Thursday, March 31, 2005

I hate asterisks.

You know what I hate? Those stupid asterisks that people use when they want to swear. I mean if you have something to say, say it properly and stop fecking around with asterisks. The whole point of writing f**k is so that it can't be considered offensive. But surely it is offensive. I mean, we all know what f**k really says, so how can it be inoffensive? The writer meaning what they mean and the reader knowing what the writer means should be already offended. Using asterisks helps no one people.

I also find it difficult to believe that someone would no longer read my blog just because I used a swear word. It's far more likely that they would stop reading my blog because they find the content of my blog offensive (or, even more likely, boring) rather than the use of the odd swear word.

That having been said - I should reveal that I am banned from using my favourite word at home. I just love the word starfucker. I don't know why. It just speaks to me. Loudly. And Handsomest hates it. Obviously this means that I use the word in a far broader sense and with a much higher frequency that it actually warrants.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Rather than think of something to write - here's a picture of the library at Uni. This really is the colour of sky! Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Oral fixation or wish fulfilment or self-destruction?

I have a recurring dream that is quite odd. Every few months I dream that I am smoking a cigarette while standing at the window. It is incredibly vivid. I'm inside the bedroom, leaning against the window frame and looking out at the back garden but not really seeing it.

I'm holding the cigarette between my horizontal index finger and my middle finger with my palm turned towards my face. I slowly lift the cigarette to my lips. I can feel I can feel the butt of the cigarette pressed against my bottom lip and I slowly inhale. I can feel the smoke being drawn down my throat and into my lungs where I hold it for a few seconds. Then I slowly exhale. I'm feeling very calm and relaxed and the cigarette doesn't have an acrid, smokey taste at all. It's like inhaling vanilla and caramel.

Apparently it is really common for ex-smokers to dream about smoking but I don't really consider myself an ex-smoker. I have been known to share a cigarette after a few drinks but that happens pretty rarely. I used to smoke at school (didn't we all?) but I haven't bought a packet of cigarettes in about 10 years. I was never very good at smoking anyway, what with having asthma and all - a cigarette in one hand and a ventolin puffer in the other has never been a good look. I think we mainly smoked because we weren't allowed to, not because we actually wanted to, afterall, it's pretty revolting.

It seems strange that I derive such pleasure from smoking in my dreams. Freud would say I have an oral fixation and that it is all about wish fulfilment. Jung would probably say that the cigarette is actually my destructive self trying to sabotage my healthy self.

But who can tell? Surely this level of introspection can't be healthy.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Looking for a miracle

I've just finished reading a book by Joe Nickell called "Looking for a Miracle". Basically it's an investigation into miracles with chapters on miraculous pictures, magical icons, mystical relics etc. There is also a really interesting chapter on what Nickell calls "Pentecostal Powers" - speaking in tongues, prophecy, taking up serpents and other immunities like taking poison.

It's a fascinating book that will appeal to most skeptics and Nickell is careful to point out that if you are interested in proving that miracles exist, you need to believe in them before you start examining proof. Which makes sense when you think about it.

Another thing he talks about is the difference between veneration and idolatry. He defines veneration as "paying reverence through an image - which itself is devoid of value or power - for that which it represents". Idolatry is defined as worship of an image which is regarded as the vehicle of the god. Idolatry is the result of animism - being derived from anima (breath) - or the belief that inanimate objects have life or souls.

This is quite relevant to many religions, not just Christianity (on which Nickell mainly focuses). Islam is so adverse to idolatry that no image of the Prophet (PBUH) is permitted. In most Islamic art the Prophet will be represent by a hand or a foot entering or leaving the side of the frame. Even documentaries made by Muslims will only show the hands, feet or even the shadow of the actor playing the Prophet. But I am interested in pursuing this idea within Buddhism. Most Buddhist art tends to have a picture or statue of Buddha and other gods, so maybe they don't even have a word for idolatry - maybe it is an idea exclusive to monotheism. I think I need to find out. Maybe I can write an essay about for my Buddhism class?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Aural Pleasure - in my car!

Because my new(ish) day job is located on the city fringes, I get the dubious priviledge of driving to work each day in my car instead of catching the bus. Having been a long term user of public transport - I actually didn't mind catching the bus. Unlike Handsomest Husband, I never get motion sick and I can happily read for hours on end on the bus, the train, or the ferry. A 40 minute bus trip each way adds up to a lot of reading time every week.

So while I'm rather enjoying driving to work - I am seriously missing my reading time. So I borrowed an audio book from work. My god, why hasn't anyone told me about these before! What a fantastic thing the audio book is - I'm completely addicted. I've become a totally different person in the car - red lights, train crossings or just being really late don't matter anymore. Sure, cut me off, don't bother to indicate, tailgate all you like - I am completely calm about it all. Because I'm listening to literature.

In fact, I think that I actually prefer the audio version of some books. At the moment I'm listening to Kate Atkinson's "Human Croquet". I've read a few of her books and find that I don't really get into them. But listening to her work is a totally different experience. I'm absolutely rivetted. She has such a wonderful turn of phrase which I have never appreciated before. And her stories are so beautiful crafted. I've also thought that she was too wordy but I now have a completely different impression.

Exactly one hundred and six stairs

That's right folks - there are exactly one hundred and six steps (stair steps not walking steps) between the ferry stop and my first lecture on Wednesdays. The reason I mention this is because I had to walk up those 106 fecking steps. And it was fecking hot. And my bag was heavy. And then, afterwards, an ant bit me on the elbow while I was lying on the grass eating lunch.

Still, at least I didn't have go to the dentist (an experience on par with Dante's fourth level of hell).

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The story of the bee (and my continuing humiliation)

When I was a little girl (about 4 or so), my Mum had taken me with her to pick up my Dad from work. We had just arrived and I think that my Mum had started talking to someone she knew in the car park. I clearly remember standing there, looking around and feeling bored. Until I saw a dead bee on the ground. Having always been interested in finding stuff (and then taking it home), I bent down for a closer look.

"Don't touch it, it will sting you" my Mum warned. So I picked it up. Of course it then stung me. I started screaming and my Mum started laughing because she said it served me right for never listening. In the end, my Dad took me inside and found some ice to put on my hand.

For my entire life - this has been a shameful story dragged out for everybody's entertainment at regular intervals. This is what happens when you don't listen to advice - you get stung. But the story also made my 4-year-old-self look foolish - and there is nothing Laziest Girl hates more than looking foolish.

It seems so simple in retrospect but I think that there are deeper questions - why didn't I listen to my Mother? I clearly remember not believing her - "How can it sting me if it is dead?" I thought. My Mum didn't make a habit of telling me lies, so why did I choose not to believe her? I think because all evidence pointed to the contrary - I mean the bee was dead - who ever heard of dead bees stinging people?

I've been thinking about it and it's time that this shameful story is reframed. So I got stung, so I didn't listen to my Mum, at least I learned from it and I never picked another bee up. So is this a character fault? Do I still not listen to advice? Pretty much - so maybe I didn't learn so much afterall.

But this doesn't make the 4-year-old-me a fool - it makes me the kind of person who needs to experience things for myself and who doesn't listen to nay-sayers. The kind of person who needs to do it rather than hear about it. Although it is also entirely possible that the logic of a 4-year-old shouldn't be applied to the psyche of a 32-year-old.

Friday, March 11, 2005

the book snob is back

We recently did some job interviews at my day job for an admin person. At the end of the first interview, I asked the applicant what they enjoyed doing on the weekend. Our hapless applicant said that she loved to read in her spare time. Being a total book snob, I asked who some of her favourite authors were. "Well, I don't know if you've heard of him, but I really like reading Dean Koontz".

Firstly, it's a fecking library - of course we've heard of Dean Koontz. Secondly, it's a fecking library - we all think Dean Koontz is trash. Ok, calm down, all of you from the Dean Koontz fanclub, don't be sending me death threats. He is crap. I mean at least she reads, but for pity's sake - Dean Koontz? Nearly as bad a fecking Bryce Courtney.

So what is the book snob reading you ask? I'm currently reading a fantastic book by Carlos Ruiz Zafon called "The Shadow of the Wind" - translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves. It's set in Barcelona in the 1950's and is about the son of a bookseller who is caught up in a literary mystery. I'm really loving it. It's a bit like a literary version of a Dan Brown book (but far better obviously).

Thursday, March 10, 2005

as an aside...

Did you know that the word "poltergeist" is from the German and literally translates as noisy spirit?

Which would also explain why zeitgeist means spirit of the times.

Sounds obvious now, huh?

The Maths Tutor

Back when Laziest Girl was younger (so much younger than to-daaay) she had a "Maths Tutor". That's right, when, by some total freak of the education system, I ended up in the maths/science stream at high school, it was discovered that I seriously needed help. Not so much with the science bit but, frankly, the maths stuff was a complete mystery to me. So, my loving parents (instead of confronting the Principal and asking how the hell I ended up in advanced math - when it was clear that my talents lay in English etc) decided to engage the "Maths Tutor".

The Maths Tutor actually turned out to be a really nice science student at the local Uni. Sure, she was a bit odd, maybe even flaky, but she knew more about maths than I did. Anyway, once a week she would come to our house and spend an hour or so helping me out.

One week she didn't turn up. It wasn't until the following week that we learned that it was because she had been arrested at student protest. That's right, the Maths Tutor was a student environmental activist and she was arrested at least three times over the next eighteen months.

About two years ago, I saw her picture was in the paper when she was thrown in the clink for arson. Apparently she burned down an antiques warehouse on the Sunshine Coast in an insurance scam. How does someone go from being a hippy student activist (who used to glue up the holes in her indian skirts with clag) to being an arsonist?

And, despite her concentrated efforts - I'm still crap at maths.

Monday, March 07, 2005

I love a good conspiracy theory

I'm a bit of a fan of the conspiracy theory. I mean you've got to love them. They spring up like little mushrooms after a big event and, if you are smoking crack, they are really, really plausible.

Finally - I have seen my first conspiracy story about the death of Hunter S. Thompson. Since The Great Man died, I've been waiting for this moment with bated breath.

I especially love that his death is tied in with not only the "suspicious" actions of his wife and his son, but that he was writing a story about the World Trade Centre attack conspiracy.

Of course, if you can't find a conspiracy theory that enthralls you, why not let the conspiracy theory generator write one for you -

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Pandering to the readers

And here's a picture of a mummified Egyptian cat at the British Museum. This is especially for the lovely archeology student Rachel who emailed me to say that she is not a crazed stalker (more's the pity). Posted by Hello

Saturday, March 05, 2005

What do you call a DVD with an eye patch and a parrot on its shoulder?

Once in a while, my dearest brother-in-law (who shall be known forthwith as NewYorkBoy), will be travelling somewhere dodgy and will mysteriously acquire a pirate copy of a dvd which he will then send to us.

So, you ask, what's a quick way for me, the innocent consumer, to tell if I have a dvd with an eye patch and a parrot? Well, first try and decifer the storyline from the summary on the back of the sleeve. If you can't make head nor tail of it, it's probably a pirate copy. Open Water (this is actually the film about the two Americans on a diving trip to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and they get left behind when the boat returns to the shore) has a great summary (this is exactly as it appears on the sleeve):

"Reorganise to take according to the true affairs, the film leading role is two frogmans, they at once routine diving hour discover mistake into on shark swarm of Dangerous water, however connect to send their yacht to have left at this time, two persons sinks into immediately isolated in, surroundgs wreath, they how The kind of then can can't let the oneself become the beautiful meal of hungry sharks? Great sea in, can rescue two people of, only have themselves the ...."

I kid you not.

Ok, so how else can you tell? Put in the dvd player. If a scrolling message on the bottom says "This copy is for preview only" or "For your consideration" or "Property of ***** Studio only" I think we can be fairly certain that it is a pirate copy.

Still not sure?? Ok, the final test. Put on the English subtitles - if they appear to have been written by a drunken monkey with a typewriter and no grasp of tense, then you are probably watching a pirate dvd. Although I do have a theory that if you drink a bottle of rum, place the couch on a seesaw to replicate the movement of a ship and then try to understand the subtitles - they will make perfect sense.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Laziest or just Sleepiest?

Where I work, we have raft of volunteers who come in once a week or more to do the boring mundane stuff that no one else can be bothered to do. Once in a while, you get someone who is doing it to get a foot in the door, which can either be really good or really bad. Apparently one our new volunteers was found asleep in the stacks (you remember that I work in a library, right?). By all accounts, this particular volunteer is a bit of a drip so there was much mirth amongst the staff. And let's face it, if you are sleeping on the job, you are not looking good as a candidate for a paying position. I thought that this was a bit unfair because I am always falling asleep inappropriately.

When I worked for a large Government department, I used to have to take the minutes for meetings with the Union. We had about six different working groups plus the main negotiation meeting every week so I was spending about twelve hours a week in meetings taking notes. And they weren't even interesting meetings - dull, dull, dull. By the afternoon, the meeting rooms had warmed up and I could never keep my eyes open. I used to have to sit next to my boss and she would elbow me when I started to doze.

But this was not an isolated series of events - I also slept through the second hour of an entire semester of an Ancient History subject - "The Age of Revolution in Rome". I still got a 5 for this subject so I think I must have been learning by osmosis.

Another time we went to see a band on a Thursday night and I was very tired. The headlining act didn't come on until about 11.30pm and the supporting band was a bit lack lustre. We were sitting on stools at those high round tables about two metres from the marshall stack. I just put my head down on my arms at about 11ish and dropped off to sleep for half an hour. I was very rudely awoken by the bouncer who tried to throw us all out because he thought I was in a drug induced coma (yeah, no calling an ambulance or preparing to give first aid - just throw us out!). I very clearly recall Handsomest Husband protesting to the bald guy "no, she's not on drugs, she's just really, really tired".

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Back to Uni

Uni is always such fun at the beginning of semester - especially in the few hours before you receive your course outlines. Technically you are a student, you can hang out on the lawn and watch the clouds drift by, you can buy cheap food at the refectory, drink coffee with friends you've bumped into and yet there are no assessment pressures. Cut to three hours later when you will find me in the library desperately photocopying the readings for the next week and freaking out about an upcoming presentation.

Anyway, my point is that yesterday was still pretty nice. Even though I know now how much reading, note taking and research will roughly constitute a seat of the pants pass, it's still all good.

I had an ephiphanic moment (is that a word?) in my meditation class yesterday. We were talking about how the West uses meditation - stress relief, concentration, improved achievements etc. Then it dawned on me - the whole point of meditation is to transcend the mundane, the physical and the everyday. Meditation is about letting go of the worldly and finding the divine. Yet in the West, here we are turning meditation on its head and using it to boost our performance and our drive for possessions. How wrong is that.