Dark Day

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Today is a dark day. A dark, bleak, soul crushing day.

It started out like any other Tuesday. The uneventful drive to work. The slow grind of the Tuesday work day. The routine of computer, factory, computer.

It happened at 11:23am. I remember the time well, because I had just seen the postman deliver the mail, and I checked the clock to see what time he had arrived. I headed downstairs, and out through the factory to grab the mail.

There was a large parcel, and the return address told me it was from a government agency, so as I wandered back inside, I was looking at the envelope, and not at where I was going, as I should have been.

As I reached the edge of the stairs, I suddenly felt my feet catch on something. It took me half a second to realise I was falling and in that insignificant moment, I thought I could right my balance.
Within the next half second, I knew it. I was going down. Envelopes flew from my hands and rained down around me as my palms and knees slammed into cold, hard concrete. I let loose with a string of obscenities that startled the guys in the factory.

As quickly as the pain could start, the embarrassment overtook it. Five faces peered at me, looking torn between amusement and concern. I thought quickly of my Mum, and her own recent fall. It’s a rare thing, falling down when you’re an adult, yet here I was; face down on the concrete floor of the factory.

I stood up as quickly as I could, and began to brush myself off. And that’s when I saw it. That’s when my heart dropped out of my chest and hit the floor.

I had torn a hole in my favourite pair of jeans.

Oh, my poor jeans! There are no other jeans like these jeans. They’re comfortable and slimming and they make my ass look perfectly rounded. They can be casual, or they can be slightly dressy. But most of all, they’re long enough to drag on the floor, despite my height. And at 5’10, that’s a hard thing for me to find. And now they’re ruined. RUINED!

Oh, my poor poor jeans….

Today is a dark day. A dark, bleak, soul crushing day. For now begins the quest to replace the most perfect pair of jeans that have ever graced this body. Yes, today is a dark, dark day.

Also, my knee hurts.

Old School Rules

Monday, June 13, 2011

When I have some spare time to myself (which isn't often lately) there are two things that i enjoy doing.

I love to read. I'll read just about anything that's put in front of me. I love a good book more than anything else. I can find myself getting completely lost in them, losing track of time and just reading until i reach the last page.

The other thing I do when i'm relaxing on the couch after work is to play on the iPad. I'm completely addicted to it. Mostly it's scrabble or card games (pretty low-tech for such a high-tech device) and also a lot of web browsing and IM-ing.

Given these two uses of my time, one would think that the concept of a book that I can read on the iPad would be ideal! They've been advertising pretty heavily lately the great features of the ipad and how you can buy thousands of books without leaving your house, so it was really only  a matter of time before I would give it a go. I wasn't much interested in the idea at first, because I spend my entire day at work reading things on an LCD screen, so the idea of coming home to do the same thing didn't really thrill me. But the idea of having any book i decided i wanted to read in a matter of seconds was something that did appeal to me. So after failing to find a book that i wanted at the local bookstore, I bit the bullet and bought it as an iBook.

At first, it seemed kinda cool. I mean, reading on a brightly lit screen was a bit odd at first, but that aside, being able to change the font style and size was great. Not having to hold a book open while I lay in bed was also pretty great. I could read without moving a muscle, which is really what you want when you read. There was also the added bonus of being able to read while KJ slept, which is harder with a regular book because you need to have the light on.

But after a little while I began to miss the feel of the paper in my hands, and the satisfying feeling of flipping through the pages, watching the heavy side of the book move from the right to the left as i made my way towards the end.

Then I came across the biggest flaw in the entire ibook concept, something that would put me off iBooks altogether.  Something that no amount of touch screen and processor technology could overcome. It's the reason why ibooks will never replace the trusty old paperback. The reason that the iPad, the Kindle, the Nook will never ever take the place of beautifully bound sheets of paper with plain, black type.

After a particularly long and draining 11 hour work day, I came home and ran myself a nice hot bath. As I was preparing myself to get in, I realized that the ridiculously over-rated iBook had left me in the lurch. When all I wanted to do was relax by soaking in a hot bubble bath and reading a good book, I found myself without anything to read - because you can't take an iPad into the bath with you.
A paper book - yes. Sure, it's not waterproof, but if you drop it in the water, you can still dry it out and use it again. At worst, you've ruined a $10 product. If you take an iPad into the bath with you and drop it in, no amount of drying can repair it. You will have killed a $700 (minimum) product by trying to use it in the way you would a regular book. You can't even really take it into the bathroom with you at all, even if you keep it well clear of the water, because even the steam of a hot bath has the potential to ruin it.

So, Steve Jobs, you may have invented a product that was not so long ago just a thing of science fiction books, but you haven't created the greatest product the world has ever seen, like some Mac-Obsessive fans will claim loudly and regularly to anyone who will listen. Because until you make that sucker waterproof, it's just a toy that will never be as good as a couple hundred sheets of paper bound together.

Old School still rules.

'Yard Work'

Friday, June 03, 2011

This past weekend, KJ and I headed down to his family beach house for a weekend of slave labour (You may know it by its other name – ‘Yard Work’). KJ had managed to borrow a hydraulic wood splitter, so the whole family headed down to try to split about 5 tonnes of wood that has been lying around in the shed forever - because when you're on holiday, you can't be bothered getting out an axe to chop wood.

The wood splitter was borrowed from a guy we work with who happens to live on a large farm property, and it was built as a trailer so that it could be towed wherever it needed to go. And this particular weekend, it needed to go behind the ute so we could tow it to the beach house.

The trailer was this rickety old thing, more rust than paint and with tyres so old that the trailer felt like it was rolling along on two concrete pipes. The tail-lights were mounted on an old wooden plank that was held on to the trailer with a couple of heavy duty cable ties. So as you can imagine, it was a real sturdy vehicle.

When we set off with the wood splitter in tow, i cringed at every bump, every rattle. But after about an hour or so, I began to think that the trailer was actually up to the trip, and began to relax.

Clearly, I relaxed too soon.

Somewhere on a long, empty stretch of highway, I heard a loud metallic clanging. The removable tyre guard had bounced its way off the trailer and disappeared somewhere into the darkness.
This marked the first of several stops we made along the way to traipse through the darkness by the side of the freeway to retrieve errant wheel guards. The last of these stops was about 15 minutes from our final destination. A distant clattering and a quick look in the rear view mirror told us that the guard had once again vacated the trailer. We pulled to the side of the road and onto the grass, and immediately felt the car sink into the mud. The futile spinning of tyres confirmed it - we were bogged.

Stranded by the side of the road, in the pitch black on a quiet highway in the middle of nowhere, without a single bar of phone reception, we could do nothing but wait for someone to stop and offer to pull us out. With no street lights around, we wandered up the road by phone light to find the wheel guard, trying to stay out of the mud.

Thankfully, it wasn’t long before a bloke in a 4WD pulled over and offered to rescue us.
He didn't introduce himself, he just got right into the process of pulling us out of the smelly, muddy ground. He will forever be known to me as 'The Mysterious Stranger’. He knelt on the wet, muddy ground to tie the rope he used to pull us out, as thought this were an every day occurrence for him. In no time at all we were free, and our mysterious stranger disappeared into the night once more.

It made me feel quite good about the state of the world. That there are still people who will stop and help a stranger who is broken down (or bogged) by the side of the road - i honestly felt up until last weekend that this sort of basic decency was gone from the world.
We need more mysterious strangers in the world, but i'm glad to know that there are still at least one or two out there.

When we finally arrived at the beach house and got down to the process of splitting the wood, there was a kind of evil serial killer-ness about it all. As we split some of the freshly cut wood, it began to leak sap - sap that was so intensely, vividly red that it looked exactly like blood. As the splitter pushed in to the soft flesh of the logs, the sap would begin to ooze, and then suddenly squirt out and all over everyone, like some kind of body-chopping scene from Dexter.

And as if being bogged, forced to do slave labour and murdering trees wasn't enough to kill any tiny shred of joy the weekend may have held - someone dropped a huge log on my foot, causing me to swear so loudly that it could be heard above the sound of both the chainsaw and the petrol motor of the wood splitter. I've been hobbling around all week with a giant black bruise on my foot.

I think we can safely surmise from this experience that Slave Labour (or Yard Work, if you prefer) is really an evil, injurious and murderous pursuit that should be avoided at all costs.