None Of My Darned Business

Have you ever sat there and actually considered how many things in your world are none of your darned business?

I did just this recently and came up with a surprising number of topics that I need never address. The fact that I have done so in the past meant that I was making myself or others unhappy to no purpose. I could have saved my breath to cool my porridge and improved my days no end. Here’s a selection of opportunities that I can take in the future to butt out:

a. The bad driver on the road who swerves and rockets about between lanes – who tailgates and lurches and cuts in. No sense me raging about this behaviour – nothing I do is going to abate it. All I need do is steer clear and stay back and let him…or her…meet their fate by themselves. Hopefully it will not occur where I have to stop and render aid.

b. As the love affairs of others are not my business, neither are their hate affairs. I can hope, in humanity, that everyone will be loved and true and content. If it happens I will cheer. If it does not, I shall remain silent.

I’ll help out – though I draw the line at moving furniture these days – but apart from general sympathy and the occasional cup of tea, I think I should keep my opinions to myself.

I shall have to work on controlling my wince, when I hear details.

c. I’m not going to poke anyone in their religion or politics, for fear of something oozing out. If they will aid me in this by not exposing themselves so blatantly on Facebook it would be appreciated. In turn, I shall not hand out pamphlets or sell religious relics at cocktail parties.

d. While I might be uncertain if anyone’s religion is really sacred, I am convinced that their bank accounts are. Thus their financial affairs will be treated with dignity and respect. I shall not beg money of them, nor steal it when they are out of the room. Likewise I shall not advance sums that would expose them to embarrassment or me to inconvenient loss.

e. I shall try to exercise a complete sense of tolerance towards the dress of others – and hope that they can be as kind to me. I’m retired, with a wardrobe of odd, if serviceable clothing left over from the last 40 years. I am comfortable with most of it and hope to wear it out in a frugal manner. I’ll need to remember that others may be doing this as well.

f. I’m not so sure if I can treat the speech and writing of others in such a laissez-faire manner – particularly if they are addicted to foul language. I wasn’t brought up to it and still find it an offensive thing to hear. Indeed, in the mouths of some, it is actually ridiculous.

I might have to balance a middle ground in this one – grit my old teeth and take no notice up to a certain point and then just walk away after that. The real decision will be whether to ever walk back…

g. The musical, artistic, and visual tastes of everyone are personal, and I must stop mentally judging them when I hear or see what pleases them. The judgement need not be bad – I quite approve of some things, but need to remember that my opinion is not called for either way.

This’ll be a work in progress for a few years. With any luck it may make me more of a gentleman, or at least a calmer and kinder individual.

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Famous Hollywood Mathematician Confesses His Sines

In an exclusive interview with anyone who would stay still long enough, famous Hollywood mathematician, Louis C. de Nominateur, has admitted that he has been guilty of transversal since the early 1990’s.

This confession comes on the eve of revelations by a number of female academics that de Nominateur used his position as Monomial at Berkeley University’s Nonial Institute to press them for favours. The fact that he was contented with favours from a Cracker jack box is neither here nor there. If he was going to whistle, they were determined to decide where it would be.

The use of improper fractions has also been cited as the reason so many of the complainants  failed to gain tenure at the University. There have been rumours of trinomials.

The law firm of Scalene, Johnson, and Congruent has been engaged to prosecute the case in California. As soon as the plaintiffs decide how much money they would like to possess, writs will be served on the defendant. The first hearings are not expected to take place until the internet has delivered a judgement favourable to the complainants and there has been adequate time for the memes and outrage to take effect.

Desperation Is The Snarky Auntie Of Invention

We have often been told that necessity is the mother of invention. That’s fine as far as it goes, but like most copybook maxims, it never goes far enough. It doesn’t provide much of a clue as to what prompted half the stuff that you find in a gift shop. If the shop is an arty or trendy one in Melbourne, it provides no clue whatsoever. Nothing in there for sale is necessary.

That doesn’t prevent it from being sold, mind, but you get the meaning anyway.

Desperation, on the other hand, can provide some very good decisions. If there is nowhere else to turn, anywhere you do turn is a good direction. It doesn’t matter if the eventual outcome is disastrous – doing nothing would have been disastrous anyway. At least you get your disaster fresh and if you survive, you will have learned something. If you do not survive, we all learn something.

Despair is defined as the complete loss or absence of hope. The dictionary almost makes this sound like a bad thing. That’s a mistake – in a number of situations, it is the most useful and refreshing state of mind that you can be in. Such as:

a. The enemy is all around you. They are merciless. It is your final hour.

Fine. That removes all the doubt and uncertainty. You need never be plagued again with moral qualms again. Whatever weapon you have by you can now be used freely and with a real delight. Go ahead – treat yourself.

b. You have been caught. Your guilt is evident to all. There is no way to hide your sins.

Fine. Revel in them. You wanted to do them anyway, and now you can finally admit to yourself that you did. And you don’t have to footle around with anyone else’s good opinion, either. They don’t have one that applies to you.

c. You have lost everything. Nothing is left. No possessions whatsoever.

Fine. There are lots of possessions all around you. You’re in a perfect position to select the ones that you wish to have and then just go take them. In most cases, you will succeed. In the cases where you do not, society will eventually have to provide you with the basics – food, shelter, clothing. So it is an overall win to you.

 

Old Coot And The Yearly Rush

A great many things happen annually, and old coots have seen enough years to know the schedule. The fact that they cope with the pressures is not because of superior intellect or courage – it is just that we know most things are soap bubbles anyway.

Take the holidays –Any holidays. We know from long experience that there will be a whole lot of things – goods, rituals, promotions, events, that are just a commercial hype. This extends through all cultures – the center of most celebrations is generally somewhere near a marketplace and the sellers are all in favour of that. The buyers are stimulated with slogans, pressure, advertisements, pressure, guilt, pressure, trite music, pressure, and greed. Did I mention pressure?

Old coots are just as susceptible as younger people to all this, but most of us peak out at about 15 minutes and don’t give much of a shit afterwards. We’ll go shopping but not for long. And we’ll buy, but not for much. Where you can really get us is at the coffee shop or the soft couch as we sit there and chill out.

Of course we are despised for this – all idle people are despised by the busily employed. It is disconcerting at first but as soon as you realise that it is inevitable, you can relax and drive the busy folk mad with inconsequential things. Do it nicely, do it politely, do it well…but do it repeatedly. And remember that a happy smile can go a long way towards infuriating someone.

If there is a yearly rush for a festival, you can also participate, – but remember that there was one of these last year and there will be one again next year. You needn’t cram the entire thing into your psyche in one hit. It is never going to be as good as it was and it is never going to be as good as it could be, but it can still be good.

A rush for payment of a council bill? Pay as quickly as you can, but there’s a secret – if you pay some and let them know that you’ll continue to pay more, they will be satisfied to wait. Show good intention and the thing is quite civilised.

Any more rushes? Generally not. You’ll not be rushing to replace your car nor to catch the latest clothing fashion. No-one can rush you to the altar at your age. If you are stubborn and inconsiderate you can prevent them from rushing you to the graveyard as well. Eat regular, sleep well, and you can irk your relatives something chronic.

 

” Stop Writing Your Blog “

” Just stop it. Get out and do something useful. ”

This is the orders from a well-known English advertising writer who has published a book on creativity. He is able to insist on this because we have paid $ 18 to buy the tiny little yellow book that he wrote and he is not there for us to argue with.

Mind you, the first four pages of this $ 18…errr…I mean this book…have been devoted to telling us that there are no rules. So we’d better obey. I don’t know if there is an or-else to go with it, but at $ 18 you sort of expect one.

Get this in perspective – I also bought a book the same day written by Guy de Maupassant for $ 4.95 and I suspect it might have been better written…

Okay, heavy humour aside, I think our English hack is way off the beam in his judgement of the humble online page. Call it a blog, weblog, column, essay, or what you will, it is a real thing that can do real good or real harm. It may do it for free, or it may garner a little money. It won’t get the advertising agency fee that would feed an $ 18 author but it might just provide an even more valuable thing; an opportunity for someone to write, photograph, draw, and think…and opportunity that they may never have had in the world before.

There are enough vaporous weblogs to fill a zeppelin hangar – enough poetic ones to gag a unicorn. Enough recipe columns to keep us at the stove until Doomsday. There are enough movie reviews, literary sniping matches, and commercial plugs to fill all the rest of our time. And the wonderful thing is that we need not read them all – but we can if we wish. We need not write them all – but if it is late and we’ve got a good idea…

Not all creativity has to be billed at an hourly rate – not every writer has to be the next coming genius in the agency. Some of us use the weblog column as memory, speech, connection, and release. To be frank, we know that most of what we write is only read by ourselves, but the very act of writing it – writing it well, if we can manage that – is enough to make it real.

Oddly enough, we are doing something useful…

The Little World – Change Your Focus

If you are a Little World builder you probably have a favourite scale you work in – and if you’re lucky you have a clear vision of a project for it. You might even be one of those super individuals who has a whole chain of work in their mind and who will progress to a logical and successful finish.

Or you might approach your work haphazardly – the most organisation that you can manage is finding the paint brushes before the cat does.

Whichever you are, consider doing your imagination and skills a favour by letting your focus soften for a bit – specifically, change your scale or type of building every once in a while. You’ll benefit from it:

a. You will see the normal work you do in the wider picture of things. If you make cars and decide to make a building, you have a building that relates to cars. If you make ships and build a plane, you now have a whole new palette of colour to work with.

b. Your eyes will change. They’ll change physically with time – rarely getting better – and they’ll change focus as you get interested in new projects. See big, then see small, and you’ll see better when you go back to big.

c. New scales or genres bring you into contact with new manufacturers, new tools, new materials. Everything you learn in one scale you can turn to profit in another.

d. A change in your focus will bring you into contact with new people, too. And that means new ideas. Some will not be good ideas, but that is what you get in any case with normal life. But listen to everybody and look at everything – there is bound to be something useful  about everyone else’s Little World.

e. New scale or new category means new publications, new web sites, new illustrations on Google.

f. If, in spite of it being the most wonderful type of modelling in the world, you find yourself bored with what you are doing…do something different. Go out and deliberately find a new thing to tackle – even if it is not absolutely riveting, it will relieve your ennui long enough to restart your original engine.

g. You might be good at the new thing. Maybe even really good. I’m looking at three trophies on the shelf right now that I never thought I could win.  For a guy who never got one as a kid and never succeeded with radio control boats, it is heartening.

 

The Little World – It’s Only A Hobby – Part Two

” It’s only a hobby ” as a defensive statement can cover a multitude of situations. I’ve heard it in real life ( not on a comedy record ) as a slogan of pride and an excuse for shame. Can’t tell you which was the most disturbing:

a. The person who received a genuine complement on their models – a series of scratch-built boats – and modestly said that it was only a hobby. I was engaged in the same sort of modelling at the time, but without the spectacular success of the other chap. I was a little ( a lot…) jealous of his skills and thought that the answer rang false.

It seemed like a boast that he was better at other things, and that the modelling was some sort of lesser thing. It wasn’t a lesser thing for him, or for the rest of us that were doing it. It was the life and blood of our out-of-work hours. It was our art, and deserved a better reference than that.

b. I also remember a person in the same club who responded to criticism of his cruder models with nearly the same response – that it was only a hobby. Here the clear inference was that it was not an activity that had to be done well – it could be a mere bagatelle and done in a sloppy fashion.

That led to the conclusion that there was no point in him doing it at all. He could go off and do something more important – something that was important enough to do well. But I suspect that anything that he tackled would have had some small taint of the attitude. I wonder if anything was ever satisfying for him?

I wonder if the flaw inherent in both yesterday’s and today’s column is the word ” hobby”. If people substituted other words or phrases; ” activity “, “job “, ” pursuit “, or ” avocation ” for the word ” hobby “, would the uneasiness arise? Could people excuse themselves for anything if they were more serious about it – or more light-hearted.

For my part, I regard my Little World as real. For me it has more actuality than many other places on this planet that are merely internet reports. As creator, I take pride in it, and do not count the costs of the effort made in detailing it. I do count the costs of costs, though, and look at economic ways of having my fun. I try to keep my big spending for things that truly do make a difference.