Packing: Poetry Rediscovered

Packing presents an opportunity to clean out stuff. While cleaning out stuff, one often rediscovers hidden treasures — like a certain note book of mine.

I now present a small selection of the oddness I wrote there, probably around 2001/2002

Blue Overall:

Blue overall
That’s what I have
It’s got slime and dust and crap
On it
But
At least I know it’s mine

Water Cooler

It glooged. Then it glooged again. It was the way of the water cooler.

Whenever someone took water from it, it would gurgle an gloog in n enthusiastic and cheerful manner

One might say that

The Fan

The extraction fan hummed
But ‘hummed’ isn’t quite right
‘Hummed’ is cheerful, happy
Carefree bliss

The fan wasn’t happy
The fan wasn’t carefree
There was no cheer nor bliss
But still, the fan hummed

There are some weird sketches too. I may scan them and present them for your viewing enjoyment.

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Ebooks and Project Gutenberg

ebook readerJohannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, which is generally considered a Good Thing—unless you are one of those heathens who proudly proclaim that, “I never even read my Matric set work!” followed by a sort of guttural grunting sound.

Another Good Thing is the public domain. People who know me know that I’m not even slightly impressed with this Intellectual Imaginery Property concept. One cannot own ideas. One cannot steal ideas. If concepts were not allowed to flow freely from one individual to another, we’d still be living in caves and still not too sure about how to cook food, let alone hunt it or cultivate it. Corporate copyright and patent jackasses—get over yourselves! The media wants to be free,  ideas want to free, and you guys have got a little tube of silicon gel trying to plug a massive crack in the wall of the world’s largest dam. Good luck with that.

Project Gutenberg is yet another of those Good Things. That’s three now, and if you’ve been paying attention you might realise that I haven’t just been sprouting off random facts and opinions. I actually have a point.

Project Gutenberg ensures that books and other written works that have entered the public domain remain there, and are easily accessible. Getting a copy of some obscure, 100-year-old, out of print book was a challenge before Project Gutenberg. Now you just search and download the ebook, available in a bunch of formats, suitable for your PC, dedicated ebook reader, or cell phone. There are also audio versions of some books, if you’d prefer (but I haven’t checked any of those out).

So I’ve started reading books on my phone. There are a lot of public domain books out there, and I’ve got some catching up to do on the Classics. Never been that interested in them before, but now that I’ve managed to intertwine them into new technology, they seem suddenly fresh and inspiring to me.

I started with Flatland: a romance of many dimensions and War of the Worlds. I’ve also sought out ebooks that aren’t encumbered by that silly DRM nonsense, but aren’t necessarily free. Places to look for that sort of thing are Smashwords and Book View Cafe.

I admit I haven’t paid anyone for an ebook yet—but I probably will in the not too distant future. Even though I haven’t forked out any legal tender for ebooks, I felt bad about being a total freeloader on the system. Project Gutenberg is a project, right? I correctly guess that that meant one could volunteer to do something towards the project.

I’ve started proof-reading a couple of pages a day over at Project Gutenberg’s Distributed Proof-readers site. Essentially, I check scanned pages for Optical Character Recognition (OCR) errors, and make corrections to the text that the computer guessed the scanned pages contained. I like to think of it as noble work, but honestly it’s rather dull. Perhaps I should join a club?

Image credit: Edans “Sony eBook Reader – II”

Randburg Licensing Department

Queue SignRandburg licensing department has a flat-screen TV up on the wall now. It’s very pretty and shiny. It scrolls announcements from the municipality and the City of Johannesburg. They are lovely announcements. They are all in English.

Hopefully everyone can read English. It surprisingly ostracises the other 10 Official Languages that South Africa declared. Once would think a little isiZulu or seSotho would be thrown in here and there.

When the TV isn’t giving us public announcements, it shows us the tranquillity, peace of mind, and beautiful memories that using Pfizer Pharmaceuticals can bring us. “Ask your doctor or pharmacist!”

I’ll be sure to do just that.

As I watch now I discover an announcement that is actually useful to me. My time in this queue may not be entirely wasted because of this.

One can pay traffic fines via credit card now. It’s only 2009 – credit cards have been in use for as long as I can remember. The government used to use some idiotic argument about not wanting people to go into debt to pay fines, rates and taxes, but payment was still demanded. I wonder why the change of heart?

The queue is long, but so far I haven’t noticed anyone getting too disruptive over whatever interchanges take place between the clients and the clerks. We need more chairs, but then we’ll all just be playing musical chairs for longer. They don’t have a ticket number system, which would allow everyone to sit in one place and wait for their number to be called out. Oh no. That seems too well thought-out. Instead of buying a decent ticket system, and training people to use it, they got a flat-screen TV.

Now the TV tells me that Emperor’s Palace a wonderful place full of wonderful things. Opulence. I surely crave opulence and inviting women dressed in flowing red dresses with lips pouting, and cars to win! Perhaps with the advertising revenue they generate could be used to buy us some more chairs, and that ticket-queue system.

I look at the ceiling. The domed lights high up, meant to illuminate the counters, are all fused. The only one that works, flickers erratically. What would a government department be without a flickering light?

CCTV. They have those cameras too. Oh dear. At least the camera’s don’t swivel side to side, tracking my every key press on my mobile-phone (with full QWERTY keyboard — you don’t think I’d type this all out with predictive text, do you?). I hope I’m allowed to write about the department. I hope they won’t be sending the thought-police to question me in a few moments and take my mobile phone/writing pad device away. Now that would be something worth writing about! The irony.

I’ve been in the long, straight tail of the queue, but I’m reaching the bend where it curls and twists into the intestinal section of waiting. Rows of chairs curling back and forth in almost-but-not-quite parallel lines. Like a gradual bowel-movement we are pushed forward slowly, from one chair to the next, back and forth on that circuitous route, until we are expelled from the queue sphincter into the toilet of the licence renewal desk. There they wipe us off and flush us away — once we pay our dues of course.

The sphincter is a little confused, though. There are six outlets, and the beeping red LCD screen tells each faecal particle at the end of the queue where to go (in between brightly declaring “WELCOME TO RANDB” and showing us just how much time we’ve wasted in the queue). It’s confusing because there are two bowel-queues at work here, each with different final outcomes. The LCD blinky-beepy light serves both.

Is it OK to renew your single vehicle licence at the bulk trade plates and permits counter? Who can be certain? If you test the hypothesis and are proven wrong, will you have lost your place in the queue? Will you have already ended up in the toilet, and have you been flushed away? Or would you need to eat shit and get back in the queue from the beginning? Can you be pushed back into the sphincter temporarily until it is time to exit at the appropriate point. I’m not sure. So many confusing questions to resolve this complex scenario.

I’m certain to find out, but by then I’ll no longer be waiting and will no longer have time to write this account of my adventures. So alas, dear reader, you will never know what the outcome was.

But wait! Here’s one now, just ahead of me. Trapped in toilet limbo. Swirling around and around in the toilet bowl but not getting flushed away. A terrible fate indeed. I hope to escape it.

That was another live commentary, in a similar vein to the Hospital Observations bit in this one, as written on my cell phone to pass the time while waiting in a queue. Edited to fix up spelling and grammar, and to repair the flow of the text a little.

I’ve decided to name these things Prosetographs.

Original image credit: Derek Armshaw Licence: CC-NC-3.0

Hunchwrist Repairs and Hospital Observations

Hunchwrist of Randpark Ridge
Hunchwrist Before

Hunchwrist Repairs

While pregnant with Jethro, Angie developed a weird growth in her wrist. Officially it is known as a ganglion cyst, but I took to calling Angie “The Hunchwrist of Randpark Ridge.”

So far, we’re still married.

She was admitted to Linksfield Park Clinic on Thurday to have the cyst removed. They insisted we get to the hospital at 6am, but only wheeled Angie into surgery at 2pm. She was out of surgery at 4pm. By the time Angie had eaten something and was dressed (more difficult with only one functioning arm) it was rush-hour. Almost two hours driving to get home. Bah!

The whole day was used up waiting for a 2 hour procedure. Surely the hospital knew which operations it would be undertaking during the day, and the approximate time each procedure takes? Surely such a schedule gives an indication of when a particular patient will go under the knife? Surely it is unreasonable to tell everyone to get to the hospital by 6am, especially if you know you’ll only deal with some of them in the afternoon?

We could try complaining, but one worries that they will spitefully remove the entire hand, instead of just the hunchwrist. The medical industry really is the most peculiar service industry out there. I think it has something to do with them referring to their clients as “patients,” and assuming patients are patient and don’t mind waiting.

Hospital Observations

Although I wasn’t the patient, I still had to do a lot of waiting around at the hospital. To pass the time I watched people enter the foyer and I drank a little too much coffee. Combined, these elements inspired me to write about these people on my cellphone in real-time. The transcript of what I wrote is reproduced below, edited only for spelling and grammar.

It comes across a little scathing, I think. I blame the coffee.

We really are just glorified hairless monkeys with technology.

The guy who just walked in, with the yellow writing on his T-shirt and the tattered jeans, walks with a funny gait. He thrusts his chest out too far, making him seem over-balanced and top-heavy. Or is he overbalanced because his stomach reaches out as far as his chest? He holds his hands up at the level of his chest, and flaps them around limply, bending at the wrists. Obviously he’s strutting, but what’s with the wrists? That doesn’t seem too macho.

Then there are these Eastern European types sitting across the table from me, incessantly talking too loud in a guttural language I can’t understand. The balding man wears a striped T-shirt and shorts, but I wish he’d worn trousers. It is a hospital, so perhaps I shouldn’t be so squeamish, but something  terrible has happened to this man’s legs recently. He’s obviously had those metal pins embedded in his tibia. You know the ones. Those things that stick out of your leg, instead of having a cast. They say the leg heals faster, but it makes you look more like a cyborg.

The wounds are obvious, and he seems to display the bloody gory bits proudly. One leg bandaged, the other not. Just round, dried-blood circles, with a red line joining the dots. A fleshy dot-2-dot puzzle. Join them up in order and you get a zombie!

He talks to his mother, but she doesn’t have any ghoulish markings on display. They quiet down when another couple sits down next to them. The old man of the couple cranes his neck around to the TV mounted on the wall. But’s it’s almost obliquely above him. Not a great angle to watch the cricket.

I wanted to go on about the cricket a little more, and how strange the behaviour of men wanting to watch it is. But my cellphone battery died. This also explains the abrupt ending.

Satan’s Poodle moves Home

Satan's Poodle -- Ragged ear And is now easier to read than ever before!

It is, unfortunately, not any more complete than before. I am working on The Adventures of Commitment Man, so it won’t be getting any more complete in the near future. Fortunately, lessons have been learned, and they will be applied in making The Adventures of Commitment Man a higher quality product of my warped imagination.

Read Satan’s Poodle now!