Monday, April 27, 2009

An e! An e! My kingdom for an e!

Do you think the scrabble software is trying to tell me something?

Unfolding workplace horror

For the love of God, what is this office making noises at me for? Every few minutes a high-pitched sine-wave shouts sharply in my ear - it's rather like a slow-motion car alarm. Slower, but every bit as effective at inducing attacks of anxiety, building rapidly into paranoia.

Birds make noises because they want to have sex or because they want you to get out of their territory, now, before they peck you to death. So what is the office singing to me for? What horror lies in wait if I don't heed the message the office is sending to me?

General observation

Buying the curry with two naan bread special as a takeaway, and eating it on the tram on the way to work is a process fraught with dangers of the physical, metaphysical and moral kind, and is probably best avoided altogether.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

What is the appropriate thing to do?

Dear Mr Appropriate,

The Melbourne weather has suddenly turned cold and it is difficult finding healthy and self-improving activities to perform in such inclement conditions. What is the appropriate thing to do?

Concerned of Thornbury


Dear Concerned of Thornbury,

Put on your comfy socks, turn on the heater, and dick around the house for the afternoon, occasionally putting things up and placing them down. Switch on the internet and do a bit of blogging, as that is a very appropriate use of your time. Also, if you get hungry, have two eggs, a piece of bread, some corn, and a bowl of icecream. That is a very appropriate thing to do.

Mr Appropriate

Several words on single-word reviews

Slamma has just submitted a single-word review, and is understandably concerned about whether it's going to be accepted or not.

Single-word reviews are the best! Some artists don't deserve any more than a one-word review, anyway... and some don't deserve anything less.

The great pity of reviewing is that you can't really go much further down than a single-word review. How would you write a review after that - using only punctuation?


That'd be a touch too ambiguous, even for this little reviewer.

What's good about a single-word reviews is you get an opportunity to respond in kind to a pithy title:

A Short History of the World, by H G Wells

A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking

Steal this Album, by System of a Down

Swear words can really come into their own:


It, by Stephen King

The trick, surely, would be to find an appropriate word that actually performed the task of reviewing without giving too much away about the book, something both adequately descriptive and adequately critical. Maybe some books would be too hard for even the English language, but when there exist words like antidisestablishmentarianism and supercallafragalisticexpialadocious waiting to be used, that seems doubtful.

Possible points of contention in writing single-word reviews:
- To what extent is punctuation allowable? A well-placed ellipsis can do wonders for content, while a few hyphens would allow you to join several words together into one for the purposes of a single-word review.

- Can one make words up?

- How would you go about editing a single-word review?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Filing cabinets: 1; Paul Keating: 0.

Paul Keating had a column in today's Weekend Australian Review, towards the end of which he says the following:
John Howard, possessing the cultural and artistic sensibilities of a filing cabinet
Now I'm going to go out on a limb here and say something that might be a little politically controversial, a little divisive. Just what the arse is wrong with filing cabinets? I know that some of the ideologically-driven weirdos out there may find that there is a little something wrong with filing cabinets, but that's not to say that former Prime Ministers should be pandering to their prejudices. It's time to reclaim the filing cabinet as a symbol of our culture.

With that in mind, I wrote this poem:

An Ode to a Filing Cabinet

It's large, grey and square.
It's not very pretty - but it's certainly there.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Words that sound like vomit

an incomplete sictionary

cordon bleu

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tim Tamless

What happened to all the Tim Tams sitting next to my desk? Did someone take all the Tams out and just leave the Tim? If this is how they do things at work, I don't like it.

UPDATE! - It's a bit like being a Kit without the Kat, or a bowl of Coco Pops without the Coco, and without the Pops - just like a chocolate milkshake, only not.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Splodgy marks on coloured paper: a review

I bought an Australian poetry and literature magazine yesterday in Sticky - I'm not saying which one it was, because it's not fair to single it out. As I left I started leafing through the pages, and I suddenly realised that the magazine looked too much like Art. I didn't like that at all. It felt like I was holding an item in an exhibition, not a book or a magazine.

Every page was carefully prepared and decorated and full of vague images in dull colours that symbolised intangible spiritual entities. The pages were huge, and the poems would appear as small splodges of words, right in the middle of them. It seemed like an incredibly uneconomical way of using all those vast pages - I kept on longing for a bunch of ads to fill in some of the gaps. Other poems would appear superimposed on the top of, or even below, images that covered the whole page - very confusing, because everything became like a varying shade of grey: the words were a very dark grey, the image was a medium grey, sometimes changing to a whitish grey. It's a bit like trying to see a ash-white cat in a cloud of smog during a foggy morning.

Now look, the poems and the writing were all right. But the whole magazine gave me the impression that it was trying to be Important. It was trying to appeal to my pretensions. It was as if I was supposed to feel Better about buying it , while not necessarily feeling better about it.

Even worse - I realised today that I do some of the same things in my latest zine. I'll have to try very, very hard to avoid this sort of thing next time I do one!

Cereal serial


SCENE: The returns desk at a large supermarket. MRS JONES walks up to the desk, with a six year old child holding her hand, and a packet of Rice Bubbles in her other hand. Behind the desk sits a small department store DRONE (Mr Drone to you - at least, that's what it says on his name badge) with glasses, typing some meaningless phrase into a computer.

DRONE: (Typing) F332a1. Enter. Next cell. Done! (Looks up) Hello madam, how may I help you?

MRS JONES: Yes, good morning, Mr Drone. I wish to complain about a defective product.

DRONE: Ah. And what might that be?

MRS JONES: This packet of Rice Bubbles. We weren't happy with this product, were we, James? What do you have to say to the nice man?

JAMES JONES (MRS JONES' child): I wish to register my disappointment and make a complaint. It's not fair. Can I go now?

DRONE: Well... (sounding uncertain) It looks all right from here. (Peers in top). They're Rice Bubbles all right... no apparent contamination...

MRS JONES: No, no, Mr Drone. You see, I didn't notice the problem until I poured out some breakfast for little James here. It specifies quite clearly on the packet that the Rice Bubbles are supposed to go 'Snap, Crackle and Pop'. See, it says so right here. 'Snap, Crackle and Pop'. Rice Bubbles without the 'Snap, Crackle and Pop' would hardly be Rice Bubbles, now, would they? So when I poured these out and put some milk in, I was quite surprised to find...

DRONE: That there was no 'Snap, Crackle, and Pop'?

MRS JONES: NONE AT ALL! In fact, it was closer to 'Crap, Snackle and Flop'.

DRONE: Hmmm. This is an unusual problem.

MRS JONES: UNUSUAL? How would you like to find 'Crap, Snackle and Flop' when you expected to have 'Snap, Crackle and Pop', Drone?

JAMES JONES: I wish to register my complaint and make a disappointment. Mummy, why is that man wearing glasses? I need to go to the toilet.

DRONE: Not very much at all. Let's perform a test and see if we can get your Rice Bubbles in working order.

(Mrs Jones proffers the breakfast cereal wordlessly to Drone)

DRONE: (Pours out a bowl of Rice Bubbles and takes some milk out of a fridge behind him, which he pours in the cereal).

(All is silent as DRONE, MRS JONES, AND JAMES JONES listen to the cereal).


DRONE: Hmmm. An unusual problem.

MRS JONES: Indeed, Drone.

DRONE: I suppose the manufacturers made a mistake. Perhaps some componentry broke down when they were putting it together...

MRS JONES: Yes, but what I want to know is, ARE YOU GOING TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT?

DRONE: Well I apologise greatly, madam. We're sorry that this has happened to you. Secondly, I'm not sure what we can do about the lack of 'Snap, Crackle and Pop'. We seem to be all out, sorry - all our available parts have gone into the boxes of cereal over there in the breakfast department. But I do have some extra ZING left from the Nutri Brits...

MRS JONES: I'm not interested in extra ZING, Drone. I just want my money's worth of 'Snap, Crackle and Pop'. Nothing more. Nothing less.

JAMES JONES: I wish to complain my registering. Mummy, can we go home? I'm hungry.

MRS JONES: Soon, Jimmy, soon.

DRONE: Well madam, how about some added FLOOPILACIOUSNESS?

MRS JONES: No. I just want my 'Snap, Crackle and...'

DRONE: And 'Pop'. Certainly, Mrs Jones. I understand your disappointment. However, all we can do is add some GLAZABAM to the cereal. Believe me, you can't go wrong with an extra GLAZABAM.

MRS JONES: 'Snap, Crackle and Pop', please. 'Snap, Crackle, and Pop'.


MRS JONES: Well ... (wavering)

DRONE: Believe me, ma'am, you can't go wrong with GLAZABAM, FLOOPALACIOUSNESS and ZING. They make an excellent complement to 'Crap, Snackle and Flop'. Really.

MRS JONES: Can we try a little?

DRONE: Certainly! (Takes the relevant parts out of the cupboard below him and sprinkles it on the cereal)


MRS JONES: (Bent over cereal, listening intently) I must admit, Drone, I'm impressed.

JAMES JONES: Mummy! I'm hungry!

MRS JONES: (Looks at cereal, looks at child) Oh, all right. There you go Jimmy. Finish that off. (Gives bowl of cereal to him)

JAMES JONES: Mmmm! (Eats cereal contentedly).

MRS JONES: We'll take it.

DRONE: Certainly, madam. (Adds the parts to the Rice Bubbles packet, shakes it up a bit, perhaps to clanging metallic sounds, then hands back to Mrs Jones).

MRS JONES: Come on, Jimmy. (Takes child's hands and they depart from desk).

DRONE: (Calling after her). Not a problem, madam! (Turning to customer standing behind Mrs Jones). Yes sir. What seems to be the problem?

CUSTOMER: Yes. It's this bottled water... (Taking it out of his pocket) I didn't realise it at the time, but I bought this bottled water off the shelf and left the bottle behind. I wonder if you could find a replacement bottle, because otherwise, I'm just not sure where to put this water, and ...


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cereal crimes

Now I like breakfast cereal. A lot. So much so that I sometimes eat two bowls in the morning and another bowl in the evening. But what I don't understand, what I can't understand, is this obsession breakfast cereal manufacturers have with making it seem as fake and artificial as possible.

Weet Bix
'Wheat', not 'weet'. 'Weet' sounds disturbingly like 'Wet', and would you like to be eating 'Wet Bix'? Also - 'Bix'. What the hell? Is that meant to be 'biscuits'? Plus, they look like cardboard turds:

Weet Bix also have a competitor called 'Vita Brits', and I don't need to tell you how many kinds of wrong are in that name.

Nutri Grain
'Nutri' is not a word, the cereal is not a grain, and as for the shape - who came up with this?

People who flunk at design class in the seventh grade could come up with something better. It's an oval, with holes in it. Why does it have holes in it? 'That's to hold the milk', argues H. at work. What's the point of that if the milk just falls out of the other side? CASE CLOSED.

Froot Loops
These things are disgusting. Quite aside from the name (anyone who writes 'Froot' is a fruit loop), they look, feel, and taste like coloured polystyrene.

Actually, polystyrene would probably test a hell of a lot better than Froot Loops.

There are some places even a cereal conossieur won't go.

Just Right
Just Right = ALL WRONG

We used to love eating this stuff as kids, but honestly. We would have been better off eating spoonfuls of sugar.

Special K
What sort of a person would name a cereal after a letter in the alphabet? I'm here for breakfast, not an algebra lesson. I just found this picture on the internet, but the 'eighty per cent fat free' is very offputting. Next time I buy this, I think I might throw some butter into every dish to make up.

On the other hand, it does keep me looking good, so I suppose that's all right.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Important questions

Is there a generic version of placebos? Are they on the PBS?

UPDATE! - Also, come to think of it, is it possible to have an allergy to placebos? And what if I start myself on a placebo treatment for a virus and find the virus works up an immunity to it? Is there a replacement placebo I can use?

Blog competition - Guess that song!


Wait - don't tell me. I made this one too easy?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

And now, let's talk about something really interesting

They say in Melbourne you can get four seasons in one day. Well, outside my flat at the moment, there is:

- High winds
- A wall of grey clouds
- Rain
- A rainbow
- The sun, in another clear portion of the sky

Four seasons in one day? Four seasons in one moment, more like. I wonder why the Melbourne weather doesn't throw something else in to make it more exciting. Think it could rustle up another earthquake, maybe?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Brownian motion

The brown dog in my neighbourhood, who will hereafter be known as Brown Dog, is a frequent recipient of pats from yours truly. Typically, the correspondence between Brown Dog and myself goes like this:

1) I walk up to his house.

2) I see Brown Dog in the front yard.

3) I call Brown Dog over.

4) Brown Dog proceeds to

Flip flip
Lollop lollop
Wiggle wiggle
Flollop flollop

Over to my side.

There is a stick of wood in the front yard along with Brown Dog, and sometimes this makes a slight difference to the distinctive Brownian motion of Brown Dog. The flop flop bit, etc, still happens the same, but it's what happens afterwards that's unique - Brown Dog will

Flump flump
Flounce flounce

Over to the stick, and

Flollop flollop
Bounce bounce

Back over to the fence. Then he will indulge in a perverse game in which he dangles the stick above the fence and then moves the stick back behind the fence so it is unreachable. This is driven by two competing desires in the Brown Doggian heart: the desire to fetch the stick, and the desire to keep the stick. He can never quite decide which is best, with the result that he can stand there, turning to and from the fence for hours.

This morning, however, I arrived at the fence and called Brown Dog over. This time he didn't

Flollop flollop

Nor did he

Flounce flounce

Nor did he

Bounce bounce

over to the fence. Rather, his motion was more akin to a

Flop flop
Bloop bloop.

Indeed, there was something distinctly dejected about it. He was certainly an eager recipient, as always, of pats, but one had to wonder what the cause of this sorrowful flopping and blooping was. Why the absence of the typical lolloping and flumping? How did his flollop get broken? What can I do to bring Brown Dog back to his usual flollopsome self?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Confessions of Tim, vol. 3, ch. 9

Sometimes I go to my blog just to see whether I've updated or not, thus proving, in one fell swoop, either a) that I can't even remember when I do a blog post or not, or b) that I am actually able to read my posts before I write them. Which is kinda cool. 

Frankly, I am appalled

I heard somewhere the other day that almost four per cent of the population didn't know of any connection between Easter and Christianity. Well, frankly, I was appalled. If you don't know about the joy and gladness that the Easter Bunny brings to the world through his gift of chocolate, then what do you think Christianity really is about? Next thing, people will be admitting that they don't know anything about the passion and suffering of Santa Christ, and how we all eat Christmas pudding on the eve of the equinox to make sure it doesn't happen again. (Or something - I admit, I'm a lapsed Christmas follower, and I'm still not sure on all the details). 

Besides all this, the story of the Easter Bunny's nativity is one of the most simple and beautiful tales that I know of, and if we don't all eat chocolate on All Saints Day today, then we will be in big trouble. Yes, and the tale of how the Easter Bunny first came out of the forests of Egypt bearing gifts of chocolate is historically quite fascinating, and bears a lesson for us all. And for those intellectually minded amongst it, the obscure etymological connection between 'Jesus Christ' and the festival of 'Christmas' and, of course, 'Christianity' could in fact prove to be an enduring link: so you see, the worship of the Easter Bunny could in fact have deep pagan roots despite it's firm connections to modern-day Christianity. 

If only these facts, which are also true, were taught to children in schools, then I think we would all be better off. 

Enjoy your chocolate. 

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pedant's corner

If you have reservations about something, feel suspicious or trepidacious, you are either "wary" or "leery." You are not "weary." - Shakesville

Ah, but you could weary of the wary, or be wary of the weary, or weary of being wary, or indeed you could be wary but weary of the constant wearing wariness of others, couldn't you? Being wary can be quiet wearying, after all.

PS There's a reason why I titled this post 'Pedant's corner', after all - I don't expect anyone else to join me!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Kids, you can do it too!

To help me get through my incredibly boring data entry job, Dale Slamma suggests "try typing in rude words, will be mildly entertaining for at least the first thirty seconds."


Hey, it worked! Thanks, Slamma!

Next time, I might try filling out the boxes with my favourite insults!

The dreaded green shirt cluster

The Empiricist says:

Cancer clusters are the mental plaything of the ignorant.
You don’t hear people talking in suspicous tones about “green shirt” clusters, do you? Yet I have often seen three, four, even five people with green shirts in the same place at the same time.

Well, that's a very good point, now, isn't it? It's high time public awareness was raised about the growing number of green shirt clusters in our neighbourhoods. I, for one, am all for it, and hope that scientists will soon isolate the root causes and the situations that give rise to the incidences of green shirt clusters in our towns and cities.

Perhaps the media could carry out a public awareness campaign about green shirt clusters? And perhaps vigilant green shirt spotters could keep their eye out for occurences of green shirts, and what numbers they appear in? We can hardly afford to remain ignorant about such an important issue.

Although the causes of green shirt clusters remain unknown, I think that we can narrow it down to several broad scientific categories:

People putting on green shirts because it's cold out.

People put on whatever shirt they can find because of societal prejudices against nudists.

"I think I'll just put on this green shirt, because green is nice."

It was either the green shirt, the stripey shirt, the blue shirt, the dotted shirt, the other dotted shirt, or the yellow polo kneck.

What complex network of sociological, mathematical, statistical, neurological, and astrophysical causes could be affecting the sudden upwards trend in green shirt clusters?

Monday, April 06, 2009

I see a great need

Why is it only pizza you get home delivered? Why can't you get home delivered ice cream? I could really do with some home delivered ice cream at the moment. It would really hit the spot. Are the people responsible for such things afraid that the home delivery men would eat the home delivery before delivering it to the home? Inquiring minds want to know, and I do, too.

In general, I think the world would be a much better place if there existed businesses to satisfy my every passing whim.

UPDATE! - Other items that should be home delivered (a developing list):

Warm woolly blankets
Comfy jumpers
Fat woolly socks
Freddo Frogs
Chocolate buttons

Mr Whippy doesn't quite cut it, does he?

Things I went to on the weekend

A pub
A blog meet
A wedding
Another blog meet
A late night show

UPDATE! - The wedding was smashing, and thanks so much and congratulations again to Laura and Dorian for the occasion. Somehow the fact that the bridesmaids - wearing their costumes - had disappeared under the neighbour's house made it even better. Later, when we were all sitting around inside, and the sugar headaches had just started coming, Pud made a brief appearance. Basil came in later as well, but sighting us he immediately hurtled out again at light speed. He's one cool cat.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Five types of jobs

1. What I thought jobs were like when I was a kid
If you had asked me as a kid what work was going to be like when I grew up, I probably would have said that I would have been like my Dad. As far as I was concerned, Dad sat in an office in the local shire council buildings with a pen in his ear for eight hours, and then came home. I have no idea what he did in this eight hours. Maybe he balanced the pen on opposite ears. It seemed like a respectable profession, at the time.

2. What the Prime Minister does all day, according to some kid in Britain
"He wakes up, eats breakfast, sits at his desk for a while, then switches on the telly to see whats happening in the world and says, 'Oh Dear!'"

3. A 1920s British office manager, according to P G Wodehouse
"Jenkins!" roared the stentorian tones of the portly office manager, causing all the doors to shudder and the safes of the Withersin and Blackersdyke Subjunctive Bank to shiver with the noise. "In my office, now!"

The face of Jenkins rapidly turned from its natural shade of pink to turquoise, to blue, to white, to a particularly attractive shading of vermilion, and then to a lampshade green, before turning white again.

4. Jenkins, according to me
But later that day, Jenkins and the chaps had a spiffing time at the club over a few glasses of port with some copies of the Spectator and Punch to keep them entertained.

5. My actual job, as according to actuality
I have no idea what it's about at the moment. I've been seconded from my usual work as a typing monkey and am now working in vast excel sheets and online databases doing intensely menial tasks. Sometimes, I cut and paste a code in one cell and then paste that code in hundreds of other cells. Sometimes, I cut and paste a section of code with slight variations in each cell. And sometimes, I enter in seemingly meaningless pieces of number data into other seemingly meaningless pieces of internet data, and then write those results down. None of this has any real meaning outside the narrow world of clients and executives that is our office - I'm doing a job that will allow other people to, perhaps, do another job for other people, if they want to.

If anyone needs me, I'll be in the kitchen balancing a pen on both ears.
Email: timhtrain - at -

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