Category Archives: Not Heliophobic

Yes, sometimes I do things in the light of day! True Story!

There is Forgiveness in Honour

I’ve heard it said that forgiveness is the ultimate act of self-compassion. That it is, in essence, a gift the forgiving one grants themselves in order to release the negativity they hold for their transgressors.

Forgiveness has not been a strong suit of mine. I can say it out loud “Transgressors, I forgive you!”, but… I don’t need a holy-man to tell me that the unshifted resentment towards the other, despite my proclamation to the contrary, is my ultimate proof of failure.

A seductive proclamation too, because I can fool the outer world with such a statement. It’s even possible to fool myself with enough disconnection from my emotional response to my truly ‘head-felt’ delivery.

But what if releasing that negativity is actually really important to me? How can I achieve a heart-felt forgiveness when my head is clearly unwilling to release such a tasty coulda-shoulda-woulda chew-bone?

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My Morning Commute Through Heaven

Today’s blog is a reminder for my future self.  I’ve never had a work commute this stunningly beautiful before, and I’d love to have a fresh, crisp memory of it in later years when memory alone would only serve up something like “Back when I were closin’ in on me 40’s there was this forest I’d walk through to work. Pretty forest. Pass the salt whippersnapper!”.

We’re living pretty close to Toohey Forest since our latest move of houses, and we’re tucked into a valley that is surrounded on three sides by forest.  The skyline from our place does not feel like big-city-living, and I find that suits me just perfectly. The walking tracks are plentiful, and the walk takes me about half an hour. It’s hard yakka from the valley up to the Nathan Ridge track leading to Griffith University, and I’m guaranteed to break out a heavy sweat, even in the dead of winter.

Today was even more magical than normal (which is saying something), with a fog clinging to the city way past sunrise.  As I walked I decided to take a few snaps in an attempt to make the most of the rapidly fading mist.  Anyway… this post isn’t about the verbage, it’s about the visuals. And here they are:

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The evening commute is also beautiful, but in a different way.  At this time of year, the light has mostly faded from the sky before I begin my descent into what I’ve dubbed the “Valley of the thousand ground-stars”.  The outline of the trees against the fading skyline, and towards the end of the trip, glimpses of the valley are also cherished part of my daily commute.

So there we are future self.  Visit this post often, and re-kindle the gratitude for the best bloody work commute I’ve ever had.

You Got No Say In It

So there I am, standing in what I’ll call a pre-undergraduate motivation-collapse coffee line, waiting for my afternoon hit. In a month or so, The Slackening begins, and I can get back to just walking up to the barista and getting my afternoon hit of my last-great-crutch.

Behind me are two first-year girls bitterly criticising a mutual male friend of theirs for his decision to quit University and do something he thinks he’d enjoy more. From what I can piece together, it’s to do with serving people in the 3rd-world in some capacity. A noble calling for those who hear that tune calling their name on the wind.

And now that I know what I’m looking for in these conversations, I recognise that I’m tuning into an absolutely gluttonous gorging of fear-programming around lack of time and money. These girls are true believers, beating out a relentless dirge of doom whose predicate is a foolish young man’s desire to do something he might enjoy more than plugging into the career ladder-climb ASAP.

Now.. this wouldn’t be much of a story except for the fact that I wasn’t really listening. I’d slipped comfortably into unplugging from my thoughts to give my own story-teller a rest from a typical litany of programming around a lack of time.

Coasting on the sound of their voices and the background radio trying to drown out a hundred such conversations around it, the subconscious finally smirked its familiar “got a pattern I’m enjoying” smirk at me and jogged me out of timelessness to hand me the recognition that I was hearing this song:

So there I am… ordering my latest mug of mud-coloured crutch; re-acquainting myself with a song I loved (but didn’t really grok) as a child.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the little mental gender-bending real-time filter tweaking required to fully align the song’s message with the judgement coming off these two girls, working it into a pretty little visualisation of balanced scales.

Good luck ladies. When your time comes to accept that dancing to the tune of another’s fear only pays dividends in a currency of sorrow, we might be ready for an interesting conversation. Sounds like your friend is already in a place I’d appreciate a deeper understanding of.

Merry Post-Materialism Christmas!

Lately, I’ve been struggling with the amount of “stuff” in the house.  This year, like no other, I’m dreading the influx of the new stuff that Christmas traditionally represents.  To my delight, something was going around work  recently on things we can do towards a sustainable Christmas.  One of the ideas pushed was to cut down on the stuff being passed about in favour of experience, or intangibles, and that is SO speaking my language lately.

So, this year, the present buying I’m in charge of is taking a real intangibles bent.  I’m pouring over service aggregation sites like redballon, and targeting queries to places where my gift recipients live (mostly Brisbane and Cairns).

I’m also looking into other options like supporting threatened and endangered species, which includes trying to match people against animals I know they like, and sponsoring support programs on their behalf.

For instance, I recently learned that 2012 has been a very rough year for our native Koala, and its conservation status has downgraded from ‘vulnerable’ to ‘threatened’. Programs like adopting a koala and bushland restoration are now options that I’m considering for friends and family who are keen on koalas.

I was also recently sitting in on a presentation from a researcher specialising in tree carbon dioxide uptake.  I learned that there is a carbon dioxide tipping point for vegetation, that once passed, cause them to absorb less carbon dioxide, triggering systemic collapse.  This researcher was arguing that for certain susceptible species, it’s already demonstrably happening.

Now, this presentation spooked me. Consequently, what I’m also looking for in terms of presents are options to do with carbon sequestering.  The Carbon Offset Guide of Australia has been a useful aggregation site.  My personal preferences come to the fore now, and I’m most interested in local options that involve forestry development.

Unfortunately, there’s not much for individuals. Seems most of these initiatives , such as Ecofund and CountryCarbon are targeted at landholders interested in revegetation programs.  What about the city-dwellers who want to participate in progams that actively support carbon sequestering?

Well, there’s always Greenfleet.  They allow contributions from individuals.  It’s been a while since I looked at Greenfleet, and I was delighted to discover that they supply “typical” packages targeting carbon offset values that match the circumstances individuals might find themselves in.  As a sweetener to the deal, these donations are tax deductible.

That’s about it.  I’m not keen on getting more stuff, so I’m actively seeking to gift others with not-stuff that might just make a positive difference.  No doubt there are other things I’ve missed, so if you have any further ideas, let me know.

A Species Field Guide for Aussie Households

On Thursday, I attended a symposium on “Computational Challenges for the Environmental Sciences”.  It didn’t really deliver what I was hoping (expectations, they get me every time).  However, I did net a bunch of unexpected goodies.  My favourite was gaining an awareness of the Atlas of Living Australia.

The atlas is essentially an aggregation of environmental data from across Australia into a single portal.  What they’ve done that I love, is rig things so they offer functionality that the average joe on the street might find enticing. From where I’m sitting, they succeeded.  This website is useful for science boffins, true, but anyone with just a passing interest in “what is that critter?” can pretty quickly scratch their inquisitiveness itch.

The absolute stand-out feature for me is being able to identify species located near a user-specified location.  For instance, if I want to know which species have been identified within 5 kilometres of Garden City (a landmark location on the southside of Brisbane), there’s  an intuitive, user-friendly way to find out. Type in the address, specify the radius of a circle surrounding the address, and press the magic “go” button to find all species listed in that circle’s area.

A Species Map for Garden City

A Species Map for Garden City

There’s a fantastic feature where I can go one step further, and ask for a a species field guide  to be generated for me as a PDF file (the example linked here is a list of species in a 1 kilometer radius from my home).

I can see from the list that it’s currently pretty sparsely populated in my immediate area. Increasing the radius a little and I can see that there’s a bird junkie to the north-west of me who’s been going crazy with bird-spotting entries.

I’m motivated to get the camera out and add a few more entries for species I see regularly around home, but aren’t yet part of the data set for the area. I have a  tentative plan here to take a colour printout of my own very localised field guide for family education. I’m also keen to see if I can entice the kids into helping me contribute more species data to the atlas. At the very least, I can now grab a handy list when my daugther invariably asks a favoured question of “what kind of animal is that?”

After all, we only protect the things we love and the best way I know to protect nature is to share my love of nature with my children.  I encourage Australians to take advantage of this resource, and non-Australians to bother whoever you have to in order to get something similar for your area.

Capturing The Masked Lampooner

I’m very close now to clearing out the inbox of all three of my email accounts (should I consolidate? Not yet.. each servers a dedicated purpose that is still needed). I’m down to the last dozen emails in my “possibly capable of being infected by spam” account, and it’s got a few really hard to classify/delete entries.

One of these last emails that I want occasional access to, but not in my email box. So, I’m going to post it here. It’s a superhero drawing and accompany text for my alter-ego, “The Masked Lampooner” as drawn, and written by the very talented Annette Fraser.

So here goes:

The Masked Lampooner

Possessed of an acerbic wit (and the skill to use it) and defying the inner self controls that would lead a normal man to rein himself in, Lindsay Bradford fights crime as the Masked Lampooner. Bradford’s powers are multifaceted: first he has the uncanny ability to quickly identify his foes’ weakest emotional points; second he instantaneously crafts the most vicious and devilishly clever verbal attacks which alone would be completely debilitating; and third, as he hurls these loaded words towards his adversary, the epithets take form, becoming razor sharp slivers of fast-flying matter that rend flesh from the bone and start the blood flowing.

Happily married to Grammar Gal,Fiona Black, the Masked Lampooner is a devoted and doting father to baby daughter Hannah who, as yet, has not manifested any super powers other than a disturbing ability to quickly change moods and a completely disarming smile.