Public transport: inconvenient but frequently hilarious

Conversation observed between a mother and a small child at the back of the bus,
during early morning commuter rush.

Small child: *staring at the back of the seat in front* There’s a drawing there, Mummy!

Mother: *distracted on iPhone* Mmm.

Small child: *louder* It’s a drawing, Mummy! Look! What is it?

Mother: *looks up briefly, flinches when she realises said drawing is a crude representation of male anatomy* It’s nothing darling, it’s just scribble.

Small child: No, it’s not scribble. It’s a drawing……………of an animal! It lives in the water and swims around and makes a noise like this *mimics an elephant*. Guess what it is, mummy, guess!

Mother: *sighs* A seal?

Small child: No, it isn’t a SEAL. See? It has a long nose! *traces the drawing with a finger*. It’s NOT a seal. You can’t say seal. Or shark. Or penguin. Or octopus.

Mother: Don’t touch it, darling. It’s dirty.

Small child: IT’S A WALRUS!

saxophone walrus

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Advice Needed – volume one

This entry is brought to you courtesy of slow tethered internet, which I have had to embrace of late. It’ll still be a few weeks before I have proper home internet. New digs, new connection, all that jazz. But no matter, as we have more important things to discuss.

Scientists have long held as established empirical fact that nothing bad ever happens on the internet. Jerks aren’t allowed on it, everything you read is true and there is general agreement on all counts. In this way, the internet is unlike any large-scale gathering of people. But even if this weren’t true, and the internet was full of awful people who leave awful comments on awful news websites, it would still be possible to learn things from it. I myself learn from the internet all the time, even with the limited access I’ve had recently.

I’m not just talking about Wikipedia, either. I’m mean life lessons, drawn from the not-insignificant amount of internet advice columns I read. I’m a fan of Salon’s Cary Tennis, the rather less family-friendly Dan Savage of The Stranger and sometimes Slate’s Dear Prudence. They cover a wide range of topics between them, so I get a good cross section of that part of the population that chooses to write to online advice columnists.
One of the best things about these columns is the reader comments. Since everyone has an opinion about what Mr. Such and Such should do about his rude brother-in-law, this amounts to dozens of additional lectures, life stories and pieces of advice. So, I read and learn and think about my own opinions. And I’d like to think that all that thinking has gone some way towards forming my Code To Live By.

The First Lesson I Have Learned From Online Advice Columns: Loaning Money

scrooge_mcduck 

 

Money seems to make everyone a little crazy. From what I read, if you want to ruin a relationship fast, bring money into it. Despite being little bits of paper and metal with almost no actual value besides that which we attach to it, money is deep stuff. Money is linked to survival and tends to elicit powerful emotions from people, though this isn’t always acknowledged. Advice columns are full of people who are upset about money and are surprised to be so.

A typical situation:
X and Y are related, or friends. Y gets in a jam, asks X for a cash loan. X agrees, wants to help, has the resources or considers themselves generous, etc.
There may be a conversation at the time like,

XY, I want to help you out. Just do whatever it takes to get better/get those hired goons off your back/win that poker tournament, and don’t worry about paying me back until   you can.
YYou are awesome X. But don’t be silly. Of COURSE I will pay you back the moment I can.

*warm fuzzy feelings all around*

The financial situation eventually improves for Y, but the money is never mentioned again. X starts to feel angry, not because they need the money (or maybe they do), but mainly because Y doesn’t even start talking about paying it back and instead buys a new TV. X doesn’t want to bring it up, because they feel it will be awkward. They also feel guilty for feeling angry at X, because money is supposed to be petty and good people are naturally above wanting possessions and thinking about money and buying groceries and all that. Gradually, the relationship becomes irrevocably damaged because X can’t be around Y without thinking of the money and wondering how Y could be the kind of person who doesn’t care enough to repay someone who was kind enough to help them.

You could say that the moral of this story is that if someone gives you a loan, no matter how vague the circumstances of re-payment, pay back the goddamn money.
But people are stupid. Just watch Judge Judy. People will convince themselves that the person lending didn’t actually WANT the money back, that it was a gift and people who loan money with the expectation that it will be returned one day are mean and hateful and don’t have souls, or that it doesn’t matter because X has a better car than them anyway and doesn’t really deserve the money back, especially because Y had a terrible childhood and X once said something at a party about how Y wasn’t very good at soccer.
Did that make any sense? No it didn’t. Because people are stupid.

Hence, I have devised three rules regarding the loaning of money.

Everyone: Try not to ask family and friends for money if you can possibly avoid it. People don’t generally like to have less money than they currently have.
Potential Lenders: Don’t loan money if you’re not ok with the possibility of not getting it back. People prefer to have more money than they currently have. If they can think of an excuse to not give you back money you have given them, it’s likely they’ll run with it. If you like someone, and have extra money and would like to help them, consider the possibility of a donation.
Also, call me.
Recipient of Loan : If the first two pieces of advice are ignored and you are loaned a sum of money by a family member or friend, PAY IT BACK. If it’s going to take a long time, let the person know. Fact: people would much prefer to get $5 a month from you, rather than embarrassed silence. That $5 says, “I may not have much, but I honour our agreement and appreciate what you did for me, so here is proof of that”.

And that is what I think about loaning money. I also hear that banks are prepared to loan you money, though they tend to be much less cool with you buying a pet monkey with your spare money afterwards, instead of giving it back to them.

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Meh.

…I started writing a post, but then I couldn’t find any pictures to illustrate it and I don’t like posting things without pictures unless they’re really short (and this post wasn’t) and then I started looking at Reddit and working on a mixtape, so like, I’ll be SUPER BUSY for the rest of the evening. Sorry.

Go and read this

It is likely superior to anything you will find here.

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Hey Coles! Eat This! (Part Two)

Dear readers (indeed, if you have not all deserted me by now),

I am sorry.

I am no good at multi-tasking.

I’m clearly not able to juggle working the same grown-up hours  as everyone else, a couple of dance classes, a gentleman whom I see on weekends, and a deep, burning desire to zone out on the couch when the washing needs to be done and the leftovers need to be packed up. Not yet, anyway.
But I have a plan!
Starting next week, Tuesday nights (between the hours of 8 and 10pm) shall be For Blogging. Not this week, ‘cos it’s Monday and I had to shuffle some things around. But yeah! See, it’s awesome already!

OK SSSHH IT’S ABOUT TO START!

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Groceries were bought. Budgets were kept to. Joyful skipping was indulged in. Dough was kneaded. Things were sauteed, simmered and fried. Canapes were et, in the kitchen, like they should be, so the cooks don’t get left out. Dinner was served. The people rejoiced.

We decided on Mexican food, as wholemeal tortillas/flatbread are dead easy and cheap and the vegetables we got on special (sweetcorn and capsicum) suggested something el grande. The final menu was:

Wholemeal Flatbread

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Vegetarian Chilli

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Stir-Fried Sweetcorn

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Dulce De Leche Cos We Found Condensed Milk Going At 5 CANS FOR A DOLLAR And I Had This Awesome David Leibovitz Recipe

(No picture of this. Mostly because we were too busy eating it)

Canapes and a fruit flan were provided by our guests (on the off-chance we didn’t have enough food, or what we did have ended up sucking). It was hearty to the max.
Soilduck posted our full recipes and methods in this blog post, so I won’t double up and shall instead just link you.

So, did we make a delicious, fairly healthy and plentiful dinner, consisting of at least two dishes for $2.50 a head, buying all our ingredients from Coles? Indeed we did.

Was it hard and did it involve tons of slaving over a hot stove? Nope. It was an exceptionally fun evening.

Did we cheat a bit and sometimes chuck in things we had lying around to spice things up a little? Hells yeah. More than ten years of cooking muscle memory made it pretty hard not to. Sorry.

So what did I learn?

First of all, Coles is full of poop. Their campaign was fairly insulting to people who already know how to cook on the cheap, do it often and do it well. To people who don’t have a lot of cooking skills and need a helping hand with a budget, they could’ve done better than a handful of lame recipes with a dodgy pricing system. My Mum told me the other day that the pinnacle of Real Hard-Hitting Investigative Journalism, ACA, called them out for it too. So you know I’m right.

Secondly, people on low incomes need to know how to shop for an entire week or more’s worth of meals cheaply, not just one night’s dinner. According to the tax department, I still fall into this category, so I’m allowed to get a bit preachy . Knowing how to work with leftovers, plan meals and make certain things from scratch has been a valuable skill set when money is tight and I needed more than a Violet Crumble for lunch.

Lastly, and not to kill you with surprise or anything, but Coles isn’t that cheap. On the way out with our shopping, Soilduck and I noticed that the fruit and veg market a few doors down had entire racks of specials that put our meagre goods to shame. We both shop at Aldi and know how cheap certain things can be there. Plus there’s farmer’s markets and the vegetables and herbs sometimes grown by ourselves and our friends.
Both of us reckon that by utilising all the resources available to us (lucky as we are with transport and weekends and such), we could’ve made a much better and cheaper meal than we managed on this challenge.

We’re planning another one soon. Hopefully you won’t have to wait as long for the results as you did for Part Two.

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