Saturday, March 31, 2012

For Peace Comes Dropping Slow


By William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.



Friday, March 30, 2012

There's An Ark To Being A Headless Chicken in a Bunny Suit

Today I missed the boat - well I missed the alarm clock, which is sort of like missing the boat - because missing the alarm clock meant missing breakfast, well I mean, the enjoyable bit of breakfast, the bit I can't eat while running around the house like one of those headless chickens - ever seen a chicken iron a shirt? they are hopeless, and its sexist to say ironing is for mother hens, so I won't say that. Then it was to work where I found walking nearly impossible because my knee hurts which is putting my back out because I favour the other knee. The rest of the day was absolute crap and then I got myself caught up in one of those exasperating, vexing, muddling situations that I sometimes shine in - This was probably because I was not being mindful enough, because I was rushing, fretting, worried and my mind was somewhere else.

My cell phone has been out of order for a while because the car charging gizmo's intermittent fault decided to take up full time residence - BUT I found that if I squashed the gizmo's little plug very hard I got a flicker of a charge - so my pea brain decided that it was the phone socket on the cellphone NOT on the charger that was at fault (such empirical scientific reasoning should never hold the balance of power in any scientific laboratory- ever) - so to fix it I thought, if I squash a bit of aluminium foil into the tiny socket it might make the connection work. I then went into the Vodaphone shop after work to inquire about a new phone and told them the problem - they tried to test the charger part of my phone - but of course, moi, 'dickhead' had shoved some foil up the bloody spout - so none of that worked - So, instead of impulsively buying a new cellphone I retired to sit in the mall and think through my strategy (which is a cunning description of muddle headed indecision, something of which I have an Honours Degree in) AND - while sitting in the mall, I suddenly remembered that in all this flat battery story, I actually owned not just a puckerooed car phone charger, but the main charger that plugs into the main electricity supply at home!!!!! - As I was remembering all of these facts I idly picked out the piece of foil from the phone socket and went to a different shop (to save embarrassment) where they tested the phone and established that the phone charging socket was fine which, thus, by a simple piece of logic meant that the rumpty car charger with the frayed wires, the perished outer plastic, the bad kink, the loose thingies that rattle and the very wobbly end bit, was probably at fault all along - so I bought a new car phone charger.

I then went and looked into hiring an Easter Bunny suit (oh how the spiritual symbols have changed) for our Whanau Fun Night next week - A headless chicken in a bunny suit? Lets hope no self respecting Ark ever picks me up - Some days you just deserve to bloody drown.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fully Afloat, or Sinking?

Artist Julien Berthier created a boat, named Love Love, that looks like it’s sinking, but actually has a motor that allows it to be driven around, fully afloat.

I like what this work of art is saying - To me it is saying simply - Don't to be too quick to judge, don't always take things on their face value, sometimes underneath there is something going on that we don't know about - that we are not always privy to all the information and that when we dig deeper we may see the deeper meaning to a situation, that in the fullness of time, by looking beneath the surface of things, truth is revealed.


BBC Natural World: The Woman Who Swims With Killer Whales

Passion and love for what you do - I don't think I would ever want to swim with Orca, but I understand and recognise the passion this woman has for something she loves - happy those who are passionate about their interests - Mines sailing, and I sail this very coast.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Many Splendid Thing


Maurice Griffiths (Sailor, yacht designer and former editor of 'Yachting Monthly') wrote these words about the attractions of owning and sailing ones own small yacht. He writes in a direct, 'non flowery,' unpretentious way about what the attractions are about this world of little yachts that is dear to the heart of many.

........... it matters not what she is like, a yacht is at once one of the most comforting, the most satisfying, and the most enviable possessions of man.

Nor does it much matter what he plans to do, or even does, with her. Happy the man who finds sublime contentment in just pottering about aboard his beloved ship, oblivious or contemptuous of the sneers of others who sail to win races, or take their ships to foreign ports only to hurry home again. Happy indeed is the man who enjoys to the full all that his ship has to offer him in her relationship to the sea, the wind, the sky, the glorious freedom of the open spaces. Unless he be a laggard, a thing without a mind, he will know all the bitter thrill of fright when he has brought his ship into a position of danger; he will enjoy the pure ecstasy of a fine days sail when the very water seems to frolic and sparkle with his mood. He will learn the anger of a lost tide, a fouled sheet, or a grounding on the ebb. He will know the humiliation of a faulty manoeuvre amongst the other boats, and the sudden consternation of a dragging anchor at night. Impatience at a long continued calm or an obstinate motor will be his until he learns in the school of experience to accept everything as it comes, to adopt the age old philosophy of the old seaman.

Therein perhaps lies the difference between the herded life on shore and the untrammelled life afloat - the acquisition of a philosophy, an appreciation of those small blessings whose very existence is forgotten in the mad rush of modern life. A sunset betokening a fair wind on the morrow, the sun piercing the clouds and changing the grey sea to a vivid green, the sound of ripples against the ships side at the end of a long calm, a windmill waving its arms beyond the meadows bordering the creek, the lone flight of a solitary gull and the sound of a lark rising above the saltings, the light of the moon playing on the yachts wake, the good humoured companionship of good shipmates, the call of the sea when the first of the ebb runs seaward: such things, unknown to the man in the city, become delights to be looked for, glimpses of the great world that lies beyond the suburbs, for the man with a boat of his own.

Simple pleasures, they are part of the life of those that go down to the sea in little ships seeking the adventure, the health, the peace and contentment of soul that is mans natural craving.

- Maurice Griffiths - (From Volume 65 - May to October 1938)

Friday, March 23, 2012

New Zealand v Aussie kids -Mitre 10 hardware shop TV Advertisement advert

Cute, real cute.



Henry Thoreau, that doyen of simplicity, in his book 'Walden' [I spell this book title W(alden) because I agree with much of what he has to say : > )] stated that the smallest abode a person actually requires is a warm and well ventilated structure about the size of a coffin.

Thoreau, who at the time owned only the clothes he stood up in and a fist full of pencils (he made his living for a while making and selling pencils) would have found a coffin to sleep in somewhat commodious I should imagine.

In the United States there is a growing 'Small House Movement' no doubt borne out a new "Green" imperative and the new 'hard times' driven by the faltering world wide economy.

When I look at the size of these dwellings they look very small indeed, But! a lot bigger than the accommodation of my small yacht 'Mariner'. Placed on the back of a truck (as in the video) these small houses become rather commodious 'land yachts'.

I think the key to living small is to have a great view of the wide open spaces as well as ready access to the same and / or, the ability to be mobile (house trucks and boats) so that you can move around if the fancy takes you. Without that combination a small sized house could become a burden.

Given what we 'need' rather than what we 'want' perhaps the ideal 'Thoreauean' living solution for one such as myself would be to have a tiny house amidst beautiful native bush backing onto the sea or a river, with a little jetty at the bottom of the garden to moor my little boat to. I could live on the boat, but when I got weary of the small space, I could go and live in the relatively huge space of the tiny house.

But. Such a scenario is something that I 'want' rather than 'need' - like Thoreau I only need something the size of a dry well ventilated coffin - the cubic capacity of the accommodation area of my small boat would be equivalent to about a dozen coffins - If I lived on my boat it would feel, relatively speaking, like the Ritz.



I have been working on my end of term assessment data since 3pm today and have JUST FINISHED (11.59 PM)- so please don't mention National Standards, Testing, Examinations or Data Entry or I may hack into the very kernel of the WWWeb and write some code that will vaporise and/or do some serious injury to --- well, whatever vaporising computer code does injury to.

The problem with the my current set of data reporting is that it has expanded from one to now three separate very detailed reports per class. If the data translated into some sort of policy making that would help schools all well and good, but I think it is a kind of job creating, empire building for government ministry officials and politicians - for example (and on another tack - and hobby horse) - all school rolls are now computerized with the roll taken electronically twice a day. If a child is absent then there are about 30 different reasons in a pull down menu to choose from, to indicate why a particular child is absent. If this translated into more truancy officers or some sort of policy to help children to attend school then all well and good - but do we see said policy? - not on your nelly we don't !

And don't get me started on National Standards - an arbitrary line drawn in the sand which large numbers of children who are doing quite well at school and are (despite the well known social economic influences) growing and learning - who under the new regime will be told constantly that they are failing - yep that's a great way to help children to learn - tell them they are failing as they constantly grow - bloody brilliant.

I wonder why it is that the current government looks to failed international models for its inspiration i.e. Charter Schools, Privatisation, League Tables, National Standards etc when good models, MODELS THAT WORK AND PUT THESE COUNTRIES (e.g. FINLAND) AT THE TOP OF THE INTERNATIONAL TABLES are available - are you listening ARE AVAILABLE right at this present time!! And these models almost completely disconnect themselves from any testing for reporting purposes - testing that informs teaching is embraced - testing to rank, judge and do the old pass / fail / good / bad / accepted / unaccepted --- is well ignored!!!
But why would a person pursue truth when they can have - LIES, DAMNED LIES AND STATISTICS!!

A very good question on many levels - why would one ? go figure. End of rant - now to bed - I'm very tired and stressed after today - maybe I will count sheep, no I won't, someone might want a $%#@&&%$ spreadsheet of sheep statistics. (12.36 AM).


Wednesday, March 21, 2012


In the forest, lost, I cut a dark stick
and lifted its whisper to my thirsty lips
perhaps it was the voice of crying rain,
a broken bell, or a torn heart.

Something that from so far away seemed
seriously hidden to me, covered by the earth,
a cry deafened by immense autumn,
by the darkness of the leaves, humid and ajar.

But there, waking from the dreams of the forest,
the hazel branch sung below my mouth
and its roaming odor climbed to my view

as if the roots which I had abandoned, the land
lost with my childhood, suddenly came searching for me,
and I stopped, wounded by the wandering aroma.



KOWHAI - A.R.D. Fairburn

When the candles burn again in the kowhai tree,
I shall return, remembering older springs
when the sky was a blue pool where dreamily
clouds floated like silver swans with folded wings.

I shall return, remembering how Love
fulfils in the spring her immortal trust,
and builds her leafy temple in the kowhai grove,
scorning the dull remonstrance of the dust.

I shall lie on the cliffs under the small gold flowers,
and smell wild honeysuckle, and hear the chime
of the waves, like bells ringing in the shadowy towers
of some grey village of the olden time.

I will return. But shall springs memory falter
and yield her green faith to summer's unbelief ?
Will the kowhai darken the candles on her altar
and strew on the grey winds her golden grief ?


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


'Carronade' Rounding Cape Horn 1967 - Painting by Jack Earl (Cape Horns namesake is the small town of Hoorn on the shores of the IJsselmeer NL)

Cape Horn stands within one of the most inhospitable, loneliest and treacherous pieces of water on our planet. Once in the golden age of sail, before the creation of the Panama Canal, it was the only route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. This area is the graveyard of over 800 ships and 10,000 sailors.

Three brave young men in the 'Carronade' (pictured above) rounded in 1967 but paid the price with a complete capsize in a hurricane - which luckily didn't dismast them - Its a wonderful story told in Des Kearns book 'World Wanderer: 100,000 Miles Under Sail.' - (a story for a future Blog posting perhaps).

Close to Cape Horn there is a memorial in the form of an albatross to the memory of all those who have perished coming this way:


I, the albatross that awaits for you at the end of the world..
I, the forgotten soul of the sailors lost that crossed Cape Horn from all the areas of the world.

But die they did not in the fierce waves,
for today towards eternity

in my wings they soar
in the last crevice
of the Antarctic winds.

Sara Vial
Dec - 1992



This was my very first Blogpost, posted on Monday June 9th 2008 - there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then. I thought that as I haven't Blogged for a while I might celebrate my return in a small way by reposting the first of my, to date, 227 postings.

"""""""""" For most of my life I have spent a lot of time thinking and reading about the existential questions. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Is there life after death? What does the word God mean? What is ultimate reality? what is the nature of consciousness? - the questions are endless. The answers are partial, and scratching the existential itch continues unabated.

The photograph above is of a sculpture by the early twentieth century artist Marcel Duchamp. To me it symbolises the conundrum of existence. What is the meaning of what we see here? These are familiar things, a stool and a bicycle wheel. Placed in their own contexts of riding on and sitting on we can make sense of these objects. When juxtaposed in an incongruent way we are puzzled and confused. They remind me of other incongruousness. Young innocence and painful death. The good dying young. The fullness and richness of life ending in death. The pain of love. Evil so often seeming to triumph. Injustice and suffering. What does it all mean?

My life up to this point in time has been a very rich and meaningful one; full of happiness as well as suffering just like most people. But the ultimate questions remain. What have you learnt? what are some of your partial answers? """""""""""""""

What have I learned since this first posting? - In some areas more than I can possibly say here, but in terms of ultimate things, I think the descriptions of the transcendent reality we quest for, the answers to all our questions are beyond human language. I also think that if the answers could be put into language we human beings do not have a brain that is capable of understanding these answers.

So how do we approach these questions? How do we find meaning for our lives? I feel that it is possible to approach transcendental experience through the safe discipline of Meditation, to gather understandings beyond language through the Arts and through experience of the natural world (especially by sailing : > ) - But ultimately the best and deepest way to experience meaning that goes beyond language is through love - Love in all its manifestations of giving, and in all its sacrifice.

"God is Love" so the saying goes - I feel that's the best definition of the word 'God' I have experienced to date - Love attends to both the Logos and the Mythos of our natures - Love enables a marriage between our rational intellects and the creativeness that exists at the boundary of our non rational dreaming selves, and transcendent reality - that love is both a feeling and a commitment.

Psychology portrays love as a cognitive phenomenon with a social cause. It is said to have three components in the book of psychology: Intimacy, Commitment, and Passion. Also, in an ancient proverb love is defined as a high form of tolerance within a context of compatibility - - can't disagree with any of that.



Australian Jack Earls yawl 'Stella Maris' running before a storm in Bass Strait -- from a painting by Jack Earl

It has been raining solidly here in Northland. Big clouds, heavily laden with rain. Yesterday they closed my place of work, Hikurangi School for the day - too many roads closed by slips and trees over the roads. I spent the time at home watching the rain - big rain, big fat drops of relentless rain cascading down my windows, filling up the gutterings and gurgling down the downpipes like water in the scuppers of a boat. I felt all at sea, what with the rain, the wind and a sense of ennui. Wherever I looked all I saw was relentless rain. It seemed to be raining inside the house. Stormy weather is like that, full of rain.

On my own beloved small yacht 'Mariner' I have a storm jib like the one in the above picture of the little yawl 'Stella Maris' - a storm jib hand sewn with fat stitching - crafted to be almost bullet proof. It's small and tough and takes no prisoners with the wind and rain. I also have a compass. I shall seek out the storm jibs wise counsel about dealing with the rain - but the magnetic compass is a completely different story.