25 November 2009

Video: "Franco's permablitz"

Now that we've got Franco's place under control, it's time to put the video up. There was a lot of material there, shot over three afternoons, but I did manage to get the whole thing to fit just under YouTube's 10-minute limit. Enjoy!



YouTube link: "Franco's permablitz - October/November 2009"

19 November 2009

Adelaide Greenies calendar - an update

In the few weeks since I launched the Adelaide Greenies calendar, I've received a large amount of feedback. Thankfully, most of this feedback has been positive. I thought I'd write about it again, just to clear up a few questions that people may have.

How can people read it?

While putting "Adelaide greenies" into Google presents the calendar as the #1 hit, and my original blog entry about it at #3, it doesn't really have a home. I have added links to my blog to the different ways of viewing the calendar (HTML, XML, ICS), as well as a little embedded widget with some of the upcoming events. I think that's good enough for now. Of course, you should feel free to share these links with others and add these links to your own page if you find them handy.

Incidentally, I don't have a problem with people adding the calendar to their own sites. The HTML version of the calendar is the easiest one to link to, and the XML version is the easiest one to embed in WordPress sites (the PEZ site already includes it). Google Calendar does have an application that can help you create widgets for your own web page, like the HTML version or the list version on my blog. However, the application is only available to people who have full access to the calendar, so for now, you have to ask me for help with that. This brings me to my next question.

How can people add or change events?

At the moment, I'm the only person with full access to the calendar, so nobody can change it but me. This hasn't been a problem so far, since people haven't minded just sending me the occasional bit of news, so it hasn't been a huge task to keep the calendar up to date.

(As an aside, I would appreciate it if people gave an approximate finishing time for their events. Sometimes, I will already know, or at least be able to take an educated guess based on the type of event. The starting time is usually the more important, though. If I've taken a guess at an end time and got it hopelessly wrong, let me know!)

In the future, this will likely be a bigger job, and I will ultimately have to let other people in. There are two ways to do this: either give certain people full access to the calendar, or give certain people their own calendars. I think this caused a bit of confusion when I first launched the Adelaide Greenies calendar, so I'll explain in a bit more detail.

When I refer to a "calendar", I simply mean a sequence of events. At the moment, there's only one of these. What I had originally envisioned was that the individual groups around Adelaide might prefer to run their own calendars and manage their own events. For example, The Food Forest could just run a calendar of events hosted there, SCNPSP could list their community group meetings, and PEZ could list their workshops.

In case you were wondering, the HTML widget to display Google Calendar can handle several different sets of events on a single timeline. I've attached a picture to show the HTML widget with two calendars: the Adelaide Greenies calendar in green, and Australian public holidays in red. (I don't manage the latter; Google Calendar suggested it to me.) If you've got a dedicated calendar application on your computer - such as Microsoft Outlook, Mozilla Lightning/Sunbird, or Apple iCal - it can already display multiple calendars simultaneously, as it typically would if you have separate personal and work calendars.


This would make things easier to manage, but it would also make things harder to find. Part of the goal of this exercise - and, indeed, a common theme among Transition Towns people in South Australia - is the coupling of the existing organisations, and splitting things up this way might not be as useful, since we haven't got a central directory of all things eco-friendly (yet) that would bring them all together and let people find them all in one easy trip.

There is another reason why the single calendar might not go away any time soon. As was very insightfully pointed out to me, even if there were separate calendars for separate groups, there might be events that don't fit them. Perhaps an event is organised by a group that doesn't have its own calendar yet, or perhaps the event is organised by several groups and no one of them really owns it. In such an occurrence, a single central calendar would still be useful, even if others exist.

For now, I'm happy to keep the one big calendar in place. That said, if anyone wants to know more of the details, would like to help edit the calendar, or would like to start their own, let me know. I'm still the gatekeeper, but I don't have to be the only one.

Which events should be there? Which shouldn't?

I got a question about whether there are boundaries or criteria to determine if there are certain types of events that shouldn't be included. I haven't thought too much about this, because for every event that I've seen so far, I've always known someone (or known of someone) who'd be interested.

That said, there might be closed events or minor things that people don't want publicised too broadly. Other events might be seen as off-topic; for example, I'm on a mailing list where some participants equate the response to 9/11 to a response to peak oil, but others take no interest. There might also be events or groups that not everyone wants to endorse - just as I've seen reputable journalism sites carry articles by climate change sceptics in the interests of balance but without vouching for their arguments.

Does anyone have any thoughts on what might exclude something from the calendar? What boundaries should be set? Are there certain things we should all be interested in and certain things about which we are neutral? Are certain issues off-topic? Remember, though, that we don't all have to believe in the same things for them to be relevant.

What personal information should be published?

Another issue that I'll bring up at the same time is privacy. People often host events at their own homes, and I've been hesitant to list private addresses in a public forum without permission. This isn't as much of an issue with our existing mailing lists, since they're usually closed-circle.

My policy so far is that you can list an address or you can say it's at someone's home, but not both. Phone numbers are OK, but I've been disguising email addresses in an attempt to stop spammers from harvesting them. What do people think of that policy? Similarly, please contact me if you would like any personal information added or removed.

Finally...


Couldn't you have come up with a better name?

I've never wanted to spend too long on the name, and this blog entry is no exception. Not everyone appreciates the label "greenies", but in truth, there isn't really a convenient term for everything that's going on that conveys that level of meaning.

There isn't a prize for coming up with a better name, but don't let that stop you having ideas about it. If all else fails, we can just call it Transition like everything else. :)

I hope that's cleared things up. Tell me your thoughts.

01 November 2009

Adelaide Greenies on Google Calendar

Having found it very easy to lose track of all of the different events that Adelaide's environmental movement has organised, I have started a Google Calendar to remind me. It's called the Adelaide Greenies calendar, and it's an agglomeration of an array of different mailing lists that carry events that might interest fellow environmentalists. There's a little gadget (in list form) on the side of my blog that shows you what is there.

At the moment, all of this should be considered a bit of an experiment. There will be information missing because not everyone knows the length of time that their events will last. I'm also making a policy that private addresses won't be included with events without the explicit permission of the people at that address; I realise that such a policy might make it a little more difficult to advertise permablitzes, but I do want to show a bit of respect for people's privacy.

For the moment, I am treating this as a stop-gap solution. It's quite a chore to enter all of this data for everyone, even so far, and not everyone will use this to stay abreast of what's happening around South Australia. However, I'm going to have a go at keeping it up to date for a month or two and see what happens. What I hope for people to do is to start their own calendars for their own groups, so that people can subscribe to what interests them or what is going on in their local area. Besides, any calendar program worth its salt - including the HTML widget on the side of this page - can combine several calendars of events onto a single timeline.


The calendar is available in a number of different formats, so that you should be able to read it from anywhere. At the moment, I'm the only person who can edit anything (I hope). I will list the ways you can subscribe to the calendar below.
  • To view the calendar in your browser, just follow this link to the HTML version, or add it to your Bookmarks or Favourites.
  • To view the calendar as an Atom or RSS feed, add this link to the XML version to your feed subscriptions. In many browsers, you should just be able to click on the link and go from there. Otherwise, look for this logo in your browser:
  • To add the calendar using software such as iCal, Outlook 2007 or Mozilla Sunbird, add this link to the iCal version to your subscriptions or accounts. To add the calendar to Outlook 2003 or earlier, download the file from that link and import it manually. (Note that the older versions won't update iCal files automatically, so every so often, you'll have to delete the calendar and import it again.)
  • If you like the widget I've got in the blog, let me know. Google Calendar does have a tool that lets you customise this widget, but only if you have private access to the calendar - that is, only if you're me. I know WordPress doesn't like the widget I'm using (it doesn't like iframe HTML tags), but you should be able to add the RSS feed above in the meantime; I haven't looked into this yet.
Whether you find this useful or have strong criticisms of it, please let me know. As I said, it's all fairly experimental at this stage.

UPDATE 2009-11-02: You can indeed use the XML version (Atom/RSS) of a calendar in the RSS widget in WordPress, but the formatting isn't ideal. I found this tutorial on Helen's Nerdy Blog for customising RSS feeds, and I've since created a more refined version of the XML feed for WordPress users. To incorporate this into WordPress, add an RSS widget for this link on feed43.com. There's an example of this on the Permaculture Education Zone blog (which I also set up).

Thanks to everyone for their input so far. There may be another update later to address the most important questions.

15 October 2009

World Car-Free Day 2009 - Adelaide, South Australia

I've finally finished the video I shot on World Car-Free Day on 20 September 2009. There is footage here from both the Mawson Lakes Environment Watch suburb walk in the morning and the street party in College Park.

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

02 October 2009

Monbiot loses the plot?

A few days ago, George Monbiot of The Guardian newspaper published an article entitled "The Population Myth". The article was circulated to me with the rather blunt title, "Monbiot loses the plot". Fearing that some on the mailing list had hypocritically missed the point, I wrote my own response.

I suspect that a lot of the controversy surrounding this article (at least here) could be averted simply be removing this tagline:

"People who claim that population growth is the big environmental issue are shifting the blame from the rich to the poor"

Among those of us who preach the significance of population growth, not all of us are taking out our frustrations on the very poor. Most of us can already see the hypocrisy of the most polluting countries, such as Australia and the USA, who blindly point the finger at poorer nations rising by housing our dirtiest industries. Some of us even understand the dependence - again, however forced via globalisation - of developing countries upon affluent foreign markets, and their consequent dependence on foreign money.

To this end, Monbiot has an excellent point, but he stops short of making it. (His suggestion of changing the I=PAT equation doesn't help either; in modern times, we already tend to measure the affluence of a population by its consumerism.) Whether by resource depletion or by rising sea levels, we are at risk of an apocalyptic population crash. The strategy of The Powers That Be is to centralise those dwindling resources so that they can outlast everyone else. It's like the old joke about trying to escape a river full of crocodiles with a pair of flippers: I still can't swim faster than a crocodile, but I can swim faster than you.

Think of the situation in Iraq. If the USA could reduce its dependence on oil, and could afford to buy it at wildly fluctuating prices, they wouldn't have to send the military around the world to steal it. This doesn't solve peak oil, but it does mean that the "non-negotiable American way of life" might last just long enough for them to see other countries depopulated first.

I have no delusion that such a strategy would benefit anyone more than those already at the top of the pile. On mailing lists like this one, a more common strategy for resilient communities would be to concentrate on the resources you really need and to invest them wisely. A strategy to strut around the world taking these resources by force is no less cogent - provided, of course, that you first give up your last shred of human decency.

Cheers,

AN

01 October 2009

New video: Dave's permablitz 2009-09-13

I've finally gotten around to uploading the video I put together from a permablitz I went to in Belair, just up the hill. It's not as long as the video I did for Soph's permablitz, but I think it's still OK.

There's more video on the way as well. I shot some video for the recent World Car-Free Day, and there's another permablitz happening on the long weekend.

To add a rating or comment to this video, you can visit its page on YouTube.

07 September 2009

peak oil in transition

Update: This article was republished in On Line Opinion on 23 September 2009. Many thanks to Susan Prior for her consideration.

A couple of Wednesdays ago, I went to see a film entitled The Age Of Stupid (IMDB link), about the current state of the climate change debate. The movie only played in three cinema complexes in Adelaide, and two of them were in Westfield shopping centres - probably the wrong crowd for a movie about climate change. There's no word yet on whether our local Palace Nova cinemas will pick it up.


After paying 17 bucks to watch what appeared to be a copied Blu-ray disc, and to have an entire theatre all to myself, I came away from the movie with a mixed message. Most of the main characters in the film seemed to have conflicting ethics for their reliance on energy, but few actually showed any remorse. The oil rig worker who stayed in New Orleans throughout Hurricane Katrina sees the obvious connection between his work and his environment, but he has no remorse about it whatsoever. The lady in the Niger delta, having seen the massive pollution and the ravages of war that are brought to their nation by our greed for natural resources, sells petrol in bottles to make a bit of extra cash.

I don't know what the point of the movie was any more, but I still think I know what it was supposed to be. Climate change isn't just an environmental problem: it's a broad social, economic and political problem that will affect all of us to an extent that we cannot fully comprehend, even after seeing a film about it. This one got so close: people do understand that the drive for resource wealth does as much harm as good, but it never actually asked the question of whether it's worth devoting your lifestyle to it. (This point is raised directly by Michael Moore in The Corporation.)

After a decade-long hiatus, climate change is back on the agenda, and regardless of their position on the subject, everyone is back on message. The greenies want to save the planet. Big business doesn't want saving the planet to interfere with employment or economic growth. The politicians want to implement a trading scheme for greenhouse gas emissions, but want to set aside $11,700,000,000 in welfare for the mining industry.

Most importantly of all, everybody has an opinion that they can't wait to tell you about but that they can't live up to. I saw a bumper sticker the other day about doing something about climate change - on the back of a 20-year-old Ford Laser. To be fair, you could see through the brown exhaust fumes that it was at least carrying a full complement of passengers. Everyone gets climate change, and gets it well enough to talk about it, but nobody's doing anything to fix it. An Inconvenient Truth (IMDB link) was a bold step, and we had the impression of having come a long way since Kyoto; one wonders how far we have travelled since.

The previous weekend, I was back at The Food Forest for a weekend workshop on something called the Transition Towns initiative. The goal of transition is to make communities more self-sufficient, and therefore more robust to problems such as economic downturn, political dysfunction, or the disruption of utilities. Think of it as permaculture scaled up to a society level: the idea is to take similar tenets of environmental management and use them to plan entire communities. It stands to reason that climate change is a given in this philosophy, as is peak oil.

There are already hundreds of Transition groups all over the world, and each community is tackling the problems a little differently. It might start as modestly as a car pool or a sewing circle, or it could be as ambitious as a local currency or an activist group to fight against imposing businesses that, one way or another, do not act in the community's interest. Neighbourhoods become more productive and more closely knit, favouring local businesses and activities seeing their own well-being as prosperity in itself.

As much as I find a lot of the environmental debate quite tiring, I found the Transition Towns weekend very uplifting. The difference was that the people who attended this workshop seemed more like the sorts of people who might actually do something to make their lives better. Naturally, such a weekend involves a lot of talk, but it's positive and enthusiastic talk, and those of us who were already doing something were more interested in networking and marketing what was there than the minutiae of establishing something new. Suddenly, the confidence was there among us, the right courses of action were obvious, and everything else seemed irrelevant, distant, archaic.

I wondered, then, whether the environmental debate could truly be taking this direction, and, if it were not, whether this might be an opportune time to turn it this way. It was nearly five years ago that I discovered the peak oil debate, and at the time, it was all doom and gloom. In fact, Matt Savinar's primer, The Oil Age Is Over (sadly now out of print), ends with a discussion about the depression one typically suffers after the penny drops about peak oil. Arguably, though, the debate is still one of doom and gloom today, and the purists among us are only too ready to howl down anything touted as a solution.

We can do better.

I can vouch for the concept of post-peak depression. I remember when I ran out of both questions and answers, and I remember how helpless I felt at the time, as if the only way not to lose was not to play. The best way out of this funk is to do something positive. For me, getting around my oil dependency meant less car travel, working out public transport again, and getting a bicycle. I'm still going with that.

When you consider most problems so fundamentally, the solutions are simple too. If you're worried about food miles, buy local produce from suburban markets. The dominance of large supermarkets and department stores can be mitigated by shopping elsewhere, even if you can't buy everything in the one place. Learn to turn things off when you're not using them, and not to buy things you don't need. Even questions about money - from the siphoning off of local investment by major banks, to the very nature of fiat currency itself - seem tractable when considered the same way.

The point of these individual tasks is twofold. Firstly, you participate less and less in a system that will break off in massive chunks in the coming decades and crumble into the sea. (With that mental image, you and Antarctica are in this together. Secondly, the more you think about this, the more you learn and understand the way things really are in the world. New challenges will come along in our current convention, and current conventional thinking won't solve them; you will need a new paradigm. Either way, you're doing something positive about the world's plethora of problems, and coming shocks won't be quite so shocking.

It's a lot more easily said than done, of course. For example, buying food is easier and quicker than growing it, and there will be no shortage of people telling you so. That said, it's all about believing in what you're doing. If you believe that growing food is important - and with good enough reasons - you should do it anyway. Every person who attended the Transition weekend, I conjectured, probably knows someone who isn't interested in climate change, peak oil, permaculture and the like, but that hasn't stopped us getting together anyway, and it won't stop us trying to do the right thing.

This is perhaps the real key. Just give it a go. Buy a rainwater tank. Walk somewhere that you normally would have driven. Repair something you would otherwise have thrown away. Whatever form a collapse of civilisation may take, you are far worse off afraid or ignorant than you would be armed with options.

Above all, the Transition concept has given me a sense of hope that I haven't had for years. It hasn't assured me at all that we won't see major societal upheaval in the next decade or so, but it has motivated me, with neither fear nor rage, to do something more constructive to prepare for it. Furthermore, it's also given me a better way to talk about to those ordinary people I know who imagine me in sandwich boards telling them how nigh the end of the world is.

I mentioned The Age Of Stupid as merely the most recent Chicken Little, and despite its good intentions, I wonder how much films like this are really helping. Then again, even if people are tiring of hearing about the problems, they need more in the way of solutions than superficial gesture of buying a CFL and a green shopping bag (that is, in all probability, made of plastic anyway). I sense a valid opportunity here, to engage interested people not to panic but to empower themselves, and to make peace (or at least neutrality) with the non-believers who may never notice your conviction. You don't even need to talk about a crash; at least, what you want is to make the world a better place.

Think about a low-energy future. Food without chemicals. Transport without pollution. Austerity without exploitation.

Think about a human-energy future. Motivation without badgering. Urgency without panic. Darkness without fear.

We can do better.

24 August 2009

Weaving An Orb - an experiment in small-scale demountable permaculture

In January and February 2009, I attended the Permaculture Design Certificate course at The Food Forest in Gawler, South Australia. As part of our course project, we prepared a Powerpoint slide show entitled Weaving An Orb - an experiment in small-scale demountable permaculture, where we apply permaculture principles - perhaps only temporarily - to a suburban flat with very little territory of its own.

At the start of the course, I shot some video footage from the site and incorporated some of it into our final presentation. More recently, however, our host held a "permablitz" to implement some of the ideas we had during the course, and I got some footage during that afternoon as well.

All of this is now available as a YouTube playlist for your viewing pleasure. Naturally, there may be more chapters to add to this story as the site evolves, so stay tuned.

13 May 2009

farewell to QinetiQ

On Monday, 11 May 2009, I handed in my letter of resignation from QinetiQ Consulting, where I'd been working for nearly one and a half years. Today - Wednesday, 13 May - was my last day at work, notwithstanding the notice period and my annual leave.

I didn't get a chance to see all of my colleagues in person between announcing my departure and the departure itself, so I wrote an email to them to bid them all farewell. I got two compliments about it before I got out the door, so I thought I'd republish it here. No hard feelings, of course.

* * * * * *

Hi all,


As some of you are already aware, today is my last day as an employee of QinetiQ. Having given this decision a lot of thought, I finally tendered my resignation on Monday. I thought I’d send out an email to you all to mark the occasion.

I am reminded at this moment that a wise man once said to me, “hey, you, get the hell out of my wardrobe”. Even then, I knew that truer words had never been spoken – which shows you how wrong you can be, because I’m still friends with his wife. But that’s another story.

This story is not one I have taken lightly. To many of you, this development won’t come as a surprise. The past year and a half has had its moments, but in truth, this job hasn’t always been good to me, nor I to it. I can at least say we’ve always treated each other with patience and understanding. As such, the decision to leave was not an easy one, but it is a mutual and positive one.

We find ourselves in interesting times, in a period of social, political, economic and environmental instability that is far from over. You might imagine that such a scenario made me more than a little nervous about resigning. At the same time, I also saw it as a compulsion to act before things get any worse. I can weather the crisis of paying bills for a while, but I’m more enthusiastic about the opportunity to figure out what I want to do with myself, in my own time and with minimal distractions.

First things first, of course: I’m taking a bit of a break. I’m travelling to Japan for two weeks, spending a week back home in Townsville and attending a cousin’s wedding in Brisbane. When I return to Adelaide afterwards, I can get back into my career again. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get it right this time. Or not.

So, it is on this note that I leave my position of receptionist, economist, permaculturalist, IT support officer, wildlife wrangler, grocery shopper, Wii tennis champion, and occasional software engineer. To everyone here in Edinburgh and across the country, I want to thank you for your support and company throughout my time at QinetiQ, and I give you my best wishes for the future.

Warmest regards,

Aaron Nielsen

21 April 2009

tempting fate

My time capsule posts aside, it's been a while since I've written here, and a lot has happened since I failed to decide on any specific New Year's resolutions. Here goes...

Sadly, I'm still working in the same spot; gladly, not for much longer. I've been applying for other jobs and I'm starting to get a few responses back, although nothing too positive yet. It's strange, perhaps, that as tense as I was about deciding to look for alternative employment, I'm even more tense about finding it. You might think I'd be a bit more relaxed after making the decision and relieved to think I can still do it, and I might feel that way once I've found a new job, but in the meantime, I'm still very nervous.

Part of the nervousness comes from a few plans that I may or may not have for the next two months or so. My brother is planning a two-week trip to Japan in May and June, and a cousin of ours is getting married shortly afterwards. I'm hoping to join them both. The problem is applying to take leave in one of our busiest times of the year, particularly for a block of several weeks.

Wait, what? I'm actually needed at work suddenly? Well, sort of.

The task that I'm on now, and that I've been complaining about to no avail for more than six months, still refuses to die. I've had a colleague from across the corridor looking at this in some idle time, and another colleague from interstate who visited here for two days this week, and I'm still not entirely sure what's going on. I've only got about a week and a half to finish the entire task, and I don't even know what we're supposed to be delivering any more.

On the proviso that I see this task out, there are two more tasks lined up for me. The former of those tasks is with my supervisor, for whom I worked directly this time last year. By the time I start working there again, he will have held up my work there for a full year, without having even had the common courtesy to tell me the truth about it. The latter is with another group I spent about a month with on and off about eight months ago. I tried to stop them reinventing a wheel and I didn't get invited back. I haven't received any feedback about this work either, and although my supervisor has claimed to have some, he said it would be "unprofessional" to pass it on to me. Somewhere in the middle of this, this same supervisor is magically going to do his job and thereby allow my work from this time last year to be completed. Of course, I've heard all of this many times before, and the message is just as mixed as ever.

I've tried talking to my boss, my boss's boss and our HR officer about these problems. Everyone seems to understand but nobody seems even remotely interested in solving them. As a result, I'm pretty much through wondering whether any of this will get better. I'm well and truly embedded in a search for another job, and I can't wait for the day when I can leave this one behind. I don't even care that much where I end up afterwards, although it will certainly not be in a defence job. Make no mistake, I'm happy with the money I'm getting here, but this job has nothing else to offer; there's no worth in the work itself, nor in my being there to do it.

My job has drained me of my energy, both physical and mental; in fact, I took today and yesterday off to recover. However, I haven't given up. My mind and body are weak, but my spirit still has hope, at least for the prospect of getting another job. On the other hand, I've still got this one, and I can't talk about how much worse things will get without it sounding like a temptation of fate.

12 April 2009

time capsule 1 revisited

A few weeks ago, I caught up with two of my friends, from whom I had gotten two conflicting reactions about how I was doing. One of my oldest and best friends took a bit of convincing that I was doing OK, while another friend who sees me fairly regularly, hadn't noticed if anything was different about me. I wrote in my blog about it at the time, and left it for a few weeks before I looked at it again.

I couldn't decide which of them was right. In a way, they probably both were.

For a little while, I've suffered a bit from poor self-esteem, mainly stemming from the 40 hours I waste each week by being at work. I'm trying not to let that get to me, but I couldn't blame anyone for thinking that I'm not all there at the moment. In my previous post, I wrote that I had hoped to have "turned a corner" and had started doing something positive about my problems - specifically, by actively looking for a new job.

That's not all. I've started doing things for myself again. I'm cooking for myself more and buying junk food less. I haven't fixed the bike yet (another job for the Easter weekend), but I've bought Wii Fit for the times that it's out of action or don't need to ride it anywhere. I'm giving myself another long weekend in a month, and I'm considering a three-week break shortly afterwards. As for the job hunt, I am starting to get a few nibbles. Things are looking up. By rights, I should be feeling better.

That being said, maybe I'm not quite there yet. Sure, I've made some improvements, but it will take some discipline to keep it all going. Ironically, the closer I get to feeling better about myself, the more edgy I am at work, as if I can tell I'm getting closer to leaving and I almost can't bear the suspense.

In the long term, this should all work out, but I am still in limbo, at least to a certain extent. I had hoped, in my previous entry, for nothing more than to "think I was on the right track" when I looked back on what I had written. Maybe I'm selling myself short: I should have hoped that I'd be seeing some results by now, which I'm actually starting to do.

Happiness is supposed to be a journey, rather than a destination. However, it can be hard work to push yourself to keep going, and if it's not a destination, how do you know where to stop to catch your breath? You see, even if you have that sense of self-belief, it will still only really work if your sense of direction was also good enough in the first place. I'm a long way off mastering this kind of travel, but it's a journey that's important to me, at least.

19 March 2009

time capsule 1

I'm disappointed not to have had time over the past two months to write. Surely, though, having more news to spread than time to spread it is a good thing, right? I'm especially glad to say that most of the news has been good news. I will write more over the next few days to fill in those gaps.

I'm doing something a little different this time around. I just got off the phone with a friend of mine, and she was gracious enough to listen to my thoughts. What I am writing in this entry is as much as I can remember from our conversation, and I'm writing it as quickly as possible. In a few days or weeks, I'll look back on this stream of consciousness to see if it still makes sense.

A few days ago, I talked to my best friend back in Townsville, in a call that was probably long overdue. However, it took me aback that she kept asking if I was doing OK, because I said that I was but it apparently sounded as though I wasn't. It took me three or four goes to convince her that I wasn't really doing that badly.

I called a friend here in Adelaide for a second opinion. I had seen her on Saturday afternoon for a brief catch-up, and I asked her if I had seemed a little more down than usual. I got the impression that she hadn't noticed if that was the case. Well, she said I looked as though I had something on my mind, but she quickly added that I've pretty much looked like that since I met her. (This is true enough.) Admittedly, she doesn't know me as well as my friend in Townsville, but she does see me in person a lot more often.

What I was getting at was whether there was a difference in my manner that I hadn't noticed. I've had a pretty rough couple of weeks, particularly at work, but fatigue aside, this week has been pretty good to me. I thought I had turned a corner, that I could spend ever less time feeling sorry for myself and ever more time doing something about it. To that end, it was a relief that someone at least thought I wasn't doing noticeably worse. (Then again, that's why people get second opinions, isn't it? It's comforting to hear what you want to hear.)

Don't get me wrong, I couldn't have blamed her for thinking that I was a bit less pleasant than I usually am. Perhaps, I would have thought, I'm looking up and moving in the right direction again, but I'm not quite there yet. I would prefer to think, personally, that I'm doing better to try to make my life happier than I was to complain about it to people who just didn't want to solve problems.

For now, I'm sure I'll sleep well after that. For when I look back on this entry, I can hope for nothing more than to think I was on the right track today.

[UPDATE: Read my response.]

08 January 2009

irresolute

Now that the silly season is over, you'd think this would be as good a time as any for things to start settling down again.

Indeed, this would appear to be the case, at first glance. My family has returned home after an altogether too brief spot of Adelaide's indecisive weather. I'm back at work as of today and I start work on a new project next week. I sign off on some investments tomorrow, and I'm looking towards a permaculture course split over a few extended weekends over the next two months. It certainly sounds like a plan.

It could hardly be that simple for me, though. Okay, the new project would mean working back close to my old haunt, which is much better catered and much better served by public transport, so my efforts to get fit and lose weight would be more readily rewarded. The problem is that the work is basically back from where I left in disgrace eighteen months ago, and I'm still waiting for someone in the upper echelons of the organisation to rekindle a grudge with me and set about voiding the whole deal. I can old keep my fingers crossed that this person will make a professional decision, rather than an unprofessional one. I may not know better until next week, if not later.

As I mentioned in a previous post, a lot hangs on this. Sure, the permaculture course depends on getting a couple of days' leave here and there, but this is a minor detail in the grand scheme of things. I refer, of course, to the decision I failed to make at the end of last year about whether I would remain in this job at all - and, perhaps more significantly, how far away I would go if I did decide to leave.

There's just so much that I'd rather be doing. Over the Christmas break, I cut together the video from my parents' recent holiday, but it was all done in a hurry and there's a lot more work to be done on it before I'm happy with the result. I'm also putting a CD together for a friend of mine, as a way of dealing with our we-are-just-friends episode from October last year. (Yes, I'm aware that replacing the memories of that weekend with new ones forged with someone else would be far more effective.) I've still got a lot on my reading list as well. At least I've finished decorating at home, thanks in no small part to my Mum.

I don't really have any resolutions per se for the New Year; there are things I want to change in my life, but I started trying for them last year. As much as my life is still up in the air, I'm still confident that things are headed in the right direction, but I'm just not sure how far.