Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Driving Update: Animals on the Alert

Dear Animal Kingdom:

As evidenced by the emissaries that were sent out to ambush my Sunday practice, you seem to have gotten news of my impending driving on Californian roads.

In a half hour session, I crossed paths with:
1 x cat
2 x dogs
1 x squirrel
2 x ducks

Did you really think you could get away with sending ducks unnoticed? Not the brown boring kind either–these were black with brilliant green. Oh, the audacity!

I am onto you, Animal Kingdom. I know you think you're going to crush my driving confidence and keep me off the roads. Think again, my furry friends, Think Again!

Aiming at you next time,


Thursday, 24 May 2007

God of Something

When I was 16 I had a Social Studies teacher; a mild-mannered, tall, slightly burly man in his early 30s who took class with a dry, bemused humour. Well, girls are to gossip as matches are to fire. So inevitably, someone knew someone who had seen him with a woman and that's about all we needed to concoct endlessly elaborate hypotheses. Even without the mystery woman, he was one of the 'cooler' teachers.

One day in class we were discussing the TEE, the big matriculation exams, and discussing what we'd do at uni. I asked him, "Should you do what you're good at, or what you like?"

He replied, "For most people, that's the same thing."

My reply SHOULD have been "What the hell kind of answer is that? Are you implying I'm big-noting myself simply by making the distinction between ability and enthusiasm? Aren't you meant to be encouraging kids to bigger futures, not belittling their concerns?"

That's the way it happens in my head anyway. I prefer it immensely to what actually happened:

MING: Oh, Ok

-end scene-

It went pear-shaped for me, direction-wise, after that. I had observed I was good at things I didn't necessarily like so much, and that I wasn't as good as I wanted on things I did like. Just because I can do something above mediocrity isn't a sign from God that I've found my calling! (Is it?) Alternatively, it seemed dumb to ignore perfectly good skills whilst trying to nurture fledgling ones that didn't come quickly or naturally. (Is it?)

So began what has now turned out to be nearly a decade's worth of double-guessing. Was that a life-changing epiphany, or a passing fancy? My personal watershed, or figment of my imagination? Someone once told me to be fearless. Yet fearless to me at one moment looks completely moronic the next. I clearly have a magnet next to my personal compass.

When I make big decisions I mostly spend time persuading myself, riding the seesaw of my judgment. That I would be stupid/blind/courageous/stubborn enough to stick to my guns more often. But seriously, is it asking too much for a sign? I don't need a red carpet, maybe just an email, or even an IM from a reasonably well-known deity would suffice.

Hermes, Vishnu, anyone?

What do you do at big decision time? Hit me up on the comments.

Monday, 14 May 2007

San Franciscans Beware

Today was my first time behind the wheel in over 6 years! Sis bravely took shotgun as I rediscovered manual. Don't worry–people and trees remained unharmed.

The good news is, I still remember my Aussie driving days. Bad news is, I still remember my Aussie driving days. I only stalled once and I can park ok, but I kept signaling with the windshield wipers and trying to change gears with my left hand. Booo. My worst thing is I still automatically keep left.

Come on America! Isn't it time you joined the rest of the world!! This keeping right business is so bogus. While you're at it, America, also look into: the penny (uselessness of), the Imperial system (uselessness of), the spelling (stupidness of) and the complimicated coffee (don't get me started).

I'll be the one turning right with the wipers going on a corner near you.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Road triplet!

Every once in a while you have an aviator guest who needs to get to some hick airport out in the sticks. You rejoice at this, because it's a rare chance to go on a mini road trip, to make a pilgrimage of sorts, to that spiritual home of yours:

The Charles M. Schulz Museum in Santa Rosa.

Street cred be damned, I was going to see Snoopy. But really, who doesn't love Snoopy? If you're reading this and you don't, you're totally off my Christmas card list. Also, I'm going to assume you're a baby-killer.

Aside from providing me my secret dream of owning a beagle named Snoopy, Peanuts taught me all the important lessons in life:

The value of persistence–

The value of speaking up–

and the benefit of the boogie–


Here's the table where Sparky had lunch every day at the Warm Puppy cafe, which is next door to the museum.

It's at the entrance to the ice-skating rink he built,

which is next to the tennis court he built, which is adjacent to the baseball field... get the picture.

And on the way back, we passed by famed California wine country Sonoma. It's like Margaret River back in Perth–lots of vineyards and orchards.

We just could not resist the roadside strawberries and cherries, so we loaded up and have had strawberry shakes all week. Happy days.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

How TV is Made. WARNING: Rant ahead

Children, we all watch TV, but do you know where it comes from? Have you ever thought to apply yourself to researching that topic? I did, and boy was I edumacated.

First, enter a random draw. Be awarded an email confirmation. Wait many weeks. On the BIG day, show up at theatre. For the purposes of this post, we got the Orpheum in downtown San Francisco. Show up before noon. Be given blue ticket. Stand in line on sidewalk. Watch weirdos walking past. Hope to god they don't talk to you. Repeat for FOUR hours.

Who knew the cheap thrills of TV required such lengthy shows of commitment? TV is based on, funded by, organised around, the 30-second commercial. Who are they kidding, expecting such patience and determination from an audience? Wildly assuming we'll happily withstand the nazi-queue, the ear-splitting tones of the girl behind on the phone, AND severe knee cramps, not to mention the mayonnaise stains when you attempt to eat lunch on your feet.

Clearly, the retardation which is often attributed to TV apparently has affected the show organisers. Unable to just hand out 1200 free tickets to an assembled queue, they decided on the mucho convoluted way involving two separate cut-off times and me having to read my Real Simple mag downwind from a port-a-loo.

Finally, when we got in and stumbled gratefully into a chair, any chair, we witnessed the lights, cameras and action of a real tonight show. WoooOOOo. I read the jokes on the autocue before Conan delivered them. I applauded when the applause signs came on. Actually, I didn't need the signs, because Dana Carvey (above) of Wayne's World fame is still really funny.

And then, some skinny kids with bad posture, bad teeth and bad hair came on stage to play. The look gave their Brit status away, so it was only a hop, skip and jump to deduce they were the Arctic Monkeys. Who books these people? A full 3 people in the crowd knew who they were, and of those, 1 was a fan.

A comedian here, a video skit there, and badabing badaboom, the whole thing was over. Over so soon! I had to give up my plush seat for the trek to the BART station.

A whole day, well, spent.

This is more like it

We went to hike Land's End on Saturday. I'm not usually a big fan of hiking, but the SF spring weather, which is like air-con with sunshine, makes it a pretty civilised experience. Only time I felt trail-rage (hiking-based road rage) was when joggers passed us effortlessly with perfectly manicured pooches in tow. Meanwhile, I was so out of breath that I had to reduce my Snarky Comments Levels to all-time lows. Nature has no appreciation of irony.

The Pacific lookin' pretty-