Rough workings of an abandoned book idea (2013)
Real Life Science
“Maybe. Who cares?” said Slartibartfast before Arthur got too excited. “Perhaps I’m old and tired,” he continued, “but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say hang the sense of it and just keep yourself occupied. Look at me: I design coastlines. I got an award for Norway.
…From “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams
“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.”
…about fifty years before Jesus
Real Life Science – Applying Science to Real Life
What is this book about …I imagine you say?
When looking for the answers for some of life’s curly questions, we tend to listen to the loudest voice said with most conviction, which is probably why used-car salesmen, ex-shysters, current shysters and other people whose confidence outweighs their conscience are the ones giving us self-help guidance.
Is this right? Surely if we’re going to look at questions of existence we should be going for the big brains with the computing power to be able to process down to the minutiae, not someone trying to sell us something? Darwin didn’t care about Galapagos finches – he wondered why his undershirts turned pink. Einstein’s relativity was to show us how to compare apples with a whoopee cushion (E=MC2 was just an afterthought to go on merchandise) and Newton’s First law was to help him stick to his exercise regime. Archimedes just wanted to run naked through the streets, and it was only when pushed did he invent some notion about buoyancy.
In this book, I ask the big brains, the heavyweights in cerebral capacity about the secrets to happiness, accord and laundry. Also, as a self-proclaimed genius (often used with an expletive), I add my own cognitive discoveries with advice on finding a parking space out the front and other helpful hints on just getting along.
The one thing that all us geniuses have in common is that we’re human, which means we’d like to find an easy way to feel better about what we do …and we’ll go to an extraordinary length to play with someone else’s genitals – but that’s another book entirely.
WATCH THIS SPACE
Bite off more than you can chew, then chew like shit.
Jack Davey Principle (Origin unknown)
Most of the geniuses in this book are well known – who could forget Einstein’s unkempt hair, or the mental image of Archimedes running through the streets naked yelling EurekaI …but very little can be known about me, for whose luck is challenged in the title of this book. I’m not even mentioned in Wikipedia.
I am lucky. Despite being white, middle class, heterosexual, born in Australia with a family that loves and supports me, superb education, amazing dexterity, sharp intellect and a cracking sense of humour (just ask), I have turned out OK.
Did I mention I was good looking? …relax – that would be taking it too far.
I’ve learnt to cope with these burdens of my past, choosing instead of running away, to become an urban adventurer, daring to go the very edge of civility to get my next experience. I live by my own (copywrite pending) credo, “Do shit, not have shit.” (Einstein wasn’t the only genius to see the potential in merchandising – see my web page for T-shirts, pens and golf umbrellas).
Over the past forty-seven years, I’ve been watching my life flash before my eyes in what couldn’t be called a direction as such …but more like an expansion. I could define my life as everything half-done …but with pizazz – but that would only be half true.
To me, experience is paramount over possessions and my environment, thus my home is as unkempt as Einstein’s hair. From my base camp in suburban Brisbane, I adventure to far-off escapades like running an Art Gallery, playing music, flying aeroplanes, sailing Moreton Bay in our boat Acid and generally (and I believe very importantly) playing in this big, wide arena that is my world. I’d hate to be 47-years old and complacent – settled with a belief that my life was sorted.
Without wanting to upset my academic friends, and there’s a few of them, I am very proud not to have been caught up in this modern day industry that is tertiary education. I cite a great Latin quote, translated of course by an academic no doubt: Poeta nascitur, orator fit. …a poet is born but an orator is manufactured. Too many people are led into the system to spread costs, justify the education empires and by attrition, sort the wheat from the chaff. I’ve chosen not to participate, instead using my innate curiosity to extend on my high school education to develop research techniques so I can learn about whatever takes my fancy. So far it’s worked. Today I make a living by doing Graphic Design (self-taught), Marketing (self-taught) and Writing (self-taught – I did English Literature at school because I was terrible at English). Recreationally, I play music (self-taught) and sail (self-taught). It appears the Objective has become the qualification – all trace of the reason behind it lost.
Those who can do, those who can’t get HECS
I won’t go on, but I do have to confess that I have a Certificate in Photography, and an incomplete Associate Diploma in Applied Science (Aviation) – incomplete because I’d have to become an airline pilot to complete it. That in itself is testament to my curiosity – we were sailing up the East Coast when we discovered when we got to Brisbane that we were expecting our first-born, so I studied Airline Transport Licence Theory to while away the time, and I wanted to know how jet engines work.
I have had bad things happen to me, but I can’t remember any – as a really wise person once said, “The past is already fiction” …and I have a copywrite pending on that too (and merchandise).
This book is my effort to get everyone up to speed on being as lucky as I am. Real Life Science
A genius isn’t a genius without quotes…
- A paradigm Shift is as good as a holiday
- Serendipity is in the eye of the beholder
- All men are predators, some just more honourable than others.
- Is this last one mine?
- I can’t solve your problem, but I can make you a cup of tea
- Do Shit, not have Shit
- Those who can do, those who can’t get HECS
All of these will be available from my website on various merchandise from T-shirts to Bumper Stickers
Science – let’s ask a genius
Darwin’s survival of the fittest
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
Years ago, around my puberty, my mother decided that all men-in-training needed to know domestic procedures to be able to fit in and participate in the world …and she sold it to me on the fact that chicks would dig it – a key motivation to pubescent boys. I think I was also sold on learning to sew, shower, getting my hair cut and a million other things with the same line.
Apparently, civilisation had over many years developed alongside the technology a process for these things – picture a Palmolive Institute where people in white coats (mostly men, because everyone knows they’re the best at solving problems), stare into petrie dishes, operate microscopes and generally get to the bottom of those pesky problems like stain removal, oily glasses in washed dishes and which drawer should contain the cutlery. Years later when I moved into my first flat I conducted my own experiment with the cutlery drawer – I wasn’t going to be told by some boring groundless tradition that cutlery had to go in the top drawer, so I selected an overhead cupboard where mum had stored glasses, and witnessed first hand how many times you really do access cutlery.
Looking back, I guess this was where the seed was planted in my theory of domestic evolution. I just didn’t use cutlery – I would make instant coffee not by the measurement of a teaspoon, but by careful jiggling of the jar to deliver, roughly, a teaspoon’s worth – and negating sugar altogether (milk had already been culled as it was too hard to keep a supply in the fridge). After trial, error and some really strong cups of coffee – I worked out that there is very little use for cutlery and the essential item like a sharp knife to cut/spread/open cans could be just left on the sink in a quasi-washed state.
The theory really only solidified when it came to laundry. I have had, on several occasions, very serious lessons by both my mother and my wife about separating whites, colours, woolens, delicates, etc into piles and familiarising myself with the settings on the machine to treat each pile accordingly. In effect what they were saying is, with all this technology available that can make a machine beep when it’s finishing a load of washing; that doesn’t need to have a centre column or a wringer attached; that can incorporate a dryer within, so you don’t have to move it from one machine to another, that I had to kowtow to its holiness by being selective.
Fuck that. If I add them all together, select the default wash and dry cycle, is my life any worse off? Sure I sometimes have pink business shirts, sometimes a woolen jumper comes out in a dense ball big enough to fit our Chihuahua, but that only happens once – next time I buy a jumper, it won’t be woolen, my bright red socks can’t spit red dye forever and after a couple of washes (unless it meets some different fate) my shirt turns white again. See what I’m getting at? I adapt, my clothes adapt, and all that is left is a seething, sulking washing machine dreaming of dropping on my head from a large height, and it’s the one doing the natural selection. I introduce to you, Darwin’s Theory of Laundry.
Work in Progress
Newton’s laws of motion
Newton’s first law of motion is often stated as
An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
I live in chaos. I don’t need tidiness, order or familiarity to function, but what I do to counter chaos is find structure – what’s holding something together. I don’t do a nine-to-five job, and probably the only thing I stick to with any regularity is brushing my teeth, so I must say that I’m comfortable (or even motivated) by change, which I do find takes an effort as I grow older. I have a status quo in flux. This moving of the goal posts certainly doesn’t help in effecting change in my behaviour. Even the organic nature of how I adopt my habits does kind of get in the way of changing them when desired. What Newton is telling me is that I need an unbalanced force.
It’s a little known fact, probably because it had to be translated from latin, that Newton came to this conclusion when exasperated by his inability to make it to the gym, no matter how enthusiastic he was at the start to get fit, lose a couple of pounds and check out the talent. These good reasons all outbalanced what he did instead, which was sit around in his underwear drinking beer and staring through his newly invented reflected telescope at the neighbours. His initial thought was that he needed a nicely balanced force in the form of his shapely neighbour, but whereas that was nice to contemplate regularly, it didn’t get him to the gym. Not only did it need to be an unbalanced force so it didn’t counteract going, it needed to be a consistent force, or he would lose inertia before it became a habit. Even buying a treadmill didn’t work, prompting him to develop Newton’s fifth law (the fourth was about beer and underwear… and later proven wrong), which is, “No one ever uses a treadmill.”
So to reinterpret Newton’s first law in relation to the real world, change requires a force, unbalanced so as not be counteracted, and consistently applied until either it becomes a habit, or you come up with some justification that the change isn’t needed.
I always try to go with the latter, but sometimes change is necessary.
Tackling Newton’s Dilemma …a throffer (it’s a real word – look it up)
In the name of Real Life Science, I’m going to conduct an experiment to see if I can change my fitness by applying an unbalanced force. The results will be published very scientifically on my webpage or on the urn containing my ashes.
You’re the Force! …are you unbalanced enough?
The Carrot or the Stick.
Most change management techniques involve written goal-setting, substitution and incentives, which are a great thing and always worth a shot, but I wouldn’t call them an unbalanced force. I’m using internet opinion as motivation and punishment for non-compliance.
If you go to my web page, and I haven’t posted an update of my experiment exercising that week, you’re allowed to hit me metaphorically with a stick. There are conditions, and they will be continually updated on the site.
Plan B is joining a gym
Newton’s third law of motion is often stated as
When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.
This might have been written under the influence of mercury, but obviously it’s something to do with his neighbour and his frequent contemplations about said neighbour.
…or it can be interpreted to mean that marriage shouldn’t be about changing your partner to how you want to see them, or they will get jack of it and probably hit you.
Archimedes didn’t bath
Work in Progress
Work in Progress
Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle
Work in Progress
Luck and Guilt
I love the idea of unseen luck – the sort of luck that you’re oblivious to. The tenet of being lucky without realising it kind of supports my theory that you don’t run out of luck, you stop seeing it; whether by a bad knock or somehow believing that you don’t deserve it. Serendipity is in the eye of the beholder and there are infinite ways that I can see how lucky I am by looking out for it instead of treating setbacks as bad luck.
Dumbarse actions are also not bad luck, they’re dumbarse actions, which we’re all supposed to do. I once heard a Rabbi on the radio explain that the difference between Judaism and Catholicism is that they know they’re going to sin, they just try to keep it to a minimum.
I am really lucky. I sat next to a Cardiovascular Surgeon on a plane travelling from Denver to Cleveland in the States for work, coinciding with passing a blood clot caused by the dreaded Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) through my heart. He waved his credentials at the hostess and she rolled the full medical trolley with paddles and adrenaline, etc down the aisle. So I had a guy I couldn’t afford monitoring me throughout my heart attack until they diverted us to Omaha Nebraska and dropped me in an ambulance – by which time I’d passed the clot.
My wife Jayne was funny, she said, “What would have happened if you’d sat next to a proctologist?”
We also managed to sell our print shop (I was signed to create a movie screenplay) four months before it went completely underwater in the Brisbane floods of 2011. I’m also lucky in other ways – from a great family life through to having found people along the way that have faith in hiring someone without a piece of paper, and I suppose my experience of people is positive.
Work in Progress
Work in Progress
If you want to feel good about yourself – do some thing good (for someone else)
The Car Park Theory of Life
What’s a WML?
When splitting up humans into different categories, there’s a very small minority of those often referred to as, ‘Lucky Bastards’ or ‘Wankers’. They are the few that always (or at least appear to) get a vacant car park at the door of where they’re going. I am one of those. I’d like to say that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be …but I’d be lying …and another unthought-of benefit piggybacked onto this blessing which makes it all the more fun is that if I can get the nonchalance right, the person observing can be driven to aforesaid name calling with such vitriol that I’m happy for hours.
Why do I mention this? Well, to brag for one thing, but as you’ve either paid good money to buy this or at least spent bandwidth downloading the torrent, I’m going to explain it in a tangible, no-mystics or mumbo jumbo way so you too can pull up out front and find true happiness.
The Real Life Science…
What is a parking space? There are legal definitions used in council approval procedures that govern how many parking spaces a commercial (or domestic) building has to offer, but it’s boring, so let’s not go into that. Instead, let’s agree that their formula must be something like the number of people expected at any given time divided by ten?
More importantly, what makes a parking space vacant? Ideally, a space is made vacant by the firing of missiles from under the bonnet of your car into the little old lady’s car that just pulled into the spot you had been lined up for; but there are other considerations for a thinking person that could outweigh the satisfaction gained with this technique. A parking space is more usually created when someone has done what they needed to do, left the shop/office/station/restaurant/brothel/theatre, etc, spent five minutes searching for their keys, gone back inside to look and come out with their head shaking, smiling in an aren’t-I-a-dope kind of way, getting into their car and after another ten minutes, driving off.
Part one of the theory… that a person is just as likely to walk out into the full car park and leave from the front of the park as they would from the back. People are coming and going all the time and statistically, it’s just as likely that the park being vacated from the front as it is from the back. But that only gives us even odds.
Part Two of the theory… It is really lucky for all us enlightened souls that there are people out there who start their sentences with, “With my luck…” It is one of those that you want to be behind when you enter a car park. At this point I can see a few of you going blue in the face, spluttering, “the… the …the name of your book!” and to you I will quote a little known phrase from Jesus …“I’m being glib!”
The trick is, and this sentence alone justifies your purchase, you drive to the front of where you’re going, head high, with the confidence you’re going to get the front spot. Let’s hope you’re following a, let’s call them a WML, into the car park, and watch them peel off in the first row – rejoice in the image of them craning forward over the steering wheel settling for second best – and perhaps even stand by your car for twenty minutes after you’ve parked up front as they finally get to walk past hot and disheveled – give them a smile. You have won, and to gloat is only fair. What they have effectively done is stacked your odds for the front spot with their attitude that they won’t find one up front. “With my luck, there won’t be one up the front and this one will be taken before I get back.”
Part Three… With all their complaining and negative vibes, the car park gods hate WMLs. Okay so there’s little bit of mystical mumbo jumbo, just in case it’s true.
The Carpark Theory of Life – your bonus for buying this book.
Your life is a big car park, and the parking spot up front is one of those little things that happen in between episodes of your favourite TV show that give you faith that you are doing it right, at least some of the time, and that you are superior to at least half the people you know. Mixed metaphor or not, it doesn’t get any better than that.
Think about this…
If we are actively trying to make good things happen, and if we can take bad things in good grace, the next nice thing is around the corner. Mathematically, It’s more likely that a good thing will happen to you as a bad thing.
“The life given us, by nature is short; but the memory of a well-spent life is eternal.”
My idea of heaven
Work in Progress
Work in Progress
Using Astrology as the iching
Work in Progress
My mother came to stay quite some years back, when Feng Shui was doing the rounds of the magazines. She’s an incredibly smart woman with a mind open enough to at least being informed of things other-worldly – she studied theology on her way to becoming a grief councillor. I tell you this because on first listen, what she said with full conviction seems, on the face of it, ludicrous. Keep in mind she hadn’t mentioned Feng Shui – all she had done was gone to the toilet, and upon returning said, “You know, if you shut the lid on your toilet, you won’t be flushing your finances away?”
Being the honest guy that I am, I can’t report on a witty response like, “We don’t keep ours there, and I’d highly suggest you didn’t either,” instead I think I just stood there dumbfounded as thoughts tumbled over thoughts about mental institutions, a good quip …and with my genetic connection would I soon be storing all my valuable stuff wrapped in toilet paper?
Jayne, the most empathetic person I know, stood frozen in mid step, mouth open, with a small droplet of drool forming at the lip. She does that a bit.
Mum hastened to add in response to our response, “…er, it’s Feng Shui?” …something we hadn’t heard of yet.
Anyway, after about a five-minute conversation about how it’s pronounced, to which I couldn’t really add any insight, not having heard of it, she explained that it’s magic. There’s this ancient Chinese formula – a bunch of rules attached to unseen energies – You put the toilet lid down, and you’re wealthier – don’t worry about why or how, it just is “…and look how long Chinese culture has been going – THAT wouldn’t have happened with careless, devil-may-care toileting?”
…and you can’t argue with that, or her. …or just her.
I’ve got a bit of a Real Life Science mind. Some call me pragmatic, but I suspect my quest for efficiency stems from laziness. My brains a bigger muscle than my body, so I process in my head before I waste energy externally. Although it did get me to thinking.
The cognitive cue…
If you actually thought about not flushing away your finances five or six times a day, independent of standing at the checkout and having your card declined, that would be a good thing right? In fact, ideas might flow (or trickle) about ways to conserve your money. So the Chinese invented the cognitive cue, and even though the name cognitive cue was on the tip of their tongue (…it’s based on Mediaeval Latin, so they would have had to wait for a while), they opted for the much nicer sounding name of Feng Shui.
I’m ‘tackling’ religion later, but as an adjunct to the above, prayer is another very powerful use of a cognitive cue. Whatever you believe (and I’m essentially existential), the act of prayer reminds us to think about a specific item and collectively, en masse, an inordinately powerful thing.
Work in Progress
Work in Progress
Work in Progress
The Conditions to Complete Enlightenment
Work in Progress
…From the Free Dictionary
adj. com·plet·er, com·plet·est
- Having all necessary or normal parts, components, or steps; entire: a complete meal.
- Botany Having all principal parts, namely, the sepals, petals, stamens, and pistil or pistils. Used of a flower.
- Having come to an end; concluded.
- Absolute; total: “In Cairo I have seen buildings which were falling down as they were being put up, buildings whose incompletion was complete” (William H. Gass).
- Skilled; accomplished: a complete musician.
- Thorough; consummate: a complete coward.
- Football Caught in bounds by a receiver: a complete pass.
tr.v. com·plet·ed, com·plet·ing, com·pletes
- To bring to a finish or an end: She has completed her studies.
- To make whole, with all necessary elements or parts: A second child would complete their family.
- Football To throw (a forward pass) so as to be caught by a receiver.
- the act or means of enlightening or the state of being enlightened
- (Non-Christian Religions / Hinduism) Buddhism the awakening to ultimate truth by which man is freed from the endless cycle of personal reincarnations to which all men are otherwise subject
- (Non-Christian Religions / Hinduism) Hinduism a state of transcendent divine experience represented by Vishnu: regarded as a goal of all religion