Saturday, April 24, 2021

A Dog's Eye: Letterbox Bomb

I need to confess, right off the bat, that I only used the word 'bomb' to grab your attention. Although I do have experience with letterbox bombs during my wayward and rebellious teenage years, I actually want to share with you some reflections arising from letterbox drops. I'm not sure if that's the official name for what I was doing for four hours this morning, but that's what we'll go with.

If you've spent time walking around delivery advertising materials to people's letterboxes, or, as in my case today, addressed mail from the local member of parliament, or if you've worked as a postie, then the following observations will certainly ring a bell. If not, then perhaps it will give you some insight into the trickiness of what would appear to be a very straightforward task.

Here are the three major problems which arise during a letterbox drop.

  1. Corner blocks. If I told you that three adjacent houses on one street could be numbered 14, 65 & 9 you might be surprised unless you live in a house so numbered. When I arrived at a house on a corner, I had to figure out which street it belonged to. The letters in my hand were all personally addressed and in order, so the confusion caused by houses on corners resulted in quite a bit of extra investigative walking and backtracking. Adding to my befuddlement this morning was my uncertainty about which street I was in and where that street started and ended. You know any street called a Circuit is going to present some challenges. I was literally going aorund in circles.

  1. Letterboxes. A few houses had no letterbox at all which sent a very clear message. Many letterboxes contained the warning not to insert advertising material which is something I always respect. Today's letter box drop was important information, not advertising. Most letterboxes were welcoming, at least superficially. I consider the ultimate invitation to be an appropriately sized open slot. However, such accommodation is not so common, especially with modern homes. Most of the houses I delivered to were built relatively recently and the letterboxes, like the homes behind them, are quite stylish. Good looking they may be, but user friendly they are not: the majority were not easy to access. The main problem was the covered slot which unless you have a thick letter or a wad of letters can't be pushed open by paper. You need to use two hands, and as my left hand was full of folded letters, this proved quite awkward. Many other boxes had a flap which needed to be lifted to reveal the slot which was also tricky. Letterboxes hidden behind frontyard shrubbery or positioned at ground level also negatively impacted efficient delivery. Despite these difficulties, I can happily report only spilling my lollies once.

  1. Dogs. The burbs should be and generally are very quiet and peaceful. With only local traffic and most people either out or settled comfortably within the air conditioned walls of their modern homes, the hot air is silent apart from bird song and the occasional waft of music or conversation. It's quiet, that is, until you walk past and the dog goes off. Darwin has the highest per capita dog ownership of any Australian city or town. The dogs in Darwin are all contained behind fences. I'm not frightened of dogs and felt no threat from even the larger and more vicious looking beasts. They couldn't have got me even if they wanted to, so I felt safe. There was one exception: a scary little Daschund escaped its domestic confines, yapped growled at me, chasing me down the street for a few metres until it was satisfied I wasn't going to invade it's property. Most of the dogs will do that. They'll just bark at you until you have passed their territory. The problem is one dog barking sets off all of the other dogs, and not all of these vociferous canines know how to control themselves.
Despite these challenges, the irritating noise of barking dogs, and the heat, I enjoyed my work/walk. I said G'day to a few people, chatted with one lady about the crazy numbering, admired the well manicured gardens, appreciated the sleek architecture of the houses and I prayed for the names on the letters, for the people who live in those homes. I prayed for them, although I don't know them and will probably never meet them. I thanked God for the work and for the exercise.

Friday, April 16, 2021

relationDips: Crabs

It may be hard to fathom at the outset how a post about relationships would involve crabs other than the obvious allusion to sexually transmitted parasites, aka pubic lice. Let's therefore have a close inspection of the crab as one of God's creatures.

Crabs are decapod (10 limbs) crustaceans of the infraorder Brachyura. Found in all the world's oceans, in freshwater and on land, they are generally covered in a thick exoskeleton and range in size from the Pea Crab (just a few millimetres wide) to the Japanese Spider Crab which has a leg span of up to 4m-yes, I said four metres. There are 850 species of crab worldwide. They walk sideways because of the articulation of their legs, use very complex communication systems and are sexually dimorphic. I love sexual dimorphicism. Humans likewise display obvious physical differences between the two undisputed genders. Calm down. I'm not here to debate that issue. I'm talking about crabs.

Pubic lice are small, flat light brown parasites that cling to pubic hair and suck blood for nourishment. It goes without saying that if you have sex with someone who has these crabs, you will get them. It goes without saying that if you only have one partner who also only has you, and the two of you practice normal hygiene, pubic lice won't be a problem for you. Relax. I'm not here to sermonize about sexual immorality. I'm talking about crabs.

My wife loves seafood so the other day while shopping at Mr Barra she had to have one of the live mud crabs they were selling. I think crabs are more trouble than they are worth. They have so little meat on them, and it's so difficult and time consuming to extract it that I can't see the point. Furthermore, the price was alarming: $65 per kilo. I said nothing as my wife chose her crab, then finished her seafood purchases. I said nothing when said purchases totalled quite a sum of money. I just paid because she works hard, she likes crabs and I thought she deserved a treat. She was thrilled; both by my silence and on the appearance of my card to pay.

Crabs can be quite aggressive and are considered to be ill humoured and selfish creatures. Hence someone with a negative and selfish attitude is said to have a crab mentality. We also describe someone who is angry or even grumpy as being crabby.

What conclusions can be drawn from all this information? Certain crabs are good for relationships while others are not. Most sane people would eschew all contact with pubic lice. Many people of varying degrees of sanity like to eat the feisty crustaceans. We may not admire much about their behaviour, but here's the take home lesson: don't get crabs (pubic lice), don't be a crab, and be willing to overcome your negativity about eating crabs if it proves to be a blessing to your partner.

Finally and most importantly, good relationships do take a lot of hard work, but unlike eating, crabs the effort is absolutely worth it.

Friday, April 9, 2021

The Mirror: The Way of all Flesh

You've probably heard the expression 'gone the way of all flesh' meaning that someone has died. However, you may not know that this expression comes from the Old Testament. Check out Joshua 22:14 and 1 Kings 2:2 which say, depending on the translation, 'go the way of all the earth' or 'go the way of all flesh.' I did not know this until I researched it for this post, but I'm not surprised, as many common sayings are either bible quotes or bastardizations of them.

The title of Samuel Butler's classic semi autobiographical novel, The Way of all Flesh, is then a most appropriate title because the protagonist is a clergyman. Written by Butler between 1873 and 1884, the novel is an attack on Victorian era hypocrisy.

Classic novels may not be your thing, and I suspect it's probably because of the writing style. Being lexically dense, with old fashioned words and extremely long and complex sentences doesn't always facilitate easy reading, but I love this stuff. The themes explored by Butler in The Way of all Flesh: hypocrisy, religion, faith, atheism, nature versus nurture and family dynamics may well be oft explored ideas, but the classics have a precision and depth in their language use which is, although not rare in modern novels, certainly different. We should remember classical writers were not competing with nor were they influenced by film and television. In any case, the skill of the writer in dealing with universal themes to which everyone can relate, is to challenge the view of the reader; to make them think.

I've been posting quotes from The Way of all Flesh regularly on Facebook, since I began reading it. When I read something and I have stop, and re read it, and contemplate it, allowing it to filter through my worldview, I know I am reading quality and inspired writing. The quote I want to share in this post is one I found particularly pertinent as I am currently facilitating the journey of another group of men through the Valiant Man sexual discipleship program. This quote contains information about the main character which may be considered a 'spoiler'.

"Although in the healthy atmosphere of such a school as Roughborough you can have come across contaminating influences; you were probably, I may say certainly, impressed at school with the heinousness of any attempt to depart from the strictest chastity until such time as you had entered into a state of matrimony. At Cambridge you were shielded from impurity by every obstacle which virtuous and vigilant authorities could devise, and even had the obstacles been fewer, your parents probably took care that your means should not admit of your throwing money away upon abandoned characters. At night proctors patrolled the street and dogged your steps if you tried to go into any haunt where the presence of vice was suspected. By day the females who were admitted within the college walls were selected mainly on the score of age and ugliness. It is hard to see what more can be done for any young man than this. 

For the last four or five months you have been a clergyman, and if a single impure thought had still remained within your mind, ordination should have removed it: nevertheless, not only does it appear that your mind is as impure as though none of the influences to which I have referred had been brought to bear upon it, but it seems as though their only result had been this-that you have not even the common sense to be able to distinguish between a respectable girl and a prostitute."

What I like about this quote is that it very accurately displays the ignorance and arrogance of men regarding sexuality. Good men get into trouble when they forget they are men. Most men are good at being providers for and defenders of their loved ones, but we are also good at ignoring danger and pandering to our weaknesses and addictions. It never ends well for the man who cannot control his sex drive.