31 December 2010

Mount Ainslie


Right. Yesterday I went for a ride instead of a run because I was just too sore. Today it will be 35 degrees so I was out the door at seven am to reach the summit of Mount Ainslie. Leaving that early was a little difficult but I knew it would ne'er be otherwise. My alarm plays this harp sound and it may be a little too dulcet because it goes for many minutes before penetrating the vale of my head.

I listened to Beethoven's 9th Symphony and I was about half way through the choral movement at the end by the time I got to the top of the hill. I tried not to stop when on the up-track. Chanting 'life or death' in my head helped, but I was barely faster than the walkers to begin with and took pause three times.

Upon the apogee, inspiration struck and although it took me 15 minutes to get to the base of the hill I decided to try and get home in 8 minutes. Going down the hill was easy and very liberating for the hips. Then I took off to the side of the track, psyching myself up out loud, "Of course it's possible. Nothing is impossible." Veer left when a fellow runner appears out of nowhere to avoid frightening them anymore. Through back streets alternating betwixt a grimace and grin in spasming ecstasy. And and and ... it was surprisingly close.

The Australian War Memorial is at the base of Mount Ainslie. I have not actually been there since moving to Canberra so I had a quick look around. Something about the handsome gentleman below recalls the French. I'm thinking of La liberté guidant le peuple. I could have read the plaque but then I would just be an educated fool.


Next is Simpson and his burro. I learnt all about him in Primary School, I am sure most Australian children do. A very nice statue, the eyes are awesome.



Lake and world looking hazy from the bottom and the top.







29 December 2010

Running


Because I now have free range internet in my house again I will try and post more frequently and/or regularly. Perhaps this will provide a thrill for my dedicated fanbase. Whoever not and whenever if you are. Of course, my quotidian existence is mundanity in extremity, only with clever words.

Today I went running for over an hour and forgive me, it had been five days since my last run. I went to Lake Burley Griffin from home and went from bridge to bridge. Although it was 5 o'clock pm, it wasn't crazy hot, but I skipped lunch, so it was a little tough. There were refreshing sprinklers to run under and this kind of thing really makes one feel alive and ten years old again.

I took my phone because it is an iPod too and I can call emergency services if I start to die, much much more suddenly than expected, that is. Also, I started taking photos on the way back, which keeps it interesting. I listened to most of Beethoven's 6th Symphony and the start of Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto #3. I did listen to rock in between, but it was annoying because the songs are so short and I can't particularly boogie while running.

I intend to run the Canberra Marathon next April, should aim to beat 4'12", which means considered speed work or drills or something, whereas I just love to be out there for ages when I run. In any case, regular running will give me the stamina to finish, which will not be a disgrace.







28 December 2010

Sweet and sour spaghetti


from the
Tao Te Ching translated by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English. My favourite. A copy that has served me faithfully for many years:

SEVENTY-EIGHT

Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water.

Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better;

It has no equal.

The weak can overcome the strong;

The supple can overcome the stiff.

Under heaven everyone knows this,

Yet no one puts it into practice.

Therefore the sage says:

He who takes upon himself the humiliation of the people

is fit to rule them.

He who takes upon himself the country’s disasters

deserves to be king of the universe.

The truth often sounds paradoxical.


***


I want to see some opera, although it can be pretty annoying. Here is Rodolfo in Puccini's La Bohème:


Aspetti, signorina,
le dirò con due parole
chi son, e che faccio,
come vivo. Vuole?
Chi son? Sono un poeta.
Che cosa faccio? Scrivo.
E come vivo? Vivo.
In povertà mia lieta
scialo da gran signore
rime ed inni d'amore.
Per sogni e per chimere
e per castelli in aria,
l'anima ho milionaria.


Wait, mademoiselle,
I will tell you in two words,
who I am, what I do,
and how I live. May I?
Who am I? I am a poet.
What do I do? I write.
And how do I live? I live.
In my carefree poverty
I squander rhymes
and love songs like a lord.
When it comes to dreams and visions
and castles in the air,
I've the soul of a millionaire.

***



26 December 2010

Poems



Musings on love

The sands of time
I sit upon
The ocean watching
All along
I hold a tear
For beauty's song
The horizon long
My empty heart
Makes me strong
The waiting
Makes it better.

*



I have stained You
With the darkness
Of my mind.
But You do not see that,
You always draw aside
The curtain and find
The treasure of my life
Called heart.

13 December 2010





I drew a bird tonight...

When he sings
The song of man
He forgets God's Plan.

Sorrow, sorrow, sorrow everywhere.

When he sings
The song of God
Joy rings the air surround.

Nothing to do, nothing to do, all done.


09 December 2010

Classical


The other night I saw, well heard I 'spose, some beautiful classical music, including a performance of Frühlingsstimmen which means "Voices of Spring". It was so joyful and full of delight. Bloody marvellous in fact. The singer was accompanied only by piano.

Lately classical music I prefer to listen to, so today I bought some Chopin, Satie and Schubert to help me relax. Alas, poor Schubert, who once wrote:

"'My peace is gone, my heart is sore, I shall find it never and nevermore,' I may well sing every day now, for each night, on retiring to bed, I hope I may not wake again, and each morning but recalls yesterday's grief."

We've all been there, but only one of us composed the Piano Trio #2 in E flat major, Opus 100. The second movement andante con moto is awesome. Here is part of it, adapted for a movie.



07 December 2010

from Gitanjali by Tagore

72.

He it is, the innermost one, who awakens my being with his deep hidden touches.

He it is who puts his enchantment upon these eyes and joyfully plays on the chords of my heart in varied cadence of pleasure and pain.

He it is who weaves the web of this maya in evanescent hues of gold and silver, blue and green, and lets peep out through the folds his feet, at whose touch I forget myself.

Days come and ages pass, and it is ever he who moves my heart in many a name, in many a guise, in many a rapture of joy and of sorrow.


73.

Deliverance is not for me in renunciation. I feel the embrace of freedom in a thousand bonds of delight.

Thou ever pourest for me the fresh draught of thy wine of various colours and fragrance, filling this earthen vessel to the brim.

My world will light its hundred different lamps with thy flame and place them before the altar of thy temple.

No, I will never shut the doors of my senses. The delights of sight and hearing and touch will bear thy delight.

Yes, all my illusions will burn into illumination of joy, and all my desires ripen into fruits of love.


06 December 2010

Things


What remains then?

Love is patient
And all things
To all people.

That is enough to sustain the universe, so it will suffice.

*

And I bought an apartment. The place is being repainted now before I move in on the weekend. The weirdest thing is that there are countless shades of white paint, with names to put the poet in me to shame, but none of them are quite, well, exactly white.

10 November 2010

Greatest comic ever





In my humblesse opine, this is the greatest comic ever to exist since the caves of Lascaux were first marked by some mega-jaw-man.

XCKD (a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language) has lots of great comics. I don't always understand them when they are based on maths and science. It's often kind of nerdy. As am I. I can go there and hit the random button for hours, or 18 minutes, whichever comes first.



12 October 2010

Pictures, words


How hip is Hipstamatic? So hip it dates your black and white pictures 30 years ago. I have always loved the tall native grasses, especially when they drink summer's gold. Spring is mining it for us now.








I took my iPhone running tonight. Alack, the gloaming was well advanced by the time I commenced, so there are not many photos to share. Further, I also figured I could play scrabble if desired, but this pursuit was not coterminous with my primary goal of sustained motion. Obviously taking photos resulted in a journey characterised by stops and starts, but thus my life-journey tends to maunder anyway.






Once the earth is denuded of asphalt and the other accretions of modern inconvenience, everything is much simpler, so it is incomparably easier to run on the dirt in my experience.






10 October 2010

Jesus and Buddha


In Canberra, on Archibald St in Lyneham, a new Buddhist temple is being built. It will be huge when it is finished. It is nearly next door to a Christian church, but there is a retirement home in between. The Buddhists have a massive bell, but I refrained from ringing it.






























A phone in a camera

I now have an iPhone and I will never be lonely again and my life has new meaning thanks to Apple. Great toy though. I have been taking photos with it. The Hipstamatic app mainly, the borders are really cool. Here are the highlights of my first few days efforts. A few of the images have photoshop filters too. I registered for flickr, but I don't think I will use it until I run out of my storage allocation on blogger. You can click on images to view them larger if you want.













Of course I bought the Shorter Oxford Dictionary app also.

27 September 2010

Spring


When birds sing and the sunshine rings our thoughts with merriment, like a swallow reading its secret map on impossible wings.

I started cooking again after way too much take away. Perfect then, that I found my knife collection -misplaced when moving- and put my whetstone to use.

Rambling, resistance training, riding and soon running. I had not been riding for at least a year and I was never a mad keen two-wheeler. The result was a most tender fundament. My companions assured me that repeated applications of effort would produce most hardy cheeks, so I got right back on the saddle the next day.

By the way, if you like fantasy fiction then The Name Of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is a perfect book. It is a most polished story and the link goes to an extract. I know a lot of people, including me, are hanging out for the sequel. Highly recommended.

Reading Rumi


The world eats men and women; we become
ground, and yet Got sends us here to eat

the whole universe.

from As Fish Drink the Ocean

*

A road might end at a single house,
but it's not love's road.

Love is a river.
Drink from it.

*

Word Fog

Words, even if they come from
the soul, hide the soul, as fog

rising off the sea covers the sea,
the coast, the fish, the pearls.

It's noble work to build coherent
philosophical discourses, but

they block out the sun of truth.
See God's qualities as an ocean,

this world as foam on the purity
of that. Brush away and look

through the alaphabet to essence,
as you do the hair covering your

beloved's eyes. Here's the mystery:
this intricate, astonishing world

is proof of God's presence even as
it covers the beauty. One flake

from the wall of a gold mine does
not give much idea what it's like

when the sun shines in and turns
the air and the workers gold.

*

Thanks to Coleman Barks for translations.

09 September 2010

Return



Days when the
Laughter of life
Needs no reason.

Discipline is the
Season of joy.



*

Who knew? Who knew that there was still some poetry left in my soul? It seems I knew and take these words new. I am teasing of course. I knew the shadow would pass. Unless, unless of course it did not. Well, if you really want to be a poet, then my only advice is to read aloud from Tagore's Gitanjali every day. To be taken with meditation.

*


In my meditation,
I am atop a wave gigantic,
Indomitable, beyond obstruction.



*

"Thou hast made me known to friends whom I knew not. Thou hast given me seats in homes not my own. Thou hast brought the distant near and made a brother of the stranger."
Verse 63 of Gitanjali.

20 July 2010

Divertimento

If you have any interest in dressing well, remembering that this is one of the ways that a gentleman compliments his company on their good taste, then you can do no better for fine shirting than by heading to savilerowco.com. High quality shirts at excellent prices. Just get your measurement right and do a small order before undertaking any more substantial investment if you are in any doubt.

The election campaign is happening in Australia and at this point we are witnessing the death of the Liberal Party and the genesis of the Turnbull Party. Wake me up when its over. (Fingers crossed.) Someone on Twitter directed me to the inimitable Paul Keating commenting with his usual scarifying sagacity on Australian politics. "Pre-Copernican obscurantism." Damn that makes me quiver. I found the Hawke tele-movie frankly execrable by the way.

I read Pompeii by Robert Harris. Doubtless it is a startling work of fictionalised historical vulcanology, but that must be considered quite a discrete genre and I can not see myself dipping into again. (Vulcan - origin of vulcanology). Mayhap the quotidian existence of the Romans is of passing interest and the politics of the epoch is where I discover a frisson - although volcanoes don't erupt everyday of course! Temeraire is definitely a fantasy series worth enjoying. Dragons, dragons everywhere and fantastic cover artwork. I finished the first two books in quick succession. Be excited by the fact that Peter Jackson has the film rights.

29 June 2010

Spilloquence

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious by this daughter of Wales...

There has been a veritable deluge of articles on the ascension of Julia Gillard. Here are my favourites:

Chris Ulhmann on catching the wave at the ABC.

Jeff Sparrow on the personalisation of politics.

Mark Bahnisch considers how Jack Bauer is killing democracy.

Shane Maloney's serendipitous visit to the hill.

Guy Rundle on a nation at the crossroads.

23 June 2010

This is getting messy

Strange days in Australian politics.

One of my favourite political blog at the moment is Grog's Gamut. I always enjoy Grog's take on Question Time, although I have no idea who he is.

Have just watched Rudd's press conference announcing the leadership ballot on 24 June 2010. Effectively, the media and the Liberal Party have exploited the real lack of Rudd's leadership base within the Labor Party to engender this situation. Of course, any leader neglects the structure of the zenith they stand upon to their detriment. Such is the temptation of imperium. Unfortunately for the Liberal Party, Gillard will dispatch Abbott like a Dalek if she gets the chance.

Check out:

Bernard Keane at The Stump.

Alea iacta est at Larvatus Prodeo.

Speaking of Daleks, time travel must be really confusing if the interpretative dialogues I enjoy with Noivedya after each Doctor Who episode are anything to go by. That said, this was the best season yet of the new Doctor, or should I say the new new new Doctor. Final this weekend.

Lustrum, the second book of Robert Harris' trilogy about the life of Marcus Tullus Cicero was fantastic. I eagerly await the third instalment. Still thrilling to the Ancient Rome thing generally. I am about to embark on a perusal of the classics in the field, namely Asterix.

Presently, I am attempting to declare a moratorium on the purchase of any new books for an unspecified period. You see, lately, whenever I read about something that interests me, I tend to buy a book about it. Given the nature of the internet, there are close to infinite perils attached to this course of action.

25 May 2010

Mostly books

Ages, I know, since I posted last.

Anyway.

Still reading a lot generally. I was totally enthralled by the Millennium Trilogy. I read all three books in under a week. Afterwards, to maintain my intake of Swedish crime fiction, I read most of the Inspector Wallander books by Henning Mankell, but I went off them after a month.

Non-fiction and history books have gained appeal for me lately. I read Hell's Cartel about IG Farben and their role in World War II. This inspired me to obtain Shirer's renowned The Rise and Fall of The Third Reich, but I have not started it yet. I can use it to press flowers in the meantime.

I like Twitter because it makes it easy to keep up with my favourite political commentators, find links to interesting articles and decide if Lateline will be worth watching. After a year of membership, I did five tweets in a pique of creativity, but with one follower, there is no reason to bother. Nevertheless, I feel other forms of social media are execrably asinine.

Shockingly, my naturopath has avowed that I must avoid sugar. Chiefly, chocolate. I'm coping. Honestly. I went to Adelaide recently and did not even visit Haigh's.

I read most of Lost Japan by Alex Kerr. Recommended by a friend, I read the first two chapters months ago and was bored. After taking it for company on a plane, I was deeply absorbed by it. Perchance my temporary temporal confinement sharpened my concentration, as a few weeks later I don't feel the need to finish it. It does make me want to read Mushashi again. Best book ever.

Just finished Imperium by Robert Harris. This is the first part of the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero. It is a fine mix between non-fiction and fiction. I don't know my history well enough to tell exactly where the author has used imagination to fill in the gaps, but I trust he has been faithful to possibility's reality. It has inspired me to browse some of the many books I have on Cicero but have never opened. His life now seems approachable and credible. The next book in the series is on order.

I was most struck on reading how closely our political institutions originate in the Roman Republic. To a great degree this politcal epoch was marked by theatre. (The Latin for actor is histrio which gives us the word histrionics, which are not usually a good thing.) Evident today is just how degraded our politcial debate has become by the superficial engagement of the media with issues. Meretricious arguments, supported by rampant syllogisms, shine as exemplars of vision. Check out the origins of the word meretricious. Use it on your enemy and perchance they will decide they have been complimented, when without merit they decidely are.

Upon finishing, I was inspired to buy a bunch of books on the art of rhetoric. It is a fascinating idea - training for oratorical excellence. The art of speaking well is really a synthesis of so many things...erudition and the sweet vibrating miracle of my diction, what wonders you bring to the dumb (as Walt would probably say). Before those books arrive, a whole bunch of strategy-themed books are due. One afternoon, by some oblique reasoning, I decided to obtain the major works of B.H. Liddell Hart. So I may talk about Rommel, Sherman, T.E. Lawrence and Scipio Africanus in the near or distant future.

I read David Marr's Quarterly Essay on Kevin Rudd. Very short - just two hours reading. Lavartus Prodeo has really interesting comments about the piece. Obviously I don't know who will win the next election, but know it is worth remembering the following piece of advice:

Be kind, be all sympathy,
For each and every human being
Is forced to fight against himself.


by Sri Chinmoy.

How's this for fascinating?

The word cynosure indicates a person or thing that is the centre of attention or admiration.

Latin, cynosura, from the Greek kunosoura ‘dog's tail’ (also ‘Ursa Minor’ ), from kuōn, kun- ‘dog’ + oura ‘tail.’ The term originally denoted the constellation Ursa Minor, or the star Polaris that it contains, long used as a guide by navigators.

Cool.

Thanks for reading.

01 January 2010

Happy New Year

I am bored with Terry Pratchett books. I have read 21 in the last four months so I am taking a break - with the intention of reading them all eventually. I just read The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis. It was excellent. The science fiction of the 1960's is so alive with possibility. We are fairly blasé about technology these days. They made this story into a film starring David Bowie, but the plot bears little resemblance to the book. It finishes with an interesting political commentary. It is quite short, it only took an evening to read.

I have also started on the The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher. It has been described as Harry Potter written by the illegitimate love-child of Raymond Chandler and Douglas Adams. Real literature for the ages then.

I missed running the Tour De Mountain the week before Christmas because of a cold. This was disappointing because I had done it two years in a row. I am nearly better and looking forward to to running in the Vibram Five Fingers I got for Christmas. Okay, I bought them for myself.

I think this story amply illustrates why most people don't like spiders.

If you are looking for a classy dining experience in Canberra then I reccomend Aubergine. The vegetarian options while excellent were both cheese based (goat's cheese and ricotta). If I eat there again I will take advantage of the offer of alternatives.

I finally won a promotion at work after three years of higer duties. World domination to follow.

If you after a unique blend of comedy and drama then watch Big River Man. Martin Strel is literally a swimming god. Entertainingly he fully conforms to the stereotype of the mad Eastern European.