Options are my Opiates

Recently I saw an article about writing or being a writer contributing to being bi-polar and it is no accident so many WordPress articles cover topics on the whole range of mental anguish.   For a writer, any scene from The Shining is enough to turn you away from a keyboard faster than a surfer from the water after seeing Jaws.  There is an alternative.

Mental anguish manifests itself in so many ways for so many people and for so long.   In fact Sherlock Holmes put it simply “The pain of the mind is far greater than the pain of the body.”  Having spent some time in hospitals and under the knife long before reading the World’s most famous detective (and by the way, the world’s most published individual), mental pain was always greater than physical pain.  Writers block also seems to send people close to the edge as much as anything.

Stayatworkfatherofthree is NOT a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker and lacks empathy for the most part, with all the sympathy of a tiger.  Nevertheless, my life has always been about “giving while living” long before learning who Chuck Feeney was.  Having been born with Poland’s Syndrome and often being the only Asian face in class and more often than not the shortest in the school, no obstacle has hindered as much as mental anguish.  I found a solution along the way and am sure you will too.

When I left Hong Kong, many of my friends were holding down high paying jobs and taking anti-depressants on a daily basis and so proud happy pills could help them achieve more than those not without this open secret weapon.  Most of the entire generation above us is on mood altering medication.  And now everywhere I look people are suffering in increasing numbers.  It is perhaps the biggest issue since starvation in the 80s.  Perhaps when there is a Live Aid concert dedicated to all the people who committed suicide, public awareness with turn a better way.

Each of our three children shares a class with children suffering from mental anguish in some form.  We first noticed at our Bangkok school most families lived in high-rise condo apartments with limited contact with nature.  Accordingly, we built a sand pit on our balcony, sacrificing any hopes for a naughty hot tub and filled the remaining space with as many plants and trees we could fit.  Our not-so-quick-fix to give them an instant nature fix without having to go downstairs.

In addition, most of the school Fathers worked in the oil and mining industries, thus not at home much.  These were kids with aggression issues.  But this was even more rife when we got to the Australian suburbs.  Honestly, probably not since the First World War have so many Australian children done most of their growing up without a Father.  The mining industry has a lot to answer for and society is already paying the price on so many levels.

Looking to prevent and reverse the damage done to most people, the cause in most cases has been a lack of options.  Not a lack of choices.  In fact most people, including myself, can be positively paralyzed by some of the choices we have to make.  There is a subtle and less than semantic difference.  Choice is almost certainly something you have do, a decision you have to make.  Options are by their very nature, are optional decisions.  Voluntary in most cases and not essential.  Sophie’s Choice.  Stock Options.  Get it?

You do not choose to be a victim.  You do not choose to be sad, bored or worse.  But things are infinitely unhappy if there is no other option in sight, regardless of how many choices you are faced with.  Many people today feel trapped with no perceived options.  They fail to make good decisions and get further imprisoned.  It might be their finances and work, it might be their family.  Some options might require sacrifices that are too great or unavailable.  Most will hear there is always another way to skin a banana (let’s give cats a break).  But seeing that other way is the issue.  They feel they have no other option.

The paradox is people are also told you can do whatever you want, you are free, you have so much potential, you have so many opportunities, although in their minds, none of that is visible without a hard vision of something tangible.   Then add to that mix, the paralysis of choice.  Choosing what to further study, choosing to re-locate, choosing to talk about it is even terrifying.  Much less choosing what to focus on as your life’s work.  The Phantom of the Opera’s lament, the prison of my mind! rings so loud.

More happily, when I was a teenager, Sherlock Holmes put one way to solve a problem is to use a process of elimination.  That is, once you have eliminated everything that is not possible, whatever remains, however ridiculous or improbable, must indeed be the solution.

My first wife could never identify her dream job.  She had never been able to and as a result was traveled the World ticking off her bucket list, until I met her.  Then after five years together, I handed her a fairly complete list of every type of occupation possible to most school-leavers.  After 90 minutes she had systematically crossed out each occupation that did not interest her.  What remained after a further 15 minutes was a circle around ‘locksmith’.   Ironic as it was the only skill I did not possess as a detective, although no surprise given we had only two weeks previous forked out at weekend night call out fee for a locksmith to help us after both forgetting our keys.

My current wife had no hesitation yesterday as we were walking over a hill to the next bay, to challenge this concept.  Again married to someone who cannot articulate nor identify their dream work, I unconsciously rolled out the above-mentioned old chestnut from Watson’s favorite muse.  Boy did it get thrown back in my face.   A fair Thai to English translation would be “You always have a lofty answer to everyone, although never take simple down to earth action yourself like a normal person.”

Point-taken and why I am writing this morning.  How does one make choices when there are no options?   Well options have been my opiates for a long time.  Making choices are much easier once you have ample options (and the all elusive plan most life coaches, mentors, counsellors and millionaires remind us ad nauseam).

What the World does not need is another self-help book.  What we need is a Guinness Record number of people becoming who they were born to be, doing what they were destined to do and have what they deserve for their efforts.

Please leave a comment if you think my family and I can help.

 

 

 

 

PACK-MAN FLIES SOLO

23:00 hours on friday night.  Ok this is a shout out to all to those of you awake in USA.   Pack-Man fully in touch with his inner Jack Reacher if that doesnt sound to nineteen never.

San Francisco leather biker jacket. Check.

Mobile phone charger cable, minus adapter. Check.

Cashed up with blow fund. Check.

Go and buy ticket to see late show of Deadpool 2.  Uncheck.  Wife has my cinema loyalty card.

Apply for a new one in her name.  Check.20180608_195551

Got 90 minutes to kill. Murder two entrees at place next door.  A new take on shrimp cocktail.20180608_191940

Followed by three lamb chops and diced roast veges with mint jus.20180608_192953

 

 

 

WHEN THE BOOK COMES OUT

A funny thing happened last night.  You know when you hit a wall, procrastination sets in or you get to the top of the mountain and don’t know what do up there.   When you have talked the talk.  Then the only thing to do is to walk the walk.

When both your sons come home from school with a tale of woe and feel down with the teachers or another student has hit them and you wonder when will the World ever stop fighting.  So we go for a long walk on the beach we live on and talk as we go about how Daddy solves conflicts and pick up some interesting granite and quartz stones, gems if you like.

20180503_172443

We discuss everything from my own school experience with violence and why violence is illegal in most places.  Stayatworkfatherofthree being careful not to point out that while violence is banned in most schools yet rife among adults in the same country as the school.  We eventually settle on a large log of drift wood and Bravo starts hammering it with a pointed piece of granite and makes good headway in gradually cutting it in half.  In the process I show Alpha how cavemen would have once wedged a smaller sharper stone into a split stick to fashion a tomahawk.   The boys calm down, not because Dad is doing something with them.  They are using their hands and their heads are following.

We agree on walking away from violence at school and finding a teacher at all costs if it happens to either of them again.  We always do.  Until the next time it happens.  All ends well and we head home across the road so they can shower before dinner.

Later I take a sunset stroll down to where Sandpiper is berthed and she looks great and serene sitting in the dark water as the night chill comes on.   Further around the point I head into the supermarket and bump into another Father at the school and we get talking about kids.  We talk about the energy they have, we talk about slapping and we talk about kids in crisis.  For the next five minutes I let this younger Father knows the best way to calm a child is to pick them up and hug them while moving to another location so they can see a view of mountain or sea or sky to change the focus of their eyes.  Especially if they have been  inside or too long with eyes closely focused on reading, TV or toys.  Just simply allowing their eyes to re-focus a further distance seems to do the trick.

As we part he says the damnedest thing.  Thanks mate, when’s the book coming out  No question mark required because it is a cheeky rhetorical Australian question to put me in my place among friends.   I cannot stop laughing and wondering why no one has ever said that to me before.   In fact, never having hear it in the 20 years I grew up in Australia, how this gem escaped me.   Moreover, why the hell haven’t I in all these years produced a book.  (The Shining is one reason now I have a wife and kids and becoming an alcoholic like Hemmingway is another.)

Lost in self examination, I leant against the rail at the ferry terminal and watched the water lap against the small granite boulders.   Long before this blog started, I had produced small books at school and even at University.  Then in the throes of my lost years in Hong Kong’s nightlife, my weekly funpack emails were enjoyed by everyone except one uncle who did not have enough bandwidth to download the photo laden program for each weekend.  My magazine articles were published for months every couple of years and it you put them all together with reports we sent to clients every day, they would amount to several books.

Remembering I had our marina key in my pocket, a quick beeline was made to the little resort room open to marina residents and the little library of pre-loved books left by sailors of all description.   Settling for a very short history of the world and now armed with more than 300 pages to fend off random conversations with strangers, headed for dinner.   Reading no more than 40 pages during a tomato gazacho followed by BBQ tofu with avocado and quinoa, the restaurant filled and this was not the ambience to required.  I was done shortly after the table to my right asked for no sauce with their steak and only mustard on the side.  Because not 60 seconds later the table to my left requested the same no sauce, mustard only on the side.  Could they hear each other?  Was subliminal messaging at work.  The bane of the detective.  Not being able to switch off.

Exit Stage Right.  A quick coffee on the way home at Scallywags, the pirate cafe with bodiced waitresses and 30’s music.  The uncomfortable white wrought iron table and chair had the best light for reading.   Served by people who remember your name and piping hot cappuccino, was just reabsorbed in the human migration from Alaska to South America when the owner Pete comes to shake my hand.  “Love the way your are using this space” he says referring to possible the least used table, yet the only one beside the little fountain.  Or was it because I was the only solo diner not looking at a phone?

Respect for books.  They change the tone.  Perhaps the World need a few more, if you can believe there aren’t already.  There, I said this was funny, not hilarious.  But it certainly reminded me to finish reading and writing the ones I have already started.

Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.  You were so right Mr. Lennon.

 

PACK-MAN JOINS THE THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

Kitsch Crazy Cakes.  If they had online ordering, Pack-Man would forward everyone the web-link.  Maybe they would have one later.  For now it would be an open secret in a private war on waste.

One of the Mothers at school had started a small home enterprise making cakes.  Well banana bread, muffins and delicious seed cookies.  So long as you placed your order before the weekend, everything would be baked on Monday afternoon and delivered that evening ready for the rest of the school week.  This would free Pack-Man’s family from some of the packaged foods they normally had delivered.  It was cheaper and it would also fill the void left when Pack-man’s wife sold their own cake mixer along with a load of other cake making accessories only having been used to make two birthday cakes for their first son nearly a decade ago.

More importantly, it would help support the front line of the a new economy driven by cottage industry.  One of the first and most favorite terms Pack-Man studied in economics and where he saw the future heading as global retail was a cliff for lemming-like entrepreneurs.  Just as in previous World Wars, local sharing economies were emerging and families would come together to help other families by providing mutually exclusive goods and services.

As people were tightening their belts and spending less in restaurants and shopping malls, more people were starting to grow their own organic food.  People were working from home and recycling was a big thing for two reasons.  It was a status symbol for those above the poverty line to show they were environmentally conscience, while at the same time most of the trash was shipped to third world country above ground land fills.

A month ago Pack-Man had moved house for the second time in three months and thankfully his family had held two yard sales off-loading old toys, clothes and furnishings to interested parties.  The remainder being donated to local charities.  Things were looking lighter, if not brighter too.  Mess creates stress.

Somewhere in the second industrial revolution, Pack-Man had gone from being a teenage survivalist hermit to consumerist salary-man most of his adult life.  From his first pocket knife and a book he borrowed from the school library, Pack-Man was always ready for change.   He had frustrated his parents with overly-preparing for all manner of natural disaster, animal encounter and criminal threats.

In less than a decade, the young Pack-Man had raided his Dad’s tool shed and sequestered every old tobacco tin, emptied the screws, nails, nuts and bolts and fashioned each into a vintage survival kit.  Complete with built holographs and requisite snubs of pencil each attached with string to the side of the tins.  Never going outside without at least one of these, initial school ridicule quickly turned to fascination.  Especially the survival rations.

Pack-Man would spend hours carefully cutting plastic straws into thirds and seal one end with a lit match and only sealing the other end after filling the segment with grains of sugar or salt.  That is when he wasn’t dripping hot wax on match heads in a an attempt to make them water-proof, long before he saw more erotic uses for hot wax.

Darwin had not merely said survival of the fittest.  It was being fittest to adapt to a changing environment that led to survival.  Change was here.  That was clear.  The environment was changing.   Unemployment was rising two and as an arm-chair economist, this worried Pack-Man.  For as long he could remember he wanted to solve one of the most persistent of problems in the World.

A year ago he had explained to his Mother, one option open to people in a fully robotized world.  Other than renting out the family robot the same way people were already now renting out their cars and apartments.  People who no longer worked, would be able to rent out all spare capacities and crypto currencies had pioneered this concept by allowing computing capacity to be mined.  Similarly, there had been a decade of residential solar power generated and sold back to grids around the globe.  Next would be water and then communication bandwidth.  All were ripe for monetization when un-used capacity would be otherwise wasted.

That is if a household had the spare capacity.  So much of the World lacked even basic electricity, much less had the capacity to sell back to the grid.  Were would they get a robot to rent out to a local factory.  How could they leverage spare bandwidth on their mobiles when sim card storage was on a subsistence charity basis.   If more people were going to be displaced by automation and at the same time digitizing created a have/have not divide.  Basic Universal Income would become another Holy Grail.  Would people need to wait another 2,000 years only to be frustrated.

No.  There was another way.  As always the innovation came from the Third World if not out of necessity, out of exploitation.  Was that a dirty word now?  The underdeveloped nations had succeeded in exporting armies of Professional Refugees to skim enough for their own development back home.  Pack-Man had first seen it in the back streets of Guangzhou.  Places even the Public Security Bureau were too scared to patrol.  Later in Bangkok, it was more apparent.

Thailand was surrounded by equally low-cost nations offering one to three month visas to most underdeveloped country citizens.  In they would come with next to nothing and first work in a boiler room scam during the day.  In the evenings, the females would walk the streets prostituting themselves, while the males would fawn over the over-aged and over weight single expat women with promises of being married to an African prince.  Then when their visas were up they would move on to the next country and repeat the process.  Often smuggling counterfeit goods or contraband to the next destination.  Calling back to their targets in the previous country to keep the relationships warm before they repeated the same MO in a third or four country.

Wandering in and out of South-east Asia, they effortlessly moved home and work base.  Consummate small-time crooks, low-ranking mafia,all the time skimming the excess financial capacity of their targets until the right time to take their life savings.

The point being they effectively had a mercantile survival kits, albeit illegal and certainly unethical.  It worked.

Two weeks earlier Pack-Man had remembered all this when sitting in the offices of the countries largest employment assistance contractor.  Their operation was tasked with bringing people off government benefits and into gainful employment.   They were were looking for a talent developer to inspire and motivate their clientele, re-working resumes, finding them positions and creating jobs.

Pack-Man’s eyes glazed over.  If some of these people had been unemployed for a year or more, what chance would they have to realize they should be looking for work and not a job.  Especially if they were middle aged.  What they needed was a mercantile survival kit.  A suite of income sources they could rely on when conditions declined for one source, they would flourish for the other revenue stream.  Just like the Professional Refugees.

Pack-Man had been an economic refugee for most of his working life.  A running capitalist dog like his great grandfather.  Dodging deficits and taking the path less traveled.   It was better to be prepared than popular.   Always going to opposite direction to others, sometimes not even knowing why.  Was it a habit or was it a predisposition.  Was it human nature and if so, why had 95% of the World forgotten they were human.

What these people needed was not just a side hustle, they needed three.  If you can’t have your cake and eat it.  Get two cakes!   Let them eat cake indeed.  The biggest mistake anyone ever made was giving up their day job and trying to make their side hustle their prime source of income.   Ask anyone in a pyramid scheme.  Well that would be everyone would’t it.   The only time a pyramid ceased was when it was a matrix.  A matrix was a network.  Networks were going to be the future and were here.

Networks would allow cottage industries to sell outside their neighborhood.   People would three or four sources of income to survive.  Just as 3D printers were a China-killer.  Cottage industries would maim the monopolies until they morphed into networks.

Pack-Man hadn’t used post-it notes for 15 years.  They were a waste.  How had he got these.  Oh yes, they were free when purchasing stationary.  He peeled one yellow sheet off and drew a square in the center.  Further drawing four small nodular circles on each of the four corners.  Starting at the bottom left corner as always.  Side-hustle.  Operations.  That would have be done in the morning before anyone else woke up.  That would be his time.  That would be paying himself first and use his energies as selfishly as he wanted before any else could get to him.

Top-left corner.  Full-time job.  Human resources intensive.  Verbal intensive.  Yuck!  But necessary.  Office small talk.  This was the 80 in Pareto for sure.  That is when the time vampires sucked the most.

Moving on the top right corner.   Part-time.  Sales & Marketing.  Charity work would fit here certainly.   Donating time to non-profits was important.  They were one of the world’s largest employers.   No need to keep two feet in that door.

Lastly the unholy grail of passive income.  In the bottom right corner.  Administration and Accounting.  Money working for money.  All you had to do was count it and administer the facilitation.

Pack-Man then folded the top margin of the post-it and stuck it on the glass louver above his desk.  This was the challenge he was looking for.  A purpose in life.  Teach the world to fish…….responsibly.  Packaging such a survival kit would have to be responsible too.  This was the kind of work he like.  Solving big-ass problems that would make a difference.  It was so simple too.   Everyone was half way there.

Leaning back in his chair he unpeeled the paper cup from a chocolate cream cheese muffin and took a mindful bite.   No more Oreos for his kids.  No more wrappers in the recycling bin.    The Third Industrial Revolution had no place for waste.  Even less room for time wasters.  He checked the clock on the laptop screen and was pleased a full 90 minutes had passed since he last procrastinated.  Pack-Man smiled for the first time that day.

 

 

Pack-Man Prepares

Forward, choose left or right, right would be through the kitchen then another right down the hall, left and left again was the bathroom.  Pack-Man washed his hands again, this time with a new desire for full time employment.  In a government department no less, nine to five or more and scores of hoops to jump through.   No more random naked lunch time love making at home.   Possibly a tie and suit would be required.  Did he even have long pants that still fit in the waist?

 

Right out of the bathroom, right again to the hall, choose left or right, right this time would be past the laundry, not the kitchen and into the living room.  Forward, choose left door or right doors to playroom.  He nearly always chose the left as it was closer to his adjoining study.  The study without air-conditioning and only a slow winding ceiling fan.  He checked the curtains were closed as a passing truck revved its engine and adjusted the curtains anyway.  Without anymore thought he slipped off his boxer shorts and sat on the towel carefully adjusted on the mesh executive chair.

 

Was this going backwards or forwards?  Wasn’t he happy the civil service had been too full to take him back when he graduated decades ago, as the private sector had always paid more and taken him around the globe and back again.  Like every even numbered year since he started high school and beyond, it would be a year of positive monetary change normally involving a change of work.  Odd numbered years always involved high expenses, if not a near financial disaster.

 

Even numbered year or not, Pack-Man would be prepared.  The right look with the right luggage.  The baggage.  Why couldn’t life be as easily compartmentalized as computer cables?  School kids on bikes raced outside so there was to be no midday love-making.  The baby had skipped her nap and the boys would be home soon too.   Pack-Man got back into his boxers and slid a pair of khaki shorts over for good measure as he went outside pending their arrival before the rain started again.  There was always tonight after the children went to bed.

 

Tonight had already been scheduled to prepare his outgoing president’s report for the school PTA and that was already being delayed by the updating of his resume for the government job.   The one requiring no less than 1,500 words covering past experience and success.   What was it Robin had said?  ‘Success is difficult in the beginning, messy in the middle and glorious at the end’.  It did not have to be glorious.  In fact the less glorious the better.  Pack-Man just needed to be back on the grid.    This would be a final step in a two-year process, but one there would be no going back from.  There would be less freedom, more money, more women, less sex and new, restrictive routines.

 

It was close enough to Lunar New Year to remember Confucius had said ‘there is no freedom without responsibility.’  Even letting some responsibilities go like the PTA, there was still baggage.  The good thing about a desk job was going to be leaving baggage at home.  That would also mean leaving the blow jobs at home too.  Or would it?

 

There was still time to procrastinate.  That was the great thing about celebrating both Chinese and Thai New Years.  If Pack-Man screwed up January 2nd resolutions, which he rarely bothered making, he would put more effort into changes for the year whenever Lunar New Year was scheduled in the cusp of late January and February.  That normally allowed a four to five day mulling period to calibrate how he wanted the year to end up.  Failing that Thai New Year lasted a whole seven days in the middle of April and that is when plans could be pruned down to a beige-like level of activity.

 

This time was a little different.  Urgency was required.  There had a been a constant stream of potential buyers viewing the house Pack-Man’s family were renting.  Now a valuer from one of the potential buyers was coming in two days to inspect and make an estimate.  No bank would give the Pack-Man a loan without proof of at least one locally earned salary.    That’s the only reason he needed to get back on the grid and become a wage slave again.

 

Pack-Man had spent his whole life being mobile.  Ready to move at a moment’s notice.  A minimalist before it was a thing.  Holmes had taught him to keep his mind like a little attic with only the minimum of well kept tools necessary.  Not cluttered with furniture.  He had then at the tender age of eight, applied that to the bedroom in his parents’ home and continued in every apartment he rented, even the ones he bought.  Who needed a sofa when women went straight to bed once you got home?

 

To Be Continued.

Dragons, Volcanos & Dinosaurs

Late November 2017 and Stayathomemotheroffour had already made it to Thailand with Charlie, while I was left on the island with Alpha and Bravo.  The Bali volcano was seriously toying with our ability to make it to Thailand once school term finished.

 

The boys and I were busy washing clothes and sheets, getting the yard cyclone ready and packing school lunches.  We were determined to prepare a clean house for our return, when all five of us returned on Christmas Eve.   My to-do-list of chores was growing and both of our connecting flights were cancelled.  We were torn about packing the bags and thinking we would have to fly my wife and daughter back via Perth or Darwin.

 

Alpha then insisted we play mahjong while we waited.   “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.”

 

So at first we removed one suit from the pack to make things easier for Bravo who has limited experience and it had really been 2 or 3 years since he tried to play.  Now six years old and heading to Grade 2 in the new school year, we would test him out.   Never one to be phased we played the first few rounds on our toy car tablecloth.  It was their choice, not mine, if you think of calling child abuse hotline.   The boys managed just fine with the tiny detail on the tiles and crazy color background of the tablecloth.  Our eyes got a bit stronger in the process.

 

The first day, we started at 1pm on a Saturday and we played to 5pm, with only minor break for snacks and constant refills of milk in plastic dinosaur mugs left over from Charlie’s 2nd birthday morning tea party on the beach.  We were supposed to be flying on Wednesday and all hope was fading.

 

Still, on Sunday morning I mowed the entire backyard lawn just in case.  More mahjong in the afternoon and only interrupted by a beautiful swim in the summer sea.  Warm water, clean sand and gentle afternoon sun.  Shirtless drive home with windows rolled down, wet car seats and showers straight after arriving home.

 

At 01:00 hours Monday morning, I woke up and checked both airlines.  Our flights had resumed!   With total glee, the boys went to school and I hoped they would not blab about the binge mahjong session and even though we were not gambling, we were keeping one of Grandma’s traditions by rewarding all young players with chocolate.

 

Tuesday was the school swimming carnival, and that was a great way to catch up with everyone.  No need to make school lunches either as they had a sausage sizzle and we hit the bakery quite hard.   I dropped our boat’s keys off with the marina manager just in case a cyclone hit while we were away.   Then played mahjong til 8pm that night.

 

Wednesday, we packed everything from the front porch into the living room, had washing machine in overdrive and purged the fridges of anything perishable, although kept a two liter bottle of milk and packet of tim tams for later.   Mopped most of the floors, aired all the pillows and cushions while the sun was out.   Picked up boys from school, showered then and they watched TV while I hung the last of the laundry on a clothes horse in the dining area.

 

Tied the jungle gym to the car with nylon rope and shoved the last of my I.T. equipment into one of the boys’ roll-on bags.  Taxi arrived five minutes early and I still had a half a basket of undies to hang.  Got to the ferry in time and sat down with my two very grown-up looking sons.  Ordered a can of beer from the ferry kiosk and started pouring out cups of milk for Alpha and Bravo, while all three of us got into the tim tams.

 

One we arrived in Bangkok and were reunited with wife and daughter, drove up to my Thai mother-in-law’s place where we have built a house and realized we did not have a mahjong set.  Despite, leaving my Hong Kong travel majong surfaces in Thailand, we only had one set of mahjong and that was the one we took to the island.  So the hunt began.

 

This little town is a Thai-Chinese stronghold and you would think some of the toys stores stocked with chess and scrabble would have a set.  Nope!   In addition, even the most Chinese of looking townsfolk had not even seen a set of mahjong in their life.

 

So we drove back to Bangkok and scoured Chinatown in Yaowarat and only came up with one shop, although it was closed.  No matter, we had parked car at Shangrila Chinese Restaurant and ordered a whole Peking duck for Stayathomemotheroffour who was turning an age when hair starts to grey.   Kids loved the little pancakes with duck skin.  Ditto the sweet and sour duck meat taken from just below the skin.  The icing on the cake was really all the meat left on the bones which the chefs chopped and fried in boiling oil so it came out all crispy, chewy and dry, so perfect for dipping in Sriracha sauce.   Meanwhile, we starting hitting the internet for private sellers who might have a mahjong set up for grabs.  Who knows we might even score an antique set.

 

It was not to be and so Stayathomemotheroffour and Bravo had to return all the way to Chinatown the next day when the mahjong shop was open.   They purchased one with slightly larger tiles which is easier for kids to handle and the elderly to read.

 

That was Monday morning, two days ago.  We drove back up to the country house that night and had everyone out of the car and into bed by about 11pm as I had worked in the Bangkok office all day and it was a four hour drive in moderate traffic.  We played mahjong all Tuesday and Alpha recruited us all to play again this morning, right in the middle of me starting this blog.

 

They have all now gone out to the local land registry office now and I can sign off properly, in peace.  It is so nice to been writing again and am eager to post the saga related to our Fifty Shades of Gravy Thanksgiving dinner on the island.  So stay tuned.

Read This Before You Buy any Time Management System

Last week I managed to convince an aging relative to part with enough dry trash to fill a city council recycling wheelie bin.  Old jars washed and never used to make jam, cardboard boxes, newspapers, empty plastic and glass bottles, magazines, and a good number of CD and DVD cases.  (Empty as all the discs were them transferred into space-saving albums).

 

There is now less clutter as you enter that house and an airy feel giving rise to an ability to plan for the future, tranquility and time management.  Said relative was going to wait until December to start, although still putting out an empty recycling wheelie bin every second week.   So we agreed on my giving $100 in return for a wheelie bin full of the non-personal debris described above.  So far, so good and it was only October.

 

Organization is best kept as a daily practice, rather than backlogged until enough time is accumulated an event has to take place.  Because that time never comes and that event is never completed.

 

Then a couple of days later on our island paradise, I set out to explain our company’s Core Four Management system and doing so touched on the concepts of the sun and moon, four seasons, menstruation and circadian rhythms, our bodies and societies all seems to conspire against.

 

In short, by simply first taking into account the season, phase of the moon and time of the day, it is easier to schedule certain tasks, duties and activities when the mind, body and spirit are in the mood to encourage effortless flow.  It is impossible to improve on nature in this respect.

 

Back in 1996, the multinational I was with sent us all on a six month journey to corporate time management.   We were given leather bound clip paged journals with specially printed pages and pockets for expenses, project planning, although mostly to record to do lists down to the minute each day.   A year later I bought a PalmPilot and a copy of The 7-Habits.  Master of my Universe, got my first wife on board, started a two new companies and a total disregard for nature’s own punch cards and planetary cycles.  Ironically, this was all in Hong Kong, where so much of peoples’ lives are governed by moon phases, seasons and 12-year cycles.

 

It wasn’t until 2013 in Thailand when we were building Core Four, that I started re-researching moon phases and circadian rhythms.  Prior to that in 2007, the Jack Reacher novels were all the rage and my main take home was a new found ability to know exactly what time of the day or night it was, without looking at a time piece.  (It is very easy, once you start paying more attention to the sage, natural lighting, local temperature, immediate activities and your body clock).

 

The key objective was to determine what time of the day was best for certain activities and to compensate or reschedule depending on the phase of the moon and season.   For example, not trying to do financial book-keeping activities in summer at 4pm when blood pressure rises and there is a full moon.

 

When you look around at local public holidays and local cultural festivities, things do make a lot more sense.  School calendars are on to this and most daily schedules of early primary grades mirror circadian rhythms of young children.

 

1. Plant in spring, Nurture in Summer, Harvest in Autumn and Rest in Winter.

That means start new initiatives or projects in spring for example.  Cultivate their success throughout summer, and so on.

 

2. Check the Moon.

In general, your energy under the moon mirrors the four seasons.  In the week leading to a full moon you will increase your highest physical energy and it is best for high impact exercise and physical activities like washing and waxing the car, pleasuring your wife and playing sport with the kids.  Think of it like you do Summer.

 

The week following the full moon is one of rest and like Autumn.  One harvests what has been sown.  Pack up and clear away.  Do the accounting and filing.  Make space for the next month’s projects and the new school term etc.   Little to no exercise.  No high impact.

 

Then in the week leading into the new moon, start increasing activity to low impact.  This is winter of the moon and you need to keep the blood flowing and warm.   New projects can be initiated and plans can be underway.  Exercise is best between 06:00 and 09:00.

 

In the week following the new moon, up the tempo and exercise is best between 09:00 and 12:00.  It is like the moon’s spring.  Working towards summer.

 

3. Only then check the Clock

For general daily activities, the circadian rhythms are best summarized as follows, with a little value-added by Stayatworkfatherofthree:

 

05:00 – Join the 5am Club and rise before the rest of the World, look out the window at what kind of day it is going to be.  Sit down with a beverage and start creative writing, painting, exercising.

 

06:45 – Blood pressure rises sharply.  This will be the creative burst that gets you those amazing paragraphs, images will clarify on the canvas and you will get a second wind in training.

 

07:30 – Your melatonin will stop secreting and you will no doubt be able to finish the creative task you started two and a half hours prior.

 

10:00 – This is the highest alertness of the day and when most office workers finally get down to business.  It is the best time for listening and driving.

 

14:30 – Best time for your coordination-based tasks.   Handle tricky items with effortless finesse.

 

15:30  – Best reaction times and why parents can manage to keep so many balls in the air at school pick time which quickly morphs into feeding time at the three -ringed circus.

 

17:00 – Strongest cardiovascular processing and greatest feats of strength.  Good time for second workout, mowing the lawn, cleaning and playing anything.

 

18:30 – Blood pressure is it’s highest.  Worst time to be driving and highest incidents of road rage, accidents and poor coordination caused by confusion of rods and cones in eyes.   Much better to succomb to gently tidying up for the day, kicking a  ball with the kids, de-briefing with colleagues or going for a walk.

 

19:00 – Body temperature is it’s highest.  Shower time!  Swim time!   Get into the open.  Water the plants.

 

21:00 – Get ready for bed.   Melatonin starts secreting again.  Early sleep is the best meditation and poor man’s facelift!!!

 

Go on.  Give it a try.    Nature has given us the best tools and enough waking hours in a day to do all necessary.   Early sleep is the best meditation and poor man’s facelift!!!

 

The next time you are having difficulty with a task, procrastinating or scheduling too far down the calendar.  Take time to see if you are in the correct season for that activity.

 

Perhaps it is the wrong phase of the moon to be starting a new way of filing or a new novel.   What time of the day is it ?  Are you trying to harvest in Spring and planting in Autumn?

 

And what of menstruation?  Well, merely the observation that 364 days of the year can be neatly divided 13 times into 28 day periods.  Not 12 months.  That is enough for a whole different blog.

 

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