The Little World – The Warm Orgasm Of Cleaning Up

Think what you will about the pride of accomplishment and possession that grips a modeller during their time in the workshop  – I say there is no thrill to equal that of cleaning the place up after completing a project. And in some cases it does not even have to be after successfully finishing something…sometimes just the act of getting free of the whole wretched mess is reward enough.

I don’t know what kind of modeller you are, or in what direction your work has taken you. Nor what sort of workshop and tools you have. I don’t even know whether you are a neat and tidy person in yourself or a wallowing hog. Wherever you fit in the spectrum from surgical cleanliness to cow pies on the counter, you will have gotten to the same point at sometime in your career – you’ve finished the last thing possible on your model and put it carefully up on the shelf for posterity.

Now look around. Does it look like a minimalist living room or does it look like Stalingrad? Can you see the floor? Can you see the walls? Is the paint on the ceiling? is the paint on the cat? Is the cat on the ceiling? Whatever – it is time to recover the place and get ready for the next idea.

Find the tools. You will not find them all the first time you look. You may not find some of them no matter how hard you look. Accept an attrition rate of drill bits and tiny hand tools during the best projects. If you have lost the bandsaw or the air compressor, however, check that the workshop locks are still present.

Then start to pick up the off-cuts from whatever you were using. Are any of them still useful? Save them in special boxes that you can throw out in a year when you realise you were wrong. Or save them for 35-40 years and discover that you were right.

Are there any half-used tins of paint? If so, tip them all unto a bucket and paint the back porch with the result. It will either be flat grey or a salmon colour, depending upon whether you are a good moral person or a pervert. The neighbours will know by looking at the porch.

Collect all the parts that you find on the floor that skittered out of your hand or the bench vise as you were making them. Regard these as the working models of the parts that you then had to remake when you were unable to find the first ones on the floor. Throw them in the bin and curse them.

Clean the bench top. Possibly with a broom, possibly with a cloth. Possibly with fire. Just get it back to a semblance of flatness as you will be building your next project on there and it is no good trying to get things in plumb if you are sitting on old glue blobs.

Sharpen the pencils and cap the marker pens. Try the old ones out to see if they are dry enough yet to throw out. Hammer the ruler flat again.

Clean the paintbrushes by rinsing them in the appropriate thinner, working the bristles carefully. Rinse them, shape them so that they have a straight edge, and then throw them into the bin. They sell better brushes than you have just ditched in packets of five for three dollars.

Gather all the sprues, boxes, unused decal sheets, instructions, and spare parts from the kit that you have just finished – note that fully 3/4 of what you paid for at the hobby shop is still in the box and is now totally useless. Go to the hobby shop tomorrow and ask for 3/4 of your money back. Tomorrow will be a special day for you…

And finally, vacuum the floor and benches. No matter how clean you got it before, this final step will suck up the final detail part that you could not find on the sprue ( you’ll see it clearly just before it shoots up the vacuum nozzle ) and make for hours of fun as you sift through the dust bag to find it. We can supply a book of words to say while you look, but don’t let the kiddies read it.

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The Land Of Themandus

I’ve lived in Themandus for nearly all my life. It is not as bad a place as it is sometimes made out to be but life here can sometimes be a strain. Let me explain.

As a small child I was taken to a country that adjoined my native land. I’d no knowledge of this as I was a month old at the time, but as I grew up, those around me in the new country were able to explain it to me. I found it confusing at the time – was I living in the land of Them while I was an Us, or was it the other way around?

Fortunately my father’s employment whisked me around Country No.2 so fast that I was, perforce, mostly in the company of my parents and felt that they and I were Us and nearly everyone else was Them. This satisfied me for years as I listened to the ill-temper of school teachers and students complaining about the land of my birth…just over the border…I was also fortunate that the nomad existence prevented me from being claimed by other sorts of Us people in the Them settlements that we lodged in – I was never forced to Us it on a religious basis each week, and was able to blend in with Them whenever They had Christmas or Easter. I got chocolate eggs and turkey same as They did, though not on the same plate.

Coming to Australia in the middle 1960’s let me experience being an Us amongst a different set of Thems, and as I had been trained to the sport of being an outsider in Country N0.2, Country N0.3 was easy.

I’ve even gone so far as to become a naturalised Them here and it has worked pretty well for the last 48 years. I still grit my teeth when I hear ill-mannered talk about Country No.1 from natives of Country N0.3 but I realise that it is generally just ignorance or bias that drives it – not a personal attack.

I’m also happy to say that upon becoming a Them, and then marrying another Them, and having a child, that I have now become the leader of a small family of Us. And as long as we steer away from sex, politics, and religion in our conversation, we can all be happy.

 

” This One Is Named Henry…”

I stood behind myself in Bunnings today and I am very proud to say that I did not kick myself in the arse. The fact that I was wearing thongs would not have made a difference – for a while there I was prepared to break a toe if need be.

It was the oak strip and mdf board aisle – the one down the back near the waste bins. I rounded the corner at a fast lope looking for two sheets of 3mm 1200 x 900 mdf to make an airport hard stand ( As you do…) and was brought to screeching halt by me. I was blocking the aisle with a Bunnings trolley and carefully selecting the most suitable oak strips and mdf boards for my project. I have no idea what my project is.

In case this all sounds too mysterious for words, consider that we all have a doppelganger somewhere – that we generally never meet. In most cases the doppelganger looks like us, and all who see them can recognise the fact. I my case the chap picking out the wood was nothing like me in appearance, but exactly like me in actions.

I could see him eyeing every piece of wood to find out whether it was straight or twisted – not really a thing with short lengths of oak and flat sheets of mdf. Then scanning each piece from either end about half a dozen times and then going back to consult a paper list pulled from his pocket. This went on for a dozen bits of wood, and the list went back into the pocket and came out again a dozen times.

I was surprised that he did not pull out a carpenter’s square and/or ruler to check whether the dimensions listed on the price tag were accurate.

I just sat on the big stack of marine ply and watched…and waited. I kept a pleasant smile upon my face and thought about happy things. For what seemed like 12 hours. When he finally decided that he had enough wood, he slowly pushed the trolley away. I brushed off  the spider webs and lichen that had been growing on me, dived for the mdf shelf and grabbed two pieces.

I’m not a vindictive man. Or a rude one. But I could see what was going to happen if he hit the cash register before me…so I literally flew down the side aisles to beat him to it. I may have been a bit precipitate, as I could hear an avalanche of hammers and wood clamps falling behind in my wake, but I made it in time. I got through the till before he arrived with his list.

I cannot say whether I will be a different shopper in the future, but I will at least look over my shoulder and let other foursomes play through while I consider the fall of the green.

The Long Dry Wait

We are told by political spokespeople that there is a terrible lack of jobs for young people in Australia. Generally the spokespeople are trying to get us to vote for their candidates – to give them employment with a hefty salary. As so few of us have the statistical resources that the political parties do, we are frequently inclined to believe them.

And then we encounter trade languishing for lack of employees and are left hanging on the outside of counters trying to catch the eye of the overworked retail or hospitality staff. Sometimes we wait out the time and sometimes we just slope off unsatisfied – but in both cases the problem could be remedied by engaging more workers and training them more extensively.

I’ll give some shops praise – Bunnings, our local hardware store – has a wide variety of workers there who can operate the tills, fill the shelves, find the tools, and move the pot plants. You never languish at Bunnings and the tills ring pretty merrily all the day. Same thing in IKEA.

I went to a tavern in our city yesterday, however, where the exact opposite occurred. The Belgian Beer Café serves good beer and reasonable pub food, and occupies a central position on a major street. It seems set to coin money with the hungry and thirsty of Perth – particularly on a sunny summer lunchtime.

The staff would make it so if they could, but there is only so much that three people can do when there are dozens of customers. Bless them, they tried, but the 15 minute wait at the bar finally got to me and I elected to leave, come home, and drink a glass of water rather than a $ 12 pint of beer.

It’ll be management, of course, and the attempt to save money on wages. But how will they persuade me and the other dry throats to come back and try again? We might occasionally see signs that say ” Under new management ” but I’ve never seen one that says ” We actually have enough staff. ”

Perhaps the idea would be to bring an esky into the front bar and offer stubbies around to the people waiting…

Formal Greetings

There are as many sorts of greeting as there are cultures  and subcultures. From the formal address of welcome delivered to a sovereign by the Lord Mayor of a city to the ” Wassup ” of the ghastly teenager…and that’s only in the Western world. The other parts of the globe add salt and bread ceremonies, sham cavalry attacks, and the beheading of criminals. Very few of them just settle for a simple handshake.

This is making a comeback, by the way, amongst older people here in Australia. We do not do high fives and the air kissing ceremony is somewhat repugnant at the best of times. Oh, we see it with ladies of a certain sort and French people, but it is the sort of thing that gives blokes the jitters. The formal European handshake is much better – as long as it does not turn into a finger-crushing contest. Note to most Australians: do not expect much when shaking hands with an Asian person. They are used to different customs and the handshake may be a bit anaemic. It’s enough that they try.

Mind you, some cultures do a very nice formal greeting – rather like a combination of being announced at a debut and sentenced in a magistrate’s court. I am amazed at the detail of titles and qualifications that some people can remember and at their ability to do the formal lists of precedence. But it tells me that I am expected to do the same and I quite frankly can’t remember if a Viscount precedes an OBE or the other way around. I do know that anyone being introduced as the King of France is likely to be an imposter.

It’s always nice to be acknowledged as you enter a group…even if that just means everyone leaves immediately. At least it lets you know that you make a difference in someone’s life. Irking people to distraction is a difference. It is even better if they smile and cheer and pat you on the back. Beware if this proceeds to a full sales pitch for time-share apartments or group shopping…

There can be awkward moments, mind. Like when you enter a group of strangers and are formally introduced by someone who gets your name wrong. You have to either correct them in a kindly fashion or accept whatever new name you have been given. I tend to do the latter, as it means that for that group I have a secure disguise – I can be as shocking as I want to be and the blame will trail off to someone else. If I find anything good or profitable, I can always correct the false impression that was made – otherwise I just continue to sail under a false flag.

And finally, the formal leave-taking. It is always polite to thank the host and hostess for their hospitality – particularly if there has been none, and they know it. Slinking off with the teaspoons in your pocket is considered rather low, but then again the price of silver is better than you might think. Whichever decision you come to, try not to clink.

Putting You On Notice…

One of the classic phrases that comes up repeatedly in Australia is ” Putting someone on notice “. I don’t know whether it also occurs in North America, Europe, or Asia, but here it has been constantly in the mouth of every level of officialdom.

We’ve just had it again from a local politician – possibly a state minister for police, or justice, or traffic revenue, or scolding…whichever – in her case it was to warn motorcyclists that there is now a jury-rig camera system that takes a picture of the back of their motorcycles as they pass it by. So they dare not speed.

Riiiight.

The phrase is nothing more than one of those high-sounding concoctions like ” At this point in time ” or ” It has come to our notice ” that make the person using it sound like a prat. An official prat, but a posturing prat nevertheless. In other, more honest contexts, it could be seen as a threat or bullying tactic.

What should you do when someone uses it to you? Well, do take note of whatever threat they are trying on and plan how to counter it, but also let them know that you think them hackneyed and trite. And that you will be watching them to see if they become worse posers with time – and making sure that others laugh at them.

In short…put them on notice.

Old Coot And The Yearly Rush

A great many things happen annually, and old coots have seen enough years to know the schedule. The fact that they cope with the pressures is not because of superior intellect or courage – it is just that we know most things are soap bubbles anyway.

Take the holidays –Any holidays. We know from long experience that there will be a whole lot of things – goods, rituals, promotions, events, that are just a commercial hype. This extends through all cultures – the center of most celebrations is generally somewhere near a marketplace and the sellers are all in favour of that. The buyers are stimulated with slogans, pressure, advertisements, pressure, guilt, pressure, trite music, pressure, and greed. Did I mention pressure?

Old coots are just as susceptible as younger people to all this, but most of us peak out at about 15 minutes and don’t give much of a shit afterwards. We’ll go shopping but not for long. And we’ll buy, but not for much. Where you can really get us is at the coffee shop or the soft couch as we sit there and chill out.

Of course we are despised for this – all idle people are despised by the busily employed. It is disconcerting at first but as soon as you realise that it is inevitable, you can relax and drive the busy folk mad with inconsequential things. Do it nicely, do it politely, do it well…but do it repeatedly. And remember that a happy smile can go a long way towards infuriating someone.

If there is a yearly rush for a festival, you can also participate, – but remember that there was one of these last year and there will be one again next year. You needn’t cram the entire thing into your psyche in one hit. It is never going to be as good as it was and it is never going to be as good as it could be, but it can still be good.

A rush for payment of a council bill? Pay as quickly as you can, but there’s a secret – if you pay some and let them know that you’ll continue to pay more, they will be satisfied to wait. Show good intention and the thing is quite civilised.

Any more rushes? Generally not. You’ll not be rushing to replace your car nor to catch the latest clothing fashion. No-one can rush you to the altar at your age. If you are stubborn and inconsiderate you can prevent them from rushing you to the graveyard as well. Eat regular, sleep well, and you can irk your relatives something chronic.