Monthly Archives: December 2012

Nothing? Really?? Not a thing???

So the world didn’t end on Friday 21st December. The doomsayer’s and Mayans were all wrong. Stupid Mayans. We all got so worked up – I even sold my prized baked bean, that looked remarkably like the Eifel Tower, on e-bay. OK, that’s a lie actually, but if I had such a bean, I would have sold it.

I must say I am starting to lose faith with spurious world ending predictions.

I keenly sat in front of the TV on December 31, 1999 ready to see civilization disintegrate – as “The Y2K Bug” destroyed the fabric of society. On that occasion, my preparation was the timely delivery of a large pizza and a case of beer: “yes please, before midnight if you could manage it, I’m expecting the end of the world”.

PS – I now understand the irony of trying to watch the technological end of the world on TV.

In 2008, and a little classier by then, I ordered Thai takeaway, opened a bottle of Rosé and awaited the “Large Hadron Particle Collider” to be turned on. This particle accelerator, whatever that means, is 27km long and runs through France and Switzerland. It fires extremely small things at each other. I’m not sure why. Its activation was due to create a black hole that would swallow the earth. All that actually happened was the restaurant forgot to pack my fish cakes.

“The Great Pleiadian Eclipse Alignment”, on 20th May 2012, was when the Sun, Moon, Earth and a bunch of stars a mega-don-dillion* light years away – aligned – apparently for the first time in 26,000 years. As I eagerly awaited “a major cosmic event” and all that (doesn’t) mean, my cheese plate arrived – and end of the world made way for Camembert and crackers.

But fear not, the end is still coming, even if you choose to ignore the plethora of religious/spiritual nutcases predicting global demise on a weekly basis. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, have clocked up 21 failed “end of times” predictions. I think it’s time they gave it up and opened a bakery. Jehovah’s Biscuits might be a much better seller for them.

But really, the one we should be concerning ourselves with is happening in 1.2 million years. The star ”Gliese 710” will somehow be causing a drastic increase in the number of impact threatening meteorites around Earth.

Put it in your diaries, people!

*I made that word up – it means a very, very long way.


Merry (insert appropriate holiday here)

From the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank a chip off the old blog readers for at least pretending to read my musings, and

I would have also taken the opportunity to wish all and sundry a truly Merry Christmas / Hanukkah / Eid il-Fitr, but apparently, the end of the world approaches.

In the link above, NASA has studiously looked into it and concluded that December 21st will be nothing more than a normal December solstice. Thanks NASA, just like The Space Shuttles ‘Challenger’ and ‘Columbia’ were just stock standard missions, eh? And while we are about it, how exactly DO you scientifically conclude that the end of the world is, or is not, nigh?

Anyway, if you want to be angry, let’s be angry with the Mayans. I mean, their bloomin’ calendar bumbled along for over 5000 years – you think they could have added 4 or 5 days so we all could have enjoyed a little bit of Santa time. Alas, no. It all ends Friday.

So there you have it – quite possibly the last thing you will ever read will be this drivel. Oh, the unfairness of it all.

See you on the other side.

Some Assembly Required

What is the worst thing that can happen to you?

  • “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, this is the Captain speaking. For those on the left hand side of the aircraft, you may be wondering why the wing just fell off…”
  • “Insurance policy??”
  • “No officer, I would never drive under the influence of alcohol, I’m way too stoned to be drinking”.

None of those. The worst thing that can happen to you is a trip to Ikea.

It doesn’t matter what country you are in, Ikea stores are all the same. For me, it usually starts off OK, I’m a bit nervous, of course. But winding my way past clocks and coat hangers doesn’t seem so terrible. Then seemingly without warning, I suddenly find myself too far in. Beds and fluffy toys behind me, shelving, picture frames and kitchenware ahead. You can’t go back, the big arrows on the floor demand you go further inside the belly of the beast. Like a soldier, lost in a Vietnamese tunnel complex circa 1968, there is no escape. In you go, hoping for the best, but expecting the worst.

If you visit Ikea on a Saturday, well, you just deserve everything you get. Just you, and 45 million other people marching along the arrowed path like Snow White’s dwarfs – except everyone is grumpy and no one is singing.

And then it happens. I survive the ‘shock and awe’ of the store layout. I manage to purchase a TV stand with an unpronounceable Swedish name, (why Borgsjö? Why can’t it just be “white TV cabinet”?) Then several days later, it gets delivered. Hold on –  it doesn’t look like a TV cabinet, it looks too flat? Surely…you don’t mean…? Oh, you do!

The little sticker delivers the sucker punch: “assembly required”.

Happily, this is where my wife steps in. She is the engineer in our family. I helped her with an Ikea bookcase once – and snapped half-a-dozen little wooden pegs inside the first 10 seconds. She doesn’t ask me to help anymore.

So here it is. Ikea, the stores that make you wind around absolutely everything inside the store before they let you out. The store that makes you assemble the product you paid for. Can you imagine this: Head into the local pizza place. They make you look at the lasagna and the parmigiana, even though all you are there for is a pizza. Then when you plead that you just want the medium ham and pineapple, they hand you a lump of dough, a can of pineapple, a packet of ham and shove you out the door.


Obsessing over Obsessions

So, what’s your countries obsession?

Every country has a national obsession. Well, probably every country has many national obsessions, but there is generally one defining one, that other countries snigger about or raise an eyebrow to.

South Africa: Saffa’s love rugby for sure, but it borders more on religion than obsession, so I am going to go for a less obvious one to the world at large. Currency is King in the Republic. Every South African worth his or her Krugerrands knows the exchange rate to the US dollar, minute by minute each day. And an exciting obsession it is, with the Rand going up and down like a bride’s nightie.

The English are naturally obsessed with the weather. Getting their pasty while bodies into sunshine is Priority 1. Be it Australia, were flocks of Poms gather at Bondi Beach sans sunburn cream, then flock to Bondi hospital to deal with 3rd degree burns; to the South of France, where the same lily-white bodies are going through the same ritual. When the English go abroad, they must return tanned or spit roasted, so they can painfully tell all their friends about the fabulous weather elsewhere.

Americans are obsessed with…well… being American. They are proud of their country, and not opposed to loudly and vigorously cheering it on. Weather it be sport, where they usually excel, or military drone strikes, where they reign supreme: Yay! Go America! And to be fair, what’s wrong with a little self-love?

Ahhh, the French. So many things to say. I have to be careful as I have some fantastic French friends so there will be no jokes about how France would be the best country in the world if we could just get rid of the French… And so, to the task at hand: my Gallic friends are obsessed with their language. True; it’s a magical sounding language, but anyone with a working knowledge of French will tell you, les Français get quite grumpy with foreigners who mispronounce words. Now I am currently taking French language classes, and believe me, it is virtually impossible not to miss-pronounce, or indeed butcher, the language of love.  But I try to get it right – so être gentil avec moi, French people.

Aussies are obsessed with being the “cool dude in the dangerous country’” Sure, we come from a place where people are generally relaxed, but we obsess about being relaxed in the face of natural danger.  We love to tell unsuspecting tourists about all the things that might kill you in Australia: snakes, spiders, trees, fish – you name it, we have it – including the most venomous animal on earth, the box jellyfish. But seriously – as a tourist, what are the chances of being killed in Australia by one of our unfriendly and venomous Aussies? Low, very low. And the truth is, they scare us to death as well, but we try to act so cool. Trust me, we’re not. When I see a spider the size of a dinner plate or even one the size of a fingernail, I cry like a baby.

New Zealand is a country full of natural wonder. It’s almost Tardis like as there just can’t be so much beauty in such a small place. But trust me, there is. So what about the Kiwi’s obsession? Well, they are a nation that lives and breathes Rugby. Ask any Kiwi you know, or just randomly ring a New Zealand telephone number, and ask the person who answers if they know the middle name of anyone in the All Blacks rugby team. Fact: they will know them all. For non-rugby people, the national team is known as the “All Blacks”, and has been consistently the best rugby side in the world since 1903.  They have an astonishing 75% win ratio over the 110 odd years they have been playing the game. As an Australian, that makes me weep. Truly, if you organized your New Zealand wedding during an All Blacks match, no one, including the priest, would turn up.

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