The idle, lazy EOTWQ

At about 1 o clock this afternoon, I pondered on how I could get another cup of tea without getting out of the bath I was enjoying. I didn’t manage to solve this problem, but decided to be thankful that I had one nice cup of tea in the bath, and went back to reading my book. The dog came in and licked my knees; it was at this point I decided to set the End Of The Week Quintet of lazy, idling questions for the lovely inhabitants of The ‘Spilliverse.

1. What’s your favourite idle moment, and do you have to be clever to achieve it? Of late I make sure I have a decent book to hand in all rooms in the house, so if the children deem to leave me alone for a minute, I can pick up the book

2. I have been reading a lot of Tom Hodgkinson lately, and his theories on being free from the Puritanical notions of hard work, which leads me to ask – what’s the most awful, soul-crushing job you’ve ever had? I once worked for one of those companies who may phone you up and ask you questions about current events, or other banalities. Every second lasted a minute, every minute lasted an hour, the clock was watched and watched again.

3. Technology is meant to help us, make our lives easier, but anyone who’s wrestled with a spreadsheet on one of those awful windows microsoft computers, will know that it’s quite often not the case. But have you come up with any clever use of technology that actually helps you ease through life? A good number of months back I created the Peppa Pig randomizer, which played endless random episodes of the show to save me from having to put a new one on the telly every five minutes for the demanding toddler.

4. When I cook, I really hate following recipes and having to endlessly measure out stuff, drives me round the bend. So I have invented my own style of cooking, where i vaguely remember a dish I like, and try and cook it – no measuring, no complicated stuff, lots of shortcuts. The end result is always different, never the same dinner twice, and the kids usually like it. One of my fave shortcuts is garlic puree in a tube, when I discovered that this existed I was exceptionally happy as it meant no more fiddling around, or cleaning, the bloody garlic press ever again. What’s your best kitchen shortcut or secret? 

5. Due to this being the lazy EOTQW, I  can’t really be bothered thinking of a last question, so please think of your own question and write the answer only as your answer to number 5.

Time for a cup of tea now I think and maybe a wee nap…

124 thoughts on “The idle, lazy EOTWQ

  1. Oh, good one, Blimpy – I have a couple of hours to kill before I can drive over to the sorting office. (You go out for the morning and the postman tries to deliver two parcels. What are the odds?)

    1 My favourite idle moment? I’m retired! They’re all idle moments! Bwah ha ha!

    2 Teaching. Everybody told me (a single mother) that teaching would be the best job for me because I’d have the same holidays as the kids. What they didn’t tell me was that I’d be no bloodly good at it. Hell on wheels. All day. Every day.

    3 I can’t make technology work for me. All I can do is run as fast as I can after it down the road, hoping I’ll catch up with some of it. I do enjoy it though. (No, not the running. The playing with the IT once I’ve caught it.)

    4 I never follow recipes either, which exasperates my kids when they ask me how to make some family staple.

    “Yes, but how much flour?”


    Come to think, they’re pretty much given up asking now…

    My kitchen tip: you don’t have to put any butter or oil in the pan before you start cooking mince. It’s got fat in it already. All you do is get the pan really hot, chuck the mince in, and stir it round a bit. It will get nice and brown and you can add the onions and whatnot afterwards.

    5 Re-dressing my Sasha dolls in each others’ outfits.

  2. Unfortunately much too busy today to answer any of these properly, and from tomorrow I’m be out of the country actually being lazy (well, lots of walking and cycling, but also a lot of time reading German detective novels) with little or no internet connectivity…

  3. 1. I work from home and for myself, so I have to be disciplined. But 10.30am is time for a cup of coffee and wasting time on the Web. (I also waste time on the Web throughout the day – e.g. now – but coffee time is when I don’t feel guilty about it).

    2. I’ve always been pretty lucky with jobs. I had a year’s temping doing pretty mind-numbing office admin, but even that was in a book distributors, and I got lots of cheap books out of it.

    3. The Peppa Pig randomizer sounds like a wonderful idea. We got a smart TV recently, which is great – up to a point. Unfortunately, the girls now demand TV-on-demand – rather than just switching on CBeebies or putting in a DVD, they want to choose a particular programme and select a specific episode.

    In answer to your question: not that I can think of.

    4. I actually like chopping (never puréeing) garlic – I’ve mentioned on here before how grateful I am to the person who showed me how to press off the peel).

    I don’t really mind spending a long time in the kitchen. One thing I’ve recently discovered is how much pre-boiling improves roast potatoes. And I don’t mean gentle par-boiling: I mean boiling until they’re on the verge of disintegrating, then roasting with a lot of oil and sea salt. Beautifully crisp, fluffy roast potatoes in considerably less time.

    5. [Sort of staying with this theme] Of course! They usually centre around the novels I publish, the lovely house I write them in, and what I’ll grow in its extensive garden. Also about running the perfect cafe/restaurant/arts venue/campsite.

  4. 1 – If I am home in time or not working, I love sitting on the balcony of my apartment and watching the sun set and listening to some relaxing music and day dreaming ! ! !

    2 – I absolutely hate demonstrating food processors. You waste so much food in a day it is really shameful and then there is so much cleaning and tidying to do at the end of the day also. It really sucks actually ! ! !

    3 – I have never thought about a technology innovation ,myself, but I do not know what I would do now without my GPS. I have two now, one in my phone and supper hand help special one for idiots that is really great and can always find a satellite even in an alley between two skyscrapers ! ! !

    4 – This is a really simple one from my mum and is great in summer. I just make some lemon juice and add a little sugar and salt and then I put it in the ice cube tray and freeze it. So when I come home after a tough day demonstrating food processors I can just have a glass of water and add the lemon ice cubes and it makes the water taste really extra refreshing ! ! !. You can add them to alcohol drinks also if you like to and they are very nice in rum and coke ! ! !

    5 – A photograph of Mr P screen printed onto my pillow case ♥

  5. 1) Saturday afternoons in late January to early February. College football is over, March Madness hasn’t hit yet. Good time to stay in a warm bed.

    2) I worked in a factory for about one week making industrial thermostats when I was 22. Speaking of embarrassments, I had quit a low paying – but decent benefits – retail job to take it and they fired me after one week, leaving me with no health insurance. And I had a sinking suspicion at the time that taking this job was a mistake, having inherited my father’s clumsiness with hand tools. Fortunately my old job hadn’t filled my position and I got rehired and got my insurance back. Had I stayed at the factory five years I could have made a whopping $9 (£5.60) per hour right around the time they shifted production to Mexico and closed a factory that they had built just a few years pre-NAFTA.

    3) Automatic dishwasher. Never had one growing up. Bachelor pad apartment didn’t have one either. I realize now how much time was spent washing dishes by hand.

    4) TryMe Tiger Sauce. It’s like this awesome combination of flavours – a little bit Asian, a little bit Cajun, a little bit fruity, sweet, and musky. It goes great on just about everything but ice cream – which I bet would work too.

    5) Well of course we *should* have national healthcare, but that was a job for either of the Pres. Roosevelts through Nixon to do. It’ll never happen now.

  6. 1. Many of my moments are idle. My favourite is probably the early evening crossword/cuppa/joint process.
    2. A job I started out enjoying became, after 20+ years, a repetitive drag. Dealing with the same issues and the same knobheads over and over again was bad enough but having to talk increasingly in platitudes and business-bollocks made it soul-crushing.
    3. Being someone who actually quite likes playing with a ‘spreadsheet on one of those awful windows microsoft computers’, I made one that takes the worry out of managing my finances. And I once spent a lot of idle-time creating one that solves sudoku puzzles, if I can’t be arsed to do it manually. I put effort into being idle!
    4. If I actually make a meal from scratch, I always make more and freeze the excess. Saves future effort.
    5. No. Never. Not even if you paid me!

  7. 1. cuddling on the couch with a warm puppy. She’s so grumbly and snuggly and irresistibly soft and sleepy. Must….stay….away…

    2. Working full time at a publishing company that published test preps. I’m not cut out for 40 hour weeks, and this place was grey, fluorescent, smelly, freezing, horrible. I got fired!

    3. My secret is to let my boys, who are quickly getting to know more than I do about technology, do everything for me.

    4. I don’t like measuring either. Or doing anything specific. I’ve been writing down all my recipes lately, and it’s been a real struggle to measure exactly, and remember how long I cooked something. I can’t think of a best shortcut or secret. Maybe freezing and grating the butter when you make pastry. Or using the toaster oven to roast garlic or beets.

    5. When I’m not thinking about it too much. Sometimes when I’m just going for a bike ride, or shopping or cleaning the bathroom.

  8. They’re all idle moments, mostly involving playing with Photoshop or iTunes or Sound Studio or else reading various online papers and magazines. What passes for hard work right now is dismantling my RV, something I am doing fairly regularly. I built it many years ago and it’s got lots of useful things in it, ie water heaters, space heaters, propane tanks, 50 gal. water tank, fans, a fridge and a music system; it’s all coming out and going to eBay and the vehicle I shall then dispose of. I’m also restoring my ’64 Porsche, it’s looking like brand new now! That’s also going to eBay.
    2. I’ve never had an awful, soul destroying job though for about three months when I was 17 I worked at the Sheffield vegetable market loading and unloading trucks. Work started at 3am and one chore sticks in my mind, I had to singlehandedly unload about 20 tons of potatoes from a lorry, they were in 112 lb sacks and they were very dry. The dust shook down my bare back which was soaked in sweat so that I was totally covered in mud by the time I’d finished. I remember the farmer giving me a half a crown tip! Most of the time it wasn’t an awful job, we used to finish at 11am.
    3. I wouldn’t say that this is particularly clever but it’s something I enjoy. I wired every room in the house with speakers and a switching device at the receiver. I’ve started plugging my iPod into the receiver and putting it on ‘shuffle’ and it’s the world’s greatest ‘radio station’. It only plays my favorites but it often plays cuts that I hadn’t heard in years. It makes working in the kitchen a pure joy.
    4. Right now, for about the last month, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time in the kitchen. I’ve no idea why this has happened but we’ve been DELUGED with a huge crop of heirloom tomatoes. I pick 30+ lbs twice a week! This has never happened before or anything close to it and there’s no end in sight, I can’t give them away fast enough. So I’ve been removing the skins, chopping and making soups, sauces, salsas, and bottling them plus many jars of plain ripe tomatoes. Our pantry is filled to bursting! My basic recipes always start with sautéing onions and garlic and peppers, at least 1 large head of garlic per recipe. I don’t think this is a secret but I use a hammer to peel the garlic, I keep a wooden mallet in the kitchen just for this purpose [we eat lots of garlic everyday] Separate the cloves and give each one a good whack with the mallet and the skin will split so that the clove will just pop out, then I chop ’em fine. Another tool that I find invaluable is a pair of heavy commercial scissors, you can cut a chicken up very easily with them and they’re also good for trimming meat. A meat cleaver’s handy also. Whenever I now buy a chicken [free range] I usually cleave it in half right down the middle, a half is ample for two people and the other half gets frozen for another day.
    5. The answer is that I really have no idea, it’s probably whatever the market will bear.

    • Scissors are preferable for me than a knife to deal with some raw meats as you mentioned, the thing is I have to get a sneaky use of the Mrs’ nice fabric scissors, as they’re the biggest and sharpest. She doesn’t like me doing this. 😦

      • DsMam hides her fabric scissors, ’cause I ruin every single pair of scissors we ever get. My last kicking on this subject was only a fortnight ago when we re-wallpapered the kitchen, and Julie went through all of the other three pairs in under an hour trying to find some that would cut clean and straight edges through paste-y paper. In the end she threw the last pair at me and went to get the dressmakers out of their booby-trapped hiding place.

  9. 1. Premalazy/idle so my “relax” would be taking the dog for a nice walkies and enjoying the fact that I no longer live within spitting distance of London.

    2.Call centre. The actual work wasn’t too bad , it was the ridiculous, soul crushing “rules” ( the “No one should spend more than 15 minutes a day in the toilet ” e-mail being a choice example). Luckily I don’t “do” rules.

    3.Yes. It’s called “an off button”. By simply pressing it on any device a lot of hassle and time is instantly saved.

    4.When “cooking” frozen veg etc put them in the water before you start heating it. My other tip would be “save the best bits for yourself” but that makes me sound like an arse.

    5. 42

    • I like your second tip on number 4, as the main food preparer in the house I always give myself the slightly burnt/collapsed/didn’t quite turn out one, it would be nice to have the best bit sometimes and you don’t sound like an arse at all.

  10. 1. I like to sleep or on the one day no one in the house has to get up with an alarm, stay in bed and muse.

    2. Filing at the legal aid board, my legs never hurt so much and it was utterly tedious.

    3. I love listening to my iPod in the car with my device that lets me do that.

    4. Tinned custard, most desserts taste better if you put nice smooth, warm custard on them, in my opinion!

      • I had an iTrip, but it got a bit owerwhelmed by the radio stations in this area and kept going to them instead of what I was listening to. Once it even picked up what the people in the car in front of me were playing, but as it was Hawkwind I didn’t mind. I have a Tecknet thing which seems to work better, but I would go mad if I had to drive without music, there are a lot of queues in Bristol.

      • I used to have one of those radio adapter things which was fine in Dumfries and Galloway but whenever I tried driving in a more populated area ie the Central Belt it got ridiculous – and as for MK, forget it. So I got a new car with a socket that went straight into the stereo.

        Can’t claim to have invented it though.

  11. Okay, paper didn’t get finished, so the laptop and my notes are coming on holiday with us; supper is cooked but Mrs Abahachi is still over the road yarning with neighbours, so i have a brief period of leisure to answer the questions properly…

    1. Maybe I’m missing the point spectacularly, but I most enjoy relaxing after I’ve done a load of strenuous, more or less unpleasant stuff – otherwise I just feel guilty that I’m not working. So, Saturday elevenses, paper or book/cup of tea/possibly, in new health regime, a small biscuit, and general satisfaction at having cleaned bathroom, washed stairs and hoovered sitting room.

    No, she’s coming back…

  12. 1 – it takes a lot of effort to appear this relaxed ..

    idle tips:

    Only have sex with feminists***…

    They take control and get what they want from you – this saves a large degree of mental and physical effort – you get to lie back and think of – well sex basically- rather than all that ‘am I doing this right?’ -‘ where should I wiggle that?’ and ‘what should I be doing with this?’ malarky.
    While lying on your back being enjoyable used – always remember to lift your shoulder blades a couple of inches off the bed .. a few times (I know, I know, too much effort – BUT…) make sure this tones your abs enough, thus saving the relationship – remember – finding a new partner takes TOO much effort .. don’t let the spare tyre explode. No need for a six pack – that would take too much thinking about ‘self’ – you don’t want that kind of egotism – if you become too much of a catch, there ends up a need to fight off competitors for your affection – that takes effort. Just enough, is the vital key here.
    Just toned stomach (or at least not fat) saves you from the need to get gym membership – this is doubly idlesome – gym fees are extortionate – paying for them means more work to earn more money… skip it all: only have sex with feminists.

    2 – what’s the most awful, soul-crushing job you’ve ever had?

    People would probably pick any of: cleaner, door to door sales, club manager, record label creator, fruit tree pruning, fruit picking, dustbin man, picker up of fecking leaves, beer and cigarette smuggling, removal man, painter and decorator, fly posting, fly poster/sticker removal, ATM cleaner, shoe packer, drugs dispenser, bar keep, glass collector, juggler, promoter, advertiser, roadie, frame maker, publicist, doorman, actor (once), screenwriter, artist’s model, driver, market trader, shopkeeper, etc etc etc.. but I get lost in my imagination ‘creating things – daydreaming’ to really take much notice of what I’m doing to earn a living – I also forgot to return to were I was working quite a few times .. oh well, if they could have been arsed they probably would have sacked me.

    3 – But have you come up with any clever use of technology that actually helps you ease through life?

    Live in the countryside and pick a mobile company whose signal goes in and out – my work has given up phoning me – and just uses e-mail – I can only pick up e-mail at the end of the day because of signal interruptions – thus, I can never do emergency work… and only spend ten minutes a day reading – then deleting – all their shit that would waste vast amounts of my precious daily sanity.

    other than that – how easy is my style of design collage work nowadays? – in comparison to cutting everything with a scalpel – and correcting my dyslexic typography – plus one off t-shirts – fanzines – books – everything that I love doing is right here on my big fat beautiful computer – I don’t know how to use it properly (that would take effort) but we survive together … just about.

    one more thing – when the need to rant takes hold – put it in a rant folder – cutting and pasting parts of those can come in handy when answering the the End Of The Week Quintet.

    4 What’s your best kitchen shortcut or secret?
    if you are stumped for what to cook your veggie family today – read Claire’s blog – then wing it.
    I don’t read the measuring or time bits – I look at the pictures adapt the ingredients and faff about with the inspiration. It’s what should would want.

    5 – NO, I’m not just with you to save on gym membership.

    ***(this possible doesn’t work for male homosexuals)

    while editing this over on RR – I was tempted to press post – just to see how embarrassing it would look.

      • Hi Shane ! ! !

        Your answer to question 1 was funny and interesting.

        I am the complete opposite I like a guy who takes control and is active but I like to fight also so I need someone with quite a lot of energy 😉

    • I’m laughing so hard at your #1, thanks for that. I was thinking sort of exactly the same thing in reverse (where i get to be the lazy one).

      • My friend is kind of short with a very tall boyfriend, she says that she has to be on top all the time. Well, i like really tall guys too, but i’m just too fucking lazy, no wonder i hardly ever get laid.

    • some of the feminist I met at university weren’t very keen on sex, you need to choose the right type of feminist I think, not political lesbians for example.
      I too was very amused by your answer 😉

      • what me? – choose ! – you speak the language of confidence, self worth and effort !

        some interest in still having sex is a prerequisite.

        (bethnoir health warning: idlers beware; waking up with wrists and ankle handcuffed to bed with vital organs removed … WILL result in lots of bed rest – but changing the bandages can be tiresome)

      • I’m not sure how to take that, Shane. Goths have strange habits, but removing organs has never been part of my repertoire!

    • Number 1: Ha! Ha! Ha! After a one night stand this girl asked me “Where did you learn to do that?” I replied, half-jokingly, “Lesbian, feminist, sci-fi literature”. The next time I saw her she was in Lost and Found (a straight-friendly gay bar in Helsinki). “Thanks for the tip,” she said. And added, “Very empowering!” Her butch friend stared daggers at me all night long.

      The easiest pick-up I ever got was at Lost and Found. I was chatting at the bar to a friend. And when he left, a girl next to me decided she wanted to speak English. “How long have you known your boyfriend,” she asked? Seizing the moment, I emphasised, “I’m straight.” Smiling, she replied, “So am I”. Actually, that wasn’t the easiest pick-up…

      I. The bit when I wake up before everyone else, read the newspapers on the net and do nothing at all.

      2. Working as a cleaner in a sweet factory. Built into the rock, the corridors descended down and one night I dreamt that I ended up spiralling down into hell where my best friend at that time was waiting with his favourite drugs. The symbolism was obvious. So, during the middle of Finland’s worst economic depression I quit my job, quit any pretence at wanting to work and had a lost month. God that job! Worse than the one where I peeled onions for a living. At least the Russians and down-and-outs I worked with on that had funny stories to tell.

      3. At the summer house we had a problem with birds flying into the windows and nesting in the nooks and crannies. The solution: CDR compilations of heavy metal and Finnish MOR that I never intended to play. Now they hang from the beams on the terrace and no more do we suffer from greasy wing prints all over our windows or dead, rotting birds

      4. Making the food is easy, getting my kids to eat it is what takes time. Told my kids that dInosaurs eat trees and that broccoli, cauliflour, etc. are types of trees. So now we eat trees – raw just like dinosaurs do.* Dont even have to cook the veggies. A great time saver.

      *They’ve long realised that vegetables aren’t trees but the joke stands as done the preference for uncooked veg.

      5. Daniel Craig, Vladimir Putin, John Simm. Tony Hibbert.

    • Live in the countryside and pick a mobile company whose signal goes in and out

      Yes! I once managed a few outlets and two were 45 mins apart in the countryside. There was no cell signal for most of it so I could enjoy the landscape and think without interruption.

  13. Shane, your answer to 1 made me laugh so much the coffee came out of my nose and I had to scroll up quickly before my son saw what I was laughing at and asked me to explain why it was so funny. I’m not going to explain to anyone else, either.

    1. Favourite idle moment – well, reading / listening to the Spill. I hardly get any spare time due to long working day / childcare / etc, probably all my own fault. I have forgotten what spare time was like so an hour on the Spill before bed / falling asleep with my head on the table is about it. In days gone by I would have said gardening, walking and / or drinking beer.

    2. The one I have – in fact I looked up “stultifying” in the dictionary yesterday, to make sure it was the right description (it was). Pairubu’s comment about rules is spot on – but … having gone from a fairly autonomous job to this, it’s a struggle. Will say no more.

    3. No. But my friend’s husband has designed a kind of pop-o-matic door for their chicken house so the chickens can come out at the right time in the morning and are safely shut up at night. I am in awe.

    4. I don’t use recipes much either, but then again I don’t cook much any more. I gave up using the garlic press because I couldn’t get the play doh out, so chopping garlic is de rigeur. My tip is wheatgerm – very good for you; put a spoonful or two in soups and stews and them gives it a delicious flavour. The other thing is: always caramelise your onions.

    5. Lie back and think of England!

  14. 1. “Idle moment”?!?!? – Does Not Compute. I have a wife and two kids who simply don’t allow me any of those.
    *looks around conspiratorially to make sure DsMam not in listening distance*
    But since I got an iPhone …

    2. Worst, soul-crushing job – My first boss at my first management job after Uni had decided he must have one of these Graduate Management Trainees he’d seen around the building, but without a f***in’ clue what to do with me once he’d got me. For nine out of the first twelve months, I had only 30 minutes of duties in an 8hr day. I spent a ridiculous amount of time (a) tidying paper around my desk trying to look busy, and (b) walking around the corridors of the four storey complex when it was obvious I was failing at (a). The only true benefit I got out of that time was that I got to know one of the other ex-Bradford Uni Graduate Trainees a bit better: a lovely, leggy, spiky-dyed-haired girl by the name of Julie ….

    3. Technology to ease your life – No, not really. The only thing that comes to mind is that I was a l-o-n-g-t-i-m-e stubborn resistor of temptation to get one of these “portable telephone” thingies. For YEARS I had a pager instead. Cost me one new AA battery twice a year, and that was it. Anyone wanted me, they could get me immediately (and with LOADS better coverage than any mobile of the time); I was perfectly capable of finding a phone to call them back.
    And it was amazing how many perfect strangers were willing to let you have a free go on their precious & expensive technology if you walked up to them to ask to borrow their phone whilst looking at a bleeping pager.

    4. Kitchen shortcut Bajan Hot Sauce, or if I’m really pushed because I don’t have any proper stuff, Encona. But I do feel compelled to say here that I consider myself lazy for using a cafetiere so much, to save washing out the full coffee machine. For those who don’t know, I gave up instant coffee almost two years ago. If you ever suspect I’m coming round, please ensure there’s some decent beans to grind! 😉

    5. . . . – “None of your business, and we’re TPS-listed. Put your Supervisor on this line NOW!” *click* [to self] “Works every time!”

  15. Last word on scissors, if there’s a tool store close by check for sheet metal shears, they look like a real heavy duty pair of scissors with short, 2-3″ blades, they often come in sets of 3, left hand curve, right hand curve and straight cut, I’ve used straight cuts in the past, they’ll cut through wing and leg joints easily and they’re not expensive.

  16. 1) Favorite idle moment – well, i can’t beat Shane’s. We would really be a shit couple. So i’d have to say lying in bed with a book, but not really reading it, thinking about sex with guys like Shane. (That’s the ticket i think, just sort of think about it without having to really do anything.)

    2) What job have i had that wasn’t soul crushing? I think the worst had to be temp work, trapped in an office.

    3) Off the cuff i would have to say just making playlists of Grooveshark then letting it to go for an hour or so without having to touch anything.

    4) Cook? Surely you jest. I live a half minute’s walk from a liquor store, pizza place, Mexican takeaway, and natural food coop. I never cook.

    Still have to think about #5.

  17. 1) Favorite idle moment, and do you have to be clever to achieve it? If anything ever required me being clever I’d be shit out of luck. (late) Sunday morning’s with the Sunday _New York Times_, a good cup of coffee, and some nice breakfast food….

    2) What’s the most awful, soul-crushing job you’ve ever had? Well, I’ve been quite lucky in this regard, but two come to mind, albeit for very different reasons. At 16 I had a summer gig shucking oysters in a restaurant owned by the family one of my high school basketball coaches–no aptitude and even with the gloves I sliced my hands to shreds and the cook laughed at me a lot. However the job that really shattered my soul–thank the goddess–was when straight out of college I “lucked” into a position working for a US Senator and quickly discovered that politics of that sort was not my calling…to my great good fortune a mere 6 months after I started the Senator lost his reelection; he advised me to go back to school and I did (well, after a bit).

    3) Any clever use of technology that actually helps you ease through life? I spend a lot of time hiding from technology (and my students and their technology)…it sounds silly, but as a academic/researcher/writer in the hinterlands, my laptop is a lifeline of sorts. Not clever, but see #1 above.

    4) What’s your best kitchen shortcut or secret? I suppose invoking the advice of the woman I am married to doesn’t count, but I have learned so much from her (a Colorado farm girl, she cooked for her family from an early age and can make most anything and make it amazing). I’m addicted to our garlic crusher, use lemon more than I should, and believe in white wine for deglazing pans.

    5) Think of your own question and write the answer only as your answer: This is pluperfect and I have been puzzling over it all day. First I had Ethan Allen. Then I thought: the bourgeoisie. But finally I have decided, for the nonce and in deference to both the remarkable spirit of this blog and the generosity of spirit its denizens seem to share, rock’n’roll. And that’s my final answer.

  18. Very hastily – Mrs Abahachi just drying her hair before we head off to airport (and isn’t that going to be a bundle of laughs with her flying phobia…):

    2. Have been pretty lucky with jobs, but once spent a summer photocopying sheets from a book and cutting out little snippets to glue onto a separate sheet.

    3. Hmm. I love my Kindle because I can keep up with the German papers at vastly less expense than getting a proper subscription – does that count? Mrs Abahachi hates it because she doesn’t know what I’m reading.

    4. Horseradish: freeze, then put small bits in coffee grinder – much less painful than trying to grate it.

    5. Schweinshaxen.

    See you all in a week or so, unless I manage to get onto the internet while we’re away.

    • once spent a summer photocopying sheets from a book and cutting out little snippets

      Hah, that reminds me of producing an oyster cookbook to help a friend. We had to photocopy pictures of oyster dishes from gourmet magazines and turn them a bit so that.. well, it just reminds me of that.

  19. 1. Idle moments – yes I used to enjoy those. I suppose whenever my wife takes the baby out. I can actually listen to music then.

    2. My current one. It’s not completely unstimulating, but it is stressful, frustrating, overly bureaucratic, and doesn’t very often give you the satisfaction you might expect. Senior management do a good impression of being idiots ..or psychopaths.

    3. Can’t claim credit for it but my walkman. It’s like an ipod but you put cassettes i, so I can listen to music while travelling. I can fit 90 minutes of music on and only have to turn over once.

    4. Ready meals.

    5. An increasing similarity to Dennis Healey in the eyebrow department.

    • I still have a functioning walkman, but most of my tapes have warped or got mildewy, so I can’t say I use it much, good gadget though.

      • Sony still make walkmans and YUI endorses them. Of course these days they are mp3 players but people say that the sound quality is better than an iPod and they look super cool but I have an 2 iPods and my phone plays music also, so there is no way I can buy one and not feel guilty even if YUI does endorse them ! ! !

        YUI Walman Advertisment

  20. Ironically, no it was co-incidence dammit, I was thinking in an indolent moment last week about a blog started by a guy who rarely participates where people play games – and do more, of course – launched by a semi-detached participant…and how that it is a good thing.

    1. The absolute bestest idle moment is when you ask someone an innocent-sounding question that will keep them busy so you can zone off int…hey, wait a minute

    2. I’ve done brain work and physical work and any bit of it that involves a clock ticking is soul-crushing.

    3. Love the PP randomizer idea! I had a youngster who would sit for hours for Dora…which as progressive parents we would never allow.
    I’m calling foul on the sacreligious spreadsheet slur. Using Excel and its open source equivalents to do things the geeks never envisioned is the greatest creative exercise in all of computerdom.

    4. Best kitchen shortcut? Same as caravan living. Dry zone. Wet zone.

    5. The laziest thing I have done was a incey step too far. Putting eggs, milk, etc into a blender to make a frothy omelette is a good idea. Adding pepper, tomato, ham etc to save chopping time? Not so much.

  21. Almost couldn’t be arsed….but then I read Shane’s number 1. 🙂

    1. I spend my idle moments horizontal, too, but usually it’s a laptop on top of me.

    2. The most soul crushing job I had was probably in the mortgage department of a major financial services institution. It gradually turned into a fascist nightmare under the last CEO – and I saw what was happening there, in the industry and what was going to happen to the US economy and how it would ripple out. (This was in June 2003) I stood up in a town hall meeting and denounced what they were doing. Then I quit! Then I went home, drew the curtains, watched Court TV for a week and drank a lot of Jim Beam.

    3. Once I figured out how to do pivot tables, statistics and suchlike in Excel I was off. But stuff like machinery, hopeless.

    4. Nothing ever comes out quite the same twice. Sometimes great, sometimes awful. I make lots of homemade soups, so a pressure cooker is invaluable. Ten minutes and its done.

    5. Idle question: When I first googled it, there was NOTHING on the subject. It did not exist. Zilch. Now everybody has them. Does this mean that search engines drive experience?

  22. great stuff everyone !

    1. Very few and far between these days. My mammoth daily commute offers me a few moments of solitude though and they are usually spent with a good Radio 4 programme on the iPod.

    2. Telemarketer, definitely – I was so so bad at it. We had targets and I was always at the bottom, I was far too polite and apologetic, because I genuinely did feel guilty for interrupting people’s day. “Erm……I’m ever so sorry to bother you, but do you think it might be at all possible, if that’s OK, to maybe, perhaps speak to someone who deals with accounts, I mean, that is, if they are available………yes, of course….yes, I do understand……you’re right, I don’t know what I was thinking……I’m ever so sorry…..thank you….” …most calls went like that.

    3. Very bad with technology…..but Podcasts are a great way to listen to the radio at my own pace.

    4. Don’t boil potatoes or carrots, just microwave ’em!

    5. Always judge a 7″ by its cover

    • I’d be exactly the same way if i had to do telemarketing. Or any kind of sales job, actually, where you had to seek them out instead of them coming to you.

      • Hmm…I think the call-centre culture probably takes over fairly soon. I’ve known a few people who went to work for the DHSS (forget what they call it now) and started out genuinely wanting to be nice to people and help them, but the pressure to think of ‘claimants’ as scumbags and scroungers was just too great. (So they left.)

  23. 1. When alone, joint/wank/bath. In no particular order. Depends on mood.
    2. Every fucking one
    3. Internet porn. Saves the embarrassment of buying mags from the paper shop. Mr Mena nicked one once when the shopkeeper’s back was turned. I couldn’t believe it when he brought it back hidden inside the folds of The Guardian. Also ensures hands-free fun (ie no remote in one hand to fast-forward boring bits that you get when watching em on VHS or even DVD )
    4. Go to chippy
    5. All positions. Not bothered.

  24. Aha! Good idea Amy. Reminds me of the supposedly true tale of the Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory who thought that the blood of virgins would help to replenish her youth

    Oh and it does help if you don’t work (in any official capacity anyway) which just gets in the way of any decent pleasure time. My problem with work, is that as soon as I start getting paid for something, I seem to lose my mojo, or have it knocked out by jobsworth pricks who don’t like any kind of creative, unorthodox approach. Or bosses who just want to mould you into their little scheme of things. I find voluntary work (whilst I have the luxury do do it) much more fulfilling.

    • Unfortunately i do have to work, both a part time job and on my own at home. There are benefits though, the job gets me out of the house and evens out the income so i don’t have to sweat the rent.

      • Mr Mena (Mark) may be at risk of redundancy next year. He works for the NHS and this present government are cutting back the workforce (I won’t start a rant on that subject – wastes too much precious energy!) so it may be back to work for me too. I’d rather not, but beggars can’t be choosers and all that jazz. I’m making sure I enjoy this time while I can.

  25. Yes I know and thank you tincanman, but now I have that book idea in my head (wake up! Dolly Daydream wake up!). I have an idea for a chapter based around this scene:

    ‘Mr Mena nicked one once when the shopkeeper’s back was turned’

    Working title (inspired by Woody Allen film):

    Crimes And Mister Mena’s

  26. more idle thoughts on mastering the art of idleing:

    a) When you rest, you are a king surveying your estate. Look at the woodland, the peacocks on the lawn. Be the king of your own calm kingdom.

    b) When you’re feeling under pressure, do something different. Roll up your sleeves, or eat an orange

    c) Add a dab of lavender to milk, leave town with an orange, and pretend you’re laughing at it

    (Suggested by The Little Book Of Calm)

      • Advice gotten from Manny Bianco btw. He imparts these nuggets of calm wisdom to all he meets, after swallowing The Little Book Of Calm (for those not familiar with the series Black Books).

        c) is the mixed-up/wires crossed advice he gives to an angry gang of Millwall supporters after getting a punch in the nose by one of them, after calmly advising them to calm down.

        I also agree that rest is vital. Especially after playing hard!

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