Career Day at Greenleaf Elementary – A Short Anecdote

Greenleaf Elementary is a small primary school in East Oakland. A friend of mine is working there as a part of the Teach For America program (TFA). TFA is pretty cool, here’s what they do:

We recruit outstanding recent college graduates from all backgrounds and career interests to commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools. We provide the training and ongoing support necessary to ensure their success as teachers in low-income communities.

They needed some extra people to represent at the career day and thefatcontroller got the call up just as the scraping sound emanated from the bottom of the barrel. Nevertheless, TTTE always likes to provide value and thus I offered not one, but a choice of two careers – bike mechanic or water policy wonk – to discuss with the kids. It turned out their choice was easy, and so last Thursday I fronted up with a bicycle and a few spare parts for show and tell. Continue reading Career Day at Greenleaf Elementary – A Short Anecdote

Thomas the Grinch Engine

Christmas.  The time of goodwill to all is in reality a great boon for the forces of stress, unhappiness and unmet expectations.

One source expressed their yuletide sentiments thus:

Do they expect this to continue for ever?  The dread, the hate, the boredom?  Every year, until we die?

You could deck a lot of halls with that much ennui.  Continue reading Thomas the Grinch Engine

The zoo

I go past the Melbourne Zoo occasionally. It takes up a lot of space. The elephants make loud noises. It smells. I feel bad that all the animals are locked up in there. And I imagine that it is publicly funded.

I kind of felt like the zoo was a thing of the past. Like faxes, fixed-line phones, and the p-far.

When Youtube is delivering lions, tigers and bears in their own habitat (Not to mention pandas and bandicoots) why would you bother locking up a whole pack of wild beasts, killing goats by the truckload to keep them fed and risking the escape scenario everyone who lives nearby secretly hopes for? Continue reading The zoo

Travel Disasters: Siberia 2003

In 2003, I made a trip outside Australia. I was 21. I visited a few different places. The story I want to tell happens in June, in Siberia. Continue reading Travel Disasters: Siberia 2003

iSnack Two Point – Oh dear…

The Kraft company has released a new Vegemite product made of cream cheese and Vegemite.

The product is a high-risk variation on the classic Vegemite recipe – a Vegemite you keep in the fridge. Apparently items kept in the fridge get used more than things in the cupboard, so this creamy new guy should improve sales!

To improve awareness, Kraft ran a competition to name the new product. And the result they chose from thousands of entries?

My lord. Continue reading iSnack Two Point – Oh dear…


I lived in China for about 9 months in 2003.  Before I went, I was familiar with chopsticks.  I knew how to use them and I appreciated their novelty.  I got compliments from the locals.  Ni hui yong kuaizi! (You can use chopsticks!)

But I firmly believed that chopsticks were a rudimentary way to eat food.   Chopsticks, I would have told you, were to cutlery as the horse drawn cart is to the car.  I thought the Chinese just hadn’t invented the knife and fork.

Continue reading Chopsticks

Confession time

When I have a little time on my hands, I play Scrabble.   I do not play in real life, because my insistence on the status of words like taeniae, st, and yin makes me unpleasant to normal people.

Continue reading Confession time

Costco – A review

Bringing big- box retailing to Melbourne’s thriving Docklands precinct is the Costco Wholesale Corporation, the largest membership warehouse club chain in the world, based on sales volume!

Imagine If Kmart, Bunnings, and the Melbourne Cricket Club had a baby. Continue reading Costco – A review

Travel Disasters – the rat.

In 2007, I was working for the Australian Government. In May I got sent to Nauru to carry papers and fill a chair at an important meeting.

Continue reading Travel Disasters – the rat.

Mt Hotham – a book review

I ordered my copy of Mt Hotham on the internet. Prime book-reading season was in full-swing, and I eagerly anticipated the time when I was finally able to open the cover. I had read a short-story version many years ago, and I knew this work was likely to be a pre-eminent example of its genre.

Continue reading Mt Hotham – a book review

Regrets, I’ve had a few

You know that feeling where you’re angry at yourself? I had that today. About a 10-minute period where I was the worst, dumbest guy I could think of.
Continue reading Regrets, I’ve had a few

Do copulating puppets shock?

On Friday I saw The Hangover, a film set in Las Vegas, where four men get loose, act stupid and have to figure out where it all went wrong. On Saturday, I went to see Avenue Q, an ‘adult’ puppet show set in New York, about finding your life purpose.

I saw puppet sex and gasped. I saw a man get hit in the head with a crowbar and laughed. Offense is a funny thing. Continue reading Do copulating puppets shock?

The Best of all Time

Some people really like music.  It’s like the songs reach right in and mash the emotional cortex of their brain.  The making of top five, ten and hundred lists is a process that forces them to confront their innermost emotions.  It’s like ranking friends and family.  It thrills their heart.  It stuffs them with crippling doubt.  The Australian government encourages it though… Continue reading The Best of all Time

Slumdog Millionaire: A Review Overview

I must have read the only bad review of Slumdog Millionaire. It convinced me not to go. I was dead set. I held out against hundreds of subsequent five star reviews, eight Oscars, and the kind of word of mouth money can’t buy. Six months after its release, I was browsing my favourite video shop, and found it in the recommended section. I cracked under the weight.  

Continue reading Slumdog Millionaire: A Review Overview