11 February 2009

Attack of the car-eating rats!

This is by far the best mistake email I have got. Reprinted below, in the right order to scroll down. There really is a publication called Foggy Bottom Current. I hope I didn't scoop her story with this. Our ace reporter's first name is changed to protect the innocent.

Subject: Re: Article about car-eating rats

- - -
On 2/6/09, Barbara[surname] wrote:
Hi Luke -
My name is Barbara [surname] and I'm a reporter for the Current Newspapers. I'm working on an article about rat problems in Dupont Circle and my editor forwarded me your note on the Dupont Forum. If you'd be willing to be interviewed about your problems with rats, I'd really appreciate it. Feel free to give me a call today at my office (202) xxx-xxxx or over the weekend on my cell phone at (201) xxx-xxxx.

Barbara [surname]
Reporter, The Current Newspapers
5185 MacArthur Blvd. NW Suite 102
Washington, D.C. 20016

The Northwest Current • The Georgetown Current • The Dupont Current • The Foggy Bottom Current

- - -
On Feb 10, 2009, at 8:01 AM, Luke Peterson wrote:

Hey barbara-- sorry I've been on vacation and still am with inconsistent blackberry service. Did I miss your deadline for this? I'd like to put you in touch with my friend whose car was eaten, if it's still relevant for you.
- - -
From: Barbara [Surname]
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 12:03:40 -0500
- - -

Hi Luke -
It's absolutely still relevant. I plan to write the article for the Feb. 18 issue of the paper. Feel free to give my number to your friend.

- - -
From: Luke Peterson
To: Me, 10 Feb, 2009
- - -

Hey becca-- hope you're well!

Listen, I was talking about rats on a neighborhood listserv and used your passat experience as an anecdote. Want to give comment to this reporter who's working up a story on the dupont rat infestation?

You still in germany? Take care,


- - -
From: Me
To: Luke Peterson, Tue, 10 Feb

While this email exchange is hilarious, and I think it's genuine and not robot-spam, I'm not the becca you are looking for. Try checking that email address and re-sending.

From Luke Peterson
To: Me, Tue, 10 Feb
Suject: I'm on vacation Re: Article about car-eating rates

Hi, I'm off the grid until February 15. Leave me a voicemail if you need to get in touch -- I'll have sporadic access to my cell.

Luke Peterson


File: under totally random shit. Appears Becca (not me) in Germany (close, only a few hours away) has her passat eaten by rats somewhere in Washington state. It's a similar feeling to the whole debacle with Betty-Sue.. kind of feels like I've got a small army of almost-doppelgangers running around out there who are nearly me, but not quite.

*By the way, these are all totally real titles. This is the reason why I try to never accept any new applications on facebook, no matter how cute they are, I think it adds another 50 spam emails a week to my account.

spammity spam-a-lama-ling-long

explanation of above: I have had a g*mail address ever since they were created, a somewhat catchy moniker, and I get a mother-load of spam. Approx 500 each week. Minimum.

Aside from the random viagra and russian babes stuff, I get things like Fox and Hound Monthly, Huggies Baby Network, Audi car lovers, Solar Winds, Borders Rewards, Classmates.com, the fucking St Elmo Stakehouse which look like regular e-newsletters.* At frist I thought is was my emails on a massive global database that has been sold to every cheap-ass retailer in the States. And of coures, if I try to click their (legitimate-looking) "unsubscribe" link, I seem to just get another slew of new, odd newsletters. Now I reckon it'actually the sky-net machines trying to locate every real email address on the planet, so they can more effectively track us down when they wage war on the humans.

Also I also get a steady stream of what looks like genuine people just stuffing up. There's definitely a Reverend somewhere in the States with a matching last name to my email, who really needs to update his parishoners, because he's going to be showing up to prayer meetings and they won't be there, after they emailed me to say couldn't make it.

9 February 2009


Only just got a look at the awful devestation of those fires. It's on the one hand un-imaginable what it would be like to be trapped in that but all also but all-too-easy to picture those areas going up in flames on such hot days. I was driving in the back roads around Bendigo just 10 or so days ago, through the towns that are now being torn up by fire. I visited an amazing winery in that area, Elgo Estate, they are 100% wind powered and they also fence off natives and re-use their organic wastes to condition the soil. All too rare in Australian industry. I recommend every reader buys their wines off the website, and have fingers and toes crossed they missed the worst of the blaze.

And over this side of the world, Britian is experiencing freakish heavy snow, closed roads, motorways, cancelled school, the lot. In fact, just looking out the window, the thin drizzle in Amsterdam seems to be forming into sparse snow flakes here. Heavy falls currently predicted for Tuesday. Wish I could send some your way, Australia!

Here's a picture I took on Thursday on my morning ride through Vondel Park. Note, the seagulls are standing on top of the pond.

4 February 2009

Economic celebration

On yet another leg of the 6,500 km journey last week, my car compatriots, now stinky and dirty with matted hair are coversing entirely based on in-jokes and references-of-references, as you do after 10 days in a vehicle and shared rooms with the same four people. The collective experience decides we should re-brand the supposed "economic crisis" as an "economic celebration!". The mortgage holders among us (not me, dear readers) have just seen their rates fall to about 2.5 % - saving them hundreds of dollars a month; none of us acutally have an employer as such, but seem to get by from a steady trickle weird and varied freelance jobs, and all of us relish getting to have crazy outback adventures. Fuel is cheaper, savings are still guaranteed.. economic bonanza!

From a culture-blogger in Berlin, momus calls it the "silver lining" in his post about about exactly the same phenomena. He hopes its not going to get him into cosmic, karmic trouble pointing out the good things about a slump in car sales, and a growth in public housing, but these things might just be music to the ears to the occasionaly pinko socialist among us. I wouldn't want to be carrying a lot of debt right now, and I really feel for those who are or those who just got laid off by BHP. Mind you, those miners riding the resources boom in Aus have been pulling in over 150k the last few years, hopefully they put something away for a rainy day.

All in all, how about you - can you see this period as a celebration? A rejection of the compulsion to spend spend spend and instead do some repairing, or just getting off the express train of capitalism?

2 February 2009

January 26

Drove into Melbourne about 6pm on Australia Day eve, cruising past the banks of the yarra, our assorted ratbag activists commenting on how pretty and clean the city is. Quickly followed by 'give me Newtown to look at any day.' They've got a decidedly urban grunge aesthetic those two.

People all down the riverside park setting up for barbeques the next day. The trend in Australia day over the last few years has seen more and more symbolic nationalism with a kind of diffuse and slightly unsettling focus. It seems that lots more people feel it necessary to get decked out in the flag in some way - shorts, tops, thongs, bikinis, draped as a cape (what are you, some kind of ocker super-hero?), flying on car antennas (putting the ass in class, that one), and worn as body paint.

The whole spectacle was dubbed as "morbid jingoism" by my colleagues on this trip. Can't say I diagree personally. I'm only 33, right, and from my relatively short living memory, this business is not some immutable part of Aussie tradition. We never got into flag-flying as kids. Australia day holds no real special memory of any kind of nationalist holiday, perhaps just a barbeque in one of Adelaide's many parks with a smattering of family freinds, but that was a fairly normal kid-friendly activity right through from October to March.

Perhaps Mum can set me straight on this, but I'm sure our lack of jingoistic fervour was not just a product of our suburb's chardonnay socialist leanings - I don't remember any particular fuss about it, even during high school years, where there was a slighly more bogan element. (Click "comments" to leave a note, here, technophobes).

Anyway.. see what I mean below. Early Sydney Big Day Outs always falling on Jan 26 probably sparked a trend of boozy teens trolling the flag, until organiser Ken West spoke out about it in 2007. The subsequent Howard years surely stoked this flag-waving business.

Photo from here: http://www.australiaday.com.au ... wtf?

Photo from wikimedia commons (Cronulla riots)