Thursday, 19 November 2015

Note to self: Don't put the toothpaste next to the zinc cream

I had one of those experiences that comes to those with a somewhat distracted and always rapidly spinning mind.
I am currently researching an article on the steel industry in China, and the slow down of this industry and its therefore knock on effects for the Australian iron ore and metallurgical coal industry.
These articles for the eight of you who read them regularly are full of complex mathematics to do with export tonnages and percentile decline ratios and the like.
Thus whenever I am in the middle of working one of these articles up I am constantly doing mental arithmetic in my head.
Indeed once while out cycling I calculated to plus or minus one percent the entire fugitive emissions of the Queensland gas fields, involving 26,000 wells and metres cubed flow rates per day, month and year, and all the rest of it.
I guess I am a maths nerd these days, anyway I enjoy it, though clearly it is not for everyone.
In fact having just written that, I now have an answer for the literally countless people who constantly tell me to go to Vipassana.
For those who don't know Vipassana is silent meditation, you can go for one, three or a heavy commitment of ten days.
Now I have no objection to anyone else going, but I do get annoyed beyond belief by the comet tail length trail of people who tell me to go.
They usually do this if I make the mistake of mentioning that I am unhappy and my traumatic childhood is the root cause of the current discontent.
Invariably the person then says: "You know what you should do? Go to Vipassana."
To which I have to choke back the comment: "Well you know what you should do? Shut the fuck up before you've got no teeth."
Now the reason I say this is because Vipassana is a great thing for some, but not all. For me it is clearly not the right thing because as a child, my parents refused me a voice.
I was never allowed to state my case of innocence in the latest thing me or my brothers were blamed for.
Thus, clearly, wilfully signing up to have no voice, is not something that a) is right for me and b) I am EVER going to do.
Anyway I mention that because in writing above I finally realised I have an answer for the people who constantly tell me to go to Vipassana.
Which is I am going home to do my own version of silent meditation, meaning sitting quietly and doing a lot of fiendishly complex sums in my head.
This invariably works for me and sometimes I look up from my sums and realised that evening has now fallen or that I am twenty kilometres further along my bike ride than when I last took notice of the surroundings.
However the down side of this furious internal calculation is that I often don't take adequate notice of what I am doing.
This had some ramification recently when I turned the water on to do the washing up, got distracted by the rush of mathematical thoughts blowing through my skull and when I finally thought to myself: 'What is that water trickling noise?' and noticed I'd left the water on, the sink had now overflowed onto the kitchen floor and a sort mini-Matterhorn of foamy suds had built up in the sink.
And likewise when I went to clean my teeth last night.
With my head calculating that an increased use of scrap steel in Chinese smelters would see the consumption of coking coal in China fall from 600 million tonnes to 530 million, I put the toothpaste on the brush and then put it in my mouth
Thankfully I immediately registered that something was amiss, and that my normally minty tooth gel tasted like....., well, not minty that's for sure.
It was kind of a burning industrial sort of taste, so I spat it out and looked down at the little shelf next to the sink.
Sure enough, in my distraction I had put the zinc cream on my tooth brush.
Problem rectified, I put the correct paste on the brush and gave the dontics are good going over.
Then once I'd cleaned my teeth I moved the zinc cream and toothpaste to the farther ends of the shelf in the hope that I wouldn't make the same mistake again.
On the topic, and for those who have a sporting background, or indeed are not as young as you used to be in the lumbar area, and I'm in both those camps, hear this.
There is a worthy truism for the change room: whether male of female, make sure you urinate before you rub the Dencorub on.
I don't think I need to explain why.
Final note from me on doing things when distracted and because it allows me to put in this nice picture of the blossoms of spring on the street where I used to live.
When I was living in Vancouver, I moved into, now that I look back on it, my first place where I lived alone.
My friend Dean from Vancouver went to California for the summer, riding his bike with his friend from Germany Tomas.
As such he asked me if I would like to live in his place for the summer, pay the rent and keep it warm for him.
And believe me, when it comes to Canada, the expression 'keeping it warm' has real relevance.
So I accepted with alacrity and moved my backpack worth of possessions in in one car trip.
Dean's apartment was on West Fourth avenue, the heart of the hippy district, somewhat like the west end of Brisbane or Newtown in Sydney.
It was a great location, and, again looking back, I see that it was another time I was really happy.
I walked to my work, a few blocks down West Fourth at Greenpeace, I drank in the local pubs with my best friend Sean from Toronto, and generally had a great time.
It was the first time I lived alone, no one was there telling me to clean up, no one else could tell me what time to go to bed, it was great.
Also, the apartment was part of a complex, so if you wished for company you could walk along the external hallway and visit with some of the other people in the complex.
The apartment itself was a bedsit comprising two rooms.
There was a bathroom and one other room which was a kitchen and living and bedroom all in one.
As such space was at a premium.
So it was that one night I went to make  a meal including eggs. (which I still ate at the time, I'm a near vegan now).
So I got out the fry pan and poured in some "olive oil" and then while waiting for the oil to heat up, I went to the fridge and got out the eggs.
When I came back to the stove, I looked down and saw a white boiling morass of bubbles.
I stared for some moments, and such a callow youth was I (22 years old) my first ludicrous thought was; 'gee Canadian Olive Oil sure behaves differently to the Australian stuff'.
Then I looked back to the shelf to check the ingredients list on the olive oil in case Canadian Oil contained kryptonite of something like when I discovered the problem.
I kept all my kitchen things on the same shelf and without thinking I had picked up the dish washing detergent which rested on the shelf next to the oil.
I can honestly say that I was (and possibly am) such a domestic ignoramus that I nearly went ahead and cooked my eggs anyway, thinking this was just another new experience for an Australian in Canada, getting used to oil that bubbled when cooked.
If so I would no doubt have eaten the first mouthful and mentally remarked: 'gee Canadian chickens must get washed thoroughly and often'.
I have recreated the suds oil experience ere for you.
I'm sure you all have your own experiences of things that happened when not paying attention.
A common one is people who have driven the same route for years tween work and home.
Then they change jobs or move house, and for some weeks after the change, you have to constantly focus on remembering to drive to the new correct location.
Else, you could drive into the car park at your old work one morning and an old work colleague would come up to you and say: "I thought you quit?"
Another one that I can surely attest to from my drinking and smoking days is the regular occurrence late, late on at a good party.
You pick up the can of beer you thought you were drinking and take a swig, thence to discover that there is a cigarette butt in it.
And so the lesson at the end of the day out of all this is that whatever you are doing remember to stay focuss....., oh look, that dog's got a puffy tail.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

But then it turns out I screw up badly when sober as well

This New Year I will have been off the sauce (alcohol) for three years.
It's been, as these things always are, quite a journey, and as I contemplated the three year marker it sent me into a contemplative mood.
What, if anything, have I learned?
What, if anything, do any of us learn? Whether going through the recovery path or not?
So here today I set out to fail to answer all and any of those questions, as no one really can.
So first thing is I remember reading once some intelligent thinker on the human condition pointing out that 'you can't know someone else as well as you know yourself, and none of us know ourselves very well'.
I mention that because I can't answer for anyone else here.
There are some elements of the recovery path that are common to all, and there are many that are individual to you.
Much like waves, to bring in a surfing analogy.
At a given break every wave is the same, yet each wave is individually different as only a chaos theory system can be.
Apart from surfing and waves being an analogy for the complexities of the human brain system, it allows me to bring in a picture to head the blog of a wonder wave in Mentawai.This island chain off Indonesia is considered the Disneyland of surfing, the waves are that good, and I think you can see that here in the picture.
Anyway, back to recovery.
As I look back down the gun barrel of my personal history, I see a frankly chaotic life liberally bespattered with bad decisions and screw-ups, all my own fault.
For the longest time I tried to blame things that went wrong in my life on someone else, most commonly the boss at wherever I was working at the time.
Australian as that is, to blame the boss for everything, it is clearly not the case in actuality.
Close upon the heels of that would be blaming my parents, which while richly deserved, clearly can't answer to the sheer volumetric analysis of the times I screwed up.
All my errors were of my own making, and I don't know if this is blaming someone else' by extension, but if it wasn't someone else's fault, then I invariably put the blame down to alcohol, and being drunk when I did my latest civic atrocity.
However,and here 200 words in we get to the nub of this, now that I have been sober two and three quarter years, I discover I am screwing up just as badly and as often, and now I can no longer blame alcohol for it.

Love Gone Wrong

I am single now, at the age of fifty, and here again I have only myself to blame.
I fell in love at least twice in my life.
Once the woman in question left me, reported numerously here in the blog by me. She was the woman from California who went off with another man. So broken up was I by this that I nearly could not stop drinking long enough to come home to Sydney from California.
Indeed but for some superb self-control for four hours one Sunday in San Francisco, I would still be living there today, broke and on the streets no doubt.
But the other time love found me ranks as - even for me - the biggest mistake of my life.
It was the mid-nineties in bohemian Newtown in  Sydney when I met her, her name was Susan, and this name is relevant believe me.
I had not long finished teachers' college at Sydney Uni and there I formed a terrific relationship with an Art teacher student named Siobhan.
However not long into our relationship the travel bug caught me again and I headed to the United Kingdom for some more travel.
NB: here again we see the colossal nature of my screwing up, I dumped a fantastic girl whom I was having a fantastic relationship with in fantastic sun-drenched Sydney, to go to depressing England and no one. Good job Lachlan you moron.
Anyway, upon my return from the UK, I became friends with Siobhan and we formed a new friend relationship.
One of the few mature things I ever did in my life.
So one week Siobhan and I were speaking on the phone and she said she was going to a party in Darlinghurst on Saturday night held by one of her friends from art college, Georgia.
I was doing nothing, and so accepted her invite to go.
There I mingled with the very arty crown, and we had a good time.
Toward the end of the evening I struck up a conversation with an attractive woman named Susan.
She was really nice, intelligent sharp but my initial thoughts were she wasn't really my type as she had a tattoo on her left breast of Da Vinci's perfectly proportioned man.
If sounds weird, it was, and is.
It was some thought of throwback to my hopelessly white bread middle class upbringing, in which my parents taught me that only the working class and other undesirables had tattoos.
However thankfully I was able to overcome the voices of my parents screaming in my head, and I got Susan's phone number.
This was in the days before mobile phones were at saturation levels and people still wrote things down with a pen on a piece of paper.
However when it came time for all of us to be thrown out into the night by the publican, neither Susan or I could lay hands on a pen.
So she ferreted in her bag and found some lipstick, then wrote her name and number on a pub coaster in lippy.
[Sidebar: I should add, putting her name on there was quite important as later on in that era, when my drinking was really out of control, I would quite often find a hastily scrawled phone number in the pocket of my jeans on a Sunday morning. This would lead me to stand catatonically in my bedroom in the Sunday morning sun while I tried frantically to piece the night before together and in vain try to remember where and how I had got this phone number].
So Susan wrote her number down in lipstick a precursor for the quirkily brilliant relationship we then enjoyed.
I rang her a few days later and we went out the next Friday, things went well, and we began a relationship.
We went to the movies, we went to the pub, we played pool, we went to parties. It was great.
But then the axe fell.
After about a month I realised I was falling in love/already in love with this woman.
What's more, I could see she was falling in love with me.
And so I broke up with her like the coward I was/am.
Looked at it dispassionately no one, including me, can understand what led me to this decision.
I loved her, she loved me, the relationship was great, what's the problem?
However of course it was that old black magic of my parents appalling upbringing of me.
Having deemed me unlovable, forever and incontrovertibly, I had accepted this fully, and it now began to colour all my life choices.
In this case, my logic(?) went like this. I am unlovable (thanks mom and dad), she loves me, therefore she, Susan, must be up to something underhanded.
So I cut and ran.
Stephanie Dowrick in her great book Intimacy and Solitude made what I thought was a very good point when she said: "Men almost always leave a relationship to go to another one, rarely to men leave a relationship to go nowhere."
I agree with that in general, and once more this lunacy of breaking up with a great woman who loved me, to go nowhere, shows how bizarre my behaviour was.
So then I moved into a kind of netherworld in which my drinking already at binge levels from Thursday to Sunday, took on the more sinister overtones of full-blown alcoholism.
I had proved my parents right that I was unlovable by sabotaging all the good relationships I ever had, and thus was now doomed to walk the Earth alone and drunk like a kind of alcoholic Ancient Mariner.
About six months after this break up I began to realise my mistake and tried to call Susan and see if things could be salvaged at this late date.
However when I rang the number which I read from the coaster still stuck to my wall, written in lipstick, I learned that Susan and her flatmates,Dan and Tina had moved out, and the number was no longer connected.
So then I thought well I'll look her up on directory inquiries.
Again for those of the younger set, if any, once upon a time if you didn't know someone's phone number you could ring the phone company and ask for the number. (just another little historical vignette there).
Anyway, I went to do that, and suddenly it hit me that after our month long brilliant, passionate and intense relationship, I didn't know Susan's last name.
Some have said to that when I tell them, Mariner-like, of this relationship: "Well you can't have really loved her if you never knew her last name".
However I counter that by saying well what's in a name anyway?
This point was made in the pretty bad really, but had lots of nakedness movie of the eigties Summer Lovers.
Which I bring in here as a reference, but also to get another picture on board to break up the thousands of words of pictureless text.
The darker haired woman goes to leave the three person relationship, and the guy, naturally enough, asks her not to.
She says: "you think you know me?"
He replies; "yes."
And she says: "What's my last name?"
Which he doesn't know.
Anyway, Susan was gone from my life forever know, and I never knew her last name.
Final note on the darkness that surrounded this end of my dreams of happiness came some years later.
After I had moved to Byron (2006) I decided to make one last effort to contact Susan again.
So I put an ad in the paper in the personal section.
And I'm sure you can guess what I wrote: "Desperately Seeking Susan".
In the text, not knowing Susan's last name, I put in what I knew about here then, 'Susan you used to live with Dan and Tink (Tina's nickname), breaking up with you was the worst decision I ever made, please call Lachlan' and added my phone number.
No response of course, but in the end, as stated, there is no one to blame but myself.
The past is indeed another country, we did things differently there.
So coming back forward to the present day, I don't drink any more or smoke pot in the same copious quantities I did back then, yet the mistakes still come think and fast.
Clearly none of us are perfect, and we all make mistakes.
I'd like to think in the end though that even if I'm still screwing up at least it's not to the levels it was in the drinking days.
My friend Phil (Philby by nickname) worked for a bank and said to me one day; "I'm a disgrace to the bank really, I have no savings but plenty of stories".
I'm much the same, in the course of a long and chaotic life I am now fifty with no savings, broke and (largely) alone but with a vast bank of stories.
However the friends I do have now are at least long term as I've forged those friendships while sober.
This does make a difference I can assure you.
And thus perhaps what I have learned after all of that is that the way to have relationships that last is to not just cut and run the moment one single tiny thing goes wrong.
So maybe after all that I have learned something after all.
Famous Victorian beauty Lola Montez famously said: "I want to live before I die."
And that is the best advice of all.
Don't live your life, as I have done, by constantly regretting mistakes made in the past.
But also be aware that Lola Montez died of syphilis, and so bring a modicum of caution to your living as well.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

The heat IS on

When I was a testosterone fuelled teenager, first getting into fangled music that my parents had
banned me from listening to, I really liked a song by Glen Frey, of The Eagles fame, The Heat is On.
Some song of the streets of LA, released in 1984, and like most younger folk, I didn't pay too much attention to the lyrics.
However a short time later I began work for Greenpeace in Canada, and one of our bimonthly magazines, was headlined 'The Heat is On'.
I read the cover story with interest, and it was the first scientific examination that I ever read of the phenomenon we now call global warming.
As I read saucer-eyed of the threat facing our very existence as humans with a viable biosphere on this planet, Glen's song lyrics came back to me, and as I put down the magazine, I remember thinking then, 'well you got that right Glen, the heat is indeed on'.
Now that magazine come out in 1989, and I mention that because one thing that never fails to fire my rockets these days is that we are still having to argue about it.
Global warming is real, it exists.
Only the weak, the greedy, the foolish and the ignorant are still trying to push the climate denialism wheelbarrow.
I find it immensely frustrating that there are still fucking idiots on this Earth trying to claim global warming does not exist.
I find it difficult to get my head around their thought processes, such as they are.
I think at first the climate denialists were hoping that if they held out long enough that suddenly the 97% of scientists who held consensus that global warming was real would suddenly announce that 'Oh sorry, we made a mistake, global warming isn't real, the Ga-billions of tonnes of coal we are burning is having no affect whatsoever on the planet's climate'.
However as the years went by, the weak the foolish and the ignorant slowly had to understand that the scientists weren't wrong, and in fact, quite the reverse, every year that went by only added more fuel to the global-warming-is-real fire [pun intended].
So then I believe the weak, the foolish and the ignorant had a change of tactic.
Instead of holding out for the day when the scientists would be shown to be wrong, they underwent a private conversion, and began....., well not believing in it, but understanding that some millions of others believed in it.
Thus they decided to try things anew, instead of waiting for a reversal in thought, they instead began, or rather continued, frantic delaying tactics, using climate criminal organisations like the IPA, fuelled by the Koch Brothers in the US particularly.
Now they would use the delaying tactic to frantically sell every last atom of carbon they could before the taps got turned off.
Clearly the Australian federal government are a big part of this, arch-lovers of coal as they are.
Plus all the minerals councils of course, and various bodies and individuals across the world, all involved with the promotion of climate denialism to make money.
The problem with that is that to achieve this farcical attempt to keep mining coal and gas up to the end, you have to have an ignorant populace.
And these days, clearly, the populace is anything but that.
With thanks to great organisations like, for instance, the Climate Council, here in Australia, we are anything but ill-informed.
So the heat IS on, and it's up to Australians to finally start closing coal mines and gas fields.
If you wish to keep coal mines open, then you are wilfully admitting you are weak, foolish, and/or ignorant, not to mention greedy.
So who's first for the chop?
In the field of coal, Whitehaven are most likely, this is the organisation that with malice aforethought set out to destroy Leard Forest in the far north-west of NSW.
To say this was/is an act of the most appalling barbarism barely hints at the scale.
Leard Forest is/was the last remaining White Box Gum Grassy Woodland in good order on this Earth.
Soon it will be gone, and then we will be left with the appalling realisation that we let Paul Flynn, CEO of Whitehaven, and his evil empire make an eco-system extinct to mine coal for five years then go broke.
I find it difficult to even write of this heart ache without the tears prickling the backs of the eyes.
Such destruction for no reason.
Anyway Whitehaven are carrying a billion dollars in debt, and their market cap is less than than 952 million, and so they are unlikely to last.
Furthermore, the production costs of thermal coal in Australia are now down at US$57, while the coal price is at US$62, so they are making US$5(A$7) per tonne.
As Maules Creek is rated a ten million tonne a year operation this mean they are making US$50 million a year, and so at this rate it will take Whitehaven 20 years to even clear their debt, and of course by that time Leard Forest will be long gone.
Destroyed utterly and forever.
As I've written elsewhere in social media, it is just so wrong that we have have to rely on companies going broke to have the environment protected.
As for the world of gas, we are a little closer there to a couple of other evil companies, Santos and Origin, having the receivers walk in their front doors.
Santos particularly are down to the wire all right.
Santos are carrying a debt load of $9 billion, and have a market cap of $4.5 billion.
So buckling under a debt load, they then began selling their LNG gas from their GLNG plant in Gladstone Queensland into a depressed market with low prices and tepid to limp demand.
Santos will struggle to clear their debt in this environment and may end up selling this Gladstone plant.
Origin face a very similar problem, starting export form their gas plant with limp demand. They are in a similar financial position as Santos however, carrying $12 billion in debt with a market cap of $6.8 billion.
So once again we hope for both Santos and Origin to go bankrupt.
Bankruptcy for both these companies would be a good thing for Australia, all Australians.
Here for instance is just some of the pollution being released by Santos from their Gladstone plant.
Additionally, the destruction of the Bowen  Basin and the Darling Downs is ongoing and endemic, so two of the big three CSG companies in Queensland going bankrupt is a good thing for Australia, make no bones about that.
It's a long and tiring fight with no end in sight anywhere soon.
The federal government, now under Malcolm Turnbull, love coal and gas as much as the previous one of that utter fucking shit bag Tony Abbott.
The Queensland state government of Anna Palaszczuk is fully in love with coal and gas, and are in reality little better than Lawrence Springbourg.
The NSW government of Mike Baird are so bad I run out of descriptors trying to describe the depths of their depravity.
Having said all that, I still feel we, the good gang, are gonna win.
Coal is clearly finished, and the climate denialists can try all they like, but the market has already spoken, and the smart money is getting out.
This is probably best exemplified by Peabody Energy.
Mostly when you come to the end of days for an industry, it is the biggest companies that survive longest.
So with coal, if that is indeed the case, then they are finished as the biggest of all, Peabody, has lost 90-98% of its value over the last five years.
What went wrong?
Well basically the price of thermal coal tanked in a carbon sensitive world, and so Peabody, and all the other coal holes going around, began shedding shareholders, and eventually they are down to where they are now.
One short step from having the receivers called.
If Peabody goes, that is the end for US coal.
This was best exemplified I feel in the movie Other People's Money with Danny DeVito and Bridget Fonda. (also a thin excuse to bring in a new kind of picture).

In the movie Danny plays a liquidator. He goes around finding companies with a healthy balance sheet and then strips them of their tangiable saleable assets, sells those, and makes a shedload of money.
The plot centres upon a company from New England, Maine I believe, called New England Wire and Cable (NEWaC).
Larry sees they have no debt and moves in to strip the company.
Bridget, the niece of the CEO, played by Gregory Peck, is a lawyer in New York, and she begins working to attempt to stop the takeover by Danny Devito.
Okay, so it comes to the pinnacle of tension on the movie, with the annual general meeting of New England Wire and Cable.
Gregory Peck gets up and gives his speech, mentioning all the people who will be put out of work If NEWaC is bought by Larry and stripped of its assets.
He talks of how it's a family business and how its been the heart of the town for seventy years.
As he sits down, you the viewer, are completely on his side, and totally wish for the shareholders to vote against the sale of the company to the nasty boy Danny DeVito.
Danny DeVito gets up to make his speech and he then makes this telling point.
Says Larry the Liquidator that it is not him that is going to kill NEWaC, but fibre optics. While they make wire and cable, no one uses their product anymore. Then he adds this biter:
"You know, at one time there must've been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I'll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company? You invested in a business and this business is dead."
And so it goes with Peabody, and all the coal companies, they are the buggy whip manufacturers of the new age.
And soon they will all be gone, and the best thing you can do if you are an investor is make sure that you are not the last shareholder out the door.
As for gas, the gas companies have a newer product, but are likewise already finished, and that's largely due to the dramatically, nay drastic reduction in the cost of renewables.
You can read more here in this article.
However the salient points are that gas attempted to position itself as the transition fuel, away from coal via gas.
"We are cleaner" said gas.
India's PM Narendra Modi opens a solar farm.
Incorrect, sadly for gas.
They are no cleaner, and as a Facebook friend David Paull pointed out: "Gas as a transition fuel is the biggest con ever".
It certainly is a con, and the peak gas hole body in Australia, APPEA, have attempted to exploit this fallacious view unmercifully.
However the problem is that now the ponzi scheme that CSG-to-LNG is is being exposed, and as mentioned above Santos and Origin, as two examples, are going to the wall.
It is also becoming clear that gas is only acceptable as a transition, cleaner fuel, if they are no alternatives.
Well now there are.
Renewables have come down in price, and they are 100% cleaner than gas and coal.
This is relevant because the last bastion of coal, on Earth, is Asia, particularly China, and then India.
While they have been planning more coal fired power stations, I am now of the opinion that they will never be built.
The reason being that the price of renewables is now homing in on coal - currently the cheapest form of electricity generation - and soon the governments of China and India, will realise that rather than build a new coal power station, they might as well build a new renewable power station.
A BLEVE - boiling liquid expanding vapour explosion.
One of the less attractive aspects of gas as a fuel.
This is already underway, and with the ongoing price of renewable dropping, we will see more and more renewable built with sanskrit and cantonese writing on the side.
So gas is already history, its dangerous to transport, releases huge amounts of CO2, and is already no longer viable as a transition fuel as renewable power has caught up with it on price.
So there you have it, if you still support coal and/or gas, you are weak, ignorant and foolish.
I can only hope you wake up to yourself before life on this planet becomes unvaible.
As Glen Frey told us 2000 words ago.
The heat IS on.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

It's good to be out of there!

First blog back after a long break.
I made a promise to avid fan Gloria that once I wasn't as busy saving the damn world from the frankly evil clutches of Tony Abbott I would start the blog up again, and so here we are.
The headline, and associated picture come from the animated movie Aladdin, starring Robin Williams, now sadly lost to us through depression.
When first released from the lamp in the movie by Aladdin, the genie played by Williams emerges at pace and exclaims 'IT'S GOOD TO BE OUT OF THERE'.
And I can express the exact same emotion now that Tony Abbott is no longer the prime minister of Australia.
Man, that was a bad two years.
My concerns have always been first and foremost for the environment, starting at age 7 with a donation to National Parks following descent into tears after watching that great Dr Suess cartoon, The Lorax.
So I went to uni and studied science, zoology and chemistry, then my first job out of uni was with Greenpeace in Vancouver, then in Sydney.
So environment has always been a consideration for me, and so the past years of Abbott have been very stressful.
I think already the word is going around confirming that Tony Abbott is the worst PM ever in Australian history, and man do I agree with that.
Again, I can say from being up close and personal with it, that the worst, well among the worst, aspects of the Abbott government was his relentless war upon the environment.
The state of the art of environmental protest in this day is of course global warming, and no government on Earth did more to support the destruction of our atmosphere than Tony Bloody Abbott.
Abbott continually pleaded money as an excuse 'we must continue to mine and sell coal, else the country will go broke'.
This despite fact after fact after fact showed the opposite was true.
Supporting the environment with renewable energy created jobs and investment.
Coal mines led to massive health bills and environmental costs, which Abbott and his factotum of destruction, Greg Hunt the Minister for the Destruction of the Environment, wilfully blinded themselves from seeing.
The Climate and Health Alliance, for example, estimated that the global costs in health and environmental destruction from the coal being exported just from the Hunter Valley was costing US$26 billion a year.
It was a terrible time.
Additionally, it very quickly became apparent that Abbott and Hunt, and that wood louse Ian Macfarlane the Resources Minister, could see that the days of coal were rapidly coming to an end.
But did they accept this and move with the times? Did they make a smooth transition to a clean world with clean energy?
Did they bollocks.
They did the freakin' opposite.
They made a decision behind closed doors that the end was indeed coming so we better mine and sell every bloody molecule of carbon we can find before the global market turns the taps off.
An appallingly destructive and selfish attitude.
So Abbott is gone and not lamented and has been replaced by Mr Smooth Malcolm Turnbull.
Will he be better?
Hard to believe he could be worse.
I have thrown it around in the mind for a while, but just can't conceive of a scenario where he could be worse.
However my politically-astute Facebook friend John Lilley, did express misgivings, saying along the lines of 'Turnbull is a new front man for the same policies, but he's smarter and better able to manipulate'.
The Abbott government's plan is to see that
emissions like these from Hazelwood in  Victoria continue.
So true John.
However I have some hopes for Turnbull and they run along these lines.
Turnbull, as John says, IS smarter.
And a smart man like Turnbull will have seen that one of the things that made Abbott so unpopular was indeed his policies.
Thus we can have some hope that Turnbull will do some things differently from Tony Abbott.
Having said that, the signs aren't good in the environment sphere.
Turnbull has kept that utter fuckstick, Greg Hunt, as Environment minister.
Now Hunt was the architect of the Abbott government's so-called 'gift to the world' of Direct Action.
This "plan" would see Australia reduce its emissions by 5% on 2005 levels.
I won't bore you with the technicals, but to say this "plan" is a load of shit is if anything understating the bloody uselessness of the thing.
It will cost a fortune, won't work, and is simply a facade to pretend Australia is doing something about global warming.
Really this bloody plan is just in place to allow Australia to go on digging up bloody coal and selling it without interference from the world.
However divine retribution is coming for Australia in Paris.
The next climate change meeting is to be held there later this year, and Hunt will be showing his stupid embarrassing face there representing Australia.
He, and the now Turnbull government are gonna be mauled by the other countries there who are actually doing something about global warming.
And I can assure you I will be sitting up late to see Hunt get his comeuppance live.
So we'll wait and see how Turnbull goes, but those who care for the environment would be well advised to stay on the ramparts, on active watch, to ensure there is no continuation of the Abbott shitbaggery.

My anger management therapy is really pissing me off

Elsewhere, you may have seen this sentiment on a t-shirt or a cartoon:
Well I had my own version of that in the past week, when first my therapist, then my doctor, really hacked me off.
So the story goes like this.
I have been seeing a new therapist for my, sadly many, psychological issues.
He's been okay, but twice now he's made me quite angry, not maliciously, but by stumbling into an area of the inside of my head, that all are advised to stay well away from.
Both times the problem arose because he was (in my opinion) telling me how to think.
Now you can say what you like about me, but one thing I am is intelligent.
This is not meant to bragging in any fashion, it is simply the case.
Like most intelligent people, I have trouble fitting into societal thought norms.
Indeed, any who have read some or all of the 100,000 words I have put down in this blog can see I don't think much as normal, or I'm an utter whack-job to out it another way.
Anyway, I really don't like being told how to think, actually I don't think anyone does.
However, the point is, I particularly don't like being told I must use this or that psychological technique, and that will "cure" me of my psychological problems.
Indeed if I hear one more person say 'mindfulness' to me, there will be murder done.
So I left my last session with the therapist quite angry and getting angrier with every pedal stroke as I rode away.
After some thought, I decided that I was going to quit therapy. Clearly if I was going to therapy to learn to not be so angry, and the therapy was making me angry, then, just as clearly, we had a problem here.
At first I was just going to email my therapist and say it's all over, but then I realised, like Jerry and Elaine had discussed in Seinfeld, that I had to do a face to face breakup. I owed my therapist that, he was a good guy at the end of the day.
I just felt he was a little out of his depth with a nutter like me.

So I checked my files and realised I had run out of referrals.
To see a clinical psychologist on Medicare, you have to get a referral from your GP.
These come in blocks of six, and sure enough, the last session when I left angry was my sixth, and so, I had to go through the mill of seeing my doctor to get a new six-block referral to allow me to go back and say I was quitting therapy.
Such is life on the National health.
So I called my doctor's surgery and made an appointment.
Now my doctor, Mark, is a good guy, but a little disorganised.
However recently he succumbed to a debilitating neck injury, and has been off work for a long time, more than a year or so.
Thus I haven't been seeing him, but instead a rotating series of locums.
This has been okay in general, indeed the most recent locum, Brad, was as nutty as me, and so we got along like a house on fire.
Now one thing about going to the doctor at Mark's surgery was that they are always running late.
Now I can say always because, the first time I went there, the appointment was for two o'clock in the afternoon.
I was seen an hour late that day, so I quickly twigged that the better thing to do was to get the earliest possible appointment, and thus hope for that at least being on time.
So the next time I went there, I made an appointment for 8.30 in the morning.
And I was still seen 45 minutes late.
As I sat in the waiting room I wondered how can things be running late when the damn joint has only just opened.
However, the reason, I feel, that things are often behind, is that Mark is a good doctor, and thus many want to see him, since I don't have to go often, I could grant a little waiting time, as there were many who needed Mark's help.
So needing my referral I called up the surgery. When they answered I asked for an appointment, and the receptionist replied: 'Who do you normally see?'
I responded; 'I'm seeing Brad at the moment.'
She then replied: 'Oh, Brad's on leave till November, so do you mind seeing someone else?'
I replied: 'no, not at all, everyone I've seen there has been fine.'
'Okay,' she then said, 'I'll book you in with David, on Thursday.'
I said 'fine, and could I have the earliest appointment on Thursday please?'
She the checked her schedule and said: 'the earliest appointment is at 10.30, would that be okay?'
'Oh well,' I thought to myself, 'not brilliant, but that'll do'.
So I agreed to 10.30 on Thursday and then rang off.
Thursday came and I got round to the surgery ten minutes early, at 10.20.
I presented myself to the reception desk and said who I was, and the receptionist said: 'Thanks Lachlan, take a seat, David won't be long.'
So I sat in the waiting room, pulled out my phone and was idly scanning my facebook page to see what was going on, when a voice said: 'Lachlan?'
I looked up and it was the new doctor, he said: 'come on in.'
I quickly checked my phone and saw it was only 10.24, the first time ever I had been seen at that surgery early.
Spirits uplifted at this tiny little win for the day, I followed him into the surgery.
Well that spirit uplift disappeared almost immediately.
He asked me what I was after, and I said: 'I need a new referral to see my therapist.'
He nodded, and asked me why I was seeing a therapist, and was it effective.
Well I didn't really want to get into it too deeply, I simply wanted the form, so I replied: 'well I had a pretty terrible childhood, with angry abusive parents, and I'm slowly working through my anger at my parents with my therapist.'
Well then this doctor, gets on his high horse and starts telling me how to think.
I couldn't believe it.
I was only here for the damn form, I hadn't asked for a diagnosis.
So he launches in: 'you see Lachlan, only you are making yourself angry, you are choosing to be angry at your parents.'
I was gobsmacked.
'You don't know me.' I screamed silently within.
He went on: 'You see you don't really need to see a therapist, if you just choose not be angry anymore.'
He then continued in this vein for some time, making me angrier and angrier by the second.
I wanted to argue, in fact I wanted to tell him to shut the fuck up, but I was beholden to him as I needed the form to see my therapist.
So I sat there fuming while he grandiloquently went on with a simple formula for solving all my psychological issues.
My previous therapist had taken a year (15 odd hour long sessions) before she even began working with me directing my mind along new paths away from anger.
It was very effective, and she was, and is, a skilled therapist who understood how delicate the balance of the mind is.
My new therapist was making me angry by pushing me in new directions after only six sessions or so.
But even he was topped by this fucking poor excuse for a doctor who had the arrogance to try to tell me how to solve my problems after only knowing me for three minutes.
Eventually I got the form, and a new prescription for my anti-depressants, and boy would they now be working overtime, and then made my escape.
I think you'll understand here. Telling anyone they are choosing to be angry is a very, very dangerous and patronising thing to do.
Think back to the last time  you were really angry.
It is a whole-of body, vastly unpleasant experience.
The idea that you can suddenly switch it off, like flicking a light switch, is impossible for so many of us.
Maybe the Dalai Lama can do it, but for us mere mortals, consciously switching off red-raw anger is hardly possible, and if it is to be done, it can take days weeks or months.
So in the end I think you can all see the damn irony, if that's what it is, here.
I went to therapy to not be as angry any more.
I needed a form to see my therapist to break it off with him because he was making me angry.
I went to get the form from the doctor who made me angrier than that.
Therapists and doctors are supposed to make you feel better, but I'm now in the position where I have decided not to see my therapist, and this doctor, ever again.
And the reason is it's just no good for my health.

PS: In a funny way, the doctor was quite effective.
After thirty seconds of listening to him, I had forgotten my parents and now I was angry beyond measure at him.
PPS: I think now you can see why he was the only doctor to ever see me early at that surgery.
If all the other patients experience was like mine, he only ever sees people once, so has a thin caseload and can be on time.

As the comedic baddie in Johnny Dangerously constantly said people had done things to him 'once'.
Meaning that anyone who treated him badly got dealt with before there was a second time.

So I can paraphrase and say: 'that doctor made me angry...., ONCE'.
And I only ever saw that doctor, ONCE.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

This is just a conspiracy now

For all my female readers, here's Patrick Swayze's abs. 
I was watching the State of Origin rugby league last night, when to my considerable surprise a promo for the movie Point Break
came up.
I stared at the screen for a moment thinking 'why are they advertising that, it's been out for years'.
However then the realisation quickly came that this must be a remake.
So I quickly checked and learned that 'yes' they are remaking Point Break.
Now at this point the 'conspiracy' bit comes in, for as I stared at the screen I remember thinking, 'aw this is just out to make me feel old'.
For you see, Point Break, the original came out in 1991, thus for me, and I suspect those of you reading this of a similar vintage, that was just last year. (If you know what I mean.)
Thus to do the disturbing maths and discover that Point Break has been out for 25 years was indeed a bit of a shock.
So just to background that a bit, I am reminded of a friend I went to uni with, Magdi, an Australian of Egyptian background. Magdi studied maths, then left uni and got job at a school on Sydney's north shore.
He was telling me that at the start of the year, one of the first jobs for teachers was to make up the class rolls.
Like Motorcycle Boy (Mickey Rourke) I was making for the sea.
This he would do by asking all the students names, then entering that along with their address, parents' phone numbers, and date of birth in the register.
However, he was saying that he was perennially brought up short each year when the new intake would arrive and he would ask their date of birth, and the student would reply '1986' for instance.
Magdi was telling me, when the first student would say that, his immediate unspoken thought was, 'you're a liar, 1986 was just last year'.
But then he would do the maths, and sure enough a student born in 1986 would now be twelve years old, and due to enter high school.
And likewise I had a similar experience when doing a sports column recently. The column was about the slew of young female Asian golfers now playing on the professional circuit in the US.
The modern style of journalism is if you mention a name, you put a link on their name to their wikipedia page, or some other data source about that person.
So I wrote up the article and then went to link it, I found the wikipedia page of the golfer in question, Lydie Ko, then had the unholy consternation of seeing her date of birth was 1997.
"That can't be right," I sqwarked internally, "1997!!"
However sure enough, it was no misprint, indeed that's why I was writing about her, as she was playing in the US Open aged 17.
So rest assured, I felt old.
So returning to Point Break.
It is a great movie, and it particularly resonated with me, as I was just learning to surf at the time.
I grew up in the country and never really felt settled there. My childhood was very turbulent, with angry parents raging around the house destroying my childlike wonder at the life, so that's the main reason I was unhappy.
Gary Busey (l) in Big Wednesday.
But also, as I look back on that time, I realise that there was an undercurrent of feeling that I was simply in the wrong place.
Nothing you could put your finer on, just a barely discernible nibbling at the edges of consciousness that there was another place for me in this world.
I have no conscious recollection of having these overt thoughts of course, but from here I look back and can see that this was driving my life.
Funny how some things so overarchingly powerful in our lives can be so indiscernible.
Anyway, clearly I was, like Motorcycle Boy in Rumble Fish, making it to the ocean.
This I eventually did, and when studying my teaching diploma in 1991, I went on a holiday with my girlfriend at the time, Shivaun, and a good friend from college, Morsch, to Byron Bay, which would eventually become my home..
We had a great trip, and while there I went to surf school and had my first surf lessons.
I was lucky in that the conditions were perfect for learners, small, clean and crisp, and I had a just a great day.
I did several lessons that week, and came back to Sydney mad for surfing.
Thus when Point Break came out just a few weeks later, Shivaun and I went and saw it at the cinemas in George St Sydney.
A five foot wave, energy intensive all right.
The plot centres on Keanu Reeves and FBI agent, who is placed with the Los Angeles office, Bank Robbery section, and joins up with Gary Busey, an older agent, to try to finally nail a slickly perfect group of bank robbers, the Ex-Presidents, led by Patrick Swayze.
Keanu then has to learn to surf, as Busey suspects that the Ex-Presidents are surfers.
And boy did I understand what he went through, trying to learn surfing in and amongst a lot of aggressive experienced surfers.
However, Shivaun and I very much enjoyed it at the time, and it was only later that some of the subtler points were borne in upon me.
One was that I missed an oblique reference to the antecedents of surf movies, and indeed, once again I realised iIwas in the grandfather generation as far as this goes.
So just to explain that a bit.
Last year I did a blog on a similar theme, but regarding covers of songs.
A German guy, DJ Sammy, had come out with a cover of Boys of Summer. The problem with that was that, DJ Sammy had covered a version of the song by The Ataris, the Ataris in their turn, had covered the original version by Don Henley, of The Eagles.
So as far as that song went I was in the grandfather level of knowledge of the song's background.
Likewise, in Pont Break, Gary Busey is talking with Keanu, and they realise that one of them has to go and learn to surf.
Busey being older says, "Look hotshot, it's either you or me out there on the board, so I know who it's gonna be".
This was a reference to Busey's acting past, where he played an out of control madman on a seventies surf movie Big Wednesday.
The other part was it wasn't till later that I began to see the disconnect with reality of the surf scenes.
The main one being where Keanu and female lead, Lori Petty, are kissing on the ocean.
I can't find a picture of that actual scene (sorry), however the point I wish to make is this,the gang all go for a night surf, they all have a great time surfing five foot swell in the moonlight. eventually Swayze and his bank robbing mates get out and go for something to eat, while Petty and Reeves stay out there and talk, the kiss while on the sea.
Very romantic, however I can assure you of this.
Five foot of swell does not sound much, but it is an enormous amount of thundering water energy clattering you in every direction.
I can assure you that the few times I have been out there in a five foot swell, you do not have time, not that the opportunity ever arose for me, to stop and kiss lingeringly with a partner of your choice.
However, they had to put the movie plot together somehow, so I can be forgiving on that.
Anyway, the new movie is coming out and in the remake the bank robbers are extreme sportspeople.
I'm not sure if surfing is part of it, but probably so, as really surfing is the most mainstream of extreme sports.
Not sure if I'll go and see  the new Point Break as rarely can sequels match the original, but you never know.
So there you go, as Peter from Gardening Australia would say, that's your ration for the week.
I'm off now to take my new wetsuit for a spin on the, thankfully, much less than five foot swell here in the Bay today.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

What's that coming over the hill, is it a monster?

Link to the song.
Sorry I haven't written a blog for a while, but I've been sadly busy with my journalism work with
Independent Australia.
I say sadly not because I don't enjoy working there, but because my area is (mostly) energy and mining, and writing about this these days under the criminally lunatic and corrupt Abbott government is a very disheartening task.
Add to that the criminally insane and corrupt Baird government in NSW, and the sadly disappointing Palaszczuk government in Queensland, and you've got a recipe for stress.
Since I already have clinically diagnosed depression and anxiety disorder, I, and I'm sure the rest of you, hardly need the criminally lunatic governments of the land adding to our stress load.
However, as I contemplated the latest bloody lunacies of the Abbott lot, I was reminded of why I started the blog in the first place, which was to complain.
And since I haven't been doing it for a while, a few months worth of moaning has been backing up my system.
So, as usual, I will try to keep the complaining about the governments of the land to a barely controlled, volcanic minimum, and get back to writing the blog.
The title of the post comes from a song from a band called, as far as I can surmise, The Automatic, and there's a link to their clip on the Tube of You, as we old fogies call the fangled interweb and all that resides upon it.
I first encountered this song while watching the Tour De France, one of my great loves these days. SBS, whose coverage of this race is simply superb, would put apt songs over bits of significant race footage.
This song was played over a section of racing where a breakaway group had gone off the front of the pack early in the race, and had held out all day, but as the finish of the stage began to loom on the horizon the teams in the chasing pack got serious, stepped up the pace and began to eat up the intervening distance between themselves and the frantically racing breakaway.
When the pack came into site of the leaders it was on a long straight that began with a small hill, and the camera angle panned back from the leaders to show the top of the hill with the now menacing 100 strong rider pack bearing down on them.
It was a great piece of footage, and as ever these days, I knew instantly that I liked the song.
So what brought this to my mind was yesterday when I was out riding and I tripped the speed sign near the golf course, halfway along the flat sprint section that I use when coming home.
I was mightily impressed with myself as it meant that I had broken the town speed limit of 50kph (30mph).
The way the sign works is if you come past there in your car and you are doing more than fifty, then first the sign lights up recording your speed (mine was 53) then it says "Slow Down", then it changes to "check your speed".
I really wanted a photo of myself doing 53, so  had incontrovertible evidence, but by the time I got my camera organised, I only managed to snap the 'check your speed' bit (as you can see).
And before you all say it, no there were no cars immediately out of shot tripping the sign, which I am now claiming.
It was all me.
And quite frankly, I think I did pretty damn well to get the shot I did while humming through at 53kph and steering with one hand.
Of course I was clearly breaking the law by using my camera while handling a vehicle that was at the same time breaking the speed limit, so please don't share this post with anyone you know who is a copper.
Now 53 on the flat is pretty good for a weekend cyclist like myself, but just to give you some stats on real bike riders to put it into context.
The professionals in the Tour De France (TDF) for example, regularly average 40kph for four to six hours while traversing a stage of he race.
Please note that is the average.
My average speed for that time trial run is 30kph, with, as described above a max of 53.
The fastest ever recorded on a bike in the TDF was 110kph, downhill by Tor Hushovd. he was clearly in a hurry, but that gives you some idea.
On flat sprinting stages, those guys regularly do 80 kph when in need, and even on the final stage of the Tour, in Paris, up and down the Champs Elysees, they do 50k uphill and 60-70 down.
However, clearly I'm not them, but even so I felt 53k on the flat was pretty good for me.
I might add, there was an almighty tail wind that day as I came rattling home from Suffolk Park, and my huge wobbling posterior, acted as a near spinnaker to catch the wind and funnel me at speed through the section.
That day I did the hill ride which takes me up through the green hills to the south of Byron Bay. So beautiful up there, and the roads are barely fit for two laden donkeys to traverse at pace, but for the same reason there are few cars, and so things are relaxed up there.
At one point you can see the ocean in two directions, and all around is green, I tend to do a circuit, heading up Hayters Hill to the top, down through Cooper's Shoot, then along Midgen Flat Road, before rejoining the coast road for the run back in to Suffolk Park, then home into town.
Sometimes I go the other way, but that depends on the wind.
This day the wind was howling out of the south and so I knew that it was time for the return leg with the wind, and hopefully a new record time for me, which I achieved by a few tens of metres.

All of this cycling talk (sort of) brings me to a more general topic, which was brought on by having finally, and totally, there is no going back, retired from competitive soccer.
I'm fifty this year, and that was a part of it, but in the end I realised I just couldn't be bothered with all that immaturity any more.
I mention that as a sort of general topic, because, I suspect, those of you who do read the unexpurgated, unabridged and unadulterated rubbish that I chose to inflict on a long suffering reading public, are of similar middle age.
And the general bit seems to be that once you enter middle age, your life is all about what's the latest thing you've had to give up.
Now those of you who regularly read this rubbish on my part, will have already been saying, "Hmmm, this is unusual, Lock has brought us a good thirty paragraphs without mentioning The Simpsons." Well panic over, here is today's Simpsons reference.
in the episode where Granpa Simpson takes up with stone cold Hoochie, (Marge Simpson' words, not mine), Zelda, played by Olympia Dukakis, it turns out she is only consorting with him because he can drive a car.
Which he does, by borrowing Homer's.
However for various plot-related reasons he falls afoul of a group of Hispanic senior citizens gang members, Los Jaquitos.
Whose motto is that they refuse to go out and be seen by anyone who doesn't know what themed restaurant they have eaten at.
Anyway, the argument starts at the Quiki Mart, and one of the Jaquitos says with menace to Granpa Simpson, "I will cut you, as I have cut sodium out of my diet".
And thus back to the rest of us in middle age, whose life is all about giving things up.
I, for any new readers, of course spent twenty years as a drug and alcohol addicted idiot, and the biggest thing I had to give up was of course alcohol and drugs - marijuana mainly.
Many of you will have faced other things to give up, my super fit friend Michael faces sugar as a challenge, probably one well familiar to many of you.
Fatty foods is another common one, smoking of course, though that message finally seems to be getting through, and smokers in middle age are rare these days.
Hopefully rare in the young as well, but as you will all recall, when you are young, you are bullet proof and don't care about things as health in the silly old future.
For me, one of the things that went badly wrong for me was when I quit drinking I thought in my callow ignorance, that I could now eat whatever the damn hell I liked.
Oh no, no, no, Lachlan.
Indeed one of the progenitors of my quitting drinking was that I caught sight of myself in the refection of a car window as I walked down to Wategoes Beach to surf one afternoon.
A wetsuit is very revealing, you can't hide inside one of them, and as I glanced at the reflection, my first honest thought was that there was another middle-aged man walking behind me down to the beach.
"That can't be me, can it?", I said internally, for the man in the window's reflection had an appalling beer gut leaping out of the straining-to-contain wetsuit.
I stopped and looked closer at the picture in the mirror, but no, it was me, and for the first time in a generally active life, I was overweight.
Even when I was a full blown alcoholic I had not been that overweight.
Partly because I was a smoker as well, and nicotine is an appetite suppressant, plus, I guess this is an upside to alcoholism, well not really, but anyway the point was due to my twenty standard drinks a day alcohol habit, I was perennially out of money, and so I would often forgo food at the supermarket to make sure I had enough money for a four litre cask of wine.
If I got hungry I would at least be drunk and not worry about my rumbling stomach seems to sum it up.
Anyway that sight of my overhanging gut led me to start watching my weight, and I became more focussed at the gym on cardio work, and though still drinking I did at least bring my gut down a few belt holes.
Which was why when I quit drinking, two and a half years ago now, I then thought (it seems, though I have no conscious recollection of making this decision) 'well if I can't drink I am at least gonna enjoy my food.'
And so I did.
A 'healthy' meal for me in that period was an entire loaf of bread dipped in olive oil with some lettuce and salad sparsely sprinkled.
'I'm doing the right thing,' I thought.
OH, no, no, no, Lachlan.
Some time after I quit drinking I got on the scales at the gym and discovered to my horror that since I quit drinking I had put ON weight.
Soaring back up to 95kg (200 pounds).
So now I was faced with one of those appalling realisations that come to those of us in middle age, with the metabolism slowing down, that I had to not only not drink, but go an a damn diet as well!
Remember when you were twenty you could drink a vat and eat multiple banquets and still not have excess fat?
So those days are gone, and we coast through middle age giving everything in sight up, and trying to find things to enjoy that aren't bad for us.
And I'll close with this pic, please excuse the vanity if so that's what it is, but after two and a half years of dieting, forgoing pizza, chocolate and beer: after many kilometres ridden up Hayters Hill and out to Ewingsdale at speed, and all that pounding on the running treadmill at the gym, my abdominal muscles are once more visible.
There is still plenty of pork to go around, as you can see, but in the end I finally had something to show for all my abstinence, and so I thought I would damn well show you.
What's more, most looking at that pic will probably end up losing weight themselves, as it's enough to put anyone off their food, and you may never eat again.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Happy Birthday Lachlan! (Oh, and you're gonna die)

Beautiful Dunoon, nice to place to work as long as you're not mowing the grass
Finally back to the blog, good to be writing free form again, and letting the old creative areas of the brain fly free.
So what this title is all about is that my birthday was this week, I'm 50 now.
Feel generally Okay about it, though I have a technique that seems to work for me, which is I start calling myself the new age that I will be, three months or so before my birthday.
This takes the pressure off the actual day, and makes me feel like I'm sort of easing into it.
All aid is required for birthdays with a zero in them, that's for sure. As I said to Russell Meadley on Facebook, "In the end the best thing that can be said about a birthday with a zero in it is that once it's over, you've got nine years before you have another one."
NB: That's ten years Lachlan, I thought they taught you to add up at uni, apparently not.
Anyway, the events on  and around the day bear reporting because as usual they showed me looking stupid, which is generally the bits that give the greatest laughs in the electronic pages of this blog.
My birthday was Thursday this week, the 12th of Feb, and I can honestly say I had forgotten all about it.
I got up at the usual hour, seven o'clock or so, and switched on my computer as normal, which I do to scan the news to see if anything environmental had come up, which I would have to report on for Independent Australia.
Also, these days, I turn on the news hoping to hear that Australia has woken up, and that Tony Abbott and his cohort of evil have been taken out and shot, or better yet, imprisoned on Manus Island.
However the first thing I noticed in my email inbox was a birthday greeting from Shaz Davis, Spurway as was, and that was what reminded me that today was indeed the twelfth, and it was my birthday.
So I responded to Sharon, and all who sent through good wishes, thank you all.
However, the first thing on my agenda for this birthday was mowing Michael's lawn up at Dunoon.
As it was a long trip, well long for me, some Sydney commuters go further, and take more time than that, but with the longish trip I had to get help from my friend Scott.
My anxiety disorder has been bad over the frenetic holiday period, and thus my bizarre OCD of checking the oven is off fifty times before I can leave the house has been a bit out of control.
Anyway, Scott left his desk and came over to my apartment with me, and as we walked he gave me a birthday present.
I opened it up and it was a new iPhone, I was greatly appreciative, but Scott really gave it to me to drag me into the twenty first century, as my old phone (more on that anon) was still powered by possums on a wheel.
So I said thanks, and then we did the checks, and I got in the car and headed up into the hills to Michael's place.
As you can see in the picture, Dunoon is a fertile place, and while I love being there Michael's lawn is mostly slope, and it's been wet, so it was two hours hard slog, but I got it done.
By the time I had finished, my everything below the waist was the colour of Dunoon's brown soil, so I looked like a strange racial hybrid with Indian legs and a Cucasian torso and head.
So I scraped some of it off myself, then loaded my gear and headed off to my next appointment, coffee with Clinton and Dave at Suffolk Park.
As agreed on the phone the night before, I sent the boys a text as I left saying I would be at the coffee shop, the Yellow Flower, in 45 minutes.
So I drove off, as I did my phone beeped, and I thought that was the phone saying the messages has been sent.
Close to Byron Bay, there were road works going on, and the sign was against me, so I pulled over to wait, and checked my phone.
To my surprise, and in a presaging of technological headaches to come, on the screen of the phone it said: "Now sending Dave Rock." I watched and the icon whirled, and then the screen cleared and it changed to "Now sending Clint". Turns out there was no mobile reception up at Dunoon, and so the phone had been trying to pick up the network all the way down the hill.
It had finally done so five minutes from the Yellow Flower, and so Clint was just getting the message that I wouldn't be there for another 45 minutes.
So I quickly called Clint, and luckily he was at the coffee shop and I was able to catch him as he was about to go home.
Dave did show up apparently, but 30 minutes after Clinton and I had gone home. I did try to call Dave from the coffee shop, but even though his home was only five minutes from where Clint and I were having our lattes, there was apparently no reception.
So coffee done I headed home where I had to do some research into a story I was working on about life in the Latrobe Valley a year after the fire at Morwell.
I got home, and saw Scott's phone present on the table, and decided I better start familiarising myself with it.
And that's why I mentioned the phone jiggery-pokery above, because the new phone was about to add to my woes.
I went to turn it on, and do you know, I could not get the damn thing to activate.
I pressed the button, no lights on the screen, then I thought, 'maybe I have to press and hold, like with my old phone.' So I pressed and held down the button for five seconds, and that didn't work either. So I pressed all the buttons present, but could not get the thing to turn on. The Apple screen remained black and inactive.
So then I decided to take the phone into the office and see if Scott could show me what I was doing wrong. When I picked it up, however, it slipped out of my fingers and fell on the table, and when it landed I discovered the problem.
I had been looking at the back of the phone!
In my defence however, I think you can see that in some ways the back, with its sticker and the name iPhone, looks kinda more like the front.
Anyway, with that problem solved I went into the office to start my work.
When I got there a letter was waiting for me, and there prominently emblazoned on the envelope, was 'Australian Government'.
'Oh christ,' I thought, 'that can't be good'.
My first thought, for about a millisecond, was that it was a message of congratulations for turning fifty, as the Queen sends out when you turn a hundred.
But if any government was going to do that, it wouldn't be the current Australian government, their main role, as far as I can see, is to make people feel worse.
That idea scotched, I then thought it was from Centrelink, another organisation whose letters terrify me, but it wasn't that either, as their letters have Centrelink on the front.
So then I thought 'it must be ASIO. All my trouble making articles have finally caught up with me, and they want me to show up in Canberra at headquarters and prove that I'm not a) a terrorist, and/or b) a communist, the one meaning invariably the other to Abbott and his slimy acolytes.
So with a lugubrious sigh, I opened the letter from the government. It was from the health department warning me about bowel cancer and urging me to have a scan.
Now this is a good and worthy program, early detection leads to less painful treatment and more effective outcomes.
However, my point is this, 'guys, couldn't you have timed the letter a bit better, so it didn't arrive on my actual birthday??!"
A week later would work just as well.
So with that near heart attack out of the way, I interviewed the head of the Residents' Action Group from Morwell and got my article under way.
Then it was getting late in the afternoon, so I thought I better get across to the Optus shop and switch the SIM card from my old phone to the new.
Now just to background this a bit, last time I got a new phone, at the same Optus shop, I had trouble with my contacts transferring across.
With my old, old phone crapping out, I went into Optus and asked the sixteen-year-old in there for the cheapest phone they had.
This they gave me, hoping to get me out of the shop as quick as possible.
Then they went to transfer to SIM into the replacement phone, and just before they did, I asked, "Will my contacts come across to the new phone?" (and I'm glad I did, I can tell you)
For the sixteen-year-old then said, "Oh, I'll check." So she opened up my phone and did a bit of button pressing, and the said, "No, sorry, you've saved your contacts to the phone, not the SIM, so you'll have to transfer them to the SIM if you want them to come across."
I then said: "Can you do that now?"
She then said: "No, sorry, you'd be best to go home and copy them over, before I make the SIM transfer."
So with a sigh, I picked up my old, old phone, and went home, and then spent a tedious hour and a half opening my contacts one by one, and then pressing 'save to SIM?' in the options.
That done, I went back the next day, and they switched my SIM to the new phone.
All clear? Okay, so that was then, now we come back to the modern day.
I took my new iPhone, and my old Samsung phone across to the Optus Shop, I asked for them to transfer the SIM and they said 'no problem' and began the process.
Once again just as they were about to start, I checked on the contacts, "My contacts will come across with the SIM, is that right?"
To my consternation the sixteen-year-old boy said "no".
I reared back, "But I've been saving my Contacts to my SIM, I had a problem with that last time."
To which he replied, that it was now a question of software, my new iPhone had Apple code, my old Samsung phone had Samsung, Windows-based software.
'Oh for fuck's sake' I said under my breath, then added, "well is there anyway I can transfer them using my computer perhaps?"
He replied: "Sorry, no," then added a remark after which he's lucky he's still got teeth, "You'll have to go home and type them in one by one."
I reared back again in consternation, "Surely not," I said.
He shook his head and continued to insist that this was the only way to do it.
So then mumbling malevolent thoughts about the sixteen-year-olds that work at Optus I took my phones home.
You see, I think they are just sick of old-fangled guys like me coming into their store and wasting their time with new-fangled technology.
But despite my appearance as a gardener with shorts, an old shirt and my famous hat, they didn't know that I had worked in IT for ten years.
I was sure there was a way, and I would find it, and then go back into the Optus shop and say "Stick that up your ignorant sixteen-year-old arse."
So I grumped my way home and began work.
Turns out he was right in a sense, in that time wise, it would have indeed been easier to type them in one by one.
However, there was no way I was doing that, just on principle.
So I did my research and the first thing was the Samsung phone software. I downloaded that, then plugged my phone into the computer.
Sure e-fucking-nuff, the Samsung Proprietary software, written to do this very thing, couldn't recognise a Samsung phone.
So I found another, third party vendor of phone software and downloaded that.
This did work, and finally, at 11pm, six hours after starting work, I had transferred my contacts to my computer.
Then since I had more mowing the next day, I went to bed, and this job was only halfway done.
Got up the next morning, and began work again, now I was working to get the contacts off my computer onto the iPhone, needless to say this involved more software, iTunes, and needless to say after following the instructions the contacts hadn't gone across, due in this case to some arcane formatting issue.
So I chuntered away at it, and with two hours mowing in between, I finally got there.
And how's this for a reason why I gave up IT and went working in the garden.
The iPhone couldn't recognise the format the contacts were in, vCard, even thought this is a cross-platform globally recognised format.
After long search and thanks to the 'How-To-Geek', I found the answer.
I had to import the contacts into the same folder, and change the format from the universally recognised vCard into Windows Contacts format, so that Apple Software could recognise it.
Thus the iPhone couldn't handle the global standard, but instead wanted the contacts to be in a format of their main rival company.
Anyway, now it was one o'clock on the day after my birthday, I had been working on the contacts transfer for twenty hours elapsed time, with about ten hours actual work.
It had nearly killed me, but I had done it.
So then I grabbed both my phones and went, with some relish, back to the Optus shop.
Luckily for them, the two sixteen-year-old boys who had told me to type them one by one weren't there.
I was chagrined I can tell you, I had been so looking forward to telling them that old-fangled, hat-wearing, technology-challenged me, had achieved the impossible.
Anyway, a female sixteen-year-old changed the SIM over and I walked out of the Optus shop trailing invisible clouds of smug satisfaction.
Once clear I called Scott as the first call from my new phone and thanked him again.
Next day, the fourteenth, I went to work out at Mullum and my whipper-snipper gave out halfway through the job.
While preparing this blog, the blogspot website was crapping out all the way.
Perhaps, as I've often thought, I give out some miasmic vibe that tells technology to stop working, maybe I'm more of a luddite than I thought.
So in the end, the balance sheet for my birthday seems to be in the positive.
I got lots of messages of good cheer from Facebook and Twitter friends (@CycloneCharlie8 if you're looking for me), I did something the sixteen-year-old whizz kids at Optus said couldn't be done.
I wrote through the incipient collapse of my blog website, and showed tenacity there.
It's now ten years before I have a birthday with a zero in it, and best of all I've now got my cherished number one fan, Gloria off my fucking back about when the next blog is coming out!
Thank you all for your good wishes.