Sunday, December 28

blizzard of oz

Inspired by MM here is a question. What is going on in this picture, and where?

Saturday, December 27

5 weeks off

I've got 5 weeks off work, and already I've spent some time usefully fixing up the computer so I can blog again. Due to the self-destructing PCs at home, and the excessive IT workload at work, I had developed a hatred of all things computery, but that is how some people feel all the time.

On the list for the next couple of weeks:

  • Massacre the weeds in the garden, chop down a dying tree, transplant a sick azalea to nearer where the happy azalea lives.

  • Put on another brew, since I'm now down to the last 30 bottles.

  • Plan Albert's relaunch as an HNT star.

  • Read. I have just finished a couple of books by a super writer called Rachel Seiffert. Before that, I gave up early on a Danish novel which ticked all the postmodern boxes - unrelated chapters, confusing flashbacks, cardboard characters, but it was impossible to care about a single outcome. I learned long ago how to (pre)judge a book by its cover, or at least by its first few pages.

Some movies are like that, and you can save yourself a lot of time by learning how to bale out of a film early, ideally during the opening credits. My first bale-out was watching Top Gun or The Right Stuff in Leicester Square. Poor Angie had been enjoying Tom Cruise and was annoyed at having to walk out with me. She should have read it as a sign of things to come, but then she might not have moved in with me and I might not be alive now. That just goes to prove something or other.

Went to a concert last night, an Australian orchestra playing Mozart and Mendelssohn. The ringing in the ears has not let up since the duneditin atrocity, so I took along a selection of earplugs of varying strengths. In the long run, if I can't cure it with bliss pills, I may be forced to consider meditation.

Wednesday, December 17

xmas decoration HNT

Time to hang the decorations and wish everyone a half naked christmas.


Sunday, December 14

the dock of the bay

On the bay walk this morning, the tide was much higher than normal. We got to the point where the dog normally jumps down onto her favourite ledge which is normally covered with only about 2 inches of water.

She leaped down with the usual expectation of landing on concrete, but disappeared from view as she sank like a stone. It was a while before she resurfaced. Brilliant entertainment.

The bliss partner took some photos of me in my baseball cap. This was the best one.

Wednesday, December 10

summer heat

As if the groin strain wasn't bad enough, summer has just arrived here, and it's so hot and sweaty there's now a mushroom farm growing in my groin. I think I understand now why, whenever there's a heatwave in places like France or Greece, hundreds of old people die of heatstroke. As you get older, you can't take the heat. Thank goodness I'm not a meditator, devoting my life to raising internal heat - that's no help at all.

The dog is feeling the heat too. She's black, and as she gets older she dislikes frying in sunlight. When she was in her prime she could bask for hours and never drink a drop of water. And she hated swimming. But everything balances up over time, and now she's the opposite: on this morning's walk, though it was early and the sun was still low, she kept wanting to jump in the harbour to cool off.

Once in the water, she was content just to float along, with an occasional leisurely wave of a paw to keep her head above the surface. As I stood on the shore, she kept looking at me as if to say - please don't say we have to move on yet. It's the most sensual I've ever seen her.

Friday, December 5

another five-day weekend

Friday night. The drawbridge is up. The blister has just left for New Zealand, to visit the churchgoing wing of the family, so I've got five whole days without having to see anybody. I could do anything! Cut my nails, sort the plastic bag collection, read books. Not Ian McEwan though. I finally read The Comfort Of Strangers to the end last week, nearly 30 years after I bought it. In the past I had always given up half-way, through boredom. Well I've finished it now, and I almost wish I hadn't. Just when I'm old and medicated enough to stop believing that the world's a dangerous place, I go and read this. I'll never be able to trust anyone again.

With a working PC at last, I could spend this weekend trawling the web for new talent. As hut manager for a Scottish author it's my job to round up young lasses and deliver them to his comments page. I did it with Lee-Ann, Lelly and Keda, and I can do it again. Mind you, since I had all that black pudding and white beer when I was in Europe, I won't be able to use my body as bait any more. Unless photoshop can perform miracles, I'll have to stoop to using old black and white rude photos from when I used to be fit.

Saturday morning. Bad news. I just remembered, my excuse to get out of going to New Zealand was that I wanted to finish painting the kitchen (I've finally run out of excuses after laying down the brushes about 6 months ago). So I'll get up the ladder and bang goes my weekend of debauchery and hedonism.

Money-saving tip number 43: If you're at home on a Saturday night with nothing to do and no plukes/plooks to squeeze, don't worry, there's a cheap thrill available. Go to the medicine cabinet and grab a handful of those rubbery fish-oil capsules. Put one in your mouth and burst it between your teeth. Oh the sensation as the oil explodes in all directions! It's the oral equivalent of bursting bubble wrap between your fingers. Internal fireworks. AND you get the evocative aftertaste of the cod liver oil, to take you back to your childhood.

Useful links:

Retention Deficit Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Tuesday, December 2

one thing that gets better with age

I heard someone on the radio explaining about the development of different areas of the brain during a lifetime. Apparently from puberty to age 25 or so, humans lack the areas involved in reflecting, empathising, and projecting backward and forward in time. If you know any people of that age, you’ll know it’s true.

Conversely, these are the very brain areas that can blossom late in life, if they are used and developed.

The late flowering of the ability to project forward in time might explain why effective politicians are not generally young. So it might not be just that the spoilsport oldies hog the top positions to keep the brilliant youngsters from changing things.

Similarly, the ability to project backward in time explains why so many people, when they reach about 55, want to write their life story. Maybe I should blog my own memoirs, though I would need a separate blog for describing some of the more depraved thoughts and deeds.

I’m not interested in wielding political or professional power, but it might still be wise to develop the part of my brain involved in foresight and the future. If only I could mentally project some future depravity, that would balance the past. I could ask a meditator how to do visualisation.

Sunday, November 30

everything you do has consequences

Mary Hopkin’s dad used to say “everything you do has consequences”. At the time I thought he meant “don’t get my daughter pregnant” but now I think his advice was intended more generally.

Since I effed the hip joint a couple of weeks ago, the pain seems to have got steadily worse rather than better, and I feared it was the start of a long slippery slope towards an artificial hip. Because neither the original injury nor the further exacerbations caused immediate pain, I had little insight into what was helping and what was making things worse.

But thanks to the bliss pills, I have been able to apply rational thinking, unhampered by emotional distress. If I asked a doctor, at best they'd suggest a single diagnosis and a single cause. But I can do better than that: knowing that everything has consequences, I have been able to work my way through the events of the last fortnight, and tease out the facts (in italics) of what was going wrong.

During the month of working full-time, I was always too busy or too tired to swim, walk, or do yoga. At the time, I thought to myself “this is unhealthy, but I’m fortunate that I’m getting away with it, with no impact on me”. And then at the end of the month, I did my hip joint.

A couple of days later it got a lot worse, and I now know why. Encouraged by ra juju guru, I decided to try out the elephant sexual position from The Hotel New Hampshire. Well as you know, that pose requires some very extreme hip work, and that must have been what was making my pain worse. Naturally one wouldn't notice the pain during the actual activity itself.

So I gave up tantrism, and things got better for a day or two, before getting worse again. Now I know why.

Because of the chronic tropical ball rash, I always use a hair dryer after showering, prophylactically against the fungus. To do this, I hang off the edge of the bed, with my legs wide open, and direct the hot air to and fro over my pubes. As you do. There were no problems until I got a new bed just after the whole hip thing started. The new bed is much lower than the old one, so when I hang off it with the hairdryer, the legs open slightly wider than usual, and I'm now pretty sure that's been making the injury worse each day.

So all I have to do is find a new way of using the hair dryer, and the hip can start to repair itself. Imagine expecting a doctor to work all that out! It's no wonder they can only reach for the prescription pad.

I'm fortunate: I have no distractions like children or a social life; I'm on the no-worries pills, and I have the Narcissistic Personality Disorder to help me, so I can work this stuff out, but most people don't have these advantages.

Wednesday, November 26

ra heat

This should really be a helpful comment at ra spliff blog, but if I posted it there it might get accidentally deleted.

Hotters was asking for help with raising heat, and someone suggested using hot porridge. From my own experience I can confirm that a massive bowl of porridge for breakfast, preferably with stewed fruit and raisins, plus a huge dollop of unhulled tahini, does indeed work wonders in raising one's internal heat. As you break into a sweat, you may even find you have to take some clothes off, to let excess heat escape. (Incidentally, that is the perfect time for some creative HNT work).

As a Scot I sprinkle heaps of salt over my porridge, and this can add to the heat (salt is the most yang foodstuff).

Of course, like everything else the heat increase is only temporary. Pretty soon you get the urge to take an equally massive dump, and you lose a lot of heat. Everything has to balance up.

Saturday, November 22


Only a week since my reprieve from the black spot, and already it seems like months ago. All the lessons forgotten. But I have followed through on the resolution to volunteer to become a person who drives sick people to hospital. Partly inspired by ion, partly as penance. I suppose it's also selfish, since I enjoy the experienc of visiting hospitals when I'm not sick. They'll probably have to vet me in case I'm a pervert or a basher of old ladies.

The month of working full-time, combined with reduced dog-walking and undernourishment, helped me to injure my hip joint this week, as I jumped back on the pavement to avoid a car. I shouldn't be dashing through traffic at my age anyway, there must be other ways to get your kicks. Funny how you don't appreciate your body when there's nothing wrong with it. I'm hoping this is a temporary setback, rather than the start of one of these age-related conditions where you end up getting a new hip joint.

This week JQM sent me some statements by old people:

Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman:
'And what do you think is the best thing
About being 104?' the reporter asked.
She simply replied, 'No peer pressure.'

I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement,
New knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes
I'm half blind,
Can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine,
Take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts.
Have bouts with dementia .
Have poor circulation.
Hardly feel my hands and feet anymore.
Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92.
Have lost all my friends. But, thank God,
I still have my driver's license.

It's scary when you start making the same noises as your coffee maker.


Grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,

The good fortune to run into the ones I do,

And the eyesight to tell the difference.

Sunday, November 16

dead and alive

Until my recent reprieve, people were asking me to make up my mind whether I'm dying or not. Well I'm dying and living, just like everyone else. The truth is we're all dying, all the time, every day a little more. Form time to time some of us put on a bit of a spurt, that's all.

Each day, oblivion creeps a little nearer, but it makes life easier if we can avoid thinking about that. People blame doctors for lots of things, but on one level we should really be grateful to the docs for colluding in our mass denial. The docs help support the notion that the world is divided in two: on the one hand there's all of us normals who are more or less fighting fit; and there's those poor bastards who need to monopolise the doctors because they're dying.

Of course, even if you believe this, when you're handed the black spot your equanimity and common sense suddenly go out the window, and you feel as if there's a firing squad waiting just outside the door. But if you're lucky enough not to have noisy neighbours who do your nerves in, you might have the presence of mind to meditate, and then suddenly you find you can't be bothered holding onto the fears and longings, the emotions. It really helps.

Friday, November 14

nae bother

First, thanks to all our reader for yesterday's message of support.

I stayed strangely calm yesterday before the path results. By the time I saw the guy, I didn't much care which way it went. But the news was good, the lump was a lymph gland. Of course, if I'd had the courage of my convictions from the start, I wouldn't have had the lump out at all and I'd have saved the stress and money. I wonder how much the refund would be if they could put the lump back in.

I wanted to go out and celebrate with champagne and sushi, but the bliss partner chose to go home and have a night in to celebrate. But I still want to do domething special and life-affirming at the weekend. Any ideas?

Germany has officially gone into recession. There goes what would have remained of my inheritance, if it hadn't been blown already on the German medical fraternity. But I've got something better than money. Health!

Yesterday morning I had a filling done without an injection. Afterwards, the dentist read the riot act because he can tell that I haven't been wearing the dental splint at night. It's like a hard perspex mouthguard, designed to stop you grinding your teeth down to stumps in your sleep. But it's very uncomfortable. So I've agreed to try a cheap rubber mouthguard that footballers use. The dentist says it will at least prove whether I grind at night, as I'll chew my way through it in no time.

From the Glasgow Herald: In Jersey, as the grim details emerged earlier this year of shackles, bone fragments, a bloodstained bathtub and dozens of children's teeth, the revelations seemed gruesome.

Yesterday, after a 4 million pound investigation, police admitted that the rooms described as underground punishment chambers where children were beaten and raped were in fact "just cellars". Bones found at the site were in fact hundreds of years old. And an alleged skull fragment may be a coconut.

Jersey must have been trying to compete with Austria, where they've just issued a new charge of murder against guy who kept his daughter as a sex slave. Allegedly.

Thursday, November 13

slower or faster

So in a minute I'm going to get the pathology results from the surgeon. I'm feeling surprisingly unconcerned. It can't be from the bliss work, as I've had no success with that this week. Either it's simple denial, or I really do accept that we're all dying slowly, and after this afternoon I'll either still be dying at the same rate, or slightly faster.

Wednesday, November 12

non-deifheids do exist

On Sunday night I had to go to the house of Pat and Ed to admire Ed's DIY renovations. Two things wrong with this:

(1) - I'm being set up to feel I should emulate Ed.

(2) - The visit involved meeting other people and nothing good can ever come of that.

Even worse, after we arrived, it turned out that a couple of strangers were invited too! Erk! The obligation to talk to people I've never seen and will never see again, about stuff I don't care about. What a waste of time!

But in fact, once the renovations were out of the way, the two new people turned out to be delightful, and they weren't deifheids at all. Yet they were Australians. How can that be?

I discovered that she's a flying doctor, and he walks his dog in the same woods as I do. For the first time in memory, I was reluctant to leave at the end. I was drinking beer with alcohol in it - I wonder if that made a difference.

Then on Monday morning I woke before the alarm, so I had 20 minutes to spend on the focussed breathing. Twenty minutes later, I hadn't managed to concentrate on a single breath. Too excited about having a whole day off, in beautiful weather.

Thursday, November 6

the big day (getting it) out

The comments in the last couple of posts were great to read, even though I didn't reply.

Yesterday, after a big breakfast I borrowed the bliss partner's car to drive to the hospital. The nurse asked me who was coming to pick me up, and when I said "nobody" she said "that's unusual". I didn't get where I am today without being unusual.

I found out that the insurance is picking up most of the tab, and I was only out of pocket $250! Where else could you lie around in a dress and no undies, among nubiles in nurse uniforms, without having to have sex?

They give you a room for the day and put you to bed. I had the whole day off work, and all these good people around me were looking after everything. There was nothing I had to do except do nothing. Indeed there was nothing I could do. Instead of switching on the TV, I spent the time more usefully. I lay on my back, and did the autogenic breathing exercises that worked so well the other day. After a handful of breaths I drifted into a wonderful warm half-sleep.

At times of stress the reptilian senses, like hearing, take over, and my awareness focussed on the melodious chirping mid-morning chat of the female staff in the distance. It was a very special feeling, primal even. When I was fully conscious again, I felt ready for an adventure.

In pre-op, when she found out I had opted for a local, the anaesthetic nurse asked if I wanted any sedatives, and I said "what have you got?" Thinking I was joking, she said "I suppose you'd like a whisky?" I said no, I really wanted to know what sedatives were on offer. The first one she mentioned, some kind of -azepam, sounded good so I said "I'll have that one." As she was getting the needle ready, I said "I'll still be able to drive home, eh?" I shouldn't have said that. They said I wouldn't be able to drive for 24 hours, so I told them to forget it, I'd do it straight.

In the theatre, they put me on the operating table, then they all went out and left me alone. I was able to get a good look around the room, more ramshackle than in the films. If I'd been sedated, I wouldn't have been able to lift my head off the table. Back when I was half my age and I had the original black spot op, I was well sedated on the table and when the anaesthetist said he was about to put in the curare, I was so cheery I shouted hooray for the curare.

Anyway, during the operation yesterday, with a wee sort of green tent over my head I couldn't see anything, but I could hear everything including the beeper connected to my pulse, quite slow and steady. I was able to chat to the main nurse, who turned out to be a big fan of Oor Wullie and The Broons. And from time to time I asked the surgeon what he was doing. He's built like a rugby forward, with massive doughy fingers. When he started in with the diathermy, a sort of soldering iron scalpel, he kept hitting a nerve and making my arm lash out at him. Bizarre.

His voice from above the tent explained that he was cutting out the lump but that it was joined to a nerve. I freaked a bit at this point. The type of black spot that I originally had is known to have a propensity, almost a desire, to spread along nerves, so this wasn't good news. My own nerves were suddenly shot, and the racing beep of the heart monitor announced to everyone in the room that I was spooked. It was a bit tough then.

The bonhomie in the room seemed to evaporate, and the stitching and bandaging proceeded in silence. Or that's how I remember it. The surgeon told me to come and see him next Thursday, to get the pathology results.

Back in my room, the room nurse told me how confronting it must have been to have no general and no sedation. She said she's too wimpy to even go in the theatre, that's why she works outside in the rooms.

The promised lunch never arrived, so I had to get up and find someone to complain to. If they're going to sell themselves as something special, they'd better expect consumer complaints. (Of course I realise that one should be just as pushy with public medicine and then things might improve). The replacement lunch came. I put the steak in my bag for the dog, and got dressed.

Back at home, to take my mind off my impending demise, I got out the old neck CT scan from 10 years ago, and found two image slices through the same area where I'd just had the lump removed. And there it was, I'm sure - the same size and shape of lump, ten years ago. Now that's a good sign. Everything's balancing up again - I've got one bad sign and one good. 50-50's good enough for me right now, though I may start to feel different as next Thursday the 13th approaches. I may have to meditate again.

After the day's excitement I slept great last night, and today at work I was on fire. The bliss partner has a full weekend planned, but I only have to attend one of the events, so it's looking good for some serious doing nothing, maybe even some more amateur blissage. How fortunate one is really.

Wednesday, November 5

what a relief

Thank goodness he romped home as it turned out. If you think America's international standing was mud already, just imagine if the election had gone the other way. I think even I would have been considering a semtex strap-on. But as it is, this makes up for Martin Luther King. What a wonderful moment.

Mind you, who would want the job after the country and the world's been thoroughly shafted now? Besides, give him a few years and a few mistakes, and we'll see the press and voters turn on him. The Blair effect. But what a gifted guy!

Meanwhile, tomorrow's the day I get the lump out. The hospital phoned and told me to turn up at 7 a.m. I pointed out that the doc told me he'd do me at the end of his list, around lunchtime, so what was I going to do for 5 hours? "You could read a magazine." Bugger that, I'll turn up mid morning and they'll still have a couple of hours to run around with their forms.

Then the woman said don't eat anything at all after tonight. I pointed out that it's to be a local anaesthetic, not a general. "Well I'm just telling you what I've been told to say." The admin people are Australians, so they haven't a clue. If I'm to hang around in a ward for half the day, I'm not doing it on an empty stomach. Fasting for a local anaesthetic! They've got to be kidding. Porridge bacon and eggs here we come.

I think I'm going to be a bolshie patient now that I'm not getting it for nothing.

And my manager, all heart, when he heard I'd be off for a day asked me to do some extra paperwork because Q, the person I'm standing in for, should have done it before they went on holiday. I couldn't be bothered reasoning with him, so I decided to start getting the hang of these mind games - I told him I'd do it, knowing full well it would unfortunately slip my mind, just like it slipped Q's mind.

Monday, November 3

one lump or two?

It's lump time again. I had been observing a small neck lump for months, and when it became impossible to believe it was still just as small, I went to the doc. She referred me for an ultrasound, but I had to wait a week for the appointment. Over the course of that week I moved gradually from laid back cockiness to panicky pessimism. By the time of the ultrasound I was, well let's just say I wouldn't need laxatives.

After they handed me the results, I waited till I was on the bus before tearing open the envelope. I deciphered the jargon using what I could remember from second-year medicine. Hurrah! "No hilum can be indentified" - that must be a good thing, who wants to have a hilum, whatever it is? "No vascularity is apparent at colour doppler". That must be good too. I seem to recall that one of the first things that the black spot does after moving in is install decent plumbing.

But everything balances up, and the same report said they had found a second, smaller lump.

Since then, I've had a week of R and R and denial. This afternoon I've to see the surgeon, so just now I thought I'd prepare by using the web to look up the jargon from the ultrasound. Now I wish I hadn't.

Still, I suppose it's good to clue myself up before seeing the guy. You can't give informed consent if you refuse to be informed.

At the same time, I'm working a four day week (on 2.5 days' pay mind you) for a month. At least it gives me something else to focus on and gets me out of the house every day. Hurray for work! And when I'm not immediately busy, I'm building myself a new home computer in my office. If I get stuck, I can get help from the hardware people.

This morning I had a joyless walk with the dog, and now I'm going back to bed till lunchtime, to read and maybe sleep.

I ended up trying to meditate in bed, so I was asleep by the fifth breath, but I had time to notice how with each breath the throat relaxed and opened up, accompanied by a similar relaxation in the trouser department. I made a mental note to try this mediatation thing again, just in case there's something in it.

My oldest friend in Scotland is a doc himself. He told me about the shorthand terms they use at his hospital. An anaesthetist is referred to as a "gas man," an orthopaedic surgeon is a joiner or a chippie. Urologists are called plumbers. A plastic surgeon is a painter and decorator. Most surgeons are butchers.

So I went this afternoon to see the butcher, and he said it'll have to come out. The good news is he agreed to do it under a local. He gave me the choice of paying my own way ("we could do you this week") or for free ("maybe the end of the month"). So it was a mental toss-up between fear and stinginess, and fear won. Of course, once I got out of there I was kicking myself for my decision. Even "the end of the month" would have been sheer bloody luxury compared to a Britsh NHS waiting list.

Never mind, I get a day off work but the actual op only takes about half an hour, so I'm ahead on the deal. Tonight I've had my first real beer since Duneditin, for relaxation purposes. But in the long term I'm going to have to learn to meditate. It has come to this.

Saturday, November 1

love-hate balance

Scientists at University College London have shown that there really is a thin line between love and hate, at least in the brain.

A new study reveals that the brain's "love" and "hate" circuits share identical structures.

At last, I think I understand why I pursued the annoying but delightful Denny for years, then let her slip away after I had won her, yet still missed her even after she was dead.

Everything in the universe, it's all just more and more balancing up. I'm hoping I can still see things that way when I'm at death's door, just balancing up my birth. That would help.

Sunday, October 19

i have a dream

Last night I had a dream involving hotboy. Fortunately I had booked a session with Doctor Robert this morning, so I was able to tell him about it.

The transcript below explains everything. It's probably only interesting if you're me, but it's all true.

Doctor Robert: Just relax, and tell me what you have to report today.

Patient: Well, I had a dream.

Doctor Robert: Okay, just tell me what you can remember.

Patient: Well, I remember I was living on one side of a forest, and I could see over on the other side ...

Doctor Robert: Symbolically, the other side of the world?

Patient: Yes. There was a large tree, and hotboy was scampering around in the upper branches of it, like a monkey, or judging from the bend of the branches, more like an orang-utan. He was being encouraged by a mate of his.

Doctor Robert: Who was his friend?

Patient: I don't know, maybe his sensei. Anyway, as hotters climbed higher into the tree, the branch was bending ever lower towards the ground, and nearer and nearer to the garden I was standing in.

Doctor Robert: Symbollically, you want hotboy to visit you.

Patient: Yes, it all makes sense! Yesterday I had bottled another bucket of home brew, so in my dream I created someone to drink it all!

Doctor Robert: Just leave the psychoanalysis to me. Tell me more about the dream.

Patient: I suppose so. And in the dream I was thinking - I would never perform gymnastics high in a tree that, it's too dangerous.

Doctor Robert: What do the aerial gymnastics represent? In real life, does this hotboy fellow ever do anything that's risky?

Patient: Apart from the drugs, the feats of drinking, the cigarettes, the boxing, and the running around outdoors in an Edinburgh winter? Nothing at all.

Doctor Robert: Do go on.

Patient: Well, as hotters continued to run and jump around on the branch, I was thinking - I hope it doesn't break or he'll injure himself falling into my garden.

Doctor Robert: In other words, you imagined a more down to earth hotboy.

Patient: Yes, I suppose if he ever applied his abilities to something practical or a career, he would be a great success and then I would be the only under-achiever I know.

Doctor Robert: So what happened next?

Patient: He sank so low he was able to step off into my garden, and I showed him around.

Doctor Robert: What happened next?

Patient: Next thing I knew, he was back on the other side of the forest, with one of his mates.

Doctor Robert: What was the friend doing?

Patient: He was obsessively tinkering with a car engine, a sports car, to make it go even faster.

Doctor Robert: Does hotboy know anyone who's obsessed with speed?

Patient: Yes! I see now, it must have been Poisonous!

Doctor Robert: Maybe, or does he know anyone else, someone with an obsessive hobby?

Patient: Well there's Menzies, he's an obsessive pitch inspector.

Doctor Robert: There you are then.

Patient: Yes. Inspecting the car engine represents inspecting a cricket pitch. Anyway, I saw hotboy leaving the forest and walking in the direction of Nicholson Street, so I ran to try and catch him before he went home. By the time I reached Nicholson Street, he was already on his bike and cycling away. I shouted, and he turned around. I suggested we go for a beer, and I offered that we could either go to a nearby pub full of deifheids and flatheids, or drink some of my home brew back at Buccleuch Towers. He chose the pub.

Doctor Robert: Why did he prefer the pub?

Patient: I haven't a clue.

Doctor Robert: Time's up. I hope this has helped.

Patient: Thanks. This virtual analysis really works. Every day I'm getting a little more normal.

If you think you too could benefit from spending some time with Doctor Robert, he's taking bookings now in the comments section.

Wednesday, October 15

pills and laughter

The first visit this year by the deifheids was a useful reminder of why the weekly walks with them had to stop. Enough said. In contrast, last weekend we went to visit Kerry and Ray (to hell with protecting people's anonymity, nobody reads this stuff anyway), and what a pleasure that was! Ray is taciturn but if you ask him about something, he knows a lot that's useful. Kerry talks a lot, but it's all good practical stuff, she doesn't whinge, and she knows how to listen too.

Recently, the bliss pills have lost their effectiveness, in fact they've been making me quite cranky. It's probably a fault at the factory - they're manufactured in Australia, where quality control is not quite up to the standard of the rest of the third world. Over there, the bliss pills are so unreliable, people are turning instead to low-tech solutions like laughter workshops. Spud's brother is building a career there, as a certified laughter facilitator. This is one of the videos filmed at his workshops, and you can see the results for yourself.

Saturday, October 11


At the same time as the engine room of capitalism is blowing up, the engine room of my corner of the blogosphere is stalling, and there's nothing to read on my chums' blogs. Or mine. If this social drought continues I may have to go out in the real world and look for some friends.

Speaking of which, this morning I'll be seeing the deifheids for the first time this year. They're coming over here for breakfast. It might actually be bearable, since I've had a long break since my last exposure to deifheidism.

PS - I can recommend some scary photos amd a scary video.

Tuesday, October 7

rediscovering tai chi

I did the (Yang style short) form tonight. I first learned it from Larry about 20 years ago, and I used to know it off by heart. But it's been years since I did the full routine, and tonight I found a wee gap where I couldn't remember how to get from Single Whip to Fair Lady (aka Four Corners). It's an especial shame because Fair Lady is my favourite move.

So I decided to get the Tai Chi books out and try and relearn the missing bit. At first I didn't recognise what they were telling me to do. Interestingly, I realised that the reason I had forgotten this particular move was because I had never learnt it properly in the first place. I had always just fudged this part of the routine.

Well it took about half an hour of experimentation to be able to do something half-way between what I had mislearned, and what the book was showing. My knees had to work hard but without injury, which is itself progress. Probably all the dog walking has been silently fixing up the old recurring joggers' knee problem.

So I was able to do the whole form from start to finish. Now I'm feeling that particular post-Tai Chi knackered feeling that you don't really get any other way. Hot too. I'll sleep well tonight, even sounder than the bliss-pill sleep.

Apparently the financial world is falling apart, but if you can keep yourself happy for nothing, who cares?

Sunday, October 5

in the paper this weekend

In the paper this weekend, there was an opinion piece on Palin, written by the brilliant Naomi Wolf, in which she points out:

The McCain campaign has surrounded Palin with veterans of the Bush-Cheney cabal.

The form of cancer for which McCain has been treated has an actuarial survival rate of two to four years for a person his age. [This leads to] the disturbing prospect of a long Palin presidency.

[Palin is] a scary stalking-horse for eight more years (or more) of rule by the thugs who looted America's treasury [and] wrecked its economy.
Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, October 2

balanced walking

Just back from the morning dogwalk, trying out the pulse monitor that I've borrowed from the blister. She's lost the instructions, so I'm the only one who can figure out how to work it. But I'm not sure how to interpret the stats it's giving me. I suspect that, like everything, they're part good and part bad.

At one point, after only a minute of fast uphill tramping in the ankle sandbags, the reading reached 143 bpm (probably bad). Yet I wasn't even out of breath (good), and the pulse went down again to about 100 after about half a minute (probably good). Natural equilibrium!

I seem to remember that somebody, possibly me, had a post and comments some time ago about pulse rates, but finding it is too much like work, and I'm on holiday. I'd rather spend the time in the garden murdering weeds.

Tuesday, September 30

brother can you spare 7 trillion dimes?

To blog this I'm dragging myself away from the radio/TV/newspaper coverage of the U.S. slow-motion train wreck. If you were a writer you could try and turn it into a 21st century Shakespearian tragedy, but how could any fiction match the real-life scenes in NY and Washington?

I watched the whole first debate, both as politics and as oedipal drama. I still lean towards the younger man, but whoever wins will bring a merciful infusion of brain cells to the top job. Of course the new guy will still feel compelled to pardon the bastards who have been pulling the moronic strings. I'm not feeling reckless enough to mention any names.

Next, there's Palin up against Biden. I wouldn't want to be in his position. He has his hands tied. If he attacks any of her weak points, it'll just make voters feel sorry for her. We can only hope she sabotages herself with one blunders and gaffes.

Friday, September 19

never take sweeties from a stranger



Thursday, September 18

holiday snaps

I was sent a load of holiday snaps by JQM, taken in France last month. My favourite one is this shot of a female stag party, or whatever you call it when the almost-bride and her mates run around plastered.

I like to think the blow-up guy could be me. It's a long time since I had someone else's hands down my trousers.

Tuesday, September 9

luddism in the face of cultural imperialism

Still too busy to blog, mainly because I've now trashed the disk on a second computer, and I'm spending whole days fixing (i.e. further breaking) PCs. This is not how I want to be spending my life, what's left of it. Fortunately the bliss pills keep the rage down to manageable levels. Occasionally I fantasise about binning everything and going back to writing letters and reading the paper.

I don't know about the news in your country, but nothing ever happens here, so for a long time the media have been awash with US concerns. The only break in about two years of election build-up has been serial hurricanes. There's another 4 months of electioneering, and then it will all be over for a couple of years until the next campaign.

Have to go now and walk the dog, so I can be back in time for the live breakfast broadcast of Murray v Federer in the US Open. Thank goodness for American telecasting.

Wednesday, September 3

barely blogging

It's been hard to blog recently. Many reasons:

The old dear has been a bit unwell, and when I phone her she's either crawling on the floor searching for various pills she's dropped, or sometimes I catch her mid-vomit. She was throwing up for 4 days, and the family were getting quite distressed. Then yesterday she seemed brighter, and I asked if she had managed to keep any food down yet. "Oh yes, I had bacon and chips last night."

I called her doctor in the middle of the night our time. Me: "she must be quite a challenging patient." The doc: "no comment."

The computer has finally died. I killed it myself so I can't complain.

Everything hurts at the moment - the back, the split thumb skin, the gall bladder, the big toe, and that's only the things I can mention in a family blog.

I'm having to work most days of the week, while still being paid for only 2 days. This is the reverse of what it used to be, so I suppose everything's balancing up. And the material has been horrible java. I quote from the lecture notes I have been given to use:

  • is an object of type IputStreamer.

  • An IputStreamer is not a Reader.

  • So we cannot create a BufferReader from

  • An IputStreamReader is a Reader.

  • And we can create an IputStreamReader from an IputStream.

Jeez! If I go glassy-eyed looking at this stuff, what hope is there for the stoodents I teach?

PS - I have deliberately garbled some of the java above. Wouldn't do to have the stoodents searching the web for help, only for Google to lead them here. No help at all.

Sunday, August 31

family fortunes answers

These are real contestant answers from the famous Family Fortunes Show.

Something you lose when you get older: 'Your purse..'

Something you would play with in the bath: 'A bazooka..'

Someone you wouldn't swear in front of: 'Yourself..'

Someone or something whose existence has never been proven: 'Hitler..'

Something you open other than a door: 'Your bowels..'

A number you might have to memorise: 'Seven..'

A slang word for a girl: 'Slag..'

An animal with horns: 'A bee...'

A medieval weapon: 'Hand-grenade..'

Something made of wool: 'A sheep..'

Something a bridegroom might wear: 'A dress..'

Someone you wouldn't expect to see in a strip club: 'Animals..'

Something a train-spotter would have in his pocket: 'A magnifying glass..'

Something you put out for the birds: 'Worms..'

A way to prevent snoring: 'Put a pillow over his face..'

A word used to describe a very hot day: 'A very hot day..'

Someone who works early hours: 'A burglar..'

A reason for kneeling: 'To be beheaded..'

A nickname for a slim person: 'Slimmy..'

Something that's nice to wear next to your skin: 'Pants..'

Something that Father Christmas does when he comes to your house: 'Feeds your pets..'

Something that comes in 7's: 'Fingers..'

A vocalist known by only one name: 'Michael Jackson..'

A yellow fruit: 'Orange..'

A boy mentioned in a nursery rhyme: 'Little Red Riding Hood..'

Something associated with Queen Victoria: 'Her husbands..'

Something you hide in your socks when you go swimming: 'Your legs..'

A game that uses a black ball: 'Darts..'

Other than 'carrier', a type of bag: 'Horse..'

Something that gives you goosebumps: 'Mumps..'

A non-living object with legs: 'A plant..'

A sign of the Zodiac: 'April..'

An animal associated with a nursery rhyme: 'Andy Pandy..'

A mode of transport that you can walk in: 'Your shoes..'

A musical instrument you can play in the bath: 'A drum kit..'

Something you pull: 'A potato..'

An animal used as a form of transport: 'A turtle..'

An occupation where you need a torch: 'A burglar..'

A well known superstition: 'Running in front of a car..'

A dangerous race: 'The Arabs..'

A part of the body you have more than two of: 'Arms..'

One of Harry Enfield's characters: 'Sooty..'

The first place detectives look for fingerprints: 'The floor..'

Something a girl should know about a man before marrying him: 'His name..'

A bird with a long neck: 'Naomi Campbell..'

A song with moon in the title: 'Blue Suede Moon..'

A famous Scotsman: 'Jock..'

Something red: 'My cardigan..'

Something you put on walls: 'Roofs..'

Something that floats in the bath: 'Water..'

Something a blind man might use: 'A sword..'

The last thing you take off before going to bed: 'Your feet..'

Something that flies without an engine: 'A bicycle with wings..'

Tuesday, August 26

good sports

by Albert McClochendichter
reporting from Nouvelle-Calédonie du Sud

Unfortunately, the only English-language media we get here are Australian, so the only results we got to hear about were Australian medals. The TV commentary ignored any competitors not wearing a yellow jersey trimmed with green. "And our Susie claims a silver." We rarely hear who won the gold if it wasn't an Aussie, but occasionally we can infer the nationality: "Little Susie didn't beat the Russian but we love her all the same."

In the newspapers, it was yellow jerseys in every picture.

In the basketball match between Australia and Lithuania, the only reason the Lithuanian player (on the right) was allowed in the frame was because (a) his side got beat and (b) his jersey is green and yellow too.

The only time you get to see another nationality is when they're losing

And there was indignation when Britain's medal score overtook the Aussie tally:

Don't get me wrong, I love watching the Australia TV coverage, but as comedy. I don't know how Albert can live there.

Saturday, August 23

conference photos

Apparently the conference photos have now been published.

Saturday, August 16


Observing synchronicities (or wee coincidences if you prefer) as they occur can be rewarding.

On 08/08/08, not itself a synchronicity but an auspicious number in certain cultures, I arrived back in Dinna Say just as the interminable olympic build-up was reaching its climax. The TV here was awash with New South Caledonian jingoism, as one retired NSC athlete after another revisited their own triumphs from decades ago. In desperation I reached for the nearest video tape and put it in the machine to see what was on it. Well! It was an old documentary about the plight of the 1000s of North Korean refugees living in hiding in China. This was more like it. I found out that they're in constant fear of discovery by, or betrayal to, the Chinese police. If caught, they are put on trains back to North Korea, for torture or liquidation. Riveting viewing, and a nice balance to the live TV festivities.

So I watched that instead of the PR fest in Beijing, and then we went to bed for a much shorter opening ceremony of our own. Of course next day, when I saw highlights on the news, I wished I had watched it. What an idiot!

If this post disappears, assume a loyal Chinese has complained to Blogger.

For my next synchronicity, I may need to shock you by discussing a matter not usually mentioned in polite company. In Glasgow, when I told John that my bliss partner and I maintain separate bedrooms, he said "oh, I thought M and I were the only couple who did that!" Earlier that day I had had exactly the same conversation with Sensei Larry about him and his missus. So in one day, three isolated freaks of nature had suddenly become a support group.

Now back in New South Caledonia, I was spending my first night of jet lag in the bliss partner's bed, with the headphone radio on and sleeping intermittently. I resisted all temptation to bed-dance, until about 5 am when they played a single that used to give an instant turbo boost back in the days when I jogged with the radio on. "When the feeling's right I'm gonna stay all night I'm going to run to you."

What a fortunate etc.

PS - in the interests of balance, I should add that when I had the black spot I noticed some less than encouraging synchronicities, which I have always kept to myself and anyway if I told you you'd say I was making it up.

Friday, August 15

just trust

For years my bliss partner has been trying to teach me to be optimistic and trust people. The woman who was looking after dog and house in my absence was a complete stranger to me, but she did a professional job, if you ignore the busted toaster, melted kettle, blocked drains, and cracked water main gushing merrily away under the house. I await with interest the next phone and electricity bills. On the plus side, the Wishbone Ash CDs are untouched, the house is still standing and the dog is well.

But the winter weather here is positively Edinbroid, reminiscent of the walk to work across North Bridge on a windy January morning. So for now it's back to four jumpers and a pantaclava.

Thursday, August 7

tokyo limbo

Yesterday everything went right, and for once I had a perfect British Airways stewardess. Not in the biblical sense though.

The day had begun in Glasgow in the middle of Monday night, and I ended up staying awake again for about 30 hours. In the air, at airports, and shopping for food in Tokyo.

I got into the usual delusions of invincibility, convinced that I would never need to sleep again. I had discovered a new spiritual secret, living outside the normal, beyond the understanding of blissheids flatheids and deifheids! How had I managed to escape the limitations of lesser mortals with their pathetic jet lag? Perhaps it was BA's five-course meals with free champers, wine and brandy, and I had hit on the precise combination dose of alcohol and tea. Or maybe it just comes from being one of Mannheim's Freischwebende. How fortunate to be above it all, to be in the middle class but not of it.

After gourmet dining in the hotel room - an exquisite 2 quid lunch box which I now wish I had photographed, none of your Glasgow stuffed rats - I fell asleep. And eventually awoke feeling as rough as guts.

Awake now in the middle of the night I have just cut my hair, and the adrenalin/stress of working with two mirrors seems to have got me going again. One false cut and I could have taken a lump out of hair or scalp to complement the big C chunk out of my neck - not the kind of balance I'm after.

I just loved being in Scotland again. The old friends, new friends and exes. The fluke weather. The familiar places, systems and accents. Simply feeling known, understood and sometimes appreciated. In NSC, there's only one person who does that - it must be a bit of a burden of responsibilty on her.

Tomorrow I'll lie around the hotel room all day. Maybe swim in the pool. Then the 10-hour overnight flight to NSC, this time in cattle class unless I score another free upgrade. On the way out, the check-in person had taken a shine to, or pity on, me. She upgraded me to business class. On a Japanese airline too! Amongst all that geisha grace, servility and efficiency, I almost hoped for a mid-air explosion so as to die in ecstasy.

As an added bonus, I wouldn't need to lie to the Piddledorf Pension Plan when putting in a claim for the business fare.

Tuesday, August 5

rat and champagne lifestyle

I asked the internet cafe guy here what the lunch special was. He replied - a stuffed rat, filled with anything you want. These jokey Glaswegians. For a moment I thought I was in Monty Python or Fawlty Towers. Turns out he was saying "a stuffed wrap," so I ordered one. 2 quid. When it came, it looked like I was right the first time.

Off to New South Cal early tomorrow. Don't you hate flying? Spare a thought for me trying to find the stomach space for all that free champagne and liqueurs. It would be easier if only I wasn't teetotal.

Saturday, August 2

green city blues

Since Edinburgh, it's been all go here in Glasgow, first two night's at S&M's place. If my old dear think's I keep changing my plans, she should experience these folk. Mind you, they are dear people, and they do have an autistic daughter, who would drive a parent crazy. For one thing, she gets in your face and asks the same questions ad nauseam, mostly about her TV hero.

You're from Australia. Do you know Steve Irwin?
Do you know Steve Irwin?
Do you know Steve Irwin?

What does Steve Irwin eat?
I don't know.
What does Steve Irwin eat?
I don't know.
What does Steve Irwin eat?
He's on a diet now.

Where does Steve Irwin sleep?
I don't know.
Where does Steve Irwin sleep?
I don't know.
Where does Steve Irwin sleep?
He's dead.

After two nights there, I was just settling in nicely as an extra family member, but my schedule said I had to move again, to C&V's place

These people generously share their swanky houses with me, but it would be even better if they could just move out and leave me in peace.

In house number two I am clearly getting on the nerves of V, the wife of my oldest friend. She seems to be playing mind games around letting me get in and out of the house. As a seasoned mind gamer myself, I'm up to the task but it does get me down.

There was some bad feeling between us right from the start when I moved in. Finding the front door open, I walked in and lay down for a nap. I woke later, and startled her when I walked in on her. Then she showed me how to use the washing machine, but she insisted I wash all my gear at 60 degrees. Seeing my hesitation, as I was reading the labels ("40 degrees") she said "are they family heirlooms or something?" So I bit the bullet and boiled my clothes. Dearie me! Will they still let me into business class with a bare midriff and plumbers' cleavage?

On the way to meet L, my friend and sensei of 25 years, at an art exhibition, I was almost feeling like redoubling the bliss pillage, but when I hit the exhibition I was transported away out of all that.

There was some imaginative use of video, in one room L sat and read a script while I watched from next door.

In the projection rooms I was able to lie down on the floor and watch the screens.

In one room, there was a 13-minute sequence of two actors screaming in each other's faces.

In the audience some people got distressed, but thanks to my family background and all the grope therapy, I found it quite relaxing, like breaking waves.

Flat on my back on the floor, I began trying to match the actors, scream for scream, but it's not as easy as you'd think. I soon got light headed and with pins and needles over my body, I gave up and lay there, spent. It certainly helped, and might be even better than bliss pills.

Update - discovered last night that V's son, whom I have known since he was a baby, probably has a very nasty disease, so her snippiness is understandable and forgiven. If anything, I could have been more understanding. Everything balances up over time if you just wait.

Wednesday, July 30


Hotheid was talking about a heavy fog in Edinburgh, but I thought surely that can't be - it's the middle of summer there. But then Albert sent this snap of himself taken Sunday before he left for the west.

Monday, July 28

a life in the trouser department

Today was the day I had planned to visit the ex's grave in the Borders, to pay tribute and prove she can still make the earth move for me. But lo and behold, the other ex, last seen in 85, has surfaced in Glasgow for one day only and wants to meet up in the Alasdair Gray-muralled cafe.

So I can only see one of them - a dead person, of whom one should not speak ill nor well if the glowing tributes would need to be pornographic? Or a live one plus her hubby and some of her five children? What if one of them looks like me?

Glasgow here we go! Or Borders here we come!

No contest really, especially since I got hold of 1982 Janine, as recommended by several commenters at ionetics.

done in after duneditin

Thanks to the efforts of local organising officials, this year's conference surpassed all expectations, and there were suggestions that the northern hemisphere should be the default venue in future years.

Indeed there was an even higher level of discussion and intellectual exchange than in previous years. Attendance too was up this year, with a strong presence of blissheids, pissheids, flatheids, and deifheids, and even some normal people like myself.

And I understand the official conference photos will be available just as soon as they can be edited to conform with privacy requirements.

Thanks to a reckless spontaneous decision, to consume a whole bottle of black white beer in pursuit of balance, at one stage I was on the verge of a recurrence of Type IV RDD, but it wore off just in time and common sense prevailed. Overall I was just sober enough to balance up everyone else.

My colleagues were of course disappointed to learn that the text of my prize-winning paper on Ralwin's Postulate had been confiscated at the border, but I have promised to republish it in full form soon. Sadly, my other paper, on cross-cultural toilet-training, was quite savagely vetoed by a zealous or perhaps jealous delegate from the opposing school of thought. That was a particular shame, since it would have been illustrated by topical local references based on an experience earlier that very day! I am already working on next year's submission on the recent paradigm shift in symptomatology of RDD types.

It was generally agreed that the celebrity of the evening was a young lady named, I believe Heather but it's always hard to be certain about these things. Even she found the heady intellectual atmosphere a little stifling until the management were persuaded to open the doors and windows. In the social hubbub I think I even met Doviko at one point.

For myself, one of the strangest experiences was to have one's oevre quoted back at one, so that one wondered: did I really write that, and was it fact or fiction? Being suddenly forced to reprise or defend one's early output is probably quite good for the brain and must surely postpone Alzheimers, but it is hard work. Medically, I got off lightly with only partial hearing loss; grazed shins from an excess of champagne at the reception; and of course a hangover this morning.

I'm sure I speak for everyone in extending my congratulations and thanks to the organisers and caterers. Duneditin 2009, wherever it is hosted, has a lot to live up to.

Thursday, July 24


On Wednesday we met up with the (unconsommated) love of the old man's life. Went first to her house (where the old man died in fact), then across the road to her golf club. Most people growing up there would spend their entire lives between the golf club, the old school rugby club, and an office in the city, with timeshares in Tighnabruaich or Spain. I turned my back on all that when I went off the rails and down under.

This is actually the club where I played, reluctantly, as a kid. On a Sunday if the parents were fed up with us, they'd chuck us out of the house - "don't come back till you've played a round!"

Not sure which Duneditin session I should put my name down for. They're offering Cross Cultural Toilet Training, or Triumphs Of Socialism. Whichever's shorter so I can get to bed early.

Tuesday, July 15


Beginning to look pregnant after cream cakes, fat pates and cheese, greasy salami washed down with Erdinger. This must be how fat bastards get started. How fortunate that the duneditin diet will just be bread soup and garlic dip.

Spent most of an hour on web trying to circumvent this country's block on all gmail and blogger pages (you can guess which country).

Quadrupled bliss pillage for affable robot effect.

Now my hour's up. Sorry cannot email read anyone's posts for now. Regards to all.

Thursday, July 3


I must remember to postpone posting my most brilliant material for a week or two, till the Edinburgh reader demographic gets back from vacation.

Now if only Piddledorf would take a long holiday too.

Wednesday, July 2

name that country

I stopped over in a place that's a paradise for technophile anal retentives, as you can see from this preview of a future HNT.

Q1 - What is it a picture of?

Q2 - What country is it?

Monday, June 30


George Carlin, the American comedian died last week. One of the jokes that got him in trouble was when there was a boxing ban imposed on Muhammad Ali for refusing to fight in Vietnam – "And the government said, 'Well, if you won't kill people, we won't let you beat them up.'"

On a different topic, it seems the reason that the Duneditin conference web site hasn't been updated is that Albert the organiser has forgotten the password. It's not going to make a good impression on the worldwide conference following.

Tuesday, June 24

dodgy batch of pills

It sounds ridiculous, but these bliss pills seem to be losing strength now that the bliss partner's been away for nearly 3 weeks. That can't be right.

Today at work I was told to prepare to teach a new course next semester, in an area that I know nothing about. And me about to slink off to Duneditin on Friday! Over lunch I read some of the course documentation, and my heart sank. It was all gobbledygook to me, like dogs listening to their master talking - just blah blah blah and then the occasional key word jumps out at you. Because the pills had gone soft on me, I went into mild shock, the most depressed I've been in years, shell-shock a bit like when they give you the black spot. It seemed the only options I had were to agree to stand up spouting this tripe for four hours every lesson, or to cut my work hours still further and go from semi-retired to three-quarters retired. I felt unneeded. This must be why some people go downhill as soon as their working life is over.

Then I realised how laughable it was to be letting something so trivial, so transient, get me down. Bugger it, I'm going to say I can't teach it because I don't know it, and if they still want me to do it they'll have to send me on a course to learn the stuff first. Either that, or I want it in writing that they realise they're asking me to teach what I don't know - that way, if the students complain, I'm covered and some manager can carry the can. Fuck 'em. I'm a thoroughbred and they're trying to feed me slops.

Obviously I'll keep this under my hat for now. If I told them straight out, the paperwork and meetings would keep me here way beyond Friday.

Anyway, the novelty of my own company here is fast wearing off. I've discovered that the opportunity to rearrange the kitchen along Gordon Ramsay lines is not as big a thrill as I thought it would be.

And tonight I tried cooking the meal that she sometimes makes, but it was nothing like as good as the original. Double dearie me.

Sunday, June 22

how to go sane

It's 2 weeks since the bliss partner left for her Euro tour, and at last I seem to be getting the hang of this solitary confinement.

But a few days ago I almost had to give up the book I was reading (Waiting Period by the guy who wrote Last Exit To Brooklyn) because it was too close to the bone. It's a monologue by a guy living alone and going off his head. He's summoning up the courage to shoot himself, when he has a better idea - kill people who deserve to be killed, by poisoning them with e. coli.

To avert such thoughts it's sometimes best to cram the day with useful activity. Today I scrubbed the bathroom, fixed the door locks and mowed the lawns front and back and the bit by the pavement. Loaded skype on the toy laptop, for phone calls on the trip. In between I had to meet Capn Kev.

Suddenly winter's properly here. Today was the first four-jumper-and-pantaclava day. What do I care? On Friday I'll be heading for sunny Edinburgh, with a few diversions along the way before the main conference in the last week of July.

The pressure cooker's fizzing away just now. Lamb casserole with umpteen herbs from the garden. The meat has marinated all day in plum vinegar and garlic, so it should be good. Every once in a while I eat a bit of flesh, but avoiding any animal that has been tortured. In primary school the class went on an educational visit to a pig slaughterhouse, so I can't pretend ignorance. As far as I know sheep still get to live outdoors and graze on real grass. And obviously they all get clobbered at the end. And this one has lived all its life in Australia, which is torture of a kind. I believe the only decent grass in Australia is at the MCG.

Saturday, June 21

flight stats

One of the more useful web sites is, where you can check the current status and progress of any flight in the world. I saw the partner off on the plane, and was able to watch her various landing and takeoff times along the way.

Actually, on re-reading that it sounds a bit creepy or anal retentive. Dearie me.

Now I've got three whole weeks of my own company, which is probably stretching it a bit, even when one is as nice a person as me.

Tuesday, June 17

important zen teachings

I was sent an email containing some important Zen teachings:

1. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

2. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me for the path is narrow. In fact, just piss off and leave me alone.

3. Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.

4. Before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.

5. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

6. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.

7. If you lend someone £20 and never see that person again, it was probably well worth it.

8. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me for the path is narrow. In fact, just piss off and leave me alone.

9. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.

10. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a
laxative on the same night.

I wish to apologise for any comments I may have made in the heat of the moment. Under the influence of a bottle and a half of Alcofreedom Ale, my subconscious was making a bid for membership of the badboy church. If you don't know what I'm talking about, that's fine and I withdraw the apology.

Friday, June 13

possum misjudges jump

Last week I went mad with the shears and butchered the overgrown tree outside the bedroom.

Two nights ago I was woken during the night by a very loud bang on the roof, followed immediately by a thud on the ground. At first I thought maybe some high-flying giant bird had had a heart attack in flight and fallen onto the roof. But then I heard a pathetic miserable wailing, and I realised a possum must have misjudged a jump from the tree to the roof, hit the gutter and fallen to the ground. Poor wee thing was suffering. I was too distressed to sleep after that. With a gun I could have gone out and done something.

Saturday, June 7

flight balance

Whenever my bliss partner and I go to Europe, we take different routes, on different days, and different airlines. I take no pleasure at all in the fact that she ignored my advice not to fly with the striking airline. The engineers have now begun a strike, and one plane to London has already been delayed 36 hours! Admittedly, that was because all its toilets were mysteriously blocked just before the strike began.

This is an artist's impression of my partner spending this weekend sitting on her luggage at the airport.

But it's not all bad, because unlike me she has a strong back and will be able to handle the standing and sitting around. As a minister's daughter, she used to have to sit motionless in a church pew. For three services every Sunday. That was child abuse, but her good posture is going to help her deal with the airport queues. Everything balances up: unlike her, I resigned from Sunday School as soon as I was old enough to smoke, and now I haven't even got enough moral fibre to sit up straight.

Monday, June 2

coming off

What bliss not to have a sore back! With a nod to Dean Martin, I pity the poor people who don't get back pain - they know that's as happy as they're ever going to feel.

Yesterday was full-on at work, but thanks to the stimulants (I was off my head on tea) I was running and jumping for joy. During the gaps in classes I went walkabout and worked up quite an appetite, so lunch ($5 Japanese - rice, scrambled tempura vegetables, one giant prawn and miso soup) and dinner ($10 Chinese - Lo Han vegetables and fish, all stir fried with flat rice noodles and green tea) went down a treat. I should have photographed the food.

Of course everything has to balance up, and today I'm whacked. Had breakfast then went back to bed. Just woke up in time for lunch. A waste of a morning perhaps, but still better than work.

The sit-down protest at work is blowing up now, there's four of us refusing to move offices. Management see it as a mutiny, and may in fact have been hoping for it, giving them an excuse to settle old scores. There's an added frisson for me, since I am officially taking only 3 weeks' leave to go to Duneditin, but I'll actually be away for four weeks. I figured they would never miss me for the first week so why not get paid for it? But what if by that time I've been forced into the new office under the bosses' noses? Dearie me! I should know better than to plan anything in advance.

I haven't swum for a coupla weeks, it's been too cold, but the daily dog walks have been at full speed, just as long as I've had my morning cup of rocket fuel. But last week I decided to have a day without tea. Not only was there no joy or spring in my step on the walk, by mid-afternoon I'd had enough of the headache and lethargy, and went back on the tea. Have you ever gone without?

Friday, May 30

who said a change is as good as a rest?

Some people have to work overtime in their job. Although I hardly have to work at all at the institute, I'm experiencing something nearly as bad.

The powers that be in my workplace have decided I should move offices. Where I am now, I'm in a quiet room hidden behind a lift shaft where nobody ever comes. Where they want to move me to is in a fluorescent little box right next door to three bosses. Victimisation! Actually, it's more like bureaucratic ineptitude; that, and bosses wanting to be seen to be doing something, anything. Any change that might justify their existence.

The new office is also across from the customer service desk, so every time the customer disservice operators get a customer they can't handle, they'll ask me to come out and help. As if I could help anyone! I'm already flat out just trying to help myself and the handful of bloggers who find their way here.

So I'm refusing to move, but as I'm about to disappear to Duneditin for a few weeks, the're little I can do about it if they want to move my stuff while I'm away. Maybe I should remind them I'm in the union. That used to help. Or I could play the medical card. Ooh me leg! Or in my case, ooh me head!

Another cloud on the horizon is that our boy, who mercifully flew the coop last year, has his eye on moving back in here "to look after the house" while we're away. In other words turn it into a 24-hour party house for passing Scottish tourists and pyromaniacs. Dearie dearie me! This is what happens when I step outside my comfortable routine. Take my advice: never go on holiday. Beyond a certain age, it's never worth the hassle. That's what the internet's for - roam the world without leaving the house.

Thursday, May 29

help for blissheids

According to a NY Times article this week about the Buddha’s arrival in psychotherapy, meditation "can help patients endure flash floods of emotion during the therapeutic process".

This mandala helps me experience
flash floods of emotion.

Monday, May 26

bliss overdoses

The bliss partner is working across the water at Singapore. As far as I can gather, her duties there include lounging by the rooftop pool in 35-degree heat. Meanwhile here I've had to don the pantaclava for the first time this winter, but at least I'm free of all social engagements. A whole weekend without deifheids!

On Friday after work I picked up a disc of JSB's St Matthew Passion, and listened to it in bed that night, while normal people were out getting vomiting drunk to start the weekend. The orchestra was using old instruments, the singers were authentic, and the soprano was the darling Emma Kirkby. When I was at school and the music teachers made us listen to the awful classics, I never imagined one day I'd have the hots for a classical warbler, but this lass has just the purest tone, with none of your usual fat lady theatrics and operatics. I'd give her a hand with her vibrato any day, even if she didn't already look as angelic as her voice.

And then there's the wonderful music. Three hours of it. I kept dozing off, then waking to a new tune. Oh the songs! Oh the bliss! Pity the poor deifheids who don't get this.

With his recent advice to take my own parachute with me on the plane, Hotters has reminded me that in more paranoid times I used to wear a rubber wetsuit on the plane to Greece, under my civvies, in case of ditching in freezing waters. And I always had a turkey sized oven bag in my pocket, to put over my head in a smoke-filled cabin. These days I'm normal thanks to the pills, and I rely on a more blissful technique. On takeoff, as we gather speed down the runway, I close my eyes and say goodbye to the world, visualising the plane slamming back into the ground. When that doesn't happen, everything else is a bonus.

Hotters advised flying with Qantas, but I believe they already own Queen Anne Transair, the NSC national carrier, so the engineers are probably the same.

I was heartened to hear that Hotters has given up all drugs for a whole week. A great first step. Just to help him stay on the straight and narrow, I won't send him the bliss pills.

Ion reminded me, quite rightly, about the carbon footprint morality of flying, especially on long-haul flights. Indeed I use this same argument every time the bliss partner suggests a trip to visit her outlaws over in NZ.

Wednesday, May 21

PPP sponsors conference

In July I'm due at the Duneditin conference in Edinburgh. I booked my flight months ago, with Queen Anne Transair, but of course there's been a hitch. I should know better than to prepare ahead of time, events always overtake me and screw up my plans. The airline's engineers are in dispute with management, and are threatening a series of lightning strikes. Sitting on your suitcase in airport queues for hours or worse, with a 24-hour flight ahead of you, is not worth thinking about. You'd would go through your whole supply of medication before takeoff.

I set about rebooking on another airline, but it's not so easy to get a seat at this late date. At first I cursed the infernal working classes, as you do. But then my natural balance kicked in and I remembered I'm a unionist too, so I decided to read up on the dispute. The engineers have been offered 3%, which is not even in line with inflation, so they have asked for 5%. The company has announced record profits, and the extra 2% for a couple of thousand engineers would add up to less than the boss's recent pay rise. The managers have been quietly recruiting a team of strike-breakers (on a salary nearly twice what the original engineers are on).

So would it be morally preferable to keep my booking with this airline and simply brave the chaos, hoping my irritation at the company would help the strikers? Or should I cancel my booking, thus hitting the airline's bottom line?

I could waste ages on these deliberations. How fortunate I am to have no principles! I've booked on an Asian airline, from a country where the trains run on time. I've had to pay extra, but to hell with the expense, when the conference sponsors are picking up the tab. Here's to the Piddledorf Pension Plan!

Saturday, May 17

merry month of m....

When I went to renew my pool membership, the lassie behind the counter charged me the seniors' rate - a saving of $20. Generous of her, but a bloody cheek! Surely I don't look a day over 59. I didn't know whether to jump for joy or grieve.

I'm indebted to Vixen for pointing out that May is National Masturbation Month.

San Francisco will be celebrating with a Masturbate-a-thon on May 25th. The organisers promise the event will be a fun and easy place for participants to jack or jill off. It costs $15 for females and transgenders but $40 for men (non-transgenders). I wonder if there's a reduced rate for seniors.

Monday, May 12

view from the bridge

Albert, from Sydney, says he found Menzies Milngavie IV lying unconscious on Sydney Harbour Bridge, after a night on the turps. This is an artist's impression of what MM IV would have seen just before everything went black.

Wednesday, May 7

another progress report

After yesterday's refreshing sleep on the office floor, today I was firing on all cylinders even without any bliss tea. Chopped back several trees/shrubs; painted some more of the kitchen; re-read The Cement Garden. I don't know why people say it's a horrible book. The last person I lent it to, returned it to me the next day saying there was nothing at all she liked about it.

I also had some computer success. After using XP for about 5 years, I have finally stumbled on several ways to improve its snail-like speed. It's not difficult and I wish I had done it sooner. I've even managed to resurrect XP on the partner's 10-year-old PC. I should busk for weissbier as a computer guru.

Tonight I've had the first glass out of the Erdinger bottle, it really is the king of beers. There's nothing on TV so I'm free to do whatever I want. After phoning the old dear for her anniversary I might read some more. She's been feral recently, but on reflection I realise that'll be because she spends all day cooped indoors with an ailing hubby who sleeps 16 hours a day, and when he's awake watches TV. She must be a bit lonely and scared. Tomorrow, mothers' day, we've to meet the boy for Chinese brunch, aka Dim Sum or Yum Cha. I haven't seen him for months, and it'll be nice to catch up with his impressions of university.

Life, despite being very different to what I imagined when I was the boy's age, is pretty damn good, I may even drain the Erdinger bottle in celebration.


My dear friend hotboy has reminded me about Paulaner Weissbier.

When I left I Piddledorf after my last visit, I was flying home on a Business Class freebie, so I made sure I got to the airport at opening time of the business lounge, 6 a.m as I recall. All the food and drink was free, so I had two bottles of Paulaner for breakfast, and stashed another two in my pack in case I needed them on the plane.

Sunday, May 4

weissbier news

Recently I noted how difficult it is to get a good weissbier here.

I had almost given up hope, but then I was walking past a beer shop round the corner from my work, and they claimed to have 80 different kinds of beer. There was only kind of weissbier - Erdinger. What a fortunate circumstance! I bought a whole bottle, and will be trying the first glass tonight.

The only problem I foresee is that I might get drunk. Happily, I should have no such problems at the Duneditin blogging conference, where the official drink is to be Erdinger Weissbier Alkoholfrei, about which one reviewer said:

Hazy yellow with a huge head. Weak aroma of straw, barley and white bread. The flavours are very sweaty and a bit acid with notes of mandarin, elder, cammomille, straw and wheat. I was quite impressed by it, being a non-alcoholic beer!

In Piddledorf I usually drink Lidl's cheapo weissbier. For your convenience, I have translated part of the review:

I drink must to be sure usually Franziskaner, however also off and at this beer on that believe. Is above all the price gives unbeatable, 1.99€ for six bottles, in addition yet the good taste, where it so what already in bottle form?

Certainly, in the real market, there is yet the sign Oettinger, but this tastes very differently and is me less beneficial. Therefore that of its streams yeast wheat receives is full estimation score, unsurpassably in things price and achievement. Did yet no wheat lie likes to be me better in the stomach than this, who only the manufacturer of this refreshment? ???

At 2 Euro for 6 bottles, the only thing wrong with this beer is that it's quite strong, but that's actually a plus when one is staying in Piddledorf.

Last time I heard, Hotboy was home brewing some wheat beer, but he hasn't said how it turned out, or whether there's any alcohol in it.

Thursday, May 1

HNT unpeeled

Another HNT clicky pic. If you half-close your eyes, you can make out what's in the picture. Clue: it's a kind of passion fruit.

Or you can click the image to clarify.

Passion Fruit
(click to clarify)

I used a free program called Repligator.

And a bonus clickypic HNT from last year:

When I returned in triumph to visit my old school in Glasgow, there was a photographer waiting at the gates to record the celebration.

Celebration at
My Old School
(click to zoom out)


Tuesday, April 29

multitasking and messaging

Craig Ferguson addressing the White House. That's either a sign we're all doomed, or something else. To be fair, he does at least as good a job of it as most of his predecessors, and has made himself very presentable compared with his early days on Scottish telly.

On youtube this morning I was watching his speech to the white house correspondents dinner, in the company of Bush etc., while eating breakfast, messaging people on 3 continents, and blogging under 2 names. Just out of bed, and I'm Multitasking already. If I wanted this much stress I would have chosen to work a full-time job.

I'm still new to IM - learning a whole new may of relating. My nephew is now in New Zealand, and after his recent visit here we now MSN a lot.

The Duneditin conference is getting quite heavily booked but there are still places available. Hope to see you there. Lee Ann may attend via videoconference.

Monday, April 21

one dog knight

As it was my birthday, and as a dry run for the conference festivities, I decided to give the non-Erdinger Weissbier another try. It is growing on me and I managed a whole third of a bottle without getting silly. What a shame they don't make an alco-free version.

Bumped into the deifheids yesterday, fortunately it was in a noisy cafe so nobody could be heard (thus giving deifheids an insight into what it's like for the rest of us). Visited three art galleries. After a lifetime of philistinism, I'm learning to enjoy pictures, though I still haven't a clue about art.

The mother outlaw sent me a parcel with a hat and a book of the most appalling poetry. Both of which I would blog if I could be bothered. The partner in bliss gave me a tiny camera, which'll be handy for photographing other presenters at the conference.

Spent most of this morning swimming 2.5 kilometres (1.5 miles for imperialists), then slept all afternoon. A balanced day.

Life In Cold Blood ep 2 tonight. I'm cooking snags, spuds and spinach. I wonder what catering arrangements hotboy has made for July.