Category Archives: writing

FND Launched!

Yay! We went live with Fresh New Day this morning – not exactly countless hours, but uncounted hours of concentrated effort to get what is perhaps our most ambitious project off the ground. It doesn’t look like there’s much going on – a photo, a few words – but it really has been like the legendary duck – serene on the surface all the while paddling like crazy things below the surface. Nevertheless, a positive action that has already served to inspire and move others – I really want to say ‘our job is done’, but there’s plenty more effort to be put in yet. Check it out.

fresh new day

There’s been a flurry of working going on over at our new initiative, Fresh New Day. Marica and I have begun creating a document of our everyday world – using photography and writing to learn more, notice more, to explore the local and immediate in greater depth.

I’m very interested in the cosmic in the commonplace. I’m looking forward to making numerous photographs through the year, hopefully elevating the familiar with insight and inspiration. I can’t wait.

So far it’s been fun (and funny) as Marica and I are generally not discussing the images and the words before we publish them, and so reading and viewing each other’s day brings surprise and laughter as we see what’s caught our eye. It’s been interesting to see colour and design commonalities as well – but from very, very different perspectives.

You can get an update on our photos by clicking on the ‘fresh new day’ tab (above), or get the hot off the press images and writing at Fresh New Day HQ.

books

Once there was a well known philosopher and scholar who devoted himself to the study of Zen for many years. On the day that he finally attained enlightenment, he took all of his books out into the yard, and burned them all.

From John Suler’s Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbour.

no writing. reading only.

One of the nervous moments people experience is the thought of their parents – you know – doing it. Not doing it, doing IT. Somehow the thought of our grandparents doing it isn’t so bad, and great grandparents – well, no one thinks about it. The ‘it’ I’m writing about is keeping a blog – a journal – a diary. What if we found our parents had kept a diary – oh horrors – what would it contain? And meanwhile we write like creatures possessed and think this online stuff is all new and exciting. We are the first generation to share our intimate (sometimes TOO intimate) thoughts with the rest of the globe. You know who you are.

My life, it seems, lately, has involved no writing here. I’ve been writing elsewhere, and now, slutty reader that I am, reading elsewhere too. Honestly, no shame, I’ll read anything. It’s not as though I’m addicted, I could give up at any time. I’ve found this new haibun/haiku writer – can you guess who is the author?

Drizzly.
  Dense mist in evening.
Yellow moon.

Hey, good for you – I would never have guessed George Orwell. Yes, that George Orwell. George has started to publish his diaries online. And the haibun/haiku is from August 10, 1938. Makes me think George would’ve been a first class writer using Twitter.

There’s something addictive to reading George’s writing – he’s as attracted to (or at least documents) the banal and mundane as the rest of us – he would’ve been a blogger or tweeter or whatever as much as anyone else these days, except, of course, it’s 70 years ago. Startling. Addictive. And when he’s got his writing going on, baby, it’s going on.

It’s been a long, cold, lonely winter…

Well, long and cold, and while I have known lonely winters, this hasn’t been one of them. I haven’t written here for what seems like forever, but I have been writing like a mad thing over at the two new sites we’ve put together…

Business Savvy – For years I’ve taught people how to set up their own businesses. I have a special interest in micro business, patchwork economics, and rural community economic development. I decided that I would a) declutter the basement office, and b) make the material I’ve gathered over 20 years available online so that perhaps other people might be able to go on and change their lives and those of their family’s for a positive future.

A good reason why it hasn’t been a lonely winter… I’m a loaner. I changed jobs earlier this year – instead of a farewell gift of something fabbo like a plate with a picture of kitten to hang on the wall I asked for contributions to my investment fund for Kiva, and for my colleagues to pick out an investment for me. They did, and together we invested in an entrepreneur in Togo. Loaves and fishes. Having invested in fish, the next step has been to invest in loaves…

Cecilia Nyameke (from Tarkwa, Ghana) is a divorced mother with six children. Currently four of her children are in school. She has been baking for six years and her business serves as the main source of income for the family.

Image from Kiva.org - loans that change lives

She wants to use her loan to buy bags of flour, sugar, and baking powder to expand her operation and also to avoid price hikes. Cecilia is a member of the group called Abandenden Jesus (meaning “Jesus, our Strong Tower”). Members agree to guarantee for each other to repay the loan.

I look at this photo and I just want to buy and try some the bread, still warm from the oven, with lashings of butter and clover honey. I can’t recommend the stories highly enough.

Another reason why the winter hasn’t been lonely – Get Going Online. After teaching html and web at night school for a couple of years, and to celebrate 10 years of writing web pages and developing web sites, I decided to offer people a great way of getting going online. There are huge numbers of small businesses with ugly and out-of-date web sites. Why? If you’re not geeky and/or if you’re busy running your business, how do you update your web site? The options are you either don’t – and that’s a bit of a disaster – or you pay someone else to do it for you – and that is a potential disaster too. I decided to offer businesses a happy compromise with a content management system and some limited customisation – at small business scaled prices. It’s a good deal, especially as seeing the end result is anything but under-powered. Get Going Online is offering well over 400 designs (more arriving every day), and the preview isn’t just a screen snap or two, the preview IS the full site – this is what your site will look like. I’m very, very pleased with the way it’s shaping up and the positive responses.

And another reason why it hasn’t been a lonely winter…

the people yes

people-yesA word cloud based on lines from Carl Sandburg’s ‘The People Yes’, created with help from Wordle.

I’ve written about the poem previously, and said how it ‘describes me and most of my days’. Of late that has been more true than ever as I’ve been able to watch good people work hard to try to make a difference, while bad people seem to be able to make a difference (of a different kind) seemingly effortlessly. We’re all people, it’s the choices we make that sends us on different paths. Once we get on our respective path getting off it is difficult, no matter who we are; and no matter whether we do good or do evil.

One of my colleagues used to regularly ask me, ‘How are you?’

My standard answer was/is, ‘I’m doing good.’

And he would always laugh and give me a bit of a hard time about doing good. I’m still confused by the question and by his response. Perhaps it was the work context where doing good is something of a work-in-progress kind of concept. I don’t care – it’s not a work-in-progress for me. I am very clear. Do good, my people, do good.

write on

How to take a trip and never have to leave the farm. Dates me – and possibly you too, if you remember the Jim Stafford song about the Wildwood Weed. No, I haven’t been exploring the apparent joys of having a sack of seeds, or buds (now just stop that, you rascals), instead I have been offline, reading and writing up the first draft of my study proposal. It feels not too bad, however I’m torn between thinking I haven’t done enough (seven pages) while think I’ve done too much (two pages was the request). But what to cut out? And will that damage my chances? Is too much likely to damage my chances?

It’s giving me the freak out, no doubt. I think I might compromise and trim down the seven pages to two pages of elegant simplicity, and then send both documents. Or maybe, attach the rest as an appendix. Or do more research and expand it out to – say – a succinct 20 (or so) pages. I believe Einstein’s doctoral thesis was about a dozen pages, pretty much based on what happens in a cup of very hot tea. S’true.

the road to monkey heaven

Tidying up some of my papers, decluttering the past, I found a handwritten note (in my hand writing)…

The road to monkey heaven is

a) paved
b) littered
c) barricaded with good intentions

While I’ve really liked finding the various ‘message in a bottle’ that I’ve some how sent to the future me, some of them are very mysterious, and I wonder if I’ve just found them too soon – that they were planned to be read by the more advanced me. Or maybe just unexpected marginalia from the past.

tiddle me

I was talking about my new online Japanese haiku tiddlywiki with one of my workmates. He was saying how he’d like a tiddlywiki to create manuals etc, but the whole online hosting drama was just a pain when you’re not a geeky – after all, there’s a lot of energy required to create the content, and then working out the grit of getting a web site running – erk…

Well, fear not, would be/wannabe tiddlywiki owners, help is at hand. The illustrious team of Simon Baird and Daniel Baird have created a spot where you can have your tiddlywiki hosted. Online. Free. Ahhh – nice. They call it, well, tiddlyspot. Thanks, guys. And thanks also for the nice write up.

I’m not 100% sure if tiddlywiki is a wiki in the model of wikipedia – I’m uncertain about its ability to scale to that extent. I’m inclined to think Jeremy and his team have come up with an entirely new form – looks similar – but different. But I am extremely sure about the way my laptop is becoming entirely infested with tiddlywiki managed information – I’m managing a lot more information – knowledge, if you will; a lot better. I’m taking more and more of the information I’ve stored on paper, and weaving it into my tiddlywiki – an orderly world is a productive world.

updates done

Right, that’s that done then – I’ve finally got the AkoNet web site sorted. It hasn’t been a huge upgrade, more of the annual tidy up that should’ve (ahem) happened back in January/February (when, instead, we were packing ready to move off to our new home).

I’m most pleased with my first online tiddlywiki – I’ve created a presentation of classic haiku and while this is not an interactive wiki (a la wikipedia) it does make use of some of the rather more succulent delights of tiddlywiki. For people who’re wanting to explore their own web site (but don’t have html skills), a tiddlywiki is a great place to start.