Happy Holidays

I intend to wish people Happy Holidays this year during December…in spite of Facebook memes and pressure posts that insist I must only think of Merry Christmas.

Oh, I intend to have one of those too…a pre-Christmas gathering with relatives and then a catered lunch at a hotel on the actual day. Merry will be practiced, I assure you.

But I also hope to have an equally cheerful Hanukkah and even a midsummers dinner. Here in Australia we do that instead of midwinters. If I were a Buddhist I could have a holiday during the month as well, and if I were a black American or a Hispanic American I would have even more celebrations to cook, decorate, and buy presents for. A veritable month of jollity.

And if I were an atheist I could celebrate the 25th of December as Newtonmas and send cards with ” Reasons Greetings “. I would be careful who I sent them to, however, because I think they would severely affect the people on Facebook who post those scolding memes about the term ” Merry Christmas “.

After all, I would not wish to affect their happy holidays…


The Easiest Way To Remit Money To The Moon

I note that there is an advertisement current on Instagram that seeks to have me send money to the Philippines. It does so by telling me that it is easy. If ease were the chief consideration, I could point out that I have a pair of scissors in the desk and can cut cash up into small fragments and blow it out the window. To much the same benefit.

I understand that there are perfectly legitimate reasons for sending money to Manila, or Managua, or Memphis, for that matter. Relatives. Rent. Ransom. I would be the last to stop people from pursuing international trade. But I am also equally sure there are perfectly normal agencies to do this that do not involve Instagram , Twitter, or Gofundme…or any other such marginalia. I also include the Indian grocers and 7-Eleven operators with money transfer signs on their windows in this category.

Folks, ANY bank in any shopping centre can do it, with a paper receipt for you and a real live teller behind a window that you can return to if you are worried. Your money may be destined to be tamped down a tropical rat hole when it gets there, but if you are dealing with the Commonwealth Bank or Westpac, or the ANZ you can at least be sure it will arrive at the rathole intact.


The First Hot Days

The first hot days of late spring have let us know that we will be warm this summer. This is the case nearly every year and even the silliest of us should have twigged to it by now. In past years I have gone along with the gag and consented to be uncomfortable for months. This year I am going to revolt. I have the weapons at hand.

a. I have an air conditioner in my study. When the heat rises I am going to retreat to this room, damn the expense, and continue in comfort.

b. I am going to rise with the lark. Getting older does that to you – I can only assume that the lark has a dodgy bladder as well. Never mind, while I am up, I might as well get on with scraping the carcase, boiling the coffee, and sending out the posts. Also the laundry and other menial tasks. It is cool in the dawn.

c. The workshop heats rapidly, so part of the early morning will be devoted to what might be done in comparative comfort. The later morning will be reserved for whatever spray painting jobs have been lined up, as the heat will make the paint flow better and the noon to 4:00 o’clock period will be perfect for still air and heat curing of the paint.

d. Work on small kits in the study is easy…I have a portable modeller’s workstation I cobbled up last year. I just pick it up, move into the house, and carry on.

e. The period just after lunch is going to be devoted to a deliberate siesta. I am retired and have the time for this, and find that it is a very refreshing thing. And hour and a half is more than enough to energize me to go all evening when it is cool.

f. Gotta go somewhere? Drive in the heat of the day with the A/C in the car going.

g. Gonna wear heavy restricting clothing in the heat? Nope. Gonna wear cargo shorts, thongs, and a tee-shirt. I’m home and I can dress to please myself. Begone shoes…

h. Water? We have one of those cooler things and I might as well use it more.

i. Fremantle Doctor coming in? Open the house to it. The workshop has a whirlybird and big open Rolladoor.

j. Salad. Cold meat and cheese. Sushi. Just because we have an oven doesn’t mean we have to live in it.

The Manhattan Project Party

A recent phone call from a friend has suggested a project for the new year.

Our local SES has used water bombers for a number of years to help cope with bush fires. I am going to propose that they acquire a Canadair CL 415 amphibious fixed-wing airplane and lend it out to me for party purposes.

The aircraft has a tank that will hold 6100 litres of water or fire retardant. If we clean the tank well, we can use it as a giant cocktail mixer.

4000 litres of rye whiskey, 2000 litres of Cinzano Rosso, a bath tub full of orange bitters and a truckload of lemon peel should do it. Take off from the local light plane airport, go to max height until the tank cools down, and then head back to Perth at 500ft.

If we gather the guests on one of the local football ovals, glasses in hand ( or, for that matter, water buckets…) the pilot will be instructed to dump the load as soon as he clears the perimeter of the ground. Those who wish to stand there with their heads held back and their mouths open may do so. If the crowd is dense enough there should be little spillage.

I am still trying to locate a serviceable B-24 to deliver the canapés and snacks. If they can get a Norden bombsight this can be done from 4000 ft. In the interest of public safety we are going to avoid anything with bamboo skewers.


How Many For Dinner?

A simple question, but there is room for pain and suffering between every word.

a. ” Don’t know “. Shall I cook for four or one? Because it does make a difference in the amount of ingredients committed to the pan.

b. ” I’ll be working late”. Well that means you’ll either be eating late or elsewhere or not at all. Shall I cook a soup that can set or a quiche that will not?

c. “I’ll let you know “. If I am going to cook something slow, complex, or hazardous, tell me early in the piece. If you wait until 5:30 for 6:00 you will be getting scrambled eggs on toast. If you tell me at 6:00 neither the eggs nor the toast will be cooked…

d. ” We were going out but we changed our mind “. Oh good. Let me do the mathematics of dividing a two-person dinner, perfectly cooked, into a four-person snack.

e. ” I brought people home “. Good – you divide your guests into the ones who are to be eaten and the ones who get to eat. Let me know and I’ll stoke the oven.

f. ” I decided that I am not hungry “. The leftover pot grows fatter.

How Did You Know It Was Me?

a. The charred remains.

b. The characteristic smell.

c. The business card stapled to the victim.

d. The blood sample, hair clump, fingerprint, footprint, nose print, newsprint, and signed confession. Have you never watched CSI or read an Agatha Christie novel?

e. Your invoice for bullets and petrol. Bit steep…

f. The CCTV coverage. Was it necessary to take a bow? Three times? And hold up a credits sign?

g. The testimony of your ex. And the milkman. And the Dalai Lama. You have seriously pissed some people off…

h. Satellite images from Google Earth. We missed out on Boulder Dam but we saw you…

i. You wrote a full confession and mailed it into the office. In duplicate.

j. The little grey cells. And you are headed for one right now…

k. We have a book: ” 101 great mystery plots ” and you fit No. 46 perfectly.

l. Your mother turned you in. Also your father, three aunts, and the woman who runs the deli. You should have paid your tab up long before this…

m. We guessed. Okay, we’ve hung three other people so far for the same crime, but hey – you can’t get it right first time all the time. And they probably deserved it.



When To Seem Helpless…

It might be a little odd to advise people to try to seem helpless. After all, some are that way naturally, and do not need to simulate it – some are never helpless, and are better for that. But those of us in the middle…sometimes competent and confident, and sometimes a quivering mass…need to know when to turn it on and when to turn it up…

a. If you are trapped in a dark alley between outlaw motorcycle gangs and rabid dogs, do not appear helpless. It only encourages them. Take the opportunity – perhaps your one and only one – to go mad and bad and dangerous to approach. Go incandescently insane.

b. If you are in a position where dignity is foremost, do not show any helplessness. Stiffen your upper lip and any other portions of your body that may seem appropriate, and behave like a gentleman or a lady. If you cannot decide which of the two to be, go icy and reserved. No-one likes to touch a corpse.

c. In all other circumstances…act helpless. It pays dividends.

If you go to any government agency…or really any office at all…you can be assured that they have more rules than ever you know about, and even when they provide an explanation, it is to their satisfaction, not yours. Here the helpless act compels them to assist in some way. Even if it is just to get rid of you before morning tea break, they will expedite the process.

Likewise professional offices will assist with their own professional processes…if you stand back and let them proceed. Be kind to the receptionist and let her solve the problems she could make you if you were argumentative and entitled.

Helplessness also will get assistance from people in shops, service stations, on the buses and trains, and really anywhere that is public enough. Do not exploit it, but reserve it for times when something really is all too much. Likewise, step up and assist someone else who you can see failing.  That’s the secret to being moral. That and not setting fire to haystacks.