Monthly Archives: July 2012

Hair Rules

We need rules, people.  Without them, the fabric of society tears like the trouser seam of a big bloke bending over.

But I have discovered a set of rules that are being brazenly flaunted every day, with apparent impunity. These are the vital regulations pertaining to the wearing, and general upkeep, of toupees. There are hard, and fast requirements for the wearing of a rug, and they need be uncompromisingly enforced:

  1. A hair-hat should always, at least vaguely, match any real hair colour.
  2. A bowling-ball badger should always be placed the right way around, unless you are on your way to a fancy dress party, kitted out as Ringo, circa 1965.
  3. A cannonball cover must be fastened on properly, not clipped on like a cheap tie or stuck on with the double sided tape you bought at a 7/11.
  4. Oil, cream, even a suntan, can come in an aerosol can. Hair cannot. Spray on hair looks like – spray on hair.
  5. A scull-rat should only be attempted while you still have some hair. Turning up to work, bald one day, and looking like Leo Sayer the next, will only result in a lifetime of jokes, all at your expense.
  6. Take note of your bald or balding friends before going on-line and ordering what was once somebody’s beloved cat. There’s actually nothing wrong with the way they look.
  7. If you didn’t have curly hair, don’t buy a curly nut-cover. There is no upside to having what will look like a fidgety squirrel on your thinning straight locks.
  8. Do not skimp on price. Covering the chrome-dome with a head-mat made from a recycled 1970’s fibre-optic lamp will make you light up a room – for all the wrong reasons. If you have to get one, spend money on it.
  9. You can safely ignore the use-by date on canned beans – I promise they will last forever; a skull-warmer most certainly will not. An old and tatty one just looks like head roadkill.
  10. No matter how well you look after a dome-cover, if it’s the Patrick Swayze, ‘Dirty Dancing’ style – it’s time to upgrade. You wouldn’t still own a ‘brick’ mobile phone; don’t wear a hairpiece that Ronald Regan would have approved of.

Simple really.

 


Olympic Moments

Why is it I slavishly watch sports that I am interested in exactly once every four years? How many 100-metre races do I watch in between Olympics? Precisely zero, that’s how many. But come Olympic time, I will watch fencing, shooting, weightlifting, archery and a myriad of other sports that if I came across them while channel surfing at other times, I would complain there was nothing to watch.

So what’s the attraction? Is it the contemptible judging of boxing?  (I once heard of a fight awarded to the guy who was knocked out.) Or is it the steroid popping field and strength sports? I don’t know, but I have tuned in ever since I can remember. In recent history, I marveled first hand at the spectacular Sydney games. When it was Athens turn I watched Israel and Dominican Republic score their first-ever gold medals and saw a German kayaker win her 8th gold medal at all 6 Olympics she has competed at. On to Beijing, and my wife and I had a delightful evening at the horse jumping in Hong Kong – cheering on people I had never heard of before, in a sport I may never watch again. Stirring stuff.

As we move to London 2012, it simply can’t be a bigger ‘event’ than Beijing, that’s just not economically possible. Maybe there is a unique opportunity to bring the Olympics back to what it was designed for – a showcase of athletic talent, rather than the razzmatazz of opening and closing ceremonies, or athletes’ pharmaceutical prowess.

However it goes, what will I be watching it all as I settle in at night while the family sleeps? Let me first detail what I will not be watching:

Tennis:

Give me a break, with grudging apologies to all the tennis fans (including my wife) I just can’t get enthused over a sport where if the crowd utters a peep during a serve, the player throws a wobbly.  In any event, there are enough professional tournaments, without having to have multi-millionaire tennis babies spitting Olympic size dummies.

Taekwondo:

Get rid of it. It’s the soccer of martial arts.

Someone delivers a knee kick or low blow and the competitor falls, writhing around the floor like a stuck pig and when no penalty comes, up he gets ready to continue.  A penalty should only be awarded for the loss of an eye or a digit.

Greco-Roman wrestling – aka brokeback wrestling:

Who doesn’t love seeing a couple of sweaty blokes dressed in spandex swimwear roll around the floor? But really, as I understand it, the Greek glory days are over 2000 years behind us and the Romans, not that much after. Give it up lads – move on.

BMX

What is this? The 1980′s? If I want to see a bunch of spiky haired morons wearing their undies above their pants, I’ll buy a skateboard and hang out at the local park. This is not an Olympic sport.

What I will be watching, does need to be revamped for the 21st century:

Fencing:

What a bunch of aristocratic show-ponies. Get rid of the pretentious French for a start. “En garde!” Give me a break. Sharper weapons and less protection are what we need.   Competitors should reasonably expect to die in this sport.

Shooting:

Pistol shooters should use a Smith and Wesson six-shooter, John Wayne style. The pistols nowadays don’t look remotely scary. They should be using a gun you could rob a 7-11 with, should you need to.

Women’s Beach Volleyball:

No complaints


Why Is It So?

There are lots of things I don’t understand.

For instance:

  • Why does the door on a tumble dryer stay locked for several minutes after the cycle is finished? Is it punishing me for not hanging my washing out to air dry?
  • Why did I have to learn (insert: “attempt to learn”) square roots in school? 25 years as a stockbroker and not only did I never need to know the square root of anything, I don’t know anyone who did.
  • Why does the warning on cough mixture say “May cause drowsiness, do not operate heavy machinery after taking.” – So I can’t drive a steamroller, but I can use a chainsaw?

There are many questions that perhaps there are just no answers for.

So let’s cut to the chase. I am on holidays in France at the moment, and I can say with complete confidence, France is a truly spectacular country. So, why then, do the French feel the need to drive like maniacs? Well, I should qualify that, they are not at the top of the maniac scale, that’s the Italians, clearly, but they are certainly close.

My family and I are in Provence, so essentially that means we are up to our elbows in cheap but sensational red wine, every conceivable variety of cheese, baguettes, pain au chocolat’s, croissants, the lot. Every hill has a postcard perfect medieval village perched majestically for all to admire, and every field is bursting with dreamy swathes of lavender, mouth-watering cherries, or centuries old vineyards.

Oh, and of course, every road has maniac French drivers. Into the mix of narrow country lanes and gently rolling hills, is thrown the Gallic country driver. A beret wearing, stripey shirted anger merchant, who needs to be somewhere else urgently, and decides the only way to make the car in front get a move on, is to tailgate it. Most of these roads are simply glorified laneways barely 1 ½ car widths wide, and so the other issue is Pepé le Pew driving at warp speed down a road built in 1542; to accommodate two horses passing.  And if Monsieur cheeseball-eater is in a truck or van, all the closer, and faster, must he drive.

I suppose as a tourist, and a usually left-hand side of the road driver, I tend to go slower than a local, and maybe it’s a bit like I’m driving Miss Daisy, but French drivers, listen up: Tailgating just makes me go slower. So while you drive at a sedate pace behind me, don’t get angry, enjoy the stunning views and think about this:

Why is it that nobody has proposed that the Mayan calendar, which stops on 21 Dec 2012 – apparently signifying doomsday – was merely the result of the bloke who had to carve it into a rock, getting bored? I mean seriously, maybe his chisel just broke? Or he reached mandatory retirement age?

Relax everyone!


Service (less)

What do doctors, dentists, tradesmen, and utility technicians all have in common? That’s right, none of them either owns or can effectively operate, a watch.

If you go to the doctor, even if you are the third appointment for the day, the doctor will be running late. Why? Was there an emergency? Was there a person before you in need of the kiss of life? Was the doctor up to the elbows in someone’s chest, after a terrible accident involving a circular saw and a banana peel?  Ummm, no.

I had a doctors’ visit recently, and against all the odds, managed to book his first appointment of the day. Oh yeah, baby, I was going to march in there, see him, and march out triumphantly. I might have even lingered a bit, just to make sure the second appointment was a bit late. Terrible, I know, but when you get the first consultation of the day, it’s important to make the most of it, because the chances of it happening again, are statistically zero.

So in I marched for my 9:30am appointment – hard workers these doctors, mid morning starts must take a terrible toll on the family. But anyway, I didn’t bother to look for a seat, because I was number 1 in the queue.

I should have. The doctor wandered in like a lost cow, 20 minutes after the arranged time. If he had arrived covered in the blood of a saved life, I’d be fine. If he had come in, and handed me a medical journal detailing his long and successful nights spent perfecting his new cure for hair loss, I’d be fine. Instead, he was sipping on a latte, as if he was 20 minutes early and had plenty of time to check the newspaper for any decent yachts for sale.

If the cable TV goes down and a repairman is needed, stand by to be put on hold for 1 full day, and when you get through to the person in Mumbai, be prepared for this:

“Yes sir, how may help?”

“My cable TV doesn’t work.”

“Oh how awful, we will send someone out to fix it.”

“That would be great, thanks.”

“How does next March sound? Say the 29th? We will be there sometime between the hours of 6am and 10pm.”

Let me assure you, the man will not be there at 6am. Nor will he be there at 6pm. He will wander through the door at 10:30pm, without, obviously, the right equipment, nor tools, to fix the problem.

Is it bad time management? Or do these people just try and jam as many people in as they can, knowing the consumer, regardless of it being medical products, or plumbing needs, will dutifully wait?

I could just revolt, and refuse to be treated like a second-class citizen. In fact, the next time I ring the cable company, and they give me a 3 day window, the next time I need the doctor, the next time I have a problem with a light switch, I’ll tell them: I want immediate service, and if not, they can go and get stuffed.

And there I will be, sitting in the dark, watching “I Love Lucy” reruns on free to air, with a dangling limb covered in banana peel. They have my measure.


Security Breakdown

Without rules, society breaks down, so I’m not saying they aren’t necessary. Some, however, have gotten out of control. Take airport screening, for example.  It’s not always about safety; it’s sometimes about power. Read any newspaper, and you will periodically see a story about an airport official separating parents from a young child, or conducting invasive or unnecessary searches on babies or the elderly. I personally think the people that do these things are generally a minority of small-minded creeps on a power kick. Proper security people don’t tear toddlers away from their parents.

So here’s my story: I was stopped once at Sydney airport. I had my daughter’s backpack. My daughter went through with mum, and I followed. In my possession, was a bottle of, apparently, plane hijacking water.  Yep, here was my cunning plan:

“EVERYBODY DOWN!” Or I’ll OPEN THE WATER!”

I was taken aside and gruffly told: “water was verboten”. When I suggested to the officer that water in a child’s sippy cup might not be much of a weapon, he responded by telling me to empty the entire contents of my bag (which had passed security without a problem), and the entire contents of my child’s bag, as well. That done, he didn’t even search through the laid out goods. He was just making a point  – HE was in charge, and security was not the issue. Thanks mate, I feel so much safer now.

I am all for safely boarding a plane, without having to worry if the guy next to you is wearing a hat made from a pound of plastic explosives, but let’s have some degree of common sense at airports. Security people and passengers seem to have developed a combative relationship, (and I freely acknowledge, I have been unnecessarily rude to well meaning security people), so let’s all try and be a little compromising. Security has a job to do ensuring safety. They don’t have a job to do, using their power for evil.

Passengers clearly want to get into the free beer on the plane as soon as possible, but should be mindful of reasonable requests from security personnel. So everyone – be nicer to each other!

I will make an effort to smile and happily take off my belt and shoes, even if the girl in front of me is allowed to go through unmolested wearing hand grenade earrings.  In return, I’d like to be treated like a person, and not like an enemy combatant.

Many years ago a dear friend gave me a bit of advice I have often quoted over the years:

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice”.

Corny? Maybe – True? Definitely.


10 Reasons Not to Delete Email Spam

1)   You can earn an online degree with no assignments, or indeed, any intelligence required: “Yes Boss, I have been extremely busy this year, I earned a degree from a prestigious, non-accredited university. Professor Ngalabombo from the Nigerian University told me I was his most profitable student ever”.

2)   You can become a Police Officer on-line – Ever want to pull over that annoying driver and show him who’s the boss? The only hitch is you have to provide your own gun and baton.

3)   You can learn a new language in 10 days: Is “stupidity” a language? Must be, I suppose.

4)   You can improve your Credit Rating with an Aqua Card: The rate is surprisingly ‘competitive’ at just 35%. I agree, that is very surprising!

5)   You can win laser eye surgery with Optical Express: Oh yes, let’s jump on this one, just keep very still while they hold your eyes open with those pegs.

6)   You can get cheap auto insurance, just US$9.00 per week: The claims department is conveniently located on the 17th floor of the company’s 16-floor building.

7)   You can become an X-ray technician online and earn US$57,000 per year: what could possibly go wrong here?

8)   You can get an oriental rug set for just US$120.00: Rugs are just never on sale, ever. This is the deal of the day.

9)   Guys, you can finally get that penis implant you have been hankering for: I think I’ll go for the “George Clooney” – that has to be a winner, surely.

10)   We will, of course, need some Viagra to complement the “Clooney” appendage: or at least a truly remarkable and cheap generic brand. It’s also useful if your pets have fleas.

If these don’t grab you, and I can’t, for the life of me understand why they wouldn’t, there is always this particularly unique offer:

“Travel to Uruguay! Naked!”


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