Friday, June 30, 2006

Is there a doctor in the house?

Below is an email thread that eventuated after I sent a request to my work medical clinic for a means by which I could try to scam better seats on planes.* It's not the most hilarious email hijink you'll ever read but it is 1) amusing, and 2) representative of dealing with local bureaucracy. I've changed some of the names to protect the innocent etc etc.

*Note that it's all true, you cynical bastards.


From: SW
Sent: Thursday, June 29, 2006 3:39 PM
To: Work Medical Clinic
Subject: Letter from doctor


Is it possible for me to get a letter from the doctor requesting adequate seating room on flights? I fly regularly, and at 6’5” (196cm) I have great difficulty fitting into regular economy-class seats. After flights of more than a couple of hours, I often experience knee soreness (which results in me limping) for several days.

Many thanks

From: Work Medical Clinic
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 3:25 PM
To: SW
Subject: RE: Letter from doctor

Dear Sir,

We would suggest you to first coordinate with the airline company to provide you with spacious seats or book for a higher class. think it would be possible to secure a letter from a doctor. However, the response of airline company would probably still recommend you to a first class booking to avail of their spacious seat accommodations.

Thank you
Work Medical Clinic

From: SW
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 3:30 PM
To: Work Medical Clinic
Subject: RE: Letter from doctor



1) I can’t afford business or first class seats. Therefore, unfortunately, I am condemned to economy-class unless I’m lucky enough to get an exit-row seat or an upgrade.

2) I always try to organize a seat with more legroom, but often the airlines are unable to accommodate me. A doctor’s letter might improve my chances,

Therefore, is it possible for me to obtain such a letter? I would be very grateful.

Many thanks

From: Work Medical Clinic
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 3:33 PM
To: SW
Subject: RE: Letter from doctor

Dear Sir,

Have you consulted a doctor regarding your knee soreness after your flight? Perhaps he might be able to secure you the medical certificate that you need.

Work Medical clinic

From: SW
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 3:34 PM
To: Work Medical Clinic
Subject: RE: Letter from doctor


I am consulting the Work Medical clinic for exactly this reason. There is a doctor there, isn’t there?


From: Work Medical Clinic
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 3:41 PM
To: SW
Subject: RE: Letter from doctor

Dear Sir,

Yes sir. we always have a doctor in the clinic. Please feel free to visit the clinic to secure your needed medical certificate prior to your next scheduled flight. We hope the medical certificate would further increase your chances of getting better seat accommodations.

Work Medical Clinic

From: SW
Sent: Friday, June 30, 2006 3:45 PM
To: Work Medical Clinic
Subject: RE: Letter from doctor

Maraming salamat! [This is me showing CULTURAL SENSITIVITY by thanking the correspondent in the local language (this is a note to blog readers; I didn't put this in the original email, JUST IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING).]

I’ll visit next week.

Many thanks,

Thursday, June 29, 2006

my country is better than yours

Note that this is now somewhat out of date as a result of me having TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES over the past few days.

I hate nationalism and I generally have a hard time stomaching patriotism (which is often just nationalism dressed in casual clothes, which is often xenophobia wearing a dressing gown*). Anything that implies "my country is better than your country" is generally imbecilic and idiotic. As is the sort of patriotism/nationalism that expects uncritical support for dubious wars.


I confess that I become irrationally patriotic (not that it's ever necessarily rational) when it comes to sport. Not all sports, but some. Even when I think the individuals involved are probably arrogant dicks (e.g., most of the Australian cricket team), I still feel happier when the Australian side wins than when it loses. It's fleeting and superficial, generally, but it's there.

I KNOW the Australia Vs Italy World Cup game was (as Brother of Secret Wombat would say) just a bunch of sweaty men chasing a leather egg – but I felt gutted, damn it. Ah well. There's always curling – we need to find the Guus Hiddink equivalent (i.e., curling supercoach) and build our way up to the fairytale…warm country…no tradition in winter sports…oh, what a fairytale it would be. Any sport that involves brooms and uniforms like this is numero uno in my book.

*The clothing metaphor is a stretch, I know. But, if you avoid analysing it, it surely comes across as profound.

Sunday, June 25, 2006


The below is currently pinned to the notice board next to the cafeteria at work. I do so like it for MANY MANY reasons.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Nothing today other than a link to a BBC photoessay on Manila slums...

...and a photo of a sign at the front of a school here in Los Banos.

Dear Principal Killjoy: in MY day, I'd flaunt haircut prescriptions (flaunt them, I say!) while selling cigarettes and betting on two-up with my frat-house mates. And that was just at recess. At lunch, I'd solicit the year 10 girls while casually fiddling with my earrings. And bugger me if I didn't happen to forget my P.E. uniform on Thursday. I yearn for those good ol' days, and neither you, sir, nor your ilk, will take them away from me.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

the white house

Photos from Sunday 11 June --Tuesday 13 June at the White House (it has a sign at the front -- that's what it's called, damn you -- check the photo) just east of Lorne on the Great Ocean Road. Despite a relative lack of people in these shots please note that I HAVE LOTS OF FRIENDS AND AM VERY POPULAR. Many of my numerous friends call me "big guy" or "captain". (And I acknowledge that I ripped that line off of Red Dwarf...98% of my gags are plagiarised from somewhere.) But I am CONSTRAINED by the anonymous nature of my site (a constraint that, admittedly, if self-imposed). BUT: if any reader who believes that I may be in possession of photographs depicting his or her image, and is happy for me to post them, let me know -- I'll make you a star, I tells ya!
The house: cheap when the cost is split between 19 people (= allusion #1 to my ENORMOUS POPULARITY):

D pretends to be a native tree while pondering the surf near Torquay:

Breakfast on Tuesday morning (look at all the people, despite them being too small to be identified -- allusion #2 to my ENORMOUS POPULARITY...ALSO PLEASE NOTE THE FRUIT IN THE FOREGROUND -- MY MANY FRIENDS AND I ARE NOTHING IF NOT HEALTHY):

Bedroom view:

The beach in front of the house (BEAUTIFUL IN THE SOFT WINTER MORNING LIGHT, NO????):

Sunday, June 18, 2006

taxi drivers, you wacky things!

Despite the best efforts of my travel agent, I’m BACK in the Philippines. It was pretty hard to leave – I had a brilliant week with people I’ve missed rather a lot. But, here I am, sweating my arse off in the tropics after 8 days in the frigid Melbourne winter (which I rather enjoyed, mind you; for both novelty value and the non-sweat experience).

I realize that, of all society’s subgroups, taxi drivers are supposed to be a rich source of crackpot theories. The following approximation of a conversation I had with a Melbourne taxi driver between the airport and W’s work on June 9 is therefore quite possibly unremarkable – but it is with pleasure that I recount it.

Taxi driver: What do you do in the Philippines?

Me: work at a place that researches rice.

A little more chitchat, then…

Taxi driver: Do you research nanotechnology?

Me (thinking he meant biotechnology): Uh…there’s a bit of research on biotechnology, but not all that much.

Taxi driver: Because, you know, if you cut a rice grain up into particles one millionth of its size, they spontaneously combust.

Me: Really?!

Taxi driver: Yep. It’s the same with aluminium.

Me: Wow. I didn’t know that.

Taxi driver: Yep, they’re going to power spaceships with it.

Me: Wow.

I also enjoyed the chat with the taxi driver – a softly spoken chap who seemed both genuinely nice and slightly creepy – who took me to the airport on Saturday morning. Upon learning I was living in the Philippines, he asked me if there was trouble there.

Me: There’s trouble in a few areas, but generally it’s fine. I’ve never felt in danger in 3 years there.

Taxi driver (clearly ignoring what I’d just said): Hmm. All those machetes.

Yep, those funny little people from funny little countries in Asia sure do run around hacking people up with machetes. And I couldn't be sure there wasn't a glint in his taxi driver eyes.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

stuck with you is not simply a huey lewis song

You may think, given the previous post, that SW is back in the Philippines. You would be WRONG. No, SW's travel agent in Manila is being SPECIAL. A few weeks back, SW asked travek agent to change D's return date to 26 June, so she could visit peeps in Albany and Adelaide. No problems AT ALL. However, just before boarding the flight to Melbourne (SW's current locale, after attending A&P's wedding on Saturday and then LIVING IT UP on the coast near Lorne from Sunday-Tuesday), SW discovered that HIS return date had also been so changed. By this time, the original return flight on 14 June (yesterday) was full. So the last few days have involved MUCH FUN trying to sort out a return flight. Currently it's this Saturday, but that's yet to be confirmed. Though it has to be said I'm not all that cut up about the extra days here, flitting around Fitzroy from the base provided by the most generous W.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


A photo of my favourite jeepney and its disarmingly honest catch-cry:

Saturday, June 03, 2006

the NYC photos

Monday 29 June (Memorial Day holiday in the US)

View from Days Inn (airport hotel, first night):

View from Hotel Pennsylvania (2nd - 4th nights):

Canadian M being converted by religious nutters:

American M eating strawberry cheesecake (very good, very creamy; ridiculously, unnecessarily large serving):

Central Park:

Interesting buildings, Manhattan:

Shea Stadium (home of NY Mets baseball team) car park:

New York Mets Vs Arizona Diamondbacks

Tuesday 30 June

Canadian M serves at Flushing Meadow (where the US Open is played):

Wednesday 31 June


Empire State Building:

Friday, June 02, 2006

SW paints it RED in NYC

I'm sitting in the foyer of my hotel in Quebec, waiting for my room to be ready. CLEARLY THEY DO NOT KNOW WHO I AM.


I had a very enjoyable 3 days in NYC with Canadian M and American M. Together, we managed to avoid doing anything that one is supposed to do in NYC apart from eat NY pizza and bagels. I have no idea of the majesty of the Statue of Liberty or the poignancy (?) of the WTC memorial site know, all those other NYC things.

But the main point was catching up with M&M (I hadn't seen Canadian M for about 5 years). And, surely, you wouldn't catch beatnik poets (I think it's safe to say the three of us, in NYC GUISE, are the modern version thereof) climbing the Statue of Liberty.

I did go to, for the first time in my life, a baseball match (NY Mets Vs Arizona Diamondbacks for all you HARDCORE BASEBALL FANS who read secret wombat). I believe I cheered at the appropriate moments and cleverly milked the joke whereby I made casual reference to basball players of yore, such as "Is shoeless Joe Jackson playing." M& M didn't explicitly state it, but I'm pretty sure they were both impressed AND suitably amused at my historical wit.

Iplayed tennis at Flushing Meadow, site of the US Open. You could almost smell Ivan Lendl's wristbands.

I think I could live in NYC for a while. It would be a pretty intense place, but SO much is going on. People-watching is brilliant. A million people have written billions of words about NYC; I won't attempt to add to that other than to say that:
  1. I am told -- and I would have assumed -- that NYC is not representative of the rest of the USA.
  2. I am impressed at the way that New Yorkers seem so comfortable confidently voicing opinions. I don't think I shy away from my opinions, but I do tend to test conversational waters before I dive in, and I probably modify the way I express opinions depending on the prevailing crowd. New Yorkers seem happy to just get it out there, well-informed or not, kitsch or not.
  3. I often felt like I was on a movie set -- the way people spoke seemed almost scripted. For example, I don't think I could ever say to the street-corner bagel and pastry guy, while I chose a pastry: "Ah, nothin's talkin' to me. Gimme a bowtie!"
Photos will follow.