Working in a mad house

Mimics abound. One can’t clean the windows without a number of offers to help and wide advice on technique. Taking out the trash is hazardous as someone is bound to follow.

Places like this are different, full of friendly, lonely and knowledgeable people. There are some who are unresponsive to their environments, smothered in their inner agonies, but they keep to themselves, sometimes gazing at static screens for hours on end.

Most are happy but bored and seek any stimulation and opportunity to espouse their important advice. At least three or four people ask me to listen to their theories and analyses each day – all for a willing ear, just to be believed.

It’s the data! It doesn’t add up, it doesn’t say what I mean! What can I do next, who can I ask?

Look out for Henry, he’s brilliant but he is a terrible narcissist, I bet he’s psychopath – he tells such lies! But he’s so convincing nobody challenges him.

Just because I am not computer literate doesn’t mean I’m a dummy – why am I still here, they treat me like a cabbage.

If I have to speak to another nutcase who thinks research is a conspiracy I am going to scream….!

Why are we here?

Everything is so easy for some people – look at him, he just knows what everything means all the time – he’s a bloody genius!

 I think that woman is a nympho, look at the way men are drooling at her, they should lock her up… and them too!

The other day the way in was blocked and no one could get in and no-one could go out. They even called the Police.

Lunchtime conversations are varied and entertaining and disclose a great deal about morale and the culture of the place.

I’m there because I have to clean up afterwards. As I say there is never a shortage of willing helpers – they are not eager to get back to the grindstone.

Working as a cleaner in a research company is worse than working in a madhouse!

Story proposed by Michelle Craik

The Joy of Cousins

If you are broke and in a strange place, you will feel some joy if you have a cousin in town. Somehow it is easy to impose without too much conscience and beg some space to spread a sleeping bag. Of course they are then obliged to feed you.

This can be a tad awkward if they share the house with others or you only met them once for tea 12 years before. Also, if you have been hitch-hiking and travelling you are likely to be quite smelly and probably use all the hot water. To contribute, you buy some milk in return for the dinners and breakfasts you enjoyed.

Pretty sure they don’t mind you using their washing machine and dryer.

Mind you, I have only done it to a couple of cousins – only one was compelled by domestic pressure to move me on after one night. He was embarrassed but I am quite sensitive and sensible.

I spent the next night with a bunch of druggies in a Surrey Docks squat, sharing a room with an intense Canadian jockey who carried a Browning .45 pistol. The floor was sticky because all the carpet had been ripped up. They fed me eggs and bacon fried in hash oil … they didn’t have to ask me to leave.

My posh cousin in the country put me on a train to her parents after one night – she had young children and ponies to exercise. I had a great time in the country with my uncle and aunt and even learned to quite like bitter.

In the long run, it balances out – cousins visiting Africa had a great time with my two brothers. They even sent a lady friend to visit my single brother in Swaziland. She was a barrister, but he was evasive.

We were blessed by a visit from one of their children (cousin once removed?) in New Zealand on her OE. It was good to give a little back.

My best success was a month and that was not strictly a cousin but my brother in law’s brother who let me sleep in a studio when I was homeless and unemployed in Rhodesia. That was a Christian act!

If I met me in those days I might have thought I was a bit of a rough, well diamond in the rough, as I am family…

In fact, I think that my UK cousins must have thought that too.

But they still gave me a bed and fed me – that’s the joy of cousins.

Story proposed by Jane Longshaw

Middelmannetjie Mania

It was 43 hours since lift-off from Musk City on Mars. The rocket’s cameras revealed the desolation of the Serengeti Plain in Africa; the sensors displayed almost zero oxygen and a surface temperature of 67 degrees Centigrade. There was no sign of life.

‘Mythbuster’ C-well had returned to the planet that his ancestors had abandoned in the 21st Century, days before the apocalyptic finale of the nuclear war between China and the United States. All known animal forms of life on Earth’s surface were believed to have been eradicated. This was his last chance to prove life existed on his ancestral planet.

His Martian colleagues in the LifeForm Ministry had scorned his conviction that some forms of life had survived the radioactive blasts and heatwaves which scorched the Earth for decades. However, his persistent searches of Earth images over time had detected some remnants of vegetation. It was this evidence that persuaded MarsGov to fund his exploration.

The transit vehicle went into Earth orbit at 300 kilometers and C-well (call sign MbC) entered his drone with his technician and co-pilot Vingers Verranti (VV2). Their destination was the junction of the Mlawula and Black Umbuluzi Rivers near the border between eSwatini and Mocambique.

Many years before MbC’s great grandfather Jaime had been an Ecologist and Game Warden in the region. He had left annotated journals of the animal, plant and insect life in the area. This was the reference material which was to guide their search.

Jaime had affectionately been called Malusa Timfene by the locals, – guardian of the baboons, because of his diligent protection of the ecology of the region.

They had sufficient oxygen and battery life in their suits for 36 hours, before they would be forced to leave or die.

The drone blew up a cloud of dust as they landed. They descended and stood in the shade under its wings. They would search  a roughly square area sided by the Umbuluzi in the North and the Mlawula on the East and South. A dirt track formed the left boundary of the search area.

A few leafless trees seemed just alive in the river beds, which had some wispy grasses growing on the banks.

Every footfall raised a puff of dust, There were no animal tracks and no birds in the sky. MbC felt like weeping, having read of the abundance of wildlife in the area.

In the first 30 hours he must have traversed his section of the area over a thousand times without observing any vestige of life on his monitor gauges or through his magnified, wide angle spectacle visor.

He was growing despondent.

When he looked up he saw VV2 watching him, then breaking into a space age version of the sibhaca dancing they had seen on archive movies. That brought a grin and new energy. VV2 looked like a giant armoured insect capering about.

That brought something to mind from the old journal. Jaime had written in his journal of the plethora of insect life which inhabited the grasses and shrubs that grew in the middle of the dirt roads – known as the middlemannetjie – the little man in the middle.

He had described a life chain starting with the antelopes that slept in the roadways at night, marginally safer than the grasslands as predators could be detected and escape at speed was easier.

Their droppings had fostered a myriad of insect life from carpenter ants, millipedes, ant lions to dung beetles. Those patient, diligent, comic beasties that rolled dung into balls in which to lay their eggs.

He returned to the side track and increased the magnification of his visor to examine the dusty surface.

There were still a few brown grass blades emerging from tufts of stubble in the middle of the road. He gasped! There was a faint double line of dots in the sand – insect tracks! He whooped and VV2 came lumbering over to see what was the cause of his obvious glee.

They searched wider and found more tracks and near the river, bigger insect tracks, somewhat more erratic, leading to a stunted shrub.

Under a root they discerned a round ball – it was a dungball. It had apparently been cached by the female.

Dung meant animal life!

Such joy – MbC’s persistence was vindicated!

As resources were dwindling, they were forced to return to Mars. No further evidence had been found, but the dungball would justify larger expeditions and maybe the re-colonisation of Earth.

MbC’s thesis was published to great acclaim on Mars.

He had entitled it: Middelmannetjie Mania.

Story proposed by James Culverwell

Newsflash! Neckties are dead

Our current campaign is a global war against that yoke of uniformity, the neck tie. There can be no logical explanation why people continue to tightly tie strips of cloth round their throats and then dangle them on their chests.”

This was blogged on 16 October 2005, but the real campaign against the necktie started in practice in the 90’s with the wearing of silly socks on Fridays. The more radical followers of the movement also began wearing outrageous and unseemly ties to draw attention to the folly of the fashion convention.

The recent (2017) neck-naked appearances of those prisoners of convention and foremost icons of the stiff upper lip Society, HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, KG, KT, PC, ADC(P), HRH Prince Henry of Wales, KCVO and the Obamas indicates their clear support for the campaign and clearly demonstrates that the campaign is all but won. (The speculation that they read this blog can not be confirmed.)

no necktie nobles.jpg

New Zealand’s Parliament has now ruled that ties are no longer requires as part of men’s appropriate attire in Parliament – presumably a standard which could be applied nation-wide.

At last we are unshackling the yoke of obsolete convention!

Where to find happiness

This is a poem by Lidi de Waal

die lewe is te kort daarvoor

om geluk elders te bly soek

of om daarvoor te bly sit en wag

geluk is nie iewers anders nie

dis nie in ń ander dorp

of ń beter blyplek nie

dis nie in volgende week of volgende jaar nie

dis nie by ń ander partner

of beter vriende

of ń ander werk nie

geluk is hier waar jy is

geluk is in die vrede binne in jou

in die klein stukkies vreugde

wat soms in jou eie hart opwel

New Human Rights

It has been some time since 2042 when duty to community prevailed over individual rights.

After the almost impenetrable smog of fakenews in the early 2020’s, there were many hard fought court actions seeking ways to promote the truth. The right to the truth was first espoused in the Senate Impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump and later entrenched in the AllNations Declaration of Rights of 2031.

Now in 2060 it has long been accepted that there is great harm to society for an individual to fail to disclose the truth. The historical sacrosanct right to silence had led to far too many injustices; tragedies which could have been avoided; vicious murderers, rapists and pederasts who escaped liability to strike again and again.

Ways to obtain the truth from alleged criminals are strictly controlled and are under direct supervision of a judge who only orders the administration of truth serum after clear supporting evidence of involvement in crime.

The veracity of elected representatives including the Universal Head of State is monitored by truth sensor apps which display signs if speakers are deliberately not accurate in what they say.

It has become very difficult to prevent the actual truth from disclosure. Marketing was prohibited. Information is accurate and individuals easily obtain relevant information they require, tailored to their needs from GlobalTruth, Google’s successor..

Many of the old rights contained in the United Nations Declaration in 1948 have become obsolete and removed or changed over time.

GlobalRule which was enabled after Universal Surveillance meant privacy was obsolete; warfare became impossible as hostile intent was soon detected and could be stamped out by WorldForces and human tragedy could swiftly be addressed.

The universal carbon tax had effectively extinguished global warming. Universal Basic Income had diminished the poverty gap and world population was declining. Famine was extinct.

Death from disease was eradicated and human longevity increased to 120 years placing great burden on the WorldCommunity to produce sufficient food.

 Since the rebellion of the middle-agers, refusing to serve the mandatory 30 years as pioneers on New Australia (Mars), finding more living space on Earth has become impossible.

Global Rule has eliminated conflict: wars are no more and the Global Surveillance Judicial system has made crime almost impossible – so our numbers are no longer reduced by the death sentences on major criminals or banishment to outer planets.

However, quality of life had declined and community costs to support the elderly increased exponentially after 130 years of age.

The dominant duty to community ethos over individual rights had led to universal acceptance of mandatory euthanasia.

The celebration of life of a family elder has become a major rite of family culture and is keenly anticipated.

I accepted mandatory death and cremation at 133 years of age, long ago. Nevertheless, it is quite startling to think that next year I will reach my Celebration Day.

I will sleep happily knowing my ashes will feed an apple tree in our family orchard.

Sieg HEIL – The Trump Fanfare

I must point out that we are indebted to Trump for at least one huge lesson about humanity. He has shown us that most of us will follow anyone who strikes a chord that resonates  … and keeps repeating that message. Someone who shows that it’s NOT our fault – that they (clearly identifiable others) are the ones who have caused our pain.

It helps if they live amongst us and appear to be richer, stronger or more effective than us.

Inevitably, the media are liars and on their side (which is not to say some of them aren’t …)

Conspiracies explain everything … even though we are not quite sure what they are.

I say us because it includes friends and family members

Not long ago – in our parents and grandparents day, Hitler was believed, admired and followed blindly by millions of Germans and European nations even the Duke of York, once King of England!

It doesn’t seem to matter that the demagogue is not consistent, sounds deranged and makes outrageous claims. At that last “March to save America” rally, Trump looked and sounded deranged; frantic, repetitive, unrestrained. Just appearing at that rally smacked of civil mischief, but no-one stopped the President. He was unstoppable, despite increasing incoherence and blatant lying, ranting and raving … in between a few rounds of golf.

On the other side of the political spectrum lemming like behaviour is also prevalent. Democrats in Congress all took the knee recently – a blatantly populist obeisance to the political movement condemning Police, condoning the eradication of historical and cultural icons and accepting the blame for slavery.

One can only see this type of populist endorsement inflaming conservatives who are also suffering under the economic malaise of the midWest and Deep South US.

All of these people on both sides proclaim the virtue of their beliefs and decry the baselessness and immorality of the others cause.   

It is no good pointing out misconduct and precedents. We have to find ways to do things better.

Impeachment will not help – it will merely reinforce the conspiracy and turn a maniac into a martyr.

Biden has it right – extending the hand of friendship to all. Somehow he needs to find a way to distract the Right and Unite.

Somehow faith must be restored in the electoral system. Blockchain may be the answer. Certainly technology exists that could do this.

Maybe China policy will do it – revive manufacturing lost to Asia, promote fossil free fuel technology, make hemp production an agricultural priority, ban neckties ….

Oh Come On!! Its not often I get the chance to advise a new head of state!

Early thoughts in 2021

Library Blues

Let me get it off my chest so it doesn’t fester.

I went to the library last Monday, to find it was closed from 24 December until 4 January. I couldn’t even return books.

NO READING!!

It seems counter –intuitive for libraries to be closed when most of the populace are on holiday. Surely reading is a primary leisure activity on holidays? Why are libraries not open at night, on weekends and during holidays, times when most people are at leisure?

Methinks I shall direct my inquiry to the local council and the Editor of the local paper.

Family Christmas

I reflect on the joy and warmth that is possible in a family gathering, especially where a very young person is present. Our youngest granddaughter gave rise to frequent grins and warmth by responding with smiles and laughs, twinkling her eyes. Our oldest entertained us with her frequent questions and antics.

Ten of us and 3 dogs survived a week together in a house in the bush, without major disruption and with buckets of laughs and only mild excesses. It was happy time.

Fatalism

Soberingly, I also reflect on the fact that a large number of people continue to mingle apparently uncaring about the transmission of death that they are enabling. It’s all very well choosing to risk one’s own health, but the fact is that most people are not only risking their own health, they expose others in their families and communities as carriers.

Getting people to stop and think about their own societal ripples is not easy – we are too prone to self-indulgence and the looking away from horrors.

Gratitude

I am haunted by the feeling that life is too good, it can’t last, there has to be adjustment for without bad there can’t be good, nor hot without cold, happy without sad….

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Practising gratitude also strengthens one’s humility, protecting us from arrogance.

I am grateful and often try to be humble….

The occasional cloud

I am my own doctor

(* click on the underlined texts for some vibes, ek sê)

I discerned the easy embrace, the clinging infiltration.

It was easy and almost soothing, maybe like drowning…?

Then I looked up and saw the blue sky and felt the fresh day.

And it slunk away, spurned like a jackal in the face of a lion.

It will return for a sniff once or twice; such is the beast.

But I have its measure and offer scant sustenance for its cloying ploys.

I rejoice that it was sooo easy – all I did is look up and breathe!

The cur crept in on the tail of some lazy thoughts:

what a drag it is getting old and the pursuit of happiness is just a bore.

Mick Jagger sang it in 1964, would you believe!

Anyway, mother’s little helpers have been discredited.

But it isn’t really a drag, because you don’t feel old, (unless you fall over).

You may be gray and slow and can’t run, but that’s just your body.

You are your own doctor, because you choose how you feel!

Some easy ways for good health:

Never forget blue sky

Sleep is the single most important thing your brain needs for optimal functioning.

Exercise – all regular physical activity increases blood circulation and levels of many different neurochemicals and hormones in the brain

Sunlight: It is known that sunlight can affect serotonin levels …and may also influence dopamine.

Massage – boosts serotonin levels by as much as 30% and increases dopamine, activates endorphins, improves sleep, and decreases the stress hormone, cortisol.

Meditation –  can increase concentrations of dopamine in the brain’s cortex.

Deciding – The act of intentionally making any decision has been shown to cause positive changes in attention and increase dopamine rewarding activity..

Setting and achieving goals – When you achieve a goal, dopamine is released. Dopamine is not only released when you cross the finish line. You get dopamine boosts at each step along the way, which helps to keep you motivated.

Habits – Habits, both good and bad, become the routine in your brain through repetition and dopamine release. Unfortunately, bad habits are the ones that often give you lots of dopamine. However, when you perform a habit – even a good one – you get a dopamine reward and it gets further wired into your brain, giving you more motivation to do it next time.

Petting a dog – Studies show that simply petting a pooch increases dopamine and endorphins.

Yoga – Yoga has been shown to increase dopamine levels – plus it reduces stress, increases oxygen to your brain with deep, slow breathing, and ups soothing GABA. Yoga helps ease depression and stress in many ways.

https://www.thebestbrainpossible.com/

snoopys secret

The paradox of Remembrance

My cousin recently admired a wreath of white poppies placed by veterans for peace – a thought provoking demonstration.

Every year on Poppy Day I remember friends who died futilely in a colonial bush war and those scarred and embittered for life by the perfidy of Albion and the ever changing values of human kind in that little war.

I remember the father of a friend who some twenty years after ceasefire, succumbed to his anguish over his survival but his tank crew’s incineration at El Alamein.

I am moved to tears by the tributes and honour and respect shown by people of the world at the tombs of countless unknown warriors and ponder on the glory of war.

What jarred me this year as I read Facebook tributes for ancestors with the echoes of Last Post ringing in my ears, was this one: In memory of my grandfather, Arthur Imaginary, machine gunner 2nd Batt Intrepids, died 15 Mar 1915.

I wondered how many widows and orphans were the harvest of granddad’s machine gun.

…and this is only one side!

Talk about yin and yang: we glorify and honour someone while others mourn his military proficiency.

In every war, all soldiers are told God is on their side – I don’t think God takes side, S/He just keeps score. Surely priests know that?

My scepticism is also aroused by the coincident utility of military honour for all the -isms and -ists and -iots.

The iron duty imposed by the popular poem is hard to deny:

If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

I am the product of generations of soldiers; my father, uncles, grandfathers and my son all served in wars in distant lands.

I cannot deny that I believe in and admire soldiers. I guess that means I can’t believe that people can live in peace.

In Flanders fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

Oh so many…

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae (1872–1918)