Archive for the ‘Humour’ Category

A question has arisen.


I started to think about this.

There has to be at least 8. This is not in dispute. But one cannot rule out additional unviewable holes in the back of the shirt. Making the question relatively difficult to answer.

Further, we must consider the definition of “hole”. If “hole” can be interpreted to mean “gap in the cloth”, then at a small but still marginally macroscopic scale, then the answer is asymptotically close to infinity. In addition, at the quantum level, the sudden departure of an electron from one place and arrival in another without appearing to travel through the intervening space must unarguably involve a hole of some kind. Given the relative liveliness of the average electron, and the cumulative mass of the shirt, the number of these holes must also by asymptotically close to infinity.

This presents us with a problem. We have two simultaneous instances of almost-infinity within the one garment. Since there cannot mathematically or physically be even one infinity, and here we seem to have 1.99999999-recurring infinities, we have a paradox, and, therefore, technically the shirt cannot exist at all.

Which is the correct answer, because it’s just a jpeg.



I hate shopping.

Men hate shopping. This is immutable. Okay, yes, one can easily point out special categories of exception, and woe betide me, I realise, should I errantly neglect to point this out, but for the most part, your average index male hates shopping.

Grocery shopping, being a subset of the set “shopping”, fits neatly beneath the crosshairs. Grocery shopping can represent a special kind of hell for the males of the species, most of whom struggle with domestic blindness at the best of times1, and so suffer the inherent disability of not knowing where on earth any bloody thing is in the supermarket, although over time a certain slight familiarity creeps in. Sending a man to a new supermarket, then, is  very special kind of torture, ladies, eclipsing by some degrees what you think of as your most withering Look2.

One of my pet hates whilst in a busy supermarket is that you cannot pause for precious breath but some inconsiderate loon comes up and wants something on the shelf behind you and you have to bleat the standard perfunctory “Sorry” and move along. Then, no sooner have you moved than another son of a motherless goat3 comes up and….rinse, repeat….rinse, repeat….it is infuriating.

One day befell the worst of all possible circumstances; tired, hungry, running late, and having been vouchsafed a truly hideous grocery list, a portion of the entries upon which I could not visualise, let along successfully locate.
As is my wont, I was standing with my back to a shelf in an aisle, vainly scanning the shelves opposite for some item of culinary miscellany, when someone came up and politely indicated that they wanted something on the shelf behind me. I grunted my assent and moved. Not a minute later, I was accosted again. This went on. The sixth time was a dear little old lady with a kind look on her face. Sadly, I was forced to tell her what I felt she needed to hear, viz: “NO! You do NOT need the Tena Lady thingos! Piss off and leave me alone!!”
The speed of her departure belied her apparent age.

I made my way away from the shelves to the back corner of the store, to the strains of “Cleanup in Aisle Six!”, which, on reflection, I should have thought more about, as I may have made a vital connection. I needed a rest; I just needed one solitary minute without people trying to usher me left and right. I leaned gratefully up against the firehose cabinet to catch my breath.

And the bloody fire alarm went off.

I managed to hold the bastards off until I ran out of cans.

I have no idea what I am headed for after I shuffle off this mortal coil should my record of conduct be found slightly wanting, but my most cynical demons fill my mind’s eye with a plane of existence filled with garish fluorescent lighting, maddening muzak, endless shelves full of unfamiliar and largely pointless foodstuffs, a list of items so esoteric that I go crosseyed just trying to read it, a basket with wheels which will only permit motion at 45° to any propulsion applied to it, and a sad little old lady weeing on my shoes.


2. For the record, we’re not scared of your Look. We’re not. You can’t really do anything to us we’re scared of short of sneak-attack physical violence, so anything short of that is of little consequence. We just let you think we’re scared of your Look so you’ll stop there instead of doing something tiresome like throwing our things out of the window or telling us about Grey’s Anatomy.

3. Happily for my local crime statistics, my more rational synapses recognise that the people in question are actually just going about their blameless occasions, not at all possessed with the evil irritatory intent with which I privately imbue them. This does not however prevent me from thinking very poorly of them indeed. Some of them would be shocked.

Our Imminent Peril

Posted: 22/02/2011 in General, Humour

I mowed Sunday afternoon. I was told I was mad. It was 32⁰ in the shade. It had to be done though – the yard was a proto-jungle, and I had started getting paranoid about snakes again, as you do, in this part of the world.

The grass had grown more in the last two weeks than I had ever seen in an equivalent period. Previously irreparably bare sandy patches (bloody dog) had accumulated 6 inches of grass for example, which, while superficially refreshing, served really only to conceal the ankle-turning deathtraps the dog’s excavations had wrought.
Even when we used to go to the coast for a whole month over Christmas when I was a kid the grass never got this long. The plants have gone mad, too. I swear the monsterio has doubled in size.

As I battled to cut through it, stopping every 5 minutes or so to put the mower’s cracked and perished spark-plug cap back on after it had fallen off, and getting a zap from the magneto half the time for my trouble (patience is a virtue), I couldn’t help but wonder what was going on. Soon, a cold, creeping fear began to come over me…..of what might be happening to our world such that everything would grow in such a way…..could we be facing….

Global Lawning…..

It seems clear that if our current rate of CO2 output continues, we are going to be overrun by grass. Couch, Kikuyu, Paspalum, Crab Grass. We’ll be up to our arses in grasses. And not in a good way. We’ll be mowing every day of the week. Well, our kids will, obviously. But it’ll be tough to sit in the aircon and watch.

Then the full, unthinkable implications hit me. If the worst-case scenario comes to pass and the icecaps in Antarctica and Greenland melt……some poor bastard will have to bloody MOW them. And I can tell you right now, IT’S NOT GOING TO BE ME. So we need to do something NOW. I just hope we can reverse this before the Arabs run out of two-stroke.
If we can’t keep this frightening phenomenon in check, then eventually someone is going to have a full-time job cutting down all of the bloody rain-forest trees that have a nasty habit of springing up whenever it gets a bit warm. And then you’ll have to muck about chasing out all of those pesky pygmy tribes that seem to turn up every time you get rainforest. They get everywhere if you don’t watch them. Cunning little buggers.
THEN we’ll be up to our necks in cheap heavy bloody timber furniture our wives will want shifted around the house until it looks just right in the first place you tried it. Orthopaedic surgeons, chainsaw manufacturers, and mower repairmen everywhere are rubbing their house-extension blueprints with glee.

It has been several generations since we have faced anything so serious. I don’t know how this will end. But all we can do is train our kids from birth to counter this threat with vigorous and ongoing use of garden implements. We owe it to our future.


Posted: 22/10/2010 in General, Humour

Some things stay with you.

When I was a wee nipper – an introductory phrase which, in fact, reveals nothing of the speed at which I progressed through toilet training, for those of you with a less charitable turn of mind – my grandfather had a dog. A Chihuahua¹. A small companion dog, known for not very much excepting perhaps a temperament that belied, or, perhaps with the wisdom of the years I can now see underlined, his size.
Yet he was deceptive. He’d give the occasional asthmatic bark, and pretty much just ignore you. He looked for all the world like he was a supremely benign, and in fact generally half-asleep little pup; sitting quietly on his blanket, just watching the world go by.

Until your fingers descended below the 12-inch hard deck². Then either you moved your hands real quick, or ended up being able to count only to nine.

He bit me once. I don’t remember when it was – I think I was too young. I just remember remembering. It was a rite of passage, in that house. Everybody got bitten sooner or later; usually sooner – Tiny wasted no time whatsoever making himself known. The first time you got bitten, it was funny. Ha ha, the little bugger got you, joke’s on you. After that, Right, you’ve been warned, stay our of his way, or serve yourself bloody right, ya drongo. The bottom 12 inches of that house were full of teeth, and that was just the way it was; rather unfairly, it seemed to me at the time. I had little option but to occupy exactly the same airspace. I wish to Christ he HAD been in the bathroom3. The only safe place in the house for me was up on the couch.

One of my earliest memories is of being on my hands and knees beside the dining table on the floor in that house, snapping my fingers at Tiny in the clichéd come-here-little-doggy way we all adopted as kids probably as a result of watching American television shows about faithful, friendly dogs playfully licking faces and rescuing children from down wells, and which in reality works almost never. But it worked on this occasion. Tiny turned to look at me, and what happened next I can still see, even though it was probably 35 years ago. Tiny couldn’t work his little legs fast enough in an effort to get over to me – the claws on all four of his feet making scrit-scrit-scrit sounds on the lino in the kitchen as he desperately sought for traction. He finally shot forward and was accelerating towards my little fingers with ill-intent. It was then that some sainted relative did me a favour that…..well, let’s face it, doesn’t really matter because my handwriting is terrible and I’m only using a small subset of my fingers to type this anyway…..nonetheless saved me a lot of anguish and….come to think of it, probably robbed me of some consolatory icecream. I just remember these large hands grabbing me around the ribcage from either side and lifting me out of the way just as the Teeth arrived. Tiny fell away below me looking like a disappointed buzz-saw.

As I grew up, Tiny became less and less of a threat, more of one of life’s simple cautions that we take for granted….don’t cross the street without looking because you’ll get hit by a car……don’t run into long grass or put your hands into logs and such because you’ll get bitten by a snake……don’t allow your fingers anywhere near Tiny. After a while it was just second nature and you could largely ignore it.

Tiny’s been gone for almost 30 years now. I miss him in a way. Without the threat it takes some of the familiarity out of those visits. Oh, there’s a poodle there now that bites people occasionally, but it’s pretty pissweak in comparison, frankly. He hardly even breaks the skin, the big sook.

Tiny gave me a fear of dogs that lasted well into my teens; even now I find it hard…unnatural…dangerous, to sit on the floor in that house. And without a word of a lie, to this day, every time I hear a chihuahua bark, it makes me want to jump up on a couch.

1. I recognise there may be some degree of debate at this juncture as to where the definition of “dog” starts and stops. Sort it out amongst yourselves, but out of respect for everyone involved, I’ll stick to the traditional taxonomy.

2. Top Gun reference. Get some culture.


A prominent and popular Brisbane journalist once wrote of touring Germany in a car and getting lost; in such a huge country it’s no wonder, of course. He told of stopping to ask for directions. However, as his German was quite poor, he was concerned along the lines that “for all I knew I could have been saying ‘The dog is in the bathroom’ “.

This article amused me greatly and stuck with me, as some things inexplicably do. Some years later, when I was in a job requiring me to deal with French people¹, I rather spontaneously asked how you said “The dog is in the bathroom”².

Things snowballed, albeit irrationally, from there. Working for an international firm, it was easy to feed the obsession, pestering travelling colleagues to inquire of the locals for the translation of the phrase, which in turn quickly evolved into also grabbing a wav file of them reciting it. This led invariably to quizzical looks and a spreading reputation for me as someone who, technically perhaps, was in possession of both oars, and who, it was possible, was possessed of a good working knowledge of water, but who in fact had no inherent ability to bring the two together in any meaningful way.
Still, I was able to recruit most of the department I was working in to help out. It’s good to spread the crazy.

Inevitably, there were some….incidents….in following this little hobby:

  • I had to be prepared to tell the whole back-story to each new donor and pretty much anyone else who heard about it – this got tedious to the point where I considered producing some laminated cards, but I reconsidered on the basis that anyone that went to that sort of length even I would have had to concede was unwell.
  • We thought up a secret project name for the whole thing to mock similarly-impenetrably-cloaked company M&A projects. We thought we had better stop when we were on the verge of being granted a budget – some things can be carried too far.
  • I started giving the phrase to secretaries in the pertinent language as a recommended greeting for visiting businessmen from overseas. This generally amused me greatly, until of course they found me afterwards. A visiting Frenchman eyed the secretarial victim-de-jour when it came his turn and said “Hmmm. I know exactly who you’ve been talking to.”
  • There were apparently some dirty looks when the Zulu translation was sought because there was no direct Zulu translation for “bathroom”.
  • When a geologist friend of mine asked a local colleague in Colombia how to say it in Spanish and if there were any other dialects in which it might easily be procured, he was only too happy to oblige.
    This resulted in his poor, agèd, sainted grandmother on the other side of the country being press-ganged into climbing a mountain near her home to find and ask the local Arawak Indians the translation in their language. The Arawak Indian chief initially recoiled and refused to give it to her because he feared that the strange foreign woman was a witch and that she was planning to use the phrase in an incantation in order to curse his people.3
  • On New Years Eve at the turn of the century, our host’s dogs actually were locked in the bathroom. When I discovered this, my delight, in concert with the inevitable levels of prevailing conviviality (shall we say), I was heard to be wandering around the party excitedly uttering the phrase in as many languages as I could remember at the time. Some kind people suggested I might benefit from some sort of personal attention (specific suggestions, I am informed, varied wildly), but since I was doing little more than babbling and mugging like an idiot, everybody settled for avoiding me in as non-obvious a fashion as was practicable. From my perspective at the time this was probably entirely redundant but in retrospect I appreciate the consideration.

I still have this kicking around in an Access database somewhere – there are well over 50 translations. One day, when the collection is suitably large so as not to be embarrassing (culpable irony, I do realise) I hope to email all of this to the journalist in question complete with the whole story.

And then I can start collecting restraining orders.

1 It’s not as bad as people make out.
Le chien est dans la salle de bains, as it turns out.
3 I am not making this up.

I get into trouble all the time for not being able to find things. Constantly. And I always have. I swear it’s not my fault. “You had a ‘Boy-Look’, didn’t you? LOOK! There it is right there!! Dufus!!”
This is common littany, spoken of furtively in gentle sobs wherever men gather to share their tribulations.

Thing is, it’s not laziness, stupidity, or the vague general inadequacy that women love to tell each other, and us, we’re the very personification of. It’s the inbuilt search technique.

See¹, looking for something is Hard Work. Moreso if you only a vague idea where to start looking, and there’s seldom anything so frustrating. So we seek to make it easier on ourselves by selectively scanning based upon the characteristics we expect the object in question to have. If we think it’s blue, we look for “blue”, to the exclusion of all else. If we’re looking for what we think is a blue stapler, and it happens to be red, we haven’t got a snowflakes’ of finding it. Like, ever. Even if it’s right in front of us.
If it’s square and we thinks it’s supposed to be another shape, no cigar. Unless it’s actually cigar-shaped, in which case we stave off cries of “Useless!!” for one more day.

This trait is so common among men that it has to be an evolved functional characteristic. All morphology is functional – this is axiomatic. The trait therefore must have its place, and that place is not looking for stuff right in front of us around the house. I’d guess that scanning for particular physical characteristics is useful in long-range scanning in a range of lighting conditions, when the full detail of the object being sought is not available.

So the next time a woman in your life decides to lambaste you for being blind, stupid, lazy, or some soul-dampening combination thereof, rest easy and, yes, quietly smug, in the knowledge that you’re filling your evolutionary niche admirably, and that if she wanted the bloody stapler she should bought a blue one.

1 No pun intended.

As soon as she walked in the door, I ceased to exist. This is probably as it should be – daycare is a reality where Daddy is Elsewhere, and where this is in fact just fine. It’s just interesting to watch the transition.
The immediate repercussion of her arrival, once the Surrendering-Of-The-Favourite-Toy ritual had been observed, was that her and a partner in crime proceeded to flood the place with coloured balls, sourced from an inexhaustible wellspring of the things in the corner. This to my conservative sensibilities seemed effronterous, however chastising one’s child in what is essentially her territory would have been tricky at best, and in any case I had other things holding my attention by the ears. I barely had time to conduct some administrivia with the daycare Mum and flee with my life before having to run for it, Indiana-Jones-style, being borne down on by an inexorable coloured ball avalanche.
Then, as per spec, the natives gibbered something incomprehensible at me as I made good my escape, holding onto my hat for effect.