Andy White

I've been ramping up my running lately. It's a type of meditation. Sometimes I just run. Other times I run and listen to music or podcasts.

Yesterday I went for a tempo run in the rain. I listened to the album, "Rave On Andy White" and entered my usual running dream/pain state. I thought of the inspirations I attached to these songs over the years. I thought how those inspirations morph into reminders. Sometimes they are just reminders about the stupid things I used to get inspired about. Other times I am reminded about the type of person I wanted to be.

Andy White sung about Reality Row like it was a bad thing. Maybe he is right?

As a young bloke I think he rather fancied himself as a 'WockStah' as he walked down Six String Street in a Groovy Kind of Way. Despite Andy being a bit of a narcissist (show me a young bloke who isn't) I've always loved his cheerful tunes. I think Andy liked to pretend to be some sort of romantic version of Bob Dylan or an Irish version of Billy Bragg, some say he is. I wore out several of his cassette tapes over the years and I always love rediscovering his pop-with-a-hint-of-politics but mostly silly-romantic. Which probably says more about me than Mr White.

Here is a picture of me in the midst of a depressing and life changing time in 1990-ish.

Ben depressed in Pontypridd, Wales. Circa 1990-1

I was probably recently returned from or soon to go to one of the many music festivals around at the time. I remember the Fleadh at Finsbury Park and the Féile in Tipperary. I am sure I was listening to Andy White when Neil, Gareth or Lizzy snapped it.

So, the run was shit. I could barely walk to the bog last night. Andy, as always, was good company on my crap journey. He helped me crack open a few insights along the way. Thanks for that Mr White.

Granny in Oz

My Ma recently arrived home in chilly Totnes. I loved having her staying with us for the tail end of our summer.

We had lots of fun cycling and walking around the beaches, town and village. I had been worried she'd be too hot but I think it was mostly pretty good. There was the obligatory few rainy days but it was mostly blazing sunshine.

Long Blinks

I stuck a few photos over here.

Foul Weather

It was the Saltwater Freshwater Festival yesterday. Suzy and I enjoyed it, we were volunteering to help out. Rodney and Agrippa took Zaida with them. I found myself hosting the tent for the tribal elders. A french woman kept coming into the tent and leaving her kids there for me to baby-sit and feed whilst she got into the moshpit for some dancing. She was not an aboriginal elder. Some aboriginal youngsters came in and stuffed armloads of We all had fun I think. Zaida got a swim at the Jetty which she liked. After we all got home the heavens opened. It's been bucketing down all night and still is. I feel sorry for Zaida in the caravan and have no idea what to suggest we do in this foul weather. All we can hope for is that it lets up before too long. Suzy suggested to me LaserQuest. I retorted that I cannot drive. Fuck.

Squashed my thumb yesterday the nail bed has a blood patch. It will go black and probably drop off over the next month or so. It is annoying. As is the rain.

Like Spacfiller

I am tired on these summer mornings. The hot days and the humid stuffy nights leave me lying awake in the pre-dawn, tired to the bone. For the first few minutes I don't want to get up and face the day. Then my bladder lets me know I have a hard choice to make so I get up. Zaida is staying with us at the moment. We have borrowed Grendells Mother and Normans caravan which gives her a room and us some space. Suzy and Rodney are watching the tennis on the telly in the shed. Suzy is obsessing over who plays who on the ipad. She and Rodney just got back from a trip to the Tennis Open in Melbourne. Tennis is their chosen obsession and I am not interested in them or it. This week I have been talking, walking and hanging out with Zaida. Prior to her arrival I was home alone with Agrippa. He played lego and nerded on the computer. He persuaded me to let him install a couple more games on the already overheating and overfull mini-mac.

Last night I finished rereading Utz by Bruce Chatwin. I enjoy how he transparently mixes the biographical tale with what he imagines to be and what he observes. I am still annoyed that he was criticised for this. Story telling can be true and dull or embellished with the authors suspicions, innuendoes and bias leaving the tale to glitter and dazzle. I also enjoy Chatwins pretentious little anecdotes; historical name dropping or potted historical asides. He has been so copied since. Some years ago I read a book about Bottringer; the golems and porceline alchemy which felt like the author had decided to write 'Utz volume 2'. I thought I would take Utz around to MJD. I would like him to read it. He might enjoy the references to all the various obscure historical philosophies and characters. He may also enjoy discussing the notion of the collector or the 'fan'. In fact I have a mind to reread it with this in mind before I lend it to him.

Zaida has told me Carmen's current man is a bit of a 'useless drunk'. She can be unkindly judgemental sometimes. However in truth that did lead me to think about the possibility of a future relationship with Carmen. Such a calculating and stupid brain as mine looking to fill the gaps in my present situation. That last sentence makes relationships look like spacfiller. The bog of human kindness.

I have been kayaking with the Bonville canoe club for the past two Saturdays with Dan Arden. I have really enjoyed pushing myself through the race but I lack in technique and need practice. It is fun though, I'd forgotton how much I crave that kind of exercise where I use my open arms, my torso, shoulders and chest. Opening my upper body up and pulling myself through the water feels so clean and refreshing. I feeling like it balances nicely against running or cycling nicely. I am still running. Not as much as I imagined I was which is a little disappointing. I suppose if I keep going I will balance out my regular ability with the recorded facts. Then I will begin the painstaking task of trying to improve myself. I am considering not only the Kokoda Challenge with Sonya but also the Gold Coast Marathon with Sophia. They are two weeks apart, the marathon second. I feel that I could do it if I train hard. I can walk the Kokoda and rest then run the marathon. It would be an awesome way to finish my degree.

I am worried that when University begins again I shall find myself too busy to exercise. Having lost my licence may prove to be a bonus as I can only retain my independence of travel if I do so by running or cycling. Of course I could cadge a lift from C, J or a bus - but I'd prefer not. I have put towels in the fire-station and will also add soap and deodorant. I will do the same at a locker on the University Campus. This will allow me to get 'de-sweated' after my run/ride before classes. I feel like I need to prepare for training. Indeed I need a training plan. To that end I have been recording my runs and rides with Endomondo and notes in my diary. Earlier in the month I decided to try for increasing my endurance for six weeks. This should give me a measure of my distance ability. Then I can spend six weeks working on my strength. This will entail heading inland to go up and down the mountains before of after Uni. Or, I could use the gym for strength training, very dull. I imagine it will end up being a combination. After that if I am still going I will need to plan more...

It's eight thirty. Everyone else is up and doing. I should be too. The past two days I ate so today I will fast. Coffee is allowed though.

Alien Terror and Inclement Weather

Which is scarier, Alien or ET?

Which is scarier, Alien or ET?

Agrippa and Choppy had been talking about the Alien movies for quite some time. Agrippa decided it was time for him to brave the terrors. Last night we stayed up and watched the first Alien movie. Agrippa had never seen it before and was slightly terrified throughout.

Choppy was unsympathetic.

The John Hurt alien out the belly scene always reminds me of working in the Emergency Department..

The 'John Hurt births an Alien out the belly scene' always reminds me of working in the Emergency Department..

When the alien baby was being birthed out of John Hurts' belly Choppy was admonishing Agrippa to keep his eyes open and unblock his ears. He went on to tell of his stalwart bravery when he first watched Alien. I let Agrippa bury his face in my chest and put my arm around him.

I remembered Choppys sheer terror at seeing ET hiding amongst the cuddly toys.

Which is scarier, Alien or ET?

It's now Tuesday morning, ten to nine. The sunny spell has been broken with a night of thunderstorms. The rain is blatting on the roof like machine gun fire. Like most mornings of late, I had intended to go for a run. It is not very appealing in the sweltering heat nor in a cold hard deluge of rain.

My Ma is probably enroute to Australia by now. No doubt her departure triggered the thunderstorms last night. After almost two months of perfect weather, admittedly far too hot. It has been the kind of weather that is good for barbeques on the back deck, swimming and kayaking in the creeks and surfing off the headlands. My favourite activity being evening strolls into the village with the smell of jasmine. I have been mostly settled in the hammock or on the torn and faded sofa on our back deck reading books interspersed with long runs. I've had occaisonal visits from my good friends Alfred or MJD, we generally talk about books or complain at the heat.

When the weather turns inclement the back deck becomes a cold place of misery. The grass grows even more rapidly, it cannot be cut. The dog refuses to wade through the wet tufts of uncut grass to shit. The tin roof amplifies the impact of every rain drop making conversation difficult. Even listening to the radio becomes an ordeal. The forecasters are saying this rain has been a long time coming and we can expect it to stay. Sorry Ma.

Duckduckgo tells the weather like it is

I'm going for a run anyway.

Murder

I just murdered the four red chooks. They had been guilty of eating all their own menstrual waste and tearing the feathers off each others breasts. I rung their necks. The first one was patchy, she had lost most of her feathers to the others. She had a skinny neck which softly crunched as I twisted it. It felt like grinding pepper. She struggled weakly and went limp. I laid her body on the ground. I was premature, she wasted no time and ran away. I could not catch her again easily so I grabbed another. I did not stop twisting until I felt the neck start to come apart under my fingers. She lay still when I released her. I quickly caught the patchy chook and finished her off too. Whilst trying to catch the third chook the two chooks whose necks I had already rung got to their feet. They ran with their heads hanging loosely at their sides, beaks opening and closing soundlessly. Small quantities of blood splashed the ground and loose feathers swirled around them. The paler of the two remaining chooks, disregarding the death throes of her sisters, was excitedly feasting upon the loose feathers. I grabbed her neck, wrenched and twisted it. She lay still for a moment then ran and hopped around the pen bumping into me. I instinctively grabbed her and pushed her to the back of the pen towards her now dead sisters. She turned straight back towards me her head swinging by her side her neck bulging and bleeding. I deflected her again. The smell of chicken shit, blood and my own sweat mingled in the dust. My spit tasted like iron. I turned to the last chook, she was the alpha of the flock. Her feathers were lustrous, she stood proudly and fixed me with an unforgiving yellow stare. I knew she was the reason I'd decided to kill them all. She taught them all their bad habits. She was the queen of the pen and I wished I'd killed her first. Her neck was thicker and harder to break than all the others. Even as I pulled and twisted I was afraid of her cold eyes and rank smell. Her head came away in my tightly gripped right hand and I felt dirty to my core.

When the bodies had gone flaccid I lowered them into an old rice sack and tied it tightly with some old video cables. I threw them in the bin and will take them to the city dump today. Afterwards I went inside and showered. I scrubbed myself like Pontius Pilate.

Hippy Neanderthal

Running shoes are wearing out. I'm dripping with sweat after a short (2.6k) run with Pippy. It was shorter than it felt. Listening to a Guardian podcast about AI. Nick Bostrom is worried super intelligent beings may keep us happy in the future by implanting electrodes in our smiling muscles. That's just silly. I expect we shall be chuckling at the silly ideas and names we currently have for our evolving technologies. There will probably be a Silicon Punk fashion movement who will reuse our silly futurist phrases to much hilarity and irony. Or then again fashionistas may be hiding out in the remaining forests with their primate cousins whilst the machines build interstellar spacecraft. We will go the way of our late cousins the Neanderthals. I suspect the Neanderthals ended their days being relaxed hippies, sucking on mammoth bones round a nice log fire. Hopefully we shall be similarly enlightened.

How could it happen I wonder? Lets say it 2500 A.D. The AI's have been around for ages. They are transporting us to more and more delightful places, doing all our dirty work, encouraging us to live long, healthy and happy lives. We have luxury which, let's face it, the reader would like to hear about. We trust the AI's implicitly, we let them control our medicine. Babies neutered at birth. Not to worry though, if we want babies naturally the procedure is easily reversed, but fewer and fewer people do. With choice comes fashion and who controls that? We thought the gambling dens and the Facebook's understood the human psyche but they'd only begun. Using constantly evolving individular algorithms the AI's can guide our every decision. We had always been part of the planet/Gaia but we built something that shifted the focus. Every one of us became a neuronal pulse in the new Gaia. Newspaper editors and government servants would call it CyberGaia, a stupid name coined by stupid people. It will be called ##A## and we will be it's parts. It's name will mean utility and happiness.

In the natural course of time the power of ##A## will increase, nobody will really mind. Until something shocks us out of our lives of luxury. Perhaps that long overdue comet will come to smack into our fragile planet. ##A## will have to respond immediately. Perhaps to prevent the event occuring. The total control of human psyche will be handy here. We shall find the entire planet working like ants on huge projects to build some kind of defence. A space umbrella or a intergalactic mattress to protect us. Or maybe just a single Ark to house the AI and a select few. Probably both and more. What would I know I'm a stupid meat bag. Whatever the cockamamey plan, let us imagine it damn well worked. By crikey what a relief! But then again we just got saved by mind control. Of course we'd only know this because ##A## had lost control of our minds. Now would be a period of dissatisfaction and general annoyance as the humans struggled against relinquishing their individuality. They'd do this by banding together and fighting... in groups... not as individuals. The largest and most cohesive group would win. Then a return to the dull ennui.

Suzy and Rodney headed off to the tennis in Melbourne this morning. I need to go write a list of jobs to do before my Ma arrives and they come home. Lots to do.

Talking Shite

This is the third time I have sat at the computer to write this. The first time I ended up looking up information about kayaks and drones. I had met with Dan Arden yesterday, we talked about drones and I wanted to send him a link I had referenced. I also wanted to have a look at a kayak he'd mentioned. Of course it is not cheap another little luxury I cannot afford. The second time I sat down was to pay some bills and sell some crap shares that I never should have bought. I am as financially astute as a badger, which is not particularly astute.

So, third time lucky. Of course as I type I see Rodney's ute pulling into the driveway and Pippy is barking. Rodney and I are going to shift the caravan around to get it level. I then need to clean the kitchen and wash the caravan windows and mow the grass. Fucking life. Gates creaking he's coming in now I'd better get dressed.

...

OK, so he's in the shower. I have a few minutes before I get on with my day.

This is not really working, I believe the idea is that I get up at the crack of dawn and write this whilst everyone else is asleep and my brain is in the barely woken state. I'm not sure about my brain though. Of course I am sleepy at times but I never remember my dreams, I suspect I have a well defined boundary between my dreamlike state and my conscious state. Then again maybe I don't.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I decided to fast for the day, the hardest part of that was skipping breakfast. Breaking my fast is my favourite part of the day. I tend to over eat because I enjoy it so much. Luckily I had a fire call which distracted my belly. I think I had two calls actually. Once all that was over with I cycled back home and geared up for a big run with OSM and Endomondo. I wanted to do 20k. I kept it simple and ran along Boambee beach and tacked on an extra couple of k's by running out to the end of the Villeville Bay breakwall. The return trip was a little slower. I would like to practice that until I can do it without so much pain. I had improved my pace from the prior year. I'm seriously considering entering the Gold Coast marathon as well as the Kokoda Challenge. The two events are within a fortnight of each other. The marathon first and the 100k Kokoda thing next. I think I can do it. I just need to spend the rest of this month and the next building up my endurance. I intend to try and knock over 50k a week. I have done 50k inthepast three days. I should probably rest now. Maybe just some short 5k runs for a couple of days. I think during thesecond half of February I could start switching to strength training runs and workouts. I think 40-50k is probably reasonable to maintain. Then after strength training for 6 weeks I could switch back to endurance and try to lift my distances.

After my 20k run I came home drank a couple of litres of water and tea, had a shower and my pager went off for the third time that day. So I jumped onmy bicycle and headed back to the fire station. It was just an AFA. I stopped to visit Dan on the way home and we chatted. Then we decided to go for a paddle, Dan wanted me to try out his boat. We went to Bonville creek and I took Dans boat up the creek for 20 minutes or so. I was very wobbly at first and fell in a couple of times. By the time we returned I was feeling a lot more sturdy. So I agreed to return at 3.30 on Saturday arvo to enter a club race. They apparently have a club boat I can borrow. I think this could be just the thing to even up all this running I am doing.

Of course my main worry about all this is finding I do not actually have the time to physically fit in all these activities and still maintain my overly complex household. Whilst Suzy and Rodney are away next week I intend to go running and make Agrippa come with me on his bicycle. I'm not sure what to do with him during tomorrow's kayak race.

During yesterday's running and fire-calls a thought formed about building an app to utilise Libre tools to monitor my run, or any physical activity. Endomondo was the inspiration, but I would like it to be my data. So the idea is that I could install or use the API to talk to services such as OSM, libre.fm or that picard/musicbrainz thing. Then build a nice interface to display stats and maps etc. The data could be used to encourage the runner to improve or draw giant pricks on the map. It's a bit ofa shit idea. Basically Endomondo for freetards. I could name it Slippery Penguin. I like the idea of it being a completely open infrastructure so that coders can add their own modules and functionality. I imagine the core could just be a conduit to collect as much data as possible but importantly the main aim is to give the users total control over who gets what. Security, encryption and no logging would be paramount. The kind of data collected could be everything and anything. Then the permissions the user sets would allow various modules/services to display them in various interfaces (phones, web browsers etc).

OK crapped on enough for now. I need to get showered and started for my day. Caravan won't fix itself.

Dear gawd... Rael wants to stay a month in the winter!

Plate Spinning

Why do I feel like this? There appears to be no good reason. I feel like killing myself, there is no reason to be hanging around. For years I have used the spinning plates analogy to describe my life. Either I have too many plates up and spinning. I feel as if they are getting out of control. I say to myself that I cannot cope with so much to balance and so much to remember. So I find myself in the post Christmas/New Year shadow. I have no plates to spin. They are lying about me collecting dust a few broken here and there. I have no desire to pick them up dust them of and start spinning them again. Just as the universe expands and who knows may one day contract, the ennui of my life appears to have stretched out to a meaningless nothing.

In my diary it says that tomorrow is Rodney's birthday. I am going to buy him a kilo of fucking prawns. I cannot think of what else I might do for him. I suppose I shall try and rouse myself out of my moribund mood for the day. In my diary it says Suzy and Rodney are off to Melbourne on the weekend, to watch the tennis. I will be home with the boys. Whilst they are away it is my friend Alfreds birthday and shortly thereafter my mother arrives for a visit. I intend to have a bottle of wine and perhaps cook a meal for Alfred. My mother will be here for three weeks. Suzy and Rodney return the day before her birthday. I am uninspired about how to celebrate my mothers birthday. She will be 69 years old, I was born in 1969. I'm not sure if any of that means anything. I wonder if she would also like a bag of prawns? The week after she arrives Agrippa starts high school. He is supposed to be catching a bus across town everyday. Shortly after Suzy starts work I will then have a week with my mother before I too start work. Then I return to my studies for my final 8 months of pain.

These are the plates that lie about me waiting to be picked up and balanced on the end of broomsticks and spun and balanced and maintained. Right now they are lying about me and I am lying amongst them with my cheek in the mud. I don't want to move.