Have you ever done one of those stress tests that pop up every so often?
The ones that make you tot up a whole lot of points for every life-changing event that has occurred in your life over the last ten years or so. If you get a lot of points you are apparently a high risk for all sorts of stress related disease and problems.
Low points don't mean that you are patently boring, just that you aren't likely to go off the deep end.
Oh all right then. It does mean that you lead a boring life but at least you will be bored for far longer than those of us who speed through life, drunk, cigarette hanging from the lip and wondering where the brakes are.
I stopped doing those tests a while ago when my points exceeded the higher end “danger to himself and everything in a vicinity of 10 miles.” side of the scale.
When you get to half way through a test and the results already put you in the menace to society category the only way to feel good about your lifestyle is to stop taking them.
However sometimes even a male needs to assess why it is that his brain appears to be out of line with the rest of reality.
Now the problem with being a Mensan is that we generally have a very good understanding of things medical, physical and psychological.
It just comes with the territory.
The trouble is when we decide that the little knowledge we have is sufficient to enable ourselves to cure the ills. Not to mention that most of the Medical profession get uneasy when they are told what is wrong with the person consulting them, by the person consulting them.
Anyway there does come a time when it becomes obvious that you need to have a chat with someone. Other than yourself that is. Even if you are an illuminating and charming conversationalist.
So, for various reasons, recently, I found myself having a good long chat with a member of the psychiatric profession.
This was of course after we had ascertained that I was only a threat to myself as opposed to the general populace in my immediate vicinity. Self-immolation not being frowned upon quite so much as mass …what? …murder? I never did find out, but this is Canada so I presume that loving your fellow human is more important than loving yourself. Except on shows like Canadian Idol!
So we chatted for a while and I let her have a moment or two to manually pull her eyebrows back from the back of her head so she could purse them as she wrote. And wrote. And for a change…wrote.
Then we chatted some more. And of course she wrote some more.
The upshot is (and here, I am so tempted to say, just as I thought!) that I can claim to have PTSD with a side order of a few of the normal anxieties and depressions that skip merrily down my brain hand in hand behind the big one.
The trouble is that someone, or something, was upsizing those side orders too often.
At least I am aware that my past experiences have been rather horrific in many cases but I am also aware that they are in the past.
Well, not to put too fine a point on it, I did have to admit that the likelihood of me leading a boring life is pretty remote.
As such we need to put the upsized neuroses on diet so that I can at least find space to add the new ones.
I think we agreed that we would call that progress. Although I am not sure she was totally convinced.
There is a chap at the place that I work that has intrigued me for a while now.
He is obviously a fisherman. As we hear every single day.
First break. Lunch. Second break. And whenever he is close enough for me to listen to the litany of fishing exploits. Ice fishing. Surf fishing. Lake fishing. River Fishing. Fishing holidays. Fishing weekends. Fishing afternoons.
It carries on ad nauseum.
On and on. Fish. Fish. Fish.
Like a rather bad Monty Python Skit! Fishie, Fishie, Fishie!
I think he is married judging by a comment I heard about taking his son fishing so I imagine that somewhere out there is a bald woman who has torn her hair out in despair. Although I am really amazed that that he has a son and am trying to work out just how he was conned into believing that sex was better than fishing. Once at least!
And yet I envy him in a way. Well actually the sheer bloody-minded insularity that his life obviously encapsulates.
As a Mensan I am never able to concentrate for any length of time on one subject only.
My mind seems to be constantly on the look out for new and interesting aspects of knowledge. No matter what.
Which I might add didn't go down well with my masters at school!
Thinking, and showing interest, not being highly valued in the halls of academe. Well most of them anyway.
Turning out cannon fodder for the Government and Big Business taking precedence apparently. Good soldiers don't think.
When I was younger my apparent inability to concentrate on subjects to the exclusivity of all else worried me. I always felt that I had some mental problem (which probably doesn't come as any surprise to some of you!) and was a failure.
Of course this attitude was exacerbated by the teachers who took delight in reinforcing that belief!
In my early twenties I was diagnosed with “intelligence”. I have been afflicted ever since.
With all the various symptoms and sickness that having “intelligence” brings.
Over the years I have steadily succumbed to the debilitating effects that this illness has cursed me with.
Being inquisitive. Curiosity (Thank God I am a Leo. I still have a few lives left). An opinion on a myriad subjects, knowledge of more things than I really want to know about and the worst one of the lot, “Being Right”!
Teachers, Officers, Managers hate people who are “right”.
In marriage there is only ever one person who is “right” as well. As I suffer from the other malady of being “Male” I have a heavy burden as only females are `right” in this area of life. This probably explains my marital status.
As I get older I have noticed that I tend to suffer more and as such I am looking forward to shuffling off this mortal coil and being resurrected as that fisherman type.
I can think of nothing more rewarding than being both ignorant and obsessed. The sheer bliss of coasting through life with no worries other than missed fish, or a lost line.
And yet……I have this strange feeling I will come back as an intelligent fish.
In a bowl where I won't be able to outwit any fisherman.
I have now had the chance to test out the medical services of Canada.
Not quite voluntarily I must admit.
Although if you take into consideration that I was the one who requested a 911 call then maybe it was.
The interesting part of the process being that I have recently had to do a recertification of my First Aid for TOWARF and this may be a reason why I was able to identify some of the signs and put the call into action, because, if judging by the disgusted look of the closest female to me was anything to go by, then relying on others knowledge of common first aid is a bit dicey around this town.
It was Sunday morning and like a good bachelor who realizes that clean clothing adds to the appeal, I was off to the Laundromat. After putting in my clothing (Yes.Yes. All on hot and mixed colours. I am a male after all!) I settled back to read the cheery world news.
Trouble is my eyeballs wouldn't co-operate. Nor for that matter would the room. Which had a particularly annoying habit of moving around me.
The eyeballs I could handle as it was a novel experience to have them moving independently of each other, but the room was another issue. I had decided to agree with the feeling of nausea and go to the loo to “bark at the ants”. Only problem was the walls weren't in agreement with my brains assessment of their position. They kept moving.
So like a drunken sailor I moved both too the loo and back.
Which is when I noticed the disgusted woman. Oddly enough I started to laugh at that stage because, despite my trepidation, I was being given a classic example of how peoples thought processes work. After all, us weird colonial types just live to do our laundry blind drunk! And when you are sweating buckets you naturally take off as many clothes as possible.
One of the tests for a stroke being to see if the patient can hold up their arms I naturally held mine up.
At which stage the room decided that upside down was an option.
This was when I decided that 911 was a viable option and asked the owner to get them.
The ambulance was there within 3 minutes. Which is most impressive. As was the alacrity with which they got me hooked up to monitors and started the process of removing copious quantities of blood.
Although the most impressive question came fairly quickly and revolved around my Health Card but I guess this is North America and payment counts.
The interesting part of the process was my blood pressure being at 240/140 and then plummeting to 70/30 shortly after oxygen administration. Well I couldn't see but I could still hear the discussion and like a good paramedic myself was more interested in the process than my own well being. OK I will admit that it took my mind off more pressing matters, which incidentally is “a good thing” to paraphrase some or other jailbird.
Shortly afterwards I found myself lying in emergency with enough tubes coming out of to keep a vampire happy (well they seemed to need to keep draining blood out of me, and then keep sticking saline back in. No doubt to help make more blood to take out again!) and wires attached to every conceivable part of my body that had hair on. In other words a lot of wires.
Most of which vanished into the “machine that goes beep” and which every good hospital has.
It made a rather comforting background concerto to my on-again-off-again dozing for the rest of the day while they pondered my prognosis and waited for the results.
Which apparently were not forthcoming.
It appears that they could find nothing wrong with me at all!
No heart problems. No neurological problems. Nothing.
Now there is nothing more off putting than a doctor that is worried because they haven't been able to pinpoint your problem.
Actually there is.
It is the cavalier way they dismissed me after admitting defeat. Sort of:
“Put on your clothes and find your own way home. We can't help you. But feel free to try us again should you feel like dying again”
Which is hopefully not going to happen for a while. As my dearest Daughter puts it:
“You have so many people left to annoy. I think you will be around for a while.”
This then might be a good time to wish you all a happy and prosperous New Year.
I haven't got a clue how many of you I will have to annoy next year but let's at least try to start the year off on a pleasant note anyway.
Some people are lucky enough to have “one of those days!”
Some have “one of those weeks”
And then there are those of us who have what seems like decades worth of interesting times. So many interesting times that I sometimes wonder which Barbarian invader I was in a previous life that so many Chinese have placed that curse on me! *
Of course there is always the possibility that being a Mensan I have the type of inquiring mind that places me in situations that suddenly turn out to be more fraught than I at first suspected.
I do however tend to feel that my ability to get myself into weird situations is more as a result of my own cat-killing variety than any extraneous factors acting in unison on my existence.
Although given the last few weeks I may be forced to revise that somewhat.
I at last got offered not one but two positions that may have lead to full time employment. So I resign from the one temp agency (which is apparently unheard of. Most people just leaving!) and get ready to start at my new position.
Come Friday and at 15h00 I am informed that the job has been put on hold (now I understand why people just leave but that is another story.) so I contact the other agency and get put on midnight shifts starting that Sunday.
Come Monday another agency calls to offer me a position, which is more or less what I want. As I put the phone down the current employer phones to ask me to change to afternoon shift (which is then only five hours away and I haven't slept yet!) and instead of line work it is tow-motor driving and an extra $1 an hour.
Anyway I go with the devil I know and start on the afternoon shift.
In the meantime I discover that far from going quietly into the night when it comes to my love life I am still raging.
I have had the odd meeting with the youngster and as is usual listen to what she tells me and then put two and two together and come up with something that doesn't add up to four.
So last Thursday over coffee I try to point out to her that she is being abused by her so called friends. I won't go into it but with friends like these you need to actively look for enemies.
She didn't like that and also couldn't understand my ability to use my brain to work out a few incidentals so I am now “stalking” her. This despite the fact that she told me the details. Some of the people she confided in being friendlier with me than her.
Which of course makes my point about her inability to judge friends perfectly!
Anyway at that stage with all this and the last few months my body at last told my brain: Enough!
I then proceeded into meltdown mode. The sad thing is that if I don't work I don't get paid so the illness has lingered.
Ah well. At least I am able to buy some Christmas presents for the children this year and it looks like this position may be a bit more stable so maybe my luck is changing?
The world's most optimistic cynic rides again.
So for all of you out there I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year and may you NEVER have to live in interesting times.
*Ancient Chinese curse “May you live in interesting times!”
October /November 2006
And so we enter fall and ultimately winter cannot be far off. Which in the grand scheme of things at least means that someday spring will be upon us again.
A wonderful metaphor for the seasons of my own life sometimes.
Up until a few weeks ago I was involved in a relationship with a woman that forced me to make a decision that, given my past history, was not an easy one to make.
I had to decide whether I would marry her or not.
After all she was much younger than me and would obviously want children in future.
After much soul searching, and checking on my own children to see whether I had been a reasonable parent at least, I decided that I would in fact be willing to take a chance.
So we had moved toward the discussion phase when out of the blue she got up one morning and informed me that she was leaving me.
The reason being that I was too old, would die when she was in her thirties and leave her destitute and apparently my financial status was not sufficient to provide security.
We have a lovely saying in Afrikaans. Snotklap
Which means an unexpected smack in the face that is so hard it forces the snot out of you.
One week marriage. The next week gone.
Of course it was entirely coincidental that Mommy dearest returned from an overseas trip on the Friday in between these events.
And the statement that if she married me then she, me and any offspring would never be welcome in her house was not instrumental in any decision.
Nor was the sudden opening of Daddy's purse strings to send her back to College either.
He incidentally, being the provider of the financial security analysis.
Interestingly in all the time I was with her neither parent ever took the time to talk to me. In fact it was made rather explicit that I was persona non grata.
Which of course means that any prejudices can never be overturned. It is so much easier to be bigoted that way.
Ah well as they say.
At least I wrote some decent poetry as a result of the affair. Both pre and post breakup.
And got a good laugh as well.
Mommy Dearest using a masterful mind manipulation technique on the young lady by telling her that she was worried that I was going to “take her out” (the Mother!), what with me being a military trained South African killer.
Thus proving that she was intimately involved in forcing her daughters hand but that is another story
More like a hopeless romantic idiot.
Which of course means that I am destined to repeat all my mistakes again.
I will find reciprocal love someday. The true, deep, nothing can rend us asunder forever, love that stirs the heart and leads the emotions on wings that allow you to soar above the mundane and mendacious.
Hence the allusion to spring being around the corner.
Now excuse me while I dig out my Ninja camouflage and put in a little practice for the dark side of me.
I have had an epiphany of sorts regarding the possibility of the existence of Heaven. You will note that I didn't add Hell into that equation.
For a very simple reason, as I will explain later.
For those of you who are unaware, the current place where I work for the Canadian Government (well almost 40% of the time anyway) is a car parts factory out in Milton.
This job of course bears no resemblance to what I am trained to do but I am a good immigrant and realize my place.
Besides which I will do anything to survive. Well. OK. Almost anything to survive then!
For instance I am aware that my cultural heritage offers a wide and varied selection of jobs that could be classified as dubious at the best and, in Canada at least, downright illegal for the most part. Apparently bank robbery, cash in transit heists and car hijacking being the most recent trends when it comes to providing some form of income there.
I must admit to a certain dichotomy of feeling over this though.
You see, what with military training and all that, I would probably have some fun with the local Brinks Vans as they went about their business. Most important though is that once caught, and lets give the local constabulary their dues here, I would be caught, I would receive a minimum sentence at least, be incarcerated for a period of time long enough for me to earn a Canadian degree, thus obviating the standard “Canadian experience” bull, and all the while being fed and housed at, your, the Canadian taxpayers expense. Luckily you cannot see my smirk at this revelation. Nor how close this option is becoming.
But I digress just a little. Where was I?
Ah. Yes. My revelation that Heaven may exist.
Hell, you see, exists already and I currently work there. Hell is any factory in Southern Ontario in the middle of summer where there is no air conditioning and the welding machines work overtime while the wage slaves feed them pieces of metal sacrifice. Where the sweat mixes with molten steel as it runs down your forehead.
Continuous, repetitive, mind numbing toil in horrendous conditions. Hell indeed.
So what is a good Mensan to do when faced with this type of activity?
Well you find various actions to break the monotony.
I sing old Zulu mine workers songs. Out of tune and noisily. This hasn't endeared me to my co-workers. Who, philistines that they are, seem to have no appreciation for the attempt rather than the execution.
Neither has the other fun little aspect which I began this week.
On the initial station we work at you have to mark the pieces with an A or a B so that the order remains constant. Although quite why two identical pieces need this differentiation seems difficult to comprehend. Anyway after making thousands of these parts I decided to help enlighten my fellow workers at the next station.
Thus it was that pieces began to come off the line with variations on the theme.
a and b being the most obvious. Well to a Mensan anyway.
Sideways, upside down and my piéce de resistance, the EH? And BE!
I've been putting these through on a regular basis lately and so far no comment has been forthcoming.
Ah the loneliness of genius.
Especially while working in Hell.
I think I once wrote “Ex Africa semper aliquid nova” which roughly translates as “Out of Africa always something new”
This may have been true of me a few years back when I took over as LocSec but as always that new shine begins to tarnish a little and if we are to go forward there are two options.
Either rebuff the shine or replace it.
This is Canada, the disposable society, and so having been unable to fulfill my duties to the full extent recently I felt it was better to step down and let some new blood steer the committee further into the future.
By the time you read this I am sure the votes would have been counted and the new LocSec proclaimed. As far as I know there is very little possibility of a Florida option taking place nor have the pollsters got involved with false predictions and incorrect prophecies.
As such I think (and I stand corrected but could be having to make an apology in the next article!) that you will have Robin Martin as LocSec, Tony Asrilen as Deputy LocSec and Judy Anderson as Treasurer with myself hovering in the background as an ex-officio.
I am sure that this committee will continue to provide you all with the necessary backup to ensure that Mensa Toronto remains strong and viable and the driving force behind Mensa Canada and future growth.
Denise Harris will be taking a well-deserved rest from her duties as the ex-officio chairman and my voice of conscience and to be honest the person on whom I relied probably far too much to do things I should have.
I doubt that Denise will remain inactive for long knowing her and so I thank her for all the help and effort she put into my tenure as LocSec and look forward to her next foray back into the world of Mensa officialdom. I don't think I will have to wait long either.
I was extremely lucky to have Denise, Tony and Judy on the committee with me over the last few years as, in the main, we had smooth meetings and decisions.
To you all I thank you for your patience and perseverance and know that you will provide Robin with the same degree of help that you afforded me.
You do realize however that this now means that there will be more Rugby Songs trotted out at (in)opportune moments in the next meetings?
Ah well you can't win them all.
In the meantime I will carry on my search for meaningful employment, write an article for the magazine (timeously madam Editor I semi-assure you) and make a vow to attend more meetings.
You meet so many interesting people that way.
I should finish off with the saying “the King is dead. Long live the King” but am not too sure that I like the connotation.
I think I still exist and hope to be around to annoy the odd person still for quite a while.
Just not in committee.
I realise that with the snow falling outside this may not be the right time to start reminding you all that there will be spring again.
Next May hopefully!
And while we have to endure the measured tread of politicians, desperate to keep their snouts snuffling in the Ottawa trough through the next few weeks, trying to make us believe that they aren't liars, crooks and blaggards, we will, in May, have another election more pertinent to the Mensa group.
I am referring to the election of the local Board and it's members.
This coming year there will be many positions to fill as most of the board are preparing to step down and pass on the mantle to new, fresh faces willing to carry on the Mensa direction.
Currently Judy Anderson, Jen Nolan, Chris Nolan and myself, have indicated that we will not stand for re-election next year.
This means that we need at least four new faces to fill the positions of LocSec, Treasurer, New Members Welcoming Coordinator and the SAGE SIG Liaison.
Perhaps my comment about spring is pertinent to the timing of the next election. After all spring is the time of the year for rebirth, renewal and growth. Something that is necessary to any organization.
New faces and ideas help to rejuvenate the spirit necessary to move forward. Which is why, with that thought in mind, I decided that I should move on and let someone else carry the banner.
I would particularly like to see some of the younger members get involved in the running of Mensa. I think there are quite a few of you out there who would be an asset to the board and the future growth and success of Mensa.
This “elder” wants to go sit in the sun, smoke a pipe, drink tjwala and pass on accumulated wisdom to those who may listen. (I will ignore the mutterings with regard to my wisdom!)
So if you fancy making a difference in the organization step up and become involved.
We won't, of course, expect you to walk door to door, nor make more than the usual promises. Probably because you may be a bit tired of all the lies and posturing from the other mob campaigning over the winter festive season at the moment.
With that thought in mind allow me to remind you all that this is actually the season of goodwill to all men (generic versions accepted) and so I will end by wishing you all a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year.
Hominid Species of Southern Africa
BAWBTHOC : Sub-Genre of Hetero Erectus
Origin of word - KHOI/SAN
n: biological specimen of questionable character prone to cranial mastication of species Gallus Domesticus
Habitat : Common to the Southern parts of Africa. Once known to roam freely over most of Africa (Cape to Cairo). Notable tribes being found in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and all the Southern African countries.
Over the last century various members of the northern tribes consolidated and moved South where the last large concentrations of the genus BAWBTHOC may now be found.
In the last half century a general migration has seen concentrations of BAWBTHOC move overseas to countries as diverse as England, Australia, New Zealand, The USA and Canada. Their ability to adopt the local customs has seen them assimilate more quickly than other species although their inability to learn the local language fluently has proven to be the one factor that identifies them to locals. (see language)
Tend to be tall, large and have unique characteristics that distinguish them from other species.(See Charlize Theron)
Male characteristics often see them utilised as scarecrows, bouncers, wardens (or their prisoners) and/or crash test dummies. May or may not sport erratic patches of facial hair used as temporary shelter for small rodents, or a late snack.
BAWBTHOC have a unique language that has been likened to “gargling barbed wire”. They can be taught to speak a normal language but the subtle nuances of the local inflections escape them and they will revert to their own interpretations. This can lead to awkward situations (see sex)
Male and female and as often as possible.
Mating Call of the BAWBTHOC - `Ek smaak jou stukkend' (see language)
Have been known to form bonds with other humans outside their tribe but are fairly tough to train and changing habits to fit the local assumptions of courtship is hard.
Patience is required but once a pair bond is successfully formed it is often quite stable, barring unforeseen encounters with superior species of BAWBTHOC (see Charlize Theron )
Generally good natured and mild but known to have outbursts of anti-social behaviour and aggressive tendencies when challenged. Especially fierce if younger members of the tribe are threatened.
Prone to livid rages if another member of the tribe dares to cross the path of an elder male member whilst rugby/cricket is on. Especially if someone is about to score a try.
Will eat most foods but have a tendency to eat either raw cured meat or overcooked meat (see Braai)
Large quantities of meat charcoaled over open fires and copious quantities of alcohol are regarded as normal ways to have meetings. Please note - alcoholic beverages of American origin are not advised if you wish to make yourself welcome into the tribe.
The BAWBTHOC approach to cuisine is generally described as - `if it can run away it deserves to be caught and cooked'
The BAWBTHOC tends to eschew eating utensils, please be advised that should you come into contact with this species in a social setting you will be encouraged to do the same.
Responds well to love, affection and small amounts of ego stroking. Prefers direct sunlight and daily watering, nutritional supplements in the form of energy strips known as biltong are strongly recommended for optimal performance.
Not to be confused with a distantly related genetic cousin that inhabits the United Kingdom (see Ozzy Osbourne )