Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Mindfulness


How to Live in the Moment


from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Living in the moment is all about living like there's no tomorrow. It takes practice but in the end, you'll lead a fuller life. To do this you must realize beauty in every moment, and in everyday activities. This is your life, now live!

Steps


  1. Take notice of the world around you. No matter what you're doing, try to find something beautiful around you. Maybe on your way to work or school, you go over a beautiful bridge, or you get a view of the sunrise behind the city buildings. Realizing these small things can bring life and happiness even to the most boring or routine days. Be thankful for those little things.
  2. Focus on whatever you're doing. Even if you're just walking, or wiping the counter, or shuffling cards - how does it feel? There's probably some kind of commentary spinning through your mind, and it probably has to do with something other than what you're doing. Let those thoughts go and focus on what is (not what was, or what could be). In Buddhism, this is referred to as mindfulness. Pay attention to your senses - touch, sight, smell, sound, and taste. Pretend it's the very last time you'll ever experience whatever you're experiencing. Have you ever been so engrossed in something that it seemed like the rest of the world just disappeared? Living in the moment is about creating that state of mind at any time. Slow down, and try to savor the present.
  3. Smile when you wake up. You can set the tone of appreciation and awareness for the next 24 hours by simply waking up and smiling.[1] Don't wake up with a groan and a smash of your alarm clock. There's scientific proof that the expressions that you make with your face can actually influence how you feel.[2] In particular, true happiness is most closely tied to a Duchenne smile which involves smiling with your eyes, as well as your mouth.[3]
  4. Commit random, spontaneous acts of kindness. Whether it's donating 1 dollar to a fund at the pharmacy, picking up litter, or helping victims of natural disasters, keep alert in every moment of your day for some way in which you can make the world a better place. Even the smallest thing, like complimenting someone, can bring joy. It's the most spontaneous and unexpected acts of kindness that produce the greatest impact, and you can't be sensitive to those kinds of opportunities unless you're living in the moment.
  5. Minimize activities that dull your awareness of the moment. What are you doing that tempts your mind to run away from the present? For most people, watching television puts you in a passive state of mind, and time slips right by. Daydreaming and getting lost in a good movie or book isn't bad, but it's not living in the moment because it places your concentration on something that isn't right here, right now; it's a form of escapism. Don't zone out; zone in. Do things that are active, and that encourage you to look around and engage the world in that moment. Gardening, playing a game, knitting, and playing an instrument are all activities that lend themselves to mindfulness. So get off the computer after reading this article!


Video



Tips


  • Play with kids! Children don't worry about the future; they play and enjoy every moment for what it is. They haven't yet learned to think ahead, or mull over the past, so take the opportunity to learn from them.
  • Forgive. Many of us carry grudges with us that haunt us, and those grudges also prevent us from opening our hearts to others because we're scared of getting hurt again.
  • Watch your breath, by noticing your breathing pattern your mind naturally quiets and pays more attention to the present moment.
  • Listen to music and enjoy it. Express your self by dancing to it or singing along.
  • Participate in active conversation and engage in the subject matter with another human.
  • Think about how happy your good deed could make someone!


Warnings


  • Living in the moment doesn't mean you shouldn't care about the future, or do reckless, irresponsible things. It means that when you make a choice to do something, you focus on actually doing it, rather than letting your mind dwell on the future (or past).
  • Do not let living in the moment be offensive, rude, uncaring, intrusive, or inconsiderate of others while focusing on living for yourself


Related wikiHows




Sources and Citations


  1. "Present Moment Wonderful Moment" by Thich Nhat Hanh. ISBN 093807721X

  2. http://www.springerlink.com/content/y9575l5511111457/

  3. http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=16900751



Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Live in the Moment. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Poppy Day!

The poem that is believed to have inspired the idea of Poppy Day (Remembrance Day, the 11th November):

In Flander's Fields

In Flanders' fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row,
that mark our place; and in the sky
the larks, still bravely singing, fly
scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
loved and were loved, and now we lie
in Flanders' fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
to you from failing hands we throw
the torch; be yours to hold it high.
If you break faith with us who die
we shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders' fields.

[John McCrae, 1915; McCrae died a few weeks after writing this poem.]

Maputo beachfront

That day we smelled the sea,
felt the rain,
and first spent half-an-hour
sipping sweet coffee
while amaZyoni huddled in
tight groups all along the beach.

Everyone was cold, you said:
the worshippers;
you; me.

Later, when you spoke of your latest lover,
I looked away beyond the cafe
at the coconut palms
being shaken by the wind,
and the salt spray
breaking on the wall,
all the while
wishing I could stop
the shaking that seemed
to clutch so tightly at my heart.

Monday, November 3, 2008

01st November

A new morning,
the dawn awake;
a new day,
scrubbed clean and fresh and scoured
like a bath
waiting to be filled with water; reading
Martin Luther King's "Strength to Love"
and thinking
of you
regularly,
as I ought to,
wishing you were here,
your flesh soft and warm and slack
beside me.

Does absence
make the heart grow fonder?
i don't think so.
Absence just brings a sense of loss,
of someone missing, a lack;
that last piece of the jigsaw
that you search for
in the box
but cannot find.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Wine Guide To Women

If the path to bliss begins with a kiss, why do you end up with blisters? Learn this: there are four basic types of women out there, types analogous to wines.
- semi-sweet
These are the honeys who will cheat you. Attractive, easily approachable, they smile so sweetly, but their looks flatter in order to deceive.
- dry
 The unresponsive cold shoulder. No matter what you try here, you'll make little impression. If she doesn't smile within the first five minutes, get out of there.
- sparkling
The sparkle is for them, not you. Also known as gold-diggers, these see you as just another accessory to complement (and hopefully pay for) their individual style.
- red
Short for red-hot, these are the whirlwind passionate women you can't resist, so don't even try. Unfortunately, they invariably turn out to be femme fatales, meaning they'll kill you. But at least they're worth dying for.

Has this helped you? Learn this: any woman you meet is dangerous, far more dangerous than crossing the street. But danger always brings an adrenaline rush, and many dangers are good for you--as long as you survive them, that is. Remember the old adage, 'You can't live with them, can't live without them.' Men are clearly the weaker sex, despite their proud boasts. What's a poor boy to do? Study the whine list? Or start drinking beer--alone?

Times Sunday Man, August 19th, 2001
© Kenneth Rowley, 2001

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In the aftermoon



In the aftermoon

In the aftermoon,

in a quiet hour,

I watched you sleeping:

dark and lovely,

sof-n-free,

your small, slender,

recently relaxed body

an s-curl
in the salon of our bed.


[Ken Rowley]

The Buttons Of Your Mind

You’re not mine any more
as we take our last walk together
along the midnight shore
before we say goodbye forever.

Shall I call you love, use your name?
Shall I wear my sadness face or look the same?
I am careful to avoid the touch of your hand.
I must not be drawn into the bedroom of your eyes.

You could say you’d see me soon.
But you’re as silent as the moon.
You could say Let’s talk together,
but you think of other men.
I wonder if I ever knew
the more elusive inner you,
for the buttons of your mind
were difficult to find
and my fingers far too clumsy.

[Roger McGough? 1968?]

This was, I think, the b-side of The Scaffold's 1968 hit, "Lily the Pink" & is suitably dada for the time. 1968 was also the year of the Bonzos' "I'm the Urban Spaceman/ In the Canyons of your Mind" & the Beatles' "Happiness is a Warm Gun... Number 9". Also 1968 was the publication of Adrian Henri's "Tonight At Noon" poetry volume, which included a discussion on dada/surrealism & examples of 'poems without words'.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Shake, Rattle & Roll!

As a young boy I was given a copy of Bill Haley's 'Rock Around the Clock' LP by an uncle who couldn't stand 'this new music'. "Shake, Rattle & Roll" was of course on there and I loved the line about 'the one-eyed cat peepin' in a seafood store' with all the innocence of a child. Nowadays I listen to Joe Turner's original rather than Haley's, and understanding now what 'one-eyed cat' and 'seafood store' refer to, the innocence is long gone but my love for the song still remains.

Both Turner's and Haley's recordings are from 1954 and whilst researching the history of "Shake, Rattle & Roll", I got side-tracked by the phrase 'rock & roll'. The first use of this seems to have been in black gospel, a reference to rockin and rollin in the arms of Moses. Given that r&b, soul, and even rap has its origins in black church this is unsurprising. Here's a wonderful lyric from 1939:


Waves on the ocean, waves in the sea,
But that gal of mine rolls just right for me
Rockin' rollin' mama, I love the way you rock and roll
You ease my troubled mind and pacify my weary soul
which appeared in a song called 'Rockin' Rollin' Mama'.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Duality, Non-Duality & Zen Satori

Perhaps Zen is really all about turning duality into non-duality or maybe realising that the meaning of life is life. My moment of sudden enlightenment (satori) came when I noticed an ugly woman and kind of asking the universe why a woman could be so ugly. The answer came that ugliness is a necessary part of beauty--that the two come together; each needs the other; neither can exist independently. The ugly woman allows me to see beautiful ones; without ugliness beauty could not exist:


Fleas, lice,
The horse pissing
By my pillow.

Giving the breast,
While counting
The flea-bites.

There is nothing intrinsically more beautiful or poetical about
the moon than about a dunghill; if anything, the contrary, for
the latter is full of life and warmth and energy.

Just get rid of
The mind that thinks
"This is good, that is bad",
And without any special effort,
Wherever we live is good to live in.

More Zen Poems

How I wish to kill!
How I wish
Not to kill!
The thief I have caught
Is my own son.

There is no one
Who dyes them,
But of themselves
The willow is green,
The flowers red.

Were I a king, pensively
Would I pace the corridors of the palace.
The path I walk goes through the pine-trees;
The sea is blue, a butterfly flits by.

A Beautiful Zen Poem

I found this in a commentary on an ancient Zen treatise: isn't it beautiful?

Spring rains.
A letter thrown away,
Blown along in the grove.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Water!

'Understanding the fact that we are essentially water is the key to uncovering the mysteries of the universe. If you re-examine the world around you from this new perspective, you will start to see things as you have never seen them before... the various events that unfold throughout a person's life are events reflected in water. The individual and society make up one enormous ocean; by adding our individual drops to this ocean, we participate in the formation of society.' [Emoto]

Water

If I were called in
to construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Going to church
would entail a fording
to dry, different clothes;

My liturgy would employ
images of sousing,
a furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east
a glass of water
where any-angled light
would congregate endlessly.

[Philip Larkin]

Thursday, October 2, 2008

vive le difference!

As for the skin,
What a difference
Between a man and a woman!
But as for the bones,
Both are simply human beings.

Ikkyu (1394-1481)

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Women

They've always been a mystery to me.
Women.
Young, in-between or old,
hot towards me, indifferent, or cold.
I could never see
exactly what it is that I see
in women. Always
a mystery. A holy
mystery; a puzzle,
conundrum, enigma,
curiosity that I could not avoid
even if I had wanted to.
We all, after all, have mothers.

But the others,
the thin, svelte, broad, tall, fat,
beautiful-ugly
women.
Those.
What to do about those?
As a boy
I discovered they were everywhere;
as a man
I wanted everywhere to discover them.
Women.
An excitement, a stimulant, an enticement, a drug.
My present future and my present past.
Love me, love you;
like me, like you;
we all love to be loved
and we like to be liked;
and we men
like women;
we men love women.
We can't understand them,
but that's all right. In fact, I think that's best.
A holy mystery. That's a fact.
The sacred enigma.
Women.
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bar Women

There are three kinds of women
you can find in a bar.
The first kind are
there by mistake
so we'll pretend they aren't there.

That leaves the other two,
the PPDs and bo-tinkhundla.
They know you,
'cos they've been watching;
they've got a plan
that they've been hatching;
they know what to do
and you're target number one.

PPDs are there for the night
and it's all about being tight:
tight jeans
tight tops
and drinking from dusk till dawn.
Like a Hoover
this mover
will suck money from your pockets
before you even know it's gone.
It's all in their game,
hence their name:
the Professional Pocket Drainers.

They're strictly no-brainers,
but you won't resist
you can't resist
you don't want to resist.

The bo-tinkhundla, though, are
in for the long haul;
they look for a car,
a credit card,
a home
and at least two phones to call.

They'll pretend for a while,
that's their style;
they'll woo you
to win you
then hook you
and screw you
with bills to pay
school fees
transport, lunches and groceries.

So be forewarned and forearmed;
and if you visit a bar
hit the ground running.
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Men--Two Poems

Men

When I was young, I used to
Watch behind the curtains
As men walked up and down the street. Wino men, old men.
Young men sharp as mustard.
See them. Men are always
Going somewhere.
They knew I was there. Fifteen
Years old and starving for them.
Under my window, they would pause,
Their shoulders high like the
Breasts of a young girl,
Jacket tails slapping over
Those behinds,
Men.

One day they hold you in the
Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you
Were the last raw egg in the world. Then
They tighten up. Just a little. The
First squeeze is nice. A quick hug.
Soft into your defenselessness. A little
More. The hurt begins. Wrench out a
Smile that slides around the fear. When the
Air disappears,
Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,
Like the head of a kitchen match. Shattered.
It is your juice
That runs down their legs. Staining their shoes.
When the earth rights itself again,
And taste tries to return to the tongue,
Your body has slammed shut. Forever.
No keys exist.

Then the window draws full upon
Your mind. There, just beyond
The sway of curtains, men walk.
Knowing something.
Going someplace.
But this time, I will simply
Stand and watch.

Maybe.

[Maya Angelou]

Bloody men

Bloody men are like bloody buses
You wait for about a year
And as soon as one approaches your stop
Two or three others appear.

You look at them flashing their indicators,
Offering you a ride.
You're trying to read the destinations,
You haven't much time to decide.

If you make a mistake, there is no turning back.
Jump off, and you'll stand there and gaze
While the cars and the taxis and lorries go by
And the minutes, the hours, the days.

[Wendy Cope]

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Foolish wit?

Foolish wit or witty fool?
Sometimes it's not wise
to give your all; a fool
for love
will often fall
for love
rather than the man or lady;
it's the love, you see,
not who you see
that hooks you in;
in short (or tall
or fat or thin),
love of this all-embracing kind
is a kind of malady,
a madness
most exquisite
but a madness sure enough.

For what's a lover?
What does he devise
from the fume of sighs?
A sonnet or rap
or foolish crap
he writes, inspired
by a lady's eyes.

What's a lover?
What is wit?
You pay your money
and make your choice:
choose madman, saint,
or fool.
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Friday, August 8, 2008

Machine Music

Most people these days realise that much of what passes for pop music is machine-made: synthesisers, drum-machines, and so on; there is nothing wrong with this, for machine music is still music... 8~) But how many realise that modern rhythms are so often the rhythms of machines--that is, the music is machine music in more than one sense.
   Music has always mimicked the environment of its creators: in the early 18th Century, composers like Vivaldi used violins to imitate birdsong; Beethoven wrote a 'pastoral' symphony that included the sound of rivers; in the age of steam, the music changed to reflect the new sounds; the coming of the train is all over Jazz, Blues, and Rock, and there are thousands of train songs.
   Now we have machine music. This morning, during a school assembly, some students played a House-derived track on a computer, and I was struck by the similarity between the sound of that track and the sound I first heard many years ago inside a large factory in what was then England's Industrial North (Blake's "Dark Satanic mills"). Ten minutes later, I was in the school's staff-room and I heard that exact sound again coming from a photocopier earnestly running off a hundred copies of an exam on A4 paper. Machine Music.
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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Quotable quote

"Crimes against womanhood are as old as sin. From the day that the serpent beguiled Eve by his craftiness until now, there have been few days or nights when some daughter of Eve has not been deceived or forced into an evil life by some serpent or other."

from 'Fighting the Traffic in Young Girls', a Project Gutenberg eBook
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Everyone finds someone

It is an intriguing thing, but always, despite prevailing body fashions, everyone seems able eventually to find someone to love. If we only went by the figures and faces that adorn magazine covers and parade on fashion and beauty-contest walkways, then a large part of common humanity would be guaranteed to lose out on the game of love and never achieve a dream of happiness; but it isn't so: everyone finds someone.

Hymn 17

'All things bright and beautiful
all creatures slim and tall
all things wide and booty-full
the Lord God made them all.'

from The Boys' High School Hymnal, revised edition


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An Advertisement For Poetry

Shakespeare's sonnet 23 is an advertisement for poetry:

As an unperfect actor on the stage
Who with his fear is put besides his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength's abundance weakens his own heart.
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love's rite,
And in mine own love's strength seem to decay,
O'ercharged with burden of mine own love's might.
O, let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast,
Who plead for love and look for recompense
More than that tongue that more hath more express'd.
O, learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love's fine wit.


When it comes to love, it's easy for us to foul it up. Meeting someone face-to-face we can say the wrong things or nothing at all; we can do the wrong things or nothing at all, overwhelmed by our own passion. Writing, though is a considered art and perhaps a surer one; and poets spend much of their art considering love. For poets, love is "not only a crucial, but an indispensable experience" (Arendt); sonnet 23, properly understood, is therefore a key to unlocking all of Shakespeare's art: even those sonnets that aren't specifically about love dwell on the living intensity of human experience, the practice of 'living in the moment'.
   In his closing couplet, the poet reminds us that eyes can 'hear'; poets also know that face-to-face eyes can do other things too:

                                                      15th March


                                         
                                          When I left that building

                                          I didn't expect to see you

                                          sitting outside on the wall.



                                          Our eyes continued the interest

                                          they've shown for some weeks now.



                                          We talked.



                                          Friends noticed us talking.

                                          We talked.



                                          Friends commented on our talking.

                                          We talked.



                                          And our eyes began to kiss.


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Monday, July 28, 2008

a slave's biography

Amongst the many books available now for free download on the net are the harrowing biographies/ autobiographies of slaves published during the 19th Century. The following is from the autobiography of a woman:

"children were exhibited on a table, that they might be seen by the company, which was very large. There could not have been a finer subject for an able painter than this unhappy group. The tears, the anxiety, the anguish of the mother, while she met the gaze of the multitude, eyed the different countenances of the bidders, or cast a heart-rending look upon the children; and the simplicity and touching sorrow of the young ones, while they clung to their distracted parent, wiping their eyes, and half concealing their faces,--contrasted with the marked insensibility and jocular countenances of the spectators and purchasers,--furnished a striking commentary on the miseries of slavery, and its debasing effects upon the hearts of its abettors. While the woman was in this distressed situation she was asked, 'Can you feed sheep?' Her reply was so indistinct that it escaped me; but it was probably in the negative, for her purchaser rejoined, in a loud and harsh voice, 'Then I will teach you with the sjamboc,'."

The appearance of an Afrikaans word ('sjamboc') in this narrative is striking (pun not intended); the complete book is available from manybooks.net: 'The History of Mary Prince by Mary Prince'.
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True love

The characteristics of true love are outlined in sonnet 116; the poet declares true love to be constant, unafraid of the present or the future, a guide, and not subject to time.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

I remember well the hour that my mother died. She was sixty years old, in a hospice, and for some time had been daily losing her fight against cancer. I arrived at the hospice perhaps 10 minutes after she died, and embraced my father. He looked at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, 'I loved that girl.' The words struck me: sixty years old, and still a girl: indeed love 'alters not... even to the edge of doom'.
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Friday, July 25, 2008

The Head and the Heart

The war between the head and the heart is the concern of Shakespeare's sonnet 141. Does being in love make sense? Does love make you happy? The poet, in his clear-headed moments, doesn't even like the lady but, sick with desire, he is obsessed with her. Once again, love is a 'plague', a fever, an illness that brings 'pain'. He is in fact so sick that the pain itself has become a pleasure.

In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote;
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue's tune delighted,
Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast with thee alone:
But my five wits nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,
Who leaves unsway'd the likeness of a man,
Thy proud hearts slave and vassal wretch to be:
Only my plague thus far I count my gain,
That she that makes me sin awards me pain.

I was in a bar recently with a friend who was complaining that he didn't want to spend much money and that he was 'on a mission' to control his spending. Ten minutes later, a well-endowed and deliberately under-dressed pretty young woman entered the bar and caught the attention of my friend.
   'This will cost you,' I said.
   'And I'll regret it,' he replied.
During the next two hours or so my friend emptied his pockets for her and the following day he did indeed regret it. There it was, right there--the war between the head and the heart.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

In praise of procreation

Shakespeare's second sonnet is a paean that praises procreation as a preserver of beauty:

When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty's field,
Thy youth's proud livery, so gazed on now,
Will be a tatter'd weed, of small worth held:
Then being ask'd where all thy beauty lies,
Where all the treasure of thy lusty days,
To say, within thine own deep-sunken eyes,
Were an all-eating shame and thriftless praise.
How much more praise deserved thy beauty's use,
If thou couldst answer 'This fair child of mine
Shall sum my count and make my old excuse,'
Proving his beauty by succession thine!
This were to be new made when thou art old,
And see thy blood warm when thou feel'st it cold.

This explains in part why parents rejoice in their offspring and why we are so happy for our new-parent friends. We think of our loved ones, who, like us, are showing signs of life's wear and tear, and then look at their sons and daughters (the 'treasure of [their] lusty days') and say, 'how cute!' In a very real sense, since cell replaces cell all down our ancestral line, procreation ensures that our 'eternal summer shall not fade'.

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Why we still read the Sonnets

Why are Shakespeare's Sonnets still worth reading? Simply because they are so well written. Yes, they still have the power to move us with their human concerns; but where does that power come from? It comes from the writing. Almost anyone can write of human concerns, but not everyone will want to read, or can derive pleasure from, what that anyone has written.

In Shakespeare's Sonnets we find the whole range of human emotions and a poet who has the skill to memorably express them. And so these sonnets become our own. One day, a friend very close to me hurt me badly; she later asked if I could possibly forgive her. I found myself quoting from one of the sonnets, "'Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove'; of course I forgive you." These poems are still worth reading because they still work.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tonglen training

I found the following useful tract on www.kagyu.org; it has similarities to the practice of sending zors, and what I call sacred smooches:


"The traditional mind training practice of Tonglen, or the "sending and receiving" practice.

*

In the sending and receiving practice, the mind is trained in a meditative way, with a basic understanding of the friendship and the goodness that could be brought about. There is also a sense of responsibility towards eliminating the sufferings and the confusions of others. To begin with, we sit in the formal meditation position and follow the breath. With the outgoing breath, we send out towards all beings whatever goodness, health, and wholesome situation we have. As a result, all beings radiate with goodness, health and well-being, creating an environment of richness and sanity. You can also be more specific, sending out joy and health to a particular being, such as your mother or the person for whom you have the greatest concern. Whatever seems appropriate is fine. Then, while remaining confident in your ability to accommodate the negativities of others, you take in with the incoming breath all the confusion, limitations, and sufferings of other beings.

Working with the breath in this way, you train the mind by offering others all the wakefulness you have, and by taking all the confusion and paranoia of others on yourself. It is as if a bright light were going out with the breath towards all beings, representing your good and wholesome qualities. With the incoming breath, it is as if the embodiment of all suffering were coming towards you, which you then gladly take in. This giving and taking is, in a sense, what we have been trying to do in the practice all along, but up to this point we have not been able to generate true compassion or cut through the ego-clinging. On the contrary, everything has been for the purpose of self-gratification, for protection and security, and has only resulted in greater dissatisfaction. This is why it is necessary to change your attitude and the way you relate to the world at large.

*

Through this practice, we are able to see ourselves more clearly and let go of our clinging, loosening the state of fixation while also generating compassion towards others. Nurturing this attitude in our minds is important, because, although we often do some sort of giving and receiving, it is always incomplete because of the self aggrandizement we seek and the doubts and expectations we have. One moment we will be glowing with a bright smile, and the next moment we will be completely frozen, because we have not been properly trained.

To that end, a vital meditation practice will be consistent and will incorporate the Tonglen discipline of sending and receiving. It will also bring positive effects into post-meditation situations. If you understand and take your responsibilities sincerely, and meditate consistently, it is entirely possible that you will have the ability to produce these effects. You will feel that everyone, no matter who they are, is actually quite friendly and amiable, and that no one intentionally means to do harm. You will begin to understand that there may be great confusion in the surrounding world, but there is also some capacity for friendship. Whatever dissonance is taking place will not be seen as intentional, but will be recognized as a result of the confusion and limitations beings suffer, and this will only inspire you to take on even more responsibility. Furthermore, in all activities you will generate kindness, tenderness, and compassion; you will speak gentle and kind words accompanied by comforting body gestures. You will be constantly giving of yourself to others. There will be no sense of self-concern or selfish pride because you will identify with the responsibilities you have taken.

*

There may be situations where kindness shown towards beings who cannot appreciate it, will result in projections of further confusion. However, because of intensive meditation, and because of the understanding that has been developed, you will be able to accommodate that neurosis and perceive its unintentional nature. In this state of compassion, there is a sincere desire to benefit others however we can. Because of these sane intentions and activities, there will be a great deal of inner and spiritual development. Outwardly, you become a very decent, responsible, genial person.

We like to talk about the possibilities of a sane society where everyone is responsible and can generate a friendly environment and live in a dignified, or uplifted, manner. This is definitely possible in the ordinary world, as well as in terms of the spiritual realm and the experience of bodhisattva realization. It is not something out there beyond reach; instead, it is an inherent quality that is as close as home. It is simply a question of some work and integration. If you could become truly responsible for yourself and for others, if you could become responsible for your total liberation, then you could make a tremendous contribution to creating a very dignified and sane society. This is what the Tonglen training can bring into the world."

Taken from a transcript of a teaching given at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche. The transcript is available in its entirety from Namse Bangdzo Bookstore.
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Sacred Smooches

Sacred Smooches are unpredictable: sometimes there's a rush & a fizz & a whizz but othertimes they just float & take their own sweet time; some sizzle & explode their joy; others are subtle in the ways they work. Think of them as karma bombs, not prayers but active, hovering and moving positive thought energy that you send out like a letter to a specific addressee; you always know when they arrive, & they're out there and they work; I know because I've sent them. You centre yourself, open the hand of thought, focus on being in the moment, select the action and then send the smooch. When a smooch has done it's work, you will know.
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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Matriculant

From the high school
of love
you matriculated;
from the university
of love
you graduated;
then you turned your skills
on me:
of all the misses
I've kissed,
it's your kisses
I most miss,
their moist memories
lingering on my lips

like the urgent taste of salt
on a hot
plate of chips.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Advice for parents & other readings...

I've been discovering some of the thousands of books--wonderful, hilarious and etc, etc--available free online or for download from Project Gutenberg [www.gutenberg.org]. Amongst them is a little 1922 book by Henry Stanton giving advice for parents. It includes such gems as these: (for parents of boys) "The use of alcohol, coffee and tea by children tends to weaken their sexual organs." In the same book, when discussing the bringing up of girls, he advises us: "Girls who have formed vicious habits are apt to indulge in the practice of self-abuse at night when going to bed. If there is cause for suspicion, the bedclothes should be quickly and suddenly thrown off under some pretense. " This instruction would really be a wow in our day and age ;-).
I discovered too a truly bad but compulsively readable western about a 'hero' called 'Wild West'  (I kid you not) whose sole object in life seems to be to provoke 'bad men' so that he can show them how good he is with a gun; a story about a spaceman who fell in love with an alien kind of octopus; and the usual assortment of boys' adventure stories set in Africa or some other 'wild and exotic' locale. PG is a wonderful resource and I'm still investigating...
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Noises for the Leg

Having just posted a copy of Smith's 'Stupendous leg' I am reminded that the Bonzo Dog Band released 'Noises for the Leg' on their 'Keynsham' LP c.1969. This looks like a promising thread...
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Stupendous Leg

Most literate persons are aware of Shelley's poem, 'Ozymandias', a staple of English Literature; how many have ever heard of Shelley's friend W Horace Smith, and his sonnet, 'On a stupendous leg'? I just discovered it; here it is:

On a Stupendous Leg of Granite

In Egypt's sandy silence, all alone,
Stands a gigantic Leg, which far off throws
The only shadow that the Desart knows: -
"I am great OZYMANDIAS," saith the stone,
"The King of Kings; this mighty City shows
"The wonders of my hand." - The City's gone, -
Nought but the Leg remaining to disclose
The site of this forgotten Babylon.

We wonder,- and some Hunter may express
Wonder like ours, when thro' the wilderness
Where London stood, holding the Wolf in chace,
He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.


Good stuff, eh?
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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Rising from the dark

Just knowing that someone, somewhere in the world, loves you unconditionally is enough--even if you are seldom together. Everyone needs at least one special person/ soulmate in order to rise to the challenge to become fully human; those who know no love are those who crawl on all fours, cough, and live unseeing in the bright lights of the world's deepening dark.
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Sanctuary

Removing my shoes
I enter your sanctuary:
perspiration swirls sweet
on the air like incense;
the choir stomps Alleluias;
the Gates of Heaven beckon;
and our communion
flows like the finest wine.
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

all of these comprise

All the places and faces
I have seen;
all the music
that has caught my ears;
all the years
of hopes and dreams
and smiles through tears
and wearied sighs;
all these comprise
the life I know,
a journey ragged
by reflections of Paradise.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

new Flock Beta released

The long-anticipated release of Firefox appeared recently (v3) and now the Flock version is out in Beta (v2).  It might still be a bit buggy (natch, that's why it's still a beta), but then again it might not; try it out and see how it works for you on your setup. The Firefox build is fast, so the new Flock should be a lot faster too. (I'm running Flock 2 Beta on an Apple Mac G5 laptop, OSX Tiger, and it's OK for me.)
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Virus!

I just found this (stumbled upon :-)) on the web: 'Back in the days before OS X, the number of viruses which attacked Macintosh users totalled somewhere between about 60 and 80. Today, the number of viruses actively attacking OS X users is...NONE! However, this doesn't mean we should get complacent about checking incoming email attachments or web downloads, for two reasons. Firstly, there's no guarantee that we Mac users will continue to enjoy the status quo, but more importantly, the majority of the computing world use machines running MS Windows, for which an enormous quantity of viruses exist, so we must be vigilant in checking the files we pass on to our friends and colleagues etc.' 
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OpenDoc revisited

After yesterday's post I dug out some of my old software disks and went down nostalgia lane with the OpenDoc stuff. I found a MacFormat CD from April 1997 that has a lot of OpenDoc stuff on it, entitled 'Component Software'-- there's BBedit, Lexi, WAV, Dock 'Em and WebBurst along with Cyberdog and QuickDraw (who else remembers these names?). Ah, those were the days: it was System 7.5.5 and I used to come home from work, fire up my G3 Powerbook, and use the Dog to check my mail and log into the Cybie newsgroup. It was the only newsgroup I ever really went out of my way for...
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Flock is the new Dog

Back in the mid-1990s, Apple and IBM joined hands for an exciting new concept called OpenDoc. The idea was to focus on a task rather than on the applications etc needed to complete the task. It was a heady, radical, holistic kind of idea that brought integration centre-stage to the world of computing. Microsoft killed off OpenDoc by leaning heavily on both IBM and Apple, but not before Apple had shown what the concept could do by building an all-in-one Internet Suite called CyberDog. CyberDog was light-years ahead of anything else around at that time and in many ways we still haven't equalled it but Flock is coming close and is quickly reminding me of those exciting days. The way that Flock is personal and the ways in which so many things are integrated under the same hood was exactly the CyberDog way of doing things.  And that explains partly why I love Flock so much and how this one product has got me genuinely excited about the Web again.
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II

My darling
claims she is too fat,
stroking her buttocks
and thighs.

She looks at me for confirmation--
or refutation--
I'm not sure which.

How can I reply?
Those are all the buttocks
and thighs
of my desire.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

07th June

A special day:
kissed by three
and hugged by four;
as the sun slid down
at five
I was thrilled,
so so thrilled,
to be alive.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Toxic Sobriety (1992)

 
Captured by your beauty
and shocked by your love
like a drunk
I drove back into town.
The shoplights were on
though there was nothing much to see
and somewhere a radio played a sad song.

Did you tell me in words
or just through your eyes?
Did I feel your embrace
or just your surprise?
I loved your cool charm
and the strength of your mind;
you were easy to talk to
and obviously kind.
You opened to me
like a slow-blooming flower
and we spoke about much
for hour after hour.

The traffic cops stopped me,
thought I'd had beer or whisky or wine;
'No fear,' I said, 'just a good time.
I'm drunk on a woman,
that's what you see,
it's the intoxication of love,
toxic sobriety.'
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Your face is a movie

Your face is a movie
that features
your eyes
and records
the raspberry plump of your lips.

I want to cover those lips
with cream
and slowly lick it off
while
I grow old watching the movie.
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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Let us love

Yesterday,
I thought of your body,
garnished with lettuce;
today
I thought of you
in a toasted sandwich.

I guess I must be very hungry.
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Shakespeare's Sonnet 141

SONNET 141
In faith, I do not love thee with mine eyes,
For they in thee a thousand errors note;
But 'tis my heart that loves what they despise,
Who in despite of view is pleased to dote;
Nor are mine ears with thy tongue's tune delighted,
Nor tender feeling, to base touches prone,
Nor taste, nor smell, desire to be invited
To any sensual feast* with thee alone*:
But my five wits* nor my five senses can
Dissuade one foolish heart from serving thee,
Who leaves unsway'd the likeness of a man*,
Thy proud hearts slave and vassal wretch to be:
Only my plague thus far I count my gain,
That she that makes me sin awards me pain.
Shakespeare's Sonnet 141
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When I'm Tired

When I'm tired,
so tired that there's nothing else
I can do,
I think of you
and what you were wearing
that wet day:
not your clothes
(you weren't wearing
any clothes)
but the scent that clung
to your skin and hung
in the room long after you'd gone.

When I'm tired enough,
and empty enough,
I can, by some trick of the memory,
close my eyes
and stroke again your skin
and smell anew that scent
and even hear the rain.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Browser Wars 2008

The browser wars are hotting up & they're interesting to watch. Those who are even slightly savvy about the Internet and its tech know that Microsoft's IExplorer is definitely not the browser to choose for any reason--it's slower than the competition, bulky, less intuitive and of course the one most likely to spawn viruses. It's also, natch, the most-used browser of all since choosing an alternative requires a bit of extra effort (IE comes bundled as the built-in virus portal with every Windoze PC sold).
   There's a good choice of alternatives available now: Safari (Apple's own and the one resident on Nokia phones); Firefox (version 3 is imminent); and Opera are the three big ones. Then there's Flock, which is radically different. In addition a number of experimental fly-fasts are available: Shiira and Sunrise are the first to come to mind; and then Camino...
   What to choose? Well Flock is the must-have if you're a blogger or facebook/twitter fan, and since it's built upon Firefox, Fox plug-ins usually work on Flock too--a big plus. But it's wise to never stick to one. I'm posting this from Flock, but Safari's also up-and-running right now in the background.
   My hardware is an Apple G4 laptop running OSX Tiger.
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Sunday, May 25, 2008

04th March

The subdued blue and smudged red
of a new day
wash over our bed
and stroke your hair;
you wake, open your eyes,
and I surprise
the beauty there:
the sunrise
dawning soft and sweet inside.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Book of Dreams

YOU WERE SLEEPING, deep into page 32 of the Book of Dreams. That's the page where you float away from the cliff's edge and stand on the beach painted by Seurat, the beach full of pointillist brown-and-gold speckle. It is the beach of my dreams too.
I was watching you sleeping. Your shape fascinated me, as it always does: the purity of your lines, your soft curved bays and secluded coves hidden from the wash and soft suck of the sea. I was listening to your even-pulsed breathing, your breath as I imagine it must have been in that first, primal, dawn.
The sea froths up your fears, foams your worries from your warm blood as you sleep.
Sleep softly, my love, sleep well.

Monday, May 19, 2008

XIV

How do you love me?
Let me count the waves,
the smiles, the tears;
the hours, the days,
the years;
the ways
you caress, impress
and undress
the otherwise uneventful
ordinary dullness
of a life
that could have been lived
(but mercifully wasn't)
without you.

In the aftermoon

In the aftermoon,
in a quiet hour,
I watched you sleeping:
Dark and Lovely,
Sof-n-free,
your small, slender,
recently relaxed body
an s-curl in the salon of our bed.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

24th April

"Hi. I noticed you noticing me."
"Yes. I was noticing how beautiful you are." She shrugged--a slight, almost imperceptible movement of her shoulders--as if disappointed.
"Is that all?"
"No," I continued, "and that's not even what's most important."
"Oh?" A raised eyebrow this time.
"No, the most important thing I noticed was your style. At first your clothes, of course, and your handbag, and so on. But then, when I heard you speak..."
"Uh-huh. I'm listening."
"You're not a woman who tolerates fools."
"You're right, I'm not. But how could you possibly know that?"
It was my turn to shrug.
"Call it intuition," I said, "my feminine side." She laughed.
"Your feminine side! Which side is that?"
"My inside."
"Your inside? You're crazy."
"Quite possibly." I gave it a few seconds, then: "So where does that leave us?" She gave it a full minute, then:
"I think... you can buy me a drink," she said.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

cold weather

The Kingdom has been cold, cold and cold this week, especially up here in the mountains... miserable, I think. They say it's because of all the rain we had this year; but give me sun, heat and sun!

Friday, May 2, 2008

The True Meaning Of Christmas

Sitting in a bar
pretending not to be bored,
all the time hoping
for an adventure to walk through
the
door.

Friday, April 11, 2008

May haiku

May peace follow you
and joy be your companion
on life's dancing road.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April haiku

Like an autumn leaf
you fell silent from my life;
leaving me alone.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Haiku

for M

Sometimes just the thought
of your smiling face is food
enough for supper.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

seventeen syllables

In the haiku houses on Sweet-Meadowlark-Lane I heard your name whispered like rain falling in a faraway darkness. It was a holy name, an only name, to chant in silences of seventeen syllables.
Why didn't you call me? I wanted you to call me; it was Sunday and your mother was at church. I wanted you to call me; we could have fallen in love, danced in the rain, even written a long poem together.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

13th March

for M

The rain pours from the sky in grey sheets of shook foil, washing across the carpark and rapping your name in gusts on the window-panes. And as the water swirls & whirls down pipes & drains I remember again your question: 'Do you believe in love, love at first sight?' Well, I might; if I believe in love at all. I'm passionate about passion & I like to be liked; I guess I also love to be loved~ but at first sight? Can it happen? Could it be real? To love; to feel; to joy, to fuse pleasure & pain; I struggle to answer as your question pours from the sky like rain.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

It seems...

è Buddha was right about è pervasiveness of human suffering: on facebook right now one of my frendz is missing her cellphone, anotha hates life & a third has had all her stuff stolen. Is 2day a particularly bad day, or... hey 2day is a Sunday~ if religions r so gd 4 us why r people still hurting so much?

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Great Gig in è Sky

The news of Larry Norman's death (on Feb 24) has affected me far more than I could have imagined. He was one of è biggest influences in my life. As a long-haired faded-jeans non-conformist zest-4-life teenager, è church never welcomed me with open arms: itz organisation was rigid, itz creativity non-existent, & itz music quite likely è worst on è planet. Larry (è man) & his music exploded into my life & I'm major thankful 4 that. I don't know what inspired me è most, Larry (I met him 6 times) or his music (I still listen regularly to 4 of his albums). This weekend I was @ a prefect camp & told è teenagers abt role models & people being inspirations in yr life. Then I picked up a gtr & sang 'è Outlaw'. Thank u Larry; go in peace.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Oh yeah!

Her voice,
rich and deep,
with a croak in it
like a frog's,

is caught in my ears
like seaweed
between
the teeth
of a mermaid,

like grass
between
the toes
of an elephant,

like a man
discovered
between
the thighs
of his lover.

Oh yeah!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Early English Music (update)

This is not to say that melancholy music can't be beautiful~ listening to the CD transfer, most of it clearly is~ but the beauty is severe, as for example a statue of the Virgin is beautiful; it doesn't come across as a beauty of joy.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

English Music 1600-1750

The title comes from a record that I recently transferred from tape to CD. I have no idea who the performers are, but the composers are the usual suspects: Purcell, Adison, Boyce, Brade and Handel. The tape was made from a record borrowed from Wimbledon library sometime in the early 1970s.
What strikes me most listening to this recording now, apart from the performing style (more about that later), is how minor-key, sombre, almost mournful, the music is~ even with dotted rhythms; even the 'dances'.
Of course, 'mournful' is my appellation; others might call this music 'serious and stately'.
Then again, it might be the performance that is the culprit. As a teenager I loved a recording of concerti by the Neapolitan composer Francesco Durante (1684-1741). It was an old recording and quite rare~ recordings of Durante are not common. Anyway, a few years ago a different, CD, recording that included a couple of the Durante concerti appeared and I bought it: but I recognised nothing! Contemporary period perfomance really makes these old works new...

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

world map of Facebook use



The article with this map showing how popular (and where) Facebook is "The who's who of social networks around the globe" by Scott Gilbertson [on Wired].

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Facebook with Flock



Facebook Friend

Facebook with Flock is an entirely new experience, intuitive and fun. As I've posted before, it's the kind of experience that makes you wonder where it has been all your life. Suddenly, there's a browser that is truly upfront and personal, and using it makes you feel just at home as much as in your office or living-room.

Interestingly, Facebook is making inroads into Africa in ways that MySpace and Friendster, etc never did. the recent world map of social networking posted by a French newspaper was really really insightful: most of Africa shows blank and unconnected to the Global Village, but South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, and a small pocket around Kenya/Uganda are all Facebook areas.


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Sunday, February 24, 2008

24th July

'Is it over?' she asked. I thought about her question; yes, it was over, but 'over' was such a harsh word, such a hard word to say.

Grilled Weetbix

I caught my girlfriend grilling some weetbix and smoking some spinach. I'm afraid she's gone overboard on this vegetarian thing. Next there'll be fertiliser in the fridge and organic coco-pops on the table. It's enough to make your bath water, I tell you.

Tell me, have you ever been?

There are plenty of good-time girls who'll give you a bad time and plenty of bad girls who'll do you good. Take a chance; knock on wood.
Hmm, Knock On Wood--a great 60s soul single; but sole, single, is seldom the best way to go; hell, sometimes it's not even any way to go: let the good times roll.
Hmm, Let The Good Times Roll--a track on Hendrix's Electric Ladyland. 'Tell me, have you ever been to Electric Ladyland?' I have, and it's full of good-time girls who'll give you a bad time and bad girls...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Is it Erotica...

... when a 'How to Wash a bra' article appears as a wikiHow of the day?
   Apparently so: the word 'bra' is exciting to a man; just the mention of such exclusively feminine clothing brings a flurry of memories and excited imaginings. To a man, a bra is inseparable from the breasts it is designed to either encase or showcase (support, girls? or uplift?).
   Bra design of course raises an interesting point (or points... natch 8~>): have you ever wondered why wonderbras are so big (excuse the pun) in Asia? And must those frilly-lace ones be washed differently from the firmer wonderbras? Hmm. I'd better go and check out that article... !

Smoking...

...can kill you (and it frequently does). Everybody knows this, so why do so many people still smoke? In restaurants and bars, in buses and cars, smoke is ubiquitous and fills all our lungs. And it's not just for smokers: one hour of second-hand smoke is the equivalent of smoking four cigarettes.
   I've noticed that smokers are beginning to kid themselves too: they argue that filtered smoking (what they do) is healthier than second-hand [passive] smoking (what we do), so they're actually safer than us! Ha! Smokers get both types of smoke! Apart from the health cost, there's a literal cost too...
   What saddens me is that although smokers are dying, smoking is not dying. young people, especially women, apparently think it cool to be menthol-cool.
   King James I penned his 'Blast against tobacco' 400 years ago, but the world's still puffing and wheezing...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sifundzani Wiki

Today we started a Sifundzani High school Wiki (http://sifhi.wetpaint.com). This is part of our ongoing project to be truly wired and truly connected. In a few months our school website (already designed) should be up and running...

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Monday, February 18, 2008

SGCSE

History is in the making (actually it always is, but we are often too busy to notice). The syllabi for Swaziland's new examination system is printed and available for some subjects.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

African booty

If visions be the food of love...

Q: What's the difference between African booty and Brazilian bunda?
A: Not much, as it turns out. After all, many Brazilians can trace their ancestry to Africans shipped to South America by the Portuguese.
But that's not why a writer wrote of Brazil's 'thoroughly Africanised' culture~ his point was that Brazilian men (unlike their North American and European counterparts) focus their erotic fantasies almost entirely on womens' butts.
Recently I noticed this in spectacular fashion. I was with friends when an over-ample woman waddled by. One of my friends, a usually secretive journalist, immediately confided, 'You see that woman that just passed? I tell you, I dream about her butt. I'm serious, that chick turns me on.'

Friday, February 1, 2008

Belly Politics

At 5.30 in th morning & I wake 2 th sound of birds chatting merrily in my garden; I open th curtains & watch th early light on th distant mountains, th shadows where th day, like me, is still waking up. All's well, & normal, in my world.
But then I hear my Housekeeper leaving th house; there's someone @ th main gate. She returns & tells me that her brother's been badly beaten by thugs 4 no apparent reason; she must go 2 th hospital.
Why is there so much violence in th world? Why is there so much agression? Stories like this r becoming increasingly common.
Some will say South Africa's problems r spilling over into itz neighbour states; others will point 2 rap & kwaito; others 2 tv & films; & yet others 2 Bush, Bin Laden, et al. But all these, I think, r symptoms not causes. It seems 2 me that a callous thug culture is growing in th world & th Vedic dark Age of Kali has emerged~ th time of religion without true spirituality, a time of irrationality,when people r ruled only by their appetites: sexual, material, and emotional. People want what they want & damn who gets hurt or th consequences. Violence, corruption, greed, fanaticism, abuse, rape & widespread porn in all itz forms: th problem is th darkness that has taken hold of people's hearts & minds: itz what we Swazis call 'Belly Politics'.

Itz th weekend!

Finally this blog is up & running from my mobile~ but I had 2 change browsers 2 make it work (I use a Nokia N73, which comes wit Apple's Safari browser built-in: a great phone & a good browser, but Opera Mini is definitely th way 2 go).
Itz a warm, beautiful sunny day in th Kingdom & th weekend is here. The weather brings a buzz & th Friday brings a buzz~ time 2 hang out wit yr frendz; th guyz cruise 4 Land Cruisers & th galz cruise 4 th Ministers. Itz gonna b a gd 1!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Exam Fever!

Yes, it's that time again! The November 2007 IGCSE exam results have been processed by Cambridge and are available now (confidentially) to registered Exam Centres; the results will only be officially available and released to candidates on the 21st of this month. Pressure mounts... fingernails get bitten... nights are sleepless... yes, all of these things, for exam results are a big thing for we moderns. It might even be good for us :-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beautiful School Setting (Sifundzani High)

It's a beautiful day here in Swaziland and the sun is bringing out the beauty of Sifundzani High School's setting. This is a school nestled between rocks and boulders, with indigenous trees and cloud-dappled spaces, a wonderful place to work and live. The ambience is peaceful and uplifting. I'm sure the setting of the school supports the efforts of all who work in it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Schools are closed... but busy!

As far as much of the country is concerned, schools are currently closed and teachers are basking in the sun (or in the rain as it often is this year) but in actual fact the schools are very busy. Firstly, there are the myriad parents dragging their offspring from school-to-school in the desperate chase for places--mostly in Forms 1 and 4. Some of this could have been prevented by better planning, but for others it is because of good results in the exam results released last week that inspired the desire for a 'better' school. Secondly, there are the buildings to maintain--paint jobs, repairs, etc. Then there are the necessary admin jobs such as staffing and a new timetable to draft, and so on. And we must not forget all those who wrote the IGCSE exams last year and who are nervously awaiting their results. As the nerves fray, so they call or visit their schools, looking for news...

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Here Comes the Sun!


At five in the morning the sun was streaming through the curtains, caressing my bed and easing me gently into the new day. It gave me a buzz. The first music of the day? The Beatles' Here Comes the Sun? No. Haydn's Sunrise quartet? No. It was Groove Armada's Essential Summer Groove, a mix from 2004. A buzz morning.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Four Days of Rain

Do you know the third Flying Burritos album? There's a great Rick Roberts song there that begins, "Four days of rain and I'm feeling OK". He was obviously surprised. Well, we've had four days of rain andI'm not feeling OK--rainy days can get cold up here in the mountains (yes, even in Africa!). And anyway, I'm a sun sign: it's sky-blue days that give me a buzz. To make it worse, this is a rainy Friday of all days. Ah, esta a vida. Still, friends are rallying and I'm expecting amigas from Maputo to arrive later as well.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Swaziland Faces


I spent part of one morning checking the Swaziland faces on facebook--and it was great fun. I was meant to be looking for ex-Sifundzani High School students, to update our 'where-are-they-now' database, but I soon got immersed in the gameworld of 'which-picture-of-me-shall-I-post?': do I tell the truth? or do I post a joke picture or do I just leave the facespace empty? And then there are so many people... it's easy to see why facebook is so addictive and just why so many people spend so much time on it. (And I also see why some companies have blocked facebook use on their company computers [NERCHA, for one] :-).)

Facebook works because it's communication, not love, that makes the world go round; facebook is a communication event incorporating email, chatrooms and much else besides. As a literature teacher I love it, along with cellphone sms stories. And, of course, it's communication that ignites the spark that flames into the passions of love.

Nublado Economy

Back in Swaziland, back in school, two days of rain in this cold mountain town... what a life! Our weather right now matches our depressed economy. January is always a quiet month for shopkeepers and bar owners (spent too much at Christmas, school fees to pay, etc) but this year is even deader than usual: parts of the city are like a ghost town. And, like the rain, there's no sunshine in sight, just dark clouds, nublado. But there's still good music to listen to at least: the 2006 Lura album (Cabo Verde, reminds of the days when we did have some sun) and Pink Floyd's Pulse concert (England, music to suit the grey skies); and a fun but really crummy film coming your way soon--The Last Legion, starring some familiar faces and a gorgeous Bollywood heroine.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Back again!


I'm blogging again. It's been a while but now I'm back. Ironically for a Swaziland-based blog, this first post is being written from Maputo, where I am visiting friends. It's a new year and I'm feeling upbeat about it--it's going to be good one.

Hawu! Relationships have become time-shares!

the article is here: Baby-mamas and boyfriend back-ups