Nice Cake…For Store Bought…

If ever there was damnation with faint praise…

But we cannot help it. Even if we are not bakers ourselves, we can always look askance at other’s cooking. And we do it for the best reasons – we do it to honour our mothers.

Every mother makes three memorable classes of food; the stuff that isn’t as good as that made by our mate’s mother – the stuff that we don’t like to eat – and the recipes that are the correct standard of the world.

It might be sauerkraut, it might be banana bread, it might be oatmeal with gravel…but whatever it is, there will be one dish that we remember our mother cooking that was the correct way to do it. All others are pale imitations, no matter how well done. And we resist any suggestion that we are biased.

Our wives do something that is correct, as well – or we might do it if we are the cooks of the house. Our children will remember this. The difficult part is when our wives do a version of what their mother did, which is a version of what our mother did…and the three dishes are remarkably different, even if the ingredients are the same. Three women cooking the same dish in three correct fashions whilst eyeing each other off over the sharp knives is a daunting prospect.

When they present you with three different tasting tablespoons  to tell which is the right recipe…run.

 

 

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Three

Three.

That’s about all the hobbies one person can handle at any one time. Keeping in mind the formula that says a half hour per day ( 3.5 hrs per week ) you have to figure that the tri-hobbyist will be carving 10.5 hours out of what might be a working or family week. This amounts to 546 hours per year and that’s a lot of time.

Also you have to account for the expenditure. Taking a simply complex hobby as an example – model airplane building – you could figure about $ 20 a week on the average for a steady adult – $ 30 for the wild-eyed enthusiast. $ 1000 to $ 1500 per year plus the storage space needed. Of course there are far dearer hobbies and far deeper purses to support them, but even a small expenditure adds up, year by year.

Multiply that by three hobbies and see where you are. You are carefully hiding the bank statements and credit card demands from the spouse and looking to see if you could sell one of the pets or children to support next year’s hobby conference…that’s where you are. Embezzlers who pilfer company funds to support a gambling habit look good beside you…

When you choose your hobbies ( As opposed to the occasions when they choose you. ) you can either pick ones that seem to flow into each other and combine your efforts or you can go for three disparate things. I cannot say which approach is best. You may get a force-multiplication effect for your money if all three things are related, but then you need to look at it to see if they are indeed three separate things.

If you spend your time and money in three separate directions you’ll necessarily have a  smaller footprint on each strand but it may be a clearer one – and the differences in the activities may refresh you more. We cannot drink one thing for every meal – we must needs rotate between cider, beer, and wine. Which can be a hobby.

Note that the cheapest hobby so far – if you disregard the price of the computer – has been internet writing. So far I have not paid the WordPress people anything – though that may change if I reorganise my columns into one with divisions.

I used to glory in not paying Adobe any more money for the image editing programs but have come to realise that a little yearly expense does bring a world of benefits.

 

I Become An Influencer*

The cry of the moment is the desirability of becoming an Instagram influencer. But I suspect this – as I suspect most aspects of modern computer life. The suspicion is that the whole circus has passed Instagram by and is way off down the road doing far cooler things to far hotter people. Or vice versa.

I was once accused of being an influencer by a representative of a wholesale camera firm who thought he was not getting enough coverage for his products in my commercial column. He insinuated that another firm had bought me with a free camera. In reality they alerted me to their products with the freebie and I went and spent a vast amount of money on their goods out of my own pocket. Any reports I made were genuine. And as far as pressuring people into following me, the customers have the minds of cats, not sheep. They rarely purr, are not herdable, and occasionally throw up in your shoe.

But back to Instagram. I was cozened into subscribing to it by someone who likes to show off on it and wanted another viewer. I’ve added a few other contacts and a couple of artists and cartoonists and find it a pleasant light browse while dinner is cooking…but not such a vital artistic service as to cause me to allow the soup to boil dry. I do like the colourful art, but I wouldn’t buy anything because of it. And I really don’t think others would either.

Oh, they’ll buy from paper flyers loaded into the post box. They’ll buy from shopping channels that endlessly bombard them with simple instructions. They’ll buy from door-to-door sales cons and Royal Show spruikers. They’ll buy from Harvey Norman. But I don’t think they’ll buy because I’ve posted toy airplane pictures on Instagram.

*  Or should that be an influenza-er. Come here and I’ll sneeze on you.

You Want To Save The World? Part Two

Okay, in Part One we got you to put a decent house in your neighbourhood and to get on in peace with the neighbours. We got you to save it, instead of trashing it for novelty. So far so good.

Now we get you to look at the things inside that dwelling…to see if they should be there or not. Start in the living room. Is it a room you live in? Or is it an isolated place that never sees visitors? Is it crammed with furniture that is never used? Have you taken to preserving it under clear plastic like a cake at a bake sale? Keep this image in mind and walk into the kitchen.

Is it clean? Is it roomy? Does it have enough space to cut up food and enough oven and stove to cook it? Is there cleaning room? If it does, you are succeeding…if it does not you are not succeeding yet, but there are many firms that can help you…

The dining room? A table, chairs, and a sideboard? Lighting? Cutlery and a tablecloth? You can eat three squares a day in there and entertain as well. No need for a breakfast nook, bar, or any other useless division of space.

Family room? Why? You have a perfectly good living room. The children are not well-behaved enough? And you need an extra room in which they can practice this behaviour? How much room would you require to teach them to be pleasant and well-behaved?

Bedroom? Is there room for  bed with room enough for you? Don’t laugh, because it may eventually involve a number higher than one. If you have cats and dogs the number may get to double digits. Do you have a clothes closet to hang your old rags in? Or is the Salvos bin a better idea?

Do you need a second bathroom? I say you might, if there is more than one of you in the house. It need not be more than a cubicle with pooper and shower, but the space you dedicate to it will pay off handsomely some day. If there is no room, spend big on air fresheners.

And is there a storage room? A big one. Big enough to take all the stuff you just can’t bear to live with nor to live without. Stuff that somehow comforts you by being stored invisibly. If you are of stern character and wise mien you will not need this room, but you’re reading this post so we need not go into that.

How has this all saved the world? Well, if you have furnished your nest wisely you need not continue to redo it every three months. The flat-pack shop will become unfamiliar territory, and you need not revise your taste every time a flyer is pushed into your letter box. It may cause consternation in the furnishing trade, but you will be putting less pressure on the rest of the planet.

 

 

 

The Outlet Store – Retail Clothing Part One

Our city has a fairly new set of clothing stores located on industrial land adjacent to the domestic and international airport. Heck, it might be Commonwealth airport land that has been sold off or leased to the new occupiers.

In any case, they are a set of shops that bill themselves as direct outlets for fashion goods – clothing shoes, accessories, and probably a lot more. Their opening day was apparently grand – in the sense that the crowds going to visit blocked the highways around the airports and prevented people from getting to their planes on time. This also happened when a big Ukrainian cargo airplane came to visit Perth a couple of years ago. We’re sometimes starved for amusement of a weekend…

I am not one to decry initiative and hard work – nor to put a brake on trade. And I recognise that new clothing is a good thing. But looking into my clothes closet and set of drawers that hold more cloth than I could ever wear, were I to live to 100, tells me that shopping for more would be folly. And I wonder how many people are in the same boat? Not just old coots like me…young coots  as well. How many new shirts is enough?

If you are a profligate, the answer is ” too many “. If you are not given to washing and mending what you do own, you are going to be the natural prey of the retailer. Likewise if you have a mind that can be swayed and swooshed by every new fashion that the makers would like to be paid for…well, your wallet is open to their fingers.

And it doesn’t matter whether the clothes you buy are at a discount factory outlet or the twee-est boutique in town. You will still pay as much as you can for as long as you can whenever they apply the electrodes or air their advertisements.

What A Wonderful Lot Of Things…

Socrates was said to have watched the procession of a rich man through the market place with all his goods accompanying him and to have remarked:

” What a lot of things there are that a man can do without . ”

I think he was quite right, but as he was a better philosopher than I, he could manage his acquisitiveness better. In my case I still have desires for some goods and services. These can be got or not, and that can affect my happiness. Soc would possibly frown on this but he isn’t round my place all that often.

I might get his approval regarding riches in another way – I find as I grow older that I can become curious about the possession or use of things but can satisfy that curiosity without actually having the goods – or at least without having them long.

I test cameras out as part of my writing job – also lenses, accessories, lights, etc. This is on a weekly basis as I try to find topics to write about. I’ve had some pretty expensive gear pass through my hands for a week at a time – and have been able to see whether the reality of it matches any part of the advertising hype. There is a responsibility to return it undamaged, of course, and the expectation that I will say something nice – or at least encouraging – about it. I’m relieved that I do not have any obligation to like it or desire it for myself.

And there are many occasions where I do not. I compare it to the equipment I normally use and in many cases find it to be less useful, comfortable, or practical. I can heave a great internal sigh of relief as it goes back onto the storeroom shelf and tick it off my ” desires ” list. Not exactly Socratic practice, but the result is the same.

Sometimes it works the other way, but my purse has the final say and it most often says ” No “.

Note that this is just one division of consumer goods. Other things like clothing, furniture, art, etc. do not even get a look-in. I am warm and dry in clean clothing, inside my own house and that is all I want. I do confess to a small desire for some of the fancier motor cars, but I suspect that if I were to drive them they would not really live up to their price. My Suzuki does.

And as far as the other appurtenances of wealth – gold, jewels, expensive food and drink, exotic travel, entertainment,etc…I am absolutely in line with Socrates.  These items pass my personal radar without registering a blip.

Small confession of sin: I do like book stores. And hobby shops. But in these I restrict my desires to the economic goods and leave the expensive ones for others. And I have just as much fun with what I can afford.

Bradney Soss

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Court of Christmas Justice would like to welcome you to this afternoon’s execution. We have prepared a criminal for you and will be dispatching him shortly in a spectacular manner.. But let us give you some of he details of his crime before the headsman takes over.

As you know, today is Christmas  Day – a festival day dedicated to kindness and good will towards all. It is also a time when good things are eaten and drunk, often to excess. Boxing day sees many a floor being vigorously scrubbed. There are traditional foods and drinks that bring happiness to all – and one of them is plum pudding with brandy sauce.

Now no-one would accuse the well-known hotel of being stingy with their celebration – they put on a  magnificent buffet within their main ballroom and made sure that there was enough wine, beer, soft drink, and other goodies to fill all. There was music, Santa, attentive staff, and an atmosphere of jollity. Indeed, their dessert line was as long and as replete as anyone could ask for. And they essayed plum pudding with sauce.

I suppose we should have taken warning from the sign that referred to the beige liquid next to the pudding as ” Sauce Anaglise “… It may well have been. I have never visited Anaglise but they may slurp this stuff from tureens. The awkward part is that someone may have thought it to be brandy sauce as the English like it.

The English are a sturdy race. I admire them for this. They can stand a great deal of fire. And they like brandy sauce for their plum pudding that needs to be served with care. They are wise people.

The beige liquid, on the other hand, resembled something that you would normally consult a colour chart for. Come to think of it, a good semi-matte indoor emulsion would probably have tasted better. One would have been prepared to put on two coats.

As it is, we have determined which chef made the sauce and he is waiting in the tumbril for his march up the stairs. Those of you in the front rows may wish to cover your plates when the time comes in case he splashes. It is not so much the fear of blood as the horror of beige liquid.