Be Kind To The Indian Scammer

I might not have written this a year ago, but this has been an unusual time for us all.

Much more for the Indian population than for the Australian one – and particularly for the people of Western Australia. Sealed away from most of the infection as we are, we can afford to be kind to those who are more exposed…as long as that sealed border exists.

The Indian call scammers are always going to be with us in some form or other. Amazon, Telstra, ATO, DHL…all these names have been used as ploys for scam calls. There will be many more as local business changes. The one constant in the calls seems to be the steam-room noise behind the caller’s voice, the South Asian accent, and the false name given. It is always vaguely European in nature but pronounced so quickly that you cannot be sure you heard it.

The calls dropped dramatically as the Covid 19 virus hit India and some form of quarantine or lockdown happened there. They have now started again, and I fielded my second one just recently. I was not angry at receiving it, nor did I treat the caller with derision. Their plight is bad enough without me adding scorn to it.

Perhaps they will get angry – if they can recover from the Chinese biological weapon that hit them. I suspect they were one of the main targets for this virus, and I cannot imagine that they do not feel the same way. I wonder what the travel time for an IRBM would be over the Himalayas?

Losing A Tooth

Relax. Not me. None of mine are loose and I haven’t lost one since I was 10 or 11.

But my suburb is gapping up somewhat horrid.

The suburb where I keep my studio – a house I inherited – is going through re-development. Some people who have seen their children through school or their parents into aged care are selling the 60’s and 70’s houses so that the large blocks can be subdivided.  Others lose single-storey dwellings and put up massive block-fillers with two storeys. All grey slabs and modernism.

I’m always getting cards from urging real estate dealers in the studio post box promising big sales – and recently the next-door neighbour tried to offer money for a quarter of the block. The fact that his proposition would have cut off the door to the house is neither here nor there…I wasn’t selling.

Some day someone will come along with a real offer…but I don’t know quite what a real offer would be. It would be an offer that deprives me of my hobby space – that erases the memory of my parents – that makes me disappear. All attractive pieces of sadness and despair, as you can tell. I can’t wait to hit my feet with hammers…

My parents dodged the question by willing the place to me and I may be able to dodge it by doing the same for my daughter. We shall wait and see.

 

What Would Genghis Do?

There must have been times when even the great Khan was stumped for an answer. When ordering the death of a city or the poisoning of a well just didn’t seem to satisfy the palate. Off days on the great grassy plain.

Well, GK, if that’s not being too familiar, we are still having those days now. We are living far away from your region and have fewer opportunities to swarm over civilisation and destroy it but we still long to make our small mark on the wall.

For most of us it comes down to what we can do at work, in school, or within the family circle. We are beset with laws forbidding pillage and murder. Wholesale destruction of cities  has become so complicated with zoning laws and metropolitan renewal schemes that it is left to the road building firms. The best most of us can do is post snide memes on social media.

Yet we still look to you for inspiration in the times of trouble. We think ” If it worked for Genghis Khan, it’ll work for me. ” and all we need is the boldness to put down the iPad, pick up a  butter knife, and go out and start slitting throats. If we could only inculcate this sense of irresponsibility in our youth…

Team Building Weekend

AKA load of horse shit fobbed onto the management by some pseud who they have not had the good sense or courage to throw out of the building.

I have never been on a team-building exercise – to the best of my knowledge I have never been on a team. And no part of my psyche seems to have suffered.

I have been part of a workforce in a company, and part of a student body on many occasions. I have been the principal of a practice. I am a husband and a father and have been a son and grandson in the day. None of these involved crawling under barbed wire or sitting in a sauna or confessing my flaws – indeed the success of a number of these positions involved hiding them. Whatever I am or am not now has been a result of me and not the team.

If that sounds arrogant – it isn’t. I’m not a very big hill of beans. But the beans are me, not some construct of a psych department attached to a promotions company. If you hired me you got me…not anyone else.

Please Undress In The Cubicle

And present yourself once you are ready.

There seems to be a great deal of fuss made about romance, love, and sex these days that is somewhat superfluous. Not that the subject is not delightful and horrid in equal parts, but the set of rituals that have developed around it are becoming increasingly strange.

Once it was simple. Arrive at puberty, find someone else also at that stage and contract a marriage. Gain permission to live together from whatever relatives were handy, pay a small fee to the local priest for magic words, and start living together. Some societies just did the pairing up for you – you were married to whoever the relatives or ruler said you would marry and that was the end of it.

Now you need to meet, fall in love, romance each other, inspect the goods, try the mechanism, and get a lawyer to draw up deeds specifying who gets the cat if you divorce. This is time-consuming, tedious, expensive, and no-one ever asks the cats’ opinion.

If you decide to skip the legal bit you’ll be presented with it later – and neither side will be happy with the division of anything. Dividing the cat will be the most distressing aspect, not least to the cat.

There must be an easier way. Of course fundamentalist societies revert to Plan A and then fight it out from there on. Hippy societies have no plan, and still fight it out, but with a messier result. We need the intervention of the Vulcans and their logic to solve the problems.

I propose that before the ship of eternal marriage sets sail, the local authorities inspect the lifeboats. There must be an adequate provision for alternate lovers and/or spouses before the first lot are wed. It should be simple to draw up a list of secondary and tertiary partners to whom the prospective lovers will be sent in case of a breakup. If these individuals are taken up in the meantime suitable alternatives must be inserted into their planned marriage contracts. That way there is no uncertainty about where the affections will be directed or the infections  contracted.

 

Using Up The Paint

Canadians of a ” Certain Age ” will remember painting the back porch. It was in the days before plastic or aluminium siding with built-in colour and finish. The back porch was made of wood and eventually the seasons took their toll of the surface. You put it off as long as you could, but – like resurfacing the frost-heaved driveway – eventually you had to give in and waste a summer week.

It was a week, too – because you had to scrape the old finish off to some extent before covering it with the new. Like painting a ship – rust knocking first. After you finished and the yard looked like three varieties of hell, it came time to get the paint.

No Canadian worth their salt ever went to the hardware store and bought new paint. It just wasn’t done, eh?

You went into the garage and got all the old tins of paint that had been used to do other jobs around the place and tipped them into the biggest can. This was mixed with a big stick or a screwdriver chucked into an electric drill and the result thinned with something that may well have been turpentine originally. Then out with the brushes ( two sizes; too big and too small…) and up on apple crate scaffolding to start the painting.

Three days and two falls later it was done. And one could put the remains of the porch paint back into the big can in the garage. And this is where the Canadian Miracle occurred. We never knew how and no scientist could ever explain it, but when the Canadian porch was painted:

a. No-one ever remembered buying paint…ever. Where the half-full tins came from was a mystery. Paint faeries were mooted but we were too old for that sort of thing.

b. It was either salmon pink or medium grey. That is the only two colours you can make when you mix leftovers – no matter what you started with.

c. There was more paint after you finished than when you started.

d. The brushes were always carefully saved for the next time. Not cleaned, mind – just saved. Rigid, misshapen, disgusting, but saved. We were frugal, eh?

Popping The Question

A quick glance at a Facebook post…a young technically-talented swain proposed marriage to his light-of-love  by making an animation that was played on a large motion picture screen. All went well and she accepted his troth. It made a charming little show.

Consider what would have happened if she had said ” No “. Or turned and popped him one on the beezer in front of the rest of the crowd.

Proposing marriage – like confessing a sin, propositioning for carnal pleasure, or suggesting that someone invest in a time-share apartment in Brisbane – is wiser done as a private thing. The reaction of the other is not guaranteed and if there are people to see and hear it, the situation goes from romance to embarrassment very quickly. It is the sort of thing that marks one indelibly for ever after. And that’s the case with either answer.

I am not an anti-romantic. I love a good bended knee and ring box and gasp of delight. I can freely weep in a cinema when I see someone kneeling and getting boxed in the ring, particularly if it Sylvester Stallone. I gasp in delight.

But I also remember my own proposal of marriage. It was done privately, accepted privately, and announced publicly when we were sure of our own feelings. It seems to have lasted some 48 years so far, so it must have been a good thing to do…

 

Father’s Day Has Come And Gone

And there will have been many who made a spectacle of themselves thereupon. I did not, being sensible. I stayed home, visited with a friend, and completed self-assigned tasks.

I fed my family a good dinner and made sure that the rooms we live in were heated – it is a cold spring day in Australia.

I kept the magpies, crows, ibises, and dugites from the door. Of the species listed, only the dugites are friendly.

I preserved a high moral tone all day, in spite of the temptation to run amok. One day a year is small enough price to pay for being seen as virtuous and you can always compensate for it later in the week. If you are squeamish steer clear of my suburb from Wednesday on.

I did think of my own father, and my grandfathers. I have very little basis to extend my thoughts further back, but they must have been fathers all or I wouldn’t be typing this. Congratulaions and thank you, ancestors.

I’m certain that there are people who detest this day, and who probably hate Mother’s Day as well. Perhaps they extend their distaste to the various Grandparent’s or Children’s days that other cultures celebrate. This is sad, but not my problem.

And yes, I did get four new model airplane kits, a paint rack and three month’s supply of espresso coffee pods. I am delighted and will buy my own socks and hankies in the future as needed. You don’t need a lot of hankies if you’re not fussy…

The card is from the socially-distanced daughter who draws penguins. When I was her age I only drew fire…

Ethical Mortar Bombing

If you put a little effort into thinking, you can make any human action or emotion ethical. If you’re prepared to dress up you can make it ethnical.

I often do this when I want to drive my enemies before me and hear the lamentations of their women. I’ll qualify that – I don’t actually enjoy hearing women lamenting. They do it with a professional vigour that I find wearing. In a lot of cases I let the women drive themselves and me and the enemies just sit around drinking.

Your ethics are what define you – and I have met any number of people who defy definition. Just as you think you know what they think, they read another Facebook post and go off on a tangent. Then you either follow them, at the risk of seeming to agree with them, or oppose them, at the risk of being right. Both pathways are fraught with dishonour.

I have endeavoured for years to free myself from ethical thinking or behaviour. Rather than take a hard stand on any moral issue I have waited in the wings until the debate was finished and the winner declared before declaring my support for them. Even then I have reserved some disclaimers in case they fall out of favour. It was a little hard to wriggle out of Watergate but I managed in the end when Carter took office. You could get out of anything with Jimmy Carter at the helm.

Am I firmly committed to the path of righteousness and truth right now? In as far as the keepers of that path are prepared to play me, I am. I do not demand money; sex, drugs and rock and roll are acceptable substitutes. I can also be bought for scale model plastic kits.

Ask me later and I’ll give you a list of the ones I haven’t got.

 

Make Small Talk

Being a social creature is hard work for some of us. We dwell largely in isolation – in my case within a loving household – and we encounter others on a more distant basis. Hardly anyone is a mortal enemy, but by the same token, there are few extremely close friends. Most people are one or two steps removed from this core contact.

Do not be sad or disapproving of this…above all don’t regard it as unnatural. Moray eels have few drinking buddies but live perfectly adequate lives. And no-one feels bad about moray eels.

The thing is, we do venture out occasionally and we meet other people. I don’t mean in the wrong lane in the car park – this is not uncommon in a suburb with SUV’s. I mean at parties, meetings, and workplaces. We need to communicate with them but we may have lost the skill of doing it through long inattention. This Covid 19 year is particularly likely to distance us, if we are lucky.

What do we say when we do meet – 6 feet apart? The safest conversation of all is small talk. Here’s a list of topics and intros to get you going:

a. What about the weather, eh?

This will start a banal exchange that can be broken at any point if someone comes in with a plate of snacks. Feel free to ask if it’s hot enough or cold enough for you.

If you are in New Zealand substitute the word “climate ” for “weather “. Mentioning wethers in New Zealand can start a whole different conversation and you may be startled at the turns it can take – particularly if the Kiwi is the romantic type.

b. What about those Knicks, eh?

Apparently there is a basketball team called the Knickerbockers and people are interested in seeing them throw orange balls through hoops. If they were called the G-strings I could pay attention, but as it is I can throw orange balls through a hoop in the back yard myself so watching professionals do it is pointless.

Professionals in G strings would rivet the attention, mind.

c. What about that election, eh?

Well there’s always an election in the offing, no matter where you live. It may be honest and fair or not – it makes no difference  – because whoever you are talking to has the correct political opinion anyway and is either elated or incensed by the whole thing. Just wind them up, let them go, and nod sagely every 30 seconds. You will gain a reputation as an astute political expert.

Don’t get caught turning your hearing aid off.