Friday, November 30, 2007

This weeks 'Friday Affettuoso' - Surf's Up

This weeks 'Friday Affettuoso'is a very special one for me as it features my all time favourite Pop song, 'Surf's Up' by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks.

This early version of 'Surf's Up' with just Brian at the piano is from Leonard Bernstein's 1966 TV Special "Inside Pop". Bernstein said of it - "There is a new song, too complex to get all of first time around. It could come only out of the ferment that characterizes today's pop music scene. Brian Wilson, leader of the famous Beach Boys, and one of today's most important musicians, sings his own 'Surf's Up.' Poetic, beautiful even in its obscurity, 'Surf's Up' is one aspect of new things happening in pop music today. As such, it is a symbol of the change many of these young musicians see in our future".

"Surf's Up" was written in a single night. Enjoy.

Girls and drugs - an average day at school

I feel like I have lived for hundreds of years. Life has not gone quickly for me at all. I think the last few years have appeared to have gone more quickly and that is likely because things have stayed fairly consistent. Before that life was all over the place. I moved a lot, was studying, and working different jobs, all kinds of dramas. There are phases of my life in which I don’t seem to have retained many memories. I can hardly recall primary school in any detail. A few images flash up if I try hard. Being given the nick name Kunky, showing a Playboy I had to some boys, being teased by one of my teachers, wearing a lot of tracksuit pants, being sent to the principles office quite a bit, singing God Save the Queen (not the national anthom) at assembly, whistling for the first time in the library by accident, Mum walking me up to the gates on my first day at my new school, cloths-lining some poor kid during a football match by mistake, going behind the shelter sheds to see a girl flash, fighting a butch girl and taking longer than most to be given a pen instead of a pencil because of my left handedness. It may seem a lot but there is nothing in much detail. I was the joker in class, whether that was out of boredom or a need for attention im not sure, a bit of both probably. I was always trying to make the class laugh, not by any physical comedy, just with words usually. Admittedly farting was always a winner right through high school as well, everybody did it because the plastic seats made a great amplifier. It was also common in these seats to lean back on them so your knees were under the desktop keeping you up. It was always a scream when the back legs lost traction and the person would go flying backwards landing on the floor. During most classes in high school it was a great laugh to grab someone’s pencil case and throw it out the window. This kid Gonzo (because he looked like the Muppet of the same name) took offence one day when I did this. I ended up going to get it for him seeing he didn’t appreciate the humour. You had to watch yourself in high school as a boy. The threat of being beaten up is always there. My first day of high school a group of Year 9 kids started threatening me with the royal flush (head in the toilet) when the next door neighbour of close family friends showed up and said I was cool. I never got bothered much after that. I remember the teachers at high school were complete freaks. Mrs Eldritch had this secret smile across her face and she stunk of excessive perfume that would make you gag. My Taylor had a wig which looked like a stack hat and all the hair started from middle. He propositioned my friend Reed outside of school and talked to him about how he masturbates He was a complete perv but funnily enough one of the best teachers there. He was an intelligent man with some interesting and sad quirks. The maths teacher used to be the phys-ed teacher before he got caught peeping in the boys change rooms. Can you believe that? He wasn’t even fired. Ryan almost had a fling with the councillor; she got a crush on him because he was going through so much with his spina bifida. Its like nurses falling in love with patients, they get the job and their feelings all mixed up.

I had some major crushes during my entire schooling career. I was interested in girls from a very young age. I must have been in Grade 1 or 2 when I woke up and went into the living room where Mum and Dad were watching a movie. I lay there with them for a while and there was a scene with a stripper. I can still remember being fascinated by it. Ok not the sort of stuff you want to read im sure, but it is weird how early on my sexuality asserted itself. It also gives you some indication as to just how tortuous it was to not get my first real kiss until I was seventeen. Girls would like me fine, just not in that way. But I was obsessed with girls and it seemed so cruel and unfair that I would be so unattractive to them. Mum even asked me if I was gay at one stage because I didn’t have a girlfriend. I said to her "Mum, I like girls, they just don’t like me". What made matters worse was that my mates did great with the girls. The only one worse off than me was my old mate Nobby, he was short, thin, awkward and had a big nose and no personality. I liked him though, we were fairly good friends. I liked kids that didn’t talk much and were not too overactive. I still don’t like people who get over excited. Nobby and I used to hang out a bit. He came to stay up at my Dads place in the mountains with me and I used to go with his family to the beach. It turned out that his father was gay and living a lie. That whole family were a little strange. The father ended up leaving his wife and shacking up with some guy just a few streets away.

Nobby got in to drugs with Reed and we drifted apart. He got really bad, screwed his life up. We were all smoking dope a bit during the latter half of high school. My mates were smoking for a year or so before I felt I was able to cope with it. I never got pressured into doing something I didn’t want to do. Your Mother is exactly the same. So I took my time, made sure it was something I wanted to try. In the end I had a smoke and quickly jumped on my bike and rode home to write poetry. I wanted to see if I wrote differently, like Jim Morrison. I still have the poem. The other guys ended up going to the next stage and tried speed. After that it is easy to just keep trying stuff out because you have removed the limitations that keep you in check. Silly guys started trying heroin and that was that. By this stage I was at my new school so I didn’t see how it all came about. Ryan had gone up to Queensland and was living in an Ashram leading a very pure lifestyle. I didn’t keep in touch with the other guys as we had all gone different directions and moved from the area. I have never tried anything stronger than dope myself. Dope is a plant while other drugs are created in a plant. I just don’t want to mess with anything that dodgy. Alcohol is worse than dope, as is smoking cigarettes. It’s when you have anything in excess that problems occur. Even dope you have to be damn careful with. On two occasions it was laced with something very psychedelic. Interesting experiences but not ones I care to repeat. You have to consider this when drugs are offered to you. Are you an addictive personality? This makes all the difference because if you are then the drug will quite easily break down those walls of common sense and logic that we all have. When this happens God help you, because you simply won’t have the ability to make rational decisions. It’s like someone has opened up your skill and cut out that rational part of the brain. Your Mother has an addictive personality and her years of smoking show this. I however am not. I was never in danger of taking it to the next step. I can be extremely dogged when it comes to maintaining my values. As a teenager I decided I would never use harsh swear words and to this day I still have never used the F word or anything worse than that. Shit is my limit. I am mightily proud of this accomplishment…………………… dash nab it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Is your job role suited?

I went on to the BBC science site and did a short psychology test designed to point you to the most suitable job. The results suggested the following careers I would be suited to then not suited to -:

Your results suggest that Artistic type work might suit your interests and preferences. Typical roles for Artistic types include artist, singer, designer, photographer, musician, writer and actor.

Your results suggest that Investigative type work is less likely to suit your interests. Typical roles that suit Investigative types are scientist, engineer, laboratory worker, computer programmer, pharmacist and vet.

Unfortunately my job fits into the last category. This suggests I am in the wrong job and I would not argue with that. Alternatively you could say that by doing this job I am picking up new skills that are not as natural for me to accomplish. I think I have picked up new skills and a new confidence. It could even be said that these new skills aid my existing natural skills. It could be seen as making me a well rounded individual. It could also be said that I am not in a career that befits my abilities and interests and that would also be correct.

I got to meet Brian Wilson a few years back, well sort of. He signed my Smile CD.

This is something he really never does so it was extraordinary that I was able to get this opportunity. I was in Sydney and I had managed to weasel my way into making it a working trip because of the project I was on. So the trip up and the hotel were all paid for. I am so sneaky sometimes. I had already bought the tickets to the Opera house gig so I was going no matter what. It was while I was in the office that somebody told me that he was at a record store doing a signing. I ran out of there as fast as I could. We were all very excited to be there, waiting in the line to get close to our hero. He was not overly communicative and when I finally got up there to see him he didn’t look up. I didn’t care in the slightest. I just said "thanks for everything Brian" and that was that. I was also very close to meeting his band. I had contacted a Sydney musician and he told me to give him a call. I did the day of the concert and he mentioned that he knew a few of the guys and that he might be meeting up with them and would I like to come. I nearly wet myself. In the end though he was busy recording and it didn’t happen. When I met up with him at the Opera house I must shamefully admit I was less inclined to hang out with him and I think the feeling was mutual. I can’t remember his name now, I have one of his albums somewhere. The concert was wonderful and I felt on top of the world having seen my idol and beaten 'the man' (big business) at his own game by getting a free trip. Viva la revolution.

The meaning behind ‘toe the line’ - "Toe the line" is an idiomatic expression with disputed origins. The longest-running use of the phrase, often mentioned by tourist guides, is from the British House of Commons where sword-strapped members were instructed to stand behind lines that were better than a sword’s length from their political rivals. Thus the cry to “toe the line!” was echoed to return order to the House and to quell a potential mortal conflict.

Misanthropy is a general dislike, distrust, or hatred of the human species, or a disposition to dislike and/or distrust other people. The term is also applicable to those who self-exile themselves or become loners because of the aforementioned feelings.

I love this too - he was as conspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel cake. You can also say "there’s an elephant in the room" for an obvious truth that is being ignored. Try using that next time you are at a party and someone has a booger hanging out their nose. I was going to use it to describe your Mums stomach at the moment then thought twice about it.

Finished my book and decided to try Duncton Wood.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Safe and Sound Meridian joy, bring baby home

On another day much warmer than predicted, your baby seat has been installed and apparently it looks great. I remember just how joyous it was when we went with Pips to pick up Carns together. That moment when they first met in the back of the 4WD. I got a shot of it. Then Mum held them both on the drive home. It was so exciting and you should have seen how excited they both were when we got home. These two tiny little pups running around the house. Carns went nuts. They didn’t cry at all during the following night which was amazing. Pups usually whine away but these two were very happy. You will be quite a different story. I can’t really remember when Sophie came home.

The 'bring baby home' moment is big on people’s lists of cherished moments. I can imagine how paranoid we will be driving in the traffic. I’m bad enough as it is now taking people to task on their driving. Walking to work in the mornings to the station there was this idiot who would come screaming around the corner and down this straight road like a maniac. He looked like a complete tool as well. Big lanky gait and shaved head with tats. I would stop walking and just stand there staring at his car as he went by. Then as he walked past me to the Toyota factory I would stare at him with daggers. It got to the point that I was going to stop him on the street and it might have got ugly. Instead I called up his work and spoke to the manager there. He was actually really good and told me he would speak to this guy and warn him that next time I saw him driving that way I was calling the police. He never knew it was me that phoned from what I could tell and then a matter of one week later I saw him get off a train and walk off to work. Ah sweet sweet Karma, he had obviously lost his license. Idiot. Another time a similar tosser went screaming around the corner in front of our house and he stopped about 100 feet up the road. I yelled out to him to stop driving like a maniac to which he ignored me. Men hate being taken to task on their stupidity and the normal reaction is to completely ignore the accuser. A few hours later I was still out front when I saw him get back in the car. I then grabbed my pitch fork and started to furiously stab at the ground where I was removing a stump. I must have looked like a man possessed because he drove past me like an old woman with cataracts. Up to this point nobody has tried it on with me. I wonder if its my beard or my wide shoulders? Maybe it is an instinctual thing for men to be wary of larger hairier types, a throwback to earlier times. I say this for two reasons. Firstly I only seem to see thin men fight. Secondly, the sound of fingernails down a blackboard is apparently so ghastly to us because some predator used to make the same sound when we were still living in caves. Was there a point to this? It started off talking about you coming home from hospital. Over five years later and we still love just staring at the pups. Imagine how bad we are going to be with you. A blink will be news of the day for us.

I found a post-apocalyptic French movie called 'Time of the wolf'. I cannot work out if I liked it or not. It was like the novel The Road, nothing much really happens and it is very depressing and hopeless. Then the film ends with the young son stripping off in front of a fire and a guy running up seemingly to stop him from leaping in. Then there’s five minutes of a view from a moving train. That’s it. There was no resolution at all. But I still thought it was very well done despite all that. It barely poses any questions and certainly doesn’t answer any. Some reviewers discuss compassion as being one of the big questions asked in the movie. I don’t think there were any big questions at all. I think it just did a great job of capturing a group of people completely at a loss as what to do. Either way I suggest you watch it after reading Paul Auster’s ‘In the country of last things’. It will make more sense I think.

On the weekend Chas said he wished he had become an electrician or plumber. His work is full on with little reward for him at the moment. It actually got me thinking. Paul our plumber is a great guy and he seems to enjoy the work. A change of profession has been on my mind for a bit now. I did promise myself I would not be traveling into the city to sit at a desk at 40. I am thinking of talking to Paul about what he thinks, whether physically it’s a good idea to do at this stage. I just feel like I should learn some practical skills for a change. Last week I was looking at musical therapy for Gods sakes. This job really must be getting to me now. I get a kick out of doing manual labor, its something I should at least consider.

Hootenanny - Joan Baez made the analogy that a hootenanny is to folk singing what a jam session is to jazz.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Bassinets, bellies and blubbering

You found something to play with last night. We sat there in amazement watching the top part of Mums belly button moving up and down. It looked like you were poking it from the inside. It really was bizarre. Also on Saturday night your Mum woke me up at 3am, screaming that she had a cramp in her calf. I sat bolt upright in the bed, grabbed her leg and started to rub furiously, blinking and staring around the room in confusion. She then said thanks to me and decided she wanted to have a conversation with me. It’s like dealing with Sybil (movie reference). I wasn’t having any of it and I dropped back down onto the pillow and immediately fell back to sleep.

Chas helped out all weekend with the painting of the garage that we are converting; it saved me an entire weekend of work. Best of all I got to play all kinds of music that he never would have listened to of his own accord. See that actually was the highlight over how great the room is looking. My sense of perspective is completely warped and terribly biased on music. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sadie and her man bought you a bassinet. I love that she gets to experience the same kind of relationship with you that I had with her. I was 17 when she was born and Sadie will be 19 when you are born. She will be able to understand the special relationship that you have with such an age difference. She will be able to understand why I went to London for a while and why I went to Queensland to live for a bit. I was at that age of exploration and it is a bit of a selfish time in your life. I’m not sure if she feels like I wasn’t there enough or not actually. I should ask her. I went to almost all of her school concerts from kindergarten up, I loved them although the later ones did tend to go on a bit. But that feeling of pride when I saw her up there on the stage was all encompassing. I went to more of these things than her father did.

I just realised that at this stage I am not talking about you all that much. I understand that it’s enjoyable reading things about yourself. The thing is, you still are a bump albeit a much more active one now, never the less you are not you yet. And trust me, I will run out of stories about myself and your Mum real quick. Pretty soon its just going to be all about you and you will be begging for another witty anecdote about my wacky younger years.

Reading Algis Budrys - Some will not die
Listening to The Decembrists - The Crane Wife
Chewing some free Mentos gum.

Friday, November 23, 2007

This weeks 'Friday Affettuoso' - High Llamas

This weeks 'Friday Affettuoso' is one of those finds that occured when searching for similar artists to The Beach Boys, The High Llamas. Great dinner music and one of those groups that you can impress people with your vast knowledge.

For a brief time there was going to be a collaboration with Brian Wilson and Sean O'Hagen who basically is this band. It never eventuated. Enjoy.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Coping with the past

I was told something in a forum that was one of the most horrifying and cruel stories about what happened to them as a child. I was so upset. When i feel that way i write. It is very personal (for both parties) however i believe it can apply to many peoples experiences.

This is what i wrote to this person -

I am sitting here alone in this cold room, no matter how high I turn up the heater this damn room never loses its chill. My hands click away on the keyboard and I write, simply write. I write because I am compelled to. Throughout my life I have often retreated to a quiet room, to try and make sense of it all. Thoughts are swirling, concepts, theories, kind words, sad words, words of comfort, respect, admiration, God I am flooded with a million words at once and I pray I can give them all to you. Yet prayer is more than a form of expressing hope, it is also a means of collecting our thoughts and what my thoughts tell me is that nothing I write here will truly be enough. In fact I think this is more about my needs than yours. Writing is a form of release for me, a means to express my deepest feelings and to show what lies beneath. So what is that pray tell? Well I like to think that inside us all is our truest self, our oldest self, the part of us that has been around for millennia. I like to think that within there lives the collection of our experiences both good and bad, and with each experience comes a new understanding and a new insight into not only ourselves but each other. I keep thinking about that damn ladder, the one I consider I climb as life goes on, but today I have learnt something new. That ladder makes no sense because at any given time we could fall off it and have to start again, and that makes no sense to me. I already climbed it so why should I do it again? One minute I think Im nearing the top and then whammo, I realise that the end was a trick of the light and I realise ive hardly started. Life just isn’t this simple. ……….We are capable of anything given the conditions, the only thing that stops us from doing one thing and not the other is choice. God what bullshit we can come up with to explain life, what arrogance to think it can ever be understood. The only thing that is real is what I am doing right now. I can try and work out why im doing this or I can just keep doing it because it is making me feel good. My most precious and peaceful times are when I am not second-guessing myself. When I am writing, gardening, making love, watching my dogs, talking to my sister. What clarity, what peace, nothing else matters, nothing I have been through good and bad is infringing upon my time right now. Ah but shit! Now see….. I stop doing that and for a second I was left with my own thoughts…………………..that’s dangerous stuff Daniel, I don’t want to suppress my hurts, I don’t want them to be there during my moments of silence but they always manage to. I’m reminded of when I told Jenny some of my secret hurts, the ones even the silence didn’t hear. It was a series of catalysts that got me to that moment and I was able to express to her what was lying beneath. God I felt good after that. Its like a freedom, an exorcism of old ghosts haunting my body. The consequences of letting these ghosts out are not to be taken lightly, I could have gone either way at that point, LOL, now we come back to choice again! I define myself by how I limit my choices, not all options are useful ones, so therefore I limit myself to ensure my times of peace are increased. At one point in my life I allowed myself the ultimate choice, to live or not to live, I made the right choice and from then on my second option was forever removed. I live here as Daniel for as long as I can, I accept that I was not given the right to a life free of hurt and nor would I choose it. It scares me to think of the man I would have been if I didn’t have those experiences, a worse one I know that at least, a shell, a robot.

You are living a defining moment and thanks to your trust in us we have been blessed to have you share it with us. I can’t properly tell you how good that makes me feel. Thank you for introducing me to your ghosts, they have partly made you who you are now……….partly. Once they are let go (and they will go) you will be able to fill those empty spaces with whatever you choose. If I got to make the choice for you it would be for you to be so filled up with moments of love with your family and friends that your soul will be overflowing with joy. We would all give you this if we could however there really is no need -because you have the opportunity to give it to yourself if you choose it.

Its got a little warmer in here, the light has just broken through the clouds. Just outside the window a rainbow lorikeet is calling to its mates and they come flying over. Isn’t it funny how they always stick together and function better as a group, I guess they realise that they don’t have to do everything alone, that God didn’t mean for them to function that way.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Breastfeeding in all weather, a conversation starter

Its raining today, and because my moods are entirely based around weather patterns I am now feeling great. It seems my increasing good mood is directly disproportionate to the decreasing temperature. I have spent the past few days filling in gaps in the brickwork downstairs and applying paint. It is something I quite enjoy, listening to Podcasts and doing repetitive tasks. It frees the brain up to think and learn new things. I feel like im on a race for time here, your Mum expressed a tiny bit of colostrum which is another visual sign of your arrival. One thing I have been remiss in is reading my book about the babies first year, I need to get a crack on there and stop reading books about Zombies.

Dylan Thomas once stopped in his tracks while walking and talking with a friend and said "Somebody's boring me - I think it's me." I totally associate with this statement. In fact I said virtually the same thing to your Mum a week ago. I sometimes hear myself talking and I come over with the most intense feeling of boredom and just wish that I would shut up. I excerpt far too much emphasis in how I believe people perceive me. I so desperately wish people to think I am the most fascinating chap they have had the pleasure of associating with that I forget to associate with them. Your Mum has offered a few examples in which I have also made it plainly obvious that I find other persons conversations tiresome by getting up from the couch and wandering off. Sometimes I wish I could do that to myself. The art of conversation is disappearing as far as im concerned. Read sections of David Copperfield or Pride and Prejudice and you will notice the art and skills required to truly converse with flair. My friend Ryan's family were always great conversationalists. We would sit around discussing topics ranging from astral projection to the art of the fart. His father Thom was a brilliant orator, his quick Irish wit and piercing intellect made for some fascinating and passionate arguments. It inspires me now to do the same with you. I can imagine sitting around the table eating tea and discussing various topics. Each night we could bring to the table a topic for conversation and really spend some time on it. What a great way to improve your debating skills and it can only aid you in the future when dealing with difficult and dominant characters. Ryan and I still converse with depth every time we get together. I can’t recall if I had posted about our recent dinner in which we discussed spanking. It went on for about half an hour and everyone got involved. It makes you think, makes you have an opinion and makes you back it up. My conversational skills have been lost to some degree because I really don’t have anyone whom I talk to on a regular occasion that wants to go in-depth on any subject except for Matt with our Podcast. I like to have my opinions challenged because that’s how I can see just how robust my opinions really are. Over the last few years I have had to reassess my opinions on all manner of things and thankfully my ego is resilient enough to cope with it. I think I also have to be more attentive to people and actually ask them how they are, what they have been up to etc because I really never do this. I would much rather discuss their feelings on mulesing or their top five books.

This is later on. I don’t think I should doubt my ability to get my point across. I have lots of interesting things to say, im just not sure the people I am talking to either care or understand. This is not ego, it’s just that not many people care about the art of discussing various subjects with aplomb. I have always enjoyed my conversations with Ryan and Jan the most of all my friends. We would make great Gatsby’s.

Bought The Rough Guide to Cult Fiction.
Learnt about author Kobo Abe.
Listening to a great Podcast called The Music Show from 17/11/07 on musical therapy for the disabled. Also listening to Robert Wyatt’s Comicoopera. My favourite music to listen to right now is Verdi’s Requim.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hot and grumpy in the worlds driest continent

I was downstairs yesterday preparing the brick walls, filling in the holes and gaps then painting on top. Well big surprise, your Mum doesn’t like the colour! Is it all women that are like this? Are you like this? Its infuriating when all decisions are second guessed.

Its really hot at the moment and that does not help. Awful weather, I would be happier in a place where it never went higher than mid 20's. Its really hard to work out if we really are in dire straights in Australia or not. The dry spell we are going through these last few years could be part of a bigger cycle and maybe in a few years the weather patterns will change again. It could also be what we are doing to the planet with carbon emissions and the like. I do talk about moving to a place where water will not be an issue. I wonder what its like for you now. We are already on the driest continent on Earth and up until a few years ago you weren't allowed to add water tanks to your residential home. That is how reactionary we are as a society right now. But the media has jumped on the environment bandwagon now which is a good thing. Media is the new religion so whatever it says goes. If the taste makers decide that we should all be wearing hats with stuffed animals on them then in a year there would be no pets left unstuffed. Being water wise is now a popular thing to do. In fact not long ago a guy was shot and killed by his neighbor for watering excessively when he shouldn’t. The things making people scared right now are the weather and terrorists. When I was young it was the threat of nuclear war before Russia crumbled as a superpower. Environmental disasters are occurring all over the world and nations like China and North Korea are becoming wealthier and more powerful. Each generation has its own fears and troubles. My grandparents generation had it the worst. Two world wars and a shocking recession. You should read Tim Winton's Cloudstreet if you haven't already. We are bringing you in to a time of transition. Its really not certain what is coming. There is a part of me that is fearful of how quickly China is growing, we are essentially unprotected down here. The only reason we would be left alone is because we are not close to anything significant. But we are abundant in natural resources and we would be paradise to the average Chinese farmer etc. John Marsdens series is not that far fetched.

I am in a grumpy short tempered mood today it seems. I need to acclimatise to the heat. One of my philosophies is that nothing can make you feel anything unless you want it to. Now the weather is not making me feel moody, I'm allowing the weather to make me moody. Its an indulgence really but that’s ok sometimes. Let off some steam as it where.

Every time I write in this there is a voice in the back of my head that says "how is she possible going to read 18 years worth of this, are you insane?". Then another voice sounds out from deep down telling me that this is an important task. It may be that future generations of my family read this or it may be that it only helps me work out my feelings and thoughts. Either way I am going to continue writing.

Fact of the day -
The Milgram experiment was a seminal series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. The experiments began in July 1961, three months after the start of the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised the experiments to answer this question: "Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Results were - Before conducting the experiment, Milgram polled fourteen Yale University senior-year psychology majors as to what they thought would be the results. All of the poll respondents believed that only a sadistic few (average 1.2%) would be prepared to inflict the maximum voltage. Milgram also informally polled his colleagues and found that they, too, believed very few subjects would progress beyond a very strong shock.
In Milgram's first set of experiments, 65 percent (26 of 40) of experiment participants administered the experiment's final 450-volt shock, though many were very uncomfortable doing so; at some point, every participant paused and questioned the experiment, some said they would refund the money they were paid for participating in the experiment. No participant steadfastly refused to administer shocks before the 300-volt level.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Body image, rise above it

My favourite dreams are the ones where I can float. I recall one beautiful dream in which I was able to rise about 30 feet into the air and drift around. I can still remember feeling the sensation of leaving the ground, the initial fear of falling and the strangeness of my legs dangling under me. I woke from that dream knowing that I had experienced what it is to fly. Remember I said that the section of the brain that experiences the action as it is taking place is the same part that you access when you wish to recall that action later. So our reality is composed of the actual and the remembered equally. I also had another brilliant dream I which I was at my grandparent’s backyard and I was being surrounded by zombies. I had to fight them all and what was the most amazing thing was that I was using martial art techniques I have never learnt. I can still remember that my brain was telling my body what to do just as if it were learned behaviour. Some of the things I was doing were impossible to do, large flips in the air and such, but my brain knew what to do. I would love to know how that is possible. I have also had similar dreams about vampires as well. Most of my dreams I am battling some thing or other, when im not flying that is. Did you know that you can set a mental alarm clock by visualising a clock and setting the time you want to wake up. You can also tell yourself you want to remember your dream once you wake up. It doesn’t necessarily work the first few times but if you keep it up it can work.

Body image. God I hope we have taught you to love the body you have. I have always hated my body and I really have to work at accepting me as I am. I have even and still do consider surgery to remove the fatty parts that I have never lost no matter what I have tried. It’s a crippling feeling. I hate going to public pools and no chance will I go to a friends house to swim. I even dislike writing about it. My choice of clothes is based around which things hide my body the best. That’s why I love jackets so much and thus cold weather is my friend. To base ones body image as the main determinate of happiness is just stupid, but it’s something I still do. Perhaps I have worked you fairly hard in keeping up your fitness. I imagine that I will probably do this so you don’t dislike your body like I do. The older I get the less of a problem it is. I think when I am older I will be at my most happy. It will all be about the mind ……………… if I still have a functional one.

Writing a diary like this is very confronting. It makes you assess your life, what you have and have not done. I sit here thinking of what to write and when I cant come up with anything it can make you feel like the most boring person alive. People immediately think of where they have travelled but from my experience and from seeing others who have done it more, you don’t come back any wiser than when you left. You experience and see more things but you don’t necessarily go very deep into anything. You come home knowing you have seen lots of great stuff. I have learnt a lot more about myself in my everyday life. Like I have said before, when you go somewhere else you tend not to be yourself. You play with your personality a bit and usually that just means you smoke and drink (and shag) more. You don’t often come back with a greater insight into the human condition. More likely you come back with a shot liver and some weird itch.

Im thinking of buying - Crisis Preparedness Handbook: A Complete Guide to Home Storage and Physical Survival. Is that going to deep into my post-apocalyptic fetish? I love the idea of knowing practical skills in case of some sort of major calamity.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Carpenters and keeping your cool

I have too many blogs on the go. I’m keeping a couple until I can work out how to sync them so if one stuffs up I will have a backup. Also last week I put a photo of your Mum and I in my wallet for the first time ever I think. Before that I had a picture of Sadie and then I had Brian Wilson and a picture of me at school (only pics I could find the right size and it amused me. I called him my son). I just told your Mum that she can be unsentimental like her Mum is. I was relating it back to her not writing a diary for your sake. And here I am putting in a couple photos for the first time after 15 years. I think we can be sentimental about some things and not others I guess.

You are still on track, the right size and heartbeat. You are kicking about like mad and its not hard to feel you or even see all the various lumps over mums misshapen tummy. I keep singing The Carpenters Close to you at the moment because I want you to remember a melody. You go a bit quiet when I sing to you, lets hope that works later. Your Mum is still tooing and froing over our name. She has been trawling through websites and coming up with nothing. I told her that its more about her always finding a fault, actively seeking out a fault in things. My brain simply does not work that way. She drives me nuts over the pergola out the back and how she doesn’t like this and that. I am trying to give you a name that can change with you, one that gives you plenty of options. I love that Emily is so fluid and graceful.

She is so funny your Mum. She is off swimming today at Jan’s place. I think she only has shorts and a t-shirt, like some fat little kid at a public pool. LOL. I would love to see her floating around the water with that tum popping out of the water.

I have had a bad day at work today. I have had a run in with one of my co-workers and she was extremely rude over the phone, aggressive and short and also mocking. I was not impressed. I do not handle this kind of thing any where near as well as your Mother. She is incredible in sticking up for herself. She doesn’t get phased. I tend to get red faced and dwell on things.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Role models gone, flew to London on a bender

I taught myself how to shave. I have always found that to be a good representation of where my male role models fell short of the mark. I have learnt more about what not to do from the men in my life than what to do. Come to think of it I cannot think of any men I knew that I wanted to emulate. They all seemed somehow screwed up one way or the other. I find that I am stronger than the lot of them. I slowly developed my strength and sense of self from the strong females in my life and the books I read. Also the expectations I had of myself and what I did not want to become. The funny thing is that you often learn more from the ones that are failing than in the ones that inspire and succeed. One of my biggest influences has been Sadie's father because he has shown me what not to be. I find him such a failure as a man, a husband to my mother and as a human in general that I cant help but be inspired to keep working on myself. My belief in myself has been my doing, nobody else’s. I am proud of myself that I kept my head about me and trusted myself.

Remember I was talking about the crossroads I was facing when your Mum wanted to buy the unit. Well I just watched High Fidelity again and discovered that his story is similar to where I was at back then. His reticence to make that switch, that final commitment took him time and it was with the threat of losing her that he finally understood his feelings. This is exactly where I was at as well. Actually friends have even said im a little like all three characters in that record store.

Your Mum was already in England a few months when I arrived. I was taken aback when I finally saw her. She had lost a lot of weight and looked quite different. I couldn’t stop touching her. Like I was checking to see if she was really her. One of the nicest things about a partner is that you can touch them when you feel like it. It was not fun being apart I can tell you. She had been at her granddad’s but recently moved up to London. I got a letter from her and inside it mentioned there were some guys who were possibly moving in there with her and a few others. It’s the first and only time I was mad with jealousy. I feel like the biggest tool when I think about it now. So anyway I had a job within a couple of days looking after some people with disabilities. I simply loved London so much. I was only working 4 days a week and Fridays off. I would spend my day just walking around for hours and hours. It was so much fun. Your Mum did a bit of work as substitute teacher which she hated and then worked at a men’s clothing shop. I just loved the social aspect of the place. You actually spoke to strangers in pubs. In the afternoon there would be people spilled out in the street because the pubs were full. I loved the warm beer and the cool weather. I went to speaker’s corner in Hyde Park and met a really interesting guy named Anthony. He was from America and was studying psychology in London. He would stand on the milk crate and challenge peoples beliefs and opinions on black stereotypes. He had a whistle around his neck and held a football. He referred to himself as a nigger which really pissed people off. He was a real live wire and just loved debating people I think. I had a chat with him and we went and had McDonalds. I then invited him to come to this blues pub called Bob's Goodtime Blues near where we lived. He arrived with his beautiful girlfriend but all night he was so distracted. His knee would be bouncing up and down while his lady sat back all serene. I would dearly like to contact him again. I don’t think I have his details anymore.

Your Mum was also enjoying a bit of a puff at this time. I think it’s something about being away from home that frees you a bit from what you normally wouldn’t do. She has only smoked a couple of time before this but here in our little flat with all these people, she just enjoyed the times she did have it. She would laugh hysterically. You should ask her some time about the chocolate pudding incident. I would have a smoke myself however it was at this time that I gave up cigarettes. What a place to do that. But I did manage to quit, despite nobody making it too easy for me. Sometimes I would just have to sit up in the room to keep away from all the smokers. Speaking of the room. Two single beds, your Mum and I in one and two other people in the other and then another on the floor at one stage. This is in a room the same size as the end room at home. So I was loving my time there. I only went on two trips outside of London. One to see her Grandad and other family and another day trip to Oxford which was wonderful. We had plans to head over to Europe and Scotland but it was then that I got calls from Grandma and my Dad to say that Mum was not doing so well. She wasn’t telling me this and didn’t want me to know. Well thank God I can rely on your Mum to organise things because the next morning I was on a plane home. That’s a story for another time.

Friday, November 9, 2007

House hunting with a baby

We took what, about 11 years to get married finall? I like to take my time. Can you imagine what I was like when Grandad Baker started telling your Mum to buy a unit? I got scared. Oh God no, this means that I am in this relationship for good. There is no 'out' once I take this plunge. This was before we got married obviously. We were living above a shop at the time. It was an awful place in a great spot. I doubt we even have photos of the place. Your Mum hated it. It was all mission brown and a breeze would blow up the stairs from outside and we had no heaters other than a small electric one. There was even a time during the last month or so of living there that we had no bed. Your Mum slept on a fold out bed and I slept on the floor. The floorboards creaked horribly and the shop owner would keep knocking on the door telling us to keep it down. But I just loved being so close to everything. I loved the adventure of it. One of the windows had a terrific view of the city as well. So you can imagine that the idea of moving out and buying something became very appealing for her. But for a guy this is a huge thing. There is something deep down in your subconscious that tells you to keep your options open. Guys do not settle down as naturally as girls do. It is definitely a genetic leftover from when we were nomads. So when she started talking buying I panicked. It was a big moment, it was a mind shift. For me it meant making the final commitment and having it sink in. There was finality to it that scared me for a bit. So I did actually say no for a while. Your Mum was great, she did exactly what she should have done and said that she would be doing it anyway without my help. Sometime we all need to be pushed into change, into action and it is your partners responsibility to aid in that, as well as being true to their own vision and needs. So eventually I made that switch in my brain and once I did, that was it. It was a great feeling, I felt free rather than trapped. It was like an evolutionary ascension that us humans must do to keep progressing and adapting. We cant be held back by genetic predisposition. That is no excuse. If only we could all move on from war mongering.

So we bought the unit and for your Mum it was a huge time of growth. We both knew very little about how to look after a house but it is during this time that we started to learn how to fix up a house. I did my first paving job out back and your Mum actually did the garden. We made the place look fantastic for what it was and it ended up selling for over double what we paid just a few years on. It was also during this time that your Mum and I quit smoking finally. I was only smoking beedies for a little while as I had quit cigarettes in London. It was a big thing to do for your Mum who had been a heavy smoker since she was a teenager. It was also the time that her relationship with her Dad changed dramatically. She finally started to think for herself and not take everything he said as gospel. To this day your Grandfather has stubbornly rejected these changes she has made and will not see us. He is not a man who believes in change so he has been unable to become the father of an adult as opposed to a child. It is very very sad for him. He blames me as well, thinks I am now controlling your Mum. I understand why he thinks that because in his own little world he rules his wife. He cannot fathom things can be different to that. Stubbornness and pride have prevented him and those around him from being happy. This means that your Mum has had to disconnect her feelings for him so she can get on with her life and be happy herself.

A cenotaph is a tomb or a monument erected in honour of a person or group of persons whose remains are elsewhere.

Elegy was originally used for a type of poetic metre (Elegiac metre), but is also used for a poem of mourning.

Muggles, a slang term for cannabis, mostly used in the 1920s and 1930s and associated with the American jazz scene. From the lyrics to 'Dope Fiend Blues' by Allen Ginsberg' -

Im a dopefiend sitting in my bedroom high
I did'nt even light up no muggles, don’t know why
I'm just naturally a dopefiend under a friendly sky

This issue with Grandpa Baker also reminds me of one of the big events that stopped him talking to us. I had just got the job at the call centre. This was a big change time for me. I was feeling a lot more confident about myself. After ten years of working in disabilities I was feeling down about my future. I was really good at the job and was given more and more responsibility. I decided I wanted a newer car because of how I felt and because I wanted something nice for a change. It was more symbolic than I realised at the time but this was a big step for me, to stop feeling down about myself and to feel like I should look after myself a bit more. Your Mum recognised this because she is smart and knows me more than me sometimes. So we got this great Suzuki 4WD and I loved it so much. Your Grandpa however kicked up a big stink because he wanted us to buy a brand new car and he wanted to be the one to make that decision as to what to buy (what he wanted was a piece of crap btw that subsequently proved to be a dog of a car that lost its value quickly, while my car retained its value). That was the start of it all. He had a hissy fit and decided to stop talking to your Mum. He also wanted your Mum to have the good car. Mum told him that she didn’t care about getting another car at that time and it was more important to me. As I mentioned above, this is not something he was able to understand. And because it was his way or the highway your Mum finally told him that she didn’t need his assistance or his advice and that was that. I wonder if you have rebelled yet and which of us it was aimed at. God I hope I can keep my head when or if this happens to me.

PS: As an addition to the above (again), my issue with deserving nice things stems back to my father, who to this day does not think he is good enough to deserve anything nice. He buys beautiful guitars and wont play them, instead he plays the cheap ones. He does his drawings on crap paper because his talent is not worthy of good materials. So I had to unlearn this learned habit and im happy to say that I was successful.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Whistle while you walk and knit

Jan came over with her boy yesterday for a walk. I was at home so we all went down to the local park and walked alongside the creek there. Your Mum is doing amazing for this far along going for these longer walks up and down hills. Before we went Jan thrust her boy Jo at me and went off talking girl talk. I put him on the couch and he was happily playing with the stiching and rolling back and forth. I started to sing little melodies to him and caught his attention. He then started to laugh every time I repeated a phrase. Its wonderful when you can get the attention of a baby and keep it for a while. I hope this works with you as well. Tough if you don’t because I just cant help doing it.

We got some lovely knitted clothes from your Great Grandpas sister a few days ago and she found a picture of my Mums christening. Its such a lovely shot and anything new I have not seen of Mum is priceless. So it gave me a good idea to put others pictures up on the wall as well. Us, Sadie, your grandparents etc.

Here's a great line from Allen Ginsberg - 'If we don't show anyone - we're free to write anything'.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

04th November 2007

Anna Akhmatova was one of the great lyric poets of the twentieth century. Born in Russia, she lived through the tumultuous events of that country's history: the fall of the Tsarist government and the Russian Revolution, the internecine struggles of the reolutionary period, the establishment of the Soviet Union, the iron fist of Stalinism, World War II, the Cold War, and the slow thawing of despotic power. Originally a lyric poet of love and her homeland, she was at times brutalized into not writing because of her popularity -- a threat to the regime -- and her independence. During the Stalin years she composed what may be our century's greatest poem, a remarkable lyric sequence called "Requiem." In it, she witnesses to and commemorates the suffering of those who endured the awful terror of imprisonment in the vast prison camp system known as the Gulag: "I stand as witness to the common lot,/ survivor of that time, that place."

I learned how faces fall,
How terror darts from under eyelids,
How suffering traces lines
Of stiff cuneiform on cheeks,
How locks of ashen-blonde or black
Turn silver suddenly,
Smiles fade on submissive lips
And fear trembles in a dry laugh.
And I pray not for myself alone,
But for all those who stood there with me
In cruel cold, and in July’s heat,
At that blind, red wall.

Friday, November 2, 2007

02nd November 2007

I asked your Mum to make a contribution to the diary and this is what I got - "My boobs have got bigger. I am aware of you the entire day now. I get cramps in my calves". Well I did spring it on her I guess. Plus it is all very true. It is actually quite hard to think of anything to write regarding how she is going. She is just doing really well and about the only thing that is different is that she cant lift things. She has been for checkups and you are head down at the moment which is fantastic news. We went to a class last night which gave me some good information on what I can do to help during the labour. We need to start thinking about making up a bag with everything we want. I am collating music to play which will mainly be classical. We just have to think of things that will make her more comfortable. Last night in bed I was humming to you. I realised that rather than repeating the same song I should just humm melodies to you now because that is what I will be doing later. I do it for myself all the time. I did it with Sadie too.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

01st November 2007

The stupid diary

I was about 18, Mum had asked me to go up to the shops to get some things. I took Sadie with me who was about 3'ish I think. It was a warmish day and I wasn’t going to be long so I left the keys in the car and left the window open a little bit then asked Sophie to unlock the door when I came back. I returned a couple of minutes later and Sadie was asleep, I knocked on the window but she would not wake up. I kept knocking and yelling out to her but with the warm car she had fallen into a deep sleep. Can you believe how stupid that was? I tried calling Mum but the phone was engaged so I had to get someone to drive me home to pick up the spare set of keys. Well you can imagine Mums reaction. Sadie was just fine.

Mums hips are hurting from sleeping on her side. She cant find that 'sweet spot'. She is used to sleeping on her back but you cant do that with a little one growing inside you. The poor thing gets up every few hours, but frankly I reckon that is natures way of telling sleepy head whats coming.

I had a terrific dream last night. It was all over the place but near the end I was helping old people into an auditorium and I went down front to chat with some musical people. One guy was playing a song he wrote sort of about me and them my gran came up with a plate of goodies. Then I think Mum did the same. I remember telling this guy that Mum had been sick for years now, I was choking up trying to say it. After that I saw a guy telling all the oldies they have to leave. The Exit was right at the back of the venue and the steps were steep. Near the top I saw my grandparents and they waved at me. Then I saw Mum and I waved at her but she stopped walking, turned to me and put one thumb up, then left. I woke with up and realised what I had just dreampt and had a big smile on my face. I love her messages.