I got into _THE BEST_ testing program - for 'The Drugs and Driving Unit, Centre for Neuropsychophamacology, Swinburne University of Technology' read on :

A month ago 'a friend' forwarded me an email with a photo-copied 'ad' it said something along the lines of "We need volunteers to take part in a study of the combined effects of alcohol and THC..." STOP THE PRESS! - the address was the Uni just down the road even!!

Thinking it a hoax, but thinking it would make a funnier story if I told them I followed the directions in the ad, I rang the number...

Turns out to be true! AND I get paid $300 bucks!! All they want me to do, is 6 two hour session in which they will attempt to get me to 0.05% BAC, and then give me cannabis cigarettes (of varying degrees of strengths) and then see how I fair in reaction tests! KEWL!!

I had to go and have a medical and fill in some paper work, answering a few questions about how much I generally smoke, and if I am allergic to anything... *shrug* and then a doctor listened to my chest took my blood pressure, and away I go!!

I got my letter of confirmation today, and I attend my 1st session on the 12th of December (this year, 2002) with the rest to follow. When I rang the original emailer he was stunned, and leapt onto the phone himself. heh heh heh - he had left it to late and missed out! HAHAHAHAHAHA Winner - SUI !! :)

This is very exciting, and to be honest I am pretty stoked to be a part of it. I had to take time off work, one arvo a week and my boss doesn't believe it , but, yeah.

I'll daylog more about the protocols and such when I know them - stay tuned cannabis lovers! !

Well, I enrolled today for my classes for next year. A difficult choice, if ever there was one, since it will be my final year of University.

In any case, I picked the last remaining compulsory classes, and also picked a few Business classes, including subjects on management, and on the legal issues involved with e-commerce. As I'm sure you imagine, I can hardly wait.

In other news, my father is being quite stubborn on the matter of Christmas. I had originally planned to visit him over on the Southside on that holiday, but he steadfastly refuses to drive (probably because he'll be drinking) on the day, and there isn't much other way to travel 50 kilometres across a major city. I may be able to take public transport across, but I don't really want to spend so much time on a bus on Christmas Day hauling around a load of presents for my relatives on my father's side.

I hate Christmas already.

Antarctic Diary: November 29, 2002

The ring around the sun

There was something cold against my face.

I woke to a world full of yellow and blue. Blind except for primary color blotches, something roaring outside.

The wind had distorted my faulty tent so the walls were against my head.

I pushed myself away. Today I was supposed to hike twelve miles from Lake Hoare to Lake Bonney. In this wind. Over hills and past glaciers. It should have been a great photo op. It should have been a cool hike. I did it last year. It was great.

When it's calm and sunny, Antarctica is like Disneyland. But it turns in a second to something fierce. Then burns. Then when you stand still for a couple of minutes the cold seems to come from the inside out and there's no getting warm. That's happened to me a couple of times now. It's frightening in a very personal way. You don't believe how much you are only heat until you're threatened with losing it.

But then you move. Just a little. All it takes is to walk. All it takes is to face away from the wind and climb a few steps. Then it's like you draw life itself from the rocks.

I put on a couple of layers, packed my clothes into my orange bag, and went down to the hut. There the camp manager was on the radio talking to the folks at helo ops. They expected the weather to get bad, then to "slam shut". They were inches from grounding the helos. Nobody was going to go anywhere.

No way I was going to walk 12 miles into a 30-knot wind. Not that I'd be killed, but it would be uncomfortable and there was no reason for the risk other than one of the artists down here on the artist and writer's program wanted to go and they needed someone to go with him who'd done it before.

The camp manager got us a slot on a helo so that if one DID fly, we'd helo out to Lake Bonney instead of walking. But she wasn't at all comfortable that was going to happen.

All the same, she made me strike my tent. If the helo came I had to be on it. If it didn't, I'd have to put my tent up in a storm.

So I struck and bagged my sleep kit and my tent.

The helo came. It was one of the Bell 212s, a big lummox of a vehicle that chops at the ground stirring up a spray of rocks and dust (unlike the A-Stars, which are much more delicate creatures).

The 212 was loaded to the gills, and we put on an extra 1000 pounds of gear, and then four of us got in for the 10 minute ride from Lake Hoare to Lake Bonney.

Inside smelled of jet fuel and the thing thumped with each rotation of the overhead rotor.

We got off at Bonney, unloaded all the gear, and waved to the pilots as they took off and left us another 15 miles away from where we'd just been.

Once here we set to work. We unlocked our box, pulled out all the camera and network equipment, and hauled it into the jamesway. As there was no one in camp, the place was freezing cold. Leslie, the camp manager, had arrived with us. She set to starting the preway heater and collecting water while Tony, Bob (the artist), and I deployed the network gear.

We decided to let the cameras thaw before we started them. So we sat down to some cold salsa and chips. It took a while for the jamesway to warm up, but after an hour and a half things were toasty enough we couldn't see our breaths anymore and we removed our heavy coats.

Tony went outside, climed up the side of the jamesway and connected the high-gain antenna and attached the camera sphere to our power module. In a couple of minutes it was on line and we were zooming in on the frozen lake. The McMurdo IT guys opened the firewall, and we got limited external access for our U.S. bound team to start their observations.

And so now I'm here, sort of where this story started a year ago.

I'm sitting in a steel folding chair, the type the old women use at church bake sales. I'm looking out the window at thick blue glaciers that pour from the mountains like icing from cupcake tops. There's a bright halo around the sun, something between a rainbow and the glow around the heads' of the saints.

I remember last year talking to the limno team. I remember the look on Bill Fox's face when he saw Sabine stop, put on her sunglasses, and stare at the hills before heading to the Scott tent for the night.

She'd seen these mountains every day for weeks and still they warranted taking in. Over and over and I feel the same way.

I kneel on this earth to get into my tent and I can't move.

I can't help feeling this way.

What the hell am I doing here, so far away? Every time I look up it feels like someone just handed me a million dollars. Every time I take a step on the loamy prehistoric earth I feel like I'm holding my child for the first time.

I don't know what I'm doing here.

I don't know why it feels this way.

Sometimes it's so strong, I can't breathe.

Well, I did it... I broke down and went shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. I was amongst the thousands that set their alarm clocks extra early and then went and rushed out for that hot deal and I found it. Its amazing the amount of money that is going out the door today, just at the store I was at. I stopped by Wal-Mart for the DVD/VCR combo they had on speical for someone and the money was just pouring into the cashier's drawer.

The say the economy is weak and no one has money, but thats not what I saw. A majority of the purchases I saw were over the $300 (USD). So if everyone is out of a job, then unemployment must be better then what I'm making at my job, cause I'm on a budget and I'm not spending money like that.

So know I'm here at work, already bored and ready to leave. Hopefully it will be a slow day so I can leave early.

Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks.

I am not in a particularly good mood. Work sucks, non-work sucks, and not much doesn't fit those two categories. On the offchance that something does, I'll assume it sucks too. I'm tired, I'm hungover, wrecked, wired, I've got that much angst you could call me Dawson Leary. Top Bloke.

If I wasn't lost in music, I'd be lost. I went to see Doves last night with girl x - and a bunch of randoms who I didn't even know where going to be there. My, oh my, they were incredible. Mind you, I was a pretty easy audience by then, though. Turned up, waltzed in to the Guildhall without anyone seeming too concerned about whether I had a ticket or not - for the record, I'm a good citizen, so of course I did - and noticed a band looking suspiciously like The Delgados entering, stage left. Yikes! Didn't even know they were playing. Love them, never seen them live until last night. And they were, of course, fantastic. I drifted, trancelike, from my friends, to savour the moment in the peace and tranquility of my own head. Surprisingly, the gaggle I was with all agreed that the Delgados were indeed mighty and to be cherished.

If you haven't heard them, or of them, buy The Great Eastern, buy Peloton, buy Hate, and enjoy. They have melody, they have noise, they have strings, male/female duets. And they're smart, arch, clever. When a band writes a song called Hate is all you need, how could you resist them?

So - on a high by the time Doves came on, and they could have played a Chris de Burgh tribute set and I probably wouldn't have minded (as long as they played Patricia the stripper). They didn't though, choosing instead to show a silent short that film school grads only could have comprehended, before launching into a feedback-soaked, far too loud, Doves set. The weird thing is, their more cerebral numbers like The Last Broadcast, and The Man Who Told Everything exploded into noisy beauty, filling the venue, while the kind of songs I'd thought would be unbeatable live (Pounding, There goes the fear, Catch the sun) got a bit lost in all the fuzz. I'm not complaining though, even if girl x wasn't loving it quite enough.

I'll tell you this about girl x, though. She's wonderful. Unfortunately, she likes someone else just as much as I like her. Perhaps it will be good, though, just for once, to have a good female friend I don't end up getting too involved with.

Because as we all know, true madness that way lies.

And I still haven't had any offers from any rebound-fetishists. Where are you all, goddammit?

Ciao, amigos. theboy is off to skulk around the office for a while, and may even do some work, before heading off to the big smoke to meet an old chum he hasn't seen for years, see some blinds (apparently this is exciting), and have fun with a Dutch woman.

(she's a friend, by the way. I don't have to pay to see her.)

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it must be Christmas. That is, Ruth Anne's family celebrates Christmas at Thanksgiving time on even numbered years so they can spend Christmas with the in-laws. My family does the same on odd numbered years.

Anyway, the schedule was for all the women (Ruth Anne, Liz and Jen) to go shopping all day, and the four men to take care of the four children all day. We went to the Jacksonville Zoo, which turned out to be much more impressive than I was expecting. Amelia had a great time, running here and there, talking with the other pre-verbal children visiting the zoo, and looking at all the weird stuff, some of which were animals.

One especially cool part was seeing the Lorikeets, which are Australian birds not too unlike parakeets. For an extra dollar, you can buy a little cup of nectar, which makes the Lorikeets stand on your arms and hand to eat it, and on your head and shoulders just for the fun of it. Jack was the only one to get a cup of nectar, but they also really liked to stand on the head of his daughter Camille. Maybe because she was blond? Or perhaps her head was just the right shape or height or something.

Once the ladies got home, the men got to attend to the children while the women wrapped the presents. Then a lovely dinner of Thanksgiving leftovers and the gift exchanging started by around 8 PM. I scored the two DVD set of Monsters Inc. which has 98 minutes of movie and 208 minutes of bonus material. Also some CDs such as Beethoven's Wig. Quite a lot of things from my amazon.com wish list. I highly recommend everyone go to amazon.com and make one, if they haven't already.

Things went so late, that by the time I got a chance to go upstairs (where the internet connection is) and try to write my daylog, it was time for Camille and Matthew (who are staying upstairs since their bedrooms are being used by visiting relatives) to go to bed, so I got kicked out. As usual, by this morning yesterday is something of a blur, but I do what I can.

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