Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's not very long, but it tries really really hard

If I don't have a solid job at the end of January 2009, I'm going overseas for a couple of months. Not to look for work, not to look for myself, but to look for things. Many people I know have travelled/are travellers and through various recent catalysts I too have plucked up the... courage? desire? lust? to see things that I've always wanted to see.

What I'd like from whoever reads this is some ideas or suggestions.
I MUST go to Machu Picchu/Peru, I MUST go to Chichen Itza, and I MUST go to the Giza Plateau and Petra. Europe might be nice. Siberia wouldn't be. Name some places, name some countries. Those who know me will think of some places I'd like to see, those who don't know me all that well might name some places that I'd never considered but would quite enjoy, those who don't know me at all might name some places which no one in their right mind would go to.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Things that make my brain hurt

You know that feeling you get when there's something in your eye? Your body shuts down and you pull strange faces as you frantically scrape your eyes to dislodge whatever it is that is causing great discomfort. Your breathing becomes erratic, and your eyes water as the piece of foreign matter scratches against your eye. That is what ABBA does to my brain. It's like there's something in my eye, in my brain.

Dancing Queen, Waterloo, Mama Mia - they're all the same. My brain is freaking out just thinking about them. The sound is muddy, the vacant swaying back and forth is hypnotising (in a bad way) and the musical backing is so... old fashioned. Sure, the songs were produced nearly 40 years ago, but that doesn't matter a jot - alot of songs were made 40 years ago or more and they sound fantastic (Beatles? Led Zeppelin? Most things that aren't ABBA?). Hell, I know alot of people that were made 40 years ago or more, and they still sound alright, unless they're singing ABBA tracks.

The music makes me so damn rabid. I can't even think when it plays. Yes, I'm aware that a bunch of you are probably going to send me ABBA links, but I can be happy in the knowledge that you too will have to put yourself through some sort of pain to find 'the right song' to send me. Pre-emptive karma is sweet.

This got me thinking: if I hate ABBA, then surely a heap of other people do too! Then I thought: 'Hey, if I like watermelon, surely a heap of other people do too!'. I went a step further and thought 'Hey! What this blog needs is a list of some sort. Lists aren't ever done on websites.'

I had a few more trains of thought, but the only one they didn't get derailed was 'Hey! If alot of stuff makes MY brain hurt, there might be a ton of other people out there with sore heads as well! That almost makes me normal!'

1. People who don't think before making important decisions

The title isn't as snappy as the titles at, say, (ahem, if you're hiring...) but I don't have an army of lemmings to do my bidding, so it'll have to suffice.

It's called the 'Knee-Jerk Reaction', or my personal favourite, 'Jumping on the Crazy Train'. It's when people are so damn fixed in their ways that logical argument cannot make them change direction, or at the very least re-evaluate their position. It's when you say 'Did you know that this previously held belief is now wrong? How about that? Turns out you DON'T need to flick the lights on and off three times before you leave the house, just doing it once still works!' Only to have them respond 'I don't know about that, I still think that flicking it three times is the best way to approach the problem.'

Whut? No! No no n... OH GOD THERE'S SOMETHING IN MY EYE-BRAIN AGAIN. We all have our opinions and knowledge bases, and we are all guilty of staying aboard the Crazy Train every now and then, but flying in the face of irrefutable proof with alarming consistency just staggers me. Shit, I'd be satisfied if someone said, 'Really? Not three times? I might check it out' because they've at least listened to the new suggestion. South Australia's Attorney-General Michael Atkinson is the only AG in Australia to deny an R18+ rating for computer games, even though 90% of respondents (both gamers and non-gamers) to their study said that they wanted such ratings. He also vetoed any chance of the report being made public and open to discussion. Whut? That's... whut? That's crazy talk. And it's censorship and I won't go there right now...

The other variant is 'Look, I know what I'm saying is crazy, but I can't control it, that's who I am.'
Whut? If you know that you're... surely you can... OH GOD IT'S HAPPENING AGAIN. It's scary because these Fun Police usually think They Know Best and they actually make decisions that impact other people.

I know, they're insane. ON TO NUMBER TWO!

2. Idiotic Petrol Station Customers

Really, how hard is it to drive an extra 3 metres to the next bowser so the people behind you can take full advantage of the other pumps? No really, how hard? 'I'm in a hurry?' You're also a fucking idiot.

I get that you might have been at bowser 2 to start with because bowser 1 was currently in use. And I get the fact that the bowser 1 user might have driven off, making it look like you're a selfish arsehole. I get that, I'm cool with that. You can't control when other people drive off. That's fine. Deep breath, continue.

What I don't get is the people who only think of themselves at these damn things and stop right *there* because that's 'as far as I really need to go'. Whut? That's fucked. I also don't get the people who line up on ONE SIDE ONLY because that's the side that their petrol cap is, only to block entry into the station, thus rendering the SIX OTHER PUMPS COMPLETELY FUCKING USELESS. Jesus Christ! Seriously. I was completely unaware that the hoses at petrol pumps are incapable of bending. I didn't know that it is impossible to use a right-side pump on a left-side cap. Use your fucking brains people. 'I don't want to scratch my car'. The hose is made of rubber, it can't scratch your car unless you lay it across the boot and move it back and forward whilst applying pressure. Harden the fuck up, seriously. Also, don't spend a full minute arranging your purse/doing your makeup/talking on the phone before driving off.

I'm not a road rage kind of guy, but a part of me does die a little bit inside when I see people dicking around like this.

3. Driving at erratic speeds

Choose a speed. Please, I beg you. Don't drive at 60km/h on an 80km/h straight, only to accelerate through turns. Don't change between 80km/h and 100km/h on a long stretch of road every 10 seconds, just because you can. If you can't maintain even pressure on the accelerator, maybe you, I don't know, shouldn't drive? Maybe your children should have put you in a home already? Thought about that? The constant speed up, slow down pattern is outright dangerous and demands more concentration from the following driver than should be necessary on a dead straight road in the middle of nowhere. Also, part of me cries quietly when I see this happening.

Another fun fact, 'Did you know that driving like a raging dickhead increases your chance of crashing?' True story. If you're a rabid speed-changer, then you fit this category which, I guess, makes you a raging dickhead.

4. People who think everything MUST be done THEIR way

It doesn't. Deal with it. Move on. In this case, your opinion is wrong. Take it on board, take a deep breath, make yourself a cup of tea, go out in the garden, walk the dog, drive to the beach, stroll through a forest, talk to your neighbours, tidy the house, read a book, browse the internet, knit, do some thai chi, do some thai bo, do a thai bloke, scratch that itch, do ANYTHING which makes you realise that the world will still work (and has worked rather well for thousands of years) without doing things YOUR way. Do whatever you want in your own life (going about raping and murdering doesn't count), live your life how you see fit, just don't MAKE others live how you see fit.

Other things people could try: Go for a run, take up weight lifting, learn to sing, write a book, learn an instrument, mow the lawn, buy a cat, work at a zoo, injure yourself, take up a sport, dance for no reason, rub your bare feet on the carpet for 5 full minutes like Bruce Willis does in Die Hard because it feels really good and makes you feel alot better, roll around on the floor for no reason, have an epiphany, pick your nose, stretch, bounce.


Did I mention ABBA already? I think I did.

6. People who take sport WAY too seriously

I like sports. I like playing different sports. I take sport and winning seriously, because it makes me play better. Having said that, I don't take it so seriously that a loss is the end of the world, that a conceded goal demands seppuku of the goal keeper, that a mistake requires a reddening of the face and a bursting of the blood vessels. Some people freak out way too much. Game over, you lost, ah well, that is disappointing, life goes on, yeah?

Being a professional athelete is a different story - but as far as amateurs go, lighten up. Try your very best, get fitter, have a laugh, sweat alot, improve.

If you're the person in the heading then wow, ease up turbo. Shrieking at your own players doesn't do squat (ok, so I did it once, we all make mistakes), it just makes the other team laugh alot and place bets on how long it'll take before Player One assaults Player Two with a referee. It's a fun game to play, you should try it once the red haze has died down. In a social league you're there to have some fun and have a laugh (at least that's what my soccer team's purpose is). Having said that, winning IS fun, we don't play to lose. Why would anyone play to lose?

7. People who play to lose

WHY? I don't get it. You put time and energy into something, then you just throw the game or walk off or quit just before the end? That's just weird, no analysis needed.

8. More flakes than clusters in boxes of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes Nut Clusters

They are delicious. Really delicious. Delicious to the point that I start sweating and rocking back and forth when I find that a shake of the box yields no clustery goodness. More flakes? Are you serious? It's the clusters we want! If I wanted flakes I'd just buy plain old Flakes-in-a-Box or whatever the kids call them these days. I demand clusters. I DEMAND MORE.
Excuse me, I have a flake in my eye in my brain.

9. Getting something in my eye

Because it feels like there's something in my eye. What, you LIKE having something in your eye? I bet you like ABBA as well, and taking up bowser space, and driving too slow or too fast, and telling everyone how they HAVE to live, and not listening to rational argument. I bet you LIVE on the Crazy Train. No! Wait! Even better! You DRIVE the Crazy Train and spruik for passengers! You probably take sport and games too seriously as well, I bet you think nothing of quitting a computer game or walking off the pitch just as you're about to lose. I BET YOU HATE CRUNCHY NUT CORNFLAKES NUT CLUSTERS AS WELL. Christ! I bet you... hang on, I need a new number.

10. Religious Fanatics

You think that The Bible, The Quran, The Dungeons and Dragons Codex (revision 73) are as real as real as real can be. You think that not following these texts to the letter means that you will burn in Hell / Always roll a 1 on a 20-sided dice. You think that you're *better* than everyone because 'You've "found" [Deity of Choice]'. You think you are the keeper of the most wonderous secret and that everyone else is a heathen/heretic/fails save vs death rolls. You think that unless the world is governed according to strict religious principles then it'll turn to shit.

I have news for you - it turns out, that when a nation IS governed by strict religious principles, bad things happen. Women are punished if they don't cover up (what kind of fucked up rule is that? Women are beautiful creatures. You'd think that the Patriarchal Religious Right would demand that they DON'T cover up. Weird.). Women are killed for talking to a random bloke, men and women alike are punished for drinking certain drinks, eating certain foods, discussing certain topics, listening to certain music (or ANY music for that matter). What kind of fucked up system is that?

Sure, I can identify with a few of the 'rules'. Don't murder? I can deal with that. Don't steal shit? I can deal with that. Respect your parents? Sure, as long as they respect me in turn (which they do). Most things are a two-way street. Yes, oppression is a terrible thing, but yes, there are some boundaries a society should operate within - fairly wide boundaries one would hope.

I have no problem (contrary to popular belief) with people having a belief system. No problem at all. If someone wants to avoid eating pork/drinking nice wine/wearing nice clothes/discovering new information, they can, and more power to them (figure of speech, I don't mean ACTUAL power, that's just silly). If they want to believe that a guy lived 2000 years ago and turned water to wine and walked on water and came back from the dead and was the son of an invisible sky wizard, then they should be allowed to do so. My problem comes from them saying 'So and so told me to do it' or 'I should do this because [Insert Here] says so' or, my favourite, 'You must do this because this book tells you to'. Free Will, people. There might be some lessons to be learned from these stories (like all stories, really. I learned alot from Roald Dahl's stories... for better or worse). Just take them with a grain of salt, and don't feel guilty for doing so. I'll leave this picture as food for thought.

Cheers guys