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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 öknamn). 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_
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( \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.

The Tractor Joke… Just because I can

There’s this young boy named John who is absolutely fascinated by tractors. He sits in class at school and draws tractors while his teacher talks. He spends all his spare time playing with tractors. His tractor fetish carries through his childhood and into his adolescence.


When John is 19 his great uncle dies and John inherits the old family farm. John is excited because the farm comes with a run down tractor. John has fulfilled his dream of having a tractor of his very own. He spends a bit of time doing the tractor up, giving it a new paint job, fixing the engine, and soon it’s running as smoothly as a brand new tractor. John loves his new tractor. He drives it every day, from sun up till late into the night. Soon his farm is making lots of money. Few farms are looked after as well as John’s.

His tractor makes so much money in the first year that John is able to buy a newer, better tractor. He can’t bring himself to dispose of his old tractor so he puts it in his shed. This new tractor is faster than the first one, so his farm becomes more efficient and more profitable. John is able to upgrade his tractor again, he buys a faster, shinier tractor. This pattern continues until John has so many tractors that he has to build a new shed to fit all the tractors. He builds the shed on one of his fields. His new, V12 super tractor is so efficient that he barely notices the difference in productivity so things are going ok. But every six months a new tractor comes out and John just has to buy it. Soon he has to build a second shed to store all his tractors.

John is spending so much time maintaining his tractor collection and spending so much money on new tractors that his farm starts to go into debt. One day the debt collectors come round to John’s farm and give him some bad news. His farm is in so much debt that they need to repossess all of the tractors except the one that came with the farm. John is heartbroken. He vows never to look longingly at another tractor as long as he lives. He pulls down the tractor storage sheds and starts farming again. He manages to pay off his debts and soon his farm is making money again.

One day, a few years later John’s friend the local tractor dealer calls him up on the phone to tell him that he’s got the top secret plans for an exciting new tractor and he’ll let John see them if he comes down to the shop. John hesitates for a while but then agrees to head down to the shop to check out the plans. When he gets there, Bob, the tractor shop owner, hands him a booklet filled with sketches and information about the newest super tractor. John casually starts flipping through the pages, he quickly gets lost in the pages, minutes pass, John is engrossed. Bob starts to get a little impatient. “John,” he says ,”these plans are top secret and I can’t leave you with them, I really need a cigarette, do you mind if I smoke inside?”
John looks at him for a moment and says “Nah mate, doesn’t worry me, I’m an ex-tractor fan.”

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Who would you ban?

“A British radio station has banned all songs by balladeer James Blunt from its playlist after receiving complaints from listeners. ” – From the SMH.

If I could ban anyone from the radio it would be James Blunt too.

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What’s hip about hippies?

Today’s post comes courtesy of me. I’m allowed to that once in a while, it is my blog afterall. Today I’d like to write about hippies. There’s very little right about hippies (that’s a little bit of political humour for those out there not clever enough to pick it up). Some hippies are ok. I’m all for peace (most of the time), harmony (but I’d actually prefer social melody. Harmony suggests different people managing to be different while appearing to sing to the same tune. So by extension social melody must be everyone doing the same thing which I think is a much higher goal. Provided everyone does what I think is the right thing. Let me rephrase that so it sounds less arrogant… Provided everyone does what God thinks is the right thing… I’m not sure that seems less arrogant actually, I’m not claiming that my will is perfectly equal to God’s. Could this be the longest bracketed statement ever to grace the pages of my blog? Who knows.), tranquility, and protecting the environment. But I have some questions about the whole green movement.
1. Who decides which green causes should be fought for and protected – why save the whales and eat lentils – surely lentils should be protected.
2. How can hippies justify protecting trees while smoking (burning) grass (marijuana)?
3. Why do they fight big battles (ozone protection) while ignoring, or contributing to, smaller problems (bad body odour)?

I guess my stance on hippies makes me anti-green, and in an amazing coincidence it turns out my car is anti-green in colour. I created a colour completely devoid of green, and full of blue and red in paintshop, and I came up with a colour alarming similar to my mauve excel.

What really gets me is the skewed priorities hippies have towards their particular cause. Sure whales are nice, big, friendly animals – but what about the thousands of starving Japanese children who’d benefit from eating the whales brought in by all the whale-harpooning daddies out there. Think of the children. It does seem to me that the green movement has a fairly warped sense of important issues. Some may argue that there are thousands of issues out there and it’s great to have people concerned for all of them, everyone needs representation. Which would be fine if the green voice wasn’t so loud. Once upon a time, when I was a poor uni student (read that how you will – I did mean that I lacked financial stability but I make no claims to greatness as a student) I was walking on my merry way to uni when I was accosted by a well meaning hippy type who wanted me to consider supporting an obscure wild life protection group. I understand that this girl was doing her job, which is a pretty crappy job, and was probably being paid by commission. But her suggestion that I change from sponsoring a compassion child to sponsoring a panda because it was “national change charities day” proves once and for all that hippies are stupid.

This diatribe was encouraged by an article in the opinion pages of today’s Sydney Morning Herald. The article looks at the quality of life in Australia – analysing whether things are actually any better with the strong growth in the Australian economy. Apparently some things are good. Some things are bad, including an increasing tendency for families to break down (or up – funny that two opposite words mean the same thing – I guess the keyword is break. You could probably even say break sideways and people would still understand). But this isn’t the biggest issue our culture has to deal with. I guess I’d agree with that (I’d probably say the underlying issues of human selfishness and greed were bigger problems – and the issue underlying those issues is sin). There are plenty of other issues out there that could be at least as difficult as a family break up. Child abuse, murders, an alarming suicide rate… there’s plenty of problems in our society that an increase in cashflow doesn’t seem to be solving. But no. Apparently our biggest problems are land clearing, extinct bird species, salinity and greenhouse gas emissions… and that my friends is why I hate hippies.

In other non-hippy news… Tim started a blog today – its title is a delightful pun on his name. I must say I’m flattered by all the people who are starting blogs just because I have.

Finding Emo

What is the deal with Emo? This is a blog by request for Joel. He doesn’t understand emo people. Neither do I. Emo used to be a classification of a branch of punk music. Apparently now it’s so much more. Some people (Jon Ray) debate emo’s right to hold its own place in the spectrum of musical genres. Some people love email. Some spell checks don’t like the word emo. These people wear black make up, have crap hair and wear clothes at least 4 sizes too small. Apparently they like self harm and stuff now too. Back when I was a young lad, well back in the 90s anyway, people who cut themselves and wore funny black clothing were called goths. As far as I can tell the only difference between emo people and goths is taste in music. For a complete guide to being emo check out this site here. It’ll create an emo identity just for you.

Emo used to be a label for any emotional rock. Weezer are an oft mentioned example of this first wave of emo acts. Weezer are cool. Just because Weezer are emo, and Weezer are cool doesn’t make all emo bands cool. That is a fallacious syllogism. Syllogism is a cool word. I just wanted to use it in my blog.

The new wave of emo is darker… edgier… according to wikipedia common elements include dark colored hair (often dyed either black or an unnatural dark hue), males wearing pants tailored for females, lots of piercings, and dark make-up on males and females. In short, emo people are weird. Wikipedia also notes they may have a tendency towards self harm. They also like fringes. What’s with that?

Now that you all know how to identify an emo there are certain rules for approaching them in social situations. The first principle of approaching an “emo” is that you should never expect any form of response or interaction from said emo. Unless you’re talking about how wonderful AFI is. Emo’s love AFI, or My Chemical Romance, or any of those punk bands who write emotional songs. Emo is just a category for people who aren’t hardcore enough to be goth and are too stupid to be normal. There’s something sad about a group of non-conformists who all dress the same.

Piece offering

Some anonymous people apparently don’t like my long winded posts – so I’ll kick off today’s entry with an update on life in Townsville and follow that up with the second blog by demand entry. Today’s topic comes courtesy of CB Jr.

But before I go off offending anyone by writing about something that I might want to write about I’ll write about myself. No wonder people think I’m arrogant (I took that survey that Matt advertised on his blog and in the comments page – the one identifying potential personality disorders apparently there’s a chance I’m narcisstic but other than that I’m a pretty low chance of having any personality at all).

I’m currently reassessing my sleep patterns. I’m sick of being tired. I’m thinking I might start going to bed earlier so that I can get up with enough time to do productive stuff in the morning – I’m even planning to take up swimming when a new lagoon complex thing opens up around the corner from my house in a few weeks.

Church is cool. People here are nice. My grade 12 boys are a refreshing change from the previous groups of younger people I may have been involved with in the past. Our young adults group took a week off for the State of Origin. I feel no need to gloat about the State of Origin – I’ll just continue to let the results speak for themselves.

I do miss people from MPC – so don’t feel like I’ve just gone out and replaced you all. I’m coming back to visit in a couple of weeks and if Steve decides to relax his team regulations I’m keen to make a return to the Baptist League for one week only. There you go Steve – now everyone who reads my blog will blame you if I don’t get to play. Did I mention that Steve is cool, mature and devastatingly handsome (and single as far as I know). That ought to do the trick.

Work is also fun. My manager has returned from maternity leave and is currently ensuring that I know exactly what I’m meant to be doing. My stand in manager is back doing her normal thing, which has relieved her of the pressure of doing about 6 different jobs at once. Sitting between two fairly dominant female types in an office where males are in the minority is a challenging prospect. I do keep a steady supply of M&Ms at hand to purchase good will and that seems to be working.

Other than that there’s been no significant progress made anywhere else. I am going fishing (and not the metaphorical type) this Friday morning at 3am with the people from Channel 10’s I Fish. I should get to be on their nationally broadcast show at some point in the future.

Ok… enough about me. Ignorant people can stop now. I mean who complains anonymously and uses an exclamation mark anyway. Some people have no class.

Cam requested I make some comment about the pros and cons of our non-round 50 cent piece. Australia’s 50 cent piece is a dodecahedron. That means it has 12 sides. I suspect 50 Cent the rapper knew this. My theory is that when he tried to decide on an MC name that encapsulated his street heritage he wanted something edgy… and what has more edges than a dodecahedron? Apparently lots of polygons do. Anyway, bad theories about US rappers aside, there are some pros and cons to a non-round coin.

I’ve heard somewhere in the past that our coins have distinctive shapes and weights so blind people don’t get confused and I think that’s a pro that should certainly be added to the discussion at some point. No one likes confusing blind people. Except this guy in a comedy sketch I saw once who crept up behind a blind man at a set of traffic lights and made the DOOT DOOT DOOT DOOT DOOT noise that they make when it’s safe to cross. Having an edge also means that if you pelt muggers/bad singers/Collingwood football players with 50 cent coins it’s more likely to draw blood and that can only be a good thing.

On the con side – flat edges mean that it’s hard to roll a 50 cent piece down the aisle in a shopping centre or boring church service. They don’t spin very well on table tops either. And I imagine there are aerodynamics issues when you flip a dodecahedron rather than a circle. So it probably plays around with the probability involved in the process somehow.

So there you have it. I’ve spoken my piece on 50 cent pieces (not including the rapper… I’ll leave that for another day).

If you saw this blog earlier you’ll have noticed it was cut off rather abruptly when I left to play paintball. I was playing with some people from WIN news. Seems there might be some jobs there soon (like tomorrow). I’ll put a picture of the bruise on my neck up at some stage in the next couple of days. I’ll wait till it looks less like a hickey. I’m not looking forward to explaining it at work tomorrow.

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emoticon this…

Much has been written on the subject of the decay of the English language. Tomes of text. Volumes of verbs. Stacks of scrolls. At the end of the day nobody is quite sure who to blame. An increase in instant written communication options has been generally lambasted as the culprit. SMSing, emailing and instant messaging are convenient scapegoats. The underlying issue is public apathy – which can be blamed for all of society’s problems – obesity, the decline in public morality, reality television… Rather than attack the root cause of the problem, I’m going to attack a symptom of this linguistic malaise. Lets face it, I’m not likely to be able to solve a major social issue on the pages of my blog. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to change you.

I h8 txt talk. I still write out my SMS’s in full. I refuse to succumb to the succubus sucking the life from the lexicon. Ok, so maybe I’m working too hard to be alliterative. But at least I’m literate. Unlike those people who require pictures to communicate emotions. That might be a little harsh.

Emoticons, for the uninitiated, are those little smiley faces that have wormed their way into the hearts and messages of the internet (I also can’t figure out what the internet has done to deserve proper noun status. I’m not going to capitalise it just because Microsoft tells me to…) generation. I can almost cope when people use common acronyms from the internet vernacular. Provided people are actually laughing out loud (lol) or rolling on the floor laughing (rofl) I don’t mind abbreviation. It’s efficient. I don’t like being lied to though – and I’ve never actually witnessed anyone rolling on the floor (and certainly not roflmao – you can look that up, this blog will not be denigrated with profanity – suffice to say it requires the removal of one’s nether regions (note – not never regions…)(further note – I’ve always wondered how the Dutch feel about the Netherlands tag given its association with said regions) but I’m prepared to let that slide. But really, is it ever conversationally necessary to represent your opinion with a little smiley face? Or a winking smiley face? Or a smiley face with glasses? Or a smiley face with a frown? Or a crying smiley face? Or one of the 69 emoticons provided with MSN messenger. Admittedly some of those 69 come in handy when you’re telling a story about an aeroplane (ap) getting struck by lightning (li) and crashing into a desserted[sic] (^) island (ip). Or a story about a girl (x) being attacked by a vampire bat ( :[ ). Outside of these circumstances I see no real reason to be using emoticons in general conversation. Unless of course you are actually pulling that face at the computer and want the other person to know. But if that’s the case there are a lot of people out there who poke their tongues out at the computer… and that worries me.

How Microsoft think its possible to encapsulate an emotion in a little picture is beyond me anyway – it flies in the face of every significant literary figure who struggled to adequately describe feelings – the depths of despair and heights of elation can not, and should not be represented by little, round, yellow men.

In other news

Tonight seems as good a time as any to be producing my first blog from the blog on demand series. I should point out that the person who suggested this topic has since renegged. I believe they were worried that if this answer were to fall into the wrong hands it might make my position as a “media officer” difficult. The person, who for the sake of this story I’ll call Mark. Everyone say hi Mark. Asked the following question:

“One thing I’ve been interested in is the comments I’ve heard from various people (journos, and those interested in current affairs, yourself included) that Fairfax media is superior to News Ltd and PBL companies, and that 9 is superior to 7, (but only marginally as they’re both check-book inclined.) Why? Where does the ABC fit into this analysis?”

He asked a further question about the ABC’s ability to stick to its charter following the appointment of a former Fairfax figure to the recently vacated ABC managerial position.

Now at this point in this entry I’ve reached a juncture – I can either choose to answer this question seriously – or I could simply say that Fairfax and 9 are the better media outlets because I prefer them. I realise I’m not actually a reasonable yardstick for the rest of humanity so I’ll choose to attempt to deal with this question in a serious manner.

Let me start with print. In Australia there are basically two newspaper companies of significant stature. There’s News Limited – owned and operated by the Murdoch family and there’s Fairfax (named after the founder Mr Fairfax – I have a feeling his name was John but again, apathy prevents me confirming this). Fairfax publish the Financial Review, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Sun Herald, The Age and the Sunday Age (they have a few other smaller publications – including the Illawarra Mercury and the Newcastle Herald). News Ltd publish just about everything else – every regional weekly free paper – every telegraph, mail and bulletin (except the magazine The Bulletin which is a PBL production – but they’re a different kettle of fish – I’ll mention cross media ownership laws in a couple of paragraphs). The difference between Fairfax papers and News Ltd papers can be explained best by looking at the reading age targetted by each publication. News Ltd papers have an average (across all their papers) reading age (the reading competency level required to comprehend the meaning of a story) of about 8 years. Fairfax papers vary – the Sydney Morning Herald is the lowest at 11, from memory the Age is 12 and the Fin Review is about 44 (you have to be a company director or something to understand it). It’s actually 16 (I think). There is a fancy test to calculate the reading age of a page – something about dividing number of syllables by number of words and multiplying by a magical common number – or counting words that are difficult to understand. I really don’t care. Newspapers maintain their reading age by keeping to different style guides which dictate what words can and can’t be used in certain situations. So that is why Fairfax is superior. There’s also a whole murky side to the News Ltd organisation in terms of commercial pressure being placed on journalists to modify editorial. If I was remotely motivated I’d watch Media Watch every week and keep a tally to compare the News Ltd breaches with those from Fairfax. News Ltd papers, and Fox have a degree of noteriety when it comes to not declaring bias in certain situations.

Which segues nicely to television – when it comes to comparing Nine and Seven you’re pretty much comparing apples and apples – they’re exactly the same. Everyone likes to pretend they’re not. But they are in direct competition for the same demographic so can’t vary the theme too much. I prefer Nine because I’ve done some bits and pieces with them and they have the broadcast rights to all my favourite sports. The suffer from having karaoke news readers like Wally Lewis doing the sport. Some people prefer Seven and that’s fine. It’s been interesting watching the balance of power in the news world shift towards Seven – news is vital to a network’s ratings success – it’s a springboard into the evening’s programming and Australians are too lazy to change the channel. Channel 10 are a very different news organisation. I had the opportunity to look at a comprehensive breakdown of ratings across age demographics. The 16-39 is a key advertising demographic – lots of people with high disposable incomes are an attractive target to certain advertisers. Ten had about 15 of the top 20 shows in that demographic in the last week. Their news is skewed to that audience. It’s full of painful cliches, (non)witty banter between hosts. Stuff that makes serious news types cringe. In answer to Mark’s question on the news front – Nine were only superior because their ratings were better. They do have some classy journalists working for them (and 60 Minutes is a big winner on that front) but for every Peter Harvey there’s a Ray Martin. Nine have suffered because they haven’t coped well with Seven’s revival – they’re making too many changes to compete – when they could be using this as an opportunity to create some distinctions (kind of like the Federal Labor Party) and this only breeds failure. Imitation are doomed to come in second best.

PBL and News Ltd are interesting companies because they have outlets in different media types. Under Australia’s cross media ownership laws a media company could not have operational control of more than one outlet in a geographical area. So you couldn’t own the local TV station and a local radio station. In theory this ensures accountability in the media. PBL (Packer Broadcasting Limited… actually it’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited) owns Channel 9 which is a national metropolitan service (They don’t actually own WIN which shares its programming schedule). They also own a fair chunk of the Australian magazine market. News Ltd owns all their papers and the Fox network (including news). They’re able to get around the regulations due to various loopholes and the interpretation of some key terms.

The ABC again a different matter altogether. Because it relies on tax payer dollars rather than advertising revenue the ABC experiences different pressures. It’s governmentally controlled (rather than regulated) and the pressures it opperates under are political rather than commercial. Fairfax and the ABC are more natural bedfellows than News Ltd and the ABC would be – I have no real concerns about the transition between the two companies. David Marr, the last watchable Media Watch host was a Fairfax employee – he wasn’t editorially constrained when it came to criticising his own paper – but I imagine he took a degree of pleasure from slamming the competition. But don’t we all.

I have a feeling this post won’t have interested anyone but Mark.

Fitting attire for when the rubber hits the road

Well I found out what was making my car shake it, shake it, shake it like a polaroid picture… I promise never to intentionally put the words to a Black Eyed Peas song in my blog ever again.

Anyway, getting back on track, let’s get this story started in here… oops I did it again. Oh no. Now I’ve quoted Black Eyed Peas twice and Britney once. I’m not sure I can go any lower. Although I haven’t yet stooped to mentioning nudie runs. Although I guess now I have. Bugger.

And to think I took two minutes coming up with those Black Eyed Peas jokes. That’s time I’ll never ever get back. But again, I digress. Tonight was a significant milestone in my development as a man. Actually there were two milestones today. And a kilometre sign. Let’s drag this blog into the metric era. Firstly, in a moment of post State of Origin apathy I realised that my desire to rub in such a crushing one-point victory just wasn’t there. I realised in that instant that at some point in the last few months or years I’d discovered that there was more to life than sport. Once again I blame girls for this – everything that goes wrong in my (or anyone else’s) life is directly attributable to members of the opposite sex.

The second kilometre sign moment came tonight when I discovered what was wrong with my car. I was travelling down a road (not the road less travelled, or the road to nowhere, or one of the roads that a man must walk down before you can call him a man… actually maybe it was one of those – that’s the whole point) at a reasonable pace (and by reasonable I mean the speed limit) when my car made a funny clunk sound and started bouncing rather than shaking. “Ahh,” I thought to myself, “I’ve just blown a tyre/tire/tier/rubber wheel thing/the round thing on the bottom of my car. So I pulled over and examined the damage. I’m quite impressed. It was pretty blown. I managed to pull over in the vicinity of a streetlight but just to be sure I responsibly put my hazard lights on. Unfortunately the crevice thing that my spare tyre sits in is under a plank of wood. The plank of wood obscures the light in the boot when it is raised so it took me a while to unscrew the spare tyre and find all the pieces of the jack, but once I got there it was fine.

At this point I called Dad – just to make sure that I wasn’t going to break/brake my car by doing anything stupid. It turns out my theories were correct. Changing a tyre is as easy as umm, doing something similar. I was back on the road in no time and suitably covered in a combination of grease, dirt and some other unidentified pollutant.

I should point out that in my moment of distress – when I thought “ohh crap I’m doing 80 and my tyre just blew” (editors note: I probably actually said something slightly different out loud but the meaning is essentially the same, and this is slightly more appropriate) I was actually following directly behind one of the lovely girls from church – who it turns out saw me pull over and just kept driving. What a shame – I missed out on such a great opportunity to literally flex my manliness muscles – it’s probably not a bad thing that she kept going. She tells me she’s an expert tyre changer and has managed to complete the process in under 15 minutes. I think I managed in a respectable 25ish – a good portion of that was spent ferreting around in the boot of my car.

So now I’ve changed a tyre. I’m all manly and stuff. Now when I sing in the car (in my extra deep voice) i don’t do that funny wavering sound that you make when you’re going over a cattle grid in a car and you go “ERR-RR-RRR-RR”…you get the point. If you don’t maybe you should find a cattle grid and try it. It’s kind of like that Red Indian (Native American) warcry you make when you bounce your hand up and down on your mouth while going “OOO-WAA-WAA-WAA”… or maybe that’s just me.

Introducing Blogging by demand…

I received an email from MIP that piqued my interest today. He suggested a particular topic that he would like to see me address within the confines of my blog. I won’t comment on the content at this stage. But it gave me an interesting idea.

I’m now taking requests for topics or issues to turn my attention to. Please feel free to leave suggestions on the comments pages of my blog as I check them regularly. It’ll be like cash for comment only I’m not being paid.