Write It Down

We are adjured to never write our passwords down – for fear that the ninja hacker password thief teams will break into our houses, ransack the sock drawer, and make off with them. Then they will wreak havoc on us.

Instead, we are told to invent an impossibly-long jumble of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks and to change this every week – and remember it with no mechanical record. While we’re at it we can go down to the runway at the airport and take off by flapping our arms really fast.

If we cannot do this feat of stage trickery we can buy special machines that encode everything and make rolling changes to all our on-line connections. This is perfectly secure but God help you if you lose the encryptor key.

The answer to all this is that there is no answer – if you are prepared to let other people make a maze of your life you can expect to chase after cheese down the corridors until you die. You either don’t enter the maze or bring your own cheese.

As for writing other things down – phone numbers, catchy phrases for weblog titles, or date that the library books are due – well just get a big black book. Unlike the little black book that records the names and phone numbers of eligible girls, the big black book records everything else and has the advantage that it is too bulky to take out of the house and too big to lose.

You just have to remember where you put it…

” I Regret…”

a. Meeting you. You have proved a disappointment. I laid it all out for you – the mask, the pistol, the map of the bank. Did you take advantage of this? You did not. Begone…

b. Not buying Nedlands land when it was £ 1.00 an acre. Of course this was before I was in the country or even born. But when I see the price that house lots sell for now…my organ of greed swells painfully.

c. Not following the teenage girl into the woods. Well, actually I did follow her into the woods, but I had no idea why she wanted me to go in there, being a stupid teenager at the time. The deserted log cabin she wanted to show me was just an old shack. I looked at it from the outside. I now appreciate her annoyance.

d. Selling the Renault 10. If I had put the damn car up on blocks in a barn with the tyres thrown away and 6 quarts of oil in the crankcase I could pass a cheerful retirement pottering with it. As it was, the 1972 buyer wrapped it around a light pole within six months of the purchase and I can’t bear the thought.

e. Not packing up my first profession and taking up my second one ten years earlier. I was on a hiding to nothing for a decade and it was only my pride that kept me at it. You can be too prissy for your own good.

f. Selling my Leica cameras. Even laid up in ordinary, they would have proved a far better investment than gold.

 

 

Re Tales – Part Three – ” I Saw It On A Website. “

In the good old days ( Elvis, dinosaurs) the potential customer would have come in and said ” I saw it in the newspaper. ” or ” I saw it in a magazine. “. Occasionally the special ones fronted the counter and said ” I saw it written in letters of fire in the sky. “. It paid to not doubt them.

Now it is  ” I saw it on the internet. ” What they saw may have been an announcement of a new product or the discontinuation of an old one. Or a recall of exploding bed socks. Whatever, they’ve come into the shop with knowledge of something. The knowledge is valuable to them and it might be so for the shop assistant as well.

If the thing they saw was on the website of the shop where they are, the shop assistant can pray silently that the website had the correct price, image, and stock level for the goods. And that the thing that was shown is still somewhere on the premises.  Even if it is holding the loo door open, at least it exists. Unfortunately there is a gap between what the best IT department can show and what can be plonked on the counter.

If the thing they saw was on another shop’s site all hell could break loose – particularly if the ” shop ” is some vague web address in Kowloon. The customer has taken the internet information as the word of God and any attempt on the part of the shop assistant to explain that it is unrealistic here in Australia will fall on deaf ears.

Unfortunately deaf ears are sometimes attached to loud mouths and angry tempers. These are fine, as long as they can be confined within the head of the customer. Like road rage, let someone else experience it.

No shop assistant is required by any law – of God, the land, economics, or thermodynamics – to match any price that is waved at them from a mobile phone screen. That may or may not be a real offer from a real seller, but it is not a seller who is paying rent on the premises, wages to the staff, or buying paper for the shop loo. The shop price should be fair and calculated to give adequate return to the proprietor for the effort of business – it is most often just that, and any attempt to oyster-knife discounts based on a badly-spelled website can best be referred back to Kowloon.

Or Wuhan.

Re Tales – Part Two – ” I’ve Changed my Mind “

” And now I’m going to change yours…”

The bane of retail trade is the changer. Whether it is a mind-changer, a shape-changer, or a money-changer, they are trouble as soon as they come over the door sill.

a. Customer buys goods. They are good goods and will do him good. The price he has paid will do the shop good. The money enters the till or bank account by whatever means and starts to make a numerical mark in the accountancy system. All is well, and no further operations need be contemplated.

Until customer comes back next day and tells the shop assistant that they have changed their mind and want to return the goods. From here the trails wind deeper into the bushes:

  • Have the goods been removed from the packaging? Some packages are a one-way affair and will never reassemble.
  • Have the goods been marked? Some changers will insist that they were marked when they got them. Custom factory scratches, missing parts, and loose screws are a special order and you have to indent for them for just months. Most retailers just stock the plain old undamaged goods…Funny how Mr. Changer got the special edition.
  • Can the goods be resold as new? Well, no. They have been in Changer’s hands while he did several things – maul them and then search on the internet for somewhere in China that will sell them cheaper. As much as you might value his money, he could have done that before he walked in the first time…
  • He? Did I write he? Please forgive me. Changing is a gender-neutral game. She will be as keen to screw over the retailer as he will and probably more indignant and entitled as she tries it. They don’t call ’em Karens for nothing…
  • Can the financial trail that the original sale opened be accessed again to clear it? Some accountancy systems require vast amounts of data entry to reverse anything – it can be uneconomic to even try. Which leads us to say to the changer…

No. No, you can’t change the goods for other goods. You can’t get your money back. Not if the goods were in good shape when they left the shop, are working correctly,  and are suitable for the purpose for which they were purchased. Those are the only grounds upon which a legal entitlement to repair, change, or refund exist.

They do exist under a state law, as well as a warranty for a certain period of time. But do not try to quote Magna Carta or lines from The Godfather to try to stretch the law to suit yourself.

You bought something in good faith with the ideas that were riding inside your head yesterday, now go use that mind today to make use of what you bought.

As far as threatening to never shop here again…considering your performance regarding returns…make our day…

A Stick With A Nail In It

How many times in your life have you realised that you are in dire need of a stick with a nail in it? Here are a noumber of instances:

a. You need to pick up rubbish from the front lawn but you have a bad back. Any bending sends flashes of pain up your spine.

Get a three foot stick with a nail in the end and go around poking at the trash. Most papers, tins, and rags will come up readily on the nail and can be bagged. Dried dog poo can be chipped into the neighbour’s swimming pool with the stick – of you don’t have a golf club handy – and if you encounter someone walking their dog and laying fresh mines on the lawn you can use the stick to discuss the situation.

b. You are in Officeworks or Bunnings or the bottle shop and some yahoo bogan insists on breaching social distancing rules and crowding your spot on the floor.

Nail.

Stick.

I need say no more.

c. Your brother in law brings the grandchildren with him on a visit and carefully supervises them by sitting drinking beer. You’ll need something to get them off the roof and/or out of the shed. Don’t buy an expensive child taser – just use the nail on the stick. You’ll appreciate it when it’s time to get the BIL to go home.

d. It is illegal to go closer than a metre from a cyclist in our state. This is a very sensible road rule that contributes to safety and courtesy on the roads.

Also note that as a driver you are required to keep both hands on the wheel. You’re not allowed to lean out of the window with the nail on a stick.

Be sure that you obey the law. The cyclist has a stick with a nail on it.

e. Burglars like to jump fences into your yard – particularly if your home adjoins a common sidewalk or open space. If you have a nail on a stick they will enjoy jumping back over the fence as well.

 

 

Just Asking…Eh, Eh, Eh…

With the history of airliner shoot-downs – The Korean Boeing lost some years ago, the Malayan one over the Ukraine a few years ago, the loss of the second Malayan jet somewhere, and now the downing of a Ukrainian Boeing in Iran, I’m put to wondering several things:

  1.  Do Russian rockets have a safety switch or are they live all the time? If they do have a no-fire position on the controller, is it Soviet-era quality?
  2. Are the rocketeers on drugs? Some sort of amphetamine to increase their speed of response?
  3. Do Russian targeting systems not have an IFF function? Or is everyone else in the world considered an F?
  4. Was it necessary to fly out of the Tehran airport in the middle of an alert?
  5.  Was it deliberate? Was any of it deliberate?
  6.  Where was Jane Fonda at the time?

Riding The Horse – Part Fifteen – When Is A Hobby Shop?

Not where – when? Where merely defines the location of the premises; when lets you know what you’re standing in once you enter the door. Not all hobby shops are hobby shops.

Take a for-instance – we’ll look at Bunnings – an Australian restaurant chain that sells sausages at the front of the premises and hardware as a sideline. Bunnings shops appear to many to be large warehouses full of toilet fittings, paint swatches and MDF sheets. So they are, but they are more than just storage sheds – they are hobby shops for any number of people. Here is how they reach that status:

  1. They sell things that are specifically intended for building or making. There are no end of things in there that can end up being useful or decorative. Many of them will take skin off your hands as they do so.
  2. They sell things that no-one else has. This is partially because the things – the stainless steel clothesline router hammers – are specific to one job and partially because no-one else in the town wants anything to do with them. Sometimes you find things in there of which Bunnings want no part, but have a large selection…
  3. They sell correlated items. From the timber to the screws to the brushes to the paint you can trace an organic connection on the shelves.
  4. They sell expensive stuff. Stroll down the tool aisle and glance at the price of the Dremel cutting bits – if you dare.
  5. They sell stuff that gets you in. Okay, it’s not as simple and wholesome as buying nickel bags of marijuana down an alley and progressing to full-blown heroin addiction. But it’s just as insidious. A few screws here, a router bit there, and pretty soon you’ve spent the food and rent money on a pallet-load of Meranti and a pocketknife and started whittling. Just say no…
  6. They sell things that get you laughed at by others. There is no respect possible when you bring home toilet fittings. The very nature of the thing brings out the cloacal jokes in people. 
  7. There are clubs that use the goods they sell. Some are harmless, like the Medieval Torture Society, and some, like the Over-60’s Mens Shed, are positively menacing. Bunnings makes no stipulation on what their customers might do with the twenty-penny nails and the barbecue coals, but.

The truth is that any shop may be a hobby shop depending upon what the customers have decided to do with the goods. Officeworks employees and water-pump agencies might well be surprised at what they see at the Annual Spreadsheet and Irrigation Show in the State Library. It might startle them, but I’ll bet it will not stop them selling cashbooks or brass flanges.

Riding The Horse – Part Four – It’s Only A Workshop If You Work

There is an Australian meme that says every man needs a shed. It is attacked by those who wishes to press themselves forward, demanding equality, but fortunately in this case that generally involves dirt and hard work. You can let ‘em into your shed to rant away, but leave the door open for when they discover the spiders and the pools of old motor oil.

If you wish to make a hobby of making things, you have a choice as wide as the world of what to do. Every object you see about you was made by someone. With the possible exception of an nuclear reactor, you can do the same. Indeed, if you are prepared to make scale modelling your thing, you can have your own Oak Ridge, Hanford, or Semipalatinsk. And the advantage of a scale model is that you won’t die of radiation poisoning.

Each hobbyist’s bent will be different, and each can be guided by what they like in life, and what materials they like to work with. 

You like wood? Make tables, chairs, beds, cabinets, boats, chessboards, boxes, etc, etc. The hardware stores and wood merchants are your friends and will have machines, tools, and finishes enough to keep you busy forever. There will be books, magazines, YouTube videos, clubs and societies all over that you can repair to for advice and admiration. Go on – knock yourself out.

Metal your thing? Howzabout blacksmithing, etching, welding, fabrication, boatbuilding, furniture, clockmaking, casting, railway work. Expect to get big and black and dirty doing any of these and become resigned to the blood blister and the burn.

Plastic? Model kits, artwork, fabrication, furniture, casting, imbedding.

Mechanical things? Oh Dear Me. Classic cars, hot rods, car maintenance, clockmaking watch repair, camera repair, motor boats, steam engines, oil engines, old farm machinery, tool restoration, appliance repair… be careful to get good at what you do but keep it secret because as soon as people find out that you can fix things they will come to you to have things fixed. Your hobby will become work and you’ll need a hobby to relax from your hobby…

Cloth? Clothing making, dressmaking, costume making, sail making, awning work, upholstery, knitting, tatting, crochet work, embroidery, lacework…I cannot list all the things you could make with fibres…

Leather? Shoes, saddles, belts, bodices, BDSM gear, military equipages, furniture, art, carvings, bookbinding, fake steaks at cheap restaurants…

Paper? Bookbinding, paper making, magazine and pamphlet printing, origami, model making.

Rubber? Well…besides BDSM wedding dresses, you can become a tyre repair as a hobby. Or make mats, boating gear, or other waterproof goods.

Electronics? Despite the fact that we get lots of goods from overseas, we also have good electronic stores that sell components and circuits. You can make or mend  – your choice. You can get zapped either way.

Plants? Grow a garden, grow a lawn, grow a vineyard, grow an orchard. Stop when you run afoul of agricultural law or produce boards and you should be fine. Exhibit, eat, or dig in the results of your endeavours. If you smoke them, expect to be visited by either the local Don or the local detectives.

In short, there are no end of things that you can make. If you make them for yourself, you are rewarded with both pride of ownership and competence. Sometimes you can gain a financial advantage making your own goods – sometimes not. Be wary of making things for profit, as this quickly erodes the hobby benefit.

Be prepared to go from one form of making to another as you gain skill and need to expand. Also be aware that you can get to a plateau or a rut – I have 5 tables made by an old hobbyist who was a friend of my late mother-in-law. They are a delight individually but a nuisance in a group. I hope to give several away to the unwary.

Remember, as well, that some making hobbies border upon the expressive or artistic pursuits. This is no bad thing in itself unless the maker sees more in it than there actually is – or if someone else tries to make art out of mere work.

” We Make Everyone Faster…”

” …With Injected Twisted Face. ”

This was a sign on a building seen yesterday as I drove to the hobby shop. Not a small sign, either – big one. Had I not been in traffic I would have driven off the road in amazement. As it was, the puzzling message dogged me all through my shopping  – so much so that I deliberately drove back to stare at the sign. The other signs on the building gave it away – the place is a golf shop and apparently injected twisted face technology is something that makes you a better golfer.

Indeed, the internet reveals that this technology is legal as well as technical…to quote TODAY’S GOLFER magazine…

” In 2018 TaylorMade made headlines with their new ‘Twist Face’ technology in the M3 and M4 drivers. This year, they’ve improved upon that technology in their newest M5 and M6 models by coming up with a way to make every driver face they produce on the legal limit of COR (coefficient of restitution). ”

I have not gone past this statement for fear of cooties. The fact that there is a coefficient of something, and that there is a legal limit to it and that this is connected to the pastime of hitting a white ball over grass into a hole seems both diagnostic and sad. I should be ashamed to associate with any sport that needed to be regulated by lawyers, no matter how good the drinks were at the bar when you finished it. The legal eagles might be in there seeking restitution…

There would be the constant danger on the links of either flouting the sports law deliberately or worse  – adhering to it zealously. Soon you would be watching others to see that they were not gaining an advantage by invoking clauses and torts and one day you would stand up in the bar and cry ” Mr. Chairman! Point of order! “.

And the portal of hell would open and swallow your soul. And your twisted face golf club.

PS: Have you got your legal qualifications to allow you to read weblog columns? Have it ready for when The Inspector calls.

Debt Now – Pay Later

Some people are forced to go into debt…by health or family crises. By disasters. By any number of disturbing events in the universe. This column is not for them.

It is for the people who are daily being bombarded by the debt industry…the complex mechanism that wishes to enslave you and to wring as much money out of you as it can before you die. In many cases if you take refuge in the grave it will succeed in squeezing your family to get more money…and you will not be able to stop them.

It is for the people who have a vague notion that they are missing out on something if they do not have the shiny new toy in the KB HiFi catalogue – or the new telephone from the Orange store – or the furniture from the giant warehouse. And who are tempted into having now with the idea of paying later.

In some cases the temptation contains a phrase that tells you there is no payment required for six months – or no interest charged for a year. Be sure that this is not altruism or pity for you – the finance companies and the stores will extract the full measure in time. And in the case of some deals that full measure can be payment two or four times the initial price.

The time to avoid this is at the start. By all means read the advertising flyer before you ball it up and start the chip heater with it. But scrunch it all the same. Whenever you are looking at luxury goods you are looking at a wound – not a bandage. If you did not need them before your read the flyer, you do not need them after you’ve read it either. Be happy with the warm water from the chip heater.

No debt is good and having no debt is better. The people who tell you that you need to enter into it to qualify for more of it are the moral equivalent of dynamiters.