Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Way, a dead cat and a spider

Watson, a blue Persian cat (friend of Holmes a blue point Siamese), was found deceased in a driveway of a neighbours home. The poor Minister of the Dark Arts was most distressed; it being her cat and all. Anyway, it was up to yours truly to inter the recently-alive in the back yard. Unfortunately, for all of Sydney's good weather, winter can be pretty yucky. And so it was that I was to be found at night, during a cold winter, in light rain, trying to free up some of the yard for the ex-pet.
Now, I am sure you can picture me negotiating our steep block of un-cleared land while balancing the umbrella in the crook of my neck, holding the torch under one arm, using the shovel with spare hands and tottering on one leg to dig. Watson, dearly departed, was wrapped in a towel on the ground to one side.
It was pretty miserable in anyone's book.

It only got worse with the appearance of Funnel Web spider.

I am a grown-up male armed with a shovel, a torch and an umbrella therefore I should be able to do away with a deadly spider, rudely woken on a wet night, right?


The hurried and frantic slamming of the shovel onto the spider was, at best, inconclusive.

I didn't have closure. He was gone. Not dead. Not alive and cross. Just "gone".

I struck a pretty hard, if panicky, blow but he was nowhere to be seen from whence he sprang legs akimbo in attack mode. The sudden realisation that he might be squished on the shovel struck me with a shock, you see, I had raised the shovel near to my face ready for a second blow. In true Hollywood horror movie style I slowly turned my head toward the danger, half expecting to see the monster on the shovel ready to strike just as I scream. With heart pounding I quickly put the shovel in the light. Uh huh, not there either.


Spider dance.

Wild torchlight flashing in bushes, in the rain, at night, in winter. And a grown man going "oh" "ah" "eee" "eww oww".

All the time there's a dead cat who's obviously remaining at peace.

I can't locate the spider! Dead or alive! Panic! I've got to find him or he could crawl over me!

I calmed down, eventually, and with no spider to be seen I carried on digging with occasional quick torch-glances around my feet. The rain worsened. I never got on with Watson. Holmes was my cat, and Watson knew I had favourites. Sort of teachers pet pet. Anyway, I'm thinking this cat, past tense as he is, is having the last laugh.

The deed was done. Dr Watson was safely buried in a nice spot, albeit among a funnel web spider's nest, but a nice spot, if a little hastily done under the circumstances.

It was then, as I gathered one last look around for the spider, that headlines flashed through my mind. With my constitution, I'd probably faint if I were bitten by this brute. I'd collapse right there and then. SWMBO wasn't home yet, so I might be there long enough to slip into a coma. What would they make of the scene? A torch, an umbrella, a shovel, one dead white male, one dead cat. Headlines: "Man killed by dead cat. Scotland Yard baffled"

Monday, August 17, 2009

I've changed my name.

Every five years I have to renew my driver's license. So, on the 1462nd day, yes a day late, I trot down to the local RTA office to do the deed.
I take a ticket, fill in the form, for the second time... I've lost the one that came in the mail, sit and wait. There's a few security cameras about because I can see myself on a screen hanging from the ceiling.

The form asks you if you need spectacles to drive. I've been wearing glasses for about 10 years but I've always passed the eye-sight test. So far.
However, as with most people, my eyesight is getting worse. Albeit, slowly. I am not too sure if I need glasses to drive and not too sure how to go about finding out. Do I tick the "No I don't wear glasses" box? If I do and I fail the test what do I do? Will I have to re-fill-in the form? Get back in the queue? Get in trouble for lying on the form? Will the RTA teller call someone if I fail the eye-sight test? This paranoia is much more entertaining than simply sitting there watching my seated-self reappear on the security screen in it's endless rotation.
I decide to wear my glasses and hang the pride and inconvenience. It's unlikely I'll get pulled over when I am not wearing them anyway, but the risk is there because my sunglasses aren't prescription. I can see fine without glasses but bare eyes are a little uncomfortable.

"Ticket number A184 please go to window 7" calls the automated voice-lady. I'm up.
And wearing my glasses.

I hand over the form and my "current" driver's license.

The teller taps away, then frowns, then taps away some more.

I didn't have glasses for my last license, and now I do, so is she confused?

"Mr Wayfarer* have you changed your name?"
"um.. no."
I wasn't expecting that. The RTA has had me on file for 30 years. They're supposed to be worried about my eyesight not my name.
"It says here your name is Mr Clayton-Wayfarer"
"Um.. "Clayton** is my second middle name. My Surname is Wayfarer"
"Well, in here the computer says your name is Clayton-Wayfarer; with a hyphen"
I show her a credit card; "See, no hyphen. Just Wayfarer"
"Well, you're going to have trouble if you leave it like that. Your identification won't match. You'll have to fill out a change-of-name form and bring in your birth certificate."
I'm thinking to myself I'm already without a current license, I'm really busy at work and can't afford the time for a second visit, God knows where my birth certificate is, and this is so wrong.
"It's not my fault your computer is confused! I've never changed my name; there's a glitch."
"I can't ignore the name change now that I've seen it, I'll get into trouble." she says.
She hands me the form and I look down at it despondently coloured with resignation... can't fight bureaucracy . Oh bother.
"Oh, hang on" she says. "It just fixed itself"
I raise an eyebrow at her. Who ever heard of a database record fixing itself?
She wanders off to see the supervisor. There is the obligatory whispered discussion, the dual synchronised look-at-the-customer stare, then some nodding and shaking of heads before she returns.
"It's all fixed" she reports and returns to her typing and clicking and frowning.

"Right" she says "Please read the bottom line". She holds a remote over her shoulder without turning. The screen with the eye test has been blank since I arrived. Each teller has one and they're all lined up in a row above and behind the tellers' heads.
"I can't" I reply.
She looks at me.
It's my turn to be difficult "It's blank."
She says, with a puzzled look on her face "The bottom line, please."
"It's not there."
"You can't read it?" she asks?
She still hasn't turned around.
"No. The screen isn't turned on. There is no test."
She turns round, looks up and waves the remote at it. Nothing happens. She leans over to the next teller's window, grabs his remote, no luck. Then she tries his remote on his screen and it comes on.
Proudly she instructs "Please read the bottom line."
What a dirty trick... it's further away but I read it without a problem.
She says I passed the test, goes back to her typing, then stops. "You didn't have glasses for your last license?"
I explain I wasn't sure that I needed to wear them for the test. She asks if I wear them when I drive, I answer that I do, but I can see pretty well without them. She suggests that I try the test without the glasses.
She picks up the wrong remote. Tries to work her neighbour's screen. Swaps remotes and tries again. I read it out without a problem, thinking how even un-fairer it was; no glasses and further away.

I'm puzzled, of course; after having said I normally wear the glasses for driving that she suggests I try it without them.

I pay, I thank, I sit, I wait, I get called to collect my new drivers license.
Thank goodness it's another 5 years before I have to do that again!

*Not my real name
**No. This is my real second middle name.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I gave in.

This is the log from MSN between Rodney and me.

Rodders says:
did you finally succumb?
Way says: twas an accident
Way says: I slipped and fell on a button or something
Rodders says (11:40 PM): and accidentally signed up on facebook
Way says (11:40 PM): it involved a complicated series of buttons
Way says (11:40 PM): amazing, really, when you think of it
Rodders says (11:40 PM): damn did you hurt yourself?
Rodders says (11:41 PM): you even accidentally managed to upload a photo
Way says (11:41 PM): my head hurts. The loss of pride will come later.
Way says (11:41 PM): Photo? Uncanny, huh?
Rodders says (11:41 PM): true
Way says (11:42 PM): Then, like magic, all these spam emails started to appear in my Outlook. So many I had to create a rule and send them to their own box.
Rodders says (11:42 PM): lol
Way says (11:44 PM): Tis amazing. Such a seemingly small accident, granted it involved astronomically probabilities, has suddenly branched out and affected other things (like the spam emails and a whole lot of new friends that, totally like, random man, I already knew)
Rodders says (11:45 PM): lol
Way says (11:45 PM): then photos of me started appearing. I existed on FaceBook before I existed on facebook. I mean, how weird is that Mal?
Rodders says (11:46 PM): Mal?
Way says (11:47 PM): Rod. It's a line out of Serenity, the movie? Mr Universe got himself killed...
Rodders says (11:47 PM): dick
Way says (11:47 PM): No. his name was Mr Universe
Way says (11:48 PM): See. He had connections to all the solar system's media...
Way says (11:48 PM): err..
Rodders says (11:48 PM): oh yeah
Rodders says (11:48 PM): him
Way says (11:48 PM): you're not seeing the parallel here, are you Fids?
Rodders says (11:48 PM): the jewish dude
Way says (11:48 PM): with the doll?
Rodders says (11:48 PM): yup
Way says (11:48 PM): "He killed me Mal, How weird is that Mal?"
Rodders says (11:48 PM): shes was teh sexy
Way says (11:49 PM): Make a man want to invest in plastic, eh?
Way says (11:49 PM): anyway. I have all these new ways on FB to annoy people, so must be off.
Way says (11:50 PM): Oh... any tips how I hide this fact from The Princess?
Rodders says (11:50 PM): is she on FB?
Way says (11:50 PM): I think so. She's 16
Way says (11:50 PM): and female
Rodders says (11:50 PM): there is a way to block people from seeing you
Way says (11:51 PM): duct tape?
Rodders says (11:51 PM): no
Way says (11:51 PM): good, I like my monitors the way they are
Rodders says (11:51 PM): just trying to remember
Way says (11:51 PM): (had to scrape off the liquid paper... learned good not to edit that way again)
Rodders says (11:51 PM): yah
Rodders says (11:52 PM): its under settings
Rodders says (11:52 PM): privacy or something
Rodders says (11:52 PM):yeah settings>privacy
Way says (11:52 PM): Yeah, but on-line is one thing.... she sits right next to me... like 50cm away. She's gunna see I have more friends that her.
Rodders says (11:52 PM): just enter her name in the box and she won't be able to see you nor her
Rodders says (11:52 PM): oh is that what you're worried about
Rodders says (11:53 PM): shes female, 16.
Way says (11:53 PM): yah
Rodders says (11:53 PM): who the fcuk do YOU think is going to have more friends dickhead.
Way says (11:53 PM): Hey, I'm popular
Way says (11:53 PM): in an odd sort of way
Rodders says (11:53 PM): not as popular as a 16yo female....
Way says (11:53 PM): She's not THAT sort of female.
Way says (11:53 PM): We're talking my daughter here
Rodders says (11:54 PM): doesn't stop lots of peeps wanting to be "friends" with her...
Way says (11:54 PM): nah, she only let's school friends join... we talked about it
Rodders says (11:54 PM): good
Way says (11:55 PM): crickey, 14 emails in one hour
Rodders says (11:56 PM): yeah go turn all the email alerts off
Rodders says (11:56 PM): and block any application invite anyone sends you
Rodders says (11:56 PM): or you'll go mad
Way says (11:56 PM): "go" mad. Sniff. You're the first person ever to suggest I'm not already mad
Way says (11:57 PM): Slow, yes, mad, no
Way says (11:57 PM): Well, more like special really
Rodders says (11:57 PM): oh dear
Way says (11:57 PM): I'm all sentimental with this love from FB
Way says (11:57 PM): And that loss of pride thingy we spoke about
Rodders says (11:58 PM): right
Way says (11:58 PM): gtg. too much in my head atm.
Rodders says (11:59 PM): bai
Way says (11:59 PM): bye
Way says (11:59 PM): be good
Rodders says (11:59 PM): nah fcuk that

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Way, the flu, the Earl, the spider bite and the GPS

I’ve had the man-flu this week. As any self respecting male will tell you the man flu is worse than the ordinary flu. I’ve suffered. No. Really, I woke up with it on Saturday morning, f.i.v.e. days ago.

Ready for another Way-story. New to Way-stories? There’s a few around these parts. Well, this is the point where I suggest you grab another coffee before reading on.

My boss gave it to me. The flu that is. He turned up to work last Monday week and promptly coughed away. I said to him, as others did, that he sounded terrible and he should go home, the poor thing. Which really meant “You’re going to gank us all up with your germs; get out of here!” But he didn’t take the hint. So, by Saturday, as I said, I had the flu.

It ruined my weekend. Ruined FarCry2 to because my eyes hurt with from the first person motion. It ruined the family’s weekend because I shared my bad temper and bad temperature with them. The sorry lot thought they were going to lose a husband and father.

Come Monday morning I was in no fit state to go to work, so I called the boss and let him know I had HIS flu and that I wouldn’t be in. And with the way I felt it might be the last time I speak… I could be dead from man flu. And it’d be his fault. As things would have it, my little firewall thingy at work died. I had logged on via logmein on Sunday night and done some work but by morning the HDD had failed. So he was more concerned about that. They spent most of the day getting the firewall up and running again. This meant I couldn’t log in from home so I rested.

It’s at this point, near death with man-flu, things started to go downhill. To find out why, we need to go back to Saturday morning.

The Earl of Hornsby, aged 11, has Saturday school cricket. I was sick so she who must be obeyed (SWMBO) offered to take him up. Very gracious of her, so I just moaned rolled over back to sleep. While he was playing, or sometime during the previous 12 hours (we think) The Earl was bitten by a spider (perhaps), on the top of his foot, (most definitely). The timing is fuzzy because he doesn’t recall being bitten but also The Earl is fuzzy about everything for about the first two hours of the morning.

On goes the Sting-goes. We thought he’d be right on Monday, sometime around noon.

By Sunday night, with father rolling in abject misery The Earl’s foot was swollen considerably which prevented him from walking. In fact he was hoping around the house. However, by Monday morning his foot was much better so off to school he went.
As mentioned, this was the day I was resting, but it was also an opportunity for SWMBO to stay back at work and for me to collect the offspring after school, which I duly did. When I reached The Earl, after a harrowing learner diver lesson with The Princess who managed to career though an intersection without looking, which in turn caused me to scream “Stop! No! Too late; Faster!” which resulted in her doing neither but kangaroo hopping instead. Had I remained silent we’d gotten across with a larger safety margin and The Princess wouldn’t have cried the remainder of the way to The Earl’s school.

Anyway, the minder at after school care rushes me inside to spy my son’s bad spider bite and that I should take him to the doctors straight away. The Earl is a drama queen. This guy falls over in football and it’s a major incident. Stop play! Rescue the kid in agony! Concerned parents hush, the kids hands on hips waiting for the all-clear. The drama queen rises, he hops, applause from the crowd, raised eye brows from his team mates and five minutes later no sign of a limp. Well, so I thought he had hammed it up with the carer, but as it turns out his foot was a lot worse. Where he had a swollen foot and a red mark he now had a pimple size spot and a lot more redness. So, off to the doctor it is. And a smile from The Princess. I am not sure if her smile was for her brother’s discomfort or for an opportunity for another driving lesson or both.

The doctor determines that the foot is infected and since we don’t have a hapless spider in a jar, one The Earl insists would have been a white-tailed spider, or seen any spider, or insect, bug or stick, nail, piece of glass or other nasty germy object then there’s nothing for him to do other than write a ‘script for antibiotics.
Ca-Ching! $80.00 later The Princess is harrowing her father, an infected foot and a bottle of medicine on their way home again.
It’s at that moment I remind The Earl he’s probably going to miss out on school camp tomorrow (Tuesday). Oddly, his foot started to feel better almost straight away, and by the time he reached bed, all packed for camp, he assured us his foot was much better.

Unlike my man-flu.

SWMBO took delight; I am sure, of waking me up early the next morning. She had to rise early to take The Earl to school to meet the bus.
“Have you made the lunches?”
“Err.. no I am dying, you know, man-flu, can’t you see?”
“Okay! I’ll make them”
Off she totters… like a bloody elephant… down the hall and starts with the fifty questions:
“Where’s the lunch bags”
“Where’s the plastic forks”
“Are any of my cookies left?”
“Does The Princess like apple or orange juice?”
I might be slow witted. I might be dying in my death bed, and it’s early in the morning but I can tell when I am being wifed. Twenty and a half years of wedded bliss can do that to even the thickest of us mere males.
So I stomp down the hallway like a bloody elephant and make the lunches. In my jimmyjams. With my man flu.
The Earl, in the meantime is showing all the signs of a healthy, fit, if a not little early-morning fuzzy, boy of 11 about to go on a 3 ½ day camp. Who, as it turns out, is presenting his sore foot as “no. look, it’s just fine” kind of foot. I suggest to all who’d listen that “the foot” is not fit for camp. I got that “you’re sick and delirious” look from both of them.

Off they go, including The Princess who’s NOT getting a driving lesson to school today.

I text the boss I won’t be in then go back to bed until 9:30,
I rise and spend the entire day logged on at work anyway.

I collect The Princess from school, she directs the car to the nearest shops, I park, and we pick up a half kilo of prawns. We ‘navigate’ a few roundabouts and “align” a few tight corners on the way home.
Log back on work. Cook pasta with olive oil, garlic and prawns and bum around until SWMBO wanders in from a night out with the dinner-mums from The Earl’s class.

The next morning, today, I rise, I’ve had two days off work, I can’t afford to take anymore time off and I am miraculously feeling better; not 100%, but seaworthy. I make the railway station just in time to ignore the arriving train so I can go back to the car park for my glasses. And that, dear reader was the beginning. I arrive at work, late, put out a few fires as well as suffer my concerned fellow workers covering me with sympathy that sounded suspiciously like “You’re going to gank us all up with your germs; get out of here!”
Before too long my mobile rings.
“Mr Wayfarer?”*
“It’s Michael** here, The Earl’s teacher.”*** He continued “His spider bite is really bad, I’m afraid you’ll have to come pick him up. He might need to see a Doctor”
“We don’t know it’s a spider bite”
“He says it’s a white tailed spider and you know what they’re like”
Uh oh, the drama queen has fallen again.
“Well, we didn’t see any spider but anyway what’s the address there?”
And on it goes.

I ring SWMBO who actually rang me while I was on the phone to Michael; she’d missed a call from him. She can’t leave work, so I finish up some lose ends, get back on the train to the car park. I plug in the address of the camp into Sally, my GPS navigator.

My trusty, efficient, never-go-wrong GPS navigator.

So let’s take a break here.
This is the area I am headed. Upper colo - Google Maps

Take note of the main road. The yellow one is the one I am expecting to go along. I checked that “loose end” at work. It’s called Putty Road. The place we’re going to is called Upper Colo. Not Colo. Not Central Colo. Not even Colo heights. I’m going to 411 Upper Colo Road, Upper Colo.
Like a mantra I repeat this address in my head on the train... because I’ve left my note on my desk at work.

I get to my car and plug in Sally. I type 211 Upper Colo Road, Colo Heights and we’re off.
Take a look at this next map. Upper colo - Google Maps You might have to click the "map" buton if it's stuck on "satellite".

See the little white road, that really wiggly and well sort of out of the way road? You might have to click the "map" buton if it's stuck on "satellite". It’s called Comleyroy Road.
That’s where Sally and I went.
Not in cooee of Putty Road.

You see, Sally wants to take me there by the most direct route. I don’t have a paper street directory in the car… because Sally knows how to get there. Even if I did I am off the street maps anyway.
Here are some photos I took with the phone. It was good for something because there’s no bloody reception out there!

I start thinking. Maybe I have given Sally the wrong address? Perhaps is 211 Upper Colo Road, or 411 or 211 Colo Heights road, or maybe 411 Putty road, Congo bloody Heights!

And there’s no reception for the phone for me to call Geoff at the office and ask him to read it out.
And no maps in the car.

I figure it leads to somewhere on the Colo river so instead of turning around I follow this 25km dirt road up and over hills and across streams (all bridges but one did have about 4” of water over it)

It’s about half way I remember that last Thursday, during the rain, my left rear passenger tyre coped a flat. I hadn’t got it repaired yet. All I need is another flat out on this road and I’m stranded. I’ve not seen another car for miles and there’s no phone and I have a son with an infected foot needing a doctor and I am not a well person myself.

I persevere and thankfully I reach Upper Colo Road. Now I know it’s either 211 or 411 Upper Colo Road so all I have to do is let Sally take me to both if necessary. She asks me to turn left and if you’re still looking at that map then you can follow it for about 3kms like I did. But 411 Upper Colo Road was an empty paddock bar a few horses. So I turn around and head back in the other direction. I am looking for a school camp; it’s not small; it’ll have signs (which I’ve not seen yet) and they’ll be lots of land, canoes, horses, y’know, camp stuff. All I have to do is drive along until I find it. So I drive back east for a long time. I pass some campers with 4wd and camp stools having a cuppa by the road. I figure that’s not a good sign. They’re all khaki this and khaki that and people who dress seriously like that are serious about going places everyone else doesn’t. Still, I think to myself, this is a camp the boys are at and they tend to be in hard to reach places.
I keep driving but there’s no sign of camp Somerset. So I do a u-turn. I wave as I pass the tea drinking campers again and drive past 411 and beyond. I keep driving. I end up in a one lane dirt road that’s so narrow I realise the coaches with 150 kids can’t possible have cross these wooden bridges and narrow track.

I pull up outside someone’s shack which is “PRIVATE PROPERTY” in banjo letters if you get my drift. Do yet another u-turn and head back. If you follow the Google map to the far west along Upper Colo road until it ends… well that’s where we went, Sally and me.

I am driving back to point A when I think to myself, well maybe it is Colo Heights and not Upper Colo. And maybe it’s Colo Heights Road and not Upper Colo Road. So Sally and I turn left across the bridge and up the hill. I soon realise the road is too tight for coaches plus it’s too far from the river. I u-turn and head back down. Cross the bridge again. The water is crystal clear. Turn left, wave at the khaki campers and keep heading east. And on and on.

Finally I spot a scrum of boys in a paddock playing rugby and what looks like a couple of teachers. So I turn off and sure enough it’s our mob and the teacher is the new Irish sports teacher. He gives me directions back to the main house where he last saw The Earl, his foot the white tailed spider bit (“we don’t know it’s a spider”) and a book this thick he shows me with 3” of fingers.

I make it to the main grounds; The Earls teacher is just crossing the road as I arrive. We meet and he takes me into Angus. I again explain that we don’t know it’s a spider bit but yes it looks a lot worse.
He then asks me why I drove past. I cotton on to what he means so I said I came in the back way. He raised an eyebrow and I know he sneaked a look and my dust covered car.
A short while later after The Earl was all packed I asked Michael for directions out of here. His look made me explain Sally’s error in leading me the most direct route.

The round trip was just under 200kms and by the time we go home we had to leave shortly for the doctor’s appointment. The Earl’s “not a spider bite, maybe” was a lot worse. It was a small volcano shaped mound on the top of his foot with signs of weeping, redness and a little white skin around the wound. He changed the ‘script to a stronger antibiotic. I have to watch the foot over the next 24hrs to see if it gets worse. If it does then he’s off to hospital for nastier drugs and observation.

The Princess was happy about all of this because it meant another unscheduled driving lesson to the doctors. Unfortunately, while she’s picking up driving a manual car really well she’s not quite there yet. So, at the major intersection, on a hill, during peak hour, we took a few changes of lights to get across much to the annoyance of those horn-blowing drivers behinds us. Once flustered she lost all control of the clutch and had to settle before we could move off.
On the way home we approached a round about. I said “prepare to stop. They have right of way” She heard “They will stop you have right of way” and charged into the roundabout with me screaming “Stop! No! Too late; Faster!”

*Not my real name
**No; it’s his real name
***He’s not really an Earl.

Update the next day. The Earl's foot is much better so he avoided hospital,and we avoided the bills. My Man-flu lingers, but I returned to work today.