The Long Weekend

This weekend in Western Australia is a long one – the workers are to be unchained for a day on Monday to celebrate the fact that they will be chained up again on Tuesday.

Monday is a non-labouring Labour Day.

I would leap in celebration were it not for the fact that I am retired from business and am too busy to waste time relaxing. I need every waking hour to do things that I want to do – as opposed to things that other people want me to do. I am a hard taskmaster, driving myself constantly. I would put in a complaint about me except that the only person who would read it is me and I would dismiss it out of hand. You get a lot of whining these days from old folks like me.

In truth, public festivals are so much flannel to a retired person. We set our routine by our own clocks – and even the people who while away hours watching television can order time to suit themselves with the on-demand channels. No more waiting a week for the next episode of your pot-boiler.

My various hobbies are the routines I follow. As I type this a coat of paint is drying on a model airplane. Or I might put in a couple of hours at the keyboard or image editing tablet. Or read a book. I need no day release chit from the state government to do it.

When you’re retired…every weekend is a long weekend. And if you schedule it right, you can travel with no crowds on the roads or in the airports.

The National Day

On the national civic* day – 26th of January – we had become accustomed in the past few years to being bombarded by ambitious politicians, academics, and advertisers for their various purposes. In many cases this was driven by lust for power and money. At least when the CWA and local kindergarten were involved.

Then there was a spate of excoriating those with European background for not being Australian enough. Or for being British. Every sin and misery for the past two hundred -odd years was seeded home to the Dreadful British and compensation demanded. Compensation, guilt, and obeisance. If you couldn’t manage the guilt and obeisance, at least cough up the money…the lawyers had sent in their bill.

Arrived late? Not British? Never had a hand in oppressing anyone? No matter. As long as you had money they’d let you on the tumbril.


This year it seemed to be different. Very few ambitious local councillors fronted the television cameras weeping. Few calls for the scrapping of the day emerged, and those that were repeated came from the established disestablishment. Most people seemed set to do their citizenship ceremonies, watch the fireworks, get drunk and sunburned, and let it go at that.

My local hobby club even garnered an award from the city of Bayswater for not being as dangerous as they might have been. I shall share in the honours as long as there is cake and coffee involved.

*  The national military day is later in the year and it will have it’s own set of special detractors – though oddly enough there will be many of the same names bitching about the past then as do now.

Holiday At Home – Part Two – In the Mood

Having established in our minds that forking over $ 10,000-$20,000 to go somewhere might be a bad idea, we are left to think up some way in which we can get the holiday experience without the holiday expense.

The first thing to get straight is what you really want from a holiday. This’ll differ with different people but here’s some of the things we look for:

  1. A change of scenery. Some place different from the neighbourhood. It need not be good or interesting scenery as long as it is new. This explains why people go to some of the world’s pest holes and regard it as fun.
  2. A change of weather. If you just cannot face another fortnight of heat, cold, rain, or anything else that your local met department serves up, you get on your camel and ride to where someone else is uncomfortable. I must admit that this has occurred to me in the middle of oppressive seasons.
  3. A change of food and drink. Whatever you normally eat and drink, you do rather fancy something exotic. Of course you’ll probably reel back in horror as it plops on your plate and demand home cooking, but the restaurants are used to this. They just take it back to the kitchen and fry it; you’ll eat it later.
  4. A change of people. You always think that you’ll encounter wonderful wizened old people who will impart the secrets of life to you – or a romantic partner – or cheerful peasants. Boy, have we got news for you. The wizened crones are 17 but have been standing close to a nuclear waste dump, the romantic partner wants to steal your passport, and the cheerful peasants are high on goat shit. You left home and flew Economy 17 hours straight to get this…
  5. Duty Free.
  6. Relaxation.
  7. Peace and quiet.

All these things are good things, seen in themselves. We look at travel brochures and imagine that they are in the photos – in fact, the images we really see are in our own minds. They may be totally false views, but as they are pictures that we show ourselves…how could we be wrong? We trust us, even if we shouldn’t.

In reality, we could achieve nearly all we want in the holiday trip with a little readjustment of our minds and some clever use of local resources. We need not lock ourselves in the bathroom – we can go on trips – but sometimes we need not go as far as all that.

Read tomorrow and see how far.

How Do You Take A Vacation From A Holiday – Part One

Or vice versa. It is a question that the retired individual can ponder. And there isn’t an easy answer – lots of factors come into play:

a. You may not be wealthy. The disposable income of the working years – assuming you had any – has been disposed of. The rest is what supplies your daily living – it may be comfortably enough, but it rarely stretches to unlimited expense, unless you have been very successful indeed.

If you stay at home, you spend less – less on travel, accommodation, external meals and drinks, and tourist activities. Your supposrtsystem is all round you, supporting you, and need not be paid for elsewhere.

b. You may not be filled with vim and vigour. Older people can be bundles of energy in some cases but in others the bundle contains a lot of aches and pains as well as frayed nerves. Travel rarely improves this, unless you are going to the hot springs.

c. Your friends are here. Even if they are really your bitter enemies, they are at least convenient when you want a fight. No need going halfway around the country or the world to find new battles.

d. You can drink the water and understand the money and bus system here. If you go elsewhere all three things are likely to give you the shits. If you’re really lucky you get a free train and bus pass here and can plague people all over the city economically.

e. If you stay home you do not have to be out later than you want to be. You can turn off the lights and hit the feathers at 10:30 without looking like a party pooper.

f. If you stay at home and eat and drink the exotic foods and liquors of the place that the tour goes to…and it is possible, given the upsurge in restaurants in the last decade… you can still get heartburn but you can do something about it discreetly. When you do your own cooking, you can read the menu. And you need not eat the weird offal that they try to serve as folk food. Folk that for a joke.

But enough of the gloom. Next time we tell you how to holiday at home and be happy.

Planning For The New Year’s Resolutions

No good cobbling these things together at the last moment…people see through that in an instant. Far better to sit and sensibly plan promises that you intend to break as soon as the hangover eases up. The new decade will be a good opportunity to clear the old cobwebs of questionable behaviour and establish new and worse habits. I fully intend to:

a. Avoid passive-aggresive behaviour. It never works. Pick one and go with that.

b. Eat more greens and fruit. I have a cocktail book with an entire section of fruit drinks. I should be legless about 80% of the time but there’ll be no danger of scurvy.

c. Be positive. Mind you, I’m not sure whether that means I should be given doses of antibiotic or just settle down to be more bloody-minded about things.

d. Save more money. This is an easy resolution to keep as I do not save anything at all now. 5 cents saved would see this done. I shall go mug someone for 5 cents.

e. Broaden my mind. Everyone says this is desirable but no-one knows why. And the proposed formulae for doing it differ widely. One says travel, one says study, one says mingle with the mob. I am going to canvas more opinions until I find someone who wants me to eat and drink to excess.

f. Exercise more. This seems a good idea until you find out that the exercise involves turning off your mind for hours at a time just to burn calories. I plan to take fewer calories in and to make the most of the ones that are in there already. If this sounds like work, that is precisely what it is…work to accomplish things while exercising.

g. Be more mindful but carefree and seriously joyful at the same time. Now this is just getting to sound like bullshit. A few more lines of it and I’ll have my memes for the year. Should be able to sell a book of them, if I make it sound scientific and mysterious at the same time. I need a vaguely biblical name to sell it, but.

‘Tis The Season…

To be nervous.

Falalalala La la la la.

Think I’ll phone the septic service.

Falalalala La la la la.

Liquid sounds are surely growin’.

Falalalalala La la la.

Christmas cheer is over flowin’.

Falalala Don’t get it on your shoes.

If you have a family tradition for the holidays that no-one else in the street seems to follow, are you in the right street? This is particularly poignant for those of us who live in a mixed bag. Our street hosts people from identifiably different ethnicities and many different religions. Only some would consider this part of the year to be a holiday season requiring traditional food and activities – for the rest it is just another week or so, but with fruitcake.

I myself live in a mixed household and if any of us were fanatics we could rub each other the wrong way something chronic. We do not, however, and the treble holiday season passes pretty cheerfully – except as we get older the calendar New Year’s Eve has toned down considerably. Ageing livers and dodgy eyesight mean driving home after midnight from some riotous nightclub is out of the question and we like to hit the hay earlier in the evening anyway.

But I do like the holidays – as much for the forced cheer as for the real stuff. Watching relatives who would normally bite at one another playing nice and kissy is amusing no end. If the festive event is held at someone else’s quagmire, so much the better. You can always offer to help with the dishes but leave early.




Aceing It For Christmas

Yesterday seemed to be a particularly good one. The planets  probably aligned and the vibrational paradigms bulged.

  1. Upon stepping out into our walkway to the street I discovered a Decor storage container and lid identical to the ones we use in our kitchen. I assumed someone had left it on the top of her car as she drove away, so I retrieved it and put it back in the kitchen. Only later did I discover that all ours are sitting on the shelf and this one still has a new label on it. Whoever dropped it was eating cupcakes with hundreds and thousands on them… Welcome to the family, new Decor container…
  2. The bus is rarely late to a stop in our suburb. Yesterday, neither was I. We coincided, so I waited till the cheerful driver opened the door and I gotincide.
  3. Ditto the train.
  4. The bookstore I went to had 5 copies of the Christmas gift book I particularly wanted to give. One of them was signed by the author. Score!
  5. Target had a sale on socks – my next gift requirement. Score!
  6. The return journey had the same promptitude, and air conditioned at that.

If you are always having bad days, you get to the point where you fail to recognise the good ones when they happen. I’m glad to say I haven’t reached that state of gloom yet.

If You Wish To Be Wealthy…

Sell medicine to the sick and fun to the healthy. It used to be possible to become rich selling food to the hungry but now that the larger corporations have taken over production and distribution there is little point in opening a local deli.

Leaving aside the sale of better health to those who are poorly…and a complex thing that is, too…we come to the idea of selling fun. Making other people happy and fulfilled is the goal and a grim business it is, too.

This was illustrated at a trade show I’m attending this weekend. For the 4-wheel-drive vehicles  and adventure accessories. It is by for the largest exhibition I have seen, both in area of display and amount of money that was asked. Also a very adventurous thing since it is being conducted on some of the most gruelling times of the year – 40º + yesterday. However, that did not deter the customers…because they wanted to buy things that will be fun to have and to go places that excite them.

I will not be wealthy because of it – I’ll submit a modest account for giving three lectures over three days – but then I won’t spend any money amongst the fabulous exhibitors either. It’ll a profitable and enjoyable thing to do and may give rise to more paid gigs in the future.

Moral of it all is that if you want to follow the money, follow the fun. That’s what people will fork out for.

Thanksgiving Outrage In Britain, Europe, and Australasia

Facebook commenters all around the world are gearing up to be outraged at people in the United States this coming November 28th as the Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. Special scorn memes are being written for use whenever the poster’s attention score drops.

Of course there will be lots of them that target the American President for calumny, but that is pretty well a constant throughout the year. There will be any number of sneering and pious ones that mention pilgrims and the native tribes, but funnily enough the pilgrims will be the only ones held up to ridicule. The day will draw fire from the religiously-inclined as well as the opposite camp. One thing you can be sure of – if it is American, it’s going to be judged wrong…


Yet Canada – that other North American plot of land – also celebrated a Thanksgiving day on October 14th. And no-one raised a peep about it – perhaps the crafty Canucks sneaked it in while people were looking the other way or were preparing to be culturally outraged about Halloween and Trick Or Treat… maybe people were just sympathetic to Canada for suffering another Trudeau Election and decided to give them a bye this time.

I’m thankful all the time – I go to sleep in warm bed and wake up each morning. I eat and drink my fill. I read whatever I like and build toy airplanes every day. The only part of this that makes me nervous is the thought that Facebook commentators will batten upon me and become outraged. I can’t decide whether I should pay more attention to them…or less.

Go To SIngaporeans

Eh? Shouldn’t that be  ” Go To Singapore “?

Well, yes…the first time. Go to see the gardens and the Raffles and the Zoo. Go to the Bird Park and Chinatown and the temples. Go to the casino, if you must. Go and have a safe, good time. Spend some money and don’t make a goose of yourself.

But go the second time to see the people.

Singaporeans are a heady mixture of cultures, races, classes, sexes, ages, and religions. Each person has a great many things different from their neighbours, but they have one great commonality; they get on together. That might be because the government of Singapore demands that they do, but I suspect it is also because they want to. They are people of good will.

When you go the second time you can fill in the lines on the tourist card that you missed the first time. I need to tick the Botanical Gardens, the Chinese Gardens, and the Japanese Gardens. All do-able on the MRT. I need to see the Battle Box. I need to go to the building you see in the heading image and find out all about it – it is the most fascinating structure i have seen in three decades.

Then I want to sit in the malls and drift through the shops and eat in the open air to observe the Singaporeans living their lives. I would love to see them at home but they may be private people. In any case I would get enough joy from just seeing them to keep me cheerful for years.