Sunday, October 31, 2004

Trees In Pots

Content as we sit, like trees in pots, trained and nurtured, shaped and moulded, a miniature of our dreams, but ultimately a shadow of what might have been.

When I was younger, I developed a mild affinity with growing little trees in pots, the fine art of bonsai as they call it. I had a few trees in decorative porcelain pots of all colours that I kept lined up on the front stairs. Maples, junipers, figs, lilly pillys, poincianas, you name it, all watered and cared for each day. Mum even had the bright idea of sending me along to a few classes at the school up the road, the cramped little classroom, green thumbs all around, many years my senior, looming over their efflorescent creations.

It never developed into a real passion however, but then again, noting really does. Interest began to decline over the years for many reasons, not least of which being the high mortality rate for many of my plants. Now sits but a lone weeping fig tree upon the front stairs and a large collection of old pots stored away in the laundry.

Visiting Bonsai House today at the Brisbane Botanic Gardens Mt Coot-tha, I felt a slight rekindling of a lost fondness I'd not felt in years.


Little maple tree

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Jacaranda Reading

This morning after arriving home, I wasn't too sure what I wanted to do today; wasn't too sure of anything much really, that sort of uneasy feeling you get when although everything may be going perfectly fine, you feel a mess regardless. Think I may have just needed a little time off, time alone, an escape, something like that. We all do at times I guess.

There were a few library books - about fifteen - sitting, piled up on my desk that I knew were due back sometime soon. I stuffed as many as I could fit into my bag and carrying the rest, headed off to the library at Chermside. They had, a little while ago, finished construction on some major expansions to the facility. I resisted the temptation to waste money trying one of their coffees from the trendy new inbuilt coffee shop.

I was on the lookout for a few titles on writing and structure to help me next month, along with my usual selection of art, science, philosophy and computer related books. Amongst the ten I slipped through the self checkout facility were, A Devil's Chaplain by Richard Dawkins, The Mystery of Things by A. C. Grayling and The Seven Key Elements of Fiction by L. P. Wilbur. I find it rather comforting that this wealth of knowledge and insight is freely available to anyone with a willingness to learn.

I contemplated browsing for a while at the shopping centre right nearby until I thought how nice it would be to relax a little, reading in the quiet serenity of a local park. The park at Alderley came to mind, the flowing Kedron brook running alongside and after exploring a few places of fond childhood memories, taking a few photos, I found a quiet place under a flowering jacaranda tree to read, purple, violet haze all around.


Under the shade of a jacaranda tree

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Things I Want, Things I Need

"The things you own, end up owning you" --Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Wanting is a desire for the object, while needing is a desire for the outcome of the object or perhaps a fear of what not having the object may bring. An object will often make itself more desirable by appealing to both our wants and our needs, thus increasing its chances of acquisition.

I needed to get some DVD-Rs and the computer shop across town has them at a pretty good price. Not wanting to waste the drive down there, I decided to get a few other things while I was there. I got myself a new flatbed scanner as my old one didn't work properly with my computer and a usb bluetooth adapter so I could easily transfer data from my phone and computer.

I also saw they had little portable fridges, presumably for cooling drinks while playing computer games or for the lazy at heart. At first I was rather reluctant to buy something that I didn't necessarily need, yet found I began trying to convince myself of what a good purchase it would be, attempting to justify the want. In the end, I'm glad I got it. It has a switch to allow heating or cooling, although I don't think I'll be warming very much milk for babies anytime soon. I think I'll keep it on cold mode, especially during the summer months. In addition to normal power, it also has a twelve volt power input with a cigarette lighter socket adapter, so I figured it may be good if I ever go camping or on a long trip and don't want the milk to go bad.


Things my computer wants

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Painting 1000 Words

No picture today. I decided I'd break my steady streak of putting a picture up with each of my posts. Sometimes it's nice just to be able to write, put down a trickling flow of thoughts without feeling obliged to go to the trouble of finding a picture to go along with the words.

The dots in my blog template were making me crazy, so I had a play around with the colours on my way to developing a whole new template.

The tiler is here tiling the bathroom floor. His truck is parked in the driveway, blocking the exit, so I'm stuck here waiting in my room. He's also removed the toilet from the bathroom; luckily the call of nature hasn't struck me just yet. I hope he doesn't take too long.

O how dependent we are on others.

Next Monday it will be November the first on which National Novel Writing Month will begin and I'll begin frantically writing, terribly no doubt. I worked out, that to reach the minimum wordcount of 50000, I will have to write approximately 1666.666 words per day; busy, busy, busy.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Playing God

Another hot day today as the city awaits the approaching summer. You would be forgiven for mistaking it to be summertime already after the heat of the weekend, yet summer still remains more than a month away on the calendar.

I watched my second episode of John Safran Vs God just before, in which, among other things, he attempts to reverse a World Cup football curse on the Australian team, exposes the secret underwear of the Mormons, finds World Trade Center predictions encoded in the lyrics of Vanilla Ice and points out that religions can find something about just about anything in order to justify a religious boycott. His high pitched, whiney voice tends to annoy me at times, but his adventures and antics are pretty funny.

While driving home from work today, I noticed an especially brilliant sunset shining through the parted afternoon clouds. Not wanting to miss this heavenly sight, I quickly looked for a place to stop for a photo, though something about the shot wasn't quite right. When I arrived home, I decided to play God with the photo a bit. Notice anything a little out of the ordinary?


God, is that you? Oh no, it's just the sun.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Love and Death - Ingredients of Life

The sun is up; has been for a while. It is officially tomorrow.

I thought I would put on a movie, perhaps that would help me, or maybe I just needed a little time out, rest the head a bit. Two more DVDs had arrived from this DVD postage rental free month trial thing I signed up for. I figured I would be either asleep or at least rather tired by the time Anger Management had finished its little charade, yet found myself afterwards, outside in the morning breeze, enjoying the rising sun over the playground across the street.

Coming inside at last, not in the mood for reading, the other DVD followed straight on. I hadn't before seen a Woody Allen movie and didn't exactly know what to expect. Love and Death was my first taste of what had existed in my head only as rumor and opinion. Quite enjoyed it for what it was; good to see some serious themes served with a dash of humor.

I remember reading somewhere that the only reason the human race are as smart as they are, is that they keep on having to work out increasingly ingenious ways to persuade members of the opposite sex into bed, thus passing on their intelligence genes to the next lot. Art, philosophy, science, all mere byproducts of our fundamental need to love and die; all finding a home in the fertile environment of our scheming minds.


Woody, young and old

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Light My Fire

Watched the first half of Cast Away yesterday, before Chantal, in the end, became sleepy and the decision was made to watch the rest another day. Really puts a lot of things in perspective, the complex workings of day to day life, the ills of society and the contrast of hectic modern existence to basic survival instinct. Sometimes I wish I were on a deserted island, all alone, without all the distraction, no cares at all. I probably wouldn't be able to stand it for long though. I guess we are all, in a way, on our own private little islands anyway as we travel through this life, trapped in our meager shells.

How easily fire is created these days by simply striking a match or flicking a lighter. How magical the wild flames of forest fires must have appeared to early humans before we managed to finally capture the secret of fire, liberating it from the trees for domestication. It seems fire and humanity have, over the years, formed a kind of symbiotic relationship, each assisting the existence of the other in increasingly unlikely environments.


Look what I have created!

Monday, October 18, 2004

When the Rain Comes

It rained all day today, a welcome change greatly appreciated I'm sure, by the withered brown grass and drooping trees. Everyone at work kept saying how wonderful it was to finally get a decent shower. One girl remarked how it reminded her of home, that in England they have rain like this, only non-stop and miserable for four months of the year. I suppose it's not all bad living here in Australia.


Visiting Australia

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Princes of Maine, Kings of New England

"So you like movies?"
"Yes, I've seen only one though."

Last night, a little while before the sun was set to show its head over the distant horizon, I sat, sleepless, staring at the screen. I decided I would watch The Cider House Rules, a movie that I recall quite inspired me when I first watched it all those years ago.

When I was born, now nearly twenty three years ago, my Mother had considered putting me up for adoption. It is difficult for me to imagine what things would have been like had my life been pushed down this path. I wonder what kind of person I would be.

I think, in many ways I can relate to Homer Wells growing up in that orphanage in Maine. There are times when the pull of places far and wide takes hold, a spontaneous desire to escape the confines of my place here and see the world. I oftentimes find myself counting the various attachments that are keeping me stuck where I am. The excuses seem to wear very thin at times.


Movie night at the orphanage

Friday, October 15, 2004

Fair and Balanced

fair: Light in color, especially blond: fair hair.
balanced: supported on a narrow base, so as to keep from falling.

It was summer and a very thirsty fox trudged wearily over the green hilltop. He saw another fox coming up the hill who, noticing his obvious signs of thirst, told him that there was a fresh lake at the bottom of the hill. The thirsty fox bounded down the hill and sure enough, there was a clear blue lake full of water. That winter, it hadn't rained in months and there was no water anywhere. The thirsty fox again trudged to the top of the once green hill and again saw the other fox. The other fox looked at him in dismay and informed him that the lake at the bottom of the hill had dried up. So, with a heavy heart, the thirsty fox turned away and walked off in despair, not seeing the other fox quickly scurry away down the hill with a grin on his face.

Does everything these days have to have a political agenda? I really don't wish to go to any great length discussing politics, but I saw Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism yesterday, a documentary about the fair and balanced views of the world over at the Fox News Network. It was a rather well made film, yet quite obviously had its own political standpoint to push out to minds of the viewers. Although we don't have Fox News here, Rupert Murdoch, originally from Australia, owns and controls much of the Australian media, fighting for a spot in our heads.

I remember back in high school English, our teacher made us watch this documentary that attempted to assert the idea that the world was actually flat. It had very convincing interviews and arguments against the spherical world theory; it even had a cute little story of a woman who went missing on her expedition to find the edge of the earth, never to be heard from again. Presumably she had fallen off. It wasn't supposed to be serious of course. Our teacher just wanted to demonstrate the persuasive power of words and images or perhaps she had a different agenda...


The subjective tea cup

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Here We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush

It's mulberry season again; has been for a while now. Just outside my bedroom window, I could see the small purple fruit growing abundantly on the large, overgrown bush. It was a beautiful afternoon and I figured it might be pleasing to explore the backyard for a while. The house out of doors had lately become somewhat of an unfamiliar setting for me. It seems my attention has slowly been diverted from those carefree days as a child.

When I was growing up, I was outside just about every day. All my greatest adventures began in the backyard. I could do anything. I could be anyone. The mulberry tree often featured a part in those various stories of adventure and exploration. I remember climbing high to the topmost branches, the lookout spot above the leaves to check for any danger and when the coast was clear, I would continue on my way to the journeys end. While playing around the mulberry bush, the fruit which had fallen to the ground would always leave my bare feet stained a dark purple for days.

I ate a few of the mulberries today. The mere taste brought pleasant memories flooding back, yet somehow I felt the mulberry tree was somehow missing something. Where has the magic gone?


Mulberry sunset

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Rubber Souls

I find it interesting that in my head, inside the reality created by my mind, there exists a multitude of people, constructs of personalities, elastic, always changing and being added to with each new observation or fresh piece of information. They reside in the mind, all living together under one roof. These are the portraits of the people I know; these are the rubber souls of the stars we see.

There was still a peculiar static in the television reception tonight while watching. Remembering the trouble I had the other day with the antenna and the somewhat slippery roof under my work shoes, I decided that rubber soles would serve me better this time around. I couldn't however find anything really wrong with the antenna, all the wires were they should be and everything seemed in its place. Tall television receivers in their natural habitat, springing up all around, high above the surrounding suburban blocks, all standing tall, all with their full attention to the distant towers on the hill.

And so that was where I found myself, sitting there atop the roof of the house, gazing over the wide neighborhood. The Beatles album Rubber Soul reverberating from my room and I felt a strange calm sink over me as the troubles of the world below slowly crept away into the night.


Beatles transitional record

Monday, October 11, 2004

Stereoscopic

I missed having two monitors. There's so much more you can do, so much more to see. A whole new world of opportunity opens up right in front of your eyes. Alright, maybe I'm getting a little carried away, but it is pretty good for watching movies and blogging at the same time.

I've been telling people, if they're ever looking for something, they can get me a twin set of twenty-four inch, widescreen, TFT flatpanel monitors, yet for some strange reason, it seems no one ever takes me seriously on this suggestion. So it looks like I will have to be content with my current setup... for now.


Two CRTs are better than one

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Momentary Twilight of the Chaotic Mind

The other day my computer froze, a video driver problem. I paused in momentary horror at the realisation that I had most likely lost what I had just been writing. The string of characters, tediously ordered into concept conveying packages of information, gone forever, lost amongst the billions of other ones and zeros in computer memory. I searched my memory; my own human memory is often just as fleeting, yet out of the disjointed stream of conscious thought, I was able to fish out a suitable substitute.

This morning I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and found, upon second viewing, a certain emotional depth that seemed to have somehow slipped passed me the fist time around. Circumstances it seems have changed my outlook on many things.

After having dinner over at a friends' place, I didn't feel like going straight home. I can get like that sometimes. I headed to the local twenty-four hour shop down the road for a dose of fizzy caffeine and ran into a friend I hadn't seen for a while, with whom I used to often play LAN games with. I gave him a lift home, which wasn't far away, then went for a drive up to the top of Sparkes Hill.

I sat for a while, looking out at the lights all the way to the airport and thought about the various memories I've collected over the years, the defining events of my past. I couldn't think of a single one that I would want to have erased if given the chance. I guess that's a good thing.

Memories are fleeting, evanescent in nature, patterns in the brain vying for existence, likely to succumb to extinction at any time or to evolve into an entirely new form, adapting to a new mental climate. Ok, maybe I need to get more sleep.


Erase Jim Carey?

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Fortune Favors the Meek

I found fifty dollars last night! While the others remained down at the bar, drinking, playing pool and generally enjoying themselves, I decided I would take a walk, clear my head and leave them for a while with their various merriments. After wandering the Brisbane streets, observing the happenings of the night, I eventually came to sit at a small wooden bench in one of the city's grassy areas, fairy lights adorning the trees all around.

There was an upscale party that seemed to be just finishing up at a fancy building nearby. Many people, all dressed up, came flooding out past me on their way to more good times. After a while, sitting and watching, listening to a local cover band bash out a couple of songs, I felt it was time to move on. While turning around the corner into Queen Street, I just happened to look down and spotted there on the ground, what looked like a folded up fifty dollar note, just lying there in wait. It was a busy night, with many other people in the area at the time, yet as fortune would have it, I found myself in the right place at that time.

While pocketing the fifty dollars, feeling somewhat sorry for whoever had lost it, I flipped through the other assorted banknotes of my wallet. I realised then just how little I knew of the various faces staring back at me. Except for the Queen on the old five dollar note, I would have had great difficulty recalling the names of these significant Australians. Although, I did know a little about the lady on the ten dollar bill, from a play I went to see a while ago, about her and the man who was painting her now famous portrait. It wasn't too bad. Now what was her name again?


Who are these people?

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Fifteen Love

The days fly past, served across court at blurring speeds. Standing bewildered, you hope that perhaps, just maybe you'll be able to seize the next one and make a decent return.

I used to play tennis, a long, long time ago, before I new about Wimbledon, probably before I even knew anything at all about England. Went along to lessons at primary school, even played in a team for a while, until I felt I'd had enough. Sometimes I wish I'd stuck with it. Still watch it sometimes.

Saw the movie, Wimbledon tonight, a nice story about a struggling British tennis player's surprising performance at the Wimbledon tournament, after he falls in love with a young, up and coming player. Kirsten is lovely as always in this film.


Live action Pong

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

In Other Worlds

"So, this is the big goodbye. Tell me something, Dix. When you've gone, will this world still exist? Will my wife and kids still be waiting for me at home?" --Lt. McNary, TNG The Big Goodbye.

Picard and the crew of the Enterprise have their first experience with the holodeck in The Big Goodbye. In a mildly touching scene towards the end of the episode, the holographic character, Leutenaint McNary ponders inexistence as Jean-Luc prepares to exit his holonovel program and return to the "real" world.

The mail server at work had crashed again this morning. It had been getting progressively worse over the past few weeks, a memory leak somewhere in between the mail retrieval application and the smtp interface combined with an aging Windows 2000 installation with more than a few cobwebs floating around in its operations. Today was spent setting up and finally putting in place a Linux box to replace the old server, a tedious job when it seems the system is determined to do anything but what you want it to.

Shopping after work at the supermarket, my attention turns to the faces of the other shoppers. Behind each one lies a different story, a different world. Kind of reminded me of the various town marketplaces in The Legend of Zelda videogame series, each character having a part to play in the story as a whole. While playing, a whole new world opens up all around, created, constructed by the mind. But unlike static worlds, such as those created in the pages of a book or scenes in a movie, the artificial world of the videogame can be directly influenced by the will of the mind. What happens to this world when I turn the power off?

I sometimes feel as though I am split between many different worlds. Within each one, I am someone different; I play someone different, am perceived as another, yet remain unchanged. The deranged flow of existence circles around, other worlds just passing by.


Village people from Outset Island

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Blade Running

There was a time, ages ago it seems, when every Friday night was spent down at the local skating rink, roller blading around, the simple pleasures of adolescence. I now look back on those days with cheerful nostalgia and wonder in what light I might reflect upon the happenings of today, my life as it is now, when these days become but distant memories.

Last night I was invited to go skating with a few friends, back where so many of my roller blading memories had been collected. It was a very enjoyable night and I had a great time skating around and playing all the old games, yet somehow it was different, missing a certain something from the old days. I guess I never expected it to be that same anyway. Memories can often be deceiving.

The character "Rachael" in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, is unaware that she is a replicant after the Tyrell Corporation implants memories into her mind. After finding out, she seems almost surprised that she is actually able to play the piano, the implanted piano lessons of her false past coming to the surface.

I remember last night, pondering where exactly in the head the ability to skate is kept. Very vague is the memory of my first learning to skate; must have been an early moment in my life, but it is in there. I can recollect small fragments with some small effort. The ability to skate however, like riding a bike, is not readily perceptible. After a very long period of not skating, there is always that brief moment of doubt, until you step onto the floor and you find it all comes back, unconscious coordination learned long ago reemerges.


Time to die?

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Confessions

"When you're young, your potential is infinite. You might do anything, really. You might be Einstein, you might be DiMaggio. Then you get to an age when what you might be, gives way to what you have been. You weren't Einstein. You weren't anything. That's a bad moment." --Chuck

For a while now I've been telling my friend Jerry he should watch Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, a comedy/thriller based on the life of American television producer Chuck Barris and his reputed connections with the CIA.

I was already on my way to Jerry's this morning, when I decided to stop in at the local video store to hire the movie out so we could watch it, but as it happens, all their copies had already been rented. I was about to just forget about it, but because I quite liked the movie anyway, I figured I'd see if they had it in at the shops. I wasn't really expecting to find it, knowing my luck, but as I flipped through nearly to the end of the section marked with a "C", I was surprised to see its familiar cover staring back at me.

In his autobiography, Chuck Barris tells his story as a cautionary tale, warning people against wasting their lives. I don't think I'm yet at an age where I can really look back on my life and make any serious judgments. I still have a long way to go, but I think now I'm at a point where I'm concerned and maybe a little fightened that perhaps my potential is slowly slipping away with the passing years. It seems that's often how things go; the delicate dreams of yesterday, slowly fade away into the ordinary.


Confessions of a bad dancer