The Blog of Dabido (the Baka one). Everything in this blog is copyrighted. Copyright 2004, 2005, 2006 by D. Stevenson.

31 January, 2005

Spinning My Wheels – Part Six

(My apologies for this site not updating for a few days, everytime I went to post, it was down. Seems Okay at present).

In the flat with the three other guys, things started off pretty good. I was trying to arrange somewhere else to go, but every time it would fall through. It was annoying me. I think it started to annoy them a little too.

Years of abuse had made me paranoid. I was afraid to seek benefits from the Government because my parents were still collecting child support from the Government for me. I thought, if I applied for something from the Government, they might tell my parents where I was. I guess I was too young to realise the system didn't work that way.

I ended up staying for first semester. By this time my hair had grown pretty long. I decided with the help of one of my flatmates I would try to cut it myself. He was going to hep with the back. Alas, I made a schmozzle of it. I ended up sticking a hat on, and going to the barber to get it fixed. He told me he couldn't do anything except shave it off. I was due at University for a lecture, so I had to let him do it. Now, I was bald! I wore my hat to the lecture, but sat right up the back before I took the hat off. It made a bit of an impression.

The lecturer stopped halfway through one of his sentences when he noticed me, and suddenly went, “Hi!” and waved at me.

The entire class turned and looked! A lot of them laughed. One of my friends glared at me. We were pretty good friend, and she was pretty unimpressed. I guess the worst of the embarrassment of that mistake was behind me.

It a bit funny now, because I not only cut my own hair, I also do my youngest brothers hair as well. People tell me it looks professional, but I didn't' learn the secret of cutting hair till I was older.

Another strange thing which happened too, was a girl at Uni kept insisting that I borrow a Science Fiction novel from her. I didn't want it. She just kept insisting till I took it. A week later she started asking for it back, but she insisted that I have read it first so we could talk about it. I took about another week or two to actually read it. By this time she was demanding it back because another guy wanted to read the book. I gave it back to her, and she immediately passed it to the other guy to read. I asked one of my friend to be a witness to the fact that I returned the book. She said Fine.

Next day, the girl asked for her book back again.

“Huh? I gave it back yesterday.”

“No you didn't!”

“Yes, I did.”

I told her to ask my friend who I had ask witness it. She denied remembering me returning the book.

Arrrgghhh! So I reminder the girl she had given the book to “G”(We'll call him that, because that's what his first initial was.) She couldn't remember giving the book to him!

Arrrghhh!. After that, the girl kept asking me everyday for the book. I kept reminding her that I had given it back. She refused to believe. 'G' obviously had denied taking the book from her. What was I to do! I had never wanted to read the book in the first place.

My friend then came and told me that the girl wasn't going to speak to me anymore till her book got returned. I said I was fine with that, because I didn't want to speak to her anymore either.

The girl then started a smear campaign where she claimed I sold her book for food. HUH? It was a pulp science fiction book about one hundred pages long. I doubt anyone could have sold it at all. To add insult to injury, she also told people I had kept asking her for the book! WHAT!

It sank me into a deep depression. I was virtually ostracised by people at Uni for something I didn't do. Being the poor kid though didn't help. Apparently most of these people thought poor people are all thieves.

The funny thing about this, is mean while in the flat, I was actually starving. My money was low, and I was sleeping a few feet from a fridge full or food. My morals wouldn't let me steal though. So I was living off a few slices of toast I was eating every night. I got so thin, that on a warm day, I was wearing a jumper when others were in T-Shirts, and I was still shivering. My friend at Uni was really worried, but it was because I had no fat layer anymore.

To top off my depression, another girl started to use me as a scapegoat. For some reason she started to claim I was being nasty to her all the time. I tried to counteract it by giving her compliments all the time. Somehow, she was always able to twist what I was saying and make it seem like I was insulting her. Eventually, I reduced my self to just saying 'Hello' and 'Goodbye'. Bad mistake. One day she walked into the cafeteria where a group of us were sitting. I said, “Hello” to her. Suddenly she started abusing me, which lead into crying and acting hysterical.

My friend turned and asked what I'd said to upset her. I told her I hadn't said anything other than 'Hello'. The guys next to me confirmed this. My friend kept insisting that I must have done something or said something else. After all, why else would this girl be in hysterics.

“She's a f***ing nut case”, was the thought through my mind. I dare not say it though. Saying it would have really landed me in deep stuff.

Well, from then on, I just avoided her. Never spoke to her, and had nothing to do with her. Then one day, we were on the train home together. It was late, so I went over to where she was sitting and asked her why she'd done what she'd done.

She told me that until I had come along, everyone used to give her sympathy. Now, because I was effectively homeless and starving, everyone was apparently feeling sorry for me. (Which was strange, as I don't think anyone said anything to my face about it.) I asked her why everyone used to feel sorry for her before. She told me her father was ill. I said I was sorry to hear her father was dying.

She told me, “Oh, he's not. He's just sick, and my mother has to look after him. But everyone used to feel sorry for me because of it. Now they all feel sorry for you.”

Well, I still thought she was a complete nutter. I only saw her once more after that, it was about a year or two later, and I ran into her at the train station. We had a very brief conversation and that was it.

In the meantime, one of my flatmates took me around his parents place for dinner one night. It was a bit weird. His mother and him started talking about times they had fights and had always made up afterwards. I think they were trying to influence me to go back to my parents. They had one major problem. It wasn't' as if I had one argument with my parents. I was at constant war with them. They didn't want me at home, they didn't want me working,and they also didn't want me at University. On the streets and starving was the only real alternative. I suspected they'd probably been talking to my parents. My parents had probably given them some bull story about having one little argument with me, and me going off half cocked. My parents were always full of that sort of crap. The little role play of my friend and his mother only convinced me I couldn't return home, because it would only mean more of the same for me.

Came the end of the semester, and I decided to follow the advice of one of my flatmates. He told me to defer for a year, and work in order to get some funds behind myself. So I spoke to my councilor at Uni, and then spoke to the Dean. I got a deferment for a year.

Supplimentary Post:

Recent news: My mother has been asked to go back to hospitals for more checks after a mammo-gram was done on her. She is spending Wednesday in hospital. Plese pray that she gets better. I have discovered a way to fix my Korg M1. It's been out of action in for the last year and a half. Now, I can finally fix it for $4. (Instead of the quoted $180 it was going to cost! Woo hoo!) Also, trying to fix my Fender Strat too. Hope the toggle switch won't cost too much. Didn't get a reply frm the Music store though, will have to follow up. Not much more happening on the home or work front. Still writing novel, still studying ... still being me, starving artist extrordinaire.

28 January, 2005

Spinning My Wheels – Part Five

My father spat the dummy and quit the Air Force. This was because he didn't get his Warrant Officers. He came home and told us we had to move. This lead to us to needing to find a new house, because the Air Force owned the one we were in.

During one of the house searches, we went to a house, and one of my mother's day care children ran through a glass window. I raced over and was trying to get him out of the smashed door. He was bleeding from his head, and his pants were caught on a large blade of glass. I tried lifting the kid, but he was pretty heavy. I then asked for some help. My father was standing there looking like a stunned mullet.

I said directly to him, “I need some help, I can't lift him!”

At this point my father snapped out of it and came over to help. We got him out of the window.

My father and mother drove him to the hospital. With no one else able to drive (and no car), we had to wait with the rest of my mothers daycare children till my parents came back. It was about an hour. After that, my father was raving on about how he was hero and how he single handedly saved the kid. It made me sick in my stomach, because it was all pure crap.

Eventually, my parents bought a two bedroom house with a sun room. My elder brother was in Adelaide, so there were only four kids left. Still, the mathematics didn't add up. My sister got the sun room, which was no bigger than two metres by three metres. My two brothers got the three metre by three metre room. When I asked which bedroom was mine, my parents said it was the three metre by three metre. I asked if they were sticking all three of us boys in there.

They told me, “No, it's your. The other two are going in the garage.”

The garage had a pretty bad slope on it, and also wasn't weather proof. There was no way someone could stay in it. At other times, I would hear them tell Paul and Jeffrey they were getting the three metre by three metre room. Where was I supposed to go in this house?

In the Air Force house though, my bedroom was directly beneath my parents. I heard them talking sometimes at night. They never spoke about me in the new house. It basically confirmed what I already knew, I didn't have a room. It didn't answer the question though, where was I supposed to stay?

I can remember when my mother came and told me they were buying that house.

She came and said, “The family have voted unanimously for this house.”

I told her that I didn't vote for it. I had always been against it because it was too small. She said I didn't get a vote, because the “family” had already made it “unanimous”. The way she kept repeating it, made me feel like she was saying I wasn't part of the family. It hearkened back to a great fear which had been put into me when I was about six years old. My mother had come and asked me what I would do if I found out I was adopted. For years she used to ask me questions like that. She also used to ask if I wanted to see my birth certificate which she would always end up refusing to show me. For a long time, I thought I was actually adopted. I used to long that my real family would come and take me away from these people. (As a teenager, I used to have dreams that my real parents were aliens who used to come back and take me home. Alas, it wasn't true).

At this point in my life, I was having yelling screaming matches with both my parents. Both were telling me to get out of the house. Whenever I told them I wanted a part time job, my mother would tell me, that if I got a job, I could leave, because it meant I would quit University to go full time. My father just wanted me out.

I have had arguments with my mother since, because she now denies ever having told me to get out. She does admit to the fact that my father was, and claims I fell into his trap. Either way, by this stage, I had had enough. I wasn't welcome at home, and they weren't allowing me to either get a job or study. I was spending longer hours at the library away from them both.

So, one day, I phoned a friend of mine from University whom they didn't know. I arranged with another friend of mine for some temporary accommodation. The first friend picked me up with his car (I neither had a car, nor knew how to drive at this stage). I spent the night at his house. The next day he took me to the other house, which had two of my other friends in.

My parents refer to this as me “Running Away From Home”. I refer to this as them “Throwing Me Out”. I personally don't care how people look at it. At the end of the day, they kept yelling at me to leave, and so I left. Either way, there was no room for me at the new house, and it got me away from them.

I stayed at my friends for about two weeks, storing most of my belongings downstairs (which consisted of two boxes of things). So I really didn't own much. My clothes I took with me in a bag. I got to stay in a room which was really the Study. At night, a possum would come into the room while I was asleep and pee on things. I never saw the possum when it did come in the room, and it never woke me up. (No, it never urinated on me. Just objects in the room).

It was between semesters, so I was able to go and look for work. I placed my name down to do the public service exam. Alas, no work was forth coming. People told me they didn't trust University Students.

No job, no money, not many belongings. Things looked pretty sad. Yet, I was happy. I was out from under my parents control. For the first time in my life, I was away from family arguments, I was actually HAPPY. I finally had some freedom, but not completely. I still had some obstacles to over come.

After two weeks, I moved in with some other friends. I was sleeping in the living room of their flat. It was a few months after that, that another hurdle presented itself. I had left my boxes of belongings at the other friends house. They had a large down pour, and the drains near their garage were clogged up. So, it flooded where my boxes were. Almost all of it got destroyed. I found out about a month after it happened.

When I went to get my stuff, they said, “Oh yeah, we were going to tell you a month ago, but we forgot.”

So I was effectively left with nothing except the clothes on my back. Not many people can say they literally went from owning nothing but the clothes on their back to being something. In a few years time, I was going to be able to say this.

As disappointing as it was, it was still better than returning to my parents.

I had seen the Councillor at University in order to try and get some good advice and help concerning my predicament. What a waste of space he was. After explaining to him how I got to be where I was, he just kept repeating to me the same thing.

“Whatever you did. Go back to your parents and tell them you're sorry. They'll take you back.”

“I haven't done anything! They don't have a room for me!”

“Just go back, and tell them your sorry. It'll be okay.”

“I can't go back! I haven't done anything wrong!”

Eventually after a long conversation which kept going round in circles, I just said, “Whatever!” and left.

The guy was practically laughing the entire time I told him what had happened. I assume he thought I was making it all up. If not, then he's a real arsehole!

One good thing did come out of it though. I talked to the HR department, because I heard they sometimes give students jobs. I got to work at the University washing the walls and doing some maintenance for two weeks. It earned me a whole two hundred and fifty dollars. Woo Hoo! I was rich! Well, maybe not! It did give me enough funds to pay for my General Service Fee so I could continue at University leaving me with some more funds left over for anything else I might need.

There were only a few small hurdles left to leap before I was completely homeless and destitute. More on that tomorrow.

27 January, 2005


Well here I was. First semester at University, and already the system had begun working me over. There were new friends and new enemies to make. As they say, “Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate”. The first thing I ran into was the prejudices of the “Private School Kids” (Anyone from the UK, can read that as PUBLIC SCHOOL. In Australia the Public ones are the ones run by the Government. The Private Schools are the ones for the RICH kids).

Apparently, because I was poor, it made me inferior. Oh, well. Hopefully a lot of them have wasted their parents fortune and can't afford to send their kids to Private Schools. Then they can look down their noses at their kids.

Studying became a chore, because I felt I was on the wrong track again. My father informed me that I wasn't allowed to change courses. You may be wondering what had happened to the Computer Programming Compromise I had worked out previously. During my last year of school, all my friends were adamant they were doing Physics Degrees. Somehow I got caught up in that too, and felt it was a good way to go. My parents thought it was Okay too, because it wasn't Arts. In my Year book though, I wanted to put down that I wanted to be a Musician. People kept telling me it was childish and no one becomes a musician (but what about those who ARE musicians?). So I compromised. I went for the computer thing again, but people were convincing me I wouldn't be a programmer. So I put down 'Data Processor'. What a stupid ambition. I wish to this day I stuck down “Musician/Writer/Artist”. It would have been truer to myself. Once again though, I compromised myself for the opinion of others.

You might be wondering something. Did I always do what others tell me? A psychologist asked me the same question once. The answer unfortunately is, “Yes”. That sort of changed for a while, but not for a few years. Then I fell back into it when I was married.

You might think I am being too personal and open with my life. I have discovered two things that I both know and feel are true about myself. The only way I ever seem to get things done, and be happy, is when my life is naked and I do things my own way. Keeping secrets about myself, and compromising myself only leads to failure and misery. The sad thing is, I discovered this when I was about twelve, yet always seem to stumble from this path into other paths I wish not to take.

I think what a lot of life comes down to, is trying to justify your actions. Years ago, someone asked me why I liked certain bands.

I replied, “The only reason to listen to certain music, is because you like it. Everything other reason is meaningless.”

In life, we try to justify some of the things we are doing with other reasons. There are many reasons to do and not do things. Sometimes you do something to help others. After all, humans are a social creature, and should help one another. It's how we survived against the climate, wild animals and ourselves. Today, the world is a larger place, and the whole human race could and should be able to help each other out. I think the recent Tsunami showed it was possible. It is a pity it doesn't happen the rest of the time though.

In the case of where I was going in life, people didn't accept my arguments for going into Art. I liked doing art, I was good at it, I could even make a living if I was given half a chance. No! People didn't accept those answers. To me, they seemed like the only rational answers to the question. What they really wanted, was for me to choose a path which met their own agendas.

It was a case that they really wanted me to make up some story to justify me choosing their path for me.

I couldn't say, “I am doing computers because you told me to, as you don't like me doing art.”

The fact was, that was the real case. Instead I had to come up with something else.

“I am doing Computing because it is the future.”

What a lot of crap. The world changes, and though there were jobs in the Eighties and early nineties, the jobs have left. Now they're in India, and even then, languages are getting so simple and easy to do, that almost every kid and their pet dog can throw together four lines of code and claim they wrote a program.

In my case, I tried to get into Physics because all my friends were doing it. I was also good at it (as per my mark from my final exam). Now Geology I was also good at. (As per my Year Eleven Results). All the time, I couldn't get over the feeling that I had somehow been ripped off. I'd put Physics as my first choice, and ended up in Geology. In fact, in my head, I was far down the list of places I wanted to be heading. My first choices in alphabetical order had been, “actor, artist, director, musician, writer”. Now I'd also compromised computing, missed out on Physics, and was in Geology.

Second semester I failed one Geology subject, not because of my marks being low, but due to my attitude. They really picked up on the fact that I really didn't want to be there. (I wasn't rude or abusive or anything.)

Getting back to first semester though, I did my best, but it was difficult. There were arguments at home. My father was always telling me I was going to fail.

His favourite line was, “Garry couldn't pass University, and so you can't!”

There was also my mother with her interruptions, because she claimed I studied too much. Then her constantly waking me four or five hours after I went to bed, because she claimed I slept too much. In spite of all this, I passed first semester. I didn't do great. No Credits or anything. Only passes.

These all compounded into my next semester. I was used to being good at subjects and getting good grades. Now, I was doing average. On top of this, my 'passing grades' made my father more antagonistic towards me. Where as my elder brother never passed a subject at University, I had. Now, he was always yelling at me to get out of the house, because he wasn't going to waste any more money on me. I then went against my fathers orders, and spoke to the Physics department about transferring to Physics. It is interesting to note though, at this stage my mother was doing daycare, and was paying for all our food, clothes, and other things. The only thing my father was paying for was rent. He kept every other cent he earned for himself. Another thing he liked to say to me, was he expected me to pay him back for all the money he'd spent on me. (ie Food, Clothing, rent, Doctors bills etc ). My usual comeback was I would when he paid his father back. He didn't like that.

There was an added problem. I now had a subject which didn't finish till nine at night. I couldn't catch the bus as there wasn't one at that hour to my place. I had to catch another one which dropped me off about half an hour away (walking). I didn't mind except my father suddenly decided he wanted to pick me up. This was really weird, as he wouldn't even drive me to the library normally, which was just as far away. The few times he did pick me up, all he wanted to talk about was taking me up to Kings Cross and getting me laid by a prostitute. Very weird. I suspect this came about because he probably wanted to go to the Cross himself and get laid. Getting me laid would have been an excuse.

There was also another reason I suspect. My father had always encouraged my brothers to call me “Poofter” and other references to being “Homosexual”. At parties, he would get drunk and tell others to feel sorry for him on account of his son being “gay”. At first I wondered who he meant. I later found out ... IT WAS ME!!!!! Gees, glad someone told me. So, I received abuse from my father and brothers for being a “poofter”. [I will quickly add, (just in case you were wondering), I am not gay. Even if I was, I don't think it should matter.]

In the end though, in order to avoid his conversations with him. I started getting off at an earlier or later bus stop and walking even further home. Some days, he'd catch the same bus as me. He'd try to talk about similar stuff on the bus. It was embarrassing to say the least with the other passengers listening.

Second semester was hard because I had little to no motivation. In the end, I passed one subject and failed three. My record meant that they wouldn't allow me into Physics, but they did allow me to transfer to a Diploma in Science with a Physics Major.

My father kept yelling at me, “If I find out you've transferred, I'm throwing you out!”

I kept yelling back, “I already have transferred!”

Home became unbearable. This set up something which was probably my greatest triumph in life. I'll talk more about it tomorrow though.

25 January, 2005


Well, getting back to where I left off (well, actually, still today for me – I just kept writing. I didn't post yesterday as I was working on an unsolved cipher [actually, three of them]).

Year Eleven was also the year I did my first programming course. The local College used to do a thing called “Link Courses” where students from local high schools could go and do a college subject (even though we were actually too young to enroll in the college as proper students). So my first programming language (other than self taught basic) was Pascal. Even though I gave up an afternoon at school for this course, it didn't seem to affect my grades. I was one of only two students who passed the Mathematics subjects, my lowest mark in Geology was 96% (final exam) and my second lowest was 98% (mid semester exam), all others marks were 100%. In Chemistry I nearly did the same thing, but faltered a bit towards the end (my Chemistry teacher said it was because of the time I devoted to the school play). Physics was a schnozzles though. We had about four different teachers, and one teacher lost all our grades, and practicals. So everyone ended up with lower grades than they should have. My English teacher was impressed with me, and thought I should continue with it into year twelve, but losing my old dreams was paramount to pleasing my parents and other teachers. So year twelve I was put down for doing all Mathematics and all science. I was trying to ensure I got accepted into a Computer Science Course at one of the main Universities, so I was throwing out all Arts and Humanities type subjects.

Then, we moved states! So a new school. In New South Wales, I suddenly had a major problem. English was back on the card, but that was Okay, because Comp. Sc. Degrees required it in this state as a prerequisite. BUT, my beloved Geology was not taught at my new school. I was told, even if it was, i wouldn't' be allowed to do it, because I was already doing Chemistry and Physics. Only two Science subjects were allowed. They then had a big problem. I wasn't able to do any other subjects. So they stuck me in a Geography class, assuring me it was EXACTLY the same as Geology! Ptttthhh! What a LOAD of nonsense!

After a few classes in Geography, I realised, I didn't have a clue about what they were talking. Especially when they referred to work from the previous year. It was during this time, I discovered they had a MUSIC class! WOO HOO! Much to my parents regret, I switched subjects. Phew! At last, a class where I knew what they were going on about!

Unfortunately, everything was different this year. I was in a new state, and I was up against some pretty smart people. It was also confusing. At this school, they didn't have the skin heads and gangs of my previous school. Where I was used to having the daylights punched out of me at lunch, now, if people didn't like you ... they used sarcasm, or insults! Gees, when did people get non-violent. I must admit, it was a refreshing change not to be beaten to a pulp. I was not well armed against these other kids who were used to verbal sparing. (I was used to verbally insulting the skinheads at my old school when they beat the daylights out of me, but it wasn't hard to do. I just had to point out to people that it took four or five skinheads to beat up the smallest guy in school. It never stopped them ... but at least it embarrassed them a bit ... I hope!) Now I was in a different war. These kids were pretty good with their tongues. (No, I don't mean licking ice creams either. I'm still talking verbal assaults!)

Well, the course work was entirely different to the other state I lived in too. All the more Reason why Australia needs a consistent Education Curriculum and standard throughout. It was a hard thing to do, One of the worst things, was trying to master Calculus (which we never touched on in S.A. In NSW they start with Limits in Year 9 and almost the entire course is based upon it.)

You might wonder why I didn't try to stay in S.A. with some friends or something in order to stay on course. I was just relieved to get away from the skinheads and my daily bashings. Not that any of them went into year eleven. (I did have some run ins with them on the weekends though). The memories at that school though, were rather painful, and I was too happy to leave S.A. all together.

Well, after a year of struggle, and compromises with coursework (I won't go into it too much, but somethings I was asked to do, reduced my marks considerably. An example, was my music teacher only looked on me as a Classical Guitarist. As such, I performed four pieces at the end of the year, but she made me do it in three categories. You needed four categories, so I got marked down). Through a bit of laziness and also my mother's constant interruptions, I wasn't able to study too well. My mother was for ever dragging me along shopping and stuff, complaining I study too much. Problem was, I didn't get to much study done at all. I was forever helping her somehow.

The other problem was, my parents were fighting again. One day, my mother started an argument with me for no reason at all. During it, she threw a cup of coffee at my head. It smashed and there was also coffee all over my bedroom. She then demolished my bedroom throwing my textbooks and everything all over the room. My father, hearing the commotion, stormed into my room yelling at me. At this point, my parents had a physical fight. It wasn't punching, it was more wrestling and pulling of hair. Needless to say, this helped set off one of my depressions. (My bad depressions started in Adelaide, probably from thirteen. I can remember times in my childhood previous when I had unexplainable depressions, but as a teenager it came on pretty strong.)

My mother later came back and explained that the reason we had the argument, was that she was annoyed and frustrated over finding love letters from my father to one of his mistresses. My father was never able to keep his 'doodle' in his pants for long. I discovered around the age of eight what he was like. I used to hear my parents arguing at night when they thought we were asleep. My elder brother confirmed that he found out about the same time.

Well, at the end of the year, I hadn't attained the marks I was hoping for. I also discovered something else. I couldn't get into the college courses I was eligible for because you needed to apply for them in November. We received our marks in January. The only solution was to repeat my final year. It was a disappointing year for me considering the great year I had previously. Once again, we moved. This time it was from Sydney's Southern Suburbs, to their Northern Suburbs. I was so far from my friends, that if I wanted to see them, it was a two or more hour journey.

One good thing came out of moving. For the first time in my life, I had a room to myself. I wasn't always able to use it to get away, as my mother used to like to wake me about five hours after I went to bed. When I complained, she'd say I was tired from over sleeping.

This time, I did my final year through a college. The only good thing about doing it there, was that most of the other people were in the same boat as me, or worse. I also didn't get much choice in subjects. Music was out, Physics, Chemistry, English, Mathematics, and now I had to do Ancient History. Two years worth in one year. No problem. By the end of the year, I had blitzed Chemistry, which I studied for by myself. We started with a great teacher, but she was made to leave. They re-instated another teacher from the previous year back into the job. He was sacked for being incompetent. He won the court case, got re-instated. Only problem is, I think the courts made the wrong decision. We lost a good teacher and gained a bad teacher. I attended four of his classes, and found he really didn't give a hoot about the students, or about teaching us. He seemed to care more about his own ego. I wasn't learning anything, and the teacher didn't care. So, I did the only rational thing I could think of. I skipped the classes and started to study by myself.

I was surprised when I talked to some of the other students. They didn't seem to know much about the chemistry we were supposed to be learning. I gave the teacher a surprise when I came and picked up my mid-year exam. He didn't know who I was. Thank goodness for that. I wonder if he looked for me in his class after that? If he did, he wouldn't have seen me. When I spoke to some of my other class mates after the end of year exams, only about three of us passed. I scored 68%, while I'm unsure what the others got, but I was told a Canadian Guy named Randy got more than me. It's possible, Randy wanted to be a Doctor, and needed to study hard.

My Physics mark was more excellent 75%.

This year I had more than enough marks to get into what I wanted to. Most of my friends from school went to Sydney University to do Physics. One of them (At Sydney Uni.) convinced me that NSWIT (New South Wales Institute of Technology) was a better choice. So I placed that down as my first choice. I think Geology there was my second choice. Sydney University and Uni of NSW were much later choices.

It came the day that first round offers came out. I was offered a position at NSWIT for Geology but not for Physics. Darn. I had enough marks. Why wasn't I chosen? I waited for second and third round offers. Nothing. So I enrolled in Geology. I later became friends with a lot of the Physics students (mainly as first semester Physics/Chemistry/Geology and Material Science students all did the same four subjects). I was really upset to find out that one of the guys in Physics got about thirty marks less than me, yet was accepted in first round offers! When I spoke to a few other people, they also had less than me (and a lot had received more than me). So I went and complained to the University. They told me it had nothing to do with them. So I phoned the Universities Admission board. Their basic excuse was that it was probably a computer glitch. If I wanted to change courses, I should speak to the Universities direct. So I went back to the University. They couldn't do anything, because the course was full. Now I was really peeved!

23 January, 2005

Spinning My Wheels -Part Two

Well, after reading yesterdays, you might have felt really depressed. Please don't. I am only bringing these things up as a way of looking at life, and getting my brain around things. Some people use examples from their own life, and others observe things which happen, and other still, hear anecdotal stories and repeat them. In this case, most of my stories will be from my own life. Though I know a LOT of anecdotal stories,I won't use them much. I can usually tell the Urban Myths, from the real stories. Some Urban Myths I have reheard again and again, & I know they aren't true because usually they are told be different people each time. Only they always claim they were there, and the stories are usually about different famous people who did something incredibly discussing or stupid.

You are probably wondering why I called this group of entries “Spinning My Wheels”. The main reason, is I still haven't hit the course I want to take in life. Believe me, I have tried often, and still haven't given up.

When I was at school, adults always used to ask us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My usual reply was, “Musician, Artist or Writer.” (Possible Actor or Movie Director). At present I am still struggling with becoming one of these. Along the way though, the journey has taken me far from my chosen course.

Having been the son of a RAAF enlisted man, we got to travel often to new schools (I attended eight different schools in all, not including University and Colleges. If we include those ... it's thirteen or fourteen).

Unfortunately, I suffered from being a good son. What I mean by that, is I never stepped out of line, and I always did what my parents told me to do. Part of this was probably fear of my father, but that wouldn't account for why I was good whenever he wasn't around (or even after he walked out on the family the first time). Possibly it's more due to my nature. I have often been accused of being altruistic (and I use the term accused, as people seem to use the term like I had done something wrong).

I always said I prefer being a starving artist, than a successful office worker. The question still remains, “How did I get here?” I'm sure a lot of people ask themselves this question. (Actually, I seldom ask myself this, as I've kept track along the way, so I know how I got here). To ask the question out loud in a rhetorical way though, leads to many explanations. After all, the mistakes are all mine, though they were certainly made along the way with the influence of other people. The thing which annoys me though, is that the people who influenced me, seem to deny putting any pressure on me what-so-ever.

So, how did I get to where I am. (Remember, all decisions made in my life were my own, and they were made because at the time, they seemed reasonable decisions for one reason or another). Many people in their successful careers often heap praise upon mentors or parents for the help they received along the way. I think in one way, I haven't had many people I would truly call a mentor, because I am mainly self taught. I think this is very fortunate. Don't get me wrong, I have had plenty of help. The issues I seem to have had, was that people who probably should have been in mentoring roles, never were.

Both my mother and ex-wife had problems with my independence. I think I work best when I do things on my own, and in my own time. (A great attribute for someone who is a writer, or artist). This has come across very much in my tertiary studies. I prefer doing courses via correspondence, and I have had many High Distinctions at my Theology College and Universities. (It makes me sound very anti-social!)

Well, getting back to the question, “How did I get to where I am?”

Let's start with what I wanted to do. As previously stated, when I was at school, I wanted to be either an Actor, Artist, Movie Director, Musician, or Writer. I know, some of these seem a bit diverse. Other kids wanted to be Nurses, Doctors, Fire persons (as opposed to the term Firemen), Police, et hoc genus omne. Most of my teachers, and my parents were very discouraging towards my ideals. I think the BIG thing which lead me off my path, was both my parents and my teachers always used to say, “Get something behind you before you chase your dreams.” As I point out to my mother, I am still trying to get that “thing” behind me. I still haven't achieved a proper degree.

In fact, after following many peoples advice, I have so many useless bits of paper, that they will make a great bonfire at my funeral (or will it be a cremation! Who knows! I have the fuel if it is!) Let's start with where I had planned to go. In Year Nine, I reached what I thought would be a sort of compromise with my teachers/parents. I decided I'd do an Arts degree and become a commercial artist. Seemed reasonable to me. My Photography teacher was the only teacher who backed that plan. My father kept telling me that a B.A. Stood for “Bugger All” and that's all it was worth. So I was told I wasn't allowed to do an Arts Degree. Unfortunately, all my interests lay in the Arts Realm.

Year Nine was also the year I got into 'Film and Television' studies. I was very upset at first, because I wasn't allowed to do the subject. My school didn't choose you according to how well your grades were , or if you had any interest in the subject. Most kids did 'Film and Television' because they saw it as an easy subject. I had a genuine interest in it. At this point in my life, I was delivering pamphlets for the RAAF cinema, and was allowed to see films for free (with a free guest too! Woo Hoo!) I also started a nice big film poster collection, which would have been worth a fortune today had it not been destroyed by flooding water. (I'll write on that another day. Remind me if I forget).

I lined up with the other kid s to enroll in the subject, only to find I was too far down the line. So after waiting for an hour or so, I got near the front of the line to be told the subject was full. I ended up doing French. (Which wasn't too bad) Fortunately for me, my English teacher was also one of the 'Film and Televisions' teachers. The poor man had to put up with my VERY LONG stories and essays. Most people wrote one or two page stories. Not me. I start, I can't stop (Have you noticed?) So my stories were ten, twelve pages long. In the end the teacher told me if I wrote any more than two pages, he would mark me down. (But ... but ... but ... I'm not used to getting anything less than a B, and that's on bad days!) So I did it. I wrote a two page story. (Man, sis I have to make cuts!) One thing lead to another while I was discussing where my ideas came from in the stories, and my teacher was amazed that I had a BIG interest in 'Film and TV'. He wanted to know why I wasn't doing the subject. So I told him. (Sob sob! I wanted to do the subject so bad!) With the facts that some kids had left during the semester, at the beginning of semester two, there was an opening. Yes, I was going to be able to do it! Woo Hoo!

(Thus starts my short lived film career).

Due to me doing Film and TV in year nine, I was able to do it again in year Ten. From the two classes that they had, a select few of the brightest students were chosen to form a 'Film and TV' club after school. Yours truly was amongst those. We were able to make an extra film which we worked on after school. The one we did during the day and this extra film were both entered into the 'Young Film Makers Awards' competition. Neither won any prizes, but I don't think any of us expected them to. They were both better than a lot of other films I had seen. I also got to act in the second one. Thus explains the acting/directing bug which I caught.

In Year Ten, one of my teachers convinced my mother that I was smart enough to be a Doctor or Lawyer. (Remember, I have an IQ in the top one percent ... okay, I admit, I'm not using it to it's full potential as of yet, but don't worry, I am sure I never will!) Well, my mother and this teacher loved to try to convince me this was the path I should take. I had two problems. When I was about six, I wanted to be a Doctor, but then I discovered that I couldn't stand to see people in pain. It was also the reason why I decided not to be a vet later on (I can't stand to see animals in pain either. Being a vet was an idea from when I was about ten). Let's face it, I'm a very squeamish person. I've walked out on movies during scenes which were too violent, much to the laughter of my old flatmate Paul. It took me about four or five watchings before I was able to sit through the torture scene in Reservoir Dogs. (Yes, I know they were only acting ... still, I am THAT squeamish!)

The Lawyer thing also didn't appeal to me. I saw it as a lot of reading and boring arguments. Actually, the job doesn't look as bad to me now, as what it did. My father on the other hand, thought my teacher was a flake. He was adamant I would never be anything, and he wasn't afraid to tell me so. Repeatedly so! His favourite way to express it, was to tell me that only my elder brother was ever going to amount to anything. He said the rest of us were all going to be failures. (So it wasn't just me he thought was going to be a failure).

By this stage I was at my wits end to find any sort of occupation which would be approved by my parents or teachers. I was lucky, because in year ten, every piece of art work I did, was on display somewhere around the school with several of the pieces being at the reception are of the school. (Yes, I was good at art). The thing which confused me though, is I never got any encouragement from my art teachers. Maybe they just assumed I was going to continue in art. I guess this is one of those cases where somethings are better said, than left unsaid!

Year ten was the final year of doing fun things I think. In this year, I got an A in Photography, I blitzed art, music and Film and TV studies. (My French suffered though!) There was one other piece of equipment there which also lead me astray from my chosen course. The school hired an Apple II computer. It was on this that I wrote my first game in Basic. Woo Hoo. Basically, you moved through a castle looking for the Princess to rescue. If you ran into the Black Knight along the way, you lost the game!

I found that computer programming was a lot like solving problems. I have always loved solving problems. So a compromise was made. I would do computing instead of art ... computers is what I will get behind me before trying to actually do what I would like to do. This satisfied both my parents and my teachers, who thought I had put my childish dreams of art behind me in favour of 'the wave of the future'. It was something my teachers felt was more worthy of my intellect.

How could someone supposedly so smart be SO DUMB! What was I thinking?

Year Eleven saw me do Two Mathematics subjects (as was the way back then), English, Geology, Physics and Chemistry. I also got to play the 'bad guy' in the school play. It was a year of pretty decisive action though. I had cut all my ties to my dreams. They were still there in my head, but I was basically following the plan of my parents and teachers. Getting some elusive job behind me to fall back on in case the “Artistic” endeavours never came about.

If you are thinking of following me in a similar way, DON'T. Get a job in the field you are REALLY interested in. Technology moves whether you want it to or not. The world goes on and things progress. The Degree or Job you train for tomorrow (which you want to fall back on) probably won't be there if you are intending to go down a different path. Some things of course won't matter. I know people who have spent three years out of IT, and now can't get a look in sideways. Their Comp. Science Degrees are worthless bits of paper now.

If you are certain of where you want to go, then put your effort into that field. Don't expect people to do anything for you, or for things to fall into place. (Now I am starting to sound like that Graduation piece I mentioned in Part one!) Anyway, tomorrow I will continue to talk about the path I erroneously followed ... (this is getting too long!) lol

22 January, 2005

Spinning My Wheels - Part One.

I am going to write this in a number of parts. Mainly, as it might be very long. Pity the person who reads them in reverse order. It might seem like a whinge at first, but try to read this objectively. I am recalling some lows in my life, and trying to analyse what truths I can from them. Hopefully from these I can use them to propel myself forward in life with better understanding. In some respects, I think this is similar to the way the philosopher Seneca used to work. Two things occurred recently which made me start thinking about how I got to where I am in life. The second thing (yes, this is in reverse order), happened today. I started to read an article about a speech given to a graduating High School Class. The first thing happened on Friday. My mother and I had a talk where we had a nice walk down memory lane. Actually, when I say 'nice', it wasn't that nice at all. They really got me thinking about some truths I learned when growing up. Believe me, I didn't have a very good time growing up. It annoys me when my mother tells me what a great time I had as a kid. When I hear the old saying that 'School Days are the Greatest Days of Our Lives', I think, 'whoever invented that saying was either having a bad adult life, or lying through their teeth'. Personally, I like to romanticize a bit and pretend life gets better. The truth though, is for me, it has been full of ups and downs. I assume it is probably different for everyone. Usually it's in the downs that I learn the most. That's why I think God (or "Life" for all you agnostics and atheists), allows these things to happen. Imagine how bad we must be if we actually deserved all the bad things which happen to us! Urgh! My mother is always a great reminder of what a terrible father I had. Not that I need reminding. She is also a reminder of what injustices have befallen me throughout my life. Sometimes I am reminded of things, because she makes comments which are the exact opposite of what happened; and other times, because she is precise in her recollections. The thing I learnt from my family, is sometimes people don't realise how much they are hurting you. My mother quite often apologizes for what a bad parent she was. In some respects she was, but in other ways, she was a good parent. She was the better of my two parents. My mothers only real flaw was in towing the family line by following my fathers lead. This is funny in many respects. I can recall my father claiming on more than one occasion that my mother was turning his children against him. She never did. She always supported him. He was never able to take responsibility for his own actions. The reason no one liked him in the family, is because of the injustices he heaped upon us all. On more than one occasion I was beaten for what he referred to as, "Something I didn't catch you doing!" In my mind (and probably those of my brothers), it came across as, "I'm frustrated and so I am going to take it out on you". My elder brother once told me what a great elder brother he was to me. During my growing up, he was usually my tormentor and the agitator who got others to torment me. On more than one occasion, I had the living daylights beaten out of me by someone I didn't know, just because my elder brother told them I said something about them. My elder brother used me as a scapegoat in order to increase his own popularity. I am glad to say, I never passed this sort of thing on to my younger brothers. On more than one occasion, I can remember kids at school calling me an idiot regarding some argument my elder brother and I had when we were at home. The problem I had with it all, was somehow the arguments seemed to have gotten reversed. What had once been my brother's point of view was suddenly being attributed to me. The thing I can take away from this, is I feel vindicated that I was correct. I am sure though, that sometimes my elder brother only started the arguments in order to annoy me. Other times he genuinely got things wrong. Another thing I learned growing up, is justice is something you need to fight for. Sometimes, no matter how hard you fight, you won't win. It's not a reason to give up the fight though. I am talking about the fight in general for justice. If you lose one battle, the war goes on. Sometimes you do need to withdraw from a battle you can't win. I personally would prefer to be in the right and lose, than be a sheep for injustice. The sheep of course, are lead by ravenous wolves. That means it's always a fight. The main problem though, is lack of justice goes hand in hand with people who don't care what the truth is. Once you realise that you are fighting against people who either know they are in the wrong, or don't care about right and wrong, then you are fighting a losing battle. I recall an incident which occurred to me at a place I worked. I was required to write some general menu programs. I did this, and passed it over to the code reviewers. The way code reviews worked (and probably still do at that company), is three other programmers get together, look your code over and decide if it meets the specifications. It has to be well written, documented, as well as do what it's supposed to do. My code failed the first code review, but passed the second one. A few months later, one of the managers came looking for the programs. I told him I had already handed them back. He insisted I had never written them. I pointed out that it had passed a code review. He wasn't just calling me a liar, but the three programmers who did the review. Even after this, he still kept insisting that I had never written the programs. If he truly believed this, then he was truly an idiot. The problem I faced, was he was unwilling to consider the facts. Rather than look at the code review and talk to the other programmers who did the review, he wanted to believe I was in the wrong. After he walked away, the code controller spoke to me and apologised because he had deleted the code by mistake. I asked the code controller why he didn't tell the manager this. He told me two things. First, he didn't want to lose his job over it. Secondly, at some managers meeting it was decided I was going to be managed out. He felt, losing his job to save me was pointless. It's funny in a way, because I ended up outlasting several of the mangers in that meeting, and I outlasted the ones who were behind the push to manage me out. (Some other day I will talk about management. It's a funny profession. Bad managers need to be two faced, carry a two edged sword and keep a double standard! Then there's the tricky side. I think I've been under more bad managers than I care to name. My advice to them, is read Machiavelli's "Discourses" more than you read "The Prince" or "The Art of War". You may learn something. For those too lazy to read it, I will summarise it for you. "If the peasants are revolting, ["Yes, they are YUCH!"] it's probably because they have a legitimate grievance. Better to find out what it is, and fix it, rather than slaughter the peasants!") Another lesson I have learned, is that people love to discriminate against others who are different. When I first went to school in Penang, the first teacher I had used to slap me. (I am sure this is now a sackable offence). The reason she did this, was because I was dyslexic. At the time I didn't think much of it, because I was always getting beaten at home, and a slap was no big deal. I still have trouble with dyslexia today, (as some of my friends can tell you when they receive e-mails with letters in the incorrect order). At this time in school though, I was doing some weird stuff. Like writing backwards. My mother still tells me that you could hold my writing up in front of a mirror and read it perfectly. Another thing I remember doing (yes, I actually remember DOING this, though I was only four and a half at the time), was writing every second letter backwards. It was a row of E's. I got a slap for that! (My mother said I used to do that all the time though. I onyl remember the row of E's)

Actually, I can remember being slapped for starting to write from the bottom of the page once too. I still remember what the teacher called me too. She said I was a “Stupid China man” ... um, a child slapper and a racist! Stupid bitch! [I am essentially white and not Chinese - just in case you can't tell]. I was fortunate in one way. A couple of teachers from Australia had come up to Penang, and heard about “this weird little kid”, who was supposedly really dumb. Couldn't write his letters the right way around or in the right order for that matter. Anyway, they wanted to try some new teaching method. I can remember being given special homework. Letters which had already been written but with dotted lines, rather than continuous lines. Well, that's what I remember anyway. So, I had to do those in my own time. Homework at the age of four! Is there no justice? Um, oh, I alreayd said there wasn't, didn't I.

Whatever it was they did, must have worked, because I now write the correct way round. I can also still write backwards ... and with the left and right hand ... and both hands at once forwards – backwards – away from each other – towards each other AND both hands at once writing different things. Neat party trick, I often get called a freak.

I only discovered the last one, because one of my friends sisters told me about it. She was telling me about how she was seeing a Doctor for depression (actually, might have been Bi-Polar disorder). Anyway, we were discussing depression (another exciting thing I suffer from - no, I'm not going to kill myself!). Her Doctor had had her try to do the handwriting thing. Left hand – right hand – both at once – forward - backwards etc etc. So she got me to try (as I told her about when I was younger). I think I was more amazed when I tried the two different things at once with two different hands. Anyway, she told me that her Psychiatrist said anyone who could do that had an IQ in the top one percent. Well, I already knew I had that, because I'd done IQ tests before. [I might just quickly add, I do write better with my right hand than my left ... most days. My youngest brother thought I was left handed when we were younger. It was the only hand he ever recalled me writing with!]

(Before I am asked, No, I don't lie awake at night wondering if there really is a Dog. I know there is!)

Well, I know a lot of people are Anti-Political Correctness. What they never take into account is what it's like to be the person being discriminated against. (Of course, some people take being PC too far. But that's another discussion I guess). Well, if you've ever been in the position where the entire class is laughing at you, because of something you can't help, then you might appreciate my position as a four and a half year old.

There is enough room in this world for people who are different. In the dark ages, I might have got burned as a witch or something. (What sort of maniac writes BOTH ways at once. Actually, just writing left handed would have done it back then!) Now we know that left handed people, dyslexics and others are human too. (Not sure about politicians though ... maybe they are)

I guess that's enough for tonight. I'll whinge and philosophize some more tomorrow.

21 January, 2005

Leonardo's Secret Workshop

Today's blog is going to complain about the poor reporting on the news here in Australia. Tonight on the news, it had a brief account of Leonardo's Secret Workshop. For those unfamiliar with this discovery, it occurred and was reported over a week ago. Here is one article: Leonardo's Secret Workshop The news here in Australia reported that they found ONE room (when in fact it was five rooms, and they encompassed two stories). The news also reported that Leonardo painted the Mona Lisa there. Unfortunately, that was wrong as well. He may have started the Mona Lisa there, but he left this workshop in 1501. The Mona Lisa was completed in 1504. So making the statement that he painted it there is incorrect. Also, the news reported that the walls were covered with Leonardo's drawings and paintings. None of the art work has been proven to be Leonardo's, though it certainly contains elements of his work. It's believed though, that his assistants or other people under his tutorage might have done the paintings. Still the find is significant, but why did the news report it so inaccurately, and so late? I thought, a first they were going to show some pictures of what they found. Alas, I was sorely disappointed. They only reported what was found. One of the things which confused me though, was they did the opposite of sensationalising it. There were five rooms found. Why only say it was one? It didn't make sense to me. Then they went to the other extreme. They claimed it was where the Mona Lisa was painted. Something very easily disproved (though as I said, it may well have been started there). Also, saying it contained drawings and paintings done by Leonardo was a bit extreme. Not one picture has been confirmed to have been done by him yet. Like most Leonardo fans, I am hoping that they can prove who did each picture. Maybe even discover some long lost invention Leonardo designed but was lost. Maybe even something to rival Leonard of Quirm (Oh sorry, that's a Discworld reference!) Still, it is annoying that the news networks here got it so wrong. Well, onoe news network. I haven't seen it on any of the other channels. It's possible I missed it when they did have it on. My questions still remain: Why report it 9 days after written news? Why exaggerate one part? Why deflate another part? Why could they not get a simple story so correct? In one of my earlier blogs, I referred to the Tsunami. At the time they reported the death toll would be 36,000 when I wrote. Later of course, the toll grew and grew. I can understand them getting that wrong. After all, they were reporting what they knew at the time. As more information came in, the death toll kept growing. In the Leonardo article though, they seemed to get every piece of information wrong. The only thing they seemed to get right, was that it was a secret and it was Leonardo. The news called it a "Secret Room", but five rooms encompassing two stories, is not really "One Room". I prefer to call it Leonardo's Secret Workshop. With the news on Television getting a simple story so incorrect, how much do they get wrong on other stories? If the quality in editing the stories and the quality in reporting them are so bad, why should we watch the News on T.V. at all? I just hope they find some very significant things. It will open up what it was like to be in Leonardo's world at the time.

20 January, 2005

Lose Your Brain Now! Ask Me How!

Yesterday, after I did a bit of food shopping (yes, decided something other than Rice and Water would be nice for a change.), I drove past a car coming the other way in the shopping car park. Not very exciting, I admit, happens every time I go shopping. This car, however caught my attention. It was a very old white Corolla which looked like it was on it's last legs and only the rust was holding it together. The thing which caught my attention though, was the sign on the side of the car. "Lose Weight Now! Ask Me How!" The first thought through my mind was, "That's not good marketing". After all, would you trust a sales person who drives the streets in something resembling a death trap? On top of that, it seems to me, that the person driving the car, probably wasn't successful in the field of sales. After all, in Marketing and Selling, "image" is quite often everything. If not everything, then it is certainly a lot. Good image also leads to good selling of the "intangibles". For those who don't know, the "intangibles" you buy with a product, are those things that you don't actually physically get with it. Like, buying a Volvo and feeling safe and secure. The intangible bit is the feeling. Many products sell on the 'intangible' of being cool. Yes! When did you last buy something expensive because it made you Cool? Those Nike shoes, those Bolle Sunglasses, those magic beans! (Those beans still haven't turned into a beanstalk either! Darn it!) I think the 'work from home' type sales people are the worst. A lot of these "sales" people are pretty poorly trained, and pretty bad at marketing themselves. Mainly, as most I think, are attracted to the ideal of becoming independent or rich! Not many of them actually make it though. Those that do, either learn along the way, or have a marketing/sales background. I will now proceed to tell some stories about my experiences with some of these sales people. Please note, none of my comments below are related to the quality, or lack of quality of the products. My first story is about an old friend of mine. He told me that he and his friends were meeting for drinks after work. He asked me to come along, and bring a date. Woo hoo! Me on a date? Who would have thunk it! So, I got my courage together and asked Mary from my Physics course (I was doing a B.Sc. in physics at the time). We turned up, only to find the "drinks after work", was actually a Herb-a-life meeting. (I mean, they hired a room and everything and it was all hype and spittle type stuff. Boom Boom Rah! You can be a millionaire if you just join us now!) Needless to say, this did NOT impress my date. (Nor me actually). So we left at the first break. Then we went down the road to a cafe and I spent most of the night apologising for what happened. (And she ordered me a coffee, which I don't drink. D'oh!) Previous to actually going into the 'Room', I was talking to one of the girls, who was supposedly a "friend of my friend". She tried to pitch Herb-a-life at me. She was trying all sorts of tactics. At the time, my health was very good, and I was only a little below my ideal weight. So the "Lose weight" and "Gain weight" arguments really didn't work on me. Then she tried to pitch it at me, as some sort of "cure all". I told her my health was perfect. Her reply quite startled me, and actually ended the conversation. She replied, "That's what my Doctor said, and you know what, it got better!!!" At this point I think she realised what she said, and left real quick! Still not realising the nature of the meeting, I complained to my friend about what an idiot this woman was. After all, wasn't this supposed to be a quiet drink after work? Not an occasion to take advantage of your "friends friends" to launch sales pitches. Hmmm, baka dabido! (baka = stupid for those not acquainted with Japanese.) My next encounter with a Herb-a-life sales man was on a train. (Yes, some of these people pitch anywhere). I had just finished up at a Menswear Store called Lowes (people in Sydney might be familiar with it). I was about to start work as a programmer at Toyota. I was fortunate in that I had a few days off in between, and was on my way to the City. (Can't remember what for. It was a week day, I remember that much). Sitting opposite me was a guy with a brief case. It was in really bad shape. It couldn't get any worse and still retain the noun "case". It would have been too brief. Also, he'd bought the cheapest clothes he could find, and all of it from Lowes. I recognised all of it. The shoes were ten dollar ones, the trousers where fifteen dollars and the shirt was a ten dollar one from China. The poor guy was obese and was sweating like a water mains which had sprung a leak. His cheap Chinese shirt was drenched. He kept looking at me the entire train trip, which really started to bug me. I thought maybe he was an escapee from a local asylum. He was clutching his brief case closely to his body. Mainly to stop the contents from falling out. In his other hand was something he was chewing on. Possibly a muesli bar, or health food bar, or something. Eventually, he plucked up the courage to talk to me. "How much do you earn?", he asked me. "I earn twenty one thousand a year." (Okay, a slight lie, I was about to start earning that. As Sake said, "A little indiscretion saves a lot of explanation"). "Huh! That's Peanuts, do you know how much I earn a year?" "Not much from the way you're dressed." "Crap! I earn heaps more than you. You earn peanuts! Peanuts!" "Really? What do you do?" "I sell herb-a-life." At this point, he moved his hand, and I noticed two things. First, underneath where his hand was on his brief case was a sticker which said "Lose Weight Now, Ask me How!". The second, was his brief case couldn't be clipped shut, because it was broken. The only thing holding it shut was his hand. He reached into his brief case and rummaged around for some paper work. He pulled something out and tried to convince me to sign it. Apparently, he was trying to make me a seller under him in the Herb-a-life chain. I had to laugh at him. This made him quite irate. He kept trying to tell me I earned peanuts, but whenever I tried to get out of him exactly how much he earned, he was vague, and just insisted he earned more. This made me laugh more. If he was earning more than me, why was he dressed so shabby, and why was his brief case in tatters. We reached Central Station and he had to get off. The last I saw of him, he was pointing at me and telling the other commuters on the station that I earned peanuts. "Peanuts! You earn Peanuts!", he kept shouting at me. "Hey, Everyone! This guy earns peanuts". At this point the doors of the train shut, and I remember seeing through the window on the door, that he had lost his grip on his brief case. The lid fell open and all his papers went everywhere on the platform. I was torn between two emotions. Should I be feeling sorry for him, because he was obviously out of his depth? Do I just laugh at him for making a fool of himself by attacking me? I wasn't sure if he deserved what happened to him, or if God was trying to teach him something. One thing I was sure of though. He didn't have a brain, he had a peanut! A Peanut I tell you!

19 January, 2005

Short Update on my Friend Gary

Today I received some good news. Doctors had previously said my Friend Gary (whom I wrote about previously), was basically in a pretty dire situation. Today I received an e-mail and apparently his condition is improving. Thanks all you who have prayed for him (especially Melisa). My friend Gregory wrote to me and said that he & his wife Nicole recently had lunch with Gary and his wife Janice. Gary looked tired, but the Doctors said the Chemo seemed to be working. He is not out of danger yet, so PLEASE keep praying. Previously Gary had undergone an operation to remove a large part of the tumour, but Doctors couldn't remove all of it. If they had of, Gary would have lost some of his cognitive ability. So they placed him on Chemotherapy. Once again, thanks for the prayers. Much appreciated.

18 January, 2005


The topic I was going to talk about the other night, but decided not to, was Friends. The reason this comes up, is because I recently learned that one of my friends has a bad brain tumor, and his outlook doesn't look good. The funny thing is, I was thinking about him the day before I heard. I was playing a song called "Horse With No Name" by the group America. I found the chords on a website (though I actually own a copy of the sheet music), and decided to play the song. The song reminded me of my friend Gary, because I always associate the song with the time we were sitting outside the front of the school. Gary was playing it on his guitar. It was year 12, and towards the end of the year. I can't remember why, but all of year twelve were sitting out the front of the school (which was seldom allowed), but for some reason, we were told to sit out there. Well, while we were wasting our time waiting for, whatever it was, to occur, Gary had his guitar with him. He was taking requests from people. One of the girls requested "Horse With No Name". I never really liked the song much, because it was rather simplistic. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. Some of the best songs in the world are rather simple. Just as a Classical Guitarist, I didn't/don't find the song much of a challenge. As such, I didn't like the idea of playing it). Well since then, every time I hear the song, I remember that occassion. For me, it was a happy memory, and one which I will hold with me to the end of my life. Mainly as we were all just sitting around relaxing, and though it was before our end of year exams, I don't think any of us were feeling the pressure at that stage. It's funny, because it's the only song I remember Gary playing and singing that day. He played plenty of others, but I think this song stuck in my mind because I didn't like it at the time. Now, though it isn't one of my favourite songs, I don't mind it, because it has turned into a happy memory. Weird how that happens. It's a bit like how I feel about ABBA in a way. I always thought their songs were rather corny (and Benny from ABBA has since agreed with me, which in my mind has raised my esteem for them. After all, if Benny from ABBA agrees with me, I feel a bit vindicated for holding that opinion.) Whenever I hear ABBA tunes now, they quite often remind me of the era, and happy memories with my friends. So the songs no longer grate on my nerves as much. Getting back to my friend Gary though, when I heard the news about his health problems, I was pretty sad. First of all, there is the fact that I am losing a guy who is a pretty good friend. We have many happy memories from when we were at school, both of us doing Music for year 12, and also from when we went to church together. Second of all, I've known his family for a pretty long time too. Almost as long as I've known Gary. Third, I've known his wife Janice for a long time too. I think I first met her when Gary and I were in school. It is for her and their son (Samuel) that I feel the greatest sympathy. Even though I know they will be okay in the sense that they won't starve or anything, I still feel the loss they will have. I know it sounds like I might have given up hope for Gary's health. I've been informed that his chances are pretty much zero of surviving. I haven't given up though. I still pray for him. Most of all though, I pray he will live, so that Janice and the rest of Gary's family can be spared the heartbreak of losing him. I am pretty certain Gary will go to heaven, whether that be soon, or in fifty years. In the meantime, I will pray for his recovery. Back in 1999 (I think it was, or it might have been 2000), I was given news from Doctors that I had a growth on my aorta. It was two years later that Doctors gave me the all clear. So in one sense, I can understand what Gary must have gone through when he heard the news. However, Doctors have not given Gary the all clear. He was given the opposite news. I'm not sure how devestated he was, or how calmly he took the news. I do know however, that as a Christian, dying is not the end, and is nothing to be feared. It is however, sad for those who are left behind. Another song Gary used to play, was "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor. There is a line in the song which goes, "I always thought that I would see you again". At the moment, that line is also very much in the fore front of my mind. Mainly because my finances won't allow me to travel to Sydney where Gary is. It's four thousand plus kilometers away. I always thought I would get back to Sydney one day, and most likely see Gary and Janice again. Now, it looks like I may not be seeing him again in this life. I have faith that I will see him in the next life however. Still, the loss makes me sadder as each day passes. Last Thursday, they played "Horse With No Name" on a music documentary. It's funny in a way, because I hadn't heard the song for years, then in a few short weeks, I find it on the internet and play it, then hear the news about Gary, and then it's on Television. Maybe it's co-incidental, but it's funny how I can be reminded of Gary one day, then hear about him another, and then find that he is still in the fore most of my mind by other reminders. This brings me to another song. "Big Yellow Taxi", which has a line, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone." Though I always appreciate my friends and do not take them for granted, the bad news has caused me to do some major meditation on friendship. In one way, I always thought Gary would be there when I got back to Sydney. So in that sense, maybe I was taking his presence on this earth for granted. I have had friends die before, but usually it is sudden, or I hear about it after the fact. This news seems more painful, as there is longer to think about what is happening and the loss being experienced. As I said though, I have not given up hope. It's possible with enough time and prayer, Gary will be okay, and maybe one day (God willing) I will see him again in this life. I will keep praying (and I ask anyone reading this to pray as well). I always thought Gary was a pretty amazing guy. In some respects, he was the acheiver of the school (though my other friends, Greg, Steven, Mark G. and Spang aka Martin are pretty much in that category too). When I first met Gary, it was in Music class in Year twelve. There was Gary, another guy Mark Crouse and myself. I know sometimes we grated a little on each others nerves, but that was Okay, that's part of any normal relationship. One thing I know for certain though, there was always respect there. I think after I got to know Gary at church, and we became friends, (or even more friends) the repect grew (at least it did for me). Gary was the head prefect in our school. I also remember him telling me he was going to marry Janice. He certainly acheived that. He was also planning on being a pilot for QANTAS. He also acheived that. I also knew him as a pretty good guitarist (and for us musicians out there, it's always cool to have a friend who is proficient on their chosen instrument). I'm not sure there is anything in life he can't acheive if he sticks his mind to it. Above all though, he is a pretty awesome friend. I don't remember him ever having a jealous bone in his body, and he was certainly always very friendly. Before you start to think I am starting to romantisize about the past, I can guarantee you, I am not. I have told other people these things in the past. Maybe not enough, and probably never to Gary's face, but they are certainly views I have held and expressed to others concerning Gary. Don't get me wrong either. I'm not saying he was some sort of superman who should be idolised. He certainly has his own flaws. I do know something though, he is what I would call a "supernice" and "superkind" person. Personally, I think he showed what the Bible describes as "Fruits of the Spirit". So I ask, that anyone reading this, if you have any amount of faith, whether it be as large as a mountain or as small as a Quantum Planck Length. Please pray for my friend Gary's health. This world can use all the nice guys we can get.

Strange Contacts

Well, every now and then, I get a strange contact from a Romance Site, or a friendship site that I belong to. Some of the funniest ones have been from Philippina girls, who used to log onto a chat site, and tell me how they think I am handsome, and they love me. The funny bit being, there was no pictures on the site, so they couldn't tell if I was handsome or not. They also didnt know me, so how do they know that they love me. Obviously, when on a site like this, it is important to watch yourself. For one thing, their profile may say they are a Female from the Philippines, but there is always the possiblity that they are males from almost anywhere. Some people get off on luring other men in and then revealing they were just yanking their chains. It's a nasty piece of confidence trickery. Of course, getting back to the majority of cases, I beleive they are female and Philippina. They also obviously want to get out of the country they are in, and spotting a guy with an Aussie profile, it gives them a nice target. So even without seeing me, or knowing me, they try the good old tactic of smooching up to me. Only problem is, it NEVER works. It's not like most of us Western men haven't been subjected to women trying to convince us to do things via their charm. We have. Also, in todays society, most of us start to distrust other people. So someone doing a lot of smooching up, comes across as desperate. (I have called these people desperate to thier faces too). Of course, it isn't just restricted to Philippina's either. I have some very nice Philippina friends, and they certainly don't use this tactic. It's just an enoumously high amount of them seem to try it. Other people who have tried it on me have come from the old Eastern Block countries, China and Indonesia. I can understand what they are up too. They all want OUT and want a better life in a nice first world country. Let's face it, if most of us were in their situation, we would want out too. So I am not going to bag them for wanting out. I will however, bag them for their obvious tactics, which really come down to manipulation of another humans feelings and abuse of that person. The sad thing about it though, is that those who are most likely to fall for it, are the more soft hearted and nicer sort of person. (What does that say about me for not falling for it?! Ai Carumba!) It also reflects badly on people I know from the same region, who are really looking for love. I know a few sceptical people who think they are all in it just to get OUT of where they are. I don't believe this, as I've seen my Philippina friends reject people they do not think worthy. Those whom they reject are almost always rejected for obvious character flaws. If my friends were not looking for love, then they wouldn't worry about the flaws. They'd just be looking to ensure a quick trip out of their own country. I went on a date with a Philippina girl a few years ago. She was Okay looking, but she seemed very disinterested in me. She also kept talking about wanting an Aussie hubby so she could stay in the country. It didn't take long for me to realise this wasn't going to work. I was trying to find common ground for a relationship, and she was trying to find a way to stay in the country. A team with unrelated agenda's won't perform well. (Or won't work at all). Of course, their agenda isn't to make the relationship work. In fact, they really only want to hold the relationship together till they are in the country, and can't be thrown out again. I've met a few guys this has happened to. It's sad, and it's not what they were aiming for. A Philippina friend of mine told me that she knew a girl who did it. The girl bragged that she thought with her brain and not her heart. It's a sad thing to brag about. Luckily, I have also met people who have met on these sites, fallen in love, and the relationship works. Why does it work? Well, the people invovled are genuinely seeking their soul mate and when they meet them, they are serious about making the relationship work. They are united in common goals. There was also an article (and I can't remember which magazine had it), which talked about a study of people whose relationship started on the internet. Apparently, internet relationships have a higher success rate than those which do not start on the internet. One of the reasons is that due to a lack of body language in the communication, the people need to communicate more effectively. This spills over into their actual relationship once they meet in person. With the internet having been around for over ten years now, the study has at least ten years worth of data to go on. Most relationships which survive after seven years will normally be solid. Ten years of data gives at least three years worth on relationships which have survived past seven years. So, it is understandable, with most of my friends knowing someone who has had a successful internet match up, that the intenet becomes a good choice for finding soul mates. There is also an entire world to chose from and not just those in your local area. For some of us, the hard part is finding that soul mate. For others, like my Philippina friends, it also means trying to get past a reputation caused by their desperate compatriots. With the choice out there of single men though, it is a very strange tactic to use someone in order to just get out of a country. The possiblity of meeting someone on-line has increased considerably. My advice to girls trying to get a Visa, why not kill two birds with one stone. Find that soulmate that you want, and in the process, also get that Visa. You will not cause any pain, and you will also find a life companion in the process. You will also be less annoying, and more successful in your search.

Common Sense Isn't That Common, and Idiots Can't Follow Logic.

Actually, this is written on the same night as the last entry. (Last Entry was Strange Contacts). The reason for this, is at the end of the last entry, I realised that the logic involved might elude some people. It's a problem I've had all my life (ie people not following logic). My old flatmate Paul used to say to me, "You can't argue with idiots, because they can't follow logic!" It's true. The old Maxim "Common sense isn't that common" also comes to mind. [I've had thirty different flatmates ... so don't try to follow who all of them are!] Most people I know, have heard of Dr Phil. Even if they haven't seen his show, or read one of his books. There is something he says that always sticks in my mind. When someone is on his show, and trying to justify the logic they have used for their behaviour, he always asks them, "And how is that working for you?" The answer is normally, "It isn't." That's when common sense comes in. If it doesn't work, why keep repeating the same behaviour? Haven't you learnt? Or are you incapable of learning? Stop and think, and try a different tactic. (Maybe try listening to the other side). Well, after writing the last entry, and getting the idea that the logic might elude people, I was reminded of an arguement I had with a flatmate once. We used to pay a guy thirty dollars to mow our rather large lawn. It was a bargain. Between three of us, it was ten dollars a month each. One of my flatmates (who also used to have trouble paying her rent, but always had money to party), decided she didn't want to pay ten dollars one month. So she basically 'borrowed' without permission her works mower. (She waited till everyone left work, and took it, then went to work early the next day to return it). Well, I arrived home from my day job, and was getting ready to go to my casual night job. My flatmate asked me to not go to work so that I could help mow the lawn. I told her I couldn't because it was fifty dollars in the hand to me. I wasn't going to lose fifty dollars so that she could save ten. My other flatmate suggested I call in sick. As I explained to him, it's a casual job, if you don't work, you don't get paid. I then offered to pay the entire thirty dollars for the lawnmower guy. My first flatmate told me it wasn't fair. I told her, "You're right! It isn't fair. I shouldn't be put in a situation where I will lose fifty dollars or thirty dollars just so you can save ten." Needless to say, this went over her head. So I just went to work, and earned my fifty dollars. In this case, the logic eluded her because she was only thinking about her own bank balance. Still, she should have taken up the offer for me to pay the lawn mowing guy. Instead, what occured was she then went behind my back and bad mouthed me to a lot of people. If you've ever heard my story about a flatmate who was going to smash my skull in with a baseball bat because she didn't like a joke I told, well, you know who I am talking about. [Yes, she physically got a baseball bat and was going to smash my skull in. I never told that joke again!] I am surprised I survived some of my flatmates. Don't worry, only about five of them were really bad. Flatmates that is ... not jokes. More than five of my jokes have been bad. This flatmate was missing a lot in the common sense department. I had spoken to her previous flatmates (all of which she used to bad mouth as well), and they had had similar experiences. Due to her bad mouthing of them though, most people I knew all thought that somehow these flatmates had antagonised her and brought it on themselves. [I will point out at this stage, that my old flatmate was NOT the object of the joke, so she wasn't offended personally. So in no way did the joke antagonise her ... except somehow she took offence to it.] It was obvious that she didn't learn from her first experiences, that using brute force to try to make people do what she wanted wasn't working. I sometimes wonder how many flatmates she has since threatened. I know the next one we had suddenly moved out without saying why, and I wonder what she said to him. Will common sense catch up to her? Will she learn to follow logic? I am uncertain, but I am pretty sure she won't. To a certain extent, I think she was using these things as a way to bring attention to herself. Somehow she was always the victim. When she was the victim, people used to give her sympathy. I know I was one of the people that used to give her sympathy, then I found she was telling people I was the supposed antagoniser. I think this was because her other victimisers got tired fo her, and shut her out of their lives. I know I did the same thing once I moved out. I regret having moved in with her, but alas, twenty twenty hindsight only comes after the facts. Fortunately, I do have common sense (well some) and can follow logic. Once I realised what was happening, I was out of there (like the proverbial rat from an aquaduct!) It meant someone else became her supposed victimiser. Hopefully, those who keep hearing her stories will eventually realise that it's all attention seeking. It does of course mean they will need a bit of common sense, and enough logic to see the pattern.

13 January, 2005

Not Much Ado About Anything (and a little to do with writing).

Called todays rant, "Not Much Ado About Anything", as I had a series of things I was going to write about, but then decided not to. Just going to provide an update on the life of a starving artist. Well, I am really running low on food again. I borrowed a loaf of bread from my mother, and finished off what little I had left of my margarine. I've also been avoiding eating breakfast and dinner, which means one lunch time meal of rice at the moment. Adding ice to my water makes it more tolerable. Wednesday night, I got through a lot of my screenplay and found out how to get OpenOffice to format it correctly for me. Previously, I had been doing a lot of manual work to get the formatting correct. The dialogue needs to sit in the middle of the page correctly with it aligned to the right. Hope this example works so you know what I mean:

BOB Hey! This is where the character speaks! And if it wanders to the next line, you have to have it sitting in the right spot.

The dialogue is more indented than the rest of the screenplay (with exception of which character is speaking). Previous to my little discovery, whenever I changed what was said, I had to manually re-align it all. Now OpenOffice is doing it for me. I should take a better look at OpenOffice, as I know I am not using most of the functions it has. I'd like to set it up so that I just need to hit a button to have it format it all in the correct way. Screenplay's use specific formating depending on what is being done. Unfortunately, after a good writing session Wednesday, I got tied down in other things yesterday. So nothing was written, though I was still pretty much inspired. Today, hopefully, I'll get stuck into it again. This screenplay (like most of them) I am finding pretty easy to write, and I think I might try to turn it into a novel. I'm enjoying the interplay between the different characters.