We need an update, stat!

One possibly unhealthy side-effect of working for a Web-based publisher for three-odd years is that I have a rather unusual interest in Web stats.

Naturally enough, I don’t get the kind of traffic that CNET.com.au does (although I do take a certain amount of pride in their published stats — not only because I’m still a regular contributor, but also because I personally went through a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get CNET.com.au off the ground), but I do still get the wacky web stats, especially when it comes to web search terms.

As an example, the fourth most popular search term for this site in February? That’d be the phrase “My Arse”. Mull on that for a second. The search term, I mean, not my backside… well, if you really must, we could come to some sort of commercial arrangement.. no, maybe not.

What really confuses me about that is that a plain Google search against the site and that search term brings up exactly zero results. So what were the searchers looking for, and how did they get here?

In amongst all this posterior pontificating, and set against the backdrop of a post-surgery Kidman, the busy beavers (no, I won’t get into that running gag again) at CNET.com.au have put up a comparative review piece of mine today:

Bluetooth headphones: Enjoy your music wirelessly: We take five stereo Bluetooth headphones for a spin to see which set reigns supreme…”

BlueAnt X5 Stereo Bluetooth Headset: “A good value headset with comfort on its side, but not if you’re an audiophile…”

Jabra BT620s: “The Jabra BT620s aren’t subtle headphones, but the audio quality — and the ability to multi-pair — is a plus…”

Nokia BH-501: “Good quality Bluetooth headphones, as long as you don’t mind it being very obvious you’re wearing a Bluetooth headset — and a walking Nokia advert as well…”

Samsung SBH170: “While the SBH170s have the best range we’ve seen, poor audio quality lets these headphones down…”

Sony Ericsson HBH-DS970: “Despite some design and performance complaints the Sony Ericsson HBH-DS970 delivers solid sound quality and generous features…”

The snip story

So, today was “the” day. The decision had been made – in the end, it was my decision, with Di’s support, as it’s my body and my pain — some months ago, but as we were doing it via Medicare there was some wait involved. Anyway, I was booked in for day surgery, and had to be there at 6:30am.

Naturally enough, with three kids who can’t be left in the house alone, this meant getting up at 6:00am and piling them into the car at 6:15. A few teary, bleary eyed goodbyes to the kids, and I’m into the admissions unit, awaiting my fate.

Now, I’ve been here not that long ago – about 18 months ago I had an emergency appendectomy, and there I was bumped ahead of others, so I was somewhat worried about being bumped later and later – not that I want others to suffer because of my simpler needs, but simply because I don’t much like being in hospital in the first place. I was far more worried about the general anaesthetic, however – more on that later.

Booking into a hospital entails much paperwork, of course, and plenty of fact checking – I lost track of how many people I told my name, address, DOB and procedure to today, but I’m sure it got into the double figures. Then again, I guess that’s preferable to waking up and suddenly realising that your vasectomy has, owing to missed checks or lost paperwork, suddenly become a boob job. Sure, there’d be a career as a circus freak in it for you, but all your carny earnings could still be eaten up by paternity suits.

Anyway, paperwork having been done, I was taken to a booth and given a hairnet – hospital staff do have a sense of humour after all – some useless blue booties and a couple of hospital gowns. I know I’m ripping off a joke I’ve read elsewhere – and I can’t at the moment recall where it’s from – but why are hospital gowns backless? When is it vitally important that they get to your bottom in a hurry? The second gown is to wear backwards, in case (to quote the ward nurse) I’m feeling a bit “too sexy” in a backless gown. Feeling sexy is, of course, an everyday problem for someone like me. If only…

Anyway, at around 8:30, I get walked around to the theatre and propped into a bed. If I may digress for a moment – and it’s my site, so I certainly may – I noticed that just about everyone who dealt with me today had a different accent – from ward nurses with strong South African tones, to Anaesthetists with hearty Scottish tones. I don’t know if this speaks to Australia’s multiculturalism, or if we’re just importing lots of medical staff, but it struck me. Anyway, on with the show…

Probably the biggest factor that was worrying me prior to today was the general anaesthetic, if only because the last time I had it – as part of the aforementioned appendectomy – I had it intravenously, and it felt rather like being switched off for a couple of hours. One moment I’m discussing the options with the surgeon, next minute I’m waking up in recovery with no memory of the preceding hours. So I chat to the anaesthetist, and he suggests we use gas instead. I cheerily agree to this, feeling a little better, and try to work out if I’ve ever had gas before…

(queue tacky “gas” joke. No, maybe not.)

And then I panic again, because I remember the last time I’d seen gas being used. I was 16 years old, doing work experience with a local Vet in Armidale, where I was at school at the time. We were performing a hysterectomy on an already pregnant cat, and it was under gas. And as that memory comes back to me, I remember that the cat didn’t survive…

But it’s too late for all that, and I’m wheeled from one room into another and slid from one bed to another, before a mask is clamped onto me. I’m warned that it might taste a little odd – the exact words is that it might taste like petrol, which suggests to me that they think I might be a surreptitious petrol-sipper – and they’re not wrong. Some eight hours later, I can still taste it, and I don’t think I’ll be heading down the local servo for a pint of ULP any time soon.

And then BAM, I’m out. And that’s when the surgery is performed, and the alien tracking chip is inserted into my skull the vasectomy is performed. I wake up in recovery, feeling not too sore at all, but that’s largely because I’m more or less off my skull on painkillers at the time. Pretty quick in all – into the surgery at around 8:45 (I guess; it was 8:30 when they walked me in, but it’s not like I had a watch) – and it’s 9:45 when I came to.

I’m officially cleared to leave by 11:30, and Di picks me up at 12; it’s then off home to lie down for the next two days while my wedding tackle recovers. There’s some.. interesting stitches down the sides of my plums, which will hopefully stop hurting after a while. Until then, there’s always prescription painkillers.

Still, all in all, a successful surgery, and I’d definitely recommend it to those for whom it makes sense. Now, back to secretly preparing for the invasion of our new eyeless overlords lying flat on my back…

Everything you never wanted to know about sex, but have been forced to find out*

Today was surgery day, but in the interests of the audience — who may, after all, not be interested in the state of my wedding vegetables, or may just be squeamish — I’ve stuck it on a sub-page.

Click here for “The Snip Story”.

Don’t say you weren’t warned.

* With apologies to Douglas Adams, and, of course Oolon colluphid. This is what happens when you read “The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe” when off your skull on painkillers — phrases stay with you. As an aside, the copy I bought to hospital with me was purchased in a 2nd-hand bookstore that I’m sure is no longer in Armidale, and I’m also sure you can’t get copies for the grand sum of $1.80 any more….

The Pizza Story

I’m stressed at the moment. How stressed? Stressed AS.

So instead of explaining why, here’s the pizza story.

(warning: Long, possibly meaningless Alex ramble ahead. You have been warned)

A week or so ago, after a very heavy and hot day, we decided to take the easy route for dinner, and order some Pizza in, rather than making it. Not that we could even if we wanted to- the Oven is still dead, the kitchen even more falling apart – but anyway. I head online to see if I can scrounge up a good discount voucher from Dominos, and I notice that they do online ordering.

Now, I’m an enlightened 21st century technology kind of person, so this appeals to me – especially as calling the local franchise invariably involves sitting through vapid ads while waiting on hold, only to then be dealing with Wayne (16), who sounds as though he’s expectorating on your Pizza while you order. I’ve dealt with rotting planks of wood brighter than Wayne. So, online ordering it is, complete with flashy (and probably Flash-based) ordering screens with pictures of tasty Pizza. Pizzas ordered, and to give us a little video-store browsing time, 6:15pm selected as a pickup time (it’s about 5:30; time will become important later). Order put in the name of Kidman, and I’m already curious about how they’ll go about identity verification, given that I have to pre-pay for the pizza before heading out the door.

We head out with the kids, browse the video store for some things to watch – and a few things to provide distraction for the kids while I’m away for the weekend – and then I duck round to the pick up the pizzas.

Except that when I walk in the door, at 6:14pm, I notice “Kidman” on the LCD board they use to show order progress. And next to it is the estimated time. 63 minutes. Oh, and apparently, the order is already in the oven. Given that they can churn out a pizza from frozen base to crispy eating state in 10 minutes, 63 minutes is going to incinerate something – possibly the entire store.

So I head to the counter, and ask what’s going on with my order, which is now due, at least according to what I filled in on Domino’s Web site.

“Oh, that’s due for 6:45″

“No, it was booked for 6:15. And your board has it arriving at 7:18, for some reason…”

“Are you sure you booked it for 6:15?”

“Yes.”

“Oh. Well, we can make it – but it’ll be ten minutes”

So I trudge back to the car, get the kids (I’m not going to wait in the car for ten minutes for their screwup) and eventually get the pizzas. And, when Wayne remembers, the soft drink and garlic bread, too. Wayne also valiantly tries to explain what had happened:

“Sorry about the delay – our computer is still on Queensland time.”

(Anyone who can explain how this makes 6:45, 7:18 and 63 minute cooking pizzas simultaneously make sense should probably apply for an honorary degree in theoretical/spurious mathematics. Oh, and book a table to celebrate at Milliways, while you’re at it).

It’s only when I walk back to the car that I realise that at no point did they actually ask me for proof of ID, and it was very clear that mine was an internet order – different coloured order on the screen, and more came in while we were waiting. Methinks that if one was dishonest, it’d be all too easy (with a little chutzpah) to wander into a random Domino’s and claim somebody else’s pre-paid pizza. As long as you’re happy waiting 63 minutes for it, that is.

Doesn’t have to be serious

If I’m being honest — and as a journalist, I’m one of the least-trusted and presumably least-honest members of society, right up there with politicians, used-car salespersons and people who sell kitchens, so perhaps “honest” isn’t the best term — anyway, if I’m being psuedo-honest, I have a pretty cool job.
I get to play with interesting gadgets — although I’m still waiting for someone to commission me to write a (hic!) review of this — and I get to watch my kids growing up all the time. Our smallest has just started roll/pull/crawling around the floor, which means I’m constantly picking up small things that two weeks ago I could have left alone, secure in the knowledge that he couldn’t reach them.

This is, by the way,a roundabout way of saying that the fine folks (not counting that whole anti-beaver incident) at CNET.com.au have published another review of mine:

Sanyo Xacti VPC-CA6: “One of the selling points for the VPC-CA6 is that it’s splash-proof. It’s important to note that Sanyo don’t claim that it’s waterproof — and we were unwilling to shell out AU$799 to see what happens if you drop it into a pool…”

You may be wondering what that has to do with the kids, but that’s the cool bit of my job — I get to do both at once. Sometimes (think: Nappies, Expensive tech gear) it’s not that cool, but for now, it’s good.

Finish him!

For some reason, my own site (and the associated email, etc) has been consistently refusing me access all morning, while allowing anybody else access (at least to the Web part. I hope nobody’s been reading my email — you might die of boredom).

Which is the roundabout way of saying that if you can read this, you’re probably not me.