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There are a number of spoilers doing the rounds for that children’s book series. And I was tempted to post something to spoil the story for those who are desperately trying to avoid the different strands. But I wont. Instead, I’ll post this image, which someone sent me a few weeks back.

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I heard about this on the radio last week. It’s very clever. It’s an ad for a charity, but done as a documentary, well, a mock-umentary really.

You wake up. It’s Saturday morning.

You look across your pillows to your clock-radio. But it’s not on. “Black-out?” you ask yourself. You get up, wander to the bathroom, and habit means you flick the light-switch as you go confirms your theory – no lights. You use the toilet. It flushes, but the cistern doesn’t refill. But refilling is usually quiet, so you don’t even notice.

Shower next, and so you strip down, step into the cubicle, turn the taps.

And nothing.

Something’s wrong. You’ve been awake less than a few minutes, and your day’s turned to shit.

In our societies, we’re incredibly reliant. On other people. On technological devices. On energy. We cannot function if there weren’t these support structures. But have you ever given thought to what you’d do if they disappeared? If they stopped working? Or do you assume they will always work, so why worry about it?

The last hold-out has made peace. Of course, she didn’t have a lot of choice – I told her that she could have her war, but since I wasn’t going to fight it, she’d be standing on the battlefield alone, with no-one to oppose anymore.

I feel relieved, and a little disappointed we’ve wasted the last few weeks.

I’ll never understand women.

*sigh*

end-su.gifWhen I was a teenager, there was a Cold War on. Two superpowers sat watching each other, expecting to be attacked. Both countries spent huge amounts of money on weaponry to deter the other from moving against them. In 1961 and twice in 1983, wars almost erupted. Millions of men lived their whole lives, dedicated to the cause of maintaining their countries against their opponent.
Then, in 1991, it all ended.
The Soviet Union ceased to exist not because of an external attack, but because its own people opted out.

So all that effort, all those resources, all those people dedicated to maintaining the state simply failed. A superpower was unable to keep up the momentum to just exist.

There’s a tendency in our culture to believe that states are so all-powerful and all-controlling and all-capable that they control their own destiny. But if one the size of the Soviet Union couldn’t keep it together, can any nation-state? We’ve grown up where for the last sixty years, states have been mostly static. But the generation before that saw massive changes. Perhaps our stability in this has lead us to believe in the inevitability of the world as it is now. But as any Russian over the age of 30 knows, nothing lasts forever.

flymeetsmcp.jpgI kind of pity those who grew up behind the iron curtain. All their life, they were told that their way of life was superior to the Imperialist West. Yet after 1991, the news hit that they’d been lied to. Capitalism and imperialism was good, not bad. Communism and socialism were failed theories. As U2’s slogans during the ZooTV days said “Everything you know is wrong.”
If you’d grown up under one system, and then all of a sudden been told that everything you’d been told was wrong, would you believe it? If the west had turned to communism, do you think there’d have been Americans secretly thinking this new era was flawed, and that, deep down, capitalism and the rule of markets was really the right way after all?

frang.jpgI sometimes have this belief that when I am doing the right thing, when I am behaving in a way the universe wants me to, the universe likes to give me signals to indicate its approval or cooperation.
So get this ladies and gentlebeans…
I’ve been talking here about the May Massacre, and making peace with those whose friendship she poisoned. One such person was Polyserena. Except it was slightly different with Serena. Diana didn’t know her. But Serena was a friend of mine who read Diana’s blog. So when the trouble erupted, Serena read the lies about the horrid things I’d done. And how Diana’d been an angel through the whole thing. Since my policy back then was to stay silent, not dignifying the accusations with a public response, Serena accepted the lies as true.
So Serena drifted away.
Today, in the week when I’ve been making peace with those I lost back then, our paths crossed.
I work for the provincial government. Serena works for a health provider. We have clients in common, but in two years, our official duties have never crossed. Until today. She was doing something on behalf of one of her clients, and so her name appeared as the contact person for a problem it was my job to fix. In two years, no official overlap. This week, overlap.
Clearly the universe was telling me to make peace with her. So over a short phone call, and an afternoon of email ping-pong, that’s what happened. And it felt as refreshing as the other reconciliations I’ve done this week.

Well, all except one.

One reconciliation attempt has failed. But I can look at my own part, in offering peace yet finding the other person still consumed by the Dark Side of the Force, and I can hold my own head high. So I’m okay with it.

Some readers have said they are curious to know the story of the May Massacre. All I’ll say about it is this:

  • I’m over it, and have left the negativity about it all well behind; and
  • Last week’s post about a cyber-stalker tells a lot of the story, without much in the way of negativity.

I gave it that chapter its name because I lost about seven friendships as a result of the events of that time. And sitting here tonight, I feel more at ease with what happened than at any time in the last year.

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afk.gifThose of you who know the story of the May Massacre of last year might be surprised to read where I am. I’m in the AFK cafe in Jerusalem. Just down the street from the ‘Gabba. I had two and a half hours to kill between work and a talk I’m attending tonight. And to go home would have been a waste, so I decided to go looking for somewhere to fill in a couple of hours, and my net connection at home hasn’t been ideal lately, so this place seemed the logical choice.

Willett and Ozbhoy have done a good job with this place. The food is quite good, the pasta I had could have been a bit spicier, but Jewish cuisine is tamer than I am used to in Rome. The layout, the computers, the atmosphere, the decor, are all quite nice, and relaxing. As I type, about 4 of the dozen PCs are occupied. And a couple of the cafe tables are occupied by guys playing board games. Willett describes the place as a ‘computer cafe’ rather than a net-cafe, and I think the distinction is a good one.
I think it was a good decision to come here this afternoon. By being the one to walk thru their door, I am declaring an absence of hostility toward Willett & Ozbhoy, which I think is the best atttiude to have. I’m not going to re-hash the events of last year, but the guys were more caught up in it, rather than being active participants. So by coming here, I’m expelling those demons which have haunted the last year. Although this sounds much like an advertorial, I am here more because of me than because of them.

Disclaimer: Rather than telling people about this for payment, I’ve done the opposite. I paid for my dinner and my time at the cafe.

dé·jà vu: (dā’zhä vōō’) n. An impression of having seen or experienced something before

Last year, at the Earth Dialogues Summit in Jerusalem, I rediscovered my past.
The summit was essentially a series of talks given by some very interesting people, including Mikhail Gorbachev, Noel Pearson, Tim Costello and many more. Their message was clear – if the civilisation we all inhabit continues the way it’s headed, a crash is inevitable. Which is a message I’d been receiving from Will for years. About 20 years actually. But like most people when confronted with such news, I denied it.
Will, for those who haven’t met him (and that’s most of you), has two modes of belief when it comes to this topic. When he’s an pessimist, he thinks Mother Nature is gunna come along, slap us down, and put us in our place. And it’ll be fucken ugly. When he’s feeling optimistic, he thinks we’ve got the potential to avoid the ugly bits, if we extract our digit in a manner rapid.
For a long time, I tended to fall into the mindset of most people who Will talks to – I’d give some of his ideas credence, but most of them are so stark raving mad that I’d ignore them. But Will talks. And talks and talks and talks. Being his friend for twenty years means I’ve learnt to switch off when he’s going on, and on, and on. But even though I turn off, and most of what he says washes over me, the way the waves wash over a rock on the shore, what he says must soak in. Because sometimes, the larger world will throw up something and it’ll register in my brain “Will predicted that ten years ago”.
So here I was at the Earth Dialogues last year, and people of the calibre of Gorby were speaking Will’s words. And executives of large companies. And high-level politicians. And bureaucrats. All saying things Will had been saying for years, and had been scoffed at for.
Since then, and it’s been almost a year now, the message has begun to be reinforced. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. ABC’s Four Corners’ report on Peak Oil. Numerous media articles.
So I’ve been revisiting twenty years of talks with Will, and what they mean. And the direction my life’s gone, and where it should go next.

I’ve added a new page – the Comment Policy page. Have a look if you like.

I find it odd that some people read my blog every day, yet never comment. In recent times, I’ve been getting a lot higher readership numbers than I ever had here, or on my previous blogs. But less than 5% of people leave comments. Why is that?

Snoskred recently set herself the challenge of commenting a LOT. And I’ve been trying to follow her lead. I’d encourage you all to comment more as well. Here of course, but also other places.

Actually, I’ll set myself a quota: if I can’t find a blog interesting enough to make a comment, I’m going to stop reading it. Because, well, there’s really no point, is there? They aren’t grabbing me. So I’ll cull it. I read a blogger recently (I don’t remember where) who said that 80-90% of the blogs he reads no longer have that spark that made him subscribe in the first place, so he was going on a cull to get rid of them. Maybe that might be a viable idea?

Because I no longer buy into the materialistic bullshit that is so central to our society, when I first considered going back to Rome, I thought I’d get some cruddy job for 2 or 3 days a week, just enough to pay my bare essentials, and I’d spend the rest of my time with Lucius, or working on Will’s farm, or devoting myself to other pursuits, like writing or some kind of political activism, as I’d done in the past.
But when it looked like Alderney would be coming with me, that path looked impossible – I’d need to live in Rome itself, not in one of the outlying villages, and I’d need to have a fulltime job, with all the baggage that goes along with that.
Now, even though I’m back to going to Rome alone, I’ve stuck with the idea of living in the suburbs, and doing the whole usual crap – job, house, car, suburban existence etc. In the long run, it’ll probably be better for Lucius that way. But just like adding widgets to this here wordpress blog, I’ve been thinking what ‘widgets’ I’d add to my Roman life.

So what do I want my Roman life to look like?
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milkcartonhat.jpgI can accept that in this globalised world, there are customers for just about anything you can imagine. But does anyone seriously believe there are people in the world who would fork out $21.99 (US) for this? It’s a foam hat, in the shape of a milk carton. You can buy it at Amazon.

(I received no financial benefit for “promoting” this product. I simply did it because it made me giggle. And yes, this was inspired by something someone wrote in their LiveJournal – you know who you are)

This YouTube Sunday, I present the first episode in a series called ‘We Need Girlfriends”.

Until recently, I thought YouTube was for short music videos or snippets like I’ve been showing each Sunday. But this is different. This is a show, like a tv show, but each episode’s only 5 to 10 minutes long. These guys have made quite a professional-looking show, and they put out an episode every couple of months (there’s 8 so far).

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The Family CrestLast spring, when the idea first began to take root, the idea to return to Rome, I began to wonder – if I went back, what would my life be like? What do I want to do? How do I want to live? Very early, a few central themes began to form.
About ten years ago, I was working in the Martial College in Rome. It was there that young men came to be taught how to be officers in the army. My job was in the publishing area. I worked on the preparation of teaching documents, and the “text books” the student officers used in their lessons. I was the only civilian in an office of five people.
One day, I was told to do a publishing job which was the menu for a cafe that was owned by the wife of one of the instructors at the College. Since it was unquestionably not an official document, I refused. For those who’ve never worked for military bosses, I’ll let you in on a secret – they don’t take refusal very well. A standoff developed, and the result was that I was sent home until the dispute could be resolved.
The other thing about military people is they like to do things their own way and at their own pace. And when it came to resolving my dispute, my refusal to follow my boss’ instructions, that pace was positively tectonic.
I was home a fortnight before I began to realise that this waiting game might take a while. So I decided to use my time more productively. I had a friend who worked for the local MP, and so I asked Jase how a party member with plenty of time on his hands could help out the movement. Within days, I was working in the office of the Party Leader. It started off as Thursdays, but since I was still being paid to be at home, it rapidly escalated until I was working fulltime as a researcher for Kim’s office. Later, I expanded the role I was doing until I was supervising more than a dozen part-time staff (mostly uni students) and lending them out (like a temp-agency) to the offices of Shadow Ministers.
Over the next few months, I geared up until I was working 16-18 hour days five days a week, and 10 hour days on weekends. And I was loving it.
It was from this period that I learnt that for me to truly be happy in my work, I needed to be working at something I believed in. I needed a crusade, something I could throw myself into.

Well, it seems the Pasha Bulker’s still stuck fast at Nobby’s. But with the high tide tonight, and the full moon, they’re gunna give it another go. Good luck to them. I just hope it’s gone by the time I go through Novocastria in a few weeks.

Browsing the web, I found this, an interview with three guys who used to be in bands I managed, who’ve linked up and are working together now in an as-yet un-named band. The podcast though has them doing some songs, one of which dates from my era. During the interview, they get to the topic of how they’re all in their 30s, their lives have become comfortable and content, and this impacts on their productivity when it comes to writing songs. As Potsy says in the podcast, for a year he decided he’d not write sad songs, only happy songs. And in that year, he wrote nothing. Which comes back to what I said this week regarding my stalker. I sometimes wonder if not being wracked with angst and trauma from a disruptive life is meaning I’m writing less, or worse, or whatever.
But also in the interview, Blair points out how incredibly depressing the whole “married, mortgaged, bred and living the suburban dream” is. Reminds me a lot of something my friends and I used to describe as “Get a colour tele, grow old and fucking die”.

Across the blogs I read, here’s a couple of bits I think are worth checking out.

Today at All Men Are Liars, there’s quite a good piece about Men and Divorce. I’d especially encourage women to read this, and certainly those who’ve divorced someone. (That means you, Caerulia 🙂 )

And over at Mister Peace, which I started reading recently, I found this hilarious entry yesterday. which also features one of the best wedding photos I’ve ever seen.

I’ll also mention some new blogs I’ve started reading and have added to the blogroll. Life in the Country is one. I not quite sure why I like this one yet. But I do.

And Human Census is another. I think the idea behind this one is that a question is asked every day, and readers are asked to contribute their answers. I not sure to what end exactly, but it’s the latest blog from the author of Hundred Dollar Business which I have always thought was a great idea, experimenting with a great premise. Take a look at the census and help her out by giving your answers.

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In the morning, this should be removed. Removed from one of the best beaches in the region. Many’s the time I went swimming at Nobby’s as a kid and a teenager, and I had no inkling how close in the reefs were. I guess the crew of the ship never suspected either, eh?

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I have a stalker.
She reads my blog.
She used to be my friend.
But she only likes friends who tiptoe around her, so nothing they do or say upsets her.
If they do upset her, she expects them to grovel.
Expects them to beg forgiveness.
But I didn’t.
I would not grovel, would not comply.
She didn’t like this.
Not one little bit.
So she lied about me, and soured mutual friendships.
She wrote me an email once, telling me she read my blog because she wanted nothing more than for me to be miserable, and she liked it when I blogged that I was unhappy.
My response?
“I am not unhappy. I am quite happy indeed. And if I were as petty as you, I’d send you a SMS every day telling you I was happy. But you’re not worth the cost of the text messages.”
That’s the calibre of person she is.
So read it now, my dear, I am happy. If my epiphany of last spring didn’t make it clear enough, I’m telling you now.
Like everyone, some of my days are better than others.
But I’m not the twisted little creature with the dark heart you turned out to be.
You can keep reading.
But you’ll be disappointed.

farm.jpgThe point of yesterday’s post is that I have a public reason for returning to Rome, and a personal one. And while both are honest reasons, the reality is that one is more driving than the other.
The public reason for returning, the reason I tell anyone who asks, is to be closer to Lucius. He’s 8 and a half now, and Caerulia and I’ve been separated since he was almost 4. The older he gets, the more important it is for me to be around and be a stronger influence than I’m able to be from a thousand miles away.
The private reason is that when I look at the map, and plot where my friends are, they’re all in Rome. A few in the areas around Rome, and Marquis in Mos Eisley. But they aren’t in Jerusalem. So to be a thousand miles away is insanity.
In other words, Lucius isn’t the main reason, even if he is a reason.
There are ways that, if I wanted to stay in Jerusalem, I could get around the issue of Lucius – more frequent visits, having him come to Jerusalem instead of only me going to Rome, and other strategies. But the fact is, I want to go home, and return from my exile.
Because when I go home, there’s lots I have to do. Lots of projects to undertake, and put into action. Especially stuff I’ve been working on – in one form or another – for years.

I think most people have this decision-making thing wrong.
How do you make a decision?
Most people will tell you they examine the benefits and disadvantages of options, and weigh them up. Some will consult with friends, family or other trusted people. They’ll take advice from a variety of sources. They’ll accept some, reject some and fudge their ideas accordingly. They’ll ponder, and then come to a decision based on those factors.
I think that’s a lot of crap.
We all make decisions with our hearts, not our heads. We decide based on what we want, and then we “justify” the conclusions by creating “rational” explanations for them.
A case in point, to illustrate.
I had a friend, Sasha, who was unhappy in his job. He looked back fondly on his university days, and decided he wished to return to them. So he came up with a plan that involved ditching his job, using his payout to pay for a new PC, and returning to university.
When he presented this plan to his friends, they argued against his plan. He’d failed uni before due to lack of commitment, there was no reason things would be different this time around. He’d gotten used to living on $30K, he’d hate living on $8K. We had plenty of reasons it wouldn’t work, and as his friends, we tried to advise him against it.
Sasha did it anyway of course. Six months later, he was broke, unemployed, failing uni, and more depressed than he was before the story began.
From observing this at close quarters though, I realised something. None of the counter-arguments that I and Sasha’s other friends had put up had the slightest chance of dissuading him. Because the reasons he was putting forward weren’t real. They were just the cover-story. Even if our arguments were strong, they’d not win the day, because the decision was made. We were simply debating the window-dressing he’d put on the decision. The real issue was his dissatisfaction with his work.
Now, more than ten years on, I’m convinced that all people do this, with almost all decisions. Especially the more major decisions in their lives.
I am not exempt from this. So when I sit here writing about my reasons for leaving Jerusalem, and returning to Rome, I’m trying to differentiate from the real motivations, and the window-dressing. Mostly because I’m past needing window-dressing. I don’t really have to justify my decisions to anyone. So there’s no need to apply window-dressing to the reasons behind my actions.

timeonearth.jpg It’s out today.
The new album.

As I type, I’m listening to the single (Don’t Stop Now) which, if you like, you can hear here.

Crowded House were the first band I ever saw live (July 1988) and that month, I even managed to buy a copy of Temple of Low Men before its official release date – the local music store put it on the shelves 3 days early.

I’m one of those who think that it’s not truly Crowded House without Paul. But I’ll still buy the CD. And all the singles. And everything else I can lay my hands on.

Today’s edition of YouTube Sunday is political. But in a beautiful way.

I know some of you are great fans of this man, as am I. I’m even trying to work out how to get this as a ringtone for my phone.

I give you, the Placido Domingo of Australian politics…..

In more than a decade online, I have never seen a website that rivals this.

It is, by far, the greatest website I have ever found.

If you don’t have broadband, and a metric shiteload of data quota, it’s not much good to you.

So there I was, browsing at the local video store, and I saw a movie sitting on the shelf – Black Dahlia. I’d remembered seeing the shorts for this in the cinema last year, so I thought I’d get it. I didn’t remember anything about it, just the name rang a bell.

Unfortunately, I’d been conned.

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strooperhelmet.jpgFollowing the revelation I had in this post, I began to look at where I was with my life, and why. And I especially began to look at the question of my geography.
I left Rome in 2004 primarily because of two factors – there was a girl pulling me toward Jerusalem, and I’d also run into some problems in Rome. The problems in Rome involved a legal tussle, and it ended badly. And to be blunt, I left Rome because I knew if I’d stayed, I’d have been consumed with rage and a desire for revenge.
But following the realisation that I no longer had those emotions of the DarkSide (anger, vengeance, hatred etc) that reason for being away from Rome rapidly evaporated.
Then, within a matter of only a few weeks, the other reason (the girl, Veronique) ceased to be an issue as well. I’d had a weird relationship with her, and for a long time, I had suspected that the best result (even if it was one I’d have hated) would be if one of us cut the strings. And in early October last year, that’s exactly what happened. We simultaneously cut the cord.
And that happened within 2 weeks of the DarkSide revelation.
So a seed started growing in my brain – with the end of Veronique, and the realisation that the DarkSide no longer controlled me, there was nothing to stop me returning to Rome whenever I liked.
But what would I do there? I could go back, but to what? A question I began to explore quite a bit, especially with Caerulia and William (formerly known here as “Yuri”).

My net connection is now so bad, I cannot even use things like MSN. I began to suspect Jim was screwing with the household network to make it worse than it need be. But it seems that it’s the fault of our ISP, the Evil Empire.
And they’re sending a tech out Saturday to fix it. So we might get something *close* to decent after the weekend.
It’ll be slow until the end of the month, but at least it might stay connected for more than 30 seconds.

I apologise for the patchiness of my blog lately, and it’s likely to continue for the next couple of weeks.
My odd housemate blew our download limit this month, downloading a 37 GIG file. And then the dickhead didn’t even finish! If you’re going to blow the month’s budget, at least fucken get the thing you blew it for. But no, he stopped it after 20-odd gig. (Our limit’s 10)

Anyway, I’ll try and update when I can. I’ve got a lot to get through between now and Bastille Day.

The last two Sundays, I’ve posted things I’ve found on YouTube that grabbed my mood. This week, since YouTube Sunday is becoming a tradition around here, I post this.

For those of you who can remember Race Around the World from 1998, this is the audition tape of John Safran, who became the most controversial of the contestants. His story in Round 9 wasn’t able to be broadcast, so they played his audition tape instead. It shows without doubt why he was selected. It still makes me chuckle, even after all this time.

Someone’s reading who shouldn’t be.

Someone’s not made calls they should have.

A lot of people have been deceived, whether lies were told blatantly or not.

Cyberia’s like that.

You can’t trust anyone.

I’m not happy.

Last Tuesday/Wednesday, it rained in Jerusalem. Not a totally rare event. But what was rare was that it rained for about 24 hours, and some of the rain fell over the dams. So we got a bit of run-off caught, but not a lot. What I didn’t realise until the Friday (which happened to be Bub’s birthday) was that the weather system that rained here went south, to Novocastria. So when I saw this (below) on the news.com.au website, it came as a bit of a surprise.

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Initial reports from Novocastria were basic – lots of rain, big storms, couple of roads and bridges washed away, but very little detail.

Sunday night, I texted my mum to ask if Bub and her were ok, and I was told they were. My family don’t live in flood areas (well, they don’t anymore!) and while stories of my old high school being used for an evacuation centre caught my interest, for the most part, it was curiosity value only.

On Tuesday, once back at work, I emailed my cousin Marquis. Because he’s both the only reliable family member I have in Cyberia, and also closely in touch with the rest of the clan. I asked simply whether he’d heard if our family were ok, or affected at all. I was taken aback at his response.

His mother and sister had lost power for 2 days (they thought it’d be out for a week, so two days was apparently good). The lower part of their house was flooded. As was their car. My grandparents had lost a shed, and a fence thanks to a falling tree. They were also told to ration water, as supplies in their area were unreliable. Bub & Mum were uncontactable for a couple of days, but were found to be okay, although Bub’s car had been washed away. Marquis’ friends in Adamstown were without power, so they had to go stay with their parents in Mayfield, but their parents had no water, so they had to go to other friends to have showers. Marquis also had friends in Woy Woy who had no power or water for several days, so had to use gas camping stoves to prepare food and drinks for two children (ages 2yrs and 6 months). Other friends had tried to make their way to elderly relatives in Toronto, but couldn’t due to the number of fallen trees and blocked roads. Main streets in some suburbs would probably lose every business because of the damage sustained.

In Jerusalem, I heard none of this. All we got on the news here were the highlights – cars washed away, fatalities, big boats run aground, rivers peaking and cities along the river saved. None of the small stuff – how hundreds of thousands of individuals were affected in small but significant ways.

Later, I managed to call my sister. It turns out the story of her car being washed away stemmed from a mis-understood text message. She’d been out in the storm, and in one of the badly affected suburbs, and she’d seen other cars washed away, but she was fine. Ironic really when one of the things I’d been telling her in my sms conversation with her on her birthday (Friday, the day the storm hit) was that her tendency to abbreviate in text messages to the point of unintelligibility means her messages are wasted, because noone understands what she says.

Even though the main purpose of this new blog is to tell a story and outline a new direction for me, I’m still going to intersperse with that some commentary on the world around me in real time. Hope you don’t mind, don’t really care if you do.

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One day last spring, I chucked a sickie. And instead of going to work, I went into Milton and had lunch with Tracey, a friend of Veronique’s that I’d known online for three years, but never had the chance to meet in person.
Over lunch, Tracey told me all about her on/off friendship with Veronique, and how it’d been like that for most of the previous four or five years. It wasn’t a negative atmosphere though, and overall, I quite enjoyed my trip out. On the way home though, I decided to take in a movie. It didn’t start for a while, so I sat on a sunny afternoon in the shade of some trees in the park at Southbank. And I began to think, sitting there with my chocolate thickshake, waiting for the movie, which was about an hour from starting.
I looked at the way things were with Tracey & Veronique, and how whenever one of them would do something, the other would interpret the action as a negative. Veronique got a job as a teacher, and sent Tracey an email showing pics of her classroom, so Tracey took that as Veronique boasting, because Tracey hadn’t gotten a teaching job straight out of uni. Or Tracey asked her sister-in-law to be her bridesmaid, so Veronique took it as an insult that she wasn’t part of the bridal party, and so boycotted the wedding.
The actions themselves weren’t negative or hostile, but they were being perceived as acts of war. And it occurred to me that the real problem was that Tracey and Veronique were depressed and unhappy with aspects of their own lives, and that was the cause of how their friend’s action was being perceived.
So there in the park in the shade, I realised something. All negative emotions – anger, frustration, jealousy, hatred, hostility – they all come from lack of self-esteem. I have to dislike myself in order to feel those emotions.
Although it sounds simple, that was a startling revelation. Any time someone is feeling negative, it’s their internal problem. And doesn’t reflect on me.
That first epiphany was the kind that made me aware I’d seen the world wrongly up to that point. What came next was a real surprise: those negative emotions, that are built on self-loathing. I didn’t feel them. I didn’t feel hatred or anger or jealous of anyone.
For someone who has been treated for depression for much of the past ten years, discovering I was happy came as something of a shock. I didn’t become happy that day, but I noticed I was no longer depressed. I’m not quite sure when the depression stopped. But it had. And I knew it had because a drama that’d happened earlier in the year didn’t have the negative effect on me that it might have a year or five years earlier.

Last week, a question popped into my head: what can we tell about our world-view by looking at a list of the national anthems we recognise?
You see, I can only recognise the national anthems of a handful of countries – Australia, the US, the UK, France, Germany and Russia. From that, what does it say of my world view? Is your list any different? Why do you think that is?

While pondering this question, I began to think about New Zealand’s national anthem. It’s called God Defend New Zealand. And truth is, I wouldn’t have a clue if I heard it. Actually, the only reason I know its name is the debut episode of Hessie’s Shed in 1998. John Clarke made a joke about the Kiwi anthem, and he said he’d been trying (along with the Footy Show in NZ) to get it replaced with another song. A song he then performed with Neil Finn & Paul Hester. It’s called “We Don’t Know How Lucky We Are”. And it seems to be a song for Kiwis to feel good about their country. Which, after all, is what a national anthem’s for, isn’t it?

So here, in all its glory, is a copy of it. And I have to admit, if I were a Kiwi, I’d want this as my national anthem. It shits all over Advance Australia Fair. Even done to the tune of Gilligan’s Island or House of the Rising Sun or Working Class Man.

For those who knew Honey (Huniii), mentioned below, I have something.

Honey’s cousin was a recording artist in South Africa. He teamed up with some friends and recorded this song. And I’m experimenting here, but you should be able to download it and listen to it.

Cheers, Aurelius

The truth is I don’t know when she died. Noone told me. Even though I was given a letter from her to send to her “boyfriend”, and he’d been given my number, and told to contact me, he didn’t. Instead, I found out the way she planned to be the ‘back-up’ way. For those who don’t know, in WordPress, a blogger can set a date on a post and the post doesn’t appear until that date. Huniii had written her final post before Easter, and told me she kept shifting it forward. Changing the date every few days so it didn’t appear prematurely.
Then DryEyedCrab emailed me on Friday the 25th and told me Huniii’s post was up. She and Caerulia both knew about Huniii’s plan for the coded blog entry. Even if you didn’t know Hun, it’s a beautiful post, and quite worth the read. Although I find it sounds better read aloud.

Anyway, I handled the news of my friend’s death the way I handle most bad news – I went into “submarine mode”. This basically means that I left work, and decided to be alone. I wanted time to think. And after a while, I decided that thinking wasn’t what I wanted to do, so I went and visited Alderney. But only for an hour or so. Then, I spent the weekend killing Gauls in Rome: Total War, and avoiding all human contact.

By the end of the weekend, I was fine. My brain had had time to adjust to the new reality of my universe, and I could resurface, and deal with the world as my relatively stable and normal self.

I didn’t realise until just yesterday that when I vanished that Friday, one of my email ping-pong friends, Olivia, was concerned about me. But Caerulia had explained that diving and lying dormant, just like a submarine, is my way, and I’d return to my friends when I was ready. That not to worry, he does this all the time. I guess it’s understandable, since she’s known me for about 16 or 17 years now.

While I’m here, I’ll ask a small favour of the small readership I have. I need to host a small sound file, to be accessible to other readers of my blog. So if anyone has the webspace to enable such a thing, can they please let me know? Email at m.f.aurelius@gmail.com Thanks peeps.

I was going to write a post today.
About eccentricities I’ve noticed in my previous housemates.
But to be realistic, most of them were mostly normal, or at least hardly worth commenting on. The only real stories I have are things like how I introduced one of my housemates to enough of my friends that she married one, and they are in happily-ever-after land.
So most of them aren’t very interesting.
With the exception of Jim, my current housemate.
He’s seriously odd.
But I think I wont write about him until I’ve moved out.
Which will happen in about 6 weeks.
Until then, or at least until closer to the time, I’ll keep mum about him.
And his toe-nail clipping collection.

Sometimes I love this city. But then it reminds me how completely fucked up it is. And, well, it disappoints me. Because one day, it’ll be like the rest of civilisation. But for now, it will fester in its own sad status, locked decades behind the rest of the universe. It was illustrated to me today when I was on the train home.

I work next to a railway station, so I catch a train home, to a small station just north of the city, then I get a bus the final leg home. The 4.10pm train I catch from work is, conveniently, one of the few that go direct to the little station, so I don’t have to change in the city. For completely unknown reasons though, about once a week, the train decides to skip several small stations. It changes to an express service, despite announcements all the way along the trip saying “This is an all stations train to Ferny Grove”. With no announcement, it will just skip 5 stations.

What really amazes me though is that the rail staff have the attitude that it’s the passengers’ fault. We’re on the wrong train. Sure, most days it’s the right train. Sure, the announcements on the train for the previous hour have said it’s the right train. But no, it’s our fault for being on the wrong train. In fact, at the station where I had to wait 40 minutes for a train to return me to where I was going, the staff there told me No, they didn’t have a phone number to ring about complaints.

See, in Jerusalem, the people almost expect this. They’ve not lived in a place where such ridiculously poor customer-service attitudes are not normal. So they don’t even realise how screwed up things are here. They think it’s normal.

As I said above, one day, it’ll be a decent civilised place. I just don’t have the patience to wait 20 years.

Recently, my housemate (Jim) held a BBQ party for one of his friends. All her family and a lot of her friends were invited. I think it was her birthday, but I can’t be sure because I didn’t really mix with them. Because they’re all evangelical Christians. And I tend to say “fuck” too much.
Over the course of the evening, Jim made some stupid bet with the girl that she couldn’t beat him in a “eat really hot chilli marinade” competition. He lost, so tonight was the first night he had to meet and go with her and her loony family to church.

Now, forgive me if I’m getting this wrong. But doesn’t attendance at loony religious services under duress kind of defeat the purpose? If someone’s making you attend against your will, what’s the point?

See, that’s why I can’t be religious. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

She came all the way from America
She had a blind date with destiny
And the sound of Te Awamutu
Had a truly sacred ring

200px-vespasian_01.jpgIn possibly a bad career move, Titus Flavius Vespasianus, an up-and-coming Senator once fell asleep during a lyre recital of the Emperor Nero. For offending the Emperor, he was sent to the fringe province of Judaea as Governor, just as the Jewish rebellion was taking place. He spent four or five years there in exile before the civil war that followed the death of Nero meant his own troops declared him Emperor . In the power struggle that followed, other provinces’ garrisons began to declare Vespasian Emperor and soon he returned to Rome, to sit on the Imperial throne for the remainder of his life (another 10 or so years).
Because of this story, Caerulia and I often referred to any kind of exile as “going to Judaea”.

So when she and I split up in 2002, and I left our hometown and moved interstate, to a distant land on the fringe of the nation, we just (naturally) would refer to it as Judaean exile. The state I went to, we’d refer to as Judaea, and the city got the title of “Jerusalem”.

That’s where they began – the pseudonyms for place names. Originally, they were just in emails or text messages between my ex-wife and I. Our home town (which just happens to be the national capital) was Rome, my place of exile was Jerusalem. Unfortunately, it also created the situation where the locals in “Judaea” were people we called “Jews”. So when I was in a bad mood with my new land, and having a rant against the narrow-minded tendencies of the locals, my words could easily be read by people who didn’t understand as fanatical anti-semitic tirades. Ah well, I’m kind of used to some people not understanding things I say or write.

Naturally, as I grew older, I began to wonder where Lucas had found his inspirations for the story. The political story I am sure has been repeated many times in different periods of history. But the most obvious was the history of Rome.

rome01.gifA republic of noble ideals, subverted by the desires of some very ambitious men, until the establishment of an empire. It sounded like a familiar story, so during my adolescence, I grew interested and fascinated by the Romans. The greatest empire we’ve ever seen. I mean, think about it. Their empire stretched from Scotland to Egypt, Romania to Spain and Morocco. Nothing in European history can rival it. Even the EU, in its expanded form as it is now, is still smaller. Rome was huge, and powerful.

So oddly enough, it was growing up as a Star-Wars nerd that turned me into a student of Roman history, with a lesser interest in some of the mystic Eastern religions that gave birth to the ideologies of the Jedi.

yodasized.jpgI was born in 1971. Which means that growing up, I was one of the light-sabre generation. The generation for whom the wisdom of Obi Wan & Yoda represented the highest ideals.
The pursuit of patience, serenity and inner peace that Yoda spoke about in the jungles of Dagobah.

A Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they. Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.

The nobility of the Jedi Knights first spoken of by old Ben in his desert cottage.

For over a thousand generations the Jedi Knights were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic.

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I’d like to tell a story.
And some parts of the story have been told, or hinted at, on my previous blog (The Lost Legionary) but I didn’t get a chance to tell it fully, and in the right way. So if you’ve read bits of it before, then I’m sorry. But I need to put it in full both for my own benefit, and the benefits of those who come along later and haven’t read it all before. Not a lot of it would be repeated anyway.
It’s the story of how I got here. And it’s kind of necessary for the next bit in the saga – where I’m going next. It’ll also help explain a few things along the way. Which should help out those for whom this blog makes no sense.
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And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love
You make

A friend of mine is dead. Some of you may even know her. I intend putting something of a eulogy for her here. But not today. Goodnight Hun. I lubs you, 4 u r teh hawtness.

I will return to regular posting, and we’ll all go on a journey, because I’m gunna tell you all a story or two, next week. hun.jpg

I faced a dilemma this week, and I want your opinion. But it’s of a personal nature, and so if you’d prefer not to read it, I’ve hidden it below the fold. Hit “more” if you want to read, and give feedback if you wish. Especially as this is kind of a “blog-friends” only blog now, rather than for public display. Read More »

Last weekend, I had an idea. See, two years ago, I’d bought myself a copy of Rome: Total War but my graphics card was too lame, so the game sat on my bookshelf. But a year ago I upgraded computers. I’d forgotten about R:TW until last Saturday. So Sunday morning, just after I wrote my previous blog-post, I installed the game to test if it would run. It did, and my apologies, but that’s where I’ve been for the last week – mostly killing Gauls. It’s been good therapy, as most other aspects of the last week have been very good for inducing a need for therapy. See, I split with Alderney. I may tell the story of that soon, but it means that I spent a lot of this week killing Gauls to distract myself. And I have to say, killing Gauls was a great way of blocking out the bits of the world I didn’t want to deal with. Anyway, my point is I am around, and I shall return to regular posting.Burning Village

I was reading another WordPress-based blog, and discovered that – while composing an entry – if you press Shift+Alt+V, you get more formatting options.

I’m posting this for the benefit of other WordPressers, and because it’s 7am on a Sunday, so I’m sure I’ll forget it the next time I want to use it.

I’m not in much of a writing mood. I changed to WordPress because I felt the old Lost Legionary was, well, it was like a big ship, a big sailing ship. And steering it had become so difficult. It handled like, well, a sailing ship. It had a turning circle slightly less than the width of the English Channel, and have you ever seen a sailing ship with brakes? No. Of course not.

Anyway, that’s why I left it behind. Because I wanted to try something a bit easier to control, a bit zipper, a bit more speed-boaty. Rather than my huge Cutty-Sark sized blog. Laden down with all its baggage, and undesirable readers. And I wanted somewhere fresh to share with you, those I’ve invited her, some of my ideas and plans for my future, and what was happening in the world of me just now.

To that end, I would encourage every one of you to comment freely at this new place. The things I say here are me casting ideas out into the ether, to see what people think of them. They’re almost never set in stone and impermeable.

I’ve got a week without Alderney ahead of me. She’s got her sister come to stay, and that means I wont be seeing her, except in the office. So I’ll be home more, and that means every chance I’ll write more. Maybe I’ll feel inspired to write more, or maybe I’ll just do it out of boredom. Who knows?

I’d also like to ask, this habit of mine of giving pseudonyms to everyone and everywhere – does that annoy people? Or does it add to the flavour of the place? I’ve given some thought this last week, while trundling around on trains and buses, to ditching all that. Or maybe ditching it for places and not people? I originally started it because I didn’t want to be googled by certain people. But I’ve disabled the google-ability of this blog anyway. So do we like it? Or hate it? Or not care about it?

Thanks for listening this far down. I’m off to have a shower then go to the footy, because the Vikings are up against Kenmore today.

Previously, I had said that I thought Battlestar Galactica had jumped the shark. Because it’d lost the “direction” it seemed to have in the first season. Now though, I’ve seen season three. All of it. And I have to say, my opinion is reinforced like never before. It’s drifted so far into the realm of the ridiculous that I couldn’t make it sillier if I actually wanted to.

I’ve now decided that it jumped when Laura Roslin was cured of cancer. From that moment, her place in “the prophecies” started to become questionable. And while I think it’s interesting to see the dissent and disagreement amongst the Cylons, the place where the show ended up at the end of season 3 is just dumb.

As I said to Jim the moment it was finished “George Lucas, in all his Phantom Menace creative bullshit-ness could not have fucked up Galactica more than it’s been ruined now”. Starbuck returning from the dead to lead them all to Earth? Was that in their prophecies? Or the roll-call of Cylon agents who were all hearing “All Along the Watchtower” in their heads that drove them to a meeting? How completely ludicrous!

Galen Tyrol can’t have been a Cylon – or his and Callie’s son would have the same magical powers as the cross-bred baby Hera. Saul Tigh can’t be a Cylon – or that means the Cylons had the “human-cloning” technology during the first Cylon wars (and they clearly didn’t).

And what of where Caprica Six saw one of the final models and recognised them? There’s only a handful of humans she’d know, and none of them were amongst the final set of Cylons (although I did note that one remains a mystery).

As I said months ago when I finished season 2, the writers have lost direction, lost their plot. Meaning the show has lost the plot in a big way.

Has anyone else seen the story flying around the media websites that Paris Hilton has asked she not be locked up because she’s “too pretty for prison”?

There aint sufficient hours in the day for me to find the time to laugh enough about this.

Crowded House’s Debut Self-Titled Album

It seems the rumours are true. So now I have to find out how to get tickets to this, the most important gig of the year. Whatever people are saying, I don’t give a flying fuck about the cause they’re promoting with this latest gig. I just want tickets to it because it’ll be almost 20 years since I went to my first Crowded House gig, and there’s no way I wanna miss this one.

Neil and I go way back. The first single I ever bought was “I Got You”, from his Split Enz days. Then, in July 1988, I went to my first gig – Crowded House at Bruce Stadium. I fell in love with the band that night, and I saw them about eight times over the next decade (including my buck’s night when they played Bruce again, this time with the Oils and Angels).

I was due to go to two of their gigs and missed them. I had tickets for their 1989 New Years Eve gig at Darling Harbour, when they played with the Enz, Hunters & Boom Crash Opera. That woulda been a good night. But I was in Tibur, and unable to get to Mos Eisley. Then, I was in Mos Eisley for their originally planned farewell gig, but when rain postponed it 24 hours, I missed out because I had to fly out to a meeting in Jerusalem. So I’m not missing the reunion gig. Even if Paul wont be there.

Anyone else notice the significance of Paul’s portrayal in this album-cover?

In a few months, my time here will be over.

It will either end in late June, or at the end of winter. The decision isn’t mine – it depends on Alderney. If she decides to return with me to Rome, the logistics are much more complex and much more expensive, and time will be needed to save up extra. But at this stage, it seems my return will be alone. So I am considering the life I wish to live when I do return.

lake-tekapo.jpgOne major motivation for going back to Rome is Lucius. He is now eight, and getting to the stage in his life when his father should be around, not just a presence at the end of a telephone line. He’s getting into football, cricket and various other activities and I know Caerulia is wishing for my return so she doesn’t have to spend every moment chasing him to sport, friends’ places, school events and everything else he gets up to. Me being in the same city, especially if I live nearby, would mean I could share these jobs, taking him to activities and therefore giving Caerulia her life back, to an extent.

But when I first decided to return to Rome, at the end of the Veronique chapter last October, I made some other decisions at the same time. I realised back then a lot about who I have become. I’m no longer ambitious or materialistic. I don’t feel the need to pursue material goals the way I once did. I’m more focussed on remaining content within my own world, rather than competing with others.

So I decided I’d like to concentrate on a few things other than career progression when I returned to Rome. I’d like to devote more time to writing, and that means I’ll also devote more time to reading. I have bookcases full of half-completed books I’m yet to finish reading. I’d also like to return to my political work, especially in lobbying for the things I believe are important. And I also wish to work more closely once more with Yuri. And put some flesh on some of the ideas that have been churning around my mind for the last five or ten years. Ideas of cooperation, rather than competition.

A lot of what I am doing, the changes I am making in my world, stem from ideas planted, like small seedlings, last year during the Earth Dialogs summit in July last year. Many of the speakers there presented visions of the future which were quite depressing. But one man who inspired (not the only one, but certainly one of the most inspiring) was Noel Pearson. I’ve therefore paid a lot of notice to his writings since then, when I’ve found them. Today, he’s in The Australian, talking about hope and imagination.

When Hope Is Lost, We Must Imagine A Future (Noel Pearson)

Alienation at its most essential level is not poverty or unemployment. It is the inability to imagine your society and therefore to imagine yourself in it.
John Ralston Saul, On Equilibrium

CANADIAN writer and philosopher John Ralston Saul is the most excoriating critic of what he calls the “tyranny of reason”. In his most famous book, Voltaire’s Bastards, Saul argues that from the breakthrough of Voltaire and Jefferson and the other classical figures of the Enlightenment, reason degenerated into a kind of fundamentalist ideology. Reason became the handmaiden of power: the Nazi extermination camps and the Soviet gulags are testament to the evil to which reason could be harnessed.

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So I’ve decided to ditch my old Blogger blog. I’ve also decided that in the new world, I’ll be keeping some separate blogs – a political one perhaps? and a football one maybe? and when I return to Rome, I’d like to set up something similar to RiotAct, but with a very local focus. But that depends whereabouts in Rome I end up.