The old man wished he could be as dead as a coffin. At least, it would be a very good night’s sleep. Sleep had become as elusive as a winning lottery ticket that was once his big wish in life. During his most troubled years, and there were many uninterrupted years of them, sleep came easily. “As soon as your head hit the pillow,” The Mrs said to him. Yet, at a point in his life when worries were few and the pace of life leisurely, a good sleep had become rare like hen’s teeth. Maybe his friends were right, they often commented that he thought too much. “Purge your mind of thoughts. Empty it!” “You think too much!” “You over-think!” “You’re off on a tangent again!” But, they did not know that his mind was mostly dormant in bed. Why did they frown on it if he didn’t lose sleep over it? After he left home to carve out a future for himself in South Australia, his mother secretly prayed to the Kitchen God for a bountiful life for him, whereas he prayed to (the Christian) God for love and happiness during his many bouts of homesickness. “May my days be filled with love and happiness so that I have loads of reasons to celebrate,” he prayed to the absent deity. Maybe the ageing God was hard of hearing, and granted him loads of reasons to be celibate instead. Or, was He confused by the Chinese boy’s ‘R’s’ and ‘L’s’ and gave him loads of reasons to cerebrate rather than celebrate?
The old man snorted and lifted his head abruptly from his new pillow in a failed attempt to arrest the runny saliva that had leaked out from his parted lips via his wayward tongue. He had wanted many times to place a face towel on his new pillow to protect it but he never got around to it. In the end, he didn’t care. The pillow had not delivered on its promise to give him a good night’s sleep. A Father’s Day present, it had cost his son over a hundred bucks. But, it was neither high enough nor low enough for the old man’s troublesome neck. The label falsely claimed that the memory foam would mould itself to the user’s head and neck but the old man’s discomfort was insufficient reason for his son to return it for a refund. “We know how hard it is for a business to stay in business,” was all he said. After a few more disturbed sleeps, the old man finally decided the best position for his neck was for the memory pillow to be propped up by the old flat one which had followed them all the way from Sydney in 1986. Nothing is recklessly thrown away. It remained in their possession despite the dark yellow stains formed too many years ago from errant bodily fluids made during careless activities. A strange phenomenon, that; we never know how or when the stains come about. We suddenly notice them one day. Just as well there are pillow cases. Pillow cases are a wonderful invention. We can’t tell the age of a pillow once it is inside a pillow case. “It is common sense to keep old pillows, right?” the old man asked without expecting an answer.
The nights were especially troubling for him. In the dead of the night, his frozen shoulder felt heaviest and stiffest. The weight bore down on his arm like an iceberg ripping apart the steel hull of a ship. The searing pain woke him up before he reached deep sleep. “It felt like a piece of meat taken out of the freezer,” he told The Mrs. Cold, heavy, frozen but in extreme pain. Imagine the meat feeling every cut by a cleaver. When deep sleep didn’t come, visits to the loo became frequent. The old man was not surprised his mates had the same problem of having to empty their bladder frequently during bedtime. The bladder can’t be full, can it? Not when one avoids drinking during the night. Where does the piss come from? Where is it during the day? Why doesn’t it come during the day and spare us the trouble at night? To the old man, it seemed to appear at night with alarming regularity despite him not drinking a drop of water after dinner. His friends lost sleep the past two nights, coincidentally with crypto prices crashing. They were newbies to the crypto world, yet the old man had learned a lot from them being the quiet student intently following their boisterous conversations that centred on the remarkable future of the crypto world. A 10-15% drop in crypto prices is considered a mere dip. Hardly a crash, not even a correction. “Buy on the dip,” was their popular catch-cry before the dip. But, they never answered the old man’s question about what a dip actually meant. A 10% drop was of course a dip, and was a strong signal to buy more but those fellows lost sleep since their crypto portfolios lost value. Instead of executing their mantra and buy on the dip, these old men all shrunk into their caves and trembled at their losses. Maybe they were shuddering at the thought of having to explain their rash decisions to their Mrs. “Aiyah! You bought Bitcoin! (without my permission?!) Aiyah, the sky has fallen!” It was nonsense, of course. Where was common sense? They knew cryptocurrency was not for the faint-hearted, the volatility worse than Melbourne weather where it was common to experience all four seasons in a day. Besides, they told the old man they were prepared to hold their coins for a minimum of five years. It hadn’t even been five weeks! Their bonhomie evaporated like a drizzle in a desert. Their camaraderie suddenly sounded like a party in a pub with no beer.
The superfluity of self-pity and sad emojis became too much for the old man. “You guys are the expert,” he began his declamatory statement. “Instead of licking your wounds, why not seize this brief setback and turn it into gold?” Oldies like us are screaming for a Youtube channel that can teach us all about crypto and blockchain. “Host a daily channel on cooking and crypto – that’s the best-selling combo on Youtube. One can cook and the other can talk about blockchain technology,” the old man cajoled his mates. Is it not true that cooking makes us human? Is it not also true that technology makes us human? Why is crypto going to take over the world like the first computers and Microsoft did in Web 1.0, or the billions the FAANG companies reaped in Web 2.0? Ecosystems on the Ethereum blockchain and the alt-coins will be the big winners in Web 3.0; the massive disruptions to the traditional markets and networks caused by decentralised financing (Defi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will be beyond our imagination. Human error is the error to include humans. Blockchain enables computer code or algorithms to operate smart contracts and automatically settle payments without human intervention and is therefore extremely efficient, accurate, secure and foolproof; and of course, Bitcoin will become the new digital gold, replacing fiat currencies as the true store of wealth. It is said fiat currency is money backed by soldiers with weapons. It may be stable in the short term but in the long run, fiat money is depreciating at an alarming rate. By contrast, Bitcoin is volatile in the short term but extremely solid appreciating its value in the long run as its scarcity (maximum 21 million coins), durability (cannot be destroyed) and portability (ask any recent Afghan refugee) by definition make it a true store of wealth. Today, we cannot imagine why anyone would want to buy land in the virtual world let alone pay big sums to build stadiums and concert halls there. But, all that is coming! Even Facebook has changed their name to Meta, short for the metaverse where possibilities are only limited by our imagination. The old man implored his mates to host a Youtube channel to introduce all these concepts in simple language to the uninitiated. A beginners’ guide to investing in cryptocurrency, if you like. “This will be your pot of digital gold!” he told them. All the old man got was silence from his mates. Later, one of the old farts responded, “You’re full of ideas, huh? No wonder they call you NATO.” (no action, talk only). It’s truly nonsense. Where is their common sense?
The old man got up for the sixth time that night. It was a mere trickle that took a long time, maybe he was reading the news or fake news. His attempts to pee are almost as pitiful as Murray’s – his son’s puppy, with its hind leg raised, squirting air instead of shooting a jet of urine to leave its territorial mark. Why did it feel like his bladder was chockers yet in actual fact the output could be measured by a few beads of wee. As he tucked himself back in bed, he tugged at the thick cretonne that had replaced the 100% goose down quilt. It had been an exceptionally wet and cold spring, but that afternoon, The Mrs caught a whiff of summer and decided the cretonne had stayed long enough in the linen cupboard. The old man had read somewhere that naphthalene mothballs were carcinogenic. He was glad those were the last from a big bag The Mrs bought a few summers ago. Although the odour is toxic, the sweet-smelling fumes reminded the old man of his childhood. His mother had the excuse of ignorance and therefore was easily forgiven. The Mrs, on the other hand, should have the common sense not to buy them again. The problem with common sense is it is not so common. For instance, why is the world getting rid of gender pronouns? For centuries, we have used his and hers cleverly to identify male and female. Today, we are told to be gender neutral, and use they, them and theirs instead. Even in France, there has been a backlash against what is seen as American-inspired wokeism. Why is the whole world hell-bent in changing our beautiful languages that are steeped in meaning and tradition for the sake of gender and minority inclusion? The old man wasn’t sure anymore that wokeism was a good idea. It seemed to make sense that any form of discrimination and oppression should be identified and the culprits purged. The MeToo and BlackLivesMatter movements woke up the masses but look at San Francisco where we now find extreme woke culture being adopted in the form of legalised crime. Stealing goods worth $950 or less is just a misdemeanour. It is not theft. Shop attendants pretend they do not see the crime being committed and no one gets arrested since prosecutors cannot undermine the law. Can you believe this nonsense? Where is common sense?
What about the ex-PM of Malaysia? Where is common sense there? The convicted criminal roams the streets freely and is accorded the status of a VIP. He is seen escorted by a fleet of cars and motorcycles as he stopped by a restoran (Malay word for restaurant), reminiscent of a royal visit by Prince Charles. He was this week awarded a RM100 million house and land package by his own political party. A kleptocrat being handed more money by its people? His party, UMNO, has amazingly returned to govern the land after being voted out by an angry and disillusioned populace recently. There is much wrong with democracy that this can happen. Did I say govern? Did Najib govern? Will you let a thief manage your personal budget? Can a kleptocrat govern? Can the word even be correct? ‘Crat’ means a ruling body e.g. autocrat or technocrat. Najib is a convicted criminal who stole billions of US dollars from his people. Some of the loot was found in his bank accounts and in his home. All are returned to him. Even more strange, he has a passport and can freely travel overseas. Anyone who is convicted of a crime is a convict, and is required to serve time in jail. Not Najib, not in Malaysia. Where is common sense? What nonsense.
The old man woke up early this morning after another bad night’s sleep. In four days’ time, his home state of South Australia will reopen its borders. There have been zero cases of community transmissions for so long we don’t even remember when the last lockdown was. The economy has been vibrant, life as normal as pre-pandemic days apart from checking into premises with QR codes and wearing face masks in high risk settings such as transport hubs and health care services. But, from next Tuesday, anyone who is double jabbed from any jurisdiction that has hit 80% vaccination rate can come in without any quarantine. Those from an area with community transmission with over 80% vaccination rate will need to present a COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to their arrival. It is only those from an area with transmission and a vaccination rate of less than 80% who will need to quarantine for seven days. The State Premier said with borders reopening it was “inevitable that there will be cases coming into South Australia”. So, it is not if but when Delta virus will be let into our community. A deliberate albeit well-considered decision. SA Health modelling shows at 80% vaccination coverage, there will be a 27% chance of an outbreak of more than 100 cases per day, resulting in 13 deaths over 300 days. Unlucky 13. The chance of an outbreak will be 64% without facemasks, with 55 deaths. Their third scenario involving partial compliance of vaccine passports was horrendous. That is the scenario PM Scomo is recommending – no restrictions for the un-jabbed to mix freely in the community and no mandatory vaccines except for those working in aged care and healthcare. Where is common sense? We have been living here for much of the pandemic free of the virus and apart from not being able to travel overseas, living a normal life not dissimilar to pre-pandemic days but now we are asked to live with the virus, and some of us will die. What nonsense! Where is common sense? Why won’t we learn from Europe and Singapore where a new wave is back with a vengeance? Look at Denmark where over 80% of its population aged 12 and above have been fully vaccinated. After declaring that COVID-19 is no longer a “critical threat to society” the government is re-introducing restrictions less than two months after they were scrapped. Many countries have reintroduced restrictions and versions of lockdowns recently. The Netherlands football team played in an empty stadium last week in a World Cup qualifier. In Australia, we only look at 80% of adult population being fully jabbed. South Australia has not even reached 80%. Where is common sense? This is nonsense!
We will want to live with the virus, but the virus will want to live in us.Wu Yonggang