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Monthly Archives: August 2008

Elle (003 of 2736)

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…….and another one goes in here……


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Faulty gauges

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A moderately amusing anecdote from my working life in Papua New Guinea concerned the frequency with which motor vehicles stopped on the side of the roads because of a lack of fuel.  The novel explanation was proposed that the non English speaking drivers believed that on the fuel gauge E = enough, and F = finished.

It occurs to me that Christian churches might also have gauge problems and be blithely motoring on towards irrelevance and oblivion in the mistaken belief that they have unlimited fuel available from their Creators bottomless bowser.

Their eye might however, be on the wrong gauge, for there is another multipurpose gauge which rarely fluctuates from "full".

It measures self indulgent ritual.

It measures irrelevance to the educated and questioning minds of young people in the 21st century.

It measures ignorance of, and callous disregard for, the reality of humanity and planet Earth. That a member of the Popes entourage-of-pomposity recently in Australia seriously suggested our little blue orb needs more population is ample evidence.  So is the refusal of churches to seriously address the worldwide AIDS epidemic because supplying condoms conflicts with outmoded religious doctrine.

It measures discrimination. The refusal to allow women access to all roles within churches is an insult to human intelligence. They nurture, and are caring.  Something I suspect religion should do more of.

It measures arrogance and disrespect.
Who gives the 2 smartly suited, just-out-of-childhood, religious salesmen the right to intrude into the privacy of my domain, and have the temerity to suggest that I need to live a better way of life?
I am living my own better way of life.  It is one that I have consciously, thoughtfully and carefully planned and developed over several decades, and has included my own theological considerations.  I am very much at peace with my world. Moreover, I have the modesty to understand that "my way" is not necessarily applicable to anyone else and rarely feel the need to proselytise.

It measures profiteering.  Often from those who can least afford it.
The building of crystal palaces.  The conduct of crusades at sporting venues in the poorest countries on earth, all designed to inspire blind and unthinking religious fervour and a monumental outpouring of cash.  

Perhaps it might just be better for everyone when the fuel runs out, and organised religion just slowly pulls over to the side of the road to let more important vehicles go past. 

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Vale Mr Molar

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It is with deep regret, sadness and enduring pain, that GOF announces the death of Mr Molar, previous long time resident at #6 in the Lower East Quarter.  He is sorely (very sorely) missed by his neighbours and landlord.

And yet another tale involving grief. Following the sad loss of his wife, the grieving husband selected a headstone for her grave to include the inscription;
"Lord she was Thine"
The widower then died and was unable to witness the dilemma faced by the stone masons.  The headstone was too narrow to complete this eulogy.  Thus, legend has it, that somewhere in England there is a memorial proclaiming;
"Lord she was Thin"
A timely reminder that a small omission may indeed completely alter the tenor of the original proposal.

I am of the opinion that it is within the purview of the common man, to, at least once in a lifetime, produce a single, ground breaking contribution to the collective philosophy of our species. Perhaps the result of lengthy research, or simply being the "chosen one" to pass on a revelation received from a higher power.
My opportunity came many years ago, and I blew it.

I chose to launch my "truth" to a friend who is also a mother and amateur philosopher.

"The pain of a mans toothache is equivalent to that of a womans childbirth"

And waited for her applause and approval.

Even at a distance of several years I find it difficult  to revisit the embarrassment and ignominy I suffered at her response, but I am now able to understand where I went wrong.
Firstly I chose the wrong audience.
Secondly my research was a little deficient, like the headstone. Only mine was 50% deficient given that I had difficulty in replicating part 2 of my proposal.  (to those who, over subsequent years have made various unsolicited offensive and indelicate research suggestions I am quite frankly appalled)

I still maintain that similarities exist. Recently I was quoted $2800 to have a single tooth restored to its former glinting glory. Roughly equivalent to the cost of an uncomplicated childbirth in a hospital.  Both also involve a significant emotional involvement.   During the past few days I have been selflessly suffering whilst conducting additional research. There was an era when tooth extraction was a 5 minute procedure involving anaesthetic, very large pliers and a short period of intense synchronised grunting.
It now involves X-ray, image analysis, conferencing with oral surgeons, pliers and intense grunting. In my case the initial pliers and grunting phase was unproductive, and the call was sent out to install an industrial circular saw in my mouth to "section" the tooth prior to re-pliersing and re-grunting.  The process took an hour and was very disrespectful of my dear (and now departed) molar. I was attached to it. (indeed extraordinarily attached to it).  It was an integral part of "me" for many years.  The leading husky on my sledge of digestion. My main masticator.  Gone……sawn up, removed and treated like trash.
He deserved better than that.  I am sad.
So, whilst I am riding a wave of public sympathy, perhaps I could re-launch my proposal;

"The pain of a mans………

Or maybe not.  I suspect half of the population of the world is still not ready to hear my truth. I am a man ahead of his time.

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A special moment

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Yesterday I coincidentally wrote about leaving space within our selves to appreciate special things which come into our lives unexpectedly.

Last night on "So you think you can dance" Katie and Will danced a pas de deux.
My technical knowledge of dance is close to zero, but at least I now know what a pas de deux is.

Their exhibition of human movement was one of incomparable and exquisite beauty.  A display of such incredible artistry, talent, excellence and emotion, that it drew the judges to comment it was the finest they had ever seen.

And it also brought tears to the eyes of at least one normally cynical old man.

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Is 80% enough?

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The thoughtful writings of another voxer recently inspired me to give further consideration to issues surrounding happiness and contentment.
Are they indeed the same commodity?  For me, happiness implies a more temporary smile-on-the-face state of euphoria, whilst contentment constitutes a more mellow and enduring consciousness.
Perhaps like intermittent virtuoso instrumental performances playing over a background of lush symphony orchestration.

We are all familiar with the categorisation of people into the "glass half full" or "glass half empty" personality types. The published analysts of human behaviour all seem too eager to delineate black and white whilst ignoring all the pleasant shades of grey in between.

Let us retain the drinking vessel metaphor.  In real life I prefer my old, battered, stained, non-symmetrical, once enamel coated tin pannikin, because it more accurately reflects my personality than does fine bone china with handpainted periwinkles.  So, as is my wont to be different, we shall now consider my metaphoric pannikin and its contents of happiness and contentment. (H & C)

Western society is relentlessly driven to fill up with material possessions.  It is almost an obsession.  Beyond basic food, clothing, shelter and modest financial security your H&C pannikin will still remain considerably less than half full, no matter how many plasma screens, Lamborghini's  and Ipods you try and shove in there.

So, how do we get to fill the pannikin?  Some more highly intelligent and educated than me (or should that be I) have suggested three essential ingredients;
1. Something to do
2. Someone to love
3. Something to look forward to.

Over simplification? Yes.  But it provides goalposts towards which we can kick. (I suffer from metaphor confusion)  It does not mention the minutia we might encounter on the way down the field. Such things as the entire opposing team who are more highly trained, have a huge bodyweight advantage, and drink at the pub which is owned by the referee.
Then there is the very real possibility of sabotage from within your own team.
Some people have a vested interest in keeping us unhappy.

Our pannikin can only be filled by loving and supportive family and friends, good health and by harvesting blessings and memorable moments from our daily activities.  Most importantly it should contain a healthy amount of love and appreciation of our own selves. A "knowingness" that we are living a life of good intent, and being useful and considerate to others.

Does the pannikin ever become 100% full?  I suspect that would be detrimental to our wellbeing.  Some sadness and discontent is a vital part of the human experience and it engenders an essential resilience.
If the pannikin were to spill over the edge after adding a few extra drops, I fear that we could lose something very precious that we were holding onto.

I will settle at having my pannikin about 80% full.  Perhaps life was not intended to be any better than that.

Besides, I want to leave the last 20% available to receive random unexpected blessings, acts of kindness, a special moon-rise over the ocean, reunions with long lost friends, or the inspirational works of fellow voxers.

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Elle (002 of 2736)

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….and this one goes in here…….


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Poisoning pigeons in the park

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"Tom Lehrer is the most brilliant song satirist ever recorded."

Not my words, and nothing more needs to be added.  

GOF would like to acknowledge Tom Lehrers recent 80th birthday by sharing his song lyrics, in a celebration of political incorrectness.


Spring is here, a-suh-puh-ring is here.
Life is skittles and life is beer.
I think the loveliest time of the year is the spring.
I do, don't you? 'Course you do.
But there's one thing that makes spring complete for me,
And makes ev'ry Sunday a treat for me.

All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon,
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.
Ev'ry Sunday you'll see
My sweetheart and me,
As we poison the pigeons in the park.

When they see us coming, the birdies all try an' hide,
But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.
The sun's shining bright,
Ev'rything seems all right,
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.


We've gained notoriety,
And caused much anxiety
In the Audubon Society
With our games.
They call it impiety,
And lack of propriety,
And quite a variety
Of unpleasant names.
But it's not against any religion
To want to dispose of a pigeon.

So if Sunday you're free,
Why don't you come with me,
And we'll poison the pigeons in the park.
And maybe we'll do
In a squirrel or two,
While we're poisoning pigeons in the park.

We'll murder them{ all }amid laughter and merriment.
Except for the few we take home to experiment.
My pulse will be quickenin'
With each drop of strychnine
We feed to a pigeon.
It just takes a smidgen!
To poison a pigeon in the park.

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The fine art of scarpering

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"Scarper" is a word not commonly used in Australia.  Its etymology may be from the Italian "scappare" (to escape), but my familiarity with it derives from U.K. television where "scarpering" means to rapidly decamp ones self from the scene of a felony and/or misdemeanor.  
The word sounds so beautiful to my ear that I would like to promulgate its usage over a much wider spectrum of human activity. Indeed, lets apply it to any situation where the present position in which we find ourselves becomes untenable, and we recognise that it is time to leave.

I have scarpered twice in my life. On neither occasion was criminal activity involved. No felony. No misdemeanor.
An ill-advised youthful marriage became terminally unsustainable and I made the decision to rapidly scarper, but (I hasten to add) as responsibly as the circumstances prevailing at the time would allow.
I also found it necessary to scarper from a job I had enjoyed for 12 years, when unnecessary petty bureaucracy seriously limited my ability to do effective work.

On both occasions I could perhaps have conducted my scarpering with considerably more panache.  In retrospect, my scarpering was an act of defiance, a refusal to become a lifelong victim of anyone who deliberately chose to make my life miserable.
It was also an intellectual acknowledgement that I was not excelling in either of these areas of my life, and that it was time for a fresh start.

I have since chosen to be self employed for the past 25 years, and have rarely had cause to complain about my employer.
My partner of the last 28 years continues to give me great happiness and an understanding that there could be no greener pasture  to which I should scarper.

Indeed, so successful were my two scarpering events that I would like to encourage others to adopt the practice.  I herewith supply some modest examples.

Elite athletes;   gymnasts who head butt the vaulting horse instead of sproinging over it, or slip off the high beam causing damage to genitalia or other body parts……DO NOT be a hero and resume your routine.  Finishing is not everything.  Seek retribution.  Abuse the equipment by all means, but, most importantly, simply walk out of the arena with a smile on your face.  Confuse the critics.  Scarper with class.

Iceskaters;   When you miscalculate your position on the surface of the Earth and propel yourself backwards into the fence at 60 kph, accept the moment of public humiliation as a necessary alternative to glory.  Acknowledge the pain you feel.  Whine, wail, howl for however long it is necessary for you to be long remembered in the annals of ice skating.  Gold medal performances will be forgotten in time.  Yours will not.  Then just scarper.  Accept the financial rewards forthcoming from the media.  Just go and do something more suited to your talents.

Current Olympic bicycle road racers;  If you run off the side of the road into a ditch so deep it probably goes all the way to China, recognise that it was an inherently unstable, two wheeled crappy velocipede which brought you to this point in your life.  Leave it where it is. The garbage truck will collect it.  Make your way on foot, directly to the nearest purveyor of alcoholic beverages.  Enjoy some rice wine, and plan what sort of FOUR wheeled machinery you will race next time.

For the remainder of us.  Never be afraid to scarper.
Walk now.  Walk with dignity and head held high, for life is too short to complete an inept routine, and then sit around waiting for sympathetic applause.

Heroism is best left for the real heroes.

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