Friday, January 23, 2015

Holiday Stresses

source: dftours.com.au
Preparing to travel is stressful. There is the itinerary to sort out. Do the places and activities most highly rated on Trip Advisor fit within my budget? Does your flight path go anywhere near a combat zone? Will the airline be able to accommodate my new diet – that I swear by after seeing some B grade celebrity mention it on my favourite talk show – a diet consisting of just nuts and anything purple. How close to the screaming baby and the person who believes B.O. can be controlled by sheer will power will I be seated?

At work all of the tasks that just seem to bubble along suddenly seem urgent and I end up working overtime just to complete them before I go on leave. The office seems to go into some sort of jealousy fuelled panic, because what if there is a major incident while I am away?

First of all, and this is the most important thing, do not call me. Deal with it.

Secondly, in the history of the job there has never been such a high level incident, ever. Why would my being absent for 7 days increase the likelihood of the first such incident occurring now? It won’t, relax.

Unless I am away for a minimum of 4 weeks I am not preparing detailed handover notes about ever aspect of my work. If there is a piece of work that has a milestone during my 5 days out of the office, I will jot down a couple of lines but I will not need a 1 hour meeting to provide management with a complete handover.

At home things get stressful too. Managing items in the fridge is critical. Consuming the fresh produce to prevent the forming of a compost heap in crisper can be a challenge. Eating it all in combinations that resemble something like a meal. Does cheese, honeydew melon and fennel go together as a topping for a baked potato?

Redirecting the mail, cancelling the paper, getting someone to pet sit all takes time. Then there is the cleaning. My home is never cleaner than the day I leave for a holiday. Benches are tidied and thoroughly cleaned, skirting boards are dusted. The shower, bath and toilet are cleaner than when they were first installed. Towels are laundered Clean sheets are placed on the bed ready for no-one to sleep in. I just go crazy cleaning. I uncoagulated the top of the dishwashing liquid and clean the bottom of the little egg cups. I even clean the little one inch area between the refrigerator and the counter.

If someone breaks into the property, I want them to be impressed.

I never get to enjoy the clean and tidy. As soon as I get back from a holiday, I unpack using a very simple technique. Upend the suitcase onto the floor and sift through the debris. My home becomes like the detonation point after a car bomb.

The suitcase always has way more than was ever necessary for the holiday. There are clothes for all weather conditions, including weather that was never going to occur. It is unlikely that snow gloves will ever be needed in the Amazon jungle, but they going into the suitcase, just in case. Casual clothes, dress clothes in case I want to go for a fancy meal, swimwear, umbrella, more reading material that could be possible completed even if I read non-stop 24hours a day for the duration of my holiday.  Having over-packed I then set myself the challenge of wearing every piece of clothing and using every other item in my suitcase at least once during the holiday.

Finally there is the stress of the travelling itself. My holidays usually include a flight or two. Planning the trip to the airport allowing enough time to negotiate the worst possible traffic condition and still leaving time to stand in endless queues in order to negotiate check in and and the obligatory security checks and screening. All this needs to be before the flight is closed. It is not the fear of missing the light that stresses me it is the thought of being filmed missing my flight and appearing on a future airport based reality television show. All this rushing around so I can sit in a hard plastic chair watching a small television with the sound turned off while I wait an hour for the flight to be called.

The only thing worse than jostling in the queue to board the plane is the stress of trying to find room for my carryon bag in an overhead compartment that is somewhere near where I am sitting.


No wonder people use the on board bathroom the moment the seatbelt sign is turned off there is a lot of stress that needs to be evacuated.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Feeling Squashed

Image Source: comparlo.co.uk
I played my first game of squash ever on the weekend. In my teenage years I have played very social games of racquet-ball which is similar but or so different.

Upon signing in at the gym the receptionist told me and my equally experienced playing partner that squash is a fun game and very safe, specifically how unlikely it is to get injured.

She did not factor in just how novice we were. At various time both of us crashed into the walls in our desperate attempts to make a shot. Finding myself woefully out of position I managed to get hit in the chin by the ball. My playing partner/opponent ended the game with an unexplained scratch on his right bicep. A scratch for which I accept no blame or responsibility.

The innocence of the receptionist also did not give due consideration to the muscle soreness that would follow an hour of chasing a ball of rubber around a court. I keep fit walking, cycling, kayaking and going to the gym but by bed time I ached from head to toe. Muscles ached, joints throbbed and my head felt like it was being slowly squeezed like Oberyn Martell in the hands of Gregor Clegane.

Muscles that had previously been enjoying years of early retirement were rudely called up for active service and they were not happy.

We did not play an actual game or best of 5 match. We did not even score. To be honest the World Squash Federation: World Squash Singles Rules 2014 were only loosely adhered to.

Our lack of scoring proved to be a lucky thing as the agreed playing condition was for the looser to perform some sort of tribal dance in the reception are clad only in 80’s aerobics-style spandex leggings. Lucky for my partner/opposition as I am sure I would have won – despite my inability to bend down far enough to reach the low ball and my repeated misses based on the expectation that the head of my racquet was bigger than it actually was.

I think pub-styled dares should be included into professional sports. Professional squash the loser dances in the reception area. Billiards and 8-ball even the professionals should have to run around the table three times sans pants if they fail to pot a ball. Cricket, out for a golden duck have to sit with the jockstrap and protective cup on the outside of their pants for the remainder of the innings.


Nothing would need to change for professional football codes in Australia as players are repeatedly in the news for humiliating themselves win, lose or draw. Even in the off-season

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Men's Clothing Explained

Black Tie
Men can wear whatever they like as long as they are wearing a black tie around their neck. It does not stipulate whether this has to be a bow tie or a straight tie. Does it absolutely have to be black? I have seen white or silver ties at such events and the gentlemen are looking equally dapper. What about matching the tie with the cummerbund? Sky blue or maroon were popular in the ‘70s. Military dress uniform is also considered appropriate – only if you do or did serve in the military. It is not the time to visit the local costume hire shop. Same rule applies with wearing a kilt and being of Scottish heritage.

Or is it code for dressing as a Chippendale dancer, and ONLY wearing a black tie. If this is the case it might influence whose actually receives an invitation.

Smart Casual
The challenge here is the combination of words. Casual I think everyone can manage, but smart casual. What makes someone look smart? Should men be dressing like science or maths professors? Could we just wear glasses? Do guests need to pass a short exam/quiz before entering the event? It definitely rules out baseball caps, particularly those worn askew. It implies a collar of some description either on the shirt or jacket or both.

Not to be confused with Neat Casual, this is a much simpler requirement. Casual clothes that are neat. Washed and wrinkle free. If you could wear the same clothes for an afternoon of gardening you have mastered the “casual” but failed disastrously on the “neat”.

Cocktail
Like most men’s attire, a cocktail outfit is really another code word for “suit”. There is flexibility however to accommodate fashion and personality. Neck wear is to be included, whether it be long tie, cravat or cowboy style strings with toggle.

Evening wear
Confusingly is not pyjamas and slippers. It is a suit. Surprise! Yes, I know the cut of most men’s pyjamas replicate a single-breasted suit including pockets, collar and lapels.

Office wear

For men this appears to be the most boring and possibly the suit possible you can find. Collared shirt is also a must. Ties seem to be going by the wayside, in attempt to appear more approachable by colleagues, subordinates and customers alike. Casual Friday puts a fly in the ointment. Particular as casual wear currently incorporates a lot of low slung pants allowing for maximum exposure of underwear. The only briefs you should be revealing in an office are those typed, double spaced on company letterhead. The other thing to remember is no-one wants to smell your feet. So keep the sock on regardless of your choice of shoe and make sure you are wearing a covered shoe. Sandals and flipflops have no place at work unless you work as a lifeguard.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

An Apple A Day

With all of the talk about changes to the Medicare rebates, here is some actual advice I have received from doctors over the years that I do not think I should have to pay for, let alone pay more .

1. I could prescribe medication, but for the long term I think prayer and seeking God’s forgiveness is the best answer.

2.     I’ll “burn” that off using dry ice…that made it worse, I’ll now try to cut it out and remove the dead and affected tissue…ummm let me give you a referral to a specialist.


3.     That’s not normal, it’s not meant to look like that. End of consultation and no follow up required.

4.     Do you have a current partner? Have you tried websites or apps, though they can be a bit of a meat market, what about some social interest groups. Here are a few that I can recommend…

5.     Doc: Are you here to have your ears pinned back?
Me: No, I have damaged my vocal cords
Doc: Well you should consider work on your ears. I can do that too.

6.     I don’t know why your back still hurts. Let’s try a different cause of medication.
I still don’t know why your back still hurts. Let’s try a different cause of medication.
So your back is still not getting better, have you tried an osteopath or yoga?
            The osteopath made it worse? Let’s try another medication
Your back is still in spasm, I really do not know what is going on I think I will refer you to another doctor in the clinic who specialises in back injuries.

7.     Intern: This needle will numb the pain, ready for the large needle we need for the  procedure…now we are starting the procedure with the bigger needle. You should not be able to feel this.
Me: I can feel it and it is causing deep pain into the centre of my body.
Intern: Ok I will take it out and start again.
Me: I can still feel it and it is still deep pain.
Intern: let me try again.
Me: this is so painful.
Doc: Do you have a low pain threshold as it should not hurt this much?
Me: I was pretty good with pain, until now.
Intern: Ok one more time:
Me: GROAN.
Doc: I will have a try, but need to give you more anaesthetic.
            I’m now inserting the needle again.
Me: GROAN.
Doc: That area is really tight and the needle is not going in properly. I will try another spot a bit lower down. I will need to start over with the anaesthetic.

8.     Wow, that really looks painful.

9.     Ok for the next x-ray I need you to lift your arm up, and twist it outwards. I little higher, bit more. Now if you can just turn it out some more, more, towards me, more…a bit more…a little bit more. Now hold still. Don’t move!


10.   Oh, that went a lot deeper than I expected, you should have been admitted to a hospital for that treatment.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Review - The Water Diviner


The Water Diviner
Unlike his character who seemed to miraculously find anything simply by “feeling it”, Russell Crowe’s latest cinematic release struggles to find anything. The audiences are left felling very little at all.

Despite being based on true events in the years following ANZAC troops landing and fighting at Gallipoli it is NOT a war story. It is a romance, a love story between Russell Crowe and himself.

As director it appears that his only direction was “this scene needs a close up…of me and my mole.” In the absence of engaging story or great acting there were endless close ups of Crowe looking off into the distance and speaking in deep and sombre tones.

He can also dig really large holes by hand in super human time.

The story is predictable, by the time Crowe’s character as checked in to the Turkish hotel it is clear that there will be two main story arcs, the arcs themselves are disappointingly predictable.

Thank God, or should it be Allah for Yilmaz Erdogan and Cem Yilmaz. Their acting and depth of character provided much needed relief from the Crowe-fest.

The war flash-backs were brutal and gripping. The acting was powerful and full of raw emotion, all of which was sadly missing from the real-time gun battles between the Greeks and the Turks. It was also refreshing to have the Turkish actors speaking Turkish to each other. So many history films, particularly war films have the opposition speaking in English with a hint of accent and occasional mumbled word in their native tongue.

On the plus side the gourmet choc top was really enjoyable and the seat was comfortable.