Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Thoughts’

22-Apr-2017 Out Of Time by Miranda Sawyer

Saturday 22 April 2017 Leave a comment

I still read quite a lot – blogs, online articles, my massive feedly feed of articles. And still a few books, but not as many as I’d like.

I’d hate to think that it’s part of the dumbing down of the world, short attention spans and what not. I am into getting lots of sleep, cooking from scratch, lots of exercise, trying to balance work with play so it is just hard to fit in the time.

Anyway, virtually all of my book-reading is on my phone with the kindle app (I am into reducing devices and don’t “even” have a tablet).

I bought this book Out Of Time by Miranda Sawyer. It was about :

“a very modern look at the midlife crisis – delving into the truth, and lies, of the experience and how to survive it, with thoughtfulness, insight and humour.”

I don’t think I am going through a midlife crisis or anything but am conscious of the constant drip drip drip of time ticking by. Kids getting older, now into late teens and early adulthood, and the gradual ageing of parents ie I am getting older and you just can’t ignore that. Anyway I didn’t really like her style much and didn’t particularly enjoy the book, and very nearly discarded it a few times, although I did persevere and finish it. I found that the following paragraph really did resonate with me :

‘You’re at the life stage you’re at. Accept it. If you have children, then all things have their season, and this is the season for staying in and looking after your children. Acknowledge where you are, accept where you are, move through it and enjoy it. Because the other option is to actively not enjoy your life.’

We do go through life stages and people should just be patient and accept it rather than just fight fight fight all the time. People can do many things but they can’t do everything all at once. If you are always pushing against the grain it makes it a lot harder and a lot less enjoyable. I could go off into a rant about “mindfulness” although there is too much rubbish written about the concept, but in general there is a lot of merit to it all.

Advertisement
Tags: ,

2-Jan-2016 It’s time to stop giving a damn

Saturday 2 January 2016 Leave a comment

Great article as always in the Guardian [link here]:

Drowning in commitments? It’s time to stop giving a damn
The key to beating stress is to care less – and if that means wearing your pyjamas to the corner shop, so be it.

If you’re like me, you’ve been caring too much about too many things for too long. You’re overextended and overburdened by life. Stressed out, anxious, maybe even panic-stricken about your commitments. I was almost 30 years old when I began to realise it was possible to stop caring so much, but I was nearly 40 before I figured out how to make it happen.

Little by little over the next few years, I stopped caring about small things that annoyed me. I unfriended some truly irritating people on Facebook. I refused to suffer through another reading of friends’ plays. And I stopped getting dressed up just to go to the grocery store behind my house (pyjamas are the new black). Little by little, I started feeling better. Less burdened. More peaceful. I hung up on people calling from call centres to sell me things; I said no to a weekend trip with toddlers; I stopped watching season two of True Detective after only one episode. I was becoming my true self, able to focus more on people and things that actually made me happy.

… and more at the article: [link here]

 

23-Apr-2015 Be a light unto yourself

Thursday 23 April 2015 Leave a comment

I read this quote today by Vimala Thakar which I liked, it just jumped off the page at me :

Don’t follow anyone. Be a light unto yourself.

Searching on the internet, it looks like The Buddha said something similar. I am not surprised:

the-buddha-quote-believe-nothing

I try not to follow anyone, ever, and just do my own thing, for better or worse.

Dawn says it makes me painful, not wanting to listen to anyone.

21-Feb-2015 Frozen Berry Recall!

Saturday 21 February 2015 Leave a comment

I was pretty annoyed with the recent recall of frozen berries that had caused Hep A in some people. I had the berries and out of our family it’s mainly me that uses them in my breakfast. I took them back to Woolworths and got my money back. I guess what annoys me is that I suppose I knew that something is fishy about the whole situation – let me explain: fresh raspberries are about $4 for a 100g punnet making it approx $40 per kg. So when someone sells them at $9 per kg then you just know it’s going to be cheap and nasty. Anyway, I have decided not to buy them anymore and the idea of getting cheap raspberries from China, you kinda know you are not buying the good stuff. I will just buy either Australian and/or Organic and wear the extra cost. As it turns out reasonably local (NSW) raspberries about $15 per kg. Maybe I am just annoyed at myself thinking I am getting a great – but we can all remember this : You get what you pay for.

Refer article in the SMH:

Patties Foods maintained samples of the berry products were tested four times using Australian food standards and they have also been working with the FSANZ to keep the public informed of their investigations.

Its chief executive Steven Chaur said there was still no “firm association [of hepatitis A] with our recalled products”.

“Many Chinese food production facilities also supply European and Japanese food markets, and they also have extremely strict hygiene and quality standards,” he said in a press release.

“Despite public misconceptions, many Chinese food production facilities are at least as hygienic as those in Australia and operate to similar regulatory compliance regimes.”

The outbreak has highlighted concerns about country-of-origin labelling on food.

Consumer group Choice has tested 55 packs of frozen mixed fruits and mixed vegetables and found nearly half the labels on the packs had “vague” or “unhelpful” information.

Choice said some of the worst claims included “Packed in New Zealand”, “Packed in Chile from imported and local ingredients” and “Processed in Belgium”.

It also found 12 per cent of its 700 members were not able to understand the meaning of “Made in Australia”.

“These claims offer very little information about a product’s origin and are largely meaningless to consumers,” Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said.

“Consumers deserve to know where their food comes from which is why we have launched a petition calling on the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce, to take action on country of origin labelling.”

Mr Joyce has supported changes to the country-of-origin labelling laws to stop manufacturers from using “sneaky terms” to “earn a premium” on cheaply made products.

Under current laws, the term “made from Australian and imported ingredients” is common, providing no detail on the exact origins of all the ingredients in a product or where it was packaged.

“There is a good way that you can avoid all of this and that is to make sure you eat Australian product,” Mr Joyce said on Wednesday.

“I want to make sure I do everything in my power to say to people your safest food is your domestic food. That is why you pay a premium for Australian product. It is clean, green and healthy.”

Mr Joyce’s spokesman confirmed a white paper on the potential legislation changes is due to go before the cabinet.

Tags: ,

3-Jan-2015 More thoughts on New Year Resolutions

Saturday 3 January 2015 Leave a comment

new year

I read this on someone’s facebook feed (so a tip of the hat to the author Neil Gaiman). The reason for posting here, and not on my recent post of 2015 resolutions, is that I want to wake up and think of this daily. I always want to keep pushing my limits.

I remember telling Dawn back in my teens that I didn’t want to be “middle-aged, middle-class and middle of the road”.

I just need to keep pushing myself and others to push me!

Tags:

31-Dec-2014 New Year’s Eve

Wednesday 31 December 2014 Leave a comment

Another New Year’s Eve. I dropped Dawn off at the station as she was working, so we left home at 5.10am. Not a good start but other than a swim with all 3 girls I haven’t done much. I like it like that. I am meeting Dawn as she comes home later tonight and we will go out then.

My resolutions for the coming year ? In general I think I have improved myself over the last few years. But here’s my main aims :

  • Drink more water – I probably don’t drink enough. I don’t drink cordials or sugary fizzy drinks and drink just an average amount of coffee. But sometimes I am more dehydrated than I should be.1
  • Drink less alcohol – as it happens I drink very little alcohol, as in the past year I probably had 20 standard drinks over the whole year spread reasonably across the year (a bit more in the December social season). However I really dislike drinking and I usually feel like crap even after one drink. I would be totally teetotal other than I only drink to fit in at social occasions and should just have the balls to say “no”.
  • Running consistently – When I get back to running, I want to aim at consistency and probably fewer races as I think that a lower level mileage and big races is contributing to me getting injured. Certainly when you can’t run, you would trade all the races in the world to just be able to run injury-free again. The simple pleasures in life!

Anyway here is an article I clipped from last year, which got me thinking most of this year about drinking less. Not that I was ever like this, but I like being hard-core about stuff like this.

Sobering night out highlights the horrors of our lushy lifestyle

Like a great slab of the population of Australia, I got rotten this festive season. I’m talking wobbly in my heels, slurring and gibbering sloshed. And while I thought I was having fun at the time, I wonder in hindsight whether I really was.

I certainly know I wasn’t the morning after, when I was woken by a stranger who had crashed on my couch, asking me to let her out of the locked front door. When I couldn’t find my handbag – which I hoped still held my keys – in any of the usual places, my new friend/couch surfer said I should retrace my steps after coming home. But I couldn’t. It was all a blur.

Eventually the bag was found under a pile of jackets that didn’t belong to me. They were next to several half-empty bottles of wine and a dishevelled display of empty beer cans. It seems I had hosted an after-party to the Christmas bash I had attended. Which was very generous of me, considering I couldn’t instantly recall who the guests were.

Some might laugh hearing this, others simply zone out because it’s the same old thing they hear day after day. The reality is that right now, there are literally thousands of Australians recalling how wasted they were last night, believing their excess to be amusing. But here’s the sad fact: it just isn’t.

I don’t think it’s funny I lost count of how many shots I downed on my recent night out. I don’t think it’s humorous that someone I barely knew slept on my lounge – it was reckless and dangerous to allow it. And I don’t think it’s in any way a laugh that I couldn’t immediately recall getting home.

I’m also sure that in all of the gibber I no doubt spouted there was little that would have been relevant or interesting. And I don’t think for one minute that I would have looked chic with panda eyes, Joker lipstick, red-wine teeth and bird’s-nest hair, looking and smelling like I’d just stepped out of a skip.

I could say I’m too old to act this way, but that’s irrelevant. No one looks good smashed – no one. I don’t care how young, pretty, handsome, affluent or intelligent – all drunks are the same: ugly.

I say this because since my big night, I have been abstaining from drinking – well, OK, limiting myself to safe driving levels of consumption. And oh, what a bloodshot red eye-opener it has been.

Take, for example, a pre-Christmas catch-up with dear friends this week. After struggling to find a park, I had to walk several blocks to the restaurant. It was 7pm and already I saw young girls in dresses too short and heels too high staggering and screeching on the streets. They were surrounded by young men similarly messy, some shirtless. They seemed to be heading out rather than returning from their night out.

And so, after a lovely dinner, I headed back to my car. It was probably 11pm and I swear that in the four or five blocks I had to walk, I witnessed the following: a girl with her dress hitched to her waist urinating in the gutter in front of a group of laughing onlookers; a young man vomiting against a tree; a loud, violent scuffle outside a bar between two blotto men; a couple pashing in full view of outdoor diners, the man’s hand down the clearly inebriated woman’s bra; a middle-aged man with an open pizza box dropping slices as he staggered, before being tripped up by a pesky gutter.

I also saw a woman screaming obscenities at her boyfriend before kicking over a garbage bin and leaving its contents strewn across the road. When I asked the woman if she intended to pick up said rubbish, she told me I could ”f—” myself and called me an ”ugly c—”. Charming.

Then, to top things off, there were three men loitering by my car who, as I approached, asked if I would like to fellate them.

Is this really what a fun night out has become? If so, I’m staying in and staying sober because it not only disgusted me, it left me feeling depressed.

Why? Because I realised that the atrocities of the few blocks I had travelled were being repeated all over Australia; that this is what now constitutes socialising in this country. And it made me despair for the generations to come, because even though drinking to excess was a rite of passage for my generation too, things have deteriorated.

This is not just a case of me being older and believing, vainly, that I wasn’t that bad, statistics show that binge drinking is increasing, especially among young people.

A 2012 report by the Victorian Auditor-General revealed alcohol-related violence and health problems cost the state $4.3 billion each year. It showed that ambulance attendances to alcohol-related incidents had increased by 219 per cent from 2009-10 to 2011-12. What’s more, the increase was 329 per cent for people aged up to 21. Add to this a 93 per cent increase in emergency department presentations (191 per cent for those up to 21) and it’s pretty clear we don’t have a problem with drinking in this country, we have a full-scale epidemic.

It is disturbing to think of just how many Australians suffer the short-term effects of alcohol – hangovers, headaches, nausea, shakiness, vomiting and memory loss – on a regular basis. Then there’s the behavioural problems – falls, assaults, car accidents, unplanned pregnancies, loss of valuables, overspending, time off work, relationship breakdowns. This is before we even get to long-term health concerns, such as addiction, liver and brain damage, and death.

I am grateful that my recent binge made me sober up and realise that while a few drinks with friends is fun, more than that is not.

So, with New Year’s Eve approaching, I plan to have a happy one, which means no hangover the next day, no strangers on my lounge, and no ouchy regret. I wish you and yours the same.

5-Nov-2014 RIP Jackie Fairweather-Gallagher

Wednesday 5 November 2014 Leave a comment
This report was in the news today and also posted on CoolRunning where I first saw it. Also refer her Wikipedia page.

Triathlon community mourns death of Jackie Fairweather

Canberra’s sporting community is in mourning over the death of elite triathlete and marathon runner Jackie Fairweather.

Social media was awash with tributes to the Canberra-based Australian Sports Commission performance manager on Monday night.
Fairweather (nee Gallagher) was a former world champion and Commonwealth Games medallist. She had been married to Australian Olympic archery champion Simon Fairweather since in 2004.

News of her death has rocked Australia’s triathlon community. Numerous tributes were posted on social media from Monday night in which she was described as an Australian sporting legend and a loving person and remembered for her strong contribution to the triathlon community.

I had met Jackie a few times and emailed her quite a bit when I was race director the Six Foot track Marathon. Obviously I didn’t know anything about her depression, and she seemed to me that even though she was an elite athlete, she was really nice and most of our conversations were about her plans to run as part of a large entourage of Canberra runners – she was very much focussed on everything working out for her friends and husband Simon who also ran. It just brings home to me, once again, that outside of a couple you never really know anything that is happening in people’s private lives. It’s all very sad (and she is not at all the first person I have known to have committed suicide).
Tags: ,

4-Nov-2014 Melbourne Cup

Tuesday 4 November 2014 Leave a comment

Call me un-Australian or whatever but I don’t care about the Melbourne Cup and never have. Sorry. A large percentage of people in the city use it as an excuse to bludge off work and drink to excess and I don’t think any one really cares about the racing.

I don’t like gambling. I do take part in the office sweep where refusal offends. This year I put bought one $2 ticket – options were $2, $5 and $10. I won $10 but it won’t change my opinion.
Horse-racing is not good for the horses either – on a variety of levels – this year two horses died in the Melbourne Cup alone!
No I didn’t have any alcohol.  I had a normal lunch (plain fresh tomato soup today) and went to the gym after work. They are more my sort of people !
I love this cartoon in the Guardian (click to make it larger):

7000:

3-Nov-2014 Still Injured

Monday 3 November 2014 1 comment

Despite recovering from my fall on Lady Carrington Drive a couple of weeks back, I still have this nagging pulled muscle behind my knee. This makes it very painful to even run slow on flat pavement.

I now have my bashed right shin from kayaking yesterday that is still painful, and will also last a couple of weeks.

This has put me in a negative state of mind about running races as it first occurred during the Coastal Classic back in Sept and has never really gone away. Dawn reckons that getting a massage would help, or multiple, but I never manage to get one.

In fact it seems that I quite often get injured during races over the last 4 or 5 years but I don’t get injured when I go running by myself. Clearly I over-stretch in races and generally push myself heaps harder than when I am by myself. It’s pretty obvious even to me that there us probably nil health benefits of this and indeed much health degradation going on.

So why do I keep doing these races if it stuffs me up so much ? That is indeed the question I am pondering as the North Face 100k entries open on Wednesday for next May. In reality I am not going to enter – I know that already as its not just the race (and expense, it’s $360 to enter) but all the long training runs I’d need to do and smaller races – and believe me I need to do them. My trots around the park are good but by no means am I as fit as I’d like to think.

It’s starting to make me question whether I still really even want to do races like six foot  each year or whether I should just move to do other things I enjoy…. I will probably enter six foot later in November and how it pans out. I probably need something to aim at to keep my training honest!

26-Oct-2014 Very Quiet Sunday

Sunday 26 October 2014 Leave a comment

Dawn was working today, and Jazmin, so I got up late as the house was quiet. Did a bunch of chores and sat on the back deck looking at the trees, sitting in the sun, having a coffee, breakfast and reading. Very relaxing. A swim, a run, another swim, time with Kody, cooking dinner for the kids, more reading …

I read a good article on moderation, probably what I need now ..

refer: http://workawesome.com/career/work-well/

Here are five ways that moderation can help you at work:

1. Better Health
We all work better when we are healthier as opposed to feeling under the weather. This is perhaps the biggest advantage to behaving moderately when it comes to eating and drinking habits.
The less salt, sugar and fat we take into our body, the more energy we will have during the work day. A few drinks after work or a glass of wine with dinner might actually help us relax, but getting smashed and coming to work hung over is never a good way to start the day.
Even exercise should be moderated, unless our job is to be a marathon runner or triathlete. Walking versus running and softball versus football might also make sense if you want to focus on work and not on aching muscles.
Find your own moderate balance with diet and exercise, and get a good night sleep for maximum performance at work.

2. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Well, you don’t have to be slow, but a steady performance at work is often much more appreciated than the fast and furious approach that we sometimes take.
When we are moderate in our work, we are careful and make fewer mistakes. That not only increases our productivity but also our supervisor’s appreciation of our work.
Quantity is important — very important in some jobs — but in most occupations quality is even more important. You simply can’t maintain the highest level of quality in your work if you are going too fast.
It’s not just that you might make mistakes, which you probably will, it’s that you won’t have time to plan or think or make things better.

3. Burning the Candle at Both Ends Hurts
Working late every day or working every weekend may be great for your personal sense of accomplishment. But without time to regenerate, our bodies as well as our minds will eventually run out of gas.
We need that downtime away from work to nurture ourselves and connect with our families and our communities. That in fact will make us better workers when we come back into the office after the weekend.
Most employers have also realized this as well and some have gone as far as to limit overtime and make vacations mandatory. They want their employees to succeed and be successful for a long period of time.
That’s why many of them encourage employees to start their work a little slower and build up experience and stamina as they learn how to work not just faster, but more effectively as well.

4. Get a Break from Stimulation
We live in a world of instant adrenaline. At work there’s always a buzz, something happening, something to plug into, listen to or engage in.
That helps many of us not only stay awake and attentive, but encourages us to keep moving and be more productive at work. But there is a downside to all this external stimulation that we try to turn off by putting on our headphones on the way home. There’s so much noise that we can’t hear ourselves think.
The value of moderating how much we let this external stimuli affect us is that we free up time and space to think again.
When we think we have the opportunity to come up with new solutions to old problems or to create new products, services or systems. This dramatically increases our value to our employer and just may help us feel more human as well.

5. Enjoy your Life, Even at Work
Moderation can bring us a little piece of serenity, even at work. The practice of moderation is really about keeping ourselves in balance.
We need to acknowledge and look after all parts of ourselves if we are going to be happy and healthy human beings. If any aspect of us is out of balance, it’s like the wobbly leg on our kitchen table. Sooner or later it will cause the table to fall over.
When we practice moderation we learn to relax a little more, and while we still work hard, we may find that both the quality and quantity of our work will increase.
Being moderate doesn’t mean we can be slow or lazy. That is just tipping the balance too far the other way. Living our lives in moderation is not boring either.
It actually means we can have the best of both worlds, at home and at work. We may not be able to have a second piece of pie, but that’s no reason why we can’t absolutely and completely enjoy that delicious first piece. We can enjoy our lives, even at work.

 

 

Tags:

26-Oct-2014 Living in the First World

Sunday 26 October 2014 Leave a comment

There was an article in the paper today I wanted to highlight. This is not just something I “liked” but it resonates to my very core and I believe in passionately and have taken positive steps to change my life because of. Refer link here.

A common criticism of our political leaders is they’re “out of touch” with the general public yet, if you examine the preoccupations of average Australians, they suggest we’re the blinkered ones.

As forces both destructive and constructive, powerful almost beyond comprehension, roil across the globe – be they religious, geopolitical, environmental or technological – the unruly rump of our population is more focused on silly TV shows, sport, their smartphone, sandwich fillings and property prices.

Why? Because this is their defining reality, living in the gilded First World bubble enveloping this country.

As reported by Credit Suisse recently, Australians are the richest people in the world, with 1.23 million of us now millionaires thanks to high property prices. The rest of us, however, still eat lavishly, never have to look over our shoulder in fear and can take long, hot showers whenever we want.

These “simple pleasures” which we accept as our birthright were the stuff of dreams for almost every person on the planet before the Industrial Revolution and remain so for much of the Third World.

Necessities we once bled for on a daily basis – food, safety, shelter – are now “bare essentials”. Our “needs” are so embarrassingly filled, we dream up new ones at a pace that litters streets with TVs, gas barbecues and white goods bearing cheery “still works fine” notes.

A T-shirt and thongs (with jeans) will get you into most bars in the country and a good number of offices on mufti day thanks to the beneficence of climate and our unassuming culture. The glut of natural resources we need only scratch red dirt to recover will see out our lifetimes at least.

The luck of the lucky country has not only held, it’s deepened, broadened and hardened into heedlessness of pretty much every major global issue – until an Ebola case lands at Tullamarine, a jihadist appears in Bankstown or a deceased airline passenger happens to be an accountant from Brisbane.

You can learn an enormous amount about a person if you know what holds their attention. As a predictor of behaviour, the attentional state is pivotal.

If your attention is focused on cake, it’s a good chance you’ll eat similar. If your attention’s on the body of a certain single person at a party, it’s a fair bet you’ll instigate flirtation. Can’t get machetes and shallow graves out of your mind? Let’s pass on the second date, eh?

Societies are no different and what holds their attention offers significant insight into behavioural trends.

A fortnight ago, all four stories on the landing page of a national “news” site recapped a reality TV show. More Aussies now know the specs of the iPhone 6 better than the purpose of the Large Hadron Collider. We seek “inspiration” from cooking and renovation shows in massive numbers as we get fatter, spending more time couch-bound.

When we do get angry, it’s not about people starving or going insane in offshore detention – it’s over a poorly phrased tweet on Q&A, a stupid T-shirt in Woolworths or bicycle lanes.

We have access to more information than ever, yet the majority of us remain wilfully ignorant of the forces shaping the headlines – power and money – and the inescapable fact that – on a world level – we’re the fattest, smuggest cats of all.

The concept of the “global village” we’ve been sold since the ’60s seems rather farcical when a good slice of its population never even bother to look out their window.

 

16-Oct-2014 I Know Nuffink

Thursday 16 October 2014 Leave a comment

This post was inspired by poetry of our fore-fathers listened to whilst I was out running:

The More I see, the more I know
The more I know, the less I understand

I think the reason I wanted to stop being manager of CoolRunning, and even doing less running, is that was really all I knew other my job :- running.

When I started doing yoga, it was like a new world – so many types and so much to learn – many people can do yoga every day for years and still not be an expert. (Like running), then there is surfing, gym and fitness, cooking, languages, music, books, travel – SO MUCH TO LEARN, and SO LITTLE TIME.

That’s why I can’t just do running, I need to move onto other things. I know some people might like just doing one thing, but it’s not me, I need to keep on moving on.

(Definition of nuffink is here).

14-Oct-2014 Himalayan Yogis

Tuesday 14 October 2014 Leave a comment

I watched this video about Himalayan Yogis whilst washing the dishes tonight. I usually set my laptop up in the kitchen and stream Youtube over the wifi. It works quite well.

I have a real desire to walk around India with few clothes, possessions or money.

Tags: ,

2-Oct-2014 War on the living world

Thursday 2 October 2014 Leave a comment

George Monbiot is one of the best journalists around today – he writes an uncomfortable truth, well-reasoned, not necessarily shouting slogans from rooftops. Luckily he has a great platform – a prime gig on the wonderful Guardian newspaper. His stuff is linked here.

Today he posted a great article here and of course it’s best to click the link and go read it on the Guardian as you get great pictures as well.

It’s time to shout stop on this war on the living world

Our consumption is trashing a natural world infinitely more fascinating and intricate than the stuff we produce

This is a moment at which anyone with the capacity for reflection should stop and wonder what we are doing.

If the news that in the past 40 years the world has lost over 50% of its vertebrate wildlife (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish) fails to tell us that there is something wrong with the way we live, it’s hard to imagine what could. Who believes that a social and economic system which has this effect is a healthy one? Who, contemplating this loss, could call it progress?

In fairness to the modern era, this is an extension of a trend that has lasted some 2 million years. The loss of much of the African megafauna – sabretooths and false sabretooths, giant hyaenas and amphicyonids (bear dogs), several species of elephant – coincided with the switch towards meat eating by hominims (ancestral humans). It’s hard to see what else could have been responsible for the peculiar pattern of extinction then.

As we spread into other continents, their megafauna almost immediately collapsed. Perhaps the most reliable way of dating the first arrival of people anywhere is the sudden loss of large animals. The habitats we see as pristine – the Amazon rainforest or coral reefs for example – are in fact almost empty: they have lost most of the great beasts that used to inhabit them, which drove crucial natural processes.

Since then we have worked our way down the foodchain, rubbing out smaller predators, medium-sized herbivores, and now, through both habitat destruction and hunting, wildlife across all classes and positions in the foodweb. There seems to be some kink in the human brain that prevents us from stopping, that drives us to carry on taking and competing and destroying, even when there is no need to do so.

But what we see now is something new: a speed of destruction that exceeds even that of the first settlement of the Americas, 14,000 years ago, when an entire hemisphere’s ecology was transformed through a firestorm of extinction within a few dozen generations, in which the majority of large vertebrate species disappeared.

Many people blame this process on human population growth, and there’s no doubt that it has been a factor. But two other trends have developed even faster and further. The first is the rise in consumption; the second is amplification by technology. Every year, new pesticides, fishing technologies, mining methods, techniques for processing trees are developed. We are waging an increasingly asymmetric war against the living world.

But why are we at war? In the rich nations, which commission much of this destruction through imports, most of our consumption has nothing to do with meeting human needs.

This is what hits me harder than anything: the disproportion between what we lose and what we gain. Economic growth in a country whose primary and secondary needs have already been met means developing ever more useless stuff to meet ever fainter desires.

For example, a vague desire to amuse friends and colleagues (especially through the Secret Santa nonsense) commissions the consumption of thousands of tonnes of metal and plastic, often confected into complex electronic novelties: toys for adults. They might provoke a snigger or two, then they are dumped in a cupboard. After a few weeks, scarcely used, they find their way into landfill.

In a society bombarded by advertising and driven by the growth imperative, pleasure is reduced to hedonism and hedonism is reduced to consumption. We use consumption as a cure for boredom, to fill the void that an affectless, grasping, atomised culture creates, to brighten the grey world we have created.

We care ever less for the possessions we buy, and dispose of them ever more quickly. Yet the extraction of the raw materials required to produce them, the pollution commissioned in their manufacturing, the infrastructure and noise and burning of fuel needed to transport them are trashing a natural world infinitely more fascinating and intricate than the stuff we produce. The loss of wildlife is a loss of wonder and enchantment, of the magic with which the living world infects our lives.

Perhaps it is misleading to suggest that “we” are doing all this. It’s being done not only by us but to us. One of the remarkable characteristics of recent growth in the rich world is how few people benefit. Almost all the gains go to a tiny number of people: one study suggests that the richest 1% in the United States capture 93% of the increase in incomes that growth delivers. Even with growth rates of 2 or 3% or more, working conditions for most people continue to deteriorate, as we find ourselves on short contracts, without full employment rights, without the security or the choice or the pensions their parents enjoyed.

Working hours rise, wages stagnate or fall, tasks become duller, more stressful and harder to fulfill, emails and texts and endless demands clatter inside our heads, shutting down the ability to think, corners are cut, services deteriorate, housing becomes almost impossible to afford, there’s ever less money for essential public services. What and whom is this growth for?

It’s for the people who run or own the banks, the hedge funds, the mining companies, the advertising firms, the lobbying companies, the weapons manufacturers, the buy-to-let portfolios, the office blocks, the country estates, the offshore accounts. The rest of us are induced to regard it as necessary and desirable through a system of marketing and framing so intensive and all-pervasive that it amounts to brainwashing.

A system that makes us less happy, less secure, that narrows and impoverishes our lives, is presented as the only possible answer to our problems. There is no alternative – we must keep marching over the cliff. Anyone who challenges it is either ignored or excoriated.

And the beneficiaries? Well they are also the biggest consumers, using their spectacular wealth to exert impacts thousands of times greater than most people achieve. Much of the natural world is destroyed so that the very rich can fit their yachts with mahogany, eat bluefin tuna sushi, scatter ground rhino horn over their food, land their private jets on airfields carved from rare grasslands, burn in one day as much fossil fuel as the average global citizen uses in a year.

Thus the Great Global Polishing proceeds, wearing down the knap of the Earth, rubbing out all that is distinctive and peculiar, in human culture as well as nature, reducing us to replaceable automata within a homogenous global workforce, inexorably transforming the riches of the natural world into a featureless monoculture.

Is this not the point at which we shout stop? At which we use the extraordinary learning and expertise we have developed to change the way we organise ourselves, to contest and reverse the trends that have governed our relationship with the living planet for the past 2m years, and that are now destroying its remaining features at astonishing speed?

Is this not the point at which we challenge the inevitability of endless growth on a finite planet? If not now, when?

28-Sept-2014 A Quiet Weekend

Sunday 28 September 2014 Leave a comment

There’s no other word for it, it’s been a quiet and relaxing weekend!

Friday night I left work late in time for 6.30pm gym class, did 2 classes HIIT and a Hardcore (for my soft core … it was hard yakka). Then the steam room and sauna then a cold juice and a slow walk down George St with a samosa chaat and Masala Chai at the Jaipur. Caught the train in time to meet Dawn from yoga at 10pm.

Saturday up late (10am), some chores then a swim. Pretty much the first proper one of the summer season. Hordern’s beach was beautiful. just gorgeous. sunny and warm. The water was a bit nippy but quite tolerable. Then after I went for a 3hr run to Wattamolla beach and had a quick swim there and ran back. I took my ipod, Paul Weller, Counting Crows and Pearl Jam, all live. It was hot and I went for a quick dip at home again before zonking out on the hammock on the back deck!

Jazmin had built a BBQ in the back garden we all sat out and had our food out the back – surely the first sing of the approaching summer. It was great and she did a great job, with Dawn her helper.

Sunday, I also got up at 10am. Dawn was at work and all the kids went out, so I did a bunch of chores, listened to some music, did a bunch of reading, breakfast and then for another swim at the beach. Just great. Later in the afternoon I ran to Maianbar, but took it easy after yesterday’s effort.

I read the following :

The Woman Who Walked 10,000 Miles in Three Years [link]

But then there’s Sarah Marquis, who perhaps should be seen as an explorer like Scott, born in the wrong age. She is 42 and Swiss, and has spent three of the past four years walking about 10,000 miles by herself, from Siberia through the Gobi Desert, China, Laos and Thailand, then taking a cargo boat to Brisbane, Australia, and walking across that continent. Along the way, like Scott, she has starved, she has frozen, she has (wo)man-hauled. She has pushed herself at great physical cost to places she wanted to love but ended up feeling, as Scott wrote of the South Pole in his journal: “Great God! This is an awful place.” Despite planning a ludicrous trip, and dying on it, Scott became beloved and, somewhat improbably, hugely respected. Marquis, meanwhile, can be confounding. “You tell people what you’re doing, and they say, ‘You’re crazy,’ ” Marquis told me. “It’s never: ‘Cool project, Sarah! Go for it.’ ” Perhaps this is because the territory Marquis explores is really internal — the nature of fear, the limits of stamina and self-reliance and the meaning of travelling in nature as a female human animal, alone.

and then :

Global explorer Alastair Humphreys discovers microadventure [link]

When Alastair Humphreys leaves an “out of office” note, it’s for real.
But these days, the Briton — who once left his parents’ house and came back four years later after cycling around the world — is finding adventure closer to home.
“Originally I wanted to test myself, to see what I was capable of physically and mentally, and I suppose I wanted to try to make my mark for myself and on the world,” he tells CNN’s Human to Hero series.
“Now it’s just more the curiosity of going to new places and the simplicity of life when you’re out on an expedition, and the contrast of the life out in the wild to the real world back home — the urban, busy, hectic life which I also enjoy.”

It sent me off reading other links and even buying his book about walking across India. That is the kind of stuff I want to do, not sit in an office !!!

 

20-Aug-2014 Only so many tomorrows

Wednesday 20 August 2014 Leave a comment

image

 

Quote from here.

Tags: ,

15-Aug-2014 Don’t Waste Your Short Life

Friday 15 August 2014 Leave a comment

I read this (here) and obviously it’s well worth sharing, for myself to remember & follow, and anyone reading this to do the same :

dontwaste

 

Tags:

3-Jun-2014 You’ve Changed

Tuesday 3 June 2014 Leave a comment

I read this today and like it, and I want people to say the same to me:

“People say to you, ‘you’ve changed’, or something like that, well, I hope, for the sake of God that you have changed, because I don’t want to be the same person all my life. I want to be growing, I want to be expanding. I want to be changing. Because animate things change, inanimate things don’t change. Dead things don’t change. And the heart should be alive, it should be changing, it should be moving, it should be growing, its knowledge should be expanding.”

That was by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, link here

Tags: ,

2-Jun-2014 Your life in weeks

Monday 2 June 2014 Leave a comment

I read a fascinating article here about your life in weeks and months. If you live 90 years that is 90×12 months or 90x12x4 weeks, which sounds a lot but isn’t really. They draw some nifty graphs to show you. Clearly the message is not to waste your time. I try not to waste any time, but then I have to remember that you do have to rest. The average person spends a third of their time asleep, so that’s 30 years gone from the ninety to start with !

 

 

Tags:

20-May-2014 Vitamins & Supplements

Tuesday 20 May 2014 Leave a comment

I have never been a fan of vitamin pills and supplements. I am not really sure why, maybe the act of taking them is like admitting that your diet is inadequate or “just in case” ie you don’t have the courage of your convictions. I try to eat as healthy as I can and do everything else I can to be healthy. When I read articles about how the vitamin pill industry is a big scam eg here and here, I feel better about the world. I just can’t bring myself to spend money on them, although like anyone in the 20th or 21st centuries I have bought them before. Did I feel any better for it?  No, not really.

I saw this diagram and quite like it …. (click for larger size)

1276_snake_oil_supplements_Apr14