I'm all too aware that my default position in writing is one of immense annoyance. I've never been particularly positive a person and I find that the greatest energy to write comes from an irritant. Like an oyster which hurts itself trying to expel a piece of grit, the thing that is finally produced is a pearl, though whether it is a pearl of wisdom or not is entirely up for debate.
This post then, is an incredibly hard one for me to write, as I send the oxen in to plough the field of happiness and instead of pearls of wisdom, dig up potatoes of joy.
These are a few of my favourite things from 2014 in no particular order.
1. The World Cup
Seeing England fail yet again was inevitable. Watching Brazil lose 7-1 to Germany was amusing. Beholding Germany outplay everyone was a thing of joy.
Germany's fourth World Cup win was the result of a ten year program In which they basically rebuilt everything from the academy level upwards. They sent scouts to observe English tactics and learnt from the lightning and idiotically frantic pace of the English game, they watched Spain and particularly clubs like Barcelona whose once sextuple side invented the mechanics for twenty-first century tika-taka, and they looked at the methodic purpose and structure of the Italian game and then by reinforcing the stereotype of ruthless German efficiency, worked them all into an eleven of Weltmeisteren.
Watching Germany play football was like watching Liverpool in the 1980s, Manchester United in the late 1990s and Milan in the middle 00s. They were sometimes vulnerable but still held the talent and the composure to beat all comers. Before the tournament I'd predicted a Brazil-Germany final as an outcome but with Brazil's implosion, it was more or less a fate accompli.
€. Psalm 38
One thing we do quite often in the church that I go to is have a reading of a Psalm. Usually they are of the type which tries to glorify God. Whilst there's very much a place for this, I suspect that Psalm 38 will never be read out in that capacity.
I suspect that anyone who looks at God's Word hard enough, will eventually draw the conclusion that they are sinful and that in comparison to a holy and perfect standard, they failed so utterly miserably that the message of the cross becomes all too obvious.
Suffice to say that Psalm 38 is not a happy one. Depending on how you approach it and the mindset that you happen to be in, it can appear to be melodramatic but it's only when you take an honest case of self reflection, that you realise just how much truth is contained therein.
Check it out (link - Psalm 38). I warn you, it is not encouraging but it is honest.
A. Mayonnaise & Chilli Sauce
Toasted sandwiches are immensely yummy. Melted gruyère and turkey, tomato and basil, peanut butter and golden syrup - obviously not all at the same time - that'd be disgusting. The best condiments for most savoury toasted sandwiches though are Hellman's Whole Egg Mayonnaise and ABC Sweet Chilli Sauce.
Neither of them by themselves occupy positions in the all-time super-offical top five of condiments in my underpaid opinion. Those spots go to things like kebab sauce and capers and French's mustard. Hellman's Whole Egg Mayonnaise and ABC Sweet Chilli Sauce are this strange buddy comedy double act which by themselves are all right but together they are a knock it out of the park; over the Vic Richardson Gates for six, kind of pair. They are a Richardson and Haynes, Yorke and Cole, Morecambe and Wise, Washington and Adams, sort of pair.
The creaminess of the mayonnaise and the tang of the chilli sauce.
@ Hello Internet
I don't understand why CGP Grey and Brady Haran work so well as a podcast pair but they do.
Their podcast is essentially nothing more than the "two dudes talking" format but Grey's pessimism and impatience coupled with Brady's insane optimism dovetail together so nicely.
I was listening to one episode coming back up the hill from The Spit back to work, when I was reminded of one of Grey's fantastic laments "it's not that I'm right, it's that humans are fundamentally stupid".
For 2015 I can imagine that there will be even more discussions about Star Wars, about Grey's apathy to the sport of cricket and ever more of Brady's amusement in trying to find names for minutiae.
¶. Opal Card
Okay, initially when the system was introduced and there weren't any card readers on buses and you couldn't use the system without a credit card, it had my freckles, schmeckles, heckles and hackels up. After the system was properly rolled out and it now appears on buses and trains, the whole system gets two thumbs up from me.
I love the idea that after the eighth trip, the rest is free. In a system which is capped at $3 less than the old MyMulti system which I used to abuse the life out of, abusing Opal Card in the name of finding "savings" is now one giant game.
I'm taking short trips that I don't even need to now, just to rack up the eight trips. Even just within the postcode of 2088, I've seen more of the suburb than in the nine years' previous. Instead of having to walk out and back, I can just take a bus back, knowing that it counts as a trip. What used to be $63 a week can now with blatant gaming of the system, be commuted to less than $30. That's a result.
¶ Chips And Gravy
There is a chicken shop in Woodcroft which I don't know the name of and I've never bought chicken from there but their chips and gravy are the stuff that dreams are made of.
French Fries which were invented in Belgium are sold in their home and native land, in a paper cone and with mayonnaise. If you're able to get a nice glass of Leffe Brun to accompany it at midday; whilst reading a novel, then do so.
The gravy that they make in store at this chicken shop in Woodcroft which I don't know the name of, has its base in the tailings from the chicken cooking process. I'm sure that there's a secret mix of spices in there which we're better off not knowing about (because what you don't know can't hurt you) which makes this particular chips and gravy far better than any chips and gravy has a right to be.
? Weird Thing To See
On one rather rainy sort of grey morning in November, where the wind is to lazy to go round and just cuts you in two, there was a Royal Caribbean cruise ship at the International Shipping Terminal (nothing strange about that). It was raining so heavily that from my position on the Harbour Bridge (on the M30 bus) that I could see neither the Opera House nor the pylon at the other end of the bridge; yet on the big screen on the ship which was overlooking a swimming pool, "Star Wars - A New Hope" was playing and I could see maybe forty umbrellas of people watching the movie.
Fair play to them for watching a movie which is 37 years old but in the rain and on a cruise ship? They were truly on the ship to Bonkers Land; stopping at Insensible Cove on the voyage. How I wanted to join them so.