28 February 2007


I washed my car on Saturday and proved once again that Murphy’s Law is true. About an hour after I had finished washing the car, I had to drive to work to retrieve something from my office. It was a short trip and my car was out of the garage for less than ten minutes, but during that time it rained and my car got wet. It wasn’t raining when I left the house and by the time I got back it had stopped. Not only was that the only time it rained that day, but it was the only rain we had for the whole month of February. This is the desert. It almost never rains here. I almost never wash my car so you can see the obvious connection there, and Murphy prevailed against me.

He's sneaky like that. He creeps up on you when you least expect it. Like I said, it hardly ever rains here, so we wash our clothes and hang them out to dry without a single thought for the weather. We know that in a few hours we can bring them in again, dry and usually rather warm. But in the school holidays last year, we were preparing for a trip and hung three loads of washing on the line the day before our scheduled departure. That night it rained for the first time in weeks and we had to delay our trip by a day while we waited for our clothes to dry. Murphy got us again.

He's sneaky and he's waiting for the opportune moment to strike, so remember the old saying: when you least expect it, expect it.

23 February 2007

Out of the mouths...

Here is a story that my six-year-old daughter wrote for a school assignment.


Once upon a time there was a man. He was a great chef. One day he had so many customers that he forgot about the spaghetti on the stove. The chef left it there overnight so when he woke up the building was on fire!!!

Everyone was screaming and screaming! No one knew what to do but...

SUPERMAN! Superman saved the day again all thanks to the screaming.

The end.

(used with permission)

20 February 2007

Words I like

In the movie Donnie Darko, Drew Barrymore's character says that "cellar door" is considered to be the most beautiful phrase in the English language. She doesn't specify by whom or how they managed to arrive at that particular phrase, but I can think of a few other phrases that I find rather more appealing. "More beer" and "Congratulations on winning the million" spring to mind. Before that movie came out, a work colleague of mine who I shall refer to as Alex, because that's his name, asked me what I thought was the most beautiful word or phrase in the English language. I said "trousers" and Alex nearly fell off his chair.

Alex has a peculiar fascination for words and phrases, particularly collective nouns. Because I work in IT, Alex once asked me what I thought the collective noun for a group of IT workers might be. He suggested "conundrum" and "cornucopia" as possible contenders before I told him straight out that the correct term for a group of IT workers is, of course, a "gaggle of geeks". Surprisingly, Alex was less than impressed and went off to interrogate the Engineering department.

Other collective nouns that I like are "a brace of orthodontists", "a murder of crows" and "an absence of waiters".

Other phrases that I like include "Aurora Borealis", "macadamia nuts", "four-legged droopy dipole" which is a type of radio antenna, and "Carrickalinga Boulevard" which is a street near where I used to live. In fact I want to buy a house there just so that I can tell people that I live on Carrickalinga Boulevard. Best of all, it's just around the corner from the Torresan Estate winery which has an excellent cellar door.

12 February 2007

Teeing off

I'll watch just about any sport on television. I particularly like cricket and rugby league, but I have found that I can pretty much watch any competitive endeavour and get quite passionate about the outcome. The secret to enjoying sport on television is to pick a team. If you're not barracking for someone it's just boring, but if you care about the outcome you can watch snails racing.

The exception, for me, is golf. I've never considered golf to be a sport, partly because you can be overweight and over fifty and still make a good living as a golf pro, but also because it's competitive in a weird, non-competitive kind of way. Compare with tennis. In tennis, the way you play can affect how well your opponent plays. If you play particularly well you can make it difficult for your opponent to score points against you. If your opponent has a weakness, say a poor backhand, you can exploit that by hitting the ball to their backhand side a lot, thus giving yourself an advantage. The same principle applies to most other sports; you can triumph by playing well and negating your opponent. In golf, there is nothing you can do to affect the way your opponent plays.

Of course, it could be argued that if you play particularly well your brilliant performance will put pressure on your opponent and that pressure could cause them to play badly, but that's not the same as thrusting your nine iron in the way of their ball as it's rolling toward the hole. In golf, all you can do is play your best game and hope that Tiger has a severe attack of the yips.

That's not to say that people shouldn't play golf, or that they shouldn't be allowed to make a living doing it. If you're blessed with the skill to hit a little ball a long way with a narrow stick, more power to you. I just don't understand the urge to "compete" in a so-called "sport" where the only weapon you have against your opponent is hope. I also don't understand the urge to watch your favourite player "competing" in a tournament when they're not allowed to, I don't know, body-slam an opponent mid-swing. That's gotta be frustrating.

So that's why I never watch golf on TV.

Now I'm off to the pub for a game of darts.

07 February 2007

My Big Achievement

The town that I live in has a monument to the man who first explored and surveyed this area. He was quite the pioneer/explorer/surveyor and without his efforts this town would not be here. He died in 1993 and now there is a monument in the town square commemorating the man and his achievements. As I walked past it yesterday, I wondered whether anyone would build a monument in memory of me when I'm gone. My immediate response to myself was "Probably not".

Just as actors don't make movies in order to win Academy Awards (yeah, right!), we don't live our lives trying to warrant a monument after we die. It's not an achievement that's usually aspired to. But I did get to asking myself, what noteworthy achievements have I accomplished in my few short years?

I first thought of those things that lots of people achieve. I have a University degree, I have a wife and children, I've bought a house, I have a good job, I can tie my own shoelaces and I've learned how to solve the Rubik's cube. Naturally, I'm proud of all of these achievements, but none of them sets me apart from the crowd. What have I done that most other people have not?

Well, at age 16 I won a yo-yo competition. OK it's not world-changing but it felt good to be crowned the yo-yo champion. It didn't lead to a professional yo-yo career with multi-million-dollar sponsorship deals like I'd hoped, but I did get a six-pack of cola and a ghetto blaster. It may not seem like a big achievement to you, but back then, in the eyes of my 16-year-old friends, I was a legend. When I told my mum she said, "I always knew you were special." and I believed her.

So that's my claim to fame. I realise they don't build monuments to former yo-yo champions, but I've still got time. I'll achieve something more monument-worthy later when my kids have grown up. Right now I'm going to go and practise my yo-yo.