Saturday, October 28, 2006


Found at my desk yesterday morning. It's easy to see the high esteem and respect with which my fellow workers (Kathy in this case) regard me! :-)


Monday, October 23, 2006

White Menudo

My wife finally managed to find a canned foodstuff I didn't recognise. When I got home this arvo I found a rather large can labelled 'White Menudo'. I took a look at it and called for enlightenment. With a shrug she admitted she didn't know what it was either but was planning to use it for tonights dinner. Hmmm... there's brave for you!

It seems, according to the ingredients list, that it contains beef tripe and Mexican style hominy. Sounds mouthwatering doesn't it? I gloated a little, within Andrews hearing, about the beef tripe and discovered that, even though he has no idea what beef tripe *is*, he doesn't want to try it. If I said that announcement came as a surprise I'd be lying! I wonder what hoops they had to jump through to get him to try his first burger!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Four Hours

They've been running an ad on The History Channel for the last hour or so. Normally I mentally tune out as soon as the ad breaks start but after a while I started noticing this one. It begins as a discussion of erectile dysfunction; just the subject matter one wants to hear at my age!

Then it goes on to extol the virtues of a particular drug and, as is the fashion these days, ends on a breathless list of all the possible side-effects. There's one that particularly impressed me. 'Seek immediate medical attention if an erection lasts for more than four hours!'. Four hours?? Wow! I should be so lucky!!! :-)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Austin, TX

I'm in Austin, Texas, for the next few days. I could say why but if I did I'd have to kill you! j/k. No, the truth is that story is so uninteresting I reckon I'd fall asleep writing it and I'm *sure* you'd fall asleep reading it. Sufficient to say that it's work related.

The flight over was ok and would hardly merit mention were it not that I found myself stuck in the middle seat, row 15. The guy on my right was ok at first but the bloke on the left was built such that he really needed two seats. Instead he spilled over on both sides!

I could have coped with that. After all, it's only a 2 hour flight but nope, half an hour into the air the bastard opened a pack of Teriyaki flavoured beef jerky! Aromatic stuff to say the least! Not only that but he didn't even have the decency to offer any to all those within nostril-shot of it. Mind you, had he done so he'd have found himself offering to the entire planeload methinks. And then, as though encouraged by the thought that the aroma of a salami sandwich couldn't make things worse, the bloke on my right whips out said sandwich!

It's hard to say which was worse; the beef jerky or the salami sanger!

Austin might be a nice city; I haven't seen enough of it to comment though I do note that, seen from the air, it seems to have a much bigger downtown area than Phoenix. I may have enough time to check it out; if so I'll probably write about it.

On the other hand, I've just returned from a trip to the supermarket for various things I forgot (such as razors). You'd reckon I've done enough travel to not forget such obvious things but apparently not. I also took the chance to get some beef jerky and salami to go with my saltine crackers! :-)

But if the trip to the supermarket is anything to go by I'm going to give downtown Austin a big miss; four years of Phoenix traffic has made me incapable of the sort of driving patience one evidently needs to navigate Austin. In short, driving around sucks. It'd probably be a little different if I knew the place well enough not to miss turns but only marginally better. It feels as though the entire layout of intersections and the traffic light patterns are designed to make driving as slow and annoying as possible.

So I reckon the next time someone complains to me about 'what a bitch it was driving to work today' in Phoenix I'm going to laugh the bitter laugh of one who remembers driving to work in Melbourne and has survived peak hour in Austin and Chicago. We forget just how good the road system is in Phoenix!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Life is good

For 25 years or so I've been thinking I'd heard all of Anton Bruckners[^] symphonies, or at least all those I could obtain. I never did seem able to find a recording of Symphony 0 (Die Nullte) back in those days.

More recently even that curiously numbered symphony has been readily obtainable and I've been bopping to it the last few days courtesy of a Napster download.

Imagine my delight then, upon discovering that there's yet *another* symphony now available, the even more curiously numbered Symphony 00 (The Study Symphony). I foresee more bopping ahead. Life is good!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

In which Andrew learns two things

The first being that I can't sing. The second? That phrases to which his friends may not pay overmuch attention will only serve to attract ridicule if uttered within my hearing! :-)

One of our cats went AWOL a year or so ago; methinks she was fed up with the constant stream of newcomers. We weren't particularly concerned about it; she was still around and she'd schmooze up every so often. The last couple of days though she's been coming in almost hourly. She never stays very long; just long enough that we know she's around and certainly long enough to be sure we all make a big thing about it.

So there she was this afternoon, sitting in Andrews lap as he sat at the computer. Andrew said 'She wants some Andrew loving'. Ye gods! Andrew loving??? Pretty big statement from a 15 year old. I couldn't resist; I started singing 'I can't get no, Andrew loving...' (sung to the Rolling Stones tune).

I have no idea if I embarassed the poor bastard or not but I do note that he had an enormous grin!

It takes a bit of getting used to...

this being an American thing!

My friend Vern[^], after a gap of more than a week, finally made a new post and I tried to make a witty reply. (Along the lines of, we waited a week for this??? :-) ).

But his blog software steadfastly refuses to accept my reply, branding it, quite incorrectly, as spam! Like I'd be guilty of such a thing?

So I dashed off an email to his direct email address. In it I said something to the effect that 'this was a fine way to treat a fellow citizen'.

See? I'm still not thinking right! What I should have said was 'this is a fine way to treat a fellow 'muuurrrican!'. :-)

The cat's throwing up!

So I've had a low level sniffle for at least the past 6 months. It seems to date from the last time I returned from The Philippines though I note that I didn't have it until *after* I returned to Phoenix and yet had it the same day I got back. *shrug* I don't think it's SARS; it's just bloody annoying.

Well, if it's annoying to me you can imagine that it's downright infuriating to others; no one wants to hear some other bastard going sniff sniff sniff all the bloody time.

This morning I was sitting at the computer doing the daily email thang and sniffing. After half a year unfortunately I'm probably not even aware of how often it happens. Andrew was sitting up at his computer doing whatever it is that the boy who won't read does on a computer when he suddenly commented that 'Ginger is throwing up again!'. Ginger is, of course, one of our cats and one of the things you learn early on in a career of cat person is that cats will sometimes throw up for no apparent reason whilst in seeming perfect health!

Momentary panic by Andrew; he hates it when that happens even though he never has to clean it up. Sonya chimed in; 'no, that's Rob sniffing'.

Moments pass and I sniff again. Andrew looks up. 'Is that you breathing?' I murmur assent. 'But I'll stop breathing if it'll make you happy!'.

Little bastard was completely prepared to take me up on that offer! Cheeky sod!

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I've had this nagging feeling for the last few days, ever since applying for my passport. Naturally enough, in order to actually get a passport, one must prove eligibility to hold one! In my case, the eligibility is tied to my newly aquired US citizenship and, more specifically, to my naturalisation certificate.

You'd think, wouldn't you (well at least I would but then I'm a simple soul at times), that if the passport application centre has an accredited representative checking applications, that her sighting the certificate and attesting to the same would be sufficient. But no, that's not how it works. Instead, my certificate has to accompany the paperwork to whereever it is that they process the applications. I'm advised that it will come back with the passport, 6 to 8 weeks from now.

Meantime I'm walking about with not a skerrick of proof that I'm here legally. There's a rubber stamped warning at the bottom of the naturalisation certificate advising that it's a federal offence to make a copy. No more greencard; that was taken from me at the oath ceremony. The admission stamps in my Australian passport are long since expired. And I couldn't fake the accent to save my life! Yikes! I'm undocumented!

It's probably a moot point however; in the four years I've been here the *only* people who've shown the slightest interest in any proof of legality were my employer and the USCIS (INS) folks at the various interviews I've had to attend. Oh, and the immigration folk at border crossings. I reckon if I stay within the borders I should be just fine!

Yeah yeah, I know. I worry too much!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's just a minor detail

but the devil is, as they say, in the detail.

After some delays I finally got around to applying for my shiny new US passport yesterday. I've only been a yankee for a dozen days; what do you want? Same day application? I'd be interested in visiting the passport office near the district court where they do the swearing-in half an hour after the ceremony is over; one of the things they include in the 'new citizen' package is a map showing how to get there. I wonder how many new citizens march straight from the courthouse to the passport office?

Truth is I'm not in any great hurry to get my new passport; it's a convenient reason to be unable to travel to The Philippines. But I can only stall so long before the boss begins to smell a rat.

On the other hand, they do advise us to get a passport even if we don't plan to travel; it's a convenient way of carrying around our proof of citizenship and a damn sight easier to replace than a lost naturalisation certificate! Apparently that takes more than a year!

Thus off to the local post office on Tuesday morning to lodge the paperwork. No, you can't go to just any post office; it has to be one accredited for the purpose. Nor can you front up at any old time during business hours; no sirree bob, nope, that'd be too easy. They have, at the post office I went to, a 2 hour window 4 days a week when you can apply.

So I walk in and survey the scene. The usual long queues to the main counter. Over on the right is another counter with a cash register and a sign announcing that passport applications are only processed at that particular counter. But the counter is closed and lower down on the sign is the advice that for further detail 'see main counter'.

Sigh. Thirty people ahead of me in the queue for the main counter; two staff; the queue is moving like honey in the freezer. The bloke in front turns and, in the manner of everyone I've ever seen that far back in a queue (I've also done it and I'm sure you have too), remarks 'You'd think they'd open another counter'. Uh huh. I won't swear to it but I suspect an unwritten rule that the extra counter will be opened after the delivery of scientific proof that pigs are capable of flight.

Half an hour or so later I get to the counter! She points in the general direction of the aforementioned, closed, counter. I counter that that counter is closed! 'No', she says, 'no, you need to put your name at the end of the list on that clipboard. They'll call your name when it's your turn'.

Muttering unprintables under my breath I walk over and add my name to the bottom of the list. 5 names ahead of me so I apparently have time for a smoke. Out I go and, out of pure spite, have 2 smokes :-)

I went back in and stood around like a spare part waiting. Now there only 4 names ahead of mine and it's about this time that I notice the sign telling we passport aspirants that we should bypass the main queue and add our names to the clipboard. This is the minor detail of the title. You might imagine that the sign would be prominently displayed in a vertical position facing you as you enter the post office. Not a bit of it. The bloody sign was lying flat in a corner.


Eventually my name was called and up I front at the counter. Anti-climax; I'd filled out the form entirely to her satisfaction and indeed I was complimented on the completeness of the form. Not the first time that's happened; you might recall that when I had my naturalisation[^] interview the officer said much the same thing. I don't understand. I don't think I do anything special unless the specialness is to actually read the form and follow instructions! I note that, of the 4 people ahead of me, 2 were sent away to gather some missing document.

If all goes according to their schedule I should have my new passport sometime between November 21 and December 5. December 5 will suit me just fine! :-)

Knucklehead Productions

delivered their latest DVD today, all the way from Australia. 'Hank' Heino (if he can call me Chip then I can call him Hank!) directed but I notice the stars, his youngest daughter and a friend, got the Executive Producer credits.

Great art it ain't but it was certainly fun to watch. I laughed at the friend playing the part of local fireman and hiding behind a moustache that looked large enough to serve dual duty as a toilet brush! The cop trying to keep a straight face was also fun.

But the biggest laugh was at the pretentious Knucklehead Productions logo at the end! :-)

The goofs were fun too; Hank always does those well and he has the ability not to get over-indulgent with them.

Hank, was that the missus in the dark jacket waving her arms and facing the camera during the earthquake scene you shot outside the house? :-)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A chip on the shoulder

I knew, when I became a US citizen, that I'd have to endure some obloquy from my fellow Australians about it. Not that I blame them; I'd have done the same a decade ago and I'm sure any American would face the same if he took the reciprocal step.

Nonetheless, I do think that this email from Heino, reproduced with his kind consent, does display gratutious cruelty of the kind that I'd expect the Supreme Court to strike down.

Dear Chip,

Ok . . . the latest DVD has been sent . . u might already have it :)

Holiday dates as follows:

Could depart on or after Friday March 30th 2007
would need to return April 13th or 14th . . .

Your slowing on the Blogs . . .

Writers cramp? too much wanking? . . . or just thinking at an Americans pace these days lol

Chip? Bloody chip??? I'll give him bloody chip when he gets here!


Saturday, October 07, 2006

Now here's a tombstone I can respect

Again, shamelessly stolen from The Genealogue[^].

Mommie Dearest[^]. You've almost got to admire the vitriol sitting behind this tombstone; indicative of decades of simmering resentments.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Offered as proof

of two propositions. The first is that I can be very childish when I wish. Like that's news to you lot! The second is that sometimes my wife can be very gullible :-)

Over dinner I was trying to get a raise out of Andrew. So I concocted a rambling story about walking past a golf course when I looked down and beheld a dickfor! Andrew let it go in one ear and out the other. But not Sonya; with a puzzled look she enquired 'what's a dickfor?'. To which there's only one answer if Andrew's around; 'if you don't know by now you'll never know!'

*boom boom*

PP has no guts

where PP is, of course, Personnel Person at the office.

They decided that today they'd do the cake thing to celebrate my citizenship. Originally they'd planned to do it Friday after I returned to the office following the ceremony. I don't know what they were thinking! As though I was going to spoil the day by returning to the salt mines! I have much to teach these Americans! :-)

Once I'd made it clear that I wasn't going to be there late Friday arvo they tried for Monday, but that was Yom Kippur and PP, being Jewish, wasn't going to be there. So it got moved to today (Tuesday).

Thus a rather large rectangular cake was produced, tastefully decked out as a US flag and with 'Congratulations Rob' replacing the bottom two or three stripes.

They gave me the choice; either I sang 'The Star Spangled Banner' or I recited the pledge of allegiance. I'm sure even the Americans would agree that their national anthem is almost impossible to sing well. Many try, most fail.

But you know something? I *still* haven't fully memorised the pledge. It's easy for those folk; it was burned into their neurons over a decade or so of daily flag ceremonies at school. Somewhat harder for the rest of us. So one of our resident Republicans led the way. She seemed somewhat confused when, having got to the end of 'one Nation' I went silent. I won't say 'under God'. PP jumped in and affirmed that I was, indeed, unwilling to say 'under God' and we continued to the end.

Then they demanded a speech! Uh huh. So I said; 'My fellow Americans '. Laughter and Dave chimed in 'usually that's followed by something more'. I had to agree whilst admitting that I had nothing to follow it with.

Well nothing would do but that I cut the cake and have the first slice. I reckon it was about 90% sugar; had I finished the piece I'd have been bouncing around the ceiling for an hour or more!

Fortunately PP took over the rest of the cake cutting, accumulating a large pile of icing as she scraped the residue off the spatula before cutting the next slice. I reckon we had half a pound of excess icing at the end. It'd take too long to relate just how it happened that I stuck my face out, glasses off, to allow PP to rub that pile of icing into my face but I surely did. PP seemed unsure whether I meant it or not so she backed down! Bugger! There I was, a million dollar lawsuit within my grasp and she backs down! Just kidding! It really wouldn't have bothered me in the least; icing washes off really easily and it would have been quite a laugh.

So there we have it. PP has no guts! :-)

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Not the brightest pennies...

After more than half a year of managing to avoid being sent back to The Philippines it seems that my luck is about to run out. Not that I dislike the Philippines as such but being sent there for work is a major pain in the bum. It'd be less of a pain if the company showed a little gratitude but that'd be asking way too much in this corporate age.

So the hints were dropped today. I suspect I brought it on myself however; I told the boss I'd be applying for my shiny new US passport this week but I wasn't going to pay the expedite fee, with the obvious implication that if they wanted me to travel anywhere outside the US for the next six or seven weeks I expected them to pay it.

Puzzled look. 'How did you travel before?'

'On my Australian passport' I replied.

'Why can't you do that now?'.

'Well', I said, 'I can certainly *leave* the US on my Australian passport. But I can't return using it'.

They *still* didn't get it. I'd have thought it was obvious that one is required to use the passport of ones country of citizenship in order to enter that country. Thus, for me, now, US passport to leave and return to the US; Australian passport to leave and return to Australia. Other countries? Whichever, I'd imagine.

They're not the brightest pennies in the purse at the office!