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So, since we moved from Parramatta to Mangrove Mountain, we haven’t had a home phone. Our friend, neighbour & landlord has been gracious enough to let us use his wireless so that we are not completely cut off from the world (we’re far enough off the main drag that mobile service is non-existent here on the farm), and we’ve been trying valiantly to get a home telephone service connected for the last two months. I really did think, after trying two providers and being quoted any number of outrageously different prices mid-process, that we’d gotten somewhere last week when a technician came to the house and checked out the existing infrastructure.
As he left, he said “It should all be good to go, but there’s a network infrastructure problem and Telstra haven’t allowed enough copper at the exchange for me to get you connected. It’s their fault, won’t cost you anything but it’ll be a couple of days I imagine.”
The following day, someone from Telstra’s service centre in Kolkata or Lahore or Kathmandu or wherever called me to confirm that my order number ######34 was scheduled for completion within three working days. “That’s fine,” I said. Did I want to have a temporary service made available for me in the meantime? Pretty sure that was a trick question, because if they can’t connect a telephone service due to lack of infrastructure then …well, you know. In order to not complicate things, I declined the temporary service. “No, I can wait another three days, if you’re sure that’s all it will be.”
Today being the third day, and with no phone connection completed and no contact from Telstra to advise of a delay, I ventured into the scary world of real-time helpline chat.
After a substantial wait to get through to anybody, during which time I flicked the job to Tara because I had other things to do, Tara finally managed to learn that
a) there was a hold put on our order for an unspecified reason
b) we need to speak to Nadeem, our account manager to resolve the matter
c) Nadeem can be contacted on the 24 hour service line 1800 blah blah blah, press zero at the prompt.
Borrowing our neighbour’s phone allowed us to quickly ascertain that the 24 hour service line is unattended after 6pm, and we should leave a message including the best return number to call us on. As you may expect, I found that to be a less than satisfactory outcome, so back to live chat I go. After lengthy delays in connection, then lengthy delays while account information is verified, and then explaining the enquiry (again) and then lengthy delays while the operator (M) tried to resolve my issue, he was able to come up with the following information:
a) there was a hold put on our order for an unspecified reason
b) we need to speak to Nadeem
c) Nadeem can be contacted on the 24 hour service line….
At this point, I did not admit to M that I already tried this number. I simply said “How should I do that without a phone?”. More lengthy delays followed while M attempted to make the call on my behalf, only to find that the number is unattended after 6pm. Could I call back tomorrow after 8am? Forgetful types, these Telstra folk, but I was gracious enough to remind M that I still didn’t have a telephone and would be unlikely to get one between now and tomorrow morning. So M, bless his heart, has undertaken to have all the answers I require by 4pm tomorrow on email. I was so pleased with this outcome, I offered to save M the trouble of emailing me first, and asked for his email address so I could initiate things tomorrow, but it turns out he doesn’t have email. I shouldn’t worry though, because he will make sure his supervisor coordinates to have an email sent to me. Hmmm. “OK,” I tell M “I’m sure you will not let me down, because you don’t want me to contact the Telecommunications Ombudsman anymore than I want to do it,” and then we wished each other a pleasant evening.

Now, as fascinating as this story is by itself, there’s more to tonight’s blog than just me snarking about Telstra. All those lengthy delays while you’re on chat mean you have to find SOMETHING to do. You can’t leave the screen. There’s only so many Grumpy Cats you can post on Facebook. So, what else might you do online while you’re on hold to Live Chat?

You could go to my wife Tara’s blog: Cruelty Free Recipes – Cooking With a Conscience for the best in vegan recipes.

If you’re into eating responsibly, and you’re on Facebook, you might also go to The Clean Eating Exchange where the delightful Alicia posts clean eating recipes, tips, stories, and education for those wishing to lead a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Comic book nerds like me will get a kick out of a couple of sites I go to almost daily. The first is Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing. Tony, of course, is a four decade veteran of the comic industry who has pissed off enough people that he doesn’t have to watch what he says, as he shares opinions, reviews and anecdotes from his rich career.
The second comic-related site I visit nearly every day is Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues, which is run by a fella called Ross. Six days a week, Ross serves up a fantasy combination cover, of highest quality, that he has made himself from existing artwork. Ever wondered what it would look like if Popeye met Superman? Or if Spider-Man teamed up with the crew from Star Trek? You’d probably find it here, and if not just send Ross a request.

Scandinavia & the World doesn’t post new stuff nearly so frequently, but I always enjoy her view on things.

My friend Kylie posts occasionally at The Amberjacks, because she’s a published author and it’s a blog for writers, by writers.

My other friend Kenn posts far too often for everyone’s good on his tumblr account Mr. Inappropriate. It’s not for the faint-hearted, although the weak-minded should get a kick out of it.

Apart from comics, my other ubernerdy interest is board games. I play online at BSW (download the game client after you register your username; mine is ‘crash9000’).

Annnnnd apart from being a (cool & heaps sexy) nerd, my other big interest is animal fostering, through Porsche’s Rescue. If you’re looking for a pet, or even better a companion animal, you could do worse than adopt from a rescue.

Got any sites you’d like to spread the word about it? The comments section is thataway (if I knew how to post a down-arrow, I would).

Cheers, Darryn



Something a little different today – instead of poetry or brief & allegedly humorous comments, I’d like to share with you some things I wrote on Facebook today, as part of a discussion that started with somebody making the statement “There is no religion quite as intolerant as atheism.”

I guess there’s a lot of misconceptions out there, and I certainly would never refute anyone else’s firsthand experience of intolerance. They were there, I wasn’t.
But if you’ve met ‘intolerant atheists’ that’s a different thing to ‘atheism being intolerant’; in much the same way, there are ‘terrorist Muslims’ & ‘paedophile Catholic priests’ without those descriptions being either exclusive to, or all-inclusive of, those groups.

Anyway, here’s what I ended up writing over the course of a couple of posts. I don’t know the other guy, who was hosting the discussion on his wall, well enough to presume that I can cut & paste his posts here, so I’m not going to, but after the initial post he was mostly asking straightforward questions which I think I answer in depth, so there is nothing left out by me …err, leaving them out.

Oh that’s not true at all.
Atheism isn’t a religion, and we are ‘intolerant’ only of misplaced faith.
We don’t condemn any segment of society to torment or punishment, and we don’t exclude any segment of society from our company, our buildings or from employment or government, simply because they think differently or had a different set of birth circumstances.

Religions are characterised by a number of shared features, even if they differ in beliefs and practices. Religions include rituals & festivals, which adherents participate in to reinforce their shared experience; religions request their members accept an imposed belief that may or may not accurately portray the observable reality of the universe, but must be adhered to none-the-less; religions contain at the very least a rudimentary spiritual element; religions impose a code of moral behaviour, deviation from which will have consequences ranging from social to physical sanction, and in extreme cases, execution. Atheism shares none of these aspects – we have no common ritual or festival; we require no person to believe anything at all, but do not sanction those with belief simply for having faith; there is no spiritual aspect to atheism, no souls, no ghosts, no higher purpose, no redemption or afterlife; no moral code adheres to the atheist except that which he deems best.
The closest atheism comes to ‘faith’ is trusting the knowledge that a demonstrable, repeatable evidentiary process can be relied upon to produce the same results time after time without having to actually occur. I know, for instance, that gravity will cause a hammer to land on my toe when dropped, even though I don’t actually drop it. Having burned my hand once, and having heard of many other cases from various cultures and locations that similar things have happened, I don’t need to expose my child to fire to know that they will burn if I do it. The stronger the evidence, the stronger the corroborative experience, the more verifiable the instances, the more firmly I can trust the knowledge.
On the specific question of evolution, I trust the science because the evidence is strong. Anyone who cares to make the effort can actually perform empirical real-time observations of evolution and will always come to the same result. Its a time-consuming expeirment, but can be done with very little equipment or scientific training. The theory of evolution allows for expansion of the relevant knowledge base; and while yes there are many gaps in that knowledge base, I can trust that evolution is still a true theory because previous gaps have been addressed, and resolved, without discrediting the theory in toto. Intelligent design is neither verifiable, nor does it allow for consistent addition to its certainty when new facts come to light.

I would define ‘misplaced faith’ as believing that something you can neither see, feel or prove any other way impacts on your life. Again, I can rely on the laws of physics & the observable universe to provide me a framework in which to operate. If its raining, and I don’t take an umbrella, I will get wet. I know this without actually having to get wet. If I eat poison, I will become unwell. But if I pray to Ganesha, I cannot be certain he will provide me with good fortune. If I kill a thousand infidels, I cannot be certain that I will reside in paradise with 72 virgins after I die. If I drink unfermented grape juice, I have no certainty that it transforms into the blood of a long dead man-god and forges a link between us. More to the point, even though I am an atheist and you are a theist, I know that YOU will get wet in the rain or unwell if you eat poison. I know the same things will happen to a Buddhist, a Muslim, an Odinist, a Sikh.

Its a misconception that atheism is well-organised. Certainly, some atheists form mutual interest societies, but I can be accepted as an atheist without belonging to any of them. There is no central authority in atheism, and nor should there be. There are well-regarded atheists, but they are invested with respect for their achievements or discoveries, not elevated to a superior position.

On the subject of exclusion – no atheist would ever wish to exclude a Christian, a Muslim, a Kabbalist or anyone else from a school, a club, a sporting organisation, a job or a position of civil authority SIMPLY because they are a person of faith. Its simply irrelevant. There are no exclusive atheist schools, no exclusive atheist meeting places. Where we take umbrage is with the imposition of a faith on those who either don’t have any, or have a different one, by dint of political power. In other words, be a Christian politician all you like. Let that inform your personal behaviour if you wish. Worship and pray all you like. I won’t lose any sleep knowing that you do. But if as a Christian politician you wish to legislate your beliefs onto me – that I must acknowledge your god in public prayer; that I must follow your particular morality even if the impact on others is negligible; that others of different faiths must be discriminated against or disadvantaged in some way – then we are gonna have issues.

Now, that’s not to say there are not intolerant atheists. There certainly are. But that’s because they are intolerant people, and would be intolerant Christians, intolerant Jews, intolerant Voudouns or intolerant Dionysians if their circumstances were different – not because there is an inherent intolerance that comes from being atheist.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me be clear – I grew up in a church-going house, and my parents are still happy Presbyterians. I love them dearly and do not begrudge them their religion, or judge them for maintaining it. It works for them, and that works for me. Some of my close friends are religious, and I would hope we could never fall out over something as intensely personal as their faith or my lack thereof. If ever we do, it won’t be my choice.

We could conceivably get a reasonable discussion going here if you guys are interested, so feel free to chime in with comments. All I ask is that you remain civil.



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We interrupt our regularly schedule programming of old poetry and bad jokes to bring you this special Juice Fast update.
As I write this, its near enough to 1030pm Monday night. I’ve not eaten any solid food since around 2pm yesterday. Dinner last night was a couple of glasses of water, as I had an enormous lunch.
I woke up hungry, of course. Breakfast this morning – 2 large glasses of water, 1 large glass of vege juice (beetroot, beetroot greens, english spinach, tomato, celery, kale, bok choy, carrot greensginger, garlic and a little bit of apple & guava), and a cup of herbal tea. Normally I am dead by 11am if I don’t slug down at least 2 coffees by then, so I was a little concerned about that. To my surprise, I didn’t even get one of those horrid “forgot to have coffee” headaches.
Lunch was more of the same juice, mixed with a little bit of fruit blend (apple, orange, pineapple, grape, strawberry, guava, pineapple, kumqwat, and water again.
I really started to get hungry about 4pm, but persevered with a only a cup of green tea til dinner at 730pm, which was another glass of vege, another glass of fruit & another glass of water. I’m cheating a little bit right now, because Tara made me a banana & strawberry smoothie (on almond milk) but really, its all juice so I forgive myself.
Now, all of that stuff cleaned us out of supplies so we stopped at the shop on the way from portrait photos (another story for another day) and bought a metric shitload of new fruit & vegies:

Now we have four bottles of various blends in the fridge (2x vegetable, 2x fruit) which should last us through to Wednesday.

Originally this was supposed to be a 5 day project. Then Tara and I decided we might only do 2 days (mostly because we have a regular dinner-with-friends-night on Tuesdays, and a little bit because we didn’t know if we could see it through). The way I feel right now? I could do this for a week, easy. I heard stories – by now I would have no energy, I would have a chronic headache, I would get stomach cramps. Well, nuh-uh! Feel fine, a little bit empty in the tummy but nothing more than minor discomfort. I have plenty of energy, even now when I’d normally be starting to tire for the night, and I haven’t had anything near a headache.

I didn’t weigh myself before kicking off, but my weight has been consistently around the 97-98kg mark for a couple of years now. I weighed myself just before starting this post and I’m down to 96kg, fully dressed. I’ll see what’s happening on that front in the morning before drawing any conclusions.



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I wish I was a con-artist. Wait, that came out wrong. I have no desire to be tricking people out of their wealth with dodgy promises (well, not much desire anyway). No, what I’m talking about are those marvellously entertaining people who go to pop culture conventions, or ‘cons’ for short. If you’ve never been to a con, well, I reckon you’re missing out. All under one roof, 10000 poeple a day or more wandering around talking about and thinking about science fiction, horror, fantasy, comics, movies, television, games and just generally having a good time. Okay, when I say ‘television’ I’m not talking UNDERBELLY or BREAKING BAD so much as TRUE BLOOD & XENA, but then again there’s no reason why fans of those shows shouldn’t represent as well. Its all make believe, after all. Anyway, the really cool part of a con is the cosplay. (If you don’t know what cosplay is, stop for a second and google it. We’ll wait here for you while you catch up).
(Back now? Up to speed? Cool, lets get back to it). Some cosplayers go to massive effort to dress and act like their favourite characters. You can really see the dedication they have for something which is, for most of them, an unpaid labour of love. When its done well, cosplay is as much a perfomance art as street theatre or busking. And that’s what makes them ‘con-artists’, you see.
Last weekend I went to Supanova, one of the two bigger cons held in Sydney. I don’t know when the other one, Armageddon, is this year – if you do, let me know. And maybe we’ll dress up and go cosplaying together. I do a very believable ‘old fat nerd with a beard’ impersonation….

“Go on Darryn! Do it next year! Join us”

I alternate between cranky & cynical about politics, especially Australian politics. Its been said of the American two party system that they have a party of bad ideas and a party of no ideas; here in Australia we seem to have a party with ideas but no clue as how to communicate them, and a party of communicators who say all ideas are bad. Some folks blame the fact that we have a hung parliament, but I don’t think that’s correct. Even before the last election, the ALP under Julia Gillard was brimming with ideas it should have been able to win support for, having spruiked them for a couple of years. The Mining Resource Rent Tax was crying out to be sold as a vehicle for increasing employment and encouraging venture capitalism; the Emissions Tax/Trading scheme is going to have such a negligible impact on household and small business expense that it should have been a cinch to promote; and the National Broadband Network is the 21st century’s laydown infrastructure winner, an investment that will bear fruit for at least the next 60 or 70 years. If nothing else, they should have dug out old speeches from the late 19th century or early twentieth century about telegraphy and telephony, and used those to sell it. But all three policies have been poorly explained to, & therefore poorly accepted by, the general public. On the other hand, I can’t recall the last time I saw anyone from the Liberal Party speaking positively about any of their own ideas. Its a standing gag that the Libs live in the past … and their total emphasis on saying ‘we will undo this, we will repeal that, we will overturn the other’ reinforces that. They don’t seem to have any policies or strategies except “Let’s reboot; last save point 2006”. They claim to be the party of small business & free enterprise, but when was the last time you saw Bruce Bilson out flogging a policy? Yes, Bruce Bilson. The well-known Liberal Party spokesman for small business, consumer affairs & competition. Oh, you never heard of him either, huh?
There’s a Federal election next year, and that should be a time of energy and excitement during which we are presented with two competiting visions, equally vibrant, for Australia’s future. But it won’t be; it will be an exhaustively boring naysaying contest between a party that has wasted most of its opportunities while in power, and a party whose objective is simply to achieve power with no idea what to do when it gets there.
Bring on the Independents again.

We’d be better off with this lot.


Next week, Tara and I are going on a 5 day juice fast. We will eat nothing and limit our liquid intake to water & freshly squeezed vegetable and/or fruit juice. Apparently this is very good for getting the toxins out of the body and helping with weight loss, two things that I need to attend to. Going 5 days without a proper coffee is gonna be the hardest part for me, but I’m sure I won’t murder more than one or two random strangers before the week’s over. I’ll post updates here and on my Facebook for those who are interested. Life’s never dull unless you want it to be.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Three round meals a day.



I don’t know if its significant or not to mark the 1000th viewing of one’s blog. If it is, then I’m doing the right thing; if it’s not, then I’m a trendsetter. Either way, thank you all for your attention.
Here’s some stats; those of you who like such things should both get a thrill out of them. This blog kicked off on April 1st (no, really) and April was the most viewiest month, possibly because I didn’t post for half of May. Overall, this blog averages 17 views per day. Most of you (nearly 3 times as many as anything else) have landed here from Facebook; the next biggest driver to this site is people searching for ‘poems about summer’ or one of 14 variations thereof. Interestingly, someone googled Kim Jong Dead to get here as well.
Not many of you click on the outbound links I include in my rambles, which is sad because I would only ever send you somewhere mindblowingly interesting. Also, I was gonna do a post soon about my favourite websites and blogs but if nobody’s clicking though, maybe not. We’ll see.
Apart from the home page, the most viewed blog post is my review of the Avengers movie, followed by the poem Summer Nights & my intro page. Least viewed is the poem Autumn Morning. Proportionally, rambles get more views than poems. Most of you come from Australia, and its a long way back to second place (USA) & another long stretch to third place (UK). Of all places, who’d have thought Guyana would come in fourth amongst my blog viewers? Its not even cricket season yet! All in all, people from 25 countries have visited Some Poems & More, which is a testament to the reaching power of the web. Nowhen else in history has an amateur writer, killing time, been able to make even a tiny impact on such a diverse readership as the Czech Republic, Vietnam, Israel, Nepal, Canada & Korea all at the same time.

Yeah, okay. Sorry.


Of course, this is not the only only milestone in the world this week. Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her Diamond Jubilee this week. 60 years is a long time to do one job, even if you are the boss and your job mostly involves going on holidays and allegedly having your daughter-in-law killed opening exhibitions and stuff.  Technically & constitutionally, Lizzie Windsor is my head of state and she does seem like a dear old stick. In my younger days I was a determined Republican (which means something very different in Australia than it does in the USA; here it’s a constitutional position, there it’s a political party). Nowadays, I’m a lot mellower and whilst I’d theoretically support the move to an all-Australian head of state (as long as we called it a proper Aussie name like Head Sherang), I don’t get very exercised about the issue. I’m even fond of Prince Charles these days; he seems to be a lot less pompous than he was 20 years ago.
Here’s a terrible joke about Her Maj:
Queen Elizabeth and Dolly Parton die on the same day, but only one can get into Heaven
St. Peter asks Queen Elizabeth what makes her special enough to enter Heaven. Elizabeth takes out a douche bottle and douches herself.
St. Peter asks Dolly what makes her special enough to get into Heaven. Dolly opens up her shirt and flashes her chest.
St. Peter lets Queen Elizabeth in instead of Dolly. When Dolly asks St. Peter why Elizabeth was let in, Peter replies, “A royal flush beats a wild pair.”

“We are absolutely moist with laughter.”


And of course, even more important than my thousandth view or the Queens’ sixtieth year, the Mighty Wests Tigers racked up six in a row by putting 40 unanswered points on the hapless Canberra Raiders last Saturday. After a slow start to the season, in part due to the seemingly inevitable injuries to our forwards, its seems the Black & Gold have finally clicked into a rhythm. Last year we finished third. This year I really think we can repeat 2005’s glory and go all the way. It doesn’t hurt that the rep selectors seem intent on ignoring the form players – Beau Ryan, Aaron Woods, Liam Fulton – to fix the glaring weaknesses in the NSW Blues line-up, and thus minimising their chances of additional injuries. Currently fourth, there’s no reason why we can’t dominate the second half of the season and finish top two, or even first (okay, that would need the very impressive & consistent Melbourne Storm to fall into a fiery pit and not play any more games this year). Anyway, the important thing is ………… GO TIGERS!

Possibly the greatest logo in all the universe



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