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Just Dann now...

Below are 25 recent journal entries, after skipping 25

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  2016.08.22  06.58
Painted Freak...

'These zombies are fast, and they're angry. These are not the shuffling, slow, Romero-style zombies. Those just aren't scary.'

I disagreed with the director's comment. When visiting the cemetary, the first zombie seen by Barbara and Johnnie in Night Of The Living Dead is made fun of, allowing him to creep up by surprise. Later, horders could be underestimated by viewers, until they surround the house, overwhelming it completely. It is terrifying in much the same way as Godzilla looming over Odo Island. But I didn't argue. It's his movie, not mine.

The statement was made as a part of a briefing during 'Zombie Training,' the precursor to fulfilling a New Year's resolution of several years ago. That resolution was actually a very specific goal that I have worked towards spasmodically since viewing a scene in a Transformers sequel several years ago, the goal to become a prominently featured extra in a feature film. Upon starting the quest, I also determined that roles such as 'corpse,' 'explosion victim,' and 'zombie' appeal to me. So when I saw a broad call out for extras in Werribee's local paper on my last visit, I immediately acted.

The extras, it was revealled through the seemingly demanding application process, would be ranked into their tiers, and the fact of my invitation to this session seemed to suggest that my application had impressed enough to see me into one of those higher tiers. The 'rehearsal' was actually just an overview of the film's plot, a gentle request for further funding, and running and falling practice - perhaps designed to weed out those who are enthusiastic, but physically ill-prepared for the role.

I was given a five.am call for the following weekend in a location kept secret until a couple of days before. Once disclosed - a vintage railyard - I booked accomodation nearby. I was vaguely annoyed when the call time was delayed until eight o'clock, as I could have saved the expense of the hotel and travelled there early in the morning, but not too much. I arrived that morning to be ushered eventually in groups of 15 from a mass of around 500 extras. In those smaller groups, we queued for a long time, guided by officials who revealled themselves to be extras from the filming the day before who had been so impressed that they'd offered more of their time. We were broken into tiers based upon a number of factors - if we had attended the previous weekend's training, physical ability, and knowledge of languages other than English. This decided it - I had made it to the tier one stage, and closer to the goal of being prominently featured but uncredited.

We were given numbered, colour-coded tickets, which we were told would be presented to the make up staff to identify which extremity of make up to apply. We waited in a less organised queue, and I started talking to a guy named Jeff, also designated the role of 'Tier 1 Zombie.' Together, we checked out the catering tent, which at this stage was only serving biscuits and bottles of weird juices. I took one of each, and the staff apologised for the lack of coffee, apparently the result of the outdoor setting not allowing electricity, and promised that some would be available once we headed into the railsheds to have make up applied. The juice, I discovered, was beetroot and celery flavour, which might have made a nice soup, but was not as successful in juice format.

After some more waiting, Jeff and I were called into the shed, home to vintage steamtrain carriages. We followed the tracks in the long, darkened shed to the end of a train, where the first of an elaborate team of make up artists started working on us, first on our hands. A second artist further shaded our hands. We were then taken to a row of seats, where we had ever more elaborate facial make up applied. There were no mirrors, but I could see the progress of Jeff and the other casts' make up to get an idea of how each stage progressed my own. One of the make up artists, who appeared to be in charge, at one point dragged a guy who looked convincingly zombie-like back through the action of artists, asking him to identify the artist responsible for each stage of his make up. He seemed uncommitted to any response.

'Was it you?' the leader asked of one of the artists close to where I was having diseased veins painted into my skin. I didn't hear the response, but the outcome saw the leader raise her voice and call over all of the artists. 'Alright, girls,' she called. 'All of you, leave what you are doing. Get over here now. I want to show you how not to do face make up!'

'See this?' The leader pushed the subject's hair back at his forehead. Right at the base of his hairline, his natural skintone could be barely seen. 'What if his hair goes back when he is running on set? Everyone can see that! This is no zombie. This is just... a painted freak!' The actor looked sheepish beneath the elborate, if apparently inadequate make up.

After the interruption, those midway through the make up process were left in their seats whilst touch ups were done to others later in the process. I asked for some direction, and the artist looked at my face, telling me I looked done, and directing me further down the line. There, I reconvened with Jeff, who was gritting his teeth, now stained with make up. Through clench teeth he asked 'Is it dry yet?' I asked the tooth make up artist on his behalf, who told us the effect takes only ten seconds to dry. It was my turn next, and I quickly moved to the hair and finally dirt booth, before moving out of the rail shed into the warmth of the winter sun. It had been frightfully cold inside the shed.



Just outside, the final stage of make up was more artists applying a spatter of blood. Once again, we were left to await direction. I've worked on sets before. I know the drill. In the down time, I decided to venture back to the catering tent before we were called to shoot. I had spent over three hours having the make up applied, but the catering stand told me to return later - they said food would be served shortly. Meanwhile, a few extras cast as soldiers and refugees were called away for filming. Extras now made up as zombies were asked to pose for publicity photographs, but since the photographers were using smart phones, it seemed to be more an exercise in promoting the bulk of the cast as useful rather than as an actual productive exercise. I'd brought my copy of Trainspotting and my Gameboy, but we'd been asked to leave our belongings inside the rail shed. So I checked out the rail yard.

After a few more hours, it was announced that lunch was being served, and a line instantly formed behind a barbeque that had been set up in the catering tent. I joined, and predicted a lengthy wait. I hadn't moved at all when the line was halted by the same voice which had been calling 'painted freak!' earlier. 'Would you please hold off for a minute? My girls haven't eaten all morning!'

The queue was held back while the make up artists took their well-deserved lunch. Meanwhile, a crew member paced the queue, calling for and pulling aside Tier 1 zombies. We were led away from the catering queue around the corner to the set. It was an impressive location. A stone archway between two tall, vintage workshops divided two sets or train tracks laid into rough cobblestone roads. On the rail sidings of one set of tracks stood two diesel train engines. For the purposes of the film, a chain-link fence had been erected beyond the engines, serving as the checkpoint for a quarantine area.

We were given further directions, and asked to wait for further make up once the artists had finished their lunch. We were instructed on how the scene would pan out, and told to draw upon our inner anger. 'When I'm hungry, I get angry, so it shouldn't be hard,' commented a woman in the crowd scene. 'Maybe that was the plan all along,' commented another extra. 'Starve us until we're really ravenous zombies.'</i>

When the make up artists arrived, they came carrying a couple of buckets of blood each. They arranged the extras in rows of ten, and ordered our eyes closed. They flung blood on us, and we started to film the scene - a horde of zombies chasing soldiers ushering children through to the quarantine area as it struggles to keep the infected outside. Although the shooting confirmed that this probably won't be the kind of zombie film I liked to watch, it does seem like an exciting scene. My favourite part involved the application of 'mouth blood' by the make up artists, for the front runners to spew as they surged towards the blockade.

The scene was run throguh several times, with a few shots utilising a drone flying overhead through the arch. I pictured sweeping shots of the desperate, mindless horde below, which would look impressive with the three tiers pushing through. It didn't last long before the drone crashed, to a sigh of disappointment from the horde. We were also asked to film various detail shots to intersperse from within the chase sequence. I would have preferred to feature as the director's non-scary zombie, but I did enjoy this role.

It wasn't long before someone - a vocal producer I'd met at the rehearsal, perhaps - called that it was a wrap, to applause through the rail yard. By this time, I was eager to leave. I started to head out, but was caught first as someone I'd not seen all day was asking once more to take photographs. Someone during this called for three cheers for the crew, but I felt bitter and starved, so did not participate - though by 'crew,' I guessed they were referring specifically to film crew, and not administrative and organisational, who did seem to perform admirably. Another round of applause was also called for the expansive team of make up artists, which I did join in on enthusiastically. I'd been impressed with their efficiency and also working under a forceful manager.

At the rehearsal, we'd been promised provisions for removal of the make up, but I found this to be limited to a few WetOnes, which didn't remove much. There was no mirror in the bathroom, but I felt around and it seemed like most of the blood, at least, was gone from my face and neck.

 
 


 
  2016.08.01  16.12
moneyClip...

That was weird. I woke up on Sunday feeling fine. I had no headache at all - unusual for a night when I slept without waking myself. When I started to climb out of bed though, I noticed aches throughout my body. I felt it first in my legs but it ran through my spine and into all of my joints. I moved, kind of painfully, to the kitchen and made coffee. While there, I noticed dried blood all over my hands. They didn't feel sore, but were bloody. After I'd made the coffee, I rinsed my hands, and found cuts at the sides of most of my fingers.

They were actually more like grazes, as though my hands had been dragged across asphalt. I had no recollection of how this could have happened. As soon as my mother saw my impaired gait, she asked if I was sick.

'No,' I replied. 'Just sore.'

When she asked where, I thought for a moment about just where the pain was, before replying 'My skeleton.'

She asked why, and when I said I didn't know, she stated that I had 'obviously had an epileptic seizure.' I conceded that that was possible, although I couldn't claim it as obviously as she could, because this felt different. There was no headache or sickness at all. It was different to the newType seizures I'd previously documented and discussed, and unlike the kind of seizure that was caught on tape in hospital. Also, I didn't end up dead.

So today I am still sore, but still not sick at all. This is something new. I wonder what this is.

 
 


 
  2016.02.19  23.55
Leave Your Friends Behind...

Perhaps I was too quick to judge both Kate and the woman on the bus. Maybe their extreme views on safety were justified. Maybe for all of these years, I have been living life with too much of a laissez-faire attitude in regards to personal safety and that of others. In the same week that I'd been warned of safety risks, I would experience someone succumb to one with my own eyes.

I'd been called to Werribee to deliver training on job application and interview skills. It turned out to be an interesting topic. I was surprised at how many people insist that a resume must include a photograph, or even a video clip. I had been completely unprepared for the sessions, having originally arrived to deliver a different course, but the reception seemed fine. It made me feel like applying for jobs myself with my newly-trained skills.

Since construction work commenced on the Frankston train line, I've been taking the Dandenong line. I must have been engrossed in my Gameboy game, because I looked up just in time to see my train pulling up to the stop. I hastily stashed it in my bag and headed to the train's door. I was last in a trail of commuters trailing out of the carriage, and as I was stepping out, a young lady, clutching a smart phone to her face, ran up the ramp towards the carriage. As she headed towards the door I was stepping through, she crashed into another passenger leaving the train and stumbled.

She followed the trajectory towards the carriage she'd started on, and for a moment, it seemed she would skirt past me successfully into the train. Instead, she just missed, and slipped into the narrow space between the edge of the platform and the train carriage. I was a little surprised at how easily and completely she seemed to have fallen down. In one fluid action, she'd gone from upright and about my height to partially obscured beneath the platform and trapped. I wouldn't have even imagined it to have been possible - the gap is such a small one, and she wasn't a remarkably thin woman. She was slim, but not unusually so. It seems like it would be hard to guide a smaller object to fall into the narrow space, yet this girl had fallen in without trying.

She sank beneath the platform to her elbows, which had slammed with a painful-sounding crack into the carriage floor, and now seemed to be all that was supporting her. I'd grabbed her shoulder, but only seemed to be holding a piece of the flimsy fabric of her shirt. She was still holding the phone.

I tried to clutch the girl's shoulder, but couldn't hold on in a way which seemed helpful. She wasn't moving a lot. I had assumed that she would lift herself with her elbows, but she didn't do so, and I wondered if she was unable to move in the gap at all. Instead, I stepped back into the carriage and fumbled to grip the girl's shoulders from a frontal position. When I failed to lift her from this position, I took a more awkward one. Crouched in front of her, I put my arms underneath hers and then returned to a standing position, lifting her up out of the gap with me. It must have looked awkward to the bystanders crowded around.  Once I'd brought her up, she stumbled forward into a chair as tone rang indicating the doors would close, and I quickly stepped back.

As I left the station, with the train doors closing, I noticed the station's transit police running in my direction. I hoped they weren't prompted by my inappropriate grasp of the girl's body, though they did seem to be pointedly running in my direction. I quickened my pace toward the underpass exiting the station, putting dawdling commuters between us. By the time I'd left the underpass, I couldn't see the officers when I checked quickly over my shoulder.

I rushed to my car. I had to get home quickly. I'd left my game of Secret Files: Tunguska running on my Gameboy in my bag, and had to save it or risk losing my progress.

 
 


 
  2016.02.15  23.39
Safety Dance...

Today I caught a bus. It isn't an unprecedented event, but for the last decade has not been a common one. I create this entry based upon my interaction with someone I perceived to be a regular passenger, though this is not to be a commentary on 'the great unwashed' aboard public transport that is often penned by infrequent travellers. This shall be an observation of a trend towards alarmist safety precautions.

'Omigosh!' Kate had cried earlier at work, without provocation. 'I just realised that I'm eating peanut butter!'

'Okay...' said Andrew, seeming to be uncertain of the significance of the exclamation, as I too must have appeared as I searched between the two for hints of some running joke I'd missed the genesis of whilst relegated to training rooms. But no laughter came.

'I mean,' Kate started. 'I didn't ask everyone if it's okay.'

'It's fine...?' answered Andrew, the tone of uncertainty prevailing to the point that Kate further clarified.

'I mean, I didn't check first if anyone on our level is allergic to peanuts.'

Andrew and I laughed, and Kate asked what was funny.

'You're just going to eat the peanut butter though, right?' I confirmed.

'You weren't going to smear it all over people's faces, were you?' Andrew continued.

'Obviously not,' Kate rolled her eyes. 'But some people are extremely allergic.' By now she had packed away the offending condiment. 'And I don't have an EpiPen.'

The apparent neglect over, I went back to work, and thought to myself that it would never occur to me to go to such extreme lengths in the interest of public safety. I am also the first to admit that I am not the most civic-minded of people, probably. I encountered someone else later that very day just as interested in public safety. It was on the aforementioned bus.

I'd taken my car to have its roof replaced that morning (it was damaged by criminals in December in a crime almost identical to one five years earlier.) Due to staff at the repair shop being absent, the car wasn't ready as planned this afternoon, so I'll pick it up tomorrow. In the meantime, I sought alternate transport, and ended up on a bus.

I took a seat at the rear of the bus, but noticed a woman already at the front speaking loudly to the driver, who was paying her little attention. I paid her equally as much attention and continued to read. I did look up, however, as she raised her voice significantly each time the bus started drawing to a halt before upcoming stops to let passengers on and off. Each time a passenger rose from their seat, she would shout at them to sit down until the bus stopped moving, and would also loudly advise the driver that she had warned the passengers of such. As far as I could see, the driver did not respond.

'Watch out!' she shouted at a woman with a shopping cart, then, to the driver, 'Aren't you going to do something about that?'

I couldn't tell exactly what she was talking about.

'Oh!' she seemed distressed. 'It's still happening!'

I wondered if she was less cogent than I had originally thought.

'Why aren't you doing anything?' I heard her ask the driver again. 'What will it take? Does someone have to be injured? Does someone need to be killed?'

As the bus stopped to let more passengers alight, the woman crept carefully from her front seat to one more centrally located. Her distress continued in her new position though, and she continued warning passengers to the unseen danger she had identified, to little response. She sounded almost defeated as she wailed 'Why won't something be done?'

Before long, the bus drew near my stop, and I pressed the button to inform the driver. As I rose to leave the bus, I was, predictably, screamed at.

'Watch out!' the woman wailed at me.

'For what?' I asked.

She pointed to the floor of the bus, and I looked to see an empty Coca-Cola bottle rolling on the floor.

'Watch out for the bottle?' I asked.

'Someone could trip!' she confirmed. 'Someone could be killed! And the driver doesn't care!'

I took the bottle with me when I left the bus, and put it in my recycle bin at home. It was the first time I have seen such commotion in regards to a plastic bottle and peanut butter in the one day.

 
 


 
  2016.01.04  17.47
finalList 2015...

Custard - We Are The Parents (Our Parents Warned Us About)
A$AP Rocky - Holy Ghost {Ft. Joe Fox}
Elliphant - Love Me Badder
Blur - Go Out
Dream On Dreamer - Don't Lose Your Heart
Rubens, The - Hoops
Sarah Blasko - I'd Be Lost
Ratatat - Abrasive
Wombats, The - Emoticons
Ben Folds - Capable Of Anything

 
 


 
  2015.12.31  17.30
shortList 2015...

A Night In Texas - The God Delusion
A Tribe Called Quest - Bonita Applebum (Pharrell Wiiliams Remix)
A.D.K.O.B. - Glue
A$AP Rocky - Everyday {Ft. Rod Stewart/Miguel/Mark Ronson}
A$AP Rocky - Excuse Me
A$AP Rocky - Holy Ghost {Ft. Joe Fox}
A$AP Rocky - Jukebox Joints {Ft. Joe Fox & Kanye West}
A$AP Rocky - L$D
ABRA - Roses
Action Bronson - Actin Crazy {Prod. By 40}
Aerials - Restless
Ainslie Wills - Drive
Akroyd Smart - Different
Alex G - Salt
Alison Wonderland - Back It Up {Alison Wonderland x AWE}
All That Remains - This Probably Won't End Well
Ally Brown - Suburbia
Alpine - Cigarettes Will Kill You {triple j Like A Version}
Alpine - Damn Baby
Alyx Dennison - Jewels Are Just Lumps
Amity Affliction, The - Shine On
Amity Affliction, The - Skeletons
Anderson .Paak - Am I Wrong {Ft. ScHoolboy Q}
Angry Seas - Fish & Chips
Anna O - Close My Eyes {Ft. Angus Dawson}
Ansah Brothers, The - Never Learn
Anti-Flag - Sky Is Falling
Arcade Fire - Soft Power
Art Of Sleeping - Hotline Bling {triple j Like A Version}
Art Of Sleeping - Voodoo
Art vs Science - In This Together
Ash Grunwald - River
Asta - I Wanna Dance With Somebody {triple j Like A Version}
Au.Ra - Talk Show
August Burns Red - Identity
Auguste - Slow Motion
AURORA - Running With The Wolves
Ayla - When The World Ends
Bad//Dreems - Hiding To Nothing
BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah - Six Degrees {Ft. Danny Brown}
Baio - Sister Of Pearl
Banff - All Again
Baroness - Chlorine & Wine
Basenji - Petals {Ft. Scenic}
Beach Slang - Noisy Heaven
Beck - Dreams
Belle & Sebastian - Enter Sylvia Plath
Belle Haven - The Looking Glass
Belligerents, The - Looking At You
Ben Folds - Capable Of Anything
Ben Wright Smith - No One
Bennies, The - (He'll Never Be An) Ol' Man River {triple j Like A Version}
Best Coast - Feeling Ok
Best Coast - Heaven Sent
Billy Fox - Lights
Birds Of Tokyo - Anchor
Birds Of Tokyo - I'd Go With You Anywhere
Bloc Party - The Love Within
Blur - Go Out
Blur - I Broadcast
Bob Moses - Tearing Me Up
Bootleg Rascal - Asleep In The Machine
Born Lion - Good Dogs Play Dead
Boy & Bear - Limit Of Love
Boy & Bear - Walk The Wire
Brawlers - Drink & Dial
Bring Me The Horizon - Doomed
Bring Me The Horizon - Oh No
Bring Me The Horizon - Throne
Bring Me The Horizon - True Friends
British India - Blame It All On Me
British India - Suddenly
Bugs - Best Friend
Bully - Trying
Cage The Elephant - Mess Around
Cage The Elephant - Trouble
Canary - Here We Go
Caravana Sun - Ashes
Cat Empire, The - Wolves
Chance The Rapper - Wanna Be Cool {Ft. Big Sean/Kyle/Jeremih}
Chase & Status - Funny B2069{Ft. Frisco}
Cheatahs - Murasaki
Chemical Brothers, The - Go {Ft. Q-Tip}
Chemical Brothers, The - Wide Open {Ft. Beck}
Chvrches - Clearest Blue
Chvrches - Never Ending Circles
Circa Waves - T-Shirt Weather
City Calm Down - Son
Claptone - Dear Life {Ft. Jaw}
Claptone - Puppet Theatre {Ft. Peter Bjorn & John}
Courtney Barnett - Aqua Profunda!
Courtney Barnett - Nobody Really Cares If You Don't Go To The Party
Cousin Tony's Brand New Firebird - Queen Of Hearts
Cradle of Filth - Right Wing of The Garden Triptych
Crepes - Size Of Your Town
Cub Sport - Only Friend
Custard - We Are The Parents (Our Parents Warned Us About)
D'Angelo And The Vanguard - Sugah Daddy
Dan Deacon - Feel The Lightning
Daniel Johns - Preach
Dead Letter Circus - In Plain Sight
Dead Letter Circus - Silence
Deafheaven - Gifts For The Earth
Deerhunter - Snakeskin
DENNI - Blink {Ft. Aphir}
Dilly Dally - Desire
Districts, The - Peaches
Django Django - First Light
Django Django - Shake And Tremble
DMA's - Lay Down
Doe Paoro - The Wind {Ft. Adam Rhodes}
Doom Mountain - I'm Just A Man
Dorsal Fins - Cut The Wire
Dr. Colossus - Stupid Sexy Flanders
Dr. Dre - Talking To My Diary
Drake - Hotline Bling
Drake - No Tellin'
Drapht - Dancin' John Doe
Dream On Dreamer - Don't Lose Your Heart
Dreller - One Night Stand
Duke Dumont - Ocean Drive
DZ Deathrays - Addicted To Bass {triple j Like A Version}
East Journey - Emu {Ft. Yothu Yindi}
Ecca Vandal - Battle Royal
EL VY - Return To The Moon
Elliphant - Love Me Badder
Endless Heights - Haunt Me
Everything Everything - Regret
Eves The Behavior - Electrical
Ezra Furman - Lousy Connection
Fake Problems - Holy Attitude
Father John Misty - Strange Encounter
Fences - Sunburns
FIDLAR - 40oz. On Repeat
FIDLAR - Sober
Fifth Dawn - Turbulence
Florence And The Machine - Queen Of Peace
Fox & Fowl - Eliza
Gay Paris - The Sackcloth Saint Of The Cornfield
Gengahr - Heroine
Ghost - Cirice
Glass Animals - Gold Lime
GodWolf - Resist
Golden Rules - Auntie Pearl's House
Gooch Palms, The - Tiny Insight
Grenadiers - Summer
Grimes - California
Grimes - Flesh Without Blood
Grimes - Scream {Ft. Aristophanes}
Gunslingers - Interstellar
Gypsy & The Cat - Lost Control
GZA - The Mexican {Ft. Tom Morello}
Half Moon Run - Trust
Half Moon Run - Warmest Regards
Halsey - Castle
Hands Like Houses - New Romantics
Harts - All Rise (Play It Cool)
Hellions - Nottingham
Hermitude - Through The Roof {Ft. Young Tapz}
Hermitude - Ukiyo (OK Sure Remix)
High-tails - Information
Highasakite - Keep That Letter Safe
HINDS - Garden
Hockey Dad - Can't Have Them
Holy Holy - You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog
Hooton Tennis Club - Kathleen Sat On The Arm Of Her Favourite Chair
Houndmouth - Sedona
Hudson Mohawke - Scud Books
I, Valiance - The Pillars Of Ruin
In Hearts Wake - Breakaway
In Hearts Wake - Erase
In Hearts Wake - Wildfire
Infinity Broke - Famine Of Words
Internet, The - Something's Missing
J Motor - Jungle Daze
Jack Garratt - Weathered
Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders - To Keep And Be Kept
Jamie Woon - Sharpness
Jamie xx - Stranger In A Room {Ft. Oliver Sim}
Japanese Wallpaper - Forces {Ft. Airling}
Jarryd James - Do You Remember
Jarryd James - Regardless {Ft. Julia Stone}
Jarryd James - This Time (Serious Symptoms, Simple Solutions)
Jenny Broke The Window - Black Skeleton
Jess Kent - Get Down
Jesse Davidson - Laika
Jinja Safari - Accident
Joanna Newsom - Leaving The City
Joey Bada$$ - No. 99
Jones Jnr. - Perfume
Joni In The Moon - War And Porn
Josef Salvat - Night Swim
Josh Pyke - Songlines
Julia Holter - Sea Calls Me Home
Jungle Giants, The - Every Kind Of Way
Jungle Giants, The - Kooky Eyes
Kagu - Human
Kate Boy - Northern Lights
Kendrick Lamar - King Kunta
Kill The Noise - Mine {Ft. Bryn Christopher}
Kilter - Ice Cream {Ft. Ngaiire} {triple j Like A Version}
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - God Is In The Rhythm
Kita Alexander - My Own Way
Kuren - Achillies
L-FRESH The LION - Get Mine {Ft. Parvyn Kaur Singh}
Lana Del Rey - High By The Beach
Lana Del Rey - Music To Watch Boys To
Lanks - Aurelia
Lapsley - Hurt Me
Le Pie - Josephine
Le1f - Koi
Life is Better Blonde - Mine
Little May - Home
Little Simz - Dead Body
Loon Lake - Surfin'
Low - No Comprende
LOW LUX - Ruin
Loyle Carner - Ain't Nothing Changed
Luca Brasi - Aeroplane
Lurch & Chief - Breathe Out
Lusts - Temptation
M83 - Holes In the Sky {Ft. HAIM}
Maccabees, The - Kamakura
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - DOWNTOWN {Ft. Eric Nally/Melle Mel/Kool Moe Dee/Grandmaster Caz}
Magic Bones - Danger I Am
Mailer Daemon - Let's See {Ft. Sage}
Majical Cloudz - Are You Alone
Major Lazer - Be Together {Ft. Wild Belle}
Major Lazer - Too Original {Ft. Elliphant/Jovi Rockwell}
Majora - Iridescent
Make Them Suffer - Requiem
Mansionair - Speak Easy
Maples - Into My Arms
Mark Ronson - I Sat By The Ocean {triple j Like A Version}
Martin Courtney - Northern Highway
Matt Corby - Monday
Meat Wave - Delusion Moon
Medics, The - Wake Up
Meeting Tree, The - I Pay My Tax (I Hate Myself) {Ft. Janet English}
Meg Mac - Never Be
Metric - Fortunes
Metric - The Shade
Miguel - Coffee
Mini Mansions - Fantasy
Missy Elliott - WTF (Where They From) {Ft. Pharrell Williams}
Modest Mouse - Coyotes
Modest Mouse - Lampshades On Fire
Modest Mouse - Sugar Boats
Monkey Safari - Cranes
Moonbase Commander x Cakes Da Killa - Serve It Up
Morgan Bain - Why Don't You Stay
Morning Harvey - Lights Camera Gina
Motion City Soundtrack - Lose Control
MS MR - Criminals
MS MR - Painted
Mumford & Sons - Snake Eyes
Mumford & Sons - The Wolf
Muscles - Unicorns
Muse - Mercy
Muse - Reapers
My Own Pet Radio - No Great Mystery
N.E.R.D. - Squeeze Me
Nadia Reid - Reaching Through
Nick Catchdubs - Run {Ft. MNDR}
NOIRE - Baby Blue
Northlane - Let It Happen
Northlane - Soma
Northlane - Weightless
Nothing But Thieves - Trip Switch
Of Monsters And Men - Human
Oliver Sol - After Dark
Olympia - Tourists
Other Lives - Reconfiguration
Our Man In Berlin - Spirit Down
Owen Rabbit - Holy Holy
Palace - Can't Stop {Ft. Godwolf}
Panama - Jungle
Paper Kites, The - Electric Indigo
Parking Lot Experiments - Live Long
Parkway Drive - Writings On The Wall
Patrick Watson - Places You Will Go
Paul Conrad - Records
Peaches - Close Up {Ft. Kim Gordon}
Pearls - Albion
Perch Creek - Mama Sings
PERIPHERY - Alpha
Polish Club - Beeping
Pond - Holding Out For You
Pro Vita - Julia
Purity Ring - Begin Again
Puscifer - The Arsonist
RAC - Back Of The Car {Ft. Nate Hendricks}
Ratatat - Abrasive
Ratatat - Cream On Chrome
Raury - Devil's Whisper
Red Jezebel - Outer Dodge
Refused - Francafrique
Robert DeLong - Don't Wait Up
Rosie Lowe - Who's That Girl
Rubens, The - Hallelujah
Rubens, The - Hoops
Rubens, The - The Fool
Ryan Hemsworth - Afterglow
SAFIA - Counting Sheep
SAFIA - Embracing Me
Samuel Dobson - Who You Run With
San Cisco - Bitter Winter
San Cisco - Too Much Time Together
Sarah Blasko - I'd Be Lost
Sarah Blasko - Maybe This Time
School Of Seven Bells - Open Your Eyes
Seth Sentry - Hell Boy
Sia - Alive
Sia - Bird Set Free
Sizarr - Scooter Accident
Skaters - Mental Case
Skegss - Eat It
Skepta - Shutdown
Sleater-Kinney - Price Tag
Slow Turismo - I Sit Down As Soon As I Get Up
Snakehips - All My Friends {Ft. Tinashe/Chance The Rapper}
Society - Protocol
Soko - Who Wears The Pants??
Sons Of Rico - What Am I Doing Here?
Sophie Lowe - Pink Flowers
Spector - All The Sad Young Men
Speedy Ortiz - Raising The Skate
Split Feed - Vanilla
Steven A. Clark - Can't Have
Sticky Fingers - Delete {triple j Like A Version}
Sticky Fingers - Ghost Town
Strypes, The - Get Into It
Sufjan Stevens - No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross
Summer Camp - Bad Love
Surahn - Wanted To Fly
Tame Impala - Confide In Me {triple j Like A Version}
Tame Impala - Let It Happen
Tame Impala - The Less I Know The Better
Them Bruins - Heading For The Harrows
Timothy Nelson & The Infidels - My Luck
Tiny Little Houses - Easy
Tired Lion - I Don't Think You Like Me
Tobias Jesso Jr. - How Could You Babe
Toro y Moi - Empty Nesters
TORRES - Strange Hellos
Tove Styrke - Ain't Got No...
TroldHaugen - Viva Loa Vegas
Tuka - Right By You
Twin Haus - I Used To Think
Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Multi-Love
Urban Cone - Weekends
UV boi - LUV {Ft. Fionn Richards/Brasstracks}
Vaccines, The - Minimal Affection
Vance Joy - Fake Plastic Trees {triple j Like A Version}
VANT - Parking Lot
Very Best, The - Let Go
Walking Who, The - My Future Wife
Wavves - My Head Hurts
Wavves - Way Too Much
Waza - Tell Me How
Weeknd, The - Can't Feel My Face
Weeknd, The - Losers {Ft. Labrinth}
Weezer - Thank God For Girls
Will Butler - Anna
Wolf Alice - Lisbon
Wolf Alice - You're A Germ
Wombats, The - Be Your Shadow
Wombats, The - Emoticons
YACHT - I Thought The Future Would Be Cooler
Young Fathers - Rain Or Shine
Yum Yum - Do You Really? {Ft. The Brass Knuckle Brass Band}
Zane Francis - Acclimate
Zefereli - Withdrawals
ZHU x Bone Thugs-N-Harmony x Trombone Shorty - Hold Up, Wait A Minute

 
 


 
  2015.11.09  06.18
Laggard...

When I complete market research surveys, I often find that questions designed to determine my likelihood to use a company's technological innovations don't really have a response in their multiple choice range to suit me. None of the following options describes me well:

Whilst I am known to have been slow to take up some popular technology, I've also eagerly awaited and praised others. I bought one of the first of the lower price range GPS navigators, and was listening to an MP3 player before one could simply connect and upload songs via USB (because USB didn't exist yet - mine connected via the printer port) while others were still excited with their Discman and the progressive were showing off MiniDisc players. Conversely, my late entry into the smart phone game was the cause of frustration to many. Friends exhibited annoyance at my tardy response to social media meeting requests, and a manager from my work was dumbfounded when I couldn't access a boarding pass he'd sent me via email from the back of a taxi en-route to the airport. I have even been accused of deliberately rebelling against trends (oddly by my brother, who as far as I am aware, is still using the non-smart mobile phone that I gave him in 2000.)
I did upgrade to a smart phone earlier this year, after growing impatient with my previous mobile phone's limitations - namely the row of buttons which had stopped working when after I'd dropped the device in the snow 18 months earlier. I'm not trying to rebel against smart telephony but so far I haven't found a lot of improved functionality between the new and old phone (other than this phone's ability to dial numbers containing the digits 3, 6, or 9 again.) In fact, simple tasks like finding stored numbers or sending an SMS are now time-consuming ordeals. Beyond that is the simple fact that smart phones are massive when compared to previous technology. I became accustomed to small phones - their primary feature - with my last phone, and the one I'd used before that (a pinnacle of style and design,) though no one would have ever described the phone I'd used before those two, my first, as small (but it was also a classic of design.)

A colleague recently laughed at me. Shocked to see me using a smart phone, he asked how many apps I had. When I guessed 'Maybe seven?' he looked at the phone screen and immediately started striking them out.

'SMS doesn't count as an app,' he ruled. 'Phone calls isn't an app. Settings isn't an app...'

In the end he decided that I have two apps. I'd tried a couple of GPS apps and left one on there that seemed okay, and also a second programme that I'd downloaded after remembering thinking it was cool when Lee had used it, a kind of catalogue of the night sky that sees to work via a combination of GPS, the phone's accelerometer and the phone's camera to identify astral bodies. I haven't used either of these more than a couple of times, though.

Whilst smart phones - or this one, at least - advertise what seems an impressive list of inclusions and functions, the main draw card seems to be the convenience of several appliances in a single unit. In theory, this could be amazing. In practice, none of these features functions to a level to warrant the exclusion of the dedicated device from my arsenal of technology. The GPS has been handy on a couple of occasions to generate a map of my current position to take me from whatever unfamiliar train station I've found myself at to the nearest bar, but tracks movement too slowly to give reliable live directions (even when compared to my old GPS, Penelope, who is close to 15 years old, and like Odi from Real Humans, now relies on external power to stay alive.) The lack of optical zoom in the phone's camera makes it unsuitable for my fairly modest requirements, so I still need to carry my digital camera. It has been suggested that I could use the phone to make updates to Twitter while I am away from a computer, which is true and something I've kept in mind, but so far have not had a need to publish anything so urgently that it couldn't wait until I get home. Games have been suggested, but none are as imaginative or engaging as those on my Gameboy DS.

One thing I have tried and have been engaging in is podcasts. There are certainly several that exist that I think I could enjoy, and am using these as the model higher purpose for my bulky smart phone. I've been engrossed with a show called Welcome To Night Vale. Although based around a silly premise, the production is of a high quality, and the combination of paranormal themes and new music seems designed for me, even if I would have approached it differently. Once I am up to date with the series, I might look for other podcasts.

I have even downloaded and might listen to Serial. How does that fit with diagnoses of rebelling against trends?

Interestingly, the offered multiple choice options from a coffee company also do not provide a response that matches my needs. After an image of George Clooney, and a question asking if I recognise the actor, I am asked to respond as to whether my opinion of the coffee is higher, the same, or less upon knowing that he is endorsing it. There is, however, no question for the opposite scenario, which is actually impacted by his appearance in advertising - my opinion of George Clooney is higher, with the knowledge that we apparently enjoy the same coffee.

 
 


 
  2015.10.21  06.49
Funeral Insurance Salesman...

One of the consequences of entering hundreds of competitions per year is that my details are willingly submitted to various marketing lists. Whilst many people complain about unexpected calls from salespeople, I usually take them in my stride, acknowledging this as a legitimate business practice which is how I solicit the chance to win fabulous prizes.

So this entry should not be deemed a gripe against the appearance of my name on so many cold (though they would claim otherwise) callers' work lists, but rather as a critique of one salesperson's tactics.

His name was Jason and he called - I suspect several times - hoping to interest me in funeral insurance. I expect that this is probably a tough-sell, with few people interested in paying for something they won't use in their lifetime. My experience with Jason was preempted by a call three weeks ago from a guy named Andy. Andy introduced himself politely as calling to confirm some of the details I'd apparently previously provided to the company he works for, a vaguely-titled firm with the word 'Marketing' in its name. His accent, the delay in his responses reaching me, and his addressing me as 'Mr Daniel' suggested to me that he may be calling from the Philippines, but I didn't ask this time. He asked if I would mind receiving a call from a representative of one of his company's partners to discuss funeral insurance. I told him that whilst I would be happy to receive the call, it should be noted that I rarely answer calls during business hours, and that I have no intention of purchasing funeral insurance. Andy thanked me and told me that someone would contact me within the next few days.

As is usual, my mobile phone did, in fact, ring several times over those next few days, however it sits switched off in my bag during business hours, which while I am training are usually between seven.AM and seven or eight.PM, but possibly as late as ten or eleven. I did find some voicemail messages from people I didn't recognise, but none identified themselves as funeral insurance salespeople, with the most information provided on those messages being protracted sighs. One week after Andy's call I found another voicemail message. This one went longer than the sigh, growing to something like a growl of 'Why don't you ever answer the phone?' The voice spaced out each word carefully. 'Answer the fucking phone. Goddammit!'

I didn't consider a connection between Andy's call and this message until later, and it would be another two weeks until I finally spoke to the salesperson he'd arranged. Upon reflection, I believe many attempts had been made by the salesperson to contact me (up to eleven per day.)

I answered a call while I was on the way home from work last night from the number previously identified by my mobile phone's screen as frequently calling me. The caller identified himself as Jason from an insurance company, and asked how I was. Without considering an honest response, I told Jason that I was fine, and asked how I could help him. Instead of answering my question, Jason told me that he wasn't calling to sell me anything, and asked if I had considered the financial impacts to my family and loved ones if they had to unexpectedly pay for my funeral expenses.

'I might have briefly,' I replied, thinking about past discussions I'd had with family and friends on the topic of my funeral. 'But usually when I think about my funeral it isn't about the costs so much as other things. That's what I consider. Things like the music, and who will go... Epitaphs... Eulogies... Those sorts of things...'

'Yeah,' Jason said sharply. 'All that stuff you just said, that isn't what I asked.'

'Oh...' I said, dumbly.

'So have you actually considered the financial impacts to your family if they needed to pay funeral expenses unexpectedly?'

'Well...' I thought of how my previous response had apparently not addressed this and decided to reply with something more concise. 'I guess not...?'

'Did you know,' he pitched boldly, 'That a typical funeral might cost anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000?'

I told him that I thought I might have heard the figure before, and Jason decided to tell me - despite his earlier statement that he was not calling to sell anything - that he could sell me a product which would 'offset, or even entirely cover' those funeral expenses. 'Is that something you'd like to sign up to today?' he asked.

'No,' I declined. 'Thank you.'

There was a moment of silence on the phone, before Jason asked 'Can I ask why?'

'I have other, more pressing financial concerns, I suppose...' I theorised. I was still thinking about just why I wasn't interested when Jason continued.

'I know that it isn't nice to think about your funeral, is it?'

'Well, I acknowledge that some people might not think so,' I conceded. 'But I kind of like to.'

'Yeah, right. Whatever. Let's talk about how your loved ones would cope with those expenses, which I said earlier could be $100,000 or higher, once you're gone.'

'Okay,' I said, not correcting Jason on the inflation of his previously-quoted figures, and there was a moment of silence on the line, which Jason broke with 'So...?' I repeated the 'so' back to him, a little confused, since Jason had raised a point for discussion, and then not done so.

'So, how would your family cope with expenses like $100,000 for your funeral after you die?'

'Oh!' I laughed a little. 'Well, if I died, there wouldn't be much of a family left to think about expenses.'

'Okay,' Jason continued, and seemed to brighten up as he moved on to his next point. 'The product that I have available for you today would pay out up to $50,000 within two weeks of your passing, with the cost to you being only $2.16 per day. Now, that price would stay fixed and won't change for as long as you hold the product.'

Had Jason been pitching this product to me face-to-face, he might have noticed a visible change in my expression from vague interest in a discussion on funerals, to strongly opposed to purchasing this product, and perhaps a little amused and confused too. He didn't have that luxury though, so he went on to ask 'Are you interested in signing up for that today?'

'After what you've just said, I can now say I am definitely not interested. Thank you for calling me, though...'

'Can I ask why you're not interested?' Jason interjected quickly.

'There was very little about the product that was appealing to me to begin with,' I explained, thinking about stopping there, since I didn't want to hurt his feelings. I continued though, but tried to be delicate. 'I know it can't be an easy product to sell, but you haven't really made this offer seem attractive.'

Jason once again said what was rapidly falling into the category of 'old chestnut.' 'Can I ask why?'

'Well, you've told me that funeral expenses can be either up to, or in excess of $100,000, but that this product would only pay $50,000, so not enough to cover that. And are you sure that the cost is $2.16 per day?'

'That's right!' Jason replied optimistically. 'And that's fixed for life, with no need for medical checks up front.'

'That doesn't sound at all competitive with other products on the market. That must work out to over $700 per year, right?'

'It's $2.16 per day,' Jason repeated, but I don't think he checked my maths. (I have since and found my estimate to have been accurate.)

'So it seems like a pre-paid funeral plan would be more economical than this,' I said, before finishing, 'If I were interested in something like this at all.'

'Why didn't you just say at the start that you have a pre-paid package?' Jason asked, apparently misunderstanding my reasoning.

'Oh, I don't have pre-paid funeral...'

He cut me off 'So why did you bring it up then?'

'Because it is factual, I guess.' To fill the silence on the line, I added 'And relevant.'

'I don't see how,' Jason disagreed. 'Since you don't have anything in place for your funeral, shall I just go ahead and sign you up for this?'

'No,' I stated. 'I'm not interested in signing up.'

'Can I ask why?' Jason repeated.

'I think I've already given several valid reasons.'

'Not really,' Jason disagreed again. 'You obviously haven't understood. I'll put it another way. What if you went to work and your arms and legs got chopped off?'

I laughed. 'What?'

Jason sighed, and restated his scenario. 'What if you went to work tomorrow, and while you were there, your arms and legs got chopped off?'

I was still smiling, and considered concocting a response using references to the Misfits' ode to Boxing Helena, but thought that asking 'Would you still love me anyway?' could be too niche of a response, and also easily misinterpreted. Instead, I tried to gain more information to understand the reason for his question. 'Are you suggesting I could die from injuries like that at work tomorrow?'

I heard another sigh before Jason said 'Maybe you would, but my point was obviously to find out if you didn't die, if you would still be able to work after that?'

I couldn't help but laugh again. 'I don't think I'd be comfortable continuing in my current role in that condition. No.'

'I don't see why this is funny,' Jason scolded. 'If you were injured like that at work, and couldn't keep working, don't you think the $50,000 would come in handy then?'

'I suppose it would,' I conceded, trying to emulate a tone of sincerity and avoid more laughter at his scenario. 'But I'm confused about why you're mentioning it. Wouldn't that money only be payable if I died?'

'Of course not,' Jason snapped. 'It also gets paid if you're injured on the job and can't work. So would you be interested in signing up?'

I told Jason that I didn't want to, and anticipated his next move.

'Can I ask why?'

I started to reiterate my previous lack of interest with further focus on my belief in the comparatively high cost of this product when I heard Jason say 'Yeah,' before his end of the call went silent. A look at my phone's screen confirmed that the call had ended, and I guessed that he'd disconnected.

I reflected, as the train journey continued after the call, upon my conversation with Jason. I wondered if any of my input to the conversation could have been reasonably taken as inappropriate to the point that he would see fit to end the call without so much as a 'goodbye.' I was certain that his conversational technique could use improvement, but tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. My train of thought was interrupted by another phone call, this one from a silent number.

'Fucking knob!' was the first comment I caught when I answered, before I'd even finished saying 'Hello.' 'You're a knob!' I couldn't make out the words clearly, because the caller was speaking loudly into the phone. 'How dare you treat people like you did! You're scum! You think you're better than me? You're scum. I hate scum like you! Everyone does. Fuck off!'

The call was terminated before I had a chance to say anything, but I suspected that it had been from Jason. I obviously had inadvertently done something to insult or upset him, but doubted his resilience or suitability for his sales role if a conversation like the one we'd had could drive him to not only terminate a call in its midst, but also - if it was indeed Jason on the second call - to also make a dedicated and passionate follow up call to cast insults. I wondered later if the earlier voicemail messages might also have been from Jason in previous attempts to speak to me.

Luckily, I'd received this call on the third day of the latest intake of what is the most demanding of the training programmes I deliver at work, so I knew that a facilitator from the client would be visiting to introduce their brand tomorrow. If he runs to his usual format, he will invite participants to discuss a negative customer service experience. I hope that he might invite my input to provide me a chance to gather opinions on my experience with the funeral insurance salesman to gauge whether any of my responses could have been deemed inflammatory.

 
 


 
  2015.05.11  12.28
Elixir...

There probably wasn't a lot of thought that went into what became the sweetest elixir. Everyone else was trying mixtures of classic spirits with flavours, so why not a home brand? There were some creative attempts, and admirable launch parties - particularly with the widespread introduction of honey to Bourbon whiskey - and, of course, the proliferation of vodka flavours which seem to come and go in the blink of an eye.

Cherry was a logical choice, but perhaps predictably, not one the local market is ready for - as evidenced by the only brief dalliance with Cherry Coke, and the more lengthy history effort of Dr Pepper. Jim Beam paved the way with its 'Black Cherry' edition, with the subtle cherry flavour providing a refreshing close to an afternoon over Coca-Cola and ice.

It was on a trip to restock my supply of this flavour that I discovered its budget neighbour, Kentucky Gold, had made a similar decision to Jim. Next to the home-brand spirit's stock budget variety in its two sizes was something new - a slightly differently labelled bottle branded 'Cherry Infused.' Always eager to try something new from the bottle shop, I immediately bought a bottle. The cherry flavour was stronger than Jim Beam's giving a more unique taste, and inviting one to create all kinds of new cocktails, or, as before, to simply enjoy it with Coca-Cola and ice (or Pepsi Next, for a tamer taste.) It works equally as well as a shot, with the cherry flavour working to dim the slow-burn of pure Bourbon if taking a shot. Kentucky Gold Cherry Infused quickly became my house spirit.

I was disappointed when a trend formed of stores being 'out of stock' every time I visited. After a while, it strongly suggested the product had been deleted. A dramatic sense of loss overcame me.

Last year I'd submitted an application at work for annual leave for February. At the time, I believe Simon had suggested he might come for a visit at that time, and since I didn't see him last time he was in Australia, I thought I should make some time to catch up. His trip didn't happen, so I wasn't disappointed when my manager asked me if I would mind cancelling the leave when a need for training arose just before I was due to start the leave. He also recommended I take the leave as soon as an opportunity came available, which happened last week.

The previously-held sense of loss filled me as I drained the last of the last bottle I had of cherry Kentucky Gold. I proposed action - I had three weeks off work, and no plan to spend them. So why not take dramatic action? I visited the website for the bottle shop chain, and searched for the product. I generated a map of all the stores listing the product as in stock and input the data into Penelope, my GPS. And we set off to buy all of the remaining stock within an admittedly brave radius, given my driving skills.

The weather was fine as I set off to load my passenger seat with more bottles at each store. I was worried, at first, when stores listed as having stock reported that they, in fact, didn't, and list it as available due to their ability to order from other stores upon request. I demanded the clerk update my map with a true reflection of where bottles were. And I revised my plan, finding the product, caked in dust in most cases, at several far flung locations, and returned to a bitter-sweet kind of success. I'd ended up with an admirable supply of 15 bottles, but also the knowledge that these 15 bottles would likely represent the last time I'd taste Cherry Infused Kentucky Gold Bourbon whiskey. I'll savour every drop.

 
 


 
  2015.01.11  03.50
FinalList 2014...

Amity Affliction, The - Pittsburgh
Sky Ferreira - Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)
SAFIA - Paranoia, Ghosts & Other Sounds
Major Lazer - Aerosol Can {Ft. Pharrell Williams}
La Roux - Kiss And Not Tell
Interpol - All The Rage Back Home
Griswolds, The - Beware The Dog
Daniel Lee Kendall - Emptiness
Ball Park Music - She Only Loves Me When I'm There
Andy Bull - Talk Too Much

 
 


 
  2015.01.07  21.39
WhereIs Maps...

It is sometimes said that two heads are better than one, but there are many cases where one of the two would have fared significantly better without the other, often to comedic effect. Tintin and Captain Haddock spring immediately to mind. Yoshi would have done fine without needing to cart around baby Mario.

And this evening, due to lightning striking a train moments before I left work for the station, I found myself voluntarily partnering with a stranger, despite the fact that I felt certain that his naïvety would make my own journey less efficient.

As I was preparing to leave work the power flickered off for a moment, followed a few seconds later by a loud crash of thunder. When I left the training room, Ash, a team leader I've enjoyed working with in a couple of last year's groups, walked in my direction, struggling to cover her laughter with a professional decorum.

'Did you hear that?' she asked in response to my curious grin. I presumed she meant the thunder, but she corrected me. 'No... The girl who screamed about it... But it was delayed: She screamed at least thirty seconds after the thunder.'

'I just thank goodness that you're okay,' I patted Ash's shoulder and bid her a good evening.

I was pleased when I arrived at the station to find the signage advertising the imminent arrival of a city-bound train, the sound of the nearby boomgates signalling its approach. I headed down the platform and waited.

And waited.

After waiting for fifteen or twenty minutes, an announcement was made across the platform that trains would not be able to arrive at the platform due to damage to essential equipment caused by a lightning strike - perhaps the same one that had caused the delayed alarm at the office - and it was not known when or if alternative transport arrangements would be made available.

I briefly checked surrounding bus routes, but saw none that went to either anywhere I'd heard of or anywhere beneficial. I headed back to the office instead. I decided I'd log back in and get some work done that would have otherwise waited, and also logged into Twitter - I figured that disruptions to transport are usually reported upon quite efficiently there, so I could monitor whether the trains had restarted, or if nothing else enjoy the prompt and over-dramatic commentary from the public. It wasn't until after 8.30pm that the train operator's Twitter account proudly stated that a replacement shuttle bus to the closest operational station would start operating shortly.

It was back at the station that I first encountered the aforementioned second head, a young guy with a stylish checkerboard-printed backpack. He was involved in what seemed a distressing Mandarin conversation with someone via a massive smartphone, though I didn't pay too much attention to him until the bus arrived, and only then because he was obstructing my entrance aboard.

He'd raced to the bus when it arrived, and from what I could gather when I caught up had indicated to the driver that he wanted to go to the city. The driver was explaining that the bus would travel as far as Laverton station, where the guy could board a city-bound train.

'Laverton, no,' the guy stammered. 'Which bus is Melbourne city?'

The driver sighed, frustration evident already in his tone, as he repeated his directions. This exchange was repeated a couple of times, until the boy shoved his giant phone towards the cantakerous bus driver. The driver took the phone, and started talking into it.

'Yes... No... No!' The driver sighed at intervals in the phone conversation. I percieved a desperate, frantic voice at the other end of the call. 'There are no trains leaving Werribee tonight... Yes... No... Could you let me explain? No... I told him that...No... There are no buses to the city! This bus is going to Laverton... Will you just listen? I'll take him to Laverton... No... Laverton... Trains are running from Laverton to the city... No... There is no bus or train from Werribee to the city tonight... No... I've already said... No...'

The driver groaned and passed the phone back to the boy, who briefly spoke into it, then asked the driver 'Can I go with you to Flinders Street in the Melbourne city?'

'I just told them, and I've told you...' the driver raised his voice.

'I'm going to the city,' I said, attempting and failing to address both the driver and the boy. 'I can show you the way...'

The guy and the driver continued their looped conversation, seeming not to have noticed me, until I tried to push my way between them onto the bus. As I squeezed through, the driver said 'He just told you he was going to the city too. Why don't you just go with him?' The driver pointed to me.

'You're going to the city?' asked the guy. 'By the bus?'

'Yes,' I agreed, omitting the further details of the journey which had not served the driver well. 'Would you like me to show you the way?'

The guy thanked me and followed me to the back of the bus where he resumed the conversation which had apparently remained active on the big phone throughout the ordeal.

I admired the view out the window of unfamiliar scenery - fields, mainly - illuminated at frequent intervals by flashes of bright lightning. Before long, the bus broke away from the field-lined freeway to much smaller roads built up with little shops. It pulled around the tiny mall I usually see from the train to Hoppers Crossing Station. The guy halted his phone call to lean over to ask me if this was the station we needed. I reminded him that I was going to the same destination as he, so he would only need to follow me.

Luckily, unlike previous journeys on train replacement buses from Werribee, this driver knew the direction to the station, and we made it to Laverton Station, where trains were due to run. I lead the confused guy, still on his phone, to the platform, and left him there, whilst I climbed back up the stairs for a better view of the continuing lightning. This seemed to distress my accidental companion, who kept coming to ask why I'd left the platform, and if I was sure it was the right way.

It was around 1am by the time I got home, and I mused on the fact that despite originally leaving the office shortly after 5pm, earlier than I have in a very long time, I arrived home later than I usually do.

 
 


 
  2015.01.06  18.47
2014...

At her Christmas party, Jitka nonchalantly invited all in attendance to return to her house to celebrate New Year. I agreed, despite the fact that this clashed with my usual New Year plan of being woken by fireworks at midnight. It was nice to return to the beach with friends to watch the fireworks all along the bay, but I do miss our old, deserted beach - it just isn't the same having to fit in with crowds of people on the beach.

Again, this was another year where not a lot changed professionally, though having a new manager (and having a manager at all) has meant some changes, like working more in the city, which has had the consequence of seeing daylight for the first time in a long time - and the absurd customised number plates of the people who drive at peak times. Who am I kidding? Not much changed for me personally, either. I don't think that's much of a problem though. I'm not too concerned about anything, really.

My favourite album was easy to choose. Fightstar's Grand Unification was worth waiting for and better than I ever could have guessed. For an album I bought purely for the premise, it could have gone either way, having not heard any of the singles. But I could not find fault with the record. Orchestration was weaved through the songs with purpose, not just as a gimmick. When the album threatened to end on a piano-and-narration track it risked entering Angels and Airwaves territory (not that they are bad, just it risked losing some originality) but it turned around in the second half of Part II of the title track, but left me wanting the whole catalogue at Wake Up. It goes to my list of albums I'd like to see live, backed by a symphony orchestra.

My favourite new album was Sky Ferreira's Night Time, My Time, an album I curiously bought from an online download store. Luckily it doesn't have any songs that meet together, à la Muse's Falling Away With You / Hysteria combination, because my CD burner tends to put a blip of silence between tracks. Essentially a pop album, the underlying distortion throughout sees this cross over to grunge territory, if pop had ever tried it. It works remarkably well.

I watched Orphan Black, and was grateful to SBS for playing the second series immediately after the first, because I was left wanting more. I also enjoyed The Returned a lot. I guess I watched a lot of television this year for some reason. I didn't play anything new, and my favourite movie was Lupin III, even with its shift to a modern setting.

 
 


 
  2014.12.22  06.09
shortList 2014...

#1 Dads - Return To {Ft. Tom Snowdon}
@peace - Where I Come From
A$AP Rocky - In Distress {Ft. Gesaffelstein}
Acid, The - Basic Instinct
Action Bronson - Easy Rider
Against Me! - Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Ages And Ages - Divisionary
Airling - Wasted Pilots
Airling - The Runner
Aldous Harding - Beast
Alex Cameron - Mongrel
Alexis Taylor - Without A Crutch
All The Colours - Fragile
Allday - Never Tear Us Apart {Like A Version 2014}
Allday - You Always Know The DJ
alt-J - Left Hand Free
alt-J - Nara
alt-J - Bloodflood pt.II
Alvvays - Adult Diversion
Amity Affliction, The - Pittsburgh
Amity Affliction, The - Don't Lean On Me
Amity Affliction, The - The Weigh Down
Amity Affliction, The - Give It All
Anberlin - Hearing Voices
Andy Bull - Talk Too Much
Angus & Julia Stone - Heart Beats Slow
Angus & Julia Stone - Wherever You Are
Angus & Julia Stone - Death Defying Acts
Angus Dawson - A Curse In Disguise
Anna Lunoe - All Out
Apart From This - Spinning
Apes - Strange Tastes
Aphex Twin - minipops 67 [120.2] (source field mix)
Asgeir - King And Cross
Asgeir - Torrent
Asgeir - Going Home
Asgeir - Stolen Dance {Like A Version 2014}
Aston Shuffle, The - No Place Like Home {Ft. Kaelyn Behr}
Atmosphere - The World Might Not Live Through The Night
Augie March - A Dog Starved
Augie March - Definitive History
Ausmuteants - Freedom Of Information
Avener, The - Fade Out Lines
Baauer & Boys Noize - Fire Like This
Babe Rainbow, The - Secret Enchanted Broccoli Forest
Bacchanales, The - Why It Stopped Raining?
BADBADNOTGOOD - Triangle
Ball Park Music - A Good Life Is The Best Revenge
Ball Park Music - Teenager Pie
Ball Park Music - Everything Is Shit Except My Friendship With You
Ball Park Music - Cocaine Lion
Ball Park Music - She Only Loves Me When I'm There
Banks - Beggin For Thread
Baro - Cigarretes {Ft. Jublet}
Bear Hands - Peacekeeper
Bear In Heaven - Autumn
Beautiful Girls, The - Dancehall Days
Beck - Waking Light
Beck - Wave
Benjamin Booker - Violent Shiver
Benny Benassi - Shooting Helicopters {Ft. Serj Tankian}
Bertie Blackman - Run For Your Life
Big Boi - Mother Of Dragons
Billy Fox - Mystery
Black Keys, The - Waiting On Words
Black Keys, The - Gotta Get Away
Blood Red Shoes - An Animal
Bloods - Penelope
Bluejuice - I'll Go Crazy
Bohicas, The - Swarm
Bombay Bicycle Club - Luna
Bombay Bicycle Club - It's Alright Now
Bombay Royale, The - Henna Henna
Branko - Don't Touch That {Ft. Astronomar & SK Simeon}
Briggs - The Hunt {Ft. Gurrumul}
Brighter Later - Brace
Bring Me The Horizon - Drown
British India - Wrong Direction
Brody Dalle - Don't Mess With Me
Broken Bells - After The Disco
Broken Bells - The Changing Lights
Broken Bells - Control
Broods - Never Gonna Change
Buchanan - Coming Down
Buoy, oh Buoy! - Lonely Avenue
Cairos, The - Imaginations
Calling All Cars - Psycho Killer {Like A Version 2014}
Calling All Cars - Good God!
Calvin Harris - Pray To God {Ft. HAIM}
Catfish And The Bottlemen - Cocoon
Ceres - I Feel Fine, I Feel Sick
Chance Waters - The Ticket Inspector
Chet Faker - 1998
Chiefs - It's All Gone {Ft. Owen Rabbit}
Childish Gambino - Sweatpants
Childish Gambino - Sober
Chrome Sparks - The Meaning Of Love
Chronixx - Capture Land
Chvrches - Get Away
Ciggie Witch - Taylors Lakes
Circa Waves - Young Chasers
Clarence Clarity - Those Who Can't, Cheat
Client Liaison - Party / ! (The Song Formerly Known As) {Like A Version 2014}
cln - Sideways
Cloud Control - Dammit {Like A Version 2014}
Cloud Nothings - I'm Not Part Of Me
Clue To Kalo - Burning Arrow
Coin Banks - Hatches {Ft. Ta-ku/Atom/Like}
Cold War Kids - First
Cold War Kids - Drive Desperate
Cookin' On 3 Burners - Losin' Streak {Ft. Daniel Merriweather}
Courtney Barnett - Pickles From The Jar
Creases, The - Static Lines
Creases, The - Gradient
Damian Marley - All Night {Ft. Stephen Marley}
Damon Albarn - Mr Tembo
Daniel Avery - Drone Logic
Daniel Lee Kendall - Under A Spell
Daniel Lee Kendall - Emptiness
Darius - Hot Hands
Darlia - Dear Diary
Dave Rennick - Boys
Deadmau5 - Seeya {Ft. Colleen D'Agostino}
Deadmau5 - Monday
Dean Blunt - 50 Cent
Death From Above 1979 - Government Trash
Death Grips - Black Quarterback {Ft. Bjork}
Decemberists, The - Make You Better
Delta Riggs, The - It's Over
Delta Riggs, The - Bobby's Flowers
Delta Riggs, The - The Record's Flawed
Diafrix - The Sign
Dianas - Static
Districts, The - Rocking Chair
DMA's - Delete
DMA's - Feels Like 37
Dune Rats - Funny Guy
DZ Deathrays - Reflective Skull
Eagle & The Worm - Automatic
East Brunswick All Girls Choir - Dirty Bird
Eels - Mistakes Of My Youth
Eleanor Dunlop - Rough Side Of Town
Elephant - Elusive Youth
EMA - So Blonde
Emperors - Automatic Sigh
Enter Shikari - The Last Garrison
FatFences - Arrows {Ft. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis}
First Aid Kit - My Silver Lining
Fishing - Your Mouth {Ft. Jonas Nicholls}
Foo Fighters - Something From Nothing
Foo Fighters - Subterranean
FourPlay String Quartet - This Machine
Fractures - It's Alright
Frowning Clouds, The - No Blues
Future - Benz Friendz (Whatchutola) {Ft. Andre 3000}
Gallows - Chains
Gengahr - Powder
Gerard Way - No Shows
Ghostface Killah - Love Don't Live Here No More {Ft. Kandace Springs}
Glass Skies - Lemonade
Gooch Palms, The - Trackside Daze
Grates, The - It Won't Hurt Anymore
Green Stone Garden - Steam
Griswolds, The - Beware The Dog
Gum - Misunderstanding
Haerts - Giving Up
Hello Satellites - Hollering Saints
Hey Geronimo - The Girl Who Likes Me
Highasakite - Since Last Wednesday
Hilltop Hoods - Won't Let You Down {Ft. Maverick Sabre}
Hilltop Hoods - Cosby Sweater
Hilltop Hoods - I'm A Ghost
Holy Holy - History
Holy Holy - Love Will Tear Us Apart {Like A Version 2014}
HWLS - 1
I Am Giant - Death Of You
I Am The Avalanche - Shape I'm In
I Know Leopard - Daisy Eyes
Iceage - The Lord's Favorite
In Hearts Wake - Divine
Interpol - All The Rage Back Home
Jack Colwell - Seek The Wilde
Jack White - Alone In My Home
Jackie Onassis - Special Occasion
Jagwar Ma - Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High? {Like A Version 2014}
Japanese Wallpaper - Between Friends {Ft. Jesse Davidson}
Jen Cloher - Stone Age Brain {Ft. Tim Rogers}
Jesse Davidson - Big Bois Gotta Eat
Julian Casablancas + The Voidz - Human Sadness
Karl S. Williams - Time Bomb
Kasabian - Bumblebeee
Kasabian - Sesame Street/Good Vibrations {Like A Version 2014}
Kate Miller-Heidke - Drama {Ft. Drapht}
Kate Miller-Heidke - Jimmy
Kele - Doubt
Kendrick Lamar - i
Kid Wave - Gloom
Kimbra - 90's Music
King Creosote - For One Night Only
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Hot Wax
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - I'm Not In Your Mind
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Hot Water
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - I'm In Your Mind Fuzz
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - I'm In Your Mind
Kingswood - All Too Much
Kingswood - Piece By Piece
Kingswood - Micro Wars
Kingswood - Side To Side
Kishi Bashi - Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!
Kito & Reija Lee - Starting Line
Knife Party - EDM Trend Machine
Knife Party - 404
Knife Party - Give It Up
Kooks, The - Down
Kooks, The - Forgive & Forget
Kool A.D. - Hickory {Ft. Talib Kweli/Boots Riley}
Koolta - All Together
Kwabs - Wrong Or Right
La Roux - Uptight Downtown
La Roux - Kiss And Not Tell
Lana Del Rey - West Coast
Lana Del Rey - Ultraviolence
Lana Del Rey - Shades Of Cool
Lemaitre - High Tide
L-FRESH The LION - The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air/Mundian To Bach Ke {Like A Version 2014}
Little Dragon - Klapp Klapp
Little Matador - Stitch Yourself Up
Little Odessa - It's About Time
London Grammar - Devil Inside
Lorde - Yellow Flicker Beat
Luca Brasi - Borders & Statelines
Luluc - Without A Face
Lunatics On Pogosticks - Cappuccino
M83 - I Need You
Mac DeMarco - Salad Days
Magic Bones - Anytime Anywhere
Major Lazer - Aerosol Can {Ft. Pharrell Williams}
Manchester Orchestra - Every Stone
Many Things - Chains
Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk {Ft. Bruno Mars}
Mat Zo - Ruffneck Bad Boy
Maybeshewill - In Amber
Megan Washington - Limitless
Megan Washington - My Heart Is A Wheel
Metronomy - Love Letters
Milky Chance - Stolen Dance
Millions - Clementine
Missy Higgins - NYE
Modern Baseball - Broken Cash Machine
Money For Rope - Hole Like You
Moses Gunn Collective - Shalala
Movie - Ads
Mysteries - Deckard
Ned Collette - Vanitas Quack
New Found Glory - Selfless
New Pornographers, The - Brill Bruisers
N'fa Jones - Flying
Northeast Party House - The Haunted
Occupants, The - Hindsight
OPIA - One Minute Ago
Papa Vs Pretty - Smother
Peace - Money
Peace - Lost On Me
Pearls - Big Shot
Peking Duk - High {Ft. Nicole Millar}
Pharrell Williams - Hunter
Pixies - Greens and Blues
Plague Vendor - Black Sap Scriptures
Pluto Jonze - All Washed Up
Pluto Jonze - Wear Purple At My Funeral
Pond - Elvis' Flaming Star
Porter Robinson - Divinity {Ft. Amy Millan)
Preatures, The - Ordinary
Preatures, The - Business, Yeah
Presets, The - No Fun
Pulled Apart By Horses - Hot Squash
Purple - Target
Ramona Lisa - Backwards And Upwards
Raury - God's Whisper
Redspencer - Tell
Rick Ross - Sanctified {Ft. Kanye West/Big Sean}
Rise Against - I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore
Rise Against - The Great Die-Off
Rise Against - Tragedy + Time
Rise Against - Zero Visibility
Rise Against - Awake Too Long
Riton - The Same {Ft. Irfane}
RL Grime - Reminder {Ft. How To Dress Well}
Robert DeLong - Long Way Down
Robert Muinos - I Was Dreaming
Royal Blood - Ten Tonne Skeleton
Royce Wood Junior - Rover
RÌ_yksopp - Skulls
RÌ_yksopp - You Know I Have To Go
RÌ_yksopp - Monument (The Inevitable End Version) {Ft. Robyn}
Run The Jewels - Early {Ft. BOOTS}
SAFIA - Paranoia, Ghosts & Other Sounds
SAFIA - You Are The One
Saint Motel - My Type
Sans Parents - Coming Back To You
Sarah Belkner - With You
SBTRKT - NEW DORP. NEW YORK {Ft. Ezra Koenig}
SBTRKT - Look Away {Ft. Caroline Polachek}
Scenic - Ride The Thrill
ScHoolboy Q - Hell Of A Night
Seekae - The Worry
Shoot The Sun - Freedom Ride
Sia - Hostage
Sia - Straight For The Knife
Sia - Burn The Pages
Sia - Chandelier
Siamese Almeida - Heavy Heavy Seed
Sietta - Agree To Disagree
Silk Rhodes - Pains
Silversun Pickups - Cannibal
Sinking Teeth, The - You Can't Build A Bike Out Of Muffins
Skaters - To Be Young In NYC
Sky Ferreira - Boys
Sky Ferreira - Ain't Your Right
Sky Ferreira - 24 Hours
Sky Ferreira - Nobody Asked Me (If I Was Okay)
Sky Ferreira - I Blame Myself
Sky Ferreira - Omanko
Sky Ferreira - Love In Stereo
Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time
Skyways Are Highways - Holiday
sleepmakeswaves - The Stars Are Stigmata
sleepmakeswaves - Perfect Detonator
Sleepy Tea - Starry Eyes
Slipknot - The Devil In I
Slow Turismo - Breathe
Snowy Nasdaq - Older Men
Son Lux - Easy (Switch Screens) {Ft. Lorde}
SONS ET AL - Say Something
Speedy Ortiz - American Horror
Split Seconds - Halfway There {Ft. Kathryn Rollins}
Spoon - Rent I Pay
Spoon - Knock Knock Knock
St. Vincent - Birth In Reverse
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - Rumble At The Rainbo
Step-Panther - User Friendly
Sticky Fingers - Liquuorlip Loaded Gun
Sticky Fingers - Just For You
Strand Of Oaks - Shut In
Superfood - Melting
Superfood - Right On Satellite
Swans - A Little God In My Hands
Swick & Lewis Cancut - Wishes {Ft. Tkay Maidza}
SWRLS - Definition
SZA - Childs Play {Ft. Chance The Rapper}
Tales In Space - All Messed Up
Tambourine Girls, The - Blood and Bones
Teeth & Tongue - New Born
Teleman - 23 Floors Up
Temples - The Golden Throne
The Drums - I Can't Pretend
Thee Gold Blooms - Alana
Thom Yorke - Guess Again!
Thumpers - Unkinder (A Tougher Love)
Thundamentals - Hearts {Ft. Ev Jones}
Tiga - Bugatti {Ft. Pusha T}
Timothy Nelson & The Infidels - Calling Out To You
Timothy Nelson & The Infidels - Soldier
Tkay Maidza - U-Huh
Todd Terje - Alfonso Muskedunder
Toehider - Whoa!
Tom Ugly - Slowly
Tora - Overcome {Ft. Potato Potato}
Total Control - Flesh War
Total Control - Liberal Party
Tourism - Supermodel
Trophy Eyes - Penfold State Forest
TV On The Radio - Happy Idiot
TV On The Radio - Lazerray
Twinsy - Tear It Down
Ty Segall - Feel
Ty Segall - The Clock
UV boi - NorthFace {Ft. Blair de Milo}
Velociraptor - Sneakers
Villagers - Occupy Your Mind
Vince Staples - 65 Hunnid
Vines, The - Girl I Want
Violet Swells - Jupiter's Garden
Warpaint - Son
Weezer - Back To The Shack
White Hex - Paradise
Wolfmother - Heavy Weight
Worriers, The - Cruel To Be Kind
Wu-Tang Clan - Keep Watch {Ft. Nathaniel}
Wu-Tang Clan - Ruckus In B Minor
Yeo - Kobe
Yon Yonson - No Enemy
Young & Sick - Heartache Fetish
Yumi Zouma - Alena
ZHU - Faded
Zola Jesus - Dangerous Days

 
 


 
  2014.12.18  14.25
Endless Mix...

'Hey Ya!' by Outkast is an example of a song that doesn't need to end when it does. It could be one of those songs that plays on the radio for significantly shorter than the album version people find out about eventually and sometimes hear in clubs, and nobody would complain, and nowhere was it more evident than at my work's Christmas party, the first I've attended in four years. The song brought the most people to the dance floor than any other of the evening, and would have kept them up had some kind of 'Neverending Mix' been playing.

I had originally not intended to go to the party, but there seemed to be pressure to go. When I had been asked by a senior manager something about my plans for the party, I had said that I was in fact not planning on going.

'See, that's the fucking problem,' she said, a more enthusiastic response than I'd anticipated. 'Why the fuck would anyone here give a shit about the work Christmas party if you're not even going? Do you think I fuckin' enjoy going? Of course I bloody don't! So I go and have one drink, and say hello to all the people I need to and they feel good that management go, and I can be okay to drive home. It's not that big of a fuckin' ask, is it? No wonder we have a problem with morale in this place!'

Later, my new manager sent an email to the training team encouraging us to attend, citing this as a rare time for the team to be available at once to catch up after hours. I didn't take much notice of the e-mail, thinking I wasn't going to attend anyway. Later, when I saw Andrew, I started to reconsider my position. When he asked and I told him that I wasn't planning on going to the party, he looked disappointed.

'I didn't realise it was like that,' he said. 'I kind of thought we would all be going...'

When his face dropped, and Kate and Natalie - our administrator and one of the new trainers - also said that they hoped I'd be going, my mind started to change. It seems I am susceptible to influence via guilt. So I booked a room for the night and headed to the party. En-route to change at the hotel, I used my usual string of alleyways and underground tunnels, and came upon a dumpster overflowing with CDs. I am usually not one to loot from hard-trash, but this was tempting, and I made a note to return in the morning for a closer look.

I arrived at the Christmas party to find a lot of people I didn't know, and a few people who I did. The organiser drank far too much and was on the verge of being refused re-admission, until I told security (untruthfully) that she was only going to the cloakroom to retrieve her bag. I left at some time significantly later than I intended and returned to my room via the Myer Windows (which this year told the story of Santa Claus and the Three Bears, in a manner quite similar to my 'Goldilocks' training activity) and felt that I had spent significantly too much for such a mediocre night out.

In the morning on my way to the station, the CDs had already been disposed of.

 
 


 
  2014.11.28  23.58
Tranquil...

I rarely drive very far. I have thought for a long time that driving is something that makes me feel afraid, but that isn't quite it. The truth is that I just don't enjoy it, as much as I might like to. It makes me nervous and sick. Maybe that is what fear is. There isn't really anything else I can think of have to compare it with. When Jitka invited me on a weekend in some kind of luxurious house in Phillip Island, I agreed, after realising that it was a weekend I wouldn't be required to work. Most of my friends would be driving there on Friday afternoon, with some set to return on the following Monday. This was obviously unacceptable to me, since the earliest I could leave would be Friday evening, and I would need to be well and truly back in the city by Monday morning.

So I made the drive alone. It was a fine evening for al-fresco driving, and I made it to the island with only a few rest stops to calm down and replace the roof. It wasn't too bad, until I crossed the bridge to the island and was immediately signalled into a police breath test. I hadn't had anything to drink in hours, but it was pointed out that I had a headlight out before I was waved on my way.

Penelope, my GPS, apologised for being unsure of directions once we got too far out of the city. Nevertheless, she gave clear instructions, with only the location of the actual house being difficult, a problem solved by Jitka waving out the front. I objected to a speed limit of 110 down a narrow, tree-lined street, but no other cars were following to disagree with my suggested speed of 60 km/h. The house was as nice as Jitka and Shelly had described, with a view - darkened by the time I arrived - of the beach. Emma, Chris and I suggested a storm would provide an even finer view and hoped to have one roll in over the next few days.

Our wish was granted the following evening, after Julie arrived, when we saw a storm that missed the house slightly, but we at least got a little of the view. The day was made up of all together too much food, with elaborate breakfast and dinner negating the need for lunch. During the day I'd encountered a sting-ray close to shore. I didn't know if it was playing with or fighting with the pelicans nearby.

Back at the house, the consideration of the afternoon's games were interrupted by a much more significant encounter. Emma cried 'Ghost!' and pointed to the ceiling. We all looked up and saw it too. I grabbed my camera and snapped a photo as evidence:



Meanwhile, Sabine had done the same, but there was no need for urgent picture-taking, as the ghost remained with us for long enough to pose with pictures, before it faded away. We didn't feel threatened by it's peaceful presence in the holiday house, and even eagerly awaited it's return the following day, but it seemed the ghost's appearance was a one-night-only affair, leaving us to contemplate its message. We deemed it to be one of kindness, based on the ghost's friendly expression and wide-eyed wonder at our presence in what is presumably its domain.

After a late-night game of Cards Against Humanity, I arose early the next morning with Sabine for coffee and to navigate the outdoor TV (I stated earlier that the house was luxurious) for cartoons, only to be disappointed by regional television's willingness to interrupt such programming mid-show to air infommercials. During breakfast, after the rest of the group had woken, Julie and I tried to coax others for our day's plans - riding go-karts on the Phillip Island Grand Prix circuit. Whilst some considered the idea, it was (rightly) deemed quite expensive, and we ended up going alone.

We both wished we'd been more convincing, because the race proved the highlight of the weekend for us. We were up against a large group of tourists, and some guys who appeared to have racing back-to-back laps of the track all morning. When I saw that the track would display a picture (based upon one's Facebook profile picture) on a virtual podium for all to see, I professed my desire to appear on that screen. Julie laughed at this notion, citing my usual driving record, but I countered that she shouldn't write me off too soon - I've got a history of driving excellence on a track.

Whilst we finished with comparable times, she beat me by over a second for best lap time (the organisers stating, despite the podium, that this was the benchmark,) but I was glad knowing that we'd beaten most of the other first-timers (I did not include the 'regulars' who had been racing all morning, despite their pictures appearing on the virtual podium.)

After returning to report our success (in my opinion) at the house, we relaxed for a while, gave the ghost one last chance to emerge, and gradually the series of cars we'd parked out the front started diminishing. I led Julie to the island's famous chocolate café, where we were underwhelmed, and then I recommended she take the lead off the island, as I intended to return, after the thrill of race driving, to my usual, street-driving pace for the return journey.

 
 


 
  2014.09.01  07.26
2012 and 13...

When Buzz Magazine was an actual magazine - one with paper and pages and front pages and advertising - each writer was given the opportunity at the end of the year to contribute to The Buzz Lists, a list of the writers' favourite albums, songs, gigs and various other categories for the year, with flexibility to include one's area of expertise and editorial comments. For those years, I was also pretty good at keeping to deadlines. In fact, I know that having the spectre of a deadline looming over me encourages more efficient work. Without it, I am prone to meandring over the same content for great lengths, revising over and over to some point of perfection which will never come. The deadline forces work to a point where it can be deemed 'good enough.' So far, that has usually been satisfactory.

In the days of Buzz, it was always fascinating to reflect on the year via The Buzz Lists, but to do so twenty months past the deadline would have probably been deemed unconventional, and would certainly be too late for printing in the New Year issue. I've never been one for convention, so thought I would lodge an informal equivelent, for the sake of history.

In some ways, it doesn't seem like much changed over the course of the two so far undocumented years. When I think about 2011, I haven't progressed much - at least not professionally. On the other hand, I travelled far and wide, and saw some things I've wanted to for a long time. There were some good gigs, too.

In 2012, I started travelling. The luxury to do so seems far removed from how things are now, professionally, for me and others - the ability to decide, with Julie, over sushi on a Monday evening that we'd change our weekend road trip plans to a couple of weeks in Japan, and book everythnig by Tuesday. Going to Japan was amazing, and there are few people who I think I could have made a trip run more smoothly with. No sooner had I arrived home than I was being called overseas again, this time for work, to the Philippines. It was another highlight, and opened the door to things I'd never imagined, not to mention plenty of new friendships.

It was also where I caught the best gig of the year. Being a temporary millionaire marauding as a travelling journalist afforded me the unexpected privelage of VIP tickets to events, including one with Marky Ramone, fronting (or backing) a Ramones cover group called 'Blitzkrieg.' It was, most of all, a weird and exciting experience. Set in the Hard Rock Cafe, I posed for photos with a legend of punk whilst I drank house cocktails and he sipped on espresso coffee.

I'd predicted a while ago that 2010 would signal the commencement of a 1990s era nostaliga shows, and this was never more evident than it was in 2012. Vengaboys kicked things off with a fun gig at the Corner (taking the title for best venue of the year, I think) which was surprisingly outdone by an on-fire Aqua at the Metro. One of the best nights of the year was a show by Wheatus, who were happy to laugh at themselves despite giving a performance taking in all of their albums - even though I was amongst a few in the audience who knew more than a couple of songs. It was probably my favourite show locally of the year. Surprisingly, last year's big winner, Andrew WK, came close to my most disappointing performance of the year. I don't really see the appeal of his 'One Man Party' show. Luckily for him, it was pipped by another nostalgia show - Eiffel 65 and two members of N-Trance singing along to karaoke from an iPod connected to the Prince's PA.

Like 2011, I didn't watch a lot of television in this year, however I loved a show called Bored To Death, with the only downside being its beivity. Nothing like ending on a high to leave a guy wanting more. My favourite album was fun's Some Nights.

In 2012, Cosmo Jarvis just missed out on my award for 'Best Album' with Is the World Strange or Am I Strange? coming a close second, but this was rectified early in 2013, when he locked in a position for the year in several categories. Whilst the early-new year gig at the Corner was certainly a good one (though missing a few key songs, blamed on vocal strain, which might have just put the show over the line,) it missed out on the year's award to Smash Mouth's tragically under-attended show at the Hi-Fi. I picked up a copy of Cosmo's Think Bigger at the merch stand which remained in high rotation throughout the year and ended as my favourite. As a bonus to the album, the copy of his film The Naughty Room that was included in the CD/DVD set with Think Bigger proved my favourite movie of the year too.

The year wasn't too different to the one before. I spent a lot of time in the Philippines again, this time with Angela, and experienced an earthquake in a haunted building. The year's televisual highlight was Hannibal, but for an original series Broadchurch kept me hooked. I guess I watched a lot of television, compared to previous years.

Hopefully, if I'm tasked to write a list again, or if I feel the need to, it won't take me so long. Especially if I'm meant to be working to a deadline.

 
 


 
  2014.08.22  06.19
Hugo...

It's one thing to uncover some unexpected truth about an acquaintance, or even a friend or colleague, some secret that, once revealed, casts that person in a new light, altering the perception one has of them forever. It's quite another to encounter the same revelation about one's self. That was the experience I've had this week, and it made me feel ridiculous.

I was reminded of James Sunderland from Silent Hill 2. Facets of my personality must have been so repressed that I didn't even know they were there and, in fact, thought my motivations were contrary to what has been drawn out of me.

The prelude to the revelation happened on Tuesday, as I returned to work from the break that I remember taking this week. I'd used it to go down the road to buy a birthday cake for a participant and felt as though I was already verging on returning late. I was rushing upstairs, cake in hand, when the operations manager, Raj, stopped me.

'There you are, Dann,' he said. 'I've been looking for you. You weren't in the training room!'

I explained that I'd been on a break, and he responded - cryptically, I thought - by telling me that that was good. He asked if he could take me back downstairs, 'for a quick chat.' I told him that it would have to wait, since I had training to conduct, but he insisted that it was important and would only take a minute. I suggested I speak to him after five o'clock, but he said it couldn't wait. I weakly objected, citing the trainees waiting in the room for me, he casually responded 'They'll be fine,' (an accurate surmising, upon reflection, since we work with adults.)

I reluctantly agreed, repeating that even the couple of minutes quoted for the 'chat' were bordering on unacceptable to me. He told me that we'd be meeting with the company's HR department (in reality just one woman) and I perked up a little, asking if I was finally being fired. My brief optimism was quickly quashed when Raj told me that that wasn't the reason, and I realised the foolishness of my comment, since Raj wouldn't be the person who would initiate such a conversation with me.

I was ushered quickly into a small office where the door was closed, and I reiterated that I could only spare a moment. The HR department and Raj agreed, and she handed Raj an envelope, which he handed to me.

'We just wanted to thank you for everything you've done,' Raj said, offering his hand to shake once I'd taken the envelope. I moved onto shake HR's waiting hand, and she seemed to continue his sentiment. 'You're doing an incredible job, and all stakeholders have said so; This isn't just my opinion.'

Having said little more than 'hello' to this woman in the couple of months that I've known her - we've never even been formally introduced - I wondered about the significance of whatever opinion of me she might have anyway. Raj spoke again, distracting me from further thought on the topic.

'We just wanted to let you know we've noticed the fantastic job you're doing, and to thank you for it.'

I looked between the pair as they smiled expectantly at me, trying to discern the response required of me to conclude the awkward meeting. I decided upon the logical closure to an expression of thanks.

'You're welcome...' I offered. When their stares in my direction continued, I went with a more direct approach. 'Now I'm late for training because I came here, so I am leaving.'

I dropped their envelope into my shopping bag with the cake, which now seemed like even more of a pointless extravagance than it already was, and after the time wasted in the peculiar meeting I felt compelled to abandon plans I'd had of serving the cake that afternoon since it would only consume more time. At some point during the remainder of the day (which ultimately did include the serving of the cake) I must have tossed the envelope onto the desk, where it ended up within the pages of my notebook, because I found it on the train the following morning when I fished around for the book in my bag to write something down.

I saw for the first time that my name was handwritten on the envelope, which was also emblazoned with the company logo. The envelope was sealed, so I'd have to tear it to see inside, further precluding it from recycling to send a competition entry or something. Inside the envelope was a letter, explaining the purpose of the card attached to it - a pre-paid credit card, apparently able to be used 'where ever pre-paid credit cards are accepted and processed electronically.' I don't know if places like that are common or not. A space on the letter left blank for the card's value had been filled with a hand-written '$100.00' I folded everything back into the envelope.

Later that day, I saw Raj and stopped him. 'I won't accept that gift,' I told him. I'd known as soon as I saw the contents that I didn't want it, but couldn't understand why. 'It makes me feel uncomfortable.'

'It shouldn't,' he told me. 'You deserve it. You earned it.'

'No,' I corrected him. 'I earned the pathetic pittance that I'm paid fortnightly. This is something else. I don't know what this is...'

The word 'bribe' crossed my mind, but I didn't mention it. My component of the conversation so far had seemingly spilled uncontrolled out of my mouth, without much forethought that I was aware of. It was an interesting and disturbing experience. But I was able to halt the flow before the word 'bribe' could be unleashed. Perhaps it was too dramatic or absurd to be vocalised. If the credit card was intended as a bribe, what was the desired response on my behalf? That I start to replying to inane pleasantries from senior management figures like 'How are you?' with something mainstream but untrue like 'Fine,' instead of with the titles of classic albums like 'I Should Coco' as I have taken to doing over the past eight weeks? If it was a bribe, was its intent to entice me to stay in this job, or at least to stop applying for internal positions despite being advised I will not be considered for them? Maybe its goal was for me to stop being proactive and vocal in making arrangements for the successor to my role and repeatedly referring to the day 'when I'll stop coming to work and start drinking all day' as something probably and imminent? If so, I should probably take the sum and format as an insult.

Perhaps the token should be taken at face value, exactly as Raj had described it: as a show of gratitude for a job well done. If this is the case, it must mean that I should continue with my routine of sending emails which are described regularly by the Acting Vice President as 'unprofessional, ' and that 'Start Making Sense' must be a suitable response to the centre operation manager's question 'How was your weekend?' If the card indicates that my work has been satisfactory, surely requests that I behave contrary to how I do are in conflict with the prize. My thoughts were interrupted before I could posit this suggestion.

'It's just something for you,' Raj said. 'And you should enjoy spending it on something for yourself.'

'That's insulting to your staff, above all else,' I protested, once again feeling the loss of control of my words. 'We exist here is squalor. All anyone wants to do is to come here and do their job, but everyone has to spend so long just trying to find equipment that works. And now you give me, who does nothing special... nothing memorable... nothing to benefit anyone other than myself... you're giving me a financial gift?'

I thought Raj was going to laugh at the uncharacteristic passion with which I was discussing something work-related.

'All I mean is that the money could be better spent,' I tried to sum up my speech, and thought I was finished.

'It's $100. How many mice do you think that would buy?' Raj smiled now. I didn't correct him on the linguistic convention for the plural form of computer mouse, nor did I suggest that the voucher could probably have bought at least ten. 'Buy yourself something nice, man.'

Raj excused himself to join the meeting I'd interrupted him en-route to, signalling the conversation closed, and I returned to work too, having wasted even more time on the matter than I already had.

Reflection upon the development of the gift card seemed to set in slowly, and only raised more questions. I'd thought that my sole motivation - particularly in regards to my profession - was the acquisition of wealth. Yet now that I was being given a financial bonus, albeit a paltry one, I not only turned it down, but did so with a passion I'd to that point never experienced. I had not had any intention of sounding like a martyr for some weak cause like new PC peripherals, nor do I ever want to be characterised as such. I've always thought that my concern was exclusively with my own welfare, yet I made these statements for some meagre greater good for all of my colleagues. Despite the comments, despite the action of trying to hand back the card, I don't think I feel particularly enthusiastic about my stance that would possibly have sounded like it was firmly behind them.

So if money doesn't motivate me, what will? I am still trying to believe that a larger sum might, but after this incident, I don't feel as certain of that as I did at the beginning of the week. I can no longer understand the purpose of my existence as I had when I'd presumed it was devoted to accruing wealth. I don't know how I'll progress with this new-found knowledge of myself. To proceed as I have been now seems pointless, but I don't know what the alternative is.

 
 


 
  2014.08.05  08.05
drugFree 2014...

'It was different,' was the civil review Julie gave to the event we attended on Sunday as we left. It certainly wasn't the usual scene we frequent, as made awkwardly evident by the opening address on the appropriateness of liquor consumption on a Sunday (apparently one shouldn't.) Rob's energy drinks were even seen as contraband, and Jitka insisted we consume them with discretion.

Jitka had hyped the event at a dinner weeks earlier enthusiastically but vaguely. She made clear that it was billed as a charity gala, and in support of providing some kind of educational opportunities to impoverished girls in India. Beyond this, I wasn't too sure of much, including how Jitka had become involved with the event; she deflected many questions with assurances that 'It will be fun!' and 'It's for a good cause!' and promises that her famous chicken sandwiches would be included with the deal.

The setting was a place called the Old Cheese Factory. It was a moderate drive away, but towards the end felt like it was on a road too small for a cheese factory to reside on. Once Julie and I found the place (literally an Old Cheese Factory) we found signs on the grounds pointing to various different function spaces, some labelled with temporary event signs, but we realised we didn't actually know the name of the event we'd come to attend. A tour of other functions led us via process of elimination to the correct room, where we found our table and friends. I served everyone some of the punch from a nearby buffet table, and Emma explored the corporate material left on our table by its sponsor - a group called 'Isabella's List.' She and Sabine flipped through their literature to reveal the group's agenda - sobriety. I joked on the irony of us being seated at this table, given we seemed to have already consumed more punch than the sum of the other tables.

Before the festivities commenced (we learned from other attendees we'd be seeing a fashion show - which I was asked to model for, - a raffle, and a silent auction) Sabine, Emma, Rob and I completed the survey from Isabella's List's information. The results of the survey placed us all in a category which the List - a faction of the Delgarno Institute - deems 'Alcoholic.' 'Yes/No' responses included topics such as 'I have consumed alcohol before midday,' and 'I have consumed alcohol alone before.' An essay in a magazine included in the group's literature cites Katy Perry as an act who 'could undermine public health messages' by way of her lyrics describing 'engaging in a range of risky and anti-social behaviours...'

It must have been the aforementioned alcoholism that prompted us to whisper comments of shock during the introductory address when the organiser of the event praised the non-alcoholic punch. We considered a venture to the carpark to find Rob's hip-flask of gin. A fashion show was introduced, and it was an incredibly awkward affair - a category of elderly entrants, followed by teenage girls - before some local professional designers who were not present had their dresses exhibited, and finally traditional garb from the area our admission was supporting. In lieu of alcohol, we were allowed to indulge in other vices, namely gambling in the form of a raffle. We all bought tickets, and none of my friends were successful. The majority of prizes were awarded to a single table.

Before we left, the results of the silent auction for a number of Impressionist still-lifes by some presumably local artist. As some minion read the names and values of the auction winners, the organiser we'd seen speaking rushed over, snatched the auction listings away, demanding 'You can't let them sell for that price! The silent auction is cancelled!' She didn't seem impressed either when Julie mentioned 'That isn't how a silent auction works...'

 
 


 
  2014.07.01  06.46
Ecliptical...

'I thought you'd be happy...' stammers the guy sent by the client for whom I work to my company's Werribee office to oversee operations. A while ago management from the client brought me a proposal for a model of practical assessment which - unlike previous assessments dictated by them - looked on paper like it would live up to its name and actually assess with some measure of accuracy. In practice, though, the assessment was flawed by a number of factors, including the allowance of opinion in evaluation, inaccuracies and misconceptions required to pass, and suspicions of bias on the behalf of assessors. The result was the emotional destruction of 100% of participants, whether the assessment deemed them competent or not. I accepted full responsibility for the failure of the process, as I'd advised the trainees that certain avenues of support would be available to them during the assessment, as per the original proposal I'd be provided, when in actuality, they were not. The client guy had just brought me news that all participants had eventually been deemed competent, and I'd responded 'Okay,' and continued work on the email I'd been writing, without looking at him.

Bryce was in the room too, and - perhaps predicting I'd air my objections to almost all aspects of the assessment other than the initial concept - tried to explain my response, even though client guy's statement didn't really need any. 'Dann doesn't really get excited too easily,' he said, adding 'In fact, the only time I saw him get excited about something that wasn't really huge was just a couple of weeks ago. It was weird.'

I wondered what he meant, and I guess Bryce recognised it in my face. 'Remember?' he explained. 'You got really excited when we saw a rainbow.'

I had to think back. A simple rainbow didn't seem like something I'd be at all excited about, though I did remember Bryce previously expressing his own amazement at the natural phenomenon one day when we'd seen a particularly bold rainbow, and he'd explained that the reason he likes them is that they contain all of the spectra of colour which can ever exist. I wasn't sure if I'd heard of the fact before he'd said it, but agreed that it seemed plausible and was impressive. I asked now if Bryce was mistaking his own comments for mine, and he reminded me.

'No, though that is true, and pretty cool,' he said. 'Don't you remember? It was a while ago. Angela was driving us to the city.'

When he said that, I did remember. We'd both thanked Ang for the lift to the city, since it would significantly reduce our travel time. Or so I thought. After being left in the city, it was the night my train was halted in the City Loop due to a fire at Richmond which I guess had backed up trains. As soon as the train driver announced the reason for the delay and that he didn't know how long it would take to be repaired - or if it would be at all tonight - I devised an alternative. Luckily the train had stopped in the city, so I climbed out of the underground and found a tram stop. Unfortunately news had been spreading of the indefinite delays, and the tram filled quickly, having to wait a long time at each stop while people tried to get on and the same people made the same jokes about the tram being full at every intersection. It ended up taking several hours longer to get home than usual, which was a shame, because it was on the night that Orphan Black plays on TV, and I really liked that show.

As Ang drove us along the freeway, Bryce had pointed out a bold rainbow, prophesising that the weather conditions might encourage a double rainbow. His comment reminded me of another phenomenon due to take place that day, and I checked my watch - it was time. I did that which you aren't supposed to and looked at the sun and saw that the solar eclipse I'd heard about had started, and told my colleagues. We each broke the astrological rule and glimpsed the sun quickly from the corner of our eyes.

'You know,' I thought aloud. 'This is probably a rare thing... seeing a solar eclipse and a rainbow at the same time.'

They agreed, and I joked, 'Maybe one day your grandchildren will ask where you were when the eclipse and rainbow happened at once, and you can tell them you were with me.'

I didn't think the comment had demonstrated too much excitement, but I do think it was pretty cool to witness.

 
 


 
  2014.06.03  17.46
Stolen cardKey...

'Well, thank goodness she's alright.'

I heard this sentence a lot this week, and for a while didn't respond.

In my current training group is a woman who left part-way through Wednesday on the first week. She returned from lunch and stated that she needed to make an urgent phone call and would return shortly after. She never did.

The behaviour bears similarities to another trainee from the group I'd trained prior to this one. In that instance, the trainee simply didn't return from lunch at all, abandoning his backpack, jacket and mobile phone in the training room. I'd tracked down his emergency contact details and called his wife, who hadn't noticed he was missing. I gave her my personal number and asked that they call me back if he's okay. Neither of them did.

He returned the following day, and was outraged at my having contacted his wife.

'What right did you have?' he raised his voice. 'She was worried that I was dead!'

I explained that I had considered the same fate for him, and explained that I did have the right, since he had provided the details himself for just that purpose. He remained in training for another week before pulling the same trick, but that time he didn't return, and his belongings stayed in the training room until the group finished. Once the next group started, I found a box labelled 'Lost Property' to store it in instead of throwing it away, which was lucky, because I found the guy sitting in the training room one day last week. Before I could say anything, he asked 'Where is everybody?' and I explained that training was finished and that they had gone to work.

This time, the woman involved left, taking with her my work key. I called the woman repeatedly, and she eventually picked up at around eight.pm. She told me that she had received distressing news from a family member which had made her too emotional to return to work, but that she would be in the next day.

'I took your key card so that I'd be able to get in,' she said. 'Perhaps I could drop your key card off at your house..?'

I cut her off, asking if she would be willing to drive to Springvale that evening. 'Oh,' she stammered. 'I didn't realise you lived so far away...' She said she would return to work the following day with the pass.

She didn't, and I assigned the team leader to contact her. This continued for several days, all of them without me having my work pass. Eventually, the team leader got in touch with the woman, who told some story about spousal abuse, but that she'd return to work to claim her pay for the three days she attended training. The team leader also asked her to bring my pass.

She didn't show up, and at the end of the day, I formally sent the request to replace my pass, at a cost of $40, having had it deactivated the moment it went missing.

'At least you know she's alright,' someone else said to me. I'd passed through the week by simply responding to similar sentiments with a growl of neither agreement or disapproval, simply acknowledgement as I tried to contain the emotions surrounding work which I am unaccustomed to experiencing.

'I mean,' the commenter seemed to feel the need to answer my glare. 'You can rest easy, I mean, knowing she isn't dead...'

'I'd rest easier if she were dead,' I replied. 'That might be a justifiable reason for not bringing back my pass.'

'You can't say that!' said a passing colleague, apparently hearing, but not realising that I just had said it.

I have never felt such rage at someone in a professional environment, and I doubt I will until I am satisfied that she has been punished to the extent of the $40 replacement cost I have had to pay for my pass.

However, I know it is unfair. The only person who should feel at fault is me, for allowing my pass to fall into her thieving hands. Any vengeance I took would be unjust. I should learn a lesson and move on, accept responsibility for my own mistake.

 
 


 
  2014.05.20  07.26
Everlasting Love...

Yesterday I was finally able to speak with a medical student named Tuck. On the receiving end of my phone call, Tuck sounded confused and taken aback, much different to how he'd sounded when he'd first called me a week or maybe more (or maybe less) ago.

Tuck first called me on which ever evening it is that Orphan Black plays on TV. I could easily check which day that is, but have no interest in doing so. I answered his call late in the day on my mobile on a train on my way home from work. He introduced himself and his familiarity with my 'case' which he said he had been given as a part of his neurological research as a part of his medical studies. He asked if I would answer some questions and act as a subject for his study. I was fascinated, and, I'll admit, a little flattered, so I told Tuck that I'd be interested in learning more.

'Great,' Tuck said, and immediately started questioning me enthusiastically. 'My understanding is that you were diagnosed with epilepsy involving nocturnal seizures when you were 13. Is that correct?'

I confirmed that it was, but wondered how he had come upon such specific information. Next Tuck asked about the seizures I have, going through the usual questions, until he asked if I 'experience symptoms like incontinence.'

'Um...' I stammered, looking at my surroundings of the semi-populous train carriage. My Gameboy lay closed in my lap where I'd left it after throwing a game of Elite Beat Agents to take the call. 'I'm not really in a position where I can discuss that right now. Could I call you back to talk about your research further?'

My reluctance to answer immediately seemed to catch Tuck off-guard. I sensed that he might have been working from a script that he'd prepared which I'd deviated from. I tried to help him back on track by offering alternative options.

'If you give me your number I could call you back?' I suggested. 'Or perhaps you could email the information and details about your research to me?'

Eventually Tuck decided that the best solution was for him to call me back, and we decided that the most suitable time would be prior to eight.am the following morning. I told him that I would look forward to it. I was left to think about Tuck's call, and where his information might have originated from. I remembered immediately the enthusiastic doctor who had spoken to me whilst the neurology nurses had connected the EEG transmitters to my scalp during my hospital stay in February. He had requested I sign forms to either allow or prohibit the hospital from disclosing my information to third parties for reasons such as medical research. The form had allowed space for my signature and a multiple choice selection of disclosure options.

The final of the three options (and the one I ultimately selected) announced my preference that none of my records or information be disclosed to anyone not immediately involved in my treatment or care. The preceding two options allowed for disclosure of information for reasons given by example as use in studies, research or publication in medical journals. The first option allowed for full disclosure, including of my name and personal information, with the second only allowing for access to medical information, excluding or obscuring any details which could personally identify the subject (me.)

The doctor thanked me for completing the paperwork, but did enquire as to why I had selected the complete non-disclosure option. I explained that of the three, the third most closely matched my preference, however that none of the three allowed for my specific preference. I would, I clarified, be theoretically happy to allow all of my information to be disclosed, however would only do so on a case-by-case basis once the nature of the study or research for which it was required was explained to me, and how and where the results would be published. The doctor attempted, and failed, to clarify, telling me that the information would only be published and used in medical trials and journals, so I provided examples of the type of information which I would request before allowing or denying my information be disclosed: the nature of the study, readership and circulation of journals, the opportunity for input. The doctor admitted that these were apparently unusual requests, but suggested that the first option would allow for this, as, he decided, 'most doctors would probably call you.' I declared that the form alone wasn't specific enough about that, so my original response would remain in place. The doctor announced that he understood my concern, and destroyed the original form which I'd signed before my eyes. He said that he would have another agreement form written up and brought to me that he hoped would reflect my wishes.

The replacement form never eventuated during that week...

When I arrived home, I'd missed part of Orphan Black, which was a shame, because I really liked that show. I asked my mum if there had been a phone call from a medical student, and she confirmed that Tuck had called earlier in the day.

'He wanted to know if you see auras, and what kind of hallucinations you see,' she explained. He'd apparently also asked the more routine questions he'd started with to me about my medical history. 'I told him he'd have to ask you about that.'

This was surprising. When she said Tuck had called, I figured that it had been looking for me, but it turned out that he'd called her mobile with questions specific to her, and that the call had taken place before he'd contacted me at all. Also surprising was that I'd not provided that telephone number when I was in hospital - I'd given my mother's details for emergency contact, but only listed the home phone number, and not a mobile number.

I figured this was one more thing to ask the student about, but he didn't call me the next morning as he'd promised. In fact, I didn't hear from him until several days later, in an SMS that was received on my phone at eight.47am, but which I didn't see until ten or twelve hours later. By eight.47, I'd arrived at work and packed my mobile phone away for the day. The message read: Hi Daniel. I'm Tuck, the medical student who called a couple of days ago. What time would be good to call you this morning?

As that morning was obviously no longer an option for the reasons described above, I tried to plot a suitable time for the next day. This also seemed difficult, since I don't take predetermined breaks (nor, indeed, do I take breaks at all, most days) not can I be contacted via phone during business hours. I tried to sate my curiosity yesterday by calling Tuck. As I said, he seemed surprised. I'd planned on suggesting a meeting in person to share the information he required, and to find out more about his study.

'Oh!' Tuck said eventually, having apparently taken a while to realise who I was. 'Thanks for calling, but I don't need to talk to you any more. I already presented my study...'

'How did it go?' I asked.

'Huh?' I repeated myself, and Tuck finally replied. 'Oh, um... Fine...'

I asked about the nature of the study, and Tuck said it was on 'the dangerous slowing of your heart rate during nocturnal seizure events.'

'Really?' I clarified. '"Dangerous slowing?"'

'Yeah...' he said, still sounding uncertain of himself. 'That's what happens to you, isn't it?'

'I don't know,' I said. 'Maybe you can tell me. Is that what your study found?'

'What?' The conversation went in circles like that for a while without anything useful being disclosed. In the end, I decided to give Tuck a break.

'Could you send me a copy of your study to read for myself, then?'

'What?' he said again. 'Oh, it was a presentation... Verbal...'

'Surely,' I may have cut him off mid-sentence. 'You made some notse that could could forward? I could give you my e-mail address?'

'Oh! Yeah! Well, no... Just... They're quite technical...'

'I don't mind that!' I enthused.

'No,' Tuck said. 'I can't.' Tuck's decision on this front seemed final, so I tried a different line of questioning.

'Let me ask you this,' I proposed. 'Where did you get my details from?'

'What do you mean?' he asked. 'It was in medical records. I'm a medical student...'

'Yes,' I cut him off again. 'You've told me that. I guess what I would like to know is who allowed you access to my records?'

'Oh, I'm a medical student,' Tuck repeated. 'So I'm allowed access to medical records.'

'So are they in something like a library?' I asked, perhaps obnoxiously. 'Would I be able to get access with a CAVAL borrowing card?'

'I had to ask...'

'Right,' I cut him off again, trying to keep the conversation efficient. I had to get back to work, and the call had already run for several minutes. 'Who did you ask?'

'The hospital...'

'Who at the hospital, though? Presumably you spoke to someone there, and not just to the hospital itself.'

Tuck gave me some vague answers without naming anyone specifically. I suggested that it might have been a doctor who gave him the information, but he would neither confirm nor deny this. I decided to come clean.

'The reason I'm asking all of this is because you called my emergency contact person.'

'Yeah,' he agreed. 'I couldn't get through to you.'

'But it wasn't an emergency,' I said. 'You called and asked questions about my medical condition, but all I'd given those details for was for someone to call in an emergency, not to discuss symptoms.'

'Yeah...' he said. 'The number was on file...'

I cut him off again, trying to bring this to some kind of point. 'The problem is, that you used the information for a reason other than which it was provided. Not only that, but you disclosed information of a personal nature. Both of those are in breach of the Australian Privacy Act, and could attract penalties of more than $100,000 per breach, or jail time...'

'Oh, no!' Tuck stopped me, now. 'No, I didn't...'

'But you did,' I sighed. 'You did call and ask those questions of my emergency contact person.'

'Yeah,' he stammered. 'But... It was your mum.'

'Yes,' I confirmed. 'And I provided her details in my medical records only for emergency contact. You used the details to ask questions when there was no emergency, and that's a breach of the law. Why did you do that?'

'I thought it was you. I thought I was talking to you! I didn't realise it wasn't.'

'I see,' I sighed. It seemed like a lame excuse, but I felt like I'd freaked him out, and like the whole conversation had been pointless now that the study was over. Tuck didn't seem like he'd reveal who had given him the information, but I decided to see what he could tell me, and tried to ask some questions that might be less alarming to him. 'Did you see the video component of the EEG?'

'No,' he calmed down a little. 'I never saw that. Just the results.'

'Do you think you could get me a copy?'

'I don't know,' he said. 'You'll have to ask your doctor.'

'Right...' I sighed, thinking of the futility I'd faced when asking about that sort of thing before, and also the fact that I hadn't been allowed time off work to attend my last appointment with my doctor and had postponed it indefinitely. 'Well, I'm sorry I couldn't help with your work. Be careful, Tuck. Good luck with your studies.'

I hung up the call and went back to work. I wondered after why I'd apologised, when I was mostly sorry that I hadn't found out any real details, and not that I wasn't able to help with the work at all. I need to be more sincere.

 
 


 
  2014.03.30  19.18
Sail Away...

Women and children first...
- Radiohead - Idioteque

Set an open course for the virgin seas...
- Styx - Come Sail Away

It's true. This year, I haven't done a lot of things. Some sceptical friends might cite this as the reason why I'd name a gig comprised entirely of local acts who I've never heard before as the highlight show of the year so far. Even if there were more competition for yesterday's show, I'm sure it would still rank highly, if not as a concert, then as an adventure at the high seas.

Ship Rock'd,
The Victoria Star, March 29, 2014


I met Lee at the Docklands where there wasn't much happening besides a pub where people had started early - it seemed in preparation for a football game. There weren't many around who looked like they were there for seafaring, and I wondered if I'd found the right ship, but shortly after Lee arrived, so did his friend Annie, and Josie from Tequila Mockingbyrd, the band who had organised the cruise. In quick succession, more people, many clad as pirates for taking to the seas, arrived, and I felt relieved. As the gangway was lowered, the captain appeared on the deck, and called for everyone's attention, describing the underestimated risk of sitting on the handrails of the ship, and demonstrated how to use a lifejacket. As he invited the guests aboard, Lee pointed out that although the lifejacket display had been clear and concise, it did not include where to find a lifejacket in an emergency.

On board, Lee, Annie and I explored the ship, and quickly found the bar. I was surprised at how excited I became at the prospect of being aboard the cruise. It was infantile, really. Just hearing the captain sound the horn, waving to the children on the dock as the vessel pulled away... simple but I found them incredibly exciting. Even before the bands took to the stage, I could tell that the Victoria Star was an excellent venue for a rock show. It was casual, populous but with room to move. The band room on the top deck was small, but so too are many of the best on land. For a while, the three of us enjoyed the cruise, waving to those in passing vessels and enjoying the scenery.



Like many others, we were drawn into the band room for the first time to confirm whether the piped music had given way to live. If so, we decided from the lower deck, then it must have been a fine band on stage performing an admirable cover of Ballroom Blitz. It turned out to be live, and served as my introduction to opener Sudden State. They played an energetic kind of pub rock which suited the small space well, but seemed like it would work better under cover of darkness, instead of in the midday sun coming through the cabin windows.



Later, the ship's attendees were excited to pass by other vessels, like those in the Sea Shephard's docks. Lee and I were excited by a massive cruise ship with a the biggest 'No Smoking' sign either of us have seen, and plenty of shipping containers. My excitement, which had been unwavering for the whole cruise, reached a peak when we passed by the Dawn Princess on our way into ocean. On the return trip, I'd be even more excited when the Dawn Princess was pulling out to sea itself, an blew its horn to us as its occupants waved from their cabin balconies as a girl aboard the Victoria Star exposed her breasts. Other highlights in the scenery included massive schools of jellyfish, ticking off one of the sights Annie had hoped to see.



As the Victoria Star headed to sea, the majority of the cruise guests headed into the band cabin. Tequila Mockingbyrd were taking to the small stage, their oversized pirate hats proving no problem in their enthusiastic performance. My first impression of the band was good. They put on a powerful, yet playful show. It was, again, classic pub rock, with a modern twist and would fit in at any type of party, it seems, even one set against the rocking of the high seas. After their performance, the band members could be seen cruising the decks, serving their celebratory cake they'd made, shaped like the Victoria Star itself, and decorated with pirate flags and candy sharks.



As the afternoon turned to evening, the ship made a loop, giving us sweeping views of the bay, of Melbourne turning to St Kilda, and we tried to identify landmarks. Coming back into the Docklands was just as exciting as setting sail, and I found myself once again waving to strangers, this time intoxicated, post-football fans, who shouted and waved back, and I left the ship glad to know that this is an annual cruise.

 
 


 
  2014.02.20  22.27
SUDEC...

I felt like I was entering the new doctor's office with a combative attitude. I'd made clear during my first visit with him that I expected to see some results or at least action from him within three visits, or I intended to discontinue our relationship. I'd been impressed with the decisiveness with which he ordered the week-long video EEG, a seemingly thorough test, but I still felt uncertain. The hospital experiment, though a promising move, would be meaningless if it led to inaction, so I was interested to hear the neurologist's interpretation, and also what he thought of the other doctor's PET scan proposal. Depending on my satisfaction, this could turn out to be the final appointment.

I was determined, too, to reap the most value from the appointment in terms of duration, though I am aware that this is probably mostly an effort at proving some point (though I'm not sure which point) after coming to the realisation at the conclusion of the last seven-minute visit that the doctor's fee amounted to more per minute of his time than I earn per hour. Further more, after two appointments of similar duration (the first resulting in a bill inexplicably double that of the subsequent visit) I feel no better off for the expense.

When the doctor met me in the waiting room, his pleasure at seeing me seemed genuine - the smile accompanying his handshake not so broad as to imply exaggeration, nor lasting so long as to suggest it were forced. That said, I would also probably appear happy if I stood to earn over $25 per minute for someone's company. Once inside his office, the first several minutes of that costly time were occupied by the doctor battling his seemingly dubious grasp of computer technology to open files which he would read for the first time in my presence. One might expect this kind of preparatory work to have been completed prior to a client's arrival. This is at least the expectation in industries in which I have worked, and even my experience with some other neurologists.

Once he eventually managed to display the documents on his screen, he stammered through key points, all of which I was already aware. On some of the points I probed the neurologist for further detail and insight which he was unable to provide, citing having not studied the test results in detail. I asked if I might be provided with a copy, but this proved a perplexing request, as it had in the hospital. Apparently I am the first patient to have ever made such a request. After several more minutes of back-and-forth conversation during which the provision of detailed answers was mostly postponed, my medication dosage was bumped up. It was suggested that a follow-up appointment be scheduled to review the change in dosage for two weeks' time. I refused. I suspected that I may be in Manila by that time, but I also disliked the minimal timeframe to allow for change. The alternative suggestion was to make an appointment for when I expected to return. I begrudgingly agreed, and the doctor started to close all the files on his computer about me.

I detected the session drawing to a close, and felt dissatisfied with the minimal information I'd been given, and also with the brevity of the appointment. It had been ten minutes, and I wanted at least a couple more. The doctor asked pointedly if there was anything else I needed, so I told him that there was.

'I'd like you to draw a conclusion,' I told him. 'Or don't.'

The neurologist nodded, folded his hands in his lap. He sighed. 'SUDEC,' he said. 'There is a condition called SUDEC.'

I tried to hide my smile. It seemed if I wanted an opinion, it needed to be forced. I relaxed in my chair.

The doctor explained that the acronym stood for Sudden and Unexplained Death from Epileptic Convulsion, or words to that effect anyway. This was dramatic, though not as scary as perhaps it should be. Maybe it was difficult to take the diagnosis seriously due to not actually feeling that sick. It was good to hear something new for a change, though. I asked if this conclusion was related to the newly discovered fact of my slow heart rate during seizures. He said that it was, and also due to my suggestion of their frequency (although 'events' subsequent to that recorded in the hospital were dismissed as being unable to verify due to not having witnesses.) He speculated that the SUDEC conclusion was probably something that the hospital doctor had considered when ordering the PET scan. I asked why he thought so, and he said that, since the doctors were considering my imminent death, they had to consider resolutions, and that if one of those was surgery, they would obviously need tomographic images of my brain to ploy their course.

I couldn't help but laugh a little. My imminent death and brain surgery, used in the one sentence. I don't really fear death, particularly lately, and found that having it the subject of a serious discussion was not at all as daunting as I thought it might be. The concept of brain surgery is much more concerning. My mother has mentioned it seriously a few times, suggesting it could be the cause of my problems, but I am especially reluctant to consider it. Death is one thing, but the thought of failed - or even successful - brain surgery changing my personality in some way is of concern.

Perhaps I shouldn't take the speculation too seriously. It was, after all, merely a speculation, and one which came about only after I put pressure on. However, it was nice to leave with something to think about for a change, and in the end, I did make a follow up appointment for a few months into the future. I allowed myself time to cancel, though, if I reconsider.

 
 


 
  2014.02.18  06.57
Disconnect / Flee...

Once my head had been disconnected from the computer next to the hospital bed, I wasted no time in preparing to leave. I had my first shower in a week to rinse the smell of the acetone used to remove the electrodes from my head, and tried to break the remaining glue out of my hair and from my scalp. I packed all of my notebooks away, and went out to see the nurses behind the desk at the station outside my room and announced that I was ready to check out. They seemed amused by my statement and explained that 'check out' is not the appropriate term to use for a hospital stay, and furthermore, that that isn't how it works - one does not, apparently, simply leave a hospital - a fact emphasised by the locked door opened only via a button hidden securely behind the nurse station desk.

The door remained shut, the button not pressed. The nurses countered my announcement with a suggestion that I return with my bag to the room to await a visit from the doctor. It was nine.15am.

With my bag packed and the medical contents of the room removed by the neurology nurses, I was left to stare out the window wishing I'd charged my Gameboy the night before. My reading material had all been depleted, and it seemed like a lot of effort to unpack all of the notebooks to work on my book when the arrival of the doctor to discharge me was allegedly imminent. So I spent some more time staring out the window.

At around ten.30am, the young doctor who had visited a couple of times, but whose name I didn't know (because he had never divulged it, despite requests to that effect,) returned to my room.

'So you're all ready to go,' he said, or perhaps asked, his tone wavering between question and statement. I told him that I was and asked after the process of getting out. He said he wanted to discuss some things with me, but rather than giving me any insight in response to my question, he just asked me for a recap of my experience. I gave him a summary of key elements that I deemed relevant:

» On the night of February 5, I slept for a duration I couldn't determine.
» At five.am on February 6, the sleep was interrupted by a generalised tonic-clonic seizure, preceded by my head turning sharply to the right, and vicious growling.
» Actual REM sleep had only been for thirty minutes when the seizure struck.
» After two minutes, I awoke from the seizure to find two nurses in the room, who told me that I had had a seizure. I recall thanking them and telling them that the hospital stay could be considered a success now that what they referred to as an 'event' had been captured on film and EEG.
» For the duration of the seizure, my heart rate slowed dramatically.

The unnamed doctor questioned me on several of these points, suggesting that he suspected, despite the existence of EEG readings to the contrary, that I was feigning the entire event. He asked how I remembered such detail, and I told him that I didn't; that I remembered only waking to and thanking the two nurses, who claimed that my contribution to the conversation was actually unable to be understood, a fact which I find distressing, but have not elaborated upon with any doctor. I clarified, though it seemed unnecessary to have to do so, that I was merely quoting facts from from a report compiled in my presence by another young doctor, this one having been kind enough to introduce herself to me as Qian, and further elaborated upon by a senior doctor 'Something...' (for I couldn't remember his consonant-heavy surname) and the doctor my mother had previously seen, who had both visited me and expressed concern at the detail of the lowered heart rate. I had told them both that I was also surprised by this fact, the possibility of which I'd not considered before.

He didn't provide a lot of further detail, and when I asked if he'd take the required measures to have me released from the hospital, he told me that that was something I'd need to discuss with a more senior doctor, who he promised would be visiting shortly. I wondered if this doctor's visit had been merely for his own interest, and in hindsight should probably have asked this question, but my focus at the time was upon leaving, a feat for which the term 'escape' was seeming more and more appropriate. It wouldn't be until hours later that the promised doctor arrived, and repeated similar statements as the younger doctor, though interlaced with a sheen of concern, and repeated statements that everything being done within the hospital had been with my best interests at heart. I didn't dispute this, but repeated that my concern for my own welfare should also not be discounted. Of primary concern to me was leaving since, the seizure caught on film and several additional days' worth of data documented, I considered the endeavour to be complete. I stated this, as I had to the nurses, though perhaps in a way which did not match what my mind had intended, and was told, finally, that I could leave. I grabbed my bag, and was told, once again, that I was being too eager, and would have to await a visit from the pharmacist.

He arrived at two.30pm, with a bill which, despite my desire to leave, I disputed. It itemised the painkillers I'd not taken, the one I had (I'd finally accepted one post-seizure) and also the medication which I had understood to have been doled out from my own supply once it had been discovered and confiscated. A brief conversation followed, the result of which was a recalculation of the bill and return of the remainder of my own supply of medication (I was unaware of the apparently universally understood rule that one should not take medication of any kind into a hospital.) Once I was paid, and the button to unhinge the door pressed, I fled.

By Valentine's Day, I'd managed to wash the last of the glue out of my hair and return to work. The fact that it was Valentine's Day was initially irrelevant to me, until I checked the company intranet to see that an R&R initiative had been reinstated - a utility for writing anonymous love poems to send to one's secret love. I was surprised at how enthusiastically I took to the system, spending most of the day creating variations on the old 'Roses are red, Violets are blue...' trope with different diseases and bodily afflictions worked in. I'd also received a communiqué from the hospital's Department of Diagnostic Imaging requesting my attendance to a PET scan, apparently at the request of the faux-concerned doctor from the hospital visit, which I called to cancel - I would discuss this with my actual doctor at a visit scheduled for the following week.

It was a warm evening, so Julie and her homegirls met me on a nearby rooftop for white sangria and to catch up. Even before the week of isolation in the hospital, I'd been somewhat antisocial and sober, so there was nothing like being thrown in at the deep end.

After some drinks, Julie, Dewi and I went searching for a sushi train Julie had seen, but stopped along the way at an attraction I would have otherwise missed. Outside a shoe shop, Julie's friend Sherwin was sitting on a deck chair in a queue of about 30 or maybe more guys. Apparently he'd been waiting for a couple of days, and was third place in a queue, where he'd stay until morning, when they opened the store to a new model of Air Jordan shoes. We kept a couple of the guys' seats warm while they stretched their legs, and it was interpreted by those further back in the queue as cutting in, but we were on our way before any arguments could arise.

This was the last in a series of unexpected an new experiences I've delved into in the past few weeks. Although varying in levels of satisfaction and entertainment, if nothing else comes of them I can at least add to a list of things I can confirm from experience that I have no interest in pursuing.

 
 


 
  2014.02.05  21.40
Emergency Box...

I've been amazed at how quickly being confined to the close, somewhat sterile hospital quarters has made me into the type of patient that complains about almost everything to the poor nursing staff - the kind that visitors overhear from the hallway and either feign polite ignorance or laugh about when out of earshot. I hope that my objections are at least more eloquent and coherent than nonsensical rants I have commented upon in hospital hallways (i.e., 'out of earshot,') during the few times in my life I've had occasion to visit hospitals. I feel sure, at least, that I am more cogent than the man in the neighbouring room. I have not seen him, but have heard the incomprehensible slurs he makes loudly, the tone of which makes them seem like they could be insults or obscenities.

Nevertheless, I have still felt compelled to continue to object to the frequent offers of drugs. I have not yet taken the anticoagulation injections offered each day, and did finally raise the question yesterday of whether they are of the same variety used by the Czech nurse in serial killings. The question raised more eyebrows than one might expect, and during the night I realised a possible reason why: my room is right next to the nurses' station, and I could hear an accent (and indeed, voice,) almost identical to Jitka's Czech charm. I even had to look outside to see if it was her, despite her conversation being on the decidedly un-Jiddy-like topic of caring for dogs. I raised this concern later when the doctor (co-incidentally the same one who ejected my mother from his care when she asked for a comment he'd made to be put in writing,) visited, and he was shocked that heparin has even been mentioned. He spoke to the nurses about it and returned to tell me that it would be immediately removed from my care roster, and that of all patients in for routine Video EEG observation. I wondered later if the drug is Halal, or if vegans also raise objections.

I have completely refused to take the cup of painkillers and laxatives placed in front of me regularly, mainly because I am not in pain. Whilst I ensure that I carry aspirin with me at all times in case of debilitating headache, I don't actually use it very often any more, since I know that, in my case, it only works in conjunction with sleep, which I haven't had here yet. It has also caused me to question some of my beliefs, if what I am experiencing (offering pain medication to those who are not in pain) is standard medical practice. If this is the case, perhaps I was wrong to deem the actions of Dr Conrad Murray in administering fatal dosages of painkillers to Michael Jackson as medical malpractice (a court deemed him to be guilty of manslaughter, of course.) Perhaps, in the case of someone who was actually in pain, the dosages he recommended were actually standard operating procedure.

I've continued to question, though have accepted, the several-times daily Sodium Chloride rinse pumped into my IV input. I've explained to the nurses that I don't doubt what they are doing and their explanations for it, only the frequency with which they do it. They have stated that they complete the wash 'at the end of every shift,' but I wonder whose shifts, as they seem to have been coming more frequently each day. I know it would take high concentrations of sodium to kill someone, but I don't know enough about it to know what constitutes a high dosage. Again, I asked the doctor, whose advice was that the nurses are experts in this field and would know better than him, and acknowledge my mistake in giving a basis to my concern when he told me it was unfounded ('Sodium Chloride is not uncommonly used in suicide...') This caused him to immediately consult with my mother and ask a series of questions about why I made such a comment. I kept telling him that I knew a lot of things like this, and alluded to my morbid sense of humour, but pointedly neglected to tell him that I had remembered and toasted a drink to the fact that my funeral insurance's 18-month cooling off period ended only on Saturday, meaning that if I were to commit suicide, funeral expenses would now be covered.

In my day's less controversial activities, I quickly exhausted my reading materials, but spent several hours, to the naked eye, doing nothing. I'd spread all the old notebooks that I brought on the bed and finally started putting order to the story I've started working on, and am starting to structure them into a timeline. I was probably staring at a wall (or, hopefully, directly into the camera) from eight.23 to after eleven.AM when someone interrupted me, just thinking of ways to fill in the blanks. It is kind of exciting, even though I have traditionally marked 'Sense of completion' as low on market research forms that ask me to rank that value.

 
 


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