Tsunami

December 28, 2004 by  
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I’m in Iowa, at the local Community College and was just getting online to put up a short post I forgot to do just before I left. That was about my recently re-organised pictures at Photobucket.

But, in the 24 hours I was travelling, the tsunami’s hit Southeast Asia. It’s a bit surreal to hear about it now, and see the death toll estimates have hit 50,000, and will climb I’m sure. The island of Sumatra was moved 100 feet to the southwest…I’m not quite sure what to think…

In one day a natural event kills more people than terrorism or the ‘war on terror’ has in the past four years. That’s not based on accurate figures, that’s just what I’m thinking. It puts things in perspective a little bit. How? Not that I ever felt the war on terror was particularly legitimate or effective anyway, but it reinforces for me the responsibility to care and provide for the needy of the world is higher than the need to destroy ‘our’ enemies. Anyway, it’s all news to me because a) I was travelling when it happened and b) I’m in a relative news vacuum here. The rest of you have, I’m sure, seen, read and heard more than you care to. I’ll leave one last link that some will have already seen, it’s the SEA-EAT (South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami) blog, which may be of interest to some. Holy crap… Okay, Wikipedia site… 56,000 confirmed dead, 55-60,000 estimated dead, more than 10,500 injured, more than 80,000 missing… well, enjoy your days and thank God we have life, and easy at that. See you in a few weeks.

Merry -vs- Happy

December 26, 2004 by  
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I’m not happy. Just a point of clarification. You want to have a happy Christmas? Fine! But I won’t wish you one. Oh no, I’ll wish you a Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas.
Happy New Year.

What’s Christmas coming to? Get it right people!

Me and Wangari Maathai

December 26, 2004 by  
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“Who?” you ask. Wangari Maathai, this years Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

BBC’s Talking Point conducted a live online interview with her on December 16 that I stumbled across when I should have been sleeping. There was an opportunity to post questions, which I did. Prof Maathai has endured a bit of controversy, quoted, only a day after winning the prize, as saying AIDS is a scientifically engineered biological agent; that is, a weapon of mass destruction. Knowing she had won the prize for her contributions to sustainable development, democracy and peace, and knowing she may be prone to say things she probably shouldn’t, I was hoping to get an honest opinion of what she thinks of the actions of the Sudanese and Zimbabwean governments. Not that I wanted to hear her condemn them and agree with me, but I honestly would like to know what Africans think of their actions, and if she would voice that. Instead of asking outright I tried to couch it in good governance. However, at 3am I was not as articulate as I would have liked, and asked:

Do you think Western development and aid focuses too much on good governance, and do you think governments in places like Zimbabwe and the Sudan should be held to these “Western” ideals?

Not that I think good governance, democracy or development are Western constructs in and of themselves, just wondering if the way they are applied by Westerners is seen as such… yeah? So anyway, I was feeling proud. I asked the Nobel Peace Prize laureate a question, and while her answer didn’t mention Zimbabwe or the Sudan once, I was pleased with myself. That live interview will be broadcast on the BBC World Service and BBC World TV on Sunday, 26 December 14:06 GMT. My brush with fame comes in the final 15 minutes of the program. Watch in awe. In awe I say! Or listen to the audio. Or don’t do either, because it’s actually quite boring.

I fly out to the US in 13 hours. 23 hours of transit, 13,650 kilometres (8480 miles ) and a 47°Celsius polar swing later and I’ll be in Omaha. Total time elapsed? 8 hours by the clock.

Answers

December 25, 2004 by  
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Bren:
Movie – The Big Blue – I was just talking to someone about this recently. I think it had been an option for the nights activities, but was passed over… I’ll have to go check it out.
Book – Trinity – I had never heard of it, but the reviews look good, as do the first two pages :)
Music – U2’s Unforgettable Fire – I don’t actually own it but I think everyone else in my family probably does and so I’ve heard it quite a bit over the years…great stuff.
Questions:

  1. Can you sum up the Izzie-Pallie conflict in a hundred words or less? Probably not…I’ll give it a go.
    Israelites occupied promised land, kicking much ass. Land very much the property of Jews for very long time. Jews flee Israel sometime after Jesus’ death (post Roman sack of Jerusalem circa 70AD?). Land conveniently occupied by neighbours, Palestinians. Jews stateless, despised for around 1,850 (?) years before having land returned to them. Palestinians cry foul, claiming Jews illegally occupying land that previously belonged to Jews. Jews with state, despised for around 60 years. Palestinians still don’t accept Israel there to stay…probably because neighbouring countries and Western (European) liberals continue to give them the idea that Israel is a false state. (100 words – damn, hard first qs….)
  2. When you leave Australia what is the first country you will visit?
    Well, that will be the US. I leave Boxing Day (tomorrow!) to be a groomsman in a wedding for a friend from the church I attended when living in the US.
  3. If that country is Israel, can you bring a bottle of Church Block with you?
    Sorry. But on the bright side (for me), I’ll keep that in mind!

Jamie:
Movie – Monty Python’s Life of Brian – haha. “What did the Romans ever do for us, eh?” “Roads?” “Well, apart from that.” “Oh I know. Sanitation!” “Security!” ahhhh, funny stuff.
Book – anything by Douglas Adams or Larry Niven – It’s been so long I can’t remember what I’ve read of Adams apart from Hitchhikers guide… I’ll have to rectify that. And I’ve never read any Larry Niven, but skimming through some of the stuff at Amazon, he looks pretty good, so I’ll have to get on to that. Thanks Jamie!
Questions:
BLOODY HELL. I can’t do it again. This is the last spot I had saved as a draft. I was almost done with both Jamie and Aimee’s questions, with only Suzanne to go, when my stinkin’ laptop crashed. Screw it. It’s 2.40am Christmas day. I may or may not have time to re-write those answers before I fly to the US on Sunday afternoon. More likely not.

Who goes there

December 23, 2004 by  
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Late filler before I answer the comments from the last post. Let’s see what sort of searches have brought people here in the last few days. Yes, it’s a stolen idea.

  • “twelve toes” -schoolhouse picture
  • “timeline of democracy”
  • edition freedom to choose classes

I’ve got nothing to spout, so ask me.

December 18, 2004 by  
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I stole this from Aimee, who stole it from Celti, who stole it from Inanna, who stole it from Ang, who stole it from Fresc, who stole it from someone at Intellectual Poison.

(A) First, recommend to me:
1. a movie
2. a book
3. a musical artist, song, or album

(B) Ask me three questions, no more, no less. Ask me anything you want. Answers will be posted next week (I’m pretty busy through the weekend)–great time for strangers to say hi.

(C) Then go back to your blog, copy and paste this allowing your friends to ask you anything; say that you stole it from me.

The visitors have nosedived over the last three months due to slackness on my part mostly, but I will give this a go anyway. So go ahead and recommend, ask and pass along.

a·rach·no·pho·bi·a

December 17, 2004 by  
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I had a recurring dream about spiders when I was younger. It didn’t come from watching the movie Arachnophobia, although that probably didn’t help when I finally did see it. What happened was this: everything solid other than the ground was no longer formed from wood, concrete, steel or plastic but rather large, hairy tarantulas. For a brief instant everything would, despite now being formed of spiders, retain its original shape – the chair I was sitting in, the ceiling above me, the floor below me. And then gravity took hold. Myself and a black avalanche would freefall in slow motion before all crashing to the ground below. Spiders everywhere, everything.

a·rach·no·pho·bi·a
1. An abnormal fear of spiders.
2. Pathological fear or loathing of spiders

It’s not that I drop and scream like a girl if there’s a spider above me. Or backpedal at the speed of light if they’re anywhere near me. No, it’s only when they’re big, fast and likely to HURT me that I have these perfectly reasonable reactions. As I write this I’m watching a Huntsman (pic) as big as my hand roam around the end of my bed, where he’s travelled since popping up on the wall in front of my face, meaning he came from the space below the desk where my bare feet were resting. Granted they’re more legs than body, but it is disconcerting to know they move faster than I can backpedal. When you see a spider in the shadows and notice its eyes gleaming cat-like in the darkness, you know you’re in trouble. You think I’m putting my body in that bed before I know he’s dead? Hell no.

All Carols, all the time

December 14, 2004 by  
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Two weeks out and we’ve hit the non-stop block of carols on the in-store “radio” at the supermarket. Tonight, amongst everything else, I was treated to a stirring, syrupy rendition of “Kumbaya”. I kid you not. That’s all I’ve got to say about THAT.

Wish me

December 9, 2004 by  
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Just quickly on my way out the door…

I have used some of my spare time thus far into my summer vacation to create a WISH LIST. If you really want to shower me with gifts and give me that brief sensation of happiness and ‘world-rightness’ that material possessions sometimes bring, buy me something!

Some of the music in the list I’ve owned before and had stolen, some of the movies were part of my collection that were unfortunately left behind in the US.

Merrrrrrrrry Christmas! To me.

I’m dreaming of a heat-wave Christmas

December 3, 2004 by  
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With my consummate work skills, vast industry experience, dashing good looks and obvious propensity for genius I have, this semester, managed to find gainful employment. It promised to be the perfect job to balance my pursuit of academic excellence with my desire to save the world. Those who know me could be forgiven for wondering why I haven’t yet achieved the latter, given the former… whatever. Naysayers.

The point is, I work three nights a week in a supermarket. Stacking shelves. Usually between nine and midnight. Sometimes till one or two in the morning. As you can imagine this isn’t particularly exciting, which is why this is my first post about it. Oh, yes I could tell you the time I dropped a 2-litre bottle of Pepsi, the ensuing crack causing it to spin like a dervish, wildly spewing its sticky contents on myself and everything else in a five metre radius. Mmmm, Pepsi-apples. Or the time two ten-packs of Coke continued in a straight line as my speedy trolley took a right, their dull thud followed by the muffled PSSSHHHHhhhhh of cans exploding in a cardboard box. Oh the fun, the frivolity of it all!

But no, this is about Christmas. The quanitity of schmaltzy Christmas tunes and painfully reworked carols you hear in stores is, I guarantee you, in a directly inverse proportion to the number of days remaining before young children are led to believe some fat man in a full beard, boots, stockings, winter jacket and head-warmer is going to climb down their non-existent chimney in the 40°C (102°F) heat of an Australian Christmas Eve. How can I guarantee this? Because I’m working in a store where it’s happening. The dosage is insidiously being upped each time I return to work.

I feel for the employees who work during the day, I really do. They have no choice but to listen. I, on the other hand, am in the store after it closes. There are no customers to hear either these ‘songs’ or the in-store advertisements that accompany them. Advertisements I can repeat verbatim and that inform customers about how to maximise flybuys points, join the ‘baby club’ and how much we would “appree-see-ate” being informed of any problems in the store. Problem? I would appreciate it if you would pronounce that word correctly or, failing that, allow me to work in silence tonight and so spare me the agony of hearing you say it 15 times.

It is all a sophisticated form of malicious torture and I have a good mind to report my employers to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. I can’t take it, and I will be dead before Christmas if this madness continues.

No great shakes

December 1, 2004 by  
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No great update. I’ve posted my first 1,000 words of the novel. Yes, 50,000 words in the month of November and I’ve managed to squeeze in my first 1K on the final day. I’ve set aside earleyedition.com and hopefully I’ll do something with it in the future.

Ah yes, results are out and I failed one subject at university this semester.

Kate, as maid of honour at a friend’s wedding six hours from here, is away until Sunday.

I should come up with a better post than this, and I may just do that. Or I may not. While you’re waiting, refreshing this page, getting some coffee and refreshing again, can I just say, “Don’t do that!” I know you’d love to but please restrain yourself. I’ll come up with something in a few days.