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Matthew Spong's Commonplace Book

So much silence, stretching above me...

Post Christmas yucks
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Michelle and I are recovering from a serious bout of that intestinal malady which are notorious on cruise ships. We got it from a friend of ours we visited on the weekend. She was recovering from it, and we caught it. We both woke up with a chunder on Tuesday and spent most of the day in bed. It made me feel like I had been thoroughly beaten all over with hammers. Luckily I had a canister of Gatorade powder in the cupboard, so I was able to keep us hydrated and avoid the worst of the side effects.

It was interesting to me because it's the first time I've vomited in about 18 years. I well remember the last time, I was living in the storied Cyberspace warehouse in Glebe. I had just eaten a tasty doner kebab, and washed it down with a sixpack of VB stubbies. I got the signal, and made it to the dunny just in time to regurgitate a large quantity of still-clear beer and a floating raft of chopped parsley. The fact that my insides had so cleverly sorted out the nights repast was highly amusing to me.

Whatever whatever
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I was laughing at hipsters before you were
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(no subject)
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Today's amusement courtesy of the AACR2 rules:

22.14. SPIRITS
Purported communications from spirits are entered under the name of the spirit (see 21.26). If the spirit is supposed to have been a real person, follow AACR2 rules and establish the name of that person (if not already in the authority file). Add the word (Spirit) in subfield ‡c to the complete heading for the person. Note that if the name established for the living person includes dates, these will be retained (cf. LCRI 22.14, Jan. 5, 1989), e.g.,

100 1 ‡a Beethoven, Ludwig van, ‡d 1770-1827 ‡c (Spirit)

Lip Spa
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I was talking with some friends recently about the large number of brothels in the area. In Sydney brothels tend to advertise their existence by putting up their street number in large red neon on the front of the building. They usually also have the front windows of the building obscured in some way, and there are other signs.

One of my friends then said "And what about Lip Spa down the road?"

I've been catching the bus past Lip Spa for most of the past decade, it's a major landmark on Parramatta road. It's a two story concrete block of a free standing building, that used to be a nightclub. It has a large sign on the front that reads LIP SPA and a big photo billboard of a pouting set of lips. All this time I've been riding past twice a day thinking it was a day spa which specialised in doing things to womens lips. Honestly, I thought it was a place where girls went to get highly specialised and technical things done to their lips. If I ever wondered I thought it might be where you got those collagen injections from, or they did expensive exfoliating and professional lipstick, or that permanent tattoo lipstick, or perhaps there were girls sitting at tables carefully lowering their pouting lips into little bubbling spa baths! I had no idea it was a brothel, and in hindsight it seems so obvious. Those big lips will never look the same to me. I feel like such a wallace.

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Bah, spring! I hates it. But, it does make plants grow, and that means it's time once again to kill some seeds.

Each year I buy a few seeds from these guys and kill them by planting them in little pots of seed raising mixture and then watering them and then forgetting them until they dry up and die. Actually I usually get them started okay, but when they get a bit older in summer there might be a day or so with outrageously hot weather and they shrivel up and die then.

I've also had a few successes, but mostly with seeds I didn't buy. For instance, citrus seed. Not many people know this but you can grow a productive citrus tree from seed of certain fruit, mainly mandarins and older style oranges. They take at least a decade to start producing, but they grow nice and big. A lot of the reason for grafting citrus trees is actually to dwarf them, so the fruit is easier to pick, but if you don't care about that it's all good. So I have about 6 orange trees growing in pots in the garden, from seeds, and I've planted a few out in guerrilla garden strikes, sneaking them into the ground in public land. There's one in Marrickville community centre, and one in Callan park, and some others. I've also started a few lilli pilli trees from fresh seed.

One seed from Yggdrasil I've had good success with is myrrh. Not surprising, it's a large seed and the trees are hot hardy, because they come from northern Africa. I've actually given away most of my myrrh trees as housewarming gifts, because they are so hardy and you can do anything you want with them. If you keep them in a pot they grow as nice bonsai, as soon as you plant them out they start expanding until they reach about 8 feet and then they start weeping the resin they're famous for.

This year I'm going to try and grow hyssop, Chilean guava, white sage and autumn olive.

2010-08-20_1501.32_Laptop
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2010-08-20_1501.32_Laptop
Originally uploaded by mattspong
Just been uploading my photos from the Louvre, and this one deserves more notice. It's a detail from the painting Jesus Driving the Merchants from the Temple by Jakob Jordaens. The laptop falling to the ground is a striking incongruous touch. (It's probably really a counting box for coins, but the principle is the same).

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Happy Lovecraft
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Michelle is sick. She picked up a lung infection in Paris, and it just got worse and worse. Four days ago she finally went to the doctor, when I gave up trying to persuade her. I know I wouldn't love her if she wasn't so stubborn and contrary, but shit! Anyway, it turned out she was working on a bad case of pneumonia, but she's on the antibiotics now and mending.

So since she was languishing at home I decided to activate something I've been keeping in reserve - I went and bought her season 1 of True Blood. Instant convert! I've never seen her follow a show so avidly. I also bought her some NCIS which she watches on broadcast TV, but she totally ignores that. She's obsessed, she's eating it up. The first thing she said when I showed her was "They don't sparkle do they?" No Michelle, these vampires don't sparkle.

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Dorroile
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There is a product being advertised on my TV, which I can't quite believe exists. It's a fresh salvo in the old "war on germs" which they use to flog all kinds of useless spray disinfectants and hand sanitiser gels and so on. The ad takes you through a logical argument: you spray your sprays, you sanitize your hands, you wash with antiseptic soaps, but what part of your house is the last to be touched by a dirty hand before it is cleaned? That's right, the pump on the liquid soap dispenser!

And they have the solution: an automatic proximity-activated soap pump! Just wave your hands nearby, and it automatically squirts some soap. At last, the final bastion of germs has been destroyed.

But hang on: the only time you touch the pump handle on a liquid soap dispenser is just before you wash your hands. Any germs you pick up from the handle are instantly obliterated. I can't imagine anyone wandering around absently caressing the handles of soap dispensers and then not washing their hands. The germs aren't going anywhere. They aren't going to contaminate your house.

There are many ridiculous ads for products nobody needs, but this one seems to stick out somehow, like an emergent tree in a rainforest.

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Run out of momentum. I'm getting bored of transcribing my travel diary. It's mostly boring from here on in. We went here, we went there. We visited Obidos castle and stayed in Lisbon for four days, two on top of a hill just under the walls of Castel du St Jorge. We rode the trams, including the inclined trams, and had a confrontation with some pickpockets. We wandered around interesting areas like Alto Bario. Then we returned to Paris and spent a lot of time in the Louvre, which was incredible but engendered a bad case of museum fatigue. Michelle picked up a bug which has slowly worsened into something close to pneumonia. She's on ABs now, and feeling better. We're both glad to be back in the remainder of the cool part of the year.

I was so glad to be home. A couple of days after we arrived, I was catching a bus near my house and I realised, it's so quiet here! Not that we live in the country or anything, we live in a built-up suburb close to the city centre, but still it was quiet. The cars are quiet, the people are quiet. It's also real nice to be in a country where people have sufficient personal space to feel comfortable. I don't have that constant feeling when walking around that I'm just about to collide with someone else.

I'm still uploading the photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattspong/sets/72157624676412595/