Home

Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary. A houseboat in Kashmir, a view down Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, a gray gothic farmhouse two stories high at the end of a red dog road in the Allegheny Mountains, a cabin on the shore of a blue lake in spruce and fir country, a greasy alley near the Hoboken waterfront, or even, possibly, for those of a less demanding sensibility, the world to be seen from a comfortable apartment high in the tender, velvety smog of Manhattan, Chicago, Paris, Tokyo, Rio or Rome — there’s no limit to the human capacity for the homing sentiment. Theologians, sky pilots, astronauts have even felt the appeal of home calling to them from up above, in the cold black outback of interstellar space.

Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire.

Where I am now does not feel like home. I hoped it would, but it doesn’t. It is the place where I currently live. I live in a caravan, which is an object. The caravan is in a park on Bribie Island, which is a location. Neither the domicile nor the location is home. I’m not even sure these days what, or where, home might be for me. Or even where it was.

Every place I’ve ever considered to be home has been taken from me or I have had to leave it behind. Every place I’ve been happy, I’ve had to abandon. As child I moved with my parents wherever their aspirations led. As a young man I followed employment opportunities and my own romantic hopes. For the last eleven years I’ve gone again where necessity sent me, albeit of my own free will. I have found the occasional Happy Place, where I can enjoy being alive and communing with the natural world in some positive heart-lightening way, but I have had no home in that time. No place where I could look around me and say “This is where I belong. This is where I shall stay”.

Looking back I realise I have been searching for such a place since I was a child exploring the hills and fields and streams of the Manawatu, and as a young man exploring the bush and beaches and under the seas around New Zealand

Also, of course, as I explored the possibilities of a shared life, relationships, offering and seeking love.

Home is more than a house, more than a place. It is people in familial and social relationships. Relationships which are enduring and settled. It turns out I’m not so good at maintaining relationships. Two failed marriages, other failed relationships, and very little constant contact or intercourse with family.

I’m not sure if this is caused by, or is what causes, depression.

Fortunately, or perhaps otherwise, I am comfortable and content in my own company. I don’t get lonely when I am alone. Even so, social interaction comes easily enough to me. I don’t have the difficulties that, for example, an autistic person might. I can be amusing, empathetic, and supportive. Caring. Nonetheless I cannot seem to get right the combination of interaction that will lead me to have constancy of companionship and the stability of location that feeling at home requires. Others move on. Or I must.

So here I am ageing, separated from friends and family, with my social interaction limited to a few short term acquaintances and virtual friends whom I no longer see in person or have never even met in the first place.

All I can do now is seek out a new Happy Place. One where I can stay. I have no idea what, or where it might be, though I have an inkling it must be somewhere on or near the sea. Most of my Happy Places have been. I find peace and contentment by the sea, or by water, more than anywhere else.

Does this introspective essay mean I am, after all, becoming lonely?

I have to think about that.

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Literature.

i don’t understand.

I get but one measly like for an absolutely hilarious story about my vasectomy. Four for a scarcely interesting  tale about my colonoscopy, NONE for a sadly deep and meaningful poem by Yeats, one of the greatest of poets, and TWELVE for a ridiculous verse of my own in imitation of Poe.

Whats wrong with people?

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Polar

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Photo by Paul Goldstein 

Once upon a time, a baby polar bear went up to his mum, as she was preparing seal flipper pie for dinner.
“Mum,” he said, “am I a real polar bear?
“Of course you are, dear.” She answered. “I am a polar bear, Dad is a polar bear, so you are a polar bear too”.
“Are you sure of that? Really really sure?”
“Of course I am sure. Your grandparents are polar bears, their parents were polar bears too.  In fact you come from one of the most illustrious polar bear lines in the arctic circle!”
“Are you absolutely certain? Is there no brown bear, or Kodiak bear, or grizzly bear in me?”
“No dear, you are pure polar bear. If you don’t believe me, ask your dad”.

So the little polar bear wandered across the ice floe to where his dad was fishing.
“Dad,” he said, “am I a real polar bear?”
“Of course you are, son” his dad answered.
“I am a polar bear, Mum is a polar bear, so you are a polar bear too”.
“Are you sure of that? Really really sure?”
“Of course I am sure. Your grandparents are polar bears, their parents were polar bears too.  In fact you come from one of the most illustrious polar bear lines in the arctic circle!”
“Are you really really sure of that?”
“Of course, son. You are 100% polar bear
“Are you absolutely certain? Is there no brown bear, or Kodiak bear, or grizzly bear in me?”
“No son, you are pure polar bear. If you don’t believe me, ask your grandad”.

So the young fellow toddled across the ice floe to the other side, where his grandfather was sitting on a park bench talking to his cronies.

“Grandad” he said, “am I a real polar bear?
“Of course you are, lad” he answered. “I am a polar bear, Your grandma is a polar bear, your mum and dad are polar bears, so you are a polar bear too”.
“Are you sure of that? Really really sure?”
“Of course I am sure! You come from one of the most illustrious polar bear lines in the arctic circle!”

“Are you absolutely certain, Grandad? Is there no brown bear, or Kodiak bear, or grizzly bear in me?”
“No lad. You are pure polar bear. One hundred percent.
Why do you ask?”

“Because I am feckin’ cold!”

Paul Goldstein
Photo by Paul Goldstein 

Adapted from a story told to me in Auckland by Billy Connolly.

Mysterious Ways

Skinners Footwear (Product Placement)

My arthritic knees and spondylosic spine (oh the assonance!) continue to cause me mobility distress.

Pain.  Lots of pain.   Osteopanadol and Pregabalin help somewhat.

pain.

I discovered some time ago that my knee distress was minimised most when I walked  round barefooted.  It was not too bad if I wore flat soled sandals, and was barely tolerable for a short while if I wore trainers.  Pain and distress became impossibly uncomfortable in a very short order if I wore “normal” shoes or boots with heels.

I go barefooted now whenever I can, wear sandals when I need to, and cross-trainers when I must.  Shoes with any significant heel are no longer an option for me to wear.  I guess I might wear them to a job interview if I had one.  Not that intend looking for another job ever again.

Though my young aboriginal friends seem to manage quite well, going barefoot outside the house is not really an option for me and my relatively tender feet.   Here in the rough outback country everything is out to get you;  the rocks, the flora, the fauna.

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I postulated to myself that the footwear I need most now is a rugged pair of socks with a sturdy leather sole sewed onto them.  Simple slippers.  What the Dutch call ‘pontoffels’.  I had some when I was younger.  But I need something a bit more rugged now.

Well the FSM works in mysterious ways.  Not long after deciding I had better make myself some pontoffels I became aware of a new start-up called Skinners Footwear.  Here was a rugged pair of socks with a rugged sole, touted as neither shoe nor sock, but both.  Literally the answer to my problem.

So I have invested in the start up and ordered a few pairs.  I am looking forward to receiving them as soon as our mail system returns to normal and the greyhound bus deliveries to Halls Creek resume after the flooding.

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More information here.

 

Ghost in the Screen

Sitting here waiting for the page to load, the screen a white blank,  I notice a faint, fuzzy shadow move across from right to left.  I watched for a while as it traversed the screen then moved up and down.  Even now as I type the shadow meanders about.  It did not take long to figure out the cause. An insect is inside the monitor, wandering around on the back of the screen. It must be carrying a slight static charge, enough to affect the display.  Another phenomenon probably exclusive to the tropics.  but what to do about it?

Everything is going slow again.  I have used up my monthly quota of gigabytes with about a week to go.  I ran out last night in the middle of a not particularly worthwhile offering on Netflix.  It was almost a case of “Thank heavens. Now I don’t have to sit through the rest of this rubbish”.  I should have quit as soon as I had the gauge of the show.

I really need to be more discerning.  If I had bailed out sooner I might have been able to watch something else for a while.  There is actually quite a lot to choose from at present.

A very good western that is not quite what one might expect from the genre was “The Homesman”. Tommy Lee Jones emulates the darker side of the Coen Brothers quite effectively.  He can direct and act.  Not often I don’t foresee the plot twist these days.  That one took me by surprise.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 was just as silly, and just as enjoyable as the first.  But then I think I may have a thing for gorgeous green girls.  Or am I thinking of frogs?

Speaking of green, I am pretty sure I have located Eric.  He was not here in the donga when I returned after the Christmas break.  However, it sure sounds like him under the house. I am pleased to hear him under there.  For one thing it means he is safe and happy, and for another it probably means I probably don’t have a snake.

The new clinic nurse, who recently moved in across the road does.  She found a shed snakeskin yesterday and has put me on alert to catch its owner when it next shows itself.  Happy to help.  I am not crawling under the house to find it though. It will have to come out.

I wouldn’t really mind having a snake around, but I don’t know if Zeus will be all macho if he sees one and try to catch it.  And the locals would want to kill it.

Anyway that was not what I was intending to write about.  The insect distracted me.

I shall start again.

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Product Placement

I wrote this way back in 2014

The links are still good. They take you to the latest versions of the software, which I still recommend.

OMG!

Avid followers of my exciting, fun-filled adventurous life will recall that I fell off my motorcycle at an intersection in Nabua, Fiji, due to stopping too abruptly at the traffic lights right on a patch of newly spilled oil.  Almost certainly leaked from a taxi.

Well, I may not have admitted the ‘too abruptly’ bit before.

Such well-informed followers will also recall that I damaged  the SOPAC HP laptop at the time, and subsequently bought it from them, broken screen and all, when I left.  This was because my own personal absolutely awesome top of the line four thousand dollar Lenovo Think Pad  was feckin’ well stolen by a burglar.   The HP was a pretty good computer, and performed pretty well.  It was a bargain at $300FJ, even with a broken screen.

For a long time I used it with an external monitor, until the laptop itself died.  Then I shelved it, bought the cheapest replacement I could find, and used it to find a job.

Recently I took another look at the HP, and with help and advice from Andrew, identified the non-functionality as being due to a damaged hard drive.  Replaced the hard drive, put in a new screen and voila!  A good laptop again.  But I needed an operating system, and so had to buy a copy of Windows 7.  The laptop ran on Vista when new, but SOPAC had replaced it with XP as Vista was incompatible with the network server.

So it performed really well.  At the time. Now it does not.  I was blaming my ISP and the crappy G3 connection I have to use, but I chanced upon  a product called “TuneUp Utilities’ that came as a trial with the latest version of AVG antivirus.  I ran it, and it offered all sorts of advice about disabling certain windows functions, based on the processor, graphics capabilities, and number of unicorns that power the whotsitadooda.  Stuff like that.  One by one I accepted recommendations to turn off features such as wallpaper, font smoothing, prefetch hover times, unicorn bridling and other esoteric and (to me) meaningless activities.

The laptop performed really well, and the change in appearance, though noticeable, was not distressing.  so when the trial period ended, and the laptop slowed down again,  I bought the product to keep my edge.  When one does not know what one is doing it is good to put confidence in someone who does.  AVG does, and they are Dutch, so we know they are almost as thorough and methodical as the Germans.  Product recommended.  

Another discovery I made came as a free trial with my latest upgrade of JetAudio – my MP3/video/CD  player of choice (I gave up on Winamp long ago).  It is called DFX Audio Enhancer.    I have a REALLY good stereo in the lounge, but my laptop and a simple set of Logitech speakers are all I have in the bedroom where music plays pretty much 24/7 unles I feel like blasting the neighbourhood on the weekend, when I am the only one home at this end of the street.

DFX Audio Enhancer does what it claims and makes my little Logitech laptop speakers sound (almost) as good as my thousand-dollar Celestions.  And that was a thousand dollars in 1983! Nothing beats those speakers,  I  hate to think what the equivalent might be now.    But this modestly priced programme certainly improves the listening experience very noticeably on my $39.95 Logitech speakers!   Product recommended. 

Next, a product I have wanted for so very long.  It too, came as a free trial, with DFX Audio Enhancer.  It is called Max Recorder, and is simply an app which makes an MP3 recording of whatever you are listening to, and want to keep.  If you are playing music on YouTube, or streaming audio from any source, it makes a Hi Fi recording.  Everything I have tried before has made crappy copies, with ground hum or other faults.  You may guess I know very little about technological matters, and you may well sneer at my ignorance, but this is a simple product that does something useful.  I bought it. Product recommended. 

Lastly, I was looking for something to replace a specific component of my Nero pack, which I bought a few PCs ago.  That version of Nero is not compatible with the latest Windows operating systems, and because it had only this one  particular feature I liked, I was not going to fork out again for the latest Nero , when I had all the other functionality I needed in the much cheaper and easier to use Ashampoo Burning Studio.  Product recommended.

The bit I missed was a good wave editor.  I found it in a nice little program called Wave Editor! And it is free!     Product recommended. 

Inexplicable