Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Slice of Life

Last night, Tanja and I were watching our Comedy Comfort Food (alternating episodes of Seinfeld and Frasier) when we come upon the episode “The Note” where Kramer sees Joe DiMaggio at Dinky’s Donuts and confides in the gang that he’s “a dunker” and an incredibly focused one at that. I resolved then and there that I wanted to dunk a doughnut, having never been a dunker myself, as when I was in Canada, the Mecca of doughnuts, I never drank coffee and most of the doughnuts I got were sweet or iced, not the dunking kind (go run-on-sentence!).

 

So this morning, I get up, I do my morning putterings, I’m ready to go at 8, I start work at 9. Usually, if I’m leaving at 8, I walk, and arrive right on time. Today, I auto-piloted to the train station and arrived at work 30 minutes early (again!). So I decided I had time to act on the doughnut dunkings.

 

Unfortunately, it being the dead week between Christmas and New Years, I had to walk six blocks over to find an open coffee shop that wasn’t a Subway. Standing in line, horrible soft rock ballad on the radio. The middle-aged woman ahead of me was singing along and confided in me that she “used to listen to this in High School and had it on vinyl.”  I was all mentally sneery and above-it-all, until No Doubt’s Don’t Speak came on. Which is a song I listened to in High School. I had the CD thanks to my mother being the only person in the world to be a long-term subscriber to Columbia House CD Mail-Order program. You know, the 9 CDs for a Penny thing that everyone did, and then never bothered to do again? She did it for years and years.

 

Also, while waiting, I finished watching Burn After Reading on my iPod. Really didn’t like it. Haven’t disliked a Coen Brothers movie this much since my first viewing of Raising Arizona (I don’t count Intolerable Cruelty or the Ladykillers, both of which I saw but had no strong feelings about).

 

Got my coffee, walked to work, picking up 6 hot cinnamon doughnuts on the way. Got to work. I dunked one in my flat white. Heavenly. It’s like French toast tasted when you were little. Or Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal (part of a balanced breakfast).

 

I shared the joy of hot cinnamon doughnuts and dunking with various people around the centre.

 

Happy New Year.

 

Lucas Brown | Team  Leader - 42

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bliss.

Freedom from pain! Yes, friends, after 35 days straight of headaches, I am free from pain. It came to a head Friday when I woke up with a absolute humdinger. The entire left side of my head felt like it was going to fall off (and judging by how much I was hurting, I wouldn't have minded if it did).

So I went to the Doctor in the morning, making a 9:30 appointment. Got there at 9:25, but I didn't actually get to see the doctor until after 10. Why do I bother making appointments? So the doc sees me, and says I should get some physio. Okay, fine.

I call the University Sports physio that fixed my whiplash. They're closed until January for Christmas. Same situation with a few other places I call, some until February, even. February! That's a nice long Christmas break! So I get a recommendation from a workmate of Tanja's for a place on Erskineville road. I go there, but they’re all booked. I sign up for the cancellation list and just make it home when I get a call that there’s an opening.

So here’s what the physio guy said was wrong with me: all the little muscles that connect my neck to the base of my skull are all knotted up and scrunched together. These snarls put pressure on the bones of my skull, keeping them from their natural movement and locking them together. The lack of natural movement causes a build-up of pressure, which causes pain and headaches. Think tectonic plates locking together and causing LA-rattling earthquakes.

So he, using some high-pressure massage, pushed back the snarled neck muscles one at a time, letting them fall back into place where they usually sit. I was sore the rest of the day from the manipulations, but as of Saturday, fine! It may not be permanent, and I may need some remedial physio, but I am one relieved guy.

I am also a relieved guy with a new 32 gig iPod touch! Tanja got it for me for Christmas. It’s got Wifi, web browser, pop-up keyboard, it takes applications from the App store, and has a huge widescreen video screen. I like it a lot. I’m now in the process of streamlining my 13000 song play list to fit on the new iPod and phew! I have a lot of stuff I’ve never listened to.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Suck It, monkeys! I've gone corporate! (reposted from the Lucas Letters)

"So yeah. We've been back, and as the title suggests, I am no longer a spanner in the works. I am now a cog in the machine. In English? I am now the team leader of the mighty juggernaut that is 42. It's the team I came from and it's the team I know best. I also know it's thanks to their glowing feedback and stunning performance when I was ATLing that I got the job. I find that now that I'm an official team leader and not just a long term ATL or a fill-in, my view of the centre where I work has changed. People that were the bane of my existence are now either on the same level or a step below, and so I no longer have to take their crap or leave them unchallenged. Not that I'm in it only for the revenge, of course. There's also a slightly better chair.

Bought a new pillow day before last. It's due to my 20-days-of-headache that I had throughout the honeymoon, and the fewer, but still noticeable times I've had since I came back. Tanja and I each have a moulded neck-support pillow that, while looking like a university-lounge couch cushion, provides the support so our spines aren't ripping themselves to bits while we sleep. However, it does take some getting used to. Night before last when I tried it for the first time was awful. Waking up every hour or so and then a giant massive migraine in the morning. Last night was way easier, so I think it's just my body reacting.

Speaking of my body reacting, the first two times you go to the gym after a near 3-week absence? Expect to hurt the next day. Yeah.

Tanja's been hopping back and forth to the mountains lately, to help out with her mum. I've been going up too, but I always feel like the proverbial fifth wheel, just sitting there until someone asks me to do something. I'm giving support, though, so that's the important part. Overseas Christmas presents have been sent, and most of the local ones have been picked up. Even though it's 2 weeks to Xmas, I don't feel particularly holiday-like.

-Lucas"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Melbourne Day 11: Phone keeps on ringin’

I swear, in the 11 days since we started our honeymoon, my phone has never been this busy. It’s ridiculous. I’ve even gotten sick of the Bowser theme ringtone that Ted gave me, as cool as it is. I swear, you’re never as popular as you are when you attempt to go away.

Tanja and I had a late start due to one of us having a big ole sleep-in, but then we went to Koko Black chocolate café and started the day with a Belgian hot chocolate. Then it was off to Federation Square to see the Rennie Ellis exhibit. For those of you not in the know (and too lazy to Google search) Rennie Ellis is a former journalist who had been candidly photographing Australians on the streets, on the beaches, in pubs, at sporting functions, and even in Kings Cross for roughly 40 years. His shots are sincere, often funny, but all very interesting. We bought the book for the exhibit “No Standing, Only Dancing”. Check him out if you get a chance.

After that, I was starving, so we stopped at a middle-of-an-alley café for proscuitto-capsicum-and-olive pizza for Tanja and a steak-bacon-and-onion sandwich for me. It was strange. The cafes (all 8 of them) are all along the edge of the alley, and the tables are in a shared clump in the middle, with a space between the tables and the cafés for pedestrians, so the waiters are ducking people to get to you. Loud, and the woman next to us liked her cigarettes, but fun and good food. Then shopping and browsing. I got two CDs (after MUCH deliberation, putting back about 10), Dignity and Shame by Crooked Fingers and Electric Version by the New Pornographers (a Canadian band Neko Case sings with). I also saw a book called “I’m a Lebowski, you’re a Lebowski” which examined the cult following of the film The Big Lebowski. Looked cool, but too expensive. We then found a comics/sci fi/nerd store called Minotaur (like galaxy, but with 20% more nerd) and I geeked out for a bit. I got the 3rd Buffy Season 8 comic, and the first two Ex Machina trade paperbacks. Tanja also found the original book of The Prestige, by Christopher Priest. Again, I put a whole heapin’ helpin’ of stuff back. Self control, thy name is Lucas.

Dinner was at the laksa place at the base of the apartment building. I had a mixed laksa, and Tanja had a duck broth with noodles and pork wontons. Very good. We then picked up some yogurt for the strawberries we had at the apartment and headed back.

I’ve got a theory about pedestrians in Australian cities. Now, in Sydney, people tend to put they heads down and bull through, often knocking into you, your arm, or your bags. It’s a trait I dislike. I recall last time I came to Melbourne, I remarked that people seemed to respect personal space more and no one hits you. I’d like to revise that slightly. No one hits you, that’s right, but they constantly SEEM as though they’re about to. If you’re walking along at a good clip and stop to tie your shoe and look back, you’ll see a whole throng of people nearly run into you, then leap around you without actually touching. Similarly, we were leaning against a wall downtown, sorting out our shopping and I saw a man and his companion walking towards us on a collision course. We were there before he appeared. He saw us. He made eye contact. They continued walking closer, and closer, and then stopped dead a few inches from me, with a confused look. I returned a look that said “Well?” and he stepped to the side and kept going. So Melbourne pedestrians ignore others just like Sydneysiders, but they just handle near-collisions better. So basically, if you’re in Melbourne, and someone cuts you off walking and looks like they’re going to hit you, don’t worry, they’ll pull some gyration and miss you. Unless you gyrate to avoid them. Then you throw off the whole dynamic. It’s like dividing by zero. The universe implodes.

Melbourne Day 10: The Wentworth Syndrome

Got on the plane this morning (after hearing some funny names over the airport intercom, Worsley Kingsford & Mrs. Chimay) armed with World War Z: The Oral History of the Zombie War and Tanja in tow. Arrived in a surprisingly sunny Melbourne (weather guy wrong YET again) and made our way to our new digs for the week. It’s on Liverpool street in between Bourke and Little Bourke streets. It’s not a hotel, but a fully-furnished apartment larger than the first flat Tanja and I shared. Big honking TV, DVD player, leather lounge, fancy carpet, futon, view over all of Melbourne. Very swish. Then we went out for a walk to get a view of the neighbourhood.

Whoa.

Within a one. Block. Radius. We have five wine bars, a laksa house, a Japanese tapas restaurant (figure that out), a microbrewery (eeee!) restaurant that specializes in 12 kinds of chicken parmigana, a Greek restaurant (whose menu advised you to ask for lotsa bread and feel free to make a mess), the James Squire Brewhouse, a proper English Pub called the Elephant and Wheelbarrow, two bookstores, a comic book shop (two doors down!), and Blessed Mary, mother’a Jesus, a Tiki Bar/Thai Restaurant called Mai Tai Hawaiian Bar.

And that’s just within a block and a bit of where we’re staying.

We nearly had a heart attack looking for a place to have lunch. Tanja had a dose of what I call the Wentworth Effect.

Allow me to explain.

In Terry Pratchett’s book The Wee Free Men, young Wentworth Aching, aged 3, is kidnapped by the Queen of the Fairies. Wentworth, a perpetually sticky child is perpetually wanting sweets. As the Queen is looking to please him, she puts him in an entire room full of sweets. However, he sits in the centre bawling his eyes out without touching any of them. The reason? Total sensory overload. By moving towards one part of the candy, he is automatically moving himself away from some of the other candy. Which is tantamount to blasphemy. So he sits in the middle crying.

Tanja, and I are feeling this because we have 5 days. That’s 10 meals (5 lunches and 5 dinners, unless we turn breakfast into a practice-lunch) with which to experience ALL OF THIS. Fair breaks your heart. But we’ll manage. J

**Later**

After a quick wander-around, we decided on Parma’s Restaurant & Microbrewery for dinner. We each decided to go with the specialty of chicken schnitzel parmigiana, Tanja getting hers Mexican-style with salsa, sour cream, jalapeños and guacamole, and me getting mine with Italian meatballs spiked with tarragon. What was delivered was a piece of chicken schnitzel the width and diameter of a football. Huge. Very tasty, though. Complete comfort food. It came with side orders of chips and salad which was completely unnecessary. On the beer side, I started with the “Hopinator” double India Pale Ale (7%, amber colour, very rich caramel flavours with warm malt and a surprising finish reminiscent of natural yogurt) and moved on to the 2 Brothers Growler (5%, American Brown ale, very dark, malty, followed by a left-turn in flavour, turning to milk chocolate with watermelon hints, which as I consumed became raspberry, strange and full of character). Tanja had a Victorian Riesling and a Mountain Goat pale ale. I also grabbed two bottles for the fridge back at the apartment: The Grand Ridge Brewery Black & Tan Ale & Stout (I’ve never seen a pre-mixed Black & Tan before. You get the hoppy, crisp up-front taste of the lager, followed by the rich chocolate taste of the stout. Highly satisfying) and a Holgate Brewhouse White Ale (which I have not had yet).

Tanja and I are both very full now. We’re going to watch some Star Trek and not think about food.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sydney Day 9: And the Big News?

We watched the Good News Weeks Awards, but felt it was a touch too long.

Byron airport security found a pocketknife in my backpack that even I had forgotten about. The scary thing wasn’t that I forgot it was there; it’s that Sydney airport security missed it on the way TO Byron. Brrr.

The ride in the Byron-to-airport van left me so bounced around that I had headache, nausea, and a twitch in my upper lip for the rest of the day.

Got back to our lovely house to find the garden flourishing (except the jasmine), the bread mouldy, the champagne still in the fridge, and the chocolate still edible.

Tanja is helping me get rid of liquor bottles with a teensy bit left in them… by drinking what’s left. It’s effective.

Leaving for Melbourne tomorrow morno!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Byron Bay Day 8: One Day More

Well, it’s Sunday again, and it’s our last full day in Byron. Tanja and I were discussing the differences between our two trips to Byron. We decided the previous trip had been more back-to-nature, whereas this trip was far more practical. We (and by we I mean Tanja) slept late until 11:30 (I woke up around 8:30 an passed the time reading comics on my laptop). We headed into town for lunch, remarking upon the few schoolies we saw, most of whom were sleeping off the previous night. We had salt-and-pepper squid, and got some chocolate-covered goji berries from an organic store. Not sure what the big deal with those is, they tasted like raisins. We bought some pendants at a bead store: I got a little tiki guy, and Tanja got a polished wood piece. We walked up the beach to Belongil, where we stayed last trip and stared enviously at the houses there. We also saw a little kid of about 8 stomp out sulkily with his skateboard to tool around on the street clearly thinking his parents were mental for taking him out of his urban paradise to this wind-swept beach place. Walking back we were paced by a tiny Silky Terrier, who kept running up to sniff us, but wouldn’t hold still to be petted.

On the way back to the room, we saw a young guy sunbathing on the tiny roof next to the balcony of his third floor hotel room. I was nearly stopped in my tracks imagining all the things that could go wrong as he stood up.

We’ve settled in on the hotel balcony for the late afternoon, nibbling on pistachios and Lindt chocolate and working our way through the last of the beer in the fridge.

As for holiday books, I’m out. I’ve been prodigious in my reading. I‘ve read:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Beer: A Gauge for Enthusiasts by Greg Duncan Powell
Cuisine De Moi by Ben Canaider (writing as Gavin Canardeaux, an imaginary celebrity chef)
Nearly all of the latest issue of The Word magazine.

This is not counting the comics I’ve read via the laptop, which include:
The last 9 issues of Invincible
The entire Iron Man Armour Wars epic
The entire Marvel Zombies catalogue
Half of the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier (but to be fair, it’s 190-odd pages)

This evening we plan to give the Orient Express another shot. Then tomorrow morning back to Sydney via El-Jet-Plane-o.

**later**

Okay, Orient Express was amazing. We had prawn and pork wontons and sang choi bow. Mains were crispy duck in plum & mandarin sauce and a yellowfin tuna and Atlantic salmon sashimi plate. Everything was fragrant and lovely and the waiter was friendly and knowledgeable, plus we got a bit of a show when a yobbo and his blonde missus swanned up to the table next to us and, not liking the price point of the mains, ordered the entire left side of the menu. Then had to ask the waitress what a wonton was (she even used her hard-of-thinking voice, “woooon taaaaaaa-oon).

On the way back here, we got more glimpses of the Northern Reticulated Australian Schoolie. While both genders are vocal, it is the female of the species which is more distinct, often shouting the same name of someone either down the street or right next to them for hours on end. The male seems to only vocalise during courtship displays with other males, with such distinctive calls as “Give us a farkin hug, ya!” and “Dan’t touch moiy! Dan’t!” ringing about the forest. Even our local little country pub had been taken over. The locals themselves had fled, leaving only a seething mass of teenagers, and an 80-person line for the door. I think we’e timed our exodus from Byron perfectly.

Byron Bay Day 7: Twas The Night Before Schoolies

Finally got our breakfast-out, with a Spanish omelette with chorizo for me and one with smoked salmon and feta for Tanja. Great way to start the day, and it forced us to get our backsides out of bed to get there while they were still serving breakfast.

We did our poking about the shops again, with me finally getting that Tiki mug (not that I wasn’t half-smug about it), had some gelato, and bought presents. The weather was unusually hot, stingingly hot and ridiculously windy. Like hat-blowing-away, tearing-shirt-from-back windy. So much so that we weren’t walking along the beach for fear of being sandblasted.

Also, as it was Saturday, it was the unofficial first day of Schoolies Week. All of the matriculating youngsters drive up here in packs to surf and drink and generally make nuisances of themselves to the locals. The population on the streets seemed to have tripled and every shady spot was packed full. Possibly thanks to Schoolies, this seemed to be the day for noticing people. So here I shall chronicle our more noticeable noticeables:

A rather large couple making out horizontally on the edge on a park, not ten feet from the path we were walking on. We gave an eye roll and kept going. It was only when I glanced back, I got the view of the *ahem* full moon as his board shorts were nearly to his knees. And she was wearing a dress. Gee-yargh! Didn’t need to see that! Public forum
A kid who looked about 15, and fish belly pale with no shirt, sitting outside the store with 5 cartons of VB beer, two grocery bags full several loaves of no-name white bread, and another bag full of bags of chips. All he needed was a jar of vegemite and he’d have the breakfast of champions.
A couple of young guys, a younger girl, and an older woman walking down the beach, the two guys suddenly, and without warning start wrestling with one another. Throwing each other around, eventually one tossing the other violently onto the sand. “I hope they’re brothers,” I said to Tanja. “Otherwise there’s a whole homoerotic subtext they might not be ready to deal with.” “Why is it okay if they’re brothers?” asked Tanja. “Well,” said I. “Then they’re just being brothers.”
Later in the evening, while walking back to the room, we spotted on several street corners groups of 8-10 young men. They all had beers in their hands, were talking quietly, and all facing inwards with their heads down. It was like a very slow rugby scrum.

Speaking of that evening, we had a lovely dinner at the Pacific Dining Room. We started with cocktails (Coconut and Chilli Martini for me, a Falling Water for Tanja which had Campari, blood orange, watermelon, and mint), then moved on to small sharing plates. We got bread, warm olives, proscuitto with flatbread and onion jam, cured kingfish done in a pastrami style, carrots with air-dried beef and sheep-milk yogurt, and a tomato salad with ricotta and baby leeks. Then came the mains, also shared: reef fish (snapper) in red curry on a bed of rice, cucumber, and sliced wontons; and chicken something-or-other with carrots, baby leeks, and cooked in a bacon reduction sauce. The fish was excellent, but the chicken brought the house down. For dessert we each had a glass of Hungarian tokaji. Tanja had little mini ice-creams covered in Madagascar chocolate, and I had a pressed apple, which was comfit apple slices with little icicles of toffee. VERY nice. We tipped like drunken sailors and toddled home for the night, ignoring or avoiding the drunken adolescents.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Byron Bay Day 6: It Burns! The Goggles Do Nothing!

When we got up this morning, Tanja decided that we required exercise, so suggested a walk up to the lighthouse and down the promontory that the gods has sent us away from last time. We got dressed and headed out. Well, sort of. I, wearing my usual t-shirt and shorts combination, made it about 5 seconds into the full sunlight before making a sort of “arghargharghargh” sound and pulling a u-turn back into the apartment. Sunburn, you see. You know when you spray a cockroach with pesticide he runs away and then starts to run in a circle, slowly dying? Yeah. Like that. I then slathered on about an inch more sunblock and put on the only long-sleeved shirt I brought. That way, instead of feeling like I was walking under a blowtorch, it instead felt as if I had already been seared and was placed under the grill to cook further.

We walked up to the lighthouse and were lucky enough to spot a pod of dolphins off of one of the cliffs. And me without my camera. It was very cool. We went down to the promontory, and then when we went to go back up, arrived at an impasse: we had walked down approximately 5 hobillion stairs to get there and after the first 30 or so I was knackered. Maybe it was the sunburn messing with my stamina, but I couldn’t do it. Tanja found another path around with far fewer stairs, but I was worried there for a moment.

Once back in town, Tanja talked herself into letting herself go lingerie shopping. She got things. That’s all I’m saying. After the thing-getting, we got some giant sandwiches for lunch. I got a tshirt with an octopus eatinga guy on it (it’s cooler than it sounds!) and new CDs from Jackson Jackson and Gogol Bordello (whose gypsy-punk stylings Tanja liked, shocking me). Picked up groceries, and a mixed six-pack of beer (Grolsch, Byron Bay Premium Ale, Kokanee, Northern Rivers Stout, James Squire I.P.A., and Coopers Sparkling Ale, and a pint-bottle of Little Creatures Pale Ale because it came in a friggin‘ pint bottle). Came back, went swimming in the ocean, lazed around drinking beer (the Grolsch, which was excellent, and the Byron Bay Premium which was equally excellent) then headed out for dinner.

We went to the Byron Beach Café, which we found by the strangest way: we followed the big arrow on the sign reading ”Byron Beach Café”. I had tempura prawns, one hell of a steak, and a molten flourless chocolate cake with strawberries for dessert. Tanja had oysters with salmon roe and champagne, Atlantic salmon in a dill reduction sauce and a white chocolate and raspberry crème Brule for dessert. We shared a lovely bottle of Mornington Peninsula (NZ) Pinot Noir. The restaurant is right on the beach so we had the most incredible view at sunset. Then we came back, watched some Star Trek , and drank some Northern Rivers Stout (which tasted EXACTLY like chocolate-covered coffee beans).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Byron Bay Day 5: Beach Blanket Bingo

Moderately early get up for one reason and one reason alone: solid blue sky, hot weather and a sandy beach. Brought the iPods along, though we only used them briefly: I watched the Rifftrax for Point Break on an Australian beach. Isn’t it ironic? Don’t ya think? Felt like my shoulders were getting a bit toasted, so put on a t-shirt and headed into town for lunch and things (you like things, right?).

Also finally realized something: when I got my haircut on the 1st of November, the stylist managed to make sure the front bits were just barely not long enough to tie back with the rest of my hair. I’m really feeling that here, where the sea breeze is always behind you and your hair is always in your face.

While Tanja was taking money out, I noticed a sign advertising Bundaberg rum and it’s new redgum-filtered line, styled Bundaberg Red. I started laughing, and tried unsuccessfully to explain why a poster advertising “Red Rum” was so funny. She didn’t get it.

Bought myself a Transformers t-shirt and a beachy new hat and ogled jewelry with Tanja. Lunch was calamari and chips from the pub. With beer. It was there that I realized that though my shoulders had been spared a sunburn, from just above my elbows down to my hands were bright red. Eeeyow. Bought some aloe vera cream to help stave off the ouchies.

Went swimming on the way back to the hotel, and the water was bathwater warm. Now feel absolutely covered in sand, even though I’m not.

Tonight we were to go to dinner at The Orient Express for fancy Asian food. We waited a while as we were still stuffed from lunch. As we went to leave at 7, we stood outside the door with our umbrellas watching rain fall. “Just give it a minute,” says Tanja. “It’ll slow down.”

10 seconds later a gust of wind blow my umbrella inside-out and lightning struck in the distance.

“Bugger that,” says Tanja. “I’m not going anywhere tonight. Don’t we have a flyer for a pizza place?”
We did. The place was in Suffolk Heads which is a little ways off. We looked through the menu, selected, then called. By this point, the storm was raging outside.

“Oh, we do deliver to Byron Bay, sure, but not tonight. Tonight the storm’s too bad. Sorry.”

Luckily we had some sourdough bread, leftover washed-rind and blue cheeses, fruit, and some beer left over. A subsistence supper, but needs must when the Devil vomits in your teakettle. Or, at least, sends a storm your way.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Byron Bay Day 4: A Moment’s Respite

After our longest lie-in yet (until 11!) and a resurgence of the headache I had the first day, we set off with the intent of getting breakfast at a café, then seeing Quantum of Solace. Got to the café we had chosen, only to realize they had stopped serving breakfast. Feeling slightly bad (and getting dirty looks from the waitress), we finished the coffees we had ordered, assuring the waitress that was “all we wanted” and scuttled off to another café. Which was also not serving breakfast. Our third choice had the breakfast menu up on the blackboard, so we assumed it was still on. Wrong. Oh well. Luckily this was the Twisted Sista café, where everything (including the cups, salads, quiches, sandwiches, and smoothies) was huge, interesting and good. Tanja had a vegetarian frittata, and I had a very fresh tandoori Panini. It was during this brunch that we saw our first bit of blue sky since we arrived. Huzzah!

After lunch, shopping. Tanja bought two shirts she had her eye on. I had to tell her afterwards that one of them was a men’s shirt, despite the odd cut and plunging neckline (it was for hipsters). Still looked good. Also got more books. Tanja got a book of Byron Bay stories, and I got Ben Caniader’s Cuisine De Moi.

After shopping and walking, we felt we deserved a glass of wine. To the pub! After some chardonnay for Tanja, and some inferior Riesling for me, I went to the bar to grab something more palatable. Luckily, they had Mount Gay Barbados rum, and I was a happy chappy.

Once emerging from the pub, we realized that it had become a full-fledged blue-sky’d sunny day! The wind had blown away all the cloud and it was finally Byron weather. We wandered up and down the beach (tacitly deciding that we would see the later 007 show), then swung back into Byron for fish-and-chip dinner. Then back to the pub. We’d been at the beach! We’d had fish and chips! We needed beer! Unfortunately, my headache decided that was the moment to come back, and trip to the chemist for Panadiene was required.

Then the Bond movie. I won’t spoil, don’t worry. Boatloads of action, like tons, and a bit shy on plot, but it IS a Bond movie, after all. Tanja seemed to get more into it than I did, but that’s not the movie’s fault. It seems that ever since Iron Man, for some reason whenever I see movies at the cinema they leave me rather cold. It happened for Dark Knight, the new Indiana Jones, and now for Quantum of Solace. I don’t know what it is. I find myself having trouble following/getting into the plots and feeling a bit under whelmed. I’m weird, though.

I think it was the sun today (which was covered by late-breaking cloud in the evening and a thunderstorm in the last 20 minutes), but it felt for part of the day like we had just arrived and that we were re-energised. It was good.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Byron Bay Day 3: Wrath of the Dogs

After a bit of a lie-in, we took advantage of the lapse in the rainfall to walk up to the Byron Bay lighthouse. The views were breathtaking, as always, and we noticed a gamut of German, Scandinavian, Dutch and Austrian tourists. We think there might have been a sale on Europeans at the duty free and everyone stocked up. We went up to the highest part of the cliff and looked down onto the long spit of land that is the most Eastern point of mainland Australia After a moment of consensus, we decided to head down. Not five minutes later, it started to rain, and the wind to blow freezing cold. The rain was completely horizontal. Luckily, I had my hoodie, and Tanja brought my umbrella, so we were shielded as we took the hint from a higher power and hightailed it back up to the lighthouse. Of course, as soon as we hit the parking lot, the rain went away and stayed gone for ages. We took this as a sign and went into town to get lunch. We walked along the beach (casually having a look for the Byron Beach Café, which is still a mystery)

Just before we sat down for lunch, we saw an odd-looking gent pulling a three-wheeled vacuum cleaner on a dog leash. The vacuum had a little which hat and was covered in stickers. The man referred to the vacuum as “Eddie” and was explaining to people that Eddie had been surfing, Eddie’s been skiing and Eddie’s now going to the pub. Stopped in at Mokha and had a Mediterranean salad (for Tanja) and a BLT with wedges (for me). Afterwards, some shopping.

Ho’okupa Surf shop was a bi stop for me. It’s all Hawaiian in tone and product, so lots of tiki stuff. I’d have bought the whole shop, including the giant stone Tikis, but I contented myself with a shirt and a pair of shorts. Tanja, after initial hesitation, got herself a beach bag/handbag which is very cool. They had locally-made Tiki mugs too, for 39.95. I would have gotten one, but apparently I “have too many Tiki mugs.” Go figure.

Though Tanja was tempted by the 80s influenced designs in one shop, we stopped for coffee to recharge our batteries. I had a bowl of latte (a BOWL!), while Tanja contented herself with a mug. We ordered a banana-raspberry muffin, which took forever to arrive, but once it did, we were flummoxed. A dish of freshly whipped cream, raspberry sauce attractively arranged about the plate, and the muffin itself had banana cream inside. Wow.

Some more shopping around, and then a stop in the pub to hide from the sudden rain. Tanja and I discussed the ramifications of kids accompanying their parents to the pub. Ran to the newsagent, got magazines, and Tanja, sick of sharing my umbrella, bought one of her own. What I saw, and she didn’t, was the pattern. It has big giant Golden Lab puppies on it. All over it. Heh.

Now we’re back at the room, and the news is saying rain all week, except Friday when it’ll be warm for one whole day. Oh well.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Byron Bay Day 2: Rain keeps fallin’, rain keeps falling’ down…

Well, it’s still raining. It will stop intermittently, but the cloud cover is constant, and when the rain works up, it’s going for ages. Hopefully, this won’t be a repeat of our second Noosa trip where the monsoonal rain pinned us inside to the breaking point.

Today was moderately uneventful, but in a good way. Wandered into town, had a look around. Tanja bought her first pair of sunglasses in ten years (Fendi, very nice), and I got a sticker for my laptop that says “Slap the Goon: something this bad needs to be slapped!” (for those who don’t know, “goon” is horribly cheap Australian cask wine, and “slap the goon” is trying to build awareness that Aussie wine is more that goon, something I heartily approve of). Next stop was the bookstore. I got the new Terry Pratchett book “Nation” and the Greg Duncan Powell beer guide that I’ve been eyeing for two weeks. Tanja got two fiction books set in ancient Egypt (which she explained is her reading comfort food). Then we went for our massage.

Tanja went in for hers, while I sat on the beach and read my beer guide. Turns out Knappstein is highly rated. Good choice, me! Tanja came out of her massage all rubber-necked, and then it was my turn. I can liken the experience only to being put through an automatic car ash, but in a good way.

Of for lunch to a café called One One One. It’s slogan is “A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou.” I argued that it should be “thee” instead of “thou”, but Tanja assured me they have it right. Lunch for me was a massive but incredibly tender steak sandwich with roast tomatoes and a green relish (and when I say big, I mean it was the size of a toaster), complimented with a glass of NSW 3 Bridges Durif. The wine was almost a bit big for the steak, but it was a nice glass anyway. Tanja had an equally big roast pumpkin sandwich with salsa verde and ricotta with a glass of sangiovese rosé. Followed it all up with coffee for me and chamomile tea for Tanja. Oh, and a slice of spiced chocolate and nut torte with crème fraiche for us to share.

Quick stop for more supplies at organic grocer, Woolworths and butcher, then back to room. Tanja was the one napping this time, and I finished the run of Invincible I had on the laptop. I’m sad because I have no more.

A lady in the shop said we’re in for a whole week of rain, but I hope she’s wrong, so we can avoid the despondency of the Noosa trip. Or are we doomed that each time we re-visit a place, the weather will be wretched? You decide, gentle reader!

PS: I’ve figured out that I can plug in my iPod to the USB jack of the stereo here. Only issue is that you can just hit play, and it plays the songs by filename. So it’s a crapshoot what it’ll play next. I’ve actually heard a few songs and I have no clue what they are. Seems I should clean out the ‘Pod more often. Hey, I have 13000 songs! I can’t remember them all!

Byron Bay Day 1: Live from Byron Bay, it's Sunday night!

Flight was fine, coach ride as fine, got all our luggage. Zero stress. Nice change. No stressed out arguing as is so often the case when I travel. On the way through town, Tanja and I were pointing out landmarks from our last trip here like little kids. Got to the Inn, and the room is well laid out and has the Wireless, and everything. It may not be as rustic or Ewok-like as the tree house, but it has the benefit of a working kitchen and an indoor bathroom.

Headed into town. After a fruitless attempt to find the Byron Beach Cafe (turns out, according to Google Maps, it's ACTUALLY on the beach, not just near it) we went to Fishheads for lunch. Starter: Tanja - 6 oysters with wasabi, Me - salt and pepper bugs with chilli jam. Bloody great. Main course, seafood platter: Half a lobster, two scallops, bunch of Moroccan mussels, bunch of prawns, more bugs, a crab, smoked salmon, grilled salmon cutlet, chips, aioli, and a few lettuce leaves, crying in the corner because they're all alone. We enjoyed this with a bottle of Clare Valley Riesling, whose near-unpleasant-initial taste of lime juice changed completely once it got in with the seafood.

Got supplies (cheese, crackers, pineapple, kiwis, juice, milk, cereal, beer) and headed back to the room. Now, I don't know if it was the pressure dropping or the rising humidity, or the carrying of the bags, or the change of going from humid cool windy outside to stuffy inside, but I developed a REALLY bad headache. It was like crackling static electricity going from my left temple, down around my eye, around my jaw and into my neck on the left side. I took some painkillers and had a lie-down while Tanja read up on local history.

Later I felt better and, as it had rained and was just barely drizzling, Tanja suggested a walk along the mostly deserted beach. We walked along a sandbar, and marveled at how far the ocean recedes during low tide. We walked along for a little bit, then it started to rain harder. And harder. Admitting defeat, we decided to go back up the brick path we had taken down to the beach.

Except we couldn’t find it. After going back and forth in the now-driving rain, we ended up seeing two surfers run out of the woods at a point not from us. It wasn’t our path, but it was a path and that was all that mattered. We go up…and discover we’ve managed to misplace our path so badly that it was a ten-minute walk to get back TO our path. Beaches. They’re like gnarly ground.

We warmed up at the room with a James Squire Pepperberry Winter Ale and a Knappstein Reserve Lager. We watched the first two episodes of Spaced, but sadly, didn’t like it much. So now we’re watching Star Trek. Good night, blog.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Wedding Dream List

With the wedding now less than a week away (eeeeeee!) I've been musing on the subject of wedding gifts. Most of the time, the gift is something for the couple's house (in the olden days, always a NEW house, hence the practical nature of most gifts and the creation of registries (who needs 15 toasters?). Tanja and I didn't go that way because we always thought it was a bit rude telling people what to get you. In fact, we haven't asked for gifts at all for the wedding. If some people want to get us things, fine, but otherwise, no worries. It was my mom asking what we wanted that got me thinking: if I were to make a list, what would be on it? What would be the price range? So, without further ado, my epic dream wedding present list:

[-]A bottle of green Chartreuse. The yellow stuff has become legendary around the office thanks to Ted, and I'd love a bottle of this. Rough Price: $75.
[-]Breville ikon™ 600 Blender. It's badass. Make crushed ice. Blends things. Like cocktails. Tanja's mentioned this to her workmates, but I think they'll go for one of the classier things she asked for. Rough Price: $239
[-]Star Trek Voyager Ultimate Collection. The entire series on DVD and it comes in a freakin' Borg cube! The assimilation of Tanja into liking Star Trek continues. Rough Price: $279
[-]An iPod Dock. I like the idea of one, like in the picture, with a screen so I can watch my videos on that.
[-]Mount Gay Extra Old Rum. One hell of a drop. I had some at Rambutan. Rough price: $54.95
[-]A set of really cool martini glasses. Due to the occasional drops and losses, my glassware now leans towards wine more than cocktails.
[-]Kinokuniya gift vouchers. Feed my comics addiction.
[-] Goldschlager. So pretty, has gold in it and tastes of cinnamon. Rough Price: Who knows? I haven't found it in Oz.
[-]A PlayStation3. We're into the pie-in-the-sky section of the list, now. I'd prefer a 60gig version, so it's backwards-compatible with my PS2 games, but I don't think that's on the market anymore.
[-]Something Tiki-related, I don't know. Tiki stuff is so thin on the ground in Sydney.

This is harder than I thought. Anyway, this is not a "what you get me must be from this list" list. This is just me being thoughtful.

Bzzzap.

I was at the gym yesterday and I saw on one of the monitors part of an episode of the latest Spider-Man cartoon, The Spectacular Spider-Man. I watched it without sound for a little bit, seeing Spidey hop around dodging energy blasts from a guy in a green suit that looks similar to Ultimate Scorpion, but without the tail. His mask was opened up partway through the fight and he seemed to have a sort of green Ghost-Rider-style flames around his head. I then plugged my headphones into the jack to see who the hell this guy was supposed to be. The audio came up just in time for me to hear this villian go "They're gone! Gone! My only chance at a cure!" as some bystanders run away. "It's your fault!" he ranted at Spidey, "and I'll make you pay!" Blast. Dodge. Blast-blast. Dodge. Then the villian stole some electricity from a nearby machine.

Then it hit me.

This is meant to be Electro.

What the fuck?

First off, don't draw electricity like flames. Draw it like lightning. Lighting is cool. Green flames are not. It used to bug me when Transformers would draw metal crumbling and falling apart like rock, so this is not a new pet peeve of mine.

Secondly, I hate Spider-Man fights where he's hopping around like a jumping bean avoiding hits and allowing tons of collateral damage when he should be fighting proactively, like, say when a civilian or two is nearby. The fact that they based the climax of the episode around a fight like this bores me.

Thirdly, Electro! He's an electrified goon! A mercenary! He enjoys his powers because he's basically a big bully. Picture Nelson Muntz if he could electrify things. The guys on iFanboy had this discussion where basically Spider-Man villians fall into three categories: those that are misunderstood out-of-their-control monsters (like The Hulk, or to some extent, Venom), pure evil (either homicidal or world-domination style, such as Carnage, Doctor Octopus, and the Green Goblin), and there are the powered bank robbers (such as Scorpion, Vulture, and Electro). All they want is money. Putting a tortured, "oh, I'm a freak, all I want to do is be normal"-Mr-Freeze-style-backstory on Electro is like putting an elevator in an outhouse. It don't belong.

I know it's a kids-oriented show, and they think by giving him this backstory, it'll make people sympathise. They might, it's true, but then having Spidey whomp this guy into oblivion kind of stops you from enjoying that sympathy.

But I digress.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Inconvenient Weather (reposted from The Lucas Letters)

"Dear All and Sundry:

The weather was very disagreeable today. Early this morning, it was overcast and misting lightly, but did not either rain, or stop misting. Then the sun came up more, but the low overcast cloud made it hot, but stuffy. And just bright enough to make you squint, but overcast and dark enough that if you wore sunglasses, it'd be impractical. Then a wind would come up and it would feel cold enough to need a jacket, but if you had the jacket, you'd be too hot when the wind wasn't blowing. And the wind was JUST hard enough to blow your hair in your face. Something must be done about weather like this. Perhaps some sort of committee. In any case, I'm chucking a crateful of hateful at this weather.

Had a bunch of people over for a Halloween movie marathon/dinner. Ted, Craig & Mel, Adrian & Tommy, Casey & Ryan all came and showed support for my addiction to having people over and hosting. Was fun. We watched Shaun of the Dead, and Scream, and Ghost Ship and Deep Blue Sea. Tanja made an Asian pickled salad and honey-and-soy chicken, and I made Szechuan beef and an apple cake (styled a "Granny Pudding" in the recipe) for dessert. It was proper marathon length, too. First guest arrived at 6:30 pm, last guest left at 1:50 am.

Less than two weeks until the big day!

-Lucas"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Computer names

As we are now a household with 5 computers, I’ve been reflecting on computer names. The PC, which we keep in the spare room, I originally named Hex. The iPod Mini I got around the same time was christened Hex Jr (and when its battery died, its replacement was Hex III, on to my current iPod Video, which is Hex IV). Despite this moniker, the PC is constantly referred to as “The big computer” since the introduction of laptops to the house, even thought it’s not that big. It’s predecessor, Tanja’s original huge clunky silver NEC laptop (which both of us used as the primary PC until the CD drive died, the spacebar stopped working and we got very mad at it) was nameless, except for “the laptop” or, “the old clunker”. After Dad visited, he left me the largish laptop that work had given him, which, though problematic-to-downright-useless with anything internet-based, was great for playing Command and Conquer or Age of Mythology. This one, even 9 months on, is still referred to as “Dad’s laptop”. Tanja has her sexy little Vaio laptop (which is currently being fixed for a battery fault, and she’s suffering from the lack), which she’ll refer to as her “little one” or her “Vaio”. My eeePC’s name, assigned when I booted it up for the first time is “The Guide” (inspired by a custom designed eeePC I found a picture of, which had been laser-etched with “Don’t Panic” on top and rigged to open and work like a book). I thought it fitting, considering I take the bloody thing everywhere and most often use it for reading comics.

 

So. To tally up, we have

 

  • The Big Computer/Hex
  • The Clunker
  • Dad’s Laptop
  • Tanja’s Little One/Vaio
  • The Guide

 

And to think, I used to think a house with two TVs was extravagant.

 

Lucas Brown | Team Senior - 42

Using the Force in one to one communication

 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Swing and a miss (reposted from The Lucas Letters)

"Dear all and sundry;

Ok, so there goes the whole "updating every week" idea. Three weeks missed out! Bad Lucas.

Anyway, as usual, work is work. I've been ATLing all this week and will do so until the 31st. Speaking of the 31st, people at work are organising to show up in costume on Halloween. Typical. As soon as I give up on the idea of forcing my friends to dress up in costumes, someone else picks up the ball and runs with it. And I get to be the "Oh, I used to do that all the time" guy. Oh well. I am planning a Halloween movie marathon at our place. Should be fun. Previous marathons were successes. I managed to cook without exploding from stress, and people showed up and everything. So, good.

Picked up some DVDs this morning on my way to work. I got Iron Man (which i saw in the theatres and loved to pieces), a combination pack of 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later (Zombie movies that I've rented seperately, but was waiting for a decently priced box set) and Pump Up The Volume (an 80s movie starring Christian Slater that escaped my radar until a year and a bit ago). So I have new things to watch. I nearly bought The Mist for the marathon, but I figure I'll rent it closer to day.

I also got the new Terry Pratchett book The Folklore of Discworld, which is not actually a novel in the series. It's all about the mythology and characters of the series as compared to actual folklore. I think more books should be written about books I like. It's like getting a reassurance that what you're reading is good. Same when a review raves about something you already knew about. It's very gratifying.

Wedding plans proceeding, no refusals yet, everyone so far has RSVPed. Looking good!

That's all for now.

-Lucas"

Monday, October 20, 2008

I haven’t updated in a while, so to get back into the swing of things, here’s a video from the NY Jedi Academy

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Organising (reposted from The Lucas Letters)

"Dear All and Sundry,

Tanja's birthday has come and gone, with a wonderful dinner at Restaurant Atelier (with a slightly short-tempered chef, but lovely friendly staff and amazing food) and some presents of books, comics, a purple Tiki Mug to call her own, a Japanese teapot, and some other things. She also got the day off on her birthday which, really, should be in the Constitution.

I've been busy making shirts for the huge order that I talked about last post, and I've printed 8 of the 20, and haven't ironed any of them. I figure I'm going to finish them all first, and then show up at work like Santa Claus, passing out gifts. Well, gifts people have paid for, but still.

It's come to my attention that I've gotten a reputation at work for being an organizer. Who would have thought it? When we need someone to take up a collection and get a cake and get everyone to sign a card for Ted's birthday? I'm there. When awards for the quarterly work party need creating, hello, there's me. It's strange. I was never the organizer in Canada. I blame the southern hemisphere mucking with my personality.

Speaking of the work awards night, it's tomorrow, and it's cowboy themed. Happily, I already have three cowboys hats (I'm loaning some out to people), and some toy guns on my desk at work, but I just need to find a vest. Off to the second-hand shop!

-Lucas
PS: Garden continues to explode with life. I think someone put plutonium in the soil when I wasn't looking."

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mark Millar sums it up.

I was watching an interview on iFanboy with Scottish comics writer Mark Millar (who's written all sorts of things, like Ultimates and Civil War and stuff, and has, I can say with a staunch record of heterosexuality, the cutest accent ever). His latest project is called War Heroes and it's set in Iraq and it involves super-powered parties on both sides of the conflict. He's been getting a lot of flak for writing about and commenting on American politics while not being an American (which is dumb, because as Tanja points out, if that were the case, only Germans could write about Nazi Germany). Millar's response was basically that an outsider can often get a better view due to the lack of personal involvement. He summed it up with a line that I'm stealing for use whenever I can:

"You don't have to be a horse to be a vet."

Classic.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

" ATL for Mean Machines... but I'd rather be gardening. (a message I sent to the floor when I began my ATLing today)

I'm serious. Now that it's starting to warm up, most of my garden is doing well. The jasmine has woken from its dormant state, and the succulents are doing well, but my herbs seem to have carked it over the winter. Well, except for my rosemary, which is growing like a weed. I need to re-pot my bottle-brush and peace lily, but I need to find the time to get new pots from Marrickville and a new bag of potting soil. Of course, the size of these packages discriminates against those of us that don't have cars. It's not fail. And while we're talking, I'm between notches on my belt. If I wear the looser notch, my pants nearly fall off. If I go tighter, it's uncomfortable to sit down. But I digress. If you have any questions, I'm sitting at Damo's desk.
 

Lucas Brown |Team Senior - 42
Salmat - using the force in one to one communication

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bunnies!

Enjoy the many and stalwart rules of this King of Drinking Games. Read through to the end if you have the patience. The rules, of course, are to confuse the hell out of n00bs, or "freshers" meaning more hilarity and drunkenness.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Recapping and mentioning t-shirts. A lot. (reposted from The Lucas Letters)

"Dear Family;

Well, Bill Bailey was very funny and extremely entertaining as always. Plus I got to learn that when it comes to music, the augmented fourth chord (or diminished fifth chord, depending on your worldview) in considered not fit to be played in a church or in hymns. It was classified as a dissonance, because the sound was supposed to awaken bad thoughts. All this means for us today is that it's used in every haunted-house movie because it's very sound provokes uncertainty. Cool. The show wasn't all about historical musical nerdery. There were jokes too. I bought a tour t-shirt, which was the first shirt of that sort that I've ever bought at a show.

Oh! Also at the show I had a wonderful moment. As you all know, I print t-shirts for people. Most of the time it's for people I know or work with. So imagine my surprise when, while waiting in line at the Bill Bailey show, I spot someone wearing one of the 10 shirts I made for a band called Xquabed a year or so ago. I even saw the little Ampersand on the sleeve. I wanted to go over and talk to the guy, but common sense (and Tanja) told me not to embarrass him. Oh well. It was still a thrill.

Speaking of shirts, I've just had a monster order put in by various work-people. I ordered 20 blanks online, and I'll need to print them as soon as they get here. One guy originally said he wanted 2 shirts. He then got on the phone to his brother and ordered shirts for his brother, his brother's wife, his brother's son, ending up with 8 shirts total. I felt like telling him "You know, guy, you can place more than one order. I'm not dying next week."

Poor Tanja's been feeling a bit sick lately, but my super-immune-system has been keeping me safe.

All for now!

-Lucas"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sun, then Rain. (reposted from The Lucas Letters)

"Dear All and Sundry,

The weather the last few days has been crazy. First, on Friday it was suddenly hot from 2:30 pm to when the sun went down, and then yesterday it was 32 degrees for the first time since the January before last. Then today? Hail and thunderstorms. It's all going down, man!

This week has been work, work, work. Since I'm working 11:30-8 every day, it's like I get just enough time to get up, go to the gym, go to work, work, then come home, eat dinner, and it's then like 45 minutes before time-for-go-to-bed again. Another assignment due on Thursday (which I haven't started yet), and I'm printing a bunch of t-shirts for someone at work (which I did yesterday morning, looking every bit the mad artist, with paint on my fingers and for some reason my cheek). Yesterday afternoon Tanja and I picked out interesting paper for the various invitations we're making and sending out (which is odd, because the people we're inviting already know when things are happening).

Had cake and coffee for breakfast this morning, which was pleasant. Oh, and we're going to see Bill Bailey at the State Theatre this Tuesday. Should be very good :).

All for now,

-Lucas"

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Day 2, Mountain Time

So this morning was Father’s Day, and upon giving Tanja’s father a bottle of imported French Calvados (apple brandy) that I suggested and picked out, it dawned on me: I think I like giving people well-chosen presents more than I like getting well-chosen presents.

Does that make me some sort of pinko-commie?

Thinking back, though, I’ve always like giving presents, even when I didn’t have much money. At university, I got little things for my various friends (despite being taken aside by one of them, and being told I didn’t have to “buy their love.” Which was totally not the point). I knew that most of them were equally as not-well-off as was, and a little something would brighten their day.

So yeah. When people say “Don’t make a big thing out of my birthday”, it just gets me planning. I’ve even, marvel of marvels after some very rocky starts, gotten halfway decent at choosing things for Tanja.

I know some psychiatrist would be able to pick this apart, saying that I equate possessions to love, but that’s totally not it. I like the look on people’s faces when they open/receive something that is suited for them and that they didn’t expect.

Man. I am a pinko-commie.

Day 1: Mountain time

(if this entry seems mundane, it's mostly because its an exercise in learning to type on my new eeePC!!! and it's slightly tiny keyboard)
So yeah. I'm currently up at Tanja's parents' place in the mountains. After having people over Friday night and going to bed so late, I was completely wiped this morning. I got up and packed and got to the train on time, only to find out the was track-work between Central station and the mountains. Cue to two hours later. Two hours, mind, of sitting over the transmission hump of the bus, so that whenever it stopped, my seat would shake like a good martini. I had a massive headache by the time I got to Penrith. I took some tablets and slept for an hour. Feeling better now. I brought along the fourth Scott Pilgrim book, but I loved it so much that I read it too fast and now it's done and I have a lack of book. Tanja offered me her new Vogue to read, but I have my pride. I shall not fall to the fashion magazine!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Busy Doin' Nothing (reposted from The Lucas Letters)

"Ok, so the title is a bit of a misnomer. I've been doing a lot this week, but it's the kind of "a lot" where if ayone sops yu at any one time, you can't really explain why you're looking so harried.

Part of it is due to a course the work has sent us on to make us better at our job. It's one day every four weeks, which is not bad, but there are homework assignments (presentations and formal reports). I was working on one of those for a few nights this week, which was due today. The head trainer did make me feel better, though. He took me aside and straight-out asked me why I wasn't a Team Leader yet as I was "thinking rings around" everyone else in the class and that some people at work were "intimidated by how smart I am". Made me blush.

After "school" today, I got myself a Guzman y Gomez spicy chicken guerrera burrito. I also bought part of Tanja's birthday present.
I'd write more, but it's 11:04pm (and Blogger seemed to swallow my first attempt at writing this). Toodles.

-Lucas"

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Nintendo and personal schedules (reposted from The Lucas Letters)

"Dear family:

These last few days have been a bit odd for me. Tanja has gone up to the Blue Mountains to help out her mother around the house (Gabi had a hip replacement and is having some trouble getting around). This has left me on my own since Sunday night. Not that I'm helpless, of course. What I've noticed, though, is that I tend to not sit still when left to my own devices. I'll put on a DVD, but then I'll walk around doing other things, like checking stuff on the computer, or going up to the kitchen or (with worrying frequency) standing watching the DVD instead of sitting. I guess we don't realise that when we live with someone, we structure so much of our day-to-day around that person. I think that because it is so rare for me to go an entire day (let alone three) without seeing Tanja, I automatically drop into short-attention-span-mode. Hence the standing. Also, since Tanja's been gone, the cat has been acting very needy. I think she missed Tanja too. Awww.

Last night I invited Craig, Adrian, Ted, Casey, and Craig's new girlfriend Mel over to watch movies. I also cooked, making beef ossobuco and managing to get through the evening without stressing out too much. I did, however, understand the plight of the host as I was running around on my feet for a solid hour getting everything ready. It was a good night, though.

Work is good today because I was asked to be an ATL (acting team leader) for today. That means keeping an eye on a team and helping them out. The best part though, is that the team has a retro theme to their area, which includes a TV and a Nintendo system. I've been playing the original Mario game all morning. Surprisingly, I still remember where all the secrets are and which bricks to hit. I mean it's been nearly 16 years since I played this. Ah, for the simple days when beating a boss just meant jumping over him and hitting the axe that broke the bridge under his feet.

That's all for this week. Ta ta!

-Lucas"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Updated: Marathon Men

We had a fairly short marathon last night, involving MST3K (Pod People, The Movie, & Cave Dwellers) and RiffTrax (Jurassic Park). Check it out. Adrian brought his eeePC and we blogged from the couch, without wires!

My head hurts a little today.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sensory cocktails?

Strange, but interesting.

Check it out.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Maiden Voyage (reposted from The Lucas Letters)

"Dear All and Sundry Family Members:

So this is my new blog. I hope it'll be a way for me to keep in touch with you all while saving on postage. No, of course it's not that. I think it's more that with emails, it's easy to say "I'll answer that tomorrow." and tomorrow becomes a week. If I can stick to this, I'll be updating at least once a week. I've even rigged it so I can update from work, that way using time when I technically should be working.

So what have I been up to? Well, today was actually a pretty big day, because Tanja and I went to the registry and officially stated our intentions to get married. You have to do that at least a month and a day before you plan to, I'm assuming to put a handle on the Britney-Spears-style-52-hour marriages. After standing in five lines and holding several tickets, we spoke to the right people and it's settled: we're getting married. Tanja even sprung on me that she's decided to take my last name. She'll be Tanja Brown. Which is nice. :)

Work has been, well, work. People call in and give me a piece of their minds about their internet bill and I try and make them stop shouting long enough for me to fix their problems. Things have been extra-stressful because they introduced a new computer program that's meant to "solve all our problems". This of course means that it causes a whole new set of problems itself. It also means that none of us are sure what we're doing half the time. The last couple of days have been nice, though, because I've been able to do back-of-house work. That means nobody calling, just me going through orders and fixing them.

Tonight I had my hands full with our new cordless phone and the programming thereof. Originally Tanja bought it last week, but got it all the way home only to realize there weren't any batteries in the box. So I dragged it back after the marriage place but before work and got it replaced. Now we have an inbuilt answering machine that says our names instead of the robot one Dad hates.

Well, I'll keep this post short, as I'm tired, so until next time.

-Lucas"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Alright, fine.

I got an email from my father today. He rather abruptly accused me of cutting myself off from my family in Canada. His example was that my little sister had sent me an email last week and I had not, as of yet, responded. He also said that my responses to anyone's emails were sporadic at best.
 
To be frank, he was mad, and he was a bit rude about it, saying that I was basically saying "fuck you" to my family.
 
This is not the case. I wrote him a calm email back.
 
His email gave me an idea that I stewed over all the way to work. The idea started as a mailing list and then evolved into a new Blog. Letters. A weekly-updated blog, written in a letter format, detailing all the ins and outs of my life.
 
They want me to share? I'll share.
 
The idea isn't completely spiteful. Part of the problem I have discussing the facets of my life with my family is that they're so far removed from my day-to-day that it would take too long to explain all the background needed for them to understand.  For example, if I'm happy that I've gotten back-of-house work all week, I'd have to explain what BOH was, how it relates to my job, why it's better than my usual job and yadda yadda yadda.  With this blog, I can readdress things, build on comments made in previous weeks, and generally let them into my world a bit. I'll add pictures, maps, the whole shebang. Plus, it'll be nice for my little sister.
 
Still, I think what he did was a bit mean. I mean, my contact with Dad has been the occasional phone call and email, most of which are about how great he's doing, which, on the phone, I'll congratulate him for and, in the email form, send a reply to. There will then be nothing for weeks. Then I'll get an email like today about how he's wondering if he's on "the bad list." It's frustrating.
 
So now, it'll be up to them to keep abreast of my day-to-day.
 
*sigh*
 
Sincerely, Internet's...
Lucas Brown
Now completely legal (in the states he's not banned)!
 

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Watch List

Tanja's been working on her big giant assignment for her law course today, so I was relegated to the spare room and spent the majority of the time that I wasn't working on my assignment reading scans of World War Hulk. I got all the way to the end of the scans, all the way to issue #35 when I realised something. WWH is 38 issues long. Bugger. I had to read the ending on the Wikipedia.

Oh, and I've been listening to the new Grates CD. It's musically more sophisticated that their debut. Plus, their sound is more coherent, but it's missing the wacky sense of oddball fun that was what initially attracted me to The Grates. Half the songs seem almost deadly earnest, making them sound like a junior Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I like it, but not as much as I hoped I would. Maybe it'll grow on me.

And I bought Bender's Big Score and The Beast With A Billion Backs on DVD today (NOT from Sanity, after their anti-High Fidelity Moment). Haven't watch TBWABB yet due to the Tanja assignment, but I will soon.

Oh, and thanks to my attempted download of the Rifftrax version, I now have the original Star Wars Holiday Special on my iPod. And there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth. Oh yea, oh yea.

And tomorrow is my first day on the phones in a month.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

So I was in Marrickville Metro getting groceries today.

I decided to stop by Sanity to see how much they were selling the new Grates and Beck CDs. I couldn't find either in the rock/pop section, so I went to the counter and asked. The emo-looking guy looked up Beck first, first looking confused as to who Beck was. He went and got the single copy they had, which was in the back of the store and scanned it to check the price. $29.95. "That's a bit much" says I. "Well," says he, "with stuff like this we only get like 3 copies and it's not worth marking down. It's not like we'd sell a lot of this." Tamping down my anger, I asked after the new Grates CD. "Oh, we have tons of that one." spake the tool, walking up to a huge promotions rack, where the Grates CD was selling for 22.95. "We never have a problem selling that, so it's on special. Isn't that nice?" I paid for the Grates CD and left.

It took me a while to realise why it made me mad. I was High Fidelity'd! For asking for BECK! What the fuck is this world coming to?!?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

ATLing

So I've been an ATL* for the past 3 weeks. I suppose it could be a rewarding experience, with a different team. The #1 job I've had for the last 3 weeks is just keeping them on the phones and not wandering around. I mean, you work in a call centre, people! How hard is it to sit at your desk and do your damn job?
 
I've given out numerous warnings, had meetings, created action plans and logged more jobs** than I can count. I even had a dream about logging jobs. I was sitting at the computer, logging like 15 jobs in a row and one of the team members kept asking me questions, and I, knowing it was a dream somehow, and angry at myself for having a dream where I do this, lept upon him and beat him bloody. let it be known that I knew it was a dream and I was trying to wake myself up. But it was very satisfying.
 
Does that make me a sociopath?
 
Anyway, I think i could be a Team Leader for realsies. Just not for this team. Also, I think the constant pressure to sell sell sell would get to me in under a week. I have a hard time motivating staff to sell, as I myself am not terribly motivated to sell. I'm happy to help my team, and solve their problems and develop them, but pushing them to sell seems beyond me. Everything I try seems so forced and cliched. Oh well.
 
We'll see.
 

*Acting Team Leader
**Logging jobs is tracking lates, sicks, exceptions from phone time, technical issues, and pretty much anything else out of the ordinary.
 
 
Sincerely, Internet's...
Lucas Brown
Now completely legal (in the states he's not banned)!
 

Monday, July 21, 2008

So tech guy came out.

Called twice, once from his office, once from exchange. Signs were leading towards faulty modem. He gets here. Runs a reset, no joy. He checks the line on his modem, gets full signal. Looks like faulty modem. He's just packing up when he looks at the splitter by the modem. He notices the splitter is closer to the modem than it is to the wall. He reads the writing.

"Hmmm," he says. "looks like your splitter is backwards."

I tell him it's always been like that, and it worked until last week. He flips it. Resets again.

It fuckin' works.

Apparently the backwards splitter meant I couldn't get line sync after a reset. Problem solved.

So. Wasn't the modem.

I'm happy the Net's back. What i'm NOT happy with is thus:

Why the bollocks couldn't PHONE tech support ask a few questions?!? Like "have you reset the modem?" Or ANYTHING?!?!?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Eerie.

I stepped out of a bottle shop at 11:20 this morning with a bottle of bourbon and a bottle of gin and was confronted by a blue-shirted, guitar-playing, hymn-singing, flag-waving crowd of World Youth Day pilgrims. I froze like a deer in the headlights as they passed around me. It was freakin' wierd.
 
Sincerely, Internet's...
Lucas Brown
Now completely legal (in the states he's not banned)!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

After the Dark Knight showing tonight, I was, as Tanja brought to my attention, a bit verbose. Upon reflecting, I realised I was way more than that. I was a talkative prat. I ran roughshod over other peoples' opinions and enjoyment of the film, so keen was I to share my views.

I have realised this is a habit of mine. Not just with films. I talk over people. I don't let them finish. I monopolise conversations. I am loud and occasionally obnoxious.

I am, in short a jerk.

What the hell is wrong with me?

I'm sorry.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Would you like to pre-order?

The album pre-order has always seemed like a sure thing to me.  I can understand why you would pre-order something from a store: quantities are limited. If the store is getting 20 copies of the album, you want to make sure you get one of those.  You want it right away. But I ask you this, readers...
 
What is the point of my pre-ordering album releases from iTunes?
 
I ask because I got an email offering to let me preorder the new Beck CD. I'm interested, as I like Beck. But why the hell would I pre-order? iTunes, being a digital medium, is never going to run out of stock. Of course, the one pre-order bonus they offered was that I could buy the whole album, then get one track right away, a month before release, but it was already out as a single.  Plus I'll get it anyway when the album comes out. I see why, from a business standpoint, they'd like to be able to show the bosses that yes, we've pre-sold this many albums, but still. Seems useless for me.
 
Sincerely, Internet's...
Lucas Brown
Now completely legal (in the states he's not banned)!
 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

So yeah.

So our home internetz ain't working as of 5:30 Thursday evening. We thought it was due to Microsoft update that clashed with the firewall, but it's not. That's only certain firewalls. Not ours. Our line is still programmed. The account is still active. We just can't get a connection. The DSL light on the modem is intermittedly flashing. Activity light is off. I'm going to have to do the unthinkable. I'm going to have to call Bigpond Technical Support. Last time I did, I got the kind of rube of an agent we all hate. Hopefully I can sound authoritative enough for him to actually attempt to fix my modem. Sigh. Why can't shit work?
 
Sincerely, Internet's...
Lucas Brown
Now completely legal (in the states he's not banned)!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Skills, Intuitive or Otherwise

Stuart McLean was talknig about intuitive skills on one of his radio broadcast. he defined an intuitive skill as something you can do without thinknig about it that has not been actively studied. His example of this was one I too am able to decide: he kicked a coin that was lying on the street. He was able to discern from the noise the coin made while skittering along the street what its denomination was. It was a dime. It sent my brain rocketing back to a video we watched in Health about the brain. In the video, the protagonist fell off her bike into mud. Elbows deep in the mud, her grasping fingers found something. Although it's usually not a good idea to look at something you've found in the mud, the girl knows without looking that it's a dollar coin. The video explains that being able to use tactile senses to identify common objects is a naturally occuring intuitive sense, such as when you reach into your pocket and know which coins to grab. Stuart also posits he has the intuitive ability to find the bathroom in any cafe without asking and being able to know which exit off the highway leads to a gas station. It got me thinking about my intuitive skills, and my skills in general:
 
Skills I think are intuitive:
  • The ability to find quiet spots in the city, such as parks, benches, backstreets, alternate routes and hidden cafes and bars. I blame this on having to walk to school for the better part of my academic career.
  • The ability to overidentify with songs, TV shows, books, or comic books of an emotional nature (especially the sad and bleak) to the point where they effect the rest of my day. I think of it as a contagious mood. Recent examples include reading Wanted and hating it, myself and the world (see previous entry); being at the gym and getting a few The Pogues/Eels-the-whole-world-is-down-on-me-songs on my iPod, and wanting to put the weights down and sit in a corner away fromeveryone; watching the first ten minutes of 28 Weeks Later and feeling bleak and hopeless; reading the ending of an Ultimate Spider-Man trade on the bus (the one where he and MJ plan their grown-up "special fancy date" which coincides with the same day Peter, while encountering Dr. Strange, is attacked by a demon, making him live out his worst fears, most of which involve MJ dying. He escapes, goes home, and sits by himself, shell-shocked, and won't even answer the door when MJ knocks, instead leaving her standing in the rain in her fancy dress, mumbling in a tiny voice "but this was our special date." Ouch.) and having it gut me for the rest of the day.
  • The ability to be a peacemaker. Adrian and Tanja were discussing this on Sunday. I have the uncanny ability to pick my moment and verbally dive between two people just before one of them is about to explode and inflict bodily harm.
  • The ability to find liquor stores that sell fancy imported beer.
  • The ability to, upon hearing a song, to recall details of a specific situation in which I heard that song before (not the first time, just one of the times). Example: I can hear "I Wish I Was Queer So I Could Get Chicks" by the Bloodhound Gang and am transported back to Grade 11, sitting on the floor of my room in the basement of the house in Southwood Park with my friend Jason, playing the snow level of GoldenEye on his N64 that he had brought over and set up on the floor of my room with miles of cords, while simultaneously talking on the phone with my friend Miranda who didn't know Jason at the time, but wanted to meet him. And that song was playing.
  • The ability to be liked by people I don't like. See a certain redheaded person at work (actually, quite a few people at work), a T-burger, an Outback Adventure Ken. I cut these people down on a regular basis, but they think I'm just kidding around. I'm usually not. But they think I'm their best friend.
  • Back rubs. I'm good at them. Don't ask me how.
Skills I'm intuitively BAD at: 
  • Shopping for non-standard hats such as caps or beanies/tuques. I will inevitably buy something that will tear, look bad, or inexplicable stop fitting and start giving me headaches no matter how much I adjust it.
  • In workplace situations, thinking I'm more popular than I actually am. This is becoming less of a problem lately as I'm getting more realistic, but at Insight, Borders and Salesforce, I've planned events where I've gotten 20-30 responses of "I'm definitely coming" and 4 or less people turn up. And being my overplanning self, I'm usually both overprepared (food and beverage-wise) and bitterly disappointed. Quick examples: Any Halloween party ever, my last few birthdays (despite my last one being great, Tanja invited way more people that didn't show and it was a damned surprise party).
  • Cooking from a cookbook. There are recipes that I can do, through practice, but as Tanja knows better than anyone, if I'm making something from a cookbook for the first time I will stress over every detail and declaim at least 3 times that "I've ruined it!" and she'll have to step in and save me from myself. Sometimes it turns out edible (Aussie Berko) sometimes not (Migas).
  • Shopping for casual purchases over $20 when I'm on my own. I can't just pick it up and buy it. I believe this also stems from when I was young. I used to hate picking Lego sets or toys from a range because I would feel bad for the ones I didn't pick. This has been replaced by finance-based neuroses. I have to wander around the store with it in my hand, or, in extreme cases, tack by it on the shelf 4 or 5 times while debating in my head (whether or not I can afford it this week, or whether Tanja will give me a serve for buying things I don't need, or if I'll really like it once I get it home, etc, etc) before finally biting the bullet and buying it while feeling not relieved, but slightly guilty. DVD box sets, clothes, shoes, books, and knickknacks are particularly susceptible to this. Basically anything I don't especially *need*.
A Skill That I'm Unsure Where To Put:
  • Recall. Memory. I used to joke that it was photographic, but really, it's not. It's just oddly good with some things, and dismal with others. I pretty much remember anything I write down, to the point where if I write myself a note, I'll remember without checking the note. I nearly remember things I read (more strongly if I read them on the computer), such as being able to recite the history of nearly every Marvel comics character after reading the entirety of Mutatis Mutandis. I can go through entire swathes of movie quotes, especially if they're conversations between characters. But if Tanja tells me to hang the laundry out before I leave, I can forget absolutely until she mentions it. I lose my glasses/phone/iPod in a empty room. I can remember, repeat and write down phone/account numbers on the fly, no matter how fast someone says them to me, but I can't remember how many days ago I did something(hence my frequent use of the very Canadian phrase "the other day") or a person's name after they introduce themselves.
 
So yeah.
 
Sincerely, Internet's...
Lucas Brown
Now completely legal (in the states he's not banned)!
 

I have a new site to be hooked on.

It's a true Hydra site in that upon reading it, you end up (while reading) opening up 15 other windows to check later. This is where I started. Fans of Transformers, Buffy, Angel, Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, The Simpsons, anime, professional wrestling and any other nerdcore niche will love this. Just go read.

Yesterday at lunch and last night I lost an hour to this page without meaning to. It sucks you in, man!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Carnie Fight Near Miss

So there's this house that's on my way to work. For the last week it's had a pile-o-stuff in it's front yard, near the sidewalk. Several boxes of CDs, twice that of piled books, a TV, a VCR, a broken bookcase, and 5 or six garbage bags. It basically looks like they've laid things out for the council to pick up, but have left them for the usual Newtown Removalist Group, ie passerby to pick up if they want. I've had my eye on the CDs section of this pile for a while. I pass it at least 4 times a day (to and from the gym, and to and from work).  Today, on the way back from the gym, I made my move. I began sorting through the CDs, crouching down to look through the boxes. I've been looking for about 5 minutes, when I hear the door open. There stands a pissed-off looking woman. The following conversation ensues, with her tone angry and insulted and my tone confused and wary:
Her: "What do you think you're doing?"
Me: "Oh, I was just having a look. Was I-"
"You could have knocked on the door! You've got a nerve just pawing through!"
"Uh, ok. I just thought, I mean this stuff's been here for a week, and I-"
"Well, you could have knocked!"
"Uh, ok, sorry, I mean, if this stuff not for the taking, I'll go. I'll just leave it-"
"IT'S JUST RUDE!"
"...Well-"
"These things ARE for the taking, but you should have knocked on the door!"
"Okay. I'm sorry."
"Well?"
"I said I'm sorry."
*she goes back inside*
 
So I grabbed the CDs I had picked out and went home. At first I was embarrassed, but as I got closer to home, I got angrier. I mean, if these things were so bloody precious to her, maybe she shouldn't have left them outside, when it's rained several times in the past week.  So I submitted the issue to several people at work. Marty thought that due to it being on her "verge", then I probably should have, but he agreed she overreacted.  Fair enough, but geez.
 
Sincerely, Internet's...
Lucas Brown
Now completely legal (in the states he's not banned)!