Monday, September 30, 2013

Playing fast and loose with grammar ... it's not for the faint of heart...

I know that most people who do this whole "writing" thing are pretty full on about grammar.  Got to get all the punctuation in the right places, try not to dangle your participles, not mix up your their, there and they're.  

I, however, am most definitely NOT one of them.  I honestly couldn't give a rats about whether I'm appeasing the Grammar Nazis.  Plenty of my sentences end in prepositions, I regularly split my infinitives, and I start sentences with "and" so regularly that I'd practically forgotten that was a rule at all.

I suppose, for me it's really about what feels right.  How does it sound when I read it out loud?  If I think it flows, that means more to me than whether I'm making my high school English teacher pivot in her grave (sorry Mrs Bryant).

But, if it's all the same to you, maybe I'll keep the Oxford comma ... no one should have to see Stalin wearing a pair of pasties.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Chaperoning a bunch of teenaged girls to a One Direction concert ... the ultimate parental sacrifice...

I'm not sure I get the current obsession with teen boy bands.

Okay, that's not completely accurate.  Of course I understand the concept, I was in my early teens during the New Kids On The Block original era (even if I was more of a 1927 power ballad kind of gal), so I do understand why boy bands are so popular with the prepubescent females of the species.

What I don't get it the sheer intensity of the obsession.

That teen group, One Direction, is in Australia at the moment, and I don't think I've heard of a single girl between the ages of 12 and 16 who hasn't begged, pleaded or bribed their parents into buying tickets.  At least, all the women at work who have girls in that age group have shelled out the ridiculously large amounts of money, along with an extra ticket for themselves so they can chaperone their kiddies.

A whole evening of cheesy commercialised music in a concert hall full of girls in their mid teens?  Talk about sacrificing for your child!

But it's the obsessiveness of the fans that really baffles me.  I read the other day that one of the boys in the band was Tweeting to some fans who were hanging around outside the back of the hotel he was staying in, obviously hoping to catch sight of him.

The reason he was Tweeting them?  Because the spot they'd chosen turned out to be a ruddy snake enclosure [link]!

See, that's a level of dedication that I'm just not capable of.  I'd do a hell of a lot to meet someone I'm a fan of, but standing in a snake infested enclosure?  Just in the hopes of catching a glimpse?  Hmm, I don't think so.

Maybe I'm showing my age, but I think I'll just stay home.  If I want to see someone famous that desperately, I can always google them.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

And THIS is why I don't trust school camps...

There are some things you expect when you send your child away on a 4 day field trip. You expect that they'll be fed and watered regularly, that they won't be allowed to get into too much trouble, and most likely that they'll come back with a wicked sleep deficit and a bag full of dirty clothes.

One thing you probably don't expect is that they'll be dragged out one evening to take part in a "slavery re-enactment skit" which involved them being called racist, derogatory names, verbally threatened, and generally menaced by the instructors.

[Continued here...]

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

And now art and science have combined in a way that is both creepy and disturbing...

Does science scare anyone else?  Cause it terrifies the crap out of me!

Okay, that's not really fair.  Most of the time I love science.  Modern medicine?  Awesome!  Computer technology and the internet?  Wonderful!  And whatever mad scientist locked in a lab somewhere came up with the spray I use on the mold growing on my laundry ceiling, well I'm forever in your debt good sir!  Spray it on and three minutes later it's disappeared?  No scrubbing?

Oh the wonders of modern technology!

But DNA is kind of creeping me out right now.  All that information about us, and we leave it wherever we go, spreading it around town like some freaky type biological confetti.  Hair, skin cells, saliva, we're DNA shedding machines.

And then artists like this woman [link] just have to go and make it that much creepier by collecting our DNA from places like trains and buses, and then recreating our faces.

For those who are link-clicktually challenged, the article is about an artist who collects DNA samples she find in public places, from hair or cigarette buts or whatever she can get her hands on, and uses that DNA to work out an approximation of what the person may or may not look like.

I'm not sure how comfortable I am with this.  Just because I left my DNA behind, does that give someone else the right to use it like that?  Do I even have any rights over my abandoned DNA?  And what will happen when they improve cloning technology?  Will I have to be careful of every stray strand of hair, every skin cell, incase someone grabs it up and uses it to produce a mini-me?

I'm assuming it would be a mini-me, I pretty much learned all I know about cloning from Austin Powers movies.

To be fair, she doesn't claim to be exactly recreating a person.  She just takes genetic markers, ancestral information, and anything else the DNA tells her and creates a face that COULD be that person.  Also, because she can't tell how old the person is who left the DNA, she ages them all at around thirty years old.  So it's not really likely she has a cast of your face in her gallery.

Possible, but not likely.

Monday, September 23, 2013

When you get a cat they don't tell you that you might have to pull things out of their butts. Surely that's misleading advertising...

My brother bought his partner a kitten for Christmas this year, and as a person who has been owned by a megalomaniac cat for many years now, I took it upon myself to give him some advice.  Here's the general gist of what I told him.

  1. Don't let your cat into your bedroom.  Trust me, it's all cute and snuggly at first, but soon enough it's deciding at three in the morning that your nose is a mouse and it MUST attack.
  2. Your cat will knock things off benches.  Breakable things, usually.  The funny thing is it won't do it while you're no there, only when you're in the room with it.  Just don't leave your iPhone anywhere it can get to it and you'll be fine.  
  3. Feed it the good stuff.  Shell out the extra for the vet brand food and the raw chicken.  It might seem like you're spoiling it, but you're the one that has to clean out the litter box and there's nothing worse that what a cat leaves in there after eating cheap canned food.  Do it for your own sake. 
  4. You can spend a fortune on cat toys if you're not careful, but a ball of wool costs next to nothing and I've never met a cat that wouldn't play with one for hours.

All pretty reasonable pieces of advice I thought at the time.  Sensible, not likely to backfire in any way.

Yeah ... I was definitely wrong on that one.

Here's the text conversation I had with him the other morning.

So, from the woman who spent most of the other morning on her hands and knees scrubbing the carpet with spot cleaner, and then most of the evening with the carpet shampooer, and from the cat who still has a haunted look in her eyes, consider this a public service announcement.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

When I lost my health my patience went with it...

So, for anyone who's interested (and why wouldn't you be, everything about my life is fascinating), I was recently down with the flu.   The wheezing, funny tingling sensation behind the nose, cotton wool headed flu, not the one that involves things shooting out of either end (ew ... mental imagery ... sorry about that)

At first I was inclined to pass it off as a cold, but when I couldn't brush it off with a cheery attitude and a couple of cold and flu tables, I made an executive decision to promote it to the title of "flu". If it hangs around for much longer I'm going to bump it up to black plague.

I know what you're all thinking, and the answer is yes, I am being incredibly melodramatic about what is really just a simple head cold.  What can I say ... I never claimed to be a martyr.  I'm  not one to suffer in silence.  When I'm sick, you can be damned sure I'm going to whinge about it long and loud!

But still, it's amazing what you can learn even when you're a bit under the weather.  Take the lessons I learnt during this particular bout:

  1. If you drop a two litre bottle of diet coke down a set of cement stairs, it'll do an amazing impersonation of a carbonated guided missile and head straight for the most expensive looking car in the parking lot. When you're not feeling well, this won't amuse you as much as you might think.
  2. If your throat is sore and raspy, that's when you'll get half a dozen telemarketers calling in a row. For some reason, they won't accept that you've "lost your voice" and will continue trying to convince you to change long distance carrier until you hang up on them in frustration.
  3. You may think the doctor is joking when he tells you to snort salt water up your nose to clear out your sinuses, but he's not.  However, if you ask him to demonstrate the method for you, he'll accuse you of being unreasonable.
  4. When you try to gesture to the checkout chick that you've lost your voice, she'll automatically start speaking louder and enunciating like you've gone deaf. Glaring at her won't make her stop, she'll just beam condescendingly at you and scream "HERE ... IS ... YOUR ... CHANGE!" 
I know, I know, bitching and moaning isn't going to solve anything, but in the absence of Disney movies back rubs it's all I've got to comfort me.  Just humour me.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How NOT to breastfeed in public...

I'm not a prude, anyone who's ever met me will recognise that fact.  Hell, if the anti-slutshaming rants didn't clue you in, then the fact that I'm trying, with varying levels of success, to write an erotic novel should.  I'm all for people doing whatever the hell they want, provided it doesn't hurt anyone.

But when I read an article the other day about a woman breastfeeding in public, I have to confess I was shocked and more than a little disturbed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

He was just trying to stop them itching? Bollocks!...

Has there ever been a time when you've considered paying a fine just for convenience sake?  I know I have!

Take the recent election for example.  Here in Australia voting is compulsory, they mark your name of a great big list as they hand you your ballot paper and if at the end of the day your name is still there, you get hit with a fifty dollar fine ... at least I think it's still fifty dollars.

Fifty dollars for the convenience of not having to find a parking spot, elbow my way through the people handing out leaflets, and then line up for god knows how long just to write the number 1 on a piece of paper?  It was tempting.  I guess everything has a price.

For example, want to know how much it will cost to fondle your dangly bit in public on a bus?  Exactly one hundred and eighty pounds, apparently.  At least that's what a Bletchley senior citizen had to pay when he was caught "shampooing his privates" on a public bus [link].

And no, that's not a euphemism for something else, he actually was shampooing his privates.

Apparently he was feeling a bit sensitive in the nether region and, with no ointment to put on, he decided to see if shampooing it would do the trick.  Although it does bring up the question, why did he have the shampoo with him?  And where on earth did he get water from?

Unfortunately, a woman and her child saw him and got a bit upset, resulting in his being charged with public indecency and having to pay the hundred and eighty quid.

I suppose if what he said was true, and he was just trying to stop an itch (again, not a euphemism), then you have to feel sorry for the guy.  Who hasn't had those awkward, irritating itches that you want nothing more than to scratch, but you know that if you do it in public everyone will look at you as if you just killed a bucket load of kittens by bludgeoning them with a puppy?  And he said he tried to be discreet, he just not discreet enough apparently.

Hell, if this was a storyline in an episode of Seinfeld, you know as well as I do that it would have been hilarious!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Do I look like the sort of person who'd kidnap a cat? No, don't answer that...

So ... the other day I became a cat-napping suspect.

*Answers a knock at the door, holding Gypsy the Feline Dictator* 
Me:  Hi, can I help you? 
Her:  Hey, I'm your neighbour from number thirteen.  I'm just checking with everyone in the street to see if anyone's seen our cat.  She went missing a few days ago. 
Me:  Oh, I'm sorry, what did she look like? 
Her:  She's a tabby, like your cat.  And she's about the same size as yours.  And her fur is fluffy like yours... 
Me:  ... 
Her:  In fact, Ella looks exactly like your cat... 
Me:  ... 
Her:  *suspiciously*  How long have you had your cat, exactly? 
Me:  *turning Gypsy away from the door protectively*  I got her from the RSPCA eight years ago. 
Her:  *looking doubtful*  Hmm ... 
Me:  ... 
Her:  ... 
Me:  *yelling* You can't have my cat! 
*slams door*

Okay, so it probably wasn't the most graceful way to deal with the situation, but in my defense I've never been accused of feline abduction before!  In my own home, no less!

But going to someone's door and accusing them of stealing your cat?  Who even does that!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

It works for labradors, I'm sure it'll work for you too...

Spending too much time on the internet?  Frittering away all of  your spare time commenting on people's Facebook walls and trying to get to the next level of Candy Crush?  Wish you could reclaim all those dead hours spent staring at a screen with nothing to show for it?

Well now there's a solution!

The Pavlov Poke [link], invented by two MIT PHD candidates, is a revolutionary new method for treating online addiction ... and by revolutionary, I mean archaic and just begging for a lawsuit.  Because the poke they mention in the name of the product?  Yeah, that'd be an electrical shock that is given to the "client" when they've spent too much time at a particular site.

The inventors decided to create the device when they realised that they were spending 50 plus hours a week on Facebook.  That's a huge amount of time!  I don't think I have 50 hours I could find spare to spend on something like that, and I know about wasting time on online sites.  I was a World of Warcraft player for gods sake, and I didn't play on there for 50 hours a week.

Is this what we've come to?  Being connected to the human equivalent of a dog shock collar to try and stop us from spending too much time online?  Electrocuted to stop us from wasting our days away "liking" pictures of cute cats and "poking" our friends?

Oh well, I suppose if there's a market, and people are going to pay, why the hell not.

I did have to laugh at their original attempt to quit though.  Before they came up with the device, they experimented with having a friend regularly call them and yell at them over the phone if they'd spent too much time on the site.  Hmm, humiliation, pain, I'm starting to see a pattern here.

Guys, you might just want to bite the bullet and hire a Dominatrix.  No need to make up these excuses about "internet addiction".  I hear that Harvard has a really good club [link], just incase you were interested.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Are you a sexually frustrated housekeeper? Do I have the job for you...

Online auction, retail and trading sites have become incredibly popular over the past few years.  After all, who doesn't love to do a bit of impulse shopping at three in the morning in their underwear?  And as a result, a demand has developed for niche sites that specialise in the more ... shall we say esoteric fields?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We're not altruistic creatures, lets all stop pretending that we are...

The other day I was wandering around on Tumblr, as is my wont, when I came across one of those lists of things that make you feel happy.  You know the sort I mean, it's full of things like "watching the sun rise" and "hearing a child's first laugh".

Ugh, awful isn't it.

Let's just be completely honest here, no one actually feels a deep spiritual awakening at any of those things that are on those god damned lists.  No, dancing in the rain does not nurture my soul, I don't think that a snowflake is a miracle, and the sound of a babbling brook just makes me want to pee.

So I decided to make a list of the things that DO make me feel spiritually invigorated and connect with me on a deep, emotional level.  And if you're completely honest, you'll admit that they connect with you too.

  • Watching as someone who just cut in front of you in a line trips over their own feet.
  • That little thrill you get when you hang up on a telemarketer.
  • Realising someone going into an elevator that you just farted in.
  • Looking at the facebook page of someone you hated in highschool and discovering their life turned out just as horribly as you'd always hoped it would.
  • Zooming past the person who just cut in front of you in traffic, because your lane is now moving and the one they just HAD to get into has come to a complete standstill
  • Realising the cashier in the supermarket thought you gave her a fifty instead of a twenty, and then NOT returning the money.

See, this is what we are.  We're petty, vindictive, nasty people, and pretending otherwise is just silly.

But I'll give you the cute puppy videos.  Everyone loves cute puppy videos.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Get drunk before letting someone else read your unfinished manuscript, it makes it SO much easier...

I'm currently at that point in a writing project where what I really need is an outside perspective.  So, because I'm a grown up who isn't scared of letting people read her stuff (except for the fact that I'm TOTALLY scared of letting people read my stuff), I decided to ask a friend.  And yes, I may have had a glass of wine or three before I worked up the nerve to ask.

But whatever gets you through, hey?

The following conversation was the result.

Her:  So, what sort of book is it? 
Me:  It's an erotic novel, kind of in the 50 Shades genre, but hopefully better written and without all the borderline abus... 
Her:  (interrupting)  You had me at erotic novel!  Gimme! 
*hands iPad over* 
Her:  So these are the main characters? 
Me:  Yep. 
Her:  And who's this one? 
Me:  That's the best friend.  Every novel has a best friend. 
Her:  She seems very familiar. 
Me:  (looks sheepish) Well, she might possibly sort of kind of be based a teeny little bit on you... 
Her:  .... 
Me:  I mean, I can always change it if you don't like it.  I didn't mean to offend you... 
Her:  .... 
Me:  I know she' seems a bit flighty, and really she's only very loosely based on you... 
Her:  Kellie, stop!  This is... 
Me:  Awful?  Offensive?  You hate it, don't you.  You want me to change it... 
Her:  ... IT'S AWESOME!!!!  I'm a character in an erotic novel!  How cool is that! 
Me:  So you really don't mind? 
Her:  Of course not!  Why would I mind that?  But I do have one request. 
Me:  (suspiciously)  Okay. 
Her:  She needs to get laid.

Sue:  Lots.
Her:  Like, at least once a chapter. 
Me:  .... 
Her:  ... every other chapter?

I actually did get a few good tips out of her, once she's stopped giggling like a Catholic schoolgirl over it.  There's just no substitute for a fresh set of eyes.

But no matter how grateful I am, the best friend is NOT getting laid every other chapter!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

I'm not shy, I'm not socially awkward ... I'm introverted, there's a difference...

Have any of you guys done the Myers Briggs test?  You know, the one that asks you a bunch of ominously vague questions, then proceeds to give you a four part answer to what your personality type is?

If you were working in an office in the 90's you probably know exactly what I'm talking about.  I think just about every workplace made their employees take that test back then.  They were all obsessed with figuring out just how you ticked so they knew exactly which buttons to push and how to squeeze every last skerrick of work out of you.

Cynical I know, but true.

Like everyone else I did the test, and the results came back exactly as I'd expect them to.  I'm an introvert.  That's not really a shocking revelation.  I've always been one to focus internally rather than externally, and I definitely need my "alone time" or I go a bit crazy. 

But when exactly did introvert become synonymous with socially awkward [link]?

Yes, I'm an introvert.  Yes, I "emotionally recharge" by being on my own.  I like my own company, always have.  But that does not mean I'm incapable of being social!

I spend nine plus hours a day working with a team of 11 other people.  I socialise with friends.  I'm not some caricature of a person who doesn't want to talk to other people and is incapable of maintaining meaningful relationships with others, any more than an extrovert is a loud, opinionated know-it-all who can't help themselves from taking over every social situation they find themselves in!

To be quite frank, the second description sounds a lot more like me than the first, and I'm definitely, 100% an introvert.

But I'd suspect most of us here on the interwebs are introverts, so I'm sure you all share my frustration with how we're willfully misunderstood.

So to all my fellow introverts out there, stand tall, stand proud ... liking your own company is not a psychological disorder.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I'm worried about what they teach nurses these days if they can't even recognise a kidney...

Donating an organ to a loved one, nothing quite says "I love you" like making that particular sacrifice, does it.

So I can completely understand why an Ohio family were horrified and outraged when the kidney harvested from Paul Fudacz Jr that was intended for his sister, was tossed out by a nurse before he was even out of the anesthetic.

[Continue here ...]

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

I'm beginning to think my cockatiel is going to outlive me...

Bella the Neurotic Cockatiel
Is it just me, or are pets living longer these days?

It certainly seems like it.  Take, for example, Britain's oldest cat [link].  He's 28.  Hell, I work with people who are younger than that cat!  There are people out there who are married with kids who weren't alive when that cat was born, just think about that for a second.

Are you as freaked out by that thought as I am?

I own two animals, or maybe it would be more accurate to say they own me.  You all know about Gypsy the Feline Dictator, but my other animal is a cockatiel named Bella who is completely insane and lives in my spare room ... and no, I didn't name her after the vapid main character of a certain vampire novel series.  I bought Bella long before those books were published, back in 2000.

And there's the thing, I bought Bella back in 2000.

That means, if my math doesn't betray me, that she's at least 13 years old.  When I bought her, the petshop owner told me that most cockatiels only live 7 to 10 years.  So, naturally, the very next day a workmate told me all about her niece's 'tiel that was about to turn 30.  That'd be right, tell me after I've bought the bird, why don't you!

But it was well and truly too late by that point, I'd already bought the perch, the cage, and a three decade commitment I didn't even know I was signing up for.

I know it sounds like I don't like Bella very much, but that's not true.  Back when I first got her she was wonderful, if a little skittish.  But about five years in to our co-habitation she went a little crazy.  Started getting unpredictable to the point where I could never tell if she was going to smooch me or try to peck my eyes out.  Eventually I just had to accept the fact that my bird was a complete nut job ... and that I may very well have to put up with another twenty years of her insanity.

I do know someone who had a 21st birthday party for their cat, so maybe it happens more often than I'd realised.  Could it be possible that one day I'll be planning a "Coming Of Age" for Gypsy the Feline Dictator"?

Hmm, much more likely I'll be planning a 40th for Bella The Neurotic Cockatiel, I'm thinking.

Crap, I'm never getting my spare room back, am I.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Who's a beautiful bride ... you are, yes you are...

I work in a government department, so I know all about the drama of spending public funds.  When you're spending government money, you have to really consider what you're doing.  Is it appropriate?  Can you justify it?  It's essentially people's hard earned tax dollars you're frittering away, so you'd better make damned sure you're following all the rules.

So when I read about a Sri Lankan police department that decided a good use of public money was to throw an elaborate wedding for their 18 sniffer dogs [link], followed by a honeymoon for each doggy couple, I simultaneously giggled and cringed.

I giggled because, come on, puppies in formal wear!  Puppies getting married to each other like they think they're real people!  I'm not made of stone, you know!

But on the other hand, the civil servant in me immediately though "Oh crap, someone's going to cop it in the neck for this one".   You don't go spending government money without a damned good reason, and quite rightly so.  Somehow, I think they'll have a hard time justifying a puppy wedding on their financial statements.

To be fair though, it's not like a bunch of Sri Lankan police officers got drunk and decided it would be hilarious to pair up all their sniffer dogs and have a Seven Brides For Seven Brothers style wedding.  There was a method behind their madness.  Apparently it was a bit of a publicity stunt to advertise the fact that they were going to attempt to breed the dogs there rather than keep on buy them from the Netherlands.

That makes sense, I suppose.  Dogs born in the location would be better acclimated and more used to the local food and water.  And while I don't know how much money it costs to raise a sniffer dog, I have to assume it's cheaper than buying one, so that's got to be a good thing.

But seriously guys, it might have been better if you'd just rented the dogs a hotel room and set them up with some Barry White.

Just saying.