A New Year’s Greeting

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Well, it’s New Years if you ain’t Chinese or Jewish or Muslim. Probably it’s just another day if you are Hindu or Sikh. The Buddhists probably just stand there wondering why the Scots are all lying around this morning with cold compresses on their foreheads – or desperately trying to first foot somewhere. Calendars are dangerous things and in the case of the Caledonians tend to make them bilious and head-sore on the 1st of January.

Well, at least I can wish everyone not wearing a tartan a happy day – and even they will generally feel better by sundown. The 1st of January around here is the traditional get-the-date-wrong-on-the-cheque day and leads to complications with the bank. I suspect it is a ploy that is used to kite bad paper and to give the bad hats time to escape but that might be just cynicism. The really bad…or cheap… hats that I know don’t even bother to pay…

Never mind. it is a new calendar year without being a new religious or commercial one and we can make of it what we will. There will be new elections in South Canada in November of 2016 and we can all participate in them. For people who are not South Canadian citizens we get to bray and tweet and puff and publish with no danger that we will have to regret our vote. No matter who nominates or runs or gets elected – or defeated – it will be wrong, wrong, wrong. If it wasn’t we would be out of a topic to shrill over the chardonnay. It’s a win either way – the ony real danger is if we are seen to support the candidate who gets elected and then they turn out to be the dud that the opposition always said they would be. It’s scary tying your credibility to people on the other side of the world who have none of their own…

Well, politics aside, there will be new challenges to overcome this year. Finding enough money to live well will be one of them. Of course that depends on the definition of well – I already have a run up to the post with my realisation that I have a tow closets full of clothes and never need see the inside of a department store again. Not sure if this is good or bad, but I am sewing button on shirts and pressing trousers. And throwing away Hawaiian gift shirts with never an aloha.

There are no resolutions this year – but there is a list of social contacts to renew. I realise that some of them may not wish to be visited after all these years but then that’s what the Romanian oil refiners in Ploesti thought when the USAAF came to visit and didn’t that work out well. I plan to do the same.

So thank you to all the people who read this column. There will be more all year, because I’m Here All Week.

Uncle Dick Stein

 

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A Little Dry, But…

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Who has not been in this position; you visit a friend, they tell you that they have recently started making their own beer. Or wine. Or raki. Or toluene. Whatever – they are determined to get you to drink a glass. They wish you to praise it, and them.

You wish desperately to avoid the stuff. But they are closer to the door than you are and it is likely they would catch you if you dodged sideways and bolted. Short of falling to the floor and faking a heart attack*, there are few options open to you. Let is review the dismal prospects:

  1. Let the glass slip carelessly through your fingers as they hand it to you. Try not to let any of it splash upon you. This works one, two, maybe three times before they start to become hostile.
  2. Pretend to sip it and look around for a potted palm into which to empty the rest of the glass. If there are no palms an aspidistra will do. Or a velour sofa.
  3. Thank them firmly but say that your religion forbids alcohol. Or nitric acid. If you are trying to do this while eating a pulled pork BBQ roll it may get you a funny look.
  4. Sneeze. A good sneeze will empty a glass in an outward direction. Don’t sneeze toward an open flame in case they have been distilling the stuff for a month and it is just about to spontaneously combust anyway.
  5. Drink a good slug. You can live for years with half your stomach removed and if you are over 40 it doesn’t matter so much.

Be particularly wary of beverages to which a pre-drink warning has been applied; ” You may find this a little tart” ( If I wanted to find a little tart I’d go to a bakery or a cheap night club…). Or ” This takes some time to become accustomed to” ( So do old wounds from mortar fragments – and at least they help to predict wet weather…).

If you are at all suspicious of the drinks on offer, observe the bottles and stoppers. Fine old wines will have a sediment at the side of the bottle where it has lain at rest for decades. So will used motor oil. Corks are the traditional closer for traditional wines. Followed by screw lids or crown stoppers. If the neck of the bottle is sealed with a wadded rag it may still make a fine cocktail but you’ll have to light it and throw it against a Soviet tank to find out…

Remember that pocket hip flask that someone gave you as a novelty last birthday? Looks like a good idea now, doesn’t it? Even if it is filled with Wipeout**or lemonade it is still a better bet.

 

  • * Risky. They might apply their home-made spirits to your bloodless lips.
  • ** Ask an Australian who was alive in the 80’s and 90’s. Beware – they spit.

The Holiday Spirit Or How I learned To Be Cheerful

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For those of you who are in a hurry here is a précis: The official Muslim and Jewish holidays are just finished and the official Christian one is about to occur. We are urged to be of good will by everybody except the gangs of fanatics who would like to kill us all. If we do not spend enough money in the shops in the next few days this group will be enlarged to include the local retailers and our immediate family.

I have finished the Christmas shopping for the year. It was simpler than ever this time – I rang the I Have No Idea store in Canning Vale and read my list of recipients and their addresses over the phone the the girl. Actually, to be accurate I read it to a machine – then gave them my credit card number and that was that. Everyone on the list will get a carefully-chosen token of my love and affection delivered personally by a chap from Australia Post in a fluoro vest who will get them to sign for it. I paid for the Ho Ho Ho service as well so it should be quite heartwarming. I’m not sure what he does if the recipient is not home – possibly just pushes Ho’s under the door.

Of course with the family it is different. You can’t just have the fluoro man do the business – you have to select things and wrap them and all that stuff. I am still puzzling whether to go for the soap saver press that lets you cement old slivers of bath soap together or the wrapped clothes hangers. I’m tending to the former rather than the latter – hangers are hard to wrap.

This year we miss out on the hour and a half’s drive in bumper to bumper traffic to the brother-in-law- and sister-in-law’s house for the giant family gathering. Gosh I’m going to pine for that traffic as well as the hour and a half back again. Instead a posh hotel will serve us our turkey and plum pudding.

Still we must make do as best we can with being kind to people and wassailing and such. Bit of a bastard for the local liquor store who have just had to close and lock their doors a week before Christmas because the big chain store operators undercut them out of business. I suspect the same treatment will be meted out to as many small shops and service industries as can be found within the grasp of the big shops. Scrooge is not dead by a long way.

 

 

 

Flying The Old Red Flag – A Bull’s Perspective On The Social Media

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” Click Bates” here – you’ll remember me from such posts as ” Bomb Peking Now” and ” VD For Fun And Profit “. Well, I’m going to get you right on the edge of your seat with this newest revelation. Wait for it. Waitttt foooor iiiittt…

Wow! Wasn’t that amazing! Bet you never saw that coming! Bet you don’t know what to do now that it’s going! Another exclamation point! Two!! Is this man unstoppable?!!!

Now don’t just sit there. You can send this on to all your friends on Fashbook ( The Scottish social network for people who get all worked up over things…) or Fiercebook – for those who are angry about _____( fill in blank and submit to our judges. First prize is a month’s supply of blood pressure medicine.) or even Faecesbook. Try not to send a picture with that last one as the editor is getting a little jaded…

If you elect to do your schrei-ing on Faschesbuch be aware that you will need to submit a detailed ethnic diagram of your grandparents and great-grandparents so that suitable czechs can be made. No, I did not do a typo. We never do typos. We are superior to typos. Typos have been liquidated.

Fussbook is open to all – everyone who has nothing to do all day – retired geezers, stay-at-home parents, unemployable teenagers, and Those Who Wear Eco-Friendly Sustainable Pashminka Shawls Whilst Sipping A Glass Of Government Grant. You may correct God and the government all you wish on Fussbook, and no-one, least of all the Deity, will correct you. Delete you, yes. Block you, yes. Possibly damn you to the fires of Eternal Rockingham. But you’ll still be able to bleat.

Flossbook is , of course, a wasteland of postings by dentists and oral hygiene assistants, and can be safely bypassed. It is really rather sad, as no-one does it for longer than about a week.

But the chief point is you MUST re-post any and all inflammatory material you encounter. If it is lightweight – unable to be confirmed by anything but the reader’s prejudices – all the better. Sparks of anger that are unburdened by the weight of proof travel farther and ignite more spot fires when they land. Anything that flares up really well can be fed by further propaganda.

Remember – it is up to YOU to forward the revolution, or crush the revolution, or sell the revolution for a nifty little profit. And if you can do it with a nifty little prophet, so much the better.

 

 

 

 

How Does An Atheist Bless You?

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Well, it’s not as silly a question as you might think. If an atheist does not imagine or believe in any deity but still wants to give out some sort of non-committal promise that you will be happier because they said so…they have no mechanism in place to project it from. They can’t really promise you kindness from the government because they know what the government is like – and they can’t promise you the fealty and love of other people because the other people might know what YOU are like.

About the best they can do is assure you that they hope you are not run over by a street car. And even this is difficult to promise in Melbourne.

Atheism is a tough row to hoe. All the work of being moral and no relaxation afterwards by killing your enemies in the name of superstition. You might get a chance to kill them in the name of economics or theory or a coloured rectangle of cloth on a pole, but like as not someone will write a book about it 50 years later and try to make you look bad.  It almost takes the fun out of explosions.

The other tough part is there are no feast days for atheism. And feasts involve food and drink. Oh, you can go to the local hotel and order a counter lunch and a couple of pints on Tom Paine’s birthday but no-one puts up a tree or makes presents or takes you into the broom closet for a cuddle because of it. ” Joyeaux No ” as a song has never made it to the charts.

Worst of all is there is no money to be made out of atheism. No cards, no gifts, no food, no booze, no sleigh rides in cold climates or slay rides in hot ones. No-one ever gives money to the No Salvation Needed Army. Even when their lassies are not blowing trombones and tambourines outside the pub.

I tell you, it’s enough to shake your faithlessness…

 

 

Way Hay! Pass Us That Tooba Glue Again!

 

 

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Thank goodness my workshop has a big roller door and a couple of open windows. I have been at the glue again.

Contact cement. Rubber adhesive. Butyl-nitril-gummo-clagup-sulphate-a doodle or whatever. The stuff they stick kitchen counter laminates down with. The glue that grabs when everything is slightly askew but is too much trouble to unstick and try again. The 92º right angle glue.

The stuff that makes your fingers look like you’ve been giving your nose a Manjurah cleaning.

I favour it for any number of jobs where I cannot wait long periods before slapping the project together. It can quickly assemble a lot of things that you can then pin or screw tighter. It can also put leather goods together for stitching. And in one memorable instance it put a leather-look covering over the entire dashboard of a Renault 10 sedan that had no need whatsoever for the treatment. It was such a foolish and improbable project by and ignorant and unskilled meddler that it worked perfectly…

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Today’s project is a spray paint booth for small models to make sure that the overspray goes somewhere else. The materials are from the Things To Hand Shop and  it is being constructed according to plans provided by Back Of An Envelope. The motive power is a dodgy old National Panasonic room fan that you could not kill with a harpoon.

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The foam board is held together by silver gaffer tape and there are various wood re-enforcements. It sets on a home-made cabinet that contains an air compressor and tools. And the whole shebang rolls right up to the window to expel the fumes.

At present the baffle board that will catch the paint and filter the particles is an experimental bit of cardboard but we’ll change design as necessary with experience. The doggy continence pads are coming in handy.

Our Prime Minister is touting us as an inventive nation and who am I to say him nay – especially when I am running on glue fumes.

 

NEXT DAY Notes: It works! I can spray acrylic paints on model cars and all the smell and overspray disappears out the window. Dead chuffed.

The Bar Mitzvah Fountain Pen

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All you tribal members out there will know the entire joke, but for the rest…

A Jewish boy prepares for his coming-of-age ceremony. After study and practise he reads from the scripture in the approved manner, making no mistakes, and is initiated into manhood – there is a big party held in his honour – with presents. One of them is a fancy fountain pen ” For when you become a doctor…” He gives a public speech recognising his new position. The traditional first words are ” Today I am a man”. But he’s so overwhelmed by it all he comes out with ” Today I am a fountain pen…”

Well, you had to be there…

I got a fountain pen on my retirement, which was unexpected and a delight. It is a good one – an Italian Visconti – and I am treating it right. It gets used for letters and important signings – in my case the important signatures go on cheques I have to write to the utility companies ( Boo…) and the accounts I send to studio customers ( Yay…). I have given up writing love letters because they cause complications – the last batch got me married. Also poison pen letters. I am taking care of the Visconti and only using Parker Quink in it – poison would rot out the internal feed mechanism.

Besides – these days poison pen letters are passé. We have the internet to post things on – either our own websites, these electronic weblog columns, or Facebook. From what I have read recently there are zealous readers who search diligently for any reference to themselves or their companies on the net. They search the wider publications and the social chatrooms as well, even when the conversations on these channels is thought to be private.

Excuse me…I just had a fit of the giggles…I said private heeheeheehee. Private on the internet is a rank, not a concept, and it is paid less than Pfc. This medium is like whispering your secrets from the top of the church steeple with a megaphone.

As with all forms of communication there are levels. You’re seeing one right now. The black squiggles on the white screen arranged to represent portions of the English language. Here is another:

 

See? The white bit? The space between the lines? That’s where the good stuff is. Read there and you’ll generally get the truth that the writer cannot put down in letters. The government, the boss, the wife, and the religious advisors cannot censor it. If they try to complain about the bit they cannot see you can ask them to explain what that bit is. And then they tell you what it is they are nervous about. Remember to switch the microphone on…