Sunday, September 28, 2014

Smoking is fantastic!

Dad retired from work a bit early, and ever since he's been a bit restless. He spends a lot of his time now at home working on projects, "project" being the word he uses in his letters to describe what he's doing with himself.

The Baron and I recently discovered that the best way of finding out what the projects are that he's working on is to surreptitiously suggest them to him. This is the way we go about it: when we're up in Raymond Terrace at my parents', I say something like, "so we were thinking we need to get a [exceedingly rare and improbable item that you wouldn't be able to get anywhere else]". Dad usually pays no attention to this, so then Mum tells him to make it. In this way, we were able to get ourselves a chook carrier (actually getting stuff for ourselves is a, er, side benefit of this). It's really great, with a door at the top to put the chooks through and pegs so we can take the whole top on or off when we want.

Dad's latest project (which we suggested to him, naturally), was a cheese smoker. I had no idea how to go about making one myself - not surprising, though, as I have next to no practical skills in any area whatsoever. Mind you, I doubted Dad could pull it off either. Dad wasn't even sure actually, as in his first couple of letters about the project he seemed distinctly skeptical of the proposition. Eventually he came across a workable design on the net, and a series of tantalising discussions of his project followed in his letters. Last week, the glorious day came when the Baron actually set eyes on the thing:

That's right, it's made entirely out of wood. And it's going to smoke the cheeses. With smoke. From a fire....! The smoke is piped through a tunnel, cools down, and then just wafts around the cheeses until they are imparted with its flavour. Dad gave a series of complicated instructions in one of his recent letters talking about how he installed several "baffles" on the sides of the smoker. They're called baffles because neither you nor I have any idea what they are.

Everyone seems to have anticipated one particular difficulty we might have with this cheese smoker, including Dad himself, ie, what's to stop it catching flame while we are in the act of smoking the cheese? Or cheeses, multiple - apparently it can do about fifty. When I spoke to Dad on the phone he pretty much told me to make lots of cheese to smoke in it.

I'm pretty cool with that last suggestion, so I'm thinking in a couple of weeks I might have a smoking party! We'll take this huge contraption out back, strap it up, get a fire crankin' and shove some cheeses in. Might as well make an event of it - because we might be only able to use it once....

By the way, some readers may have thought I was talking about this sort of smoking in the title:

That's fantastic too!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

All about the Big Final

Well, it's AFL Big Final time here in Australia once again, and the question is on everyone's lips: who will win, the Hawks, or the other guys? It's a great time to be alive, that's for sure, but just what is this AFL everyone is excited about? Let's find out!

The Game
AFL stands for Australian Fandangle Lobby, which name doesn't particularly have much to do with the game, but just represents the advanced state of drunkenness the members were in at the time that they settled upon that title. AFL is a game in which two teams of players compete to hit one ball with a racket through a set of hoops at opposite ends of the pool. The game is divided into three quarters, which are positioned at the corners of the field. If the game goes into overtime, horses are brought into pool and the players ride the horses, or the horses ride the players, whichever is easiest, until the outcome is decided. Just how exactly this decides the game, I have no idea, but as I said. Everyone was drunk at the time.

The Teams
There are several teams in the competition - at least three. They are: The Hawks, the Swans, the Tigers, the Lions, the Quambatook Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, and the Other Ones. For several years in the formative stage of the game, there was only one team, the Tigers, with an unbroken record of success, but this was found to be somewhat limiting to the competition, and so gradually the number  of teams was expanded. Each of the teams have particular colours associated with them, from the Hawks' distinctive gold and brown costume to the Gold Coast's attractive livery of mahogany and puce.

The Supporters
Historically, each football team has had a broad support base from fans across the country, whether those fans be That Drunk Who Embarrasses Everyone On The Train, That Person Whose Boss Dragged Them Along To The Game, and The Kid Who Doesn't Really Care But Just Goes Along to the Game Anyway For The Donuts Their Parent Buys. The fans are vocal and really help to give the game so much colour and character.

In the end, it doesn't really matter which team you support, the Hawks, the Swans, or the other ones. What matters is that AFL is a proud national tradition stretching right back to at least last year. Can I have another donut?
Footage from the 2013 Big Final. A particularly delicate manoeuvre, in which both teams attempt to checkmate the other. 

Friday, September 26, 2014

In which you find out to your surprise that you do not exist, and I probably don't either

Astute readers of my blog may have noticed the post I did yesterday in which I noted that "no-one reads blogs anymore". This probably means that the astute readers of my blog do not actually exist. I apologise for any pain and discomfort this may have caused: it may take some time for you to adjust yourselves to your newly-discovered incorporeality. I'm sure you're still astute, but.

Anyway, while writing that sentence, I started thinking back about those earlier years when people actually read blogs, and sometimes even commented on them. Do you remember those? Or you could cast your mind back even earlier, to newspapers, which were really great. For those who aren't aware, newspapers were invented in the 20th century by Frank Packer, and printed on large sheets of paper to be delivered to fish and chips stores and places like that (that's why newspapers were invented, for wrapping fish and chips up in). Sometimes, someone would even open up a newspaper, read a story, and then make a "comment" on the story. They made this comment by somewhat archaic means, ie, they opened their mouth and let sounds come out in the form of words until the comment had been made. When Malcolm Turnbull invented computers and the internet at the end of the 20th century, thankfully, more civilised means of making comment by keyboard were found.

It was great writing a blog back in the day, because heaps of people would leave comments. There was a kind of ritual about these things: people would read a sentence in the blog post, and then make a comment on it. Over time, this little ceremony was simplified, so that people would just read a word, or a small item of punctuation, and comment on that. Eventually even that was deemed too complicated, and many people would just pop into blogs, leave a comment on any old topic they desired, and go elsewhere. Thus the inexorable march of the mind continued.

Then along came Facebook and things just got really confusing. Instead of leaving a comment on blogs, people would link blogs on Facebook and others would leave comments there, too. This was rather ingenious, actually, as it allowed another simplification: instead of leaving random non-sequiturs* as comments on a blog, it allowed people to leave random non-sequiturs as comment - on Facebook. Not only would people not have to read a blog post, or a sentence, or a word, or a letter, or an item of punctuation, or a tiny jot or or tittle from the original blog post to respond to it, they wouldn't even have to be on the same page as it. Facebook, incidentally, also sometimes allows people to comment on other people's comments, which is an incredibly revolutionary step which many bloggers could only dream of. True, back in the days of newspapers, people could comment on other people's comments, but only by engaging in something called "a conversation", involving incredibly archaic technology which I have no space to go into here: "dialogue", "thoughtful response", "rational debate". Thank heavens we've moved on since those days.

Anyway, it all makes you realise what a wonderful thing progress is, doesn't it? Mind you, there are still some things better about the old days. For instance, fish and chips just doesn't taste the same now it comes wrapped in iPhones and Kindles. All that circuitry really interferes with the flavours. It's a real drag, man.

*Random non-sequiturs: can there be any other kind?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Desperate times

I spent a good deal of this morning avoiding doing work. No surprises there, obviously, but as it turned out avoiding doing work was such hard work that I eventually had to do work as a way of getting a break from the strenuous avoidance of work that I was working hard on earlier in the day.

Which is obviously why you find me here, at the computer, er.... avoiding doing work.

Hmmm. Pretend you didn't read this. (And, since no-one reads blogs anymore, you probably didn't.)

People who really like dogs and numbers

Judging from this list of  titles for craft breweries (and craft beer), those small brewers don't have much imagination when it comes to names. Either that, or they really like dogs and numbers.

Brew Dog
Moon Dog
Hop Dog
Black Dog
Dogfish Head
Two Birds
Two Brothers
Three Ravens
Three Troupers
Two Wives

The perfect craft beer title: Five and a Half Puppy Dogs and Seven Troupers Who Are Wives Go Out With a Fish?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Poetry for the advanced drinker

One of the many cultivations of the advanced drinker is the ability to quote poetry while drinking in an advanced state. It is a wonder what a difference quoting the right sort of poetry will make to a convivial evening's end. Indeed, many will wonder how quoting poetry even started. Poetry deals with all the great subjects: death, life, trees. Stand up and quote the following delightful poem about trees by Joyce Kilmer:

I see that I shall never think
A poem as lovely as a drink.

Then have a drink. You may realise at about this point that the poem has been entirely deforested and has no trees in it. Perhaps it is a case of not being able to see the forest for the pint glass. Better have another drink while you think about it some more.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A political statement

The Queen Wants Scots To 'Think Very Carefully' About Independence

The Queen's views on independence
may have been revealed once more. She has reportedly said she hopes people will "think very carefully about the future" as the Scottish independence referendum campaign enters its final days.

It's simply appalling that people should be insulted in this day and age by someone saying they should 'think very carefully' about their future! Especially in incredibly complex matters that deal with the affairs of populous nations with the lives of millions of people at stake! In such circumstances, it is vitally important that people act blindly and wilfully without thinking of the consequences, before it's too late. Speaking as a representative of the People That Act Blindly and Wilfully Without Thinking of the Consequences, I can't stress the importance of people acting blindly and wilfully without thinking of the consequences highly enough. It's the only way progress will be made! While it is true that objections have been made about a certain highly contentious faction of the People That Act Blindly and Wilfully Without Thinking of the Consequences, that is, the Idiots That Act Like a Bunch of Lemmings Who Stupidly Rush Over A Cliff Without Knowing What Dreadful Fate Awaits Them, those people have acted like a bunch of lemmings and stupidly rushed over a cliff without knowing what dreadful fate awaited them, so that problem has been dealt with. Meanwhile, I would just like to refer you all to the central policy of our incredibly influential party, that is, The Policy of Acting Immediately In a Highly Emotional State Before Something Too Dreadful To Contemplate Happens. It is in accordance with this policy that I would like to announce that I just tipped a bucket full of fresh ricotta curds down my head while reciting the words to Elizabeth Barrett-Browning's Aurora Lee in a fake French accent. Take note, David Cameron! Beware, Tony Abbott! This is just a small example of what the People That Act Blindly and Wilfully Without Thinking of the Consequences will do when forced to.

In conclusion, who does this Queen person think she is? The head of a nation or something like that? I mean, really!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Rhyme scheme

Just like businesses and corporations have earnings strategies, efficiency targets, mid-year goals and fiscal outlooks, poets have rhyme schemes. Chaucer had the Rhyme Royal. Pope had Heroic Couplets. Spenser had his own Spenserian Stanza. Dante had Ottava Rima. Whitman didn't have any, but he made so much noise and waved his arms about in a wild and distracting manner, so people thought that he did. Auden had pretty much all of them. I thought it was about time we gave this blog a rhyme scheme, too.

cat hat
contrived to have an uzi hidden beneath his gaily-coloured cravat
dog log 
Dutch clog 
Dirk Harthog
night light
incentivise itemise
corporate enterprise
strategically advise
mild surmise
"Smithers, I can't help but feeling that this once-proud institution is full of spies"
sad demise

The results of this rhyme scheme will shortly be released in a growth-profit matrix, with Powerpoint, a three-day workshop presentation, and a little blue booklet. I really think we're going places with this one.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Let's go to the opera!

The beloved opera duo Gilbert and Sullivan's HMAS Metaphor, a classic of the opera buffa genre, and a great hit at the time, has seen few performances of late. This is a pity, because the plot is amongst the G&S's best. It concerns the good ship Metaphor, whose crew set sail on a long extenuation into the seas of Circumstance and Peril. In the middle of their extenuation, they arrive at the island Sardonic, and are taken in by Don Sequitur and his two beautiful daughters, Simile and Inclined. Don Sequitur used to be an Irony magnate, but these days his temper has changed, and he sings the famous song: "I am like the very model of a modern major general". But what is this? It appears both of his daughters are in love with one of the crew of the Metaphor, the cabin boy, Al Egorical. They sing the touching aria, "To think we never met afore", which is overheard by the ship's captain, Metonym, who resolves to act as a go between and bring lovers together. When Al Egorical spies Simile dancing the Spanish Hyperbole, his heart is won over, while Inclined agrees to marry Captain Metonym. All is joy and happiness, and, in a Clash of Symbols, the opera concludes.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Text-to-voice haiku

(Our old friend the Text-to-voice lady is back, this time with some inspiring haiku) 

Wind tosses papers
On platform bare of people.
Train now arriving.

Blue sky, clear of clouds.
Electric voice, clear of thoughts.
Thank you! Come again!

Thank you for calling
Suicide hotline! There might
Be a short delay.

Suicide hotline!
With so many helpful tips.
Please don't kill yourself.

Suicide hotline!
Waiting for operator.
Hope you like whale song.

Suicide hotline!
Here's a life insurance ad -
Sorry about the wait.

You have reached:  fifth floor.
Empty lift. No-one around.
Lonely doors slide shut.

Thin print of new moon
On trembling curtain of sky:
Press three at the tone. 

Soft words of wisdom
That speak to the heart's deep core:
Stand clear. Doors closing.
Email: timhtrain - at -

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