Monthly Archives: March 2006

get your rocks on

I was somewhat surprised, in a pleasant but disbelieving kind of way the other day when I was contacted by Daliel, the sponsor / designer / webmaster for Daliel asked I wouldn’t mind being included in the site.

Sure. Why not?

And so my rather humble efforts have become included in the site with some Other Balancers. Some of their efforts are just amazing.

I’d blogged about stacking stones here previously, and these reflections have also been included.

So, now I need to get out of the house and start stacking rocks. It’s an uncomplicated activity, but you might find, as did I, that when you start taking a photo or two, and making some drawings of your work, that the whole dynamic changes. I don’t imagine stacking rocks will become an olympic activity soon.

That’s ok, I’m still in training.


photomesa – good, free software

link to photomesaThis morning I came across some nice new (to me) software that provides the best thumbnail viewer I’ve seen. PhotoMesa. Here’s the blurb:

PhotoMesa is a zoomable image browser. It allows the user to view multiple directories of images in a zoomable environment, and uses a set of simple navigation mechanisms to move through the space of images. It also supports grouping of images by metadata available from the file system. It requires only a set of images on disk, and does not require the user to add any metadata, or manipulate the images at all before browsing, thus making it easy to get started with existing images.

Now when they say zoom, they mean ZOOM. As in over 1 million percent. Yes, 1 million percent. I stopped because I got bored. The thumbnails are clear, and it’s just a nice, easy to use, all round good system. Well done, programming team, well done indeed.

the new season

We’re starting to move steadily into the autumnal season. We’re experiencing those indecisive days – hours of rain with some heat and the fret wafting in from the sea. It can be so lovely, as long as you’re not needing the weather to be anything changeable.

Sandburg wrote about it:


The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


As a result of this changeable season, I’m working on creating a new template or two for the blog – I’ve got a couple of designs underway, and I need some more time to get them done. I’ve noticed how the weekends rush past when I’m working for us, but it’s all a bit less convenient when I’m working for my job as well. The bible talks about a time to work and a time to put work aside. I want to do my stuff, I need to work as well. It’s hard to balance everything.

Which is interesting to me – balance is the theme of my new template.


more about Makena…

Makena ('happy' in Kikuyu) aged about 5 months Following up on my posting about how some husbands find their wives boring and what to do about that, here’s how Makena and our friend came together, in our friend’s own words:

On Sunday, Iman (a young doctor from the truck) and I took the bus back [to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, in Nairobi National Park, Kenya] for another look at the elephants. We got the bus early thinking it would take ages but in fact we were there an hour early having to walk from the road past warthogs and baboons.

After seeing the elephants I signed up and became a foster parent to the smallest elephant called Makena (meaning ‘happy’) six months old. She was found wandering on her own and to this day seldom stops moving – a restless spirt. I managed to get quite a bit of video footage of her playing in the mud, wrestling with the others and playing in the mud pool. She is very playful and full of fun having been like this since she arrived.

That night I returned to the compound to see the orphans put to bed which is an extra, foster parents get to see. We all stood around the stables waiting. First the rhino was bought in and consumed a 6 gallon bucket of formula then you heard this rumble and round the corner at great speed trundles 9 little elephants all covered with their blanket tied on ready for bed. They shot into their stables with their individual keepers demanding their bottles of milk. Makena was being fed with her cuddly blanket on her head and with her back legs crossed. Unfortunately I could not see a lot of her as she was being filmed by British Airways for a documentary they were making as they are one of the sponsors for the Trust.

I went round the different stalls and talked to all the keepers who were setting up their beds for the night as they fed the babies every 2-3 hours or when the needs must. Makena could not settle and was very restless banging her trunk on her mat and rocking from side to side. Mekena’s stall is right next to the matriarch who has taken Makena under her wing. When she would not settle the older elephant (by one and a half years) put her trunk through the wooden slats and laid her trunk on Makena’s back and gave a low rumble to reasure her. The keepers all feel that her behaviour stems from the amount of searching she had done looking for her family when she was lost hence the blanket that she rubs her trunk with and sucks for comfort just like babies when they have a cuddly rug. Many of you will know what I mean!!! The keepers are hoping that with love and care the memory will fade.

To stroke and touch these little elephants is an amazing experience as they are so affectionate especially towards their keepers. Loijuk loves to touch and I saw him run his trunk gently all over his keepers face after his keeper had tickled him behind the ears and allowed him to suck his fingers. He kept grabbing my bangles and tried at one point to take my glasses twisting his trunk round my arm and giving it a good tug. They are really strong. I loved stroking the underside of their trunk as it is so soft and the fuzz of their head which is quite bristly.

Each baby has its own personality and it is only been by studying the elephants in the wild that Daphne Sheldrick has been able to realise the importance of 24 hour care needed for them to grow strong and survive. It has truly been an amazing experience and the amount of effort and love that is given to these little orphans has to be seen to be believed. If all children were given similar care – and it does not matter by who as long as it is consistent then I am sure many of our children would not be in such need of help today. I am hoping to be able to have one last visit before leaving Kenya when I return to Uganda. I do however get a monthly diary update on Makena’s progress so that will be something to look forward to.

There are more pictures of Makena here, along with more of Makena’s story…this is how lives get changed.


stick your toe in…

I’m still not much of a swimmer. Very interested in what goes on underwater, but I never really learned to swim. I always found the water too cold and yes, I got out of the water north of Cairns, Australia; shivering with the cold after the dream-come-true snorkling on the reef. And you can’t tell the water temperature by just sticking your toe in. I’ve learnt that this week. There’s something to be said for getting right in, and getting the feel for the new environment.

Sometimes you can feel the tide has turned and this week has been one of those strange weeks when the blood suddenly starts to flow in a different direction than previous.

First we had the energies of Blog Hui going off like fireworks, and the writing workshops with Trevor Romain, my other brother. And then strange (but good things) things started to happen. Not one, but two people have contacted me about my writing here, making what I took to be encouraging noises. There’s been some other unexpected and good news as well, but I want to comment about the encouraging noises. Thank you folks, I’m flattered. And it was nice too, I’m not good at being slobbered over.

Actually, I was stunned, because I didn’t start writing for an audience, in fact we had discussions at the hui if a blog is a blog if no-one reads it. I wondered if my blog was a blog if I didn’t read it. An audience of one, and the one sometimes has a day off. But that apparently is not the case. People do read what I write, and people like what I draw. And that’s suddenly got import and implications I hadn’t expected.

Here’s the picture I’ve drawn in my head. There’s the hoary old question about is a glass half empty or half full. I might’ve even blogged about it. The answer is: it’s always full, just not always with liquid, sometimes it’s full of air, and sometimes half and half.

Let’s say you fill a bucket with water. Not to the brim, just full. And you stick you finger in, and then pull it out. What impact have you had? None, right?. Now this was the picture I’ve had about my blogging. I stick my finger in the blog world, write, pull my finger out and there’s no impact. Or so it seems.

But in fact the water is changed forever. Once the mini ripples die down, the water seems the same, but it’s different now to what it was. If there was a finger sized hole in the bucket and my finger was all there was stopping the water running out there would be an even bigger impact if I removed my finger.

And there it is. In a teeny tiny way, my writing has started to change the world. Yep, just a finger stuck in a bucket’s worth of change, but change never the less. Someone’s day is connected, someone’s day is uplifted, agreed, engaged. And that’s of some import and has implications I never considered before. David Bowie’s song ‘Changes’ has the line about watching the ripples change in size, but never leave the pond. Well, true, because a) the ripples are probably there forever in some quantum kind of way, or b) they haven’t finished the job they were sent here to do, or c) maybe that’s the butterfly wing effect in some taoist chaos kind of way.

I heard a number of people say at the hui that blogging has changed their lives. And it’s beginning to sound like a revival meeting, which sounds slightly like ‘run away!’ (As an aside, I aways wanted to go to one of those roll-in-the-straw, play-with-rattlesnakes type of revival meeting, complete with child preachers that heal me. At least I feel I could trust the snakes.) But here’s the deal. I am beginning to think that yes, blogging is changing my life. In ways I hadn’t expected. It’s changing other peoples’ lives as well, and as long as it’s for the better than that’s a good thing. But how’s the change come about?

I think it’s due in no small part to not being content to test it, dipping my toe in, but instead taking a flying jump, fetaling up, and bombing in for the max splash. Oh yeah, baby, watch my splash!

So, dear readers, what finger are you poking in what bucket today? You will make a difference, if you just jump in. Or even if you just poke your finger in.


ah, obsessions

Today, a nice crisp ‘Campus Review’ (15 March 2006) bounced on my desk – well, sludged near my desk, to be more accurate. I was entertained to see a fellow obsessive had written a letter to the editor, moaning about yet another claim on originality being staked by Michael Moore. Michael, no, according to Professor Yoni Ryan, you didn’t first invent the term ‘distance education’. You may have first used it in 1963, true, but you didn’t invent it. So there.

A lexicographer at ANU found the term ‘distance education’ in the Treaty Establishing the European Community, Part Three, Title Xi, Chapter 3, Article 149 on Community action to encourage education, section 2, sixth dot point: ‘encouraging the development of distance education’. The date of the signature is 25 March, 1957.

So, Professor Ryan, Director CELTS, University of Canberra, writing on February 27, 2006: 1. Michael Moore: 0.

Obsessives. You gotta love ‘em. )


my husband is bored with me

Well, I agree, that sounds just awful.

The things people ask here. Just above that question was a question about the live sex cam action. I am often amazed at what people are looking for, and why this blog, of all blogs, gets asked these questions. Oh well, enquiring minds…

So, your husband is bored with you. Well, there is a genetic imperative for your husband’s genes to want to spread themselves far and wide – after all the planet so needs more people just like him. Right?

Makena has found a new foster parentDon’t worry about trying to make yourself less boring to him, concentrate on being more interesting to you. It’s all about you, you, you in this instance. One of our friends emailed us tonight. She’s screaming through Kampala on the back of a motorcycle, arms clutched around a young cycleman-iac, on her way to see the gorillas in Uganda, after camping beside the Nile and snorkelling off Zanzibar. Our friend is in her 50’s. She’s recently adopted this elephant. Yes, that’s right, she’s adopted an elephant.

Now is it possible your husband might find our friend interesting? Of course he would. She’s spoken for now, as a solo mother with a baby elephant named Makena, so your husband will have to find some excitement somewhere else.

OK – so, you can’t go the Africa, you can’t foster an elephant, and the walls are closing in.

First, go make yourself a cup of tea. Not coffee, tea. But before you do, carefully and intentionally wash the cup, scour it with salt, and then rinse it. Use very fresh water (run the tap for a while) and boil it. Pour the water on the tea, leave it to infuse for exactly 2.5 minutes and then enjoy it, paying attention to the flavours and sensations. No milk. No sugar. Just tea. When you have finished, use any left over water to wash the cup and carefully dry and put everything away.

There now. You’ve taken a micro moment for yourself, and participated in your very own tea ceremony. How interesting.

Now, go invest in a journal – a cheap notebook will do, a lovely journal from Mark Bernstein will be just succulent. Write about the experience. Draw the cup of tea. Use the tea to write with. Do it again tomorrow.

Now, of course, your husband will think you’re mad. That’s ok, as long as it stays safe for you, but he’s no longer going to be bored with you because you’ve moved on. You’re in the process of starting to discover you.

And now the big step is to tell your story. Go on. What is it? What is it about you? What is your story? You could blog it. It’ll change your life.

You can foster an elephant or a rhino, oline, right now! Don't wait!!Have a cup of tea once a day, and while you wait for it to cool, write down your story. Stop when you’ve drunk your tea. Do it every day for a month. Don’t judge it, just do it. By the end of the month I guarantee you’ll no longer be boring.

By the end of a year you might be searching for a nice elephant to foster. And yeah, I can help you with that too. Just click on one of the elephant pictures. There’s a nice young elephant or rhino, with a heart the size of Africa, just waiting to meet you. Oh, and by the way, you don’t have to go to Africa to foster, you can do it using the comfort of your own credit card, online. What are you waiting for? Get on with it!


song 6 from outer space

I was surprised today when a nagging voice from my past – you know who you are – emailed me at work to the effect of ‘here I am stuck in the gulag with nothing to make me laugh, and you haven’t blogged for days and what’s with that then eh? Blogged out after Blog Hui?’

Wow. Someone reads here. Who knew? Actually not blogged out after Blog Hui, rather, more about my job eroding my blogging and writing. Now that’s a bad thing. Welcome, gentle reader, and I am sorry about the gulag.

But here’s the question for the day. I have a number of cds. People do these days. I’ve noticed that very often my favourite song on the cd is track 6. It’s not immediately apparent (now sounding like my report writing at work) whether this is some kind of satanic plot (it could happen) or apophenia or just a random event. Maybe the engineers just like track six.

Or maybe it is an alien plan and I’ve already been consumed by their nefarious engineerings. Take a listen to your cds, and check out what is on track six right now. For me it’s scherzo and trio, on cd 4, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, ‘A History’.


write post

Writing workshopping with Trevor Romain today. Not much prepares you for Trevor – well, to be fair, not much prepared me for Trevor. I think I enjoyed most his story about doing book signings with Stephen King and Richard Simmons. It’s not so much the story because it was lovely – no queue in front of Trevor, but two large queues in front of King and Simmons, and they refused to sign their books unless people got Trevor’s signature too. How very nice.

But here’s the story behind the story.

Who would put two horror authors in a book signing with a childrens’ book author? What is with that?


go ahead, make my day

Our card from Trevor Romain

End of the first day of Blog Hui. A number of the participants and I walked down the (wish it was) tropical waterfront to the Genghis Khan for the aftermatch function. I really fancy climbing into a large gin and tonic and eating far too much chili and lime fish on noodles. There’s a few issues with this, first, I’m mostly avoiding alcohol so my head will be clear for the morrow, and the GK doesn’t do fish – at least in the way I have in mind.

I’ve spent the day juggling presenters and timing them – it’s been a real ’slot you here if I can swap for this person so they can go here’. As a result I didn’t get the best out of the speakers, but depsite that, enjoyed them all hugely. It’s such a change of pace from my day-to-day job – in this case I’m so impressed with the scholarly and yet entertaining presentations. The new speakers ernestly keeping things on the straight and narrow, the experienced speakers feeling free to go with the flow a little more.

It’s been a joy organising the hui – there’s been plenty of times I wondered if it’d ever come together as well as it has – but to date it’s been just great. I’ve really enjoyed watching people network and share their praxis and experience; even when things were coming a little unstitched. I particularly applauded Philip presenting using the WAP connection on his phone to make his presentation work – well done, Philip, and thank you for the drive-by thrilling.

And now, the best thing is trying to get enough sleep to get through tomorrow.