Riding The Horse – Part Two – Lifting The Lid

The Business Of The Hobby Explained

The need for a hobby is felt by many in the community – they are the lucky ones amongst us. Those who have no need are generally in that position through overwork, impecuniosity, or cultural pressure.

If you have literally no time left out of a day that sees you scrabble for food, shelter, security, or health, you are a poor, unfortunate creature. If you have enough of the basic needs but cannot stop yourself grinding for more, you are a rich, unfortunate creature. If you are prohibited from seeking any pleasure outside of the grind, you are a slave. The fortunate thing about these three observations is that the poor may become rich, the rich may become wise, and the slave may become free.

In all three cases a hobby can alleviate many of the pains of life. The first person may feel harried by need – the second by greed – and the third by oppression. If these states are not addressed by fortune, the person needs an ally, and the hobby can be just that. Hobbies can be secret or public, cheap or expensive, long lasting or transient. They can be taken up with the minimum of equipment or pursued with every accessory and machine that science can make. They are truly flexible things.

Benefits of a hobby? Well, the hobbyist can always retire into the sanctum of their pursuit and place the distressing world at a distance. Their sanctum may be a place, a group, or just a series of thoughts. Hobbies are portable things, and the mind of the hobbyist can carry them into business meetings, waiting rooms, and dungeons with equal facility. It costs you nothing but attention to open the internal hobby library door, sit down at the mental desk, and review the plans for your next project. Caution – do not do it while driving.

A hobby can make you a calmer person – and in some cases a more considered one. This may be possible even in the more bellicose pursuits like martial arts. A person in control of themselves is more likely to be able to control the situation that they are in. If you have confronted problems in your hobby – and surmounted them – you are much more likely to be able to do the same with other troubles.

A hobby can lead to increased self-esteem. While self-esteem taken to the extreme makes for Idi Amin, lower levels of it are good. When you succeed in your hobby – even by a small amount – you feel better in yourself. Others may not care whether your model airplane flew and landed perfectly, but you’ll be admiring your skill for years to come…and rightly so.

A hobby can make you more observant. Very much more so…ask any scratch-builder and you’ll find that they look at everything…everywhere. Shapes and materials that escape others come under keen appraisal for use in their model building. That means they look at the whole world more sharply – a good thing. Their minds speed up.

But you get no crops without manure. There are down sides to hobbies that we will discuss in the next essay.

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Free Food

No, I’m not going to tell you where I live or what time dinner is served. I’ve done that before and the results weren’t pretty. 32 people turned up expecting to get fed because the food was free.

But I’m perfectly happy to feed one person for free – as along as that one person is me.

I come home from a lot of events that happen through meal times; dance shows, weddings, club meetings, etc. and I’ve frequently been too busy to grab a bite at the regular time. No problems – I just set my clock back a bit and figure to eat later. After all, there are plenty of fast food outlets clustered around my house – all I have to do is call in and get dinner, right?

Wrong. The fast food outlets may sell fast food, all right  – but it is food that encourages you to fast. Greasy, sugary, bland, and tasteless – and that’s only the soda pop. The semi-solid stuff is worse. Plus they charge multiples of $ 5.00 bills for everything. I have a loving relationship with my $ 5.00 bills and I grieve to see them go.

So I come home, rather than go out, and cook here. There is nearly always an alternative dish here that can be up and running within a half hour. My go-to meals include:

  1. The cheese toastie. With garlic and herb sprinkle and some cracked black pepper, a properly made Australian cheese toastie can stand in any culinary company. If I include sliced tomato I can even count it as healthy despite the fact that it will burn the roof of my mouth. Burns are a small price.
  2. Staggs chili. Canned, admittedly, and probably made of recycled Mexicans, but a delight nevertheless. One bowl will fill you for half a day. Let’s not wall it off…
  3. Sardines on toast. You have to make an extra slice as someone always drifts by and takes it. Use lots of salt and pepper and some seafood sauce and it becomes a world-famous savoury.
  4. 2-minute Indonesian noodles with added extras. The extras can be anything that has not yet escaped from the ice box; green pepper slices, chicken meat, bacon, sun-dried tomato slices, dubious mushrooms. You can 2-minute boil ’em in a wok and then throw the water out and spend another 2 minutes stir-frying in whatever you have found to make a real dish. Get yer Asian on.
  5. Onions, peppers, tomatoes, garlic; fry ’em up, and then all you need is a couple of slices of toast upon which to heap it. Oregano and basil are nice too. No meat? No matter.

Note that for all these good things you pay nothing – because the wife has already stocked them in the pantry or they are leftovers in the ice box. You keep your $ 5.00 bills safe and comfortable in your wallet. And you eat well.

This Is Red Green Day

Everyone has their heroes – football players or actors or politicians. I’m no different – in fact I’ve even got a little list of people outside my family who I admire and seek to emulate:

George Washington

Benjamin Franklin

Thomas Paine

Steve Smith

The last one may not be as readily recognisable  – but if you remember the Canadian television series ” The Red Green Show ” you’ll get him in a flash. It is as Red that I take to him – because I have seen any number of people very much like him. Including myself in my better moments.

One of those moments happened this weekend when the faucet in the bathroom broke off. it is some 35 years old and has evidently been corroding away for the past couple of decades. Someone leaned on it and away it went. This is not a new thing – the same breakage occurred in the front bathroom and we discovered that the particular plumbing fitments put in when the house was built are not made anymore. So the whole basin had to be replaced. I was not pleased with the thought of a $ 400 plumbing bill for the back one – particularly as we are going to remodel the bathroom in about three years. Talk about money down the drain…

All you need is time and coffee – eventually you have a Red Green moment. Off to Bunnings for some PVC pipe fittings and then a half hour sawing and gluing. A spray of undercoat and then a lacquer finish from paint that was at hand. a mix of epoxy and three S/S screws…and after a day it was ready to go. Cost? $ 15.

If they don’t find you handsome, they should find you handy.

” I Don’t Think You’re Funny! “

” Sorry to hear about your problem. But keep at it – if you try to have a thought every day – even a little one – eventually thinking comes easier.

But thank you for the complement in the latter part of your speech. You might leave a little pause between the first sentence and the second, so people understand that there is a full stop there… ”

Well, there you go. A ready-made Uncle Dick squelch for the person at a party who wants to be offended and take over your conversation upon that basis. You could cede it to them by apologising for whatever it was you said – but you would have a difficult time getting it back. This way you leave them wondering what the holes are on both sides of their mental cockpit and what that whizzing noise was. It was a 40mm Bofors squelch.

There are lots of what the Readers Digest used to call Perfect Squelches to be had – and  lots of times when they are needed – but unfortunately we often miss the cue and fail to fire. Or we are a little slow in the fusing, and the target flies away. A squelch delivered too late bounces off the ground and can detonate in your face.

The best thing to do is practise – and nowadays we are given this opportunity nearly every day when the Indian call centre scammers ring up to try to take control of our computers. There is a brief pause after you lift the telephone receiver and then often a hiss or the sound of a background camel market as the scammer reels out their spiel – you can have up to ten seconds to collect your wits, fuse a squelch, slam it into the breech, and reach for the trigger.

Use these scammers as practise targets. Do not be rude or profane – don’t even be vulgar. Be nice. Be logical. Be honest. Draw a bead on them and tell them that you are Billy The Old Kid and that you rob railway trains as a pension. Tell them that are looking for a Russian bride but all the agencies will offer is Vladimir Putin in a dress. Tell them that you are the ghost of John Diefenbaker looking for butter tarts. Do it in a serious voice.

Note: When an Indian scammer blows up the results can be spectacular. They are only human, after all, and it must be hot and sticky there in the market. They are often only one call away from running amok.

We Need To Rip Up The Roads

Not all of them – just the ones that go conveniently and sensibly between important points in the metropolitan area. The asphalt paving should be ripper-toothed, bulldozed, and loaded into trucks. Then it can be hauled away and dumped into the river or on the children’s playgrounds.

This would clear the way for a series of deep ruts, boulders, and impassible slopes to be constructed, along with the planting of tens of thousands of tangle bushes. A few clay pits and chemical sinkholes would not go amiss, either. Surely there must be enough PCB’s and  industrial waste to ring the city.

Of course this will strangle all commerce and movement of people and goods throughout the city. Thousands will be injured and/or lost as they try to make their way to work, schools, or shops. No ambulances or firetrucks will be able to move.

But think how glorious it will be for the owners of the suburban SUV’s. Finally they will not be the butt of contempt from their neighbours for parking an urban Patton Tank in the driveway. They can wear adventure gear and drive at nauseating angles all day. There will be deep water courses that they can splash through and if they get swept away, all the better. Perhaps we can import crocodiles.

It will still be less dangerous for the average motorist than parking out the front of the shops in Leeming and Winthrop.

Carrie Nation Has Risen From The Grave

And she still has the tomahawk…

Australians who frequent social media sites on the internet have just been served a moral googlie – we’ve been bombarded with a high-sounding call to abstain from the Demon Rum for the month of July. This is advertised as alternately a shaft of saving grace beamed from Heaven, or a warm and fuzzy feel-good socialist fire-side chat.

I prefer to think of it as a crock of shit. Let me explain…

The call to righteousness assumes that we are sinful – or at least wrongful. That we harm ourselves and our families and the planet and little fuzzy kittens by drinking wine, beer, or spirits in the month of July. There are dark hints that we must do better…or risk the disapproval of the people who want us to abstain.

That is interesting. Why should we care about the disapproval of unseen and unknown entities? Particularly if they are the sort of organisations that scold on Facebook. Are they the touchstones and guiding pillars of our lives? Along with Candy crush and ” What is your Viking name? “.  Is it possible that this is all a load of hooey?

It is.

The scolders who advocate a dry July, stretching as far as next century, want us to do something else – not with our time or our digestion – they want us to do it with our money. They want us to give it to them. Because we will then be moral, and presumably fit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven…or at least the Kingdom of Zukerberg…

Do as you will. If you think you are a drunk because you down a bottle of wine a week and have immoral thoughts, smash the glass in the fireplace and set your mind on higher things. I intend to Up Spirits each afternoon at 15:00 hours and take beer with dinner. I am even prepared to join you in a toast Carry Nation and her tomahawk, but be warned – if you disrupt my table you will be thrown into the street.

 

The Unspeakable Joy Of Satiety

You’ve all seen the tee shirt that says  ” Been there, Done that. Got this tee shirt. “.

It’s funny and sad on several levels, but mightily encouraging in the end. It frees us from the need to:

a. Go back there and do it again. At least as long as the tee shirt lasts.

b. Go there and do it in the first place. If we really don’t want to travel, compete, shop, or whatever the thing is, we can pretend that it is old hat and that we’re weary of it all.

If we were honest we would wear a tee shirt that said ” Never been there. Don’t fancy going “. Then we could emblazon this slogan over all sorts of images; Paris, Disneyland, Bali, Gold Coast. The reaction on the faces of others would be much more satisfying than with the first version.

c. Envy those who do go and do things.

Again we ought to be honest inside ourselves if we really do not fancy any of it…but instead of emblazoning this contempt on our chests we could settle for a nice silkscreen print of a Messerschmitt or Bullwinkle the moose. Why shit people off over your own tastes and desires?

For myself, I try to avoid any writing on the externals of my clothing – whether that be a brand name of running shoes or the state prison farm. If people want to know where I’ve been or what I like to wear they can ask me.