Friday, 31 October 2008

NaNoWriMo Eve

Still haven't had time to consider story options for the competition. Not a single title or idea has come to me. Deep down I must want the drama to play out this way. No nightmares have been playing on my mind.

My sister is already psyching me out by telling me how prepared and awesome she's going to be. There's even a challenge between us to finish the 50,000 words in TWO WEEKS.

I probably wrote 5000 word in the last two days for Chapter 59 of Fatal Cure amongst other edits and an experimental blog on WordPress. Trouble is, I would have erased at least half those words in rewrites.

The beauty of NaNoWriMo is the banning of the delete key. Everything is valid. Just write and write and write until all the letters on the keyboard are worn off.

Having no letters for guidance would be a major problem for me. Believe it of not, I've never learned to touch type. I can bang out 40 words a minute but can't look away from the bloody keyboard without completely forgetting where all the letters have moved to.


I felt the need to thank Strategize's blog for helping out with my toilet troubles recently. Actually it was one of his reader's comments, but he or she chose to be anonymous so I can't thank them by name.

When we bought our newfangled Porcher Esedra MKII toilet, I never thought to ask them how to get the lid off because, you know, it shouldn't be that hard for a handyman to deal with. So when the toilet started leaking into the pan I went and got a new washer and lifted the lid...

Or tried to. Didn't wanna budge.

Must have a grub screw. Nup. Maybe some fastener under the lip. Nope. What about prying the bastard off? Dammit.

I was getting angry now.

How about I smash it, work out how it was supposed to come off, and then try to get replacement parts. (Which would almost definitely have to come from Mars!!!)

No, no, no. That's the way I normally do it.

Took deep breaths and rang the mob who sold us the dunny. The dude I got doesn't know how it comes off either!!! And obviously he can't be bothered looking it up in a manual or walking out to the showroom to find out for me. His advice? 'Maybe I could Google it on the internet'.

How can they sell something without knowing how to fix it?


Got on the Net and, after dismissing the Porcher site as useless, I found Strategize and fixed my problems with several deft movements, (not bowel related).

Just in case someone else finds this post after a desperate Google search, here's some 'how to' advice of how it's done.

  • Push down the Full Flush button.
  • Wriggle the Half Flush button out. (It will come out with a LITTLE BIT of force.)
  • Pull out the big button.
  • Unscrew the white plastic screw that is hidden beneath these buttons and you're in.

Thank you for not letting me break my toilet Ross.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Nanowrimo preparations

No. 1: Encourage others to join in by using unkind remarks about their writing abilities. Reverse psychology 101.

No. 2: Think of something to write about. As usual I have no idea and will wing it like last year. Did anyone catch the fact that I won last year. Anyone? Well, I was kinda proud of myself. I FUCKEN WON. That's what I think I said. I'm still using ideas from the anthology I wrote last year so it's not all vanity and worthless keyboard bashing. Desperation mode has it's merits.

No. 3: Get appointments out of the way and stock up on frozen dinners and toilet paper.

No. 4: Obsess about not having anything to write about.

No. 5: Be glad to have one more day to procrastinate because the rules say you have to wait until 1 November and that's a good enough reason not to think about the pain to come.

I've decided to do a daily update here as I never get enough time to post on Thought Control. If I fail it will be a public shaming. Motivation is the key to winning. Feel free to motivate with abuse and/or encouragement.

Join me at Nanowrimo. You've got nothing to lose except your 'significant other', a month of your life and all your free time.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Tanami Desert Diary - PART 5

(Return to - PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4)

A Cessna brought the ‘Word of God’ to the Tanami one fateful day. An evangelist in the form of a naive, young Geologist, fresh out of Uni, barely out of his teens.

We’re a friendly mob out here. We even make Geologists welcome, but we’re quite unaware of his less forgivable proclivities at this time.

Camping in the desert is a rough and ready affair that is fluid and set with certain discomforts. It’s the first time our new Geo has camped out, and it becomes obvious he’s never done much for himself before. He expects an array of amenities that aren’t forthcoming. City ways in a feral wasteland don't mix too well, and he finds the lack of power points in the surrounding trees disturbing.

Immediately, his cover story of being ‘one of the lads’, goes awry. Someone normal complains they’ve forgotten to pack something. He jumps in to commiserate with his own clanger.

‘Mum packed his bag so he’s not sure he’s got any pyjamas.’

Even at school camp that would be a violation of etiquette. Out here in the desert, it classifies as information NOT to share. A group of young lads who pride themselves on adaptability and independence don't take kindly to Mama’s Boys. Finding out he’s a God-bothering religious nut was anti-climactic.

His sentence is handed down. ‘Not to be included in rule breaking activities.’

To fuel our distain, he’d unashamedly and openly fill in some sort of bible-study worksheet after we’d knocked off for the day. We’d sit around the fire drinking beer and smoking dope. He’d try to convince us to change our evil ways with short lived sermons, then storm off up a sand dune to ‘pray for us’. We heathens found the concept vaguely threatening.

He’s a nice enough lad to get along with, even if he’d been brainwashed at an early age to fear both God and Devil in their multitude of forms. While his parents were beating Jesus into him, they should have taught him a few domestic skills as well.

I had to check on him after he requested a side trip to a remote area. Perhaps he was trying to follow Jesus’ forty day diet. More likely he wanted to get away from our influence. What I found after two days showed he wasn’t being very strict with the fasting.

None of us ‘normals’ were big on cleanliness, but we all knew how food poisoning occurs, and how to keep ants, wasps and larger carnivores out of the camp by cleaning up. He had no awareness of how disgusting the site was. It was like walking into the aftermath of a five year olds birthday party. Half eaten rotting food and canned drinks lay everywhere. Rubbish piled on benches, dirty pots still in the fireplace. He’d put a plate down, forget about it and get another.

I cleaned it up. What really burns my arse is that he would have thanked divine intervention for providing the service.

(Like it? See – PART 6) Coming Soon

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Underground Mining - PART 5

(Return to PART 1, PART2, PART 3, PART 4)

Strict Union rules still prevailed in Western Oz mines through the early nineties when I started drilling. Most underground mines still adhered to three, eight hour shifts.

I wanted to work twelve hours shifts like surface mines were beginning to bring in. It was a contentious issue back then. The wrong opinion could get you a busted head in a pub argument.

Constant strikes and go slows sapped our pays. Most strikes weren’t even for an improvement of our conditions anyway. We were expected to go out in sympathy for some other Union. Usually the Wharfies.

I’m all for the ‘workers’ standing up to ‘management’ in cases of unfair working conditions. Unfortunately, that wasn't on the program. We already had fantastic conditions and rates of pay. The Union Bully Boys had done the hard yards and were spinning their wheels with nothing much to do. They remembered the days of old when people respected their muscle and wanted to prove how powerful they still were.

We’d know when they planned to strike. The Union bosses would turn up on site with boats hooked on their cars and eskies in the boot. They’d vote to strike, knock everyone off, then go fishing. The miners got to sit at home, with no pay, and wait till they were told to go back to work. Union officials got paid out of the Union slush fund.

I was disgusted at this arrogant, traitorous behaviour. I said I’d never belong to a Union that treats members like this and never paid Union dues since. Even if my stance brought me grief from the odd Shop Steward, I’ve never bowed to Union pressure.

As contract drillers, we were used to being treated poorly and ignored. Even amongst other miners, we hold a position near the bottom of the hierarchy. Drilling only took place away from active mining areas since production always took precedence over exploration. Disused shafts and bricked up drives were our places of work. Insulated from the everyday running of the mine, sometimes we’d be forgotten about. One particular shift I remember, had a detonation planned outside of normal blasting times. The pressure wave, dust and smoke that swept around my body was an experience me and my offsider will never forget

(Like it? See - Part 6)

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Medicare Vs local pharmacy's public defender

Today I discovered the Government hasn't lost the exquisite art of mentally torturing its citizens. I had to deal with Medicare. My card expired.

I never go to the doctor, (Territory tough), and was unaware of this minor detail until a recent eye exam. Covered by Medicare every two years. Not taken advantage of in over four years.

In this day of computers you’d think it would be easy enough to get a new card over the internet. Nope.

I had to change my address first, from about 6 years ago, so they could update my file. Fair enough, no problem. That should be easy. Nope.

I have to go to a Medicare office to prove I am me. I hate going there. I’m not sick at the moment but I will be after standing in line for an hour with PEOPLE’S KIDS COUGHING IN MY FACE.

It just so happens certain Pharmacy’s are able to process address changes. There’s one 400 metres down the street. I’m off, on a mission.

The Pharmacy ladies are unaware of being able to change an address. Fuck. BUT they have a hot line to Medicare.

I use it.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Try to keep up.


Most people can, BUT, all those years ago we had a temporary PO Box number in a crappy little NSW town. We only had it for a short time, forced into that arrangement so real estate companies would process our applications to rent a house. (We move a lot. Normally AustPost redirects our mail CARE OF PO until a new permanent address is organised. That wasn't good enough for real estate people.) I can’t remember it.

So, feeling foolish and bemused, I am unable to come up with the secret code that unlocks my Government file. I hang up.

Perplexed, I tell the woman behind the counter that I’ll do without a Medicare card from now on. She’s very annoyed. (The Government will be too when they find out I’ve slipped out of their net.) She’s straight on the phone. I cringe in, ‘Oh shit, my file is being flagged again’, mode.

The second call creates a stir, requiring my Medicare telephonist to seek counsel while I listen to the ether in telephone limbo. They’re probably readying the TRG (Terrorist Response Group). When she returns I give the same info as the previous call and once more hit a brick wall with the PO Box.

Send a copy of driver’s licence, signed by the woman WHO SHE’S ALREADY SPOKEN TO AND IS STANDING NEXT TO ME, and send it to Medicare. I hang up.

The Pharmacy lady is bloody annoyed. She’s a trusted Health Care Professionals with access to our most intimate details of our illnesses and deformities but her signature is worth more than her word? I have 7 pieces of identification. I have my old Medicare card. I have an honest face.

She rings back A THIRD TIME and kicks arse through the bureaucratic jungle. I still have to confirm my details AGAIN while they rub their butts.

New card will be sent post haste.

I am dumbfounded. Luckily, I have the presence of mind to ask where Medicare will send the new card.

We’re sending it to your PO Box, Sir.

What!?!?! The PO Box whose number I can’t remember? In that different State I have vowed never to return to? Even though I’m standing in a Pharmacy, WITH SICK PEOPLE COUGHING ON ME, trying to change that address, right fucking now?

I make her repeat the new details twice but I bet they fuck it up.

Hope the procedural bypass gives their computer system an embolism.

Like it? See - The whole world is against me.