Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sun behind the moon

I had planned to drive with friends out to Ramingining for the Gurruwiling Eclipse Festival...
It seemed like a good idea to drive 900 km (the long way round... bottom Rd via Katherine to Ramo) to join them for a week of bungul. The  event looked like it would be a crazy combination of Dhuwa and Yirritja ceremony in the Yolngu system of moiety the Sun is Dhuwa and Moon Yirritja, an eclipse would be like some kind of union between the two, which must have some significance in Yolngu World view. The event would also be a combination of traditional and contemporary Yolngu culture and a blending of Yolngu with Ngapaki (Balanda.. Non indigenous) expressions of.... Party, bungul (dance) and celebration! They must be having a wild time right now, the eclipse has only just passed but the event has been going since the weekend and is planned to conclude today.

Of course I didn't go... I had mixed feelings about what would happen there, and too many responsibilities at home to justify going but the main reason was lack of money! It costs a lot of money to drive into Arnhemland!

So This morning at a quarter to six I roused up kid one who'd woken at 4 am and had since fallen asleep in front of a cartoon dvd... We jumped in the car and headed for Buffalo creek. Running late we decided to stop at the side of the road near the new subdivision where developers had buldozed the beautiful woodlands and we could get a clear view of the horizon.

Here's some snap shots I got of the event. Unfortunately I didn't have a tripod but, shooting into the sun means high shutter speeds so no chance of too much movement blurr.

Solar Elipse Darwin 14.11.12
Solar Eclipse Darwin 14.11.12

Solar Elcipse Darwin 14.11.12
Solar Eclipse Darwin 14.11.12

Solar Eclipse Darwin 14.11.12
Solar Eclipse Darwin 14.11.12 (6:15am)

As always we were unprepared. Nothing to look through, nothing to bounce the image off so we could look safely. So we glanced, peaked, and blinked at the rising sun and the moon. It was cool.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A thong aint no flip flop!

I walk, feet bare to the sun, dust clinging to my cracked scaly heels. Thong clad feet, rubber soles, click clacking, gripping, rarely tripping. A thin buffer between foot and street, rugged path, bitumen, stones, wet grass and concrete. Feet protected from bubble gum and smokers phlegm, sputum, piss and dog shit on city streets. Course earth in the scrub. Still sensing, not immune thorns may protrude right through if you’re slack, softly feathered... low impact... treading lightly. 
I used to always go barefoot... (Except for during work hours or when riding a motorbike). I admit I thought that thongs were ugly and clumsy. However after moving to the tropics and discovering all the nasty things that can enter the blood stream through those cracks in my heels I decided it was time to start taking precautions, so I bought a pair of thongs. I discovered the are the perfect footwear for the tropics. Allowing airflow and protection and they don’t hold water.
My old thongs battered and worn; and torn and ripped by the grip of metallic bike peddles. They have lasted a while, walked a few miles and clung devotedly to my dusty feet. Scuffed and ground thin at the heel, lifted lightly by my toes and placed firmly and deliberately along varied paths by a rough combination of sinew and synapse.  A dreamers mind as it sometimes glides but often stumbles through hopes of adventure but dragged back always to the mundane ritual of the daily commute. Always the sureness of the ball of my foot directs the rubber sole, senses never disengaged.
I walk in thongs not ‘flip flops’ like some staggering surfer! Not shuffling like a Chinese student attending ablutions dragging her dainty heels, incapable of bounding forward silently. More like the Lombok porter who carried my gear to the top of a mountain... sure footed and strong! I watched that guy glide up a mountain with food for three days! 4 eggs in a plastic bag not a crack! He wore only a singlet, shorts and a pair of thongs, slept that way through the freezing night then carried our gear back down! His thong strap snapped and he kicked it to the side of the track and continued on barefoot until another appeared on the path and he stepped straight into it without breaking his pace! Like it was a second skin! That’s how to travel in thongs!
 These old thongs have become attuned to my step. A decent thong is not just a combination of good materials or manufacture, actually a thong by definition rarely even possesses either of these qualities. A thong is usually constructed of the cheapest least reliable materials not sure where or how maybe a machine just spits them out. A good thong is a matter of fine tuning the senses and curing the substance. The thong and it’s wearer must meld to each other… bend and be changed until a symbiosis is established. To walk in thongs is more like walking in bare feet you have to read the ground, perceive the path before you lay your foot upon it. Know where the glass or prickles are that will easily pass through the flimsy foam surface supporting you.  It is possible that the thongs durability is refined by the amount of compression it endures before you expose it to really rough or sharp surfaces.
A good thong is sturdy enough for the average bush track and will carry me across scorching concrete or bitumen but becomes imperceptible to the senses in most other ways. Allows me to feel the surface I am walking on but dulls the harsher aspects.
Sometimes I scuff the heels of my thongs when I drag my feet… Sometimes my step is lazy and I bend the toe when I’m weary and don’t bother to raise the foot…  Sometimes a thong can trip me when I’m lazy... Don’t wear them when you’re driving and don’t walk across wet tiles.
The old thongs fit to me like a skin, my feet and the rubber sliding perfectly from one step to the next. Rising and falling as one… gripping any surface. Delicately balanced each step, every turn, the toe grips in sync with the ball of my foot, heel catches the rubber as they glide gracefully to the ground in union and the next step rises to find it’s place along the path.
My old thongs would stay sure. They rest neatly on the smooth peddles of my bike, they have been firmed by walking and resist the friction that causes a new thong to rip...  But they need a smooth peddle. No thong seems to last on hard peddles. And so I have destroyed my old pair of thongs and replaced them with a new pair which I have to break in…
New thongs are stiff but tear easily.

I ripped my latest pair on the rough peddles of my bike. Even worse caught my foot and pulled the toe strap from the base... Cheep Crap! Disaster! I only had them a week and aren’t about to go out and spend another $4 for another pair so I had a chat with a mate who lives rough on the street and he gave me a solution. The strap can be prevented from passing through the base of the thong by widening the surface of the base plug (technical term I made up!). We discussed various means of securing it but by far the simplest and most effective was the humble bread bag clip... You know that bit of brittle plastic that holds the bag your bread comes in closed! I tried it and it fit perfectly! (Oh and a bit of gaffa tape) Back to the cottage craft of grass roots cobbling! 3 cheers for the long grass cobblers! 

Shoe repair when you got no dough!

Sunday, November 04, 2012 unflinching gaze on the world...

The book Sam is currently reading 'We all fall down' by Peter Barry has an interesting blurb on the front cover.
'A novel that speaks to the heart of our culture, and a gripping account of one man's fight for his soul. Both honest and compassionate it turns an unflinching gaze on the world in which we try to find meaning, at work and in love.' This post is not about the book... or even the blurb really. It's just a bit of a rant about an idea and nothing much came of it. (Oh and she said the book is pretty good if you're interested)

When Sam read the blurb to me my first response was to dismiss it as cliche' New-agey rubbish. Overloading a statement about work and love with overly heavy focus of finding meaning in the world... (I think I cringed most because sometimes when I think I've written something OK I read it and it sounds like that)
I thought about it a bit more and the first part played on my mind. Then I started to wonder...
The bit that caught my imagination was this. 'An unflinching gaze...', '...on the world in which we try to find meaning...'

I just started thinking about sight, seeing, vision, perception, reality, truth and illusions, beliefs, religion and lies.

Delirious from lack of sleep, yet again, my mind tripped across what it might mean to have an 'unflinching gaze' at anything... Recently most of my interactions with people I know regarding matters of spirituality, community, truth and the abundance of flimsy facades in their likeness etc... have lead me to consider that most people, nearly all that I have spoken with, are incapable of seeing the world in any other way than through the filters they have chosen to view it. I suppose there's nothing wrong with that, actually I think that's how reality is created.
Stupidly I recently made the enormous social error of holding people to account for the ideals they espouse. What a stupid thing to do! (A bad idea considering I may be the worlds greatest hypocrite!) Of course I have discovered that there is a big difference between seeking truth and claiming to know it. I should have known that challenging the position of people who believe themselves to be right would only anger them. Rule ONE... Don't ruin people's illusions! After all reality is subjective but nobody wants to have their reality deconstructed in the vain and useless search for Truth, which may only be someone elses illusion anyway! 

If we are expected to live our lives grounded in reality, and reality hinges entirely on our perception, then it only makes sense that regardless of the falseness of our beliefs we would defend these illusions with all our might! So it's no wonder my dear righteous friends would rather I left their company without explanation than have their virtuous philosophy questioned. (And I did)

Seeing is believing.
When it comes to human vision I've heard there is a phenomenon of the human mind which prioritizes and sorts the information received from the eye in terms of relevance to the needs of the viewer. Gestalt theory explains how our minds are programed to sort visual information. The kind of programing that allows us to spot friends out of a crowd or identify potential dangers at a glance, while the mind sees, assesses and then ignores other information that it deems insignificant or predictable. Another trick I've heard our minds tend to do is fill in the blanks... i.e. at a glance we may build a mental image based only on glancing part of an object like the front of a car protruding from a corner. Peripheral vision is fairly limited but I've heard that the brain fills in the edges. Cool eh.

"The hand is quicker than the eye". Magicians have learned how to exploit our selective vision and have created many tricks that still baffle their audiences, even tricks that have been used for many years continue to confound. Even though we are able to admit that a magician got one over us, most of us would prefer to believe that what we perceive is the world as it is, rather than as we choose to see it. I know I do. I can't help it! When I studied to be a Park Ranger I had to learn scientific names of a book full of local plants. Pretty soon I was seeing the world through the eyes of a botanist (I've since forgotten most of them). I exchanged my naive romantic concepts of trees shrubs and flowers for a more scientific view... But was that Truth? I like to ride my bicycle to and from work. I travel along the same roads as 100s of drivers every morning and afternoon but my experience of the journey is very different to theirs. I see the road differently and I view other cyclists differently. When I read the abusive comments made about cyclists in the newspaper I read them from my perspective as a cyclist. People will often claim to know what is real and I guess they are all correct, at least until they change their mind.

I've always liked Bruce Springsteen's twist on an Edgar Alan Poe quote. In his song Magic Springsteen wrote the lyrics:   "...Trust none of what you hear
                            And less of what you see..."
(Now that's Magic!)

What is so interesting about this 'unflinching gaze'?  Well as I thought about just the two layers of interference between the eye and the consciousness it's likely we rarely see the vaguest outline of Truth in our lives. We are so convinced by what our brain has conjured, filling in the gaps and selectively ignoring what our own eyes see that we are unable to recognize Truth when it stares us in the face! It's possible that we simply just can't do it! So as I pondered this inability to perceive without judgement or prejudice I wondered what it would be like to 'Gaze Unflinching' at the world without trying to 'find meaning'. Then it sunk in. HOLY SHIT!

Who would willingly have their heart burned out through their eye balls for the sake of finding the Truth? Better to live comfortably in our reality, complete with doubt and confusion, fed on flimsy constructions of false promises and half arsed rationalizations; clinging to the barest bones of hope and trusting our superior intellect than to face Truth. Sorry guys I should never have questioned you. Please go back to cut and pasting all the meaning you can stick together and float peacefully over the horizon into paradise... There's nothing wrong with that after all.

But I have to say as far as honesty, truth, love, beauty go I'd rather spend a week looking at a 4 year old's finger painting than listen to 5 minutes of your rationalization.


Saturday, November 03, 2012

Blog post 445

Once again there's so much to blog about and so little time or energy to actually type!
This is my 445th blog post. There's nothing significant about Post 445 except that I just noticed in my stats that my last post was No. 444. Nothing significant about that either I guess. Actually considering the fact that I've been attempting to write something here since 2006 I'd say it's just another example of mediocrity! I'm barely able to write here once or twice a month and am struggling even with that.

They say that having one's train of thought constantly interrupted is a form of torture... But where are you going to find anyone who's so committed to interrupting you 24 hours a day? Who is going to sit around and wait for you to try and do something just so they can disrupt you or distract you, interrupt your conversations or just simply create so much white noise that your brain can't physically process anything? Throw things at you, wreck all your stuff, steal your last $2 and stick their grubby fingers between your guitar strings when you think you've finally found a quiet moment to recommence the lessons you started 8 years ago when a hard day simply meant you had to do some work between the hours of 9am and 5pm? Surely such a person could not exist! Well if you don't have kids you'll always wonder if it could ever be possible for someone to dedicate so much time to such unrelenting harassment. God Love Em!

If you've ever wondered what is the most hideous product ever devised for consumption by human beings let me introduce you to... Smiley Face!

Smiley Face :(

Smiley Face is some kind of over processed meat (and probably soy) product kind of like Devon (I've never tasted that either but it looks kind of the same). Besides being offensive to look at Smiley Face also smells like the refuse pit of a toxic chemical plant! It stinks! It smells so bad that when it's in the fridge it spreads it's stink over everything that is not sealed! It is an abomination and I wonder how it was ever classified as a food!
As with most things in my universe I have absolutely no say in what my kids get to eat! Around here I am the bad guy who is constantly grumbling about all the crap their mother provides them to play with and to eat. My concerns are duly disregarded and I am reminded to stop bringing everyone down and so my kids continue to eat what can generously be called Shit!

I'm bitching about this now because I spent the whole night on spew watch after my boy proceeded to eat 'Smiley Face' after having actually eaten a reasonable dinner... He spent the rest of the night spewing his dinner which was laced with the chemical stench of his favorite snack!

There I go again getting distracted with rambling meaningless nonsense... It was easier to maintain a clear train of thought back when I could get a decent night's sleep and my brain hadn't been turned to moosh by the torture I've just mentioned... supplemented by endless replays of children's videos with the volume on full!

What really drives me crazy about the kids though is just when you think they've been sent by the Devil to destroy your spirit and turn you into a blubbering zombie they come out with the most amazing stuff! In a flash they can switch from a state of absolute self interest to a being that is completely compassionate and loving! Within on short hour I have watched my two kids attack each other with fists and claws, burst into tears, play cooperatively and then fall asleep in each others' arms.

Poem about the Earth that child one whipped out yesterday

What's been happening? OK.

Long bike In Dry Rapid Creek Bed

Rapid Creek: Riding past the stables at Rapid Creek last week I found a Potty calf had escaped so I joined a lady who was walking her dog and we wrangled it back into it's paddock. (quite fun actually)
Taking the long bike for a spin out into the wetlands behind the airport I followed it down to the salt water and found that the fresh water had completely dried up in many areas so I explored along the river bed for a while. The seasons correspond quite nicely here in the Top End, we always seem to get a bit of rain just as the very end of the previous wet season's rain has finished draining from the wetlands. While down there I got a great view of a Pacific Bazar at head level just a few metres away.

Basil babies...

Garden: The basil seeds I planted with the kids have really sprung up and now I'm thinking about mass producing them for friends. The seeds all came from a single plant in our yard that has shriveled to a stick every dry season but miraculously resurrects itself when the humidity returns. (Besides smiley face the boy actually likes to pick the leaves and eat them straight from the bush)

Quilting: My Mum, who's on a quilting tour of the USA, had to spend 3 days in a motel in Boston M.A. as Hurricane Sandy destroyed a huge chunk of New York. There was a chance they would be affected but I don't think anyone was truly worried about their safety up there. Very sad for those who have lost family in the US and Caribbean. It was very unlikely her group would make it to Houston for the show but amazingly they did. I think they still have another week of their tour to go. Visiting quilters and exhibitions from San Francisco to Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Houston and onward! Who'd have thought making quilt would be so exciting? We've received a post card from an Amish village somewhere (Postcard just said Amish Village), where, she said everything smells like horse dung. Actually I've always thought horse shit smells kind of sweet. I asked if they have bicycles but apparently they ride them kind of like scooters, without peddles or chains... I hope she got some photos... Actually how weird... A tour bus full of 70 year old Australian quilters who buy their material new, custom printed arrive in an Amish village with cameras and probably Iphone's snapping away, come to steel their homely secrets. LOL what a circus that must be. Maybe they have to leave their technology at the gate...? That would make for a very quick visit.

Cruelty to the stranger: There's a bunch of other stuff I'd like to chat about like the fascist stunt pulled by the Australian Government to send all Asylum seekers who arrive by boat to inhumane camps in Nauru and Manus Island even if they have actually managed to arrive on our shore. Now that's an amazing act of bureaucratic brutality! Imagine you've successfully fled torture, murder, starvation, drowning and general fleacing by every opportunist from Burma to Australia, you hop on a boat, statistically doomed to sink and use all your resources to get to a country that you hope and pray will treat you like a human being. Get off the boat walk up to the house of parliament, knock on the door and declare yourself as a person seeking asylum from the worst of humanity. They look at you, smirk and have you taken away, lock you up and fly you off to a place where you're shoved into a crowded tent in 45 degree heat and told to wait until... (you're forgotten about!) If I had time I'd say something about that, with all due disrespect to our Elected fascist leaders!