No Day Is A School Holiday

Because we all go to several schools.

We may pass our time in primary school and high school when we are young and hang out every week day for the weekend…thinking that we’ll be out of school on Saturday and Sunday. Wrong – we just go from one learning environment to another. If we are lucky we never see the seam between school learning and home learning.

Take an example. We learn how to do cooking in Home Economics in school. We practice it at home as soon as we can. We fail miserably, and then we fail partially, then occasionally, and then not at all. We’ve learned the theory and gained the knowledge – time to move on to the next failure.

Or a more academic subject: mathematics. We can struggle through geometry for years and then bring it home to our shed and then instinctively use it to find the centre of a piece of wood for the turning lathe. We can go blank in algebra and then all of a sudden find ourself using it to apportion paint to walls. Learn, do, no gap.

Even if there are no striking examples of learning on the holidays, we still discover how personal interactions do or don’t succeed. We travel and are gawping students wherever we go. We work at a vacation job that has more complexity than the moon launch.

Learning. In school, out of school, night and day. And none of us need be afraid of it at all.

 

Advertisements

The Local Traveller

World travelling, we read, is a marvellous thing. It is said to broaden our minds and make us one with humanity.

I expect everyone who has ever stood in line to get their baggage checked onto an international flight…and then stood in line to board, use the toilets, get off again, pass the immigration and customs desk, and then collect the remains of their luggage has an appreciation of the delights of the experience. Then as they are attended by taxi drivers, desk clerks, tour guides, cafe owners, street beggars, local militiamen, and all the varied members of the aforementioned humanity, they get a warm, fuzzy feeling.

In most cases it is a yeast infection.

I have done my share of it, but as I’ve not re-enlisted in the Traveller’s Regiment and I’ve kept my discharge papers, I feel I’m safe for the foreseeable future. The world may turn, but I’m required neither to push it around nor grease the pintles.

But I do like the occasional drive in the country or air hop to another city in Australia. And, contrary to the overseas experience, I find the actual travel quite relaxing.

In the air, whether you are in the Business seat or Cattle Class, you are provided with a number of entertainments and stimuli – videos, music, frequent meals, etc – that you are allowed to ignore. You can sit there with a book, or a notepad and a pencil, and think. No-one that you are with ever interrupts you to stick another household chore or family revelation onto you. Your phone and tablet are in Aeroplane mode which means you are officially ordered to ignore them. ( Yay! ) and even Mark Zuckerberg cannot pester you.

Likewise on the road. As a driver you need your wits about you and cannot be talking on a telephone or reading a Mills and Boon while at the wheel. You need to obey increasingly complex speed and passing laws, and to avoid those who don’t. So you are in a cocoon of concentration. Break it every hour or so for a coffee or a wee and the experience becomes all the sweeter – you might step out of your Suzuki a little more fatigued than fresh from a Boeing but then you’ve seen more interesting things on the side of the road. And if they are recently flattened, you might have been able to scoop them up for dinner.

The trick is to pick a place to go that is worthwhile going to for your own reasons – not just the fulfilment of some travel agent’s urging – and to go there at your own pace. I pick country towns that might have a friend or an event nearby or a city that has stores I’ve not visited for a while. These will cheer the heart both in prospect and retrospect, and as long as you don’t overstay your welcome, every journey will be a gain.

Overstay? An Australian capital city is worth about 1 week, a regional city three days, and a country town 2 days. If you think the time too short to justify the return journey, then combine several destinations in a round trip. In all cases, leave ’em wanting more of you rather than less…

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.

 

Fine Dining

The art of fine dining can be explained simply:

A. Eat something that is good for you.

B. Eat something that tastes delicious.

B. Eat enough of it – and at the right time of day.

D. Eat it in clean surroundings.

E. Eat it with family or friends.

F. Eat something that you can afford to pay for.

If you need to make yourself feel superior to others, call it ” fine dining ” instead of just ” eating ” and if you really need an ego boost pretend to be a paid reviewer and bag it unmercifully on Trip Advisor. You may not be qualified yet to award Michelin stars but you can  put on a spare tyre trying for it…

Note: getting a free meal can equal three of the above criteria.

The Ever-Present Danger of Happiness…

Some days it doesn’t pay to let down your guard – the moment you do something nice happens to you and then the rest of the day is shot.

This is a real problem for grumpy older people who try to maintain the rage but find that they can’t get the parts any more. They are sometimes forced to abandon old grudges and either go out and buy new ones or just give up the sport altogether. This might sound like a good idea, but what do you do with all the clothing and accessories you’ve acquired to do it with?  There is only a limited market for poison darts at garage sales in this country.

It’s easy enough to avoid happy people in the shopping mall or the airport – anyone offering religious tracts or flowers can be seen at a distance and you can steer round them. If you are riding a gopher mobility cart you can steer into them but be prepared for sympathy and hot cups of tea from the security staff. Fortunately, security staff never seem to be happy in themselves so you can hang around where they are and cash in on the negative vibes. Just don’t make any sudden moves.

Being unhappy at home takes a little more effort. If your favourite television program is on in ten minutes and you have a fresh cup of coffee and a plate of biscuits you might as well sit down and get it over with – postpone your moaning until the advertisement breaks. If you’re lucky* these will be every five minutes. And then there is the telephone with telemarketers and scam merchants ringing up during the best part of the show – you can kill happiness efficiently there.

Sometimes all it takes to develop a really good grump is to review the daily news. Of course, if your side is winning this is no help at all. Then you are forced to go further into the paper until you get to the art or food reviews to get your boost o’ sadness. At least the average modern reviewer can be depended upon to be disappointed in something. It’s the reason they never get into Heaven…God is afraid they’ll take away one of his stars.

If all else fails you can sit on the front porch and yell at people to get off your lawn. In Australia we’re not allowed M1 Garands so we can’t go the full Clint Eastwood on the local teenagers but there is nothing to stop us planting double-gees in the grass and that keeps ’em off, no fear.

*  There’s more than one kind of luck…

 

 

Thoughts Upon The Coming Of Age, Yet Again…

I am wondering about the business of becoming old. Starting to suspect that it is a bit of a fraud, and I’m wondering who is running the scam. Let me explain.

I reached 70 years old today – by the simple process of waking up alive instead of dead. I am going to assume that this is a good thing. I have given up regular employment for the misty uncertainty of part-time engagement. I have enough money to eat and drink regularly and enough old clothes to survive the cold. I have a library of books and workshop full of toys. I do not owe money to anyone, and they do not owe it to me – thus leading to a quiet mind. All would appear to be well…

But is it? Am I now officially in Old Coot Land? Can I let out my mental belt and run around hooting? Can I chase youngsters off the lawn with an M1? Can I wear flared trousers and a toupee? Can I put up signs excoriating the local council and get away with it? How far gone am I, and is there any chance that I can go further?

To be honest, I don’t feel much over 35 and I don’t think much past 25. I can still drink, but do not need to do it on the cheap stuff. I can still eat but lately the Kiddy Meal is about all I need. And I have finally decided what I like doing and don’t like doing.  Helluva long time finding it out, but…

Shall I become a Keyboard Troll Social Warrior? Or a Disgruntled Activist? Or just a Menace To Navigation? All three are tempting.

I toyed briefly with the idea of becoming a Benevolent Old Buffer but then I found  out how much benevolence actually costs these days. The kindness that ran to $ 20 in the 1960’s is now up over $ 90 and if you are not careful the recipients will find out where you live. I have nothing against beggars at the gate, but we don’t have a gate. And the doormat is generally occupied by the cat and his latest dead rat – the last thing I want is cat, dead rat, and Lazarus at the same time.

I am also troubled by the Hefner phenomenon – I don’t know whether to be a randy maniac in a dressing gown or a figure of staunch moral fibre in a black Puritan suit. The dressing gown would be comfy but the knee breeches and severe black costume would allow me to burn people at the stake. Decisions, decisions…

The Fraud Guide – Brought To You By The BGA – Part Three

” Oh what a tangled web we weave – when first we practice to deceive… ”

Take heart. if you put in enough dedicated practice, you can straighten out that web and make it tough enough to act as a crash barrier. Lies need not be complex nor involved – they can be simple and straightforward. And people appreciate this – they will reward your efforts to make up things in a way that is easily understood. No-one likes confusion – if you can make falsehoods regular and simple you will be doing a public service.

Lies should not be big to start with – and the best ones need never grow to unmanageable proportions. Take the business of Father Christmas.  Stripped of all the commercial hype and cultural nonsense, Santa Claus becomes a simple cautionary tale that can be used to keep the children quiet for at least one month in the year. You needn’t embellish it with science and computer letters to the North Pole. Elf On The Shelf is seasonal totalitarian oppression, and is not needed. It is far easier to just threaten the tykes early in the piece and let imagination do the rest. If all goes well they will be cowed into obedience for 30 or so days – if it goes badly you can save on the cost of presents.

The really interesting thing is the business we alluded to in the first post – the bit about ” wrongful ” deception. It argues that there is also a  ” righteous ” variety. And the “criminal ” part can also be counterbalanced by the thought of ” legal ” deceit. If something has to be defined carefully as bad, there must be good as well. All we need to do is find it.

I should start looking at the local council level – at the bit on the rates notice you get each year that refers to ” Security “. Have you ever stopped to think about exactly what security your local council provides? These are the people who cannot collect a bin from the verge on time and without spilling the contents. People who are not sworn police officers. People who start at 9:00 and finish at 5:00. They are likely to be kind and decent people, while the criminals who steal and assault you are not. Guess who is more likely to turn up at your door at 2:00 AM…

Yet…we pay the levy for security and we pretend that it exists and that we are reassured by it. Deceit with a receipt.

There are any number of deceptive practices that are served to us as ” services ” by other institutions in our daily lives. We are told of ” products ” that have no more reality than a scheme of words of paper. In some cases they never actually make paper – they are just a series of dots on a phosphor screen. Nearly all of them are sanctioned.

The role of the BGA in these things is not to debunk nor to promote them. It is simply to make the Guild member aware that there is a world of possibility between the dawn and the dusk, and a wise explorer looks carefully before he steps.