Is the Washing Done?

I’m pleased to be able to say that my wife and I do not stink. It’s safe to stand next to us in lifts and bus shelters. Sometimes we are even fragrant, in a good sense – if the bath soap is fresh or if we have been dusting with Mr. Sheen. In any case we could be retailed in the flowers section of the nursery, rather than with the fertiliser.

Such doesn’t seem to be the case with some I meet. I’m not sure if my own olfactory senses are highly tuned or just adjusted to our house…but there are folks in shops and on public transport that would set gas gongs ringing in the trenches. And not all are knights of the road, either.

I’ll forgive the harried mum with the incontinent toddler – we’ve all been there when someone’s done that and we’ve been unable to escape. The only thing to be grateful for, besides an open window, is that the infant is not a small elephant.

I’ll forgive the down and out bum – the street hobo who can barely survive, let alone keep clean. There, but for the grace of God, go any of us…

But I’m red-hot incensed at the twenty or thirty-something who just doesn’t bother to wash, shave, or change clothing before they come out. Their choice if they want to be passed by, but if they want to do it as a stink, they can stay home and stew there.

 

 

Nutwork Marketing

We’ve all had the experience of seeing someone begin to participate in network marketing. Whether they were selling soap products, essential oils, bulk groceries, or 3.5″ mortar bombs, we appeared on their prospects list because we were friends or relations. In most cases it then became a race to see which folded fastest – the network marketing scheme or the friendship. In special cases the relationship to the in-laws could also be scrapped.

Was this necessary? did it have to be? Could it have been avoided? Would you like to try these essential oil soaps that come in 48-case lots? No?

I think it is time to step away from this model of seizing upon our friends and relations as sitting ducks for the benefit of shadowy pyramid schemes ( and that is really all they ever are in the end, after the denials and flapdoodle have evaporated…) and reverse the pitch. It is time that we annoyed the get-rich-quick confidence tricksters by turning our friends and rellies onto them.

Here’s basically how it works:

  1. You make up a list of your relatives and fiends ( I meant friends…) – from close family on out to second cousins. Do not neglect the odder ones – the creepy uncle who makes you uneasy at Christmas – the aunt who screeches – the sister who says she is a vegan but smells like sausage. Marshall all your resources and make the paper list a long, thin one.
  2. Get accurate email and postal addresses for each of them. Telephone numbers as well, and particularly mobile phone numbers. Put this on a separate long, thin paper list.
  3.  Place the two lists side by side with the appropriate information for each person beside their name.
  4. Now slip the right-hand list down one division. each person now has false details next to them. False, but not terribly far from the truth.  Photo copy this document and label it ” List A “.
  5. Now free up the right -hand list and slip it up one division. Photo copy this as ” List B “.

You are now armed with two lists of nearly-right information that differ in two directions.

At this point you select the group marketing scheme, pyramid, social network, or whatever they are calling themselves and settle into a good long session of sending them List A  as prospects for inclusion in their next round of scamming. You’ll be supplying addresses and round-the-clock contact information that will certainly connect, but to the wrong person. However, the person who is subject to this bombardment of  California sales hype and new York bullshit at that address or telephone number will stand a very good chance of knowing the person who the scammer thinks they are addressing. They will recognise the name of their cousin or friend or workmate.

And they will be madder than hell – ringing up the supposed dobber and giving them the serve of their life. However, in the meantime, this second contact will have been receiving the same commercial bombardment in yet a third name.

At this point – about two weeks after the initial plant, you take List B and send it to the scammers via another salesperson. Don’t be worried about finding one – the schemes have multiple teams that will target an area before the heat is on. This salesperson will do the entire exercise again, but with a different set of nearly-right contacts. Everyone gets pestered again but supposedly by a different relative or friend.

You will have achieved three very good things:

a. You will have annoyed your entire circle of acquaintance for a month without having to spend money on petrol or buy them meals.

b. You will have wasted the time of the scam merchants for a month. Often this is long enough for them to clap their carpet bag closed and get on the steamboat.

c. You will have sensitised your circle of acquaintance to the dangers of this sort of personal affront. They will not fall foul of it in the future. You will never be pestered to buy diet supplements, soap, or time-share holidays in Queensland.

 

Insomnia Is Nothing To Lose Sleep Over

If you are currently sitting at your screen because you can’t sleep, I have some good news for you: you might not be in such a bad state as you think.

Oh, you’ll be tired and listless, all right. Up too late when you think you should be sleeping soundly and fearful of how bad you’ll feel in the morning. Worried about not sleeping and then worried about the worrying. Not a pleasant prospect.

Note that I separate insomnia – an internal wakefulness – from those nights when you can’t get to sleep because some pest is watching soccer at 2:00AM or the neighbours are hosting a drunk. What you do about the latter two circumstances is between you and the man down at the gun shop. Remember murder is not legal, but rat shot is generally not lethal.

What you do about internal insomnia is…wait for it…nothing. No warm milk, sleeping tablets, meditation tapes, essential oils…nothing. Because all these are just chemical or physical rituals – they don’t cure anything. Possibly because there is nothing to cure.

If you are awake at 1:00AM, you are awake. If it is because you are cold, or sick, or hungry, go get a blanket or an aspirin or a sandwich. Don’t expect this to be an instant cure, but at least it means you are not lying there in the dark being uncomfortable. If you own a Siamese cat don’t expect to lie there comfortably anyway. But if you are lying there, awake, make the most of the physical comfort and then let your mind be free.

It may be free to sleep or it may be free to think. If it is a nasty little mind it can think nasty little thoughts  – otherwise it can have quite a good time remembering, planning, designing, telling stories, or anything else it wishes. It will know when to switch off and sleep, but when it is awake in the dark, the rest of your body gets about 85% of the physical benefit of sleep anyway.

Think of it like your computer when you shut it down – sometimes it runs on for a bit as it finishes off programs. Don’t panic about how you’ll feel in the morning. If you haven’t given yourself a drunken hangover you’ll have at least 85% of the health you need.

Naming And Shaming

I sat down the other day and wrote out a list of people I know. Not just ones I recognise on the television or have run across in a shop, but people I am personally acquainted with. I wished to name and shame them…or at least threaten to do so. I hoped to elicit money from them to suppress the evidence.

I was saddened to realise that:

  1. I have no evidence on the moral ones. These are the people who would be desperate to pay me off. With no juicy scandal, I have nothing to lever the money out of their pockets.
  2. The ones who are not moral leave great trails of shame behind them, but feel none of it themselves. They would not only welcome my trumpeting their sins to the world, but would probably benefit from it.
  3. None of them have enough money to be in a position to hand it over in unmarked paper bags. I steer clear of most of them because they are looking for loans. And I can only do that old trick with the $ 6.00 bills so many times…

The history of commercial silence ( AKA blackmailing ) abounds with stories of successful stings. Incriminating notes and photographs are hinted at, the hint takes hold, and the cash flows out. Occasionally the victim resorts to the police and occasionally to a revolver. The really courageous ones go on national television and confess their sins with tears and sobbing. If they are good at it – really good like some of the TV evangelists – they can come out of it better off than before. And very little of the new money that flows into them through true believers will then go to the blackmailer.

The ideal thing is to find a rich person who fears poverty ( well, they all do…) and realises that shame will be bad for them. They are willing to pay to stave this off. Of course, if the price is too high or the scandal too deep, they are also willing to pay to have the blackmailer rubbed out. You need to look at the figures closely before you make that first telephone call.

Note to overseas readers: It is futile to blackmail an Australian with threats to reveal their convict ancestry. They revel in it. It is hard enough to threaten them with a convict future…

Dietary Requirements

I’ve got an invitation to a works party at the end of the month – oddly enough very close to the American Thanksgiving – that looks good. The people there will be jolly sorts and not at all stuffy. It’ll be perfect for the old ” exploding turkey ” gag. You can do a power of damage with a 25-pounder Butterball, particularly if you choose the H.E. variety.

I will probably take a pot of chili – though the hostess says she’ll have enough food there. The thing is that it may well be edible, but it won’t be FOOD. It will be party food. And I’m not a Party member…

The note inviting me has a subscript that asks me if I have any dietary requirements. The fact that I’m gonna arrive with a cast-iron kettle of chili and cornbread pretty well answers that. But of course she meant other things:

Do I have religious restrictions that prohibit me from eating things that taste good, based upon commandments from the Middle Ages? Well, yes, I do, and mine go back to the Bronze Age. But the Bronze Age was a very long time ago and a very long way away and I do my own grocery shopping here in Australia at IGA.

I do follow strict religious law whenever there is nothing else on the table or when my well-meaning friends make a fuss of it. I’m particularly annoyed when they mention that I won’t be getting any of the bacon or prawns or stroganoff sauce or whatever but I can make it up on extra bread or lettuce…

I plan to bring along my own Dead Sea Scroll with newly-discovered texts that allow everything except eggplant, kidneys, or liver and specifically command the faithful to serve these in double helpings to the everyone else. I shall be generous to all.

As far as chemical imbalances, colonic triggers, or frank allergy, I’m fine. I do like to specify that the food be dead, or at least moving slower than I am. This is to allow me to catch it more easily. I look somewhat askance at mock foods that pretend to be something other than themselves. They may taste fine, but they would eat as well if they were honest about what they are. Frequently the word -association between the real ingredients and the supposed dish are enough to spoil any pleasure. I defy anyone to enjoy mock-tripe, cooked how you will.

I suppose one day I will finally give in to my baser instincts and take some poor woman up on this dietary  requirements thing. She will be thinking pizza squares and cheese on a stick followed by a sausage sizzle and I will demand ( with a doctor’s certificate ) treble-refined Patagonian fleedleberry purée over non-organic turnips. The only downside to the whole thing is if she manages to cook ’em…

 

 

Dig Ye Not Deeper Nor Yet Faster Unto Destruction…

I believe it might have been Will Rogers who advised people who found themselves in a hole to stop digging. It is a most sublime thought.

If only I could remember it when I tell a joke that falls flat – or make some unfortunate floater at a party. If I could only realise it in time ( Or better yet – 30 seconds before I utter it …) I should be a happy man. As it is, there are occasions when I wish the floor would open up and swallow me. And I’m sure the people I’m with hope for that too. I shall mind my tongue when standing on a gallows trap.

Of course Will’s dictum also applies to all aspects of life – professional situations, love matters, financial affairs, etc. Even driving a four-wheel-drive truck in soft sand. You can get out but you can’t do it by getting in deeper.

One thing that you can do, besides reform your character and exercise sounder judgement in the future, is help the situation by spreading the hole – making it shallower. If you’ve said an unfortunate thing and your audience has burst into tears or rage, turn to someone close and say ” Well, I said it. Now pay me the $ 5.00 . ” If you’re fast you can use the smoke screen to escape.

You Don’t Like The Dinner?

Fine. No problem. We can work with this.

How’sabout the rest of us eat the dinner – leftovers or whatever – and you go hungry? That’ll  keep your tastebuds free of contamination and we can carry on and clean our plates. If you’d care to watch us doing it …and gain spiritual nourishment thereby…we’ll just dig in…

If you’d like to eat something else, there’s no end of people who would be happy to feed you. They’re called restaurants and all you need to do is pay them and not burp loudly. No, we won’t be able to pay for your meal as we have already paid for the one on our own dinner table.

Not fair? Can’t see why you’d say that. We provide clean and nutritious food at a warm table. Your decision to reject it is respected. No-one forcing you to eat. We’re in the business of feeding you…not making you happy. We give you what you need – not necessarily what you want.