Official Waffleletter No.19
The ‘No, Waffle Group has not Died a Miserable Death’ IssueEditorial
Loyal Wafflings! How you have waited for another issue of the notorious Waffle Group. How you have been disappointed. Disappointment no more! In fact, this is so long you’ll wish I’d fallen off that frosty mountain-top I spoke of in the previous, oh-so-hideous issue.
Naturally, other things have happened since then, and if you’d been visiting the Home of Waffle on the Web you’d know about some of the things. Certain descriptions have been cryptic, but bad things have happened and basically, since nearly falling a mountain, things have continued to suck muchly.
Things that suck tend to lead one in a journey of self-discovery. Why does it suck? How can I stop the suck? If I can’t stop the suck, how do I live with the suck? Do waffles suck? And other deep questions.
So I stumbled upon Buddhism which seems to have a philosophy that fits in nicely with mine, and helps me to deal with the suck.
Things are looking up though, and in the spirit of improving mental health, I won’t be dwelling on the negative, and will rather relate the more frivolous events in my recent past. Basically you’ll be getting another account of my international travels. The latest destinations being England, Wales and France.
My life of luxury will soon come to an end as I search for gainful employment. Angie has hinted at being tired of making all the money, so I will have to change my ways from blood-sucking leach to life-giving elixir while simultaneously finishing off my masters. Sounds like fun.
Adapting my suck analogy loosely to the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism gives us this:
1. Life sucks.
2. Expecting life not to suck makes life suck.
3. It is possible for life not to suck
4. To stop life from sucking, follow the Eight-fold anti-suck path
To be honest, the suck analogy doesn’t do a very good job of capturing the spirit of Buddhism. This might be because generally people say things like, ‘You suck!’ or ‘This sucks!’ which lacks subtlety and nuance. Buddhism is practically all subtlety and nuance.
For a better description see about.com’s Buddhism articles.
What I really enjoy is that Buddhism is a scientific philosophy. One doesn’t practise Buddhism with blind faith, but with a questioning attitude. Nothing is to be taken as scripture. The practitioner is encouraged to experiment with the teachings and make observations. After gathering results of one’s experiment, it is possible to devise new experiments, or re-run the experiments in order to gather more data.
It isn’t necessary to believe and implement everything that the Buddha said, just do what works or makes sense to you.
For the first time in my exploration of philosophy and religion, I’ve found an attitude towards life where almost everything makes sense. No-one is excluded. There are no threats of eternal damnation. You are responsible for your actions, and there’s no get out of bad karma free ticket. Asking for forgiveness doesn’t help — you need to act for forgiveness. Even then you don’t get forgiveness, you just balance the karmic accounts.
Possibly the theory of karma is a load of crap, but it explains why bad things happen to good people a hell of a lot better than anything else I’ve come across. God working in mysterious and inexplicable ways has never done it for me.
Here’s an argument against an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving god.
Let us now consider Mumphred, the plush toy. Let us assume that Mumphred has hopes and dreams, and does not want to suffer a horrible fate at the teeth and claws of Satan’s Poodle (aka Bean).
I fed Mumphred to Bean as something for her to play with, and she treats Mumphred quite roughly. Mumphred has had his heart ripped off (since he wore it on his sleeve), and his face mauled. From Mumphred’s perspective, these are bad things to have happened to him — perhaps even evil things.
If god is all-powerful and all-knowing, then he can’t be all-loving because he isn’t stopping evil, despite knowing about it and being powerful enough to stop it.
If god is all-powerful and all-loving, then he obviously doesn’t know what’s happening to Mumphred, because if he did he could and would want to stop the evil.
If god is all-knowing and all-loving, then he can’t be powerful enough to save Mumphred, because he must know about and want to stop the evil.
Why do I get into these theological debates with myself and email them to people? I think I subconsciously want to annoy Tammy. Sorry Tammy, it isn’t intentional.
The Travel Master
This is what it’s like to visit a small town in the south of France:
sdfh hj psdjfdsj l;kdfjgkj ;l ksd;flk ;lsdkofjsd;fkjsd ;klsjdf;lsdf lkdjdslfjhfdpb potposefoswdop pjd pojpojf oihj oihj pijsd pioj poj lkijdsiphjsdkj pij ijseoisd ih loihgthjyfsdo iohgufsdgoi opiisfadvjhj pi ygasdi uopiihyasgiy poixc ougrhasdiuc pou iohsdiy oijuouisdy ojsdoiudj iugsdpcxuip ihjsdohcviu jupfj
sdflkjsdlksdjsdflkj lkij lkgflk;lk lkjsdo ;ojk likisdkl ogbjpsdpoaspasdopvblo i piodfopdf i iofgopf iop ilhjg
sdfjkl dilj lkjsd l;oj lkisjdkidsfflfki odfjdsflksdfl iloksdjflkdsfjk lokijdfj kivjslkjf iogoiju ohiosdfki lokisdjvlihj kixckl lk ljkhx lokixdh klhdx klhxklxv lkhj lflk lk
As you can clearly see, there is no punctuation in small French towns.
We (being me and Angie, since we travelled together for a change) actually spent a few days in London with our friend Lisa before heading to France. Lisa was an excellent host, especially in the way she forgot the specifics of our arrival and was rowing on the Thames at the same time as we rang her doorbell. So we rang another doorbell next to hers and stirred a grumpy demon from her lair.
The miserable old wench hissed at us and told us to press whichever button we hadn’t pressed. She didn’t seem sympathetic when we explained that we’d pressed all of the buttons and had only her visage as a reward.
Lisa didn’t answer her cell, the landline just rang. The flatmates she told us she had were either her special invisible friends or dead. After almost booking into a B&B I managed to rouse one of the flatmates, from a slumber so deep it may have been a coma, by getting into a comfortable position and leaning on the doorbell button. Her name was also Lisa, which was a little creepy. Gloriously she was expecting us (although she didn’t know when exactly) and let us in, saving us from a slow, hypothermic death on the pavement — at least there were no mountains in sight.
To Lisa’s credit, once she came back from rowing she did an excellent job of taking care of us, showing us the sights and taking us to places of interest and just generally being excellent company. Thanks for everything, chick (as Angie would call you).
Onward to France
We spent a week in France near the base of the Pyrennees in a small town called Baynere, although I am not too certain about the name. It was French-sounding, and if the Americans don’t like the French, why should I bother?
We went there specifically to visit Angie’s aunt and uncle who have retired and moved there. Plus, they fed us for a week in über-expensive Euroland (which isn’t the same as EuroDisney). Bonus!
Technically, we could have made a skiing holiday of it, but when we went up the mountain to have a look at the ski-slopes, Angie had a bizarre panic attack and refused to go anywhere near the snow. It was a struggle to even coax her out of the car. She complained that there was too much snow, and everything was too white. She was also scared of falling on the snow and breaking her hip — a misinterpretation of a story Angie’s aunt had told us about an elderly lady who had slipped on icy concrete and broken her hip.
We did not ski. We did visit Lourdes. It’s a famous place. If you’re Catholic, you should know about it. If you’re not, you might know about it. If you don’t know about it, don’t trust what I tell you.
St. Benedine (or possibly she had a different name that sounds like Benedine, but definitely starts with a ‘B’) had visions of the Virgin Mary in a damp alcove up on a hill. The French Catholics were so excited about this that they built a fairly ornate and quite large church above the alcove.
Then some French entrepreneurs realised that devote catholics would flock to Lourdes to see this holy alcove, and they’d probably want souvenirs. Kitschy plastic Virgin Marys and gold-coloured medallions of the Pope and the like.
The people wanted it, and so it came to pass. Souvenir shops and vending machines were created, and God looked down upon all that the humans had made and saw that it was irreverent.
Angie insisted on buying a small plastic virgin. I frowned upon her.
A final note on France: The rumours about the food are true. French food is excellent. I didn’t eat a single bland, ordinary meal while in that country (not so for the UK). You may not know what it is that you are about to eat, but you know it will taste good.
The Welsh language sounds a lot like Klingon (this is a reference to Star Trek, for those who refuse to have anything to do with cult TV shows from the 60s that have spawned spin-offs in the fashion of a plague of locusts). Not that this was a problem: everyone spoke English, as is only right and proper. The more countries the USA and UK invade the better. I’ll be able to go on holidays to Iraq and Afghanistan and be understood, just before I’m shot to death.
But I digress.
Wales is a country we visited because Michael and Frances moved there. It was cold and overcast much of the time. There were very few Chinese people to be seen on the streets. I expected more considering that Wales is where all the Chinese people from Eastern Europe were sent after the cold war.
Still, all was not lost. There were many castles. We visited several. Frances likes castles very much. I think castles are okay. This difference in our views of the value of castles may have caused a little friction. Sorry about that Frans.
I would like to draw attention to the gay castle, which is more commonly known as Caste Coch. I don’t know what ‘Coch’ means, but if there is any just ice in this world, it should mean ‘Queer as a Bicycle with Seventy-Eight Wheels.’
Castle Queer is built on the ruins of a medieval castle, and the foundations and cellar/dungeon bits are very authentic looking. So Castle Queer isn’t Queer to its roots.
Then a bunch of pansy Victorian hoity-toities got hold of it and “restored” the castle, complete with fairy-tale pointy turrets. Externally, if you can get passed the pointy turrets, it looks like a real castle. Inside, it looks like a gay-Victorian-medieval-fantasy or more plainly, it looks like a joke. Everything is ostensibly medieval, but with Victorian flair thrown in.
Historically accurate restoration? I don’t think so. It just isn’t bleak enough.
That’s the whining out of the way.
I enjoyed Cardiff despite what I thought of Castle Queer. We caught up with our friends, went ice-skating outdoors (not something practical in South Africa), went to Indian restaurants (yes, Indian), crossed the bay in a water-bus (which is really just a boat. Angie said they might as well call it a water-train), visited pubs, drank liquid Brains, ran around screaming. You know, the usual.
It might interest you to know that Brains is a brand of Welsh beer. Those Welshmen are crazy.
While I was there, we got the women out of the way and Michael discussed the wedding proposal with me. Now I’m leaving Angie to marry Mike. Well, that’s what I was hoping for. Turns out he’s more interested in marrying Frances. Curses.
Perhaps I need to hang around the gay castle a bit more.
Anyway, thanks for putting up with us in your space for two weeks.
End of Laze
I’ve started earning money.
I have been looking for work, and found work on a kind of freelance basis with environmental consultancies. They get too much work to handle. I absorb the overflow and they pay me.
So far it looks like it will work out quite nicely.
Bizarrely, having to find money earning work has had the effect of making me work more effectively at my masters. An all-round good thing then.
My other entrepreneurial plan is to sell plastic Virgin Marys at traffic lights. If that doesn’t catch on, plan B is to stand there very still with a cardboard sign that reads “I think I am a haystack. Need money for therapy.” If that also fails, I’ll change the sign slightly to a more aggressive stance: “I make dead people. Give me money for therapy” and wave about a bloody baton.
--That's all. Any comments, suggestions, complaints, insults. Send them to me.
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