Monday, December 10, 2007

... ten years later

it's hard to believe that it's already ten years yesterday since my father died. i loved him dearly, even though i don't think, even at the end, that we were terribly close.

God showed me very tangibly the enormous love he has, however, on the day of the funeral, when he brought so many of my friends together to be with me and support me that day. i thank God for each and every one whenever i think of my father.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

... cool

i got home from celebrating my birthday with friends from sticky - we went to taco bill's on russell st - and i found these waiting for me, cooked by my very thoughtful housemate!

how nice is that?

big shoutout of thanks to all my friends and family, without whom i can confidently say that i wouldn't be here today. God bless all of you in every way!

Monday, November 26, 2007

... quite by accident

i found this link to a blog about "a day in the life of a female marine". i find the u.s. marine corps to be quite interesting, not least because of my affinity for matthew reilly novels but also because they seem to be invested with such... a gravity and mythology that the military in australia (notwithstanding the s.a.s) doesn't really seem to have.

i can't say i really thought much of the movie g.i. jane but it also gave (one would assume, not knowing any better) something of an insight into the navy s.e.a.l.s... i've happened on this blog before and not read much of it but maybe i might take a bit of a longer look at it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

... thoughts on blogging

it's easy to go m.i.a. when you're blogging - life happens, things distract you, and the actual act of blogging (agonising over oxford commas aside) really does take up time. normally it's like time you spend with a friend - you don't always notice the time passing until for a little while you don't hang out with them and you realise trying to make time again to see them can be difficult. (i'm not sure that makes sense but it's early and i'm still eating my coco pops...)

i was thinking about this after reading a friend's blog, who confessed that life had intruded on blogging. to blog only quality or to blog sub-par thoughts? that was the question.

i don't know what i blog. sometimes i'm filling in space but sometimes (most of the time) it's stuff i can't keep inside me. i need to tell someone and in the absence of people being around to tell (or not wanting to burden my housemate with all my random thoughts), i blog.

why do you blog? why do you read blogs?

Friday, November 16, 2007

... is it ok...?

one of my favourite cds from years past (about a dozen or so) was by artist max sharam, called a million year girl. it had a few hits and was nominated for a bucketload of arias. i just liked the songs and the more i listened to it the more the songs got into my head. no surprises there, of course - if you spend time filling your head with something or other, some part of that something is bound to lodge in there.

thing is, the music didn't lodge like a sesame seed or a piece of spinach or that coppery-cellulosey bit in the popcorn that gets between your teeth and gums that you spend hours worrying out with toothpicks and tongue. it kind of dissolved into my brain, rising unbidden like an athena when i least expect it. there are a few albums and songs that do that for me... not heaps, not really, but there are a few.

i remember seeing advertising for max sharam's one-woman show in sydney last year or the year before and doing a bit of googlesearch found some reviews and articles about them. she played the melbourne international comedy festival, many gigs around australia, a ten-year-reunion gig for the album in '04, and the gig i saw her perform at at wollongong uni in 1995 (i think). (i caught a very late train home to my place in penshurst and was terrified i was going to be beaten up by a bunch of drunk guys who got on the train at thirroul and got off at sutherland...

a million year girl is a nostalgic touchstone for me. i don't listen to the album very often now but when i do, i feel pulled bodily into the past, into the feelings and emotions attached to the years i was living when i was listening to the album. merril bainbridge's album the garden, fiona apple's tidal, the doug anthony all-stars' icon and henry rollins' the boxed life all form a part of that internal soundtrack from then, glued together by canasta, Bible study, youth group, poetry and loneliness.

i suppose it's not a good thing to go back to the thing that causes you pain - but we're all human beings here, i guess, and hurting ourselves seems to be part of the package, whether we like it or not - but i believe that's a big part of what makes nostalgia bittersweet: that it's not just bitter...
and what im trying to say isn't really new...
it's just the things that happen to me
when im reminded of you
like when i hear your name
or see a place that you've been
or see a picture of your grin
or pass a house that you've been in
one time or another
it sets off something in me
i just can't explain
i don't often go looking for it - usually something will set it off and there i'll be, standing in 2007 but reliving ten years earlier, or twenty (if it's the pet shop boys), or twenty-five (if it's the smell of wattle)...

Monday, November 05, 2007

... freedom! forever!

remember, remember the fifth of november
the gunpowder treason and plot
i know of no reason why the gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot

it's been many, many years since cracker night, or bonfire night, the end of so many stacks of old fence pailings and tree branches in the middle of winter, the last vestiges of empire day... many years since i had a hole burned in the back of my dressing gown as a child by some other child's sparkler... i knew of guy fawkes through old agatha christie novels, through the rhyme, but nothing of the man himself, not really. v for vendetta - awesome graphic novel that it is, great film as far as it went - sparks some ideas but doesn't really say that much about guy fawkes himself.

tomorrow is the melbourne cup public holiday here in sunny melbourne; i believe i'll use some of the day to do a little internet research on guy fawkes and see if i can't glean a few more special seeds from his story that might yield a harvest in my own.

v says in the movie, "people shouldn't be afraid of their governments - governments should be afraid of their people". i understand the intended meaning, i think, but i think that so much of the failings of governments around the world come down to that: governments fear those they govern... no - scratch that - governments fear those they rule. all around the world so many of those in government are the greedy and the afraid... and how long does it take for the idealistic to compromise their beliefs until one day they fall into one category or the other?

it is an interesting idea to consider coming up to the next federal election. the last fit-like spasms of the parties trying to win over the electorate before the end of the month is painful to watch. perhaps we should draft people to serve as members of parliament - like jury duty - instead of electing them.

Monday, October 22, 2007

... the sublime helen mirren

i missed the start of the interview, so i was lacking a mite in context, but i was most fortunate to see andrew denton's enough rope tonight. fortunate indeed!

i honestly believe that there is no other actress like her in (anglophone) cinema today. from the time i first saw her in excalibur - when i was about 9 or 10, i think - i thought her to be one of the most beautiful women i had ever seen. despite the fact that my own opinions of female beauty are rather more broad than the usual, the conclusion i reached some twenty-three years ago remains true today.

in more ways than i can say, helen mirren is for me the standard and marker of beauty.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

... beautiful girls do fart

if someone had asked me, i don't think i ever would have said, "i'll miss sydney taxis when i move to melbourne". if i had said that i wouldn't miss sydney taxis, i would have been wrong.

i've seen sydney taxis cross four lanes of traffic and make an illegal u-turn to pick up a fare... and here in melbourne, the city i find new reasons every day to love, i've seen twenty cabs pass by in as many minutes, except for the one which pulled up, melways propped up on the steering wheel, chirping in a near-unintelligible indian accent, "did you phone for a taxi?"

i've resigned myself to not being able to get an omelette that i like here in melbourne the same way a man might resign himself to his girlfriend being immovable on leaving a toilet seat up (i.e don't do it)...

... but i never thought i'd miss sydney cabbies.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

... navel gazing (a little)

sometimes i'm disappointed by things i have no real reason or entitlement to feel disappointed about, not really. i read in a zine (dream whip, issue #12, us$4 to p.o. box 53832, lubbock, tx 79453 usa) about the writer's thoughts on punk rock in texas. they feel that the punks they grew up with are now all in rehab or jail or law school (kind of all the same in a bizarre kind of way, don't you think?) and the void they've left behind has been filled with Christian punks.
on the 4th of july, the Christian punk rockers roll down broadway on their own float. they rock, i can't deny it. but it's confusing, too, because the stuff i think about when i hear fuzzy guitars and screamed vocals isn't the same stuff these kids are thinking about. i remember when the Christians used to worry that punk rock would steal their souls. now i'm worried that the Christian kids are going to save punk rock's soul and ruin everything.
interesting thought... could the salvation of a soul be a bad thing?

we were talking at work today about scary movies (i don't recall why) and i commented that perhaps the scariest, or at least creepiest, novel i'd read (at least while i was at high school) was it, by stephen king. i don't think he'd written anything before it came out that was better; i don't think much of anything he's written since, although i did quite enjoy needful things. fantastic novel, crappy film.

my reasoning for the film's crappiness was that it was made for television as a mini-series. i think that had it been made for cinemas, with a bigger budget and better cast (or at least a different cast, which was about as good as the context would allow, i suppose), it would have been given more leeway to stay true to the... vibe of the book. it's hard to be genuinely creeped out by a clown talking to an eight-year-old boy from a stormwater drain when your dad's falling asleep in his dinner at the table and your mum is haranguing you to finish your homework even if it's a saturday night and you've already put up with the world around us. the context within which we consume television is vastly different to the cinema experience. the film was a terrible disappointment to me after the engrossing thrills of the novel. as far as films go, halloween, poltergeist and friday the 13th were far scarier. they were made for cinema and not adapted from books, so the comparison isn't perfect, but there you go.

i finished the new terry pratchett book, making money on sunday. i don't remember (and i'm too lazy to go looking) if i blogged about how disappointed i was with matthew reilly's novel seven ancient wonders but if i did, or you and i talked about what i thought of it, then you'll understand what i mean when i say it fell short. after the brilliance of going postal and thud, this latest one seemed to be a rehash of a lot of gags (or that didn't make the cut) in going postal. it felt a bit like a carry on... movie. boring villains, deus ex machina, bit parts for good characters, and the least interesting depiction of lord vetinari i've read so far.

alas. no, i suppose i have to wait for matthew reilly's new book to excite me because i doubt i'll see another discworld book for another twelve months and it'll likely be another witch book.

sorry for all the whingeing. we'll try to return you to your regularly scheduled sunshine next week!

Monday, October 15, 2007

... one of the few reasons to like youtube

i don't use a mac; haven't really had much contact with macintoshes since i was at university, actually, but one thing i love about apple is their advertising. if nothing else, it's encouraged me to go looking for different music. feist, for example:

this is the clip they used in the new nano advert. one of the things i love about it is that it's all shot in one take. you don't really notice it, not really, not unless you're looking for it and to be honest i didn't realise it until it was pointed out to me. the irony is that one of the reasons i was so enraptured by the movie children of men was a key sequence in the film that, likewise, was all shot in one take. check it out - it's well worth it. some enterprising young bean may well have put the scene i'm talking about on the internet somewhere but i think you should go buy the dvd. like i said- well worth it.

another reason to like youtube - and bear in mind i'm not gearing up for a youtube lovefest here; there's really very little that's positive about it and my reason here for liking it is pretty much the reason i hate the rest of youtube - is my purely selfish pleasure in checking out all the commercials that people post on there. i love the apple adverts and the pc vs mac ads are amazingly entertaining. this is an edited compilation of a bunch of mac vs pc ads but if you go back to youtube you'll find japanese and uk versions of the series. you'll also find my new personal favourite, the novell pc/mac ads, featuring linux!

to my shame, i love entertaining advertising more than the entertainment it shows in, a lot of the time.

Friday, October 12, 2007

... the astor

got home from the astor theatre on chapel street just a short while ago. i saw die hard 4.0 and die hard. both as good as i expected. i know a lot of people have hung shit on die hard 4.0 and i understand why they do but i really wasn't asking very much of the franchise by this stage.

consider a few "part fours" with me here. jaws 4 - the revenge - utter, utter crap. i hope michael caine got a big fat cheque for that one. it had better have been worth every penny, too. star wars 4 - effectively what the phantom menace is and i don't know many people who wouldn't say that it's the weakest one in the series. hellraiser iv - bloodlines - a not entirely unworthy addition to the franchise, although by this time alan smithee had come out of retirement and was credited with helming this heap. a nightmare on elm street 4 - the dream master - we know freddy's never really going to die, not while robert englund and wes craven have bills to pay; once we all come clean and admit that we kind of like seeing american teenagers die excruciatingly fantastical (fantastically excruciating?) deaths in cheesey plot twists that you can see from a week away, i think we'll all be better off.

die hard, however, truly stands the test of time. released in australia in 1988, almost 20 years later it still has the power on the big screen to draw you in and excite you. i jumped in a few places i haven't jumped in years, inured to the small screen experience i have acquired through years of seeing this film on vhs. widescreen is the only way to see this film, the wider the better. die hard has consistently made my top ten movies since its release; without it, i honestly don't think you would have any one of a hundred action movies made since.

i never realised how conveniently placed the astor theatre is. alas, the timing of the film sucked - i knew that die hard went for a long time, so i ended up catching the train to elsternwick from windsor and then tramming home from there. i simply didn't trust the 64 not to run late, nor the 67 to run late enough for the 64 to meet up with it comfortably.

i'm dead on my seat and need some sleep. good night.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

... buckingham palace

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
Alice is marrying one of the guard.
"A soldier's life is terrible hard,"
Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
We saw a guard in a sentry-box.
"One of the sergeants looks after their socks,"
Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
We looked for the King, but he never came.
"Well, God take care of him, all the same,"
Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
They've great big parties inside the grounds.
"I wouldn't be King for a hundred pounds,"
Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
A face looked out, but it wasn't the King's.
"He's much too busy a-signing things,"
Says Alice.

They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
"Do you think the King knows all about me?"
"Sure to, dear, but it's time for tea,"
Says Alice.

A.A. Milne

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

... what's in my head right now

i've been reading some zines lately, omnibus editions, where the... sense of reading a bucketload of zines in one go, and reading a quirky little book gets kind of blurred.

presently, i'm reading the constant rider omnibus by kate lopresti. (available here) as an avid user of public transport myself, i find myself reading this very much with an eye to familiar situations and "what-would-i-have-done?" thoughts. i'd love to do one for my experiences in melbourne but i think that i'm pretty optimistic about public transport (in fairly stark contrast to the rest of my life, some might say, throughout which i take a position (which i read about over someone's shoulder on the train this morning) of defensive pessimism). not that i'm saying the kate is pessimistic about her experiences - on the contrary i've found here to be neither dismal nor pollyannaish - but what i am saying is that (1) i'd feel like i was slavishly copying something that's already been done and (2) i might be too lopsidedly "up" about it all. maybe. who knows? (maybe i'm being to up about how up i'd be...) i'm loving it and if you're in australia and you'd like to borrow my copy (or even buy one - i have connections down here, you know!) please let me know.

another omnibus i've just finished reading is invincible summer by nicole georges. (available here) again, heaps of fun to read. i'm not a vegan and i'm still not a fan of live chickens (although lately i'm not even much of a fan of dead ones), having grown up keep some in the backyard during my childhood, but i still managed to take away a sense of nicole's singular view of the world. and of her small dog. shudder small dogs...

i have been lucky enough to meet a few zine authors in the last few months as well! i was privileged enough to meet the writers of such zines as antonyms for demure, das papierkrieg and westside angst, erinsborough exploits, and giantess, all of which are available to the zine shop in melbourne, sticky.

just being in contact with these people, hearing about their ideas, their thoughts, their desires for where they want their titles to go and the drive they have to take them there, it's all very inspiring. it's made me pick up my pen and start writing stuff again - not just pithy little three-words-a-line poems (although i still write plenty of those) but short stories that i'm doing my best to actually plan out. i have a new zine coming out soon talking about ten of my favourite IKEA items. (now that i have the covers...) hopefully i'll get them done sooner rather than later.

anyway, just a bit of what's in my head tonight.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

... quelle surprise

i was thinking about writing this post in french but i'm too tired and i really can't be bothered.

it's not that surprising that i couldn't get my act together to write every day... i thought i was raising the bar a bit right there but you hear enough of that stupid "aim for the moon and you'll land among the stars" crap and even though you know it's crap you can't help but fall for it from time to time. i have been thinking each day about things to write but i've not kept track of them. i suppose i should get a notebook or something, keep it with me all the time.

did fitness training again last night. calves still sore a bit, thighs not bad as they were when we finished up last night, chest a bit sore from the push-ups and prone braces though. i feel a bit better, a bit more energetic. i suppose that means it's doing me good. we did some boxing and i keep getting told that i push myself hard. i don't know about that. it'd be really easy for me to blow it off and stop doing the training at all. once i'm there doing it, i get somewhat bloody-minded about it, i think, and what might be interpreted as "getting into the training" by someone outside my head is probably better interpreted as, "i really don't care about my body at all so i'll punish it because doing so makes me feel better". i'm sure that's no more mentally healthy than it is physically healthy. (i probably should delete that but i've already edited this enough... i can let that go through.)

the new series of the bionic woman looks good; bit of a battlestar galactica reunion, though - i've counted two guest stars just in the first episode. i watched the first episode of season two of heroes tonight as well - given that i only kept up with season one through the ads, always telling myself i'd buy the series on dvd (when i got cheaper than immdeiate release price), i pretty much kept up with what's going on, i think.

And can the physician make sick men well?
And can the magician a fortune divine?
Without lily, germander, and sops-in-wine,
With sweet-briar and bonfire
And strawberry wire and columbine.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

... road not travelled?

i was watching numbers tonight, briefly (i missed most of it, actually), and at the end heard a poem which i felt compelled to go look for.

the poem is by siegfried sassoon and is entitled, the death-bed. there's so much in it, more than i can write now, but the thing that impacted me most is that i have forgotten how to read poetry.

the poems i grew up with remain with me - they have formed an integral part of my vocabulary, so much that on any given day i probably quote five or six poems i learned before the age of 12 in ordinary conversations without even realising that i'm doing it! i can still recite matilda, who told lies and was burned to death (by hilaire belloc, from cautionary tales for children) - a poem i first heard when i was about four years old - and fragments of verse by lewis carroll and edward lear, robert louis stevenson and dr seuss all pepper my thoughts and my words, like pilling on a suit that will not allow itself to be removed!

absorbing new poetry, however, is something i have fallen out of the habit of doing. i set myself to learning a few of shakespeare's sonnets; i managed to get three down pat (i think) and i'm sure if i put my mind to it i could learn more - i simply don't choose to. i write my own words but will not put the time into discipling myself and my writing to much in the way of a formal meter or structure.

i hope that this will be a switch to my back that will get me back into reading poetry again. in high school, we had no choice but to learn the poems we read; old eisenbart so distracted by a girl with titian hair; a woman in a park saying her children have eaten her alive; a bishop haggles with his illegitimate children for the best monument in the cemetary; a proud duke shows a visitor a picture of the last woman who would not only smile for him.

i miss them.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

... oh, brother! (part 2)

well, (touch wood) my computer is up and running again. over the next day or so i'm going to be running diagnostics on it, maybe some tests on the video card, if i can find something that will yield results i can understand.

i also managed to get the software for the brother dcp-130c installed. i haven't scanned anything yet, but (again) it's something i'll be working on over the next day or so.

it's about 1:35am on saturday morning but it's still kind of friday night. i'm going to post this and go to bed. good night! :)

Thursday, September 27, 2007 brief

* eating salad(!) for lunch
* listening to one-hit wonders through itunes on my computer
* feeling not too bad/sore after fitness training last night
* not very happy that my computer is stuffed - one long beep and two short ones apparently means there's a monitor/video card problem (grrr)
* got some more rivers socks (yay!)
* listening to video killed the radio star (double yay!)
* ... i should finish my lunch and go back to work

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

... mooks on trains

i was very saddened to see the pictures of and hear about the tram collision on st kilda rd yesterday. i am always surprised when i learn of how many tram accidents there are in melbourne. given the high profile trams have in this city, i suppose i shouldn't be. i heart goes out to all those injured and i hope against hope that their experiences do not deter them from using trams again.

i was, however, very annoyed by my experience on the train this morning. boarding the sandringham/flinders st train at elsternwick i sat down on a backwards-facing seat and began reading the latest addition to my 'zine library. we arrived at ripponlea and i spied with my little eye two women standing in the doorway on the left-hand-side (facing forward, so my right hand side) of the train. i thought, perhaps they're getting off at prahran or windsor, since they were dressed quite niftily and might well have worked (although more likely shopped) along chapel st somewhere. they didn't - they ended up getting off at richmond, after deciding moments before the doors closed that that was actually where they wanted to get off and had to plough through a vestibule full of commuters to get out.

at the same time, a man who boarded at ripponlea took up station a third of the way down the aisle. he could have quite easily kept moving down the aisle to make space for additional boarding passengers but chose not to, caught up as he was in reading his "timeout: berlin" guide. one particularly determined woman squeezed past him and was eventually (two or three stops later) rewarded for her efforts with the seat of another alighting passenger.

what is it about commuters - especially rail commuters - in melbourne that makes them cling to the vestibule/entryway of train cars and trams like drowning sailors to life rafts??? there were seats aplenty when these two friends-esque women got on the train; granted there weren't any both facing forward and side-by-side but that's not really any reason to make moving on and off the train difficult for people for the rest of the journey! martin merton i'm not but i don't think it takes a phd to realise that affording fellow commuters a bit of courtesy and thoughtfulness actually contributes positively to everyone's commuting experience.

it pains me to see the gradual transformation of chatty, friendly melbournites into chilly, solipsistic sydney book- and newspaper-readers.

Monday, September 24, 2007

... oh, brother! (part 1)

i got a new multi-function centre today. it looks a little beat up - and i'm going to try to post pictures so you can see how it arrived at work today, although i may not do that tonight - and if i hadn't ordered it for myself i could have asked that we send it back straight away. it came to us in melbourne from sydney via perth - classic freight company snafu, though not the first and not the first by this company - but it did finally arrive.

it's an inkjet-based brother dcp-130c mutli-function centre, which does colour copying, printing, scanning, and which can also print direct from camera and memory card. wow. i bought it because i wanted a scanner.

so i'll be taking a progressive series of photos of me unpacking it and setting it up and if it doesn't work, the pictures will help back up any claim for replacement. as it stands, our supplier has also asked for photos, just so's they can see how badly mangled the box is. i guess we'll see what happens.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

... slightly addictive

i have a tendency to become addicted to different things. i went through a phase at school where i had to have vegemite and lettuce sandwiches for lunch. (a little bit scary, i know.)

i've always been addicted to solitaire and other patience games. i have several programs for playing patience and the myriad games one can play but my favourite is called free patience. it has a wide assortment of games to choose from, you can play with or without stats and the help file that comes with it is a wonderfully simple and concise introduction to each game.

my housemate is mildly addicted to spider solitaire. i don't mind it, although i find it frustrating to play for long periods of time. my favourite on free patience is a game called "aunt mary", which i currently have about a one-in-six success rate in getting it out.

the question is, can i get it out before i go to bed or will i have to throw the towel in?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

... thoughts while at work

today i'm at the shop i volunteer at on the weekends and i gave the web address for where i get my favourite fonts to a couple of young whippersnappers who came in: tom's fonts. i got hooked on tom's new roman almost ten years ago now and it is still one of my favourite fonts. tom's handwriting is another one i love; i used it in a 'zine title i've been making the last couple of years and one reader actually thought it was my own handwriting (kind of scary and complimentary at the same time!).

i've hunters & collectors playing on the imac here and it's been quite a busy morning. i'm interested in seeing how the afternoon turns out.

Friday, September 21, 2007

... new faces

i don't know how many of you reading this follow the links i have in my sidebar. i know that one or two people link to some of those pages solely through this blog (and i appreciate that, really i do!) and i thought i'd share some thoughts on one of the links, piled higher and deeper.

i got hooked on these comics while i was on holidays visiting a friend in the states, which probably worked out well because i could safely be left next to a computer to amuse myself until i'd read all the backlog of strips... now that i'm sharing a house (again, actually, now that i think about it!) with someone doing (kind of) postgrad study, i read the strips with an ear for what she tells me is happening at uni.

recently, jorge cham was in australia. i don't know if he thought he was coming here for a holiday or not because the few events initially pencilled in for his stay seemed to blow out quite quickly. however, i was extremely disappointed to hear from my housemate that the talk at monash was limited to actually postgrad students and fellows(?), staff and researchers. i would have paid money to hear jorge talk about his experiences doing the strip but alas, it was not to be, neither for me nor for my housemate.

that was disappointing. what is encouraging is the introduction of new characters into the strip and the setting up of tension (maybe?) between mike and professor smith... i can't help visualising a godfather-esque storyline emerging here - "power cannot be given - it can only be taken..."

the most recent strip - the exodus of new characters unwilling to stay in the strip for no pay - had me reflecting that if i were of a particularly suspicious nature, i might think that jorge cham is setting our other female regular (tajel) up with a partner now that cecilia has broken up with her boyfriend. i think tajel and gerard would make very entertaining reading.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

... i knew i'd be saying this


my legs are killing me. i didn't think that going up stairs could hurt so much... until i had to go down stairs and see just how much that hurt. the muscles on top of my thighs, just above my knees, feel like they're being knuckled by some 8 year old with a killer punch every downward step i take.

surprisingly, that's about it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

... never thought i'd be saying this

you know, there's a lot of things in my life that i've done that i'm not necessarily proud of. my friends know the kinds of stupid things i do - the closer they are, the greater the number and magnitude of my stupidities that they become aware of - but anyone who knows me will say that i have a love-hate relationship with exercise.

i don't love it - i hate it.

pretty simple, really. that being said, though, i do enjoy walking, long walks, especially, and i really used to like walking from the house i was living in in chatswood to the rocks or the sydney cbd. it was a long walk, ignoring the fact i can be a bit of a dawdler if i'm just in my head and without distraction, and i tended to average about 2.5, 3 hours to do it. i haven't walked from where i am now (caulfield-ish) into the melbourne cbd but it's all a damn sight more level than around sydney. if i could stay away from prahran and richmond and st kilda, i reckon i could do it in at least 3 hours.

anyway. i'm a little ashamed to say it, but here's the truth. for the last three weeks - three wednesday nights including tonight - i've been participating in fitness training after work.

i know, i know. fitness training? (gasp) but you hate exercise! and do you know what? i hate it even more because i can actually feel it doing me some good.

don't say that too loudly, will you?

i won't bore you with the details of what we've been doing - i'll get the details wrong, anyway - but suffice it to say that if i can actually walk down to the bus stop tomorrow it will be a deadset miracle. i'm in a bit of pain tonight. i've got the electric blanket on, so my sore muscles don't lock up into cramps by morning but i'm a bit cold already because i'm watching the making of kenny on channel 10.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

... it's the little things

i was thinking today about how much i like where i've moved to. the weather is totally more agreeable here to me than sydney's ever was. people on trains and trams seem friendlier and more inclined to have a conversation with a stranger (i was actualy talking with a couple of guys on a tram the other night about the pros and cons of the clive barker canon)...

there's not much about melbourne i don't like... but one of the few things that really makes my teeth itch is the bovine approach so many melbournites take to walking around their lovely home. they wander around like farmer brown's cows and what translated while i was on holidays as "everyone's really laid back here compared to sydney" i have now concluded is actually "i don't think half of these people know where they're going..."

it's only a little thing... but it's usually the little things.

Monday, September 17, 2007

... falling in lamb

just a brief note - i finally found an online version of my new favourite television commercial, "falling in lamb".

following on from the "lâmb" advert (parodying the "j'adore" perfume advertising campaign), "falling in lamb" is a parody of british romantic comedies like love actually and notting hill.

watch the advert - it's great. there are also links to the "vote lamb" adverts with sam kekovich, also very cool ads.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

... just a few things

it's been about a month and there's no marvel in that at all. while i take comfort in knowing i'm not the only one amongst my friends who's not very... diligent about updating their blog, i continue encouraged and challenged by those other friends of mine who manage to blog several times a week. by turns i feel less distant from some and more distant from others all the time.

for a period a year or two ago i attempted to blog every day while i was at work. i'm pretty sure i only managed it for a week but this time around i would like to manage it for a month. a big step? perhaps. i might put some poetry up or maybe serialise a story i'm playing around with. (crikey, i almost spelled "serialise" with a "z"!) we'll see how it goes. the trick will be to work out exactly when during my day this is going to happen.

there was a 'zine writing festival held several months ago here in melbourne, similar to one which will soon be hitting newcastle in the next couple of weeks, and one of the many things i bought that weekend was a diary for writers. it has buckets of information in it about places to send your writing, some stuff on competitions and whatnot and on each week-to-a-view opening it has a small grid with "word tally" printed next to it. one space for each day. i don't use the diary yet - quelle surprise, i know - but i have a sneaking and not entirely unfounded suspicion that even if i were using the diary those blank boxes would be probably remain almost entirely blank. i suppose i'm thinking that if i can blog every day for a month, perhaps i can turn that time investment into a regular investment in time spent in disciplined writing exercise or even actual creative writing. who knows?

for anyone who's interested, the diary is "the 20xx australian writers diary" published by flat chat press. of the 232 pages, only 118 are given over to diary- and calendar-space; the rest is information for writers from a whole gamut of sources and order forms for the 2008 edition are available online at the website.

my housemate and i went to go see hairspray last night at pinewood in mount waverley. it was lots of fun, more entertaining than i would have expected and john travolta surprisingly short of pork products in his portrayal of edna turnblad, mother of the heroine of the film. a marvellous array of nods to john waters' original film and the broadway production as well.

for me, i'd have to say that the best part about the film was finding out that my housemate still has the song "good morning, baltimore" stuck in her head this morning.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

... getting my shit together

... gradually.

well, after having the thing sitting next to my desk since late june, i have finally done my tax. i was scratching my head for the longest time as to whether or not to staple my payment summaries to it until i saw a line in the literature that said not to do so... after doing it for so long and then trying to fold it all so it fit neatly into the dlx envelope (never postage paid, though, have you noticed???) provided, the habit dies hard.

i'm hoping this will kick start a savings account so that i can go to the u.s. next year to visit portland, oregon, home of the portland zine symposium! it seems to be held around the same time each year, so now my only question is going to be: two weeks or three?

regular readers will notice too that i've updated some links over on the right. for the past several months i've been volunteering at a shop in town that sells zines - small, typically short-run, photocopied, independant publications created by artists, writers, sf geeks or hardcore band fans, and a whole bunch of other people. zines rock. i have had about thirty-six copies sell through the store so far of one particular zine title i've been doing, "three". the three separate issues had varying print runs but that they've sold out is amazing to me! i've even received mail from people who've read them!! i've also been asked to contribute to a collection of poems put together by an artists collective here!!!

probably the most amazing thing of all came in one of those letters that i received, an excerpt from which i include here:
last week i went into the store ---- and got your zine "top ten poems issue #1".
i have never before read poems so i found that the poems together with your writings was a great introduction to poetry.
thank you...
i was touched that i'd touched the life of a complete stranger in that way.

i have been blessed throughout my life to have people around me who've encouraged me to write and who have borne with great longsuffering i'm sure the results of that encouragement. from what i've seen in the world around me, writers seem to be a bit of a motley crew and i don't see many who don't crave being read. in terry pratchett's novel going postal, the tremendous collection of undelivered mail accumulating in the ankh-morpork post office distorts the fabric of reality around it because that which has been written wants to be read - and writers are full of that which wants to be written...

i want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's ever given me praise or criticism regarding my writing, everyone who's ever read it, everyone who's ever passed it on to someone, everyone who's ever inspired me to write. the list is longer than i'd ever be able to put into words. thank you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

... value

i was thinking about the idea of intrinsic value and how little i think i appreciate it. in some ways instrinsic value is a very abstract concept but in other ways very concrete.

i remember reading ursula k. le guin's earthsea sequence, in which we meet ged, a young wizard learning how to manipulate the magic of the world. the way they do this in earthsea is to know the true name of someone or something and thus by knowing the true nature of the person or thing it can then be manipulated. in terms of magic and the idea of magic this is no new idea: many old forms of magic required something that belonged to or was actually a part of the person being manipulated or enchanted (remember the witches of eastwick when the women took revenge on daryl van horne?). totems would also be used to represent the true nature of something; idols also.

i'm sure i remember something from plato or aristotle about this too, that the things we see are not the true thing itself but how the essential thing is manifested in the world of matter. i suspect that emergent behaviour in complex systems (and the idea of emergent artificial intelligence) is kind of linked to this idea of the true thing being conceptual or spiritual.

this goes against the grain for the Christian perspective, which maintains that people, and the world (or creation, if you want to look at it like that), were made initially and deliberately by God to be material things and experience or be experienced in a material way. people are almost a nexus between the material nature of our bodies and the immaterial nature of our souls. (or are our souls immaterial?)

i went to a forum on the weekend discussing self-publishing and how it impacted the artistic community in a whole range of different ways; critically, artistically, monetarily, to list a few. i couldn't help but wonder that if we have to consider how a work of art needs to be explained or rationalised, what is its value? does it have a value intrinsic to itself? does that artist have the right to alter it once it is created or does it have its own right to exist once it has been made? can it be unmade? is its value wholly and solely in how it is experienced (by the consumer of the art) or how it is meant to be experienced (in the mind of the artist)? how much of the value of thing is wrapped up in what it does?

i think i've kind of wandered off from where i was going here but to be honest i don't know that i really had a point anyway.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

... just a couple of things

when i left the house this morning i was told that the temperature was 3.5 degrees celsius. just the kind of winter weather i'd been looking forward to before i moved to melbourne!

i read this awesome analogy today and want to share it here:
"one sunday, our pastor took out a twenty-dollar bill and held it up for everyone to see. he asked if anyone wanted it. hands shot up and cheers rang out.

then he crumpled up the bill, threw it on the floor, and ground it under his shoe. he held it up again and asked who wanted it now. the response was the same as before.

what was his point? he was demonstrating that no matter how dirty, crumpled, or torn the bill became, it still had the same value. the bill's worth was determined before it was even printed, and his mistreatment had not changed its value.

your value has never changed. you are worth just as much today as on the day God created you. no matter how you've behaved or how you've been treated - like a brand-new designer piece or a thrift store bargain - you are and always have been a treasured possession of the One who created you. no one - not even you - can change that."
as someone whose natural self-esteem temperature sits at roughly 5 degrees kelvin, it is a great encouragement to be reminded of this kind of thing. i am made in the image of God - i am his own idol! regardless of what happens to me or what i do to myself or to the world around me - or those other idols of himself around me - i was made in his image to reflect his glory. i was not made to be a doorstop, or to hold up one corner of the bed, or hang party streamers from.

... it would be nice to not need reminding so much.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

... rumours of my death have been exaggerated

a friend commented the other day that it had been quite a while since i'd blogged. my count, apparently, of blogs entries in the last month was only two! and fair enough, when the title of this blog promises a marvel every day...

well, despite the fact that every day is a marvel in and of itself, a marvel that God allows us all one more day to wake up to ourselves and realise just who exactly is running the show, i thought i would explain what i've been up to this last month or so.

work has been very busy. one of our staff, the chief purchasing officer, was off on three weeks' holidays. that meant that i was taking up the slack for her, along with a few other people in the office. i didn't need to stress out about it as much as i did, i suppose, but i always have a tendency to set too high a bar in some things and i think this was one of them. there are systemic procedural problems here at work, problems that are gradually being addressed, but in the classic tradition i tried to do what i could to work my own way through them. some successes, some failures. c'est la vie.

at home, my housemate and i have (separately and together) been ploughing our way through dvds of the west wing - we're up to season 6 now, getting into the sharp end of the end of the series. looking forward to working through season 7 and seeing all the episodes i missed on the abc.

although, given some of the rubbish we talk about at work, it surprises me i haven't been able to blog more...

Sunday, June 03, 2007

... comment gone out of control

this started out as a comment on erika's blog, but kind of got out of control. check out the link on the right to go to erika's page and then come back here...

i agree, let's call a spade a spade. the question is, how do we get started?

medical and science journals, i would have thought, are part of that arena that is ostensibly apolitical, reporting on the facts of a thing rather than the politics of a thing. so how do we get these reports into the circles of influence of the people who can effect change in these areas?

i wonder if making these issues personal to people here might not be the only way to get people... unnerved enough to act on them? i remember the AIDS awareness ad campaigns that did more to scare than to educate but i know very little about how effective they were and not so much how effective in their intend results but what actual results they produced. so how do we make genocide, how do we make "ethnic cleansing" and "forced mass explusions" a tangible concept to comfortable westernised australians?

we live in a country where our head of government refuses to make an apology (and he could make clear his apology does not open the door for reparations, if that is what he's worried about) to the aborigines of australia for the impact of european settlement on the lives they had before the arrival to our shores of europeans. the extent of that impact was felt in various ways in various places but seems now to be widely regarded as mass slaughter and forced assimilation. i wonder if the reason there seems to be no forward progress on this issue is the (very human) tendency to focus on the misdeeds of the past and assign blame rather than focus on the opportunities presented by the future?

it is not as if australia is unique in this backwards stumble into the twenty-first century. consider: israel, the sudan, china, north korea, the balkans, iraq, iran, basque and flemish unrest, the "troubles" in ireland; countless tribal conflicts across africa; gang warfare and organised crime in the u.s., russia, japan, italy, the u.k., south-east asia; the unilateral actions of thousands of corporations paying lip-service to nations' sovereignty whilst investing no more in local economies than is necessary to provide a springboard to move to the next low-cost flag-of-convenience country.

to begin to take responsibility now does not need to mean a carte-blanche acceptance of responsibility for what has happened in the past. no foster parent accepts the responsibility for the abuse the child now in their care may have suffered in the past at the hands of their biological parents or previous guardians! neither do i think, however, that they would be able to ignore such abuse and pretend it never occurred.

there must be a middle road, a balance of accepted responsibility and deliberate forgiveness, for those involved to move on. could nazi germany have evolved under a weimar republic that was more liberal or more draconian? was it partly the punitive terms of the treaties that came out of WWI that allowed for the fostering of resentment of other nations without and scapegoat groups within germany, a resentment that became intitutionalised and executed in the death machine that the third reich became? a death machine that was so horrible that those who survived it and those who brought it down believed that such a thing should never be allowed to happen again?

the idea of genocide might have been brought horribly into the public eye by the holocaust but how much of an impact did such widespread knowledge of it in the west have on all those jews slaughtered under the stalinist regime in the u.s.s.r? it's not as if concentration camps were new (i'm pretty sure they were used in the boer war). jews and kurds alike have been living under the threat of extinction for centuries. where one tribe has sought to exterminate another tribe, isn't that genocide?

so do we need to decide how to define genocide or to decide what we actually intend to do about it when we see it?

water's wet, the sky is blue, and there seem to be a lot of good men standing by doing nothing. as i write this, i feel like i'm one of them. so what do i do?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

... five from four

He is a man become a fish -
Soundlessly gaping wonderment
And completely failing to survive
... Out of his element.
She withdrew into herself
In utero in vivo
And her frustration leaves her Midas-like powerless
... Everything is ashes.
They searched for long hours into the night
Looking for the marks of passing
While meat reverts to vegetation
... The choking world.
Sirens cease their shrill shrieking
The remains of glacial labour now gothic lace
Granite left, limestone gone
... The ceiling is skyclad
Silence and dust, sad and dusk
All decline from movement to the same end
But dawn, warm & wet, windy & wooded.
... After darkness, light.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

... the nature of things

it's something of a chicken-and-egg question, i suppose, but in a lot of ways i don't think it is, not really. what comes first, love or obedience?

i was wandering home from church tonight, listening to my ipod and turning over in my head some things i was thinking about writing about, when the question occurred to me, when i was being a "good boy", why was i? was i being good because i loved my family, or rather because my family loved me, or was it to show my family i loved them, or rather somehow to have them love me? did the obedience, the action or desire to be a good boy, spring from being loved or the desire to be loved? perhaps the second question is similar, whether it was born of love or the desire to show love?

i am always torn by my conscience in regard to obedience to God. my hyper-self-criticism and low self-esteem did not magically evaporate on my conversion but was (and is continually) tempered by the love of God that he shows in my life, in my heart by his Spirit, in his Word by his actions in history, in the grace i see in my life and the lives of those around me. when my father became a Christian i was amazed and thankful that God should show his mercy in such a way and that the father i had here on earth should be my brother in heaven. i wish i had prayed more for him while he was alive and i wish i prayed more for people now (please pray for me that i will!) because part of me wonders that if i had, perhaps he would have come to faith sooner. my head says that dad came to faith when God intended but my heart doubts.

that same conflict between head and heart manifests in my own desires for my life now and how i re-evaluate my life thus far. was i a good boy because i felt loved or was it to earn love? do i obey God because of the salvation i have, the new nature of who i am (a child of God adopted through the redemption of Jesus' death on the cross, and assured of it through the power of his resurrection and the imparting of his Holy Spirit) or is it as if to keep by works that salvation received as a gift?

i think it is the battle between my new nature and my old one, between the spirit and the flesh, that poisons the things i do and the way i think - it is the remnant of sin in my life, like guerilla soldiers on the losing side of a war, refusing to surrender. it is like the people of israel, of whom we are told, "so the people of israel put away the baals and the ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only" [1 samuel 7:4, esv ], but who proved so faithless that they kept turning back to those same idols over and over again. how far away did they put those idols? did they destroy them and need to make new ones each time they went back to them? were they like the household gods that rachel hid from her father laban? or like the treasure that achan hid beneath his tent after the destruction of jericho, coveted by him even though he proved ashamed of what he had done?

where am i going with this? i'm not sure, i think. perhaps merely exploring the ways in which we don't really sin in new ways but more often continue to return to our old rebellions. the people of israel always wanted to be like everyone else. they wanted a king like the nations around them, they wanted gods they could see, that they could worship in ways they felt comfortable. the great lie the world tells us is that that's not such a bad thing, that surely five billion people on the planet can't be wrong. well, let's see. the populations of china and india make roughly two billion people; if we are generous and say that ten percent of them are Christians, people bought for himself by God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection, that makes 1.8 billion people who are wrong - and i don't think that the other 4 billion people on the planet are all Christians.

i believe that believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ - that he came to reconcile us to God in his death on the cross and through the power of his resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit to his servants, those brothers and sisters thus adopted by God and promised a place in heaven with him, and that it is because of nothing that we have done but purely by God's goodwill towards those he has chosen before the creation of the world - is the only way to be saved and restored to a right relationship with God. i think that atheism is wrong, i think islam is wrong, i think hinduism is wrong, i think buddhism is wrong, along with a whole raft of other worldviews and philosophies about religion and what happens after death. the little i know of these raises more questions than answers, they seem illogical to me, and all seem to me to be mutually exclusive.

i don't share the gospel with enough people, i don't tell people what i believe as often as i should, and it is because i am afraid. i am not afraid that they will laugh at me (although i don't want that either) and it is not because i am afraid that they will hurt me (although again, not something i want): it is because i am afraid that all the fears and criticisms i have of myself (real or imagined) will be communicated to the people i'm talking to and they will reject the message because of the messenger. that is my fear.

well then, i hear some people say, pull your socks up in your Christian walk, my lad, and maybe you won't be so afraid.

i tell myself the same thing and do you know what? i keep thinking of colossians 2:21-23 [esv]:
"do not handle, do not taste, do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used) — according to human precepts and teachings? these have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
i return to john piper's quotable quote: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him". if this is true (and as i tease it out and compare it with the scriptures - "oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!" psalm 34:8 [esv] - it seems more and more to be borne out as what God desires for his people) then pursuing satisfaction in God is the right way to go.

so how do i do that without making some new checklist for myself?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

... curious

is it just me or is it just a little bit ironic that i saw a woman very carefully applying the brakes of the pram her baby was in so that she could light a cigarette?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

... new tunes for old songs

so, once upon a time, i bought a double cd that was on special at a Christian bookshop in sydney. it was not a bad entry into the world of Christian music, if i wanted to listen to more than just the latest choruses from one large church or another, and gave me some names to check out to see if there were other cds i'd be interested in buying.

to be honest, i don't think i bought any cds off the back of that purchase. i listened in-store to a bucnh of others cds that didn't really grab me and the (to my mind) slightly unreasonably hefty price tags on those cds also made them hard to buy. now that i'm earning a bit more i can afford such a cd once in a while (i probably buy a brand-new cd every month, on average). it did get me listening to Christian pop music a bit more though.

cut to ten years later and i bought another double cd in the same series. wow hits 2006 brought together a bunch of Christian artists that this time i'd heard a bit more of, having friends who regularly listened to Christian music in their cars and being in a workplace that had Christian radio playing in the background most of the time. listening to the cds for the first time was like a game of "pick the tune you recognise". off the back of this compilation i have (to date) bought seven brand new cds... and counting. it's a bit scary, actually.

there's a word book store in the melbourne cbd (something else to love about melbourne!) and as i was browsing in there one day i noticed a small flyer for one of the bands on the wow cd that i quite liked - barlowgirl. i like their tunes, their harmonies, their great collaboration on a track with big daddy weave called "you're worthy of my praise" (which also features on bdw's cd what i was made for but has barlowgirl less prominently mixed). that they're young and gorgeous is a plus but, for what it's worth, i liked their music before i ever saw a picture of them.

i bought tickets and went to the concert. myself and several hundred adoring fans heard them play an hour-long set about six hours into their jet lag. they were very gracious while signing autographs in the foyer of richmond aog's church building (where i also bought some other cds at richmond aog's book stall) and had only good things to say about fellow studio stablemates superchic[k].

since the concert a little over a fortnight ago i've been listening to little else on my ipod than barlowgirl. they rock a great deal and i love the lyrics to their songs. one song has rung true for me, on my own. i'm posting the lyrics here but you really should check their cds out. (these are availbale from their website too!)

I can't believe that I'm here in this place again
How did I manage to mess up one more time?
This pattern seems to be the story of my life
Should have learned this lesson by the thousandth time.

'Cause I promised myself I wouldn't fall
But here I've fallen
I guess I'm not as strong as I thought
All I can do is cry to you.

Oh God you have to save me
You're my last and only hope
All my right answers fail me
I can't seem to make it on my own.

Always thought that I would be strong enough
What made all of them fall couldn't take me down
Yeah, did I think that I was above it all?
I have learned that pride comes before the fall

I can't promise myself that I won't fall
'Cause here I've fallen
I know I'm not as strong as I thought
All I can do is cry to you.

i don't know how common this is - i imagine it's quite common - but i often feel like i fall down a lot more than i make forward progress in my life. there are the little idols i have in my life, my little dreams that aren't so big, and it occurred to me the other day while i was reading ezekiel in my morning quiet time that these are exactly the kinds of idols that God was condemning israel for having.

the israelites didn't start out by setting up huge statues of dagon in the temple, they rebelled by inches until suddenly without even realising it they were miles away from where they were supposed to be. looking at faithfulness from this perspective makes the parable so much more applicable - "you have been faithful in a few things; i will put you in charge of many things". God gives ezekiel a vision of the city of jerusalem to see all the things the israelites had ended up doing; a nation that had begun with one man travelling from his home to a new unknown land, that had been given every opportunity to be in a more intense, palpable, living, real relationship with their god than any other nation on earth, that had ended up choosing not to make sacrifices from flocks and herds but instead give their first born children to the flames of sacrifical altars of the "god" molech; God shows ezekiel that the israelites left in jerusalem after the first deportation of judah to babylon were surpassing their predecessors in the idolatry that led to their judgement.

this barlowgirl song has been a bellwether for me, reminding me each time i listen to it to ask myself the question, "what am i putting between myself and God?" what are my idols? what are the things i'm letting block my relationship with God? the more i think about it, the more i find myself going back to old things that i keep having to give over and over back to God to take care of. i feel like a child stealing the cookie jar, gobbling down cookies, then feeling guilty and returning the jar, asking for forgiveness, then stealing the jar again. stain, rinse, repeat!

so i guess i'll keep listening to music that's going to keep helping me ask these questions, keep praying, keep reading God's word. ezekiel is amazing and such a blessing to be reading and i think God has totally put it in my way at the moment to give my introspection some depth and some perspective.

so that's me... how are you?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

... in other news...

i don't know how many of you follow links from the right hand side of my blog here, but i made a comment on a friend's blog and thought i'd repost it here... i'll revisit this idea - i'll be thinking about it throughout the day, i think.

in my (selfish) heart of hearts i don't really want change except for this - that tomorrow be pretty much the same as today, except maybe a little bit better.

Christians have a hope in amazing change, their entire lives are invested with change, their very nature is defined by a change that begins at conversion and ends in glory - never actually ending at all, since an eternity of relationship with God will only reveal more and more his glory as we grow in our renewed, intimate relationship with him.

we fear it and hope for it all in the same breath. change is tomorrow, it's the unknown - it's the unknowable. like turning on your computer every day, starting your car every day - no change in what we do but constant change in how we do it, what we're doing it to, what we're doing it with - all changing so continually and minutely and imperceptibly.

our dna changes every time it replicates, apparently. something like this: each time a dna strand is copied there's a little tail on the end that is the strand's use-by date, effectively. when that tail tails off, so to speak, the dna strand stops replicating properly and the cells it's a part of begin to break down. old age. there are strands of dna inside us that are leftover from x-number of copies when we were in the womb! how true it was that the psalmist says,

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

Monday, April 09, 2007

... classic assorted

it's Easter. yay... all kinds of stuff happening, lots of public holidays...

here's a few things that have been on my mind.

  • my monitor, a leo 15cx which i've had since i got my first windows computer, finally gave up the ghost on wednesday night. i still don't know why or how but it now refuses to power up at all. it's a shame, because i quite liked it. i don't know anyone else who has a leo brand monitor, which i see from the label on the back is made in shanghai. i downloaded drivers for it from a website somewhere and at that point i think i did get slightly better performance from it but i think it was probably just its time.

    upon replacing the monitor (i'm now using a philips 105s) and powering up my computer, this second monitor also failed to provide an image. i thought that perhaps on its way out my leo monitor had taken the video card with it. i searched throughout the melbourne cbd yesterday for an agp video card comparable to the one i thought i would be replacing.

    upon further testing this morning, mainly down to the classic "take-it-out-and-put-it-back-in-again" style, my old existing video card has proven to be working fine. i now have a new video card i need to get a refund on. if i cannot get a refund or exchange on the card, i guess i'll have a new video card on this machine after all. we'll see.

  • i saw 300 and it was pretty much what i expected. good to see lena headey again, especially since i don't know that i've seen her in anything much since stephen sommers' the jungle book with jason scott lee, cary elwes and john cleese. sommers made that before he made the mummy so it's a been a bit of a while between drinks for myself and lena. i wish i saw her in more stuff.

    gerard butler has huge teeth. brian blessed style teeth. seriously.

  • i went to a barlowgirl concert and have been the victim of some scorn for doing so. i don't care. i enjoyed the concert, i like their music, i'd see them again if i had the chance, and i hope they had a great time here in australia on their first visit and that they have a safe trip home tomorrow. i got autographs. :)

  • i'm still looking for a church. i've visited a couple now, notwithstanding one i wasn't ever really going to look at going to and another i've kind of been basing my evening worship out of, and next sunday i'll be checking out a third. please pray for me that i'll give it a good, consistent run, that i'll be looking not merely at how i'll be ministered to but also how i can minister to others there, that i won't be immediately put off by quirks of worship style or service format, and that i will have ears to hear and eyes to see the things that God is teaching me each sunday as i visit.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

... a devil's choice?

i was discussing hair dye with a friend today.

my impression of the satisfaction that hair dyeing must evoke is pretty much summed up by a t.v. advert for (i think) clairol: she comes home in tears, slamming the door behind her - she slaps at the photo of the happy couple (bastard!) and it falls from the bookcase to the hallway floor - she stars at her panda eyes in the mirror - she grabs the hair dye in the bathroom - we hear tick-tick-tick-tick-tick - cut to her hair, the tresses being dragged out of the sink, shocking red, leaving a blood red dye draining into the plughole - she looks in the mirror again - she stands erect, glamourous, in tall, high-heeled boots, little black dress, firey red hair wild down to her shoulders - she steps uncaringly on the photo, cracking the glass, then out the door (so over it!) and out into her new life...

i imagine that when people dye their hair they must be looking for the feeling i imagine that woman in the tvc is feeling - screw the past, i'm making a new life starting tonight!

so i asked if she was feeling like a new woman, and we went on to discuss the inner satisfaction of the whole hair-dyeing experience. we talked a bit about why people dye their hair, the needs or perhaps more the... weaknesses(?) they are seeking to shore up by dyeing. later on, the conversation centered briefly on a comment by a balding man who claimed that if he could have hair transplants that looked utterly natural then he would get them regardless of the cost.

at first blush that to me seemed a little excessive. however, given the current near-ubiquity of cosmetic surgery of all kinds, from botox to more extreme makeovers, the comment is actually more genuine than excessive. to me, it says that for this man there are things more important in life than mere money; that the money in his life serves deeper needs than its mere acquisition, having for the sake of having. no scrooge mcduck this man, he isn't interested in swimming in a money pool. he would be willing to do whatever it takes to feel more like himself than he does now.

it does beg the question, who do we think we are? do we see ourselves in the mirror and say, look, there i am! or do we look in the mirror and wish we saw someone else?

in a quirk of coincidence, we turn to the seeming incongruity of matching light cheese with full-fat salami (on toast, for dinner). it reminded me of a routine by Christian stand-up comedian steve geyer, talking about being a guy taking a girl to mcdonald's.

guy: well honey, what do you want?
girl: weeellllll, i'll just have a cheeseburger - and just a big mac - just a quarter pounder with cheese, just a mc-b-l-t, just a hot fudge sundae... and a small diet coke.
guy: [thinking; oh great, miss piggy's on a diet, that's great...]

it reminded her of billy connolly commenting on pizza-eating and how someone will order a pizza the same size as the coffee table - and a bottle of diet coke...

so the question then, the devil's choice is, if you will: fat or sugar? would you rather be fat (and drink the diet coke) or toothless (and not drink diet coke). putting aside the sugar-goes-to-fat-as-well argument, it isn't a very nice choice to have to make.

i don't like diet coke. i won't drink pepsi and i feel mildly icky choosing from the soft drinks available at kfc (which only stocks pepsi flavours and solo, which i think is from cadbury schweppes). since moving to melbourne i don't think i've bought a soft drink from a vending machine and certainly wouldn't from a train station here (all pepsi machines). i like coke. i know i don't take great care of my teeth but i'm doing better now than i used to, brushing teeth more and drinking coke less. and if my teeth do all fall out, i'll be able to get false teeth like my gran and pop, whose amazing false teeth tricks i found thoroughly entertaining as a small child.

it seems to me that the devil's choice between being fat and being toothless (the diabolically logical end result of these two paths) is utterly a choice that comes to us from the world we live in. both choices will kill us, in the end, with the death of a thousand cuts. each time we take the diet coke, we salve our conscience about our decision to eat the coffee table-sized pizza; each time we take the coke, we salve our pride and say that we made our own choices and we're individuals not sheep like the rest of them...

neither one is true. the fad for diet drinks is just as much a fad as the fad of post-marlboro man individualism. both fads take our eyes of the real issue, they play to our weaknesses, the very weakness they purport to cure, though it is never said: they are the cure for sin.

isn't the greatest modern sin shame? shame of who we are, of what we do, of how we look, of how others perceive us? we're too fat, too skinny, too poor, too financially insecure, too selfish, too much of a walkover, too indecisive, too intolerant! we're too much ourselves - we need to be more like... them. more like someone else. less like us.

interesting... so where do we go from here? if all this is true, where do we go from here? how do we know who to be like? who should be our role model? mother teresa? she's good for tolerance, but not so great for financial success. donald trump? great for financial success, but not so great in the looks department. kate moss? gorgeous, but isn't she an anorexic druggie? tom cruise! he decries even drugs from a certified medical practitioner, doesn't he? yes, but let's face it... he's a bit of a pratt.

i don't think the greatest modern sin is shame. i think it's actually pride - which is less a modern sin and more the classic sin. lucifer is traditionally held to have been cast out of heaven for pride. pride cometh before a fall. and it's pride that says, "my little dreams aren't so big" - "it's not too much to ask" - "i deserve this..."

pride masking itself as humility. pride masking itself as generosity. Jesus condemned such pride. the pharisee declaring his own good deeds before no one but God was condemned when compared to the tax collector who was too ashamed to even approach the altar of the temple. those people who rang bells in the streets to say when they were giving to the poor, but who were more concerned about being seen giving to the poor than actually saving them from their poverty.

i know what i'm like. i have those little dreams that i don't think are so big. my generosity is meagre in nature and desires recognition in action. i think that more often than we care to admit, we're all like that.

the other thing i know is that despite this ugly truth, God loves us. despite this inability to rise above our nature, despite whatever earnest desire we may sometimes entertain about our ability to rise above that nature, God forgives us. and despite the wealth of evidence supporting God's love and forgiveness, we continue to ignore him.

we won't believe because we don't want to, but we can believe because God wants us to. you don't know he's not calling out to you.

so how do i know he's called me?

i know because i answered. i turned around from my faults and failures and admitted to God that i couldn't run my life the way it needs to be run. that i keep turning back to God after i go awry is more evidence of God's forgiveness and love. that i keep needing to is more evidence of my sinfulness. i thank God that his forgiveness is greater than my sinfulness.

he's greater than your sinfulness. don't believe me?

"oh taste and see that the LORD is good!
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
the young lions suffer want and hunger,
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing."
--- psalm 34:8-10 [esv]

Monday, March 19, 2007

... jiggedy-jig

very short trip but i'm back at work. hard to believe that four hours ago i was in the check-in queue at sydney airport and three hours ago i was waiting to board my flight back home (!!!) to melbourne.

up at 4.30 this morning (praise God!) and the yha help was great. easy ride in to sydney airport, slower ride out from tullamarine but that's morning traffic for you. i'm having a banana and an arnott's classic assorted oatmeal biscuit for breakfast. thank goodness i'm having an early lunch!

i'll miss Bible study tonight, go home for an early night - or as early as i can make it after doing washing. the wedding was beautiful, seeing friends in chatswood was great, but i haven't missed the sydney weather at all... melbourne's cool morning was just what i needed to feel. forecast top of 26 degrees today - hopefully we won't make it!

(is there an inordinate number of exclamation marks this morning or what?!)

Friday, March 16, 2007

... gate 1, melbourne domestic

so i'm waiting for my flight to sydney for a wedding and i've managed to brush away the insane desire for some chilly chilli smoothie that boost juice has to offer (they'll sell it to unsuspecting customers but don't actually try it out themselves - what's up with that???) and i saw this netkiosk booth and thought i'd quickly check my email and then i figured, well, i've still got another (13 minutes and counting down) to use on this thing before it signs itself out, why not fire off a blog post?

work has been good this week, although it's the first week without one particular staff member (she left to have a baby, and God bless her) and already i'm starting to feel the ... strain of adding to my routines. another one has left for two weeks holidays in south africa and his absence will be a little harder to bear. i'm kind of filling in for him while he's away, which simply adds to my workload, and while i'm doing my fill-in stuff there the woman who has taken over the job of the woman who left to have the baby is going to have to do the stuff i'm supposed to normally be doing - which is what she was doing before i was trained up to do what she was doing. confused?

me too.

but i'm looking forward to flying tonight, not so much flying back on monday morning, but such is life.

they're calling for the gate and i need to eat this strawberry yoghurt. well, i didn't say i didn't buy anything at boost, did i?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

... ironically, less romantic?

i ran out of soap the other day.

i'm not too picky about most things in my life. if anything, i am stuck in a rut with my habits (weet-bix or museli(?) or the odd box of froot loops will do me for brekkie thanks) or my wardrobe (i don't know why everything from rivers is so comfortable but it pretty much is and it's cheap at the warehouse outlets so... yeah, anyway...)

you get the idea.

the soap that i'm particularly keen on is your everyday run-of-the-mill oatmeal soap from the chemist's. if you're lucky or you know where to go you can get a dozen bars of soap for less than the price of three litres of milk. having moved not too long ago, however, and having also found it increasingly difficult to obtain in places i thought i knew i could get it, i didn't hold out much hope of finding it cheaply down here in sunny melbourne.

so i picked up some "pears transparent soap" at safeway. is there a soap that smells so nice? it smells almost good enough to eat; a nice, heavy bar of soap, hard until you wear the edges off of it; see-though once you're worn away the embossed branding of the pears logo... sometimes i wonder why i don't use it all the time and then i realise i just paid for three cakes of soap what i might have paid for a dozen of what i'd run out of!

i like the scratchiness of the oatmeal in oatmeal soap; i like to feel that i'm almost roughing away the dirt when i'm washing in the shower. the pears transparent soap is an unexpected luxury.

what's your favourite soap?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

... hopeless romantic

a post for valentine's day, considering genesis 2 and the creation of woman from man's rib:
"... That the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. Adam lost a rib, and without any diminution to his strength or comeliness (for, doubtless, the flesh was closed without a scar); but in lieu thereof he had a help meet for him, which abundantly made up his loss: what God takes away from his people he will, one way or other, restore with advantage."

[ from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Bible ]

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

... well, here we are

long-time readers will know that i have a tendency to repeat myself. it's not that i'm just as lazy with my writing as i am with my bedroom tidiness - it's that i repeatedly feel the same kind of... sense of place? sense of time? sense of experience? i feel that there are events or eras in my life that mirror or reflect others, almost to the point of repetition. so, here we are.

i was trying to explain this last week. on thursday night, i participated in a market research evening. it was one of those nights where some researchers get a bunch of people - sometimes from a variety of target markets, sometimes from one narrowly defined one - and discuss some new product or service with them, or pitch one to them, or get an idea of what they think about some product or service they are already consumers of. the one i sat in on was for wine.

obviously! you say, dear reader. you're such a wine buff! why they'd be lucky to have your opinion. well, i must confess i felt rather a fraud to begin with but really began to get into it by halfway through.

we were looking particularly at dry white wines, discussing the things we found appealing about the ones they showed us, and explaining why we felt so. one group in particular spoke to me in this way:

when i was a child, child of television that i was (am), there was a tvc that really spoke to me. it was an advert for coca-cola, in the days after the giant beach ball and the pontoon at the beach/lake (or wherever it was). it featured about eight or ten people dancing around a giant kitchen, making spaghetti bolognaise and salad for dinner, drinking coke and basically having a great time together, all to the sound of aretha franklin singing freeway of love. i think i was about nine or ten years old (circa 1984) and to me... look, i just fell in love with it.

not with coke. not with aretha franklin's freeway of love, although it's a great song and a real marker for me of the feeling this commercial aroused in me. not even with spaghetti bolognaise, although friends from my high school in year 7 may remember that the slops bowl on our table (the boys from 7c) was very definitely void of any scraps that night at teen ranch.

i fell deeply and passionately in love with the idea of friends gathered around food; having a great, fun time together preparing a meal that everyone would sit down to and keep talking about all the things they'd been talking about while they were making dinner.

it's an image that is echoed in films from the 80s too, i think. the big chill, the breakfast club, stand by me; they all resonate to me with the sense of friends as family, which i think is a kind of clichéd catch-all phrase that comes close to encapsulating that feeling. you often see advertisers trying to attain it in commercials about pasta; for some reason there's an idea that pasta=italian=large numbers of friends and family having fun for no other reason than to get together. and maybe there's something in that too.

so there you go. repetition. in expectation, in feeling, in experience, in apprehension of surroundings... in blogging!

well, here we are.

i'm in melbourne. i'm in my new place, sharing with a friend of mine from church in sydney who moved down here a few years back to pursue a stellar education in classics at university. i'm enjoying the cooler, milder weather - boy, am i! it's lovely. even the hot days are nice. compared to the muggy days in sydney i'll take 45 degrees in melbourne any day.

work is interesting. (i mean that in a chinese curse kind of way, actually.) i'm not saying that it's bad. it's not, not at all. it's just... interesting. the most interesting part about it is trying to navigate the systems at play in the business, how things are done and tracked. trying to find products in the computer can be like exploring a haystack for a needle, only to find it's called a "sewing device". the words i've been used to using for some products for the last twelve years i now need to learn new words for. i have to narrow my definition of a c.o.d. to match how that's defined within the parameters of sales (as opposed to a "cash" sale, "stats", "print", and account sales). i keep making the same mistakes over and over, asking the same questions over and over, and if i'm annoying people then i'm annoying myself even more!

in short, i'm finding the whole learning experience very frustrating. i love learning new things. learning things under pressure is not how i like to do it. still, this is the section of river i've decided to fish and dang-nabbit, uhm a-gonna fish it until uhm a-sure i dun tha best jub ah kin.

finding a new church is the next big thing on my agenda. up until now i've been attending the two churches my housemate attends. that situation would have been changing anyway, since she is consolidating her church attendance (sounds better than cutting one, doesn't it?), but where we'll be going over the next few months will be completely different.

i'll be hitching my cart to the scots' church in the city, what they call the 1730 congregation, i think. i missed the first bible study i was planning on attending with this church (i thought it was tonight but turns out it was last night!) but it was more in the way of a getting-to-know-you night... hopefully, missing it won't be disastrous. that will be my evening church group. i'll be doing my church-shopping in the mornings, the first port of call being st kilda presbyterian, starting this sunday.

this is good in a couple of ways. first, it's not badly accessible by public transport, so it seems. i'll know the truth of that on sunday, and believe me, i'll be leaving in good time to be sure i've time to get there if things go awry. second, the annual general meeting of py in victoria is there next weekend (the 17th). going to church in st kilda this weekend, then, will be something of a reconnaissance mission for the following weekend. third, my sister doesn't live far from st kilda and this might be an opportunity to catch up with her on the weekend! (what do you reckon, sis?)

i'll be coming along for about a month, see how i find it. i don't think you can really tell from one week. at the end of four weeks at st kilda i'll be in sydney for a wedding and i'd like to try and stay in sydney on sunday night, go to my latest old church, fly back down here monday morning and go straight to work. i could leave a change of clothes at work to alleviate my baggage weight too. *shrug* i guess we'll see what happens.

what else...?

i've been visiting sticky, a great shop run by volunteers committed to the support of 'zines and other small press stuff. i've bought some great stuff there recently, including a couple of dvds, one called a hundred dollars and a t-shirt and another called cantankerous titles and obscure ephemera vol.1. they're both very interesting examples of how some people in the 'zine world have approached digital video without going down the binge and purge road that youtube and the like seem to typify. both of these dvds are probably able to be sourced through amazon, but why go there? try microcosm publishing instead and deal directly with the producers! there's lots of other cool stuff available through them, and i'll be adding the link to my sidebar when i remember.

as a result of this, i'm going to be trying very hard to put out some 'zines of my own. i've got poetry 'zines i can reissue, which i've not sold through a place like sticky before, and i have one or two ideas for other things to do as well. one is kind of like a "passport to melbourne", where i'll document weekend day-trips around the place. with my new mobile phone being able to take pictures, adding images to my 'zines will be nice and easy - something i've not been able to get the hang of yet for this little gem of a blog.

anyway, i'm sure that's enough. i'll probably have to go make a cup of coffee while this uploads. ciao :)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

... a rose by any other name

... might still be paper.

i found this site while i was webbing from a link posted on cafedave about jazzing up your rental residence kitchen space. i don't have anyone to give these to this year (i might in previous years have dropped a bouquet off at my favourite cafe for the staff there) but, having just moved, i don't feel i'm at a stage where i can even in jest give flowers to anyone. nevermind.

the instructions look pretty complicated, and there are youtube links further back that i didn't bother to follow up. these instructions do have a link to an .avi file that explains the most complicated step in the whole thing, but having not tried to make it yet i don't know how necessary it is.

i haven't been interested in doing anything origami in a while. looks like it'd be a challenge and might even turn out to be fun!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

... confession

yes, it's been a while since i posted.

it'll be a little while longer.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

... the other shoe?

i'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

i'm not quite into the baked-beans diet yet, but i'm very glad that i now have a job that i start on the 22nd!!! rent is due on the 1st of feb, so i'll be guesstimating (to a certain extent) how much i need to keep in my bank account to pay it. i have a weekly ticket, so i'll be doing some hardcore exploring this coming week(end) and then next week i'll be buckling down to sort out any other bits and pieces before i start work on monday week.

all of my stuff has turned up from sydney that came with the movers. so now i'm a mexican!

da-da-dah da-da-dah da-da-duh-daaah...


Monday, January 08, 2007

... argh!


you'd think that with the number of times i've moved house i'd be practically a professional, but no; in actual fact, i'm no more organised now than i was when i moved from wollongong to sydney on the first of may all those years ago (1994, actually). when it comes to moving, i'm so completely last-minute, it's ridiculous.

in a lot of ways i'm so like that in my life. things i should say earlier on i leave until it's utterly inappropriate (but occasionally i finally have the gall to utter) and other things that i should do i don't until it's almost too late for them to be of any use to anyone. at the moment i'm boxing crap, although, to be fair, there's not much sorting of the crap to do, it's simply a matter of putting said crap into sturdier boxes!

but still... procrastination figures largely in my activity. hence this post!

i've got love actually playing on my dvd player with the commentary track running, which is quite nice since it gives me something to listen to while i'm doing other things.

i have several people coming over for breakfast in the morning, including the delightful couple who are (good friends of mine who persist in the belief that i'm not actually moving, despite the fact they're) driving me to melbourne over the next forty-eight hours. i count myself incredibly lucky to have such wonderful friends who although they don't agree with my choice in this instance nevertheless are very supportive of me making my choice and running with it.

i am so blind to the people around me, it amazes me that i have the friends that i do. they have been so kind, so gentle, so thoughtful, so supportive, so prayerful, so encouraging - so loving, in fact, and despite their protestations to the contrary i can't help feeling that i've been an abysmal friend in return. thoughtless, tactless... they are all the greatest blessings to me from God, short of his Son, of course.

i love my friends deeply and thank God for them every time i think of them. i'm going to miss them deeply while i'm in melbourne and i hope that they will take opportunities to visit, if they ever present themselves. my housemate and i have deliberately chosen our new place so as to keep a spare room, for visitors and blow-ins to stay in.

i haven't made any new year's resolutions this year but if i were to make one then it would be that i want to stay in close touch with the friends i've left behind. five emails a week - one each weeknight to a different friend, perhaps - is do-able, i think. please don't hold me to it but i'll do my best to try.

and none of that yoda rubbish. there is try: it comes before do.