Touching A Land Mine With A Barge Pole

Also known as ignoring the warning bells and the voices in your head.

We have all done it at some stage of our lives, but I address myself to those who have not quite reached that stage. Unlike Wells Fargo, this stage doesn’t have a guard with a shotgun on the front seat.

We will all encounter situations where there is a little internal voice – or a faint hint – that tells us to back away. To avoid engaging. To be quiet and do it quickly. If we are intelligent, we listen to those voices. There may also be tiny silver bells, or submarine diving klaxons. In any case they invite us to heed and hold off. And how often have we ignored them…and ploughed ahead to disaster.

I can think of a dozen times when discretion would have been the better part of valour and disinterest the better part of friendship. Yet I only acceded to the call of wisdom in half of the cases – and got 6 bruises for the other half. I’ve lost money, friends, reputation, goods, and self-esteem by barging wildly into situations that needed me to be somewhere else.

This was bad news for me over the years, but fortunately each mental scar has the decency to throb in wet weather and remind me of itself – and I have gotten old enough to take lessons from my own past. I may not remember dates of battles won, but I do remember defeats. Each one has helped me far more than the victories.

I recently had an opportunity to step into the breach and ” do the right thing ” and cover myself with self-love…and I looked at the ceiling and walked on by. I also deliberately avoided doing bad things to good people and/or becoming a living saint. And I think I shall be much happier in all cases for it. I know how quickly good works can turn into bad times.

Land mines blast far further than barge poles can reach.

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The Pea And Shell Game Vs Three-Card Monte

Which to choose when you want to fleece the rubes – it can be a vital business decision.

The simple pea and shell game ( variation for industrial towns – pea and thimble ) is fast, cheap, and always effective for an operator who can palm effectively. It is the sort of thing that can be easily mounted on a bar table and doesn’t need a portable stand. The betting can be as simple as needed for the intelligence of the crowd, and like many bilks, it is perfectly suited to a con and shill team as well as a single operator.

It does fall down a little in states where they regularly carry sidearms. A pistol can make operation awkward – the wise worker carefully gauges the time to pocket the shells and fade  – five minutes more has been a fatal temptation for many a Texas grifter.

The Three Card Monte table seems more suited to the city alley than to the county fair. Urban rubes always fancy they know cards better than their country cousins – and perhaps the taint of sin doesn’t enter into it as much for the towns. You need a folding table that will come up to waist height for a good monte and wise operators know that occasionally you’ll have to abandon a setup – so don’t buy an expensive table.

On the other hand, buy the best cards you can find and monitor them for wear. Replace them at regular intervals or when any form of scuffing starts to show. There is nothing worse than a palm shift being stopped by a card that sticks – people have been detected and knifed because of it. Moral: buy good cards.

Of course neither of these two cons should ever be attempted by someone who is not perfect in the art. There is nothing at all, save a jail term or a slug, to be gained by trying to train on the job. If you wish to enter the pea or monte industry, set aside enough time and money to train yourself properly and practise in every spare moment. After all Heifetz or Paderewski did not play scales to their audiences on the stage of Carnegie Hall.

We’re Closed

  • We don’t open until later.
  • We don’t open on Public Holidays.
  • We don’t accept Masterdinersamericanexpressvisa card. And the till doesn’t have change. Exact money or go away.
  • No dogs allowed.
  • No children allowed.
  • No coaches.
  • No split bills.
  • No thongs or singlets.
  • No seat without a reservation.
  • No reservations.
  • No seats.
  • No parking on the verge.
  • No parking in staff bays.
  • No parking.

” I don’t know what it is about the people in this town, Maurice. We open a world-class art gallery and poetry slam café at the edge of an outer suburb on a main trucking road and they just refuse to come. I mean, we have artefacts and avocados, for Christ’s sake. What more do they want? Philistines, the lot of ’em…”

 

Take My Money

I am going to try a new one on the  South Asian phone scammers.

When the next one rings up – and there will be a next one, no fear – I am going to offer to send them money. I shall be polite and sincere.

It should lead to them ringing off instantly…as it is far from what they have been told to expect from their victims. If they are intrigued and ask how much or how I will send it to them, I shall offer them $ 1000 – and ask to which postal address it should be sent. This, again, should lead to them ringing off in confusion.

But there may be a newbie in the stream room and they might give me their address.

Oh Boy, could I have fun with that…

When They Ask You To Play ” Misty “

Yet again.

You may never be in this position, Clint, and good luck to you. but if you ever do find yourself listening to that phone call or reading that email…

  • Immediately remove yourself from all social media. Cancel your subscription to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other electronic conduit.
  • Clean out all traces of the correspondence that have accumulated. This may involve burning old letters tied with blue ribbons, deleting files, throwing everything into the ” secure trash disposal ” icon, or any other means necessary to clear the table.
  • Consider reducing your computer and hard drive to atoms by strapping it onto a North Korean nuclear device and poking Kim in the back with a stick. As alternatives you can do much the same with an oxy-acetylene torch or by wrapping the computer with a sock and putting a matching pair into the dryer. With any luck the offending one will disappear into the sock void and never be seen again
  • Contact your local network news agency and confess to something. Make it something juicy – it need not be a true confession to an actual crime or sin, as long as it is going to be chortle-worthy on the 6:00 news. Make yourself a neon-lit, steam-powered, toxic social pariah. That usually stops most pests.
  • Send a price list for misty-playing. I usually ask $ 30 an hour and in the cases where I suspect the bill wouldn’t be paid, I demand cash in advance. You’d be surprised how often a business-like approach to this sort of thing sorts out the cheapjacks.
  •  Move away. Away away. Go interstate or overseas.
  • Take holy orders. Tuck yourself into whichever superstition seems most likely to provide protection against unbelievers.
  • Come out of the closet. Or go back into the closet. Buy an closet at IKEA and spend the weekend putting it together. Buy an secondhand closet from someone who has come out of it and no longer needs it. If you do, inspect it beforehand for moths or worse.
  • Just play Misty.

Old People And Black Pepper

When I was a very young people, black pepper came in finely divided form in shakers. Together with salt, it appeared at every table in the land, and you could shake it on whatever you fancied. As a child you learned ice cream and pepper is a mistake.

Then it became fashionable to have freshly-ground black pepper – this was about 1959. It appeared at restaurants and in trendy houses in improbably tall hand grinders. An improvement, though in restaurants the grinders were wielded by supercilious waiters who hovered. They still hover to this day, but not when I can get a radar lock on them and activate the Rapier Missile System.

Here at home we also have grinders – some are simple disposable things from IGA that dispense their contents gradually and then can be discarded. There is also an unused coffee mill that makes short work of whole black peppercorns -the results are fine for cooking…but…

But when you are an old people, you have a problem. You can still savour the black pepper, but your gums have receded and you are getting triangular spaces between your teeth. It’s natural, can be kept in check, and need not dismay you – until you eat black pepper and the flecks get in there between your teeth.

You’ll be fine in the main course, but once dessert comes and possibly after-dinner mints, it is a horrid nuisance to have the pepper work its way out and jump into the sweets. Nothing stops ice cream faster than black pepper. Black pepper coffee is to be avoided.

At home you can jump up and brush and floss, but dining out denies this. The best remedy I have found is the shake up a bottle of seltzer and squirt it in there from a foot away – blasts away the stubborn black specks and leaves you fresh for later. Just warn your dinner partner…

The Heatless Wave Gripping Australia

Here in Australia we are tortured and mocked every day by North Americans and Europeans with their news reports about heat waves. As we sit shivering over a meagre fire or try to stave off freezing by wrapping several dogs around us, they bask in the sunshine that is rightly ours and then have the temerity to complain about it.

Even the cartoonists and comics are on the game of complaining about heat. In some cases it is reasonably decent – over 38º C and a comfortable operating temperature. One could go around without a jumper and not feel the chill. In other instances it sounds like they are just bleating for the sake of hearing themselves. 35º for a week? In our summer we dream of this sort of comfort.

Well, it is almost August and the trough of winter is nearly gone. Soon it will be spring and we can all sit laughing at the hay fever sufferers as the Wattle Bomb detonates. And those of us who depend upon warm, dry weather to do airbrushing and painting can start our seasonal binge. I can hardly wait.