on fixing things

We recently watched Lars and the Real Girl. It’s a great film and the one thing I really loved about it was how Lars’s brother Gus reacts when Lars introduces his new girlfriend Bianca, who is a life-sized anatomically-correct doll. At one stage Gus says to the doctor: “We’ve got to fix him, can you fix him?” I can easily relate to how Gus felt and how he just wanted to ‘fix’ the problem with Lars.

I’m not sure if it’s a male thing or because I work in software that I relate so much. In software we have things called bugs which are problems found during testing. These bugs are fixed so that they don’t end up in the software when it is released. Not all software bugs are easy to fix, but almost all of them can be fixed. Sometimes I translate this view into life, why can’t we just fix things?

Unfortunately in life, it’s not that easy. Some things aren’t quickly fixed. Some things we can’t fix. For example, housing affordability is a complex issue with lots of different viewpoints and outcomes for many different people. I would love if we could just fix the housing affordability problem in Australia, but unforunately it’s not that simple.

Sometimes Kitty has issues with how things go at work, mainly to do with office politics. I often take the view of “why can’t you just fix it” but I need to remind myself that it’s not that easy. Problems take time to solve, just like Lars’s relationship with Bianca.

The trailer is below.

scar tissue quote

“After all those years of all kinds of abuse and crashing into trees at eighty miles an hour and jumping off buildings and living through overdoses and liver disease, I feel better now than I did ten years ago. I might have some scar tissue, but that’s all right, I’m still making progress. And when I do think, “Man, a fucking motel room with a couple of thousand dollars’ worth of narcotics would do me right,” I just look over at my dog and remember that Buster’s never seen me high.”

Anthony Kiedis – Scar Tissue (2004)

scar-tissue

my five favourite chuck norris facts

One: The chief export of Chuck Norris is Pain.

Two: There is no theory of evolution: just a list of animals that Chuck Norris allows to live.

Three: Chuck Norris has two speeds: walk, and Kill.

Four: If you have five dollars and Chuck Norris has five dollars then Chuck Norris has more money than you.

Five: If you spell Chuck Norris in Scrabble, you win. Forever.

From chucknorrisfacts.com

street art as home art

I like displaying photos I’ve taken of street art in our home. When I find something interesting on the street, I quickly take a snap of it in case it vanishes one day. I loved this train carriage I saw at Hamilton last Sunday.

Hamilton, Brisbane
Hamilton, Brisbane

I’m don’t think I’m alone. I have heard celebrities are commissioning bits of street art by Banksy to hang in their homes. This raises the question about whether it’s truly street art then.

I didn’t think too much about my obsession having street art in our apartment until I spoke with my Big Issue street vendor today. He was the happiest I had ever seen him because he finally had been given a place of his own to live in after many years on the street.

I was hoping to make him something to hang on his wall in his new place, to make it feel homely. It then occurred to me that I can’t really give him photos of street art though, can I? Surely it wouldn’t make him feel at home; it might actually make him feel like he’s on the street again.

So I’m stuck at what to make or give him. Maybe a succulent is a good idea. I think living plants (as opposed to plastic) always seem to make somewhere feel homely.

a cloudy full moon

We ate dinner on the balcony tonight. The effect of the full moon behind the clouds was amazing. It made our succulents look true to their name.

succulents-under-full-moon

I haven’t been creating a lot of words here lately. It’s mainly because I’ve been spending a fair amount of time thinking. It all started when someone at my work told me to watch the Zeitgeist Addendum, a freely available doco/film. The film was amazing in that it seeded so many thought patterns that have kept my brain occupied for the last week or so. The only problem with such a film is that you can’t unsee it when you decide you’ve thought about it enough.

The other reason I haven’t been creating many words here is that we’re now officially in what I call the silly season. Melbourne Cup signifies the start of the silly season and it basically it means we have heaps of too many things on every week until Christmas, which means less time doing nothing.

I can’t wait until it’s all over actually. It’s no secret that I don’t enjoy Christmas. I can see myself now reflecting on the balcony on N.Y.E. I just wish it could have been tonight: cloudy and with a full moon.

i’ve been to the mountaintop

“If you allow me to live just a few years in the second half of the twentieth century, I will be happy.” Now that’s a strange statement to make, because the world is all messed up. The nation is sick. Trouble is in the land. Confusion all around. That’s a strange statement. But I know, somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.

~ “I’ve been to the mountaintop” – Martin Luther King Jr, April 3rd 1968: one day before we was assassinated.

gnomenapped

I’ve got a pet ‘garden variety’ gnome on my desk at work. I found him abandoned (in a basket) when I started my job last year, and since then he has always been there with me. Until last week that is…

One day whilst answering my phone I noticed a random note hidden under the handset. I quickly read it and looked up to confirm my suspicions; he was gone.

Ransom Note
Ransom Note

The worst part of the situation was that there were no instructions. I did an ‘all staff’ office email asking for leads and offering a reward for safe return: gnome is dearly missed.

A confidential source told me that my gnome ‘didn’t get out much’ and so he was currently making his way around our office and would return in a few days.

I didn’t get much else for those few days, only another cryptic note of my gnome taking help desk calls and asking where I was.

Second Note
Second Note

The next day when I arrived at work I was rather suprised to find my gnome, on my desk, with another gnome, and some candy.

Gnome returns with friend
Gnome returns with friend

Today, a week later, I was still quite confused about the whole thing when a parcel arrived for me. It contained a copy of Gnomeland: An introduction to the little people, and four additional photos of my gnome in various poses around our office.

So it’s been a fun couple of weeks. I’ve had my gnome gnomenapped, returned with candy, another pink gnome friend, and six random portraits. I’ve finally worked out who did it all and they know me well because I think the whole thing was hilarious.

Now I just need to come up for a name for both the gnomes.

five new things that just aren’t the same

One: MP3s vs Vinyl

There is something great about the experience of listening to a piece of vinyl spinning around on a turntable. Even the large cardboard album cover of a LP was asthetic. Listening to compressed mp3s on an ipod doesn’t produce the same warm sound or experience.

Two: Cards vs Cash

I believe that one of the main reasons that we, as a society, are so indebted is that we mainly use cards instead of cash. Cash has the effect of feeling very real. I don’t get this much nowadays because I mainly transact electronically. The different between one grand and ten grand in my bank is a single digit on the ‘puter screen, the difference between one grand cash and ten grand cash is very real. I understand that cards are much more safe, but are they? With all the phishing, scamming, swiping, frauding and the like, maybe we should all just use plain old cash. I reckon they should make people pay for houses in cash too, it would quickly stop people overpaying for housing. Handing over 500K in cash would feel very serious and real, even if it wasn’t all yours.

Three: Digital Photography vs Analog Lomography

There’s something amazing about Lomo. I haven’t seen a digital camera that captures the same warmth. Digital cameras are all just bits, bytes and pixels.

Four: Modern Architecture vs Gargoyles

I often walk around looking at buildings in cities, and most of the time I like the old ones much better than the new ones. The old ones were often made of stone, and were handcrafted and ascetically pleasing. The new ones are mostly built hastily to maximize investor profit. There’s an old building near my work that has gargoyled cats… Why don’t they put gargoyled cats on buildings anymore?

Five: VHS vs Internet Video

I enjoy watching music video clips. I used to have a collection that I recorded off Rage onto VHS. Sometimes I relive those days and watch them on the Internet (YouTube), but the quality sucks. Why was my 1980’s VHS better quality than YouTube? Why is YouTube all pixelated and splotchy? It is 2008.

investing

It’s not really good times all round for investors. Perhaps they should have read more TS Elliot.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot — “Little Gidding” (the last of his Four Quartets)

Translated for the current economic climate:

We shall not cease from investing
And the end of all our investing
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Juiced Pixels — 2008

bitter and negative

I got really pissed off this afternoon when the RBA cut the official Australian interest rate by a full 1 percent. It means that K and I won’t be able to save as fast anymore because our savings won’t compound as much, which is really annoying.

After work it was still bothering me when I decided that I should stop worrying about it at all, and I should stop being so negative. I’m really passionate about housing (un)affordability, but I think lately I’ve been coming across bitter and negative, especially towards some speculative property investors who I work with.

So I decided to do something nice, but lo-fi, tonight, to take my mind off it. We went to Kangaroo Point cliffs with a picnic and sat and watched the river and the city. We listened to Radiohead’s OK Computer which I, remarkably, had lost over the years.

At home we then watched YouTube film clips of heaps of the songs we remember from growing up. My favourite was ‘She don’t use Jelly‘ by The Flaming Lips.

In bed I started to read my Big Issue from yesterday. Straight away I saw a Hearsay quote I loved:

“You can’t keep money around for ever. It’s like saving sex for your old age.” ~ Warren Buffett

Then I read Editor Alan Attwood report that The Big Issue street sales are suffering because of the current economical climate:

“The general economic malaise has made it harder than ever to sell magazines on the street.” ~ Alan Attwood Editor, TBI 314

I couldn’t sleep. I decided to get up and re-read Instructions for Life. I then thought about writing this blog post.

But maybe dropping interest rates today wasn’t such a bad thing. It might finally free up some cash for people to actually buy a copy of The Big Issue off Greg, or one of the other street vendors. Or maybe they’ll just use the freed cash to buy some more shit for their MacMansions, or worse, to feed those hungry hungry pokies. But I’m just being bitter and negative again, aren’t I?

inflation raises its nasty head

I have been hearing for some time that inflation has been on the rise in Australia, but it wasn’t until this evening that it actually hit me.

You see, I’ve discovered a new favourite cheese snack in the last few months: Coles Brand Cheese Snacksยฎ. And until very recently, my favourite cheese snack could be bought for a reasonable price of $0.99 cents. Tonight is stay at home movies night, so I was perusing Coles on my way home from work. You can imagine how shocked I was to discover that Coles Brand Cheese Snacksยฎ are now $1.19: a 20% rise!

I sorta thought that inflation was bad, but only now do I realise how devastating it actually is. Three digit cheese snacks… get outta here!

malcolm turnbull thinks kevin rudd is a tourist, like marla singer

There were some interesting quotes in Australian politics this week.

First, Treasurer Wayne Swan had a go at Malcolm ‘I’m so rich’ Turnbull during question time in Canberra:

“The member for Wentworthy has no great affiliation with those sort of everyday goods. He thinks alcopops is the noise that is made when he uncorks a Moet.”

A few days later Malcolm Turnbull swipes back and calls Prime Minister Kevin Rudd a ‘prime tourist’ on live TV:

“Have we elected a prime minister or a prime tourist?”

We all know what Malcolm really thinks; Kev’s a tourist as PM. Maybe he should have just followed Tyler Durden’s lead and called him a ‘fucking tourist’ straight out:

“Marla Singer is such a fucking tourist for attending multiple affliction-specific support group therapy sessions when she doesn’t even have any of those diseases.”

enough

I love this quote from the excellent book titled Your Money or Your Life:

The word is ‘enough’, At the peak of the Fulfilment Curve we have enough. Enough for our survival, enough comforts. And even enough little ‘luxuries’. We have everything we need; there’s nothing extra to weigh us down, distract or distress us, nothing we’ve bought on time, have never used and are slaving to pay off. Enough is a fearless place, a trusting place. An honest and self observant place. It’s appreciating and fully enjoying what money brings into your life, and yet never purchasing anything that isn’t needed and wanted.

– Page 25

There’s also some other gems:

And thus a rat race was born, leading to our excruciating balancing act between working more to buy luxuries and having enough leisure to enjoy them.

– Page 17

Clutter is anything that is excess – for you. It’s whatever doesn’t serve you, yet takes up space in your world. To let go of clutter, then, is not deprivation, it’s lightening up and opening up space for something new to happen.

– Page 26

It’s worth a read.

why i hate those ‘would you steal a car’ piracy ads on dvds

Ironically, I usually rip a dvd before I watch it, just so I don’t have to watch those annoying ‘would you steal a car’ piracy ads that you can’t fast-forward. This diagram (via Rainbow Hill) explains why I hate those ads so much.

my empty metallic violet pen

One day, a few months ago, I was writing a business minute when it occurred to me how much many words I have written in blue ink my lifetime. I looked up and glanced around the office and noticed every other person simultaneously writing in blue ink. So right then I decided to make a random pledge; from that moment on, I would only write in pens that weren’t blue, or black or red. I rushed out and bought a mixed packet of Staedtler sliver balls from Germany in a variety of colours including orange, dark green, light green, purple and brown. I then went about fulfilling my pledge.

I mentioned my new pledge to a friend whilst in Canberra and two days later I received an envelope in the mail containing a very fancy uni-ball signo metallic violet pen. Why didn’t I think of that? Metallic ink. And here I was writing in non-metallic ink for all these years.

RIP uni-ball signo
RIP uni-ball signo

So, over the last few months my trusty uni-ball signo metallic violet pen has accompanied me to all myย  business meetings. It’s funny how long uneventful meetings are much more fun when you can write notes in metallic voilet ink.

Today, halfway through writing an important business minute, metallic violet signo stopped mid-sentence. I didn’t know what was going on; I thought that pens, like love, lasted forever. Signo had given up, I had used Signo up and now there was nothing left. I didn’t know what to do, continue the sentence in green non-metallic ink, or start the whole thing again?

Then I felt weird: I can’t actually remember the last time I completely finished a pen. It’s actually really sad. There must be a huge pile of partly-used pens somewhere (with copious lost guitar picks and bobby pins I imagine) just waiting to be bought back to life.

I was just about to get a new metallic violet pen when I thought that maybe I shouldn’t. Instead my new pledge should be to use up each and every pen I already own, even if they are blue, or black, or red.

the first day of spring

Yesterday was the first day of spring which meant that I turned a year older in a weird milestone kind of way. I don’t yet feel a year older but I guess this will happen over the coming year.

One bonus about yesterday was I got some nice gifts. Kitty paid for my return ticket to L.A. which is way too expensive but very cool. She got me little things too like a Las Vegas lonely planet and some T2 plus a mad card with a monkey on it.

Some gifts
Some of my gifts

I love monkeys. Kitty was actually born in the year of the monkey, so that’s probably why she means so much to me. I myself was born in the year of the rooster, and being vegetarian, roosters probably don’t mean much to kitty.

We went to Mecca Bah in the Valley for dinner with the oldies which was superb. I forgot how good Turkish food can be. We’ll have to again, soon.