Tag: friends

The Secret Life of Alcoholics*

“What are we going to get for Alex’s birthday?” Di asked. Alex is one of our housemates.

“I was thinking of getting him two boxes of Stella Artois. Do you remember how we were at Sainsbury’s that first week and how wistfully he looked at those boxes? We couldn’t carry them home last time.”

“That’s a great idea!” Di agreed. “Let’s go tomorrow afternoon.”

The next day, we left the house at 4 PM and rode 15 minutes down the road to the big supermarket. We found the beer easily. The special price for two boxes of 20 bottles was still available.

We took the boxes through the checkout and opened our backpacks to put them in.

“Uh oh.” I tried to rearrange the box to fit into my 30 L backpack but it was just too wide.

“It’ll fit in my backpack, I think,” said Di. She unzipped hers for the other box. Our hearts sank as it quickly became obvious it wouldn’t fit. “Maybe it’ll fit in my bike basket…”

We wheeled the boxes outside to the bike parking lot. Di picked up the box and carefully placed it into her basket. “I hope it doesn’t break the basket,” she murmured.

It didn’t fit.

“What are we going to do?”

We looked at each other and had the same idea at the same time. “We’ll have to take the bottles out and carry them,” Di said.

“I think we should put them in our backpacks, not in the basket,” I cautioned. “I reckon there’d be some law against riding a pushbike with 20 bottles of beer in the basket…”

We spent the next five minutes reloading the bottles into our backpacks. Then, with 10 kg of beer and glass on our backs, we gingerly hopped onto our bikes, turned on our lights (it was getting dark) and rode onto the street.

I laughed all the way, even as I struggled up the one hill in Cambridge. My bag tinkled with every pedalling motion. Rider after rider overtook the two of us. We did make it home without an accident.

*Don’t worry, mum, I’m joking.

Send in the big guns

Jamie walked into the house and found me and Erin slumped in the living area.

“How’s it going, team?” he asked, with the cheerfulness of someone who has just had a great workout at the gym.

“Mission failed,” I announced. Erin and I, too, had visited the gym. Erin was up in Shepparton until the end of September. I had taken Erin to the gym this evening, hoping to get her on the ‘No worries, no commitments’ deal Jamie and I were on. If anyone could do this, it was me, champion negotiator, super mediator.

“Failed?” Jamie said, surprised.

“Yeah,” said Erin. “The reception lady said that deal was only for people who did the ‘$40 for 40 days’ special. She said I could get a 12 visit pass. It costs $116!” Jamie and I were paying $51 per month.

“We didn’t even take it lying down,” I added glumly. “I asked her if there was anything she could do. ‘We’re only here for a month,’ I told her. ‘It’s join or not join.’ “

“What did she say?” Jamie asked.

“She said that she couldn’t do anything. The prices are set by the council and she’ll get in trouble if they see she’s changed the prices,” Erin said. “I guess she can’t help it. It’s not her fault. Oh, well. I’ll just jog around the lake or something.”

“Yeah, that’s a shame…” Jamie said absently. “Maybe I’ll try talking to Mel when we next see her.” Mel was a friendly receptionist that Jamie and I sometimes chatted to in the evenings.

The following night, I had just finished washing the dishes and had wandered to the living room to see what was on TV. The front door opened.

“Hi guys.” Jamie was back from his evening gym workout.

“How’d it go?”

“Yeah, okay,” Jamie looked vaguely dissatisfied. “I’m keeping off the legs a little. They’re still feeling a bit tight.” He peered around to see what TV show was on.

“Did you get to talk to Mel?” I said idly.

He brightened. “Girls, our troubles are over.”

Erin sat up “I can join?”

“Here are your free gym passes for the next week…” Jamie slapped down four or five bright blue squares of paper. “…and Erin can take over Joan’s gym membership when Joan leaves after next week.”

We gaped at him.

“And, if we show up on the right night, you won’t even need to pay the transfer fee!”

Erin and I started laughing. “What?! How — ?”

“Cheerio,” Jamie said as he bounced out of the room.

The Spider and the Doorknob

“There’s a giant spider,” I called as I was pulling the bathroom door shut behind me. “Oh!” I cried.

“What’s wrong?” came Erin’s voice from around the corner. “Did the spider jump up?”

“No,” I said, puzzled. “I just broke the doorknob…and I’m bleeding.” I examined the doorknob. It was made of some sort of ceramic and had sheared off at the neck.

Jamie came around. “You are bleeding! Are you okay?”

“There’s a bit of blood but it’s a small cut. Look at this!” I handed the snapped doorknob to him. “How weird is that?”

“Yeah, that is a bit strange!” Jamie put his finger on the stump of the doorknob left on the door. I kept my eye on the spider less than a metre away.

“God! It’s cut me too!” Jamie exclaimed. He showed me the thin red lines of blood on his index finger and thumb. “That’s a bloody razor blade! I barely touched it.”

“We’d better fix it up so no one else gets cut.”

For a while, Jamie and I debated about the best method for removing the stump or sealing the door. In the mean time, Erin had gone into the bathroom, come out and wrapped a face towel around the stump.

“How’s that?” she asked.

Jamie and I stopped in surprise.

“Yeah.” Jamie nodded appreciatively. “That’ll do it.”

We all stood there marvelling at her handiwork.

Trivia champions

We won! We won! We won the company’s yearly trivia competition. There were ten teams of ten. We were Feng Shui Consulting, and the karma was good. It was a team effort — Jamie was Lord of Geography, Peter dragged music facts from the recesses of his audio memory, Simone was ’80s Queen, Garrick nailed the air guitar, Rob led the charge on sport… I contributed the following small facts.

Question:Who are the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council?
Answer: USA, UK, Russia, China and France

I knew this because the same question recently showed up in the Herald Sun Quiz Master so I knew that Japan wasn’t one of the permanent members. My fellow team mates were perplexed by it as I had been. “How did France get on it?” they asked. “Probably because it keeps getting invaded by other countries,” was the answer.

Question: How many unique words does Dr. Seuss use in ‘Green Eggs and Ham?’
Answer: 49

I said 50 but they accepted it. According to Wikipedia, I was right.

Question: What is the largest freshwater body of water in the world?
Lake Superior

Tara, a Candian, said, “It’s not fresh! It’s contaminated!” There was some controversy about if ‘largest’ was by surface area or by volume. Jamie argued the answer could have been Lake Baikal, which is the deepest and largest freshwater lake by volume.

Question: Is a zebra white with black stripes or black with white stripes?
Answer: White with black stripes

This is one of the Odd Spots that features on Libra feminine hygiene products.

Question: Name Santa’s eight reindeer.
Answer: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen

As a kid, I memorised The Night Before Christmas. It was a song on my favourite and only Christmas carol CD. There was more controversy — people protested that Rudolph, an obvious answer, had not been included. In his confusion, our MC Jeremy allowed Ruldolph to be included but then overturned his decision after it was revealed that Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer was not one of the original eight reindeer, but rather a modern addition to Santa’s fleet.

Question: What decade was the Eiffel Tower constructed?
Answer: The 1880s

Haha… I got this one because when I was at the Eiffel Tower only three months ago, I tried to read every one of the 100 interpretive signs that were put up in 1988 to celebrate the centenary of the Eiffel Tower.

Question: Which was the first national park to be established in the world?
Answer: Yellowstone National Park

I’ve been to the other Y Park (Yosemite). Yellowstone would probably be the place I want to visit the most in the world.

Question: What does ‘etemology’ mean?
Answer: Study of word origins.

When Jeremy asked this one, a couple of us immediately said, “Study of insects.” Clair scribbled it down but then I had a thought. “Hey, wait. Did he say ‘entemology’ or ‘etemology’?” When people shrugged, I called out, “Hey, Jeremy! ‘Ent’ or ‘et’? Was it entemology or etemology?” He spelled it out. Ah ha! I turned to Clair. “Ooh, I know this one! It’s words, the origins of words. I have etemological discussions with friends.”

Question: In what country would you find the Mojave Desert?
Answer: USA (California).

My family drove across the Mojave Desert in 2004. It’s the flattest place I have ever seen. I saw tumbleweed roll across the highway, just like in the cartoons.

I remember one time, Jason was driving and we had all fallen asleep. I was the first to wake up and I glaced at the speedo. I read 110 mph. “Jason!” I gasped, as a quick mental calcuation came up with almost 180 km/h. He gave me a guilty, sheepish, disappointed look and eased back on the accelerator.

The MC also played the opening bars of a number of songs. I named Pump It by the Black Eyed Peas.

The team that came last was made up of the guys from IT support. I suspect they didn’t do so well because there were so many sports questions and no technology ones. I would have liked some science questions but the trivia master focused on sports, geography, pop culture and music.

I’m not complaining, though. We each ended up with a $25 voucher from JB Hifi, hurrah!

I could not have asked for better

At the start of the week, Jamie and I drive north for two and a bit hours. We do mildly confusing work for another company, then drive about twenty minutes to our apartment.

We’re in a new apartment every week. They seem to get better and better. The one we were in this week was really a house with a full kitchen, king sized beds, thick fluffy towels and complimentary chocolates.

Even better, there was enough space for me to teach Jamie how to cha cha and samba. We spend a third of the evening cooking, the second third dancing, and the hours before sleep time playing the guitar and singing.

It’s a wonderful life.

We start the evening by cooking in the kitchen. Jamie and I discovered that yogurt, cucumber and rice is a delicious combination.

The mark of a good housemate: courtesy in regards to the use of the bathroom.

Despite having a queen bed, I only ever sleep on one side.

We didn’t turn on the TV all week. The DVD player got a workout, playing dance music. Jamie also kindly consented to being my karaoke machine.

Let’s be interlacers

Jamie explained why he was getting frustrated.

“That’s what I hate about this task — the notes don’t tell us everything we need to know. I don’t know what this bit means, so I don’t want to put anything down that’s too specific. I hate that. I’m just that kind of person; I want things to be… correct.” He sighed. “It’s taking a long time.”

“I know what you mean,” I said. I paused to think. “Have you ever saved a JPEG file in Photoshop before?”


“You get two options. You can save it normally, or as an interlaced JPEG. When you load these up on a webpage, the normal JPEG loads up line by line. You see the picture come up and it takes a while but each bit is perfect.

“The interlaced JPEG is different. It loads up, say, every fifth line. Then it goes back and fills the next set of lines. So you see the whole image, fuzzy at first, but then it becomes clear — and you end up with exactly the same picture as the normal JPEG in the same amount of time.”

I stopped. “Do you see what I mean?” I ended, unable to finish the story I had started.

“Yes,” Jamie said immediately. “Different ways to work.”

“Yes,” I said in delight. “If we work like interlaced JPEGs, we draw the outline then roughly fill in some details. It’s not perfect yet but we have vague idea what it might look like. The beauty of interlaced JPEGs is that at some point, you might decide that you’ve seen enough — you don’t need to download the whole thing. So you stop the browser.”

“So being interlacers is more flexible,” Jamie said thoughtfully. “You can stop when you’ve achieved what you needed to.”

“And you can stop before you go too far down the wrong path.”

He had decided. “Well, Joan, let’s you and I be interlacers.”

Girls on Googletalk


Have I ever told you about Dolly‘s ‘Why people go on a break?’ article?


No, you haven’t told me about the Dolly article.


Oh, Dolly said: “Is it ever good to go on a break?” The answer was something like, “Girls, if he ever asks to ‘go on a break’, it usually means that he wants to break up and is just too scared to say it.

“There are a few good reasons to go on a break…[insert some discussion that I can’t remember]… However, there many reasons why a break won’t work… Don’t go on a break for the thrill of getting back together.”


I think for Dolly’s target market, what they say is probably true. I think teenagers rarely have a “break” for the reasons that you suggested before (clearing your head etc.). But I think we’ve graduated from Dolly now… lol


I believe we have graduated from Dolly — but I’ll need to read it again and feel disgusted before I know for sure 🙂


Why were you reading Dolly anyway?!


I don’t know why I was reading Dolly. I think I found it on the side of the road during a hard rubbish collection day.

World versus Telstra

I went along with Miriam to the nearest Telstra Shop. We waited for someone to help us. It was very busy this lunch time.

Finally, Graeme beckoned us to the counter. Miriam brought out her new phone car charger. She had bought it at another Telstra shop in Wodonga, around 4.5 hours north-east of Melbourne. It turned out that the charger didn’t fit her phone, even though she had shown the store assistants the phone she needed the charger for.

Miriam politely asked for a refund; the other store had assured her she could get a refund from any other Telstra shop. Graeme looked surprised.

“I’m sorry, we don’t sell this phone charger. It’s not even in our inventory… so I can’t give you a refund for it.”

“What do you mean? I bought it at a Telstra Shop.”

“Well, yes, it was probably a licenced Telstra Shop, you know, a franchise shop. Most of the Telstra Shops in the city are owned by Telstra but Telstra also franchises the shop, especially in rural areas. The franchises can sell whatever they like. The Telstra-owned shops have a strict inventory. Now, if this charger was part of our inventory, I could refund the money for you but…” He shrugged helplessly.

Miriam gave him a hard look. “Well. What should I do, then? Do I need to courier this to Wodonga?”

Graeme looked uncomfortable. “Well, you could…” All three of us were thinking about the high cost of couriers. “Try calling the Wodonga shop first,” he suggested.

Awkward silence. Miriam looked polite but she must have been frustrated.

Suddenly, a large brown bird flew in and dived over Graeme’s head.

“It’s an Optus bird!” I cried. “He’s come to get you!”

Graeme and the other store owners paused in confusion, then laughed. I could tell it was nervous laughter.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just say the word, just say the word…

Where has the gunni gone?

I went to Marysville to enjoy a day of village life and rainforest walks. Our group included three girls and three boys. We first stopped at the the Marysville information centre, where there was an exhibit featuring a preserved specimen of a gunni, an animal that looks a lot like a wombat with antlers. We read from the intepretive sign that the gunni (pronounced ‘goon-eye’) was extinct.

“Wow! That’s so cool! I’ve never seen a gunni before,” I exclaimed.

“Yeah, it’s pretty cute,” Kate said. Vera peered intently into the glass box.

“Too bad it’s extinct, right?” Avi said seriously.

“Yeah.” The girls nodded.

There was silence. Joel was grinning. Avi elbowed him. Damjan was grinning too. Then they were all laughing.

I was bewildered. “What’s so funny?”

“You fell for it!” Damjan laughed.

“Huh?” Kate was confused too.

Joel said, “They made it up. There’s no such thing as a gunni.”

“It’s a joke,” Avi said kindly.

“What?! No…” I couldn’t believe it. “But the sign…! The exhibit!”

“Silly girls. So gullible!”

It wasn’t fair. Why would they want to trick us? Yet, I still wasn’t convinced that it was all a hoax.

What do you think? Is the gunni fact or fiction?

(Vera only found out about the ‘hoax’ last week. “The boys are so mean, like that time when they made fun of us for believing in that wombat with antlers, remember that?” “What? You mean it wasn’t real?!”)

Where has the gunni gone??

Will dance for food

After celebrating Jon’s birthday at a Chinese restaurant in Fitzroy, we ventured out in search of more entertainment. Our gang of thirteen linked arms and descended upon Brunswick Street. Brunswick Street on a a busy Saturday night is full of buskers, people bar hopping, café lounging, and cruising around in hotted up cars.

Trampoline is nearby! Let’s get ice-cream!”

As we approached the ice-cream store, Carlo started jumping up and down excitedly. “It’s the Nutbush!” he cried. “They’re playing the Nutbush!”

Sure enough, the opening bars of Tina Turner‘s 1970s classic was filtering through the store speakers and onto the thronging footpath. It truly was as if the God of Night Time Hilarity was smiling upon us.

Carlo leapt onto one of the wooden platform stools at the front of the store. “Five! Six! Five, six, seven, eight! Right foot, right! Left! Left! Back! Back…”

Being the shameless dancesport people that we are, there was no question of joining in. Immediately, we were doing the Nutbush in front of Trampoline. The sight of a large group of people dancing on Brunswick Street obviously was not a common one because soon a crowd had gathered to gape. We were joined by a Trampoline staff member and one of the more inspired audience members.

Rounds and rounds of the Nutbush went by. People across the street were taking photos. Cars slowed down to watch the commotion. What fun! What silliness!

But all good things must come to an end and when the song faded, we cheered and high-fived each other.

Just when we thought it was all over, another store assistant bounced out of Trampoline holding two huge cups of ice-cream with a dozen wooden paddle sticks stuck into them like echidna spines.

“Thanks guys! That was fantastic!” she enthused and handed us our ice-cream reward.

“Wow! Thank you!” Elated, we dug into our unexpectedly free dessert. Mmm…Raspberry, mango, cookies and cream, and chocolate…