Heavy Plant

Walk past a "Heavy Plant" warning and wonder vaguely if the trees thought it was for them; if whoever put it up had enough imag...


Dear Microsoft...

Let the fun begin!

Being just an ignorant end-user I was under the impression that the updates that my computer periodically downloads from you were meant to make my computer more secure and work more effectively. In this first regard your most recent set have most certainly succeeded. If I can’t do anything with it how could it ever get malicious software on it?! It is a stroke of genius, a triumph of lateral thinking on which you are to be congratulated. Little was I to know that the update process was also a game of deduction and reasoning to educate users and keep us on our toes. Again I congratulate you on going well beyond what would normally be considered customer service to provide education and entertainment, as well as just a reliable and thoroughly useable product.

At the outset, I must admit, I had some small concerns about the second point above. The effectiveness of my computer post installation was initially somewhat reduced, in as much as it would give the appearance of working as normal and indeed for the first twenty seconds to a minute of use would operate much as before. Unfortunately, after this time it would pop up a warning window with an incomprehensible message on it referencing some abstract section of code that it was attempting to use and that it could not locate. Distressed, I attempted to come to its’ aid, alas to no avail. I found that my computer, plucky little thing that it is, had struggled to its eventual demise.

I will confess to being a little disheartened at this point. I began to wonder how I was to reinstate my poor PC without being able to access the internet, or run any of the restore functions or check the hard-disk for errors. So began the game! Feverishly I hunted for information, I consulted with friends and colleagues, I scoured the internet for information at work, I read countless articles detailing where I might find the error - many of them saying that no further updates or support would be available for my machine. That was a cunning move, and one I hadn’t seen coming! Surely, I thought, they can’t want everyone to upgrade to Vista already. Therein lay the solution to my problem! Self evidently this could not be a cynical ploy to force people to install a new operating system, that would be marketing suicide. Why would any company cripple its’ most widely used and compatible product to try and make people buy a new version of it, a ridiculous notion!

More fantastic updates!

I set about finding an answer, keeping my wits about me. If, as was seemingly the case, the crippling update was, as it could not be, a fiendish scheme to make me upgrade my software, then perhaps these articles telling me there were no further updates to be found were a double bluff and there were in fact additional updates to download. It hit me, a cry of elation escaped my lips and my colleagues cast wary glances in my direction, but I cared not for I had my answer! I had merely to wait and the solution would come to me. There were updates, useful ones, still to come and all I had to do was make sure that the computer had space for all the temporary files it needed. The instant I got home I deleted all the useless bloatware that I had installed – you know the type of thing, photo management software, the suite of software that makes my mobile telephone work with the computer (how could I have installed that hopeless frippery? After all it wasn’t a Microsoft product how could I have expected efficacy?). This cleared space for my poor computer to download its necessary updates and attempt to install them, something it achieved at only the fifth crashed attempt! Remarkable.

Imagine, if you will, my delight today to find that my work computer is now asking me download and install fresh updates. I can hardly wait! What delights of research, what twists and turns of analysis and logic am I to experience now, what intricate subtleties of compatibility am I to learn now? I could not be more pleased, though I wonder if my employer shares my glee. I suspect he may wish the process was perhaps a little less entertaining, the spoilsport!

Keep up the good work!


Hospitals I have waited in

It appears to be a fundamental truism that on average one must visit a hospital at least every 18 months (obviously a bit more often for health care professionals). On this occasion you must sit and wait for a period of no less than two hours. The most recent of these for me was at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Randwick. The staff were excellent the best of them being the attending doctor, despite looking about 12 years old, it was a privilege to watch him work. However...

I despise waiting and I'm not fond of hospitals. Eventually, no matter how serious the reason for being in a hospital, you attempt to alleviate the anxious tedium of the waiting room by entering into an advanced level of schadenfreude in the form of a guessing game:

"Ooh, look at the one in the pink dressing gown! Bloodshot eyes, barely able to stand and carrying a bucket of puke. The dreaded lurgy or a cry for help?"

This is particularly true of accident and emergency wards where there is an additional element added to the game necessarily added by the triage process. Patients are rated into [it'll all end in] tiers to denote how urgent their treatment is and to allow the staff to prioritise the right people:

  1. About to die. Intensive care required with the possibility that bits might need to be sewn back on.
  2. In immediate danger, could be a bit messy, attending doctor should be prepared to get sticky
  3. Pretty bloody urgent but not in immediate danger. They'll be OK for 10 minutes but keep an eye on 'em
  4. "You nailed what? To where?! Ate/drank what? You dipstick."
  5. Take 2 aspirin and call me in the morning
  • Anything else - sticking plaster with mickey mouse on it and Mummy kiss it better.

You rarely see tier 1 or 2s in the waiting room. The helicopter/ambulance crew generally having scraped enough of them together for a delivery direct to the ICU (I wonder if the same rules as pizza apply here; if you wait more than half an hour do you get your treatment free?). You do see some tier 3s and some very funny high-end tier 4s. The best of which this time round was a very south American sounding man who was dragged in across the shoulders of his girlfriend, his eyes not focused and not quite capable of standing on his own.

Eee ate a mushroom in the bush and now ee is intoxicated!
A magic mushroom?
No, jus a mushroom. In the woods.

The idiot was dragged away to have his stomach pumped. Sadly my first thought was "we are interfering with natural selection and I'm not sure we should have on this occasion".

Whilst I understand that the position of triage nurse calls for an extremely grounded and pragmatic personality the two on duty here could have used a gentle reminder about privacy. One poor girl, brought in doubled up in pain, was shut in the consulting room to preserve her dignity, but not before the nurse had bellowed out that treatment would be "stuck in your bottom". I presumed it was an intramuscular injection but who knows, a dill pickle suppository may be more effective.

Probably the stand-out moment though was when we actually sitting in the ward waiting for everyone to be in the same place at the same time again. A & E wards are terrifying places at the best of times and this one has good road links to most of the eastern side of Sydney, and a helipad on the roof. The majority of patients were elderly brought in with suspected heart attacks but there were some in there who had clearly been spread across the road only an hour or so earlier.

The unseen octogenarian in the next cubicle over was having a tough time of it. The doctor returned to him and explained that he was going to have to do a rectal exam; "what that means is...". There was a rustling of sheets and a short, utterly silent pause. And then, "ooooh, aaaaarghhh, oooh!". I would have laughed out loud had they not been talking about a full blood transfusion to keep him alive.



You know you're drinking too much coffee when your barista gives you a sample of the new beans to try out! Thanks Tim!


At last real beer

Mmmm beer...

Just had my first taste of proper English bitter in nearly 2 years. I didn't realise how much I missed it. Good thing I've made 23 litres of it!


Just pants

My car insurer has just sent me this tasteful pair of undies. Still no policy document though...


For you Mr Blair

It's a good thing I can't get on the net to vent my spleen. I would like to rail against Tony Blair but I can't. Instead I shall simply remind everyone that it was a man calling himself a socialist that enforced student loans and ignored 2 million people on the streets of London to go to war illegally. He has today said that he thought he was doing the right thing.

Edit: How will history judge Blair? - more on this later.


Presence (feedback I didn't need)

Apparently presence is an issue for me. At work, at home, in my life in general I seem disinterested to the point of total absence.

My life goes on around me nonetheless. The driver is not just asleep at the wheel but has stepped out for a swift half and left the handbrake off. The lights are on but...

If things continue without my attention it would suggest that my attention is not really required. Was it ever? Have I got this far without effort or even a guiding influence? How should I measure progress if I've been coasting?

If the life continues without the person living it, the body a husk and the eyes dead then what actually am I? Some Derridian nightmare; the walking signifier of my own nullity. A semiotic paradox placed in life by a quirk of spacetime/joker deity - the actual presence of me signifying my total and utter absence.

Don't look at me for an answer, I'm not here.