Monday, 15 March 2010

The Rise of the Curmudgeon

Curmudgeon, it's a lovely word, isn't it. Conjures great mental images. Hamish Keith may have cornered the market on Cultural Curmudgeon-ry (is that a word?), but anyone can indulge in the highly amusing pastime of General Curmudgeonry.

I am a Consideration Curmudgeon in that I think that many people today seem to think only of themselves or their immediate family.

For example, car parking. Everyone from the beat-up 1991 Toyota Corolla (mine) to the latest model SUV seems to fear the tiniest paint scratch, so much so, that they park half a mile from the next car in the carpark or on the street. But if they just considered others and thought, "I'll park neatly and permissibly close so that others might find a park in this much sought-after parking area," then we could park 12 cars where they have only managed to park 4! You get my drift. Think outside your own selfish square, people!

Or, litter. Don't break that glass bottle (a) where a small child will walk (b) where it will rip my bike tyre to shreds or (c) where it may injure that cat (cruising by itself) or dog being walked.
Take it home and recycle it. You are not cool or down with your homies when you smash bottles, you're just a dick! Don't throw that shopping trolley in the river where it looks ugly and affects the water birds. Take it back to the good people at WoolCountPak'n'New World. They'll smile at you because each one costs them several hundred dollars. Don't get up from your picnic and leave your rubbish behind. Who do you think will put it in the bin for you? Santa Claus? If there is no bin, take it home. It's not rocket science.

Ahhhhh! That feels good! Enough curmudgeoning for now, but, remember, one dark night when the old lady with the Mobility sticker can't park near the library or when the oaf smashes his umpteenth TuiSpeightsDB bottle to impress his mates, the Curmudgeon will arise and wreak a terrible vengeance.

Born-Again Nerd

Being of a certain age, 53, I am what marketers and demographers call a Baby Boomer. Born in 1957, I'm on the tail-end of the post-war Baby Boom, almost tipping into the next generation, whatever that is...Generation Why?

Also, being a bit of an avowed leftie, for years I resisted mobile phones because I didn't want to feed the big corporations that were thrusting useless consumer goods upon us for profit to the detriment of the Earth.

But a couple of years ago, my wife got a new mobile phone and I inherited her old one which was given to us originally by a friend. It is decidedly low-tech in comparison to the 2010 models, but I did discover the nifty convenience of texting.

Obsessive texting was seen as the preserve of the teenager and, although I don't send 100 texts a day like many teens, it has proved very handy at times, even my meagre 1-10 texts a day.

I've always (as a writer) seen the labour-saving convenience of the personal computer, but when we bought an Apple IMac, my nerdish tendencies were born. It can do so many amazing things! God bless those geeks toiling away in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

Take as one small example. I wanted to email some song lyrics I'd written years ago to a potential new-found musical collaborator. They were typewritten on an actual typewriter. Previously, I'd have to travel to our public library, pay to photocopy the lyrics and then post them snail mail.

Now, thanks to the lovely Apple IMac, I can scan them from a scanner into the IMac, save them as PDFs and attach them in an email to my potential collaborator. Mucho time and work saved!

You're thinking..."Big deal. So what. Get a life." But I'm thinking: "Thank you, Saint Steve Jobs, here's a prayer of gratitude from a Born-Again Nerd."


I was listening to some old John Lennon songs and naturally, Imagine, was one of them. It got me thinking because he opens with the lyrics: "Imagine no religion..."

I believe in a spiritual force at work in the world, but I'm not fussed on organised religions. Look what a mess they've gotten the world into. Would we have 9/11 without Islam? Would we have the Crusades without Christianity?

Buddhism has not seemed to blot its copybook. It does not believe in violent proselytisation. But it has slightly factionalised as well into the Thai and Tibetan traditions.

But as John Lennon says: "Nothing to kill or die for." Are you listening Al Qaeda, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney et al?

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Armchair Parents

I attended my 10-year-old son's school triathlon recently. I was a parent helper and, as such, I  volunteered to marshal on the course. I was a marshall for the bicycle leg.

During the course of this duty, I was amazed at the messages being shouted at the beleaguered children from the competitive parents. "Go hard (name)!", "Use your gears (name)!" Really dig it in (name)!" etc.

I was only there to support my son and I didn't care if he came first or one hundred and first. I was quite astounded at how seriously many of these parents took the event. Also, what seemed ironic was that many of the most vocal, competitive parents looked like they would struggle to walk to the TV to change the channel much less compete in a triathlon. Many beer guts abounded as did thunder thighs, huge hips and ballast bums. As the Americans say: "Go figure!"