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Macs, Movies, Games, Books, etc. The Rants of a Mad Man.

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Seeking closure

September 4th, 2012 by Raj

There’s nothing particularly interesting about this photo other than it represents the finalization of my mortgage. In fact you could argue, successfully I might add, that it’s a pretty boring one taken in poor conditions of a street corner that could be in pretty much any Westernised 1st world country on the planet. But it’s not just any street corner, it wouldn’t make a great deal of sense for me to be writing about a random street corner really, although, given the right frame of mind I’m sure I could make something up.

No, this street corner is one that nearly four years ago I went to get into a cab at around midnight and turned around to have a fist put into the same time/space position that my head occupied. This of course is against the laws of physics and rather than meld together the fist burst through my glasses, shattered them causing a laceration through my left eyelid and across the lens of my, fracturing the same eye’s orbital socket and breaking my nose until the fist was no longer in threat of disrupting the time continuum and need fear the wrath of Dr. Who and other time-lords. There was some further punching and kicking and a lot of blood but you get where I’m going with it and the likelihood is that you’ve heard versions of this story from myself before so lets not repeat ourselves shall we.

Now, four years gone, I find myself returning to the scene of the crime like some badly written macabre Hollywood thief whilst visiting Seattle once more. I knew when I booked this trip that I’d be venturing to the intersection of 1st Ave & Yesler Way, I couldn’t not go! Whether that be born out of sheer curiosity or perhaps cathartic self-healing I honestly didn’t know I just felt compelled.

On Saturday morning, the third day of my four day visit, I decided it was time. It was a beautiful day, warm, cloud-free and I had no appointments at the convention until later that day so there was time to kill. It turned out that the intersection was remarkably close to the hotel I was staying, a pure coincidence as I had to hunt through old paperwork from the hospital and ambulance service to figure out which intersection it actually was that morning! Three city blocks down, two to the left and there I would be.

Walking down the hill, Starbucks in hand – yes vomit now but when in Rome, I didn’t feel anything, I was numb to the whole exercise to the point I was beginning to think it frivolous. Last November I’d won the three year legal battle against my travel insurer TID and their medical cohorts Mondial Assistance to finally pay the lovely $US25k + legal fees I’d incurred from my week’s stay and coma care and that had truly allowed me to breath for the first time since it had all happened. Now, a city block away, I questioned what else I was possibly hoping to achieve.

Rounding the apex of a dog legged 1st Ave the small park came into distinctive view. It was my reference point. That night it had all happened it was the only thing my bloodied vision had been able to focus and hold on to. The look of hundreds of Halloween revellers passing through gardened archways to stare and scream at what unfurled directly opposite, over the road.

The park’s intersectional neighbours drew a complete blank, they may very well have been there four years ago they may not have, but today they were Starbucks, a small cafe and finally a toy store called “Magic Mouse Toys”, which sat on the corner I was attacked, decorated by two street bins, one of which for recycling that I remembered grasping at when I fell to the ground and was now crossing the road to inspect more closely.

I knew I’d stood in this exact position years before, I knew it to be where the horror of the past four years had been birthed but even at this point it felt numbly distant. Then, as if God himself had been sharing a joke with Freud the siren started. My head rose and stared Northwards down Yesler Way towards the drowning tones of an emergency vehicle. The noise from the siren continued to grow in volume until I spotted the distinctive boxed shape belonging to an American ambulance snaking its way through Saturday morning traffic towards me. I stopped breathing. The trees in the park wobbled in my vision as tears streamed down my face and distorted the light they reflected into my eyes. I could hear the people yelling and screaming from four years ago like I’d been sucked back in time like on some CSI/NCIS/Law & Order type TV show. The ambulance’s engine grew louder as its sirens pierced my thoughts and then… it drove straight by. It floored it through the green light of the intersection and continued on its way but it had done it’s job, for me anyway.

I retreated to the very same stone steps my assailants had launched their cowardly attack from and composed myself. The vision of yesterday’s world washed away and the odd looks I’d attracted from today’s bystanders were quickly dismissed as they went on with their lives, classifying somewhere between crazy and delusional but not of their concern or danger. I pulled out the notebook I’d been using for notes at convention interviews and began to sketch out the intersection in order to remember it better perhaps? Who knows? It served a purpose if only to allow me to rationalise me sitting on a cold stairway to a padlocked door.

No one else could’ve understood what this place meant to me, nor should they have. It was just so surreal for me to be in such a placid and infinitesimally insignificant place to all the people passing by yet mean so much to me. That said a lot of you reading this know exactly what this place means to me and I’m forever thankful to all of you. You know who you are, you all helped tremendously and I’m blessed with such amazing family and friends. Thank you.

The big question is did it actually *do* anything by going back there and the honest truth is I have no idea. I’m not a shrink, I still don’t really know why I wanted to visit it in the first place, but I did and I have and it’s done. I hear a lot of people talking about closure, generally when it comes to relationships mind you, and I think that’s what this was for me, perhaps my whole US trip was to a point? Regardless, the chapter has been undeniably closed.

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Integrating Facebook comments

January 12th, 2011 by Raj

Love it or hate it Facebook is more and more becoming the backbone for social tools across the net and for this reason I’ve spent some time now debating over whether or not to integrate it into my blog. So now with 2011 upon us I’ve made the decision to take the plunge, which if you’re reading this will be blatantly obvious as it’s staring you in the face.

What does this mean for people who want to comment? Well nothing really. If you use Facebook and you’ve logged in to it recently then you’ll see your Facebook profile picture and a box for you to write your comment. If you don’t use Facebook you’ll still be allowed to comment anonymously just as before. Easy peasy.

For those interested, to do all of this was extremely easy because of a wonderful WordPress plugin called “Facebook Comments for WordPress“. It takes care of pretty much all grunt work and I’m very thankful to its author, Graham Swan.

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I ate a Double Down and survived

November 5th, 2010 by Raj

KFC Canada have recently introduced what would at first glance appear to be one of the least healthiest products in fast food history. The KFC Double Down does away with all that pesky bread replacing it with two KFC coated slabs of chicken breast and filling the centre with bacon, pepper jack cheese and the Colonel’s own special mustard/mayo sauce. Naturally I had to try one whilst visiting and did so only a few days ago, a picture of the adventure below. I was, of course, filled with a mass of “Dirty-bird-regret” having consumed what I’d considered to be a heart stopping mass of cholesterol and spent the next 24 hours with a rather unusual churning sickly feeling in my stomach.

Needless to say this morning when I read an article headlined “Eggs worse than KFC Double Down” I was a little surprised. It turns out that KFC’s creation contains a mere 150mg of cholesterol whilst a single egg yolk gives you 200mg! Shock, awe, horror! I’d always known egg yolks weren’t particularly high on coronary specialist’s lists but for it to be worse than this monster I was flabbergasted!

Cholesterol aside the Double Down does contain a massive 1400mg of Sodium (around your daily recommended intake) and is still considered a dietary disaster by specialists worldwide so I can hardly recommend it in any way; nor would I from the after effects I suffered but if they had a t-shirt for eating one surviving I’d no doubt wear it proudly.

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news.com.au’s epic fail – How doth thou be so lame?

July 31st, 2010 by Raj

On today’s landing page for self-proclaimed “News website of the year”, news.com.au, you will find the above pictured link to a piece detailing what was an inexcusably massive cock-up on Apple’s behalf in relation to the release of the iPhone 4 in New Zealand.

What’s ironic is that in order to sell the story the website has decided to accompany it with a photo of Jermaine Clement, one half of the New Zealand comedy duo “Flight of the Conchords“, when in fact it has absolutely nothing to do with him nor does it mention Clement once.

It would seem that news.com.au has now, if not already, solidified its position as the online version of A Current Affair in my books. Congratulations.

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Mad Men season 4 starts this Sunday, MA Men 2 available now

July 24th, 2010 by Raj

In case you weren’t aware the newest season of AMC’s Mad Men hits American TVs this coming Sunday, the 25th of July. I have to admit that I was a late comer to the show having only started to watch the first season less than a month ago. Three weeks after watching my first episode I’d finished the three currently available seasons and was sitting on edge waiting for more!

And to celebrate the new season’s start the guys at Funny or Die have given us the second installment of “MA Men”, a Mad Men spoof based in Boston Massachusetts (MA).

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Experiments in smoke photography: “The Elephant & the Seahorse”

April 5th, 2010 by Raj


It has been a fair while since I’ve done anything even slightly creative but this Easter long weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to explore an area of photography that I’ve always found so beautiful in smoke photography. A few google searches later and I had a vague idea of where I should start, I already had a couple of 1000W photo-lamps, black backdrop what I didn’t have that would no doubt have improved the shots some more was a remote flash, something I wasn’t about to drop a few hundred bucks on just for experimenting.

Three incense sticks and 100 shots later the above is a combination of my two favourite shots. I spent a good couple of hours just flicking through the unpolished shots picking out shapes and symbols in some sort of cloud-like game. If Elephants & Seahorses aren’t your game (and what a killer name for an English pub BTW), there are a couple more interesting shots below.

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What not to wear and where not to wear it

March 30th, 2010 by Raj

Don’t wear this @ AusPost

Yellow is not a good idea @ Ikea

Mistaken identity is not a concept that I’m unfamiliar with, from my school boy days of tireless “Mr Bean” taunts to my travels across the globe with an uncanny ability to be asked for directions in every city I visit it just seems to be one of those things I’ve become accustomed to. Today’s effort was without a doubt the most ludicrous to date, so much so that I just felt the need to share.

I had a few packages that required mailing, nothing particularly exciting there, in fact going to any post office within Melbourne’s CBD is like stepping in to a void where queues to tellers seem to grow longer rather than shorter and god forbid you visit one during your lunch hour because you’re bound to return to the office well beyond the hour you had to take in the first place! I’d done the right thing today, getting down to a new-to-me building as my working quarters has just relocated. It was much larger than my previous local, tellers at both ends of what seemed like an endless plateau of packaging wonders born down by eye piercing fluorescent light.

Collecting my required boxing materials I proceeded to one of the free “addressing areas” or as the casual observer may put it, “big black desk with pens on it” in the middle of the imaginary that is the Elizabeth St GPO. Two packages in to my five and an elderly gent beckons my attention wavering a scrawled shred of paper and looking clearly confused about where he was perhaps mistaking the brightness of lights for St. Peters gates.

“Excuse me, is this Bourke St?”
“No, this is Elizabeth St.” I replied.
“I’m trying to get to Little Collins St” he continued on, “Isn’t that it crossing over there?”

I felt sorry for the poor old guy he was practically entering cardiac arrest with confusion and being that this was, for once, the actual city I lived in where I was being asked for directions I didn’t mind helping him out.

“If you go back down this main street you’ll first cross Bourke Street and then the next one is Little Collins.” I explained.
Now as simple and clear as these instructions were there was a further five minute discussion detailing this sentence in perfect and repeated clarity until at some point the stars aligned themselves with Jupiter and a sense of calm broke out over his face with a sudden realisation that he didn’t have that far to go.

Satisfied with my good deed for the day I returned to my prior position behind the table picking up my pen to continue arduously inking addresses to cardboard, quickly flushing the warm glow that adorned me mere nano-seconds earlier.

“Excuse me, I just want to send…”

Looking up halfway through the postcode for Toowoomba (4350 by the way) across the black laminated surface of my desk stood not one, not two, but three complete strangers who had taken it upon themselves to queue for my rather inadequate postal services.

“I’m sorry, I…”
“I just want to send this to Sydney” she cut in, thrusting a yellowed envelope beneath my face.
“I’m sorry I don’t work here, I’m just trying to address some packages” I finally managed to say.
“Oh… I thought you did.” (well that’s kind of obvious really now isn’t it) “It’s that red shirt you’re wearing” she stated before trouncing off in disgust.
“You mean the red shirt with the giant logo looking like Colonel Sanders from KFC on it?” I thought to myself before looking up at the remaining pseudo queue with a comical shrugged look to which was returned, and I kid you not, a roll of the eyes and an audible “tsk”! I’m sorry Sir, the next time I’m trying to mail something I’ll be sure to make sure I’ve completed Australia Post’s induction course and can tend your enquiry in a more satisfactory manner next time. Moron.

I can’t blame them though, it’s like Christmas walking in to a post office and seeing no one in the queue I would’ve dove in like them too more than likely! The point is it was the shirt that did it, wearing a colour that was in some way reminiscent of the establishment’s uniform and that I should’ve been more aware of that as it’s not the first time I’ve had it happen, Ikea being the other major offender. Blue jeans and a yellow shirt in Ikea is either a recipe for constant annoyance or utter mayhem depending on your psychological stance. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been asked for directions/building advice/to lift something/measurements/and alike in Ikea, one day I think I’ll jump behind a register and start scanning things while yelling “beep” and proclaiming the line to be “cash only”.

The moral of the story boys and girls is that all of this was clearly my fault for choosing to wear the wrong thing in the wrong place, god forbid humanity to be aware of their surroundings. I will endeavour to ensure my clothing better contrasting those places of chance social interaction to not confuse you world. My bad.

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Accident Prone II – Body Extensions

February 23rd, 2010 by Raj

It’s been over a month now since I had the unfortunate experience of breaking the middle finger on my left hand. Now, post surgery, sporting a Luke Skywalker styled hand with two metal rods pinning the joint firmly in to place I’m hopeful to regain full movement in the affected knuckle. Both of the pins actually stick out of my finger, one out the top with the other right through the tip and it’s that particular one that provides the basis for my story.

You see to protect the pin from any bumps or prods there is a small rubber ball on the end of it, similar to a tyre on the side of a boat to stop it banging against the dock. You can’t actually see this, nor the pins themselves, everything is hidden under a very attractive looking splint I’ve had moulded to my slender digit but it’s because of this rubber inertia dampener that I now find my finger to be a good two centimetres longer.

Graced with a new found reach you quickly learn just how subconsciously accustom you are to body’s limits. I can only personally liken it to a new pair of shoes that are slightly too large, you spend the first week or so bumping in to cupboards and having doors that you open clip them gently until your body starts to adjust for them without you even thinking about it. I’ve lost count of the amount of times having finished a meal my splint will be dripping in pasta sauce or most recently sweet chilli, eating a burger you tend to stab the guts out and lets not even mention knocking over liquids (thus far thankfully away from any expensive equipment – oh my poor couch!). The point is it takes some getting used to this body extension and that got me thinking.

Firstly it had me saying the word “extension” over and over in my head, which because of my lucid childhood arcade addiction I can not say without hearing the sound bite from Sega’s classic arcade racer “Daytona” playing over in my head… “Time ex-ten-sion!” Yes, I’m sad… this is not new information.

Secondly, and a little more on topic, being that I’m seeing a plastic surgeon to get all of this sorted out I’m constantly confronted with paraphernalia on what is obviously a plastic surgeon’s biggest drawcard in the current market, breast augmentation. Now if I’m having trouble dealing with an extra couple of centimetres on a finger how exactly do these women cope that wake up with a bust size that now doubles their previous waist circumference? I couldn’t imagine it! Forget about stubbing your toes on doors what about naked flames on gas-top stoves! I’m sure with time yes your body would adjust and things would become normal making considerations for your new found enhancements as I too have done over the past month or so but boy would it be a risky time. It certainly explains Robin Williams’ mishaps in Mrs. Doubtfire that’s for sure.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, the other day I found I could reach the remote control all the way on the opposite arm of the couch with my new found powers. Sure I can’t bend my finger but is that a fair pay off for my now super-hero like abilities? Stand back ma’am I’ll press that elevator button for you!! My kryptonite being of course anything requiring a firm two handed grip like brooms, vacuuming or housework in general riding a bike or holding a weapon.

Hmmm, ok, on second thought I’d be a pretty crap crime fighter.

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Accident Prone

January 14th, 2010 by Raj

In the few times that I’ve retold this story the consistent theme in each response has been along the lines of “Gee you’re accident prone aren’t you?” generally conveyed in a somewhat sarcastically rhetorical kind of way. I can’t blame them, in the past few years I’ve been hospital twice already and now with this latest endeavour I’m surgery bound once more.

The short version of events comes down to my knuckles trying to (unsuccessfully) catch an American football. Normally I’d allow the palms of my hands to look after such a task but on this particular occasion my brain decided to do things differently, you know, try and keep things fresh and all. I had, after all, been catching balls using the tried and true method for quite a few years now and it’s just plain dull.

It would seem however that my knuckles, or to be more specific the top knuckle of my left middle finger, wasn’t quite up to the challenge on this particular day and instead it felt the need to sustain an injury called “mallet finger” where the tendon is over extended and stretched causing a rather significant amount of pain.

My doctor the next day didn’t seem particular concerned with what had taken place, “A common injury among footballers I see every day” he told me, whilst at the same time observing my rather scrawny body seated opposite him and quietly quizzing himself as to why on Earth I would even put such a fragile frame in a position. I felt the need to reassure him that I was merely tossing the old pig-skin with a mate and not actually participating in an actual game. That would, of course, be suicide.

“Nothing to worry about” he said, “We’ll just take an x-ray to be sure but you’ve got some movement there, which is good, but you’ll be splint bound for about 8 weeks, less than 5% chance there’d be anything else going on”.
Oh joyous day, my day-job of programming was sure to suffer from the splinted attributes I was soon to inherit and no doubt it would of course ice my moonlighting career as the new wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers but that’s ok, they were knocked out of this years Superbowl that morning – most likely due to my absence mind you.

X-ray done and a few minutes waiting for the docs return I was met with what could only be described as “you’ll-never-frakin’-believe-it-but-you’re-in-that-5%-I-shouldn’t-have-mentioned-about-10-minutes-ago” look smacked across his gob. I started to smile, it just seemed funny waiting for him to try and figure out how to break the news to me that my finger was completely rooted. The smile evolved into a giggle and I apologised telling him that it was OK I was used to being in the medical minorities.

Turns out my tendon had done a little chop and wiggle from my bone, which was already expected, but a shard of bone had come loose, which again was kind of expected but as this shard was over 50% the size of the joint it was a little bigger than 8 weeks in a splint was going to fix and meant it was going to need some surgery to get things back on track.

“I’m going back to the tit doctor aren’t I?” I asked him.
“Um… sorry?”
“I had my wrist operated on a few years back by a plastic surgeon” I informed him, “His entire office was decorated with breast implants that he displayed with gusto & pride; ‘tit doctor'”.
“Ah, well yes, that’s probably where you’re headed” he confirmed.

Turns out my plastic surgeon is on a little extended leave post new years and I wont be seeing him any time soon meaning my day surgery attendance is beyond that by some time. At this rate I’ll do 8 weeks in the splint, have the surgery and then spend another month recovering (in a splint). I might make the Packers’ pre-season if I’m lucky! Haha.

As you can imagine having any body appendage retarded you begin to quickly realise just how often you rely on it. Sure it’s my non-dominant hand but I’m quickly broaching a new level of admiration for those of the world missing limbs or paralysed. In that spirit here’s a quick top 5 list of things I’ve found embarrassingly difficult to achieve only one finger down.

  1. Squeezing toothpaste out of a tube while holding a toothbrush at the same time.
  2. Putting deodorant on, it now involves resting the can on my bedside table and pushing the button with my thumb and spraying it al over my arm nowhere near my armpit.
  3. Eating a meal that requires cutting meat, the “stab & devour” method of food consumption is now employed on a regular basis.
  4. Opening a bottle of… well anything really, even though I use my right hand to twist the cap keeping a grip with my impaired left hand is like lifting a 10kg weight with my pinky finger only.
  5. And then finally… making the bed. It took me 20 minutes to put on a fitted sheet yesterday, the whole process now involves me holding the sheet in my teeth whilst lifting the mattress with my good hand and hooking it underneath. It’s just plain awesome to watch in a rather sad yet unbelievably humour-able fashion.

All that said typing is something that I’ve quickly adapted to doing one finger down and once this new medical chapter comes to an end I’ll probably have to teach myself to use the current dead-weight-digit the other 9 are carrying on the keyboard!

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Photos from the Hockey Championship Trophy, Melbourne 2009

December 11th, 2009 by Raj

Last weekend Melbourne played host to the Championship Trophy. The international men’s hockey tournament consisted of the world’s top six teams including Australia, Germany, & The Netherlands. To be honest I had no idea that it was even on until a friend from Adelaide rang to say he and his hockey club team mates were flying over for it and I managed to grab a ticket from them. I’m glad I went, I really miss playing and for the two days I was there I had a great time.

On the photography front I think I took nearly 200 hundred photos from the crowd, a lot of them useless but some of them pretty fun and catching a bit of action. The fruits of my labour are viewable in the slideshow below. Unfortunately taking photos like this at a sports event only makes me want to go out and buy some ridiculous zoom telephoto lens rather than using a stock standard 250mm lens that came with my DSLR.

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