Monday, 8 December 2008

Time wasters that are worth the time wasted.

This one isn't for kids. It suits the darker side of my humour. Actually when you think about it, it's freaking insane. That's another reason to like it. Be warned it contains violence and horror themes. Death art animation.

Pixar. Who doesn't love everything they do? Kid friendly here.

This computer animated film is so beautifully done. I've watched it several times. There's not a word spoken. End of the world with rag-doll heroes.

If you've seen WALL-E and laughed, try this one, BURN-E. Having real trouble keeping a link on this so if its broken it's worth doing a search on it.

I keep changing stuff around here as links break so check back sometime for new finds.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

NaNoWriMo - 2008 - The End

I took a gander at the NaNoWriMo site today. The preliminary stats are in. Almost 20% of people who entered this year finished. That's pretty good going from the 119,301 authors who signed up. Last year it was around 100,000.

Of everyone registered, 21,683 won. That's 18.2% if you need precise figures.

If I was standing in a football field with them all I might not feel special, but sitting here with bleeding fingers, I do.

Till next year.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 26

Number One Competitor: 50,363 (NaNo wants 43,333)

Coops: Did I mention I was ALREADY FINISHED.

No. 1's justification/excuse: Some people have to work for a living. Good on you for beating the clock. 4 days early is pretty impressive and with the quality of work you have done extremely well. We'll lay down better ground rules next year.

No. 1's lame rating: 0

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 25

Number One Competitor: 46,093 (NaNo wants 41,667)

Coops: Finished

No. 1's justification/excuse: Too busy. Pfffffttt.

No. 1's lame rating: 9 (Edit, reduced to 4. Late word count advancement missed 'last call')

Monday, 24 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 24

No. 1 Competitor: 46,093 (NaNo wants 40,000)


Justification/excuse: So nice to be finished and getting on with important stuff, like watching the stock market eat our money and surfing the net.

Lame rating: 0

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Client Fishing - An E-book

I have recently reviewed an e-book, Client fishing: the no-shit guide to finding great clients, released by Impress: clear communication Pty Ltd. (Disclosure: the company is co-owned by my sister and her partner but she’s not paying me for this plug).

If you are a freelancer, or a small business that sells services, this guide will be invaluable to help you break through the marketing hype, double-talk and general confusion involved with finding clients.

The sub-title of the book (no-shit guide) gives a hint to the writers’ clear, conversational writing style – they walk the talk and provide practical ideas and information that can be easily absorbed and understood.

‘Impress’ demystifies the client personae; clients are people just like you. Get to know them, don’t just push your marketing efforts onto them.

Learn from real experiences. Suzanne and Bruce from Impress show how to get your small business off the ground and work through problematic areas of finding great clients, keeping them happy and expanding their horizons with easy-to-understand advice.

Their manual is currently available for download at a very reasonable AUD$18 (+GST for Australian buyers):

NaNoWriMo - Day 23

Finished at 12:13pm.

Stopped in the middle of a sentence and banished the file for later, (much later), consideration, (and mass deletions).

Number One Competitor: 44,600 (NaNo wants 38,333). Still busting her arse and maintaining her strict requirements of delivering a readable, completely finished, publishable piece of work.

Coops: 50,019. (NaNo can get stuffed).

Justification/excuse: Next year will involve planning. This 'winging it' method has not opened the gates of creativity as I hoped.

Lame rating: 10. (Wrote just to fill the page. It was just like being back in school writing whatever the teacher put on the board.)

Saturday, 22 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 22

I wonder if banging my head against the keyboard and using what comes out can be counted as writing?

Number 1's made an herculean effort. Her will is strong. Her wrists maybe not so strong.

Number One Competitor: 41,132

Coops: 45,555 (NaNo wants 36,667)

Justification/excuse: Neeaaaarrrlllyy there.

Lame rating: It's so lame a fourth grade teacher would give me an F. Not the good kind of F either.

Friday, 21 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 21

Going solely by gut-feel and using a rule-of-thumb method, I have come up with the following figure. One in every few hundred words is usable. MAYBE. Some idea or a name or maybe a full stop can be salvaged.

As you can see I'm not very excited about the whole idea anymore. The only reason I persevere with this stupid flash-fiction/dialogue thing is for the sake of fair play. If I were to change tack mid-stream, as it were, I think it would be unfair. To someone. Somewhere.

Number One Competitor: 35,511

Coops: 42,982 (NaNo wants: 35,000)

Justification/excuse: 7,000 words feels very far away even with such a lead. I don't know what No. 1 is up to. Not typing I suspect.

Lame rating: 6 and my fingertips hurt.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 20

Stupid damn computer stole more words this morning. Something to do with the way I save, back up or retrieve my files.

Thanks No.1 Competitor for trying to explain my part in the error to me and to yourself.

I still think it's ridiculous that there is more likelihood of screwing up your work by backing it up than if you left it the hell alone in the first place.

I'm talking about MS Word 2007 in case you were wondering.

Number One Competitor: 35,551

Coops: 39,635 (NaNo wants 33,333)

Justification/excuse: Stupid computer. (Or operator)

Lame rating: 6

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 19

Horrors of the real kind greet me this morning. Last night's save didn't work and I lost over 3,500 words.

Somehow I managed to dig into the computer and retrieve a Temp file. I still don't know how to auto save a REAL copy of my stuff.

I hate retyping old material at the best of times. Having to retype more garbage would totally drain me.

Number One Competitor: 31,208

Coops: 37,503 (NaNo wants 31,667)

Justification/excuse: Slogging along whinging and complaining and hoping 10% can be salvaged.

Lame rating: 5

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 18

Found another idea. Then I wasted a fair bit of time on a Satanist site. All I wanted was the name of a demon but I ended up reading the stuff they believe in for an hour. I sent a link to No.1 Competitor so she could have a laugh too. (And to waste her time as well)

Then it was back to more forced conversation. I think a lot of it is destined to be binned after a quick edit. Possibly there is stuff in there that will spark something off later. It'll go in the 'desperate for ideas' bin.

I'm finding it difficult to swap from the latest edit of Fatal Cure where I'm trying to cut out extra words and tighten up the action, to a rambling bunch of crap that isn't going anywhere.

Number One Competitor: 30,049

Coops: 33,743 (NaNo wants 30,000)

Justification/excuse: Just want to finish. Not enjoying it at all. Wish No. 1 would finish first so I can give up.

Lame rating: 2 (I feel lame.)

Monday, 17 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 17

Competition is hotting up again.

Number One Competitor: 29,263

Coops: 30,450 (NaNo wants 28,333)

Justification/excuse: Using an edit to add a few words here and there. Need to mind dump a few more ideas though.

Lame rating: 7 (edited). Thank you for picking up on my mistake. The re-weighted lame rating is in effect.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 16

With the halfway point come and gone you'd think there'd be a feeling of relief. But words only come slower when you've used most of them up. Not to mention the enthusiasm. Repeat after me, I will not drop out.

Number One Competitor: 26,052

Coops: 29,294 (NaNo wants 26,667)

Justification/excuse: Grinding it out.

Lame rating: 0

Saturday, 15 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 15

At the halfway point and more than halfway finished. If I continue at this pace it will all be over soon and I'll be able to concentrate solely on Killer Serials.

I might have to try typing and thinking at the same time.

Number One Competitor: 24,551

Coops: 27,995 (NaNo wants 25,000)

Justification/excuse: None today,

Lame rating: 0

Friday, 14 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 14

Tomorrow is the day we were striving to finish by. I won't be able to do it. I managed to get another Fatal Cure chapter out and that feels like real progress.

Number One Competitor: 23,303 (How did you manage to go backwards?)

Coops: 23,745 (NaNo wants 23,333)

Justification/excuse: Should have maintained that lead. Tomorrow will be that much harder.

Lame rating:5

Thursday, 13 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 13

The NaNo is a chance to write outside my normal range. I have stopped myself discarding or even assessing idea based on their merits. If I think of a subject, even fleetingly, I make myself write about it.

Number One Competitor: 23,307

Coops: 23, 384 (NaNo wants 21,667)

Justification/excuse: Just had to push it past No. 1 didn't I. And the best thing is I get to post this regardless of any further advancements on her part tonight.

Lame rating: 1

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 12

There's a certain amount of zoning up you need to do when writing. I havent had the zoning out time.

Number One Competitor: 22,616

Coops: 19,696 (Nano wants 20,000)

Justification/excuse: Parents leave today. I'll have to play catch up.

Lame rating: 9

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 11

Damn. No. 1 Competitor caught up and raced past.

Number One Competitor: 19,222

Coops: 17,929 (NaNo wants 18,333)

Justification/excuse: Entertaining parental units.

Lame rating: 9

Monday, 10 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 10

Something might come of this free association thing I'm trying. Typing exact responses to random questions off the Internet is bringing some interesting responses. The dialogue in my serial is coming much more easily too.

Number One Competitor: 16031

Coops: 17229 (Nano wants 16667)

Justification/excuse: Slowing due to house guests. Cant fully blame them but it is much harder to get into a groove with other people banging around the house.

Lame rating: 8

Sunday, 9 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 9

Even though I overran the quota yesterday I will not become complacent. A buffer is a beautiful thing, whether it be money, beer in the cupboard or words. If you forget to refill the buffer every now and then, you end up in deficit very quickly. 1667 words can be a lot to make up for when compounded with several days of substandard output.

Number One Competitor: 12,309

Coops: 16,750 (NaNo wants 15,000)

Justification/excuse: Repeat after me. A little bit ahead does not mean I should slow down.

Lame rating: 0

Saturday, 8 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 8

The NaNo is ultimatly about freeing your creativity. Reaching the stage where you are ready to stop judging a story's worthiness to have extra words attached and exploring its potential. A free association continuance is opened, allowing ideas to flow from some strange area of the mind, normally throttled by reason and logic.

Sometimes, if I'm lucky, a Buddha-like state can be attained where production is constant and the screen fills with red underlining from misspellings. When typing speed outpaces correct keystroking I redesign the english language into phonetics and abbreviations.

Number One Competitor:12,000

Coops:15,016 (NaNo wants 13,333)

Justification/excuse: Stopped thinking so much, started writing a bit more.

Lame rating: 0

Friday, 7 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 7

Around 3:30AM seems to be a common time for me to wake up. If I can get out of bed and write, I often achieve a great deal. For those who think working from home is a routine of sleep-in's watching TV, and scratching my butt, you can think again.

Normally I'll get up without the aid of an alarm clock at around 7AM and work to 5 ish with a couple of breaks to garden or to hit stuff with a hammer in the workshop. Then I might do a few hours after dinner.

I was curious about sleep cycles and found this site about circadian rhythms. 2AM is supposed to be the time of our lowest ebb and deepest sleep. It is also a time of the bodies lowest temperature. That explains a few things. An injection of coffee has been known to fix those problems.

Number One Competitor: 11256

Coops: 11292 (NaNo wants 11667)

Justification/excuse: I'm struggling. I only wrote the last few words to get ahead of No. 1. Spending far too much time going through the finances.

Lame Rating: 5

Thursday, 6 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 6

I've worked out why some writers, me included, can be so secretive about their work. It was amongst some nasty, morbid thoughts I had while editing a particularly crap piece. (When you're slamming stuff out at full speed that can occur quite frequently).

One of the thoughts was, if I died right now what would somebody think of my draft NaNo? There'd be a few side-long looks of
'This guy thinks he's a writer? Check out this garbage'.

That's why I cringe when read a draft. Its lack of sophistication, it's clumsy structure, the spattering of truncated sentences. And all those ideas jammed in with no connections to the story at hand.

That's why I hide drafts away until they can be hammered at and combed into shape. Like an ugly child getting a makeover, it can then be released from the cellar and sent into the world to earn its keep.

A few people last year wanted to read my 'winning novel' and may have felt hurt by my abrupt refusal. They were under the impression I had actually written a salable novel in 30 days. Sorry. No can do.

Someone out there might be able to. (If there is such a person, I hate them).

Number One Competitor: 11097

Coops: 10,057 (NaNo wants 10,000)

Justification/excuse: On track. Stealing ideas from No. 1 Competitior, abusing her and generally having a good time. Got so much done yesterday I even knocked off half an hour early. (3:30AM to 4:30PM in case you were wondering.)

Lame rating: 0

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 5

It looks like I'm gaining pace, doesn't it? In reality it's still a hard slog. Just a matter of putting in the hours. There's been no sudden release of ideas. Plenty of lame ones are being bashed out that usually wouldn't pass the thinking stage. Some of these ideas may bear fruit for later. Twisting them into something better with a flurry of, 'oh yeah, that would have been better if this had happened', wastes precious time with a heavy edit. I get a better read out of the story but it is against the principles of word creation.

The floppy, horrible meaningless paragraph is now a single taut sentence. And I'm down 30 words.

I still believe editing at this stage is essential. Spur of the moment ideas must be written as they are visualize or awesome stuff can be forever lost. I have done it to myself too many times. Particularly on the edge of sleep when I don't force myself to get up and write down that brilliant idea.

Number One Competitor: 7792 words

Coops: 8344 words (NaNo wants 8333 words)

Justification/Excuse: I caught up today with No.1 Competitor AND NaNoWriMo's daily word count. Today I am on track to win. I never doubted myself. (Except for the first four days.) Other serials are suffering though. A concerted effort is required to keep Fatal Cure churning out. Have hit another low spot between extreme action episodes. The wind disappears out of my sails when the chainsaw gets put aside.

Lame Rating: 0

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 4

While working for a construction company I had to spend an entire day as a crossing guard on a train line. The retard who was supposed to be doing it didn't turn up. To kill the boredom I wrote a short story. About 5000 words in tiny writing on a pocket note pad.

Now, a year later, I came across the scribble while digging through the 'maybe' drawer for ideas. Since I'm desperate for material I have converted the story into dialogue, using as many of the original words as possible, just to make life harder. I'm still not up to the required word count for day four, but it's a big step in the right direction.

Number One Competitor: 7240 words

Coops: 4545 words (Nano wants 6667)

Justification/excuse: None again. Cruising.

Lame rating: 1

Monday, 3 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 3

Pulling ideas out of my...out of the air. Dragging my vocabulary for the strange and quirky speech patterns, heard and stored over the years. The results might surprise me upon editing.

Number One Competitior: 6571 words

Coops: 2113 words (NaNo wants 5000 words)

Justification/excuse: Once again, I don't feel the need of one. Stuff is happening on an unconscious level. Tapping the elusive well is worth more then winning. Though winning is worth a great deal too. Almost more than life itself in fact. Both are still possible.

Lame rating: 2

Sunday, 2 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 2

I finally get an idea. Use the two things I'm really bad at.

Flash fiction and a restriction to writing pure dialogue.

I am within the NaNoWriMo's guide lines here. An exception is made for interlinking short stories. It will be a useful writing exercise. Whether any of the dialogue will be of any use can be assessed later.

Number One Competitor: 5718 words

Coops: 821 words (NaNo wants 3333 words).

Justification/excuse: Don't need one. I'm writing. No.1 Competitor is just writing faster, and better than me. For now.

Lame rating: 1

Saturday, 1 November 2008

NaNoWriMo - Day 1

Right, that'll teach me. The gauntlet thrown down has been picked up ultra-fast by Number One Competitor, sibling of a female persuasion.

For the record.

Number One Competitor: 3640 words.

Coops: 2 words (NaNo wants 1667).

I'm having a crisis of starting. The title was easy, (NaNoWriMo 2008), but an unreasonable expectation to write something of value is bogging me down. I have until midnight to improve this count, and will probably watch every second of that buffer tick down rather than write a single word.

I am also running a table of justification/excuses and how lame I think those excuses are.

Justification/excuse: I wrote over 3000 words for my serials and now I am awfully tired. I also cut down a tree. And had several beers. And I have RSI.

Lame rating 1-10: 7

Friday, 31 October 2008

NaNoWriMo Eve

Still haven't had time to consider story options for the competition. Not a single title or idea has come to me. Deep down I must want the drama to play out this way. No nightmares have been playing on my mind.

My sister is already psyching me out by telling me how prepared and awesome she's going to be. There's even a challenge between us to finish the 50,000 words in TWO WEEKS.

I probably wrote 5000 word in the last two days for Chapter 59 of Fatal Cure amongst other edits and an experimental blog on WordPress. Trouble is, I would have erased at least half those words in rewrites.

The beauty of NaNoWriMo is the banning of the delete key. Everything is valid. Just write and write and write until all the letters on the keyboard are worn off.

Having no letters for guidance would be a major problem for me. Believe it of not, I've never learned to touch type. I can bang out 40 words a minute but can't look away from the bloody keyboard without completely forgetting where all the letters have moved to.


I felt the need to thank Strategize's blog for helping out with my toilet troubles recently. Actually it was one of his reader's comments, but he or she chose to be anonymous so I can't thank them by name.

When we bought our newfangled Porcher Esedra MKII toilet, I never thought to ask them how to get the lid off because, you know, it shouldn't be that hard for a handyman to deal with. So when the toilet started leaking into the pan I went and got a new washer and lifted the lid...

Or tried to. Didn't wanna budge.

Must have a grub screw. Nup. Maybe some fastener under the lip. Nope. What about prying the bastard off? Dammit.

I was getting angry now.

How about I smash it, work out how it was supposed to come off, and then try to get replacement parts. (Which would almost definitely have to come from Mars!!!)

No, no, no. That's the way I normally do it.

Took deep breaths and rang the mob who sold us the dunny. The dude I got doesn't know how it comes off either!!! And obviously he can't be bothered looking it up in a manual or walking out to the showroom to find out for me. His advice? 'Maybe I could Google it on the internet'.

How can they sell something without knowing how to fix it?


Got on the Net and, after dismissing the Porcher site as useless, I found Strategize and fixed my problems with several deft movements, (not bowel related).

Just in case someone else finds this post after a desperate Google search, here's some 'how to' advice of how it's done.

  • Push down the Full Flush button.
  • Wriggle the Half Flush button out. (It will come out with a LITTLE BIT of force.)
  • Pull out the big button.
  • Unscrew the white plastic screw that is hidden beneath these buttons and you're in.

Thank you for not letting me break my toilet Ross.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Nanowrimo preparations

No. 1: Encourage others to join in by using unkind remarks about their writing abilities. Reverse psychology 101.

No. 2: Think of something to write about. As usual I have no idea and will wing it like last year. Did anyone catch the fact that I won last year. Anyone? Well, I was kinda proud of myself. I FUCKEN WON. That's what I think I said. I'm still using ideas from the anthology I wrote last year so it's not all vanity and worthless keyboard bashing. Desperation mode has it's merits.

No. 3: Get appointments out of the way and stock up on frozen dinners and toilet paper.

No. 4: Obsess about not having anything to write about.

No. 5: Be glad to have one more day to procrastinate because the rules say you have to wait until 1 November and that's a good enough reason not to think about the pain to come.

I've decided to do a daily update here as I never get enough time to post on Thought Control. If I fail it will be a public shaming. Motivation is the key to winning. Feel free to motivate with abuse and/or encouragement.

Join me at Nanowrimo. You've got nothing to lose except your 'significant other', a month of your life and all your free time.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Tanami Desert Diary - PART 5

(Return to - PART 1, PART 2, PART 3, PART 4)

A Cessna brought the ‘Word of God’ to the Tanami one fateful day. An evangelist in the form of a naive, young Geologist, fresh out of Uni, barely out of his teens.

We’re a friendly mob out here. We even make Geologists welcome, but we’re quite unaware of his less forgivable proclivities at this time.

Camping in the desert is a rough and ready affair that is fluid and set with certain discomforts. It’s the first time our new Geo has camped out, and it becomes obvious he’s never done much for himself before. He expects an array of amenities that aren’t forthcoming. City ways in a feral wasteland don't mix too well, and he finds the lack of power points in the surrounding trees disturbing.

Immediately, his cover story of being ‘one of the lads’, goes awry. Someone normal complains they’ve forgotten to pack something. He jumps in to commiserate with his own clanger.

‘Mum packed his bag so he’s not sure he’s got any pyjamas.’

Even at school camp that would be a violation of etiquette. Out here in the desert, it classifies as information NOT to share. A group of young lads who pride themselves on adaptability and independence don't take kindly to Mama’s Boys. Finding out he’s a God-bothering religious nut was anti-climactic.

His sentence is handed down. ‘Not to be included in rule breaking activities.’

To fuel our distain, he’d unashamedly and openly fill in some sort of bible-study worksheet after we’d knocked off for the day. We’d sit around the fire drinking beer and smoking dope. He’d try to convince us to change our evil ways with short lived sermons, then storm off up a sand dune to ‘pray for us’. We heathens found the concept vaguely threatening.

He’s a nice enough lad to get along with, even if he’d been brainwashed at an early age to fear both God and Devil in their multitude of forms. While his parents were beating Jesus into him, they should have taught him a few domestic skills as well.

I had to check on him after he requested a side trip to a remote area. Perhaps he was trying to follow Jesus’ forty day diet. More likely he wanted to get away from our influence. What I found after two days showed he wasn’t being very strict with the fasting.

None of us ‘normals’ were big on cleanliness, but we all knew how food poisoning occurs, and how to keep ants, wasps and larger carnivores out of the camp by cleaning up. He had no awareness of how disgusting the site was. It was like walking into the aftermath of a five year olds birthday party. Half eaten rotting food and canned drinks lay everywhere. Rubbish piled on benches, dirty pots still in the fireplace. He’d put a plate down, forget about it and get another.

I cleaned it up. What really burns my arse is that he would have thanked divine intervention for providing the service.

(Like it? See – PART 6) Coming Soon

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Underground Mining - PART 5

(Return to PART 1, PART2, PART 3, PART 4)

Strict Union rules still prevailed in Western Oz mines through the early nineties when I started drilling. Most underground mines still adhered to three, eight hour shifts.

I wanted to work twelve hours shifts like surface mines were beginning to bring in. It was a contentious issue back then. The wrong opinion could get you a busted head in a pub argument.

Constant strikes and go slows sapped our pays. Most strikes weren’t even for an improvement of our conditions anyway. We were expected to go out in sympathy for some other Union. Usually the Wharfies.

I’m all for the ‘workers’ standing up to ‘management’ in cases of unfair working conditions. Unfortunately, that wasn't on the program. We already had fantastic conditions and rates of pay. The Union Bully Boys had done the hard yards and were spinning their wheels with nothing much to do. They remembered the days of old when people respected their muscle and wanted to prove how powerful they still were.

We’d know when they planned to strike. The Union bosses would turn up on site with boats hooked on their cars and eskies in the boot. They’d vote to strike, knock everyone off, then go fishing. The miners got to sit at home, with no pay, and wait till they were told to go back to work. Union officials got paid out of the Union slush fund.

I was disgusted at this arrogant, traitorous behaviour. I said I’d never belong to a Union that treats members like this and never paid Union dues since. Even if my stance brought me grief from the odd Shop Steward, I’ve never bowed to Union pressure.

As contract drillers, we were used to being treated poorly and ignored. Even amongst other miners, we hold a position near the bottom of the hierarchy. Drilling only took place away from active mining areas since production always took precedence over exploration. Disused shafts and bricked up drives were our places of work. Insulated from the everyday running of the mine, sometimes we’d be forgotten about. One particular shift I remember, had a detonation planned outside of normal blasting times. The pressure wave, dust and smoke that swept around my body was an experience me and my offsider will never forget

(Like it? See - Part 6)

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Medicare Vs local pharmacy's public defender

Today I discovered the Government hasn't lost the exquisite art of mentally torturing its citizens. I had to deal with Medicare. My card expired.

I never go to the doctor, (Territory tough), and was unaware of this minor detail until a recent eye exam. Covered by Medicare every two years. Not taken advantage of in over four years.

In this day of computers you’d think it would be easy enough to get a new card over the internet. Nope.

I had to change my address first, from about 6 years ago, so they could update my file. Fair enough, no problem. That should be easy. Nope.

I have to go to a Medicare office to prove I am me. I hate going there. I’m not sick at the moment but I will be after standing in line for an hour with PEOPLE’S KIDS COUGHING IN MY FACE.

It just so happens certain Pharmacy’s are able to process address changes. There’s one 400 metres down the street. I’m off, on a mission.

The Pharmacy ladies are unaware of being able to change an address. Fuck. BUT they have a hot line to Medicare.

I use it.

Here’s where it gets tricky. Try to keep up.


Most people can, BUT, all those years ago we had a temporary PO Box number in a crappy little NSW town. We only had it for a short time, forced into that arrangement so real estate companies would process our applications to rent a house. (We move a lot. Normally AustPost redirects our mail CARE OF PO until a new permanent address is organised. That wasn't good enough for real estate people.) I can’t remember it.

So, feeling foolish and bemused, I am unable to come up with the secret code that unlocks my Government file. I hang up.

Perplexed, I tell the woman behind the counter that I’ll do without a Medicare card from now on. She’s very annoyed. (The Government will be too when they find out I’ve slipped out of their net.) She’s straight on the phone. I cringe in, ‘Oh shit, my file is being flagged again’, mode.

The second call creates a stir, requiring my Medicare telephonist to seek counsel while I listen to the ether in telephone limbo. They’re probably readying the TRG (Terrorist Response Group). When she returns I give the same info as the previous call and once more hit a brick wall with the PO Box.

Send a copy of driver’s licence, signed by the woman WHO SHE’S ALREADY SPOKEN TO AND IS STANDING NEXT TO ME, and send it to Medicare. I hang up.

The Pharmacy lady is bloody annoyed. She’s a trusted Health Care Professionals with access to our most intimate details of our illnesses and deformities but her signature is worth more than her word? I have 7 pieces of identification. I have my old Medicare card. I have an honest face.

She rings back A THIRD TIME and kicks arse through the bureaucratic jungle. I still have to confirm my details AGAIN while they rub their butts.

New card will be sent post haste.

I am dumbfounded. Luckily, I have the presence of mind to ask where Medicare will send the new card.

We’re sending it to your PO Box, Sir.

What!?!?! The PO Box whose number I can’t remember? In that different State I have vowed never to return to? Even though I’m standing in a Pharmacy, WITH SICK PEOPLE COUGHING ON ME, trying to change that address, right fucking now?

I make her repeat the new details twice but I bet they fuck it up.

Hope the procedural bypass gives their computer system an embolism.

Like it? See - The whole world is against me.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Bangkok sewerage works - PART 4

(Return to - PART 1, PART 2, PART 3)

Modernising an unplanned city of this size is a big task. Services are constructed, modified and bastardised to suit each person’s needs without any proper forethought or record keeping. Electricity is a nightmare of dangling cables, spliced and respliced a thousand times to disappear into the rabbit warren of twisting alleys and make-shift buildings they call a suburb. Water can be a low pressure lottery of uncertain purity. You sure as hell didn't drink it. Telephones lines are a rarity in the slums but it seems even beggars had a mobile phone.

We were bound to hit power and water every now and then. There’s no dial-before-you-dig number in Bangkok. The BMA (Bangkok Metropolitan Authority) was supposed to tell us where their services ran but hard information was hard to pin down. After the services went in, freelance cowboys would reroute cables and pipes to suit anyone who paid them. We relied on guess work and luck not to hit anything.

Any services that were near us were sure to be found by the bloke operating the pile driver. Sheet pile cuts through just about anything if he pounds long enough. We got used to blacking out huge areas of the city.

In the nineties a large section of Bangkok didn't have sewerage at all. They eject all their waste into a system of klongs, (canals), which riddle the city like Venetian streets. As the tide ebbs and flows the waste is supposed to be flushed out to sea and fresh water takes its place. A workable affair for perhaps a third of the 15 million people who generate bodily and commercial waste every day.

Even without the overcrowding problem, the klongs were in trouble. They had silted up, been build over and around and not maintained. An impenetrable forest of shanties and skinny streets blocked equipment that needed to get in and clear them out. King tides would overrun the banks and flood large parts of the city, returning everything they had dumped into the canals previously. The city festered in its own shit.

Like it? See (PART 5) Coming Soon.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Bangkok sewerage works - PART 3

(Return to PART 1, PART 2)

I eventually got a 101 for the proper operation of the Unclemole in English. Hearing the instruction from an Aussie helped me put together the pieces I hadn’t been able to nut out for myself by reading the Japenglish manual. In short, it went something like this.

Dig a hole. Throw in the guide rails and drop a huge thrust wall behind them. Attach hydraulic jacks to the thrust ring and position the machine on the launch rails. Line up a laser to keep it going straight. Push the machine into the earth while rotating the cutting face. Flush the debris away from the face back to a holding tank with low pressure water. At full extension the jacks are retracted. The cables and water pipes are disconnected. A concrete pipe is placed between the machine and thrust ring and all the paraphernalia are reconnected then you push again. Eventually the machine pops out into a retrieval pit a hundred metres or so away and is removed. That section of pipe work is complete and we move on to the next pit.

Sounds easy huh?

In reality, just getting the holes dug was like that movie Mission Impossible. So that you understand the difficulty we faced, here’s some ground structure information. Bangkok is sited on a huge river delta. A lot of city structures are sitting on wooden piles sunk deep into sloppy marine sand. In places, slow moving rivers of sand and mud snake beneath the concrete and asphalt that floats on top of this mess. It can really bugger up a micro-tunneller’s day when he hits one of these rivers. He can only watch helplessly as his machine drifts away, never to be seen again.

The pit walls were under great pressure and would leak large amounts of mud and water if not sealed properly. Dewatering was a constant requirement and a major headache.

The pit, being the lowest point in a given area, would also flood with sewerage. Human and animal waste typically runs down the street to a nearby Klong in the slum areas of the city. There was no way around having to stand knee-deep in shit, needles and condoms to get the pipes in. I put great faith in the many inoculation injections I had before leaving Australia.

Like it? See - (PART 4).

Thursday, 18 September 2008


I just watched a stand up comic making fun of kids who are allergic to peanut butter. I found out later at the end of his routine he copped an earful from a ‘concerned parent’ who has a child thusly afflicted. The mental image made me laughed even harder.

Then I got to thinking and had to agree with Gav on a few points. Exactly when did allergies start to take over our lives? When did we become allergic to cats, dogs and air? I don't remember a single kid getting crook from a sandwich spread when I was in school. No-one had ADD either. You played up; you got a belting. I should know.

I’m still allergic to sulfuric acid and speeding buses but I can’t think of a single commonly available food that I have to avoid or die. My lips blow up like balloons when I get mango sap on them but that shit will eat the paint right off your car too.

I like Gav 'survival of the fittest' analogy. People with extreme sensitivities just aren’t meant to survive. Doesn’t stop them from breeding though, does it?

I’ve developed a controversial theory of my own. It’s gonna get me in trouble like the aforementioned stand up comic. You wanna hear it?

Remember how you hated broccoli or pumpkin or some other food? What happened? Your parents FORCED you to eat it didn't they? (Ninety percent of people just nodded.) Nobody died did they. (Hands up everyone who died...uhhh...nope, not one hand.) See!

So maybe we should all toughen up and stop pandering to kid’s whims. If they can’t breathe after eating a peanut, just threaten them with the strap. The little buggers will soon snap out of it.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

How much money do you need?

Large quantities of money bring certain responsibilities and dangers that extrapolate as the size of your stack increases. Finding that elusive balance of happiness and wealth when your money starts to become influential is tricky. How much responsibility and danger are you willing to take on? A fair bit most likely.

After thinking through some hypothetical scenarios, I figure being ‘well off’ is preferable to being ‘humungously rich’. This modesty stems from a certain amount of underclass cringe, (emulating the rich without being conversant with their airs and graces invites ridicule). A fear of losing control of my money at the hands of unscrupulous accountants and brokers is another reason. I would also be keen to avoid the point where the bottom line of my bank statement controls me.

Money’s most underrated purpose is freedom. It’s easy to miss. It hides in that tiny grey area between greed and need.

I’d find my freedom in purchasing a new car or two every couple of years, and having the quality time to enjoy them.

I’d like a comfortable home with decent furnishings, large enough to spread out into but not so large I couldn’t maintain it, or the gardens, myself. Worrying about damaging priceless antique carpets or screwing up a hundred year old hedge probably puts me out of the market for a castle or a historic home.

My home would be efficiently automated to the highest possible degree. No servants would run around after me. There are enough appliances available these days to make their presence a mere status symbol for the pretentious. Supporting the high-end tourist industry where I am waited on and cleaned up after is one thing, but home is home and who wants a bunch of strangers wandering around the place, privy to every small detail of your life?

So, looks like I’ve got it sorted. Now where did I leave my truckload of cash?

Like it? See - Money

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Tanami Desert Diary - PART 4

(Return to - PART 1, PART 2, PART 3)

Good luck ran with my new nickname as much as bad luck seemed to plague people with the name Michael at the Tanami.

We thought Mike had all the luck. He’s the only guy getting laid in the desert after he cracked onto the cleaning lady. Not as bad as it sounds, she was young and we were jealous.

One rare Mine Camp visit he must have stayed up late with his new sweetheart and felt a bit tired the next morning. Driving back to the workshop he somehow hit a boulder bigger than a Landcruiser’s wheel. He said he had his head under the dash looking for something.

After managing to drive completely over the top of the rock and getting catapulted into the roof and smashing his lips into the gear knob on the way down, he wasn't feeling too good. Lucky he didn’t knock his teeth out. Normally you’d hide the circumstances of an accident like this but the Big Boss had chosen that day to visit the Mine and saw the whole thing.

The ute’s transfer case didn't survive the incident. All that heavy armour plating we relied on to crawl over rocky outcrops and smash against tree stumps wasn't meant to hit boulders at 50 Kph. $11,000 and a few months later we got the ute back.

Mike got the arse.

(Like it? See - Part 5).

Monday, 1 September 2008

The end of books

The end of books.

The paperless office.

A new age of digital information.

Remember these terms? I do quite clearly from over 20 years ago. The purported paperless office would revolutionise the way we store and retrieve data.

I bet Rank Xerox shit themselves way back then.

Luckily for the pulp mills, computers proved to be so unreliable everyone used twice as much paper making backup copies of everything they did. Ever heard a room full of dot matrix printers going full blast for 7 hours 21 minutes a day. I did.

I took a job as a trainee with the Federal Government fresh out of school and was exposed to the full range of bleeding edge technology. The Government had a policy of purchasing the very latest advancements. (Even if the new gear only made the job harder.) Helped drive the economy.

So there I was at 16 years of age, photocopying millions of thermal paper faxes onto real paper and shredding the originals. (Had to do each one by hand since thermal paper wouldn’t auto feed. Lifting that heavy lid should have given me arms like Schwarzenegger.) The boredom was only relieved by reading some really personal information amongst this crap.

I got the awesome job after the archives building declared an emergency. They’d discovered the thousands upon thousands of important files they were storing were filled with barely discernable and blank thermal fax paper. Whoops. Who knows what information was lost in the 80’s and early 90’s.

The term ‘no more books’ came up as I was Stumbling around the web and brought this memory out. Got me thinking. Although we’re probably far enough along the reliability curve to make the rhetoric a reality, it’s convincing people to change their ways that will be the challenge. ‘Once bitten a thousand times shy’ in this case.

I’m still waiting for the next technological leap where we can have tiny, (painless), implants in the bottom of our eyelids that project an image or text directly onto the eye. Or, while we’re in dreamland, how about an interface directly into your head that can upload/download data.

I’d also like that to be painless and not in the middle of my forehead. I’m reserving that place for my barcode.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fix the engine, bend the axles.

The saga continues with the Monaro's woes.

I made a booking to get the steering aligned when I noticed a rhythmic rubbing sound. Pulled off the wheels and ran the car on stands to check it out. Yes, I know that very dangerous. I analyse problems Dodgey Brothers style.

Both brake rotors had a fair bit of run out. Enough to be moving the calipers each revolution. I strip the calipers and see that they are well past their use by date and get them refurbished. The axles go to my long suffering engine builder for straightening. New rotors are machined and modified for my stud pattern and rare studs.

After much frustration sourcing parts that aren't manufactured or readily available any more, I have the old bitch back together and took her for a spin yesterday. I forgive her the cuts and bruises, the expense and excessively complicated starting ritual every time I drive her. I haven't even thrashed that motor yet and it still scares me.

Re-booked the wheel alignment. Maybe she won't be so keen to kill me if the front end drives straight under acceleration.

Like it? See - Sex sells

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


Don't be a Bower bird. Collecting things because they are pretty or shiny is pointless. Junk should have a potential use. Turn something USELESS into something USEFUL. The mechanically minded will have no problem fabricating new uses from all sorts of waste. If you have a bit of artistic flair, make it look good at the same time.

Don't be a tight arse. Pay for new when recycled won’t fill the purpose. Pick up nails, nuts and bolts, and screws off the ground when you spill them instead of getting another box. Use off-cuts where possible instead of starting on a new length of steel or wood. Discover the satisfaction of make an old item fit a new purpose. That feeling far outweighs the convenience of buying something off the shelf.

Don't be a hoarder. Know where to draw the line with your junk collection or you end up accumulating masses of useless crap like some weird bag lady. Rubbish is rubbish and should go in the bin. Hoarding then dumping in a pre-move cleanout serves no purpose, so, instead of piling things up for ‘later’, think up ways to use excess materials immediately.

Don't be a Greenie. The connotations will haunt your every move. Someone’s always out to trip up the self-righteous. Be responsible instead. Go out of your way to reuse and recycle an item. Concentrate on the challenge of continuing an item’s usefulness more than trying to save the planet. You can still cut down trees and drive V8’s but take the time to separate steel and cardboard waste when bins are provided for that purpose.

Waste is unnecessary and unacceptable on so many levels. Do something today to reduce, reuse or recycle. Don't do these things in blind obedience to the latest Government ad campaign or Greenie guilt trip. Do it for yourself.

Like it? See - The whole world is against me.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

The brilliance of being busy

'Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it' is a truly spoken parable.

I wished to be busy.

As I've said before, my writing style is undisciplined and erratic. I like to jump from one project to another to prevent boredom setting in. The trouble is actually getting any one of those projects to a completed stage. Writing 'The End' on the last chapter of a story, like I finally managed in 'The Charm', is a rare thing for me. And very satisfying. I want to do it more often.

Starting the Killer Serials blog was my way of enforcing a self imposed writing quota for each and every day. I thought it would be relatively easy. I'd drag out a finished story, cut it into pieces and publish on a daily basis while bashing away at the next one.

It would be a side project.

In reality I have (re)discovered that stories are never finished. There's always something you can change or improve. Now I spend hours refining each page. Its stretching me. That's a good thing. I love it. Really.

'Fatal Cure' will be an epic example of compiling a coherent story from a very unwieldy draft. You'll always get 100% effort on my part but I'm pruning with a chainsaw here so expect a few slips. Hopefully I won't take out the trunk while knocking off the tips.

The content being published in Thought Control has dropped off a bit. I still intend to publish my varying thoughts here on a regular basis. I enjoy reliving my past experiences and haven't exhausted them yet.

Like it? See - How to write.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Bangkok sewerage works - PART 2

(Return to - PART 1)

The company I worked for was a Malaysian family concern. All the brothers, uncles, sons and in-laws of a male persuasion were there. This arrangement guarantees everyone does whatever the hell they want and nobody gets along. A few of them resented the hell out of us Aussies being there.

They’d been tunnelling the old fashioned way for a while using the full manual labour method. Hand jacking a shield into the mud and shoving as many blokes they could fit in the pipe with shovels to dig out the face. A filthy, stinking, dangerous job. They used Thai labour.

Someone decided to get the company into the 20th century and purchased a bunch of brand new hydraulic tunnelling machines. Thailand’s economy was booming. Trouble was they didn’t have enough family members willing to learn how to use their new machines. That’s where I came in.

I seemed a strange choice for the job of site manager on a micro-tunnelling job. Rough as guts smart-arse in my mid 20’s who had run a diamond drill rig underground a bit and worked at a gold mine as a mill operator and truck driver. This was a bit different.

The machines aren’t overly complicated to learn. I got a manual and a Japanese consultant Iseki sent over due to the size of the order. He slept a lot, spoke very little English and wasn't much use.

I reverted to the good old trial and error method. It’s the Australian way.

Like it? See - PART 3

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Problems with Killer Serials

I've been experiencing problems with my feed being picked up by Google Reader. My 'Killer Serials' offshoot from this blog in particular. The problem has also prompted me to fix my feed to Feedburner (which I didn't even know was broken). I don't have any idea how many people were reading it. I'm hoping there are a few and I will be able to find out now.

I figured posting here was the easiest way to let anyone who has been reading 'The Charm' know that I haven't been a slack bastard. Maybe a dumb bastard, (that is yet to be confirmed), but not slack. I'd been sticking to the daily publishing deadline I'd imposed on myself.

There are more than 19 Chapters published. Google reader just wont pick up anything past the 19th one. The Charm is finished and I have started 'Fatal Cure'.

This error has caused me many lost hours trawling websites for a fix instead of writing. I found plenty of people with the same questions and NO ANSWERS. Google either doesn't know how to fix this or doesn't care. The other possibility is that I have made a mistake somewhere. If that is the case I will certainly let everyone know. If I can prevent one person from going through this stress I will be satisfied.

In the mean time use these links to go directly to the 'Killer Serial' blog and maybe subscribe by email instead.

Thanks for your interest.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Bangkok sewerage works - PART 1

An Australian mate offered me a job in Bangkok, Thailand, as a tunnelling machine operator. The Malaysian company he worked for had won part of the contract to install the sewerage system pipework. I don't know why I took it, just seemed like something different, so why not.

I’ll never forget my first day at work in this vast foreign city. Leaving the hotel with my new boss, I stepped into a nightmare of clogged streets, thick smog and incredible noise. My boss told me ‘rush hour’ cripples traffic flow for about four hours every morning and afternoon so we walked for a while until he hailed a couple of motorbike taxis.

Right, sounds dangerous, let’s do it.

His taxi-bike disappeared into the mess immediately. He hadn’t given my rider directions; he’d just said “follow me”. My rider rode flat out for a while until I realised he couldn’t find his mate and didn’t know where to go. I had no mobile phone. I didn’t have a single number to call and I didn’t even know the name of the hotel I’d left or what street it was in. My boss had picked me up from the airport fairly late the night before and I hadn’t taken any notice of these minor details. Nor did I know where the company I worked for had its head office or where any of the worksites were. I didn’t have any money or my passport.

I sat on that bike for hours. There was no way I was letting this guy dump me. He couldn’t speak English but he got the picture and stopped to make a few phone calls. Then we rode up and down a JAM PACKED highway looking for the worksite. The traffic was insane. I thought everyone else on the road was out to kill us. 15 million people live in Bangkok and most of them were on that road with us.

By pure chance my boss saw us and took his life in his hands to run out into the road, just about catching my rider in a head lock. He gave the guy a mouthful and wouldn’t pay him the fare so an argument started. I couldn’t pay, I still had Australian dollars. Before my boss could punch him out one of the Thai supervisors broke it up. He gave the poor guy some cash and settled things down. I was in a state of shock and couldn’t function too well for several hours after that.

Like it? See - PART 2.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Blogging for money - don't waste your time and mine

I had a bit of a rant on the blogger forum a while ago. Typical knee jerk reaction. I really should have done it here. If I hurt anyone’s feelings it wasn’t intentional. I shouldn’t use bad words there either. Apologies to the cool moderator who chose not to jump on my head.

To clarify my point, I took exception to bloggers whose sole intention is to make their millions by creating traffic from a blog with zero content and zero ongoing value. I was not targeting everyone with Adsense on their blog. I went down that route for a while. I made my own evaluation of its worth and you are free do the same.

The definition of content, in my view, is material that engages people who read it. Blogs that help you make money by showing you how to construct a successful blog can fit that definition, and are quite useful to all of us.

I’m no different to a lot of other bloggers out there. I’d like to be reimbursed for the time and effort I put into my blog too. But, I believe the survival or death of my blog will be based on its CONTENT and, of course, my marketing skills. PERSONALLY I find this the only acceptable way to gather readers and increase traffic.

How many blogs have you come across lately that have no content and are jammed with ads. But you’ll tell me they get a lot of traffic, right? What sort of traffic? Thousands of people tricked into clicking on a bunch of clever keyword. Those same people who look around for one second then leave in disgust. Is that what you want for your blog?

None of us actually go to those ghost sites with the intention of clicking an ad? We go to blogs to be ENTERTAINED and INFORMED. Furthermore I am not against advertising. Maybe you could try choosing products you feel strongly about or can recommend. Your visitors will be more likely to click on items someone has taken the trouble to review. Pushing ads should always be secondary to quality content though.

Help me believe blogging hasn’t lost it way. Give me something to read and think about. My faith in humanity is already on shaky ground.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Tanami Desert Diary - PART 3

(Return to – PART 1, PART 2)

My first day at Tanami mine could be described as stressful. I had to change five tyres some bastard had left behind from their last camp visit. The new boy gets these jobs even though the saying ‘you fucked it, you fixed it’ meant something back then.

Then I loaded two armour-plated Toyota utes with supplies to take to the exploration crew deep in the desert. The utes were bulldozers on wheels and we used them that way too. 10mm thick bash plates underneath, reinforced bull bars, and full roll cage braced to the chassis.

Since it was my first time out I was given a guide. A lad called Deaf Mick would show me the way. With around a tonne and half on the back of each ute in 44’s of fuel, food and other crap we drove off down the Tanami (goat) Track.

Deaf Mick disappeared in the dust and even at 140kph I couldn’t catch him. I also couldn’t see because of the dust he threw up. The overloaded ute wandered back and forth across the loose sand. I clung to the wheel, foot to the floor shitting myself. I had no chance of getting Mick on the radio. He had a habit of turning it off. He’s deaf, why would he bother with it?

I had to back off and only got to the camp late by following his dust trail from many kilometres back. He wanted to know what took me so long. I was too insecure to explain what a frightening trip I had.

Deaf Mick wasn’t much for conversation. He had a hard time making sense of what the rest of us were saying without seeing our lips. After I grew a beard he stopped taking to me altogether. Not because he didn’t like me, he just couldn’t understand what I said with all that hair in the way. He used to have a hearing aid but somehow it had fallen out as he’d leaned over a hundred metre deep open drill hole. Down it went. He wasn’t getting that back.

(PART 4)

Monday, 21 July 2008

Jason's rash cure

(Skip to - Underground Mining)

I met Jason in Kalgoorlie while we were working at the Superpit as servicemen for a fairly rough contractor.

Jason was hired as my cross-shift. I got to show him around the huge site for a few days. I soon found out he’s not the shy retiring type. He’s a bit like a cyclone; you never know what he’s going to do next.

The first hour of ‘orientation’ certainly made me nervous. He’s waving at the truck drivers and hitting the horn as the supervisors go past, not a care in the world. I wondered if he was the boss’s son. (At the Superpit people waving at you and blowing the horn meant you’d done something wrong or your truck was on fire. I don't know how much production was lost by truckies stopping to check their tyres before they figured out it was just some mad bastard waving at them. He didn’t care.)

When I finally asked what the hell was he doing, he says, “I’m just being friendly...”. That’s Jason. If you weren’t friends with him after a couple of hours there’s a good chance you never had a friend in your life.

He’d give you his last dollar if you needed it. He’d never ask for it back. I’m against borrowing money from friends as a rule and always paid back my loans but Jason wouldn’t have cared.

He let slip one day that he donates to Greenpeace. He’s covered in grease, hydraulic oil and diesel. The ground around the service truck is almost black with waste oil from the work we do in the yard. He lights a cigarette and says “What?” to our stunned faces. I couldn’t help making a big deal out of it. I tried to convince him he had a conflict of interest here. We destroy the earth for a living.

I said “well Dolphin boy, if they knew your occupation they’d hang you from your balls.” He seemed offended by the thought that the organisation he gave money to might want to kill him. Or maybe he just didn’t like being called Dolphin boy. Nick names are really hard to get rid of. We didn’t call him that much, unless we wanted to be thrown through a window.

He loved to stir people on the common radio channel. He was always concerned someone might be developing a rash. If you annoyed him he’d ask, “How’s that rash going? You need a cream for that?” Half the site would crack up and the supervisors would be looking to have a word with him. I learned to have a reply ready. “That back, crack and sac rash is clearing up, thanks.” Wouldn’t stop him asking again the next day.

Jason was prone to get into trouble with total innocence. The funniest story (I thought) was about a trip he’d taken overseas and how he and a mate got on Thailand’s ‘watch list’. I thought he’d tell me he was a drug smuggler or some bloody thing. You never knew with Jase. But it was a typical Jason story. He and a friend went to Bangkok for a holiday. They get off the plane and instead of following the crowd to customs they take a ‘short cut’ and get lost. Somehow they throw open a door that led outside the airport. They’d totally bypassed customs. Anyone else might worry that this wasn’t right or good but not Jason. He shrugs at his good fortune of missing the long lines, grabs his bag and disappears.

Now it’s time to go home. They go into the airport the conventional way and of course have to go through customs. Their passports have no entry stamps which causes a huge problem. They have to sit in an interrogation room for hours while the very annoyed Thai's try to work out how they got here and what they’ve been doing. He manages to convince the cops they’d accidentally gone the wrong way and they let him go home. Now personally I would never go back to that country but he really liked it there and returned just about every year. He suffers through the special treatment he gets every time with good humour.

(Like it? See - Tanami Desert Diary).