Water Music

Today I swam 3,175 metres in 167 minutes. That’s 1.14 km per hr or 0.62 knots. An improvement, but still slow. I swam slowly, but continuously the whole time, stopping only once to adjust my mask strap when the pressure on my upper lip became uncomfortable.

At this speed my goal of swimming 5 kilometres is still a way off. Not because I can’t do it, but because of the time it will take. Today at the end I did not stop because I was tired, or even uncomfortable. I stopped only because I was hungry. So hungry in fact I got the low blood sugar shakes, and had to go buy an ice cream and a cappuccino at the pool shop. I must have a better breakfast if I’m going for a marathon swim.

I have found the perfect accessory to help me get along while swimming a long time. When I went to Solomon Islands in 1984, I bought at the duty-free on the way out of Auckland a new-fangled Sony Walkman Sport cassette player and was delighted to learn it was waterproof. So back then I used to go snorkelling with it. There is nothing more delightful than the slightly surreal sensation of swimming over a gorgeous coral reef, surrounded by colourful fish, while listening to Beethoven, Mozart, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, and all my other favourite classical and classic rock music.

The Walkman cost me $300, which was a lot, back then. Of course it is long gone. It is the only possession of mine that has been stolen twice. It was recovered the first time, but not the second. Obviously.

I wondered what the modern equivalent MP3 player might be like. I Googled, and found a lot to choose from on line in a range of prices from the sublime to the ridiculous. I finally chose one I thought the most suitable for my purpose. It cost less than I would pay for a pack of cigarettes, if I still bought them. With free postage.

That is how I these days justify buying these little extravagances; by converting them to cigarette equivalents. I only just the other day found out how much fags cost these days. A frightening amount. Enough for me to rationalise a treat now and then. A restaurant meal costs less than a pack of fags here in Australia.

But I digress.

I like this player, apart from the price, because it has 8 Gb memory, which can store many hours of music, and because it fits around my neck like a Celtic torque. I did not want one that clipped to my mask strap, or to my swimming togs. I did not want long dangly leads to get tangled. Nor did I want wireless earbuds to lose.

It arrived three days after I ordered it from Amazon. I charged it and filled it with my favourite music. Much the same stuff I was listening to back in the 1980s (Despite modern tech, my musical development was pretty much arrested in the eighties – With some exceptions) but instead of playing cassettes which can’t be changed while swimming, it is now all digital and downloaded to my computer. Enough for many hours of swimming without getting tired of the selection.

Today, Thursday, is the first day I have swam this week. My shoulders and back were aching on Sunday so I gave the pool a miss that day. I slept most of the day, awoke out of sorts and found myself sleepless all night. The black dog visited and for the next three days I diverted myself from my existential problems by snoozing or binge watching assorted movies and TV series on Netflix, ABC and SBS on demand. I only left the caravan to visit the toilet and shower block.

On Sunday, in a mood, I deleted my Facebook page. I joined Facebook in 2009 to stay in touch with family and old friends. It no longer serves that purpose. The news and posts are mostly depressing, and I find myself either reinforcing, or being reinforced by others who have similar opinions to myself, or getting into pointless arguments with those who don’t. mostly, however, I have concluded social media is not good for me. And reading that sentence I have just realised I am still uncomfortable putting “is” after a plural.

Media. Data. Criteria. But again, I digress.

I stayed home four days, leaving the caravan only to visit the ablution block for the conveniences and showers. I did not go shopping, so I ran out of fresh vegetables. I turned to comfort food, finishing off the last of the less healthy food choices I still had in the pantry. Pasta, cheese, packet meals, frozen hash browns. I undid some of my positive achievements and gained a couple of kilos.

Time to get back on track. To get back on the bicycle and back into the pool. And back to healthy vegetables. Today after my swim I pedalled to Aldi and filled my little trailer with onions, carrots, green and salad vegetables, fruit and tomatoes.

After my three day withdrawal period, I am quite over Facebook, and have turned my attention to other ways of passing the time. Books. Kindle, world cinema, British TV, and those model boats I started on over a year ago. I may perhaps even turn more back to my blogs.

I spotted some beautiful parakeets while riding the bike home. Now the weather is improving I might start carrying the camera and taking a few photos. I’ve already found a couple of locations I can get to by bicycle where I can settle comfortably and wait for a photo opportunity. That’s always a good way to pass the time when I’m not swimming. I may even try extending my walking time.

Afterthought:
“Cheese is milk’s leap towards immortality”
— Clifton Fadiman

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iPhone 11 and 11 Pro Review

I asked myself “Do I need to upgrade my iPhone?”

A few more questions and I had the answer without even examining the latest product at the Apple store.

  • Will the new iPhone shorten the waiting time on a call to Centrelink?
  • Will the new iPhone ensure I get a call from my daughters every weekend?
  • Will the new iPhone facilitate a speedier delivery of pizza from Dominos?
  • Will the new iPhone significantly improve my telephone conversations with bureaucrats?
  • Will the new iPhone change the way I make medical appointments?

No it feckin’ won’t.

What else Can the new iPhone do?

  • I already have five cameras.
  • I have a tape measure, compass and GPS.
  • My old iPhone connects me to Facebook, Netflix and Spotify. I can’t watch movies or listen to music any faster than I already do.

Do I need to upgrade my iPhone?

No, I feckin’ don’t.

Swimming Uphill

I forgot my water bottle today, and swam 2hrs and 20 minutes at the pool. Swimming with a mask and snorkel seems to dry one out. I must not make that mistake again. It is stupidly ironic to suffer dehydration in a swimming pool.

I only managed to swim 80 lengths in just over 1 hr 15 mins, a very reasonable 2km distance, except it means my average time per length was 1.7 minutes. That is slow. I started out doing almost 11 lengths per quarter hour and gradually slowed.

I count the number of strokes it takes for me to swim a length. At the beginning it took me around 27 but at the end my strokes were clearly getting weaker and a length took me from 33 to 40.

I noticed one curious thing. Swimming from the deep end to the shallow end took me on average 1 to 2 strokes more than when I swam in the opposite direction. I pondered this as I swam looking through my mask at the bottom sloping up before me. I had a sudden epiphany. I realised I was swimming up hill. Of course it would require a little extra effort.

Yeah, nah. It was really that the kick off at the shallow end gave me more headway at the start.

Now, I am reconsidering my goals. I had hoped to manage 100 lengths – 2.5 km – in two hours. But that would require me to maintain an average of 1.2 mins a length. I don’t think I can. So I shall adopt the ancient adage “Just keep swimming”. I’ll maintain a comfortably steady pace and go for a time record instead. After all, it’s about the exercise. I’ve always been a stamina over speed person.

Eyes Down

Maybe I need validation after all.  I’m achieving things.  I’m feeling pleased with myself.  I’ve lost 12 kg.  On Saturday I met some friends for a walk and a picnic at Mary Cairncross nature reserve and actually managed to walk considerably further than I have been able to do in well over a year.  It is a good place to walk. The gravel path is relatively even and there are seats situated conveniently along the tracks for old codgers like me to rest a bit.  Best of all, the wildlife is fascinating.  Lots of birds, some of which I haven’t met before.  The most  interesting was the green catbird, a species of bowerbird that has a cry like a wailing cat, or a baby.   I encountered a couple of pademelons, which are cute miniature wallabies that live in the rainforest.

I missed a python, as about half way up a loop track I realised I’d had enough, and should conserve my last energies for the return walk.  Of course, I later learned shortly after i sat down to rest and await the others’ return, they encountered a beautiful carpet python.  Just my luck.

Sitting still is a great way to see birds.  I saw my first yellow throated scrubwren.  By twittering with pursed lips against the back of my hand, as we do in New Zealand to attract the piwakawaka, I managed to get a pair of them to come quite close. But they flitted about so much and were so tiny, I could not get a picture. I had forgotten to take my cameras, and an iPhone is useless for this kind of photography.

Spot the bird.
Where the yellow breasted scrubwrens were:
pademelon
Believe it or not, there is a pademelon in this photo. It’s a ninja in the bush.

Today was another great day.  I disintered my mask and snorkel and, once in the water, soon learned that I can swim much better with them than without.  The ache in my neck and shoulders was not from swimming, but from holding up my head.  Once I started swimming head down and breathing through the snorkel everything became more efficient.  I swam faster, though still not as fast as my neighbours in the next lanes. It was easy to average 9 lengths per 15 minutes with a steady rhythm.  I did a length of the pool in less strokes.  I did 50 lengths easily in 90 minutes and set out to do another 50.  I managed 76 in 140 minutes and realised that I should have had more than coffee and a mandarin for breakfast.  Hunger gnawed at my vitals, and I thought of the lean beef curry waiting in the slow cooker.  So I called it a day.  More tomorrow.

I have been a face down swimmer for decades.  Today reminded me how I like to swim.  I have not used my mask and snorkel since Fiji, now ten years ago.  As soon as the ocean warms up a bit, I shall get out my Scubapro Jetfins and work on strengthening my legs. They are fins that take a lot of power to use.   I’ve had those fins since January 1979 in which year I won the Hawkes Bay underwater orienteering competition with them.  The last time I used them was in Fiji too.

 

Purpose

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This blog no longer serves any purpose.

I started it in part to stay in touch with my family,  partly to serve as a journal or memoir for when I became old and senile, and partly to see if I could develop a writing skill worthy of using on something more substantial.

I have my answers, and medical tests assure me I need not fear dementia.

I no longer need validation.  If I continue at all it will be just to post the best of my photographs.

 

And in the end
The love you take
Is equal to the love you make
Lennon / McCartney

 

Questionnaire


How much poison are you willing
to eat for the success of the free
market and global trade? Please
name your preferred poisons.


For the sake of goodness, how much
evil are you willing to do?
Fill in the following blanks
with the names of your favorite
evils and acts of hatred.


What sacrifices are you prepared
to make for culture and civilization?
Please list the monuments, shrines,
and works of art you would
most willingly destroy.


In the name of patriotism and
the flag, how much of our beloved
land are you willing to desecrate?
List in the following spaces
the mountains, rivers, towns, farms
you could most readily do without.


State briefly the ideas, ideals, or hopes,
the energy sources, the kinds of security,
for which you would kill a child.
Name, please, the children whom
you would be willing to kill.

Wendell Berry

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Climate Change Threatens the World’s Food Supply, United Nations Warns

Land and water resources around the globe are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, threatening the ability of humanity to feed itself.

The report warns that climate change will exacerbate the dangers, as extreme weather threatens to disrupt and shrink the global food supply.

Food shortages could also increase a flow of immigration that is already redefining politics in North America, Europe and other regions. From 2010 to 2015, the number of migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who traveled to the U.S. increased fivefold, coinciding with an unusually dry period that left many without enough food.

The world’s land and water resources are being exploited at “unprecedented rates,” a new United Nations report warns, which combined with climate change is putting dire pressure on the ability of humanity to feed itself.

The report, prepared by more than 100 experts from 52 countries and released in summary form in Geneva on Thursday, found that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly. A half-billion people already live in places turning into desert, and soil is being lost between 10 and 100 times faster than it is forming, according to the report.