Sometimes Alternatives Choose Themselves

I was sitting alone in the large empty dining room with a solitary fried testicle and was trying to put on my happy smile. A weekend earlier was the 26th annual Round The Bend Steakhouse Testicle Festival and the room was packed wall to wall with farmers, mechanics, attorneys, and accountants; weekend bikers in studded leather jackets and red bandannas were spilling outside into the just set up beer garden. It’s claimed that about twenty two hundred pounds of testicles are shipped in from around the country for the festival. Years ago there were beef, pork, lamb, and turkey testicles to feast on; all you get now are thinly sliced, breaded, deep fried bull testicles. The testicles come ten or twelve on a paper tray with a pickle and a little dipping sauce. I had decided to spend a little time at the Round the Bend Steakhouse’s annual testicle festival and so I stood at the testicle fork in the road.

image source:jmcadam

The longer I sat alone in the large empty dining room the more I thought about the Testicle Festival. I could faintly hear the band playing, taste the ice cold beers, and feel the gristle of a testicle between my teeth. As I waited for the Ranch Dressing, so I could dip my battered fried testicle, I thought about some of the other forks in the road I could have taken and the two parallel lives I would have had.

Several years ago I spent a little time on holidays in the Finger Lakes region of central New York state; it’s known as Finger Lakes because of the eleven lakes running parallel to each other. According to Native American legend the lakes were formed when the great Spirit laid his hands on the land to bless it; his fingers left imprints that then filled with water. Most people who visit the area marvel at the lush vineyards and small wineries, the scenic rolling hills, and the natural beauty of Watkins Glen State Park; I was more in awe hearing about the area’s salt production and the salt refining process. But then I became aware of the The Watkins Glen International raceway; it’s annual calendar includes NASCAR, an Indy Racing Series, and Vintage Cups. Visitors to The Glen can drive their own cars for three laps around this storied road course. And for me that far surpasses the history of salt mining and refining; I was In like Flynn. My money, voice, and hand were shaking as I asked for tomorrow’s ticket; the reply came unexpected.

image source:jmcadam

As I laboured two miles climbing up the rock steps and trudging over the wet stones of Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail, I thought of what could have been. The trail snakes over, under, and past 19 waterfalls; you climb 800 plus stone steps. The rental car sat low to the ground and it’s wheel base was wide for stability; it sat like an animal waiting to run. Taking it to the track was the right thing to do. As I pressed down on the accelerator the motor went from purring to revving. It was engineered to be powerful and untamed. I started off slowly at the bottom of the trail and the stone stairs were an easy climb. The trail meandered past creeks and through waterfalls, and I was walking with a rhythmic free style motion. Before long my shirt was damp with sweat and clinging to my back, and there was a sting to my eyes; the stone path was damp with the spray of the water cascading over the cliffs. My legs were now moving with a slow robotic precision, and the muscles that once worked so smoothly were now struggling to hold my weight. It hugged the turns on the track as if it’s wheels where glued down, and I felt my face being tugged backward by the g-force. It was all about the journey, the feel, the momentum.

image source:jmcadam

In the early seventies when I set off searching for inspiration and idealism in the ordinary I used London as my starting point. During that first long hot London summer I worked as a life guard at an outdoor swimming pool; Brockwell Lido was nestled in the corner of south London’s Brockwell Park. I was one of five lads hired as life guards. Peter the university student, and John the part time Herne Hill criminal were the experienced life guards returning from last year; Mick the Irishman, sympathetic to the troubles and a supporter of the Provisional Irish Republican Army, and the young London lad whose name I can’t remember and I, were the newbies. During the long hot summer we plucked quite a few little ones from the shallow three foot end of the pool, and dragged a few teenagers and adults from the deep end after they’d jumped off the high diving board, and discovered they couldn’t swim.

As the end of summer approached I started to wonder if it was time to wander through Europe, or if I needed to ferret out some other short term work in London. John the part time Herne Hill criminal helped with my decision; he asked if I wanted to join him, and some other lads who were training and practising to become a wrestling troupe to tour small European towns. The first stop of the tour was Italy.

image source:pixabay

The room could have been in any small Italian town. It was crowded with loud wrestling fans and the air was thick with cigarette smoke. I took a deep breath; all I could taste was the salt from sweat. My heart was pounding as I approached the centre of the ring, and my opponent. The crowd grew louder as we came together. He stood as a colossus but I knew he was my equal; we had practised the story line and plot, and the moves and holds, so many times in the South London make shift gym. A few months earlier I decided on the type of wrestler I would become; I knew that no one wanted a baby face emotionally complex character; I became the mischievous Flying Kangaroo. My finisher was the flying drop kick followed up with an elbow drop from the top rope; I’d enter the ring wrapped in an Australian kangaroo design beach towel and wearing a pair of Australian boardies. I’d resort to every trick in the book to gain an advantage. Most of the matches were scripted so before I applied the finisher I’d deliver a scoop slam, and an inverted atomic drop, and then look out into the screaming faces. I was confused when I woke. I looked out through the frosted back windows of the Ford Anglia panel van and saw the soft, out of focus, German country side.

In the late sixties and early seventies Khatmandu was an untouched city in the Nepalese Himalayas. It promised enlightenment and cheap plentiful drugs. Durbar Square, Freak Street, and the narrow roads of old Kathmandu became the haven for the back packing travellers of the seventies. In the mid to late seventies Khatmandu was transforming from a hippie mecca to a tourist destination; express tourist coaches with reclining seats were beginning to replace public buses, and the Khatmandu international airport terminal was the new bus station. It was a long bus ride across the Terai plains from Darjeeling to Kathmandu. The plains are nestled against the foothills of the Himalayas so the 20 plus hours bus journey is mostly over flat fertile land. The bus was slow, noisy, crowded, and uncomfortable; most males preferred to ride on the roof with the luggage. Toilet and food breaks seemed to be unplanned; sometimes they happened when the bus stopped in a town. And food could be bought when a food seller jumped on and off the bus. I think I remember the bus climbing the mountain road before it began it’s descent into Khatmandu; it lurched and swayed around sharp bends, passed trucks and other buses when there was no room to pass, and balanced itself on the edge of the road to avoid the sharp drop offs. The ride reminded me of Luna Park’s scenic railway.

image source:anon

Then came the time to leave Khatmandu. I walked the worn paving slabs of Freak Street, sat casually in Temple Square smoking local cigarettes, and stared at the home of the little goddess; all the time pondering how to leave Khatmandu. Would a lurching, swaying ride in a crowded bus wandering close to a drop off of hundreds of feet on a pot holed gravel road, be better than riding in a Nepal Airlines, or Air India plane, being buffeted by turbulence and up drafts as it tries to fly over the high peaks and mountains of the Himalayas. The pilot took the plane to the end of the runway and swung it around. The engines were racing and the plane began to shudder, and strain against the brakes; I wondered how much stress could the engines handle before they’d break off their joints. The pilot released the brakes and the plane bounced down the runway. As soon as we were in the air the plane headed for the mountains on the side of the valley. A twisting road clung to the mountain side, and a colourful small bus was bouncing recklessly close to the edge of the road and the drop off into the valley below.

If you’ll excuse me. I think it’s time to open the fridge door and bide my time waiting until a cold one chooses me; but then again I could choose the beer. That would be an interesting premise for a film. The juxtaposition and adjacency of what happens when an everyday occurrence, or decision, is split in two and we see it both ways.

 

The Very Strange Life Of Nepal’s Child Goddess

Racing: Tourism Information for Watkins Glen and Schuyler County

Testicle Festival: Round the Bend Steakhouse

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Who Wants To Get Sick And Go To Hospital

A few weeks back I was pushing the lawn mower for the first time this summer around the back yard. The backyard has two areas; the back section is separated from the lower front area by a raked, sloping incline. The late spring morning had ushered in bright sunshine and blue skies, and grass moist and damp with condensation. I was wearing my thongs, as I’m known to do through spring, summer, and autumn; the rubber sole footwear with a strip of rubber anchored in a Y formation at three places to the sole. In the US and Europe they’re called flip flops, but Australians insist on calling them thongs; they’re as much a part of everyday life to an Aussie as Vegemite, meat pies, and beetroot. And you’re not a true blue Aussie unless you’ve put your foot on the back of your mate’s thong when they’re walking in front of you.

image source:jmcadam

I knew the raked, sloping incline was going to be a test of motor mower handling, balance, and precision thong placement. I angled the mower down the incline, and pulled back on the handle with both hands in an attempt to have some control over the careening, belching, machine; with every step my thongs slid and slipped on the moist grass of the incline. My legs twisted and contorted at the knees as I pulled and pushed the mower across, and down the incline; and then I was sitting on a leg on the moist incline. My foot had slid out of it’s thong, and my leg had arched up and under and behind me. I sat on my knee wondering if a needed a stretcher; or maybe I could limp off over the boundary without any help. I decided that when the trainers came out with a wet towel to wipe my face down, and said a few encouraging words to me, I’d just get up and pretend I’m OK. The longer I sat there the more I started to think about how I ended up sitting on my leg; did I come down the wrong way on my knee after taking a specky, or did my foot really slip out of it’s thong. I thought I heard the roar of the crowd; I shook off the ache in my knee, grabbed the mower and tackled what was left of the long grass on the moist, raked, sloping incline.

image source:thesaturdaypaper.com.au

Over the next few days I found it painful to put any type of pressure on my knee and so I started to wear a brace; the ache didn’t subside. I gave into the knee discomfort and contacted my health provider’s orthopaedic clinic; the earliest they could schedule an appointment was in six weeks. I already had a previously scheduled visit with my doctor so I thought he could check out my knee for any serious damage. Maybe the remedy the footie trainers used in the seventies had some merit; wrap it in a wet towel and pretend it’s OK.

My general doctor practices at a teaching hospital so whenever I have an appointment a medical student gets to practice their interview and basic examination skills with me. The examination room has a small institutional desk in one corner with a computer monitor and keyboard on it; two uncomfortable plastic chairs sit alongside the desk. In another corner there’s an examination table covered with a white paper sheet. It has a fold out step at one end that becomes a foot rest when the doctor feels around your ankles. The room could be taken straight from a hospital examination room design catalogue. Every time I’m left alone in the examination room waiting for a light knock on the door I think back to my time in Springfield Illinois.

image source:jmcadam

After arriving in the US, and living just short of five years in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska, I moved to Springfield, Illinois. I thought Springfield was going to be similar to Lincoln; both being state capitals and college towns. Springfield was smaller than Lincoln, and had none of the attributes of a college town; but it have a lot of Lincoln in it. It was hard to walk two minutes without reading something about, or seeing somewhere Abe Lincoln had been.

Springfield didn’t offer many opportunities for an Instructional Designer. I suppose I could have waited tables at the nearby Big Boy restaurant, or been a shelf stocker at the neighbourhood grocery and deli. But I was an Instructional Designer, committed to advancing the latest strategies for infusing technology into the redesign and delivery of learning. It’s said that one person alone can’t make a difference, and that you should accept the course you’re on; but I believed in America being the land of opportunity, where everyone can go and do anything, be anything, and make any dreams come true. I would come to be the best Instructional Designer in Springfield, Illinois. Within a few months I was collecting food stamps and unemployment benefits. If only Abe Lincoln had decided on a career in Instructional Design instead of law.

I think one of the best ways to introduce yourself to a new place is to join a community club, a special interest group, or and an organisation; it introduces you to a communities resources and surrounds you with persons with shared interests.

image source:jmcadam

I auditioned for an upcoming production at the Springfield Community Theatre and was offered a role; the start of my involvement in the Springfield theatre scene. Before long an acquaintance from the theatre asked if I was interested in part time work. Was this the end of the empty endless days of searching for an Instructional Designer position, and a goodbye to the anguish of collecting food stamps? And so I became a patient simulator.

The University of Illinois had a residency program at one of Springfield’s hospitals. Back then an innovative component of the program was first and final year medical students having proctored interviews and examinations with simulated patients. You became a patient by role playing scenarios based on actual patient cases. You were given a medical history, personality, emotional temperament, response patterns during interviews and examinations, and symptoms for a condition such as depression, a common cold, appendix about to burst, anxiety, irritability. The students were given the results from test that could include X Rays, blood tests, or Diabetes screening. A flair for improvisational acting was a plus.

image source:medicaldaily.com

Most of my simulations were considered as moderately invasive; and included looking into my eyes, ear, nose, and throat, taking my blood pressure and pulse, listening with a stethoscope to my heart and lungs, testing reflexes, and an abdomen examination. Simulations that included a breast exam, pelvic exam, or a rectal exam were considered invasive and if you volunteered for these you were handsomely rewarded. Some might say that being a patient simulator is only a part time acting job. But an Instructional Designer knows simulations as instructional scenarios; a learner is placed in a world defined by a teacher, and the experience is a student centred constructivist experiential learning activity. I was a patient simulator Instructional Designer. Food stamps were becoming a fading memory.

I’d finished reading Good Housekeeping and was still waiting in the design catalogue hospital examination room. My doctor, instead of a medical student, walked in from the light knock on the door; summer had given the students a breather from learning. He dutifully reviewed my past colonoscopy results, and reminded me of my upcoming colonoscopy appointment. I gestured to my knee and recounted the saga of the mower. He pushed and poked at my knee, suggested a possible sprained ligament or tendon, and ordered an X Ray and appointment with the orthopaedic clinic. Maybe the remedy the footie trainers used in the seventies had some merit; wrap it in a wet towel and pretend it’s OK.

image source:jmcadam

When I went to check in for my knee X-Ray I was stopped dead in my tracks by the sign between me and the check in desk; “Self Service Check In” with an arrow pointing to three computers set up on a table to the side, and away from the check you in humans. I waited for a check you in human.

Me: (with a smile on my voice) G’day, certainly a brilliant decision to have self service check in at an orthopaedic clinic; I would have thought a lot of people may have sprained and broken wrists and limited mobility of their arms.
Check You In Human: Good morning; name?
Me: (with an insightful tone) Sort of like getting your boarding pass at the airport; must save a lot of queuing
Check You In Human: And you’re here to see Doctor?
Me: (with a knowing what’s what inflection)There’s been a lot of interest lately in autonomous intelligent control and robotic technology
Check You In Human: Are you still at the same address?
Me: (with a sense of wonder) Every time I come for an appointment there’s something new; technology is transforming the health care experience. Before you know it we’ll be getting digital health care coupons with our self service check in
Check You In Human: And you still have the same health care plans?
Me: (in an approving manner) Sometimes I get really annoyed standing in queues; I think I’ll use self check in for my next colonoscopy procedure.
Check You In Human: If you would just take a seat; we’ll call you soon

With the way things are going the next time I go for my twice a year check up I’ll probably check in at a photo collection and signature capture kiosk and then have to use an interactive navigation app to get step by step directions to my assigned examination room. I wonder if I should take my doctor’s visit back to a human experience and roll play a patient with a psychedelic optimism about new medical technologies when the medical student comes into the room to practice their interview and basic examination skills.

Medical Student: And how are we feeling today?
Me:(in a low and articulate voice) Computer cybernetics, are going to take us to interesting places and may work the way psychedelics do without the idea of substance. And I think I’ve swallowed a small brass key, a bottle cap, a pipe screen, and a mascara brush

 

Jerry Garcia – Autopsy

Standardized Patient Program – Johns Hopkins Medicine

What You Need to Know About Knee Sprain Injuries

David Is Just Another Name For John

A few days ago I went online shopping; but it wasn’t my first time buying something online. All of my previous purchases have been from Amazon. I don’t really think buying something from a multinational technology company that focuses on cloud computing, digital streaming, artificial intelligence, and e-commerce fits my style of shopping. I like shopping in a shop that specialises in one type of anything; or a department store that has a number of shops spread throughout it’s building. Myer Melbourne is an iconic name in Australian retail; it’s Australia’s largest department store. Myer’s eight storey Art Deco building in Melbourne’s Bourke Street Mall is the company’s national flagship store. I remember my first Myer experiences as a young boy. When mum went into town with nanna during the school holidays she’d take me along; she’d go into town to make a payment on her Myer lay-by, or for cooking demonstrations in the Gas and Fuel Company’s presentation kitchen.

image source:slv.vic.gov.au

As a young boy I thought the Myer store was luxurious and opulent; I was in awe of the modern spaces that celebrated what we all might have some day. Mum and nanna window shopped in all of the departments on their way to the lay-by counter; I had trouble keeping up with them as they shuttled between each floor in the Myer lifts. Shoppers weren’t allowed to work the lifts. Myer had smartly dressed lift operators in each lift who controlled everything the lift did; from opening and closing the doors, the direction and speed of the lift, and how many people were allowed in the lift. They’d open and close the doors by pushing buttons, and control the speed of the lift by pulling or pushing levers, or turning a metal wheel.

As the lift operator closed the lift doors you always heard

Going Up
Stand Clear Of The Doors Please
Stopping at One: Ladies fashions, underwear, shoes and accessories
Going Up
Stand Clear Of The Doors Please
Stopping at Two: Men’s suites, hats, scarves and gloves, shirts and underwear
Next Lift Please
Going Up
Stand Clear Of The Doors Please
Stopping at Three: Cafeteria, and ladies lounge
Going Up
Stand Clear Of The Doors Please
Stopping at Four: Children’s toys, and lay by

The lift operators wore name tags; most of the male operators were called Alfred, and if you weren’t an Alfred you were a Maurice. The Myer lift operators stood in the corner of their lift.

Some of the lifts in other department stores had a small seat in the corner in front of the operators panel of buttons; it folded down and out from the wall. A lift operators work day was spent sitting on a small padded seat, pushing buttons and turning a metal wheel; I suppose it’s not much different from today’s IT workers who sit on a padded chair, tapping on a keyboard and clicking on a mouse.

image source:pinterest

After mum paid a few shillings off her lay-by we’d take the lift to the Myer cafeteria so mum and nanna could rest up over a cup of tea and scones; I’d get a Tarax Pineapple or Cottee’s Passiona.

I don’t think anybody goes to Amazon to spend an afternoon of leisurely window shopping, or to rest up over a cup of tea and scones. I find Amazon somewhat tedious for browsing and relaxed shopping. It’s said that Amazon US has over 160 million products alone in it’s Clothing, Shoes & Jewellery category, 87 million items in Home & Kitchen, and 62 million in Books. If you’re buying at Amazon you’d better know the name of what you want to be able to search it out and add it to your cart. I’ve stopped buying at Amazon and started shopping at online department stores, and online speciality shops. The other day I went online shopping for a cordless weed eater at the website of a big box hardware shop. In the The Land Down Under a whacker is a term for an idiot; someone who’s a fair dinkum dill, so Australians call grass trimming machines weed eaters, whipper snippers, or string trimmers. As I right clicked through the different brands of wackers I’d click on one of the different close up images of a wacker area; and it became a little off putting. I started to experience this strange feeling, and imagined I was looking at a wacker’s private parts. I felt more comfortable using the 360 view.

image source:jmcadam

I clicked an eater into my virtual trolley, and moused my way to the online checkout. I choose to have the eater delivered to the near by, big box warehouse site for pick up. I clicked on order, and a few day later headed to the big box warehouse to pick up my cordless weed eater.

Me: G’day mate
Pickup Associate: May I help you?
Me: (Knowing better not to call it an eater, trimmer, or snipper) I’ve come to pick up my wacker
Pickup Associate: Did you order it online or in the store
Me: (Thinking to myself; why would that make a difference) Online
Pickup Associate: Do you have an order number?
Me: No worries; it’s somewhere in my phone
Pickup Associate: Phone number
Me: (Showing associate the smart phone screen) No order number
Pickup Associate: (Staring into screen and tapping at keyboard) Just be a moment the computers locked up
Me: (In a serious tone) Wouldn’t want to use them for online shopping would you?
Pickup Associate: (Taking smart phone and entering order number) Are you John McAdam; do you have ID?
Me: Yep, that’s me
Pickup Associate: (Looking intently at my drivers licence) Who’s David, the order says John McAdam
Me: No worries; it’s me. I’m David John McAdam but I’m called John. If you look at the picture it’s me
Pickup Associate: I don’t go by the picture I only go by a name
Me: (Thinking to myself; what a whacker) We’re the same person

It’s difficult to understand a whacker; sometimes their word and actions are contradictions. The Pickup Associate disappeared into the row of pickup shelves, and in no time reappeared carrying my weed eater. I signed the order received paperwork as J McAdam.

image source:jmcadam

My name is David John McAdam and I’m called by my second Christian name John. It’s said that mum wanted to call me John but her mum, my nanna, wanted to call me David. Mum got her way and so did nanna; which has led to confusion throughout my life. It took me until adulthood to grow into John as my name. Before starting school I was always John; and then I became David for half of the day. I was a meek and shy young boy throughout Primary and Secondary school, so when the teachers called me David I never spoke up to tell them the story of my name. I was known to them by my second Christian name John; mum’s name for me. But in the play ground and school yard all my friends, and other classmates, called me John. It wasn’t so bad in Secondary School because most teachers just called you by your last name; so I was McAdam. I think it was probably around Fourth or Fifth Form; I was sixteen or seventeen, when I summoned the courage to tell the teachers that I was called by my second Christian name John. Starting at Footscray Technical College was a new beginning; the Chemistry department was one of the smallest at the college and so there were only a handful of full time chemistry teachers. There were only twenty plus other students in my class and so by the first week of class everybody knew the story of my name. And so I started to grow into being John.

image source:jmcadam

Googling John McAdam gives an infinite number of listings for John Loudon McAdam; the father of the modern road. John was a Scottish civil engineer and road-builder who was the inventor of the macadam road surface; if only I was that John McAdam. Searching with the query John McAdam Omaha rewards you with: “in the past, John has also been known as D J Mcadam, David J Mcadam, David John Mcadam, John D Adams and John D McAdam”. Since being in the US I’ve tried to explain the story of my name to the various national and state agencies, banks, business, organisation, institution, shops, companies, and other entities that I’ve needed to interact with; obliviously that hasn’t eliminated the confusion of what I am called. Whenever someone calls me any of the above names my first response back is: “I’m called by my second Christain name John”. It’s not easy growing into a name..

image source:jmcadam

Some scientists have reasoned that there’s a good chance you look like your name; that you somehow grow into the facial features society associates with a name. And other research suggests that people link certain expectations to particular names; so your first name will shape how people perceive your age, personality, and how good you are at your job. When I was David I’m sure people saw me as sweet and charming; and I probably would have grown up to be be seen as somewhat similar to David Bowie. And now that I’m John people most likely see me as interesting, clever and funny; it’s interesting that the name John has been identified as the number one of the top 10 names for male geniuses.

When I think back, I start to understand the Pickup Associate whacker’s actions; as they looked searchingly into my face they didn’t see a David but instead saw a John.

I recently read that the most popular 2019 names for baby girls are Isla, Olivia, Posie, and Aurora; and for boys they’re Milo, Jasper, Atticus, and Theodore. I wonder how people will perceive them when they become adults; and what they will become when they grow up. I think it’s a sure bet that anyone named Atticus will have a round face, and will be an outstanding lift operator.

Myer

The History Of Ecommerce: How Did It All Begin?

This Is Why We Have Middle Names in the First Place

Inside Every Grownup There’s A Monitor Trying To Get Out

There are two supermarkets, each about the same distance from my house. I didn’t consciously choose one of them to be my go-to grocery shop. It’s not that I’ll never set foot in the other shop. Whenever I have a craving for a ham and salad roll for lunch, it’s off to the other shop because I prefer the brand of cold cuts and lunch meats in their delicatessen. But I’ll leave only with the ham, and go to my grocery shop for the rest of the ham salad roll fixings; the lettuce, tomatoes, beetroot, cucumber, and grated carrot. Whenever I stand in front of the deli counter trying to decide between the Black Forest, Maple Glazed, Boneless Smoked, or Smoked Virginia ham I think back to buying lunch at Williamstown Tech.

image source:jmcadam

There was a process to buying lunch at school; and I’m sure the Victorian Education Department had the same process in all of it’s Technical schools. At the start of the second class period you’d tick off on a lunch bag what you wanted for lunch; a sandwich or a roll, a pie or pasty, or a sausage roll. The form’s lunch monitor took the lunch bags, and the form’s lunch tray to the canteen. The school canteen lunch ladies made the lunches and put them into their correct lunch bags. Ten minutes before the lunch bell the lunch monitor collected the form’s lunch tray with the filled lunch bags and brought it back to the classroom. I always struggled over what to buy for lunch; I’d stare down at my printed lunch bag and be wracked with indecision. My lunch bag was always the last lunch bag into the form’s lunch tray. The lunch monitor would start pacing the front of the classroom. He was eager to head off to the canteen; it meant more time out of the classroom hanging out with the other lunch monitors. I toiled over what to order every time mum gave me the rare privilege of buying lunch; a salad roll or sandwich, a pie or pasty, or a sausage roll. I always chose a salad roll; a bread roll filled with shredded lettuce, grated carrots, sliced beetroot and tomato, and cucumber.

image source:slwa.wa.gov.au

The traditional Australian salad sandwich or roll never had slices of meat in it; and the Willy Tech canteen ladies adhered to that standard. I don’t know when, or why, I started to add a few slices of meat to my home made salad rolls.

A few days ago I had a craving for a ham and salad roll. As soon as I stepped into my grocery shop I headed for the delicatessen; I was half way down the aisle when I came face to face with an associate pushing a shopping trolley and holding what looked like a deadly next generation Buck Rogers ray gun. I didn’t even pretend to be shopping so I could surreptitiously spy; I stood in front of her and blatantly watched. She took an item from the shelf, aimed the ray gun at it’s barcode, and then put it in her shopping trolley; she pushed the trolley down the aisle a bit, and repeated the process. I followed her down several different aisles; she continued to take items from the shelves and point the ray gun at them. I approached the associate.

image source:jmcadam

Me: G’day
Supermarket Associate: Hello; and what brings you in to see us?
Me: Just getting some ham for a salad roll. I’m a bit of a sticky beak so I wondered what you were doing
Supermarket Associate: I’m shopping for a customer; it’s our online grocery service. You go online and add what you want to your cart. When you’ve finished shopping you just click on checkout
Me: Crikey; just like filling out my lunch order at Willy Tech and the lunch monitor taking it to the canteen ladies
Supermarket Associate: Ah right. Your shopping list is displayed on my hand held scanner screen
Me: Blimey!!!!! you’re a shopping monitor
Supermarket Associate: If that’s what you want to call it
Me: Great; Were you ever a milk monitor or an ink monitor?
Supermarket Associate: (Looking at me as if I’ve got a few roos loose in the top paddock) Enjoy your salad roll

williamstown tech forms 1AB

image source:jmcadam

Grades at the Victorian Education Department’s Technical schools were called Forms; there were about twenty students in a form. The first year students at a Technical school were in Form1; the first form in Form 1 was Form1A, the second form Form1B, and so on. A teacher was assigned as a mentor to each form, and they became that form’s Form Teacher. The Form Lunch Monitor was a highly sought after job. It helped your chances of the Form Teacher assigning you as the lunch monitor immensely if you you had been a Milk Monitor, a Blackboard Monitor, or an Ink Monitor in Primary School; previous experience as a monitor always impressed the Form Teacher. Some boys resorted to the most obsequious sucking up to the Form Teacher to be chosen for the position of Lunch Monitor.

Hoping to be Lunch Monitor: Good Afternoon Mr Baldwin. Sir, you may think that I’m not very good at English and Solid Geometry, and that’s because I think I was born to be a Lunch Monitor. I was the best ink monitor that North Williamstown State School ever had; the ink wells never ran dry. Thank you for considering me, Sir

It had to be grade three in Primary school when I started to use an ink pen instead of a pencil to do school work. The ink pens were a piece of wood with a metal sleeve on one end to hold a replaceable steel nib. We sat two to a desk, and at the top center of each desk was a small hole that held a shared ink well. We dipped the nib into the small ceramic ink well to load it up with ink; it held just enough blue ink to write about three words in cursive.

image source:ambaile.org.uk

I think I was an Ink Monitor; or maybe it’s just wishful remembering. Each morning before Writing or Arithmetic the ink monitors filled the ink wells. A large glass bottle of blue ink was in a cupboard at the front of the room. Two glass tubes poked out of a cork stopper in the neck of the bottle; one bent at a right angle from the stopper, and the other sticking straight up. The ink wells were filled by angling the large ink bottle over the ink well so the curved glass tube was just above the small nib dipping hole. Skilled ink monitors controlled the flow of ink by putting their small index finger over the end of the long straight tube and slowly raising, or moving it, to vary the air pressure. And they filled the ink wells just to the top of the nib dipping opening; without leaving a hint of ink on the rim of the well, or on the wooden desk top. All skilled ink monitors when they were filling the last ink well would smear a little ink on the inside of their index finger to wear as a sign of ink greatness.

Two grades later pens that sucked up and stored ink appeared; we wrote more than three words in cursive script and solved arithmetic problems with three numbers without dipping our pens in the ink well. It was the passing of the ink monitor.

image source:abc.net.au

When I went to North Williamstown State School the Australian government provided every Primary schools student with a daily allowance of milk. We all had to drink our third of a pint of school milk from a small glass bottle before morning recess. The milkman delivered the small glass bottles in metal crates, and stacked them in the shelter sheds. The school year was divided into three terms, and the teacher of the fifth and sixth grades assigned two milk monitors for each grade for a term. I had the privilege, and honour to be chosen as a Milk Monitor. My job was to carry the class’s milk crate from the shelter shed to the classroom with the other monitor; and to then carry it back to the shelter shed with the empty milk bottles. Being a milk monitor was a coveted, prestigious job; you got out of class for fifteen minutes each morning, and if there was left over milk you got to drink it. But being a milk monitor in the summer months before and after the Christmas holidays was less than coveted. On those hot summer mornings the milk sat in the shelter sheds in ninety degree heat for over an hour. The metal crates were hot to the touch and always seemed heavier; maybe because the milk had thickened and the bottles were filled with floating biological blobs. The extra bottles of hot milk were hard to swap with classmates for favors, and no milk monitor was ever known to thirst for the summer’s left over milk.

image source:pixabay

To a youthful boy in Primary school it seemed as if the front of the classroom was covered with a blackboard; and it most likely was. The blackboard had areas reserved for permanent material; a cursive alphabet, counting numbers, multiplication tables, or the names of exotic animals, but the rest of the board was for the teachers daily chalk talk. Each day the teacher surrounded themselves in chalk dust as they filled their blackboard with new enlightenment’s for their class of young unripe minds. And because they wanted to start the next day with a clean blackboard; so became the blackboard monitor. The blackboard monitor’s job was to clean away the teacher’s wisdom with a duster before the end of the school day. Every couple of days the dusters were taken into the school yard to be cleaned of chalk dust; the monitor held it in one hand and smacked it with a ruler until it was free of chalk. Inventive blackboard monitors, at the risk of being caught, would bang the duster on a wall; leaving an anonymous, shapeless film of dusty chalk for other students to admire. And if other blackboard monitors were cleaning dusters there was nothing better than a full fledged duster fight; with dusters thrown at each other and flying through the air.

I think I should moderate a Monitor’s Blog. Retired monitors would share monitor tips and tricks, their stories, and our love of being a monitor; and as such, the blog would serve as an inspiration to aspiring Shopping Monitors, as well as a resource for new emerging monitor jobs. The first posting could be “I was a quintessential corridor monitor in Primary school”.

 

Remember Free Milk at School

Has Australia Abandoned the Salad Sandwich?

Cursive Handwriting Will No Longer Be Taught in Schools Because It’s a Big, Old Waste of Time

Food Is An Important Part Of A Balanced Diet

I never stop and think about what awakens the memories that take me back to a childhood happening, a teenage adventure, or an adolescent experience. I don’t think the memories are caused by any of the five senses; perhaps there’s a sixth sense that invokes some of those long forgotten memories. The other day I had a flashback. I’d just gotten home from school and was walking into the kitchen through the back door; mum stopped rolling the rissoles she had just made for tea in breadcrumbs, turned from the counter and announced, I have a surprise for you.

Mum: I had to go up the street to Mrs Worms to get a half a loaf of white bread, and I got you a coffee scroll to have when you got home from school.

Because mum didn’t make coffee scrolls on her Sunday baking afternoons the chance to eat a warm, soft, gently kneaded dough with sultanas, butter, cinnamon and brown sugar, topped with a sweet coffee icing was a guilty indulgence for an innocent fourteen year old.

image source:jmcadam

Mum made her usual collection of lamingtons, vanilla slices, and matchsticks on baking day. Sometimes she’d double up on her lamington recipe so she’d have extra cake batter to make butterflies; which are just fairy cakes with their tops cut off. Fairy cakes are a smaller version of cupcakes, but they’re made with a lighter sponge cake recipe. Mum would cut small circles from the tops of her fairy cakes, and then cut the circles in half to make wings. She filled the hole left in the top of the cake with whipped cream, sometimes jam, and then push two half circles into the cream. The half circles sat atop each cake as if they were wings waiting to flutter. As I thought about mum’s butterflies I became aware of some forgotten memories of taste and smell. Cakes took over my mind; I thought of cakes that belong to a cup of tea, the types of cakes that cause happy thoughts in your brain, and cakes that are cakes as they are meant to be. And so I set off in search of a full service bakery and sensible, down to earth cakes.

image source:recipes.sainsburys.co.uk

I stood in front of the display case trying to decide between lemon bars, zebra brownies, turtle pecan brownies, coconut macaroons, and peanut butter cinnamon rolls. I waited for the customer before me to make his selection. He gestured toward a plate of walnut bars.

Customer: Is that the only keto you have?
Cake Server: All of our top row are keto
Customer: Great; I think I’ll take a zebra cheesecake brownie
Cake Server: Are you sure you don’t want to try our keto coconut macadamia chewy bars?
Customer: And now I just can’t make up my mind

I stood in a confused, mixed up state of mind; keto cakes!!!! What’s next, Vegemite macaroons? I fixed my eyes on the plate of lemon bars in front of me, refusing to look at the top row of keto cakes. I shifted my gaze to a plate of sugar cookies; and then to the plate of mocha cheesecake. I tried ignoring the keto conversation. And then the customer asked for a key lime keto macaroon; excuse me, a sugar free, low carbohydrate macaroon!!! I silently rolled my eyes. Cakes are supposed to be the epitome of sugar, and the essence of carbs. Keto cake eaters will never have a little lamington dancing around in their brain or experience the aroma and taste of a warm triple layered sponge cake.

image source:jmcadam

It seems to me that making cakes from a keto recipe is as senseless as following the Mediterranean Diet when you’re having a counter lunch. As I understand it, the Mediterranean Diet is inspired by the traditional diets of people who live around the Mediterranean sea; you eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fresh fish, and use plenty of extra virgin olive oil. Before the days of boutique hotels, when a counter lunch was nothing fancy, you’d choose what to eat from a chalk written menu. Every counter lunch menu in every public bar always offered; a mixed grill, the roast of the day, sausages, lamb chops or cutlets, and steak with chips and salad. Long before steaks came with porcini sauce, and kale salad with goat cheese dressing, a counter lunch steak was either a grilled porterhouse or T-bone with grilled onions on top; it was always served with chips and salad. The classic of all counter lunches was the steak sandwich with chips. A good steak sandwich should come loaded up with beetroot and plenty of tomato, onions and lettuce. And it’s always ordered with the lot; bacon and a fried egg. Even today you’d be hard pressed to beat a steak sandwich; it’s a terrific choice if you want something rich in carbs and calories and the epitome of fried.

image source:recipes.com

Substituting fish fingers for the steak in a steak sandwich, and ordering it without the lot, might get you close to the Mediterranean Diet. But if you consider that liquid is an important part of all healthy diets, and that most diets recommend at least six glasses a day, then you could follow the Mediterranean Diet with any counter lunch if you settled for a liquid lunch; just reduce your food intake and spend your time quaffing pots of the golden nectar.

In my day I was known to have a few counter lunches in the public bar at Williamstown’s The Rifle Club hotel. I remember the standard mixed grills, the overcooked roasts drowning in watery gravy, and the workers from the nearby slaughter house. It seemed the workers couldn’t wait to get to the pub for a bite to eat and the opportunity to down a few beers; they were still wearing their work aprons when they descended on the The Rifle Club. It seemed that they filled the public bar; wherever you looked there were blood smeared aprons, adorned with smudged, flattened bits of animal offal and other organs. I never gave much thought as to why lamb’s fry and bacon, brains and bacon, kidneys on toast, and tripe and onions, weren’t on the chalk written menu board above the bar. As I think back, I’ve come to realise that the The Rifle Club hotel would have been an ideal place to offer vegan ketogenic options on their counter lunch menu.

image source:australiangeographic.com.au

There are several craft breweries sprinkled throughout Omaha. Lucky Bucket was one of the first of these microbreweries to become popular, and to have it’s beers available in local supermarkets. It’s said their name comes from the days before kegs and bottles were available; the only way to get beer was to take a bucket to your local brewery, fill it up, and lug it back home. Today, you don’t have to take your bucket to the Lucky Bucket brewery; you just need to take your yoga mat and comfortable clothes. The brewery’s offering Breathe and Brew sessions; a sixty minute yoga class, and beer tasting brewery tour.

Whenever I spent Saturday afternoons sinking a few cold ones with the mates at the Steam Packet I didn’t think about wearing stretchy, formfitting, antimicrobial, moisture wicking yoga gear; I’d be more likely to wear loose and baggy, falling down clothes. I think we all did a bit of yoga back then; we just didn’t know it. We’d do a few arm strengthening poses by resting an elbow on the wet bar towel, and while keeping it on the towel, reaching for our full pot of the golden nectar; we’d then raise the pot to our lips and hold the position for at least five seconds. The routine was finished with a rousing chorus of “who’s shouting the next round”.

image source:visitmammoth.com

Our arm strengthening poses of yesteryear would be detailed in today’s yoga pose libraries under the heading Ardhapurṇa Kuntala; from the Sanskrit ardhapurna, meaning half full, and kuntala, meaning drinking cup. After a few beers went down we’d start betting each other that you couldn’t rest your foot on the bar after lifting your leg up with just a wet bar towel. It was a sort off a variation of the Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana pose. As the afternoon wore on your balance would get either worse or better. If it got better, and you hoisted your leg onto the bar, you could go the rest of the afternoon without buying a round.

Melbourne is often described as the coffee capital of Australia. It’s coffee culture began in the inner city neighbourhood of Carlton. Little has changed about Carlton in the last fifty plus years; it’s still populated with students, immigrants, classic Italian restaurants, artists, and aspiring hipsters. I first drifted into Carlton during my last year at Footscray Tech; when college was starting to interfere with my learning. And it was there that I was introduced to the mysterious lattes, espressos, and cappuccinos being produced by the Faema espresso machines. A flat white and short black are now part of the Australian national coffee ordering vernacular; and part of the cultural fabric of the land Down Under.

CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, along with Hort Innovations, have developed a powder made from imperfect broccoli; two tablespoons of the powder equals a full serving of the nutritious green vegetable. A Melbourne cafe has started experimenting with the powder by stirring it into coffees; it seems you’ll be able to meet your daily intake of dietary fibre, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and manganese with your early morning broccolatte.

Cafe Barista G’day mate; flat white?
Me: G’day; double shot broccolalle
Cafe Barista: Perfect; takeaway?
Me: No worries; and a slice of ketogenic cheescake

I think I need to give some serious thought to starting a Zumba and Pilates fitness group; we’d workout to 60’s and 70’s Australian Rock. After working up a sweat we’d relax in our comfortable rayon workout clothing over a few ice cold long necks of Melbourne Bitter and snack on party pies, sausage rolls, and cocktail frankfurts.

 

Traditional British Butterfly Cakes or Fairy Cakes

Ye Olde Counter Lunch

The Ketogenic Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide to Keto

There’s No Need To Boil Your Underwear Twice

I try to remain calm as I reach down to open the lid of the lap top; I reach out and press the power button. I know the boot and start up process should take at least a minute. I’m tingling from head to toe and I start hopping from one foot to the other. I know I’ll have difficulty entering my username and password; it’s a challenge to concentrate when I’m giddy with excitement. I click on the homepage icon on the browser toolbar; bam!!!, the AFL home page and the new season’s match highlights. With no new Aussie Rules Footy highlights the last six months have been painful to sit through; the first game of the 2019 Australian Football League season was played on Thursday, 21 March. Matches between the AFL’s eighteen teams are played Thursday through Sunday; during the 6 month season highlight video’s of the week’s nine games are on the AFL web site.

image source:jmcadam

I felt a sense of contentment as I started watching the Sydney Swans v Carlton Blues game highlights; even though I knew the final score I became caught up in the action as each team exchanged goals. It was a close scoring game up until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Just before the final siren Buddy Franklin, known for his long range boundary line scoring bombs, took a specky and went back for his kick; he launched one that sailed through the big sticks for a sausage. As the siren sounded he reached up for his mouth guard, removed it, and put it down the front of his footy shorts. I don’t think what footy players wear has changed much over the years. I don’t remember many of them ever wearing protective gear but I think in this day and age, they may be encouraged to wear a body hugging garment such as tight fitting lycra underpants. I don’t think it matters who it is; if you’re playing four quarters of Australian Rules then you’re going to experience sweat drenched undies through the last two quarters of the game.

image source:zimbio.com

Snug fitting Chesty Y fronts were the first undies I remember wearing; they’re the only undies any true blue mum would ever buy their precious little ones. Chesty was a cartoon caricature trademark for the Australian clothing company Bonds. He had a powerful jutting jaw and a stunning physique; he became a superhero when he pulled on his trusty athletic singlet. Back then, we called our underpants undies or underdacks; they later became Reg Grundies, which was shortened to grundies. Reg Grundy was a pioneer of Australian television, and a household name to all Australians. He created many Australian television shows, but was best known for Wheel of Fortune and other game shows. As I approached adolescence, and wandered into adulthood I drifted away from Y fronts and started to wear Bond’s low rise sport briefs; boxers, boxer briefs, and the thong held little fascination for me.

It was the mid seventies and I stood at the fork in the road. I packed a few low rise briefs into my blue, metal frame, back pack. I had trust in Chesty to see me through the Thai, Malaysian, Burma and Indian humidity; I reasoned if the elastic was taut, and the fabric feels fresh and soft, then goodbye chaffing and sweat. Little did I know that cotton underwear has very poor moisture wicking properties, and once they’re wet, they’ll stay wet for as long as you’re wearing them. The Thailand I remember was transforming from a Vietnam War recreation and retreat escape into a tourist mecca. Bangkok still had a flat skyline, and it’s streets were clogged with people, motorcycles, tut tuts, and buses. The temperature nudged the nineties, and the humidity matched the air temperature. Every mid afternoon a brief thunderstorm topped up the humidity. My Chesty low rises were constantly moist; either from the rivulets of sweat that trickled down my back, or from crotch sweat. There was always a damp pair of just washed low rises resting on the end of a bed; or hanging somewhere in a dank hotel room.

image source:thetravelerstrunk.com

I wonder if Buddy’s grundies had the same degree of moistness as mine had in Thailand; if so, he must have experienced some serious chaffing. I don’t know if Prickly Heat cooling powder is available in Australia. It’s a great remedy for damp grundies chaffing; but it does take a little while to get used to the lengthy after burn sensation. Maybe the Australian Football League needs to make Prickly Heat a must have for all eighteen clubs.

After a couple of unforgettable months in Thailand we prepared for the journey into Burma and the ancient city of Bagan. The gateway to Burma was somewhat open; the military dictatorship had started issuing one week visas, and the country was becoming part of the South East Asian hippie trail. Upon entering the country you had to show your confirmed onward travel, and declare all of the foreign currency you were taking into the country. You were given papers showing that amount, and told to always get a receipt from the bank when you changed money. The receipts, and the amount of foreign money that you left with a week later, had to equal what you had declared on entering the country. You learnt from other travellers to take duty free Johnnie Walker and Marlboro cigarettes into Burma, and to hide US dollars somewhere on you; all to be sold and exchanged on the black market.

image source:jmcadam

That last night in Bangkok I tortured myself; racking my brain as to where to hide my US dollars. I had to declare some of the dollars; the rest was my nest egg to exchange, when needed, on the black markets of India and Pakistan, the Middle East, and Turkey. I toyed with putting the wad of dollars into the front of my Chesty low rise sport briefs. I practised stuffing and then sitting and walking in the dank hotel room, and then strolling the moisture laden steaming streets of Bangkok; when I returned to the hotel room I reached into, and down the front of, my grundies and pulled out the wad of US dollars. The wad was a spongy ball of paper mache.

Even though there was a bulge at the ankle bone in each of my socks I still walked with a jaunty step into the customs and immigration area at the Rangoon airport. I declared a small amount of US dollars; just enough for what it should cost to travel the hippie trail for a week in Burma, I think the customs and immigration officers knew where every traveller’s Johnnie Walker and carton of Marlboro was heading; and I think they knew that we all had undeclared dollars somewhere. The military was making the rules, but the people were keeping the country functioning.

If Buddy’s grundies had the same degree of moistness as mine did in Thailand, then I don’t understand why he’s cramming his mouth guard down the front of his footy shorts instead of shoving it into his socks; maybe he doesn’t want any of his teammates borrowing his mouth guard. I think he’d have to give it a good soak in a glass of Dettol though before slipping it back into his mouth. The trainers would have to have a few bottles of it handy if Buddy is taking his mouth guard out every time he takes a mark, or at the end of each quarter.

image source:jmcadam

It seems I had the same idea of where to hide my US dollars as most people do when they’re trying to smuggle something.

Prominent bulge in man’s trousers found to contain four smuggled kittens: a man attempting to cross from Malaysia into Singapore was found by immigration officials to be carrying four kittens in a bulge in his trousers. Officers were prompted to conduct further checks when they heard meowing sounds coming from the bulge in his pants.
Traveller arrested smuggling live hummingbirds in his trousers: a traveller was caught at Rochambeau airport in Cayenne, French Guiana trying to smuggle more than a dozen live hummingbirds in special pouches sewn into the inside of his underwear. The birds were individually wrapped in cloth and taped up to prevent them from escaping from their sweaty travel container. That would be some pecker in your pants.
Man tried to smuggle 51 turtles in pants across border: Canadian Border Services, seized 41 live turtles a man had taped to his legs, and 10 he had hidden between his legs. The collection included eastern box turtles, diamondback terrapins, endangered spotted turtles and red-eared sliders. Fortunately there were no snapping turtles.
Man caught smuggling snake in pants at German Airport: security officers noticed a large bulge in a traveller’s pants. When he was stopped and told to reveal what he had hidden in his pants, he pulled out a bag tied with a cord. Inside the bag was a 15.75-inch boa. That is some trouser snake.
Man caught with live pigeons down his pants at Melbourne Airport: when customs and border control officers stopped a traveller from Dubai they found a multi-vitamin container holding two birds eggs in his pocket. A further search revealed he was wearing tights with the two live birds stuffed inside; one in each leg.

image source:jmcadam

This bloke can’t be the sharpest tool in the shed. The owner of RG Equipment of Fresno, California, is asking for help to find the man who stole a chainsaw. The shop’s video surveillance camera shows a man taking a chainsaw from a display, nonchalantly stuffing the blade of the power tool down the front of his pants, and then covering the engine assembly with his jacket.

I think I’ll have a backyard cricket party this summer. We’ll probably use a hard cork ball instead of a tennis ball. I think I’ve got an old Cricket Cup in the basement that everyone can wear when they’re batting; what a great way of getting rid of your fear of a hard, fast travelling, round object whacking you in the groin. Amazon has packs of 3×84 Dettol antibacterial surface cleaning disinfectant wipes so there shouldn’t be a problem sharing the Cup.

 

AFL – News, Fixtures, Scores & Results

Men’s Underwear-Bonds

Cricket Protection

You’ll Never Bowl a Googly Playing Alleys

For 30 plus years of my Omaha working life I was a member of a dynamic community college Instructional Design Service team; for the last 15 or so of those years I held the esteemed position of Director of Technology Enhanced Learning. To be a successful team member I knew I had to commit to monitoring, and assessing, trends and developments in instructional pedagogy; how else would I be able to analyse and evaluate emerging trends in the design and delivery of technology enhanced learning? As the internet matured and reached adulthood I discarded paper periodicals and journals, and devoted endless days to following the maze of interconnected technological pedagogical theorem links. I became a virtual gatecrasher of online ed tech and consumer technology expos. Some saw my web activities as mindlessly surfing the Internet, but I saw them as creating habits that would deliver sensory and cognitive stimuli to my brain during retirement.

image source:jmcadam

It could be said that spending an extravagant amount of one’s retirement surfing the web to discover conferences, trade shows, and festivals is a frivolous, and mind numbing, waste of time; but there is a hidden reservoir of scholarship waiting in the cloud for an old timer. Hours seem like minutes when you come upon the The World Toilet Summit & Expo, the LEGO World conference, The Annual Celebrity Impersonators Convention, Twins Day Festival, and the other fascinating conventions and expos that the internet teems with. How else would you become aware that Flashing Frenzy was predicted to be the must have toy of the year?; it was just one of several poop focused game at the 2018 American International Toy Fair. The Flushing Frenzy boxed game comes with a toy toilet tank, a toilet bowl, a plunger, the pooper, a dice, and 10 tokens; no assembly or batteries required. It’s a simple enough game to play. Players flush the toilet handle to roll the dice, and to see how many times they’ve got to plunge the bowl. The exciting part of the game is waiting to see if the soft and squishy latex body waste sample, aka the pooper, will come flying out the top of the toilet tank. As a player you have to be alert, and ready, to catch the flying, body waste, sample. If you catch the escape velocity flying pooper in mid air you get two tokens; it’s one token if you snare the pooper on the table as it bounces around. Whoever has the most tokens when the 10 tokens have been dished out wins the game.

image source:washingtonpost.com

Reviewer: It is really easy to play: roll the die, using the number on the die you plunge the toilet, and then wait for the poo to pop out. I have to say it is a bit jarring to see this poo shooting out the top of the commode going warp speed. How does one catch that poo when it pops out so fast? Then it bounces around until one of the kids grab it up for the point.
Another Reviewer: I think one of them must have used the plunger too hard because the locking mechanism that keeps the poo down broke. Once that happened the toilet portion of the game became useless. I was forced to become the toilet myself. I would hold the poo in my hand and throw it for them randomly. So we still had fun without the toilet portion.
Different Reviewer: Lost the poop. I think my kid flushed it. Wish it came with back up poop. One poop not enough. Two poops would have been more satisfying.

The more I read about Flushing Frenzy the more it hit home that it was a game of big laughs and big flushing fun to play. I decided that it would make a great summer backyard drinking game; instead of players winning tokens they’d have to chuck back a coldie or two if they snagged the pooper.

It’s that time of the year in Omaha when mornings are being warmed by the gentle spring heat. There are tight buds on the forsythia and the dogwood branches are straining to open; summer will be arriving soon. And so I headed off to the local superstore for a Flashing Frenzy. I lost count of the time I spent going back and forth, and up and down the toy and game aisles. I rummaged back in, and behind, the neatly stacked game boxes searching for a Flushing Frenzy; as my searching grew more hopeless I became inconsolable. In desperation I took hold of a Toilet Trouble. It wasn’t no Flushing Frenzy, but it did have it’s own merit; it had the same amount of built in suspenseful energy as Frenzy. Imagine playing a game when you don’t know which flush of the toilet handle will cause the gush; and whoever gets sprayed with the gush is out of the game. I mused over the possible strategies of playing Toilet Trouble, and I mused even more over the different liquids you could use for the gush flush.

image source:jmcadam

As I left the superstore I started to wonder why a game designer hasn’t come up with a toilet game inspired by the aeroplane toilet. I think the game would have to be played in a very small space; a wardrobe or the small area under the stairs would be ideal. The playing area floor would have to be moist and sticky with a few small puddles. What if you combined the soft and squishy latex pooper from Flushing Frenzy with the flushing toilet from Toilet Trouble. Players would roll a dice to see how many times they’d pump the flushing handle to create a vacuum; not every flushing would create a vacuum. If players heard a thunderous sucking soundm and a swirl of mysterious blue liquid squirted into the bowl, they’d all wrestle for the squishy latex body waste sample on the moist and sticky floor. Whoever snags the pooper has to throw it into the bowl to attempt to score; if there’s a loud muffled thwump and the squishy latex pooper disappears with the blue liquid, then the pooper thrower scores a point. If the pooper stays in the bowl the player has to sit out the next vacuum flush. It’s hard to imagine that type of hilarious excitement happening in a wardrobe; it would be like gunpowder in your veins.

image source:okdiario.com

When I was growing up we didn’t have toilet themed or body waste games; all we had was, a bit of energy, imagination, an old cricket ball or footie, fresh air, a bike, and the mates. We played our games in the street and in the backyard; in the nearby lane ways, or on the grassy areas of the Strand. On weekends we’d spend hours just riding our bikes around Williamstown. Mum never seemed to care where we were, or who we were with; her only rule was that we had to be home before five o’clock to get ready for tea. On rainy winter Saturdays, if I wasn’t making dams or rivers in the street gutters, I’d sometimes play Snakes and Ladders or Fiddle Sticks with mum in the kitchen. When we went up the street to nanna and granddad’s place I’d play Draughts or Chinese Checkers. I never won at Chinese Checkers; I spent more time coveting the glass Checkers men than I did concentrating on a game plan. I longed to have couple of nanna and grandad’s Chinese Checker alleys in my alley bag. They were smaller than the average alley so they’d be the perfect go to when you called changers. If I wasn’t playing end to end footie on the Strand with froggie, butch, oichi, robbo, and the rest of the boys I was playing killer, or some other game of alleys, in the laneway behind oichi’s place; winter was when you played alleys. We never called them marbles, they were always alleys.

image source:yours.co.uk

I kept my alleys in the bag mum made from one of her old sheets or pillow case; it was a small pouch with a drawstring. I had the usual collection; clear cat’s eyes, aggies, ball bearings, and sometimes a tombola. I was never really good at alleys. Whenever we played keeps I lost most of my cat’s eyes and aggies, and I rarely got to keep any of the other player’s alleys. I’d buy my cat’s eyes, aggies, and clearies with my pocket money, or the refund from Tarax bottles that I’d found on our bike rides around Willie. Most of my ball bearings were scavenged from my bike; the small ones from inside the hub of the front wheel, the slightly bigger ones from the pedal crank. And I only got my tombolas by an unequal swap; a couple of cat’s eyes, a few agates and maybe a cleary for a tombola.

I always envied how froggie and oichi shot their alleys; they’d make a fist and then put the alley on top of their index finger and in front of their thumb nail. They’d rest their outstretched, first two fingers of their other hand on the ground, support their firing hand on their raised wrist, and then aim and release their alley by flicking their thumb; no matter how much I practised the froggie and oichi way, my alley would fall out of my hand or just dribble off to the side. I could only shoot by making a fist and putting the alley in the fold of my first finger in front of my folded thumb, and then flicking my thumb. My alleys never went far, and they moved with the velocity and force of a one legged bloke kicking a footie. I liked playing alleys if we played knuckles down, and no keeps and changes; that’s when my extra small ball bearings were worth their life outside of the bikes front wheel, and the extra large tombolas were worth the unequal swap. Most time we played no changers and knuckles up.

image source:tyeeoutdoorexperience.com

I think I should have a Saturday afternoon “playing alleys in the backyard” party; no keeps or changes, or knuckles down though. A couple of slabs of tinnies should do for refreshments. With all the promised thumb action I’ll probably need to get a good thumb massage a few days before the party so the thumb’s feeling good and smelling of patchouli.

 

American International Toy Fair

A Brief History of Marbles

Everything You (Never) Wanted to Know About Airplane Toilets