Quick update

posted in: General | 1

Wow, 2008 is moving quickly, huh? Haven’t posted an update for a while, I know, and guess what – I still haven’t left! Turns out autumn/winter in the Southern hemisphere is not the best time to look for fruit-picking jobs. And as luck would have it, I’ve run out of money! So, it’s back to work for me for a while, and rather than have a “working holiday” I think I’ll have a “working change”.

Car-wise, I ended up going with the Mitsi Triton. They’re excellent value for money compared to the Toyota Hilux, and have a good reputation reliability-wise. Even managed to find one with all the trimmings – bullbar, canopy etc. Had to fly down to Melbourne to pick it up and drive it back though, which was a nice little mini-adventure in itself. Drove through the Gippsland region and up through the foothills of the Snowy mountains through Canberra, then took the highway through Sydney and followed the coast road back to the Sunshine State. Great scenery, and a nice drive, although the cost of diesel is certainly stinging a bit these days! I’m certainly not the only person complaining about that one though. Hopefully we’ll see some relief soon, but the global economic climate at the moment is not good. 

And speaking of “climate change” – it’s been a pretty cold winter here across Oz, based on the news reports – even here in the “Great South East”. Makes me think it’s not so much “global warming” as “global cooling”! It’ll be interesting to see what the spring and summer bring but there’s still another month of winter to go, so I’m not putting the Ugg-boots away just yet. 😉

Hope you all are doing well, no matter which hemisphere you’re in!

My baby, she gone away

posted in: General | 0

Well, it’s done. Two weeks ago I finally sold my Honda Integra – one sleek and sexy mistress who’s kept me company for the last 4-odd years. I’ve uploaded a few pics to the Gallery under the album “Cars”.

Selling a car can be an eye-opening experience. You get to observe that what you think the car is worth isn’t necessarily what the general public thinks, while at the same time having to fend off those who think your car is worth far less than what a genuine buyer would pay for it. I had offers that represented half of what I actually sold the car for, never mind what I had originally asked for it! It turned out for the best though – the car went to a good home and both parties were happy with the deal (maybe the buyer just a bit more than the seller, but I don’t begrudge him that 😉 ).

It took longer than I thought to sell the car – seems to be a buyers market for 2-door sports coupes at the moment in Oz – and so I’m still kicking around at home getting ready for my trip. After a bit of soul-searching, I’ve realised the need for a more “substantial” lady to keep me company on my journey. Two models under consideration are the Mitsubishi Triton and the Toyota Hilux, both of which I’ve had the opportunity to test drive so far. Although the factory specifications have the Triton’s 2.8L 4-cylinder turbo diesel motor outputting 96kW to the Hilux’s 85kW (3.0L 4-cylinder turbo diesel), the ute doesn’t feel quite as quick off the mark compared to the Hilux. That being said, the overall ride in the Triton is much smoother compared to the dipping, swaying and bouncing of the Hilux. Gear changes are also nicer in the Trition, however the lack of a foot rest on the left hand side next to the clutch is somewhat annoying. I’ll post a more thorough review of each once I’ve driven a couple more, but at this point the Triton is just in front compared to the Hilux – mostly out of pricing considerations.

Decisions, decisions…

Weight loss that works!

posted in: General | 0

No, it’s not Dr Rudi’s weight loss scheme, but it’s close to it – and it works for overweight men, too. Instead of “eating less”, you simply eat nothing. I am of course referring to the age-old practice of fasting. It’s something I’ve been doing on an annual basis for the last couple of years – find a couple of weeks where I’ve got minimal things to do (this in itself can be tricky!) and stock up on select fruit juices, then stop eating.

There are many different ways to fast, and I’m not going to go into all the permutations. Juice fasting (and/or the Master Cleanser) is what works best for me, as it supplies a few simple sugars that allow me to keep up with daily activities as well as do light exercise. I’ve tried fasting with only filtered water before, and it’s not a very pleasant experience – I got really weak and dizzy to the point where I couldn’t do much except move between the couch and bed. Even reading books was difficult! Juice fasting is really good though, especially combined with salt-water flushes. The first couple of days are always a bit difficult, but I don’t have any problems doing a two-week stretch now. Apparently juice fasts of 30-40 days are easy and safe to do once you work your way up to them. I find life tends to disrupt my fasting schedules (eating out with friends, or family dinners etc) though, so I’d probably have to disconnect myself from the ‘net, throw away my mobile phone and go out into a shack in the wilderness to get through 40 days uninterrupted!

This year, I decided to follow up a two-week juice fast with a 15-day “detox diet program“.

The detox diet consists of following a pretty strict diet (no meat, no dairy, no processed foods, no white/processed grain foods etc) and taking herbal pills with and between meals. So I ate more wholegrain bread/pasta, fruits and vegetables than I have done in a long time I reckon. Needless to say, after nearly a whole month of detoxing and eating healthy, tucking into stuff like beef rissoles and chocolate biscuits was “quite pleasant”. 😉

The overall results? I’m now feeling great and have dropped 10kg and am two notches tighter on my belt. Doing push-ups and sit-ups is certainly a bit easier with a little less weight around the middle! I’m sure Dr Rudi would heartily approve of such a yearly regime.

Speaking of which, I’ll leave you for now with some more advice from the good doctor on a topic that vexes all of us: dealing with wankers.



posted in: Inner Journeys | 0

I was reading through an essay by A.R. Orage this evening, entitled “On Love”. On the subject of love and relationships, it’s quite a unique perspective. Here’s an example:

It [conscious love] is rare among humans because, in the first place, the vast majority are children who look to be loved but not to love; secondly, because perfection is seldom conceived as the proper end of human love-though it alone distinguishes adult human from infantile and animal love; thirdly, because humans do not know, even if they wish, what is good for those they love; and fourthly, because it never occurs by chance, but must be the subject of resolve, effort, self-conscious choice. As little as Bushido or the Order of Chivalry grew up accidentally does conscious love arise by nature. As these were works of art, so must conscious love be a work of art. Such a lover enrols himself, goes through his apprenticeship, and perhaps one day attains to mastery. He perfects himself in order that he may purely wish and aid the perfection of his beloved.

Would one enrol in this service of conscious love? Let him forswear personal desire and preconception. He contemplates his beloved. What manner of woman (or man) is she (or he)? A mystery is here: a scent of perfection the nascent air of which is adorable. How may this perfection be actualised-to the glory of the beloved and of God her Creator? Let him think, is he fit? He can only conclude that he is not. Who cannot cultivate flowers, or properly treat dogs and horses, how shall he learn to reveal the perfection still seedling in the beloved?

Humility is necessary, and then deliberate tolerance. If I am not sure what is proper to her perfection, let her at least have free way to follow her own bent. Meanwhile to study- what she is, and may become; what she needs, what her soul craves and cannot find a name, still less a thing, for. To anticipate today her needs of tomorrow. And without a thought all the while of what her needs may mean to me.

You will see, sons and daughters, what self-discipline and self-education are demanded here. Enter these enchanted woods, ye who dare.

Just to provide context, Orage is talking specifically about conscious love, one of three main types. The other two are instinctive/biological love (“chemistry”) and emotional love.

This got me pondering quite a bit. I mean, the guy makes some good points. “Love” is a word that each person tends to have their own unique interpretation of. But if it was possible to refine all these billions of interpretations of what love is, would we eventually reach a couple of main types? And if we arrange these types into a method of classification, could there be different methods of classification, based on different main types? How would we know which class of types was most objective? Since that starts to fall under the question of, “What is proof?” and I don’t feel like discussing that one, I’m going to take Orage’s types as a sort of “conceptual playground” for the moment.

The concept of instinctive or biological drives being slapped with the label “Love”, is probably pretty familiar to most people. Everyone has probably known (or been) at least one couple who have proclaimed their undying love for one another to all and sundry, only to break up six months later when their non-stop shagfest starts to run out of steam. Right?

And “Love” being all about a person’s romantic fantasies and illusions of perfection (even if the sex ain’t that good) is probably not something most people would be unfamiliar with either, no? It’s probably the concept that creates a serious chunk of profit for the greeting card industry, at least.

So what’s “conscious love”, then? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “conscious” in the adjective as:

1: perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation
4: capable of or marked by thought, will, design, or perception
6: having mental faculties undulled by sleep, faintness, or stupor : awake
7: done or acting with critical awareness

So we might give a working definition of “conscious love” as being, “Love that is infused with will, reason, and that is active or ‘awake’ in nature”. For comparison, Orage writes:

“The conscious love motive, in its developed state, is the wish that the object should arrive at its own native perfection, regardless of the consequences to the lover.

I get the sense that “conscious love” is a love that assists the loved to be all he/she can be – something truly protective and supportive. If this sounds somewhat idealistic, then you (like me) probably agree with Orage that this form of love is much rarer than one might think – and thus we return to some key points about what Orage wrote that I find really interesting:

1) The vast majority are children who look to be loved but not to love.

Hahaha… this is one of those statements that most people (me included) tend to immediately think is completely wrong, or that applies to the “vast majority” made up of people who aren’t me. 😉
When I take some time to think back over my previous relationships though, as well as thinking about the many relationships of friends that I’ve observed, I can sort of see what he’s getting at. Otherwise, how could we have cultural sayings like, “Better to be with someone who loves you more than you love them”?

2) Perfection is seldom conceived as the proper end of human love.

While I have no doubt that many people project their ideals of perfection onto their partner in order to feel that THEY are perfect, or now have a “perfect life”, Orage is referring to “perfection” in a deeper, more spiritual sense. And let’s face it, people rarely get together with mutual spiritual advancement as being the primary aim of the relationship. So again, I see his point.

3) Humans do not know, even if they wish, what is good for those they love.

Do I even need to elaborate on this one? How much hurt and pain is caused in relationships despite the best of intentions of either party? And two words – domestic violence. Seriously, how a guy could ever get it into his head that hitting the woman he loves is for “her own good” is beyond me. And yes, some guys are seriously fucked-up enough to think that. Admittedly that’s an extreme example, but if the recent spate of TV advertising and DV statistics is anything to go by, it’s unfortunately far more common that we might like to admit.

4) It never occurs by chance, but must be the subject of resolve, effort, self-conscious choice.

Well, biologically speaking, it doesn’t have to, does it? The reproductive instinct will take care of propagation of the species, emotional whims and fancies will satisfy most everyone else, so how could such a thing occur without the effort or will towards an ideal?

Of course, the question most hardcore rationalist types will pose is then, “So what makes the ideal of conscious love any more than a romantic fantasy equivalent with the emotional love type? There is no need for a third category. Biological drives will do their thing, emotional fantasies and romantic ideals provide the necessary justification to help people live with themselves rather than face the hard reality that it’s all biology.”

That opens up a whole other can of worms about the evolutionary purposes of altruism, and this post isn’t going there, either.

Anyway, I thought Orage makes some good points, and found his essay inspiring enough to post a few thoughts on it. That’s all for now.

Moving and Mixed Drinks

posted in: General | 0

Okay, so what’s been happening, you ask? Well, moving day has come and gone, and I am now ensconced comfortably in my old stomping grounds down on the Gold Coast. My parents have been graciously “volunteered” into storing some of my more treasured possessions while I hit the road for a while (not that I have much in the way of possessions, and even less in the way of treasure!). It’s been interesting to observe that the little tucked-away house on the hill where I grew up has become part of thriving middle-class suburbia. I went for a hike up the road the other day and was gobsmacked by the opulence of some of the newly-built homes overlooking the bay/valley area. Real estate values still seems to be on the rise in this area, but for how long?

One thing that helped the Russians get through their period of economic hardship was vodka (or so the part of my personality responsible for outrageous stereotyping has informed me), and on that front I’m now set up with the skills I need to help others drown their sorrows. I’m now certified in the “Responsible Service of Alcohol”, and can thus tell you what the difference between a traditional and a boston cocktail shaker is, as well as what gin is made from and why layered shooters are evil. Well, the last one is just opinion, but I stand by it. For a $300 night course over a couple of weeks, it was a lot of fun. It was interesting to see what goes on from the perspective of the bar staff for a change, and I learned some great stuff. Now, whether I could competently run a bar is a different question, but hey, you gotta start somewhere, right?

Or maybe I’ll just get lucky like this guy:

Yowza!(thanks for the clip Bambi!)
So $1 million New Zealand Dollars would be about… $500 bucks Australian? (I kid.. I kid…) 😉

Preparations for Departure

posted in: General | 0

“A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.” – Confucius

Okay, so I haven’t quite left yet. I’m currently packing and getting ready to move out, and I’m doing it at a nice leisurely pace. Oh, it’s so very sweet. No escalated customer calls. No after-hours callouts. No morning traffic. Get up when I feel like it, go for a morning run, leisurely breakfast… life is good. I’ve got about three weeks left up my sleeve if I stick to my rough schedule for departure, and my night course in bar-tending is the only regular commitment I’ve got at the moment. So, I’m going to enjoy it while I can, because it definitely won’t last! Fruit picking is something that apparently starts in the wee hours of the morning….

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