Friday, April 29, 2005

the cold rush of fear

Today I got Random Breath Tested for the very first time and it was exciting. I was driving back from the shop at lunch time when I was waved to the side of the road behind a parked police car. The policeman was very nice and fitted the little white tube to the hand held machine and asked me to blow into it evenly. As I don't make a habit of getting sloshed at lunch time and then driving around the countryside, I blew 0% blood alcohol.

So how do you explain the sudden rush of adrenalin? I mean, I'm pretty law abiding - I don't make a habit of murdering people or conducting armed robberies - but I still had that cold rush that makes your legs go wobbly. I wonder why? I don't have any crime-ridden skeletons lurking in my cupboard and I've only ever had one speeding ticket so it can't be guilt related can it? Is this entirely irrational physical response normal? Is it normal to worry that the breath testing machine will show .50% blood alcohol level even though I haven't had a drink all week?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

When you are bored with the internet, you are bored with life.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Assessment due - again.

Today I wrote a thousand words on the Tantric tradition in Buddhism which, suprisingly, turned out to be pretty damn interesting. I say this because, as you all know, I am completely over uni this semester - already. But, I learnt some very interesting things, such as why Buddhist monks chant mantras. I had always, in my ignorance, assumed that a mantra was a sort of prayer.

A mantra is actually a collection of sacred words (mostly meaningless syllables) that possess great power because it is believed that they are related to the “universal rhythms of the cosmos”. When a mantra is pronounced the right way with the right attitude (this a meditation thing), it is believed to “tune in” the student to the deity. This allows the deity to appear in a visualised form in the mind of the student. Each deity has their own mantra which acts as a type of psychic key.

Oh, and mudras, I have to tell you about the mudras. A mudra is a gesture or position of the hands during meditation. The mudra is the physical expression of a particular energy, for example, when someone is angry they will often clench their fists, displaying the physical expression of anger. In the Tantric tradition, rather than the mind dictating the gesture, a particular mudra will serve to release the relevant energies in the mind. These mudras are used during meditation to help the mind focus. The most common mudra in images of a Buddha is abhaya mudra, in which the right hand is raised with the palm facing out. This mudra is a gesture of reassurance or blessing and of fearlessness and is sometimes called the Gesture of Renunciation. The Bhumisparsa mudra is when a Buddha’s right hand is position so that it touches the earth and this represents the truth of his words. The Dhyani mudra, in which the hands are relaxed in the lap with the tips of the thumbs and fingers touching each other, is a gesture of balance and meditation.

How cool is that?

Close your eyes if you are squeamish

And here's a picture of the staples in her tummy. It's really hard to describe what she looks like so I decided to post a picture. You can see that she has already managed to get over half of the tape dressing off (which is what has caused the red irritation on her skin). Fingers crossed, she'll be ok to have the staples removed on Saturday next week. And trust me, it doesn't look quite so awful in real life. Posted by Hello
You'll all be pleased to hear that Sarah the Springer Spaniel is recovering well. Here's a picture of her looking pretty sprightly. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

feel the pain

I think I'm having a mid-life crisis. Early. I can't think of any other explanation. Today I realised that I am not getting any younger. Awww, don't beat around the bush - say it - today I realised that I AM GETTING OLDER. AHHHHHHHHH.

I know, I know, this seems weird to me as well. I mean, you don't get to 32 (and a half) without actually getting older, but today, I couldn't hide it from myself anymore. Why this was such a shock, I'm not sure. I mean, I don't actually want to be 22 again. 22 sucked. I don't want to go there again. But being grown up is sucking too at the moment.

When do you actually start to feel grown up? When you buy your first handbag that can fit more than a mobile phone and coin purse? When you have a mortgage? When you have dependants (furry or human)? When wear sensible shoes to to work instead of that gorgeous pair that become instruments of torture when you walk?

I don't think I'm ready to be grown up. But I don't think I have any choice. I don't fit in my old box any more. I've outgrown it.

Maybe that's all this is - a moment of doubt. A moment of panic. Maybe that's not my mortality that I just glimpsed out of the corner of my eye, maybe it is just my imagination. Maybe I just need a nice cup of tea. Oh God. It's too late isn't it? I'm already a grown up.
Pathetic, isn't it. Posted by Hello
So here is a picture of space dog (and the other one). Don't laugh too loud, she might hear you. Posted by Hello

How to spend a month's pay in one day

Bad news on the home front this week. My poor dog, Sarah the Springer Spaniel, has been in the dog hospital. On Friday night she had a stomach torsion which is when the stomach bloats up and twists itself into two compartments. This is really bad for dogs and they can easily die. So we took her, post haste, to the emergency vet and they operated on her to untwist her stomach and then they stapled it into place (on the inside) so it can't happen again. We finally got her back on Sunday night with an incision held together by about 50 staples along her tummy.

So poor Snuff has been sporting a very attractive elizabethan collar (she looks like an astronaut) - which, for people without pets, is a basically a big plastic cone around her neck to stop her chewing at the healing wound - and is banned from getting excited or running or jumping. For those of you who know what Springer Spaniels are like, this is a nigh on impossible task. So during the day she is confined to the laundry, and at night she is confined to a crate (which is basically a largish cage). She actually doesn't mind sleeping in the crate because it is currently in bedroom and she is never usually allowed to sleep in the bedroom. We went back to the vet yesterday for a checkup and she is now also sporting a bright orange bandage around her body in an effort to stop her using her back legs to scratch out the staples in her tummy.

So with the elizabethan collar, the crazy shaved fur, the bright orange rugby supporters bandage and the sleeping in the crate - the cats are very amused. They have been spending all night lying on the edge of the bed watching the crazy space dog in the box. As though we brought her home solely for their amusement.

She is recovering well and is now eating three small meals a day. I'll put a picture up in the next few days for your amusement. She is now, officially, the most expensive dog in the street.

Monday, April 11, 2005

My heroes - part one

This is the first part of a new series that I've decided to do. In this search for who I am, my very essence, I'm going to look at who my heroes are and try to figure something out.

Last year Handsomest and I went to see Alexei Sayle at a book reading for his latest book, Overtaken, and he was fantastic. I stuck up my hand and asked him what kind of books he liked to read (which made a change from all the questions about his early career as a comedian/actor) and he said "of course, one reads Pushkin ..." The entire audience totally cracked up and he then admitted that he was very partial to Anne Tyler's books (which I would never have guessed). I even got to meet him afterwards and Handsomest took a photo of us together.

Alexei, you're my hero because you write in the manner to which I aspire. You are funny, original, lyrical and amusing (not the same as funny).

Nothing has changed. Am I suprised? No.

So, it appears that my most lovable qualities are shouldering their way to the front of my life again. I have an article review due on Wednesday for Buddhism and you'll all be delighted to know that I haven't done it (although I have read the article which means that it's half done - right?). I should just go ahead and legally change my damn name to Laziest Girl. No more AKA for me.

This weekend, I did everything execept Uni work. I read Past Mortem by Ben Elton for no other reason than that I hadn't read it yet. It was rather entertaining but the story line was a bit obvious. I kept wanting to shout out who did it but had to restrain myself as Handsomest wants to read it now and he gets really cross if I give away the ending.

I've also nearly finished reading The Shipping News by Annie Proulx for Book Group (which isn't until 1 May - so really, no excuse there). I can't believe that I haven't read this before as I really like her work. I love the way that she uses the physical desolation of the landscape and the emotional desolation of her characters. It's like as the characters begin to heal, the descriptions of the landscape reflects this - more beautiful than stark. Really nice.

I've got a new audio book too - Cloud Stree by Tim Winton. He is an awesome writer - he is so Australian but so NOT ocker - and his work is so accessible. He uses ordinary language but somehow makes it come alive and dance in your mind. Another writer with a keen sense of landscape and its power.

Anyway, an ideal weekend overall. Well, except that I have to write my article review Tuesday night as Mythbusters is on tonight (which, I am mildly ashamed to admit, is my new favourite tv show). Still, it could be worse. At least I'm not watching repeats of Charmed instead of writing my article review (if only because they are not on TV tonight).

Thursday, April 07, 2005

So why?

As you all know, I am a crusader against crappy books. And my favourite crappy book is Dan Brown's bloody Da Vinci Code. No matter which way I turn, I am bombarded by cretins assuring me that it is the best book they've ever read.

CK has written a pretty handy little review so I won't bother to bore you with repetitious account of why I despise it so.

But the one thing that I've been pondering - why is it so damn popular even though it is clearly utter bollocks. I now have half a theory about why this book appeals to the general public. I think that people are used to being spoon fed information and ideas. People don't have to think about stuff anymore. Dan Brown doesn't leave any room for consideration or thought - he's written his book like a movie script. It's all fast action and excitement and the riddles are solved in one or two pages. No one has to think, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

It's a bit like he used an instant best seller generator on the internet. Religion + contention issue + intrigue and suspense (don't forget to add a dash of a conspiracy) and mix well. I think that my biggest bugbear is that it is a book chock full of pseudo-intellectual stuff. Most of all, I hate that people who have read this try to tell me that it is literature. It is depressingly one dimensional.

Ok. No more Dan Brown. I'm over it. I'm moving on.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Faggots Theory

Have you ever heard of Faggots Theory? Faggots theory is the idea that while one event can be disproved, a whole bunch of similar events have more credibility. So, in essence, one stick can be broken, but a whole bunch of sticks (a faggot) is harder to break.

This sounds like a great theory, but I'm not so sure. So, if I'm kidnapped by aliens and returned to earth alive (to tell my tale to you, the disbeliever), it is pretty easy to dismiss my experience as a hallucination or drugs or whatever. If me, my mum, my dog, my hairdresser, the drycleaner and the lady at the fish and chip shop all get kidnapped by aliens, Faggots theory says that it is easier for our experiences to be true because there are a whole bunch of us.

The more I think about it, the more dubious it sounds. Who came up with this theory anyway? Probably someone so dodgy that they didn't even want to put there name to it.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Book Group Update - Not Happy, John

We had our Book Group meeting today at the usual fashionable cafe/bar in the Valley. At first we were really freaked out because we didn't have the usual sneering waiter. There was a new guy who kept coming over and asking us if we wanted drinks or food or anything. Thankfully, he got the hang of waitering after the first half hour and then totally ignored us. In fact, he was such a fast learner, that when I decided to order a glass of wine after an hour or so, I actually had to chase him down and subdue him with a wine list so I could order said glass of wine.

This month we read "Not Happy, John" by Margo Kingston. Most of you are aware of my painfully inept grasp of politics, so this book scared me at first. Margo Kingston is political journalist who (with the help of a few guest writers) documents the decline of democracy in Australia in language that most of us (that's me - the politically moronic) can understand.

Kingston wrote about the visit from George W. where our Parliament was temporarily occupied by a foreign power (he had his own security, his own journalists, his own photographers etc) and the Prime Minister tried to forcibly eject one of our Parliamentarians for asking an embarrassing question. She wrote about when the George and John show visited the National War Memorial and George W. laid a wreath for the first Australian soldier to die in combat since Vietnam and the soldier's widow and child were not invited to be present. Kingston also wrote a chapter about the laws surrounding the ownership of media. She gave a couple of excellent examples about what happens when journalists work is not published because of the editorial direction of the newspaper (which is controlled by the owner).

I thought it was a really good book. It was informative, easy to read, clearly written and carefully researched. It started off as a bit of a John Howard bash but she was pretty clear that it wouldn't matter which party was in power, both of the big parties have virtually indistinguishable policies anyway. She was really writing about the democratic responsibilities of the elected. In Australia, democracy has become the process of voting once every three years and then letting those voted in do, pretty much, whatever they want. Kingston's point was that this isn't democracy. Democracy is about equality and transparency not about hoodwinking the general public or making things so difficult to understand that you beging to feel like it is not worth the effort.

Anyway, if you are interested in knowing more about these kind of things, I'd whole-heartedly recommend this book. It's like an Australian, political version of "Fast Food Nation".