25 November 2009

Catch up

I am a member of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team and take the photos for our races in Canberra and Sydney. It was a big finish to the season with three weekends of events in a row. Here are my galleries:

Sri Chinmoy Centennial Park 21.1km, 7km, 4km

Sri Chinmoy Triple Triathlon


Sri Chinmoy National Capital Swim


Loving my Canon 2.8 70-200 L series lense. The only problem with owning such a great lense is everything else is rubbish in comparison. So I have to buy another one. Soonish - when I have the money.

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At the moment I am watching The Mentalist, Community and Modern Family. I know The Mentalist is trite, but I can't help it. I wish Australian TV would make genius comedy like the other shows.

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What an entertaining week in Federal politics and Annabel Crabb has just started writing for the ABC. The YouTwitFace phenomenon means that an astounding quantum of vituperative minutiae concerning internal party machinations makes it all the way to the final story. I am the sure the press must have always heard this stuff, but not considered reporting it in the past. The opportunity for schadenfreude could be said to be abundant.

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I am reading a Terry Pratchett book at the moment. It is not overly different from the 16 other works by him that I have read in the last three months. This means it is very entertaining. By now I have decided what I like. I prefer the stories based around Ankh-Morpork that include Commander Vimes, can tolerate the wizards, but don't get excited about Granny Weatherwax.

I am also reading Imperial Life in the Emerald City, but only one chapter a day. It is kind of a sequel to Catch-22.

Talking of books. I was wandering through a bookshop and saw a book I liked. It cost $49.95. I went home and ordered it from The Book Depository for $16.04 with free postage. True, the Book Depository was doing an extra 10% discount at the time and the more expensive version was found in a speciality bookshop, but the price differential is not entirely atypical.

I have no idea how the book trade works and why the government didn't take up the recommendations of the Productivity Commission and reform the market. I do know that if I can wait two weeks for a book, I will usually buy it online. In general, I can't see the point in paying more than 10-20 % above the cheapest online price for the atmospherics of a bookshop. I know some will decry this view. I still think we need bookshops, because there is nothing like hunting and discovering if you are in the mood. Again, perhaps I won't know what I want until I see it and actually hold it in my hands. Then I can go home and order it online.

My other recent book purchase was The Red Book of Carl Jung. It is a big book, like if you climbed the giant's beanstalk, you would see it on his coffee table. I sort of bought it just for the pictures - seriously trippy as they are. I have started reading the translation too and confirm it is an endearing exploration of consciousness. The language is foreign, the idiom is arcane, but the concepts are not. It is universal.

Here are some pictures from it below and you can download a pdf preview here. Amazing.






Need I add that Amazon was happy to deliver it literally to my hands for half the cost of buying it in Australia, online or otherwise.

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My friend in Adelaide just received a motorbike as a present from his father-in-law. It is a 1982 Suzuki 850 classic touring bike in mint condition. It is therefore old enough to ride in the Bay to Birdwood Rally (Adelaide thing). It was procured in a pawn shop for a remarkably low price. Why? The paint job. Apparently the fuel tank has a mural of a skeleton holding a light saber on in it. In fact, a skeleton wearing a pirate shirt and a top hat holding a light saber. As if that was not awesome enough, the front mud guard has a Transylvanian castle on it. This sounds incomparably awesome to me and I don't even ride a motorbike. It is amazing that it was so cheap. Some people have no taste. I want pictures.

04 October 2009

Le nuove scarpe

It was Keats who wrote, 'A thing of beauty is a joy forever.'

This proves that truth is universal, because Keats never saw my new shoes. They were hand-made for me by the Manuka Cobbler. In accommodating my unusually shaped proximal phalanx, I also find my inner dandy is fully satisfied.

The first shot below was taken at the fitting, so there is no sole. It is an RM Williams leather, from a discontinued colour range. The design is based on a picture I found on the internet somewhere, but they are quite extensively modified and thus unique. I like their old-fashioned quality. They remind me of the shoes that the elves kindly made for the shoemaker when he was going through a rough patch. Good old elves.



22 September 2009

Sound and fury

Continuing from my last post, I have renounced all attempts to read books on economics. I can not claim with confidence that there is a surfeit of economists in the world, but it does appear there are sufficient quantities available to espouse their fiduciary postulations unencumbered by my ignorance. And now happy we both are.

I did read a book by P.J. Wodehouse named Thank You, Jeeves. I have always been curious as to what lies between the covers of such anachronia. On the front is praise from Hugh Laurie and on the back praise from Stephen Fry. Such opinion certainly signals an escape from the dudgeon of the mundane. Recommended. Not obviously quaint. Properly English. Unflappable. Good breeding. That sort of thing. What.

There was a fantastic program about Iceland on the ABC, er, its economic crisis to be precise. The best part was the really long shots of the scenery. Amazing landscapes. Serene, sublime, supernal clime. Also, knowing a few Icelanders personalised the experience. Foreign Correspondent has the most creative film work. It transforms the story. Watch it. (Probably only if you live in Australia.) Suffice to say that it is a cautionary tale - what happens when a people turn away from a society firmly founded on fishing and the piano accordion (elements of a predictable solid faith) and turn to banking. Doomed from the start really.

The following video is a joy. I want to visit this shop in Los Angeles. The owner is damn cheerful.

24 August 2009

Books

I read Down to the Crossroads: On the Trail of the 2008 Presidential Election by Guy Rundle. I had already read some of the content as it was published in Crikey last year, but it was easier to read in book form. It seemed an appropriate book for a flight to New York.

I enjoyed the acerbic wit, viz my favourite sentence: 'It was inevitable that John McCain would talk about prescription drugs to this crowd, this gathering of sun-kissed retirees in a conference centre in the vast hinterland of Florida sprawl, a place whose sense of instantaneous history-less-ness makes Surfers' Paradise feel like Rome under the Medicis.'

I did surprisingly well for a non-fiction book, i.e. I finished it within days. It is psephology of a kind. (The study of public elections; statistical analysis of trends in voting; (now usually) the prediction of electoral results based on analysis of sample polls, voting patterns, etc. see the OED). The great thing is that this word was invented in 1952, although largely defunct relatives such as psephomancy and psephism have been around for a while. Psephos is Greek for pebble, with reference to the ancient Athenian method of voting by putting a pebble in a ballot box.

I am now trying to read Augustus: The Life of Rome's First Emperor by Anthony Everitt. I am not a big history reader, but I enjoyed watching Rome, the TV series by HBO. Funnily enough, last time I came to New York I only got about a third of the way into Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland. Perhaps when people rave about how good pseudo-fictionalised-history books are it is best to bear in mind it is all relative. Relative to translating knotted string. No, I will persevere. Having some visual imagery to draw upon will help.

I am also reading How to Argue with an Economist by Lindy Edwards. It is arduous, but insightful in respect of the key challenge of government, in as much as that is determining the degree of market intervention it should undertake to achieve its social agenda.

23 August 2009

Talking poetry

It nearly was that my previous post was my last post. Why? A truth once flamed in my breast, afore it paraded through my mind undressed: my best expression of self will only ever need two sentences.

I reap and I sow,
I sow and I reap.
My joy is full of troubles,
My trouble is full of joys.

I remain really satisfied with this poem. Nothing is beyond scope. It is a eulogium to experience and an encomium to existence. Concise, precise, surmise, but tenaciously tenable. Hear and see here my adamantine face.

The truth is simple and anything else is lies.

In the realms of personal epic, significant revelations scar the landscape of our being and change it permanently. Amidst the sturm und drang, new roads fill in the blank pages of life's street directory. Gone is the necessity to travel familiar routes of behaviour when new ways open to us. But the practice of change is no pleasantry. Either we have made the familiar easy or the familiar has made easy of us. In the kingdom of infinite possibility, cities of wonder crumble for lack of the bold. We, the pusillanimous, live in a death-hold.

My heart is calling for a new melody:
A song unknown
That will awaken truth.
Today I am sailing for a faraway land.

So I will continue to exalt in epiphanic verse when it is possible, but tell my plain stories otherwise.

04 June 2009

Why do you care for dichotomy?

x
I reap and I sow,
I sow and I reap.
My joy is full of troubles,
My trouble is full of joys.




That about sums it up...

01 June 2009

Chiang Chieh

x
Once when young I lay and listened
To the rain falling on the roof
Of a brothel. The candle light
Gleamed on silk and silky flesh.
Later I heard it on the
Cabin of a small boat
On the Great River, under
Low clouds, where wild geese cried out
On the Autumn storm. Now I
Hear it again on the monastery
Roof. My hair has turned white.
Joy – sorrow-parting-meeting
Are all as though they had
Never been. Only the rain
Is the same, falling in streams
On the tiles, all through the night.

by Chiang Chieh
c.1300
Translation by Eliot Weinberger
From The New Directions Anthology of Classical Chinese Poetry

20 May 2009

After Hafiz

On a plane a few weeks ago I was reading The Subject Tonight is Love by Hafiz, as translated by Daniel Ladinsky. Emerson said, "Hafiz is a poet for poets." I was inspired to write a poem and the flight attendant was kind enough to lend me a pen.

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The love that gives,
The love that receives,
These are not love.
The love that is,
The love that knows,
The love that goes,
What are these loves?
Who is this love?
Where is this love?
In knowledge not,
But love is knowing
Nothing known.
Why am I telling
What cannot be told?
What better words
Than already writ
In the stars bold?
Go away.
Go pluck them for yourself.
I am tired of words, words, words,
And the stars are waiting.
Now the night is long,
But life is short.
Don’t forget.



20 April 2009

The Heart-Map

I do not know what meditation is;
I only know the God within
Cries to awake the man without.

And if we build a silence-home
Where He may sit upon His Throne,
Then we will hear the tears
That birth our smiles complete.

This is why I know what Peace is.

23 March 2009

Silence



I must say,
“All is beauty.”
But my smile
Will have to meet yours,
To explain exactly
What I mean.



21 March 2009

What Was Told, That

What was said to the rose that made it open was said
to me here in my chest.

What was told the cypress that made it strong
and straight, what was

whispered the jasmine so it is what it is, whatever made
sugarcane sweet, whatever

was said to the inhabitants of the town of Chigil in
Turkestan that makes them

so handsome, whatever lets the pomegranate flower blush
like a human face, that is

being said to me now. I blush. Whatever put eloquence in
language, that's happening here.

The great warehouse doors open; I fill with gratitude,
chewing a piece of sugarcane,

in love with the one to whom every that belongs!

by Jalalu'l-din Rumi
(Translated by Coleman Barks)

19 March 2009

Who?

Who will drink my tears? Who?

You. Only You, my Friend.


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The word friend struck me as rather strange looking, so I checked the Oxford English Dictionary and it relates back to 'free'. I have copied you the mighty tomes' etymological musings upon free below:

The original sense of the Indo-European base has been conjectured to be ‘one's own’ (perhaps ultimately related to the Indo-European base of Greek {pi}{epsilon}{rho}{giacu} (preposition and adverb) round, around, round about: see PERI- prefix), the better to explain the divergent development of sense in the different languages. Whereas the sense ‘beloved, dear’ is reflected in the Sanskrit and Avestan adjectives as well as in senses of the verbal and nominal derivatives in all the Indo-European branches in which they are attested (compare the cognates cited above and also those listed at FREE v.), the sense ‘free, not in servitude’ appears to be a peculiarity of Germanic and Celtic. This sense perhaps arose from the application of the word as the distinctive epithet of those members of the household who were ‘one's own blood’, i.e. who were connected by ties of kinship with the head, as opposed to the unfree slaves. In the context of wider society only the former would have full legal rights, and hence, taken together, they would comprise the class of the free, as opposed to those in servitude. Compare the Old English compounds fr{emac}obearn free-born child, child or descendant of one's own blood, fr{emac}obr{omac}{edh}or one's own brother, fr{emac}odohtor free-born daughter, daughter of one's own blood, fr{emac}om{aemac}g one's own kinsman, and see further M. Scheller Vedisch ‘priyá-’ u. die Wortsippe ‘frei, freien, Freund’ (1959), D. H. Green Lang. & Hist. Early Germanic World (1998) 39-41.
In Old English the usual stem form is fr{emac}o-, fr{imac}o- (rarely also fr{emac}a-) beside a less frequent stem form fr{imac}g-. The diphthongal stem forms arose in Primitive Old English by contraction of {imac} (earlier *{ibreve}j) with a following back vowel, while the stem form fr{imac}g- arose by development of a glide between {imac} and a following front vowel, both forms existing in complementary distribution within the same paradigm (e.g. masculine nominative singular fr{emac}o, masculine genitive singular fr{imac}ges); but in attested Old English analogical forms are already present and the distribution is no longer complementary; see A. Campbell Old Eng. Gram. (1959) §410.
In Old English the word is also found as an element in personal names, compare Fr{emac}owine, Fr{emac}obearn, etc.
Old English fr{emac}o woman (see above), is found only in one isolated attestation in the Old English translation of the fragmentary Old Saxon poem Genesis (not extant at this point) in the collocation fr{emac}o fægroste ‘fairest woman’ or perhaps ‘fairest of women’, and probably reflects an Old Saxon collocation only partially understood by the translator (compare Old Saxon fr{imac}o sc{omac}niosta ‘fairest of women’ (Heliand 2017), in which fr{imac}o is the genitive plural of fr{imac}):
OE Genesis B 457 O{edh}{edh}æt he Adam on eor{edh}rice, godes handgesceaft, gearone funde, wislice geworht, and his wif somed, freo fægroste.It is also conceivable that the Anglo-Saxon translator may, in fact, be using fr{emac}o FREE n. in sense B. 2 ‘a person (in this case a woman) of noble birth’ (compare quot. OE at that sense).
With free arts (see sense A. 4) compare classical Latin ingenuae art{emac}s studies befitting a free-born person; in some instances probably after Middle Low German vr{imac}e künste, German freie künste (Middle High German fr{imac}e künste).
]

08 March 2009

Welcome

What is a miracle?
I do not wonder
At the countless horrors
That have marked my way.
I did not survive them.
No. I am here now,
Remembering You -
Wretched-tears-sweet,
How gentle You ache in me.


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Today was a day to write poetry.

I read some Rumi and it inspired me.

I ate grapes after meditation.

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How the fruit of wonder
Becomes the wine of forgetting
Beneath man's feet -

Perhaps some allegory for the globe
.

11 January 2009

Sarawak

I just arrived home from Kuching in Malaysia. I spent about two weeks there with friends over the New Year period. I had a fantastic time. (It was the first holiday I have been on that involved an extended hotel stay since being a kid; I could get used to the daily cleaning and regular cooked meals!) Our hotel was right on the Sarawak River. One morning a group of us went for a run through the local villages after crossing the nearest bridge which was a few kilometres away, before catching the little boat back over to our hotel. It was at least ten kilometres altogether. As I was taking pictures and getting over a cold, I got seperated from the pack. Here is a selection of my favourite shots.

















I took all these photos with a tiny point and shoot Canon. That is why I bought my little camera - to take running. In some ways, it is very liberating to use such a small, light and relatively cheap piece of equipment, when compared to my Canon 20D which I use to shoot races and everything else. I have just ordered some new gear which should be here in a few days: the Canon 40D and a L series 70-200mm F2.8. This probably won't mean much to the non-enthusiast.

Despite the lavish expense, I have personally displayed a remarkable frugality, even parsimony. This is because Canon have just released a 50D and updated their 5D. Normally I am all for bigger and better, but the 50D just adds more pixels without an increase in sensor size. I know the 40D will be a reliable and solid piece of kit. The new 5D costs four times as much as the 40D, so that wasn't too hard to talk myself out of. As for the lense, Canon make an Image Stabilised version which costs $1000 extra. I am not that big a fan of IS and know I can take razor sharp shots with what I am getting.

Further photos from my trip are on the way.