17 November 2008

The superfluous 's'

Why do people add an 's' to the end of words that aren't supposed to have an 's' at the end? It bugs me no end.

The biggest department store in Australia is called Myer, but most people I know call it 'Myers'. The main road that goes along the top of Flagstaff Hill in Adelaide (heading East-West) is called Black Road, but most people I know call it 'Blacks Road'. Why? This abomination probably occurs all the time in all English-speaking cultures, but the Scots take it to another level.

In Clydebank, where I was born, there used to be a sewing machine factory belonging to Singer Manufacturing Company. Logically, this should be abbreviated to just Singer. For example: "Your mum's a minger, she works at Singer." But no. Neither was the name adulterated by the simple addition of an 's'. Ask anyone who lived in Clydebank prior to 1980 and they'll tell you they knew someone who worked at 'Singerses'.

So when Scotland takes over Australia we will all be shopping at Myerses and driving down Blackses Road, just you wait and see.

23 October 2008

My Agony

I had a root canal on Tuesday. I had been to the dentist about two months ago and she said that she would try to fix my aching tooth, but if that didn't work then I should come back for a root canal. Well, I could soon tell that whatever she had done hadn't worked because my toothache came back about a week later. So I knew what was going to happen next, and I wasn't looking forward to it.

I held off for as long as I could, but the pain eventually became unbearable. So on Monday I made an appointment and on Tuesday I went to face the music. The dentist told me that the anaesthetic injection would hurt a bit more than usual and she wasn't kidding. I had to wiggle my feet like crazy to avoid flinching and pulling away. But as much as it hurt going in, it did a fantastic job once it was there. The dentist left me alone for a few minutes, then came back and asked how it felt. I said "The pain is gone. I'm cured. I can go home now." but she wouldn't let me leave.

The treatment only took about half an hour but now I have to go back for more every month for up to twelve months. Yay me!

10 September 2008

It's the end of the world as we know it...and I feel fidgety.

It was always going to happen. It was just a matter of when. It might be now. It might be some time in the future that scientists destroy the world, but it might be right now. The Large Hadron Collider will be switched on tonight and even the scientists who designed and built it don’t know for sure what will happen. Despite that not knowing they are 100% sure that nothing bad will happen. I wonder about that. “I don’t know what will happen. Nothing bad will happen.” Is that credible? It seems like the Bay of Pigs fiasco all over again. A government think tank in Washington said that the Bay of Pigs invasion would work but it didn’t and it turns out that the think tank only thought that it would because they had convinced themselves that they were right, despite the evidence showing that they were wrong. Psychologists call it “group think”, I think. I learned about it at Uni. The boffins at CERN have convinced themselves that nothing bad will happen, but they also admit that they don’t know exactly what will happen. That worries me. They say that they want to know what happened a billionth of a second after the “Big Bang” so they are trying to replicate the “Big Bang”. I’m not sure recreating the universe from scratch is a good idea.

If the world ends tomorrow none of us will have any regrets because we will all be dead. I just hope it happens in an instant and not a kind of “Oh dear, we seem to have created a black hole that is starting to consume the planet and will be finished by about tea time tomorrow. Sorry.” The mass panic would be horrendous. Probably best not to say anything in that case. “Oh yes, everything went splendidly. Marvellous result. Sorry about the mess, we’ll clean that up on Monday. I promise.” So beware. If the CERN mob start telling the world that everything went remarkably well we should all be very, very concerned.

20 August 2008

You said what?

Here is my list of words that sound rude, but aren't.


Have I missed any?

18 August 2008

How did that happen?

If you've taken a glance at the Olympic Games coverage over the last week or so you will, no doubt, be wondering the same thing I am: when did the French suddenly get good at swimming? That just came out of nowhere, didn't it?

What struck me the most was the sheer size of Alain Bernard. Now there's a boy who'll be big when he grows up. I heard one commentator describe him as the biggest human on the planet. I don't know about that, but anyone who can make The Phelpedo look small has got to be massive. It's an unfair advantage when you can jump in the pool, reach out and almost touch the other end. He'll be absolutely unstoppable if he ever learns how to swim.

11 August 2008

Health food? I don't think so.

I opened a new jar of coffee the other day and noticed a splash of big writing across the label that said "Natural Coffee Antioxidants". Naturally, this annoyed me. There may very well be natural coffee antioxidants in my freeze-dried coffee, but do they really have to try to portray everything as a health food? Is anyone really going to drink coffee for the antioxidants? I doubt it.

Even worse was the TV ad that was on a couple of years ago showing popular children's TV presenter Monica Trapaga extolling the healthful virtues of Kelloggs Coco Pops. Its health benefit? Well, according to Monica, "Kelloggs Coco Pops with milk is a source of calcium."

Noooo!!! Really???!

Here's a scoop: Cardboard with milk is a source of calcium, as is a bowl of sand with milk. Or a plate of confetti with milk.

Do they really think we are that stupid?

06 August 2008

What is all this stuff?

I remember growing up. There were seven of us, Mum and Dad plus five kids, sharing a single bathroom. If you looked in the shower recess in that bathroom you would have seen one bottle of shampoo, one bottle of conditioner and a bar of soap. Now I share a house with my wife and our six children and, again, there is only one bathroom. Yesterday I counted the bottles in the shower recess and there were 14. I'm not kidding. 14. I should point out that my two youngest children are not old enough to have showers, and have no need as yet for almond facial scrub or henna-enriched conditioning mousse. So six people (two adults and four children) somehow need 14 bottles of stuff in the shower. Is that normal? Am I the only one who wonders if that is a bit odd?

Incidentally, I said that when I was growing up there was "Mum and Dad plus five kids" but my close friends and family members may be inclined to point out that I am in fact one of six children. Strictly speaking that's correct, but my youngest brother wasn't born until after my older brother had left home, so at any given time when I was growing up there were only seven of us living there, so no more nit-picking.

13 July 2008

See Marty run

My preparations for this year's City-Bay fun run are, shall we say, a little bit behind schedule. I'd like to say that I'm ahead of where I was at this time last year because I didn't start training last year until August, but since I haven't started training yet this year I'm really no better off at this stage.

If I'm to put in a better performance than last year's debacle, I'll have to extract the digit pronto. I've been planning to get started for about six weeks now, but there always seems to be a reason (or excuse) why I can't start today. Either we've got visitors or I'm too busy or the wife's too busy so I have to look after the kids or I'm feeling sick or it's too cold. A couple of times it actually rained. You can't go out running in the rain. Not unless you're a crazy person.

I've been talking about training strategy with my brother in law. He's a football umpire and the most accomplished runner I know, having completed the 2001 City-Bay in 40 minutes and 40 seconds. He gave me some good advice about how to prepare for this year's event, but that was several weeks ago now and I've forgotten what he said. Sorry Jack. Send me an e-mail to remind me, would you?

If anyone else has any training or motivational tips, I'd love to hear them.

07 July 2008

How I feel right now

A little polar bear goes to his mummy and says “Mummy, am I a polar bear?” Mummy says “Yes dear, you’re a polar bear.”
“I’m not a grizzly bear or a Russian dancing bear or a little brown bear?”
“No dear. You’re a polar bear.”

The little polar bear goes to his daddy and says “Daddy, am I a polar bear?” Daddy says “Yes mate, you’re a polar bear.”
“I’m not a black bear or a panda bear or a koala bear or anything?”
“No mate. You’re a polar bear.”

“Well, why I am I so friggin’ cold?!!”

Yes I know it's an old joke and you've probably heard it lots of times before. I'm just reminding you of it.

What's your favourite joke?

19 June 2008

Everybody's a comedian

For me, one of the best things about being a parent is when my kids deliberately say or do something to make me laugh, especially when they succeed.

A couple of weeks ago we were having dinner at the local RSL club and I asked the kids what they wanted to drink. I thought I might get a laugh by saying "You can have lemonade, lemonade or lemonade" but my eight year old daughter outdid me by asking "What was the second one again?"

20 April 2008

Really so very annoyed

I was reminded today of one of my pet hates regarding the misuse of the English language. I know I'm quite a pedant and I myself am far from perfect, but it gets my goat that people just can't be bothered to speak correctly.

The offence du jour? Use of the word 'really' instead of the word 'very'. 'Really' and 'very' do not mean the same thing and they are not interchangeable. "How was your trip to Melbourne?" "Great, but it was really cold." No! It was very cold. Say what you really mean (not what you very mean).

Speaking of 'very', it is also being increasingly omitted from 'thank you very much' and being ludicrously replaced by 'so'. The phrase 'so much' requires a 'that' followed by a descriptive statement. "I love you so much that I just had to buy you these flowers." "Thank you so much" is trendy, but completely meaningless.

There is nothing wrong with the word 'very'. If you mean 'very' then say 'very'.

Thank you really much.

18 April 2008

Strange real estate photos

I love looking at houses for sale on the web. We might be in the market for a house some time later this year and I've been doing some preliminary investigation. It intrigues me that some of the ads have some very strange photos. You would think that people would show photos that display the more appealing aspects of their property, but I often wonder what I am supposed to be impressed by when I see an overgrown back yard full of junk or a laundry strewn with dirty washing.

I was looking at houses on the web today when I came across this gem. (Click to enlarge. Woo-hoo!) I can't quite work out what it is meant to be a photo of, exactly. Now, I like the shiny wooden door and the seahorse fridge magnets, but the piles of rubbish in the back room are a bit of a turn-off, don't you think?

Seriously, how does this promote the house?

13 April 2008


I usually get up at about 7:15 to get ready for work. I have my alarm set for 6:50 and after it goes off I let myself stay in bed for a while before getting up. My alarm clock doesn't have a "snooze" function so I can't go back to sleep. I've never liked getting out of bed immediately after waking up. I'd rather lie there for a little while and get up when I'm fully awake.

One day I woke up suddenly at 7:20. My alarm hadn't gone off and when I looked at the clock I thought "Oh no! 7:20 already! I have to get up straight away. Bummer!"

Then I realised that it was Saturday and with great relief I rolled over and went back to sleep. That was fantastic.

12 April 2008

Just so you know

If you ever have something stuck in your teeth and you can't find a toothpick anywhere, DO NOT straighten out a paperclip and use that instead.

Don't worry - the bleeding has stopped now.

07 April 2008

Another one

Here is another unmotivational poster for you.

This could become a regular feature.

01 April 2008

Loose lips sink (friend)ships

Suppose you’re friends with two couples, but the wives in those two couples don’t really like each other. They tolerate each other and you can all go out together and have a good time, but underneath there is this simmering ill-feeling born out of what? Jealousy? Disgust? Who knows? But it’s there and it bothers you that you have two friends who don’t like each other, and you feel powerless to fix the situation.

Now suppose one of those two wives confides in you the full extent of her ill-feeling toward the other one, and goes into great detail about all the big and little things about the other one that make steam come out of her ears. You turn ashen upon hearing the appalling litany of disgust and disdain pouring out of your usually pleasant friend. You didn’t know she knew words like that.

What should you do?

Well, you absolutely, definitely, without a doubt, should not, at any time, for any reason, repeat said ear-steaming tirade of brimstone to the well-meaning best friend of the husband of the other wife.

Don’t do it!

Wives of outback bloggers take note.

30 March 2008

I'm ecstatic

I feel sick. I've been feeling sick for a week now. It started on Easter Monday and hasn't let up. I took two days off work last week and spent them lying in bed moaning and miserable. I also spent most of this weekend doing the same. It's a sore throat kind of thing that has been going around town combined with a head cold, so I can't swallow, I can't think and my muscles are starting to ache from being in bed so much.

Anyway, the Crows belted the Eagles and Port got thumped by the Swans, so I couldn't be happier.

25 March 2008

Get drunk without ceasing

Here's what the French poet Baudelaire had to say on the subject:

One should always be drunk.
That's all that matters; that's our one imperative need.
So as not to feel Time's horrible burden which breaks your shoulders and bows you down, you must get drunk without ceasing.
But with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue as you choose.
But get drunk.
And if, at some time, on the steps of a palace, in the green grass of a ditch, in the bleak solitude of your room, you are waking and the drunkenness has already abated,
ask the wind, the wave, the stars, the clock, all that which flees, all that which groans, all that which rolls, all that which sings, all that which speaks, ask them what time it is;
and the wind, the wave, the stars, the birds and the clock will reply:
"It is time to get drunk!"
So that you may not be the martyred slaves of Time, get drunk, get drunk and never pause for rest!
With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you choose!

Apparently Baudelaire was high on opium most of the time, so what would he know?


Here's one of my favourite satirical "unmotivational" posters.

I just love the look on her face.

11 March 2008

Bad Moon Rhyming

How do you rhyme 'smile' with 'hour'? Imagine for a moment that you're a song writer and you are trying to think of a word to rhyme with 'smile'. I don't think 'hour' would be among the first few dozen words that spring to mind. But although it's a bad rhyme, Neil Diamond pulls it off in one of my favourite karaoke songs, 'Cracklin' Rose':

Cracklin' Rosie make me smile.
Girl if it lasts for an hour,
Well that's all right,
'cos we've got all night.

Maybe it's his Brooklyn accent, I don't know, but to me it seems to work just fine.

Most bad rhymes grate on my nerves every time I hear them. The Steve Miller Band are probably the worst offenders. These four lines from 'Take The Money And Run' are all supposed to rhyme but none of them do:

Billy Mack is a detective down in Texas.
You know he knows just exactly what the facts is.
He ain't gonna let those two escape justice.

He makes his living off of the people's taxes.

"What the facts is??" That's just stupid. But that's not all. They also had a hit with 'Abra-cadabra':

Abra abra-cadabra.
I'm gonna reach out and grab ya.

It grates, I tell you. So does the Vincent Price monologue at the end of Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'. Remember this was spoken, rather than sung:

Creatures crawl in search of blood,
To terrorize your neighbourhood.

It's not Vincent Price's fault. There is no way that anybody could make that work. Then there's Adrian Gurvitz's classic hit 'Gonna Write A Classic':

Gonna write a classic.
Gonna write it in an attic.
Babe I'm an addict.

I never heard the rest of that song because I couldn't make it past the first three lines. It's just so infuriating.

Songwriters take note: Taking words that almost rhyme but don't really and putting them together as if they do, while hoping we won't notice is not clever, and it's not poetic license. It's just annoying, so stop it. Don't ever try to rhyme 'tonight' with 'life' or 'rise' because you can't, although somehow Creedence Clearwater Revival managed to score a hit with this:

Don't go out tonight,
'cos it's bound to take your life.
There's a bad moon on the rhyme (oops, I mean rise).


20 February 2008

My dream car

Like all fans of the TV show Top Gear, my ultimate dream car is the Aston Martin DB9. It's ludicrously expensive and completely unattainable, but if I had squillions of dollars that's the car I would drive. My other pie-in-the-sky dream car is the BMW 5-series. That's the one I would buy with what was left over if I won the lottery and spent most of the winnings on a big house for my growing family. Realistically, both cars are unattainable for me, but there is nothing wrong with having dreams and there are different levels of dreaming.

At a lower level my dream car is the Ford Fairmont. This is the I-might-be-able-to-afford-it-one-day-if-I-work-really-hard dream car that I have always considered to be realistically attainable, "one day". Well, blog fans, I am pleased to announce that I am now the proud owner of this car. Well, not that exact car, but that make and model. Mine is white. She's nowhere near brand new, but she is in very good shape and she goes like a dream. I've had her for a few weeks now and I couldn't be happier with her, but she needs a name.

Any suggestions?

05 February 2008

Yes, we had no bananas

Two years ago, a cyclone caused a banana shortage in Australia and the price of bananas soared. We had to stop buying bananas for about a year because we could no longer afford them. A few months into the shortage my brother, ignoring the risk of possible financial ruin, decided that he had gone without bananas long enough and went to the supermarket to treat himself. He read the sign saying "Bananas $9 a kilo" and tried to calculate how many bananas it would take to make up a kilo. He rationalised that half a kilo would be plenty and that $4.50 would be an acceptable sacrifice. Then he noticed that he had mis-read the sign. It actually said "Bananas $9 each". Stunned, my brother had an epiphany; he suddenly realised that he could live without bananas after all. He calmly put down the $36 worth of bananas he had been holding and exited the store.

16 January 2008

I invented a new word

Inaggerate. It means to understate or downplay the magnitude or importance of something; kind of the opposite of exaggerate. For example, if you catch 12 fish and, when someone asks you if you caught anything you say "Yeah, I bagged a couple." then you are inaggerating.

You're probably thinking that I haven't really invented a new word, but just taken an existing one, changed the prefix and given it the logical antonym meaning. Nothing special in that, in fact it was obvious, right? Wrong! If it was so obvious, then why didn't you think of it? Why have you never said or heard or read my new word before? Because it is a new word. Now, I may not be the first person in the history of the world to think of the word inaggerate, but I didn't hear it from anyone else; I came up with it on my own. So in my opinion, I invented it.

Like a lot of good inventions, it seems obvious once you have seen it, but if you hadn't seen it, you never would have thought of it. Then, when you do see it you say "Why didn't I think of that?" I don't know. Why didn't you?

You're challenge for today is to invent a new word and assign a logical meaning to it. It's harder than you might think.

Bonus points if your new word/meaning makes me squirt coffee out of my nose.