Ponderings - 13 Comments » - Posted on March, 26, 2007 at 6:05 pm

As you have probably guessed, I’ve been having a bit of a hard time over the last few weeks. I think these dark times are at an end.

I read an article at a friends house over a game of Quizzit. It was entitled “Why It’s So Hard to Be Happy“, which given my mood grabbed me instantaneously. It had some very interesting and counter intuitive advice. I would have thought goal setting a good thing to do, but apparently a goal oriented life isn’t conducive to happiness because as soon as one goal is achieved another is set and so you’re always following the carrot. Time is never taken to sit back and really enjoy what was achieved.

They also condone mindfulness as a psychological technique that actually works. Mindfulness preaches that one must live in the present and not be concerned about the past or future. Apparently this is actually really good for well being.

Anyway, I read this article and looked at the last couple of weeks. I had been so busy over the last 5 weeks that I’d hardly stopped to actually live. And over the last 5 weeks I’ve been slowly getting more and more depressed. Don’t get the wrong impression – I wasn’t working, I was just busy. For starters, the aquaponics systems that I am setting up take up a large portion of my weekend. On top of that I play soccer. I attended a wedding last weekend. I’ve had parties and circuses and training and … etc etc

So on Sunday night I relaxed. I lay on the couch with Ele and cuddled. I smelt the air, felt the cold air and her warmth, heard the sounds of the fish tank and actually saw my surroundings – which is exactly what being mindful is all about. I was taking in the present moment with out the usual feeling that I was wasting time. And guess what? Today (Monday) I am far far happier than I’ve been in weeks.

So I’m going to schedule some time each day where I just sit and be mindful. I did it today in the lunch room at work – it was brilliant. I was living without the blinkers of consciousness. Thinking naught and experiencing the senses as if a newborn.

Meet my alter-ego: Gremwell

Ponderings - No Comments » - Posted on March, 23, 2007 at 8:55 am

A good sleep brought me out of the last dark mood. So now I’m going to run a little experiment. When I’m in a normal or good mood, I’ll post as Gemmell. When I’m in my bad mood, I’ll post using the alter-ego Gremwell. After a little while we’ll see how many postings I have as Gremwell and how many I have as Gemmell.

From here on in,  anything I do that is evil – Gremwell did it.

A Dark Theme

Ponderings - 1 Comment » - Posted on March, 21, 2007 at 9:17 pm

I’ve been sick the last 2 days and hence I’ve had time to finally upgrade to gallery 2.2 and wordpress 2.1.2. I’ve put on this nice dark theme. It reflects the mood I’m in more often than not these days. Honestly sometimes I feel so … so black … so dark and moody. Deep down I know there is absolutely no reason to feel this way, but none the less I feel frustrated and annoyed at my life, I hate it. In my good moods I love the comfort my life provides, in my bad I feel it’s stagnant. I feel I’m wasting time and not making any “progress” even though I don’t know what I’m supposed to be making progress on. Like there is something I’m supposed to be doing, and it doesn’t involve writing software.

There are a couple of things that can bring me out of these moods. The first is a decent nights sleep, but this only works sometimes. The second is a good dosage of loud classical music, but this can sometimes backfire and send me further into despair. The third is intense physical exercise, usually at soccer training, but sometimes I’m too apathetic to even try. Lastly, the sunny presence of my wonderful girlfriend chases away some darkness, but she’s susceptible to the same moods I am. Honestly though, I don’t know what I’d do without her.

I went to a friends wedding this week and it occurred to me that I’d thought more about what to say at my girlfriends funeral than what to say if and when I married her. Is that wrong?

I had a chat to my good friend, who is also a psychologist, about my thoughts on death. He made me seriously reconsider my standpoint. In his opinion it’s perfectly OK to be completely screwed up by an unexpected death. It’s a normal and natural human reaction and that in good time all will be OK. And that you’ll only get yourself depressed by dwelling on the early demise of all your friends and family. So I’ve changed my opinion and will endeavor to banish these thoughts when they enter my head.

Anyway, I feel a bit like a twat, so here’s a photo of the decorations catching fire at my friends wedding. They’re real flowers, who’d have thought they’d burn?


Technology - No Comments » - Posted on March, 7, 2007 at 8:52 pm

Is it just me or do most laptops these days have the effect of burning your lap? I’ve used laptops which get so hot that the edge of the touch pad gets too hot to touch. Like it burns. Most laptops have the guts of the thing on the bit which sits on your lap and just the screen that folds out. Because the heat is being generated down there and it’s sitting on your lap, it makes it really hard to dissipate the heat and burns the user in the process. Even if it’s using a fan, if you sit the laptop on something with an uneven surface, for example a bed, it’ll be doing nothing at all. Meanwhile the back side of the screen sits out there in nice ventilated open space and does nothing to help dissipate the troublesome heat. If we can’t shift the processor up to the back of the screen, maybe we can shift the heat? It seems like a really simple idea, but we’ve seen some really simple ideas coming out recently which could change laptop computing forever. I’m talking about the ASUS XG Station and the ATI Lasso. It’s a really simple idea – make a dock with a powerful graphics card so you can satisfy the gamers needs whilst making the laptop light enough away from the dock to satisfy portability needs. Simple, but brilliant.

Sony have made the Panel Pc, which is the opposite of the normal laptop – the screen has the entire computer in it and the keyboard folds down at the front. It looks odd, and I don’t think it’s meant to be a laptop, but it seems to be on the right track. Surely, these heat issues can be looked at. Here’s an idea along the same lines as the external graphics card station: create a standard for a pluggable heat sink. Just a hole in your computer thats attached directly to the CPU heatsink. If you’re at home and you’re running processor intensive applications (such as games) you can plug in a nice big copper heatsink (and maybe fan) and it’ll lend a hand to dissipate the heat. When you’re on the run you leave it at home. If you wanted something portable you could have a little foldable piece of copper which plugs into the same slot. It’s small so you could take with you and use it when you feel the heat start to burn through your pants. It could fold out like an antenna to radiate the heat into the air as opposed into your pants.

Awesome Storm

Weather - No Comments » - Posted on February, 28, 2007 at 8:59 pm

We had an awesome storm last night. On the bom weather radar it was a big black dot. I’ve never been in a storm like that. Wow it was impressive. Here are the photos. The storm was great, but it sure smashed up my veggie patch =(

Yes thats me in my boxers.

The End of the Shower of Innovation

Environment, Ponderings - No Comments » - Posted on February, 28, 2007 at 7:48 pm

This drought is killing off innovation in Australia. A bold statement, and backed up with very little scientific evidence. But thats whats great about a blog, you don’t have to be right.

I was in the shower today and I started to drift off into a magical world of thought. I was thinking how the world could be better off if I just did…. Oops, don’t want to waste water, I better get out of the shower!

How often have you thought of the solution to a problem, had a great idea or an invented something that could potentially change the world? With reduced shower times due to our conscious effort to save water due to the drought, we’re killing off thousands of innovative solutions and ideas every morning and night. Sometimes the shower is the only place you can really relax and let your mind wander because your life is so busy.

Where will Australia innovate now?

Well there’s only one place left….. A place where you can not be disturbed. A place where you have the time to let your mind to wander. A place you can relax. A place where there is nothing to do but sit and think. A place to innovate. Where? The good ol’ dunny of course.

On Death

Ponderings - 7 Comments » - Posted on February, 12, 2007 at 9:17 pm

We live in a privileged society where death is but a remote possibility. It’s something that happens, yes, but it’s something far off and distant. We don’t even think about death. When someone who’s close dies suddenly and unexpectedly it is an affront to our fundamental view on how-things-are. We are not prepared, and when it happens we are so unaccustomed to such strong feelings of sorrow and grief that sometimes it leaves us completely altered.

Death can come at any time – this was highlighted last week by the death of a guy who was in the year above me at school. He died of an aneurysm whilst traveling in Canada. No warning signs, no sickness, BANG – brain dead before he hit the tiles. He was 27, just one year older than me, and far younger than the average life expectancy (at birth) for males of 78.5 (83.3 for women). Sure, he’s not close to me; He is that far off distant guy who dies and you actually hear about. But he’s close to somebody. He’s someone’s son, and someone’s boyfriend.

He’s about the 5th person I’ve “known” who’s died. I say “known” even though I couldn’t tell you a thing about him. I’d met him, talked to him at a couple of parties, and that’s about it. I’ve only been to two funerals, one was for my Grandad (obviously not the blogging Grandad), and the other was for my good friend’s brother who committed suicide. The first death was semi-expected, people get old, and they die – so you don’t get that great sense that somethings gone terribly wrong in the world. Sure you grieve, but it doesn’t leave an open wound: you get over it. A sudden death, and in particular a suicide, leaves you wondering what part of society failed. It leaves you feeling cold. It makes you ask yourself some pretty confronting questions. It was a real head-fuck for me and I barely knew the guy. I can only imagine the feelings my friend would have experienced for the loss of her brother.

So here’s my advice to you. Think about death. Think about the death of a loved one when you lay in bed at night. Think about what would happen if they were taken away suddenly. What would happen? Would you have to tell the parents? How would you react if they blamed you? Could you make a speech at the funeral? Would you write on your blog about it? What would it be like lying in your bed at your house knowing that they’ll never be back, that you’ll never see their smile again, hear them talk or feel their touch. Think about every detail – what happens when you go to solicitors office to sort out inheritance? Would you be relieved to inherit something? Or distressed?

You’ll choke up, at least I hope you do. It should make you feel bad, woeful in fact. Don’t dismiss these feelings just yet – follow them through. What would happen afterwards? Would you move away to try and bury the pain? Or would you stay close to your friends? How would you feel when someone asked about it? Would your friends always look at you with a sense of pity? How would you react to that?

Maybe instead of a quick death, think about long, slow, painful deaths like cancer. Say your partner gets a tumor, what does it feel like to know that they’re going to die? Could you even stand it?

Do this alone, in a place where you can fully experience the grief, anguish and pain that is associated with the thoughts. Immerse yourself in the situation. Do this, because you can always just tell yourself that it’s not true, and that it hasn’t really happed. Your loved one is fine and sound asleep right next to you. You can still reach out and touch them.

Death is final, it’s resolute, there is no going back. No Ctrl-Z Undo or F7 restore-to-last-save. Maybe these thoughts will spur you to change some things, maybe try to get to know your parents or grandparents a little better. Maybe you can just sit back and appreciate that they are still alive and you can enjoy some time with them. Maybe you won’t feel like changing anything, but you’ve now experienced the tip of the ice-berg, you know what it might be like if you encounter the sudden death of a loved one. Maybe it won’t be such an affront to your core being because you’ve actually thought about it before. You have felt what grief and anguish feels like and will be able to recognise and deal with those feelings when they well up when/if the real thing happens.


Aquaponics - 1 Comment » - Posted on January, 21, 2007 at 7:28 pm

Ok, for those who haven’t heard of aquaponics, this site gives you a good introduction on how the process works. I saw it on Gardening Australia once, when Joel Malcom was on there and it made so much goddamn sense that I thought I’d give it a go. Its like a little eco system of it’s own, almost a closed loop (you still need to feed the fish and provide sunlight). It uses less water than conventional veggie gardening because anything not used by the plants goes back into the tank instead of sinking into the earth. In addition to veggies, you get edible fish out as an end product. By virtue of the fact that it’s a closed loop it has to be organic. It’s a cool idea. I even went out and bought the guys book.
So this week I actually started. Here is my post on the backyard aquaponics forum. I’ve also uploaded some photos to my gallery. Check ’em out.

This is going to take me a long time to build, and even longer to get right. I’m going to try and do it on the cheap, so far it’s cost me all of $10, but I need to buy pumps, piping, and all sorts of other expensive bits. We’ll see how I go.

Paddles and Poetry

Ponderings - No Comments » - Posted on January, 16, 2007 at 1:46 am

I’m off to work, there I row
It’s a little strange I know
But thats how I do it, thats how I go
Sure its tiresome and a little slow
Learning was hard, but now I know
Lucky for me the river doesn’t flow
And the water level isn’t too low.
So I get out there and make a show
Paddles and poetry, rhymes and … doh

Ahem, sorry about that guys. Got a little bit “inspired” – once again, my apologies. Yes, I paddle to work (and I’m quite aware that technically I’m not rowing). It’s really quite hard, it takes me an hour to paddle to work. It takes Josh 10 minutes to ride from the same start point. Admittedly I’m probably not the best paddler in the world, but I’m getting there. In the mean time, I’m finding muscles I never knew I had, and seeing an aspect of Canberra less travelled and quite pleasant.

Death by fruit, AKA: I think I am a bit loopy for thinking about this

Ponderings - No Comments » - Posted on January, 11, 2007 at 4:06 am

If a family member was killed by a particular animal, fruit or vegetable, would the rest of the family eat the aforementioned organic matter? For instance, if a coconut fell out of a tree and knocked me on the head, killing me instantly, would my family ever eat a coconut again? Or would it be too much to bear to be confronted by the killer at the table? Or maybe they’d eat as many as they could to get back at the coconut. Well, that might work for animals and things since the animal would be slaughtered, but maybe not coconuts.

Stepping back up the thought-stack, I was in Goa, India [fade in the flash back music]…. I was chatting to some fellow travellers just outside my beach-shack after ducking inside to get some more sunscreen when THUD, we heard a coconut smack into the sand not 5 meters from where we were standing. We went over to check it out and lo and behold, it had landed on my towel. It was still stretched out on the pretty white sand where I had been lazing in the sun not 5 minutes before. We worked out it would have hit me fair in the head, probably giving me some pretty serious head injury. Would my family be embarrassed and not release the details of my death?

Anyway, thats why I was thinking about death by fruit and its enduring effect on the family.