Sunday, November 29, 2009

I don't wanna go to Chelsea

Ouch - the mighty Arsenal have stumbled a tad with a heavy loss to Chelski. Suzie wasted no time in sending a txt. Hurts.

Today was the final hurley burley day in Taranaki - getting photos done, final bank visit, stuff into the storage unit - that sort of thing. Bought my last CDs for while and loaded them on the p-pod (Purdy pod). What were they? Jimi's awesome double 'Electric Ladyland', a best of Kiss, the first Phoenix Foundation, and the latest by Air. Usual eclectic bunch. The p-pod currently has about 30 gigs of music on it so that should see me right for a few months.

Tomorrow we're driving to Auckland to see Adam on route, say goodbye to Ross and family, and get ready for our departure on Wednesday.

I've helpfully put the various clocks on the blogsite and the weather in Doha (actually the airport at Abu Dhabi but that's close enough), so that you can know what we're experiencing and when. I dare say the weather pixie won't show a lot of variance.

Love and peace - Wozza

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Put your camel to bed

Hey ho. We're in transit (not yet by camel). The last two weeks have been a blur of fevered activity - so many things to do to pack up the house, find tenants, take care of the animals (the emotional affects of that), plan for Qatar and a myriad of other things. The modern life is very complicated - we love forms and protocols and details. Henry David Thoreau told us the life is frittered away by (or in?) details and he was spot on (again). It's also interesting to see how little you actually need (one suitcase each).

We have managed it though. One week to get organised would have been impossible, but two weeks has been merely difficult. We are nearly ready to go. We depart New Zealand at 6.45pm on the 2nd of December (Wednesday) and fly to Sydney (1 hour 40 min wait), then Dubai, then Doha. We expect to arrive there on Thursday morning. We'll see you soon Angela!

We are now in the throes of our final farewells: A few weekends ago we visited Biddy and Sallie in the Hawkes Bay, we had a great dinner with Roger and Deirge, I finished at school on Friday (go to my re branded blog for that stuff), Keegan came down to say bye and pick up a car to use while we're away, we'll see Adam and Ross et al on the journey north to Auckland in the next few days and we'll say our goodbyes to Taranaki as well soon.
We owe lots of thanks to Michelle and Gavin - yesterday we had much needed help from them to clean up the house and pack the last of our gear in the storage unit we've rented and we're currently staying with them for a few days until we depart. They've been terrific!
I probably won't have time to update the blog before we land in the Middle East so - thanks for all the support you've given via emails or Facebook messages. Next posting will be from the third sand dune from the oasis.
Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Red light blinking in the twilight,tracing in a path right out of here and now

Some big news in this week's post - Jacky and I are off to Qatar to work and live in the next few weeks. I've been offered an educational consultancy position there to help train their local Principals and I decided to accept (I can feel those mouths beginning to fall open all over the world).

This, of course, has sent us and Jade into something of a spin as we try to find a house-sitter to join Jade at home until she leaves for Victoria University in February 2010. We have tons to do in the next two weeks - we leave New Zealand at the end of November. We do plan to return at some stage. We intend to keep our fantastic property in Stratford. There is a mixture of excitement and anxiety amid the frantic activity while we get organised.

If you feel so inclined you can keep track of our progress via this blog and the music one. I'll be rebranding the 'From The Principal' blog and deleting 'Shakespeare Society' in due course.

Should make for some interesting posts over the next few months!

Here is a good site to give you some background.

Love and peace - Wozza

Monday, November 2, 2009

Now I understand that I'm the door and you're the key

As promised - here is my final catch up on my Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance reading to date (I'm up to page 239). It picks up on the mountain climbing motif I talked of a few posts ago. Remember that Pirsig is using the allegory of the physical mountain for the spiritual one that stands between each soul and its goal. Do try to keep up!

And stop slouching!

Here's Pirsig again:

"Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you're no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn't just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here's where things grow. But, of course, without the top you can't have any sides. It's the top that defines the sides. So on we go...we have a long hurry...just one step after the next...mental reflection is so much more interesting than TV it's a shame more people don't switch over to it. They probably think that what they hear is unimportant but it never is."

Okay - there are a lot of resonances here for me. Here are some - I like the one-day-at-a-time philosophy (that's why you have a line from Lennon's song in the title). It aligns with the 'be here now' buddhist idea. More alignment comes from the 'your focus is your reality' quote from Qui-Gon Jinn and a whakatoki (Maori proverb): Ki te hamama popoia te tangata, e kore e mau te ika. Translates to 'if a man spends his nights yawning, he will not catch any fish'.

Love and peace - W

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others (Groucho Marx)

The Marx Brothers. Genius comedy.

1) You'll recall from my previous posts that dad loved the Marx Brothers. So do I. So does Keegan.

2) I was shocked, on the weekend, when (seeing me reading The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia) one of Jade's friends asked her, "Who are the Marx Brothers?". Jade's face was a picture as she said, "Are you serious?"

For those reasons, and because 3) I've been watching a lot of their DVDs over the last two weeks, here is a post on the famous five.

I'm going to pretend that I'm talking to Erica (Jade's Friend) and explain who they were and why we love them. The Marx Brothers Encyclopedia and the extras attached to the DVD's provide a lot of detail but nothing can beat the source material.

Anyway - The Marx Bros were five actor/comedians who worked under nicknames given to them early in their vaudeville careers for fairly obvious reasons - Chico chased woman or chicks etc. Iin chronological order: Chico (pronounced chick-o); Harpo; Groucho; Gummo and Zeppo. Gummo dropped out of the act early on, then Zeppo after Duck Soup. That left Chico, Harpo and Groucho to establish themselves as comic geniuses in a number of films of the 1930's and 1940's. Vaudeville, by the way, is the American version of music-hall and morphed into television variety. Groucho got his start in vaudeville at age 14!

Anyway, here are the movies starring the brothers from The Cocoanuts (their first proper film) onwards.

The Cocoanuts (1929)
Animal Crackers (1930)
Monkey Business (1931)
Horse Feathers (1932)
Duck Soup (1933)
A Night at the Opera (1935)
A Day at the Races (1937)
Room Service (1938)
At the Circus (1939)
Go West (1940)
The Big Store (1941)
A Night in Casablanca (1946)
Love Happy (1949)

What are the must sees? For me the top three are Horse Feathers, Duck Soup, and A Night at the Opera. You'll know after any of those three whether you're a fan or not.

So, why do we love them? The type of humour is a combination of slapstick with an anarchic bent thanks to Harpo, vicious sarcasm and put downs from Groucho, and the playful frolics with language from both Chico and Groucho. Some of the routines are justly famous like Groucho's small room on the ship in Opera that gets filled with people, or the swordfish routine from Horse Feathers that I've mentioned before, or the rapid fire gags throughout Duck Soup. The British radio programme The Goon Show, Woody Allen and Monty Python's Flying Circus are all fans and plow the same comedic furrow. Seinfeld's Kramer would have had little to do without his Harpo like antics.

To finish - here's a clip of Harpo at his manic best in A Night at the Opera (fast-forward to about the 3.30 mark for the start of his zaniness).

Joan was quizzical; studied pataphysical science in the home

Wow - what a weekend for my teams. The All Blacks kept up their dominance of the Australians with another win in Japan. Rochdale do the unthinkable and score 4 goals away from home and are now SECOND on the table! The mighty Arsenal completed the hat trick by smashing the old enemy (Tottenham Hotspur) 3-0 at the Emirates. Yahoo! Jacky got sick of me yelling, "YEEESSSSSSSS!!!!!!!" LOUDLY at the goals and scaring the dogs (Soda-pop, the cat, who was sleeping next to me didn't even move a muscle), but she doesn't understand what a goal against the hated Spurs actually means to a gooner. A great great feeling.

The weekend also had magic weather - finally the sun came out from behind the clouds and we were able to do some outside chores - washing cars, weeding gardens, planting shrubs, putting up the shade sails, and digging out the outside furniture. Even had a BBQ. So after 8 months of cold and wet we had a decent Sunday!

Ross got in touch after my last posting on classical v romantic with some interesting points. My memory isn't as good as his and I do compress time in generalised ways. He confirms that he did the taking-apart-to-see-how-things-work lark but he points out that this process involved different stages - over to Ross: "stage one is taking something to pieces. Only after you have done this many times (and wrecked lots of stuff) can you move on to phase two which is figuring out how to put it back together. I assure you I remember phase one vividly! I've always thought people fit into two categories - Artists & Scientists and we seem to be born this way. It is easy to pigeon hole people in either categories if you think about it."

Back to Zen... for more on the classical (scientist) v romantic (artist) bizzo.

The romantic mode is primarily inspirational, imaginative, creative, intuitive. Feelings rather than facts predominate. 'Art' when it is opposed to 'Science' is often romantic. It does not proceed by reason or by laws. It proceeds by feeling, intuition and esthetic conscience. The classic mode, by contrast, proceeds by reason and by laws - which are themselves underlying forms of thought and behaviour.

So - where do you measure up when you apply your own analytical knife? There is no point (according to Pirsig) at which these two visions of reality are unified so you have to figure out your predominant mode. When my 1920's Massey-Ferguson tractor needed some oil replacing I (romantic) needed a scientist (Brian Smith) to give me the clues. My lack of understanding meant I couldn't describe things to him on the phone so he had to come over and give me a demonstration.

Ross also disagreed with my title for him of 'software engineer'. Ross again: "I don't think of myself as a Software Engineer that always seems so geeky. The stereotypical Coke drinking, pizza eating computer nerd just doesn't fit (I don't drink Coke for starters!). I'd like to think I'm just a Engineer (Scientist) with a bit of Purdy business sense!"

I'm nearly up-to-date in my catch-up of my outstanding notes from Zen...In the next post (hopefully during this week) I'll finish off my thoughts about climbing that spiritual mountain.

Love and peace - Wozza

P.S. I love the lead photograph - we're all in there (I took the photo in case you were trying to see me in there somewhere). Ross has his tongue out - not sure why - maybe at me? He and Adam share a capacity for pulling off interesting poses in photos. Anyway - love that photo.