Category Archives: Random Blogs

Just things of interest…

Nursery school wisdom

A bit of whimsy…


Most of what I really need to know about how to live, and what to do, and how to be, I learnt in Nursery School. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain but there, in the sandbox, at nursery school.

These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat. Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life.
  • Learn some and think some and draw and paint and dance and play and work some every day.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder – and never stop wondering.

Remember the little seed in the plastic cup.

The roots go down and the plants go up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish, hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup – they all die. So do we.

And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all:

LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere – the Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation, ecology and politics and sane living.

Think of what a better world it would be if we all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three ‘o clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes.

And it is still true no matter how old you are: when you go out into the world it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Even sea otters hold hands…!

 

The Medal

I was not in the infantry or special forces – I was in the Corps of Signals but this is a bit of fiction that occurred to me after meeting, reading about and hearing some stories. You could not make up some of that stuff. Like when I was on attachment to RLI on the Moz border and one of the guys (he has a bravery decoration) described having to run for their lives up a sandy rise with rounds striking at their heels. He said, laughing about the ludicrous insanity of it “…we just ran up that hill with the rounds hitting everywhere behind us, just like a fucking movie….!” (The quote may not be EXACT but close enough).

So I created this bit of fiction – because my own basic training probably saved my life once or twice and I certainly used my signals training all my working life after leaving the army. Often the question that was asked, “Where did you learn that?”, was answered “In the Rhodesian Army, starting in 1964!” and got me some odd looks!

So here is my fiction…no reference to any person, living or dead…


“What did you get the medal for?” asked the trainee.

“I got if for paying attention” the instructor replied.

The squad were sitting around with the instructor near the end of their training – out in the sticks, mission completed and awaiting transport back to base.

“I was a recruit once,” he said “just like you guys”.

I had to learn drill, and drill and drill and drill.

Then drill with a rifle – also over and over and over.

They only taught us ONE THING about rifle handling at first – how to make safe. …and we had to clear the rifle EVERY TIME we got it from the armoury even though we KNEW the armourer would never issue a loaded rifle and we had to show it was clear on handing it back. EVERY TIME.

Then we started learning to FIRE THE RIFLE and the drills around safety and handling became more painfully repetitive. There was a chuckle from the men.

Then we had combat training and learned to use hand grenades. That was interesting – preparing the grenades, carrying them and throwing them. And learning, as you have, that they do NOT make a bang and explosion of flame and debris like a 500-pound bomb. Another chuckle.

Skirmishing and patrolling and leading and walking tail end. Setting and initiating ambushes and all those boring things called training, training, TRAINING.

The tedium and the repetitiveness, the punishments. And why did they put so much emphasis on CLEANING YOUR KIT. Why did knives and forks and mess tins have to gleam?

And then I was told I was a qualified soldier.

I reported to my unit and was treated like shit! I was treated like a recruit – like an untrained useless add-on.

After a while I was gradually accepted and given certain responsibilities – responsibilities that I still thought were a bit beneath me.

One day though, I realised I was one of the team and that I had been accepted and that I belonged.

Then we were deployed on operations and I was shit-scared. Realising that nobody was free of their private fears made mine manageable.

And when the shit hit the fan on one deployment and I had to perform – it was no longer me, it was the training. All that instinctive rifle handling and obedience to shouted commands – THAT kept me alive.

And one day they presented me with this medal and I was a bit bewildered and even vaguely embarrassed. I was not the only one on the scene and I felt that, like everyone else, I had just done what I had been trained to do.

The citation that came with the medal seemed to be about someone else and I understand why people laugh and joke about these things – it is how you deal with it.

But, you asked how I got the medal? I got it because I paid attention and when I was caught NOT paying attention I was pulled up short – punished if you will. But I DID get trained – tediously, repetitively until I could handle the weapons in the dark, understand instructions and react to commands instinctively but still use my own brains.

I became a trained soldier.

The TRAINING got the medal. The instructors earned the medal for me.

No one goes into this to be a hero and when they get called HERO they are generally confused and bewildered – because they did what they had been trained to do.

If your intention is to be a hero and get a medal you are in the wrong place – you need to be a functioning soldier first.

No matter what you do in the army – pay attention to the training and you will do it well. That is all that is required. You do your best and you do it well.

Oh, and keeping your kit clean means you do not get sick – it is as simple as that.

The Black Dog

Depression – The BLACK DOG

I hope the Australian organisation using the name https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/ will forgive me but I believe that no lesser persons than Samuel Johnson and Winston Churchill (http://theconversation.com/winston-churchill-and-his-black-dog-of-greatness-36570) coined the term many years before when referencing their own status, that of being the sufferers of depression, quite likely being manic-depressive.

I was married to a sufferer. Indeed, we had a REAL black dog, Digger was his name, an irrepressible, goofy and lovable Labrador/Border collie cross…and my then wife, Rose (Rose-Marie) had her personal, invisible BLACK DOG. Depression is an awful condition that has only in the modern era been identified as a real illness. An illness partly of the mind and partly of the chemical make-up of the body of the sufferer.

I am not going to address the difficulties of her childhood that no doubt contributed to her state of mind as an adult but suffice to say, the condition is apparent in her family as related to me by her cousin, a woman who quietly takes her medication and who shows no sign of her black dog to the outside world.

Rose, when I met her, was a startlingly attractive woman of about thirty-two who must have been (and still was ,actually) quite beautiful in her teens and twenties.

Having been shy and introverted, when she was introduced to the world outside the confines of her family she cut loose with a vengeance.

A short-lived flirtation with LSD and a few other drugs was to trouble her once or twice in the years before we got to know each other but she had the strength of character to KNOW that this would be the end of her.

She was a fairly heavy smoker and her DRUG of choice was to become alcohol.

Rose was always well-groomed and outwardly confident but inwardly she seethed with insecurity and anger. The anger was directed inward at her inability to stand up to people because of a fear that she would be thought lazy or incompetent or not fun-loving. It resulted in her becoming overwhelmed as people loaded their work onto this helpful, seemingly cheerful, woman.

Another result of this fear of being found wanting was that she was bullied. By men in her life and by bosses and colleagues who should have known better.

She had few friends because she suspected everyone who tried to get close to her of having an ulterior motive. The men wanted to get her to bed the women were, in her mind, snide and nasty and as soon as people seemed to become her friends she pushed them away. Not so you would immediately notice but she would just find excuses not to meet them, to not accept their invitations to visit for a party or drinks or a braai (barbecue to the uninitiated). In her mind everyone was criticising her. People would eventually give up.

After several years of knowing her we were married and almost immediately the problems started. The accusations of an ulterior motive to anything I did. The raking over of my previous relationships and the often cruel and vicious personal attacks.

From denigrating my manhood, accusations of wanting to beat her, accusations of wanting other women (I dare not comment on some film star for example – yes, I was likely to meet them, NOT). It did not matter that these things were irrational – they were brought up to provoke. And even when the AA had managed to get her off the booze and she was enjoying the company of the members of her group she remained fragile and volatile.

If she visited a psychologist or counsellor she would find a reason to distrust them, to stop seeing them. I came to the conclusion that as soon as the psychologist started getting too close to the matters that were important the distrust would take over. There would be some reason – “He tries to look down my neckline” to “She criticises me” (sometimes the criticism accusation would be made against an innocent comment on the colour of her skirt but it could be turned into CRITICISM if the need to claim such was there).

After seeing several psychologists over a period of years, she had started to see a psychiatrist and was taking medication. I, we, had hopes for her future.

In 2013 at the age of 53 she went into hospital – a supposedly good, private hospital – for a comparatively minor operation from which she was recovering when inadequate care was to blame for her dying. No one has been held to account and no cause of death, just UNDER INVESTIGATION, appears on her death certificate. Our fifteenth wedding anniversary was eight days away – we had known each other for about twenty years and lived together for sixteen.

My point here is that this lovely, attractive woman did not believe she was just that – a lovely attractive and capable person. She believed everyone had an agenda against her and she trusted no-one except her mother – not even me. She screamed abuse at and accused both her mother, who lived with us, and me of the most awful things. Often the most absurd and hurtful things would be screamed at us as she retreated to her corner, believing that only her truth pertained. No matter that she was wrong, and demonstrably so, her self-loathing and insecurity meant that, in her mind, no one told the truth to her.  

For us who loved her and wanted nothing more than that she should learn to love herself and shine as we knew she could this was the MOST PAINFUL thing to experience.

Some sufferers of depression are openly aggressive, are often highly talented yet believe themselves to be failures. Some are withdrawn and hide the aggression and anger inside. In all cases the anger, the distrust, the feeling of being alone against the world the introversion and the extroversion eats at them.

It slowly and inexorably erodes them. They gradually find themselves without friends or with VERY FEW friends and only close family will generally persist with them. For these supporters it is exhausting, totally exhausting for they will never know if what they say will be construed as criticism, and not as gentle criticism but as harsh, judgemental and condemnatory. The reaction will vary from hysterical withdrawal and tears to very hurtful (to the supporter) shouted accusations and condemnation of the imagined slight, often made in the most confrontational and aggressive manner.

It is usually those closest to the sufferer who experience this behaviour and if anyone not “in the know” were to be told of it they would generally exhibit utter disbelief. The may even buy into the narrative of the sufferer and join with them in condemning those who know and care about the person.

Rose and I never had children together but my experience leads me to believe that the children of such persons learn to co-exist out of an instinctive sense of self-preservation. Rather be on mommy (or daddy’s) side and be with them rather than to even be suspected of not buying into the fiction. The long-term effect of this on children can be devastating and lead to estrangement in later life with sometimes quite tragic outcomes.

The BLACK DOG affects not just the sufferer but their family, their friends, their relationships – intimate and otherwise – but the ripple effect can be damaging to many persons that one may not even imagine could be affected. It is an insidious, scary and very harmful condition.

Many sufferers do not realise they have the condition or, if they do, they play it down. Many avoid or refuse treatment and counselling. There is nothing the people on the periphery can do except hope that the need will be realised and the help sought.

It is a horse and water situation and cannot be forced. It is tragic.

*****

Subsequent to writing the above I came to learn about BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder. Also called: BPD, emotional dysregulation disorder). Could Rose have also been a sufferer of this horrible condition, this very treatable condition? She certainly exhibited some of the symptoms? I don’t know and would hope her psychiatrist would have ruled it out but her life, already difficult, must have been torture if this had been added to her burden.

Guns – letter to the editor

This is a letter to the editor of my local paper when I was living in South Africa. I think it is excellent – short, sharp and to the point.


Letter in the Kempton Express 30 May 2002

 ARE STOLEN GUNS GUILTY? By Sebella O’Donovan

There are far too many crimes taking place in South Africa and even more innocent people lose their lives due to these crimes.

Every week we read of yet another murder.

What really concerns me, is statements made that “it is the stolen guns on the street that are responsible for the deaths of so many innocent people”.

Do people really believe that should there be no guns, that crime will not take place?

How many people are murdered with axes, knives, strangled with bare hands, poisoned or even burnt alive? The list is endless. Yet we continue to blame the tool. (one particular tool).

We are also led to believe that the more helpless we are, the safer we are from criminals.

That an intruder will be incapacitated by tear gas or even spray, but if shot with a .44 magnum will get angry, and kill you?

That ordinary people, in the presence of guns, turn into slaughtering butchers and revert to normal when the weapon is removed?

That a woman, who is raped and strangled with her own stockings is morally superior to a woman with a smoking gun and a dead rapist at her feet?

Is it not time for all of us to remember that it is the evil in a man’s heart and not the tool, which causes the crime?

Criminals need to be punished and the more of our liberty and freedom that we sacrifice, the less we’ll have of either.

Perhaps we should be looking at a society where innocent and free people don’t have to live in servitude to a government or to criminals?

Bureaucracy

I was still living in South Africa when I found an 87th Precinct book that I had not read. In it I came across this passage that I thought was just so apt in relation to the drama I had recently gone through in order to have some plans registered at my local municipality.

While I did not have to purchase a postal order I DID have to go to the lift, down three floors, go out of that building and through security then walk around the civic centre offices to the rates hall – several hundred metres. There I had to stand in a queue to make my payment and make sure I got a receipt to take back to where I had started. I then had to go down the passage for the second part of this procedure and lo and behold they ALSO needed a payment, and they ALSO were unable to take payment.  I am sure we have all had experiences that this scenario might fit. 


In this city, ten people were necessary to do the job of one person.

What this city did was hire high school dropouts, put them in suits and then teach them how to greet the public with blank stares on their faces.

In this city, if you needed a copy of, say, your birth certificate or your driver’s licence, you stood in line for an hour and half while some nitwit pretended to be operating a computer. When he or she finally located what you were there for, you had to go over to the post office and stand in line for another hour and a half to purchase a money order to pay for it.

That was because in this city, municipal employees weren’t allowed to accept cash, personal cheques or credit cards. This was because the city fathers knew the calibre of the people who were featherbedding throughout the entire system, knew that cash would disappear in a wink, knew that credit cards would be cloned, knew that personal cheques would somehow end up in private bank accounts hither and yon.

That’s why all those people behind municipal counters gave you such hostile stares.

They were angry at the system because they couldn’t steal from it. Or maybe they were pissed off because they couldn’t qualify for more lucrative jobs like security officers at any of the city’s jails, where an ambitious man could earn a goodly amount of unreportable cash by smuggling in dope to the inmates.

Quoted from The Last Dance by Ed McBain – an 87th Precinct novel
Ed McBain is a pen name used by Evan Hunter (The Blackboard Jungle, Privileged Conversation)

Beard coming…

There seems to be quite a fascination for beards here, where I now live – particularly among young men, and I mean YOUNG men!

Thing is, many of these beards just look so odd.

There’s this beard coming towards me. A huge, luxuriant brown handsome beard and I notice that the beard has this skinny little guy attached to it.

The beard turns so that it can look at someone and you observe a rather attractive young thing in animated conversation with the bush on legs. The beard turns to the front and continues its approach and then one sees the cap and a pair of eyes glittering behind the foliage, under the deep shadow of the cap brim.

This chap is so proud of his beard but it is TOTALLY out of proportion to the little fellow that it, the beard, is wearing.

Another time and another beard heaves into view. This luxuriant, reddish monster is forked. Each fork is about twenty centimetres long and the distance apart at the ends is probably also twenty centimetres. From the centre of the fork to the moustache is probably the same distance. As it gets nearer one notices a nose and a pair of eyes peering over the shrubbery. Once again the face is shadowed by the bill of one of those omnipresent baseball caps.

Below and behind this forked growth is a youngster of perhaps 20-22 years with the build and innocent-seeming eyes of a child. He looks up at something and the beard levers away from his chest to a position horizontal to the ground, weirdly reminding me of the bonnet of a car being opened!

Now there is nothing wrong with a beard – I myself have sported one since 1980 – but somehow these slightly built, young guys just look so incongruous with these luxuriant facial jungles that are so out of proportion to their stature.

I’m sure that out in the woods somewhere there are great big lumberjacks who would LOVE to have such magnificent growths as I see strolling around with these waif-like fellows attached!

Then again of course there are blokes who are in in charge of some truly smart beards that are perfectly balanced to their faces and frames. Where the man dominates and the beard knows its place!

I suppose it is like body art – to each their own…and I must add that some of these slight, magnificently bearded, fellows seem to have no problem with the chicks! Perhaps there is a lesson in that – but we won’t go there.

About instructions…

Being reasonably logical and literal in my approach to instructions I get confused when something I understand to mean one thing actually means something rather different or when part of an instruction is omitted because everyone knows that.

Let me digress for a moment to better illustrate my point:

Many years ago when I was in the military (the Corps of Signals to be precise) I was sent on a course-cum-seminar to learn how to write user manuals for soldiers. Bear in mind that these manuals had to be quite unambiguous and therefore had to be written so that an untrained or semi-trained individual could, by following the instructions, make effective use of the equipment. Effective that is because LIVES may depend on the user getting it RIGHT.

All of us had a number of years experience in the job and had previously been on instructor courses and I clearly remember that on my course we often presented the SAME LECTURE over and over only to be told several time that we had failed before we got it right.

What, you might ask, did we fail on. It was not the actual USE of the equipment once it was working it was the SETUP.

For example, we would fail because we did not TELL THE STUDENTS to connect the power source. We then failed again for not precisely describing HOW to connect the power, such as ensuring battery polarity was correct. Again we would fail – “You did not tell them to SWITCH THE EQUIPMENT ON

As you may imagine we would respond to these criticisms with a rejoinder along the lines of “…but everyone KNOWS that”. The reply would be “YOU CANNOT RELY ON THAT – LIVES MAY DEPEND ON EACH STEP BEING LOGICAL AND LITERAL AND UNAMBIGUOUS”.

An example: – think about using remote controls to programme televisions, decoders or recording devices.

At one time I found that after following –  TO THE LETTER – the instructions in my remote programming manual – and those for front panel programming –the programmes did not STICK. My younger neighbour came over one day and programmed the recorder for me. I followed each step as he went through the instructions but I noticed him doing something that I could not relate to a step in the booklet.

When I asked him about it he said he was pressing MENU at the end of each step but, when asked, he could not show me where it gave that instruction in the booklet. I then learned that to SAVE steps there is often no key marked SAVE and it may be menu or enter or something similar – and that that step – that INSTRUCTION rather – is, more often than not, omitted because the designer/inventor (not user, note) ASSUMED that EVERYONE would know to do that.

The INSTRUCTIONS just DID NOT reference how to SAVE each step.

Many user instructions exist, not only for electronic equipment, where the writer and/or developer of the item does TWO THINGS that create confusion:

1. Assumes knowledge – everyone knows THAT – on the part of the user/buyer.
2. Uses in-house jargon so that the words used in the description do not match what the user/buyer is looking at.

…anybody looking to hire an instructions writer…?

 

The Australian National Broadband Network (NBN)

After reading many bitter complaints about the NBN I felt compelled to contribute my five cents worth…here it is.

The NBN, although not fully rolled out yet is, or will be, the carrier for all telecoms traffic but, more specifically, access to the internet.

I love analogy and I intend using an analogy to address something I see often, and that is the vitriolic attacks on the NBN for poor service, service disruptions and NO service. And before going further I have no connection with the NBN other than that I use it. My interest is in fair comment – and in my experience the NBN is brilliant.

I don’t think a lot of people understand how it all works in that the service, the NBN, just sits there waiting for us to use it. However, if we cannot get at it how do we use it? When we change to NBN we are not dealing with the NBN company (the people involved in the creation and maintenance of the NBN) we are dealing with SERVICE PROVIDERS who have decided to set up a service to ENABLE ACCESS to the NBN.

A further thing to remember is that TELSTRA, the national telecoms network provider – and historically (for many years I believe) the only phone service provider – has the biggest network providing access points to the NBN. This means that any service provider has to provide their own infrastructure to get to where YOU are and THEN provide further service to the most appropriate interconnect point to the NBN. This will more often than not, but not always, be via Telstra infrastructure (leased telephone lines and exchanges).

It should be noted that in Australia – a VAST, vast country – there are only 121 Points Of Interconnect (POI) in the entire country.  What this means is that there are 121 GATES where access can be obtained. You are unlikely to have such a point on the pole outside your premises.

Irrespective of Telstra any access will be via a third party NBN contracted subscriber providing access to other service providers who deal directly with the public.

One can see that if, at any point in this chain of interconnects, there is a problem then that problem will affect the end-user, or the subscriber, looking for telecom service.

When we (as Telstra subscribers) were sent our NBN router by Telstra in November 2016 we installed it per the instructions and suffered various outages and errors for a while– not a particularly big deal but the router kept losing the TELEPHONE LINE.  If you do not have a digital telephone line, then you cannot connect to ANY service provider. Again this is a generalisation because some providers are not hard-wired but, at some point, there are various interfaces – connections if you prefer – that connect your premises with an exchange which in turn routes your signal through other exchanges until it meets the NBN – at one of only 121 POIs in the entire country – and you can get out onto the WWW (World Wide Web). Not all the exchanges will necessarily be owned/operated by your service provider who has to pay a service fee to route his traffic through those exchanges (or SWITCHES).

It can be seen that it is not just a matter of YOU ARE CONNECTED TO THE NBN rather, it is a matter of your service provider ensuring that SERVICE IS ROUTED FROM YOUR PREMISES TO THE NBN.

Here is an analogy that may help to make sense of this.

International air travel is an established service deemed to be one of the safest means of transport available to the masses.

You have booked a trip to the UK and your flights, which include a connecting flight to the international terminal, are paid for and the dates established.

As the day draws nearer you have to decide how to get to the airport and you decide that, because it is a business day, you will take a taxi to the station and then take a train to the city where the airport is and then a bus to the airport to get your connecting flight.

On arrival at the transfer airport you have to collect your luggage and take a bus from the domestic terminal to the international terminal where you have to go through customs and immigration exit formalities before you can get to your flight.

Your taxi breaks down halfway to the station so you miss your train and, because you did not allow time for this you will miss your bus and probably miss your flight.

Is this the fault of THE INTERNATIONAL AIRCRAFT OPERATOR? Is it YOUR fault? Is it the taxi’s fault or is it the taxi driver’s fault? Is it perhaps the domestic carrier’s fault?

You get to the station on time though but you go to the wrong platform and miss your train.

Is this the fault of THE INTERNATIONAL AIRCRAFT OPERATOR?

Assuming you board the domestic aircraft on time but, after take-off, it is found that a weather front has moved in at the destination airport and your flight has to be diverted and you will miss your international flight.

Is this the fault of THE INTERNATIONAL AIRCRAFT OPERATOR?

My point here is that as long as the international long-haul flight was on time and kept to its schedule you cannot blame it – or its operators – for the fact that you missed the flight because, as we can see, a number of factors played into that scenario and the delay could have been anywhere BUT it is NOT the fault of the international aircraft operator that the plane has taken off.

When you want to blame the NBN take note of who your immediate service provider is and try to ascertain what arrangements they have in place for YOUR AREA in order to route calls from YOUR AREA to the nearest access point to the NBN.

Has your service provider got enough leased lines and bandwidth serving your area? Note that a leased line need not be a physical wire or optical fibre cable – it may be routed via point-to-point microwave links among other things – but it is still generically referred to as a line.

After taking note of this VERY BROAD interpretation of HOW IT WORKS, is the problem STILL the NBN? Is it perhaps your access or somewhere between your premises and the access point to the NBN?

It is a subject that is cloaked in mystique for the average layman and using that mystique, that lack of knowledge, the operators or service providers can blame anything and everyone except, perhaps, themselves?

An excuse that I read about was that there was something on a pole over the road from someone’s premises and, for want of a cherry picker (a lift platform), connection from their premises to the NBN could not be completed and that therefore it was the fault of NBN. I find that bit of mumbo-jumbo very hard to accept.

I see the NBN as the whipping boy for a great deal of incompetence and sheer bad planning on the part of service providers who may not have geared themselves to make the best use of the NBN for themselves and, more particularly, their customers.

This simple article is not aimed at the technical community – it is intended for the many people who – in my opinion – are being, or may be, misled by service providers. This in turn leads to people writing to the press and posting on social media CASTIGATING the NBN.

The NBN, on their own website, have more detail and another very good analogy for how this all works at http://www.nbnco.com.au/blog/the-nbn-project/how-the-nbn-network-works.html .

Note though that if your service provider does not have adequate access, routing or bandwidth it will probably affect you in one way or another.

You cannot use it adequately if you cannot access it adequately. Access is down to the service provider to whom you are contracted.

About CROCS – and bullies

A while ago I read an article by some smart fellows who were giving forth on sartorial dos and don’ts.

Right at the end of the article we, all of us – men and women, are exhorted to never, ever, under any circumstances and NO MATTER HOW COMFORTABLE they may be, wear CROCS©.

I remember a theatre nurse wearing CROCS© many years ago and I questioned her about them. She told me that irrespective of the lack of elegance and adverse comment about them they were the most comfortable and easy to clean footwear for someone who has to be on their feet all day and pretty much all her colleagues were wearing them at work. I went out and bought a pair of black CROCS© clogs.

Now the sight of skinny legs ending in those clumpy TRAINERS or running shoes while wearing little hide away non-socks, making said legs look like upside down lollipops, seems to escape comment from the stylistas…but, wear CROCS©!

CROCS© stay on your feet, are comfortable to drive or walk in, are as inelegant as hobnailed boots on a fashion catwalk…and make you a pariah. People will cross the street to avoid associating with you. Non-U does not even approach the disapproval the fashion police will heap upon you.

Comment or advice around the subject of CROCS© is usually offered in the most disparaging and derogatory of terms. Can terms that clearly reference one’s sanity and sense of community really be termed advice? Actually it is a superiorlookingdownthenose form of BULLYING!

However, having reached my three score and ten years, comfort rules, really it does. If I am casually dressed why are slops OK but CROCS© are not? After major surgery on my knees I wore Crocs© all the time during my rehab and walked miles in them with no discomfort.

With this in mind I had a little badge made, with an acronym that I shamelessly cribbed from Kevin Bloody Wilson, the irreverent Aussie comic. The badge blatantly reads DILLIGAF which, loosely translated, means:

Do I Look Like I Give A Flying damn

There is certainly nothing elegant about CROCS©, no matter what colour they are, but they are extremely comfortable and practical so at my age – DILLIGAF!

NB: where I grew up FLIP-FLOPS were always called SLIP SLOPS hence, SLOPS.

Postscript: NO-ONE turns a hair when I wear these particular CROCS©!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time

Time and the river“, is the name of a song and the analogy is really quite apt.

On a lazy holiday one may encounter a slow-flowing stream that complements one’s frame of mind – and the song that so aptly describes the experience. Time seems to stretch itself out into a very relaxed tempo.

Conversely imagine being pursued by an enemy along a river in full flood, lots of rapids, in a steep valley. Time takes on the urgency of flight and the rushing river, the confused sounds of scrambling along, rushing water and the PURSUIT adds a dimension of confusion and rush.

And life? Life at times seems to be proceeding at a leisurely pace and dragging along – especially when waiting for a long-anticipated event.

Then again, at every turn of the week we are startled to find the time gone as we exclaim “Is it time to put the bins out, again?”

 

The Record

These days gramophone records are obsolescent at best – having nearly become obsolete they are experiencing a nostalgic resurgence.

The historical record is one that will never become obsolete but it IS one that some agencies seek to corrupt and rewrite to suit their own agendas.

Not enough people seem to care that the records of history are really important if we are to avoid the mistakes of the past – such as world wars.

A frightening trend appears to be sweeping the world with new generations often seeming to align themselves with suspect organisations. Organisations that would, for their own (and sometimes unknown) purposes deny the lessons of recent history – that which has happened in the last hundred years.

If the record is not truthfully maintained and honestly taught, and the lessons of that history are not fully understood then the future record will speak of the repetition of untold tragedy – of a history unlearned and a record ignored.

 

Picking up the pieces

Life can be like a favourite jigsaw puzzle that you have made many times. Then, in the strange way that these things happen, a few pieces go missing.

When your partner unexpectedly dies under unexplained circumstances your life falls apart and you can, after a while, gather together most of the pieces and even replace some of those that are otherwise irretrievable.

Some pieces however you can never find again. That person who shared your life and dreams – who frustrated and often angered you – is gone and, most painfully, it is when you see something you would have shared and the thought “I must tell…” dies in your still-bewildered mind that the enormous finality crushes you over and over.

All these things do fade and they do become less painful but the worst is when you are let down – by all the authorities who should determine the causes and allow you the solace of what is called closure.

Strange word that because it will never close – that door that will forever be ajar.

You go forward with new circumstance and a new partner building a new life but the pieces that could not be found will scratch and scratch at your thoughts forever.