Hiding From The Heat


Here are some notes from two days hiding from the heat in shopping centres.

First, bigger shopping centres have better air conditioning and better food courts. Marrickville Metro might have free parking but Broadway is a better hiding spot. It also has more stores for “window shopping”. The Australia Post outlet at Broadway is open 7 days, which is why I went there today.

Talking of parking, the man punching tickets at Hoyts will let you sneak in and get your parking ticket stamped for an extra free hour even if you haven’t seen a movie if your cool about it. I had my parking ticket in my hand and said “Excuse me, I just need to get my ticket stamped” and he let me walk the few feet to the machine. Oh, and I did it before I had my bags of shopping. I guess he doesn’t care if I’m scamming a few bucks off the parking company.

The food court at Broadway is pretty good, though I couldn’t find eggs on toast anywhere when I looked for breakfast. The large round tables and the long benches have USB and 240 volt charging underneath them so no problem keeping the phone and the Macbook charged if you’ve remembered the required bits (I keep a spare Mac charger, USB cable and 240 volt to USB gadget in a pencil case so they’re easy to throw into my bag when I’m going out).

A large frozen mango drink with lychee jelly from Chatime is not only a taste sensation (mmmmm, lychee) but stays cold for ages so you can sit at the table with one of those in front of you tapping on the Macbook for a good 45 minutes quite justifiably.

Notes From Watching People

Men, please, none of you look good in shorts that go down to your kneecaps or below. You just look silly, like you can’t be bothered to get clothes that fit. Women, the opposite applies, it is far too common for you to be wearing shorts too short. That much large thigh and cellulite isn’t the look you want. Only waif-like teenagers look good in those shorts.

Generally, what were you thinking! As my old friend Robin Adams (who was a fashion designer and incredibly stylish) always said, “Don’t they own a mirror”. Some of those outfits I wouldn’t wear to take out the garbage.

Speaking of looking; guys it’s not too bad to sit there watching the women walk past but it’s totally OTT to stare when they’re sitting at the next table.

It’s surprising how many little kids are eating sushi. Dozens of them. I guess the cut up rolls are small enough, it’s fairly healthy, filling and the tastes are varied. I wonder if it was available twenty years ago “white bread, no butter” Williams, the world’s pickiest eater, otherwise known as Jessica, would have eaten it.

Shopping

Surprisingly, H&M is better for buying socks and undies than KMart, better range and prices just as good, if not better. Neither have bulk men’s handkerchieves. I didn’t have to worry about socks and hankies, but then Jessie isn’t around to buy them for Xmas and my birthday anymore (old family joke buying them for me as gifts and cooking Pavlova for high days and holidays are things she inherited from her grandmother).

Good salespeople are worth their weight to a store. KMart, Myer and their like should learn this. The woman in “Cotton On” told she could check if the “factory” (which I’m sure is just a warehouse but we’ll let that little white lie go) had my size of a shirt in stock and they would ship it for free. That way she sold two shirts she wouldn’t have since they had neither of the colours I liked in my size, she just got me to try the sizes in a colour I didn’t want and then took my money.

Then in Harvey Norman the salesman wouldn’t let me hook the Macbook up to the TV via HDMI so I could check if it worked and what it looked like. In JB HiFi the salesman not only let me do it but offered to lend me a HDMI 2 cable to see if it made a difference. Then when it got down to the last two TVs (a Samsung and an LG) with identical price labels. I asked the difference between the two, he said “the colour on the LG might be a bit better but I bet you could adjust that away. We’ve got $150 off that price on this one so I think that’s your decision made.” So I bought the TV off him. It wasn’t even a big sale, it was only a 32” smart TV so the final price was $400 and he had TVs on sale for 10 times that.

Good sales people equal good sales.

I’ve found a great way for spending hours at the shopping centre without it costing me too much. First, I go with a shopping list. Today’s list was:

  • Socks.
  • Undies.
  • Hankies.
  • Two or three shirts for work, preferably under $60 each.
  • 32” Smart TV, preferably under $500 but definitely under $550.

Then I take a limited amount of cash. Today it was $30 in my wallet and about $10 in my change purse. Only things on the list get paid for with my card, everything else comes out of the cash. The cash paid for breakfast when I got there, my frozen drink from Chatime, a New Scientist from the newsagent and my lunch. I was going to buy a book but then I wouldn’t have had lunch.

The TV is a big purchase, for a big purchase like that I have rules. No impulse buying. I have to shop around then go home and check online, finally I wait a few weeks before deciding to add it to the budget. Big things like that have to be bought from the money left over at the end of the month. I’m saving hard for a trip to the US and Canada.

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A Smaller Life


Today’s Daily Prompt is “The Things We Leave Behind”.

Over the past four weeks I have left behind a grat deal.

I moved from a three bedroom house to a small bedsit and many years of accumulated “stuff” had to go.

Letting go of furniture was easier than I thought. I had several pieces from my parents that I thoughtI had an emotional attachment to but when the decision came it was easy to let them go. They are just objects, large ones at that, and memories persist without them.

A number of smaller objects stayed because they strongly invoked not just memories of people but memories of them at a particular point in time or space.

I also decided that a great number of my tech books could be left behind. They are indeed left behind. In this day of constant net access and sites like Stack Overflow the need for tech books as reference material disappears. I personally like books for learning but no longer as reference.

The other pile that was left behind in a similar way were almost all my DVDs. I kept a few and a fair collection of Blu-Ray discs but most of my media is now on the computer. Another technology left behind, anyone still playing VHS tapes?

I discarded a lot of toys. I don’t know what it is about us nerds but we do love our toys. I kept a few like both my Rubik’s cubes. One’s usually unsolved and the other is displaying some pattern or other (‘cube in a cube in a cube’ and the ‘T pattern’ are my favourites). Way back in my late teens I spent months looking at the theory of the cube (blame Douglas Hofstadter and his “Metamagical Themas” column in Scientific American for that) and developed my own solution. It wasn’t a good solution but is was mine. I have it documented somewhere and if I really try I can still use it to solve a cube but I have to be really careful getting the last, bottom slice of the cube done as the transforms get long and ugly. I instead use a much better solution when I’m solving a cube just for the fun of solving. If you’re looking for a decent method then the one at the official cube page is excellent.

T

T Pattern

cube3

Cube in a cube in a cube

I also kept about three “magic snake” puzzles. Marvellous way to keep my brain occupied while watching TV or a movie is to play with them. So far I’ve discovered five different ways of spiralling one.

magic snake

Magic Snake

Left behind was a need to be surrounded by stuff. I had a woman help me from a declutter service and I don’t know what it was but just her presence there made the decisions easy. At one stage she said to me “You’re doing extremely well. You’re being quite decisive” and I felt quite complimented. It was an unusual me in a lot ways.

I may have left behind a lot but I’m looking forward to a smaller life.

Summer Storms


Today’s Daily Prompt is “Storm”. The moment I saw the word I thought of the summer storms of my childhood. The Newcastle “Southerly Buster”.

A day in the summer school holidays. Scorching hot. The air would be hot and dry, the sky clear. It didn’t slow down my friends and I, we would continue playing with sweat pouring off us, though if one of the yards had a sprinkler going it was hard to resist playing in the water. If no sprinklers were available then perhaps we would climb into the huge oak tree in the empty block of land near the start of the street, perhaps we would retreat into the bush behind the houses on one side of the road to find a cool corner.

Some time after lunch you could start to see the Southern sky becoming darker and darker, starting to threaten. Then late afternoon it would come. First the cooling southerly wind the a few minutes later the pouring rain. Huge drops of water splashing into the quickly forming puddles. Gutters already running full.

We would stay out watching the storm approach and when the rain started pouring run for home, often soaked by the time we arrived there.

The simple joys of a bunch of young boys.

Am I About To Have Another?


At Eternity's Gate by Vincent Van Gogh

‘At Eternity’s Gate’ by Vincent Van Gogh (Wikipedia)

Last night was bad again. The black dog well and truly had me in his jaws and was giving me a good shake. The noises in my mind are getting bad again and the anxiety levels are rising.

The worst thing with the anxiety is that it becomes a vicious circle, one cause of anxiety is the rising anxiety level. It’s true that my anxiety levels rose steeply before my last mental breakdown and my anxiety levels are rising steeply at the moment. Mostly I’m anxious about increasing symptoms of another breakdown and anxious about it becoming a self fulfilling prophecy.

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Ten Minutes To Tell Of Love


My Filco keyboard

My Filco Keyboard

So today’s daily prompt is another exhortation to write whatever comes to mind for ten minutes.

Our weekly free-write is back: take ten minutes — no pauses! — to write about anything, unfiltered and unedited. You can then publish the post as-is, or edit a bit first — your call.

(I’m not going to do an edit. Just fix spelling and egregious grammatical errors.)
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Fiction For Me


Books, books, books

Books, books, books


Today’s Daily Prompt is:

When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?

I read both, I enjoy both. I write mainly non-fiction (for some reason I just can’t manage plot) but when it comes to fun I read fiction.

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Spaghetti Bolognese


Spaghetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese

So Today’s assignment from Writing 101:

Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” — or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Spaghetti Bolognese! I have memories from even an early age of eating Spaghetti Bolognese.

The sauce cooking in the old, square, stainless steel electric frypan, the big black controller sticking out with the knob on top to adjust the heat. The battered lid that only just fit (and at that, not terribly tightly).

The smells come back so strongly as I sit here writing forty to fifty years after that cooking. First the strong, stringent smell of onions being chopped. Tomatoes being chopped, or canned ones opened, don’t have a smell that lingers through the years. Onions, green capsicum and beef mince searing on the hot frypan, those I remember. The colour of the onion changing as it softens, the capsicum curling with the heat before the pink mince hits the sizzling pan and is quickly broken up by the wooden spoon as the colour changes to dark brown.

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Weaving A Spell


Hugo Weaving In Macbeth

Hugo Weaving In Macbeth© Sydney Theatre Company

Writing 101 today asks:

Who’s the most interesting person (or people) you’ve met this year?

Our stories are inevitably linked to the people around us. We are social creatures: from the family members and friends who’ve known us since childhood, to the coworkers, service providers, and strangers who populate our world (and, at times, leave an unexpected mark on us).

The most interesting person I’ve met so far this year. Well if we have a loose definition of ‘met’ then earlier this year I went to my first Sydney Theatre Company Pier Group Lunch.

These are organised by the STC Pier Group as a fundraiser. You get a nice lunch (at the Bar at the End of the Wharf), a glass of wine and a chance to talk to some of the creative people involved in one of the STC productions. I think they have four a year. This one was the ‘Macbeth’ lunch and I had a chance to listen to Andrew Upton, director Kip Williams, Melita Jurisic (who played Lady Macbeth) and Hugo Weaving (Macbeth himself).

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Found letter


Peter, Always. Alice

Found

It was stuck on the wet concrete. A small piece of card. I picked it up.

Peter,

Always

Alice

A token of love that touched my heart, brightened my day and banished clouds.

Who? Why? When? just didn’t matter. Accept and move on.

(An assignment from Writing101.)

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A Room


A welcoming room and table.

A welcoming room and table.

We’re all drawn to certain places. If you had the power to get somewhere — anywhere — where would you go right now? For your twist, focus on building a setting description.

If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now?

I am such a pedant and a grammar nazi. My first thought when I read today’s Writing101 assignment was “it’s at the speed of light, not in the speed of light.” (That’s why I find it hard to write and post fast — everything has to be checked and rechecked.)

I think today I’d like to go to my brother’s dining room. It’s the first room at the front of his house and has my sister-in-law’s kitchen right behind it. After that you get the back door.

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