Writing by Sheridan on Tuesday, 14 of July , 2009 at 11:34 am
I booked a flight today. The entire booking procedure involves a mixture of emotions for me. On the one hand, I’m at least a little bit excited to go to a new place, or a place different in some way from where I currently am. On the other, I am riddled with anxiety about spending any amount of time trapped in a steel tube with a couple of hundred others. And we’re all completely in denial about how horrified we are. Even the flight attendants are in denial, yet we all go into a very convincing role-play scenario and somehow get through the ordeal. That’s why I think you’ll find the luggage carousel is one of the calmest places on earth – everyone’s just relieved and glad they’re still in one piece. In fact, I’m pretty sure that even if all of my luggage went on a mystery flight to a destination unknown to me, I would still take some delight in the fact that I was indeed standing on solid ground, rather than a good few thousand feet of air.
In the midst of typing in my personals and deciding if I want my few hours of torture served with an aisle or the window, I came across something a bit odd. The airline of my choosing has a carbon offset scheme. I have heard these words before, but not really though about them when they are arranged in this sequence. I have some issues with this idea, although I think the sentiment behind it is nice.
The way this is sold seems strange to me. Near the completion of the on-line booking procedure, the airline’s website pops up this page of seeming innocent ‘options’ you may choose from. I’m sure it’s modeled on a menu, but I was not to be fooled. For half the price of your ticket again, you can pick a nice roomy seat where you might have the chance to straighten your legs. Or, you may like to spend the 10 minutes before you check in at the VIP lounge, sipping on bottled water or $9-a-bottle champagne. Alternatively, you will be rewarded with a halo and wand if you cough up a mere $1.10 to offset the carbon emissions your flight is creating. Because really, by flying somewhere you could practically swim to, you are slowly but silently killing the world (they don’t write that but I sense it in their tone). I’m just not convinced. Do they expect me to believe that? Where do all the $1.10s go? Who governs this little money-spinner? Turns out, the government do. Well thank goodness for that, phew. On further inspection the airlines themselves, as if they are already aware of how bogus this scheme reads, go into detail to explain how this money is spent. They probably have the receipts to prove it. And what would the receipts say?
Virgin Atlantic, teaming up with a Swiss-based charity called myclimate, have been funneling their funds to India and Indonesia, where locals are rebuilding a hydropower plant and using farm wastes to run a power plant. Britain’s Silverjet (I’m pretty sure they are no longer flying), had an aggressive carbon offset scheme. In 2007, they reversed their decision to hit all passengers with a carbon offset fee, and left it up to the passengers to decide if they wished to pay this. Needless to say, prior to this they made a bucketload of cash for their chosen environmental cause. Cut-price airline EasyJet feature quite a serious write-up for the lay person about their environmental initiatives, and it all sounds pretty good. But I mentally switched off after the second sentence so I really have no idea of the validity of their claim. But I’m sure it’s not too hard to really delve into it and see if anything is really happening. Does any of this work?
On searching American Airlines I failed to find any mention of a similar scheme, although rumours of one were circulating in 2007. Amusingly, when I tried to search budget Euro airline Ryanair for their take on carbon offsets, I was presented with a FAQ-type page which asked if I could bring a self-inflating life jacket. Only if it’s made of recyclable or biodegradable rubber, I say. Northwest Airlines (of the US) had a tiny pocket of the web page dedicated to saving mother earth. I clicked on it. I was informed that not only did NWA donate $1 million to a legitimate organisation involved in trees and the like (I could tell it was legit from the Visa ads and SALE signs on their site. Hell, someone has to pay for the website I guess). To be fair, the associated organisation at the very least appears to be raising awareness, and perhaps more. I wasn’t motivated to investigate further. NWA has also teamed up with Nike, whose store at the airport in Portland is solar-powered. Although this may not sound like much, I feel this is something tangible that people might actually be able to see and therefore feel it is worth something. Could just be me.
For each person who contributes to a carbon-offset scheme, I’d like there to be a video camera set up in the country recording footage of a little man running into frame and planting a nice little tree. And the footage would just continue with him planting trees until he was really old and a whole forest had sprung up in front of him. That, I would pay for. Until then, I’m keeping my $1.10 to throw into a lucky fountain.
Writing by Sheridan on Sunday, 12 of July , 2009 at 9:31 am
The rules don’t apply if I’m not home at all on a particular day. I was out. And whilst I was out, I saw a movie so completely removed from reality that I was left with only questions at the end.
Now, as a child of the 80′s, I grew up with Astro Boy, Jem, the Smurfs and, of course, Transformers. I can even sing the entire opening sequence song. With mainly the right lyrics and everything. So you’d think the Transformers movie would be something I would enjoy. And it kind of was. But it was also the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. Even more ridiculous than the movies with the machines that can morph into liquid metal or take the form of another person. I guess, having not seen the first Transformers movie I might have been a little bit behind. But I thought my years of watching animated Optimus might have helped me out. But no. The ‘storyline’ itself wasn’t the main problem. It was the pure inconsistencies. At one stage, the massive prime was standing on the back of an aircraft carrier talking to a human. The robot is, like, 60 feet high and the human is 6 feet tall. So apparently they are talking to each other, and it made me wonder – over the roar of the open ocean, how did the robot hear the human speaking? Do they have ears? Special super-ears? I was at a loss to explain it.
Also, Megan Fox’s character is a mechanic or something. What? Why would some hot-looking girl be a mechanic? Shouldn’t she be a model or something? And, during the movie the storyline gently suggests the guy cheats on her? What hope is there for the regular girls if Megan Fox can barely keep her hooks into her guy? The multiple slow-motion shots of her running near the end of the movie restored my faith in man’s ability to remain steadfast.
They wrecked the pyramids in the movie, too. And in the whole scene involving the pyramids, I did not see one tourist with a map or anyone being mugged or sold something they really don’t need. Where are all the tourists? Perhaps all of the robots coming out of the sea scared them off. And also, before the movie even started, several people laughed out loud at the ‘turn off your mobile phone’ advertisement delivered by Bruno, who is not even funny at all.
Writing by Sheridan on Friday, 10 of July , 2009 at 12:43 pm
It’s going to be short tonight. I’m extremely tired and have just spent at least 10 minutes trying to slink off to bed without writing a post but have been threatened that I will be kept awake until I write one. Come to think of it, I could just moan about having to write something and easily get to the 350 word threshold. After all (as pointed out by someone nearby) it doesn’t have to be interesting. That just helps.
Not wanting to trawl the internet for something inane and mostly meaningless to cut and paste from (not that I have done that…yet) I will fill in the gaps with my ordinary life.
Today I went to work, as I have done every day for what seems like an eternity. At least I have a good job. Or, at least I have a job. I have been hearing things about the lack of jobs around the place. Lucky I already have an arts degree so I will have something to talk to the jobless people about. I am also working on another degree (equally as unemployable). The first semester’s results have been very encouraging, and it’s nice to be on the right track for a change. I would like to think I might go on an exchange program next year, but knowing how much effort and motivation is involved in the organising of an overseas jaunt, I doubt it will occur. I was thinking Finland or even back to the UK. Or I reason that the money might be better spent just going on another holiday to these places. I have promised myself some kind of holiday, anyhow.
I have also promised myself a new bike. After riding to work (and home again, once) a handful of times I have come to the conclusion that riding may be more enjoyable and simpler with a bike with more than 2 gears. The seat on my current bike is comfortable, though. I do feel slightly ashamed when I have to stop at the lights and can feel other proper cyclists looking at my bike with pure disdain. I have hand-selected a new bike which still lives in the shop. When I get this new creature, other cyclists will leer at it with pure lust. But they will probably still overtake me on flat or downhill roads. I propose that I might be able to make it up a steep hill on the new bike. I am not that good a rider yet, but I will get there. I remember when I used to try to run into work and could not make it. I also remember the day when I ran the whole way but had problems making it up the stairs when I got to work. Now I know what elevators are for – people who have run into work.
So now I have fulfilled the word count and am going to shower-bed-read-sleep. No time for spell-check. Night xx
Writing by Sheridan on Thursday, 9 of July , 2009 at 11:32 am
I tell you – it’s getting pretty tedious sitting at this here laptop every night, trying to come up with something remotely interesting to write whilst thinking about what to have for dinner and waiting for Masterchef to come on. I got my payment summary thing from work today, and as it’s tax time, was going to write about the history of personal income tax in Australia. But when I got to the appropriate website I could barely read past the first sentence without nodding off. So, I have chosen to revisit all the films (and books too) which feature a period of time in their title and see how it relates to the film in general. Having not seen all of the films or read all of the books, I have had to put my creative spin on some of the interpretations.
28 Days (2008), with Sandra Bullock.
This movie (which I have seen but cannot remember well) follows a writer(?) who is a raging alcoholic. After basically destroying her sister’s wedding and the house of a stranger, she is given the choice of 28 days in jail or 28 in rehab (judges in the US are so forgiving). Since alcoholism is a major theme of the movie, I consulted the AA website, but my initial suspicion that there was no ’28 days’ was confirmed. The only number they are interested in is 12. The Twelve Steps, Twelve concepts…So 28 days is just a number plucked by the executive producer/writer. It could be called 35 days.
9 1/2 weeks (1986), with various actors and actresses).
I haven’t seen this, and probably a good thing too, judging by the reviews I just read. Apparently the sex scenes border on ‘abuse’ towards the end (be it emotional and/or physical) and the whole thing is a mess. In all I read, I could not find a single reference to the title or what exactly 9 1/2 weeks has to do with the movie.
28 days later (2002), random young actors.
May have seen this and possibly repressed it. Apparently it’s scary – even scarier that Sandra Bullock’s drunk writer. I had to search, but the title does have some meaning – a virus with a four-week incubation period is somehow involved in the plot. Kind of like swine flu but a bit more menacing perhaps.
Around the world in eighty days (book and then movie).
This adventure tale (affectionately known as Le Tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours, given the author was French), is a jaunt about a man with too much time accepting a bet of 20,000 or so pounds to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days. I don’t find it proper to ruin the story for all of the uninitiated, so I won’t say what happens at the end. Suffice top say the title pretty much covers it.
Writing by Sheridan on Wednesday, 8 of July , 2009 at 8:11 am
After hours of unsupervised internet time-wasting, I came across some fascinating articles about not only oak trees, but trees in general.
The title of the oldest tree in the world is in some dispute, with Californians claiming the prize until a very, very, very old Spruce was somehow ‘discovered’ alive and well and still going after a good 9550 years. I cannot even comprehend a tree (or anything, really) being that old. And if you google it all up, the poor tree looks all thin and withered, much like an old man. I don’t think you can see the tree’s walking frame in any of the pictures. This oldest living tree lives in Sweden, and is what most Westerners might consider as a Christmas tree, minus the lights. It’s about 4 metres tall, and although it looks as good as dead above the surface, apparently its roots are alive and well, very deep underground. I suppose the researchers didn’t really wish to hack apart the fragile-looking old tree, so it’s root system was dated with a special ‘scientific’ radiocarbon test. According to researchers, there are more, similarly-aged trees in Sweden, but none would be older as back over 9550 years ago the surface of the country was covered in ice sheets, which earlier researchers discovered was not conducive to the growth of trees.
Although the Swedish tree is in the lead of oldest living trees, there appear to be several catergories of ‘oldest tree’, including ‘oldest continually standing tree’, as opposed to the ones that lie down at night and have a nap. Of course, the napping trees are bound to be more robust. I think this category was thought up by the US.
Whilst old trees are mildly impressive, tall trees are much more so, simply because there are people who actively scour the globe measuring trees. Debate rages over the tallest tree. People seem to want the tallest tree in their country. So much debate ensues possibly because of the method of measuring the tall trees. The US Eastern Native Tree Society uses measuring tapes, laser rangefinders and human climbers (the monkeys were too stunned by the rangefinders to record accurate measurements). Ironically enough, the most accurate way of measuring the height of a tree is cited as felling it and then measuring it whilst it lays prostrate on the ground. These measurements are said to be ‘more reliable’ (and yet quite stupid).
The US has the tallest tree, measuring a touch under 380 ft. Too bad if you get your cricket ball stuck in there. The US has a mass of mega-tall Sequioa trees, with Australia coming in with the 2nd tallest tree (woo hoo!) at a mere 326 feet (in Tasmania). What is the point of tall trees if not to climb them?
YouTube has several videos of people purporting to have climbed the world’s tallest tree. After watching just one I grew bored. Turns out it only takes a quarter of an hour to get up the tree, but watching just 3 minutes of it will do your head in.
Writing by Sheridan on Tuesday, 7 of July , 2009 at 11:36 am
What can be achieved in 96 days? Perhaps a short course graduation, or even a personal sports goal. Well these goals are not really lofty enough for celebrities and the like. Take Peaches Geldof, for example. 96 days is the length of her marriage to Max Drummey, her being 19 and him being 24 years of age. This got me thinking: what is the shortest period of time you can be married for? Is it the time it takes to get from the registry/church to file the papers? Or is it the more generous time of when you lodge the forms until they are finally looked at by authorities?
When googling such things, it’s always helpful to include the word ‘celebrity’ to ensure multiple responses are delivered. Britney Spears only managed 55 hours married to Jason Alexander (not the one from Seinfeld) back in 2006. Carmen Electra and Denis Rodman managed 9 days back in 1998. Do you really get sick of someone that quickly? These kinds of ‘marriages’ are littering up the gossip sites daily. What about the reverse of this? Does anyone ever get past 9 days? Surely if celebrities cannot do it, what hope do normal people have?
A lot more, apparently. The Guinness World association presents 85 years as the longest marriage, awarded to a Taiwanese couple recently. Troublingly, an old codger in the UK passed away (probably of old age, and hopefully peacefully), claiming that his marriage was supported (and perhaps maintained) by the words ‘Yes Dear’. And, as with the shortest unions, there are many mega-lengthy marriages to be discovered as well. For those that don’t make the distance, is there a particular time that it all goes to shit? Or is it environmental? This is hard to find out, but I did find a plethora of information on the ‘stages’ of marriage. We could probably guess a few of these, the first being the Honeymoon Stage. No surprise here – this is heavy on the ooohhh, aaahh and light on the reality. I suspect that in the above-mentioned celebrity weddings this stage was still in full swing around the time of the wedding. The Reality Stage comes next, which is laced with disappointment, as reality often is. It’s pretty much all downhill from here, especially if you haven’t strategised how to deal with conflict.
According to one optimistic page, love is timeless, which is why anniversaries are celebrated and gifts are given. If you live in a Commonwealth country, you might get a special message from the monarch for your 60th or 70th wedding anniversary. It’s pretty hard to compete with that: no amount of silver or crystal stemware can measure up to a message from the Queen (a message which you have to apply for yourself, which hardlymakes it a surprise). According to Wikipedia (and its many sources), the 80th wedding anniversary is celebrated with gifts of oak (and more about Oak tomorrow). I’m not sure it’s worth sticking with the marriage for 80 years and holding out for some oak. Maybe we’ll see why it’s so special tomorrow. Or maybe it’s the fact that dementia will render you with the uncanny ability to appreciate a couple of acorns and a branch.
Writing by Sheridan on Monday, 6 of July , 2009 at 10:42 am
Although it’s only the second post, I could easily just go to bed now (at 20 to 6) and ‘forget’ to write. But I made a vow to myself and I’ll keep it. At least for tonight. Before I get into the actual story, Australia Post let me down today. I rode all the way home from work like I was being chased, hoping I might just get to the post office in time to collect the mystery parcel they tried to deliver the other day. It was with a sense of great achievement that I raced into the garage and tethered the bike merely an hour after I started, and I was pretty darn happy with myself. I raced to the post office in sheer anticipation…only to be told by the lady behind the counter (who had clearly been at work since the dawn of time) that she couldn’t find my parcel. As I stood there, hair plastered to my face and reeking of sweat, she explained that it may have indeed been delivered to the ‘other’ post office, just down the road. The ‘other’ post office is 30 metres from my house. If it’s not there when I go tomorrow, I promise I will never stick a stamp in the correct place on another letter. And, if an envelope has those little postcode boxes you’re supposed to use, I’m not going to use those, either. (This section does not factor in the word-count specified yesterday).
Anyhow, to continue with the writing for a long time scenario…whilst I was searching the internet in vain for things to write about, I came across something not totally unrelated, but mainly. There is a whole site (and perhaps, sites) devoted to the swimming of the English channel. I mean, really – why would anyone get a train or a boat across the English channel when you can swim it yourself? How did I not know this when I crossed the channel inside a bus inside a train inside a tunnel? There’s a few ways to get across the 35km stretch from Dover to Calais: plane (obviously), fancy train or non-fancy train or car inside non-fancy train. Not knowing about this train in a tunnel business, I was shocked and weirdly fascinated when the bus I was traveling on drove into what looked like a dark shed and then onto a train. We drove onto a train. Is that odd or is it just me? And then the train started moving with the bus (and many cars) on it. It was the strangest sensation, sitting on a stationary bus but still moving. It freaked me out, or that could have been because we were returning on an 11-hour bus trip from Amsterdam. Next time, I’m considering the swim.
It’s a fairly serious arrangement, and there’s even a Channel Swimming Association, which, according to their website, has been serving the channel swimmer’s needs for over 80 years. Have people been swimming across the channel for that long? Since 1875 apparently, when the average time to swim across the gap (weather permitting, I guess) was around 18-19 hours. The first passenger ferry went across in 1821. Nowadays, Australians are ripping across there in just over 9 hours (Eng – Fra). For some reason it takes a bit longer to go the other way (tides, winds, boats…)
It’s not something you can just decide to do on the weekend. Months of preparation and planning go on before the swimsuit is even applied. For the sake of the time theme that I am supposed to be adhering to, here’s some numbers:
*14-18 degrees Celcius is the water temperature of the channel, which is not much different than the temperature of the water in Port Philip Bay. In the winter. No wetsuits are allowed.
*$5709.00 is the AUD figure of how much it’ll cost you (in monetary terms at least). This includes membership to the appropriate associations, administration fees and a pilot fee. The pilot (of a boat, not a plane) motors along beside you, passing drinks/food to you on a stick or pole. This is fairly important, because you can expect to spend…
*12 or so hours in the water, swimming for at least 6 hours at a time, and just kind of treading water
*600 is the minimum number of commercial ships traversing the channel. Then there’s the 80-100 passenger ferries. Per day.
*14hrs and 18 minutes is the time taken by Julie Bradshaw to swim across the channel. Doing the butterfly stroke. I do not have the measurements of her biceps, but I bet they’re massive.
*2002 is the year a large cargo ship collided with a container ship in the channel. It gets foggy in there.
Quirky channel facts:
*MP3 players are not permitted.
I have now doubled my word-count, and just found out my nephew is in hospital, so I’m stopping now.
3 is the amount of years he has been alive for. Get better soon, Elliott. xx
Writing by Sheridan on Saturday, 4 of July , 2009 at 11:13 pm
Heading home along the faithful and never-cancelled-or-late Craigieburn line the other night, I read in my informative copy of Mx the story that has inspired this post – ‘American couple have sex for 101 consecutive days’. Upon first reading this, it doesn’t seem particularly amazing or unexpected. But on further inspection, I read that this ‘couple’ actually had sex for 101 days, they are in their 40′s, have two children and both have jobs. And they are married. Like, to each other. And had been for around 15 years.
Two things inspire me about this story. For one, it comes from the US. I have this tv-induced notion that nearly every ‘relationship’ in the US ends in three weeks and nearly every marriage ends in divorce. I should probably switch over to SBS or even the ABC once in a while. But even when talking to people here, my friends and colleagues at work – hardly anyone has any faith in the idea of a long-term relationship or marriage. We make jokes about married people not having sex. That’s how deeply embedded in our culture the idea is. So, it strikes me as encouraging that a couple from a well-developed nation are still married and still have sex. With each other.
Secondly, rather than devoutly following the ways of contemporary consumerism, these people aim to do something more constructive and effective (and spawn a whole new consumer spree by writing a book about it).
The whole idea of taking a certain period of time to get something done appeals to me. I tend to use the same principles when setting my own goals, otherwise nothing would ever get done. It’s all about motivation. So, for the next 28 days I will be writing a post every day. And publishing it the same day (my productivity is about to nose-dive at work). Granted, it’s no ‘sex for 101 days straight’, but even if I did do that, there’s no way you’d be getting the blow-by-blow account of it here.
I’ve set myself some ground rules:
1. There must be one post per day for 28 consecutive days
2. Each post must be a minimum of 350 words
3. Although I enforce no set theme, posts will be guided by the concept of time
Hopefully this will spark some great new ideas. At the very least, it will force me to formulate excuses for why the internet/computer/my hands are not working and why no post was published every day. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Writing by Sheridan on Tuesday, 30 of June , 2009 at 4:49 am
Yesterday I rode my bike to work. I didn’t write about it last night because:
a) I was exhausted; and
b) I couldn’t sit for long periods.
I thought I was well-planned: I had the map, the water, the clothes (to wear at work), the phone, etc. I set off at first light and it was all breezy in Essendon. Got onto the bike track with no trouble whatsoever. There are no cars in Essendon at 7am, surprisingly. Sped along until the track inexplicably stopped. Other cyclists seemed unperterbed by this and just continued to ride down the large drain/creek which ran alongside the path. Without much hesitation, I followed. Not being a cyclist, I was unable to keep up with these ‘hell riders’ and as I rounded the next corner, I noticed the path had re-commenced…on the other side of the creek. The other riders were long gone, which was a good thing too because what happened next was hardly inspiring. I stood awhile beside the rippling creek (or sewage disposal drain, depending on how you look at it), pondering whether to cross on foot or on bike. It seemed fairly slippery and fast-flowing. I got a stick and measured the depth, which was not encouraging. But it wasn’t a wide creek and I had to get to work before sundown so I set across on foot. Then I continued on the path with both feet (and lower half of both legs) completely saturated. Creek – 1, Sheridan – 0.
Onwards I went, all the way up to Flemington, where again the track magically evaporated. From here, I never found it again. But I did find several very steep hills and also a nice place to stop and advise my colleagues by telephone that I had only a vague idea where I was and couldn’t accurately state my arrival time.
After being lost another 3 or 4 times, I finally made it to work (only 45 minutes late), and thus was unable to ride home since it was dark by the time I left. Thank God.
Writing by Sheridan on Friday, 26 of June , 2009 at 7:27 am
Of late I have been having some attention paid to my butt (let’s get straight to the point). This has all come about due to some kind of injury or lack of muscular support/stability resulting in a painful bum cheek. It’s really such a classy condition which is difficult to explain in a non-embarrassing way to a young, fit, male physio. In fact, the explaining part was probably more painful than the condition itself. Nothing says ‘I’m really cool and ace’ like ‘My bum cheek hurts’.
The result of all the explaining was what can only be described as the pulverisation of my buttock. Words cannot describe the feeling this kind of manipulation evokes (probably not just for me, but also my physio). Then again, my butt is not that bad – some people might take some kind of pleasure in that kind of activity. Come to think of it, I probably should be charging him for touching my arse, not the other way around. There’s so many things that can go wrong – inappropriate underwear, accidentally farting on his hand, slippage, etc. On the whole it was a particularly unflattering situation. Especially the first appointment, which was made at the last minute and left me with no time to assess the leg-hair situation and the sweaty-work-clothing scenario. It’s not how I generally prefer the first meeting with someone who is going to go the grope (fully in a medical way). To top off the appointment and complete my transformation from normal to idiot, the physio made reference to doing his pelvic floor exercises, at which time I chose to look down at his crotch. I get the distinct feeling he thought this was amusing.
The whole scenario, as enjoyable/humiliating/bizarre as it was brought to my attention the amount of trust we place in medical professionals. We tell these people anything, no matter how disgusting or horrifyingly embarrassing it might be. We do it with a completely straight face and they reciprocate by accepting this information as graciously as they can (they probably save the laughter until we are out of the building). I guess it’s a way to deal with the trauma of having someone violate your private ‘areas’ and then ask you to pay for it.