COMMON SENSE PREVAILS

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All Ages Matter. As it should.

Four months ago I wrote a blog on Dr. David Goodall – a 102 year old botanist and ecology scientist – who had been told to pack up his office with the Edith Cowan University in Perth, Western Australia declaring him unfit to be on campus.

His career spanned 70 years resulting in more than 100 research papers, earning him three doctorates and the Order of Australia for his contribution to serving Humanity.

David Goodall is also a Shakespearean actor of note.

Below link leads to the short original ABC News article on this 102-year old scientist.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/102yo-researcher-told-to-leave-his-edith-cowan-university-job/7769422

 

  • It turned out to be a silly decision.

 

The below link leads to a 20 December 2016 article titled “WA university reverses decision to eject 102-year-old scientist from campus”.

 

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-20/wa-university-reverses-decision-to-eject-102yo-scientist/8136836

 

The 102-year-old scientist will now remain on campus after the institution reversed its earlier decision to kick him out of his office.

“I hope to continue with some useful work in my field in so far as my eyesight permits.”

Dr Goodall’s plight gained international attention, sparking debate about the value of older people in the workforce.

“I think people were rather sympathetic to me as a centenarian who wanted to continue life in society,” Dr Goodall said.

“I prefer to be on campus because there are other people around and people who potentially are friends.”

Dr Goodall has accepted an offer from the university to serve as an unpaid honorary research associate for another three years.

It feels great to blog a feel-good story in a year when The Grim Reaper and Father Time have plucked away so many very talented artists to perform on The Great Stage in the Sky.

 

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Was Your 2015 a Groundhog Year?

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 “Hello Again”

As a year draws to a close we all normally – at one point or another – reflect silently on what we had done during the time.

Two things are important:

  • Things change. “You never stand on the same river bank twice”.
  • Time goes by – relentless. “Our tomorrows are not endless”.

So what do we do to distinguish ourselves from the one period to the next during the passing of Time? Do we groundhog-live the same life again or do we tackle new things, brave new adventures, leave a fuller Chest of Legacies?

Many years ago I spent 3 years with a backpack on the road – and tried to make each day different from the previous day – learning new things, experiencing new places, savouring new cultures, building a mental album of things that I can now both reflect on and find blank spaces to put a “snapshot” in.

I sat on our patio the other night watching a fantastic sunset and noticed that the crumbs that I spilt (I was celebrating the release of my 2nd book) attracted some ants. As dusk settled in it dawned on me that if I sit still long enough in one place I will be eaten by ants.

So, rather than be eaten by some virtual ants, I make it a point to keep moving in life. I do not intend to live groundhog years.

What are your Goals for 2016?

 

My 2015 in Short Review – Activity-wise

  • Published 36 blogs
  • Completed and published my 2nd book (50 PERSPECTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen)
  • Started on 2 others (one practical, one semi-autographical)
  • Appeared at Faeryville Singapore Red Carpet Event with award-winning producer Tzang Merwyn Tong, his production team and my co-stars.
  • Enjoying a 2nd season of organically self-raised (“free range”) vegetables.
  • Delivered 6,000 free local newspapers in our suburb, walking 250kms in the process.
  • Played Santa to 2500 children and their parents over 7 Saturday in a national chain store.

 

Missed doing

  • Playing in another movie.
  • Making a record.

When speed is of the essence…

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“You see things, and you say, “Why?”.

But I dream things that never were, and I say, “Why not?” – George Bernard Shaw

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I recently reread Stephen King’s memoir On Writing, where he comments that he is regarded as a prolific writer even though he has written “only a few dozen” novels (up till the year 2000).

But this was nothing compared to British mystery novelist named John Creasey.

He also mentioned that it should preferably take about 3 months to get the draft of a book out. Not longer than one season – else you start to lose your tempo.

Stephen King recently also received the National Medal of Arts award this year. He knows what he is talking about.

My 2nd book “50 PERSPECTIVES – The Value of Things Unseen” is now out and available on all the large electronic commerce companies.

And there is a 2-year gap between the first and the second.

Certain parts in the world, specifically where we live now, has four seasons in a year. Yes four.

It’s a bit difficult to write 4 books in a day.

  • So, sorry Stephen – No Can Do.

However, before I say that too loudly, let’s look at the most prolific writer in history. Creasey is only 9th on the Prolific List. He received 768 rejection letters before his first book was published. He then went on to write more than 600 books – included westerners and even romance novels – under 28 pseudonyms.

 

  • Top spot is held by Spanish writer Corin Tellado – 4,000 novels between 1927 and 2009. If she started at age 22, then she wrote one novel every 5 ½ days! And sold on average 100,000 copies of each.

 

At my speed I will have to become 8,000 years old to write that many books.

 

Meet the top 17 most prolific writers at Why Not Books on http://thewhynot100.blogspot.com.au/2014/06/17-most-prolific-writers-in-history.html

LAKE PLACID (Jakarta, Indonesia) – 5 JUNE 2005 (part 2 of 2)

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Thumbnail of Part 1: I had myself an appointment with a friend one Sunday morning and called to confirm our meeting time. When the appointment time was delayed, I decided to wash our clothes (to surprise my wife who was visiting friends) and relax on the balcony. On hearing a noise from the kitchen I opened the cupboard door to be surprised by a gushing stream of water which started to fill up the kitchen floor. I blocked off the water with a bedcover and tried to find the shut-off tap in the servant’s room that runs off the small back balcony and in so doing I hear the balcony door shut behind me – with disaster still in full swing in the kitchen.. now read on….

Ok., no water mains shut-off tap here either. Turns around. Extends hand onto the outside kitchen door knob,…and touches a confused and out-of-breath white dove with a olive branch in its beak, trying to balance on it. Paunchy whoosh-whooshes the dove energetically away with a vigorous wave of arms, nervously looking if there are any other strays about, such as maybe a lonely vulture that might have drifted in on the back of the dove. Paunchy the Hopeful grabs the door knob with renewed fervour. And turns it. No left-right motion. And turns it. Still no turning motion. Shit. Translate that into SHIT!! Re-translate that into SHIIIIT!!!. The door is on auto-lock from the inside. (This is where the reader is kindly reminded to recall the earlier reference to the fireman’s axe).

Instant Consternation!

Paunchy the Severely Concerned is now a Permanent Resident in the Land of Disbelief.

Let us take stock for the reader’s sake: A drum-roll of gushing water. Rising Tide on both sides of the door. Mobile phone on dining room table. Paunchy out on tiny 9th floor balcony with door locked from inside. Four locks and thief-proof latches on the apartment’s front door. Sunday lunchtime.. A bewildered dove. The possibility of a circling vulture… No Axe.

Paunchy the Disbeliever (reminding himself to go to church tonight, if not earlier, given certain conditions are met) scrambles around in the servant’s quarters and finds a few plastic cups, a plastic bucket, a small plastic chair, and yes of course a mattress. But sleeping is very low on the Totem Pole of Desired Solutions. Even Maslow and Freud would have a problem trying to place the comfort of a lonely Sunday afternoon nap into the right context here. Bucket, Cups, Chair, Bucket, Cups, Chair. Plastic. Panic.

“Help! Help!!” Listen..

„H E L P !! “ More listening..

“AITCH EEE ELL PEE !!!” More INTENSE listening..

Not a beep. Not a bat of even a mosquito wing. It might as well have been the Sahara. 500 miles from the nearest well. On a moonlit night. In the 12th century.

Hey what have we here now? Aha a one meter length piece of wood, forgotten by some careless workman. EUREKA! Thank you dear God for careless workmen! They should all be given gold-rimmed Certificates of Carelessness. And large bonuses.

Paunchy the Jailbird, trying to stay above the Rising Tide from under the kitchen door – balances himself like a drunken two-legged circus elephant on the small wobbling plastic chair. Aims. Wobbles. Hits. Wobbles. Connects with a Bang! Bang!! It does not even take the paint off the door. But it puts some splinters in Paunchy the Carpenter’s hands and fingers. Minor concern.

Maslow was right. Safety is higher than Comfort on the Hierarchy of Living Needs, and Fear is a Powerful Motivator. Fear Factor. Has anyone ever heard of a program called “Comfort Factor”? or “Safety Factor”?)

(Unbeknownst to Paunchy the Batsman, the Emergency Services have arrived outside the front door but is being denied access to the apartment, as well-documented above). Aims for the door knob. Bang. Bang! Bang!! 50 Bangs! Paunchy the Banger drips from a mixture of water, sweat and deep concern. Has the dike held? Is the water Niagara-falling over the outside balcony? Are We Adrift? What if there is an earthquake NOW!

Who said THAT?

Liver is now competing with Heart to be the first to jump from Paunchy the Panter’s mouth. Rest awhile. This is important. We have to pace ourselves here. Panic leads to stupidity. hmm now there is a thought to savour. Don’t get into heart-attack territory by over-banging the door knob, which is by now giving way as slowly as an un-cooperative traffic cop on a lazy Sunday afternoon.. Shit what about the 3 pm meeting? What time is it?

Who Cares?

Bang! Splinter. Puff. Drip Bang!! Puff-puff. Drip-drip. Bang!!!. Splinter. Wiggle. Knob and lock is now as bent as a New York City Cop, but still as un-cooperative as a 300 pound folded-arms “Momma’s Big Worry”-tattooed bouncer at a rock concert. With dark glasses on. That is the bouncer, not the concert.

100 Bangs!!! More splinters. Puff-puffs. Drip-drip. Bang! Splinters. Puff. Drip. Rest. Bang. Puff. Drip. Wiggle….

The lock yields with the grace and speed of the Tumbling Walls of Jericho! The door swings open … to a tsunami.. and the sweet smell of a flooded kitchen.. FREEDOM!

Paunchy The Freedom Fighter skims the surface like a jet-skier, over the still-holding bedcover-dike, skids around the dining room table to unlatch, un-lock, un-emergency-proof the by now almost bulging bang-assaulted front door…(nice to know someone else was also banging away on a door).

On the dining room table the mobile phone is ringing its little battery flat. The clock on the wall says 12:20…

Further inspection showed that the washing machine was an innocent bystander. The Prime Offender was the kitchen wash-up sink feeder-pipe that broke off flush against the wall.

PS: The white dove and olive twig were just added for dramatic effect. The vulture was for real (he..he.. gotcha).

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LAKE PLACID (Jakarta, Indonesia) – 5 JUNE 2005 (part 1 of 2)

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Dateline Indonesia

 

Backstory:

This is a true story. Indonesian apartments will normally have a servant’s room that runs off a small back balcony whilst a large front balcony would face outward with nice views over the city. It is one of those that we rented. We did not have a servant. Where I grew up you did things yourself. My wife was visiting with friends and I was enjoying a lazy Sunday morning…now read on. Part 1 of a 2-part blog)

Couple of Sundays ago, having just moved into his “new” 9th floor apartment overlooking a placid sun-splashed golf driving range, yours truly (call me Paunchy for short, since I have a bit of a beer belly) had himself an appointment to visit with some friends around 12 noon.

Following tried and tested standards Paunchy the Organized calls in advance to confirm the appointment – thus trying to align the local custom of perpetual lateness with western values of punctuality.

Lucky break! Paunchy’s friend asks to delay the meeting till 3 pm since he still has to fly back from another island.

Ok, so Paunchy the Delayed, now with a clutch-full of free time (a.k.a. as the Devil’s Pillow) on his hands, and with a “waste not, want not” attitude, pops some clothes into the washing machine. Regulation activity. And to complete the picture Paunchy the Relaxed decides to hang loose on the front balcony for 20 minutes or so, taking in some sunshine and relishing the panorama. Ah what a life…Relaxation at its best. Unadulterated Freedom!

And …hm? What is that.. uh… gushing?…sound? Paunchy the Nonchalant strolls into the kitchen Noise emanating from the cupboard below the sink? Bends down. Opens door. Regulation activity. Doors are made to be opened. Normally….

…. And a jet-stream of water gushes straight past Paunchy the Slightly Bewildered, hits the fridge door on the other side of the kitchen like a torrent from a fireman’s hose. Without the regulation clanging of bells and screeching of tires…Also without the regulation brass-buttoned uniforms and long-stem axes (an insignificant but insightful little detail that the reader is advised to remember for later consumption).

Instant TURMOIL.

Downtown Bagdad!

Slam! Shut goes the door.

Disbelieve.

Open goes the door.

No change in activity. Gulf Stream still in full operational mode. Shut goes the door. “Shit” goes Paunchy. And nearly adds action to words.

Disbelief is fast becoming a pressing pastime. Then turns into a fulltime personal trait.

12:01: Fast-thinking Paunchy the Dutchman grabs the bedcover that is still on the lounge suite from watching “The Perfect Storm” on TV the night before, throws it down and molds it like a dike to contain the water in the kitchen. Aha at least any flooding into the rest of the apartment is now (temporarily) under control. Paunchy the Electrician slips on his rubber-soled Noahs and shplonks into the little upstart lake now placidly assembling in the kitchen – to unplug any electrical appliances. Smart Thinking Paunchy Einstein. Better safe than sorry. Self-confidence grows again with every stride – just a minor inconvenience. A pre-lunchtime burp so to speak.

12.02: Paunchy the Telephonist searches the mobile phone directory for the Emergency Services number… No such number…. OK. Not a problem, Paunchy the Unfazed calls the owner of the apartment – to ask them to contact Emergency Services. The connection is made. Paunchy the Pedagogue explains the situation with the calmness of a Tourist Board Guide on a downtown City Bus. Control is all important and Paunchy the Confident is still in (slightly less than full) command of the – by now – slow forming little Lake Placid in the kitchen.

Paunchy to Owner: “By the way, can you tell me where in the apartment is the emergency shit-off…I mean, shut-off tap?”

Owner to Paunchy: “Hmm let us see, if we are not mistaken (and we might be, by the sound of the confidence level in the voice of the owner) it is either in the cupboard where the problem is (hmm) or in the servant’s quarters where the geyser is located – just behind the kitchen. Just open the kitchen door that leads onto the small balcony and the servant’s room in the back. We are sure it is there…”

Paunchy the Unconvinced, now sounding more and more like Noah: “Roger”.

Option One. Opens the cupboard again. Tries to put his hand in front of the Jet Stream. Which hits him in the face. And dislodges his glasses. Damn! Scramble. Tap. Splash! Feel. Be careful. You don’t want to do this without glasses. Feel. Tap. More Feel. Ah. Lady Luck is a Kind old Bitch, sorry, Nanny. Glasses are found. Returned to both ears. Drip, but not dry. Impaired Vision is better than No Vision.

No Emergency Shut-off Tap Here. Ok one more to go.

The servant’s quarters now starts to figure in Paunchy the Hopeful’s mind with the same urgency and determination as a light-house does in the mind of a ship’s captain on a stormy night. Paunchy the (Now Much Less) Confident steadies himself in the Rising Tide, splish-sploshes to the kitchen door, opens it and splashes out onto the tiniest of balconies that leads into the servant’s quarters…

…. and hears the kitchen door slams shut behind him by virtue of a slight daft.. er, draft.…

(part 2 of 2 will appear Monday)

Change of Gears

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“We are who we choose to be”…. Spiderman

 

My second book “50 PERSPECTIVES” started whilst writing my first books since it was born out of chapter 12 of “Over 65 And Still In Demand”. So I thought it was going to be an easy write. But it was not. Or perhaps it was but I found ways to make it long-drawn.

Book Two took hopelessly too long to write, even taking into account excuses for things like moving house, establishing a garden, doing side jobs, the summer (brain melts), the winter (brain freezes), being too sober, being to this or too that.

It just took too long. Plain and simple.

Stephen King says you should not take more than 3 months – one season – to write a book. Stephen has not been to Melbourne, Australia. Here we have 4 seasons in a day. I can’t write four books in a day, sorry Stephen.

Anyway, I have listened to other writers (even the ones who write erotic novels) and they all seem to be able to stick to a 3-month cycle for a book. So OK who am I to be an exception to that RULE? The next book will have to be written in 3 months. Challenge is going to be to find (a) an agent who will get it sold to a publisher and (b) a publisher willing to take a chance on a (blank space).

I have started on a novel but it is going to take longer than 3 months. So I will write a shorter and easier book on something I know more about and titled “Welcome to the One Broken Leg Club

Why this title? Visit “Meet Me” on my blog https://passiontoplan.wordpress.com .

Blessed is the writer who finds his or her genre immediately and stick to it. I wrote my first book basically because I was old enough to do it. I could write from the perspective of being 65 and still being in demand….

….well for a bit.

And then one morning in Kuala Lumpur my work boss and I had an interesting discussion during which I decided to become unemployed 6 weeks’ later. Richard and I are still friends. And I explained to him one evening over food and a “few” beers (which he paid for) that I was busy writing the book at the time and it was probably the right time for me to wave the IT industry goodbye anyway – for good, or maybe for bad.

Richard now lives in New York – a city that I never really had the intention to visit, but later took quite a liking to in the short week that I was there on a job-related trip.

How did I change my mind about the Big Apple?

Well a good friend showed me around. We visited Grand Central Station (a work of art), walked down to the UN building (I like to knotted revolver statue), walked up to Fifth Ave (my wife spotted the handbag shops on the photos!), Madison Square Garden and the Rockefeller Center, past the RCA building, had lunch at a little Spanish place, on to Times Square, past the National Debt Clock (my credit card debt nearly matched it once) and Empire State Building, took a cab to Wall Street to see the Stock Exchange, visited the Twin Towers site. Down Broadway on to the Charging Bull. Stopped by a street artist to have a sketch done, walked down to Battery Park and its brave squirrels and had a look over the Hudson towards The Statue of Liberty (my sequence could be out of order a bit, but its ok.)

I now want to go back for a longer visit.

Samuel Johnson would have made the same quote about NYC that he once made of London, had he been to The Big Apple (“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”).

Am I going to change styles? Genres?

No I don’t think so. “65” was a serious book and I could not let rip with my quirky, off-beat, borderline insolent way of writing (which sometimes raised a laugh or blood pressure, at other times offended, confounded or confused – depending on whom you were) – which I will now freely apply in my next book.

I will of course also blog some of the blog-able parts – but Reader Beware, this is going to be a different ride: Less serious. More Impudent.

Hopefully you will find something of value – if tickling your funny bone can be considered of value.

PERSPECTIVES: WATCH A SUNRISE. THEN A SUNSET

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The sun does not keep office hours. So, should we?

Sunrises and sunsets.

Some say that they have no meaning other than to remind us that life is cyclical, as day defeats night – only to be swallowed by the darkness in return.

I disagree.

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Question: How many sunrises and sunsets are there in the biblical 3 score and 10?

Answer: 25,568 of each, counting the most possible number of leap years.

Not that you will see them all, due to a number of reasons – some self-inflicted.

And how many of these have and will you actually enjoy during your life?

Not enough, say some. Too many, others may feel. Much depends on your frame of mind – and for others, their state of health.

Physical

The 6 Mile High Club.

One of my most bleary-eyed but happiest sunrises was at 10,000 meters (33,000 feet = 6.25 miles) somewhere over Africa, on our way to introduce my wife to my family. A small arc of red-hot gold crept into the porthole where we were seated. The photo I took of it still brings back a rush of memories – demanding a few minutes of silence as I contemplate how many sunrises I have left unseen. Wasted. Like water thrown onto a dune.

Memorable sunsets were gifted me whilst sailing from South Africa – eastward towards Australia. On its eventide dip into the quick darkening blue pond the sun would leave a golden tail like an unwinding ball of cotton to follow us as it repainted the sky from blue to yellow, then red and indigo – and finally violet before retiring..

  • The sunrise of our lives is made memorable by running here running there as we grow up. Our sunset brings with it a more measured and slower pace.

Mental

The ever-changing theatre of sunrises and sunsets has a psychological significance all their own, bestowing spiritually uplifting experiences on us, boosting our mental and emotional wellbeing – and satisfaction with life in general as we behold their ethereal and ephemeral beauty.

At the dawn of history they set the day and night time boundaries for both man and animal – governing the hunt and food gathering of the diurnals (daytime beings) as well as the darkness to seek protection from nocturnal dangers.

  • Their beauty and grace are natural – in contrast to the learned artistic and other dazzle which attempt to compliment nature by imitation.

Social

Card-night.

Times were when the four of us could not wait for sunset on certain Fridays. As dusk wooed the birds into the trees which shaded my second floor apartment balcony, I would ready the table in the center of my living room for our monthly poker marathon which terminated at dawn. Friendships forged in the midnight hours. Book-ended by sunset and sunrise. Punctuated by breakfast. And a closer bond.

  • The sunrise of our lives is filled with making new friends and binding relationships whilst our sunset brings with it a dwindling of numbers. Be thankful for every day. Celebrate Life, while you can.

Emotional

Nature’s own alarm clock.

Make time for a sunrise and a sunset – other than going to work in one and coming home in the other.

It is in the rhythm of nature that we find our ways. To take an early morning walk in our gardens just as sunrise turns the dewdrops on plants and flowers into pearls. To pluck a fresh tomato or a pod of peas and taste them from the stem – as God created them. Then hesitate in midstride to let a bee do the work it was sent for – the wonder of pollination.

I am allergic to loud alarm clocks – always opting to find a home near a tree-rimmed park and be woken by the birds as they stir their fledglings to a new morning before going out on their day’s business, only to return and saturate dusk with a cacophony of chatter before putting their babies to rest with a final lullaby.

  • Both sunrise and sunset speak to our emotion.

Intellectual

Every new day pays its own homage to the primordial dawn and dusk of nature. And that is perhaps why their grandeur is such in the presence of which man is humbled as a transient being. They speak to the Soul of Man – not in words but with an unsurpassed beauty.

Neither Michelangelo nor Da Vinci could ever have painted a sunrise or sunset to take pride of place next to the originals. And our vocabulary falls far short to describe their splendor.

  • No words or artistic imitation can do them justice.

Spiritual

We are cyclical beings.

As our spiritual awakening and development move from personal Sunrise to final Sunset, let us live our Day fully, celebrating it. Purposefully. And also with reflection for Tomorrow, which will come as it may.

And in the Sunset of our lives let us be grateful for the Gift through which we had opportunity to share and bring joy to others – before our Night arrives.

There is a Higher Order at Work.

GOD – if you must.