A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 13 August 2001

After a hard day's work on The House of Steel, I accompanied Margie to the cinema to see Captain Corelli's Mandolin. Despite my usually finding Nicolas Cage's acting skills fascinating, the first two thirds of this film left me feeling more than a little bored. Some of this is likely due to the amazing amount of distortion in the soundtrack. I'm a little hard of hearing at the best of times and I found much of the quiet dialogue impossible to follow. The final third made up for things though with a more acceptable level of mindless and brutish violence.

The film was followed by supper at the Tandoor and Curry House. It's a considerable time since I ate Indian cuisine and I thoroughly enjoyed the food, washed down with a tasty bottle of Brown Brothers 1998 Milawa Merlot. The film was quite long, longer than anticipated as we had been treated to a verbal introduction to the film, so we arrived at the restaurant later than anticipated -- about 9 pm. One of the waitresses was quite put out, though the other seemed to accept this as part of the job.

Thought for the day:

The only way to know how customers see your business is to look at it through their eyes.

Daniel R Scroggin


Tuesday 14 August 2001

While Fran and Tony continued plastering The House of Steel, I set about a few other essential tasks. The electric fence around the dam to keep the stock out needed another two strands of cord. The grapes (Chardonnay) needed a trellis and I transplanted spares where two had died. The remainder I gave to Tony. I also started trellising the first of this year's pea and bean beds. The extra long steel star posts I use for this usually require me to get on a stepladder to use a sledgehammer to drive them in. But this year I have the star post driver that Tony made and I wish had one years ago.

Thought for the day:

Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage, and those who manage what they do not understand.



Wednesday 15 August 2001

Almost ten years ago, I was the publisher of a small circulation magazine, Organic Update. Like most small publications, it never made a profit, but was a valued resource among its subscribers. Then Australia Post changed the rules for posting periodicals to increase the cost for interstate mailings and mailings to rural addresses. Over 95% of the subscribers were interstate and living in the country, so I had to cease publication. Today, I received a check and a filled in subscription form, something that still happens from time to time. I will of course return the cheque. Perhaps when The House of Steel is complete, I may resurrect Organic Update as part of this web.


Found in my inbox:

In 1994, a New Mexico jury awarded $ 2.9 million U.S. in damages to 81-year-old Stella Liebeck who suffered third-degree burns to her legs, groin and buttocks after spilling a cup of McDonald's coffee on herself. This case inspired an annual award - The "Stella" Award - for the most frivolous lawsuit in the U.S. The ones you listed below are clear candidates.

All these cases are verging on the outright ridiculous and yet with the right attorney you could win anything! (see OJ trial)

  1. January 2000: Kathleen Robertson of Austin Texas was awarded 780,000 by a jury of her peers after breaking her ankle tripping over a toddler who was running amok inside a furniture store. The owners of the store were understandably surprised at the verdict, considering the misbehaving tyke was Ms. Robertson's son.

  2. June 1998: A 19 year old Carl Truman of Los Angeles won 74,000 and medical expenses when his neighbour ran over his hand with a Honda Accord. Mr. Truman apparently didn't notice there was someone at the wheel of the car, when he was trying to steal his neighbours hubcap.

  3. October 1998: A Terrence Dickson of Bristol Pennsylvania was exiting a house he finished robbing by way of the garage. He was not able to get the garage door to go up, because the automatic door opener was malfunctioning. He couldn't re-enter the house because the door connecting the house and garage locked when he pulled it shut. The family was on vacation. Mr. Dickson found himself locked in the garage for eight days. He subsisted on a case of Pepsi he found, and a large bag of dry dog food. Mr. Dickson sued the homeowner's insurance claiming the situation caused him undue mental anguish. The jury agreed to the tune of half a million dollars.

  4. October 1999: Jerry Williams of Little Rock Arkansas was awarded 14,500 and medical expenses after being bitten on the buttocks by his next door neighbour's beagle. The beagle was on a chain in it's owner's fenced-in yard, as was Mr. Williams. The award was less than sought because the jury felt the dog may have been provoked by Mr. Williams who, at the time, was shooting it repeatedly with a pellet gun.

  5. May 2000: A Philadelphia restaurant was ordered to pay Amber Carson of Lancaster, Pennsylvania 113,500 after she slipped on soft drink and broke her coccyx. The beverage was on the floor because Ms. Carson threw it at her boyfriend 30 seconds earlier during an argument.

  6. December 1997: Kara Walton of Claymont, Delaware successfully sued the owner of a night club in a neighbouring city when she fell from the bathroom window to the floor and knocked out her two front teeth. This occurred while Ms. Walton was trying to sneak through the window in the ladies room to avoid paying the 3.50 cover charge. She was awarded 12,000 and dental expenses.

  7. And just so you know that cooler heads do occasionally prevail: Kenmore inc., the makers of Dorothy Johnson's microwave, were found not liable for the death of Mrs. Johnson's poodle after she gave it a bath and attempted to dry it by putting the poor creature in her microwave for, "just a few minutes, on low," The case was quickly dismissed.

And that reminded me of the local couple who were going away on a caravan holiday. After hitching up the caravan, the husband said to his wife, "I'll just pop down to the service station for some fuel while you finish the washing up".

Minutes later, there was the sound of breaking glass from the front of the house. The wife looks from the kitchen to see a hand groping for the door handle through a hole in the glass front door. She quickly grabbed the kettle full of boiling water and poured it over the hand! Upon opening the front door, she discovered the next door neighbour she and her husband had asked to look after things while they were away.

Luckily, this is Tasmania, not the USA!

Thought for the day:

Justice is incidental to law and order.

J Edgar Hoover


Thursday 16 August 2001

A man known to the British constabulary as Mat Lemmings wrote: "Can you handle the wit and insights of Mr Sturm?" Oh dear, I suppose that's what my readers have come to expect from me, so in the absence of any witty thoughts, here are some insights from a 50 year old fart!

One thing I find increasingly infuriating is denial of responsibility. Whatever happens to us as individuals, only we are responsible for our reaction to events that affect us. As Stephen Covey so aptly quoted Viktor Frankl, "Between stimulus and response, man has the ability to choose". Of all of life's lessons, I think this to be the single most important. No matter what kind of shit's happening, only you determine your response to it.

The only thing you have to do is die; everything else is optional.

Thought for the day:

Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.

Viktor Frankl


Friday 17 August 2001

Having dashed off yesterday's modicum of wisdom, I forgot to post it. My apologies.

I pondered the importance of Viktor Frankl's insight into the central cause of the human condition. We are conditioned to respond in certain ways to external stimuli, but we can choose to respond in different ways.

Almost all of my early conditioning was performed by women. A Jesuit whose name escapes me once said "give me a child until they are seven years old and I will make them a Jesuit for life". My first seven years, like that of almost everyone I know, was almost completely controlled by females. My father's role was confined to administering extraordinary punishment for responding "incorrectly" to some stimulus or other.

Feminist rhetoric has it that men control the world, subordinating women to achieve their goals. Given the above, one might imagine that means little girls are brought up by men for the first seven years of life in order that they inculcate the correct methodology of little boy raising to maintain their pre-eminent position. But no, the little girls are also conditioned by women. The very foundation of our social structure, the attitudes of its members, are almost totally under the control of women.

Having learned the optional nature of response early in my life, I embarked on a life of experiment. Sometimes I was a sensitive new age guy, other times a chauvinist pig and others somewhere between. All before lunch time! Much to my amusement, women responded better as women to the chauvinist pig, not the sensitive new age guy. In the sense of "hey Kanga, can I put my tiddlypom in your verywarmplace?" that is. Despite the feminist rhetoric, women most definitely had an abiding interest in maintaining the status quo regarding the Battle of the Sexes. Perhaps women were really the controllers and the feminist rhetoric was designed to make men feel guilty in order to bolster that power.

It's not too difficult to find some evidence for this. The central role of money, economic power, in our Western democracies can hardly be argued against. Walk through your local shopping precinct and count the shops that cater to women's needs and tastes, and then do the same for those catering to men's needs and tastes. Women's dress shops versus men's tailors will do. It amazes me that so many men are truly surprised when I point out this obvious fact. Real economic power is purchasing power. As a marketer, I had to know this in order to be successful.

I know some of my readers particularly despise marketers and marketing techniques. But that's because they are not the intended recipients of marketing campaigns. One needs to talk to the organ grinder, not the monkey.

Thought for the day:

One must know oneself. If this does not serve to discover truth, it at least serves as a rule of life and there is nothing better.

Blaise Pascal


Saturday 18 August 2001

From Steve Grady:


The Quotation from your 17 August 2001

A Jesuit whose name escapes me once said "give me a child until they are seven years old and I will make them a Jesuit for life".

is attributed to the Founder of the Jesuits (The Society of Jesus) Ignatius Loyola.

I am still enjoying reading you every day. I like the way you think you really like to grap something by the throat and give it a good shake.

Be well, and I am looking forward to the completion of the "House of Steel" as no doubt you are.

Steve Grady

(from the northern island of Australia) Sydney NSW

Ah, Steve, you make me sound like a philosophical Rottweiler! Thanks for remembering Loyola for me. Apropos completing The  House of Steel, as I said to Bo Leuf earlier this week:

"Mixed feelings -- yes, I look forward to living in considerably more comfort and basking in the glow of admiration for my efforts. There's a distinct parallel to writing a book here <g> OTOH when it's finished, I will have to return to "normal" life. It's hard to describe my feelings about the project."

and Bo replied:

"Not to worry. It only takes one great effort to form a lasting habit/addiction. There's always another project waiting to consume your attention and time. Pending projects quickly become ongoing projects. "Normal" life? Wazzat? Normal is how I normally live, that is to say in constant change."


Of course one of the first things on my mind upon "completion" of The House of Steel will be writing a useful book. The semi-daily notes that I publish were made with this as the primary intent. Since starting them, I have decided that this will be, initially at least, sold only in electronic format via the Internet. And payment will be on the honesty system, akin to the way my neighbours sell apples, flowers and vegetables from the roadside.

Alongside that project will be some refurbishment of the cottage using leftovers from constructing The House of Steel. I suspect that a fresh coat of paint where appropriate inside and out will assist a rapid sale. I have also been told that an occupied house sells much more readily, so we will likely try to find a temporary tenant that we can trust not to trash the place. That's probably not as hard as it might sound as there is a shortage of rental accommodation in the valley.

Then there's the construction of a decent office and storeroom under the front of The House of Steel. Since this will not increase the roof area of the dwelling, it will not require a permit. Had this been included in the original plans submitted for approval, we would have needed to complete them before we could move in!

Sometime soon I am thinking of starting another "journal" as part of this web, tentatively called: Homestead and Garden. Having moved onto our homestead to grow our own food some 20 years ago, we have a lot of experience with issues that arise from living The Good Life. And I know a few talented writers doing the same in this corner of the planet.

I hope nobody thought there was any danger I might get bored... <g>


I haven't visited OSOpinion for some time. This week there's a piece called Why Get Microsoft Word in the First Place? Basically the writer, Bert Garcia, says we don't need anything beyond plain text, so vi or Emacs on Linux will do everything the average wp grunt needs. Forget AutoCorrect to fix typos and insert long pieces of regularly typed text, something one of my clients told me saved her 20 minutes per day. Yes, she used a stopwatch! And if 20 minutes seems like very little, she emphasised that translates to two weeks per year. Multiplied by the 100 wp staff? Forget italics and bold for emphasis. Forget fonts for readability and margin settings to avoid printing on the corporate letterhead. I wonder if Bert Garcia speaks in a monotone for "efficiency" too.

Thought for the day:

Efficiency is intelligent laziness.

David Dunham


Sunday 19 August 2001

No post for today. Busy helping a friend.

Thought for the day:

I keep my friends as misers do their treasure, because, of all the things granted us by wisdom, none is greater or better than friendship.

Pietro Aretino


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Jonathan Sturm 2001

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Jonathan Sturm 2001