A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament. ~Oscar Wilde

Archive for the ‘WTF Moments’ Category

Footprints on the sky

gogh-clouds

The path to keeping the earth fresh, green and having it not implode into a gooey mass of plastic suffocating wildlife is littered with pitfalls. I arm myself with cleaning vinegar, sodium bicarbonate, lemons, jute scrubs. Okay, not jute scrubs. But I totally would, if they were easily available. I clean my floors cupboard, vanities, shower walls and door knobs. I repeat.

As I put my cleaning vinegar away, I notice that it is in a plastic bottle. I am not entirely sure where the recycled bins get taken to in Sydney, and worry that it may be just dumped somewhere and end up leaching into the ground, mix into the earth, create new hitherto unknown compounds and kill the millions (trillions ?) of very small creatures that live there, change the balance of the soil …….

If it gets taken to a recycling plant and gets re-energised into another lease of life, I worry about the form of energy used, the strong bleaches, cleaners and other ingredients used. I worry that putting all the plastic containers on a ship to a distant land where labour is cheaper defeats the purpose, with the ship guzzling fossil fuels and possibly allowing some (a lot?) to flow into the ocean.

My Sodium bi carbonate is in a paper carton. I worry that it killed trees being made. I worry that even if it is recycled, it will still need to be mixed with new paper. I worry that reducing the cutting down of trees by … now … how much does the poster claim on the wall at work …. 73% (?) is not enough.

I worry that if every one starts using lemons to clean their door knobs and interiors of fridges, we would have to start cutting down virgin forests in order to grow enough lemons.

Such considerations would keep me awake at night if I allowed them to.

I visit the houses of friends and marvel at the sparkling walls, cupboards, bathroom vanities. I come home and realise that in my possibly futile efforts to not step on my Earth or Sky, I have allowed my home to grow shabby. The environmentally friendly cleaners just do not achieve the same sparkle. I rush out to the shops and buy the strongest household bleaches and cleaners I get. I get the home looking cleaner, and then sit back worrying about how much larger I just made the hole in the ozone layer.

Perhaps Abraham (Link to some Abraham videos for those interested in woo-woo) are right, and Nature will always come aright. Does that necessarily mean that we are allowed to cease to care? Am I not a part of Nature, as well?

PS: I reckon Van Gogh’s paintings, reproduced, are copyright free. If not please advise, and I will change the lead picture

The Telescopic Vision of Mr Jefferson

Thomas JeffersonLeave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading. I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning. ~ Thomas Jefferson

Obviously Mr Jefferson had never read a lot of the popular literature of the twenty first century, some of which read like they were written by an unlearned person, and others read like they were edited by an unlearned person. In order to avoid the risk of offending many of the popular authors fast garnering millions of dollars in royalties, I will not mention any books here. The point remains, though, that reading does not necessarily equate to learning. Reading, however, can equate to recreation, and has the advantage over exercise that it need not be confined to any part of the day.

The next thing that jumps out is that Thomas Jefferson, may the Lord bless his wise soul, does not seem to have heard of mental health. Yes, exercise, does improve mental health, but reading does so as well, and it seems to me, from his sentences, that Mr Jefferson is talking of the kind of robust health that is energetic, kinetic, and bursting with movement. He is not talking of the health that lights up one’s innermost thoughts and adds a spring to one’s smile. He has a point, naturally, but maybe if he had been a twenty first century guru of everything, he would have phrased this same advice much differently.

Maybe he would not have talked of leaving ALL the afternoon for exercise and recreation, for if the ordinary man did so, the ordinary man would have to also go to bed with maybe one meal less in his tummy. Who but the school student, or the sports star has the opportunity to exercise all afternoon? It is also very questionable whether said school student or sports star would actually find this steady, compulsory sport practice recreational, all the time.

Maybe he would have suggested recreational exercise at different times of the day, suited to different walks of life, ages, and cultures. Maybe he would have added reading as recreation. Maybe he would have emphasised reading for health as well.

But, to give him his due, Thomas Jefferson is probably drawing the attention of people to the need for exercise and recreation, and recreation through exercise. Perhaps, in his wisdom, he foresaw, that there would come a time when people would get so cornered into eking out a subsistence during the day, and relaxing on their buttocks during the evening, that he saw the need to remind us to get out there and exercise. The “all” afternoon, is probably rhetoric, and the point about health and learning the same as well.

All Hail Thomas Jefferson. 

A Smile and a Drop

Professor-Brian-CoxTo paraphrase Professor Brian Cox ( aka Heart Candy) answering a question, during  a chance watched end few minutes of Q and A,  the purpose of life is to “be good”.

I understand where he is coming from, and many such other good people. I also agree. But could we also consider the possibility that the purpose of being good is Life? What does it matter why we are here? Here we are, and to stay, at least for a while longer, and if we were not, would being good mean anything?

Or maybe I just need to think more on this! Or sleep. katrina-campins-metaphysics-universe-inspirational_698_350_imageslogo-menu-w.png_0_0_80_r_b_-10_-10_s_c1

image credit:

Brian Cox: http://www.ents24.com/uk/tour-dates/professor-brian-cox

Metaphysical Universe: http://www.katrinacampins.com/Blog/Article/metaphysics

Pause for laughter

Nothing. I have nothing to say.

So here I am, quoting others, who have said things so much better than I ever can! Here are some pause and laugh out loud quotes from some friends of my soberest hours.

“One cries because one is sad. I cry because others are stupid, and that makes me sad.” ~ Sheldon Cooper.

“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.” ~ Oscar Wilde

“My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the hell she is.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres

“Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?” ~ Robin Williams

“An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.” ~ Stephen Fry

“I like to juggle with one ball at a time. Then I put the ball down and do nothing for extended periods of time.” ~ Rowan Atkinson

Who do you turn to when you need to tickle yourself?

Laughter-BoyImage credit: http://theresekerr.com/belly-laughter/

Magnetic Poetry

Image Credit: http://images.clipartpanda.com/pen-and-paper-black-and-white-scroll-quill-illustration-12231272.jpg

Quickly, then. Just so as to not miss another day ( I have already missed Day Three). Here is a rant, if only to keep the writing juices flowing.

I can write long and easily on any topic that I feel like, as long as it is prose. I fail completely if I have to write poetry. I don’t understand why writing prose and poetry are such different skills.

A friend of my daughter’s had given her a gift of fridge magnets. These fridge magnets are words from some of the lines of a few poems by T. S. Elliott. The idea is to create your own poetry on the fridge door using these words. As soon as my daughter put up the words on the fridge door, everyone jumped in and created couplets, lines, poetry of some order. I must say, I was very impressed by the poems or couplets my children put up. They seemed fun and deep, had a certain resonance to the words, and created pictures of people and thoughts that were quite interesting. I struggled for at least half an hour after everyone else had wandered off, then I gave up. I could not even string three words together, let alone a couple of lines.

This was not only because the others had used up all the “good” words. I know. Only the other day, I took some of the words from the other poems and tried making something up. Nothing happened. I had a jumble of words up on the door, with no meaning whatsoever. So I let it be, disheartened.

Is writing poetry so very different? What is it that stops me? Any ideas, anyone?

Image Credit: http://images.clipartpanda.com/pen-and-paper-black-and-white-scroll-quill-illustration-12231272.jpg

Too Flexible…?

“I am too flexible to do yoga”. I must admit, this comment threw me. I was used to hearing “I am too inflexible to do yoga”, and the answer to that just rolls off the tongue, “The practice of yoga makes one more flexible, one does not have to start by being flexible.” I remember that I had stared at the commenter openmouthed, my mind in a whirl at the unexpected point of view. She is very flexible, and can contort her body into many different positions, and hence believed that doing yoga would not benefit her, as she would not get “more” flexible.

I have often thought about her comment since I heard it, and I can see where she is coming from. I have often noticed a tendency in (some) teachers, (many) students and practitioners to try and push past boundaries and set up a challenge to go beyond current capabilities. I believe there is really no need to “push”, but let us not digress in that direction.

There seems to be a commonly held belief that if one can do a pose/asana without straining, one cannot be getting any benefit from it. If it is not a challenge, then one needs to find a variation that is. This probably stems from the belief of “no pain, no gain” that seems to resonate with everyone. Even I, though I know that even doing a few simple asanas every day, with discipline and accuracy is good enough, tend to book myself into classes that I find “more challenging” because I want to “progress” on my yoga journey.

One does not practice asanas, in order just to become more flexible, or stronger, or even just to improve general or specific health issues, though they are all great results as well. The scientifically measurable health benefits are only part of the story, after all. The experiential results are personal, often indefinable, and always multifaceted. Whether one just automatically does the posture perfectly or trains for a long time to get there, the health benefits derive from the posture itself not the difficulty of attaining it. Neither is it necessary to have to push oneself in anyway in order to derive the benefits of an asana. Very simple postures, like Tadasana, which are relatively easy to “master”, have numerous health benefits, just the same as the harder ( for some) to master: postures like Suptavirasana or Grabhasana. The mental benefits, which are less measurable scientifically are where the story begins to expand, and once what I like to think of as the benefits of the soul, kick in, are when the extended yogi life begins.

One begins to experience the results at the physical level almost immediately one starts learning yoga asanas. (Disclaimer: an once a week practice will take a long time to show persistent or consistent results. A very long time.)Through discipline, dedication and regularity, multiple rewards show up, wherever your body is on the flexibility, or strength scale. So, one is always in a good state to start, or continue yoga.

So Be It

Writing is the only place where I can voice my oftentimes very strong opinion without fear of being interrupted. So I would have thought that writing my blog would be more appealing to me. At least the dissenters cannot be heard until I have published my post. I have been lucky, so far, though, not a dissenter in sight. But it seems like, at least for the last two years nearly, the idea of writing my blog has been more appealing to me, than actually writing anything for it. So here I am with a self imposed challenge. 31 days of writing fest. A post a day.

Of course prolific writing may mean writing with nothing to say. This has been my excuse all through 2013 and 2014. I have nothing of importance to say. Nothing that is different, attention grabbing, soul stirring. Hence very little got posted. I have consistently ignored the little voice which has niggled, “writing begets writing”. I have refused to open my notebooks, or my laptop, in order to write my posts. Yes, I have posted a half a dozen pieces of writing, give or take six, but for the most part I have been not writing.

Someone said to me that I have writer’s block. That was so laughable, that I nearly cried. In order to have writer’s block, I would have to be a writer. In order to be a writer, I would have to write. I wish to be a writer. I hope this challenge of a post a day for October 2014 will bring me the impetus of being a writer. I have to change my habit from thinking about writing to actually writing.

So I will fill up my blog with posts, and not worry too much about whether they are profound enough to startle my community with. As my fingers trip over the keyboard, by and by, something will be written worth reading.

So be it

Judging the reviewer

Who is a review for?books

Of late, there has been a lot of to-do about book reviews being offered for sale, and authors purchasing them. Reading through some of the news about that, I had wondered how pervasive this could possibly be. But I did not lose any sleep over it. My decision to read a book, or not, is seldom based on any review, professional, or friendly. (Thank God! Else I would have read those Grey books! Eew!). So I moved on.

I put my hand up recently to review a book and was asked by the author to put it up on amazon.com, but only if I was able to award it 3 points or above. The request felt absurd, but I was not expecting to dislike the book. When I realised I could not award it 3 stars, I started feeling uncomfortable. I felt that for what it was worth (or not), my opinion of the book should be on the site.

My advisory board said I should put  the review up on Amazon nonetheless.

“Any publicity is good”

“You cannot have a biased set of reviews. What kind of request is that? How can you only put up good reviews?”

Since I had not discussed this before reading the book, I decided to do the right thing by the author, and sent off an email saying that I was unable award the book 3 stars and would not be putting up my review on Amazon. But I did also forward my opinion that  it had been an unethical request.

The author accepted my decision, but asked me the question “Why would you offer to write a review if not to help?” Meaning, I presume, that a negative review will not help sell a book.

It set me thinking. Who is a review intended for? Having been always a reader,  I have always assumed that a review is intended to inform the buyer. Information and a recommendation to fork out the dollars or not. If I am part of a setup where only favourable reviews get seen by prospective buyers, then I feel that I am committing fraud.

There are studies that suggest that a book’s sales does not really depend on its reviews. But it seems to me, that they must have some value. How often do we ask those whose opinions we value: “Do you recommend it?” Very often we are swayed by the recommendation for or against. So had I, by not putting up my opinion on amazon, committed fraud, nevertheless? No one would know about it, but what does it say of my integrity?

Loveintegrity

NB: For the record, I was not offered, nor did I expect or ask for payment for the review.

The Witch Who Flew in from the West

Wicked: distressing, mischievous, evil, mean, depraved, immoral…

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (The Wicked Years #1) by Gregory Maguire

When I picked up the book at the library, I was excited. Having been the inspiration for a musical, I was expecting it to be quirky, saucy, funny, clever. I thought it would give a story of how the Witch from the West became Wicked. There was always this niggling thought at the back of my mind, “mmnngh! Don’t know whether I will relate to a book that excuses Wickedness due to life’s hard hits.”

But that idea of a musical  loomed large in my mind and I decided to give it a try.

I found it quite Tolkeinesque in its descriptiveness and slow, meandering narration. I believe that is what kept me going. I kept expecting the adventure to start. In Lord of The Rings so much happens it is hard to keep track of everything. I soon realised I had done Tolkein a grave injustice by comparing Maguire’s style to his.

NOTHING EVER HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK!

We have a green baby girl whose first word is “horrors”. She grows into a green teenager who is extremely clever, intelligent and in spite of being an outcast because of her skin colour, extremely kind and loving. She grows into a green woman while the reader waits, and waits and WAITS for her to do SOMETHING.

She never does anything, achieve anything, or really learn anything. Growth never occurs. She always is what she always was. Strong, fiercely independent, well read, with a brave and realistic though sometimes incredibly naïve outlook to life, she makes a few half hearted attempts at political activism, and most of the time just seems to wait around for something to happen. Why Wicked? There is not a single wicked bone in her body! Neither is she mischievous. She is so earnest in all her dealings, it is surprising that she does not project prudish. No one who knows her ends up believing her to be wicked. They mostly love her. So, it all remains a bit of a mystery.

Losing himself in myriads of descriptive passages and relating in minute detail what the Witch feels, Gregory Maguire never surfaces long enough to actually make a hero of his protagonist. He never commits the solecism of making his protagonist Wicked due to horrible life circumstances, he shows her capable of rising above every petty evil thrown at her, but neither does he ever take her on an heroic journey.

There are those who will tell you this is a book  with political references, socio-philosophical lessons. There are those who will discuss long and hard about how this book is a political satire. As you can tell, I am not one of them. Please do read it if you are an academic who likes reading obscure references. You may also want to read it if you are incredibly clever in finding meaning in everything.

The others may just want to watch the musical, which I am told, is a hoot! 

Love

PS:Another one of those rare books I did not finish. I read up on what happens at the end, and stopped a few chapters short.

The Locked Trolley

A regular day of shopping. Or so I thought it would be. Get some regular day to day clothes that always seem to reach end of life, get some food and ingredients that always seem to get eaten and head off back home. As I parked the car I realised that I was in the wrong spot for the supermarket, it would be a long trek back pushing a trolley. Shrugging off the thought with another, “It will do me good to push the trolley further” I went off to do my shopping.

140 minutes or so later, there I was pushing the trolley back, laden with groceries and figuring out how best to get to the car. Of course, it involved getting out on to the street and pushing it along the footpath, across a pedestrian
crossing and then across a set of lights further along. All the while within the bounds of the mall, I was just in between two buildings of Westfield, not away, just to a car park within the shopping bounds for this Westfield. Somewhere I have parked often before.

What happened? You guessed it, my trolley decided I was a Bad Woman, trying to run away with it. Down descended the yellow lock and my trolley would not budge. Right as I was going across a driveway from a car park where other, more clever parkers of cars had parked close to Coles.

So here I was, dragging my trolley back to safety and poking underneath it to see why it had locked itself.

A pretty girl asked “Whoa! What happened?”

Giving the trolley a scientific jerk, I said, “the trolley won’t move!”

Her male companion said ”You have to push it.”

!*@!*%! Really?

I decided against answering, and the girl helped me by lifting the trolley and the guy offered helpful hints “it’s locked” “I don’t know” “it’s locked”…

They strolled off after a while.

As I dragged the trolley along to the short distance to the car park, I assumed that something had gone wrong, and that I was unable to unlock it because I am not clever enough. Until another helpful person walked by. “That is locked,” he said. “They do it on purpose. You cannot unlock it, I got caught just like this the other day on the other side.”

“I am just trying to get to the car park!” I wailed. He shrugged and turned away.

Thoroughly disgruntled, I jerked, pushed and pulled the three wheeled and one locked trolley back to close to my car, and then took my things and went home.

Mr Coles, and Mrs. Woolworths, and all the other giant markets who feel the need to protect your trolleys from the big bad gang of trolley thieves please be assured that we are not ALL out to get your trolleys. And we might need to park a little distance away, probably because the car park near the supermarket is full. Probably because we have to go to other shops as well which are a fair distance away from your end of the supermarket. So while you invent ingenuous new ways to stop trolley theft, spare a thought for the vast majority of us who are innocent and honest and desperately want to do some legitimate shopping.

HO! HO! HO!

In the meantime please enjoy the Christmas tree from Darwin.

~~Love

Sonelina

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