Thursday, July 30, 2009

You Spin Me Right Round

E@L was looking closely at the iMac monitor as he pressed Publish on the Blogger page. Fucking shopping malls.

Then he sat back in his chair, as you do when you feel your neck starting to seize up and it was as if someone had pulled a switch in his brain. His visualisation of the position of the computer monitor incredibly stayed where it was, then a pause, and it rocked into its new, correct location... and there was this weird sensation, as if his brain was sliding within the confines his skull... Woah!

He turned to look to left and the same visual delay occurred, the same sensation of a sliding brain. It was like those shots on TV or movies when the person in the shot leans forward and grabs the camera to shake it. Certain scenes in Fightclub for example, when the frame jumps, only in really... slow... motion...

about 2:29 into this cool mash-up

E@L thought he knew what this was straight away...

He tried to stand. Getting up he felt the floor rocking underneath his feet, like a slow motion wobble-board. He began to lean slightly to the left and had to hold onto the frame of his sleigh-bed. Wow. Every movement he made strengthened the sensation of his room having a viscous liquidity. It wasn't a severe effect, only slightly different from normal, but still enough to be frightening.

He moved to the bathroom, walking on jello, and sat down. He peed, and thought "What the hell is going on?" It's only vertigo... He worried that if nausea came with this he might be up-loading his medications to the toilet...

Vertigo. That ear infection he had had a fortnight ago had probably not cleared up entirely and there was some residual gunk in his semicircular canals.

Back at the computer, he Wiki'd 'vertigo' and checked out some manoeuvres to make it go away... But watching the monitor was a little awkward too, like reading in a car. He decided it was best to go to bed and try to sleep it off...

Then, somehow internally, in his consciousness, he felt a brief blast of something unclicking, undoing, sliding like a liquid zipper, and reality returned for just a flash - only long enough for him to confirm that the previous and ensuing sensations were definitely not normal.

And the feeling of instability returned seamlessly... Fuck.

There was no spiralling, no consistent direction in which his world floated. If he turned to his left, the world rocked to the left. If he turned to the right, the world turned to the right, after a slight delay, with him.

He lay in bed for a while. Fine. Some music would be nice. He flipped onto his side to hit SLEEP on the clock-radio.... Woosh... the world rocked severely by 90deg. Oops. Slowly does it boy, take your time.

A few more SLOW movements into a comfortable position... and the music plays softly... ... ...

He woke up. It was still only 11:30. Maybe the music had stopped.

He instantaneously recognised that the vertigo had gone. He sat up. He was fine, his perception back to normal... Off to the toilet again and no problem with the floor twisting underneath him, with the world doing a shaky-cam.

It had lasted about two hours. Two hours in a liquid universe.

Spooky, mystic, weird.


(Already antibiotics for the chest, so no point yet in seeing a Dr about this. Unless it returns.)

The Uniqueness Of The American Health System

Viewed by someone on the outside, as well as some on the inside, the only unique thing about the American Health System is that it's majorly fucked.

A closely related rhetorical device — the idea that Americans or American values are “unique” — also deserves attention. For example, Emanuel describes individualism and equality of opportunity as “uniquely American.”1 Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, asserts that a public–private hybrid is essential because it is a “uniquely American solution.”3 Others describe rugged individualism as a “uniquely American” value that makes us “reluctant to provide our tax dollars to support someone else’s health care.”4 Such defiant-sounding assertions imply that “uniqueness” is a matter of pride and an end in itself. But these generalizations are impossible to prove, a distraction in the debate, and ultimately irrelevant. What is relevant is whether a solution works, not whether it is unique. Indeed, the aspect of the current U.S. system that is truly unique among developed countries is its failure to cover everyone — hardly something to brag about. Brett, “American Values” — A Smoke Screen in the Debate on Health Care Reform, NEJM:July29,2009. [Emphasis E@L]

Much as I whinge about Australia, at least I can rock up at any A&E (EMD) and once triaged I can (eventually) get looked at, regardless of my insurance status.

This is a great article about the health care reform debate going on in rugged, individualistic America at the moment, and it's free to everyone at the incredibly well respected New England Journal of Medicine, as if you haven't got enough to read on the topic as it is!


ION - I'm Off

The newest, most elite, shopping mall in Singapore is a disaster. ION Singapore has a lot of hype to live up to and a lot of inconvenient road diversions to apologize for. But it fails. To quote a buddy, "The park was better."

"It feels like a basement," he went on.

I agree. The sense of being underground is almost claustrophobic as the walls of the unopened shops seem to close in on you. The walkways run in eccentric loop around three foci, sort of like a clover, and you can never see very far ahead of you. At any given time it's almost impossible to say where you are. Maybe there may be a greater sense of space when the boards come down when the next lot of stores open, but I doubt it. Signage is terrible. When you come down an elscalator you might expect some information on the shops on this new level, but obviously, at this supposed high level of shopping, information is .

And I have strange memory that there was no seating in the food court. That can't be right can it? Sorry, I only glanced into that area, but if there is seating, it is restricted.

Now it's also easy to get lost in the huge Vivocity mall (close to where I work) down near Sentosa which is similarly multicurved (it's meant to be sixties trippy) but at least there you feel the openness of their large space. It's more of an agoraphobic response in Vivo.

In ION, you might as well be in the Cu Chi tunnels outside Saigon.

"Where everything comes together," says their slogan. What they failed to say is how cramped that coming together is going to feel.


The facade of ION is just that. A facade. Like Vivocity, the exterior of the building is all just tacked onto a conventional rectanguloid building. ION's glitzy blue glass curves are not intrinsic to the structure of the building. It's all for show. Unlike truly iconic buildings such as the Sydney Opera House where the external shape IS the structure of the building, this is just a meretricious facade.

Australian architect Robin Boyd wrote a book about the horror, as he saw it, of Australian architecture in the fifties, of the plain structure with extra things stuck on like a Mr Potato-head game that was the way homes were built in those times. He called his book, "The Great Australian Ugliness".

If I was writing about these examples of modern Singaporean architecture, I would call it "The Great Singaporean Speciousness," for under the shiny surface it's banal, restrictive and claustrophobic.

Speciousness is of course the dominant philosophy of Singapore, so I guess I shouldn't expect much else.


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Google Books At The End Of Tether

So what do y'all think about Google Books?

I'm finding it moderately useful. I like the idea of grabbing those books in the no-mans-land of "out-of-print". You can't get them in the bookstores and you can't get them on Gutenberg, or other copyright-free sites. But I haven't actually managed to get to such a position yet. I believe the site is limited at the moment. But it is still works excellently for the books that ARE scanned. Of course if you want to cut and paste to fluff up some thin blog posts or school assignments, you'll have to try some OCR software I guess.

But otherwise, fine so far.

Example: So I am searching for a copy of H.G. Wells remarkably pessimistic final work, "Mind At The End Of Its Tether", either on-line or in print. This is the one Colin Wilson analyses in the "The Outsider" (remember when that was THE book? I was ten or so.) This is way far the least popular of Wells' work.


Why do I want it? Hey, because it is unpopular of course! And to complement my Schopenhauer reading of course. Wells was not a happy person at this time, his diabetes was literally killing him, the Second World War was killing everyone else...

"In the face of our universal inadequacy . . . man must go steeply up or down and the odds seem to be all in favor of his going down and out. If he goes up, then so great is the adaptation demanded of him that he must cease to be a man. Ordinary man is at the end of his tether."

Depressing? Well, one could answer with Eliot's:

'There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious.
But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there’s only the trying.
The rest is not our business.'

and say, hey we are talking the bookends of WWII here, lots of people felt useless and inadequate at that time. It was the mid-Twentieth Century, that cataclysmic period of the failure of belief systems...



Nope, there is no copy of it at Gutenberg, though lots of Wells's other stuff.

But, woo-hoo, Google Books finds several available editions, including a recent one - edited by Wilson! - that comes witn another late work, "The Happy Turning" (includes an interview with Jesus in Heaven). However they are not scanned, and therefore unavailable for on-line reading. There is only a snippet preview of some older edition which shows nothing...

Sour face. :-(

I could go to Amazon and buy it I guess, or...

...or get Google Books to do a library search for me! Bingo (after I re-enter my location), up comes the National Library of Singapore, which has a copy on the shelf. Hey, I can pay my membership (Public Library NOT Free!!!!!!!!), borrow myself their copy, scan it at work, it's only 64 pages, and read it on my iPhone PDF reader!


Then after absorbing all that uplifting stuff, I'll be feeling so great I'll have go looking for some nice Japanese girls to help me slit my wrists!

So cute!



Needy surroundings and poverty produce pain; while, if a man is more than well off, he is bored. Accordingly, while the lower classes are engaged in a ceaseless struggle with need, in other words, with pain, the upper carry on a constant and often desperate battle with boredom. [Constant reader, that'd be you and me. E@L] The inner or subjective antagonism arises from the fact that, in the individual, susceptibility to pain varies inversely with susceptibility to boredom, because susceptibility is directly proportionate to mental power.

Let me explain.

A dull mind is, as a rule, associated with dull sensibilities, nerves which no stimulus can affect, a temperament, in short, which does not feel pain or anxiety very much, however great or terrible it may be. Now, intellectual dullness is at the bottom of that vacuity of soul which is stamped on so many faces, a state of mind which betrays itself by a constant and lively attention to all the trivial circumstances in the external world. This is the true source of boredom--a continual panting after excitement, in order to have a pretext for giving the mind and spirits something to occupy them. The kind of things people choose for this purpose shows that they are not very particular, as witness the miserable pastimes they have recourse to, and their ideas of social pleasure and conversation: or again, the number of people who gossip on the doorstep or gape out of the window [??? So it's crime to look out my window at the boats coming in? E@L]. It is mainly because of this inner vacuity of soul that people go in quest of society, diversion, amusement, luxury of every sort, which lead many to extravagance and misery.

Can you imagine having this guy over for dinner?

"So, Artie, what do you think about the Cats this year? Bit off-the-boil, eh? Reckon they can regroup before the finals?"

It'd be a scream. Except for the ladies, whom he would trying to have intercourse with, on a level much more personal than social. An inverterate and remorseless fucker of young ladies was our Mr Schopenhauer, at least according to Irwin Shalom's book, The Schopenhauer Cure.


Sorry but once you start reading Schopenhauer go on about misery and other people, you have to keep reading because the laughs just keep on coming!


Problem Solved - Other Problems Solveable By Attitude Adjustment?

Ignore the last post, gentle readers. As the iPhone has no scroll-bar to indicate the length of a page, the controls I was looking for were hidden at the very top of the page of comments, above the very first comment in the conversation. All I had to do was scroll up.

Normal transmission shall shortly resume.


"How are you E@L? You don't look so well!" - our Office Manager's comment this morning when I got into the office.

Let me tell you how I am....

Doc says I have a chest infection. Productive cough for two weeks or so, some restriction of breathing, particularly after walking up - even down - the steps to the elevated Bangkok Skytrain (thought I was going to have a stroke!), slight fever. Some slight thickening at the left lung base on my CXR. Might be Swine Flu, could be SARS (CXR would be a "white-out"), most likely just a routine chest infection. Take some antibiotics says Doc.

"Have a mask," she says, offering the box.

So my shortness of breath is not JUST because the newest tablets (Remeron) have increased my appetite and therefore I have put on 2kgs in a fortnight (maybe it was the excellent Chiang Mai cuisine). Some of that weight gain might be fluid retention as my ankles and feet are swelling more than usual too. A lot more than usual. Doc worries that it might be a DVT, so I have to scan my own leg later. I've had to go out and buy some compression stockings - and of course I threw out my old pair, un-needed for six years, in a spring-clean only two months ago!

I feel crap. ... OR I did feel crap until I answered you, now I feel better!


Note that I didn't say "more than normal", for what is 'normal'?

The distribution of disease in the population is such that, on average, most people have at least something wrong with them, while many, like myself, are pestered by an affliction of a host of small to medium annoyances. So it must be 'normal' to be a little bit sick, by definition.

But I am not happy about this relative normalcy.

I agree with Schopenhauer* who says that:

And, in general, nine-tenths of our happiness depends upon health alone. With health, everything is a source of pleasure; without it, nothing else, whatever it may be, is enjoyable; even the other personal blessings,--a great mind, a happy temperament--are degraded and dwarfed for want of it. So it is really with good reason that, when two people meet, the first thing they do is to inquire after each other's health, and to express the hope that it is good; for good health is by far the most important element in human happiness.

No wonder I grumble so much. No wonder Miami blogger Creepy, with diverticulitis and surgery coming up, often seems angry at everyone, and depressed. And we wish him the best for his procedure...

Actually friemds are now more wary of asking how I am going, because I am liable to launch into a long description (such as this one) of the shooting pains my toes were getting, of their extreme sensitivity to cold or to the lightest of touches (such as bed-sheets, ow, can't sleep!), of the 'just run a marathon in heels' feelings I constantly have had in the balls of my feet for the last four years (only intermittently before that), of the swelling in my ankles and feet that has been increasing in severity for the last month. They might even get a vivid description of the weird sensations of foot oedema; the swishing feel of the fluid under the shiny bloated skin on the top of me feet, the eerie trickling down sensation of the fluid in my ankleflesh from the swollen area above into the narrow area at the elastic when I remove my tight socks at the end of day, that itchy chillblain burning...

And if it is depressing to hear about this, it IS much more depressing to be the sick one. And it's a cycle that reinforces itself. Schopenhauer said this in the passage that preceded the one quoted above, but I'll quote it now:

How much our happiness depends upon our spirits, and these again upon our state of health, may be seen by comparing the influence which the same external circumstances or events have upon us when we are well and strong with the effects which they have when we are depressed and troubled with ill-health. It is not what things are objectively and in themselves, but what they are for us, in our way of looking at them, that makes us happy or the reverse. As Epictetus says, "Men are not influenced by things, but by their thoughts about things".

And I think that I am sick, but at this moment I'm probably only slightly worse than normal.

Health Issues:

    1: Chronic peripheral nueralgia (foot pain) and surgery did not help, running out of medication options - the last four tab have had REALLY awful side-effects
    2: ^BP moving into metabolic syndrome with impiared glucose tolerance, and chronically medicated.
    3: obesity and exercise averse (I was a good sports-kid at school though.)
    4: productive cough and slight fever (abnormal chest X-ray = chest infection)
    5: oedema of lower legs L>R, probably related to current medication for 1, above, or as result of 3., chest infection (increased pulmonary resistance, slows fluid transport down).

Completely coincidentally, because I had almost finished this post when I read it, Creepy had just linked to this Time article!

A study just published in the journal Psychological Science says trying to get people to think more positively can actually have the opposite effect: it can simply highlight how unhappy they are.

That chimes perfectly with the conclusion I was about to write anyway - I do enjoy it when people ask me how I feel, because talking about how sick I am makes me feel a hell of a lot better!


(p.s. Leg veins from groin to ankle are clear and 100% compressible, with spontaneous cardiopedal flow and the Doppler augmentation is normal.)

* I found the quote with Google Books, but had to go to Gutenberg to CrtlC, CtrlV it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

For My New Joyzee Reader(s)

Yes, SMS is called Message.

After I click Edit, I get this screen.

You can email your screenshots and we can compare. Address is in my profile (oops, now it is).


Sorry, everyone else, the conversation is prologued back a few posts.

Speaking of podcasts, I notice that once I've listened to them on my iPod, they disappear and cannot be reloaded from iTunes. WTF!





It's a chewy sour bread, often made with rye rather than wheat, from a batch of lactobacillus souring some dough.

Just because the (hi-top!) loaf of bread has a dusting of flour on top does not mean it is sourdough. If that's how you tell your breads apart, maybe you shouldn't be running a restaurant.


Briefly, because it's late and I feel my feet swelling as I sit here, had brunch this noon-ish with Indy and GF and as part of my order, I asked for sourdough toast. Indy's sausages and eggs, as specified, came with WHITE toast. My toast looked suspiciously fucking identical to his toast. It was white, soft and had been baked in a tin, so it had a high-top crust. Sourdough, being yeast-free, doesn't rise as much, so it is usually baked as a roll loaf. OK sometimes, it can be baked in a tin, but that's not what I was expecting, classy restaurant, etc...

I figured the waitress (nice girl but vague, worked everywhere around, you know her) had got the order wrong - she'd had to check three times about the coffees and juices - so I sent it back.

White toast is a no-no. a) it's fucking boring, and b) glucose intolerance is on the cusp for me and that slice of toast might have tipped me over. I'm going for a repeat test in a fortnight and had hoped to show an improvement.

The same toast came back, with the girl saying it WAS sourdough.

I shrugged, pushed plate to side, don't worry; I ate my granola with yoghurt and fruit, chatted away... ANOTHER waitress sees there is a problem and takes it away, after I briefly give her the rundown. She comes back with a fresh lot of toast, also high-top, also white, ditto Indy's and she says, "This is sourdough, the cook says it is."

E@L takes a bite. This is white bread.

Whatever. Not one to make a scene, he eats it, if only to get his Vegemite hit.


Then over comes the manager, with the guff about the flour on top, therefore it's sourdough. And finally, the killer line which pinpoints their incompetence:

"It's what they deliver when we order sourdough."


OK so maybe it IS white high-top sourdough. How fucking white people is that! Point remains that it was identical to the stuff on Indy's plate, and he had ordered a dish with WHITE bread! Identical to the point of being the SAME BREAD probably from the SAME FUCKING LOAF.

What sort of choice is that for a customer, particular one who doesn't just judge bread by the presence of a dusting of flour on top or not, what sort of culinary decision is it to have two white high-top breads that are identical, but one is sourdough (allegedly) and the other isn't.


Fuck, I don't know.

Sturgeon's Law.


(Bonus question: would you call Vegemite, honey, and strawberry jam, as a group [with toast], "preserves"?)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Decisions Deferred Definitively

Just a quick line about "the Mother" (and other issues) whom I promised I wouldn't blog about but Spike's worries about his mom changed my mind.

My mother (Mum) is 84 and similarly comes from a line that usually require dispatching with 2x4s. Mum lives alone at the ancestral (since 1960) family home. We've just had a bit of worry about her heart due to a sudden increase in exercise-induced breathlessness, and getting the right tests done and getting them done in a timely manner has required a bit of prodding from yours truly via long-distance calls from the humid open-air corridors of up-country Thailand hospitals. E@L's sister however still lives nearby and has been doing the main (and with stalwart efforts indeed) job of keeping her on the right track. But does E@L feel awkward being this far away from Melbourne and letting his sister do the actual footwork and the daily keeping in touch? You bet. Should E@L consider heading home to pull weight as his mum's Golden (if wayward and prodigal) Son?

The Number One Son is well and truly of rutting age and in what seems a stable long-term relationship, so there's only as thin layer of latex (maybe something more, who knows; one doesn't like to pry) separating E@L from grandfatherhood. What if the S-O gets broody and they decide to pop one out? Should E@L head back to Melbourne and be conveniently around for occasional (and only urgent!) baby-sitting duties? And of course to strut around flashing photos of himself with the new kid?

Finally, unlike Spike, this job looks set to provide another tour of duty or two, and even if this company lets me go, the distributor in Thailand would give me a subsistence position easily enough. I was even offered one by the Philips distributor in Thailand when I left my previous job in 2003. Some of the hospitals in Singapore or Hong Kong would also be keen to take me, I am sure. Was offered one last week in fact. Sometimes it's nice to have a niche skill-set. So that is not an issue. Where to retire though, when that decision needs to be made? Zurich?

Melbourne is on Spike's quoted list of livable cities.



E@L has decided to defer his procrastination on these issues to a later time, to be decided later.

It's dinner time in Bangkok. Where to go? - there's a tasty decision!


New Yorker Podcast Blues

Been listening to the short story podcasts from The New Yorker. Fantastic. Absolutely brilliant.

Tobias Wolff's amazingly memorable "Bullet In The Head" read by T.C. Boyle, Nabokov's wonderfully understated (for him) "Symbols and Signs" (aka "Signs and Symbols") read by Mary Gaitskill, James Thurber's very amusing but not, thankfully, funny "The Wood Duck" read by Jonathem Lethem, Denis Johnson's scary - if you're not used to hospitals - and yet amusingly wry "Emergency" read by Tobias Wolff (yes, it's a closed circle of writers, I'm not the first to be thinking), Paul Theroux reading Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Gospel According to Mark”, etc...

You get the idea. Great writers reading other great writers. Oh, read the list yourselves... linked above.

Blues, you said. Problem?

Sigh. I can get iTunes to synch to them on the iMac at home with no problem and I can put them on my iPod which only synchs to the iMac, but when I try to imitate this feat on the laptop PC (at work, or travelling) to get them onto my iPhone, the iTunes there says these podcasts are not available in Singapore. WTF? Since when is my iMac's home in Novena not in Singapore?

This means I cannot put the podcasts onto my iPhone, which is where I really want them, so that I can get cultured whilst sitting around waiting, as I do mostly, and then take calls as they come in, without missing them due to having my noise-cancelling ear-buds in, which is what is going to happen now with my iPod.

The iPhone only synchs to the laptop PC. This is a royal pain.

I've tried to use SuperSynch to get them off the iPod and into the iTunes library on my laptop, but SuperSynch only seems to read the music files on the iPod, not the freaking podcasts.


I've tried Doubletwist, but of course it doesn't work a) with iPhone V3 software, or b) with iTunes on the iMac.


OK it's no real big deal, just annoying. This just means I will have to keep dragging my iPod AND my iPhone (and my Nokia e71 which has a Thailand chip in it, but the damn True provider can never find a 3G signal!) around with me (and keeping an eye on the iPhone for calls and SMSs) on my increasingly frequent - based on what standard? - travels.

And given that I've lost my sunglasses, my normal glasses and my house keys all in the last three days, chances are not looking good for this trio to stay together long.


Another issue is that I can't read a book and listen to a short story at the same time. Or can I? Does it matter, as I can never remember what they were about anyway. Except "Bullet In The Head" - like I said above, I'll remember that one.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Max Keiser Next CEO @ Goldman-Sachs?

That's the rumour...

Maybe not...

No, definitely not.


"That's like saying it's too late for honesty, it's too late for integrity, it's too late for civilization."

Gotta love Max, because we know he's SO right, these G-S guys ARE scum, are CROOKS, are financial terrorists and yes they should be prosecuted... yet he delivers the bad news SO well, that somehow he gets away with it! He's so eccentric that he's the most sane person commenting on economy in the world.

As for the French guy's idea of a global mega-IMF - well fuck that. That's always the answer. The world biggest bank has failed us (and the 3rd world)(repeatedly) because IT'S NOT BIG ENOUGH?

For as you know, E@L thinks the whole financial system is flawed at a deep, intrinsic level. As the French guy correctly says, if the financial world doesn't reflect the real world, it must be totally fucked. (Or words to that effect.)


(yes, in a YouTube state of mind. Hat tip (oops, not with a motorcycle helmet) to Friskodude.)

Smells Like Rickrolling...

Hat-tip to Chris Myrick, yet another blogger swallowed by Facebook, where I found his link to this.


Ow, Toefucker!

I decided to make some guacamole with the one and half left over avocados from last night's salad and I chopped up a small chili to add some zest and three hours later I'm alone in the flat watching chick fliks on the TV (The Jane Austen Book Club) because I don't have to pretend to be a tough, smart, mature, world-weary innerlcheral as Izzy's not there watching and I go to wipe away a tear when Jimmy Smits turns up on the beach, and


and well that killed me for twenty minutes but I have to agree with the young bloke who goes along to read all those Austen books and ends up falling in lerve - any book by Ursula K. Le Guin is bound to be a bloody good read.


Arcade Fire are pretty good too - for some reason (Antichrist Television Blues) and Keep The Car Running are on repeat while I type this. Ah, I'm audio testing. I just rigged up a small ADC amp for my computer speakers... and nope. It's OK for headphones but way too boomy for the Bose tabletop speakers.

There is no image to this video (is that an oxymoron?) as all the other ones have crap sound - this is a post about E@L being a wanker audiophile after all, and besides the lead singer looks too much like the kid in the remake of Funny Games and that spooks me, 'cause remember, I'm in the house alone.

Speak of high tech... Next ventures:

a) the TV is dying again. It's not quite as bad as the previous failure, but the dark colors and shadows are going this digital 16-shade of shiny brown. Horrible. Can't think what it reminds me of. And as my mate is leaving Philips this week I've gotta rush an Old Boys purchase on Mate's Rates.

b) A new DVD/CD player is required that plays multiple discs and enhanced audiophile CDs as well as cheap BKK pirate discs. Because playing the iPod through the proper HiFi in lounge-room is god awful, though acceptable for parties... or for Izzy (xoxox).


Why the fuck am I telling you all this shite???????????????????????????


Monday, July 20, 2009

What? Led, you hear?

Was playing Beethoven's Ninth actually.


Creepy just has a viewing of some the searches that brought people to his site. Obviously many of them are in the Jacuzzi as we speak…

This is a time-honored Blog ritual. For weeks now bloggers have been wondering just what twisted logic Google searches engines use to throw their rantings up whenever something weird or sick gets entered into the little square box. I use SiteMeter. It's free. 'Nough said.

In my case, over the weekend, people (countries in brackets) who have been searching for :

1. (?) expat at large
2. (Singapore) don't be a singaporean
3. (blogsearch Australia) Momentary Madness. (Looks like they decided to come here instead!)
4. (USA) fuck chinese I movie
5. (USA) dr. godot
6. (UK) Thai bar girls get fukt movies
7. (Indonesia) expat@large blogspot
8. (UK) Chinese women I fucked
9. (UK) make bookshelves from railway sleepers
10. (?) you turn me right round
11. (?) expat at large
12. (Australia) expat at large
13. (Australia) pharmacist expat
14. (UK) hawker food centers in the center of Melbourne

have ended up at this very blog. Not at this very post, obviously, but the, you know, whole blog itself sorta thing.

Looks like the Brits are keen on having sex on a recycled bookshelf with Thai and Chinese girls in hawker centers. And it looks like they and the umpires are going to win the Second Test at Lords as well.


Did want to talk about my health issues, but my chest is too tight [cough, cough] (not Swine flu) and my feet are too swollen, so I put my feet up and watched Lantana instead.

Won every award in Australia but sunk without a trace in the States. Anthony LaPaglia ditches his fake US accent. Barbara Hershey looks as lost as her character, and I don't think that was intentional.

Best line: "This is not an affair, it's a one-night stand that happened twice."


Bedtime, sorry have to work tomorrow. No, I was not in Jakarta last week, (fucking Jemaah bastards), but I will be back in Bangkok (should I buy a flat?) on Wednesday! Think I'll skip the JW Marriott there, as well as in Hong Kong which, if the weather clears, I'll be visiting the week after.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Everything Is Shite, #453,211 - The UnMighty Mouse

I thought I was going crazy, I thought I was having a stroke, I'd thought that, just typical for me, I'd got me a LEMON... Then a buddy bought me a wireless replacement which worked fine, for a while, but soon enough, it went too. In EXACTLY the SAME WAY. Is it just everything or is me shite?

Fucking trying to scroll DOWN on my Apple mouse, nothing happens... but it goes up, the cocksocker! Fucking piece of McSHITE!

I thought maybe it was a software bug, so I did a search for a patch... Nope, it's hardware and I'm not alone.

Fuck, I threw out my old MS wireless mouse just the other day because the expired battery had corroded the pins. I'll have to buy a new one tomorrow.



An in unrelated news, a rash of rashes have broken out in the recently de-Izzied* E@L-GHQ because Singapore has run out of current fave, Dettol, talcum powder. Seems like it's not just Vegemite that has ebbs and surges in supply in Singapore. At least, my nearest Guardian has run out. "No stock," shrugged the pharmacist (I had to bother her as the clerk {OMG her teeth! - side issue} couldn't speak ANY English. What is she, a Malaysian scientist?)

Getting the right amount of zinc in your talc is crucial to a happy life in the tropics.


Americans are fat and getting fatter, and they are exporting their success!

E@L (I have had absolutely NO ice-cream today [It was OFF!]! The sherry flavored Wild Turkey though, I can't answer for that.)

* Iz is on an extended holiday in Europe.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Moral Calculus

[I put off posting this last night, and went to bed too tired to log on. Some of the references to being tired, lateness, etc... won't make sense as a result. Nevermind.]


I was going to write tonight about the Romance half of the equation from the other night, and then I was going to write about today's journey amongst the second-hand book-shops in Chiang Mai - big recommendation to Backstreet Books (no website) near the old city gate - but a foot massage and a hot bath got in the way. So, long as this post is, it could have been longer.

Quickly then, on the romance. You'll find a reference to this in some posts on my old blog, around January 2006, where I had said this:.

Speaking of hippies, E@L visited a great family-run pottery, home-stay, coffee-shop, garden local artist's enclave place built out of old (REALLY OLD) rice barns and various Thai-farmyard found objects - will get back to you on the details, they're in his room.

Throughout the visit vague and subtle fireworks of matrimonial set-up paranoia were sparkling in E@L's peripheral inner-vision as the conversation pointedly turned into Thai whenever the girls (newly-hitched Pla and recently divorced, very gorgeous, painter, University lecturer Unn) were looking in E@L's direction... Was the word farang just mentioned? Farang HUSBAND?!? Mum and dad seemed OH SO friendly to a total stranger...

Rrrunnnnnn AAAwwwwaaaaayyyyy, Brave Sir Robin...

Suffice to say, things haven't turned out well for the lass in question - long story short; pregnant to the wrong person again (coulda been me!) - and E@L fell under the scrutiny of a desperate mum and dad once more.


Not quite as quickly on the books. (You'll have to Google the books I mention if you're interested, as I am drafting this off-line; only have a few minutes of internet time remaining in my room account.)

I felt the need (from what turbid depths do these urge arise?) for something new to browse whilst having my Java Frappuccino at Starbucks (not another insipid Cappuccino "Ice-Boom" from WaWee Coffee, please!) now that the work day was over. (At four o'clock. They pay me for this?) Yes, I needed something heavier than the clutch of little books I bought on Monday.


Thinking of other books (such as Wide Sargasso Sea) that I started and never completed, I remember that I had borrowed William T Vollman's You Bright and Risen Angels from a weird young stoner hospital orderly I worked with; shit, it must just have been published in those days, and I'm not sure I ever gave it back. I know I didn’t finish it because I bought his Whores For Gloria and The Ice-Shirt when they came out and never finished them either. Strangely, that stoner orderly who walked round with the book in his pocket, ostentatiously taking it out to ruminate over a favorite passage every now and then between bringing patients down for barium enemas (I'm talking way, way before endoscopy, Creepy) or whatever dehumanizing thing we would inflict upon them, was the spitting image of the young Vollman (in the snippets of photos I had seen of him then. Vollman, not the orderly). I call him young because he is the same age as Michael Jackson. (Vollman, not the orderly.) It was pointless him (the orderly, not Vollman) being such a pseude about the book, because I was the only one who gave a fuck about literature in the entire hospital, apart from out part-time night-shift girl (who knew someone who went with a girl who was living in Helen Garner's Monkey Grip house and had put me onto Anna Kavan) and I kept pestering him so much to browse the truly wonderful chapter epigraphs in that book, he eventually lent it (gave it?) to me, so *I* ended up walking around all day with this huge, unread rectangular bulge in my radiographer's lab-coat pocket, feeling interlecheral but being a major psuede in my turn. Then he got sacked. (The orderly, not me, not Vollman.)

Anyway, I've no idea where it is now (the book), though my sister hints at revelations boxed in her garage, like the Dead Sea Scrolls, what?

Vollman strikes me as being someone a Chiang Mai visitor would read. A poverty-class intellectual, professional whore-monger, a verbal historian of the underclass, a little bit out there with his guns and maybe some libertarian beliefs (?) and I'm thinking some violent/revolutionary tendencies from reading too much Ché Guevara in kindergarten, and mostly, his extreme volubility and unending supply of one-upmanship travel stories. I'll have to find out more about him. Someday.

So I figure there'd have to be a copy of YBARA in a second-hand book-store somwhere in Chiang Mai. Surely. Such an alternative touristy place, the exact type of place my old hospital orderly would frequent - if he kept a job long enough to get money for airfare.

Big assumption?

Long story short: third book-shop I went into. BINGO! I am fucking brilliant about these things.

Just for interest sack I went into the bookshop next door, Backstreet Books, and it was, as mentioned, much better than the many musty Gecko ones and it has a much larger range - an excellent range in fact of both second-hand and new books. Mostly paperbacks, not too many hardback 1st edition Graeme Greene's lost in here. B-S Books even has an Oirish Literature Section and I grabbed a fair condition paperback copy of Banville's The Untouchable. It was manned by a rambling, mumbling, slightly eccentric but CHARMING Irishman (didn't get his name), so that figures...

But the major score for the evening in Backsteet Books was another work by Billy Tom Vollman! Step forward again, sir!

Rising Up and Rising Down - Some Thoughts on Violence, Freedom and Urgent Means is the abridged (only 734 pages) version of Vollman's seven volume, 23 years in the writing, magnum opus of the same name. This is Viking Saga stuff. Wow. This is not a book you'd find in any old bookstore!

So much of Vollman's stuff is basically interviews with the strange people he meets, right? Which is fascinating in itself when you go to the extreme places Vollman likes to head to, but in this work he uses those interviews as case studies in violence, freedom and, well you know the rest. In these condescension-free interviews he focuses on why people who have committed acts of violence did the things they did, how they got to be where they were - in the position of thinking violence was the right thing to do, etc…

I read a bit of the South-East Asia section - in the mid 90's Vollman spoke directly to rebels and leaders in the southern Thailand… fascinating for me, in light of the continuing struggles in the provinces there, and, obviously, me being in Thailand at the moment.

However, right in the heart of the book, the pumping heart to the meat of the rest of it, is Vollman's Moral Calculus. He uses these case studies to derive a way to assign some sort of moral value to these peoples' acts of violence, terror or rebellion. The Calculus is centred around that pan-religious ethic - the Golden Rule. He breaks it all down methodically, with schoolboyish assiduousness.

So when that Thai rebel in Pattani shot and killed an unarmed government worker, and admitted being pleased as he did it, was he justified? To calculate; fold Justification 5(d) to Punishment 4(a) and divide by Maxim For Tyrants (3) until the edge of Definition 5.3.C1 is just visible on the corner. Sort of thing.

Anyway I don’t think Vollman really expects his Calculus to usurp plain common sense, or the International Court of The Hague for that matter, but by using this vast and exhaustive approach he certainly has humanized the problem of violence, even evil, and if he makes any of us think more deeply before assigning blame or making overhasty judgments on issues like terrorism and political violence, when the question of who are the rebels or terrorists and who the government arises, as it so often does in the third world, then it will have been 23 years not wasted.

Obviously I have only skimmed the book (whilst in a German Beer Garden drinking Erdinger Dunkels) so this is only a brief first impression, not a deep and researched review.

And I feel, like the orderly with YBARA in his pocket, that no-one out there really cares about me and this book.

What a revelation.


(Sorry if this doesn't read easily; late, first draft - I try rewriting it on Friday, or tomorrow if I have time.)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Just a note to say that bottle of Semillon/ChloeSauvignon must've been off. I feel a tad wobbly.

Choice of restaurants on the Ping river: too loud, too crowded, or too trendy. I went the trendy one because I could read from my selection of second-hand book treats in peace.

The choicest: either Longinus on "The Sublime" [As in the human body, so also in diction swellings are bad things...], or a 1960 paperback of Dylan Thomas's Adventures in The Skin Trade. Close third: three of Strinberg's plays in an early Penguin Classic edition, followed by Jean Rhys's second novel Quartet, followed by a Signet edition of One Day In The Life of Ivan Denisovich and a great treatise on Babylonian Heavan and Hell poems - quite pertinent!

There were many exquisite books for the taking, but I have only so much time left - that's why all of the above purchases are compact (no swelling!), with nothing over 200 pages.


Monday, July 13, 2009


Today's round of golf played like one (or more) of the forty thousand PG Wodehouse golf stories (each a perfect gem and perfectly amusing to boot) with E@L as the hapless twit who inevitably bungles both the golf game AND the romance.


But first let me tell you how fucked I am. I am fucking fucked. The fuck with that, I am way fucking fucked beyond simply fucking fucked. In fuckt, the fucknicity of my befuckedness fuckers belief. I am so fucked, the fucktoids of my fucktedenal gland have become refuckulous. It is prefucktosiously imfucktable for me to go to fucking work tomorrow, that's how fucked I am. I am fucknaceously and efucktably fuckdeded.

To quote Lily Von Stupp, I am gefückt.

Everything below the ears ist KAPUT!


Here is an example of the Wodehouserliness® of my game today. For the sake of being stuck between two fours and still with unending flights of fours up ahead, E@L has joined a group of local Thais who are pretty good golfers. There is one guy (let's call him ThaiHat) who has exceptional local knowledge and experience of the course. He's over fifty, semi-retired, very fit and strong, and plays this course every week. He doesn’t play textbook golf at all, his swing is short and choppy with no follow through, etc, etc, a million faults… yet he always out-drives, out-chips, and out-putts the others (but he doesn’t outdrive E@L! Not today he doesn't!). The skill with which he uses the weaknesses in his game, on this course, is such that they seem like strengths. You know the type. The local amateur champ. He swings like the owner of the course in Caddyshack, he really does, yet takes pars consistently and if often putting for birdie! He walks off the green and gets into his cart before others have finished putting, he drives his cart to his ball far beyond where others are still hitting, yet he is affable and pleasant to talk to. Like a true arsehole. Lke E@L thought later, a cop.

Well anyway, E@L had finally worked out what was wrong with his short game - he had only brought his sand-wedge in the traveler's half-set and he had been playing it like it was, and thinking it indeed was, in reality, his pitching wedge. Fucking idiot. That explains why he was playing so well from the bunkers, yet coming up 15 yards short on his approach shots. Also, as he'd put only an 8 iron as his next club down, there was this glaring gap in firepower whenever he was between 130 and 90 yards from the green… (which all golfers will knows is about the second most common distance from which one approaches the green).

Yes, so E@L has finally realized his club selection error on the par five 17th and is feeling much more confident, so much so that he is on in regulation, though his sand-wedge from 70 yards (How hard to hit it? He can't work it out now) has left him on the lower end of the green with a 30ft uphill putt for birdie.

As E@L is lining up for the putt, ThaiHat seems fit to remind E@L that this is a, "Birdie putt!" E@L chuckles and says, "Yes, it is." He resets his stance and lines the putt up once more. "Uphill," says ThaiHat as E@L is just about to take the head of the club back. "And for a million dollars," quips E@L who then finally makes his stroke, pissweakly, like he had no fucking breakfast, and way off to the fucking right…

It was like that pretty much AAAALLLLL day. Apart from off the tee, where E@L was slamming it brilliantly, straight and long, down the middle of the fairway - about 80% of time.

Which is why the romance part of this blog post has to wait, because just now,


is fucked.

[Addendum: just had a brilliant soak in the tub. Massage (gentle) tomorrow. And, damn: Forgot to check the final score; 48 out, probably close to the same coming in - two pars and one 8. Six balls lost to watery graves for the day.]

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Ear infection, sorted.

Back ache, lingering. Will I play golf in Chiang Mai tomorrow? Mmmm. Maybe Sunday.

Foot pain, status quo. The NEW new drug Remeron has a few side effects like drowsiness that kick in before the benefits do. Of course.

Only one hour on the internet card here in Le Meridien, cheers.


Not Self-Aware (I Am a Tourist In My Own Life)

I have real trouble turning off my internal narrator. The enthusiasm of this continuous monologue is what first made me think I should try my pen at writing/blogging. Then I found out most people have a voice inside their heads who comments on the action, that other people have their own internal narrators and that I was not unique after all. How disappointing, I thought it was just me. But no, we all have one.

Except for those people who, as Izzy insists, are Not Self Aware.

Like the guy tonight that everyone in our cheap Outback style Chiang Mai restaurant found out was from Las Vegas. He lives here, we all leanred, but those people he was with before, they were not his FREINDS, they were his NEIGHBOURS. The Vegan guy would not shut-up. He kept talking continuously at indiscreet volumes to the two Thai girls at his table. On and on he goes. "That happened to my mom, who is," he leans forwards and speaks slowly, "EIGHT EE SIX YEARS OLD." They kept eating, not looking at him. Wondering, what the fuck is he yelling at us about? No doubt. He then sends back his steak because it is "a touch more medium than well done. I prefer it more WELL-DONE/medium than medium/well-DONE, as I requested, so could the chef please JUST COOK it a little bitty MORE, thank you sir, I'd appreciate that." The blank-faced waiter nodded and took the meat back to the kitchen, shrugging his shoulders to the chef.

My waiter rolled his eyes. Tourists. Not self aware, as a species.

This guy could not be self-aware as the voice in his head would not be able to get a word in edgewise. I often wonder, are people who talk incessantly like this capable of… like, *contemplating* anything? Can they ever stop... and just… think? Ever? Are they afraid of what their inner narrator might tell them?

I'm trying to get rid of my inner narrator. I was once told he is slowing me down. Then again, other people say that I think too much. I'm not doing any thinking, of course, I'm just listening to the inner narrator. I've been presuming he's been doing the thinking for both if us and therefore knows what he's doing, and ergo facto, so do I.

Perhaps I should study my Eckhart Tollë a little more, eh? BE in my present. Stop listening to that inner voice. Stop worrying about the future and regretting the past (which is what my inner voice is or should be talking about, according to Tollë, rather than saying mundane things like "Long shot: Phillip picks up his fork and examines it for traces of dirt").

And keep those cheques and money orders coming in, says Eckhart.

Yes, I should stop being an actor in the movie that is my life and just live it without awareness. Like a brain-washed new-age zombie. Like a tourist.

As long as I am alive to live it that is.

I just hope that they way to achieve this inner calm is not by talking loudly to uncomprehending people in restaurants, like a total wanker.


The country town of Nan was a bit quiet last night.

Street market at 9pm. More street than market.


My narrator was haranguing me on helium for the drive back from Nan (on the Nan river, same river that flows through Phitsanulok from two weeks ago) to Chiang Mai; he was having a field day. I only wish I could recall some of it for you. Passages of great descriptive power, episodes of dramatic irony and then some of irony and drama by themselves. Discourses of great social and political import. All of them concerning feats of dangerous driving even more harrowing than earlier in the week. Feats to leave you gasping. More knife-edge curves and split-second swerves… More good luck than good decisions on the corners… It got to the point were E@L had to say, "Please DON'T text while you are driving at twice the recommended speed, on the wrong side of the road, going into a blind curve, with the setting sun right in your eyes!!"

Reply; a pleasant "Hoka-ay. No ploblem. Solly."

As I couldn’t sleep due to anxiety for the first hour of this trip and due to a full bladder for the last, I also wish that the pictures from my mental camera could be downloaded to share with you. Other than close-ups of oncoming trucks, I mean. Snaps of rice paddies reflecting the burnished clouds of sunset and the silhouettes of the hills.

Oops missed the rice paddies.

Snaps of the teak jungles draped in a suffocating omnipresent vine infestation. Snaps of village markets, rickety shanties on those hillsides, plus large modern mansions with satellite antennae. Snaps of the weather-beaten, lined and tanned face of the man pushing a tractor-tyred cart to the market, or the weary grandmother in traditional hill-tribe dress keeping a hand on the exhuberant children under her supposed control right by the road-side.

I think next time I'll go by bus.

This bus pulled up next to us at the lights in Lampuang.

Somebody, please explain.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Nan -- With The Lot II

E@L was kidnapped today. Taken from the Chiang Mai airport, whisked off in a dark van by a person who spoke no English, and driven for hours into places unknown.

"Are we going to my hotel?" asked E@L. "Le Meridien in Chiang Mai. I have booked on the internet for tonight until next Friday."

The driver looked confused. "No go Chiang Mai. Tonight I go witchew Nan."

Nan. That was the name of the hospital E@L was to do the demo at tomorrow.

"But tonight I stay Chiang Mai hotel, right"

"No, no. I take you Nan." It is a very long 'a' in Nan: Naaaaaaahn.

We had been driving for two hours already, which is why E@L thought he had better check.

"Nan is, tree, tree… tree tousant kilometer. Take [he held up three fingers] four hours more to drive. You go Nan two day, Chiang Mai I drive you Friday."

Shit. For some reason, E@L had done this trip's accommodation booking himself, online. That means he had to pay in advance. Shit. He had no idea that Nan Hospital was not in Chiang Mai. That there was actually an entire province, 200km (not 3000) from Chiang Mai, called Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahn.

E@L had confirmed with the Thai team about the trip twice, to makes sure there'd been no schedule changes. Yes, you can book, schedule no change. But no-one mentioned that Naaaaaaaahn was a separate place, distinct from Chiang Mai and that a separate hotel booking had to be made.

Shit. Why had E@L decided this one time to book himself and not just turn up, expecting everything to have been done for him? Mainly because they normally put him up in a shit hotel (the Imperial Pei) when he goes to Chiang Mai (which is rarely).

So he's gone searching online for nice deals at better establishments - like maybe a Lanna Villa somewhere, or maybe there'd be a special at a top-line hotel, seeing as how the Thailand Tourist Industry is a basket case at the moment. And there was. The lady who organizes his Thai trips could not get a better corporate rate than the on-line rate for the classy new Le Meridien in the heart of town, so she said he could book it himself. She neglected to tell him that he'd only need it from Friday, not from Wednesday.

Shit. Amazing drive though, over three mountain ranges. Fantastic scenery. Village tribes in hovels, kids playing by the side of the road, water-buffalo being driven up paths, terraced crops on the hillsides, wild jungle in several national parks, waterfalls,… As mentioned, it is about 200km as the crow flies, but more like 350km by road. Long and Very Winding Road. And it was lock to lock for the entire freaking trip across those mountains. E@L tried to sleep but was getting tossed awake at every corner. Sleep would have helped him not see the danger at each glance where his driver cut across the double yellow lines or overtook slower vehicles on the approach to a blind corner or a crest. And going as fast as he could, of course. Eventually, as they were coming into yet another blind hair-pin bend at speed and the driver pulled out across double yellow lines to overtake about 40 yards before the corner, E@L had to cry out: "No, no, pull back! Please, stop trying to kill me, OK?"

"OK, solly," the driver said, and from there on in he went like a grandmother going to church on Sunday. It took nearly six hours.

p.s. The hotel in Nan is shit.

(...but it has free Internet.)


I swear to doG I am going to die on one of these business trips. I've told you before. Check the old blog. Forget the immense cardiovascular risk factors, strokes, heart-attacks and prostate cancer.

E@L has his date with destiny as a passenger in a Datsun.


(Something to tide you over. From The Chronicles of Bruce)

Bruce finished his burger, licked his lips and scrunched up the burger-juice-filled paper to place it in the ash-tray.

Remember ash-trays? Remember cigarettes?

"True story," he said. Immediately I went into disbelief mode. It must have showed. "I kid you not." And he put on this butter-wouldn't-melt look which was quite hilarious on someone with his school-of-hard-knocks appearance. Big shoulders and arms to match his belly, a huge red head with no hair and a bristly goatee and moustache on his acne-pocked face. His thick fingers hardly seem long enough to wrap around the stubbie holder of Beer Chang, but he had already put two down while nibbling on his burger.

"OK" I said, "the hamburger story, let's hear it."

"Righto," he laughed and wet his whistle. "You know Soi Cowboy, right? You're not a total beginner here, right?"

I nodded. I knew it. I fingered the label on my coaster.

"Here's the set-up: This is a few years ago, before I was living here. We had this work do in Bangkok, training, marketing, whatever. We'd been at it in the conference room all day, so then we moved on and had few beers and some Thai nosh at Cabbages and Condoms , you know it? Soi 16, not bad grub if it's your first time in Thailand, not too pricky. Know what I mean?

"Prik is chili, isn’t it?" I half-guessed, the bulge of a Thai phrase-book in my pocket.

"Correct. Full points. And afterwards, we put the most of the ladies into a couple of tuk-tuks, while the boys and I, plus one or two of the more… adventurous, or maybe broad-minded is what I mean to say… anyway two of the ladies from the company joined us, and we crossed over the road to Asok and went to Cowboy to check out the show at Long Gun. We stayed there a while, watched the banana popping show and the lesbian show… The girls thought it was hilarious, but tame. It could be pretty gross for some I guess, but not as bad as it used to be at over the road there at Nana, pre-Thaksin. But these ladies they thought it was a tame! They wanted to see some real on-stage fucking. I swear to God, women, I'll never understand 'em. I had to take the girls to a gay-boy show next night, see some real action, but that's another story.

"Anyway, it was getting late and no bird in the bar had really taken my fancy. I suppose I was in one of those moods, you know how it is. You can get so over the whole girlie bar racket, right? Some of the other lads had hooked with a bar-girl each and had already headed off to some short-time hotel, or maybe they'd risked the 1000Bht surcharge for a guest at the hotel, I don't know.

"There were four of us left, the two company ladies, and one other guy - we called him L-G (or Algie, like from that Oscar Wilde, some play...) We called him that because it was his idea to come to Long-Gun tonight, as it's his favorite place - obviously it was, because he knew the girls' names and he had already picked up his favorite, a girl called Pim, he'd taken her out a few times before. Actually there were five of us, counting her. And then there was me, with no lady… We were walking along the Cowboy strip up to Soi23 past all the theme bars to find a taxi when L-G noticed a hamburger stand right at the end. There was a girl buying a burger there. She was in normal clothes, a bit suggestive, but not in the uniform of one of the bars on the strip.

"I said - They looked good.

" - The hamburgers or the girls? Long-Gun asked me and everybody laughed.

"I said - I meant the burgers.

"So he said to me - Why didn’t you get one?

" - Burger? I asked.

"He said - No, the girl! There's one right there for you, and you can share the burger with her as well. It's a bargain!

"This pretty girl, she was a stunner actually, had paid and was just collecting her burger and turning to walk away when Long Gun approached her. I swear to God he said, - My friend is very shy, he would like to take you home tonight. Indicating to me. She stopped, looked at me for a second and smiled, and then she nodded!

"Well as you can imagine I was very embarrassed, but I got over it. We got in the taxi together with her still eating her burger. We went back to my hotel, I paid the excess and she stayed the night. And she was brilliant in bed. I kid you not, some of the best sex I've ever had. Just a random girl who happened to be standing at a burger stand. And she was lovely and polite, and had this perfect body. It was amazing."

Bruce was rubbing his chin and staring out over my shoulder.

"Did you get her name, her number?" I asked him. "Did you ever go with her again?"

He gradually focused back on to me. "No, of course not. I wouldn't want to have her number, I might be tempted to call her. That's not how I operate. I'm not like L-G. Gotta keep a distance. Variety keeps you safe. You never know, otherwise I might fall in love with one of them. And that'd be the fucking end of me, wouldn’t it?" He laughed and knocked back the last third of the beer.

"Bloody L-G, you know he married that bloody hooker, Pim. Stupid fuck-wit. She took for a grand ride alright. But that's another story, too...

" 'Nother one, love!" he called to the fierce-eyed waitress who was upset because Bruce could never seem to recollect her name.


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Viral Camera Ad (forgot which brand...)

Just doing my bit for the bandwidth.


Friday, July 03, 2009

Still Practising After All These Years

Yes, Goddam E@L, write that fracking novel so that no-one can buy it and it can sit on the airport rack, going around forever as people rush past on their way to grabbing that Clive Cussler formulaic brain balm to use as a flotation device in case their Airbus falls out of the sky.

Well hang on, I do have a full-time job and sometimes I have to work for it. I'm either in the office being continuously distracted (At 5:20pm Friday night; "E@L can you do a presentation first thing Monday morning?") or on the road, in the sky, in a waiting room. Whatever excuse you want, I got it.

Late starting novelists: OK, it takes time to write a novel.

It takes time for most people to learn how to write to novel-length. It takes time to write well at that length. It takes time to write to that length. It takes time to land a publisher and it takes time to get that novel to market. And suddenly, it makes sense why so many debut novelists just happen to be in their thirties fifties.


Back-up Date.

[Hey, spell-checker! I mean Back Update!]

Woe! Begone! Not a good time to be E@L.

Before I get on to my back, the left ear trouble turns out to be otitis externa with cellulitis extending down as far as the angle of my jaw. My ear and face feel puffy and numb, like after a local anaesthetic. My GP thought it might have been the parotid gland that was swollen, but ENT specialist, he da man! picked it up. More drugs for that. Naughty E@L was using cotton buds, there was trapped wax, soaking up water from swimming or sweat, softening the skin of the canal. Sharp edge of inner-ear head-phone pods must have sratched the skin. Result: Infection.

He also said my slowly increasing deafness might be due to the exostosis which is partially blocking (about 40%) the canal. He asked if I swam in cold water as a child! Hey, I was surfing GOD back in those days, down at Peterborough (the Well and Massacres), Gibson Steps (next to Twelve Apostles, all seven of them), etc... That's where the Southern Ocean touches Victoria and the water is always freezing. The exostoses grow becasue of the cold water for some reason. Mine aren't bad enough to require sugery. (Exostosis: Benign bony growths, in this case under the skin of the outer ear narrowing down the ear-hole.) So antiobiotics and steriod eardrops from him.

As for the back, the GP gave me some muscle relaxants - I asked for diazapam but she just laughed as if I were joking...

2 x BP tablets, 4 x peripheral neuropathy and foot-pain tablets, 1 x cholestrol lowering, 1 x anti-inflammatory, 1 x muscle relaxant, 1 x antibiotic, plus 1 x eardrops.

That's 10 different tablets I'm on and I'm only 52. I reckon if wasn't for lunch (crusted roasted potatoes microwaved to a rubber pulp by the fine people at the usually excellent PS cafe!) I'd rattle when I walk.

Bring a wheelchair for


Thursday, July 02, 2009

Oh My Aching Back

Just what I need, a back-ache!

That masseuse who tossed me around in Phitsanulok in upper Thailand last week seems to have been overly enthusiastic, as my lower back was sort of generally tender next morning, but nothing specific. Two more massages did not help that inchoate aching sensation.

Then on Saturday I went for a bike-ride. The nose-less seat, which presumably means my sperm is in better condition than most bike-riders, tends to throw me a bit forward, so I have an elevated goose-neck thingie to raise the handlebars. However, maybe it's not enough, as my back-ache seemed to have increased to something more of a nuisance after the ride, without being actually debilitating.

As this hadn't gone away by Tuesday evening, while watching the final episodes of Battle-Star Gallactica on DVD with Indy (which is probably why he is feeling a bit down) I stuck some electrodes onto my lower back as I used my foot stimulating machine, which I am using to see if it makes a difference to my peripheral neuropathy and chronic foot pain. The stims to my lower back went on for 30mins and I had them turned up reasonably high. A few hours later, at the end of the episodes, when I tried to sit up, bang, OW, that's not right!

I popped into a hot bath that evening, rubbed Voltarin gel onto the region afterwards and took some anti-inflammatories.

The right things to do I believe, but next morning I could hardly move. Well, it was more of a CHANGE thing. I could move if I was already walking. It was just turning or sitting up or lying down.... in fact any change in position or body posture seemed to exacerbate the pain and cause the stiffness to cramp up even worse. No shooting sciatic pains. It was all in the muscles by the spine.

I stayed in bed for the rest of the morning and went to the physio in the afternoon. Are all Expat physios tall, blonde Australians? I know about six and they are all freaky the same, male or female. Anyway, she had did this pressure assessment/treatment where she pushed in hard to my para-spinal muscles. Initially that felt really tight as she poked, then the muscles gradually softened, sort of gelled or melted and it felt like the tightness was flowing away, amazing, and soon I could not feel her pressure at all, even though she was maintaining the same effort. She did it again and again. That was the muscle initially in spasm and then letting go, she said. Eventually it was softer, even when she first pushed in.

She tried to loosen up the muscles around each vertebra as well, as they were terribly locked, she said, due to the muscle spasms and not allowing me to rotate, or if I did, except somewhat asymmetrically,

So more anti-inflammatories, more Voltarin gel, more bed-rest (easy enough thanks to another change in neuropathy meds making me sleepy) and today, this afternoon at least, it's much better thanks. No perfect, but better.

But that weird gellification sensation of the muscle softening as she pressed in was basically what I wanted to share.

Back to see her on Monday.


Also, my left ear-tube is sore, sort of swollen. Maybe I scratched it with the plug of my pod-type head-phones. Now there is a continual ringing going on and it ain't the phone... Ear infection?

Fuck, I'm falling apart.


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