Saturday, November 29, 2008

Learned helplessness: you're doing it... quite well akshully.

Colleague: "StyleyGeek, do you remember how you offered to turn the centre newsletter into pdf?"

Me: "Yes. Have you finished it? Just send me the file."

Colleague: "Well, really, it's so hard to get the formatting right... But I have all the bits and pieces to go in it. It's just they are in separate files. If I sent them to you, would you put them together and then create the pdf?"

Me: "I guess I could do that. It's going on the website, right? I'll pay myself out of the website development budget."

Colleague: "Okay, great. What's best? Shall I zip them up and email the zipped archive to you?"

Me: "Sure."

Colleague: "Okay. So... how do I do that? Could you come along to my office and show me?"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Three embarrassing confessions

(1) When I post a letter, I try to peer through the slot to see if it really went in. Somehow I don't believe that it's sitting there happily waiting for the postman, but suspect instead that it popped off to some extra dimension for a holiday. Perhaps it's a hangover from my obsessive habit of checking my "sent" folder after firing off an email. I don't think I used to worry about letters so much before the advent of the internet and emails that so frequently go astray.

(2) Similarly, when I transfer money electronically, I can't help but obsess that I typed a number wrong somewhere and sent it scuttling into the bank account of some random (but very happy, and probably not Nigerian) stranger.

(3) I have absolutely no idea how big an ounce is, or about its relationship to a pound. Pounds are easy. They are similar to a packet of butter. Except now I can't remember if it's a 500g packet of butter or a 250g packet*. For all I know, though, an ounce might be defined as 3.75 Imperial Wombles.


* which we now buy since our supermarket sells the exact same brand in both sizes, and two 250g packets are cheaper than buying one 500g packet. (Methinks someone else doesn't have a clear idea of weights and measures either.)


Claudia's not pregnant.

Three more frozen opportunities are waiting, but probably not until next year.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New policy

I think students who can't calculate their own grades should fail the course.

I'm not talking about a small flaw in addition here, but a complete inability to comprehend the way the grades add up, leading to a full-scale email war.

Dear StyleyGeek,

I see I got 73 on my final essay. Why is my mark for the course only 68?

Stu Dent.

Dear Stu Dent,

As you will see from the syllabus on the website, handed out in the first week of class, the distribution of marks are as follows:

Assignment 1: 10 marks
Assignment 2: 15 marks
Essay: 15 marks
Weekly homework: 10 marks
Final exam: 50 marks.

Your marks were as follows: [details redacted to protect the clueless]

Therefore your final mark (add these all up) comes to 68%.


Dear StyleyGeek,

I thought you said the essay could count for the whole mark of the course?


Dear Stu,

No, this is not the case. What you may be confusing this with is the policy about the final exam. If a student submits all work on time, AND the final exam mark, as a percentage, is higher than the marks of all the work added together, then the FINAL EXAM MARK stands as the final mark. This is also explained in the syllabus, along with some examples of possible scenarios. Your final exam mark was only 58% (29 out of 50). Therefore it is lower than your total mark of 68% and this policy does not apply to you.


Dear StyleyGeek,

So why don't I get 73%?

Stu Dent.

God, I wish course transcripts had an option where the lecturer could just enter in the grade column: EPIC FAIL.


So the teaching period finished four weeks ago. Over last three weeks, the students had their final exams, and in upper-level courses, final projects and essays were due. Last week and this week everyone was frantically marking marking marking until—phew—it's done.

Then last night, an hour before final grades were due, one prof in our department emailed all faculty:

Dear all,

In my [undergraduate] course on [X] this semester, I was glad to find the [20] students wrote excellent final essays on interesting topics. I attach scanned copies of them all, as I'm sure you will find them worth the read.

Prof. Optimistic.
I wish I lived in his universe, where, after marking all the final essays for your own course, you are eager and excited to read everyone else's as well.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I would like to know

What are people thinking when they label medicine sold in Australia as, "must be stored between 15 and 25 degrees C"?

We don't all have air conditioning.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Okay, this is getting silly

So this time they thankfully didn't do any damage. They just broke in (not hard now that the front window doesn't actually close and the back one still doesn't have any glass in it), and moved our car to a different parking space in our building's garage.

Is someone trying to make a point?

Friday, November 21, 2008

If I shrink my browser window, it makes online banking even safer!

You know how on Firefox 3, secure sites have a green block filling up part of the location bar?

Although I know it's untrue, I can't help feeling like sites where the green bit fills up most of the bar are more secure than ones where it only fills up a little bit.

Good thing my bank has a long name...

I rest my case

A small group of us who are casual lecturers (adjuncts in American terminology) recently received a grant from the university to conduct a survey of early career lecturers across campus, to find out what conditions and resources are like, and what sorts of needs there is for training and support.

One of our main hypotheses was that there are a lot more casual lecturers than the university realises, and that they tend to be teaching bigger courses with worse support and fewer resources than is commonly thought to be the case. We suspected that casual employees fall between the cracks because they are often not around when it comes to departmental reviews; they don't tend to show up in official publications like the university handbook (usually the person the casual lecturer is filling in for is listed as the course convener even when on leave), or in official university statistics.

So we created our survey. It got ethics clearance. We sent it to the university's official survey-putting-up technical people, along with instructions about who we are trying to survey and why.

The survey went live yesterday.

Today I find that—guess what?—surveys by default aren't open to casual employees, and the technical people didn't think of changing this option.

Casual lecturers trying to fill out a survey about whether or not the university ignores them get a pretty little red error message: access denied. Because they're only casuals.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I like the "traveling through time" line best

How to get out of paying your bills. (Or not.)

Final egg update (well, for now, anyway)

When last we left our valiant heroine embryos, 21 of them had successfully fertilized. The reports up until Sunday were quite cheerful, but then the "Scientist" started to be cagey and said calming things like, "We can't tell for sure whether they have stopped developing, or if they're just slow," and "Claudia should come to Sydney on Monday as planned, but we can't say whether the transfer* will go ahead then or not."

The transfer DID, however, go ahead. There WAS a successful five-day embryo to transfer, and three more to freeze.

So although the numbers are lower than we had initially expected, there's a pretty good chance of success even with this first attempt, and a few back-ups just in case.

The doctor who did the transfer was an utter and total wanker, however: rude, patronising and completely unprofessional. The details are not my story to share, but if anyone reading this is considering IVF in Sydney, please email me and I'll tell you who it was and why you want to stay (in a galaxy***) far far away.


* "The transfer" sounds so much less squicky than "The Implantation" (of DOOOOM**).
** Somehow that bit of the sentence just appeared in this post for no reason under my control at all.
*** That bit of the sentence also turned up unexpectedly. My blog posts are now writing themselves. (*rubs hands together in glee*

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A question with no right answer

Reading this post, especially the bit about the "gotcha" approach to a job candidate, reminded me of the worst. question. ever, asked by one of our faculty members in the question time at the end of a recent job talk.

"I was just wondering," the faculty member began, as the (young, clearly nervous) candidate smiled tentatively, "whether the reason you cited my book in the reference list on your handout was just because you found out that I'm on the selection committee?"

Social networking: ur doin it rong.

Geekman enters the room. Cackles. "Someone else has tried to friend me! That will show them!"

"Have you ever thought that you might want to accept a friend request now and again rather than just hanging out in your own corner of Facebook all by yourself?"

"But it's so much fun watching them queuing up for my attention. And being DENIED!"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Warning: ten-mile long post ahead

By the numbers:

  • Eggs retrieved: 48
  • Eggs successfully fertilised: 21
  • Average number of eggs fertilised in an IVF cycle (according to statistics from a different state, though I couldn't find any for ours): 5.5
  • Number of hours it usually takes to drive from Sydney to our city: 3-ish
  • Number of hours it took us yesterday: 9
  • Amount of time spent on side of road, waiting for the NRMA, tow-trucks and our heroic rescuers driving in to give us a lift back: 5
  • Amount of furniture purchased by Claudia and Rob at IKEA while in Sydney: 50 metric shitloads (think: entire lounge fittings; entire bathroom fittings; light fittings for most of the house; multiple storage "solutions"... I think they're suffering from premature nesting syndrome, along the lines of, "Oh my god! Our babies will never agree to leave their petri dishes unless they know they will have a house full of pretty IKEA furniture to look forward to!")
  • Number of times we* had to load and unload all this shit, due to the above-mentioned breakdown: 4

The retrieval itself was much less unpleasant than I had expected. I was happy and relaxed due to the fact that the car had not broken down on the way to Sydney the day before; we had had a fun trip to IKEA, followed by a fancy dinner at an Italian restaurant (OMG: seafood risotto with entire crab lurking underneath***), and a night in a swanky 5-star hotel.

We arrived at the hospital at 8am, as requested, to find they had lost all our paperwork. So spent the next half hour filling out forms that we had already filled out twice before, which was not entirely so awesome.

Then came flappy gown and silly bootie time.

The surgeon came and talked to me, followed by the anaesthetist, followed by—wait for it—The Scientist. Yes, she was introduced to us as "The Scientist" (and looked suitably embarrassed when we pointed out that at least three of the four of us were also scientists by any definition) and no, I never got clear exactly on what her role was. I guess she was in charge of the actual fertilisation and babysitting the developing embryos. But introducing her as "the Babysitter" might not have sounded quite so impressive.

My memories of the operating theatre are a bit hazy, but I do recall surprise at how many more people were present than I would have thought necessary. I'm still not quite sure what that was about. Maybe they all wanted to see superwoman with her over-active ovaries. The surgeon was nice and held my hand and talked to me about IKEA until I went under. The last thought I recall was being baffled about the lack of stirrups. I still don't quite see how the mechanics of the retrieval could work without stirrups. Weird.

I woke up an hour and a half later feeling really quite lovely, thank you very much and isn't codeine wonderful? Someone had stuck a post-it to me that said "48", which is apparently the new way to communicate with patients.

It wasn't long after that that they let me go. I was supposed to wait until I'd absorbed a litre worth of IV fluids, but I drank three cups of coffee while waiting and they decided that would do the job instead. (Go caffeine addiction!) So then we moved on to the next stage of our adventure: hanging out on the side of the road, not even a third of the way home.

Hanging out of the side of the road not even a third of the way home:

The first thing to go wrong was that the van's engine cut out. On the highway. At 110 km per hour. We trundled onto the shoulder and Rob spent the next hour under the van**** having repeats of the following dialogue with Claudia:

Rob: "Turn the ignition on and rev it until the engine dies. Then turn it on again and repeat."

Claudia: "Okay."

[VROOM rev rev rev rev splutter. VROOOM]

Rob: "OWW!"

[Claudia turns the ignition off.]

Rob: "No! Turn it on!"

Claudia: "But you said 'ow!'"

Rob: "I need you to keep turning it on!"

Claudia: "Even when you say 'ow'?"

Rob: "It's only a bit of electrocution."

Eventually they got the engine going long enough for Rob to disconnect the starter motor while leaving the van running, as the starter motor seemed to be part of the problem. So at that point the engine stayed on as long as the ignition key was pressed firmly to the right.

This meant Rob had to drive with one hand while holding the key in the "on" position with the other.

And this led, in turn, to an exciting manoeuvre (again, on the motorway at 110km per hour) where I, from the passenger seat, had to take over the steering while Rob attacked the ignition barrel with a screwdriver. While driving. At 110 km per hour. On the motorway. Did I mention 110km per hour?

Finally the engine died again and was totally unrestartable. Which is where the tow truck came in. Unfortunately the tow truck would only take us as far as the next town, 17km away, because the nice man from the NRMA was unable to diagnose the problem given the huge number of IKEA flat packs that were wedged above the spot in the van where the engine lurks. (Yes, I know: engine underneath a seat: not the smartest design in the world.)

So then followed a pleading phone call to one of Rob's grad students, who was persuaded to check out the department truck ("Reason: picking up lab supplies") and drive 200km each way to come and get us. I felt vaguely uncomfortable about such shameless exploitation of one's students, but damn, I felt more uncomfortable about sitting in the middle of nowhere all night.

I won't dwell on the rest of the trip back, but suffice it to say there were false starts, wrong directions, and a severe shortage of rope for tying the load on the back of the truck down with. There was also one passenger recovering from a small operation (whee, hi, codeine is my friend!), one with a migraine, and one in the initial stages of flu.


Claudia documented every step of the trip home with her camera, and fully intends to use these pictures as the opening pages of her future offspring's baby albums.

Which is kind of awesome, really.

Also: 21 embryos!

In conclusion, I like codeine. Thank you.

*I use the term "we" loosely, because ha, one of us just had an operation and was lying back peacefully on a picnic rug on the grass** while everyone else did all the work.

**I use this term loosely too, since actually we were on the gravel shoulder of your typical Australian motorway, and the closest thing to grass was a few patches of thistles and mountains of peeling eucalyptus bark. Also a few dead and rotting animals, and suspicious numbers of feathers. Ah well, the whoosh-whoosh, whoosh-whoosh of passing traffic was a peaceful soundtrack for the whole experience.

*** How does one eat a crab anyway? I was presented with a nutcracker, a long thin poky-stick, and a finger bowl. I cracked and poked and splashed and really made very little progress. But it was fun trying.

****They're experimentalists. Bodging dodgy mechanical stuff together is what they DO.

Monday, November 10, 2008

So it's Wednesday (because I have scary ovaries)

22 follicles ready to go, and another 21 undersized. For those keeping score (so, um, none of you, I guess), that's around three times the average number. No wonder I feel like someone inserted a freight train in my abdomen.

Fortunately I did manage to find people to make the conference run smoothly. No single person will be present for the whole thing, but I'm thinking of it as an experiment in distributed organisation. Surely if for every session there is someone who is ultimately responsible, nothing can go wrong, can it?

(Except between the sessions. And lunch and tea breaks, while important, are not the MOST essential part of a conference. Except when you're a grad student, I guess.)

Sunday, November 09, 2008


So the egg retrieval was meant to be Friday. Turns out, I'm responding extra-specially well to the medication. (Yay me.)

They're saying Wednesday.

Crap crap crappity.

On Wednesday, I am running a conference. All day. I'm being paid to do this. And I can't for the life of me think who would be able to take over. Everyone I know is either presenting at the conference, or only able to be there for part of the day. Someone is going to have to set up, pack up, herd presenters and session chairs to the right places, deal with any technological problems, liaise with the caterers, put out any fires, kiss the appropriate arses...

And in case I didn't mention, the egg retrieval is in a different city. So it's definitely an all-day thing. Maybe even a drive-up-the-night-before sort of thing.

I have no idea how I'm going to sort this one out. Let's just hope my follicle growth slows the fuck down, okay?

A tale of prescience and impressive judgment

Back when I was in fourth form, a friend of mine who even then had political ambitions walked into Labour party headquarters, tackled a then-minor party member, and attached himself to him like a sycophantic limpet for the next decade. By doing errands and being a sort of general assistant/intern, this friend of mine hoped to (a) get insight into how politics worked, and (b) end up close to a man who my friend claimed would one day be prime minister.

We made a lot of fun of him for that. That guy? Prime minister?

My friend still hangs around with him.

And today in the news, Helen Clark resigns leadership of the Labour party, and "that guy" looks like he'll be taking over.

Heh. I hope you're feeling vindicated, my friend.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Liveblogging the NZ election

(Because what could be more thrilling to readers than an election they don't care about in a country they've probably never heard of?)

Friday 7th November: 2:30pm
Oh shit. Places where New Zealanders in Australia can vote probably aren't open tomorrow, are they? And I still can't download my freaking papers, since the electronic geni(us)es can no longer find me on the system. I'd better go vote.

Friday 7th November: 2:49pm
Well that was easy.
Now what?

Saturday 8th November: 3pm
I wonder if anywhere in this city will be showing the election coverage live on a big screen? Or, you know, at all? I could do with being drunk and patriotic in public.
I google "nz election party" + [this city].
Hah. Yeah. Bad search combination. I mean the OTHER sort of party, Google!

Saturday 8th November: 5:30pm
The polling booths in NZ closed at 5pm our time, so maybe there'll be something to blog about now.
Ah. Yes. Okay.
I think it's already over. 3.5% of the vote has been counted and National is well in the lead. Even ACT looks like it's going to romp into a seat or two or five.
Farewell, Helen Clark. I liked you quite a lot, akshually.
Shortest. Liveblogging. EVER.

Saturday 8th November: 5:39pm
I quickly write a blog post that isn't really "live" at all. Unless you are some sort of time traveller. Shhh! Maybe no one will notice.

Saturday 8th November: 5:43pm
I read back through this post checking for typos. Am horrified to see that Blogger underlines "Zealanders" as a spelling error. It suggests I change it to "Philanders" or "Colanders". Fuck you too, Blogger.

SPECIAL BREAKING NEWS: Saturday 8th November: 6:09pm
They haven't counted my vote yet, the bastards. I know this because I went to look at my electorate details and under "votes counted" it lists "special votes: 0".
They'd better count it before declaring a victor; that's all I have to say.

Saturday 8th November: 9:29pm
Clark concedes and it's all over. National will be forming a government together with ACT (gah).
They've counted my vote now, apparently, but it didn't help.
The silver lining is that NZ First not only didn't make the 5% threshold, but they didn't get any electorates this time around, either. Poor little Winnie...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Also, WTF?

The New Zealand accent: you're doing it wrong.

Does anyone else remember Rainbow?

I was having a nostalgic browse through old kids TV shows on Youtube today (inspired by Flea's mention of The Electric Company). And then I googled Rainbow.

Did everyone but me already know about this episode? It shows Zippy, George and Bungle in a whole new light...

(Supposedly it was an episode the cast and crew made as a private joke, but that then escaped and made its way onto the (adult, thankfully) air.)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations, America!

I'm so happy for you.

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker?

At the pub the other night I spent a long time watching the table across from ours, trying to work out what discipline the group belonged to. I'll warn you now, I don't have an answer, but I'm soliciting guesses.


  1. There were two old guys who looked like they should have retired long ago, both wearing casual clothes (jeans and t-shirts) and both with extreme amounts of white facial hair. I'm guessing they were the profs.
  2. Then there were nine young people. All but one were female. They all looked like they were in their early twenties.
  3. Every single one of the young women was wearing black. At least on top. Funky yet expensive-looking. And large, sometimes ethnic-looking jewelry.
  4. They all had short-and-funky haircuts.
  5. They were talking in groups of twos and threes, and while the conversations sounded friendly, none of them ever smiled.

So, it's a discipline where most students are female, but the profs are male. It's not law, because they weren't wearing suits. They were too dressed up to be anthropologists, and wearing too much black to be most sorts of scientists that I could recognise. And they take themselves too seriously.

So, history? Literature? Philosophy? They looked unhappy enough to be philosophers...

What does your radar tell you? Who do you think they are?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Things that make you go EEK

It would appear that I should, indeed, have expected the unexpected. And the unexpected was having to get up early too many times in a row, and freakishly long needles.

There have been three times since I started this egg donation process (despite over-exposure to corny counselor-speak, I refuse to call it a 'journey') where something inside my brain went HOLD ON WAIT WTF WHY ARE WE DOING THIS AGAIN EXACTLY UM NO THANXKBAI.

The first was, weirdly, when the IVF specialist was telling me about when I should abstain from sex (no, wait, this isn't the freaky bit), and then she said, "And you know, if you were to get pregnant during this, the kid would be Rob and Claudia's baby's half-sibling... Of course, that will be the case if you have kids one day, anyway."

And I was all, WHOA, DUDE (although actually, just now typing this I was all, "WHO—no, wait, that's a different word—WHAO—now that just looks wrong, um—WHOO—fuckit, let's just go with DUUUUDE"). Because although I had assimilated the idea that I would be genetically related to Claudia and Rob's kid, I hadn't made the really-not-so-far-akshully mental leap to the fact that we were creating partial siblings for my future potential OFFSPRING. Weird.

The second DUUUUUDE moment was when my ginormous parcel of medical freakiness turned up on Friday. It was like Christmas! Only with more injectables.

So really only like Christmas if you're a heroin addict. A heroin addict with unhealthily enabling family members. Who live far enough away that they post you your presents in a box instead of spending Christmas with you. Or maybe they don't like you enough to spend Christmas with you because you're all hyped up on drugs, haven't washed your hair in six months, and are likely to steal their purses when they turn their backs to baste the Christmas turkey.

Let's stop this analogy now and look at a picture instead.

Now, leaving aside that the packet insert for the injection lists the ingredients as "follitropin beta rch, produced by a Chinese hamster [...]" (I kid you not), the thing that really disturbed me was the following:

These are six (SIX) blood draw requests, each stating that they need to happen at 7:30am, on the other side of the city. This is the bit no one told me! Daily injections? Yeah fine, whatever. Various doctors' appointments? Okay. People poking around in your girly parts with something sharp? If we must. But getting up before 7am every day for a week??? NO THANKS. (Don't worry: I'll do it. But I'm not going to like it.)

And the most recent squeaky brain moment (I bet you saw this coming; what can I say? I'm far-sightedness challenged): the injections. Did you read that bit above about, "Yeah yeah, injections are no big deal, whatever"? That was the mindset BEFORE I saw the needle. See, I know the meaning of the word subcutaneous. My cutaneous doesn't go very deep. So I was guessing there'd be a little teensy tiny short stabby needle. I can jab things in. No worries. (Mate.)

Behold! The MOTHERFUCKING OH HOLY SHIT NO LET'S NOT needle. (With finger, for scale).

Now, I bet you're thinking, "Oh, that's not so long. My [splinter/acupunture equipment/dead grandmother] is longer than that!"

But you see, that's what's known as a skewed sense of scale due to the fact that you aren't plunging the freaking thing straight into your stomach. Let me quote from the instruction manual: "insert the entire needle straight into the skin".

Saturday night was the first time I had to do this. For ten minutes I sat there looking at the needle, looking at my stomach, turning hot and cold and hyperventilating and thinking LET'S NOT DO THIS, OKAY? OKAY?

And then I did it.

And it wasn't so bad, except for the bit where you have to leave the needle in for five seconds afterwards and your hand is shaking and you have visions of the sharp bit blithely wandering back and forth through important internal organs and shredding them into pieces. Except not really, because it can't do that. Right? Right?

Or like yesterday when you stick the needle in and then realise you aren't holding the "pen" (nice euphemism guys, but really, it's fooling no one) in a way that lets you reach the button to press to actually make the dose come out. So you have to pull it out, rearrange, and try again.

But tonight was better. In fact, tonight, I injected myself in the middle of this post and you didn't even notice, did you? Hah.

I was kind of randomly wittering on here in the hope that I would spontaneously type something clever that nicely rounded out this post, made it sound like there was some sort of overall point to it, and tied the end cleverly back to the beginning. But I think we've all realised that's not about to happen.

So, um, okay. Bye.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

New voting policy

I think in this election I'm going to vote by a process of elimination. Any party whose website has annoying flash-based graphics, or that uses the word incentivisation is getting crossed off my list. So is any party that lists as one of its priorities "breath of life from our ancestors."

I've pretty much decided what I'm doing with my party vote. But I'm worried about my electorate vote. (Well, not seriously concerned, because it's not like Brownlee isn't going to win no matter what I do.)

Usually as a matter of course I would give my electorate vote to Labour, since the smaller parties' candidates have no chance of winning in Ilam, and Labour needs all the help it can get. But this election, their guy's profile doesn't inspire me in any way that doesn't involve getting seriously stabby with a red pen. I'm perfectly aware that you can't judge a person's intelligence by their competence in a second language. But you can judge them for not caring enough or being self-aware enough to employ a good editor. "There area good mixed of people in this electorate."? "Our Labour Lead Government give the Health back to all New Zealander."? AND I'm not convinced that "raise enough funding to run next year campaign" should appear in your list of what you want to achieve in your term as MP.

On the other hand he does seem likely to be a good advocate for immigrants and minorities (not merely because he is one himself, but judging from the line under "services" where he offers help dealing with the Immigration Department, and translation/interpretation in seven languages).

Incidentally, as today's internet surfing consisted in equal parts of reading American blogs talking about the US election, and reading up on the NZ election to try to make a decision, it struck me that North Americans usually talk about whether they will "vote for Obama" or "vote for McCain". You hardly ever hear about NZers talking about "voting for Clark" or "voting for Key" (admittedly, you sometimes hear someone say they are "voting for Helen"). But generally NZers seem to talk about voting for a party, rather than for a person.

This reminds me of a plan I had a while ago for what I'd do about elections if I ran the world.

For a start, I'd let people from other countries vote too, since especially with big countries like the USA, the election results have a huge impact on the rest of the world as well.

But I would also require that presidential/prime minister candidates remain anonymous—no one would know until after the election the candidates' gender, race, or personal background. No one would get to hear them speak directly. Journalists and even the general public could put questions to them just as they do now, and the candidates could still debate each other, but it would all happen from inside some sort of black box, with voice distortion.

I wonder if that might force people to actually vote based on policies, rather than personality. What do you think?

One begins to wonder what the point of a lock-up garage is.

Me: "Goddammit! The bastards broke into our car again.*"
Geekman (showing an astonishing lack of observation): "How can you tell?"

I point at the window right in front of him that has been smashed in, and then the little door that covers the petrol cap—except that technically I'm NOT pointing at the door that covers the petrol cap, since it is missing.

Geekman: "Oh, right."

We giggle. Because we are deranged.

Geekman: "It's funny. I'm not even mad this time. Just resigned."
Me: "Yeah, me too. It's like, that's just what happens to our car."

We resignedly inspect the car for further damage, and find that the lock to the boot also no longer functions. Nothing's been stolen. It would appear that the morons removed the petrol cap door without actually stealing the petrol (despite a full tank). They tried and failed to get into the car through the boot (obviously not registering that the front passenger door no longer even HAS a lock thanks to the last break in). And then they smashed a window, but didn't take anything.

They did, however, thoughtfully leave the lock from the petrol door thingy sitting on the back seat, just in case we need it for later.

I briefly consider starting a museum of all the loot car thieves have left us (current count: two pairs of scissors, a screwdriver, some paper towels, and a lock).

Me: "Do you think we should still take the car to the gym, even with the broken window?"
Geekman: "Why not? If someone steals it, at least we won't have to pay for repairs."
Me: "But you know how we were going to pick up the case of beer left in your department?**"
Geekman: "Yeah, let's do that after the gym, not before."

Because clearly it doesn't matter if someone steals our CAR, as long as we still have a case of beer. You see, then we can drink until the pain of being carless goes away, right? The logic is flawless.

I'm going to spend the afternoon making a sign to put in the car window that says, "Please don't break into this car (you bastards). There is nothing worth stealing inside, and we are not insured."

That'll work, right?


* When searching to find this earlier post to link to, I googled StyleyGeek + broke into our car. Google helpfully suggested, "Did you mean: StyleyGeek broke into your car?" For the record, I would like to state that StyleyGeek has not broken into ANYONE'S car. Thank you.

** The case of beer was left over from a physics department LAN party on Friday night. I think this means we have now joined the inner geek circle. Geekman in particular seemed proud of his mastery of the 1337 lingo, as demonstrated by the glee on his face when, with a look of concentration, he looked up from his computer and tried out phrases like, "I fragged your dudes!" and "Pwned, noobs!"