Cynical? Naw – Don’t Trust Myself That Much…

I have been accused of cynicism and irony.

The persons who said this were probably hoping I’d offer them a bribe to change their minds. I would be happy to send them a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates for their opinion – It has opened my eyes to the value of mistrust and suspicion.

Of course there are others who see this philosophy as detrimental – who cry that all men are brothers and all women are sisters. Take a look at a family that is composed of brothers and sisters and count the bruises, scars, and other souvenirs. You don’t get that as an only child. if you want to be savage you have to go away from the cozy hearth and the bosom of the family. Strangers are your only legitimate targets and the world only has 9 billion of them left.

As far as the irony, I do think I may have been a little indiscrete with that. I have laughed where I should have cried and pointed out follies that others wished to be hidden. It has made me enemies, though not the sort of quality fiends that I really want. Mostly just people who snarl at me in passing. Some, of course, adopt the sensible course of putting on stern disapproving looks or blank RBF looks. There is little one can say to them, though there is a great deal that can be written about them. I tend to do this on the doors of lavatory stalls. With pictures.

Cynicism has saved me a great deal of money in the past, and as internet promotions ramp up, I’m looking to it as a real shield. Of course I disbelieve anything that comes over the telephone these days, particularly if it is spoken in a Peter Sellers accent…but I am also binning any number of contacts that urge me to do things on email or Facebook. When you close down the latter the air clears remarkably.

 

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What Do You Do When…

  • When Facebook is not an option: When you have committed yourself to a month of no FB to see what the effect on your life will be.
  • When you do not want the latest toy that your toy retailer has put out on the shelf because your current toy is working just fine.
  • When the motion pictures on offer at your local cinema are too juvenile for words or too politically correct to stomach.
  • When every new trendy drink costs $ 20 and every new trendy food in the restaurant costs $ 50.

Answer? You blink twice, knock the water out of your ears, and come to your senses.

  • Firstly, you do things that do not involve Facebook. Hobbies, for instance. Or reading. Or writing. Or visiting friends. Or going for little trips. The things you did before you first bought one of Mr. Zuckerberg’s nickel bags.

You’ll have time for things that you ran out of time for prior to Facebook eating your day hollow. Or to put it in another way, you can call into a bar for a drink and walk out again or you can live in a bar and venture out for brief periods. Same bar, different life.

  • If you are playing with your toys so hard that the wheels fall off and all the paint is gone, you may need to get new ones at regular intervals. If you are not, the old ones can serve a great deal more time than you’d think. The money you save using the old ones can be put to other uses.
  • A motion picture is someone with millions of dollars in the bank telling you a story for ninety minutes while you sit in the dark and cringe at the price of a chocolate ice cream. The story may be well worth the telling and well worth the seeing  – if the story teller and the tale are good. If they are new, they gain a whole dimension.

If the tale is not new – if it’s a re-hash of something you saw in a comic book in 1957 – or if it’s so puerile as to suggest a Little Golden Book worth $ 4,000,000, you are perfectly justified in giving it a bye rather than a buy. With ninety extra minutes and the price of the ticket and the chocolate ice cream in your pocket you can immerse yourself in the best of new or classic literature and feel a lot more adult for it.

  • At the end of spending from $ 70 to $ 120 at dinner time you are entitled to feel both full and foolish – but in some cases you’ll only get the latter. Some restaurants do, indeed, see you coming. And then they see you off.

You need not spend that much to feed yourself, either at home or on your travels. You need not eat badly, unless you’ve fetched up at a country town that has nothing on offer at all except a blood pit pub. If you’re going to be on the road, take an emergency pack of beer, soup, crackers, sausage, and cheese, and  even if the town has closed for the night you should be able to go to bed fed. If you are in a strange city look for a Chinese, Vietnamese, or Greek restaurant and eat what they cook.

If you are at home, consider the advantages you have – your own pantry, your own icebox, your own cellar. Your own expertise at preparing something that you like. Your own schedule. Do not sacrifice these for those fast-food lights winking down the road.

Treasure The Honest Shopkeeper

If you find a shopkeeper who will refuse to sell you something on the basis that it is not right for you, you have a gem.

These people may be hard to find – but if you enter into conversation with them over a regular basis -and if it is a genuine and respectful exchange…you can find a whole new world of intelligent help out there.

I talk regularly to the family who run our local post office agency – and to the lady and the chap who run the Asian food store in the shopping centre. I talk to the man who runs the bottle shop, and to the lady who is teller at my local bank. The result is I get told how to cook well with the Asian ingredients, when to change my deposits for good interest rates, and how to send postal items safely at low cost.

Occasionally the bottle shop man warns me off a dud or mentions a good deal. I am always repaid for listening.

Moral: Your local retailers are human beings who appreciate being treated as such and who  will  make your life better if you recognise the fact.

Never Mind The Chicken Soup For The Soul

Souls can take care of themselves.  What we’re making here is chicken soup for dinner.

Last night was roast chicken night. With potatoes, sweet potatoes, and whatever else was sitting in the vegetable locker at our house. The whole lot went into a big old covered roasting pan, which in turn went into an oven at 200º C…and then the cook went out and built model airplanes in his Little Workshop.

And they are coming along splendidly, thank you. The main thing was that the cooking process was quite slow and quite simple – and the roast chicken was appreciated by all concerned.

Not eaten all up, however, and that brought me to the kitchen bench this morning. I stripped the carcass of all usable meat and then boiled the bones a little. This, and the jelly left over in the roasting pan, went to make a superb stock – into which everything else that has been hiding in the back of the icebox was dropped. Carrots, peas, a crust of stale bread, a half-cut onion…( It had been drinking…) plus a little more black pepper and a handful of herbs.

The cook is going back out to the Little Workshop and is going to glue landing gear onto airplanes – and tonight’s dinner will again make itself. The point is you do not need to hover over your stove like a TV chef if you have the right ingredients and the right containers. And you do not need to plate it out with a raspberry pureé…

Hint: go look through the Goodwill Store for cooking pots that have proved that they can do their job. Never mind the fancy new kitchen store stuff. Here’s the 1940’s metal roasting pan minus one of its handles which my Dad never did get around to fixing in 1954…I have not got round to fixing it quite yet, myself.

Addendum: The soup was delicious – and there is a pot of leftover soup in the icebox for tomorrow. We live good here.

The Start Of Experiment Two

This last month I experimented upon the friends in my Facebook connection – this month I experiment on me.

July I refrained from turning anything off – I let it all hit me and carefully noted what that was like. I looked at who posted what, and how their writings or shares affected me. I mentally separated the wheat from the chaff and then the chaff from the horse shit. I now have a darned good idea who deals in these undesirables.

I also noted who wrote or shared happier things. I was alert to actual intelligence as it manifested itself, and again now know who is cheerful and smart.

This month -August – I am going to find out what being without this daily feed of social information is really like. And what the time normally spent scrolling through it would yield if I used it for other purposes. The discipline is simple:

I will link over my own WordPress columns as usual, but I will not scroll or read the rest of the feed. I will read the Messenger section each day and use this as per normal…but no kitten videos or political rants or advertisements will take up my day. I won’t de-friend or unfollow anyone in the next month – i’ll just keep my eyes off what they write.

This’ll be a good chance for those people who want to traduce, insult, or cajole me to get in there and give it a good month-long kick. I won’t be reviewing the posts of August when September rolls around – whatever goes through there will be a train of thought that has vanished into the night.

When September comes I’ll reopen my eyes and analyse what a month Facebook-free meant. I’ve no idea whether it will be wonderful or horrible, but here’s to 30 days of experimentation to find out.

How Can You Write A Weblog Post Every Day?

I mean, don’t you freeze up at the keyboard? Haven’t you run out of topics? How can you think of things to say?

Well, think about what you’ve just asked. What you’ve written has become the topic of this weblog post. Thank you for asking – you’ve done me good…

Keep your ears and eyes open every day and there are far more things to write about than you have fingers for the keyboard. People are the most prolific source of interest we can think of – after all most of the people who read this column are human…and they can see themselves in the pictures and hear themselves in the language. You have only to return one image or one word to them that they recognise as their own and they will read every other syllable you write.

They might read from self interest, or self consciousness. They might read with greed or horror. They might read to see if you have mentioned the time they were left on the doorstep by the police drunk and dressed in a dirndl…but they read.

Write about what you’ve heard or seen in the day, or the week. Lie to them unashamedly, tell them the unvarnished truth, or anything in between. Just use your own words and they will read.

The Courage To Correct A Mistake

Please note that I am not writing about the mistakes of others. I am writing about my own blunders.

For blunders there are, in every day I live. I’m not in practice anymore or employed behind a shop counter, so my errors are of less consequence than before. But I am still driving on the roads and living in my own house – and pursuing several hobbies and arts – and being wrong about something, somewhere, is a daily occurrence.

Lord, save me from the road error – there is too little margin for it in today’s high speed world and too few people willing to make allowances for me. Just get me there and back safely, please.

I would also like the occasional helping hand in the kitchen and the Little Workshop. I am ashamed when I burn a dinner or spoil a paint job and I know it is somewhat of a moral failing that I get angry at myself when this happens.

Please calm me down, and get me started clearing up the mess and correcting the error. It’s the only way that I feel I can claw back traction in the day. I realise that the substitute dinner may be less fancy, but please make it at least as nourishing. I know I’ll always look askance at the model airplane with the re-done finish, but please let it be a reasonably decent repair. I’ve seen enough real aircraft that looked battered.

Also please let me have the moral courage to see when something needs to stop or start, and the fortitude to actually do either thing.