The Ages Of Mankind

I see I’ve made a slight error – that should be Ages Of Man. Not mankind. I’m in no position to decide things for other sexes.

Actually, It should read Ages Of Me, because I can’t even speak for others of my own sex. They may well have different ages in their lives. I can only tally up my own.

0-10 – Kiddyrazzi – Just a kid, doin’ what kids do. In my case doin’ what kids in western Canada in the 1950’s did and then having to strip down in the basement and take a shower afterwards. Spring in Alberta had enough mud to make another entire planet, and if you were not careful most of it stuck to your sneakers. And your hair.

10-20 – Studyrazzi – Always at school preparing for life. On television everyone was already living theirs, but I was just between school holidays and exams. This was the 1960’s minus the drugs and the music. Also minus the sex.

20-30 – Moneyrazzi – Well, add the sex. Plus the university fees, loans, commitments, fees, leases, and childbirth. They even charged for the child.

30-40 – Workerazzi – I was meant to produce so I did. And a great deal of what I produced was taken away to pay for the 20-30 period.

40-50 – Thickerazzi – How did I thicken and wrinkle at the same time? And where was the El Dorado that was promised in the 10-20 period? El Dorado was running well behind schedule. The sneaking suspicion starts to dawn upon me that I may have been hoodwinked.

50-60 – Doggerazzi – Thinking ( mistakenly ) that harder work and more spending and networking and wine evenings and investment counselling would make it all come right, I lurched onwards. It did not come right, of course, and the cynicism started to gel.

60-70 – Cooterazzi – I just started to realise that no-one was listening and no-one was watching. This made me alternately despondent and elated. It was a good time to start robbing church poor-boxes.

70-80 – Bloggerazzi – I intend to spout the most errant nonsense and the most brilliant wisdom and no-one will take the slightest notice. I’ll get ’em used to the flow of sound and then tell the truth in the middle somewhere. They may not even  notice that I cut them off at the ankles. You can preserve ankles in jars and make a rather nice collection.

I shall not presume to calculate past 80. It is a period of time that might be devoted to anything.



Coupla Shotza

That sounds like a Polish folk dance, doesn’t it? The Kupula Shotza. with big skirts and lots of twirling around.

Actually it is a prescription for the end of a good day and the start to a new project. I am retired, with enough working space around me and time to spare…I can commence making trouble in a dozen ways.

Fortunately I have not retired with a fortune…or I would actually be dangerous. I have also retired in a very nice part of the world and need not try to escape from it. Indeed, I really think I should be wise to escape into it rather than the other way round. I have a comfort zone and I’m smart enough not to allow someone to try to inveigle me out of it for their own purposes.

See? The coupla shotz are working. I’m actually thinking for myself. If you’d like to draw up a chair and pour one, we can can both benefit.

It is very rarely that we can admit to being happy. We are not allowed to be so by the people who want our money…happy people don’t spend. We are allowed to search for happiness, but we’d need to buy all the equipment for the search and pay ( ask about ezi-finance terms ) before we could play.

And in the end it would not be play. It would be work.

I used to worry about not being successful, or rich, or powerful. I could as readily have worried about not being puce, or steam-powered, or slanted. It would, in the end, have made as much sense. I have now reduced my worries to whether the dinner will be overcooked or whether I will be able to do my hobby in my little workshop…rain and cold weather affects it. It is a much more basic approach to life, and much more pleasant.


Pense-ing About…

It makes a difference whether you do it in France or Soho. You’ll be elected a fellow of the Academie in one instance and arrested on suspicion in the other. Neither is considered much of an honour.

This illustrates the problem we have in modern society – so many of the languages that we use are derived from other ones that we do not. Cross-overs, appropriations, intrusions, and slang all combine to muddy the pure streams of communication. And despite the efforts of  academic societies and their government stooges, the mixture is just going to get worse. As people migrate they haul languages with them.

Pensez – ” to think ” in French – has given a name to a small government stipend called the pension. In its turn, this has become the name for dingy hotels that people receiving the money inhabit. They are dingy because they are cheap – that government money does not go far. The end result of it all is that the inhabitants are reduced to thinking how they would like to have more money so that they could move away and not have to think any more.

There is a deal of thinking going on at the government offices, too. Some of the workers think about how they can stop giving out the stipend, and some think about how long they will have to stay at the counter dealing with angry citizens – in short, how long until they can get a pension and go and think for themselves. It is complex and disturbing,

In contrast, the Soho ponce just hangs around street corners and bars soliciting vice and corruption. Their only worry is when the pubs will open and whether the cops are watching. It is a much more settled and comfortable existence and I should recommend it to all.

Note: I have been informed that if I spell pense with a ‘c’ and a capital ‘P’ I will be put under official scrutiny by the FBI. Okay. Anything to get readers…


This Call Is Finished

I took a telephone call yesterday from a noisy location. The caller was a young woman who purported to be a student at WA University. And who also purported to be asking questions connected with the alumni association.

Her voice was rapid and her name was somewhat unclear – but her questions were intrusive. Confirming address, etc. I was evasive, stating that the alumni association already had my address. To her questions about my career I also gave vague, but truthful answers.

To her request for $ 50 per month contribution to a scholarship…and then for an immediate $ 100 contribution…I gave a polite but firm refusal.

My daughter, who works in the financial section of a rival university, said that the call was most likely genuine – a result of students assigned to try to get money out of people on an old-student list. Possibly, but it could also have been a number of other things.

I think my best bet in the future is to remind myself not to engage in answering questions on the telephone from someone I have never met. I shall politely decline and civilly press the hang-up button. This will also serve when I receive subcontinental calls.

Am I A Clubman? – Part Five

The last question that you need to ask yourself is the first question you should ask. If you don’t know the answer you can call a friend. If you haven’t got any friends, you have your answer already.

Some people are born clubmen or clubwomen. They are loud, make friends easily, are unruffled, take hearty exercise, eat breakfast, produce bowel movements every day ( frequently at the same time…), and are kind to animals. They can stand for office, scrutiny, the flag, or any other thing that the club needs. They are extroverts. indefatigable, ineffable, and impossible to have anything to do with. You’re soaking in one now…

Other folks are born to be recluses – hermits – loners – individuals  – eccentrics – etc. They are generally distinguishable by the simplest senses – silent to the hearing, invisible to the eye, clammy to the touch, and slightly odorous. No-one has as yet tasted one, and no-one is about to start…

And there’s a lot of people in between. Most of us have aspects of each of these types within if we would only see and admit to them. And most of us can choose a club or organisation to suit our real personality. It might not be a fashionable or distinguished society we move in, but if we find genuine correspondence in a group – that is the one we should join. Here’s a few checkpoints for you when trying to match yourself to others:

a. DO I ENJOY LOUD NOISE? If yes, take up shooting. If no, take up reading. Read about shooting if need be.

b. Do I enjoy working with my hands? If yes, carpentry, model making, and any number of crafting clubs are ready for you. If no, run out on a field and hit a ball somewhere with something.

c. Do I enjoy thinking? Yes? Literary and intellectual clubs, political parties, business clubs call. No? Singing and drinking, eating and dancing are for you, and there are people who will help you do it.

d. Am I artistic? Yes? Go to the art store, spend a week’s wage, take the resultant small paper bag to an art society, and ask for help. No? Gardening’s for you – Nature will make what you cannot, and you can eat some of it.

e. Am I an opinionated smart-arse who wants to best everyone in argument? Yes? Become a member of a debating team or get your own secret identity as a troll on internet forums. No? Have you thought of joining a religious order? Or the Asian version…a religious suggestion?

f. Do I love sports? If the answer is yes, join a sports club. If the answer is no, get a competent surgeon to tear your cruciate ligament for you. The cost of the year’s membership to the sporting club or the operation will be about the same and the hospital is quieter than the club rooms.

The Users Guide To Self-Entitlement

Or ” What to do until Dr. Guillotine comes.”

Finding an aristocrat these days is easier than it used to be. We no longer have to consult De Bretts or the Almanach de Gotha to see whether the person we are looking at is expected to enter the reception hall of the Bishop of Salzburg before or after a Viscount prior to Maundy Thursday. The amount of research, memorization, and snap judgement required has been dramatically reduced. In fact, all we need to know is one number:

How much the subject of our enquiry is worth.

This can be a simple bank balance – a series of numbers with a Euro, Dollar, or Pound sign in front and a string of zeros behind. The longer the zero trail, the higher the position in society.

It is rarely that simple, however, as many of those who wish to be modern fiscal princes and princesses are at pains to conceal that number – to make it so diffuse throughout the Caribbean, Swiss Alps, and Pacific islands as to defy actual definition…let alone discovery. They do, however, wish to let you know that they are entitled to the social position, even if you cannot touch the cash.

They’ll let you see clues – hints of worthiness, if you will. There will be large and splendid motor cars, expensive watches, designer clothing that changes as often as the wind blows through the streets of Paris and Milano, and wonderful feasts held in palatial mansions. You’ll not be invited to these, mind, but you can read about them in supermarket magazines.

These possessions and processions are really not necessary to let us know how grand the new aristocrats are. We could judge and be awed by them as they go about their daily business of extraordinary life. Just watching and listening to them deal with lesser creatures would do it. They could probably get away with not actually owning a thing, as long as they were arrogant enough – and I suspect that a few of them are doing just that.

The wonderful thing about life is that it repeats itself over the centuries. Epicurus knew a thing or two about dealing with aristocracy and about the methods of leading a kindly and satisfying life. I suppose Diogenes did as well, though I doubt the tub was as comfortable as all that. We could all do well to investigate the way that the aristo-pluto-cratic society was dealt with in the past and consider whether it might be done again as well.

If you can find a tumbril, I can bring my knitting.

Your Job Has Been Replaced By A Robot

What is the next thing you do?

Why you go out and attack someone. If you are a low-level employee of a small business, you will have only a few local options – the firm that lately employed you, the bank that loaned them the money for the robots, and Chinese people. This last on the irrational basis that the robots were probably built in China* and they’re all supposed to all look alike anyway…

The fact that the person with the Asian appearance might be a citizen of your own country, born there, and of longer residence than you, may make this seem awkward. Plus if they are not Chinese you look like a fool. It’s even more difficult if you are Chinese yourself and the robots put you out of a job as well. Then you don’t exactly know who to tackle…

Well, here’s a suggestion: whoever you are, wherever you are, tackle yourself. Look carefully at what education you’ve got, whether it can be used to go get another job, or whether it needs to be boosted or replaced. Be honest with yourself, without being brutal. Tell yourself the truth, even if you need to start off whispering it. If you can eventually say it right out loud, you’ll be making progress.

This isn’t just a retiree’s twaddle – I faced business failure in 2007 squarely and had to take stock of myself. I had to think why I’d failed and what resources I still had to start again. I was fortunate in that I had some secondary skill that an employer was willing to take a punt on, but I found out that I had to increase my technical and trade training while on the job to make myself a useful part of the organisation. Thank goodness I read and retained and I could spend spare time out of work testing out the things I needed to know in the day. Thank goodness there were enough sources of information to supply the answers. Thank goodness it worked for 8 years.

The only twaddle advice I can give is to keep yourself lean. I don’t mean physically lean – you can sort out for yourself what sort of body you want to have. I mean fiscally lean. Whatever you do, even in a time of full and fat employment, do not take on debt that is unavoidable. Particularly do not take on big debt. It may seem bearable while you have a steady income, but it’ll bear you to the ground if that income support falls away.

When anyone offers you credit, say thank you, but pay cash. If it hurts to pay cash, it will hurt more to pay credit. If paying cash means you have to go light on possessions and status symbols, take this as a wonderful opportunity to own a good character instead of a shed full of stuff.

And don’t help the robots. Shop at a real physical store that has a real human doing the checkout. Go to the counter and order your burger – don’t punch in an app on your phone that talks to a robot menu. Better yet, ditch the phone, shop at the greengrocer, and do your own cooking.

PS: Better not to attack a Chinese person. They watch Kung Fu videos too, practice all the moves, and they don’t need the subtitles…

*  And then again they probably weren’t. There are a lot of robots coming out of Europe right now. Most of them watch soccer.