Riding The Horse – Part One – A New Series

A Definitive Guide To The Business Of Hobbies.

This is written in response to a lunchtime conversation with a good friend – a person with whom I shared membership in a hobby club. We’ve moved on from that club, but have fond memories of it.

I’m currently juggling three hobbies myself and pleased with each of them in its own way. He is between engagements, as it were, and casting about looking at the why’s and wherefore’s of a new hobby. Hence the discussion and a series of essays from me. I’ve sent them to him prior to publishing them here and I hope they have proved helpful. So let’s begin…

The are are few animals more useful, more extensively used, or more expensive than the hobby horse. It has been ridden since at least the Middle Ages by many western and a few eastern cultures. The parade has been for religious, folkloric, magical, or sexual purposes and has happened through the year. You can see hobby horses in the circus, the pantomime, and the Christmas Pageant with equal pride of place. Oddly enough, no-one wants the job of cleaning up after them…

 But you can also thank the hobby horse for giving a name to pursuits that help us all live a better leisure life. The hobby presumably gets its name from the fact that most of them are deemed unnecessary, costly, wasteful, and fun. People pursue them much as they would ride a wooden horse down the street – with a great seriousness and a sore arse crack.

This series of articles is presented to help the hobbyist make sense of the whole affair – to make good choices in what to take up and why.

Part One: The five classes of hobby.

Leisure time comes to us all – even the galley slave has times when the ship is in dock and the hortator is off having a drink. Something has to fill that time. That is where hobbies come in. There are five general classes of activity that fill leisure time ( Note: sleeping, excreting and urinating, and eating do not count. They are active pursuits necessary to continued life. Some people compress them into one span of time, which is a lot of fun to see if you are out of splash range.)

First type is the sport or action type. It is entirely possible to devote all your hobby time to golf, horse riding, jogging, or fishing. And a dozen other active pursuits that break a sweat and an occasional ankle. This satisfies a basic human instinct to fight or hunt –  often moving the urges into safer, if less useful, channels. Age can wither some of these pursuits, so people are wise to choose them according to actual physical ability.

Second type is the making type. Whether the making is jewellery, wooden furniture, hot rods, or dolls clothes is immaterial. There is a basic human instinct to turn something out with the hands and eyes and you are well advised to give into it – something will come out of it in the end.

Third type is the collection – of anything. Humans collected shells and pebbles when there were no tools and everything else thereafter. It is a basic instinct. Some collections are of practical value, some promote monetary increase, and some are just the magpie’s eye operated by a human. It doesn’t matter which – the quest must always be unfulfillable to be of any hobby value.

Fourth type is the artistic expression hobby. Writing, photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, poetry, singing, dancing, dressmaking, etc. Whenever you pour passion – whether that be fierce or gentle – into anything that is less useful than an Allis Chalmers air compressor, you are creating art. You won’t be able to drill rock or inflate earthmover tyres with it, but it is art nevertheless.

Fifth type of hobby is the socialising hobby. The Mensa or Probis club. Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, Elks, Moose, RSL, CWA, Shriners, etc. etc…the list goes on and on of clubs that bring people together with some avowed purpose but are thinly-disguised attempts to start a social group that will cohere. In most cases they will succeed if people really want to be either friendly or fiendish. There is scope for both approaches.

In the next essay we will deal with how to analyse yourself and see which hobby will suit you best.

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Did You Know…?

Did you know the following facts?

  1. The best way to spread a computer virus is to sneeze onto the keyboard and press Command> Enter.
  2. Only malware properly registered with the Central Bureau Of Mis-Information is allowed on Russian computers.
  3. It is easier to hack a Windows 10 computer than it is to hock it.
  4. Many of the keys on the standard qwerty keyboard do nothing at all – they are just there because the key maker wants a greater profit. Stand up for your rights. Spell ” through ” as ” thru “.
  5. You cannot recycle a French mime. No facility on Earth will accept them and you will just end up having to store them in your shed. Marcel Marceau ended up behind the paint tins and old motor oil in a Bordeaux garage for decades.
  6.  No-one has ever successfully impersonated you. Even you are rather suspect and most people think you are doing it poorly.
  7. In China women hold up half the sky but their percentage of success in holding up traffic in Winthrop and Leeming car parks is far greater.
  8. Iran was not responsible for the 1883 explosion of Krakatoa in the Dutch East Indies. But I’ll bet they wish they were…
  9. No Canadian hockey team has ever won in the Pakistan League. This is because the Canadians insist on wearing skates and heavy padded uniforms and the Pakistanis are clothed in team jerseys and shorts. Also the games are held on grass, and not ice. Bad translation of the rules has always been blamed.
  10. You cannot touch your ear with your elbow, but you can touch those of other people. This leads to criminal charges.
  11. The term ” Public Service ” was first used in 358 BC when the Egyptian Execution Office was set up in Room 45 in the Pyramids. People lined up and took numbers in the waiting room. They are currently calling N0.28…
  12. The term ” Baker’s Dozen ” was invented to steal bread from bakers under threat of torture.

The Ballad Of the Etruscan Snot Pencil

They often say that practice makes perfect. I think rather that it makes for inchoate fury – if you are not careful. I propose to calm the situation and make it worse.

The term “practiced upon ” is one from the 19th century – used to describe someone who was being imposed upon – or worse – who was being mocked by a group of people for their amusement. It appears in the literature of O Henry, Mark Twain, and countless others. The stories feature some tenderfoot to the west or unfortunate country fellow brought into the salons of the East  who sis et upon as a figure of fun and told any number of tales. Initiation rites are imposed and the basic humour is always the native savaging the newcomer.

In some tales revenge is extracted and the tables turned. In others the whole thing is just a sneer in print. It can also include the humiliation of foreigners in Britain or France on a cultural basis. Most of the impositions of Italy or Middle Europe are financial fleecings. Hence the title of this piece – the business of selling antiquities to a New World rube on the basis of history and unfamiliarity therewith.

Consider: how many times have you been imposed on with drop bears and yowies and sniggering references to Australian things? And how many times have you done it to overseas visitors? And who has gotten all the amusement out of it? Is there any less pleasant feeling than realising that you have stumbled into a nest of native wits and are being practiced upon?

What do you do?

Good manners suggest that you do nothing except excuse yourself at the earliest opportunity and leave. Kindly religious feelings abjure you to forget and forgive. But you always feel that you have been got at. The Guild has a far better suggestion when you detect a sell going on; participate fully.

Most native wits do not know when to stop. If you give them the slightest encouragement they will enlarge upon their jokes until they go from puerile to puffy. They cannot stop themselves from extravagance and bluff – eventually they will arrive at the point where even they feel that it has gone too far.

You must compel them to go further – getting wilder and more obvious until someone in their own group is compelled to prick the bubble. Even then, rise to defend the prime jokester and keep asking pointed and intelligent questions – compelling them to eventually start to sweat and look for an escape.

Then, grasp them firmly in the iron embrace of friendship and steer them round to everyone in the room in turn, telling them to repeat the joke for the benefit of the newcomers. You will be hated as you have never been before, but will never, ever be preyed upon again.

It’s a small price to pay.

Aluminium Pan Alley

I listen to the old time radio station here in Perth – oddly enough broadcast from a nearby suburb. Apart from the melodrama serial and the advertisements for used cars and dental implants, most of the rest of it is devoted to music from the 40’s to the 80’s.

Many of the singers are definitely dead, singing to listeners who are nearly so. The announcers hover halfway between the two. They are lovely people; volunteers all. They make enough basic broadcasting mistakes to give hope to all the rest of us.

When I’m listening to the pop song lyrics of the period, however, I can’t help but think that they have missed the boat somewhat. Of course most of the presentations are some form of love song – that was the style. Many are in Southern Fried accents – even if the singers have never been there in their lives. Again – the style. The thing becomes thickest in the afternoon cruising program that belts out rock and roll.

But the lyrics. They mostly rhyme, and if you hear enough of them you can predict what is coming by the word association. If there is a June, there will be a moon, and someone is likely to swoon. Love and doves are a given.

But what if the love doesn’t go to plan. Why not add in ” shove it ” if you are not going to love it? Or why not be frank about it if you have already sung about a heart that must part and just mention flatulence and be done with it.

Hit and bit are going to get me into trouble, but only if you have a mind like mine. Likewise Bird, word, and the successor to the British Crown after George II.

I say we take advantage of the ability to overdub and deep-fake things and put words into the mouths of all those rock and roll and country and western singers who died in drug crashes or plane overdoses. They can’t come back to complain and if we’re fast the Broadcasting Commission will miss it as it goes by.

 

A New Story Every Day

If you look, Heaven shows you a new story every day. But sometimes doesn’t let you see the beginning or the ending…

Today I pulled out onto my normal neighbourhood highway – Leach Highway. A small Subaru sedan passed on the inside lane, driving perfectly well. It was fitted with a single cross-roof luggage bar. Like the cops use when they put lights or sirens up there.

But the Subaru was fitted with life-size artificial animals on that  bar. Riding proudly in the wind, facing forwards. A large white chicken, a larger black rooster, two fat budgerigars, and a black-and-white rabbit. All made, presumably, of plastic. No other sign or symbol on the car save the normal number plate…

Or Saturday, when I travelled up the Mitchell Freeway and was passed by a motor cycle with a small black and white pug dog riding on the pillion seat, leaning into the wind and weaving from side to side with the rider as he went in and out of the cars. He looked to be in no distress whatsoever.

There’s two stories I would love to find out about, but will never know.

 

Facing The Book – The Experimental Results

The no-Facebook-feed experiment has been completed. One month of not scrolling down the newsfeed – the only contact being Messenger all through August. Now we’re on the 1st of September and here is what I’ve discovered:

  1. I did not collapse weeping or shivering at any point of the month. The hold that Facebook had on me was not such as to constitute a classical physical addiction. There was no cold turkey – not even a lukewarm chicken.
  2. I was as informed about the general local, state, and federal matters as I would have been had I been reading the feed. Radio and magazines filled the void in the month as far as immediate news is concerned. I did not need to read about the Edict Of Nantes on any medium, so I did not need it on the net.
  3.  I did miss out on news of a more personal nature – people nowadays take to the feed to alert their immediate social group and I very nearly missed out on a very important occasion. Luckily I was alerted and the occasion met…but complete divorce from social sites might be awkward. At the very least one would have to take an old-fashioned newspaper and read it carefully for the hatches, matches, and dispatches.
  4. The amount of time that no-feed freed up for other activities was amazing. This is as much a condemnation of myself before as it was of the internet mechanism. After all, I was the one sitting there wasting time – not the makers of Facebook. They were cramming every minute of every hour with what they hoped would prove productive advertising.
  5. Other activities saw a great deal accomplished – models built, tools cleaned, fences mended, essays written, photos taken. The house looked tidier and was so earlier and earlier in the day.
  6. Visits were made to friends physically, rather than electronically. This cost money, petrol, and time, and was overwhelmingly rewarded with personal happiness.
  7. Visitations from people who annoy me were reduced to a bare minimum. I still got Indian scam calls, of course, as these were inevitable. I got a few pamphlets and shill sheets in the post. And there was always the radio advertisement for a car yard and a dental implant surgery that clog up the old-time radio. But I was not bombarded by politics, propaganda, folly, or fecundity all month. A most refreshing time.
  8. I got to sleep at a decent hour. Or as decent an hour as the bastard cat would permit. I want a cat-proof fence down the middle of the bed.

So…what to do? Now I am free to re-commence my Facebook activity – or curtail it – or close it down entirely. I know the benefits and perils of each course. I think the best decision for me is:

  • Keep the line open. I use the Messenger function and several activities I quite enjoy are carried by Facebook in ancillary groups. No sense cutting my nose off to spite someone else’s face…
  • Open the feed for a limited period of time. And that is an exact use of the language – I shall dedicate a 45-minute period to Facebook during each day. I’ll use that FB-Time to read messages, send out replies, post column links, and read the general feed. But the last-named activity will be kept for the last, after all the others are done. If the earth-shattering news of your lunch is not within the 45 minute limit, I shall never know of it. This last month has shown me that I will never grieve for it.
  • I shall place a number of individuals upon a private notice list. If they break forth into Facebook annoyance again, I shall simply take no further notice of them. They’ll not suffer indignity through this, and neither shall I.

Really, it was so simple – yet it took a month for me to see myself and how foolish I had become with the social media site. Now I can go back to it with pleasure and reserve my folly for other fields.

Quiz NIght In The Trenches

You’ve all been to quiz nights in your countries, right? You make up a table of friends and buy a ticket for about 80 questions with intervals of raffles and light entertainment. There are silent auctions and door prizes and it’s generally in aid of a good cause – cat homes or cadets or general charity. You either bring grog or – if the venue is a good one – buy it there. People bring snacks and generally have a good time.

Or…

I did have a pretty good time at a recent quiz night with a table of dancers. We knew a lot of the answers, but did not finish in the money…there were too many obscure ones thrown in there  to reward the diligent. I suspect some of the diligent are either quiz-night junkies or frank professionals, but I don’t begrudge them the win. The whole process stimulates the mind and a group of friends on a Saturday night is fine. However, I have been looking at the events and have a few recommendations for the organisers:

  1. Do not pack the tables too closely. I know you want to get as many spending bodies in for the grog sales and the raffles, but give people room to move their chairs back.
  2. Get a professional quizmaster to run the thing – or at least an experienced enthusiast. Pick a person with a clear voice and get them a good sound system. Do a test to see that they can, indeed, be heard clearly at the back of the room. If the audience is not hearing the questions and answers well, they are bound to be disappointed…and disappointed people sit on their wallets.
  3. Raffle off whatever you wish – but make sure that the whole of the audience gets a chance at all the tickets. If you only sell to certain tables it starts to look as if there is a fiddle being played.
  4. Sell coffee and tea as well as grog.
  5. Don’t make all the hand-out sheets and puzzles so complex that Mensa members are reduced to tears. People want to have some fun for their dough.

The length of time that people are prepared to sit in constant noise is limited. Do your business in 2 1/2 or 3 hours max. Do not let the MC rabbit on and try to be clever at the expense of the actual quiz. Leave ’em admiring you and wanting more. They’ll come back if it’s fun.