Friday, May 31, 2013

Teapot song update

I'm a little teapot 
Short and stout 
Here is my handle 
Here is my spout 
When I get all steamed up 
Then I shout 
The most horrifying anti-semitic slogans imaginable which are frankly unrepeatable on the internet because I want to stop the spread of hate. 

(From that story we've all heard already...
JC Penney isn't anything like Hitler. But its Michael Graves Stainless Steel Tea Kettle is. The fact that its profile looks eerily like the Fuhrer's mien caused a stir online Tuesday, forcing the company to deny that it had any intention of introducing dictator silhouettes to its small appliances line.

JC Penney's 'Hitler Tea Kettle' Sold Out in Hours Because This Is the Internet)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fungus amungus

This has been a good year for fungus at Lalor Enterprises Inc. There is fungus growing in the loungeroom, on the washing line, and in my study, and I even meant for that last one to happen. (We'll get to that in a moment.) The fungal colony in the loungeroom is having a little party, unfortunately, at the expense of the bacterial colony I had previously nurtured into bloom on top of some fresh, mid-to-late autumn cheese. The washing line fungus opportunistically grew on a cheesecloth I had previously used for sparging ale wort, and while I admired its resilience and parsimonious commitment to economic efficiencies in this time of financial crisis, I popped it in the washing machine straight away so I could hopefully get rid of it.

But as for my study and the fungus in it, however - that was entirely deliberate. (The fungus at least; I don't know how the study got there, though.) I found myself enummerating all the colonies in my study to Mum on the weekend: the ginger beer plant, the three boxes of pearl oyster mushrooms, the box of Portobello mushroom spores, another box of mushroom spores (the name of which escapes me at the moment), a fermenting English brown ale, a Fejoia wine, and a mead. I think that's about all. (At the time I spoke to Mum I was also proud to be able to mention the little jar of cheese culture (then significantly less cultured than it is now) sitting by the heater. That one was bacterial, though, so it didn't count).

Beer fungus, wine fungus, mushroom fungus. That's quite a lot of fungus. Some day hopefully I'll be able to train the fungus to do rudimentary household tasks like cleaning the dishes or scrubbing the floor, but that's in the future. I have to work on my fermentation and culturing techniques between now and then. In the meantime, I'm pretty pleased with the little colony I have around me at the moment. Fungus anyone?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Office, from open-plan to no plan

I had thought, before I started working at home, that my biggest problem would be procrastination - because, you know, in the old place of employ, there was always the possibilty of someone looming up behind my back and finding me involved in an unprofitable and unproductive activity. Now here, enclosed in my study, typing away at the computer, I find there's no-one here to loom up behind my back except me: and the effect just isn't the same. As it turns out, procrastination isn't a problem at all: I get to procrastinate more than ever!

No, the problem is not so much the wasting of time by putting off doing important things; it's more the delegation of unimportant tasks so as to more pleasantly fill up my entire day with distractions and meaningless activities. I would never have thought I needed a timetable to help me have a special time for playing Scrabble on Facebook, or baking biscuits, or just sitting around staring aimlessly at the wall while patting the cat on my lap, but that seems to be the inevitable conclusion that I am being led towards.

Just the other day, I successfully avoided doing work by mixing a bread, brewing a wort for an ale on the stove, patting Harriet the cat, going back to sparge the grains off the wort and putting the brew onto the show to boil, kneading the bread, and returning to the computer to post an item on Facebook about how I was avoiding doing work. Things were all going quite well, when I found that while I was posting on Facebook, the brew on the stove had boiled over just a bit, and when I had fixed that I found that I had to clean the bench after kneading the bread on it, because I wanted to have a clean kitchen when I cooled the beer down. Meanwhile, there were comments on Facebook! This being by far the least important thing to think about at that time, I decided to spend the next fifteen minutes concentrating on that.

Things were even worse in the afternoon. You see, by that time I'd got the beer in the demijohn, put the bread in the oven and taken it out, the cats had both drifted off to sleep, and the conversation on Facebook had even dwindled to a halt: I found myself doing work. I know. I'm still shaking now.

So you see, my initial problem of procrastination in the old workplace has turned into a new problem - procrastination distracting me from my other procrastination. Perhaps some serious delegation is in order. Timetables? Sticky notes? I'm just not sure how I'm going to get out of this one.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sado-masochist love letter


Just thinking about you makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a pencil. Repeatedly.

Please come home so I may indulge in this mutually pleasurable and satisfying activity all night. Bring another pencil! You can do it too!

With Love, F.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Excitement plus

Today, just for larks, I took the washing off the line. There was no particular reason for me to do this; the washing had been on the line for about a week, getting almost dry in the odd day of sunshine, then getting wet again in the rain, then gradually drying out again, although still being just moist enough to make you wonder whether you should leave it up for another day. Anyway, today, in a radical break with this state of affairs, I took it down. I just thought you'd all like to know that.

In other exciting news, I put my tie on to take a ride on the train. I know: I could have just worn the tie around the house. But I decided to take it onto the train instead. The excitement, as you can see, never ends around here.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tory dinner party

For years we have been told that technology was making us richer, but we eat less and drink less than we did 100 years ago, so where is the improvement. I remember when nearly everyone had three cooked meals a day and a substantial tea with cakes and scones and butter and jam. Perhaps people lived less long, but at least there was some purpose in their lives.
Auberon Waugh, The Way of the World
Over the past few weeks I have been reading the - gloriously misanthropic, wickedly funny - ramblings of Auberon Waugh. That passage reminded me of that grand old tradition of English Tories eating great amounts of food with pleasure...

There was a boy. His name was Jim. 
His friends were very good to him. 
They gave him tea, and cakes, and jam, 
And slices of delicious jam.... 

Hillaire Belloc, Jim
'... Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, and Tea
Are all the human frame requires...'
With that, the Wretched Child expires. 

Hillaire Belloc, Henry King
My forthcoming work in five volumes, `The Neglect of Cheese in European Literature,' is a work of such unprecedented and laborious detail that it is doubtful whether I shall live to finish it.

G. K. Chesterton, Cheese 
Ascetic Mr. Lewis' - !!! I ask you! He put away three pints in a very short session we had this morning, and said he was 'going short for Lent.'"  

J. R. R. Tolkien on C. S. Lewis
There is no good trying to be more spiritual than God. God never meant man to be a purely spiritual creature. That is why He uses material things like bread and wine to put the new life into us. We may think this rather crude and unspiritual. God does not: He invented eating. He likes matter. He invented it.

C. S. Lewis

(Indeed, I once read that when Waugh visited Australia he dined on a koala. But that story is probably too good to be true, rather than too true to be good.)

Monday, May 13, 2013

How now Chow chow

The other day I was in the backyard looking over my neighbour's fence. Now I know what you're thinking, but I look over my neighbour's fence all the time, so I have lots of experience in these matters, and also they're hardly ever in the backyard anyway, and besides, I was looking for my cat. Who hasn't stood in their backyard looking over their neighbour's fence for their cat from time to time? Not to mention occasionally when I'm looking over the neighbour's fence for my cat I'm able to permanently borrow a lemon from the neighbour's tree. It all sounds perfectly fine to me.

Anyway, I was standing there looking over my neighbour's fence for my cat, which is a perfectly legitimate and fine activity, because you have to keep an eye on what you cat is doing, especially if your cat is in the neighbour's backyard, and I can't believe we're still talking about it, and all of a sudden I found a small dog looking back at me. It seemed as surprised as I was: two small eyes peered out of a cloud of fur. It was obviously so affronted it even forgot to bark. Even better: it was a Chow Chow.

The dog was also there when I looked over my neighbour's fence later. And the day after, when I looked over the fence again, it was still there. In fact, the presence of this canine backyard dog seemed to necessitate a lot of looking over my neighbour's fence, even when my cat was inside: it's important to assure yourself of the presence of the neighbour's dog in the neighbour's backyard, after all. For its part, the dog got over its initial bout of muteness and began to gruffly greet my presence in the familiar stentorian tones of its kind. In fact on some occasions I found that I'd just be standing around in the backyard, nowhere near the fence, which I was certainly not looking over, which I'll admit is unusual, and the dog would remind me of its presence by barking for no apparent reason.

The next logical step to take after all this is obviously to stop looking over your neighbour's fence at the neighbour's backyard, and place yourself in your neighbour's backyard instead, not by climbing over the fence, obviously, which would be rude (unless you are a cat), but by simply walking round to the neighbour's house and asking if you could see the dog, which is much more polite (unless you are a cat.) So I did. It was excellent. And the dog wasn't bad either.

I'm not sure if there's a moral to this post, but I like to think that in the process of writing it, I've become a more compassionate and understanding person and have made universal peace and harmony that much more possible. Look, basically I think what I'm saying is this: it's okay if you look over your neighbour's fence for your cat and instead of your cat you see in your neighbour's backyard your neighbour's dog, and you go round to your neighbour's house and get them to let you into the backyard to see the dog. We've all been there. Metaphorically, if not actually, because that could get quite crowded. (Not sure about my cat though. She might be over there at the moment. I'd better go and check...)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A half-witted Mother's Day poem

I kinda sort of half-forgot
Until the day was halfway done
Here's half a box of Safeway chocs - 
Regards, your half-arsed son.

Sky Whale!

There's a statue you might know about on a pedestal outside of the St Kilda Town Hall. A naked guy, lolling about in the tentacles of a gigantic hydra-snake monster, while one snake-tentacle reaches up a into the sky and grabs a war plane. It's big, it's messy, it's weird as hell, and it's bloody ugly. It's Richard Stringer's Monument for a Public Building, and just about everyone who mentions it on the net seems to be puzzled: personally, I reckon as soon as Stringer got the commission, he just decided to stick it to the man (not particularly caring who the man was) and make something as weird and offensive as possible. It doesn't make much sense in the context either - hip and happening and with-it artists like to do stuff about the horrors of war, but attaching said horrors-of-war sculpture, in the '90s, to a local government building, is just bizarre.

Let us move on, then, from Richard Stringer's brainfart to the immense and bloated Sky Whale, which was commissioned to celebrate Canberra's centennary. Tim Blair doesn't like it, and so far as his criticisms go he is perfectly right: it's big, it's ugly, it is a "bloated, gaseous, multi-breasted monster feeding those who dwell in its poisonous shadow while leeching off the rest of us", and therefore "The perfect symbol of our capital city". He notes further how, in order to build the beast which has been constructed to celebrate the centennary of the Australian capital city, they had to send hundreds of thousands of dollars to England. I've got to admit the jokes just write themselves: "It's full of hot air", "It's monstrous", "It's all puffed up".

But, on the other hand, I kind of like it. It's totally out there; it's completely weird and undeniably bizarre: I can certainly understand the fastidious distaste many of the Canberra citizens might have when having this vast airborne breast-turtle looming over them in the sky while they try to sip on their lattes. But turning the whole thing into a gigantic balloon is rather clever - it recalls the days when hot-air balloons were cutting-edge science and a grand public spectacle. Just what is a hot-air balloon supposed to look like, anyway? Who is to say that the Montgolfier brothers didn't get it exactly wrong when they decorated their balloons? You might just as well prettify a balloon so it looks like a gargantuan biological freak. I admit, it appeals to my science fiction tastes and my enjoyment of weirdness; and you have to admit, the weirdness is very very well done. Plus, I like the implication of a backstory (where the hell did the Sky Whale come from? What do its parents look like?)

Poor old public artists can't ever get it right, really. If they make something abstract or minimalist or according to the conventions of this or that twentieth-century school, they'll get viciously attacked. Don't understand it, what's the point of it, it's ugly, who paid them for this? If they make something that's completely naturalistic and old-school, like a statue of a general or a horse, we'll still attack them, and if we don't, they'll attack themselves: unoriginal, derivative, what's the point in repeating something that's already been done anyway, etc. Sometimes an artist hits on a gimmick that people might like without thinking too much about it, and never does anything different: John Kelly and his endless, endless cows, for instance. For the Sydney Festival this year, they got in a gigantic bloody rubber duck, which was funny, see, because rubber ducks are small, right, and they're normally in bathtubs, yeah, but this gigantic rubber duck was.... and you don't have to think about the idea much more before you realise that there isn't anything else to think about: there isn't really anything else to a giant rubber duck than the fact that it writes its own headlines.

But this huge and bloated and ugly and bizarre and weird Sky Whale has a bit more to it. Really. You can't say it isn't well crafted; the technological difficulties alone in putting it together and floating it must have been immense. As for what it looks like - well, whatever it is that it looks like, I'm sure it looks like it in an amazingly accurate way. If ever a real Sky Whale with massive mammaries hoves into view, I'm sure it'll have no difficulty in recognising another of its kind.

But then again also of course not to mention, lots of public money, could have been spent on, what is the point of it, why couldn't they spend on, not very nice when I'm having a cup of coffee at my favourite cafe, and so on. We'll always be suspicious about taxpayer's money - our money - being spent on public art: but it will be spent; that's not going to change at any point in the future. No need to blame that on one particular artwork, especially poor old Sky Whale here.

Besides: maybe the Sky Whale could recoup its costs over time by being an entertaining show ride for kiddies.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Home cheesemaking at home for beermakers (explained)

Yesterday I busied myself at home inventing a method for ageing a Gruyere cheese by strapping it to your foot, and for fermenting a Scottish porter by dangling a Nubian warrior's oxters in the fresh wort overnight, or all three at once. My methods are infallible, even though you may quibble with my techniques: you see, it's all to do with harnessing the many natural flora and fauna and yeast and stuff that exist in the world around us, which is why my homebrew tastes like armpits from darkest Africa, and my cheese tastes like you just licked a sock. 

Anyway, as I was busily fermenting my cheese and fomenting my beer away along with all my plans and stratagems and schemes, what should happen to fall under my gaze but the following sentences:
... Attractive wine labels, going beyond information about the variety or the producer, are used to entice unsophisticated or new consumers. This is one of the primary methods by which the wine sector sells its products in a highly-competitive domestic and export market.
Marketing Mag, Plain Packaging for Tobacco: wine branding down the gurgler?
And so, the battle over plain packaging of cigarettes having been won (for now), the health lobby moves on to another front. (Link via Catallaxy.)

It's sweet, I thought, it really is, that the health lobby should care about my health so much that they should try to start a ban on the labelling of a product that I don't buy because they want to stop me drinking it even though I make at home anyway because they are worried about the effects of the alcohol in it which all things considered is probably the least of their worries if they came round and tasted some of my concoctions anyway.

But it got me thinking about those many popular products on the marketplace at the moment that people might soon decide to make at home....

Ever popular with students, this top seller is best described as yak's piss in a foil bag. Following the advent of plain packaging, students can easily and affordably brew their own goon at home, by pissing in some aluminium foil and then tying it up with some string.
FERMENTATION TIME: Half a day until all your buddies come round.

There's nothing quite like hanging out under the bridge and swilling out of a dirty bottle of unnamed spirits and waking up 50 years later with a splitting headache underneath a pile of newspapers realising that today is the first day for the rest of your life. But that's the sort of experience you're likely to enjoy with good old Rotgut, whatever it is. The ingredients of the recipe are closely guarded, but you can replicate its effects easily enough by placing a metal fermentation bucket over your head, getting someone to bang it about with a hammer a couple of times, and then falling unconscious underneath the nearest table. Don't forget to have a swig of vinegar before you do, though, just to give yourself the full Rotgut effect.
FERMENTATION TIME: Kind of depends whether you mean for you or the beer.

Schoolbag surprise
Here's one for the cheesemakers. Every parent of school children knows the joy of finding, at the bottom of their kid's school bag, the remains of last weeks/months/years Vegemite and cheese sandwich, a brilliant concoction of yeast and bacterium and Penicillium and who knows what else. Now, you can replicate this surprise at home by just pouring some old milk into your kids pocket, plugging up the gaps with a bit of bread, and sending them out to play in the garden. Okay, the results won't be exactly the same, but every cheese is different.
FOR MORE ADVANCED CHEESEMAKERS: Try doing the same with unpasteurised milk or sour cream for added zest. 

With a little ingenuity, creativity, and self-belief, you can have just as much fun at home recreating these old classic recipes, without the dread hand of the nanny state interfering in your life! Go to it, folks!

(Blog post typed up on my wireless Gorgonzola and routed through my dandelion merlot to the internet)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tim Worldwide Body Language Expert Blog



Alternative explanation:


(Via Most Excellent and Auspicious Blog of Hoyden)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Important acronyms explained

Now it's time for me to explain once and for all the acronyms for many important infrastructural projects and governmental organisations. So here we go.

 NBN - A lot of people have criticised the NBN, but personally I won't hear a word of it. The Northern Bee Network is a vital piece of infrastructure for our backyard, as the honey in the kitchen and the mead in my study will attest.

CCTV - Although many people consider this technology to be a little too invasive for them, I just think the Chicken-Cat Television in our own backyard to be just great. Whether it's chickens nicking into the house when I've got my back turned, or cats nicking out of the house when I've got my other back turned, or chickens chasing the cats around the garden, they give me hours of entertainment. So enough of your criticisms!

DFAT -  More controversy! But personally, I think the Department of Fudge and Alcoholic Tipples is absolutely vital for the household economy, not to mention national security. Thanks to their round-the-clock devotion to their core tasks of fudge consumption and alcoholic tipples, they've been able to ward off many threats, such as.... such as.... and.... plus.... well, anyway, fudge and alcohol tastes nice end of story.

ABC - This organisation is quite old now, going on three years! But despite its venerable status, it still divides people into critics and supporters. However, the consensus remains that the Ale Brew Consumption unit is going from strength to strength at the moment, and is vital for the ongoing processes of household continuance.

BBC - Last but not least: this is considered to be a little bit too exotic for the purposes of some. However, the Bureau of Bacteria and Cheese has had some noted successes in the past few months, in both the Bacterial and the Cheese sense of 'success'. Whats more, the BBC and the ABC, serving similar purposes, have been able to really, er, lend their services to one another with astounding, and sometimes even edible, results.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

My grumble ambition

Ambitions for middle age

To work upon my wrinkles
To not be almost dead
To grow an ash-grey-charcoal
Cloud upon my head.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

A guide to swearing in the suburbs

Swearing is great, and you should do it all the time, especially when you're in the suburbs. You'll find plenty of opportunities to do so: when you are running around furiously trying to catch your chicken so you can put them in the back garden and get them away from the plants growing in the front garden but said chicken refuses to be caught: 'FUCKING DAISY!' When an inanimate object in its inanimate way inanimately stubs your big toe: 'FUCKING DOOR!' When a plate drops onto the floor and shatters: 'FUCK!' When you just kind of want to: 'FUCKING FUCK!'

But one occasion when perhaps it might on consideration be good to hold back on your swearing, for fear of conveying the wrong impression, is when your neighbours are in their backyard, and they have friends in the backyard, and you are in your backyard, and a bag carrying stones falls from the back of a wheelbarrow, and the stones spill out over the ground, and the words immediately leap into your mouth: 'FUCKING STUPID BAG!'

Because, you know, it might convey the wrong impression. Unless, of course, the neighbours happen to look upon you as those sort of neighbours. Which I'm sure they don't.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Memoirs of a quicher

Quiche thrower given good behaviour bond
A New South Wales woman who assaulted a police officer with a quiche has been been given a 12-month good behaviour bond in the Broken Hill Local Court.
Many will still be shocked by this news about the brutal assault of a police officer with a quiche. You may be still thinking, 'how can this have happened'? And 'is there anything we can do?'

Perhaps we will never be able to wipe out quiche-related violence in Australia, but it's a good time to start. We need to institute a thorough quiche buy-back scheme, so that it becomes harder than ever for the wrong quiches to fall into the hands of the right people, or the right quiches to fall into the hands of the wrong people, or the wrong quiches to fall into the right hands of the wrong people at the wrong time or.... oh, you know what I mean.

 In the meantime, we need to ask the hard questions. What can have caused this quiche-related attack? What were the motivations of the attackers? Will they strike again? The answer, I think may be found in one simple word: climate change.

And yes, there will always be the naysayers, those who object to any sort of government intervention whatsoever to stop groups of disturbed young men bearing quiches from attacking again. 'But there have never been any attacks with quiche before!' Well, it just goes to underline the horrifying escalation in quiche-related violence in our neoliberal society, doesn't it? 'But the quiche attacker was a woman!' It's terrible, isn't it, what some young men will resort to these days! 'This is eggsasperating!'

And that, you see, is my point eggsactly.
Email: timhtrain - at -

eXTReMe Tracker

Blog Archive