365 Top Ten Lists. This is my project for 2010.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ten Possible Explanations for These Damned'd Headaches.

1. Brain tumor. Don't get morose. It's possible, but probably unlikely. I think I would have them more often if that was the case. Plus wouldn't my personality change in some way with some aspect of my brain having pressure applied to it. Na, don't think this is the reason.
2. Pure unadulterated, unadorned exhaustion. Let's see. Last one was after I had been on a mad, crazy holiday for two weeks, on the heels of being up for two days straight, and including an all night shuttle vigil, followed by a three hundred and fifty mile drive to Charleston. The most recent one was after two weeks of working rotational twelve hour shifts, including shift swaps (mornings—erg!), also proceeded by two days straight awakedness. You are not sixteen you know. Likely.
3. Teeth. Confession time. I have not been to the dentist for a little while. Okay, for ffhhthhpmm years. Sorry? Fttmmshhhpnn. You aren't going to say, are you? No. I am not sure on this one. It could be the teeth that make my head hurt, or the head that makes my teeth hurt. Again it's not constant. Unlikely.
4. Golf Ranging. This is a long shot. Very long. Could my golf ranging—which, when you see it on footage, on a sneaky filmmakers mobile phone, is technically challenged—have caused a niggle in a shoulder which niggled my neck which niggled my head. All of those things happened. Last week. If this was the cause, it was a delayed effect. No.
5. Ultrasound frequencies from Alien aircraft. What? Is this less likely than the tumor. Why do so many people suffer debilitating headaches these days? Are you going to say .... don't say! I won't have anything to put in the rest of the list if you say. Not overly likely, but can't be dismissed.
6. That strange throbbing sound, when it is quiet enough to hear it, like there is a generator just behind me wherever I am. Possibly, this could be a result of working with headsets. A sort of residual drone from having madmen and the desperate in my ears. Alternatively, it could be the throbbing inherent with living in a city of millions, or a hydroponic marijuana lab at the neighbours. Maybe.
7. Invalidation of myself. Thanks Isabella. Apparently, according to a book Isabella is reading (You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay), headaches can come from putting yourself in the wrong, denigrating yourself, low self esteem—that sort of thing.  Gosh, I think I would always have a headache. Ow. Maybe it's true. You have to forgive yourself and the headache will go away. Likely.
8. My hair. I have had no hair for four days. I have had no headache for four days. Could this be just coincidence? Seemingly very likely.
9. I was going to say seafood, or tomatoes. But I think maybe relief would be a more likely candidate. The other day I was very tense about the thesis. (Actually, the thesis is probably the main reason.) I then received two emails: one to say the topic didn't seem to be too bad in the scheme of things (from my supervisor who I was afraid would hate it), and, one to say the assignment deadline was moved a week back. I was so excited that a dance down the hallway may have ensued. This was followed by a rapid migration of the tension from all parts of my body into the nerve cells of my brain. Obviously they don't all fit there because a twelve hour headache also ensued—through which I had to work, speaking to the public. Six headache tablets couldn't budge that one—no, not six all together. Possible, but a thorough survey of what happened prior to the headache would need to be done. The dance may not have helped.
10. The evil eye. Possibly. I think there may be some people who don't like me. Possibly because they suspect I am monopolising the time of a certain person whom they all seem to fancy themselves. I wouldn't discount witchcraft. Fifty-fifty.

Under Construction ...

Ten Traits or Idiosyncrasies that Make my Heart Ache for the Frailty of Humanity.

1. I can't say too much due to the privacy issues of where I work, but when a young person runs away from home because they are depressed due to a horribly debilitating disease—a disease that is undiscriminating, incurable and sometimes barely even manageable, a disease that affects a part of the body that is wrongly associated with shame and embarrassment and then on top contracted when body issues are the strongest in a life (puberty)—that makes you sad.
2. There is something about seeing an older woman, especially on a tram stop or a bus stop, that makes me sad. I think it's because I get this silly idea in my head that they are in limbo, that they have lived a life that they possibly didn't want to live. While it is not always immediately apparent that feminism has been successful, we do definitely have more choices than many of the women who are now in their sixties and seventies had. The idea that you give up all your dreams and aspirations to raise a family and look after a man does not seem so prevalent (for us priveleged, Western societies, with millions and millions of exceptions probably—don't get me wrong, I am not illusioned that it is easy for women now, its just different). When I see this 'waiting', it makes me sad, that is all I am saying.
3. The capacity for love makes me sad. It would be easier if love was an on/off mechanism, rather than a quantitative thing. It means that people don't love, or show their love, in equal measure. I love those who are brave enough to love with all their hearts, regardless. That is something to which I aspire.
4. Fathers who try very hard to participate in the lives of their teenage daughters, but who can never be included and are in fact outside of the clique. They know they are, they still keep trying and sometimes you can see the rejection in their eyes. Happened tonight at the Bradford Arms Hotel, Llanymynech. Breaks my heart.
5. This is not technically the frailty of humanity, but in a way is related. The other day I watched a man taking his dog for a walk. The dog periodically looked up at his owner with a look of adoration and complete trust. Lolli does the same. Imagine what the world would be like if people were the way their dogs believed them to be. It would be amazing.

Ten All Time Favourite Words.

*Definitions courtesy of http://dictionary.reference.com/

1. Bombastic. Grandiloquent, pompous, high-sounding, inflated, pretentious. How good is it when the definition of a fabulous word is another fabulous word (grandiloquent). I love the sound of bombastic. Let it roll off your tongue a couple of times: it's addictive. Go forth and use it boldly. You may sound bombastic if you do though.
2. Quixotic. Caught up in the romance of noble deeds and the pursuit of unreachable goals; idealistic without regard to practicality. This is an adjective I would wear with pride. Call me quixotic, go on, go on.
3. Defenestrate. To throw out of a window. It is great to have such narrow meaning words, it makes our language rich. I nearly used this in a job at work once—it's what jumped to mind. But I thought (1) not everyone may be familiar with this word, and, (2) imagine what a tosser I would seem if this ever got to the coroners court.
4. Hirsute. Hairy, shaggy. This is one of those words that sound fabulous but you don't like their meaning. Oh, for a time when hirsute would not be a guilt inducing thing that makes you feel you need to rush to Brazilian Butterfly. Someone at work booked their hubby into BB the other day because of his hirsute eyebrows—the world's gone mad!
5. Eructation. The act or an instance of belching. This sound much better than belch, doesn't it? National Geographic would have been much classier the other day if its caption for a spurting had been 'the earch eructating ...' rather than 'the earth belching ...'.
6. Harangue. A solding or a long or intence verbal attack; diatribe; any long pompous speech, esp. before an audience. Man, I love the english language. You never need explain, there is a word for everything. Can other languages claim the same? Is it true there is no German word for fluffy? Imagine having to explain something was fluffy. The German's will have to come up with a german equivalent of something like softandcloudlikewithwhispybits.
7. Hugger-mugger. Disorder or confusion; muddle; secrecy, reticence. All this time I thought our favourite pizza at Shagy's was just a whacky made up word, and then along comes Dictionary.com's word of the day and its hugger-mugger.  With choriza, chicken and prawn it is a bit of a meat-group confusion; with rocket it is secretly harbouring some goodness. Makes perfect sense now.
8. Jejune. Dull, insipid; juvenile, childish; lacking knowledge or experience, uniformed; deficient or lacking nutritional value. Again meaning is secondary to the loveliness of the word, which to me should really be about summer days and grass smells, and a kind of crunchiness underfoot and a humming of bees. Maybe that is dull for some people.
9. Bathetic. Displaying or characterized by bathos: a ludicrous descent from the exalted of lofty to the commonplace. It is un-Australian to not make bathetic wishes I think. We all do it. So-and-so wishes Kylie would trip over her train on the way down the stair. So-and-so-other is glad Tiger got caught. I just like that it is like pathetic but funnier.
10. Sesquipedalianism. Given to using long words. This is the funniest ending to a list I ever did see. How's the irony? I am a proud, loud sesquipealianist.

Ten Reasons Why We Study Literature. (This Is Serious—Maybe I'll Work Out Why I am Doing it.)

1. Because it tells us about the time in which it is created. It's an alternative way to see history to the way the historians would like us to see it.
2. It reveals to us what we value as a culture. Often we don't realise, or want to admit to ourselves, what is important to us. Sometimes we aren't that proud of it.
3. Its displacement from 'reality' forces us to look at what we normally call reality for the way in which it is constructed. If fiction can create a seeming 'reality', where is the non-fictional basis for our own?
4. Through using theoretical and philosophical thought to read literature, we come to understand a bit more about those theories and philosophies. They are not just in books—they inform political, social and psychological policy. It makes us a little more knowledgeable (hopefully).
5. It opens up the study of all textual things in our world. Since I started studying literature, for example, I see so many sub-texts to advertising now—it’s great because at least now I am aware that I am being conned.
6. It affords you the opportunity to read, widely, things you may not ordinarily read, because you have to, not because of the more indulgent want-to.
7. It emits beauty. Whether you believe in the beauty of the everyday as expressed through astute writing, or the beauty of the dramatic, the excessive, the hyperbolic, good writing, often known as 'literature', is a source of a beauty you look for.
8. It challenges you to look below the surface, between the lines and behind the obvious. It makes reading an intellectual engagement rather than a pure entertainment. (Although I have nothing against reading for the fun of it either.)
9. Apparently, according to The Age, art criticism is a dying art. I am not sure if they include literary criticism in that, but I suppose if it is just us at uni ‘doing it’, then perhaps The Age is right. In order to become critics, we must study to be critics—you don’t want people to just be giving un-scholared opinions all over the place do you.
10. It makes authors accountable. It is a little scary how many books are published every year. There has to be a way to sort the possibly most readable to the top of the pile.

Ten Clothing Items I Wish Went Straight From 'So You Think You Can Dance' to Streetwear.

1. The black and white corset from last year, with the bustle at the back. Remember the fabulous dance where they used a long piece of black fabric Ben used to pull Talia back towards him. It was the inspiration for last years walking outfit for the LEJOG. (Land's End to John O'Groats.)
2. Pink tutu and boots. Jessie H had this teamed with a black and lime green pair of striped tights and a teeny-weeny hat in the same colours. For day wear I would probably go for a more subtle contrast on the tights—perhaps a lavender or yellow. And I would lose the hat.
3. In the Top Seven Girls' performance of Chicago's Cell Block Tango, Jess S wore a tiny piece of electric blue lace and some hot pants. I will possibly need to lose a few pounds before trying that one on a nice hot day. Her tattoo added to the look so may need to get one before I wear this outfit.
4. Ash-leigh, from 2009, wore a fabulous Versailles-inspired corset and bustle. The bustle had just the frame work, red like the corset. There was a great flared sleeve undershirt, white, with matching Victorian knickers. I'd wear it to work. Maybe with shoes rather than barefoot.
5. Season Two—last year. The top twelve did a jazz routine when all the girls were in french moulin rouge type corsets—black but shiny with a hint of peacock green/blue; halter neck, sweetheart neckline and ruffles at the hip. They had fish nets and black t-bar heels and these fabulous fans of peacock-esque feathers. At the end the guys had Talia on their shoulders and the girls layered the fans so it looked like she had an incredibly long peacock tail. That moment. That outfit.
6. Okay, this is getting to be a bit of a pattern, but I would so streetwear Ivy's red Mad Hatter's Tea Party corset with black and white gingham skirt and black and red over knee socks. It's now. It has black hot pants and a fabulous gingham overskirt with black and red trim. The neckpiece is fabulous—very [trademark of my company not yet registered]. I would only leave off the gingham arm floaties for everyday wear.
7. Hairspray dresses, Season Three Final. I like the all-over colour ones so any of the following: Grace in blue with black spots and black tulle, sweetheart neckline and little aqua cardigan; Carly in apricot gingham (not my preferred colour) with white tulle and belt, or, Issi in red with black spots—reminiscent of  Rizzo's prom dress in Grease.
8. In the Top Twenty showcase show this year, Jessica P was the object of three men's attention in a Viennese Waltz that saw her in a fabulous, long, red dress that deepened to purple at the hem: flowing, full, soft. I'd like to do twirlies in it and then sit down on the floor so it surrounded you in a circle. I would do that all day long.
9. In the same Top Twenty show, Mikhaelah, Carly and Renee did a jazz routine in short tutu style dresses in great colour combos with high top Converse sneakers. Ace. Perfect. I think I like Renee's dress most: blue, orange trim, orange and black underskirt, orange high tops.
10. Lastly, it's all about shoes. Amy's dress in the Top Four show dance with Talia: a red scooped hemline and black lace on the neck is the nicer dress of the two, but its the one red ballroom heel, one red ballet point shoe combination that I think tops this list of practical streetwear adapted from the show. As long as you dance everywhere rather than walking awkwardly, these fabulous red shoes will turn heads—guaranteed.

Ten Savings Goals and My Rewards for Getting There.

* I have opened an ING account after all these years of talking about it. Interest rate is so much better than the bank I currently deal with. (You should smarten up current bank I deal with, people shop around you know.) Now it's time to save for that deposit. Because I like spending more than I like saving, I have set up a reward system which both inspires me, and justifies purchasing the 'essentials' I feel I can't do without. Each goal has: a name for the transfer over to ING; the value of the reward; and; the subsequent target in order to be able to purchase it.

1. Map and Mat—I 'need' a map cover (small) and a new inflatable roll mat (Prolite Women's, plum) for my trek this year; $26.95 and $199.95; Goal: $1326.90.
2. Pole to Pole—sense of achievment, very inspiring—I 'need' two hiking poles (Airshock Titanal Compact); Two x $129.95; Goal: $2459.90.
3. Phone home—I 'need' a Dell Netbook to stay in contact with my loved ones while I am away, and to stay on top of these lists—look how far back two weeks away put me, imagine five weeks!; $697.00; Goal: $3997.00.
4. My choice—I 'need' to get five more pairs of Irregular Choice shoes—the amount here is changeable dependent on the final choice of which five; $605.00; Goal: $6005.00.
5. Coat—I 'need' a new winter coat—possibly by the time I get it, due to the whacky order of things 'needed' in this list, it will not be winter any more; $300.00 guestimate; Goal: $8300.00.
6. Feather bed—I 'need' a new doona, pillows and woolen underlay; $440.00; Goal: $11040.00.
7. Fossil—I 'need' a new bag big enough to carry everything around and still look fabulous, feel textually marvellous and smell like new bag; $269.00; $14969.00.
8. Who's Been Sitting ...—I need an office chair for my study—note the lack of inverted commas, I actually do need this or my back will melt; $399.00; Goal: $19199.00.
9. Tie me up—I 'need' two corsets, I just like them, they're waist-y—Riding corset at 'Corset Design', and TBA Overbust (how to choose); guessing $700.00; $24000.00.
10. Pack it away—I 'need' an Ikea wardrobe—only thing is they no longer have the one I want, so this is wardrobe guestimating only; $1500.00; 27500.00.

You may have noticed that none of the figures in this add up correctly. That is because I remembered an eleventh thing that I 'needed' and so I have added a hundred dollars per goal to make up the thousand I will need for my canoe. Whoo hoo! That's one of my favourites.

Ten Philosophical Viewpoints on Which Yoda and I Agree.

1. 'Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.' It is a bit of a semantic one this. I do believe in giving things a go, you can only 'try', and the worst that can happen is you fail miserably and feel stupid and/or embarrassed. But if you are going to 'try', you might as well 'just do it' (to borrow from the dreadful/wonderful world of advertising): trying holds a sense of failure, doing a sense of determination, regardless of outcome.
2. 'Luke: I don't believe it [remarking on Yoda's using the force to remove his ship from the bog]. Yoda: That is why you fail.' Belief. It makes all the difference doesn't it. I used to believe you could wear cream and white together and so I could. Now I question it and I can't. Doesn't stop me believing is some other fashion questionables: socks and high heels, mini skirts on over forties, yellow and pink in the same outfit ...
3. 'Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by size do you.' This has numerous applications: good things in small packages; the magic, not the wand; healthiness, not peer pressure or media pressure. Ultimately this is the ol' faithful 'not judging by appearances'.
4. 'Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.' Freedom starts with this precept. From here you can go anywhere.
5. 'Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is.' This is similar to number four—just the ultimate thing you fear to lose. I always thought I could handle any death but Bodhi's. There is pain, but there is also a joy, albeit imbued with emptiness. Now I know Bodhi is 'transformed into the force' and is still there. There is nothing to fear.
6. About Luke: 'This one a long time have I watched. All his life he has looked away ... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm. What he was doing. Hmph.' Now, no now, no now, eek. This moment is the only moment you have. Are you here? What are you doing with it? Are you enjoying it, making the most of it? Slippery little bugger, but your slippery little bugger.
7. 'Luke: Is the dark side stronger? Yoda: No, no, no. Quicker, easier, more seductive.' It seems unfair that the light side takes more work. If there is an ultimate being, a creator suggested by creation, (s)he has a sick sense of humour or a selfish idea of what makes entertainment. Would (s)he be bored if it was easy to be 'good' and people had to go out of their way to be 'bad'? Would people go out of their way? This is straying too close to thesis territory and I am only writing this list so that I can avoid writing about my thesis for a moment so it doesn't do to discuss similar things here—I get funny in the tummy.
8. 'You must unlearn what you have learned.' Knowing things sometimes holds you back—it curbs your imagination, it keeps you on the path. The path is not always where it's most exciting and challenging to be.
9. 'Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.' You change your future with your now, but not always in perceptible ways, or concievable ways. It is hard to see what the repurcussions of the smallest actions will be. Don't worry about the future—it will happen anyway. Make sure you concentrate on what's happening now and you'll never have to worry about getting there.
10. 'If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are ... a different game you should play.' Unfortunately this philosophy smacks a little too much of rah-rah I recieved endlessly in another job I had once: 'the definition of insanity is to do the same thing today as you did yesterday, and expect a different result'. I was getting desperate for a tenth thing for the list. I had already pulled this quote from some obscure Star Wars spin-off. I am going to have to reluctantly say that it is a philosophy that makes sense. Oooh, that hurt. Obviously I am not over that place yet.

Ten Winges, Whines, Concerns and Complaints About my Last Honours Core Subject.

* Explanation: Last year I did this subject and dropped out because it made me cry, along with other more serious and practical reasons which are obliterated in memory by the fact that it made me cry. It's a core subject. I have to do it this year, tears or no. Suck it up princess.

1. The teacher. I am fearful of the net and its ability to share info to everyone who cares to look, so think of this as feedback. She scared the bejeebers into all of us (I surveyed one other person to verify this fact) by saying that you may as well not do the course if you don't get high distinctions for every subject, and then gave me a credit (I don't do credit, except twice, and I'm not happy about it) for having too large a subject matter. My theory is by the time I am finished it will be the right size. My theory is not the proper way to do it. My theory is how I have been doing it all along. Change management required—eek. More later regarding this, but suffice it to say that I am trepidatious to go through this all again. On the plus side, I am no longer wanting to get a scholarship (who can live on that, and they don't let you work over and above) so I don't have to worry if—God forbid—I get a credit. On the even pluser side, now that I have started back at school, we don't have the same teacher. Whoo hoo. Let's hope this one works out better.
2. I don't know what I am doing. Seeing as this class is to develop your thesis proposal, bibliography and introduction, not  knowing what it is about makes it a little hard. It also ensures I find everything else in the world to do except homework.
3. Everybody has a different idea on what it is I am doing. By everybody I mean me, my supervisor, and the teacher of this course. Is the aim of this year to make you feel more stupid than you ever have. If so, objective achieved!
4. I get the impression that Literary Studies is thought of as pedestrian, and all the interest is in visual and creative arts. As a result it seems like the focus lies there and all the literature students are left to flounder on their own.
5. I am not good at planning. This course requires you to plan. The thesis requires planning. I don't wanna plan! I just want to wax lyrical for sixteen thousand words and hope it all turns out okay. I realise I can't do that. Eek and Yuk.
6. My thesis makes perfect sense in my subconscious. I probably dream lucid and exciting theses all the time—wish I could remember them. When it comes to verbally expressing them though? Doesn't come out prettily.
7. I am not prepared. I was going to have November off and then start researching again in December and be all ready to go for the course. I allowed myself to be distracted, waylaid and deterred. I did one day's worth of studying between December 1st and now. Ooh, need to google ...
8. I don't have to do an exegesis. Why do I need to go to a class where all they seem to do is talk about them. This goes back to number four.
9. I am going to have to do a big whammy talk in front of at least a million and a half people. That's before the televised numbers. I am sure it is only about eighteen people, but that is what it will feel like.
10. When I do make or scrape through this course, there will be nothing left but to write the damned thing. Eek.

* Why doesn't whining make you feel any better? It's because no matter what you say, you are still going to have to carry on doing this course. Tough luck lovey!

Ten Texts Immortalised Here Because I Can't Bear to Delete Them Otherwise and My Inbox is Crowded.

1. 'O.K then, where should I go? Do you need anything?' Chilli night—persistence pays.
2. 'Not a bad day - I was nervous because I can feel eyes on us. However I will discuss at length. At the pub with coppers, asking me who I am texting - I said my secret lover.' And it is still a secret nearly eight months later. Who said girls can only keep a secret for twenty-four hours? Oh, I did tell one person. But they will take it to their grave. Maybe.
3. 'You are insane - but I like the idea, I will ring you in 15-20 mins.' The texts have a narrative time-line. The boy discovered my insanity early. I don't mind because then he knows exactly what he is dealing with. We did go ice skating.
4. 'Thank you. I enjoyed my Barefoot balcony introspection - watching ze world go by under a sunny sky.'
5. 'I hope my special friend Charlston and her little dog are ok - message from her admirer.' I often thought V— was only my friend to be Bodhi's friend. I could understand that. He did hang around after Bodhi went to Nirvana though so maybe there is more to this small 'r' than appears.
6. 'P.S. You are my favourite calltaker.'
7. 'Have you got enough books to last you through the night?' Caring, a sense of humour, and not afraid to take the p—s. I think the ratios work quite well.
8. 'Dear Charlie, the plain and simple truth is that I am incredibly lucky to have met a beautiful person like you. You are always a free person. I just can't work out the randomness of your book reading piles.' I like to keep a bit of mystery around myself—appears to be working. Possibly may be that not even I can work out the randomness of the book reading piles. They just work, that is all that matters.
9. 'Charlie, you are like a beautiful warm drug to me. I am addicted.' This is text that breaks a heart with sweetness. Eek. Wow.
10. 'When I win tattslotto will you run away with me?' Yes. Can we come back for visits though?

Ten Wears/Wheres of my New $275 Boots and the Relative Cost Per Wear/Where as a Result.

These, my friends, are my new boots: http://shop.irregularchoice.com/womens/product/262/popper-pops-.html
I don't want to think too much about the price—especially as they were meant to be on special but I was too chicken to say anything when I got to the counter. (Chicken!) By wearing them, and telling you where I wear them, I reduce their cost and manipulate them into not making me feel guilty. I have items in my wardrobe that are now so low in cost per wear that they are actually free. It saves me a lot of money. I am so economical—I can't understand why my dad wouldn't agree with this statement.

1. Rumi's. B——'s Birthday. Worn with my black skirt-as-dress, white gypsy shirt, black broderie anglais shirt and mint green tights. They elicited some swear words of appreciation from a drunk male on Lygon Street, as did my hairdo—the former being the more positive of the two. Not too hard to break in, a little tight across the top of my foot but hopefully that will wear in. Cost per wear: $275.00.
2. Drive-In Coffee. Breakfast with Dee. Worn with Denim skirt, black hoodie, green art nouveau overshirt and black poncho. Benji was ill and sleeping so Dee and I parked in the Uni carpark, I minced for coffee and we sat in the car and pee-ed the desperate students attempting to get a space off. They elicited praise from one of my classmates who spent much of the class googling Irregular Choice. Cost per wear: $137.50.
3. Work. Worn with a cut-off denim skirt which is optimistically before its time on the losing weight scale, black leggings, a white shirt and my blue and white striped cardigan. All in all, not the best look, but the boots got their fair share of being talked about and a request to be turned down. Cost per wear: $91.66 recurring.
4. Phew! They have been fixed.I didn't notice that one of the heel protectors was gone and so the above three wears have worn one heel down almost a third of the way. Travels, uni, work, boyfriends and theses—things that take time—have meant it is only now in the second week of November that they have been (expensively) repaired. Dinner at Dee's. Worn with my spotty hiking dress—is there such a thing as too many spots—black cardigan, denim shorts and fish-net stockings. Cost per wear: Add $50 for the repair. $81.25.
5. One am raid of the sweety and coffee counter at Cavaltera or Cavalatra or similar at the Crown Casino. Worn with silver tights, denim jeans, black top and my raincoat. Cost per wear: $65.00
6. Aqua Christmas Party followed by movies at Chadstone (where there was a look or two). Worn with purple puffy sleeve top, black top/dress with the v-straps close to the neck, mint stockings and black poncho; long black chandelier earrings. Cost per wear: $54.1666 (repeating)
7. Dinner with J——: Worn with my new blue Mettalicus dress, pulled up to be a short dress rather than long; black fish nets and a my new op-shop one button black cardigan. Cost per wear: $46.4285714
8. Casual night shift at work: Worn with a mid calf length demin skirt with Las Vegas belt and a white whirt. Simple, clean, slight tubby. Cost per wear: $40.625.
9. Work—if I don't go anywhere exciting, I need to make where I do go exciting by wearing my boots. Mountains to Mohamed and that sort of thing eh? Worn with a black knee length pleated flouncy skirt, black singlet and green metallic jumper-let which buttons up just below the chest and has great flouncy sleeve. Also wore purple spotted knee high tights. It was oft-commented on and a drunk Spaniard tried to play inside my cleavage at the Casino as it was a little risque too. Cost per wear: $36.111111111111 repeating. Bad news: Have to get the glue out again. Don't start letting me down Irregular Choice, $36 is a little high to be getting the glue out again!
10. With new ICSs on the way as we speak (SS11) the last catalogued wear has happened this week. Teamed with purpley-blue tights,denim shorts again, a white t-shirt with fluro grinning Cheshire cat and long blue checked shirt dress. How young do I think I am? Worn to work and on into the night for Chinese in China town and coffee in Fed Square. Meals not included the final cost per where here, and the cost to be improved on now that some glue has been administered is $32.50. Happy wearing—they are crowd stoppers that is for sure!

Ten Reasons Why Oz is Better Than US, and Vice Versa.

1. People talk to each other in queues in the US. In fact, it seems mandatory. On the first count the US wins, on the second Oz—it's super friendly and I really enjoyed talking to people, but I hate to have to do it.
2. Fewer people in the States seem to smoke. Maybe there are just more people and so you don't notice, but the percentage seems lower. Perhaps it is because you have to pay for your own healthcare. This a win for the US—I am tired of walking through stinky man-made clouds on every sidewalk.
3. Melbourne has the best food. Possibly in the world if I may be so bold. One for Oz.
4. Ditto on the coffee.
5. The average US supermarket sells about twenty-eight varieties of pop tart. But sometimes it seems like that is all they sell. Overall diversity is lacking—unless you count peanut butter options, but I am not counting peanut butter options. (Eeough.) Draw.
6. The US has Walmart—supermarket-cum-department store on steroids and an in-depth study of American culture.
7. The US has phenomenal theme parks and squillions of them. The Gold Coast just doesn't compare.
8. Unexpectedly, some places in the States feel safer than Melbourne. New York for example. I know some places aren't, but have you been to Norlane, Broadie or Crown lately.
9. Accessable snow. The US has it is drafts, blizzards and flurries. You don't need a National Park Pass to get to it. You may unexpectedly find yourself driving in it though. I would just do like the guy we saw in Washington when it had been closed down by blizzard—cross-country ski to work. How cool!
10. America has Americans. I have been to America seven times (eek, I hadn't worked that out before) and stereotypes are stereotypes; people are people. I can't fault the sweetness and genuine loveliness of most people that I have met in my travels. Travelling always makes you think people are lovely, for the most part. It's because you feel lovely, I suspect. Compared to other places I have been, Americans are just as nice as everyone else. And its always the crazy, idiosyncratic, obsessive and just plain weird ones that I like the most.

Tally: Oz 2; US 5; Draw 3. Interesting. New York: I am available if you want me. I can be reached at 9 ...

Ten Justifications for Buying Four More Pairs of Irregular Choice Shoes Online ASAP.

1. The 'Little Miss Oh's were not available in my size in NY, but they are on the net. I would have bought them anyway, and its silly to get just one pair and pay for that postage. Wanna see them? See: http://shop.irregularchoice.com/womens/product/2799/little-miss-oh.html They look stunning on, believe me.
2. Have you seen the new range? It is totally gorgeous! They are totally wild! Want an example? See: http://shop.irregularchoice.com/womens/product/2909/making-moves.html This particular pair is not currently on my wish-list. Things may change.
3. Four pairs of IC's are still cheaper than one pair of Jimmy Choo's or Manolo's, and, I think, four times as stunning.
4. I have people who rely on me to wear new shoes, that shock, regularly. I can't let these people down.
5. I am saving other people money. I have people interested in buying their own shoes. If we order them all together we save money on postage. I am the seed that grows the saving plant.
6. It makes me happy.
7. What else would I spend my money on. I don't want to lie around on it when I am buried. It smells funny. And to date I have no dependents. All you non-dependents don't get any ideas—I don't want to give it to you either. I'm not being stingy. You are all welcome to what is left over. There may be a good exchange rate when I buy.
8. Well, actually, it's five pairs. I need flats too. This isn't a justification—it's a misdirection.
9. If I don't buy IC shoes, they may go out of business and then I wouldn't be able to buy IC shoes. I'm important to the process.
10. My frequent custom reiterates to the company that it would be a good idea to have an IC shop in Melbourne. And of course Melbourne would be the best city in Australia because we are so much funkier than all the other cities. (And deadlier—but that's another story, and I dont care about my knickers, I want to die in good looking shoes.)

Ten Business Style Approaches to Relationships—Small and Large.

1. Be courteous and polite: you dont whine (a lot), complain (to their face) or yell (often) at your work colleagues (usually).
2. Ensure all the things we celebrate Labour Day for are implemented—an eight-hour working day, sick leave, annual leave, carer's leave, doona days, equal pay and fair day's wage for a fair day's work.
3. Have regular meetings to make sure everyone knows where everyone else is at and what needs to be followed up and by whom.
4. Make sure communication is always crystal clear.
5. Play on your resume: make sure you highlight your best features and show what they will contribute to the workplace. But, once you have the job, don't fall back on your worst just because you feel comfy—no one is irreplaceable. Aim to always appear promotable.
6. Be honest. Dodgy is always the wrong foot.
7. Have a good work ethic. Do your part. Don't slack off. Step up to challenges that present themselves. Don't assume this will always be noticed for what it is and don't expect it—in the end it always seems that the only one who notices that you are good at what you do is you. Does anyone else's opinion matter?
8. If things don't seem to be working out for you, do all you can, proactively, to work it out. If it is still no good, get a new job. Staying will only make you sour and destroy your confidence.
9. Don't gossip. It is unprofessional.
10. Make sure you are abiding by the OH&S Rules and regulations. Don't let anyone get hurt.

Ten Things I Could Have Done With This Day That Got Lost Going Over the International Dateline.

1. Written postcards (handmade maybe, that day) to people to whom I still needed to say stuff. Telling people things you wish you had told them is as likely as actually having this day back for real.
2. Sat somewhere absurdly comfy and fluffy—enormous bed with feather doonas and pillows; hammock with feather doonas and pillows—and read and read and read and snoozed. On this day you wouldn't get a too-long-in-bed sore back.
3. Buffy. Pancakes for breakfast. Buffy. Pastrami sandwiches on crusty bread for lunch. Buffy. Tacos and re-friend beans for dinner. Buffy. Hot chocolate and Lindt balls. Buffy.
4. Day in a day spa—massages, pampers, people tickling you feet and pulpitating your skull. In reality I wouldn't want that much touching from a stranger. I wouldn't!
5. Stayed in a fancy hotel with a fancy boy—watching movies, wearing white bath robes and getting room service sent up.
6. Done all the things I never can (or want to) do any other day: tax, clean bathrooms, research home-and-contents insurance, my thesis.
7. Seeing as this day is magic anyway, I could have gone back to New York and the Tim Burton exhibition that I didn't realise was on when we were there. (Damn)
8. Learned a new skill: making wine, Russian, scuba diving.
9. Hired a car and trawled op-shops in the burbs.
10. Flown to another city for the day. Perth, Launceston, Christchurch. Had lunch.

*Money seems no object on a lost day.

Under Construction ...

Ten 'It's as (blah) as a (blah in a blah blah on blah blah with a blah)'s

*Smile, its just a simile.

1. Coffee so strong and sturdy it'll float a nail. (Paraphrased from Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck).
2. His [member] was as hard as a math final. (Paraphrased from Deja Dead, Kathy Reichs).
3. The fish is so fresh the ocean is still dripping off its back. (Paraphrased from Deja Dead, Kathy Reichs).
4. No lentil soup for me, I'm as full as a foie gras goose. (B——, and no, it doesn't come up as a cliched google search so you can have creative credit.)

Ten Americanisms We Did Hear.

1. 'Yuuu're Wwwellcome.' Everywhere, but particularly drawley between Florida and DC.
2. 'Wwwellcome to Missess Mac's.' Breakfast in Key Largo. Good-ish filter coffee (high compliment), and yummy potato casserole (a generic name for anything breakfast orientated that involves potatoes: this one was a creamy sort of grated potato patty).
3. 'COME ON IN!' Pizza restaurant in Satellite Beach. The owner welcomed you in with a gesture reminiscent of the Godfather welcoming you to a shootout where his drug trade benefits from your demise.
4. 'Where's my baseball bat?' Ditto. It was an exclamation to his conversations with the locals. Scary thing was he then readily produced said bat.
5. 'Freeee saaaample. Praaaline.' Charleston. This was as good a deal as the place who offered free coffee with use of the ATM machine. There is more to it than meets the eye I reckon. Re: ATM—crazy charges. Re: praline—addiction and subsequent purchase of large amount of praline.
6. 'Free to try, five to buy.' Valentines Eve. (The eve of public holidays are under-utilised). Fake perfume seller outside Macy's.
7. 'Ready for a refill.' Everywhere, and judging by the list of bad coffees, the answer is probably no.
8. 'Do you need your size?' I really wanted to get a pair of button-fly Levis, but ran screaming from this store, and others, in New York. I think shop attendants work on commision in the States. They attach themselves to you and hard seel from the moment you enter. I got asked this three times from the door to the rack. Eek. No button-fly jeans for me I am afraid.
9. 'The moving walkway ends now.' On a moving walkway about five hundred meters long, in and eeriely empty, snowed-in airport in DC, this message started as you boarded and repeated, separarted by a second's pause for the whole trip. That would probably have been okay except we had to ride the five hundred meters three times due to a wrong turn.
10. 'That's a rrrreeeallyy long walk/drive; you'll never make it all that way.' This statement applies to everything from a walk across a carpark to Walmart to a five hundred and thirty mile, one day drive from Charleston to Washington. My theory has always been (rather racially) that Americans believe legs are supplied to people by God in order that one can reach the pedals of one's automobile. But, you don't want to wear them out doing that either. Unless you are Dean Moriarty.

Ten Best Things About New York City.

1. Let's start with the grand statement. The best thing about New York is everything. It is (within non-logical reason) faultless. I heart New York.
2. Its walkability. You can walk for miles and miles and not feel a thing because there is always something to look at, and a changing mood. But there are also edges so you hit an edge and delve back in. It's not like walking miles and then having to come back.
3. Its buildings of outstanding beauty. Ask that poli' that used to be a footballer about the aesthetic worth of Art Deco buildings. We silly Melbournians, for the most part, did not see their fabuloscity and knocked them down.
4. Its never-sleeps-ness. Altough I do wonder about the lyrics—why would you wake up in a city that never sleeps, why are you sleeping in the first place? But I do like the idea of not placing a temporal limit on sleep patterns.
5. Its wacky neighbourhoods. Especially down in the southern tip: SoHo, TriBeca, NoHo, Little Italy. It's amazing how diverse, but divided, a tiny little island can be.
6. Cheesecake, hot dogs, bagels and pretzels. The latter three from a street vendor. The former one in about eighteen hundred different flavours, and every piece we had as creamy as coffee made with condensed milk.
7. Speaking of diversity. I love the way cultures mix in New York, but retain a sense of themselves as well. There is no one way to be a New Yorker.
8. Attitude. You love it even when you hate it.
9. Rivers and Parks. Who'd have thought a city so large could have such an enormous amount of greenery in the middle of it. Central Park would be worth a fortune to real estaters. To be able to see so much water and so much green (or snow in Winter) is a joy.
10. Anonymity. The more people, the less anyone notices you. You can be anyone you want to be in NYC.

Ten Pieces of Traveller's Advice from your Passport—and Did We Follow Them.

1. Check the latest travel advice for your destination. No. Didn't. It's America, what could possibly go wrong. It's New York—zero tolerance—it'll be safer than Melbourne.
2. Take out comprehensive travel insurance. Yep. After all those years as a travel agent, and the even larger number of years as a paranoid, I always take travel insurance. I figure it stops people worrying about what I am doing. A bit.
3. Register your travel plans with smarttraveller.com or the local Embassy. I am not giving the government more ways of tracking me. They have this, my i-Google page with preferences, my ASIO file, my internet purchases paper-less paper trail and my library card. That'll be a no.
4. Obey the laws of the country you are visiting even if you regard them as harsh and unfair. For the most part, yes. There were a couple of dodgy u-turns when lost, and the time we didn't pay to use the safe.
5. Make sure you have the right visa for the country you are visiting. Yes. Easy, the name of the visa is the same as the name of my workplace. Wouldn't forget that, even if I tried.
6. Make copies of your passport, insurance documents, travellers cheques and credit card numbers. Yes (against my will, I never have before, maybe it would be bad luck, stored with passports anyway!), yes and it's online anyway, not applicable, no.
7. Check on recommended vaccinations for the place you are travelling to. Don't like injections.
8. Make sure your passport has at least six months validity and carry extra passport photos in case something happens to your passport. Yes on the former. No on the latter but that is a good idea although I don't like to carry such ugly looking things around. That would durely scare a security person who had to search my bag, but may cause a thief to drop my stuff and run away. Mmm, I will consider that for the furture.
9. Keep in contact with friends back home and leave them an itinerary so they know where you are. V— did, he is good. My folks, I assume, go for the no-news philosophy. I write the 'go' and 'back' dates on a calender at B—'s request (although I am sure that is just so she knows when to start wearing clothes again), and anyone who hasn't been listening to the plan as I waffled on about it for the six months prior, have only themselves to blame for not knowing the itinerary.
10. Check to see if you are a national of the country that you plan to visit. No, I am fairly sure I am not. Don't think I will get drafted to Iraq.

Ten 'Eek" Snow Moments.

* Essentially, these are moments, experienced in snowy conditions, that cause an 'eek' to be omitted from your lips—simple, yes?

1. Driving, at night, on a freeway—sixty mile per hour limit—in a snow storm. Luckily the traffic all slowed to about fifteen miles per hour, but poor V—— still had to hang out the window to try and direct me as I was unable to see the lines on the road. Merging and exiting were especially eek-y.
2. Driving, at night, on inches of snow, with feet of snow either side of you, through Washington DC, without a map. And, then having to try and get out of the way of a fire engine. How could there be a fire in that weather? Must be a 'trapped'.
3. Being the last two people waiting for a train at the otherwise completely deserted airport, and just managing to catch the last Metro train before they close all overground stations due to the blizzard warning. What Blizzard Warning? Now you tell us!
4. Taking a gamble on the interpretive directions to the hotel and leaving the Metro station. Turns out it was two stops two early and we had to walk ten blocks in the un-warned about blizzard with all our luggage.
5. Having no eating options but the Irish restaurant at the bottom of our hotel. The food was lousy. The coffee was terrible. And because it was the only place open in the then knowable universe, the staff were particularly disgruntled that they had to come to work when every other waitperson in the world was at home on the couch watching pay TV. I lie about eating options though—we did have a particularly yummy soup at McDonalds. There are so many combinations there that don't usually meet in a sentence: McDonalds and soup, McDonalds and yummy.
6. Having nothing to do in DC. The shops are closed—except for one camping type store that sold hats and gloves (thank goodness, mine were inadequate). The museums are closed. All we could do was go out in the blizzard to see a famous white building against a backdrop of snow. The White House, when compared to the white of snow, is actually the Cream House.
7. Snow means cancelled trains. Our 0830 train was cancelled when we rang the night before to check. They rescheduled us on the 0910. When we arrived at the stations, the 0910 was cancelled, but the cancelled 0830 was departing, but delayed. I think we ended up catching the 0800 at 0940, which went to the same places as the 0830 and replaced the cancelled 0940. That makes perfect sense doesn't it? Eek.
8. Snow becomes Ice. Although New York had more snow delivered, its streets were much clearer. My hypothesis: the ambient temperature of eight million people, and the fact that, unlike DC, it can't just close down, and so has a better snow infrastructure, has a lot to do with it. But what snow it does have quickly turns to ice; everyone walks through town like a duck in a mopped kitchen.
9. It is infinitely harder than it seems to make a snowball. Movies can't use real snow. Why is nothing in life like it is in the movies? How do movies get away with such whopping lies?
10. Snow means cancelled planes. Here we go again. Our 1330 plane was delayed to 1800, which means we would have arrived in LA at 2145 to connect to our international flight at 2200. That later got re-delayed to 1900, arriving 2245. We got ourselves rescheduled on a 1715 getting us there at 2100: we had one hour to collect luggage, change terminals and re-check for our onward flight. It is now that you start to think the extra thousand dollars for the through journey on one airline would have been worth the money. The wind was behind us. We arrived one hour early into LA and had plenty of time. We then sat on the runway for about, um, ever, and didn't leave LA until closer to 2300. It didn't even snow there.

Disclaimer: I would still rather have snow than a Melbourne summer any day. Any day!

Ten Excuses to Indulge in Chocolate When you have Diabetes.

Guest List.

Thank you V——.

1. Special occasions—I'm on holidays.
2. One little piece won't hurt. [Little is a word with large parameters.]
3. It tastes so good—it didn't taste this good when I didn't have diabetes.
4. I'm feeling a little blue.
5. It's 'overseas' chocolate. We don't have this at home. If I don't try it now, I'll never get another chance.
6. It looks like it has a beautiful texture.
7. It's dark chocolate. Antioxidants. It's actually good for you. Do you want me to take copious amounts of pills to get the same good effect. I don't think so.
8. I was going to go for a really long walk straight afterwards.
9. It has peanut butter in it. If I don't buy it—and eat it—then no one will. They'll go out of business. How could I live with that on my conscience.
10. Charlie won't eat it vicariously for me. Keeps going on about how she's turning into a fatty-boom-bah.

Ten Sleazy Sides to Charleston.

*Information for much of this posting was garnered from a tour taken in said city, entitled 'The Dark Side of Charleston', run by Bulldog Tours. If you are ever in Charleston I would highly recommend you visit them: http://www.bulldogtours.com/

1. Well, let’s see. I heard she likes corsetry and other modes of restriction. Oh, you mean the place. Sorry.
2. Our tour leader came out to start the tour with a bag full of bottle tops. He explained he was going to deliver them to a stripper friend with a greeny conscience. I am sure it’s a ploy. I am sure every person in the tour thought we would go to a strip joint, and they could justify it as part of the tour and not ‘something they would ordinarily do’. We didn’t go to a strip joint. There was residual disappointment. Wes went to a strip joint. You don’t have to take a tour.
3. Stockades, apparently, have a second element of punishment on top of the face-on humiliation and rotten fruit assault. Males and females in the stockades were often raped. One man, whose wife was in the stockade for adultery, sold tickets for the ‘privilege’.
4. Cemeteries. We have op-shops, the Charlestonites had the cemetery. A great place to get some second hand jewellery and clothing and on-sell, like on ebay, to made a few extra dollars. One gentleman apparently thought he could re-animate the dead. He grew partial to one of his experiments in particular, and would ride around with her propped up in his carriage.
5. She is working on some raunchy literature. She even has a nom de plume so that this little money spinner doesn't interfere with her ambitions to win literary note. Oh, gosh, sorry. I am talking about the person again. Back to it. Don't mind me.
6. JFK allegedly spent a little time down in Charleston before he entered politics. Making mad, crazy love to a woman intricately linked to the Nazi's—Inga Arvad. Scandle and shock. This is very hard to find information about on the net—except from conspiracy theorists. Oddly it doesn't show up on official biographical web sites. Is someone trying to hide something here?
7. The Days Inn. During an election, or something along those lines, a TV crew set up in a motel room at the Days Inn and called in a hooker. I think they were showing the availability and skill set of 'escorts', rampant misuse of government funds,  or something along those lines. This was told to us as we stood in the carpark, behind said hotel, at the end of the tour. The guide asked everyone if they were okay to find their way back to their hotels. 'Where are you guys staying?' he quizzed us. 'The Days Inn.' Hope it wasn't room 224.
8. St. Michael's Church. Loved this, although its not really sleazy as such. The guide was speaking about how the church lamented its parishioner's behaviours in church. They were told that a number of things were not suitable, like bringing their dogs, smoking, and drinking. Ironic, then, that a minister of this church was terminated for baptising a bear while off his tree. Besides the whole 'animals not being allowed in heaven' business, I believe he deserves some kudos—can you imagine trying to dunk a bear's forehead in a font?
9. Ask her to do the wink. It is very sleazy if caught at the wrong, or right maybe, moment. I think that's a hangover from the life where she was the small Sicilian man.
10. The High End Bordello. Girls from this bordello were so well off that they could wear the latest fashions from Paris. This meant confusion in the streets, and high society women ended up propositioned. It became an unwritten rule that girls from the bordello would wear red shoes. A lifted hem saved many a man from an awkward faux pas. Today, still, in the upper circles, if you attend a party in Charleston wearing red shoes, your reputation will be tainted. How could I live in Charlston—I love red shoes.

Ten Best Strawberry Daiquiries in Florida ... no sorry, in America ... oops, okay then, in the World.

* It turns out that no matter how much you want one, a strawberry daiquiri is not always an available commodity. The term 'Florida' needed to loosen itself for this list-quest. The term 'daiquiri' followed suit. One barman, when asked about the possibility of such a drink was heard to say: 'Thank God! No!' Like my fashion sense, I believed my daiquiri sense may be just a little ahead of its resurgence. Or, a little behind the times. One or t'other.

1. Margaritaville, Universal City Walk, Orlando, FL. This was the yummiest daiquiri of the whole trip and the return. Divine!
2. Olive Grove Restaurant, Lake Buena Vista, Orlando, FL. Not bad, nice glass. Good food to accompany it—which for the USA is a great compliment.
3. Capris Restaurant, Homestead, (Gateway to the Keys), FL. Mmm. I think they has a 7/11 slurpee machine out the back.
4. A pub. Name forgotten and googling is not helping. Charleston, SC. I was dying for a daiquiri. I ended up with a Fat Yak beer. A Fat Yak beer, under ordinary circumstances, might be a very nice beer. It is no strawberry daiquiri though.
5. Ben Ash Deli, West 55th and 7th, New York, NY. 'I'll see if I can rustle one up for you.' Next day at breakfast I noticed it was on the menu—why would you have to rustle up a menu item?
6. Rosie O'Grady's, 7 th Av, near West 52nd, New York, NY. This is the home to the 'Thank God! No!' barman. Don't you love New York attitude? He did make a fabulous Razzomatini though. 'Just like a strawberry daiquiri,' he quipped. I had two.
7. Then I had a Key Lime Martini. I floated out of Rosie O'Grady's. Our last night of holidays deserved a celebration.
8. Albert Park Hotel, Albert Park, Melbourne. 'By any other name'. I think the humble strawberry is too humble for the cocktail these days. This had addled strawberries, but was accompanied by mint, rose infused vodkas and elderberry. Very exotic. Thanks B—.
9. Rumi, Brunswick, Melbourne. It's getting to the point where any cocktail makes this list. Tonight I managed two delicious serves of Rumi's Vodka Cocktail—vodka, pomegranate juice and lime in a sugar rimmed glass. I cannot believe there was any vodka in there. Very, very nice. Does it not take at least two spirits to make a cocktail though? Isn't this just a high priced mixed drink?
10. Automatic, Southbank, Melbourne. I just had to have one so I could finish this blog. Oh, yeah, like you wouldn't have anyway? Well, if they still had that ice cream one with blackcurrant liqueur, I would have had that instead but unfortunately they don't and so the list goes out with an actual strawberry daiquiri. Lots of strawberry pieces. Nice, but not the best.

Ten Things that Make you Queasy at the Astronaut Hall of Fame and Kennedy Space Centre.

1. Multi Access Trainer. Strapped into a chair on a spinning machine on three axes. You are twisted this way and that for what seemed like eternity. It was a long time to giggle loudly through nervousness and sheer ick-ability.
2. Climbing Wall. Queasiness comes twofold on this apparatus. Firstly, you have to tell them how much you weigh. I felt really ill about that. I still feel ill thinking about it. You are strapped into a harness and counter balanced by your self in weights. When you then climb a frame, you can bounce up and down using your own weight to make you feel a little weightless. The harness digging into my nether regions was enough to make me feel ill. Maybe I got my weight wrong, said too much. That makes me feel netter. It was the worst ride of the day.
3. Mixing chemicals on the mid-deck of the Space Shuttle. The actual chemicals were not nauseating in themselves, but the pressure to stick to the script, say your lines well and complete your tasks was. Mission specialist four and I did execute and achieve our goals though, well before time, and spent the rest of the voyage giggling at everyone else, and so, airsick bags did not need to be deployed.
4. G-Force Spinner. I did feel quite shaky at the end of this one. It was a centrifugal type spinner with added tilting. Inside a small box, (that I was surprised did not smell of vomit), you seem to be at the controls of a jet fighter that gets into trouble mid-air. It’s partly the footage, partly the spinning that results in a queasiness that is greater than the sum of its partlys.
5. The Shuttle Launch Experience. I took valuable and possibly very sensible advise and did not board this ride at Kennedy Space Centre which emulates travelling at twelve and a half thousand miles an hour. We were driving the next day, a long way. On inadequate sleep; the son of someone in a queue somewhere had to take the rest of the year off after riding it. I have regrets.
6. Vanilla Latte from the Orbit Cafe. I don’t learn a lesson with the words ‘vanilla latte’. I always think it sounds so yummy. It never is. It’s the reason I can’t abide the smell of Gloria Jeans. I am not sure what more I can do to convince myself.
7. Losing a camera. This didn’t happen, but sighting it sitting under a bench from across the room is still enough to churn a tummy. Especially when it has my darling Bodhi, so sweet and stroppy, on it. Disaster averted.
8. Dots. In a convex dome. You stand on an unstable platform and stare into this dome and it makes you feel odd. It was there, beyond that I have no idea why you would so please don’t bother asking.
9. Bowel control. All pooh talk is a bit queasifying, but, apparently, NASA monitors astronaut trainees’ bowel movements to ensure their control is such that their breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks end up traversing the small window required, in a gravity free environment, for all other astronauts to avoid sharing the moment.
10. Launch Cancellations. At t-minus nine minutes and counting no less. It drops your tum like a lead balloon. It doesn’t help that you then have to wait with bad filter coffee for the exiting masses to leave so you can avoid the disappointing exodus from the centre.

Ten Worst American Coffees and Their Relative Rating.

1.Filter Coffee, Room 1434, Comfort Inn, Lake Buena Vista, Orlando, FL. Tasted like they found their crustiest pipe to conduct the water.
2. Cafe Con Leche, Cuba Coffee stand, Key West, FL.
3. Machine Latte, Dunkin' Donuts stand in a petrol Station, Key Largo, FL.
4. Filter Coffee, on the road, Homestead to Satellite Beach, FL.
5. Vanilla Latte, Orbit Cafe, Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral, FL.
6. Filter Coffee, Orbit Cafe, Kennedy Space Centre, Cape Canaveral, FL.
7. Starbucks Latte, Cocoa Beach, FL. You expect at least middle-of-the-road from Starbucks, don't you?
8. Filter Coffee with Vanilla Coffe Mate, Truck Stop, road between Charleston and Washington D.C.. No more vanilla anything allowed!
9. Filter Coffee, Irish Channel Restaurant and Bar, Red Roof Inn Downtown, Washington, DC. All the grinds in the bottom of the cup make for a gritty last mouthful.
10. Latte, Healthy Food Cafe, 5th Av, opposite the Museum of Sex, NY. Expectations were super high. This coffee had a lot of work to do, and wasn't up to it.

Relative rating worst to least worst: 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 3, 5, 7, 6, 10.

Ten Jobs That Seem Like Someone is Just Finding Something for You to Do.

Ten Jobs That Seem Like Someone is Just Finding Something for You to Do.

1. Advert. People in the States are paid to be advertisments. Nothing big-budget. Stand on the corner of a large intersection with a sign that says: 'All-you-can Eat Buffet Breakfast $4.99'; 'Subway—That Way'; 'Disney T-Shirts, Half Price'.
2. Fancy advert. Because there is so much advertising around, creativity is required. This employee has to dress in a cow suit, with half a football as a hat, stand on two poles, in the grass, at the side of a major roadway, to entice us to eat his boss' pizza. Was that in the job description when he applied?
3. Bellboys. Is it the standard of hotel we stayed in, or is the bellboy becoming less of a career option? Some people still prefer to pay someone to carry their bags. These people need my help regarding efficient packing. Read my book—'You Won't Need That'—in stores soon.
4. Cold Bouncers. When it is blizzarding outside, economics suggests turning off the automatic door, and getting one of your employees, sufficiently rugged-up and heater-equipped, to open doors only when absolutely necessary. Like regular bouncers, the nasty ones make you wait in the cold until someone leaves, before allowing you to enter.
5. Hostesses. I have been in the restaurant game. I always thought the hostess had the cushiest job. She sits on a chair, looks pretty (okay, that can take work) and then occassionally shows someone a table—if they're in a restaurant, if they are in the twenty-first century, I think they possibly know what a table is and the function it performs—and gives them a menu. Then, back to the chair. I'll warrant, when it's busy they also have to write things and call out your name. I still maintain they must be someone's niece.
6. Clarifiers. The man I saw in this position waits at the head of the queue of an attraction. When you get to him he clarifies with you what sort of a ticket you are going to purchase. He then directs you to the cash register where someone sells you the ticket. Someone is being fooled if they think this means you spend less time at the register. It just means the lady at the register waits longer between clients.
7. Pedestrian Safety Officers. You are thinking Lollypop Person's, and that they are important employees. These are not Lollypop Person's. They work busy New York intersections and advise you when to cross. Only thing is that the time they tell you to cross usually coincides with the time when the white/green man is displayed. There may be the odd person in the world that does not know that green or white means go and red means stop, but when the red man was displayed, they chatted amongst themselves and paid no heed to those who either didn't know or chose deliberately to go against the man. It's either a silly job, or, they are bad at it.
8. Emergency Callmakers. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone that these people exist. But I am not sure if their job is the ridiculously silly one, or whether that moniker falls to the person for whom they create emergency calls—the calltakers. Their silliness in mutual. Regarding either, I don't understand why. Don't even ask me. I'll just sprout conspiracy theories—but if you need proof, ask me one day about the Holden Merino.
9. The night shift of the guy who sits beside the rail tracks and puts charges on the tracks so that when the train goes past it warns the workers ahead that it is approaching. There are no trains at night. This job would have definite merit in places where there are trains at night—I don't at all question that. The absurdity of this job is location orientated.
10. Retail staff at Anaconda. I am sorry to the few staff members we found who were helpful and in some way acting like people who serve customers, service customers, or, at least, sell stuff. But there were definitely a few who had been given a job just so they could say they had a job, could wear a black and orange t-shirt, and could pay tax, but who in effect performed no single useful function. Not even when you physically gave them your whole wallet in a desperate attempt to be able to walk out of the shop with a purchased item.

* And just when I thought I could never find another job for number ten, i found another number ten, so here is number ten, take two: 10.1 Any government job where you ‘carry on as normal’ while the in-coming government decides on whether your unfunded project will go ahead or be scrapped.

Ten Holiday Related Poor V——'s.

*Warning: There are things in here you may not want to read. That is guaranteed to make you want to read—it's a car accident—but, let me reiterate, and don't say I didn't warn you, there are things in here you may not want to read.

1. Poor V——, I keep falling asleep while he is in the middle of a conversation with me.
2. Poor V——, I dragged him onto four roller coasters, a doomdrop—twice—a soaking wet water ride, and a Dr Suess carousel. I think he would have just preferred to stay on the Carousel of Progress.
3. Poor V——, I have discovered I am a control freak—it's not careful planning, it's calculated command.
4. Poor V——, we came over with sixteen condoms; we are going home with sixteen condoms. And on top of that, poor V——, he also recieved a lecture on adequate foreplay.
5. Poor V——, I am the Sugar Sheriff, I like to lecture: bad combination. And on top of that, poor V——, he is constatly offered some of the double chocolate dipped, sugar coated donut with sweetened cream and sprinkles (example) that I am scoffing. He eats bread and water, I have three of those for breakfast; his reading is eight-point-nine, mine is five-point-five.
6. Poor V——, he doesn't get to spend quality 'boys time' with Wes (see below). For example, when we were in Charleston, Wes went to a strip joint called 'Jugs and Beavers'. V—— didn't go. Just tell me. I didn't realise you wanted to go.

7. Poor V——, everytime he wanted to go to Burger King, I developed an allergy to the smell. I think he really did want to go there—he told me about that.
8. Poor V——, dialogue is literature, and I analyse/overanalyse literature for a not-for-profit living. No sentence, no comment, no throwaway line. is sacred.
9. Poor V——, he has to eat four anchovette sandwiches because he self-depricated. I was supposed to eat four peanut butter sandwiches because I self-depricated, but I was a better Skopa player that day and wiped my debt. Yay!
10. Poor V——, did he really understand what he was getting into when he said yes to this holiday.

Ten Reasons Why Universal (U) is Better than Disney (D), or, Conversely, Why D is Better than U.

1. U has shorter queues.
2. U has better rides, and more of them.
3. D has sillier (read: funnier) shops and merchandise. I can try Mickey hats on until next Tuesday. And those rubber snakes. And what about all those really expensive adaptations of Disney merchandise—Swarovski, Tag Heuer, Alexander McQueen, Tiffanys, Disney for Target. (Some of the above may not be absolutely the truth.)
4. Believe it or not, or, more accurately, they are both atrocious, but, D has better food outlets than U, and more open on the day.
5. U has less faffing to get to, in, and, around.
6. Both U and D had a super-dooper ride closed. It's winter, I know, but boo to D and U for this. The entry price wasn't one ride less. I'm not going to be here again for a while. Oh, have a whine Charlie. Some people never get to go at all. Oh, yeah, okay. Sorry D and U, and all the people who never get to go.
7. U had a better Harry Potter castle being built. D didn't have one at all. U's looked ace!
8. U had alcohol. But given number two, above, that may not necessarily be a great idea.
9. U had lockers at each scary ride. Except Cat in the Hat. Very Sensible.
10. U didn't have regular street blockages due to oversmiling, overdancing parades.

I think we have a clear winner—U! Well done. Nice try D, someone has to come second.

Ten Rides Conquered at Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure.

Facts and figures courtesy of http://www.universalorlando.com/

1. The Incredible Hulk. Zero to forty miles per hour in two seconds followed by a zero-g roll and at least four total inversions. Eek. It makes you just a bit green and just a bit shaky.
2. The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman. A 3-D ride. Incredibly realistic—so much so that I had to close my eyes the first time we plunged four hundred feet towards the sidewalk. The second and third times I left them open. We didn't crash. Spidey saved us.
3. Dr. Doom's Fearfall. Dr Doom is collecting fear to use in combat against the Fantastic Four. He gets it from you by shooting you a hundred and fifty feet into the air, and then plummeting you back towards the ground faster than gravity. A couple more bounces up and down and then he gets your fear and your lunch.
4. Jurassic Park River Adventure. A leisurely ride through friendly, if not cheeky, dinosaurs is disrupted when the boat goes off course into the raptor containment area. Only thing is, the raptors are no longer contained. Just before the T-Rex can eat us all, we are saved (um?) by an eighty-five foot free fall in the dark, culminating in an all-mighty splash and soaking. Lucky it was already raining, otherwise we would have got wet.
5. Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges. What was I saying about being wet. Now we are really wet. Great Fun. Can we do it again. For a small fee, you can dry off in a whole body hand-dryer. Why bother? It's still raining.
6. Duelling Dragons. My all time favourite so far, here. Two Roller Coasters are built side by side—Fire and Ice. Super Speedy—up to fifty-five miles an hour (88kms/hr), and they near miss each other three times. Cooler still is that it is a ride in which you hang down rather than riding on. You have to do this in two's, riding the red and blue each time you ride—just to even yourself out.
7. The Cat in the Hat. It was okay. I didn't panic. I am not sure how many of you know about my Cat in the Hat Comes Back phobia. That book freaks me out. All that pink stuff that won't clean up. But this was the original. Just fishes in toilets and balancing crockery. I was okay. Not too scary.
8. Jurassic Park Discovery Centre. Not so much a ride as a ... well ... a centre. We saw a baby dinosaur hatch, played a trivia game, and combined our DNA with a dinosaur to see what would come out. It was warm and dry for a bit.
9. Caro-Seuss-el. The excitment-o-meter didn't actually get far out of the pink on this one, but the fabulous Seuss characters are a hoot, and seeing your boy on a whacky camel thing is even hootier.
10. Poseidon's Fury. Technically a 'show' not a ride. Lots of water and fire and laser effects. Fun enough, but get me out of here. I have rides to ride again!