Do You High Five The Computer?

No. I point at it and yell ” Bumpah ! ” when I finish writing a knockout column.

Then I put it in the draft section and let it sit for at least a couple of days before I re-read it. If it is still ” Bumpah! ” I can post it. The two days lets me see the typos, and introduces a certain degree of calm into the thing. It also means that sometimes the exclamation is changed to”

” Trasho! ”

Thanks to Mr. W. Rogers, I am taking more of the opportunities to shut up that are presented to me. I hope silence will smooth relations with people in the future and serve as an elegant setting to the occasional flash of diamond-like wit.

Would that world leaders who resort to the mobile phone keypad whenever stressed to send out tweets were as cautious. It might prevent a great deal of angst in the rest of us.

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For God’s Sake Leave That Careostat Alone!

I seem to be trapped in a social media household – the people who contribute to the Facebook site are at war with each other over the careostat. That’s the control box on the wall in the hallway that adjusts the degree of involvement and engagement that the group runs on.

Some want to turn it up, and we get Anti-Trumpeters blasting their little horns every second day. To be fair, most of them do not do their own sneering – they just repost other people’s bias. But they are nevertheless fiddling with the dial.

So are the activists – and they are active in any number of good causes. Some are quite genuine, and some have the same committment to goodness and mercy that Ma Barker used to exhibit. There seems to be an admixture of very clever advertising campaigns in the passion and outrage – not that you need to to be passionate or outraged to sell razor blades or running shoes. You just have to have your finger on the pulse of the populace. And you’d be surprised to see some of the spots on the body where pulses can be taken…

Some want to turn it down. Every day there is someone who stridently insists that I take notice of the fact that they do not care about something or someone. As the level of intensity in this insistence rises, I am not sure whether I am meant to take more notice of them or less…In actual fact, I have shared their emotion of  disinterest for a long time, and much of it is connected to their affairs…

I think that it would be a good idea to arrange a face-to-face meeting for all the people on my Facebook list. They could harangue or ignore each other on a personal basis with wine and cheese cubes on sticks. And if they wanted to set the careometer they could fight over that.

 

The Divine Joy Of Distance

Have you ever wondered at the principles of the Buddhist faith? At the detachment that many of the faithful present in the face of difficulties? Does it seem all an act?

It may be…and like all acts, it can be well or ill done…but the very motions and disciplines that the Buddhists go through serve them in any case. it is like the Jews doing rituals that make them think about morality – sometimes it works.

But distance is the thing. If you can master the use of distance, you can make daily life so much better for yourself and others:

a. Distance yourself from inordinate desires. Feed yourself, of course. Clothe, house, and entertain yourself. Educate yourself. Ensure yourself against disease if possible. But do not chase wealth, power, sex, or sensation too avidly. You may be forced to catch it.

b. Distance yourself from people who distress you. Running away is necessary sometimes and staying away even more so.

c. Distance yourself from dangerous places, people, and activities. See (b. ) above.

d. Distance yourself from argument. Not just from arguments that others are engaging in, but from argument that you start. Most things are not worth arguing about.

e. Distance yourself from idiocy. Not all folly is idiotic, as Erasmus of Rotterdam might say, and not all folly is harmful…but sheer idiotic behaviour is never good for anyone. You can rarely stop it, but you can anticipate it, and be somewhere else listening to the sirens in the night.

If this all seems to make you…well…distant – use your new-found reputation as a cool head to advantage. It may be so for yourself and others – you may be a calming or moral  influence far beyond what you do for yourself.

The Utter Joy Of Cheap

Have you always believed that you deserve the best? That the best is the only thing that you should be offered? That you define yourself by the goods and services that you command? Perhaps you are right…after all, you deserve to be compensated for the constant danger in which you live.

Danger?

Yes, danger. The danger that you will perceive some flaw in your goods and services – or that you will see someone else getting more and better than you. If you must always be first, you fear second.

Well, I have passed through that myself. Perhaps I didn’t articulate the words exactly, but I had them inside me somewhere. And they stopped me from appreciating what I had and what I experienced for a long time. No more.

I’ve discovered the joy of cheap. Realistically looking at my life to come, I see it is going to be shorter than the bit already passed – though I would not welcome too short an interval. I’m now at a point where I may indeed get a lifetime of use out of something and it need not be made of cast iron and hickory wood to do it. Plastic might very well be fine. And I need not spend over the odds either – economy models of things fulfil the same functions.

Best of all, when some new product is touted or some hitherto un-needed need is trumpeted, I can frequently say ” Shoot, I got one of them already. “. I may indeed, and it might even be better than the new designer model with the red stripe on one panel and the fake carbon fibre covering.

I must be the advertiser’s nightmare.

The Sheer Joy Of Repair

I am always dismayed when I see something I own that is breaking down. Whether it is clothing, the car, tools and furniture, or the house itself, there is sense of loss to it all.

And yet – then there is a sometimes a spark of happiness to be found:

a. If the thing that is breaking or broken was something that was never used and was just being kept for the sake of appearances, the loss is a great chance to be free.

b. If life continues as comfortably and calmly as before it tells you that whatever it was was superfluous.

c. If you can get the thing repaired economically, you show frugal common sense.

d. If you can repair it yourself, you are Daniel Boone standing on a mountain top – king of all you survey.

Today it was the covering of my iPad – a magnetic case that protects the thing and shuts it off automatically upon closing. My pad keeps a charge far longer this way. It had split the pressed-leather covering away from the framework. Time to go get a new one from Apple…for $ 79.00…

Or time to get out the Weldbond PVA glue, two bits of foamcore board and some clothes pegs as clamps. Glue, clamp, set in the sun to dry. And an hour later pocket a virtual $ 79.00 toward my holiday trip.

On other days it has been shoes, tables, tents and awnings, worn shop tools, and a myriad of broken, fixable items that have been put back into service. Every day after a repair is a day in which the goods pay you – not the other way around.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it is, do.

” I’m Not Happy…”

Once upon a time my father put a set of plans for his new house in to the local shire for approval. It was a good design and quite legal – though it was an unusual configuration for the time. The clerk behind the desk shook his head and said he wasn’t happy about the ideas he saw on paper.

My father wasn’t offended. He asked the clerk to show him the local building statute that referred to the clerk’s happiness…There was a the sound of growling and rubber stamping and the house is standing and serving me 44 years later. I cannot say what the state of mind of the clerk is – perhaps he cheered up in retirement.

Similarly, I have noted that many people behind counters are not happy. Some, because they are there, and some because I am there. I have learned to do my best to alleviate their gloom by smiling and making whatever request I have small and easy to accomplish. This works well in delis and banks – a simple request for a pie and sauce in the one or a small note demanding cash for the other is all that’s needed. And keep your finger pointed in your coat pocket when you ask.

If you are not happy at home, the onus is generally on you to remedy this. The way you do that can be manyfold – study, work, singing, hobbies, thinking – they’ll all serve to lift your gloom. If your unhappiness is due to another, simply remove them from the home and have the locks changed. If all else fails paint them a bright colour and decorate their edges with chrome trim.

Do You Have To Take Your Own Paper Bag To A Sex Shop?

It’s been years since I visited a sex shop. The people who run our local one banned me from the premises after The Incident. I can understand their anger to a certain extent but those things should really have a warning on them if they are flammable.

As retail times have changed, and we are not allowed to get free plastic bags from our grocery stores ( Though we are allowed to pay for as many as we like…) I was wondering if this virtuous concern for the environment ( Supported by extensive memes conducted by the Facebook and Instagram Institute of Science …) extended to other retail trades. For instance:

a. Are we still allowed to take dubious goods out of the sex shop wrapped in discreet bags or are we going to be required to stride out of the place juggling whatever it is that has taken our fancy?

b. Are we going to be allowed to purchase anything that is wrapped in any sort of plastic? Are we going to have to take away rice in handfuls or yoghurt wrapped in newspaper.

c. Is petrol – that damaging and harmful chemical – going to be allowed?

d. Do we need to return old clothing to be permitted to buy new stuff? And if our clothing is not sufficiently worn-out, will we be sent home with a scolding?

e. If animals like cats and dogs are not naturally vegetarians or vegans and are harmed by trying to confine them to these human diets, will we establish a new range of animal-cruelty laws designed to ensure that Towser gets a bone or Tiddles gets some tuna? Or will we require the pet owners to turn Towser and Tiddles in to the Department of Diet for re-education. And if they prove recalcitrant  ( And I have a cat who could recalcitrant for Australia…) will they be liquidated by the state?

f. As most chemicals contain chemicals, can the practice of teaching chemistry in schools be banned. Is it not possible to go back to good old fire, air, water, and phlogistan?

In case you are afraid that people will not stan for this sort of ignorance, may I point to Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Rajastan, etc. They’ll stan for anything, apart from bacon.

g. As we are being told that we must consume less while producing more – and that our way of life depends simultaneously on cutting trade with China while buying more of their goods and selling them more of ours – is it possible that we are in the hands of economic as well as social and scientific idiots? Is this not yet another argument for replacing them with seers, wizards, and shamans?

h. Can we blame it on Trump and Scott Morrison? Okay, can we blame it on Brexit? Aw, come on, we have to blame it on someone and if you blame it on someone who is not white you are called a racist…