Monday, June 27, 2005

I'm Sorry. Could You Repeat That?

Everyone knows that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. Well, everyone that is except the Germans (who claim the honour for one of their citizens, Philipp Reis) and the Italians (who tout one Antonio Meucci).

However, putting all that aside, let's examine what were supposedly the first words spoken over a telegraph wire;

"Mr. Watson, come here. I want you."

I think we can safely assume this wasn't an invitation for Thomas Watson's luck to change. No, it was purportedly a call for immediate assistance. Why? Because Alex had spilled battery acid onto his trousers and it was burning its way through.

The sanitised movie version of how Alexander Graham came to invent the world's most annoying implement would have us believe that he spilled the acid on the top of his thigh. As any man will tell you, if liquid of any description is going to spill or splash, it invariably soaks that area of the male anatomy most embarrassing. The crotch. Such was the case, apparently, with Mr. Bell when he spilled the battery acid.

I guess in the sixties, movie goers couldn't be subjected to the image of a man violently slapping at his crotch whilst trying to rip his trousers off, so naturally they toned it down a little.

This, then, beggars the question, what did Alexander Graham Bell really say? "Mr. Watson, come here. I want you", calmly spoken whilst acid was eating its way toward a rather sensitive area? I don't think so.

I reckon he said something a lot more concise and to the point. And, most likely, only one word.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

What If ... ?

Here's a hypothetical for the legal buffs.

Let's say you're covered by a life insurance policy, which encompasses accidental death. You are in a car accident and, whilst on the operating table, you pass away. Luckily, thanks to the ministrations of the attending medical staff, you are revived.

Here's the question.

Technically speaking, you have died. Are you then entitled to lay claim against your life insurance policy? I mean, can you ring up the insurance company and say, "Listen. I've got a policy with you. I died. Now you pay up"?

And what if, at some later date, it happens again? Would you be able to claim a second time? And would the insurance company put the premiums up, like they do when you've had a driving accident?

Just wondering.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Stitched Up.

Went to doctor Thursday afternoon to get stiches removed from the back of my scalp.

I've always had what I assumed (as have most other people) to be a mole on the back of my head. Last week , it decided to to get angry and puffed up like a blow fish. Consequently, I took it to see doctor and, being somewhat attached to it, I thought I'd go along as well. As I had never actually seen the thing, and because she was in a better position to be able to testify to its condition, S came with me. Between us, we managed to convince doctor that the growth was indeed misbehaving, and deserved some form of discipline.

Whilst examining the miscreant, doctor discovered it had a false identity. What had been passing itself off as a mole was, in fact, a wart. For such duplicity doctor was obliged to hand down the only sentence allowed. Capital punishment. "Off with its head!" A date was set for sentence to be carried out.

The day of excision finally arrived. S and yongest daughter, E, came along with me for moral support. As they had some shopping to do, they thought they'd get that done, then meet me at the surgery. This sounded like a plan, and off we went on our adventure.

To ensure proceedings went as smoothly as possible, I had previously gone to my barber and gotten him to shave the immediate area surrounding wart, exposing its crimes for all to observe. Boy! It stuck out like a certain part of a dog's anatomy, only uglier, and I was sure that everyone behind me in the crowded shopping centre was staring at it as I made my way to the surgery. I forged onward, though.

Being experienced in these matters, (not by design, mind you) I wasn't particularly anxious about the upcoming procedure. The only part I wasn't too happy about was the injection they give you to anaesthetise the immediate area. That stings a bit. But, of course, once the anaesthetic kicks in, everything becomes numb, and the operation is carried out smoothly and painlessly, all according to the script. Sometimes, however, the lines get fluffed, and the performance is suddenly impromtu.

Doctor didn't use enough anaesthetic.

It's a good thing scapels are so sharp. With the exception of the bottom extremity of the excision site which was nice and numb, I felt every single slice. Imagine slicing your finger open with a carving knife, ten to twenty times. Then imagine not being able to jerk your hand away. That was me, lying there on my stomach - which is something I am unable to do for any great length of time, to start with - fists and teeth clenched.

Because scalps are quite vascular and can bleed freely, doctor had called in nurse to assist. Her duty was to swab the area to ensure blood didn't make a mess. Nurse was aware of what was happening, and offered to let me squeeze her hand to ease the pain. I cheerfully asked if she wanted to keep her hand. Finally, accompanied by a chorus of relieved sighs, the recalcitrant wart was divorced from my scalp.

Now, if you think cutting something out of your body without anaesthetic might be painful, try stitching it up again. When something is causing you pain, it seems to last forever, doesn't it? I would have sworn doctor was hand sewing a quilt, it seemed to take that long. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if he's stitched a label that says "Hand Crafted In Australia" back there.

Suffice to say, the job was eventually finished. The wound stopped bleeding, and the wart was sent off for autopsy. Nurse, who had come close to revisiting breakfast, was able to return to her more mundane duties behind the reception desk. I was sent home with a smarting scalp, and a belief that Rambo had nothing on me. S and E were in the waiting room doing what waiting rooms are designed for - waiting - and I filled them in on all that passed. S was naturally concerned and empathetic. E covered her ears.

Anyhow, as I said, on Thursday I got the stiches removed. Well, not all of them. One had been covered over by the scab. Doctor was reluctant to try and remove it for fear of pulling away the scab and reopening the wound, thereby forcing him to repeat the sewing procedure. I was never more in agreement with someone than when he suggested we leave the stitch in for another week, and give the scab time to dry out and fall off.

Results of the autopsy showed there were no signs of cancer, just a mild bacterial infection which the antibiotic army had already dealt with. Also wart's identity was confirmed.

So, all in all, a happy ending, except ...

Being a wart, it's kind of like a lizard's tail. It can grow back. Doctor informed me of this possibility and advised that, next time, I come in earlier, whilst it was still very small, and he would be able to freeze it off instead of excising it.

Not a problem.

Anything larger than a pin head, and I'll be waiting at the door when they unlock the surgery.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

More New Purchases.

I'm excited about three new purchases which arrived in the mail yesterday; two from Singapore, one from England.

They are three CD's by a Chinese woman named Dadawa. I stumbled across her album, Sister Drum, here in Melbourne, and was really impressed. Enough so that I went online to see if she had done anything else. I discovered that Sister Drum was her third album, and (to date) her biggest seller. I took note of her two previous titles, and went searching.

I discovered both were available on Ebay, plus another album comprised of her greatest hits. Only problem was, they were all only available overseas.

As the items had some time to go before the auction closed, I thought I'd have a look here first before committing to an international purchase. (Never done it before, and was a little wary). I asked at JB Hi-FI if they had any of her work. The only album they had on file was Sister Drum, and that was only in Sydney. They had never heard of her first two albums.

So back I went to Ebay where I was able to get all three albums at a very reasonable price. Listened to the first one last night. Very nice.

Now, excuse me a second while I put this hat on (Those who know who Molly Meldrum is will be familiar with the image). Do yourself a favour. Go out and buy these albums today. Okay, she may not be mainstream, but Dadawa is being touted as the Chinese Enya, and she's got some really good stuff.

New Purchase.

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased off Ebay a learn touch typing program. The thinking behind this was, naturally, to improve my typing skills.

I think it's going to work out. Now, instead of having to watch where my fingers are going, I can look up at the monitor and make twice as many mistakes twice as fast.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Never Judge A Hook By Its Cover

Everybody knows about clothes hangers. You know the legend; leave one alone in a dark wardrobe long enoungh and it will multiply. This is especially true of the wire species of hanger. And we all know that when a piece of toast slides off your plate, it will always land on the side that's spread. Actually, when you think about it, it's amazing how so many inanimate objects go out of their way to annoy us. Glasses are never where you last left them. Keys always go missing when you need them the most (I believe socks use the same tactic, especially with men). And how many tales of horror have you heard about furniture attacking toes in the middle of the night?

Let me tell you about one of the lesser known, yet just as evil, objects de torture; the crochet hook.

Ha! I hear you scoff. Nothing could be more inoffensive. Yeah, right.

A couple of weeks ago, S, my partner, knitted herself a lovely scarf. To finish it off, she wanted to put a fringe on each end. To do this, she needed a crochet hook. As she doesn't possess one, she rang her sister, B, and asked if she could borrow one. A couple of nights later, we subsequently paid B a visit, and picked it up.

The next morning, as I got into the car to go to work, I noticed the hook sitting on the floor of the front passenger's side. Obviously, it had fallen from S's lap unoticed in the dark. It's amazing how we notice omens after the fact, isn't it? I should have been warned then but, instead, I simply picked the hook up, took it inside and gave it to S.

Admittedly, the hook performed the rquired task admirably, and S is now in possession of a really warm looking scarf with a boisterous fringe.

Then came last weekend.

Youngest daughter, E, and I wanted to go to JB Hi Fi. S, who isn't a big fan of browsing through such places, thought she might spend the time with her sister. It would give her a chance to catch up on gossip and, of course, return the crochet hook. This sounded like a plan, so off we went. We had to stop at the police station on the way to fill out some legal forms, but eventually we dropped S off at B's house, and E and I went on to spend a pleasant hour or so looking at music and movies and such.

When we finally made our choices, we went back to pick up S. On walking in the front door, S informed me that she couldn't find the crochet hook and asked if it was in the car somewhere. I went out to have a look. It didn't leap out at me straight away, so I got down low and twisted and turned, trying to see if it was under either of the front seats. Nothing, zip, nada, zilch. No hook.

S was upset at this; she doesn't like the thought of borrowing something then losing it. B said not to worry about it, but S isn't one to let something like this go easily. On the way home, she said how she felt really bad about losing the hook. She swore that she had it in her hand, and couldn't understand where it could have got to. I suggested we just buy another one, but S thought maybe it had fallen out of the car at the police station and could we please go and have a look, and see if we could find it?

Back we went to the police station. I was able to park in the same spot we had previously parked, and S got out and began inspecting the ground. She began to move ahead of where we were parked and I said something about how we didn't park up that far, but I was beginning to suspect that the blasted thing might actually have a life of its own, and had decided to torment us by absconding. S searched diligently, but eventually had to admit defeat. The crochet hook was nowhere to be seen. E suggested maybe somebody had found it and handed it in at the police station. Somehow, though, I think the thought of actually walking up to the officer behind the counter and asking if someone has handed in a crochet hook proved too embarrassing for all concerned, and we just wrote the item off as lost.

We finally arrived home. E opened up the house, and was first through the door. I was next. I happened to look down, and lo and behold! Sitting on the threshold, looking as if butter wouldn't melt in its crook, was the elusive crochet hook. The damn thing hadn't even left home. And I swear it was bloody smiling.

So, the next time you haul out that unfinished crochet project, or are about to start one, remember this tale and take precautions. Put your crochet hook on a short leash before it starts heading for the hills. Or wherever it is that inanimate objects go when they don't want to be found.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The Time Has Come ...

... To speak of many things.

Well, not so much speak, as write.

S, my lovely partner, has suggested more than once over the last couple of weeks that I should take up my writing again. And I have to be honest here; I have been incredibly slack about it.

As usual, when it comes to things like this, S is right, so I've made the move. I have created a new blog where I am going to post chapters of my novel as it progresses.

There is one slight problem, however. I have more than one book running around in my head, and each one is clamouring as loudly as it can for attention. I might have to give serious consideration to allocating each its own blog, and then contributing to them as the ideas come.

Hey! Why do something simply when you can make it more intricate than Damascene cloth?
I think I'm going to be a very busy boy.

Oh dear.

And Another Thing ...

I hate shaving.

That's it. Pure and simple. No great profundity. I just hate shaving.

You Know You're Not Really In The Mood To Go To Work When ...

You go to the drawer looking for the cling wrap to wrap your lunch, and end up standing there wondering why the hell you've got a garbage bag in your hands.