Father’s Day Has Come And Gone

And there will have been many who made a spectacle of themselves thereupon. I did not, being sensible. I stayed home, visited with a friend, and completed self-assigned tasks.

I fed my family a good dinner and made sure that the rooms we live in were heated – it is a cold spring day in Australia.

I kept the magpies, crows, ibises, and dugites from the door. Of the species listed, only the dugites are friendly.

I preserved a high moral tone all day, in spite of the temptation to run amok. One day a year is small enough price to pay for being seen as virtuous and you can always compensate for it later in the week. If you are squeamish steer clear of my suburb from Wednesday on.

I did think of my own father, and my grandfathers. I have very little basis to extend my thoughts further back, but they must have been fathers all or I wouldn’t be typing this. Congratulaions and thank you, ancestors.

I’m certain that there are people who detest this day, and who probably hate Mother’s Day as well. Perhaps they extend their distaste to the various Grandparent’s or Children’s days that other cultures celebrate. This is sad, but not my problem.

And yes, I did get four new model airplane kits, a paint rack and three month’s supply of espresso coffee pods. I am delighted and will buy my own socks and hankies in the future as needed. You don’t need a lot of hankies if you’re not fussy…

The card is from the socially-distanced daughter who draws penguins. When I was her age I only drew fire…

Do Not Click On This Link

If you do, you will be unhappy. You will lose time, money, or patience with humanity. Or all three. It is known as the Imperfecta…and unlike multiple bets on horse races, it is extremely easy to win.

If you have read this far it shows you have a desire for either punishment or humour. I like to craft my jokes so that you cannot have one without the other. In this I am aided immeasurably by the social media outlets. They allow me to step in a tilt someone’s mental bowl of soup off the table into their lap.

I am not alone in this. Just today I clicked on an innocent picture of soldiers preparing for an army exercise in one of our suburbs. I imagine it will be the infantry – and I would not be surprised if they pop off a few blank rounds while skulking through the paddocks. The horses agisted around the area may object, but the local dogs will have a good time. If it turns out to be the artillery exercising I’m going to get a bucket of popcorn, a big orange drink, and enjoy the show…

However – the Facebook post that warned local residents ( probably with a repeat in the local press and over the television ) drew forth a number of trolls from other parts of the country who were able to conflate the army exercise with the current state of Covid 19 lockdown in Victoria, vaccines, sheep, and new world order conspiracies.

I would normally avert my eyes but in the case of a few of them the grammar, spelling, and sentiments were such as to suggest professional comedy writers holed-up on a hotel room with the mini-bar open. I honestly cannot tell whether the posters are real or really good at appearing to be stupid beyond belief.

I am hoping that is is art, which I applaud. If it is science, I am gloomy, and if it is life imitating either of the other two named, I am saddened.



Dead Quiet

At the start of the current Viral Follies I noted a series of intense postings on social media from friends who wanted to educate us – to the dangers, what to do, how the world would be…

These seem to have disappeared, and I am curious. We live in a state that has had a very small Covid impact so far. So the very worst conclusion – that the social media experts have died from it – is not likely to be correct. Lord save us that this doesn’t happen to them in the future. But why are they silent?

Are they confident that official pronouncements are now sufficient to alarm and depress the population – and their own efforts would be superfluous? Or do they defer to those who have the official figures and can post them daily?

Have they been silenced? Some of them work in areas that spin closer to the virus than others…but they may have been told to not post on social media for some reason.

Have they lost interest? Have they decided that the dumb can die and the canny survive? I should not approve of that, but I do. Washing the dregs out of the pot occasionally means a cleaner social soup. But I wish to be able to decide who is dregs and who isn’t.

Don’t worry – if you are reading this and approve of me, you’ll be saved and washed clean. Promise.

You’re Entitled To Your Opinion

At least here you are. We live in a free country that will let you think what you like. You can also say what you like…but with a few restrictions to prevent harm to others. By and large it is a good system and altogether a good country.

But note: the freedom you exercise to think and speak is also granted to everyone else. And it goes further – we have a great deal of freedom to listen to what you say, to commit it to memory, and to think about it.

We are allowed to agree or disagree with you… and within certain limits to let you know that we do. And you, more or less, have to put up with either decision.

Which conflicts with the attitude and pronouncements of some people in the chattering classes. They form groups, collectives, and cabals that try to silence any dissent or disagreement. As these can be found in schools, universities, cultural institutions, and businesses, it can destroy the very freedom of speech that they cry for.

The humorous part of this – if hypocrisy is humour – is that they will insist that they be allowed public display and disruption to push their barrow.

Is there an answer to it all? Well, you’re reading it. the weblog column. The internet posting. It can be read by all – it can be criticised by all – it can be ignored by all. It hardly ever garners a legal protest or challenge and mostly just hangs around in electronic space to embarrass or discredit decades later.

Another answer would be a Speaker’s Corner in a central public park that could be open to all for untrammelled oratory. Of course that would mean that the speakers and listeners would have to abide by rules of conduct. We may be too far down the road to either political correctness or political chaos for that. Plus it would need two cops to oversee the venue.




Re Tales – Part Two – ” I’ve Changed my Mind “

” And now I’m going to change yours…”

The bane of retail trade is the changer. Whether it is a mind-changer, a shape-changer, or a money-changer, they are trouble as soon as they come over the door sill.

a. Customer buys goods. They are good goods and will do him good. The price he has paid will do the shop good. The money enters the till or bank account by whatever means and starts to make a numerical mark in the accountancy system. All is well, and no further operations need be contemplated.

Until customer comes back next day and tells the shop assistant that they have changed their mind and want to return the goods. From here the trails wind deeper into the bushes:

  • Have the goods been removed from the packaging? Some packages are a one-way affair and will never reassemble.
  • Have the goods been marked? Some changers will insist that they were marked when they got them. Custom factory scratches, missing parts, and loose screws are a special order and you have to indent for them for just months. Most retailers just stock the plain old undamaged goods…Funny how Mr. Changer got the special edition.
  • Can the goods be resold as new? Well, no. They have been in Changer’s hands while he did several things – maul them and then search on the internet for somewhere in China that will sell them cheaper. As much as you might value his money, he could have done that before he walked in the first time…
  • He? Did I write he? Please forgive me. Changing is a gender-neutral game. She will be as keen to screw over the retailer as he will and probably more indignant and entitled as she tries it. They don’t call ’em Karens for nothing…
  • Can the financial trail that the original sale opened be accessed again to clear it? Some accountancy systems require vast amounts of data entry to reverse anything – it can be uneconomic to even try. Which leads us to say to the changer…

No. No, you can’t change the goods for other goods. You can’t get your money back. Not if the goods were in good shape when they left the shop, are working correctly,  and are suitable for the purpose for which they were purchased. Those are the only grounds upon which a legal entitlement to repair, change, or refund exist.

They do exist under a state law, as well as a warranty for a certain period of time. But do not try to quote Magna Carta or lines from The Godfather to try to stretch the law to suit yourself.

You bought something in good faith with the ideas that were riding inside your head yesterday, now go use that mind today to make use of what you bought.

As far as threatening to never shop here again…considering your performance regarding returns…make our day…

The Back-Of-The-Cabinet Cocktail Book

Did you know you can make mixed drinks with leftovers?

Not meatloaf or old sushi, perhaps, but with the liquids that have accumulated in bottles at the back of the drinks cupboard. I use the term ” liquid ” because some of them may not have started life in that form. The expedition to the back of the drinks cabinet makes discoveries that would frankly have shaken Charles Darwin.

It is rendered fun and nutritious if you have other members of the family – lady members –  who have collected potions over the years. They buy things on a whim or are given alcoholic presents by people who have no idea whatsoever. If the liquor is sweet enough, or is sold in an attractive bottle, or has a twee name, it is going to end up back of the cupboard.

Most ladies do not drink a great deal. Indeed, I remember going on dates in my youth when they did not drink enough – or at all. They were moral times, I can tell you. But even now, in the sanctity of the home, the girls will buy some horrid bottle, sip it, and then leave it to rot. The only use to which this can be put is to mix it up as a speculative cocktail and gag it down.

Some discoveries are pleasant – a hazelnut liqueur in a silly bootle is unappealing as a straight drink but becomes fun when you mix it with ice and milk and pretend it’s an alcoholic milkshake.

Some are iffy – coconut vodka sounds as if it would make a good tiki drink, but it reminds you of CWA lamingtons that have been left in a fly-blown cabinet overnight. At least you do not have to pick coconut out of your teeth but it is still little fun.

Some things – like aged Catalan creme liqueur with floating things in it or the advocaat that will not move – are an aid to sobriety.

The very best thing that can be said about the Back Of The Cabinet Bar is that you will eventually drink through the bottles and can throw them out without feeling that you have wasted money. And then you can go out and buy decent whiskey, gin, rum, and brandy and return to the land of reality. You can break out the Savoy Cocktail Book and not feel that you are trying to entertain yourself in the lab at Porton Down.


What’s In A Name

Dr. Thomas Bowdler thought that he did us all a great service when he published
The Family Shakespeare ” and removed all words and concepts that he felt should not be seen within the family. His name has gone down in history ” bowdlerism ” as a mark for prissy, interfering, pecksniffery in arts and literature.

Stalin established a particular form of socialist control from above by a ruthless dictator and we know it as ” stalinism “.

These were before our time but we can make use of the words as a convenient shorthand – and we are very lucky. We can also use some of our modern pop celebrity figures to enrich the language:

a. We need a term for mindless use of children as talking puppets for political plotting. Something that the old can get and the young can get with…I propose that when we see crowds of schoolchildren marching with crayon banners to the chants supplied by their controllers – marching past the television news cameras and making gestures so that they can be recognised later on the news by their friends…that we inaugurate the term:

” self- Greta – fication ”

It may disappear as fast as it came, but then that’s show-biz.

b. When we need a word to describe someone who mines the culture for something to complain about, fastens upon a trivial word, ignores protest, and pesters with outrage anyone who is foolish enough to listen, I suggest we introduce:

” Haganist ”

Don’t be too judgemental. Everyone needs to have a gimmick to get in the spotlight. If it all seems a bit cheesy, well that’s show biz.

c. We’ve all been a ” has-been ” at some stage of the game. If we haven’t yet, we will be. It is a sad state of affairs for some…but a blessed relief for others. If you have been, you generally need not be again, and at modern prices that is a saving. But it needs a nicer term:

” Fondism ”

Never mid the flak over the name. Any publicity is good and Hanoi Jane needs all the attention she can get these days. Be aware that being a good Fondist may involve going to jail in heavy makeup – choose a good foundation. Remember you has been in show biz.

d. What shall we do when we want to describe a politician who can weasel out of nearly any embarrassing circumstance or past indiscretion based upon the inertia of his electorate? It is a tricky one: ” Teflon Teddy ” was once suggested but after the model for the term became a running joke – See the comic strip ” Shoe ” by Gary Brookins – the wind went out of his bag.

I think the dictionary and the political press will appreciate the suggestion of :

” Dusky Justin ”

Yowzah, yowzah. Be like a codfish off the Grand Banks and watch for the next Canadian gaffe. Show biz, eh?

The Shed In Cold Weather

The shed is where it all happens – at least the good parts. The parts where you actually build things instead of just consume them. If course it could also be argued that the office or draughting room is also where the intellectual part is, but that is splitting hairs. A good organisation has the office and draughting room attached to the workshop and people run in and out all day.

For me, the detached shed is a mixed blessing – I live in Western Australia and experience a pretty wide variation in temperature throughout the year…though to be sure it is on the upper part of the thermometer. This isn’t northern Canada or Russia. The range of temps in the place have gone from 4º to 52º – neither number makes for comfortable work.

Nor does it make for successful modelling, leatherwork, or household maintenance tasks. Scale model airbrush painting is a surprisingly sensitive business and can be affected by temperature, humidity, and air currents. I avoid it in very cold, hot, or windy conditions – which means there is sometimes a backlog of work needing to be done as i wait for reasonable conditions. Very frustrating, it must be, if one were a serial modeller -fortunately I am now a parallel worker and can switch to the next task on another model while I wait.

Big jobs in household maintenance also flag in bad conditions – However, they can sometimes be harnessed to serve. An example is our front door – it is a panelled thing with wood that sees raw sunlight at some part of the day. As a result, one panel has dried, flaked, and started to split. I am planning to wait until the summer and to pick a day that will have a hight temperature.

I’ll gird my old loins, demount the door, and take it into the shed. The outside surface will get the finish stripped off with a power sander and wire disks and then a stain and varnish finish – as well as some mechanical filling for the cracks. But I do not want the door off longer than one day, so it needs to be a day that will give very fast drying for the finishes. If need be, I’ll strip one day, remount to door overnight, and then start to finish early next day. I anticipate sweat and bad language, but it is far better than the price of a new door.

As for the modelling – I have adopted the practice of retreating into my air-conditioned computer and photography room when the temp climbs or dips too much. I’ve got a secondary work position in here that is useful for anything but spray painting or welding.


” I’m A Professional “

Don’t be proud – so was Jesse James.

So was the hangman that the British prison systems once employed to execute people. Apparently quite good at the business and extremely professional in his behaviour. I do not know whether he belonged to a professional association of ‘ special ‘ civil servants, but it would not surprise me.

I was once considered to be a member of a learned profession and later a participant in a commercial trade. As I have long retired form the former and lately from the latter, I might feel the lack of an honourable status in the community. We’re warned that this sort of thought, once lodged, is a very dangerous thing – it can lead to depression or worse; political ambition.

I have decided that I am going to have to construct a social plinth upon which my psyche can be mounted for display. Whether or not people will actually gather round it and admire the thing is irrelevant – I will have re-established my place in the world. To this end I have been experimenting with phrases:

Troublesome Codger – Good, and accurate, but hardly likely to get me invited to address dinners.

Senior Consultant – This has a vaguely medical flavour – rather like those disinfectant lozenges they gave you to suck when you had a sore throat. As long as I do not state the subjects upon which I may be consulted, I should get away with it. I can throw in things like studio photography or scale model building in case there is any interest. Which I doubt.

Wise Elder – Awkward. This not only suggests that I know what I am doing, but that I know what you should be doing as well. Also, ” elders ” are generally associated with tribes but I’ve seen some of the local ones…and want no part of them.

Lurking Menace – Well, now we’re talking. I can lurk with the best of them. Bushes, street corners, public libraries…you just assign me a beat and I’ll hang round and peer at things.

Unexpected Visitor – This is fun, but with the decline in home baking, not as rewarding as it used to be. The modern day biscuit tin is likely to be filled with commercial packet cookies if it is filled at all. You hope for home-made chocolate chip and end up with Milk Arrowroot. At the price of petrol to go visit, you are on a loser.

The Plumbing

Does it seem to you that the plumbing is becoming more of a problem than once it was?

I wish I had paid more attention to the basics of normal household economy when I was a kid. Not that I wanted to become the house cleaner or cook then, but I would have a point of reference in respect to what I have to do today.

I came from Canada, which has its own plumbing problems – there’s plenty of water but winter temperatures turn it into a solid, rather than liquid, asset. Every fluid that comes into or goes out of a house is handled with this in mind – and in some areas of the the country the problem is permanent.

Here in Australia we do not need to do quite this much – Perth temperatures don’t require deep pipe burial or heavy lagging. Plastic pipes and exposed runs can be tolerated. The land is largely flat and sandy. We would expect it to be all that much easier – but I’ve seen more burst mains and clogged pipes here than ever in North America.

The household plumbing is more complex, too. Canadian houses of my childhood had one bathroom, one laundry, and one kitchen. Australian dwellings can have several of each of these rooms and they all need water and drainage. And the fixtures all seem to be much flimsier than the goods of the 50’s.

As a result, most Australians spend holidays doing plumbing fixes. The restrictions on shopping due to virus made this harder over Easter and June  – hence more loos are sitting full or empty when they should be neither.

I’m just grateful when the makers of the fittings do not change the measurements between one decade and the next. Fashion is all very well, but no-one needs a stylish water faucet that breaks in 3 years and cannot be replaced.