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