Toddler wrangling

‘We have modest goals now. Like trying to get out of the house at 7am. Why are we so bad at this?’ – My wife, seventy-twenty-three.

…while I drag the two year old towards the car by her ankles. The old gods, Wotan and Freya raise their clipboards in unison, I’m in serious jeopardy of loosing my status as a bona fide German, punctuality is not an optional extra in this geographically bound subcategory of Homo Sapiens. I may have to haul out some cultural stereotypes to rack up some quick credit. Socks and sandals (apparently) is a surefire ten points.

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Maybe its the threat of violence and ironclad discipline that is lacking? Maybe we should enroll my daughter in assassin school instead of a Montessori. But then we’d have to fear for our lives as well deal with the constant frustration of a toddler exerting her will. I’m not sure I’m ready for that level of constant vigilance. I already got eye-gouged once this morning.

Tomorrow is a public holiday here. I’m not sure which one*. I can barely remember the made up Christian holidays never mind the spurious secular ones meant to… actually I have no idea. Maybe if there was free beer or gladiatorial combat I’d be more into it.

*Freedom day! (I checked)

Having never been oppressed or deprived of liberty (other than by the tax-man) I can’t really empathize. I mean I could try… but it would just be empty platitudes meant to virtue signal.

Sorry.

 

The myth of adulthood

 

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This perfectly encapsulates how I feel about life at the moment.

I am also procrastinating. I should be paying attention. I’ve been grappling (I think that might be too kind a verb) with this (stupid) tax calculation for… about two days now. I’ve now finally asked my wife to help me. This is basically my default setting. Try something obviously beyond me. Get frustrated. Get angry. Get depressed. Ask my wife to open the child-proof container.

Its a vicious cycle.

My day started off at Starbucks. The slowest Starbucks in the history of the world. Ever. Also the guy in front of me didn’t know what he wanted and then had to connect to the free wifi before he could pay for his Caramel Frappuccino® . This incensed me for a lot of different reasons. Mostly because despite sporting the appearance of a grownup he was just so clearly inept at life. How did he get here? What evolutionary fluke was playing out? Should I step on his larynx?

 

 

The grim reality of Basset Hound ownership

I swallowed a bug.

That is a bit of a misnomer. It’s more like I inhaled a bug. I can feel it crawling around in my alveoli. Well more likely flailing around in the sticky gumbo, like some world war one trench fighter, slowly succumbing to the undertow of muck that coats the inside of my lung. I can feel its death rattle though… and its upsetting me. Die already.

This caps off my crowning achievement for the day. Which was wrestling a half decomposed rat away from the Basset Hound before he could eat it. It came apart while we grappled for ownership of said rodent. I then had to pry his jaws open with my fingers to extract the other half before he gulp-gulp-swallowed.

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This is still better than the dead bloated toad he tried eat once. But not worse than the time he found human feces in the park… and rolled in it. That was truly a vomit inducing affair.

I felt I needed to share my pain.

15.04.2018 – Sunday (bloody) Sunday

What’s worse than your Basset Hound drinking his own body weight in water just before bedtime? It’s a trick question. There’s nothing worse.

‘Wake up human, I need to go pee’ 

A quick survey of past experiences means this REM fracturing occurrence will likely begin at two thirty seven AM and end approximately thirty minutes later. It’s rarely a case of go outside and come back in again… afterall a virtual menagerie of night creatures have tramped through the perimeter by this stage… and ALL of these interloper spoors need to be thoroughly investigated via snout, sent for threat assessment and then graded according to suspiciousness and girth of critter.

Color me excited.

‘Are you listening to church music?’
‘It’s John Cougar Mellencamp’
‘Okay… It sounds like church music’

While our Venn diagrams do overlap musically, my wife tends to view anything that isn’t Seattle circa 1990 as straying from alternative orthodoxy and should therefore be (at least initially) regarded with suspicion. (I click next). Kasabian.

‘Better?’
‘Meh.’

In Johannesburg when the mercury dips below 18C (65F) its broadly considered a sign of the end times. In very short order the dress code goes from Billabong beach casual to Northface Antarctic expedition. Also everyone suddenly starts subjectively hypothesizing how this winter is ‘Going to be REALLY* bad’.

*By REALLY bad they mean two days where the temperature will drop briefly below zero. One of those days might also be cloudy.

Since my toe-nails, cuticles and actual toes received a smattering of purple nail polish yesterday I knew I was purple-traitoring (perpetrating) a cultural faux pas by committing to flip flops today.

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But… I felt it was more important to… eh… strut my stuff as it were.

Unfortunately strutting my stuff (and trying to embarrass my wife) meant I clipped my little toe on this… f’ing… bolt

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Which cut my toe open. (I’m not having much luck with my ability to amble along these days)

Soon I was trailing O+ through the mall like it was the invasion of Normandy. (this may be a slight exaggeration)

After about thirty meters my profound and very public display of hemorrhaging  was remedied with a Disney band-aid (featuring a portrait of Princess Elsa) and a suggestion that I should ‘toughen up’. It does not get any less alpha-male than this.

I briefly considered intimating that maybe ‘someone’ should buy me a lollipop for being particularly brave… you know… under the circumstances. But then decided better of it it.

I spent the rest of the day in the kitchen. I made a roast chicken for lunch. Baked liver bread for the dogs. And fried up enough plantains and sweet potato to keep me out of ‘real’ carbohydrates for the week.

I also bought a west African Yam this morning. It’s a serious beast of a tuber (onion used for scale).

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I have no idea how I’m going to attempt cooking it yet. It’s not a very sexy vegetable, I cannot lie.

Apparently it’s good for you.

14.04.2018 – Saturday

‘Who ate the last cookie? I know it wasn’t you, because you would have left the empty box in the cupboard’

I feigned ignorance, shrugging non committedly…. but actually… it was me… I just inexplicably changed my modus operandi. Consider me admonished.

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For my sins I was corralled and then subjected to adornment. I would have preferred some cuticle work and maybe a seaweed wrap (applied to the soothing sounds of some Enya-esque alter ego). Unfortunately I got the backstreet hatchet job experience, the real life consequences of diminished bargaining power.

But that only happened much later… before things started going really awry for me we had breakfast at the Farmers market. (which included carrot-cake and a plus-sized chocolate croissant)

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Not exactly the cornerstones of high density nutrition and paleo. I mollified my concerns with dietary platitudes and bandied about terms like ‘cheat days’. It seemed to work and for good measure I inhaled a home made chicken pie. It was pure ambrosia of Olympusian* proportions. Just thinking about it now is illicting a Pavlovian response.

*My made up adjective for today.

We also bought eggs, homemade sauerkraut, sourdough and kimchi.

I love kimchi. I eat it on toast. I would write a poem about it, if only kimchi rhymed with… anything. Basically a haiku is my only option.

In your gut it does
probiotic health effects
but with garlic breath

(Counts out syllables on his fingers) I think that’s right.

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I also played with my DSLR for a bit.

13.04.2018 – Friday evening

I can’t decide whether it’s Falkor (the Luck Dragon from The NeverEnding Story) or a Basset Hound caught in mid-gallop, heading for the cookie jar.

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“Never give up; and good luck will find you.” – Falkor

I blew the dust off my DSLR earlier. Quite literally. The last pictures on there were from my wife’s baby shower. (My daughter just turned two) I don’t know much about cameras and, rather embarrassingly, I have never even swapped out the lens it came with. There is another lens in the bag… but I don’t know what it does. Wide angle maybe? Is that even a thing? After engaging with the stratocumulus mimicry above my domicile I meandered in a circuitous fashion around my garden.

I took a picture of some daisies….

Adjusting myself for what I thought might be a better ‘shot’, I put too much pressure on my twisted ankle and toppled over, furrowing myself rather unceremoniously into the flower bed.

I lay there for a while (as one does) before deciding that the best course of action would be to make this sad sort of mewling sound. Eventually staring down the double barrels of starvation and hypothermia and with no spouse or canis familiaris in sight I picked myself up and hobbled back towards the house. (ostensibly to make myself a sandwich)

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I don’t know much about light… (Other than it comes in waves and is measured in lumens) but I’ve decided that I really like the color yellow. Who knew.

13.04.2018 – Friday

I’ve decided (recently) that I hate running. I realize hate is quite an intense verb and that I used to run almost every single day.  In terms of time efficiency, it’s a really good workout, but… I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed running, not really. I suppose I could frame my statement with various excuses; I don’t have the right build, gait, mindset or that distance running is counter evolutionary to our bipedal form, but I think the reality is that I’m just more inclined towards sloth (the vice not the marsupial) and therefore just resistant to the whole concept of forward inertia coupled with the aggressive locomotion of my lower extremities. Besides, running is bad for you.

‘Why do you run Joey? Because it feels so good when I stop’.

I usually wake up (stupid) early, usually somewhere around four am. Theoretically this time between booting up and breakfast is meant to be spent in zen like contemplation, girding my loins for the day ahead. More often than not I loose myself in some mindless (fake) news event or some YouTube rabbit hole instead.

This morning I decided to take the German Shepherd for a walk. The Basset Hound was still snugly furled up in his pillow fort and it would have proved… challenging to extract him from within its confines without considerable effort.

In any event I appreciate the way that the world feels at four thirty am. I like the Noir effect and how the only people that are awake are those indentured beings delivering bread and newspapers (I’m guessing this won’t be a ‘thing’ forever). Although this morning I did meet another idiot walking his dog. (weird)

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The ubiquitous selfie. (I’m the one on the left)

My sojourn takes me up past a film studio, through a park and then I loop past a cemetery on my way back. Just under three miles. Only about five meters from my house on the return leg I tripped on the unkempt verge of my neighbors pavement and twisted my ankle. I’ve been hobbling around today ever since. The irony.

So maybe its just walking upright that seems to be problematic for me? I feel the weight of my ancestors and my kin (all the way back to homo-erectus) as they collectively share a look of concern and then face-palm.

‘Damn Joey, been walking long?’  

At thirty nine and two months I’d like to underscore that I am a slow learner. Recently my wife has been trying to teach me some more ‘occult’ like accounting practices (specifically deferred tax). If ever there was a concept that has wrinkled the gray spongy stuff!

I feel I may have reached my ‘trick limit’ and that new tricks are now beyond me. Maybe I’m aiming too high though. Instead of deferred tax I should maybe just concentrate on the basics. You know, like putting the toilet seat down and eating with my mouth closed.

That seems like a lot to remember though.

 

 

 

The 33 Strategies of War by Robert Greene

I often find myself raging (somewhat pointlessly) against titles like this. I feel it should have been titled ’33 strategies of War’. Prefixing the title with ‘The’ adds an element of finality and egotism into the mix that I don’t like. There are only thirty three strategies. And they’re all in this book. Which is clearly a misnomer.

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I know. I’m nitpicking. It might because I’m currently experiencing an un-caffeinated state of being. Also my backspace is occasionally sticking, which is super annoying because I use my backspace almost as much as my spacebar. It’s not sperm. In case you’re wondering. More likely from overuse and general wear and tear. My MacBook Air is getting on in years.

I both really like and really dislike Robert Greene. Let me qualify that antithetical statement. I think his books are amazing. (except for the titles and the boring cover theme that runs through his books) All his books are phenomenally well researched and written. In fact I’m struggling to think of another author that rivals his meticulousness and scale. The amount of reading he must do is staggering. (I’m a little jealous) This book is packed with historical examples of the concepts outlined in each chapter and the volume of quotes and anecdotes is truly mind boggling. I eventually stopped underlining stuff because… well… basically I’d have to underline the entire book. It’s that sort of tome.

HOWEVER…

I also dislike Robert Greene because of the way me makes me feel about the world. I realize this isn’t really his fault. Ha ha. But his personal ideology is heavily imprinted in his content. I am not an optimist by any stretch of the imagination. But Jesus H Christ, Robert Greene just strips the whimsy out of life.

It’s taken me almost forever to get through War for this reason. I found if I didn’t limit myself to bite-size chunks I’d start feeling very…  (whats’ the word I’m looking) bleak about the world. That might not be everyone’s reaction. Some might just see it as an interesting treatise on certain ‘type’ of operating system. I found War starting to influence my interactions with people, insofar as I started viewing every single interchange in very stark game theory-esque terms with a winner and a loser.

About half way through War I bought the audio version of the book. (which is a 27 hour 29 minute leviathan) I thought narration might soften the impact for me, but it actually made it worse. It’s very good production though and I highly recommend it. (The only ‘longer’ audiobook I have is Strategy, A history by Lawrence Freedman weighing in at 32 hours, 4 minutes)

I love strategy. But I’ve realised that I like it as a thought exercise. Something academic meant to be mulled over will I sip my Rooibos. Something I might haul out, dust off and bandy about in a boardgame. But beyond that, actually living with strategic intent, is a bit beyond me. I don’t have the presence of mind. Or indeed the discipline to live like this.

I think this means that my life will largely be unsuccessful. You know, like how some kids aren’t good at sports…

Oh well.

Why I started supporting Sam Harris

I am not an adherent of anyone, so I’m loathed to even admit this, but I started supporting Sam Harris with a monthly contribution of $10 today. So… basically three tall Lattes. Which feels somewhat cheap of me, now that I type it out. Hopefully he’ll put them to good use. Nothing like a quick caffeinated beverage before putting evil to the sword… or sending out a sardonic tweet.

I like Sam. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he says… and I am obviously discounting the (large) percentage of things that he does say that I don’t necessarily understand. (I am quite stupid).

I do think Sam is a good person and I think he approaches everything he does with the best of intentions. Although I often feel like I’m watching a masochist go about his day. I think you have to be slightly that way inclined to be willing to wade through all that vitriol and malice day after day. Perusing the comments on an innocuous SamHarrisOrg tweet (about the weather) is more akin to staring into the abyss.

‘He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.’ – Friedrich Nietzsche

I am constantly amazed that Sam hasn’t become this weird, reclusive misanthrope living in a cabin somewhere in Montana. This is likely because I think Sam Harris is in actual fact a Samurai. Albeit a cerebral Samurai who lays the smack down with his words. But a samurai nonetheless.

91611-004-C997AF25I do wish I could tell Sam to stop climbing down under bridges and battling the residents who dwell there though.

In Jujitsu (practiced originally by Samurai) of which Sam is an enthusiast (as am I) there is generally a clear cut winner and a loser in a bout between combatants. Someone taps out. You shake hands and either go again or call it a day.

Combat on twitter doesn’t work that way. And I don’t think Sam, with his bushido ethic and profound sense of honor can thrive in a place like this.

Your life just becomes an endless loop of having to step out onto main street with a six shooter (or daitō) to battle it out with some inane bumbler (reclined on his sofa with his macbook perched on his y-fronts) who was nothing better to do with his time than think of way to slander and misrepresent you. What a fucked up way to spend the time that has been alloted to you.

Maybe that’s easy for me to say, in any event I wish you more Zen Sam, I really do.

The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. – Sun Tzu.

I think primarily Sam makes me want to be a better person. That’s not something I say lightly. Listening to Sam has made me think about things I would never have considered before. He has introduced me to a plethora of new ideas and he has challenged me to consider why I believe the things that I do.

You have had a profound effect on my life, and for that Sam I am very grateful. (I think the above is true even if you don’t like Sam. Be grateful that you have found a worthy adversary, a Moriarty to your Holmes, but still conduct yourself in an upright manner)

Mostly I have decided to support Sam Harris because I want my ideology to survive and hopefully thrive. And for that to happen there needs to be soldiers fighting in the trenches on the front line. Hopefully my $10 can help (just a little) to make that happen. I need Sam to continue to fight the good fight, to be Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘man the arena’, to keep swinging for the fences.

I think (basically) I just want to say ‘good luck’ Sam. I hope you make it. And thanks again.