Expat@Large

Fire From The Sun – Why I Dislike Prometheus

Posted in movies, pseudo-science, rants, reviews, Ridley Scott, science by expatatlarge on June 24, 2012

A god and hero, stealing fire from the sun [like the sun would even miss it] was only one of his accomplishments. The creation of man out of clay [sound familiar?] was another pretty big one. He MADE mankind. No-one seems to remember that part of the Bible. What? It’s not in the Bible? Go figure. Quick question: if he had stolen fire and not created mankind, what then?

A trickster, like Loki in The Avengers but, unlike Loki, a lover of mankind [well he made us, all makers love their creations, right?], patron god of scientific inquiry – what’s this sun thing made of? – and advancement, antecedent of Dr Frankenstein (“Prometheus Unbound”), he was condemned by Zeus, who obviously wanted us to freeze, and eat carpaccio and sashimi forever, to have a quickly regenerating liver that was pecked out every day by crows. Bound and struggling, trying unceasingly to escape from the limitations of his captivity (a metaphor) but never giving up, and no doubt in desperate need of a blowjob (not a metaphor).

Prometheus was an awesome dude.

The movie? Not so much.

Please make sure you get the correct reference here: it’s the origin of mankind part, not the fire-theivery that underpins this movie.

But let me give you my opinion of the movie straight up. Ridley Scott, maker of such flops such as A Good Year and, um, others, has over-produced Prometheus into an overflowing chariot of horse-shit. This ridiculously expensive, overdue, over CGI’d, over-thought-out waste of time has no redeeming features. Whatsoever. Ah, yes, like John Carter, is does serve as an example of what not to do. Over this, over that, and I was very relieved when it was over.

Listen to me: Anyone over 12 who liked Prometheus is an idiot. [Harsh, E@L, harsh. But fair.]

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I don’t have the movie in front of me to correct the errors which might creep into this post, as the torrents are currently in Handicam versions, but several egregiously execrable scenes and irrational concepts have burned themselves into my psyche the way X-raying my first corpse or losing my virginity (the first time) did. (Equally nauseating and frightening experiences. They were not on the same day nor in the same place fortunately for the corpse.)

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Ron Cobb, who designed the interiors of the Nostromo ship for Alien, has as interesting opinion.

I resent films that are so shallow they rely entirely on their visual effects, and of course science fiction films are notorious for this.
–Ron Cobb on his designs for Alien.[my emphasis]

This is part of the reason why Prometheus fails for me, why I resent it. In Alien the visuals were awesome, gritty and real, and somehow tacit. In Prometheus, they have tried to do this in the ship scenes but the outside scenes of giant CGI visuals are completely distracting and unnecessarily overwhelming. Oh, look giant human-headed pyramid that no-one seems to cares about, ho hum, WGAF, it’s merely CGI.

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Woeful science in a science-fiction story grates on me. Scientists who behave illogically and without a Skerritt (sorry) skerrick of scientific objectivity and respect for scientific method drive me batty.

My disbelief has this thing about being suspended, particularly when bad science is combined with 2D characters in 3D movies doing silly and just wrong things, things a sensible or real person wouldn’t ever do. In Alien, the characters moved cautiously, everything was weighed, considered, discussed. In Prometheus, people act randomly, independently and irresponsibly.

No1 Son, who has a similar if not quite as rabid as opinion as his dear old dad on this, pointed out how the scientists in good old The Andromeda Strain (which he had first seen only a few weeks earlier) acted like perfectly normal scientists. They didn’t run around screaming, they were methodical, careful and observant. If science had advanced to the degree that is required for background inventions, etc… in Prometheus to work, then future scientists would have to be as just as careful, methodical and cool-headed. Unfortunately these were not the type that clambered aboard The Prometheus.

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Here are the 26 Things That Bugged Me Most. Don’t worry, there are others.

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a) “Don’t come in to the ship!” yells the completely unnecessary [as a character, apart from the sweaty push-ups at the start – I’d do her at this point] Charlize Theron. And then SHE OPENS THE FUCKING HATCH in order to threaten them with one of left-over prop flame-throwers from the original Alien! WTF? “Hey, don’t come in through this large and impervious door which I have now opened in order to tell you not to come in through it.” Just leave the fucking hatch closed you blonde idiot. Seriously. Who wrote this shit?

b) The prop flame throwers in Alien were wired together in desperation. Dallas and Ripley hope that the unlikely possibility they might work against the invisible beast might lift morale a bit. That and a holiday in Phuket. In Prometheus: “Hey, pass me the standard issue flame-thrower.”

c) What’s with Elizabeth wearing noting but a surgical gauze bikini. Gauze? Gauze? I mean, seriously, GAUZE? Has she grazed her nipples from running in a marathon without band-aids over them? Apart from being a corny stunt, why bother? We know from TGWTDT that Noomi Rapace has no tits whatsoever, so who gives a rats about her thorax adherent nipples [nipples WTF, male v female, worthy of a blog post]?

d) Geologist? Complete and utter fuckwit. More on this later.

e) How much did they pay Dr Manhattan to play the giant, unfriendly precursor human?

f) Surly red-headed guy with raptor haircut. A complete arsehole from word go. Don’t they do psychological assessments before these long flights? The guy should be in a nuthouse, or a prison, not in a confined spaceship with people he obviously detests. The surly crew in Alien [Harry Dean Stanton and Yaphett Koto, whom this character is meant to parallel, no doubt] were troublesome to a degree and certainly disrespectful, but psychopaths?, no.

g) That spaceship is covered in awkwardly jutting spars and omnidirectional antenna like every movie space-ship since Alien. It’s a future-gothic thing I guess. What’s wrong with the sleek lines of The Enterprise, which was an magically simple, and the iconic design of Discovery One, whose construction made sense: living quarters at front, storage quarters middle, nuclear reactor as far away as possible. Inverse square law. The Prom is just a big brother of the CGI helicopters from Avatar, but is the ride comfortable?

h) Ignorance, and/or the ignoring, of the basic laws of physics abounds. Why are the spaceship’s engines running all the time? [A common Sci-Fi movie error.] No friction in space, people. Momentum, one blast at the start will do it unless you are accelerating or decelerating, in which latter case the rocket thrust should be directed FORWARD [in the movie, it’s not]. Did no-one on the set study Newton’s first law? BTW did anyone check the gravity of this 1000 light year away planet (see next criticism) before we left, to check it we could get anywhere near its surface without getting crushed on landing or if we can generate enough thrust to get to escape velocity?

i) Two years asleep? Some have said that this would put them only halfway to Alpha Centauri, but that it true of you are referring to two earth years, that is, for the people back on earth. Assuming the Prometheus could approach the speed of light, to say 90% [its mass would more than double!], and overlooking the year or two of acceleration and then deceleration it would take to get up to that speed and then slow down without intolerable G-forces ripping everyone apart, one year on earth would equal slightly less than one day for the actors astronauts. Therefore, in their relativistic perception, Alpha Centauri is only 4 days away. Two years asleep at that speed? That would mean that back on earth it is now close to 1000 years later.

I shouldn’t be too critical here. 2001, Alien, Aliens and Alien3, and others no doubt, all suffer from this flaw. It’s a shrug now, right? It has become a cinematic cliche to put long-haul astronauts into the freezer. Shut the fuck up E@L.

If you want accurate relativity physics in Sci-Fi space-travel, read Forever War by Joe Haldeman. A big sigh coming up. Ridley Scott, sigh [there it is], has the film rights to this book and it is slated for release in 2013. Please don’t fuck it up, Sir Rid.

j) I hate inappropriate adrenalin manipulation in intrinsically unexciting situations. Everywhere, but most ridiculously, when the Lunar Rover vehicles and their adherent tricycles, as seen from a soaring overhead CGI shot, seem to RACE to the big-headed pyramid to the thumping stress-inducing half-diminished sevenths and the walking tritones [duh duh DUH duh…duh duh DUH duh…duh duh DUH duh…] of a Hitchcokian horror fillum. Why? They are not being chased by anything, they are not off on an urgent mission to save humanity before the self-destruct sequence is finished or Harvey Dent blows up. They just charge out full-tilt for no reason. What is the fucking RUSH? This aeons old pyramid is not going anywhere in the next few minutes. And shouldn’t you be looking out for everyone’s safety and confirming that these convenient “roads” are safe to travel on at any pace? And if they are, who’s been maintaining them over the millenia?

k) Why are the spacesuits more advanced than those in Alien? Lightweight and clear bubble-helmets? Luckily they knew that the planet would be relatively pleasant. Oh, look we can take out helmets off inside the cave so the audience doesn’t have keep up with whether the condensation inside the mask has been wiped off recently or not. Or has the “problem” of condensation itself been solved by this time and yet forgotten by the time Alien comes around.

l) Ditto the stasis (suspended animation) pods, much sleeker. I am never a fan of suspended animation though. Do you need it? See above re: time compression. And yes, well, show me a cure for frost-bite first and I might suspend my disbelief for this. [BTW I have looked very hard the for the first cut of the equivalent scene in Alien, where they were all naked. Or was that an apocryphal story meant to tease old pervs like me…]

m) OK. Listen This is the one that completely kills me. Inside the cavern/spaceship under the giant yet ignored head, the geologist guy is hanging with red-head anti-sidekick (what does he do again?), and says in effect: “Oh look, a cute little alien eye thing on a stalk [cue: War Of The Worlds] has emerged from the black oily slime [cue: The X-Files], which itself oozed from metal canisters in suspiciously good condition considering their 30,000 years of existence in an oxygen rich environment, and this goo’s sudden obsidian oleaginous icky appearance was most sinisterly triggered by our mere presence. Isn’t it cute? Maybe it is friendly and speaks English.”

This geologist, consummate idiot, against all laws of scientific inquiry and common sense, [I shake my head], then smiles like a moron and leans forward into the standard Leap Into My Mouth You Snake-like Creature position. Wrong! SO fucking wrong. ‘Run Away’ is the correct scientific response in this situation. Like the others RUN!

n) What is it with the fucking alien crappy hologram things running through the tunnels? Seriously, what? Seriously, why? BTW there is zero dramatic tension is this entire cavern sequence.

o) What’s with fucking holograms altogether? They didn’t need them in Alien.

p) Girls, girls. Listen. When a large hoop-shaped spaceship is rolling on its edge towards you, run… to… the… side…

q) Hey, fellow pilot, let’s commit suicide cheerfully for reasons we don’t fully comprehend because we were in the frackin’ main cabin the whole time. I for one wouldn’t do this.

r) Why is Michael Fassbinder so much more handsome than either Ian Holm or Lance Hendriksen [who isn’t?]? Who later decided ugly androids integrate better than cute ones?

s) If Fassbender only needs his head to function, why does he need the rest of his body in the first place?

t) Where did the medical team appear from? Didn’t Theron yell out, “Get a medical team down here!” at one point? Where did they go afterwards? And why would she not know their names? “Get Dr Frankenstein down here now, and make sure Cloris Leachman comes too.”

u) Jesus, what happened to Guy Pearce? Did he fall face first into a bucket of half-set play goo?

v) Why the fuck would the do-it-yourself home-surgery machine have a set of delivery forceps as its default tool? Stunned by the inanity of this.

x) It’s not just me: according to NYT’s A. O. Scott – “But the virtuosity on display makes the weakness of the story — the screenplay is by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof — all the more frustrating. I’ll avoid spoilers here, but “Prometheus” kind of spoils itself with twists and reversals that pull the movie away from its lofty, mind-blowing potential… There are no revelations, only what are called, in the cynical jargon of commercial storytelling, “reveals,” bits of momentarily surprising information bereft of meaning or resonance.”

y) Why? Ridley, why? Alien was fine. Leave it alone! Get back to Forever War!

z) The giant Navigator’s mask isn’t a hood or respirator. The dude snores like fuck: it’s a CPAP mask

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Speaking of illogical crazy SciFi movies, 5th Element was sooooo wrong, but it had the enormous advantage of taking itself 0% seriously.

It all boils down to this – Prometheus is neither Blade Runner nor Alien.

There are no moments of “It has acid for blood!” dread, no completely unexpected chest-burster scared shitless moments, no touching, awe-inspiring “Starships on fire over the belt of Orion,” moments…

It’s just… Not. Good. Enough.

E@L

The Financial Lives Of The #OccupyEverywhere Demonstrators

Posted in economics, poets, rants by expatatlarge on October 22, 2011

I am not a card carrying member of that dismal science, Economics, in fact I received a stunningly inflated mark of 49% for my Economics exam in HSC (Year 12). Inflation, I knew what it was, but I didn’t know what it was, as in the current rate (it was about 15%). I was more the poetic type economist than the strictly scientific one. As No1 son pointed out a few years ago, almost every Nobel Prize winner for Economics has had his theory debunked not long after, so not sticking to the alleged science was probably the correct option, however it made me a failure in the eyes of the scientific examiners – sob, sob. Not.

But after reading an article by a bona fide Economic Scientist – here – damning “post modern” [sic], which is to say Keynesian, thinking, that is, the method of stimulating the economy by giving people money to spend that allegedly saved us from the Great Depression, I got to – look out everybody – thinking.

Quote:
Perhaps it does take someone from outside the economics profession to state the obvious. The stimulus packages that were applied across the world, failures each and every one of them, were applied in the name of Keynes. Why, then, did these stimulus packages not work?
Endquote.

There is no-one further from the Economics profession than E@L, so here goes.

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Is it true that people are saving and not spending? Or is that people have no money to spend? Except on the evil iPhone! (Not me, I’m off to buy a new Samsung phone, this one is three months old.) Many people are just frackin’ poor. Money goes on food on rent and servicing their enormous personal debt (and staples like cigarettes and alcohol). It was the easy money offered by credit cards that fueled the personal crises of many and then up comes new, free, money for the banks from the exorbitant interest rates these people struggle to pay. This is where their money goes, not into saving. (I know people in this situation.) And they’re not even reducing any of this debt as the interest rates keep slugging them back to max-out each month.

And so many have no jobs. Some can’t work thanks to work-induced debilitation, or from psychological problems (I know people in these situations – we all can’t be high-flying execs like E@L). Some just don’t have the appropriate skill-set, inclination, intelligence (it’s true), ability and personalities to work in offices, to wait tables, to flip burgers even (how many new McD’s required to soak up the unemployed?) . Much of the physical work in factories and dark satanic mills have gone – well not gone, but moved overseas. Skilled labour is under threat too. In Geelong (my home town in Victoria) the other week, almost every one I saw on the street was wearing the fluoro-yellow vest of a tradie. A tradesman. Brickies, carpenters, electricians, roofies, etc.. They were the brash, loud (violent too) men of an economy that’s not doing too bad despite having good unions that protect worker’s rights and incomes.

But look here, in Singapore and throughout the Middle-East as well,: who are doing all these tradie jobs? The economies may be coming back after the hit of 2008/9, but It is South-Asians – Indians and Sri-Lankans – Cambodians, Vietnamese and Chinese mainlanders who are sitting on the backs of tray-trucks, or waiting for them, squatting by the road-sides next to sky-scrapers-in-progress. These exploited, these wretched-looking, desperate men who clamber up the concrete and steel without qualm, are paid much less than the previously doing-well thank you Singaporeans builders. And many of those Singaporeans, forced out by cheaper labour, are now driving taxis (which explains their skills and attitude!) And the price of the hundreds of these cheaply inexpensively built apartments hasn’t dropped, but sky-rocketed.

Looking at the USA, it seems that low-skilled (nice pejorative term, I note – you know that show where supercilious managers struggle and fail to do the tasks of their “low-skilled” minions? Ha!) jobs went with the factories to Asia, South Asia, China and Africa. And those jobs that didn’t and can’t be automated go to low-paid immigrants, some illegal. And this is the corporations strategy to maximize their profits, it is not some scheme by Mexicans and others to overthrow that good ole white American frontier spirit.

Not to mention the chronic addiction to automation and robot-ization in many parts of what we used to call work. When flying QANTAS domestic, (when they are flying, and I won’t go into the domestic disputes caused by that Irish Ryan-Air twit who is trying to take apart and out-source our national airline) you do your own check-in, get your own boarding pass, put the tags on your own baggage and load it onto the conveyor belt. There is no-one there. The player pianos have taken over.

More about Player Piano

And with the unemployment benefits scheme cutting out after, what is it six months (Bill Clinton if I am not mistaken), people who remain unemployed just drop off the list and don’t get counted anymore.

Quote:
They’re shutting down the factory now,
Just when all the bills are due.
The fields are under lock and key
But the rain and sun shine through.”
Leonard Cohen: Coming Back To You
EndQuote.

Small farmers are forced off the land by mega-farms who undercut the prices so they can’t make a living. Monsanto makes the rest buy hybrid seeds that are sterile and seeds for next year must be purchased not taken form stored gain from last years crop.

To me it seems obvious. Corporations are squeezing for increased profit, as this means increased share prices and this is where the real money is to be had, in the financial world, in the stock exchanges. And as everyone in the #OccupyEverywhere campaigns is showing, the huge payouts to execs are just such a blatant rubbing of shit in of the faces the middle and lower classes, it is aggravating to the tipping point of the anger and frustration, such as they are now demonstrating. Demonstrations are not just for demonstrating against things, sometimes they are just demonstrating (showing) how people feel.

The way to may increase profits is to improve workers’ productivity, or to reduce the cost of labour. There is the Wal-Mart Way – just pay shit money. Of course the Waltons girls are now amongst the richest humans (if you can call them that) on earth. Productivity. Love it.

Another way to increase productivity is create ways for fewer workers do the same amount of production – shedding jobs. Automation etc.

Yet another way is make the employees work harder, duh, and increase their output, but after 30 years of this squeeze effort, can much more be done? Health issues, stress and injury, workers have to leave, can’t get new employment because of this history and because of my second comment and eventually slip off the employment radar… Pusjing the limits pushes people over the top.

Fourth way: go offshore, pay Asian workers a pittance – double the daily wages of the factory workers in Shenzen and your iPhones (and Samsungs) would cost $2 more (well, maybe $2 divided by the number of products they so productively produce per day). Plus there is the benefits of not paying corporate tax at home, not that the US corporate tax could go any lower (it is half what it was under Reagan, or close, I remember reading somewhere, The Economist?). And so now we hear stories of crippling injuries and horrendous hours of work and child labour coming out of Shenzen (not to mention that pollution that drifts over Hong Kong thanks to un-policed emission standards).

We choke, they die, you have Siri.

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Of course all of this is off the top my head, which is why I failed my Economics exam. However, I was (am) passionate, if not poetic, about the people affected by the decisions made by governments under the advice of economists whose theories are about to be blown away. By economists who have a fundamentally flawed view of how the world works.

More about The Financial Lives of the Poets

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I always of think of Economics in the terms of people, not of markets, not of institutions.

People are not no spending because have no money. In debt, unemployed and with an about to be repossessed house, what money? It seems much simpler to me than stimulus packages that rescue those financial people and ensure their huge payouts continue by making more and more people un- and underemployed, un- and underpaid.

An nice semi-socialist proposal – put staff and workers on the other side of the economic equation:

Capital income + employee income = revenue – cost of materials

“We might note that while employees and the community are left to the protection of the invisible hand, wealth is protected by the visible hand of government and corporations.”
Marjorie Kelly – The Divine Right Of Capital

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Ah, it’s not what I know, it’s what I feel.

E@L

[Shit, I think my revisions here have made my arguments even weaker and more confused – as if that were possible.]

Black Dog

Posted in dentists, despair, diet, movies, Mr Grumpy, news, rants, teeth by expatatlarge on February 11, 2009

As I left the supermarket tonight after doing my post-sashimi-dinner shopping, I felt a wave of immense sadness come over me. For no obvious reason, I felt like shit, like crying, like getting pissed on martinis all by myself. I got into a taxi without any delay and helped the driver navigate the tortuous route to my place, all of 500m away as the crow flies. I kept wondering why I would suddenly feel this hollow blackness throughout my gut. It still has not passed. My comments on other blogs tonight reflect the bitterness of my mood.

Was it merely bad sashimi? (Good name for a band?) Or that that plate of so-so sashimi was all that I had eaten all day (since breakfast, I mean)?

Was it something of the ‘black dog’ that afflicted that wonderful peacemaker Winston Churchill, something of the ‘black veil’ of Rick Moody [sic], something of the ‘visible darkness’ of William Styron? No, I am not the depressive type. I don’t think. Probably why I am not as creative/productive as I should be – too busy having fun, mostly.

Was it the thought of all those people killed in the Victorian bushfires?

Was it that there was no-one in when I had come home earlier this evening? The house echoed a stillness. I hate being alone too long, the silence bugs me, that sense of rejection it implies, but I also crave the gratifying solitude I gain when I am rejecting someone who is sitting right near me. Go figure.

Was it that the Pub Quiz I was so looking forward to was cancelled as everyone is out of town except two of us. We need 5 to make the team and I only found out at the last minute – hence, no I didn’t call you, and hence the sashimi and green tea dinner rather than fish’n’chips and multiple Kilkennys.

Was it because I didn’t bring my iPod on the walk to the supermarket and had to listen to my own maudlin thoughts as I rambled up the street, rather than the wailing blues guitar of Buddy Guy (as I am now – a great version of Lay Lady Lay)?

Was it that one of my good buddies has to have surgery soon for a serious prostate condition and he is younger than me.

Was it that I am a just morose bastard? Sometimes this is true.

Was it that I am fat and horrible and ugly and a total bastard? That couldn’t be it – hell, I revel in being such an anti-social anti-fashionable anti-stereotype… type.

Was it that there is a fucking Harry’s bar everywhere you turn these days! I met the Harry’s guy somewhere at a wine-tasting once. You can have too many Harry’s Bars, trust me. Just like you can have too any franchises in general, too many Credit Default Swaps (overvalued cows), too many fatally flawed acquisitions, too many bad debts in your portfolio, too much hubris and bravado and pay too big bonuses to idiotically greedy CEOs

Was it that there is an immense world depression around the corner and that no-one looks anywhere near like knowing what to do to prevent it?

Was it that I will no doubt lose big time on my purchase of a unit in Noosa? At least in the short term.

Was it that I laid out my revised book plot to Izzy (the flat-mate, remember her?) last night then went to bed and slept without writing any of it down. And the essence of the plot twist comes from a memory – I just realized that I had been a genuine bastard to someone once, and hardly even thought about it at the time. Probably ruined their life. No, it wasn’t you.

Was it that I won’t be going to Tokyo for the training in April after all, and miss some great food (the training will be crap and tremendously ad hoc as usual). (However No1 Son and GF will coming up to Singapore for a few days in April! I feel better already thinking about that! Except I have nowhere for them to sleep yet.)

Was it that I spent 3 hours this afternoon with my mouth stretched open while someone constructed some serious new infrastructre in there, the way Ivor Kants put together a maze of scaffolding inside Judy Morris’s tiny bathroom in Peter Weir’s 1979 gem The Plumber. I tried to wash out the noise with some iPodded Beethoven but it didn’t work. The drill and the violin kept harmonizing in my sinuses… The partial cap that kept falling out over the last month or so was broken and had to be reconstructed – I had to sell some CDS to the tune of $1260 for the privelege.

Was it that the anaesthetics are wearing off and I am merely ill with my tooth’s slow fading memory of the pain it felt but couldn’t tell me about at the time.

Was it that I buy and buy all these fucking books without the possibility of ever reading them. Am I a fucking idiot? Currently a fan of pretty much anything published by New York Review of Books. Most of their mid 20th century lost European classics turned up on my desk yesterday, courtesy of Amazon. Fuck the current zeitgeist, take me back to Paris or Berlin with all the other expats, exiles and émigrés.

Was it that The Boss has just sent out an email reminding everyone (um, that’d be me) that office hours are 8:45 to 5:30 and asked everyone (um, that’d still be me) to honour them. The current Boss is about be upgraded with a new model, actually an older, more establishment guy and we are all quaking in our lazy boots. Turn up on time? What next, paperwork?

Or was it that the world truly is meaningless and shite and so are we all in despair if we have half a brain to recognize this, and that my blog is just a scrap of electronic toilet paper floating out to cyber-sea…

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Actually I feel much better after typing all this. I feel like some emo teenage girl who has had a big heart-to-heart on Facebook with her closest 5,644 friends.

Who said catharsis sucks?

Ah, time for that martini.

And how was YOUR day?

E@L

Ups And Downs

Posted in feet, lifts, rants, Singapore, WTF by expatatlarge on October 17, 2008

The Bad Feet are still here. The neurologist has offered me a different SNRI this time, a different drug to Effexor, called Cymbalta. I just popped one. It also has a warning against Serotonin Syndrome if you are on Tramadol (an opioid pain reliever), which I am. A 1% chance of getting hit with that again. Let’s see what happens over the week-end, hopefully not a repeat of last time’s waking nightmare…

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Do others find the lift at the Gleneagles Medical Centre as shitful as I do?

There are six lifts in a semi-circular foyer in the clinic entrance at, strangely enough, Level 2.

There is always a crowd there, gathering in the vast tracts of time between when lifts going UP arrive, as the lifts are never going in the right direction. I am on the verge of being late. I had long ago decided, coming here frequently both for myself and work, that it is best to get into a lift that is going DOWN to the carpark levels rather than to wait the interminable wait for one going UP. That is because lifts from the carpark levels will be full when they arrive at Level 2 on the way UP. That is not necessarily because lots of people got in at the carpark levels, but because other people got in at Level 2 when it was going DOWN, because they couldn’t be fucked waiting for one going UP, and because they *knew* that when it arrived it would be full because other people like themselves who had gotten in the lift at Level 2 when it was going DOWN as well in order to ensure a spot in the lift when the left stops at Level 2 on the way UP again. Exhale.

When a full lift on the way UP stops at Level 2 because someone has pressed the UP button, all the other lifts that were DOWN in the carpark level, and they are almost empty unless someone from Level 2 has already gotten in when it was going DOWN, they keep bypassing Level 2 on their way UP because there is already a lift stopped there marked as going UP.

Then it takes ages for the doors on the lift that has stopped at Level 2 on the way UP to close. Just when they are about to completely close so that the full lift can go UP and away and allow another lift going UP to stop, some bright spark presses the UP button again… and so the alarms Pings loudly and the doors reopen on the full lift and all the other lifts continue going UP and bypass Level 2 again. The people in the full lift that have been standing there for 5 minutes (they’ve probably gone DOWN in order to go UP too) stare daggers at the fuck-wit who just pressed the UP button. When the doors starts to close again, usually there is yet another fresh fuck-wit just rushing in from the taxi drop-off, late for an appointment, who presses the UP button again. Ping! Open! Sighs of anger and frustration arise from both the lift passengers and from those in the milling crowd who are still waiting to get on a lift going UP for their appointment – which they are now late for as well. Here we have a lift trapped, not between floors, but on Level 2 because of the stupidity of these people and the incredibly bad computer system which fails to prioritize Level 2 as an ALWAYS stop level for all lifts…

A lift comes, going DOWN, announcing itself with a loud Ping! A few people get out and I get in. No-one is left in it to go DOWN, so I wonder why is it marked as going DOWN? There are no other lower levels highlighted. Fucking stupid computer system, like I say. A few others join me, realizing they too must go DOWN before they can go UP. I press Level 5 and the door closes. Ping! It opens again, with the UP button now lit. Other stupid people get in and start pressing all sorts of numbers and I am forced the the rear of the lift. When the full lift reaches Level 5, I have a crisis of confidence. Shit, no, my Doctor is on Level 7. I stay there minding my business, and people in the lift look around for who was the fuckwit who pressed Level 5 and didn’t get out. I look down at my watch, suddenly concerned about time; shit, am I that late? My second hand has come unstuck, I notice. It flops around as I move my wristwatch. Fuck. Level 7 Pings. As many people had gotten out on Level 6, the lift is not so crowded. I wander out and look for the directory of Doctors on the wall. Mine is not there. Shit. It WAS Level 5.

The lift has gone; it was going UP anyway. I press the DOWN button. Pings are resounding everywhere. The semicircular arrangement of lifts resonates the Ping from all levels and all lifts with very little attenuation. They Ping really loudly no matter which Level they are Pinging from. I am forever turning around when a Ping goes off behind me, but there is no lift there, just the sound ringing from some other level where a lift has arrived.

I see the lights of a lift going DOWN come on long before I hear any Ping. Then, Ping! I join the people in the lift going DOWN and press Level 5. I am thinking how stupid I am to think the Doctor was on Level 7. Am I on drugs? There is a Ping and the door opens. I wander out and look for the directory of Doctors on the wall. Mine is not there. Shit. WTF?

I go back to the lift foyer and press DOWN. I wait for a lift to take me to Level 2. Ping. Ping. Ping. I am really late now. Finally I get to Level 2 and check the complete directory of all floors. My Doctor IS on Level 5. WTF? I SHOULD be on drugs, it might help…

Again, I am on Level 2 with the UP lift problems… [Reread those paragraphs.]

I get to Level 5 eventually. Ping. I see my Doctor’s name on the directory, which is laid out differently to the one I had looked at when I thought was Level 5 a few minutes ago. I must have got out on *Level 6* last time! I had heard the Ping and had gotten out when the lift stopped, without checking the level. Shit!

I rush as fast as… well I hobble up to the Doctors office at my max speed. I know he has 15 minute slots, and I am now 12 minutes after my time.

“Take a seat,” says the receptionist. The waiting-room is empty. “The Doctor is running late.”

E@L