The Things I Would Invent If I Were Smarter

At the moment I am ‘between jobs’. I use this term because it sounds better than unemployed. I am also between men, between exercise regimes and between detoxes. I love the power of language to turn lemons into lemonade. I think I got this from my Father who always insisted he was not a chicken farmer but a ‘poultry magnate’. I spent the first half of my childhood thinking this meant he attracted birds.

Anyway not having a job or car meant that during the 5 days of torrential downpour last week I was essentially housebound. After making a pillow fort, organising the ‘miscellaneous stuff’ draw and creating the best I-pod mix of all time I started to get cabin fever and resent being trapped inside the house.
This made me wonder why nothing adequate has been invented to shield pedestrians from weather. Our options are essentially a plastic coat or an umbrella. Umbrellas are the crappiest invention known to man. They are great if there is a slight sprinkling and no wind but completely useless in any other scenario. Why in 2010 have we settled for a piece of canvas on a stick that gives you wet legs, blows inside out and potentially blinds anyone within a two metre radius of you?
I’m terribly sorry madam I hope you weren’t attached to that eye but it is imperative I get to my destination with dry hair.
These days we can reattach limbs, send man to the moon and make walking, talking robots but we can’t do better than an umbrella? I want to start a foundation dedicated to the research and development of something better than an umbrella. So far all I have come up with is a man-sized perspex cylinder with arm and leg holes. Unfortunately I think that just opens up a whole other can of inconvenience when it comes to sitting, interacting etc. Clearly I am not much of an inventor. Someone out there has to be though ….right?
So before we upgrade our I-pads to be able to detect 45 mins before you are hungry that you will want a pizza and order it for you, we should fix some of the more basic things we have.
Top 5 inventions that should have been improved by 2010 (apart from umbrellas)
5. Personal Computers
Modern computers can do almost anything yet they can’t make one that just works. I know how to turn my computer on. I know how to turn it off. I know how to type words. Beyond that how my computer operates is mystery to me. I don’t want to know that “A fatal exception XX has occurred at 00457:000040B1”. I don’t want to hear about data errors or illegal operations. None of this means anything to me. Stop bothering me with your trifling problem and fix yourself. You’re the computer. Why can’t they invent a computer with nothing but letter keys and a big blue button say ‘FIX’ in the event of any problems.
4. Voice Recognition Automated Phone Systems
They really should have made sure these things worked before rolling them out across every business and firing all the call operators. Please state the name of the business you are trying to reach “Stone’s Pizza”…”You have selected – Australia Zoo”. Arrgghhhh. Luckily I have figured out a loophole that gets me through to a person. With most automated systems I have discovered if you say “FUCK!” loudly while they are talking it cuts off and you go through to a person. I discovered this completely by accident.
3. Television Reception
Ok so this one is just for Perth because I’m sure there are places in the world with perfect television reception. But why why why when I live in the inner city and have both a set top box and digital aerial do I still get crappy reception. Just when they are about to reveal if the curry contains turmeric on Masterchef the picture disappears and is replaced by the ‘weak signal’ message. This fills me with murderous rage. Also why does the digital aerial work best when placed in the least convenient position such as in front of the door or right in the eye poke zone.
2. Pimple Cream
With the exception of the hard core medically prescribed stuff there is not a single pimple cream that works. Smear it on and within a week your pimple will vanish. Well I’ve got news for you that’s how long most of them take to vanish naturally. It’s like saying ‘Buy this magic hair growth cream and within six months your hair will have grown up to an inch”. It’s all LIES. The Emperor’s new pimple cream. When they invent one that can oust my blemish in 15 minutes THEN and only then will I be impressed.
1. Broken Collarbone Treatment
When I was about 17 I broke my collarbone. After hours of waiting around, x-rays, waiting around and disapproving looks (it was an alcohol related mishap) I was given a sling and sent home. A sling. Basically a piece of material and some safety pins was the extent of my treatment. I hazard a guess that this treatment has not been improved since cavemen wrapped bit of mammoth skin around themselves and were given 6 weeks off hunting duty.
There are many, many more but I am a lazy, lazy writer. I would be interested to hear about the things you would like to see improved (NOTE: you have to be following me to comment).
If you would like to donate to the EMFISBTU (Emily Marshall Foundation for Inventing Something Better Than Umbrellas) please don’t hesitate to contact me.

The Atheist God Botherer

God and me, we‘ve always had a weird relationship. Mostly because I don’t believe in him so it makes it awkward when we run into each other. My parents are both Atheist and thus I don’t recall hearing about religion at all until I was about five or six years old. I had just moved to Perth from Adelaide and all the other kids in year one seemed to know each other from pre-primary. I used to sit on my own and eat my play lunch. The only time I remember interacting with the other kids was when I did a snart (simultaneous sneeze and fart) and they all pointed and laughed. Then out of the nowhere a little girl emerged. “Do you want to come and play with us?” she asked.
She was the nicest little girl I had ever come across. Kind and generous and never joined in when kids were nasty to other kids. We became the best of friends.
The first I noticed that something was different about her was when I went to her house. She seemed to have a lot of pictures of puppies and fridge magnets all referencing some dude called God. He sounded like a nice guy.
The first time I went there for dinner I was halfway wolfing down some bangers and mash when I looked around and saw everyone else had their eyes closed. They were saying grace. They thanked this fella god for bringing them the meal. Wow, I thought. Not only does this guy love and support you, he also brings food!? Sweet!
Soon enough my friend and her family told me all about God and his son Jesus. They sounded like stand-up kinda guys. They gave me my own bible with pictures for ‘little eyes’ .
Then came the bomb-shell. If you don’t believe in God and go to Church you’re going to hell….. Huh? What?! …I didn’t know much about Hell but what from I did know it did not sound like a place I wanted to be.
“Am…am I going to hell?” I asked my little friend.
“Yes,” she said bluntly, “but I pray for you every night”.
Well that was it. She had put the fear of god in me. I started pouring over that bible for little eyes with more zeal than had ever been reserved for my other favourite book ‘There’s a monster at the end of this book’.
I started praying every night. I asked my Mum if I could go to Church. Not wanting openly encourage or discourage my newfound spiritualism she said , “Sure…if you get yourself there.”
She made this offer in the full knowledge that being six and living in the middle of the bush this was not going to happen. That’s when I started to rebel. I had been talking to this guy every night and not once had he replied. Rude! I reasoned if I was going to be condemned to hell for circumstances beyond my control at six years old maybe he wasn’t such a great guy after all. This is probably when I started embracing hedonism. “Screw him” I thought. I threw out my bible for little eyes and went outside to torture ants and throw melons at cars.
God and I had little to do with each other after that day. That was until I thought I was going to die. It was about 18 months ago and I was on a little Island off Thailand called Koh Phangan. I was there along with many other tourists for a night of unbridled partying known as The Full Moon Party. I had a great time and all was going well until the next morning. Whilst making out with a Swedish tourist under a shower I accidently ingested some of the Thai water. Big, big mistake. I felt ok for a few hours even cracking open a few more tiger beers to help with the hangover.
By the afternoon the tables had turned. It started with a modest upchuck. Ok big night and too many beers, that’s to be expected. Get it out and it’ll all be ok.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. A couple of hours later I had exploded out of both ends with the force of a fire hose. When the explosions started to be filled with blood I realised I might be in big trouble. Luckily the bathroom was just one big shower because after a while I couldn’t decide which end to point towards the toilet so I just lay in the foetal position on the bathroom floor feebly clutching the shower nozzle. 8 hours later I was in the same position. Having never heard someone so sick and also fearing for my life, I could hear my friend plotting the tuk tuk route to the hospital. I refused to go, figuring that Koh Phangan hospital was probably nothing more than a few chicken crates and a packet of bandaids. No! If I was going to die it would be in the privacy and dignity of my poo-brown tiled hotel bathroom.
So where does the atheist turn to bargain in times like these? That’s right. I came crawling back.
“God”, I said through my delirium, “if you make this stop I promise I’ll believe in you”…
Eventually after about 12 hours the exploding had stopped and I collapsed in bed thirstier than I had ever been but too scared to ingest anything. I slept for four days.
So it did stop. And I survived. But did I keep my promise? Sadly no. When the fog cleared and my near death experienced passed I still couldn’t quite wrap my head around the idea of believing in God. I believe there is something bigger than ourselves but that is as far as I can stretch. I also believe there must be a hell because that’s where they pump Thai water from. I guess this upgrades me from Atheist to Agnostic. If God does exist he is no doubt pissed at me for lying to him. I better look after myself from now on or I will become the girl who cried religion.

A Daily Dose Of Guilt

The other day a friend of mine posted an animal cruelty documentary called Earthlings on her Facebook page with the comment, “anyone who watches this and doesn’t immediately go vegan has no soul.” I immediately felt annoyed and guilty at the same time. Guilty because I knew I was not capable of going vegan even though I would find the film distressing, and annoyed at the inference this rendered me soulless.

I chose not to watch the film at all. This was the internet equivalent of putting my fingers in my ears and saying ‘lalalala’.

I guess this makes me a hypocrite – my willingness to eat meat coupled with my reluctance to see where it comes from. I have always considered myself someone with a social conscience so why am I putting my head in the sand so much these days? Lately I have refused to watch a number of important documentaries, An Inconvenient Truth for example, because the reality is just too distressing. Surely I need to earn my right to be a modern consumer by facing up to the realities of being a modern consumer.

Then I thought about the amount of times a day I feel guilty.

I feel guilty that I used the dryer when I could have used a rack. I feel guilty that I didn’t eat those leftovers in time. I feel guilty I didn’t plan my shopping trip and needed plastic bags, I feel guilty I left the front porch light on all day, I feel guilty I forgot to put the recycling bin out and was forced to put recyclables in normal bin, I feel guilty that I didn’t buy a Big Issue, I feel guilty that I felt all nostalgic and bought individually wrapped plastic cheese and then ate half of it in one sitting, I feel guilty I am not in a position to adopt every puppy and kitten on the pounds death row, I feel guilty I ate a tuna sandwich, I feel guilty I microwaved something in plastic and fed it to a kid. I could go on all day.

Is it any wonder that we’re tuning out? Those of us with a soul need to harden ourselves to what is happening around us just to get through the day. I suspect most of us are already all too aware of these issues and watching more and more documentaries and reading more and more articles only serves to exacerbate our sense of guilt and powerlessness.

It would be a terrible shame if the sheer quantity of causes we are exposed to these days creates an environment of apathy that stops us moving forward.

Many of us seem to have said “enough” and look away while we wait for the day we are forced by the powers that be to change. But change will never come unless every one of us starts to stand up and give a shit. But how do we do this when it all just seems so overwhelming and impossible?

I guess we need to stop thinking we have to eat the cake in one bite and concentrate on the nibbles. We need to forgive ourselves for not being able to do everything and instead focus on the things we can do. We need to realise we are not solely personally responsible for Dancing Bears or War or Global Warming or Endangered Species but what matters is what we learn from those things and do what we can to stop them happening in the future.

Most importantly we need to not give up. We need to all keep doing those little everyday things that help wherever we can because as dire as it may sometimes seem; where there’s life, there really is hope.

Except for Tuna. They’re screwed.

(As seen on Blog Musings of an Inappropriate Woman:

Ode To Weird Neighbour Cat

I rarely write poems but I woke up with a hangover one morning and felt compelled to write this…

Weird neighbour cat,
I’ve known you three years now,
You still confound me,
Why do you arch your back,
And lift your two front legs off the ground,
Every time I stroke you?
Do I not stroke hard enough?
Why, when you walk through my yard,
Do you always stop and stare at me,
Through the lounge room window,
Like you’re still surprised I live here?
And why is your fur always sticky?
You have the kind of hoarse meow,
That’s sound like you have been taking drugs,
For 20 years,
I imagine if you were a person,
You would sound like Kathleen Turner,
With a Russian accent (you ARE a Russian Blue),
When I come home drunk late at night,
You jump out at me,
From various hiding places,
And take 10 years off my life,
I imagine you chuckling (hoarsely),
To all your cat mates about it,
I still don’t know your name,
I tried to look at your tag once and you bit me,
I’m not game to look again,
I imagine it is something like Gerald or Doreen,
You wouldn’t pull off Fluffykins,
Ah weird neighbour cat,
You piss me off and gross me out,
Yet I am so very fond of you,
I have settled somewhere in fond-tempt,
As you make life that little more interesting.