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?