Sunday, November 25, 2012

DFW and the Infinite Loop

Perhaps under the malign influence of Tim Footman over at Cultural Snow who is blogging about reading it, to say nothing of my buddy Tom who has been at me for ages, I gave my arse a substantial kick and have restarted Infinite Jest.

Some of these books I get to starting, I put them down for a while and forget, completely forget plot and characters, and then have start again - usually from scratch. Took me twenty years to finish Gravity's Rainbow for an e.g. I start, I give up, I feel guilty, I start again, I give up… It's a loop. I need to break this pattern in my life, but hey, another day another dollar, right?

The other impetus; after picking it up a few times in bookshops here, I recently whisper-netted David Foster Wallace's biography, Every Story is a Love Story onto the new Kindle (which I find even easier to read with than the one that's in coma on my substantially loaded electro-disjecta bench - before I dropped it I mean; an incompatibility with the negative effects of gravity thing) and was further stimulated to get back into IJ. Particularly as the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads say "dump the hack biography and just read the fecking' books". (I have Broom Of The System, his first novel, on [in?] here as well, btw, in case that urge takes over my brain.)

But I do like the biography; it has made the books a lot more approachable, made DFW's room-sized brain less daunting, his giant book more human-scaled and a lot more intriguing. It's all right for hipster know-it-alls, David Foster Kabbalaists and stalkers to get all protective about their memory of the man they've never met, but, you know what? Fuck you, I am just interested in finding out about the guy. Jesus. It's not like I looking at some princess's tits. Habitually, I mean.


One of the issues with the dead-tree version of IJ is of course its castle-drawbridge-stopping bulk. Feckin' hard to, you know, hold as you chase up all those footnotes, sorry, endnotes.


[Book Snobbish Wanker Dilettante Sidebar: "all those footnotes" - do'h, that was Gilbert Sorrentino's Mulligan Stew (which was based on a character who was mentioned once in a footnote in Finnegans Wake [his only appearance. {Michael Chabon recently wrote about his experiences at The Wake.}] Both of those mammoth enterprises in ego also stumped me.)]


But with the Kindle Paperwhite, reading is a breeze (I am not getting paid to say this); light, readable in any ambient (light) situation. Love it. Mind you, there is that no longer that pretentiousness of casually displaying to all on the 700A bus what you are reading...


Already, after spending a total of maybe three full days over the past five weeks on IJ, eschewing [gesundheit!] food, movies, sleep, customers' entreaties to help them (eschewing [gesundheit!] work, in general, in fact) as the patients were starting to fade without any of my timely and crucial intervention (there'll always be more. Customers. Patients.), imagine my sense of achievement when after this fortunate loss of calories and unfortunate loss of life, I find that my blistering pace and uncanny (i.e. uncharacteristic) application to the task have sent me rushing through 12% of the book! Three (3, count 'em) little dots at the bottom of the cover thumbnail on the menu page. Three out of about 25. Wow! It has analysed my reading pace and told me I have "16hrs and 15mins left in book." Double Wow! (i.e. Wow Wow.)

Progress? Or seemingly endless task. Motherfecker. This effort is going to kill me. And of course I have already forgotten who is who and what has "happened" in the "plot." I did giggle out loud at some of the jokes. In public, on the 700A bus. At some point in time, I will have to start again, to get back those ellipses where I had pointed through so many screens without an iota of an idea what had being going on.

But still. Motherfeck, it's a big book.


Like Beckett's trilogy, in these plotless monsters, it can only be the humour that would keep you reading. Well certainly for me, jokes are key.

If you care, look at how most of the joyless experimental work in England the late 60's and early 70's (the hippy years) have gone under. They weren't funny. Christine Brooke-Rose, the latter Ann Quin (Berg was funny - tough, but funny) and there are many others best left forgotten for the moment, earnest people one and all but, as John Cleese would say, "so deadly DULL." I've made some attempts, but they tend be so dry, serious, self-important and humourless that I couldn't make any headway. B.S Johnson, who wanted more seriousness in the English novel was, at his best (i.e. readable) in my opinion when he was being ironic and blackly-humourous (i.e. conventionally post-modern), such as in Christie Malry's Own Double Entry.

But at least these people were making an effort, right, pushing boundaries to write for more than just mass readership (or any readership.) Maybe they were doing this with the depth of theorising that the hyper-academically-gifted DFW was using twenty years later, but it was certainly heartfelt.

"Compared with the writers of romances, thrillers, and the bent but so-called straight novel, there are not many who are writing as though it mattered, as though they meant it, as though they meant it to matter." - B.S. Johnson. Aren't You Rather Young To Be Writing Your Memoirs? 1973.

And DFW is a funny guy. Hilarious, amusing, smart-arse and smart. For an obsessive, Aspergerish, depressive, arrogant fuck, drug and alcohol addicted tennis prodigy who topped himself. Laugh a minute...


Not that it matters, but I am now alternating between IJ, the biography AND rereading Gravity's Rainbow (also on [in?] the Kindle) for some light relief and pace (1% and 21hrs and 22mins left in book. Woosh!)

Rereading is good. So that's describing a TRAIN!! And how the fuck do you grow that many bananas on a roof-top in London?


Don't I set myself some tasks, eh what! Also just finished Robert Coover's awesome pastiche, parody, puzzle, piece de homarrrrrge, Noir, and rushing through Christos Tsiolkas's rather confrontational sppoky story, Dead Europe before I watch the movie later this week.

And now, back onto the Kindle and DFW for a while, and what!, 15 page swipes later and I'm still at 12%… See what I said about concentration? Effort? Application?

Recursive loops. Excuse me, the record is stuck… the record is stuck… the record is stuck… the record is


p.s. Recursive loops are a key trope / running gag (nts look up the difference) in IJ.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


"I've been chatting with people here and there and I keep hearing things about people sleeping with celebrities. Rock stars, movie stars, recently deceased authors. Sleeping with famous people, I don't know. Maybe before they were famous is ok. Even, like, well-known people is a bit creepy if you ask me. Most of the people I've slept with, hell, even I don't know their names," says Bruce.



- Taxi rank, it's just on the street out front, says the concierge.

- Ta, brilliant, says E@L and he skips (slowly) down the steps in the chill wind down the easy winding, brick-paved walking steps to the road. There are four taxis. E@L considers jumping into the last one, but hey, don't be a smart-arse prick E@L.

The driver in the front cab, somewhat sullen, says nothing; no 'Good morning,' nothing. He starts the car, puts it into D and starts to pull out.

- H***** hospital, please.

The driver looks at him. His foot lifts sightly off the accelerator. They are already out of the rank's demarcated confines.

- Which H***** hospital?

- The H***** hospital. The Royal? Hang on let me check.

- Which hospital? the driver repeats. There are several.

E@L drags his man-bag onto his lap and pulls out his Tab.

- Yep, the Royal H***** Hospital, he says looking at the email from his colleague.

They are slowly (this is H***** at 8am: there is no other traffic) passing through the first intersection.

The driver points up the road to a squat grey, white, glass, mulit-blocked, multi-temporal building two streets away.

- That's the Royal H***** Hospital, just there. Shit man, you pulled me out of the rank. You could have walked.

- Well, OK, so it's not far. I'll know for tomorrow. You can drive me there. Like, it's you job (E@L mumbles this.)

They are up to the next block, and the driver turns right.

- Shit, man. Which entrance. I'll drop you up here on A***** St.

- I'm meeting someone on the coffee shop on E****** St.

- That's around the corner.

He keeps moving out of the drop-off bay and back to the road, where he immediately turns right, to the road behind the hospital. This side of the hospital is partially obscured by scaffolding. Half the earth seems to be under construction, have you noticed that? The driver drops E@L at a closed sandwich shop on the next corner.

- That's the only cafe on this street. Must be this one, man.

E@L shuffles his wallet out from under his arse. Like everyone else, he only goes for his money at the last possible minute.

- How much?

- Man, I didn't even turn on the fucking meter. (No receipt then?)

- Here's five for your troubles. Buy a pleasant attitude.


E@L meets his colleague, not at the coffee shop on the corner but, on the phone with her for directions until he sees her at the coffee-shop outside the north entrance to the hospital, waves, hangs up - hidden behind the scaffolding.

After introductions and small-talk about the customer's not-all-uncommon-amongst-gastroenterologists obsession with David Foster Wallace, she begins to walk towards the entrance. E@L hesitates, his tummy protesting, and asks:

- Breakfast?

- Haven't you had breakfast yet?

- Well, no (it was included in his hotel room-charge, but, hey, might as well be sociable), I was expecting, you know, as we were meeting in a coffee shop… You've had breakfast?

- I have. But sure, sorry, let's have something.

- Do we have time?

- Plenty of time. (Then why did I get out of bed so fucking early?)

The serving ladies seems your classic looking waitresses, slightly updated; homely apron (the word 'apron', interestingly, or not, has the same root as 'nappy' and 'map', btw - any rectangular piece of material), scarf (not sure how this fits with previous comment) tied back DFW bandana-like, and she is moderately unattractive. Could have been a body-double for the girl in Five Easy Pieces, except shorter by a little, but movies, TV, you really can't be sure, can you?

- How can I help? asks the shorter of the two waitresses.

- Oh, in lots of ways.

They crack-up for some reason. The waitresses can't help laughing, one has her arms on the counter, she lays her head in them. Never heard this one before, obviously. Stressed out; too many serious types this morning?

- What's wrong, asks E@L with a grin.

- Oh, nothing. We have dirty minds that's all.

- That's all? (They're still laughing. These girls go in the front row when E@L next does a show.)

- OK, what do you want to order?

- Ah, you're back. Flat white and some of that toasted banana bread. (Hold the chicken.)

- Thanks, have a seat. I'll bring it to your table. (She wipes away a tear.)


They arrive in the Day Surgery, sign in as visitors, get some Ni-Viz stickers for their shirts and are 20 minutes early. The machine is ready to go, but they need a scope as his bloody thing won't let you do anything unless there is a full scope attached. The machine's probe is part of an endoscope and so it needs to be connected to the large fibre-optic camera - a stylish stack of cream and blue boxes from once respected company that has yet to completely negotiate itself through major legal/corporate issues back in Japan. The scope is still in the disinfectant and will be another 10 minutes.

They have another scope, they'll go get that. E@L fishes into his bag, pushes his hand around. Tries the secret compartment at the back. The secret compartment insode. Nope. He has left the USB thumb-drives (USB sticks, USB drives, what do you call them) back in his hotel.



A small clump of self-adherent RBCs have pulled out of his heart (the disjecta, the jetsam from an atrial thrombus?) or his leg (ditto from a long-haul flight induced soleal sinus DVT?), shot up the carotid, found an impassably small arteriole and knocked a few brain cells into ischaemia this morning: the integrated synaptic song-lines are interrupted and so a memory fades, an essential task is omitted, an anomic aphasia tips on the tongue, a name is list at a crucial career-making/breaking introduction, a forgotten lover's face coming towards you at a party. Hate it when that happens.

- Do I have time to go back to the hotel? (A short walk, two blocks away, don't need a fucking taxi, man.)

- Sure the Doctor is normally not in 'til about 20 to. (Then why did I…)

E@L puts his jacket back on (a jacket and tie, E@L? Unhealthy precedent, that) and finds his way past the anxious patients and the indifferent staff (stranger? shrug) to the lift, thence the street.

It is 8 minutes to the hotel he guesstimates, past interesting old buildings - 1889 built Theatre Royal, "Bare Witness" starts next week, "Crapunzel" still playing. A converted 1880's warehouse, Victorian style (the queen not the rival State up north); red-brick place, the old City Hall, with pale rendered pillars and two incongruous bell/observation-towers, weird, probably the stairwells. But no time/further-interest to look closely and sort this out.

E@L is in his room now, panting. The USB suckers were in his other briefcase. Sigh. He pockets them and heads back. It's an uphill gradient, only 1in 40 or so, but still, he nearly died a few months ago (Death on his holiday) so it's 10 minutes to get back. The scope is by then out of the disinfectant, the machine is on. He loads the presets and fiddles with them, a bit of tweaking.

Three hours later, they are finished all the scans, only one of the three patients nearly died, a good enough morning, and E@L has backed-up the further tweaks to his USB sticks. He has admitted only getting 70 or so pages into "Infinite Jest" but the Doctor has forgiven him, as he at least had completed "Ulysses," which he (the Doctor) agreed was more daunting in reality. "Gravity?" E@L nods. The Doctor nods back, approvingly. "IJ" is more of an endurance test, he said.

E@L's colleague had her copy of "50 Shades" carefully tucked deep in her bag, but she already left, gone back to M*********.

Which triggers the following aside: E@L wonders - Why would you fly down from M********* last night, stay for half an appointment, and fly out at lunch-time leaving The Talent (Phil Connors E@L) who has flown from Singapore - via, A*********, B*******, M******** epspecially to support and train her, and here he is on his own for the most important part of the commsioning/training. He is here merely to support you, beatch, not to do your job himself. Sigh. He shrugs, like Atlas - you're getting obscenely well paid E@L, STFU.

(She's not a beatch, just an over-stretched, under-paid (commission only 4.5%) little Greek girl.)

The doctor has more cases to do, not using the machine, but after lunch. Can E@L come back before they start agina, and do some more training, explaining, uncomplicating? Sure, certainly, that's why they're paying him so obscenely well.


A lunch at Cafe Sawak - Malaysian food in H*****! OMG, and they have Kopi! E@L, being shown a seat, asks the girl with the strong mainland accent, if they use the sock! Yes, she answers. He order the kopi, some water and the traditional, homemade laksa. The kopi is of course, densengauno inducing, disappointing: over-milked, too white, only warm. The laksa is OK - not brilliant - however just homesick defusing enough. Chili oil droplets, nonmiscible, on the creamy coconut broth, but not enough tofu, not enough "oysters" i.e. no clams, not really enough laksa kick. But hey, even in Singapore you can get just-as-shit kopi and a-lot-worse-than-this laksa.

- Salamat, shit. I mean telema kasih. Tsche-tsche (谢谢), Mm goi. Khap khun krup. Thanks. Fuck.



The Instruction Manuals are on a DVD - large files packed with Japglish and completely unhelpful explanations ("Spatial Enhance Switch [a button] - This Switch To On and Off Turn Spatial Enhance." Yes, but what the FUCK does Spatial Enhance do?), but the customer wants to read them in hs computer to find out, not about Spatial Enhance (which E@L doesn't understand and therefore has hidden its "switch") but how to turn the system itself on and off, and how to do simple measurements. E@L offers to email some simplified instructional PDFs (2 pages, VERY simplified, we are talking about the limited capabilites of surgeons here) to him.

- Why not send them by Bluetooth?

Doctor fires up his iPhone and tries to pair with E@L's Android tablet. Of course, fucking iPhone, the Bluetooth on Apple devices is fucked proprietary and no files can cross the intangible ether from its OS to a rival OS. (Cue Dr Evil pinky: A BILLION dollars!)

Me, get an iPhone? You've got to be joking.

- Email OK?

E@L's files are in Dropbox and, and, they must be de-clouded before he can trans-etherise them via Gmail. He manages to pull the smaller file down but the larger one (12MB) is taking too long, via 3G, so E@L promises to send it that night. All done, great, shake hands.

- Oh, I have a case tomorrow afternoon. Could you come in about 1:30, 2? Have you read "Every Love Story Is A Ghost Story," yet?

- Sure, sure. (Like who want's to go to MONA, the only reason he agreed to do this diversonary trip to T*********.) Tomorrow. Reading it now, actually.


Back in his hotel room, E@L fires up his MacBook Air (yes he does have some Apple products, reluctantly) and looks in his jacket pocket for the USB drives to back up.

Hmmm. They are conspicously absent. In the pants? Nope? Shit. Man-bag? Nope. Hey, his Tab is not in the man-bag either. Not on the bed, not on the desk. Oh Jesus.

No USB sticks, no Android Tab. They are back in the hospital, the USB still in the machine, the Tab on the back tray.


Shit. He pulls his jacket back on and heads for the door, steps out quickly in the corridor and as he walks away the door starts closing and he taps his pocket for the door-card. Top pocket, no. Wallet, nnnn…hey! No wallet at all, he lunges back at the door just as it firmly locks with a solid clunk.


Walking in an anxious pace, in 6 minutes he is the hospital door, he hopes he doesn't send off a real embolus.

He has been thinking of the people who were in the room where he was explaining the system to the doctor. A chubby (fat, but not as fat as him) red/gray-haired nurse from the cleaning room, who waddled and was cheeky. A laconic theatre tech. Tall, in a decorative paper theatre hat somewhat like a DFW bandana, but slack-mouthed, somewhat dopey looking. But these are the smart ones, slow and measured, they know what's really going on, can anticipate. These are the ones you'd want taround if something went wrong, if some surgeon or nurse didn't know how to work one of the ping-machines. The smart, sharp briskly efficient and over-friendly seeing ones are, apart from being as a rule shorter, often as not, try-hard dumb-fucks, and desperately hard to reach a level of competence your big C or G dopey look guy has when he wakes up with a fucked-over hangover, a dozen bongs and a slab of beer downed during a re-run of Apcalypse Now last night. The sort of person who already knows how to drive E@L's machine.

The sort of person who wouldn't steal a guy's Tab.

And they are still there, where he left them.





The Topography Of Knowledge

"What we want are topographers who would make detailed accounts of the places which they had actually been to. But because they have the advantage of visiting Palestine, they want to enjoy the right of telling us tales about the rest of the world! I wish everyone would write only what he knows - not in this matter only but in all others. A man may well have detailed knowledge or experience of the nature of one particular river or stream, yet about all the others ho knows only what everyone else does; but in order to trot out his little scrap of knowledge he will write a book on the whole of physics. From this vice many great inconveniences arrive.

Now to get back to the subject..."
Michael de Montaigne. On The Cannibals.


Now, to get back to the subject...


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What A Gas

What a terrifying weapon! It will kill many, but it will end the war earlier and save countless lives.

Truman on the atom bomb? Well, yes, but also the Germans in WWI, speaking of chlorine gas attacks. Mass produced by BASF. Gas masks by Drager.

The Alchemy of Air.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Like a Virgin

E@L is stuck in the Brisbane airport. The Virgin Australia computer system is down. It's nationwide, so not just me. He thinks it went just before he tried to check-in at the multi-screen DIY booths as staff were only starting to wander through the petrified forest of electronic Daleks with a SORRY OUT OF ORDER signs. When his flight detailed had been at first rejected, he assumed it was something he had done wrong. That tells you something doesn't it?

The queues to drop bags and to check-in were getting longer. He shrugged and moved down to the end of the airport check-in area for a coffee and a piece of toasted banana bread. And an egg and bacon toastie. And tweeted about the shambles.

He was lost in a mist of tweet and FB posts when he cleared the cloud and looked back into reality to realize that it was getting close to his departure time. The crowds were, naturally, growing. He saw on a billboard that Virgin and Singapore Airlines, as well and New Zealand airlines and (was it?) Etihad were now partners. Hmm, thinks. He had been in the lounge, but nothing on the Priority check-in area had indicated anything that Star Alliance Gold members were permitted to avail themselves of this service. The queu looked just as stuck anyway.

He shrugged, pulled out the static line and wheeled his two bags around the milling,lost, angry, bewildered, frustrated crowd up to the Inquiry Desk.

"Do Virgin accept Star Alliance Gold for priority?"

"Certainly sir. Which flight are on?"

"Melbourne, 09:55." (It was 09:25.)

"Of course you know everything is down and we are checking people through manually." He nodded. "Come this way sir, that flight is being checked in at Desk 38."

She led him across the front of all the queues, along the crowded space between the check-in desks and were the front of the queue was supposed to be. The people who had been waiting longest were silent and moved away as the Attendant urged him ahead. He imagined their eyes, their narrow burning eyes, lasering into him, their anger and envy and even more frustration powering some level much greater than stun.

She pushed him onto the front of the queue at Desk 38. An Asian woman with a trolley full of heavy bags and a child on her hip had to push back to allow him in front of her. She did not say anything and looked away, but taking the opportunity to sigh very loudly. The Attendant however spoke to the woman behind the desk and E@L was given the priority of the being the next one to check in, before the Asian mother.

E@L was aware of the emotions that must be running through this no-choice-but-to-be-patient mother, and he flelt the weight of the presence of all the people behind her who had been waiting much longer than he had. He shrugged and apologized to her. "I didn't ask for them to do this." he said. "She just dragged me along," he said indicating the Attendant, who was now leaving, smiling a farewell..

"Which flight are you on," the lady asked. Terse.

"322. Melbourne."

"Well, I'm on that flight too."

Well they won't take off without us!"


Flight call 75 minutes late. All for now,


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Screwed. Again.

From how many differnet directions - at once! - can you be screwed over?

So I have a movie, or a TV show, back at home on my iMac and I want to watch it here in Coolum (just down from Noosa Heads, can't miss it) or maybe next Thursday in Hobart I'll feel like watching it (Cheeeerist, I will be in Hobart, like there's anything to do?) Whatever reason. I have set up this iMac as a server for the brilliant Plexapp which gives me access to all those files when I am traveling. Log on, play, anywhere. Right, ya with me?

Obviously (at least now it is obvious) I need to have my iMac at home turned on for this to work. On this business trip (another G&T please, I'll be by the pool) I am away from home for five (5, count 'em) weeks, therefore in the interests of fire safety, yada yada, I have turned my iMac off. But the point remains…

It costs me $AUD29 for 3GB of download data on my pre-paid SIM card here in Australia Vodaphone - the only carrier at Brisbane airport.

My MyPlex server (i.e. my home computer, the iMac) is in Singapore. The movie I want to watch is 1.3GB. If I want to watch this show now, here in in Australia, ostensibly for free, that is to say, I want to watch my "own" (like it was a pirate, huh!) movie from the computer that is in my home via a free service (Plex is currently free) it therefore is going to cost me, um, in terms of data I am using here in Australia, three divided by one point three, OK roughtly $AUD13. That's $SGD15 to watch a show that I already own and have on my HDD at home. Would I pay that to iTunes to watch the same show, or pay it at the cinema - not a hope in hell.

I am sure could buy it on iTunes for less (however they would stilll own it and could take it from me on a legal whim!) but I would still have to pay the data rates for the Gbs when/if I downloaded it from iTunes. Ya can't win.


Fear not intrepid fellow travellers, to avoid these type of fascist limitations I have brought my back-up HDD with me and everything (not the porn, let's leave the porn out of this) is there on this $SGD40 1GB HDD. Size of a pack of tarot cards.

But, even so, I managed to hit a 2GB data limit of some kind (I had to top up) after four (4, count 'em) days, as everything had locked up. I must say though, but… but it was only because I was streaming extreme porn Youtube TED talks and other intellectual stuff..

I coulda avoided being screwed, but hey, they got me, I was screwed.


4G. LTE. Brilliant, fast, and like I said, brilliant. Download a 1.3GB movie in nanoseconds. Awesome.

Data limits for your next plan (includes 4G) plan? Coming DOWN. The maximum limit for new data services is coming doooooooooooown.

Current maximum data load for the top Singtel plan is 30GB/month. In Australia, with Telstra it is 20GB. Coming down. People aren't using that much data the companies say. Average person uses less than 500MB per month, so we ae only adjusting to out customers usage patterns (i.e.this was your idea) but dropping these maxima to 12Gb is only fair, and makes sense, ya?

Hang on. I'm goin to PPT this thought -

1. Data speed is about to go up with as more devices utilize 4G/LTE.
2. Data limits are about to go down as people (before LTE) were allegedly not using all their allocation.

Supply / Demand?

If you use 4G/LTE your data is usage is going to skyrocket. Your plan however is going to have less data for the same price that it had before. Result: bill shock.

Yep, a) You are going to hit your data limit very quickly and b) you will start paying those extra charges per GB lot sooner than you have been in the past. You are going to be screwed.

Screwed as me.



I haven't done enough bad things in my life (please don't throw at me any of my old posts to try to refute this) to have earned such punishing pain. Ow. It must be shin splints, or tendonitis, or bone cancer, or something. Ow. Two weeks now,

There is some redness and some swelling - you can't see the veins anymore, and it hurts if I pull it back, pull it up like this, so the big toe points up. Yeah, it IS red. You can't see it now of course becasue I got sunburnt lying at the pool yesterday morning - I was doing laps, I can't walk too far, can't do my proper low impact exercise - but you can see the redness if you look from the right angle.

It's up on the lower part of the shin, roundabout here, Doc. More an ache, a deep ache, just under the surface. What do you mean that doesn't make sense? Where exactly? Hard to put a finger on. Well, it's easy to put a finger on my leg, but to say that this, this is
exactly where it hurts is tough - it diffuses, reaches across from the front, right on the bone edge, to this side, and sometimes to that side. Or both. If I don't concentrate too hard on it I have a better, you know, idea of where it is, like looking at faint stars, best to look away. It's there, I can feel it alright, and I have the awareness that it is just there, roundabouts, but to say, you know, to place a finger-tip that's just... right... there... Well that's like I said, tough. And it's nearly two weeks, I've taking anti-inflamms and trying not to walk too far and, like I said, that means not getting all the calories that need to burned off burned off. Yes, so I swim.

So, yeah, Doc. Ow.


Colleague, Scottish girl, texted me this morning. "Will be late. Foot very swollen and sore. No sleep. Will be there at 11."

What! A sore foot! The shirker! The very nerve of her to find excuses...

Later, on the booth - and I am even later than her; locked myself out of my room, had to get let in by a cleaner, sigh, and she beats me to the small exhibition hall - I see her foot. Mother-fucking OW! It's shiny puffy and the toe is red and the whole thing looks like death. She can't get it into her shoe at all but doesn't want to wear sandals (Birkinstocks, which don't look professional) and sits instead with the shoe on the floor and her foot out in front. Like this is no much better than sandals...

She couldn't sleep all night, she says, the pain was intense, she couldn't get comfortable. Ended up on her tummy with her toes over the end of the mattress. After the conference BBQ last night, she was fine, she went back to her unit, sober, unlike me, and woke up at 1am in agony. The puffiness covers the top of her foot, down in her toes. Her big toe seems to be the focus though. She can't put it on the floor..

I get ice from the drinks bin outside where lunch on the lawn is due to start soon, and ask the helpers there if I can wrap it up in some of the gladwrap from the salad as there are no plastic bags. Improvise, sure, tie it up with baling wire, that's the Aussie way.

The conference reception people are lovely, they book a medical clinic appointment for her - earliest appointment is in the afternoon at 4.

Is it a spider bite I am wondering, some insect? Snake? Crocodile? (The crocodile-tail salad in the restaurant is very nice, I had it on my first night there.) Was it something she stood on at the beach on her walk before te BBQ? She trod on some of the hundreds of jelly-fish that had beached on the sand, she said. But aren't their stingers neutralised once they die? I dunno, maybe.

I ask: There were no... no... those things with the, you know. They really hurt. Sea...

She says: Anemones?

No no, what the Japanese eat, sea...


No, they are hard-shelled and have those pointy things, god... Sea, sea...


Oh God you know, with the spikes. What do they called it? Unagi. Or is that eel?

I have no idea what you are talking about.

Sea, sea... urchins!

No, I didn't stand on one.

OK, good, not that then.


We are in her car, I am driving her to the medical clinic. She worries that it might be gout.

Gout? Since when do women have gout?

She had a glass of red wine two nights ago, she reminds me.

True, I say.

What causes it? she asks. She's a nurse. I'm a radiographer. I shrug. It was along time ago. Uric acid, crystals. Tophi/trophi? Not necessarily in the big toe, anywhere really. Inflammation.

I try to get the car radio to play the music from my Android phone. It worked with my iPhone when I drove up from Brisbane, she says.

There is a different type of Bluetooth that Apple use, I say.

Different type of Bluetooth? What rot, she says.

I can only get the radio, harsh, no station defaulted here in this NSW rental (we ar ein Queensland.) The bloody thing just refuses to pair with the Samsung. Sigh.


She goes into the clinic, I wait on the reception chairs with her a while. I wonder if I should be ask to see the Doc myself. I look at her foot. It is frightening, even after half a day of ice to make the swelling go down.

It doesn't hurt anywhere near as much now, she says. But she is wincing, even when she moves it slightly.

I rub my shin, at the front. It sort of aches... I imagine my conversation with the Doc, compared to hers, and then I say see ya later. I wander out to the bottle shop around the back of the tiny shopping park. Absolutely shit wine. Nothing worth dying of gout for. When I come back she is not in the waiting room and must be in with the doctor.

I shrug and wait in the car and manage to get the car-audio to pair with my phone. It was a struggle - Bluetooth can find, can't find, is rejected, finds, confirms, pairs. I put on Carbon Based Lifeforms, ambient. Cool. Long bass theme. dududududuudaaaddadadadudududud, etc… a long low thudding, hypnotic, repetitive...

Half dozing, coddled in the warm sun, I wake to see she is out of the Doc's room now, standing by the desk. I go in to check up on the results so far.

Ambiguous, she says, uncertain.

What in this life isn't? I say.

There's a small blister, maybe two, underneath between her big toe and the second. The doc said it might be a bite.

What did I say? I said.

But it might be gout. Or inflammation of unknown origin.

Well, I say, we know that already, that it is of unknown origin.

She gets her prescription filled (to her satisfaction) at the pharmacy next door: some antibiotics and some Indicid but she must return for a blood test - gout? - in the morning.

We get back in the car but the music player won't find my phone again... Harsh noise, untuned radio. "Cannot Pair With Device"

You should get an iPhone, she says.

We drive back to the resort and I drop her at reception where a golf-cart can take her to her unit. As soon as she shuts the door, my phone clicks in, Carbon Based Lifeforms starts again. Sigh. I drive to the car park and place her car in the exactly the same slot it was in before. I un-pair the phone, close the car door, lock it and start to make the walk back to my unit, up past the golf practice range where a few men in chequered shorts are chipping and/or putting on perfect lawn.

I want to play golf. Ow. My leg hurts. It's a long way to my unit. I limp.


Thursday, November 01, 2012

Eyes Open

You may not be watching this blog, but this blog is watching you.

(Keep watching. Keeeeeeeeep watching... An old one, but refreshed by a recent post at BoingBoing.)


Am feeling somewhat alcoholled out. This is Saturday morning. This last week and a half have been non-stop, except for when it stopped, like Thursday - but then it started again. Friends in town, must-catch-up people caught up with, a friend jumping off the wagon after 2 months of waking up not feeling alcoholled out who needed a hand to hold as he tumbled... All of things require food and drink and heavy soialising in general.

Of the three kilograms I had lost in two months, two have been found and feted like the prodigious son. (Prodigal = prodigious, right?)

My stomach feels it is being scrubbed with steel-wool from the inside. I sense its revolt, black and green...


What is with DRM and patents and tethering bull-shit lately.

First there was the viral/apocryphal story of Bruce Willis' iTunes library not really being his to bequeath to anyfuckingbody.

Then Apple sue Samsung for, cue the Dr Evil horizontal-pinkie-in-teeth expression, a billion dollars. They had the anti-trust temerity to make a rectangular smart-phone it seems, which goes against (speaking of inheritance) the late Steve Jobs express wishes.

Now we hear of a woman in Norway who bought an eBook from Amazon UK, allegedly (which means she did it) using a friend's account in England. Somehow she managed to get the book into Norway and read it on her own Kindle. Wrong on so many ways, correct? Fraud, theft(?), crossing a digital frontier without a valid eVisa.

So Amazon wiped her account, taking all her other LEGIT eBooks with it. She had paid real money for most of those unreal books, in apparently legal transactions, using her own cards, and now they are gone forever. It seems she broke those fine ePrint rules that they set (recollect all those boxes you click that ask if you've read their rules? - now you know what they are for), and it's bye-bye solid customer.

Those codes of conduct ain't just guidelines fellow readers.

But what gets me is that for an infringement on just one of the books she uploaded to read, she has to forfeit ALL her own (we would have thought) eTomes.

The equivalent action in non-virtual reality, would be her friend in England popping into a Waterstones, buying a real book and posting it to her in Norway, in exchange for quid pro liber. When Waterstones find out about this, they go to Norway and take back the book, as well as every other book she has ever bought, legally or otherwise, from them.

What the fuck?

Point being, we don't own anything any more. Over this digital frontier we are leasing everything, borrowing everything, holding everything we think we have for someone else. There is nothing of substance in the substance of the wires and cables and servers and power grids that make up the web. Or as they say in binary - "001010100101010110101110010101010010101010101001010001101100110010101001" ("I'll have my library back now, thanks.")


And I do own lots of stuff. In fact I own shitloads of stuff, shitloads of things, like books, particularly books. My books. Real books. Some of these books I had shipped over from Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

But I have a Kindle too. (Two actually: With one in a coma, I found a Paperwhite in Singapore - a "parallel" import.)

Now, while I can buy real books from Amazon USA or UK in Singapore, theoretically I can't buy eBooks from anywhere on my Amazon account because the Kindle eStore isn't available in Singapore.

So clever me gets my Amazonian eBooks through Kindle Australia on a different Amazon account, where my mother in Australia pays for them (whether she remembers agreeing to this or not, hey!) with her credit card. Thanks for the books for Christmas, mum. You have brilliant taste in literature!

Even when I am in Singapore, so long as I am logged in with that Amazon account, I can buy Kindle books - something I can't do with my Singaporean credit card account.

Now, if Amazon/Kindle find that this sort of nefarious ne'er-do-welling goes on in the E@L family, they could wipe my account (to say nothing of my mother's) and take back all those "legitimately" purchased eBooks away. Zap, woosh, gone, a cyber-fizzle and not even the smell of burning plastic to mourn their electronic virtual passing.

As they also might do for those Singaporeans who have set up a virtual credit card address in the USA (and someone did get caught, I recall...)


It just doesn't make sense. Legally (at least to me - they get their fucking money) and logically.

And the other thing is that they could be bothered doing this.

And the other other thing is they are losing potential future income by not allowing that Norwegian lass to buy books from them any more. Ha! If I were their lawyer I might sue her for opportunity loses - all the money Amazon don't make from her because they have stopped her from buying from them. Double whammy!

So if I (or she) can't buy legally from them anymore, what is my alternative? I still want to read the latest pot-belly-boilers, dan-vinci-thrillers, shady-gray-jillers and of course ponder the learned biographies of the great men and women of history. But what can I do if they won't let me? If Amazon call me a criminal for buying books from them, then hey *thinks*, if I don't buy from them at all, I am safe and legal, right?

So where, oh where, should I go to get my Kindle eBooks, eh? Anyone got any less illegal ideas?

I mean, Bezos, if you intend to call me a criminal for buying "legally" from you, you merely force me to become one.

Fuck DRM. Fuck stupidity.


Keep your eyes open, people: Don't blink: You are under surveillance.

(Newton MRT Station, Singapore)


[Drafted this last week - finally got around to getting the links together and putting it up! Sorry.]

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