia,” without any irony attached, your friends are likely to be quite boring – and if you were any more interesting you wouldn’t be hanging around with them. With any nickname there’s the danger it’s a chicken v egg question. Were you given the nickname because you’re boring, or are you boring because of your nickname.

And now, let me turn to my own “nickname” and examine whether it has played some role in determining my character or personality. I think nicknames are an important part of life in Queensland – probably more so in southern Queensland. But there are people like Scooter, Beebs, et al up here who would suggest that it’s a cancer that’s spread far, and wide. The week I moved to Brisbane I landed myself a new nickname… and consequentally a new personality. Once upon a time I was a shy, reserved lad who wouldn’t go out of my way to get noticed and most certainly wouldn’t ever think to, let alone dare to, refer to myself in the third person (ok so that was only once, and it was ironic). I arrived at a new school and a new church, and suddenly “Nathan” wasn’t good enough. No. I had to be given a new name, like some missionary moving to a tribe in a remote village. Queenslanders lack the irony, or subtlty of their southern counterparts. There’s no blueys around these parts. It surprises me that there aren’t more bignoses, or fatheads… because in a masterstroke of brilliance I was named after a facial expression… and so Smiley was born. I’ve always been slightly ambivalent to the name Smiley. There are worse nicknames. I’m thankful I wasn’t called “ugly” (although obviously that would have been ironic) or something like that (I originally used a much ruder word but Caitie vetoed it). My family (and particularly my father) have never really liked, or understood, the name. Apparently I’m not always happy afterall. Dad’s main concern is that people won’t take someone named Smiley seriously… and he’s probably got a point. But again – it’s a chicken v egg thing – would I be taken more seriously if I acted more serious? Probably. Would I have been called Smiley if I’d acted more seriously? Probably not. Was I a much more serious person before I got the name? I don’t remember but it’s unlikely. So now when people find it hard to take me seriously – I know who to blame.

Mark also wanted me to talk about people who give themselves nicknames. I think doing that is about on par with talking about yourself in the third person. Pretty sad. Unless absolutely necessary. There’s a funny story about a particularly hard working lawyer I worked with once… in a firm that will remain nameless to protect the guilty… who was not necessarily the most socially able lawyer in the world. He worked long hours and often had conversations with the cleaner… who it turned out took great pleasure passing on information to other members of staff. This lawyer had decided he needed a nickname and decided that henceforth he’d be known as “The Train.” So my rule for giving yourself a nickname is: make sure it’s not lame. That’s the only rule. I’m pretty sure it should be either appropriate, or ironic, and not named after a prominent body part.

A Panda walked into a bar…

It strikes me that it’s been a while since I actually wrote anything substantial (ie of substance) on this blog. I’m not sure that this trend will be broken in this post – but I am trying to think of something serious and important to write about.

You may notice, if you’re bored enough to go to Tim’s blog (and bored enough to read it when you get there), that he’s posted some form of response to my diatribe on hippies the other day. You may also notice in the comments on that there’s a comment there from a guy who looks like he’s stepped off the set of a Star Wars movie. That is Scooter. For the benefit of my Brisbane readers – he’s related to the Poysers. For the benefit of my blog readers – he’s related to MIP. For the benefit of people who have no idea what I’m talking about – MIP is a Poyser, and Scooter is a cousin of said family. Anyway – Scooter also now has a blog.

On Thursday night at 12am I got on a 68 foot boat to go fishing. I was accompanying I Fish – Channel Ten’s very popular fishing show. In short… I caught one fish, and didn’t get sea sick, so the trip was considered a success. I also didn’t manage to catch any sleep. I can’t take a photo of the sleep I didn’t catch, but I will be able to upload a picture of my fish sometime next week. When I got home from fishing I smelled like I’d been fishing, and I was very tired. When I say home, I mean when I got back to work. I had an afternoon appointment with a marketing salesperson from the Financial Review. She gave me an umbrella. It is yellow and white. It was almost worth going to work for. Have you noticed that when you write short sentences it immeadietly sounds more childlike? Or maybe I’m using less erudite words. I am still tired.

Last night I went to my first Youth Surge event. Somehow I always managed to be busy when Youth Surges were on in Brisbane. I’m happy to report that it wasn’t bad. It was in fact good. We had a youth group leaders training session this morning which was also good. I’ve been doing some thinking about how youth groups work over the last few weeks – and when I’m in a less tired state I’ll share my thoughts on youth group via my blog.

Tim and I dined at Sizzler this afternoon and I’d like to make a point about the importance of grammar, and particularly punctuation, based on my experiences. I ordered the special of the day – rib eye and prawn skewers. I was looking forward to my nice juicy steak with a side of prawns… It turns out I should have looked more closely at the sign, because I was shocked when the waitress delivered my sizzling prawn skewers with some meat coloured vegetables on the skewer and no juicy steak on the plate. I think they should have more clearly deliniated words on the menu board. Only the Grammar Nazi, and Scooter, would have picked up on that subtle distinction. It’s like that old joke about the panda who walked into a bar.

Have you ever noticed that when you write lol it looks like a man with his arms in the air? I’m not going to write much on what I think about people who write “lol” when they’re not actually laughing out loud. I should point out that with inverted commas it looks like the little man has just moved his arms there. So now I’d like to present you with a series of excercises based on the lol man.

_o_
| |

( \o/ )
( || )

“lol”
_/ \_

( \o/ )
( /\ )
_o_
‘ || ‘

I guess by series I meant one star jump. You have no idea how much time I wasted figuring that out. There’s a whole range of artwork out there created using letters – it’s called ASCII art – very, very, nerdy stuff.