An undocumented side benefit of writing this here blog, and having delightful ongoing conversations with people living in distant countries, is that new words enter my vocabulary. One such useful word originating from the United States of America, is the word: Grifter. In Australia, which prides itself upon the abstract concept of: ‘mateship’, there’s no real equivalent word for such a person. But all the same, they’re around.
Over the past few decades down under, we’ve moved away from our roots in UK culture and edged ever closer to US culture. Possibly we’re a weird mixture of the two, with our own special blend thrown in, just to confuse the tourists! As a child who stood in neat lines at attention in primary school and sang the anthem: God Save the Queen, we were trained not to ask for things. Nowadays, times are different, and I see grifters lurking about the social landscape. It’s been something of a culture shock.
An old mate way back in the day, might be described by that word. In the early 1990’s during the summer break in between University years, I loaned him my computer. It was the recession we had to have, and 10% unemployment was a real thing. He said something about the need to write and send resumes. Back then, computers were real computers, and they were also real expensive. I had access to the computers at work if needs be. We were good mates and had been for many years, and so with ‘mateship’ in mind, I helped him out by loaning the computer. My expectation was that this gift would strengthen the friendship. Didn’t think to specifically ask for anything in return.
I was an idiot. When I asked for the computer back, it wasn’t forthcoming. Far out! Talk about a friendship ending power move. That possible outcome had never even occurred to me. After repeated requests which rapidly descended into threats, my old friend bizarrely began getting all legal on me, even quoting contract law. It was a surreal experience, but a good was lesson learned: Friends and business don’t mix.
The other lesson I took away from that experience, is that you have to be very careful as to who you decide to give your time and energy to, and judge them beforehand by their actions and how that person treats others. It’s been my observation that if a person treats other people poorly, you can hardly be surprised when they turn that behaviour on you!
Had to go visit the doctor the other day for an eye thing. Never a fun day. It’s one of those big impersonal clinics, but at least you can request which doctor you want to see. There’s a doctor working there, and I’d swear an article in the local newspaper said he was retiring. Anyway, he’s alright that bloke. So, booked an appointment, and went to see him. At the appointment, he asked me if I was stressed, to which I replied: “No, but you’re starting to make me feel stressed”, and we shared a good laugh. He was curious about what I did for a living, and how that was working out. I mentioned something about working with a lot of A-type personalities, and you have to fend off people pushing responsibility downwards. He looked thoughtful at the observation.
I have no idea what is actually meant by the term A-type personality, having heard it used long ago and thinking that it sounded important. You kind of get the gist of what the description means. And in my days working at the top-end of town I’d heard words which were intended to push responsibility downwards onto me: So you want me to give you a guarantee which negates your directors fiduciary duties. Look, I’ll have a think about it, but I’m not keen to provide the guarantee. It doesn’t hurt to ask I guess, but it’s been my observation that a refusal often offends. Yep, grifters use words to get an advantage, and words can be powerful weapons.
Recently, someone I’d known for a long time, asked me to perform a regular task for them, with no benefit. You want me to do, what? – was what I thought at the time. From my perspective, the task was that persons responsibility. The request kind of floored me, and when uncertain about any matter, saying nothing is a valid option. Anyway, other more important matters demanded my attention. At a later date, when considering what the request meant, an unflattering picture was emerging. It was hard to work out whether the person thought I was either stupid or needy, or perhaps both? Candidly, it wasn’t good. A polite refusal was sent. Haven’t heard from that person since then. Tells me everything I needed to know.
An old timer, who was more experienced in these matters, told me many years ago: Chris. You’ve gotta nip problems in the bud. Wise advice, especially where grifters are angling for an advantage. But do you have to instantly react when pushed around by other people? Nope. I’ve known some people who’ve poked me seeking a reaction. Always unwise to feed such beasts. Anyway, Sun Tzu, the long dead ancient grand master of strategy (and everyone needs one for guidance) suggested that in war, take the initiative, do something unexpected, whilst remembering to leave an ‘out’ for the grifter. Actually, it’s possible Sun Tzu didn’t have grifters on his mind when writing his ancient treatise, but you never know! My interpretation of the masters words: Deal with grifters in your own time, and on your own terms – they don’t expect such a reaction. Then nip that problem in the bud. And that’s how it rolls.
Summer has officially ended, whatever that means. In between the occasional hot day, the cold and rainy weather has returned. On the very last official day of summer, the outside air temperature at about 6.30pm was 12’C / 54’F. Brr!
The rains have returned, and in the early mornings fog collects in the valley below.
A pair of Pobblebonk frogs decided that the return of the rains was a thing to celebrate by taking a long swim in the dogs water bowl.
Toadstools have also begun to pop up.
With the prospect of cooler work days, we tackled the job of removing two mounds which were in the paddock. The steep mounds had been impossible to easily maintain and provided excellent coverage for rabbits and snakes.
The first thing to do was remove the grasses and other small plants growing on the mound. The self propelled slasher did that job, and the next photo gives an idea about just how steep the mounds were.
The scary old rototiller was then used to scratch up the soil which ended up as a fine clay powder. The soil was loaded by hand onto the power wheelbarrows, and used elsewhere around the property on various projects and smoothing out the paddocks.
After two days of work, the mounds were both flattened out.
It’s amazing how much material those power wheelbarrows can bring back up the hill.
Some of the soil was used to build up the new low gradient ramp project. Living in hilly country, paths and ramps take on a special significance, especially in the winter months.
After some consideration, it was apparent that the large white drainage pipe which runs under the path, sat too high in the ground, and was too far downhill. With a couple of free hours on Sunday morning, a new much deeper trench was dug, and the pipe now sits about two feet lower in the ground.
Near to the mound was a small rock poking out of the ground. Rocks sticking up out of the ground in paddocks are something of a fire risk when mower or slasher blades hit them. Best if they weren’t there. So we decided to remove the small rock.
Turns out the rock was bigger than expected, so we brought out the rock breaking equipment. The rock was even bigger again than we’d imagined.
The rock was a monster and we’d eventually split the thing into three large chunks and lots of much smaller chunks. The rocks will be used on the low gradient ramp project at a later date. And the hole left behind after the rock was removed was filled it with soil.
We spotted one of the largest stick insects we’d ever seen before.
There is plenty of produce to eat right now, and the tomatoes are continuing to ripen.
We’ve even begun dehydrating tomatoes which are then stored in olive oil.
And the harvest of this seasons blackberries was turned into a very tasty jam (conserve). Like the raspberries, we’ve avoided all use of pectin, which I believe changes the colour, taste and consistency of the jam. Not a fan, and we can thank the science of jam making for the consistently excellent results.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 9am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 102.8mm (4.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 71.4mm (2.8 inches)