The Role Of Caffeine In Civilization

Caffeine role…? How about the Caffeine Roll – now that would sell! I know people who would queue up for them…shaking hard.

I take coffee. I take tea. I avoid caffeinated soft drinks – but that to keep away from the taste, not the effect. I can stand caffeine in measured doses, and the standard measure seems to be the railway tank car.

The morning will see two cups of Nescafé. Another mid-afternoon, and a strng espresso after dinner. Then another Nescafé at 10:00. It is a wonder I get to sleep before midnight.

We have often been cautioned against this. Just as we have been warned off eggs, meat, sugar, potatoes, and every other foodstuff that has ever been grown, baked, or boiled. And then we have been told that the demon food or devil drink is quite all right…and the attention of the scolding press turns to another thing. I have adopted the sensible attitude that it is all a load of twaddle designed to gain money and power…and ignore the dire warnings. Unless a sandwich is filled with equal parts of dried smallpox scabs and liquid Lewisite, I am prepared to take a bite.

The Wiki entries on coffee and tea show that they come from foreign climes. This would make them suspect for those of the population that subscribe to xenophobia, but it doesn’t answer the question of whether they are healthful and nourishing in the places where they originated. Seeing as the people there are just about as long-lived as the locals here – bar the occasional revolution or tsunami – the health fears would seem to be exaggerated. And seeing as the places where they are used are generally full of citizens who are up and active – for good or ill – it would appear that the caffeine is doing a reasonable job.

Can you have too much coffee? Of course you can, and there are medical records – written in jittery longhand and covered in brown rings – that document the self sacrifices of pioneer doctors who experimented on themselves.

Can you have too little? Go a fortnight without any and then tell me, but don’t weep or scream as you do so. You will disturb my cappuccino.

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Up. On. Off. Coffee.

Did a talk yesterday to an audience in the old folk’s home. It was easier than I thought it was going to be because I’m also one of the old folks – and my audience was prepared to listen to me.

Public speaking is a lot of fun:

a. If you have something to say.

b. Someone will listen.

c. They serve coffee and cake afterwards.

You can make it work if you take the advice of the title. Get up, get on, then get off. If you are lucky you can also get away, though for some audiences I would advise a smoke screen and plenty of jinking.

I had a good introduction from someone who was a former patient and who still had enough teeth to talk with. I gave a 20-minute show covering two main ideas, and this was enough time to engage them with a question, satisfy them with an answer, and then shut up before they became restless. There were enough visual aids to engage their eyesight – without having to look at a charts or words on a screen. There were familiar things as well as new items.

And there was coffee and cake afterwards. You can dissolve a lot of impatience with morning coffee.

 

 

Nice People…And People

The heading image is a picture of a local coffee shop just up the street in the Parry Avenue Shopping Centre – open for business on a warm Saturday.

Please note the chairs and tables outside for the comfort of the customers…and the two water bowls on the footpath for the comfort of the customer’s little friends. This is a very kind and helpful thing to do during the Western Australian summer. I hope more businesses follow suit.

I’ve not been into the café yet, but I will call in there happily. They must be nice people.

The other picture is an illustration of how the body design of a fashionably large 4WD can sometimes obscure signage written on the roadway  – signage put there to assist traffic flow and make everyone more comfortable. I’m sure that the lady who was stopped there would have been mortified to realise that she’d parked over the ” No Stopping “…

Thankfully, she must have caught a glimpse of the lettering after the flash on the camera went off, as she then motored away  – presumably to one of the many empty parking bays. I think the car designers should put mirrors or cameras on the front and under 4WD’s to prevent this sort of embarrassment…

The Machine Gun Belt Of Retirement

We often use the expression ” dodging the bullet ” to celebrate avoiding some horrid fate…and if you have been associated with as many amateur entertainments as I have, you’ll have a fair idea what a horrid fete is…

It is also a way of looking at life in retirement – the situation in which I now find myself. Two years in, and I have learned a few things:

a. You can sleep in, but only to the extent that the sun, the tradespeople, and the cat will permit. One or other of these will have you up to match their schedule.

b. You will get on your wife’s nerves. She will get on your nerves. Designate specific areas of the house where you can go to avoid each other for some portion of the day. The rest of the time will see a much better relationship.

Note: Wire, mines, and machine gun pillboxes are probably going a little overboard – just pick two rooms.

c. Your friends who are still working will be glad to see you, but on their timetable and their terms. They have busy lives to lead and may not appreciate you mooching about when they are exhausted. Be sensible.

d. If you do not need to go to the shops to buy anything, do not go to the shops to fill time. There are better things to do with it.

e. You can get a great deal of pleasure by listening to the morning and afternoon radio reports of traffic jams on the Freeway in peak hour. The best place to do this is at your kitchen table with a cup of fresh coffee.

f. Use the special seating on the trains and buses. If you are a senior, it is there for you.

g. Wear out your old clothes. Wear them out by wearing them – out. No-one is looking and  no-one cares. Just make sure they are clean.

h. Pursue that hobby. You may take it further than it has ever gone.

i. When people are polite and kind to you, be polite and kind in return. When people are not polite and kind to you, still be polite and kind to them. Repeatedly, and in public view. Until they get the message.

If necessary, help them along by explaining how to be polite and kind.

j. Expect some memory glitches. Where is my coffee? I had a cup of it started just before I sat down. No, seriously, I did…

k. As an older person, you may not sleep as well as you used to. Since you do not need to rise at 5:00AM to chop down trees, you needn’t go instantly to sleep at 9:00PM. By all means stay up late and read new books.

l. Expect former work colleagues to forget you. It is not a sign of disrespect – it is just the pressure of new demands that continues to flood into their lives. You are out of that pool and need not re-enter it.

m. ” Annual Holidays ” and ” Vacations ” might seem less valuable now – now that each day is free. This is a perceptual trap.

Certainly, the desperate relief of pressure that you used to feel when you got your annual week or two weeks is gone. But it was never an easy thing – it used up the first three days of any break you had, and there was always the nagging fear that you might be called back into work. And the feeling of impending doom when you thought of the re-start date coming closer.

No more. You cannot be doomed by former workmates and bosses. They are busy dooming each other and you are out of the blast circle. You are, quite simply, free.

Soooo…about the annual vacation business…

Why does it have to be annual? Why can’t it be every 6 months? Why can’t it be three days in the middle of the week now? No reason at all, save the monetary aspect. And does it have to be a big, annual, pressure-relieving, pressure-inducing, official escape? Can it now be a small pleasure jaunt?

Of course it can.

Give up the idea of the ” vacation “. You have nothing to vacate. You have time to spare, and time to fill. Fill it with something good – something new, if you like new, or something old, if that is your comfort.

Go see what you like and do what you like. If you don’t know what these two things are, now is the time to find out – go and do a wide variety of things and see how you feel. You might discover you’re a beach sitter who loves the nothing life. or you might hate it. You might find you are a planned tourist – or you might just like a pub chair and a book. You might find anything, if you go and look.

Be careful. You might find yourself being happy…

n. At the age of retirement, you get to mentally review a lot of things.

No, I still do not know where flies go in winter – I am just content if they stay away from me in summer. But you get to review the people you are in contact with and decide whether you wish to stay in contact with them. You really do have a choice.

I’ve made my own list of people I wish to remain in contact with. I’ve also made another list. Neither require dramatic action – I seek the company of people on one list and avoid that of people on the other. The basic result is an increase of happiness for me. That achieved, I am a better friend and companion. Of course chance may throw me in or out of contact with either lot, but I try to remain calm about it. I am a reader of P.G. Wodehouse and the character of Jeeves is a great assistance in some situations.

m. At the age of retirement, you can eat and drink less than before. Heavy consumption is unpleasant. But you can still appreciate good food and drink, and as you are taking less of it, the little you do have can be of much better quality.

It can be cooked  and served professionally, if you’ve got the money. If not, you can prepare it yourself and enjoy it in your own home. This has many advantages; you need not eat impossible melanges of modern food – you can stick to classics. You can experiment with flavours – with no scowling chef bullying you. You need fear no wait-staff with bad attitudes – you can be smarmy to yourself, and need not leave a tip.

n. The coffee. I found it. It was by the telephone. Why didn’t you tell me it was by the telephone?

o. You will get scam phone calls and computer messages all the time. Of course you will never fall for them, but you can spend some time playing with the criminals who perpetrate them. They regard you as a gullible old fool, who can be cozened and bullied into letting them have access to your financial secrets. They are vogelfrei…

I find it best to be ready – if you’ve a quick wit you can have some marvellous fun. In the past I have sung Broadway songs to one, shamed one with religious sermons, convinced one that they had been patched through to the quarterdeck of a Navy ship docked at Fremantle harbour, and demanded the delivery of white phosphorus howitzer shells from another.

I have refused life insurance upon the grounds that I was a train robber and lived too dangerous a life to get insurance, and kept another going for a half-hour on the basis of being a kindly and bumbling old fellow who was nearly succeeding in doing what they wanted on my computer, but not quite achieving it…

Of course, if I am frying bacon at the time or fresh out of the shower I am brusque. I’m pleased that a workmate was able to teach me a series of Croatian swear words, and I wish that someone could supply me with a similar list in Hindi or Arabic.

p. Speaking of computers, you may find out many new things that you did not know with these. You will also find out that the computer does not know many of the things that YOU know. And much of what you do know, you can recognise as being distorted, false, or foolish when it is spread out on Facebook, Twitter, or innumerable private websites.

The fact that you know better in some instances should give you cause for pause – if the almighty computer got it wrong in something that you know the truth of, you should also suspect that there could be many other instances where it is wrong.

You still have a public library, and you still have your native intelligence. These do not get hacked. Use them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The SubPub

Suburban Public House, that is. The local in the locale. The watering hole where you water your…wait a minute…I think I got carried away there…

Okay, I went to lunch in a pub yesterday and enjoyed myself. But not because of the food. I had a good time in the company of a mate, gossiped the problems of the world right again, and enjoyed a pint of beer. But the food was a mistake.

You can serve trendy dishes in places that are horrible and get away with it. See William Street noodle houses. You can serve horrible dishes in places that are trendy and likewise succeed. See the Forrestfield retro diner. But you can’t serve gunk in ordinary surroundings and hope to get your customers back twice. I am sorry to say that the pub I tried falls into this category.

If you are a drunk, you are fine. There are a number of bars that you can prop up between dole cheques and if you are addicted to mindless sport and TAB gambling you need never leave the premises. You can become a regular. But remember that Mutamucil and prunes can also make you a regular…

If you are coffee klatching you can also score  – it is hard to screw up a commercial cake slice and a cappuccino machine.

But if you want to eat well…well…Well, well, well. Order what you like. Pay for it. Then throw it down a well.

Note: Not all SubPubs are like this. The Brook in Ellenbrook does an economical steak night that is worth the journey. The Brisbane does a nice salad. There may be a hidden gem in your suburb. Get out there with your teeth and a bottle of Gaviscon and start digging. I will sit out the next round and make a cheese toastie at home.

 

The Pleasure Someone Thinks You Should Be Ashamed Of…

No matter what little joy you may have picked up, there is always someone prepared to strike it from your hand and then to scold you about it. Whether you want to smoke tobacco, drink beer, read comic books, drink coffee, or yell at football players until you feel slightly ill, someone will sneer and scowl.

It is not because of the actual activity – of the moral goodness or badness of it. It is not really related to economics, politics, religion, or any other serious human concern. it is because it makes you happy.

Your happiness means something to you. If yu are lucky it means something to your friends and family. But it means nothing at all…or worse than nothing…to the reformers of the world. They find your happiness an obstacle to their ambitions, and quite naturally try to reduce that obstacle. Indeed, if they can convert happiness to dissatisfaction, they can use that emotion to further their ends.

I am drawn to this thought by the coffee cup in front of me – it contains a powerful little espresso made by the Nestlé company that is sold in a pre-packaged pod. I load one every evening after dinner into a machine and then set it to wash boiling steam through it. I get the variety pack from the Nespresso shop and cycle a different one through each night. Apparently I am destroying rain forests, the planet, and cuddly animals by doing so. And I might be perpetuating child slavery as well, depending upon which hysterical Facebook post you read. It’s quite a busy time after dinner being that evil before the coffee cools…

I daresay every other activity I pursue during the day – and possibly some after I go to bed – can also be condemned by the eco-righteous and politico-socialist types who lay out the memefields of the net. I perpetuate white privilege, male privilege, and western privilege by breathing regularly, and can be considered reprobate for doing it with a smile. And I am so far gone in cruelty as to do that with clean teeth. I will not be receiving a holiday gift from PETA, ACORN, or the ACLU.

And do you know…I don’t care. I shall be destroying the planet tomorrow night with a cup of Ristretto and a small biscuit and I may even go so far as to actually dislike some trendy announcer on the ABC. If I am going to go to hell, at least I get to choose my own handbasket.

The Little World – It’s A Stand Off

win3I am eternally grateful to a writer in the 1970’s who introduced a phrase to me – probably writing for the  english MODEL BOATS magazine. Somewhere about 1972 I first saw the words ” stand-off scale “. It opened a door for me – I could continue scale modelling, and into a new era.

As a child I built plastic models of all sorts. And ran toy rains and flew model airplanes. All of the models were to a great extent products of others put into my hands. I did very little scale modelling from scratch  – because I was frightened of the complexity of it. Even complex wooden kits like the Guillows aircraft daunted me. I had an SE5A kit that never got built – opened, fondled, but ultimately abandoned…

Fear of lack of skill was one thing, but fear of the amount of work needed to put in enough detail was another. It had come to me in the 1970’s when I took an interest in model boats and saw the marvellous display models in Greenwich Maritime Museum and realised just how far down the detail scale people were prepared to go to. I drew back – until the MODEL BOATS writer made a “stand-off scale” steam yacht and included plans for it in their Christmas issue. It was simple enough to build and allowed you to see the basic shapes and colours in action.

Yes. I bought balsa wood and tissue and paint and an electric motor and made myself that steam yacht. It was a beauty and welted around our swimming pool for years. It gave me courage enough to tackle a radio-controlled TBD, then a fishing boat, then a trawler, then a tugboat and finally a train ferry. Each one got a little more detailed but none ever approached museum status and the wonderful thing about it was…it was okay. Stand-off scale modelling existed in r/c airplanes and boats, and could by a simple mechanism be extended to model villages, trains, and dioramas. I could now feel confident that viewers will not judge me as incompetent if a few rivets are never seen.

The wonderful thing was when they saw the overall shape of the model and then their minds filled in the detail for me. All the credit, none of the filing and sanding…Win.

The other thing about stand-off scale was that it allowed you to model in somewhat of an impressionistic manner. Wide swaths of shape and colour and suggestions of contour could be made with the paintbrush and the viewers accepted it well. Indeed, nowadays the computer with image-editing programs can be called in to suggest the details that would otherwise be stopping production. My current coffee bar project looks into an interior but I do not want to intrude into the commercial premises – so I just select the element I need – the cheerful coffee lady – and blur and smudge the rest of the view to neutralise it. Everyone is happy.