The Pen Friend Hypothesis

Let’s say that in a parallel universe there is no internet. My hypothesis is that in such a world, pen friends would have evolved to be a cultural necessity. Globalisation still occurred so a lot of people would have an increasing perception of how we are all connected. But rather than blog or become a forum junkie, people would add another pen friend to the paper favourites list. Pen Friend liason officers would be employed with postal services, there would be shops dedicated to pen friend supplies – gifts able to fit in envelopes or very small packages. Las Vegas would have a strip of chapels where overly optimistic or romantic pen friends would shack up, believing their letter-based relationship can be set up for life.

Maybe that’s a better existence, although if there were no internet I think by now anyone in offices would be drowning in folder after folder of documents (using the logic that if the internet isn’t there then computers must be sucking badly). I’m sure there’s a D-Grade movie idea in this.

I want to be Sufjan Stevens….

..but given I’m down here I don’t think it’s going to happen. His latest album ‘Come On Feel the Illinoise’ is probably the best album I’ve heard in 5 years?

Honourable mention to Architecture in Helsinki’s album ‘In Case We Die’.

Do yourself a favour and buy one or both of these.

Nursing War Stories 1

1. Background

– busy emergency department in a rural city
– when a trauma case comes in, it’s all hands on deck.
– one afternoon one such trauma case comes in (a motor vehicle accident from memory)
– all RN’s and medical staff got involved in the trauma, with a nursing admin person do the bare basics on the other patients (taking obs etc)

2. The incident

– after an hour or so in the trauma room I need to get a piece of equipment from the main patient area.
– I walk past a previously vacant trolley and actually jump when I see someone in the trolley. The reason I jump is that the woman is obviously anorexic.
– I get my piece of equipment and go back into the trauma case.
– About half an hour later it’s back to normal and I attend to the anorexic patient – she’s had one BP taken and is reported to weigh 32 kilograms (70.5 pounds) and is aged 54. I look at her – she’s sitting upright in the trolley and staring into space. My assessment is she’s very depressed and non-communicative (based on nothing more than my psych training). I ask her if she’d like a drink of water and she doesn’t answer. I tell her I’ll be back soon, draw the curtain and go to check up on other patients.
– Another 15 minutes later an the afternoon staff have arrived – we do bed-to-bed handover. The RN I’m handing over to looks behind the curtain then pulls her back out again very quickly, looking shocked. I whispered to her ” yes, she scared me when I first saw her as well”. The RN’s response was “no, she’s dead!”.
– I look behind the curtain and the patient is indeed dead and obviously so now. The other RN, knowing I have offered her a drink whilst dead, is literally falling on the floor laughing.

The NAMM trauma is not over

I witnessed first-hand trauma yesterday. And unlike the ‘Nam of the 60’s and 70’s, the NAMM (International Music Products Association) of today doesn’t even have a dubious philosophy to make its casualties understandable.

The analogy between the Vietnam War and a trade show me seem a little far-fetched or even tasteless, but let me elaborate. Let’s use actual hardened and traumatised victims of both conflicts. A guy from my home town, John was a Vietnam vet. A friend of mine, let’s call him Steve, is still serving active duty with NAMM. Their stories are as follows:


John found he did bond very closely with his platoon in Vietnam, but found on a wider scale it could get ‘dog-eat-dog’ damn quickly. If it came down to a fight over the best position to sleep or food to eat, there was no such thing as being on the same side. Strongest man won.

Steve, when discussing NAMM said “I don’t want to have meals with people I don’t like”. He regaled me with stories of clashes with fellow industry professionals over limited resources (in this case access to music gear or information about music gear). It continues to be every man or woman for themselves.

Psychological impact of conflict

John admitted he did have difficulty sleeping for a long time after the war and still finds he drifts into thinking about key events he witnessed.

Steve, when asked to describe the impact NAMM has on him stated: “I hate the fucking stress. I can feel it all over my body, from sore joints to headaches to chest pains. Hate it, fucking hate it, hate hate hate hate hate.”

Geographical dislocation

John, as a country guy from a small town, found the Vietnam experience disorientating to say the least. The days off were not a lot more than an avoidance of the traumas experienced with no real sense of absorbing another country’s culture guven the war situation.

Steve, when asked about attending NAMM in Anaheim, stated “I don’t even like Anaheim. I only go there for NAMM. I can’t even go to Disneyland anymore, since it’s next door to the convention center and I’d run into the possibility of thinking about NAMM while I was there.”

Personal relationships

John described how it was difficult to describe what he’d been through to his wife and family, and had difficulty relating to friends who hadn’t served.

Steve was very descriptive on this same issue: “I really don’t like drinking next to Lemmy in the Hilton bar, or any other leftover piece of shit from the Sunset Strip. And I don’t like hangovers. And I don’t like being hungover along with 50,000 other hungover motherfuckers.”

General view on their experiences

John overall regrets his experiences at war, particularly given the political motives and public reaction.

Steve summarised his feelings succinctly: “Because of NAMM, I no longer give a fuck about gear. I’m sickened by the thought of some pierced, tattooed, and spandex-clad chick trying to bribe me to get to the front of the line where some fucking bozo can sign her tits. I don’t want to hear any music. I don’t want to have meals with people I don’t like so they can try and sell me things I won’t be buying. I’m sick of little wanna-be rock stars that no one other than their mom has heard of trying to tell me why I need to give away products to them.”

So my point is, there may not be bullets and people dying before your eyes, but the 21st Century has its own private wars for some people. And they too deserve medals and recognition.

The Spatula King

I’m going to state the obvious: one of the foundations that make the internet worthwhile is collaboration. Whether it be via blog, web or music, collaboration happens often and works well at least some of the time.

Today a friend on another forum started posting links to tracks he has composed for an album and has asked for people to critque the twenty songs linked to so that twelve can make the album. Without the internet, he wouldn’t have the dubious opinion of an Australian nurse thrown into the mix. And that’s the way it should be.

Rock is indeed timeless

I don’t often get inspired by TV, but tonight I saw something that proves rock and roll is indeed timeless.

The Young at Heart Chorus was formed initially to combat boredom at a low-income meal facility. What it has become is best described by the site.

This is something that should happen everywhere. Absolutely everywhere. If you can’t be bothered going to the site, at least listen to their work:

Stayin’ Alive

Would Hoover Dam have been built today?

Watched a documentary on the construction of the Hoover Dam – the deaths that occurred due to heat, carbon monoxide poisoning etc were incredible. Would such a project happen today? Even with all the better technology, there’d still be high injury risks that would require GW Bush to pass legislation like Hoover did banning unions totally.

Ok – so maybe it could happen nowadays.

The statistic that impressed me the most – had they poured the concrete for the dam wall in one large pour, it would have taken 125 years for it to cool down. I’m impressed by stuff like that.

Photoshop and comas – for B

I have a friend, who I’ll just call B. I’ve known him for four years and throughout that time he’s done some legendary humourous photoshop work – stuff that just makes you do a hated ‘lol’.

Well, I just discovered today that B is currently in a coma – partly as a result from all the computer work he does, of which the Photoshop humour is a significant part.

Hang in there B.


Thumbalina Weeny

Credit to Andi 😉

The future has arrived

Being 2006 here already, I always have a head start on knowing what new things develop in 2006. My dear friends, the same ones who are the rabid fans of this blog, roll their eyes when I talk about how there are now flying cars (which is what I said a year ago when 2005 rolled around) or how there are now cyborg slaves to be had.

I’m getting a bit tired of the cynical responses to my assertions. How the hell do you know we don’t have cyborg slaves down here?? If you had seen our Attorney General’s picture you might be less sceptical. So here’s a picture to put the issue to rest:

Maybe now you’ll treat me with a little more respect 😡

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