Archive for February, 2008

100% true Valentine’s day conversation

Friday, February 15th, 2008

Kate: Wake up Chris, here’s your coffee … happy Valentine’s day!

Chris: (rolls over, moans, coughs) What, is it Valentine’s day? We should bake Luffy a big heart-shaped meat pie. Yes we should Luffy, oh you’re such a handsome fellow, aren’t you? Yes you are!

Sorry

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

I’m sitting on the couch with the dog on my lap and a beer in my hand, watching reports of the apology on SBS news, and all of a sudden I start crying. Maybe it’s cheap emotion, and like everybody’s been saying all day, it’s our future actions rather than our words that are important. (Also, it wasn’t nearly as eloquent as the other John Howard’s apology.) But dammit, John Howard is gone and for the first time in many years I feel proud to be Australian. Well, maybe not proud.

Bart: I feel so full of…what’s the opposite of shame?

Marge: Pride?

Bart: No, no that far from shame.

Homer: Less shame?

Bart: Yeah!

Ethical dilemma

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

I have a tattoo planned. Three flying birds along my shoulder, based on an India woodblock design, coloured in brown, blue and grey, the colours worn by Mildred Cable, Eva French and Francesca French, the three women whose lives and travels I wrote about in Women of the Gobi. But here’s the snag.

About a year ago, when I was planning my tattoo, I got diagnosed with a genetic mutation called haemochromatosis. It means I’ve got too much iron in my blood, which doesn’t really affect me now but could do nasty things to my vital organs later on if I don’t reduce my iron levels. Turns out that the best way to do that is to be bled regularly, a medical procedure that I thought went out of fashion at about the same time as leeches.

So every couple of weeks I catch the 55 tram down to the blood bank and lie on a couch and get all freaked out about the needles, and have some blood pumped out of me, then I nearly faint and get a free caramel milkshake and sausage roll, and then I get back on the tram and feel crap for the rest of the day.

While my blood isn’t that good for me, it’s great for other people. If you’re O-positive and you need a blood transfusion (or you’re a vampire … mmm, Spike), it’s my extra-rich blood you’ll be wanting.

And this is where the ethical dilemma occurs.

The rules at the blood bank say that you can’t donate blood for a year after you get a tattoo. Because of my condition they’d have to keep taking my blood, but they’d have to throw it away. I’ve been putting off getting my tattoo until my iron levels come down and I’m only donating a couple of times a year, which I was told would probably be about now, but today the specialist told me I’d have to keep being bled once a month for another year or so.

Man, I really want to get that birdy tattoo, but I’m going to feel bad about all those people missing out on my delicious blood. Also, some of the nurses at the blood bank are kind of grumpy and scary, and I think they’d be pretty unimpressed with me. And I’d feel guilty about taking the caramel milkshake.

Ways to waste time

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

I don’t know how long it’s been up, but Women of the Gobi now has its own page on Google Book Search, which is pretty neat. The whole text is there and searchable, and the coolest thing is the world map that has a little marker for each of the towns mentioned in the text; click on the Urumqi marker and you get all the references to Urumqi in the book. Go check it out!

I don’t know if searching your own book online is a bit like smelling your own farts or something, but I’m having fun navigating around using the various Google Book Search tools. I don’t have any work to do this week, but instead of writing a book proposal or pitching articles or other worthy things, I’m obsessively playing a whole lot of Scrabulous with people who should be working.

There are certain people, who I won’t name, who I have long suspected of cheating at Scrabulous … people who don’t strike me as having huge vocabularies, and yet they put down lots of words that I’ve never heard. Recently I sent all my Scrabulous buddies a story about Scrabulous cheats, and got an admission of guilt out of someone I hadn’t even suspected – but the intended target didn’t comment, and continues to beat me with some very dodgy words. You know who you are, you sneaky vixen.