The Blog (archived)

Category: Personal



Introducing My New Website

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything here - a whole year has flashed by - so I thought it was about time I gave an update and introduced my new website

One reason for my lack of additions to this blog, and the rest of this website, has been the ongoing combination of work and study. One part time job, one casual job (which encroached on evenings and Saturdays), and part time study kept me out of mischief for a while.

Thankfully I’ve now finished my Diploma of Library and Information Services, and no longer have assignments to annoy me. Nor that feeling that “I ought to be doing homework” weighing on my mind whenever I was doing anything other than homework. I feel like a normal person again, or as close to normal as I want to be.

Screen-shot of a page on Roaming Down UnderWhen I wasn’t working or doing homework, my modest creative energy has, for the last year or more, been diverted away from this website to another project: a new website about travel in Australia and New Zealand.

I love travelling, especially to places which haven’t yet been changed forever by mass tourism. I also love taking photos which record the natural beauty of the places I visit. Writing about such places appeals to me too, and is therapeutic. When I realised there is room on the internet for what I had in mind, I felt compelled to create it. The result is my new website, called Roaming Down Under. Not surprisingly, it lives at www.roamingdownunder.com

I haven’t announced my new website before because I wanted to have a decent amount of stuff in place before promoting it. Although it may never be truly “finished” (the site documents my life’s travels, which I hope will continue for some time yet), the 57 pages I’ve done so far probably constitute a “decent amount of stuff”.

Some of my travel entries from this blog have been moved over to my new site, and any future stuff I write that is travel-related will go there too.

I still have ideas for the blog you’re reading now, and other parts of this website such as the Snow In WA section. This website shall continue. However, priority for web writing will go to Roaming Down Under … and now I’m done with studying, there’s the novel I hope to finish drafting this year! If there are more long gaps before blog entries, that will be why.

 


Flat Out Like A Lizard Drinking

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Recently I’ve been flat out like a lizard drinking. After having used this colloquial phrase a few times, I started wondering about its origins, and found these definition on the Urban Dictionary website:

Flat out like a lizard drinking
1. Verb/simile. To be working really hard, or so under the pump that you’ve found yourself dehydrated.
2. Adj. Simile. To be extremely busy to the point of running “flat out,” a play on words involving the image of a lizard that physically stretches itself thin to literally drink water from a pond etc.
3. To be, or have been, hard at work. Originating in Australia.

A lizard drinkingI have indeed been rather busy lately, which is why I haven’t updated this blog (or the rest of this website) for a long time. My readers may know I’ve been studying and working for some time now, which accounts for my flat-out-ness and reduction in spare time.

In April I reduced my studies to half of full time, and with a job also amounting to half of full time, I thought things would be more balanced. Not so! My assignments became more time consuming, which apparently is normal in the end stages of the course I’m studying (but they didn’t tell us that at the beginning). Then I acquired another job doing casual relief work in a number of libraries, with the amount of work so far exceeding my expectations. Between the two jobs I’m now working more than full time, while my home computer sits unemployed and neglected on most days.

It’s a good sort of busyness, though. With all the economic gloom we hear on the news, I feel blessed to have as much work as I can fit in. Also my two jobs are very different and provide balance and variety, while both being close to home and in my field of study.

I do hope to fit in some writing occasionally, because I find it therapeutic … but if I don’t it’s because I’m like a lizard drinking: flat out.

 


The Joys Of Being A Working Student

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I’ve been a student now for nearly two years. At first I was studying full-time and able to focus on being a student, which wasn’t too bad. For the last five months, however, I’ve been doing three-quarters of a full-time study load while also working about three days per week, and I’ve not surprisingly been feeling a little bit stretched. Writing is therapeutic, so to cheer myself up I thought I’d write a list of some of the positives of an overloaded combination of work and study. Here it is:

  • It encourages good spending habits. Earning too much to receive a student allowance, but not earning enough to cover all expenses in the long term, is an excellent incentive to practise careful budgeting.
  • It improves appreciation of spare time. This is the principle of supply and demand in action - the less spare time there is, the more highly it is valued.
  • It makes life easier for indecisive people by limiting the decisions about how to spend after-hours time. That’s because, whatever the day or time, there is always some sort of homework that ought to be done!
  • It helps get chores done. When faced with a pile of unpleasant homework and study, mundane household chores which have been put off for a long time suddenly become more attractive in comparison, and may actually get done as a form of homework avoidance.
  • It can encourage a better outlook on employment. Full time work can be a chore, but the endless after-hours homework that comes with studying can inspire appreciation for a job which you can forget about when leaving work for the day.
  • It is a double blessing. Many people would like to study, but aren’t able, or would like to work, but can’t find a job … I get to do both! While doing both at the same time can be tiring, many are denied the opportunity to do either.

Now that I’ve avoided homework for however long it took me to write this, I really should get back to revising for an exam on Monday. On the other hand, my toilet needs cleaning …

 


My First Million (Visitors)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The moment passed unnoticed, and I’m not sure exactly when it happened … but sometime near the start of this year this website received its one millionth visitor.

I only noticed this milestone when transferring website statistics into a spreadsheet, something I do only occasionally. Accurate numbers are missing for parts of this site’s ten year history, but the steadiness of visitor numbers means I can be fairly confident that the one million total was reached within a month or two either side of the start of 2009. Not hits, or page views, but unique visitors - actual humans visiting this site (repeat visits within each month are filtered out).

My mind boggles a little - this is just a non-commercial, hobby-related personal website which I’ve hardly ever promoted. I can credit the visitor traffic mostly to the page about my navel lint collection, which has been referred to by numerous other websites and media stories over the years. In fact, as of today, there are 2786 websites linking to my navel lint page, according to Google - a testament to the popularity of things considered weird. What encourages me more is knowing there are another 2100 websites out there linking to pages on my site other than the navel lint page.

If only earning the first million dollars was as easy as accumulating the first million website visitors … if it were so, I might have been reporting this via satellite from an Antarctic cruise ship!

Thank you for visiting.

 


Concord To A380 - Some Things Never Change

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Airbus A380 visiting Perth AirportWay back in the 1970s, the first flight to Australia by the Concord was a big event. I remember being excused from primary school by my dad to go to Sydney airport and see the arrival of this supersonic airliner. Three and a half decades later, some things haven’t changed much. I am once again a student, and again went to see the historic arrival of an impressive new aircraft - the Airbus A380 on its first trip to Perth.

The aircraft in question is the first Airbus A380 - the largest passenger plane ever built - purchased by Qantas. Yesterday it flew into Perth as part of a pilot training exercise and national publicity tour. As with the Concord all those years earlier, a large crowd turned out to watch it land and get a closer look at a groundbreaking aircraft which has been in the news. The photos show it parked at Perth airport yesterday.

Airbus A380 visiting Perth AirportIn perfect spring weather the plane flew low and majestically above the airport and across the city, then impressed the crowd with a neat and gentle landing. I should confess here that I find the landing of large aircraft to be a particularly stirring sight. Until now a Boeing 777 landing has moved me the most, but the A380 is at least as impressive. That such a massive and powerful vehicle, flying at high speed, can touch down so gently and precisely is quite remarkable, and a sight to savour … or at least it is for me!

Some boys may lose their fascination with cutting edge aircraft as they grow older, but not me. Judging by the size and enthusiasm of the crowd at Perth airport yesterday, I’m not alone.

 


Thankful

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Today, being June 18th, marks twenty years since the day I fell down a cave near Margaret River. The full story is on my Cave Fall page, but in a nutshell - I lost my grip on a wire ladder and fell about twelve metres to the rocky floor of a cave. Miraculously, I survived the impact with no major injuries.

Cave Risk signIt can be good to reflect on milestone events, and this one is significant. The fall I had could easily have killed me - others have fallen lesser distances and died - or at least left me seriously disabled. I was extremely grateful at the time that neither happened; instead I got off very lightly with some cracked ribs and bruising, tiny discomforts compared to what might have been.

Today I can pause and give thanks for twenty years of life which by rights I shouldn’t have had. I’m probably not the only one who should be doing this. I suspect many people - if not most - have been in situations where things could so easily have ended tragically, but by the grace of God it didn’t. It’s good to remember such blessings and to always be thankful for them.

 


When Quitting Is Good

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We’re often told that “winners never quit, and quitters never win”, and exhorted to perservere to the end. Winston Churchill famously advised “never, ever, give up”. While striving to succeed is a good thing, there are times when quitting may be wise, as I’ve discovered.

The reason I’m reflecting on this now is that today is the tenth anniversary of an incident which led me to give up skiing. Prior to then, snow skiing was a passion, and the only sport I was any good at. Living a few thousand kilometres from the nearest snow was an obstacle, but with some dedication I managed to become quite competant and ambitious.

Temptation to quit came while skiing at the delightful resort of Fernie, in the Canadian Rockies. A high speed crash saw me with a torn knee ligament (ACL), mild whiplash and numerous cuts and bruises. It was during the humbling journey off the slopes via stretcher and ambulance that I started wondering about the wisdom of continuing to ski.

Author on a stretcher at Fernie ski area
Feb 1998: Pondering what can
go wrong when hurtling down
a hill strapped to two planks

Skiing is a sport where falling over is virtually unavoidable, and I’d suffered minor injuries before (concussion being the worst result). The better I got, the faster I went and the slopes I skiied became more challenging. Although I was falling over less, the potential for serious damage when I did fall became greater. Also I wasn’t as young and rubbery as I once was! Continuing to ski didn’t appear very compatible with my aim of living to a ripe old age without disabilities. I decided to retire from the sport before I did myself too much damage.

I sometimes miss the exhilaration of skiing, but I’ve found that most of what I enjoyed about it - the pristine alpine environments and wintry conditions - can still be enjoyed without flying down obstacle-strewn snowy hills at reckless speeds. The time and energy I devoted to skiing has been redirected into hiking, and a whole new world of recreation has opened up. Despite the negative things we are told about quitting, I have no regrets about pulling the pin on skiing. In fact, as I start to feel the wear and tear of ageing, I’m grateful for the injuries and pains I’ve almost certainly avoided by quitting when I did.

This is just one example of when quitting something can be good. Other examples could include quitting an ill-suited job or course of study in order to pursue something better. Have you quitted anything and, when later looking back on how things turned out, felt glad that you did?

 


Blogging Drops Off As I Begin Studying

Sunday, August 19, 2007

My regular readers (hello to both of you!) may have noticed I haven’t written much lately. But I can explain.

I’ve recently put career number two (information technology) behind me and embarked upon full time study for career number three (library and information services). The course is not hard yet, but switching back to full time study mode has not come easily. Absorbing new learning and juggling seven subjects at once - with homework - may have come naturally when I was young, but as a mature-age home-owner stuck for many years in the routine of work, some mental readjustment has been needed. And it’s not just my mind that’s being stretched - I’ve upped my exercise level and joined a gym too.

Consequently my internet habits, which were already modest, have been taking a back seat. I will continue blogging because I still like to write, but my regularity will probably remain low and inconsistent for a while, until being a student becomes as routine as my previous life.

 


Infrequent updates and why

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Many blog writers add to their blogs every day, but its two weeks since I last added to mine. There are reasons.

I was using public transport while my car was off the road, and this ate into my after-work time. Also my focus has shifted to a holiday I’m about to embark on. However the main reason I don’t update daily is my habit of not saying anything unless I’ve got something to say.

I expect I’ll have much to say when travelling, but on the other hand, I work with computers for a living and it might do me good to have a break from them. So if there are no updates here for a while, it probably means I’m enjoying myself doing some computer-free winter hiking in the spectacular south island of New Zealand.

 


Why I’m not allowing comments on this blog

Friday, May 12, 2006

Many blogs allow readers to post their own comments on whatever the blog writer has written. This input and discussion from others can make a blog much more interesting, however I’ve not enabled it here.

Sadly, forums where the public are freely able to post messages - such as blogs and discussion boards - are open to abuse in the form of spam and offensive messages. This requires somebody to regularly monitor and delete the inappropriate material, and the more visitors a site gets, the worse the problem. Thats why I stopped allowing entries to my guestbook years ago - deleting the pornographic and offensive rubbish started to demand more time and attention than I was able and willing to give it.

Its a shame … but this website is just an occasional hobby, and I don’t want policing it to be a daily headache!

 


Why I started a blog

Sunday, April 16, 2006

When it seemed as if almost every Tom, Dick and Harry was starting up a blog, or online diary, I felt no compulsion to follow suit. Following the crowd is something I avoid, often as a matter of principle. But a recent examination of some other people’s blogs suggested I may have been too hasty in dismissing the idea … perhaps it could be worthwhile after all.

I enjoy writing, and usually find it theraputic. However I’ll often think of things I’d like to share on the internet, but which go unexpressed because they don’t warrant a web page of their own. A blog is a quick and easy way of expressing something online without having to be concerned with page formatting, and should nicely complement other more structured or long term writing projects such as the rest of this website, or the novel I’ve been working on for many years.

Time will tell if I have anything much to say in the context of this blog. But if I have, my website traffic of 8000 visitors per month (long term average) means there is a potential audience that makes it worthwhile to at least have a go. Thats why I started a blog.