Monday, November 13, 2006

Tree pretty, Water bad

One thing I noticed in the NT was that despite having some amazing and unexpected water features, Territorians avoided natural water like the plague. Talking with Sherdie, I discovered that it was just simple common sense. Whether by a tiny little sting or a great big jaws that snickety snack, water kills. Unless it has four walls of concrete, and you can see every inch of the bottom, it’s not worth the risk. This weekend I learnt to think like a Territorian.

We went to the entrance for our final weekend. Despite expectations and prior experience, it was a beautiful sunny weekend. To this point, the only truck I had had with the beach was in the deep evenings and at night, with imposing clouds and a flashing lighthouse. This weekend I finally got out into the surf. Dressed in tick lady’s rashy (which left far too little to the imagination), I borrowed a goat boat (like a surf board with a place to sit) and set out into the waves. The goat boat beat me up. When it managed to wallop me in the head, I decided enough was enough and exchanged it for a blow up boogie board.

I was then promptly dragged out to sea by a rip, and despite knowing what I had to do (swim perpendicular to the rip and back in to shore) and not panicking, I just didn’t have the energy to get myself back into shore, and had to be rescued by J!. Although the weekend continued beautiful, I had developed a healthy dislike of the beach and chose not to go again.

But I was not the sea’s only victim. G! suffered a nasty bleeding knock to his head, and A! managed to cut and bash her knee against a goat boat when she got dumped. An impressive injury, but far more impressive when it was discovered that she had managed to put her knee through the base of the boat.

J! was left with the task of telling his sister, over the phone, that A! had mauled her goat boat. J!’s sister thanked A!, and asked that J! give her an ice-cream as ‘know no-one will be able to pressure me to get on that bloody thing ever again’.

This is the second time in my life that the ocean has decided I might make a tasty treat, and I am now completely jaded on the whole Aussie beach ideal. It’s big, it’s nasty and it burns. Four concrete walls and a visible bottom for my swimming pleasure from now on. They’ve only tried to kill me once.

We saved the life of turtles today. During some blinding rain, they’d decided to cross a windy country road, and were in line to get some serious tire treads on their shells. We stopped and G! picked them up and moved them off the road, where they failed to be generous with their thanks. We also attempted to pull a tree off the road, but only really managed to dig up some red-neck’s driveway with a few wheel spins.

Oh well.

Monopoly is worse than Boggle.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

The good:
Hurrah! The Democrats are in power. First time in over a decade. If there's anything that lil' W needs it's a hostile house. Hooray!

The bad:
I've been erupting recently. Smart ass children have been finding themselves on the end of a very pointed stare and comments delivered with ice. Not all the comments have been original, but they've all worked wonderfully:

"This puzzle is stupid"
"You can't do the puzzle, that doesn't mean the puzzle is stupid"

"*Random smart ass comment*"
"Was that important? Was that relevant? Did that have anything to do with what we were talking about? Or was it just a stupid comment that was meant to make you look smart?"
"That failed?"

"Anyone have any idea how many triangles there are?"
"Spoken like a true virgin. Next?"

The ugly:
Travel makes you boring. I can't believe no-one has noticed this before.

Each day, I wake up early, I drive for an hour to get to whichever school I am visiting today. I deal with the same five annoying kids you find at every school. I come home, I fall asleep during a movie. I haven't been blogging recently because there hasn't been anything interesting to talk about.

But it's not just me. Everyone knows one - they're the 'experienced' traveller. They go overseas for a few days or weeks, probably hang around a lot of touristy spots, or alternatively, the alternative tourist spots. Then they fly back into the country, and regale you with oft repeated and increasingly dull stories of their exploits. In the worst case, they develop an arrogance that you could never really understand(insert bog standard, vaguely adventurous travel destination) and how truly soul inspiringly, mind meltingly superior it is because you've never been there. Or if you have been there, you failed to appreciate it like they would.

Then they spend the rest of the time chewing your ear off (as you're attempting to chew your own leg off in a misguided but energetic attempt to get away) about how nice it is to get back to real showers and toilets, and the terrible belly flu they had and the horrible bog they had it in.

I've got a theory about how this works:

It's like they get thrown out of their social networks for a week, forget how they relate to them and turn back into the toddler who answers the question "How many apples?" with "My dog is called pineapple".

It makes me sick.

Worse, I'm probably one of them.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Just skip to the fourth paragraph

You can feel yourself unravel as you travel the highways at night. Your soul dragging loose from your body as you follow meaningless curves down lightless roads. An evaporating trail of ephemera curling back to your origin.

The mind swells and the tongue becomes expansive, covering topics too personal for casual study, and too uncomfortable for eloquent discourse. Familiarity without source overwhelms you, and small prophecies escape your imagination and lodge in your subconscious, making you wary but resigned.

At the end you feel hollowed, your destination unreal and deeply irrelevant. It takes the sun’s warm light to convince you of that your surrounds are reality and not context.

Sorry about that, but I felt the need to wax poorly lyrical for a second. Night driving makes me feel wierd.

Second weekend at the Entrance, and we had a visit from the Squaddie’s respective other halves. It was wonderful to have the lovely Floor back in my arms, even if it was just for a couple of nights. I love you honey.

Discovered a second hand bookshop named ‘R!’s Bookstore’. It was everything a second hand bookstore should be. The books were inaccessible, the shelves imposing. The books were poorly categorised, and inexpertly alphabetisised. It was clear that the books were considered far more important the customers. All it was really missing was odd shaped rooms, stairways that go nowhere and a pile of books ready to fall on unwary readers and it would have been perfect. I heartily recommend it to any book lover.

A strange addiction overtook the coastal house. I am proud to say that I’m the only one who remained immune. Boggle. Dreadful game, utterly dreadful. Theoretically it improves word skills and sharpens the intellect. In reality it grates on the ears and encourages people to write down random permutations of letters that may possibly be words. If anything brings down western society, it will be indirectly connected to Boggle.

Our new accommodation is much more suited to our purposes than Eelah was, but it’s still not perfect. Damn. Oh well, individual bedrooms is a huge step up in anyone’s language.

Also, there are biscuits.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Pre-visit student pack

As part of our job, we hand out teacher’s notes, giving teachers further information on our program and follow up activities. Theoretically, they’re also provided with a pre-visit pack containing info on what to expect and how to prepare for us. I’m thinking of extending the concept and sending a pre-visit pack to each student. Nothing complicated, just a few thinking points that it would have been best for them to think through before they see us.

Ahem, if you happen to be my parents, you probably want to stop reading now.

1) When we visit you, you will miss class to come and see us. Think about that for a gad damned second, Because of us YOU ARE NOT IN CLASS. Show us the damn respect that that kind of magic trick deserves.

2) If that doesn’t convince you, please keep in mind the following. We are a free program. That means that you pay nothing for us. It also means that your teachers can’t refuse to pay us if we make you cry or wet yourself. Don’t fool yourself. You wouldn’t be the first.

3) We perform for a living, we have all spent several years at university earning various degrees. Those degrees are not in Tourism. You are not clever enough to take us on in verbal debate. You are welcome to try, but do keep in mind point 2 above. Also, “I won’t need maths because I’m going to be a model” is not a clever rebuttal. It’s a good way to get your self-esteem shattered as we list your numerous unsubtle flaws.

If you were actually to clean up your skin, fix your teeth, lose your likeness unto a globe, develop visually pleasing features when you go through puberty, or some serious corrective surgery, and somehow obtained your dream career, you would still need maths to know how to cut your cocaine properly so you don’t snort a lethal dose, and die convulsing painfully as drool and blood froth bubbling through the scars from your facial ‘work’.

Don’t worry, it almost certainly won’t come to that. You’re not going to be a model.

4) Yelling ‘69’ to answer every question involving a number is not clever, or funny. In fact, let’s take that a little further. 69 is not an inherently funny number. It’s not even remotely funny until you’ve undergone the hilariously acrobatic antics required, at the point it becomes intensely hilarious, but then again, so does all sex.

Yelling out 69 does not tell your peers that you are sexually experienced. It tells everyone in the room that you’re still a virgin. Is this really a statement you want to make?

5) A smurf is a god damned blue critter from an eighties cartoon, I think their village was recently carpet bombed. Stop asking what they are. It’s called class, if you don’t have it, at least fake it. Yes it was better than this dragon ball crap. There may have only been one smurfette, but apart from that it actually made sense. Logic and consistency are what is missing from the junk-food like pop culture that you little cretins have been brought up on.

6) You are not cool in high school. Nothing will ever change this. No-one is cool in high school.

On a more personal note, I went to buy the DVD of Danger Mouse I had seen in the Kurri-Kurri video shop, but they’d sold out. Why oh why didn’t I buy it when I had the chance? Taste my tears of bitterest regret.

I think I’m getting sick.

Monday, October 30, 2006

So ridiculously teenage

I'm unAustralian. It's the only possible explanation. I spent the entire weekend at a lovely beach house bare metres from the sand. The only time I got wet was in the shower. I only went down to the beach once, at night, and even then I was only there for as long as it took for me to get through my phone conversation.

Saturday I didn't visit the beach because I was in a reading and 'leave me the hell alone' mood. So I lay on a couch and finished my first book of the tour. An embarrassing state of affairs that I shall attempt to remedy this week with a bout of good ol' page turning.

That night we played a game of Catan. A necessary condition of my taking part was that I could be a bad loser, and sulk if I wanted to. This was to counteract my excuse for not playing, that I was turning into a bad sport and didn't wish to sulk afterwards.

I had a glass of wine, a wild turkey was off my nut. Apparently I have my mother's Cadbury tendencies. My brain was addled, but not too addled for the bout of extreme logic that sluggishly crawled through it. Firstly, I was much drunker than anyone else, despite having no more of the devil's drink. Secondly, if I couldn't win sober, there was absolutely no chance of me winning with one foot already under the table.

So I played like a monkey, made madly generous trades, viciously defended worthless territory, and snuck up on the win so subtly that people were still trading with me on the final round when I laid the smack down and played 3 points at once. Usually, when you're ahead, no-one will trade with you for fear of giving you a win, but for some reason a giggling fool lying on the floor playing with exercise equipment isn't perceived as much of a threat.

I was a little bit shocked, and a little bit disappointed that I wouldn't get to sulk after all. There's nothing more fun than a good old tanti. That's two wins to uncountable losses since the tour began, but it was such a fun win hat I may be willing to play next time.

The night continued from there, and I felt very, very juvenile. We drank, we played playstation, we debated very deep discussions that made no sense, and worst of all - we saw the sun come up. It was like being a teenager all over again, without the inconvenience of someone kicking down a fence. The flashback experience was assisted by there being three boys to one girl, about the right ratio for the hallowed Easter parties.

All that changes next week with the arrival of the long suffering maths groupies. As they are generally more important than the squadders, they shall receive complete pseudonyms instead of the lazy *! pattern that I've been following so far.

Joining us next week will be the lovely Floor, D'Urberville and Tick lady. I'll leave it to them to discern who is whom.

Not really maths thingummy #1

The words 'that' and 'had' have something very special in common. What is it?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Jungle fever

There is a tradition on entering the Outreach program. J! offers each person, on their first day, the chance to trial some of his insanity chilli. I, being well aware of my chilli woos status, declined. G! not only accepted the challenge, he’s been back to the bottle repeatedly since. He says he enjoys the hallucinations and that cheese dulls the pain.

Tonight he met his match. G! could not master the Jungle curry at the Thai restaurant we visited tonight. He started on it, and was sweating almost immediately. About a quarter of the way in, the restauranteer shouted him some extra rice. About half the way in, he brought out some complimentary cucumber, that I enjoyed very much, as G! is allergic. By this point he had gone quite white. He gave up not long after. The sweating did not stop for some time.

Four shows today, my voice failed on the third one, but was a fair bit better by the fourth. J! is saying that we’ll get a PA to protect my voice, but I honestly don’t think I can use one, just feels unnatural. Just call me Kermit.

Our landlady seems slightly shocked by us, I don’t think she was expecting what she got. We’re not like holidayers, we’re a tad more messy, and a tad less likely to eat out. We’ll clean the place before we leave, and we would do dishes if we could, but the accommodation simply doesn’t have the amenities. Still, we’re here fore two more weeks, so we have to keep good will going for that long at least.

Saw a wonderful shopfront for Vile & Vile Solicitors today. Also saw a board outside a church that listed what the minister was praying for

1. Family
2. Rain
3. World Peace

Now I don’t mean to be rude, but aren’t those priorities just a little bit whacked?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Pet peeves

Sometimes, people just refuse to avoid stereotypes. Today, I successfully navigated us to our destination, a small school a little way from Maitland. All fine and dandy. We did our thing, had a good day, packed up, tried to go home.

This time I was driving and A! was navigating. At one point I seriously questioned her directions, feeling that the scenery we were viewing now, was not at all the same scenery we passed on our way in, and that we had twice travelled contrary to signs that read ‘to Maitland’. She said ‘no, it’s right’ pointed at the map authoritivly and on we went.

Further and further from our destination.

Eventually, I requested the map, and pointed out that if we were in Woodville, then we had most definitely come the wrong way, and that the gravel road should have been (and was) our first clue. Never trust an authoritive map poking unless you actually take the time to realise what they’re poking at.

Also, as I seem to be whinging a bit, I’d like to give my ‘up yours’ award to Sanity music Maitland, whom had season five of Family Guy on display, had a price tag on the back of the box, and had it mixed in with the other Family Guy seasons, but nevertheless, did not actually have it for sale. The product was apparently not released yet, but I was more than welcome to reserve a copy. I checked afterwards, in not a single of the three locations was there any indication that it was a ‘coming soon ‘ advertisement. I don’t like deceptive advertising. It’s obnoxious and arrogant. While I have avoided purchasing from Sanity in the past, I will now endeavour to never enter one of their stores again.

I also dislike banana, ginger, dogs licking, the Wiggles and the letter 'W' as it takes too long to say.

Oh, and the fact taht there are only three vegetarian jokes in the world, yet everyone thinks they're so clever when they repeat one.

At least today

I’m fickle like that.

/end whinge