The Question

” Can I ask you a question? ”

Sure, go ahead.

” Do you like questions? ”

Ummm. Well, I’ve never really thought about it. I mean – questions just are, if you get what I mean…

” Do you like rhetorical questions? ”

Ah, there I can say a definite No. They always seem such a contrivance. They tend to stop a conversation, rather than start it.

” I knew you would say that, didn’t I? ”

What? If you knew I would say that why did you ask in the first place?

“What would you say if I told you that if you hadn’t answered in the first place you wouldn’t have to ask, now would you? Can’t answer that, can you? ”

My head hurts. Go away.

 

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Kinda Canada, Eh?

I once lived in Canada – for about 17-18 years. Then I moved to Australia and have racked up another 50+ years here – with time out for a working holiday in England. Thus I have the basic qualifications to be horribly wrong about three countries. I make the best use of whatever false insights I have made over the years.

Note: I also lived in the USA for a couple of years as a youth and a student. So I can be an instant expert about the place, too. If I am dreadfully wrong, it can be no worse than most of the overseas posts and news reports you read anyway.

All this leads me to a question; how long does one have to actually be in a country to be able to make a rational judgment on and useful report of it. How long does one need to form real memories – as opposed to the ones the glimpses airports and freeways give. How far down the biological and social chain does one need to go to reach the real experience? And is it worth going there?

Well, if your entire experience of, say, Canada was an arrival at Vancouver airport, transfer to a cruise ship and up the coast…then a quick trip to a ski resort and back to the airport…you might be forgiven for a really distorted view of the country. It might have been a pleasant holiday – in between two horrendous airplane flights – but you’d have no idea of summer in the fire season or winter on the prairies or the smell of hockey skates drying in an enclosed space. The same could be said for the tourist who comes to Australia  – though most of the North American visitors spend more time here than we do there. It’s the Asian tourists who do a quick round of casinos, beaches, and wildlife parks and then scatter back to their homes. Possibly with a glazed look in their eyes.

Does anyone ever take home a real view of a real place?

Riding The Horse – Part Six – The Collector’s Edition

If anyone ever meets you on the road and tells you that the only reason they collect something – whether it be stamps, coins, or matchbook covers – is for the investment value of them, you must treat them like Buddha. You must kill them. Because they are either telling you the truth or a lie…and neither one is acceptable.

The collection urge is a basic part of the human psyche – and there are studies that show it to be something that other animals do as well. Unfortunately there have not been enough funded studies employing perpetual students that have concentrated upon the animal part of it – we still do not know why crows and magpies collect junk bonds. But as far as people go, everyone has a latent collector inside them.

The classical collections involve art, antiquities, coins, postage stamps, china and porcelain, and silver and gold objects. These have an intrinsic value in themselves  – with the possible exception of outdated postage stamps – and can be turned into a current in the income stream of the collector. Of course most turn out to be money sinks, but that is the nature of the con game.

The actual objects to be collected is immaterial – it is the amassing of a group of them that forms the gratification. If they can be supported by specialist shops, publications, scholarly works, fairs, and auctions…so much the better. Sometimes they run afoul of laws, as in the collection of weapons and firearms, but that’s never stopped any keen enthusiast that I’ve ever met. The man with the working anti-tank gun is ample evidence of this. In any case no real collector lets anything – money, law, or good sense – stand in his way. The only irksome part for him may be the necessity to keep the collection hidden.

Can there be too many things in a collection? Not according to the collectors. Can the collection be too wide in scope? Again, no. Can it be too narrow? Well, I met a proud collector who concentrated his efforts upon a toy plastic boat that was produced as a promotional giveaway in the 80’s and he has found enough variants in it to base his entire happiness upon. All the items look the same until he tells you the minute history of them and lets you examine them carefully with a magnifying glass. At that point you wish you were a gun collector…

Can the objets de collection be too expensive? Well they can be so for the average person, and that for a number of reasons, but for the unlimited budget person, nothing is too dear. They are the explorers after El Dorado that poison the land for all the rest – they elevate prices and depress common sense in any field they enter. And yet. And yet…

Remember our first paragraph. In every collector’s heart is a small section that really does want their beloved collection of dried goat udders to be the secret desire of a fabulously-wealthy sheik…who will pay an enormous price for them. This small portion of the heart is known as the Jesse James valve, and it flutters in the presence of loose money. 

Collectors are easy meat for the purveyors of dreck – see the back of any woman’s magazine for the porcelain figures of the Royal Plumbers Of Tonga at only $ 256 each in a signed edition. They are also the natural fodder for makers of collection cases, display shelves, storage books, and fanciful catalogues. They can be seen at all sorts of trade shows, secondhand fairs, and repulsive little shops cruising for the bargains. The shopkeepers know ‘em in a minute and it is all they can do from salivating visibly.

Is there any harm in being a collector? No, if you do not go so far down the rabbit hole that you find the subject has collected you. This is the sad fate of several of the gun collectors I know who’ve sacrificed money, property, and good sense to serve their masters…the guns. It is not possible to bring them to their senses, but they are mostly harmless. The fate of many collectors is to find that their friends and family avoid them – at least when they start to talk about The Collection.

Hanging Out With Idiots

In every company, club, or social group there are identifiable types. You’ll have seen them all your life. Or, if not, you can be sure they’ll have seen you…

  1. The politician. The treasurer who wants to be secretary, the secretary who wants to be president, and the president who wants to be hereditary emperor. You can do yourself a bit of good by furthering their ambitions and you can do yourself a world of good by shunning them completely.
  2. The clown. Whether the selected medium is ethnic slurs or dad jokes, the clown is playing it, and you, for laughs. Beware if they see you as a useful butt for these merry japes. Try to switch their sights to someone else.
  3. The sponge. Whether it is knowledge, work, or money, the sponge will absorb all you can provide. While you are pouring out your life blood for them you’ll be patted and stroked. When the flow stops you’ll be cast off and laughed at.
  4. The victim. The range of hurts that the victim will parade for your sympathy will stagger you. Beggars in Bangladesh have fared better than they, and you are always encouraged to help with tears and money.
  5. The expert. Now they might very well be an actual expert, and well worth listening too because of this. Equally, they may be windbags who gain a puffed pleasure telling you what to do…but whose advice is valueless. Try them out. Do as they say for a little while and see if things go better. If it is all shit, just ignore them ever after.
  6. The lemon. Just as there is a victim, there will always be a lemon. Sour, hard, and unsavoury. If you listen to them your milk of human kindness will curdle. And it is illegal to hit them with a shovel. A signal failure of the law, eh?

The best thing that the average person can do – faced with this daunting list of venomous predators – is pick a category and get in there first. If you are going to be closeted with idiots, do yourself a favour by being the biggest idiot in the closet. You may be treated to bad language and horrified looks, but at least they’ll give you elbow room. If you take off your clothes you’ll get quite a lot of personal space.

 

Riding The Horse – Part Five – The Hobby Of Action

One of the basic human needs is to be active – to sport, work, or hunt for some part of the time. With good luck this will provide food, shelter, and clothing. With bad luck this will provide injury and death.

Let us start with the good bit. You can make a hobby out of nearly any sport there is – individual ones like golf or fishing, or partnership events like tennis or badminton. You can expand to be part of a team and there are all sorts of ball or puck games that you can play.

There can be sport in pure activity – the hike, jog, or breathless run. As long as it is not in front of a pack of slavering bloodhounds, there can always be an element of fun in it – and fun is what you get out of an active hobby. There is only a concrete reward in the case of hunting or fishing – you can eat or wear the result of a success. if you are dealing with polar or grizzly bears you need to be aware that what you regard as your prey is also attuned to this idea, and they don’t need RCMP permits or salt and pepper…

The physical benefit of active hobbies is often touted as a reason to engage in them. Take this with a grain of salt – there are any number of sports physiotherapists, chemists, and manufacturers of knee braces who caution you to take care and hope you won’t listen. They need have no fear – while the sporting human’s body is composed of muscles, bones, and no brains at all, their business is safe.

Likewise the action hobbies like biking, parasailing, rock climbing, and adventuring in all its forms – it is promoted as the finest form of sport and clothing, shoes, accessories, and action cameras are sold in the millions to let people participate. Some will do so safely. Some is a lesser number than all, and within that discrepancy lies the extremely profitable business of health insurance and sports medicine. And who are we to discourage profit…

Successful hobbying…if that is really a word…would see us all engage in some form of activity at some time in the week. We would be doing it regularly, with pleasure and safety, and an increase in skill over the years. We might get the occasional trophy or memento to let us know that others recognise our skill – or we might just feel the benefits within ourselves. Whichever, the active hobby is not to be decried on the basis of possible injury or basic purposelessness. It can be a part of a healthy lifestyle.

But then so can cheese…

Sex And the SIngle Maniac

Enough has already been written about sex and marriage, before, during, instead of, and despite. Also love, which has more variations still – and some of them far less appetising. All these stories have been put out as healthy exercises for normal people – it is nowtime to formulate a workable sex code for maniacs.

The very words ” Sex Maniac ” have gotten a bad name of late, as Hollywood producers and religious figures are hosed off and hauled off to the slammer. In most cases this results in money for lawyers, which suggests that sin is gold that can be hydraulicked off the prominent like gravel off a hillside. I wonder if there are robbers who rifle legal sluice boxes…? And how do the rightful owners of the proceeds of public virtue know when to pull up the cleats and pan the results?

But back to the subject. To be a maniac you must be manic – a word that apparently means wild and frantically busy. As we are always being urged to get busy at work or school and to hurry up with everything we do, it’s hard to see how this suddenly becomes wrong. Perhaps it is the sex part that sours it. Perhaps the critics are really trying to make us slow down…which begs the question why. For their enjoyment…or to let them get a closer look…or to give time for the lawyers to arrive?

Would we do better to substitute other words for “sex” ? Not euphemisms like ” rumpy pumpy” or ” relations ” or any of that verbal footling. No, I mean substitute things like ” tennis” or ” woodworking ” for ” sex “. The thought of a tennis maniac or a woodworking maniac is actually pretty terrifying; one armed with a racket and the other with a set of sharp wood chisels. The poor old sex maniac is just hobbling along with their pants down around their knees while the other two are wading through a crowd striking right and left.

Of course one could always do the clever thing and change the word “maniac ” to “addict “, then call in the therapists and talk-show hosts. Far easier to travel the publicity round and appear in the supermarket tabloids as an addict than a maniac. And as soon as you beat the rap you can go for rest cures in resorts.

Who knows, you might meet someone nice…

Self Axtualisation For Lumberjacks

Are you self-actualised? Are you authentic? Do you have any idea what I’m saying here?

If you do, please write back because I have no idea myself.

The self-actualisation movement seems to be concerned with two things:

  1. Pre-conceiving the paradigmical existentialism of cultural shift-zeit as is pertains to the greater world-mind.
  2. Getting you to pay $ 39.95 to the author.

I have managed the first part but am struggling with the second. It is to this end I address my readers – please send $ 39.95 so that I can tell the other writers to go and self actualise themselves sideways.

I’m not against new philosophy as such. Or per se. Or even ipso facto. Some of my facts are as ipso as you could want, and that’s before you peel them. But I am running out of patience with the associate professors of midwestern cardboard colleges who try to sell books of modern wisdom when there isn’t all that much of it between the covers. I can do big words and small thoughts myself here at home for free.

At one time I was not concerned with self-actualisation at all. I concentrated on food, drink, girls, and passing my university courses so that I could go out and gather money. I would have been happy with self-possibility, probability, or culpability. If I had been asked whether I was actual, I could only have proved it by kicking the questioner. I’m sorry now that I didn’t take the opportunity while my legs were good.

As for actualising myself now, I’m happy to do it if there is a seniors discount, or if I can do it after my nap. And none of that getting up at 4:30 in the morning with the full bladder – that kind of actuality is for the birds.