Sunday, 31 August 2008
Saturday, 30 August 2008
Friday, 29 August 2008
Thursday, 28 August 2008
This delicious Hubble (false colour) image of Jupiter shows patterns of turbulence similar to those seen behind Earth's Aleutian Islands in the satellite image below. The lower ones are a specific type called Von Karman vortices, named after the Hungarian scientist who first described them mathematically.
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
Monday, 25 August 2008
To the Sufi, perhaps the greatest absurdity in life is the way in which people strive for things - such as knowledge - without the basic equipment for acquiring them. They have assumed that all they need is ‘two eyes, a nose and a mouth’ as Nasrudin says.
In Sulfism, a person cannot learn until he is in a state in which he can perceive what he is learning, and what it means.
Nasrudin went one day to a well, in order to teach this point to a disciple who wanted to know ‘the truth’. With him he took the disciple and a pitcher. The Mulla drew a bucket of water and poured it into the pitcher, then he drew another, and poured it in. As he was pouring in the third, the disciple could not contain himself any longer:
‘Mulla, the water is running out, there is no bottom in that pitcher.’
Nasrudin looked at him indignantly. ‘I am trying to fill the pitcher. In order to see when it is full, my eyes are fixed on the neck, not the bottom. When I see the water rise to the neck, the pitcher will be full. What has the bottom got to do with it? When I am interested in the bottom, then only will I look into it.’
This is why Sufis do not speak about profound things to people who are not prepared to cultivate the power of learning - something that can only be taught by a teacher to someone who is sufficiently enlightened to say ‘teach me how to learn’. There is a Sufi saying: ‘Ignorance is pride, and pride is ignorance. The man who says. “I don’t have to be taught how to learn”, is proud and ignorant.’
Nasrudin was illustrating, in this story, the identity of these two states, which ordinary human kind considers two different things.
In accordance with the technique known as ‘opprobrium’, Nasrudin was acting the part of the ignorant man in his pitcher charade. This is a familiar part of Sufi technique. His disciple pondered this lesson, linking it with other absurd actions of the Mulla. A week later he went to Nasrudin and said: ‘Teach me about the pitcher. I am now ready to learn.’
Sunday, 24 August 2008
Acocdrnig to an Elgnsih unviesitry sutdy the oredr of letetrs in a word dosen't mttaer, the olny thnig thta's iopmrantt is that the frsit and lsat ltteer of eevry word is in the crcreot ptoision. The rset can be jmbueld and one is stlil able to raed the txet wiohtut dclftfuiiy.
Saturday, 23 August 2008
Friday, 22 August 2008
Thursday, 21 August 2008
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Here is a satellite photograph of Desolation Canyon. Like all canyons the river runs at the bottom of the canyon. The sun is striking the canyon walls from the lower side of the photo. But can you see the deep canyon? And the shallower valleys on the right?
Monday, 18 August 2008
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Like another blogger, I have a supermarket story. I was wandering down the confectionary aisle the other day, trying not to buy chocolate, when I saw a young woman coming towards me wearing nothing but a pair of dark purple pajamas. I was shocked. Then I was amused at how shocked I was. Upbringing, you know. Not even a dressing-gown. Bare feet, no slippers.
Friday, 15 August 2008
One of the winners of the WFG photo competition. Photo by Jean-Marc Girollet
In a couple of days a special friend of mine will be flying out of Auckland to Liverpool to complete with about 5,000 others in the World Firefighters Games, which open on Monday 25th August. He is running the half marathon and the 5 km and 10 km runs.
Thursday, 14 August 2008
As a geographer and artist, my mouth waters like a river when I see satellite images like this one. Spot the road.
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
The dog/wolf sculptures around the Fonte Gaia that stands in the Piazza del Campo in Siena are (I think) copies of the originals. They represent the she-wolf that legend says suckled the twins Romulus and Remus. Romulus went on to found Roma. However at some stage he had an argument with his brother and killed him. It was Remus's two sons Senius and Aschius, who founded Siena. Hence the Sienese connection with Rome's she-wolf.
Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Monday, 11 August 2008
Here is the sun coming up last Friday, after a long absence. After a long wet month of storms and wind, it has been welcome to have a couple of days of clear, cold sunshine. I've been doing a tidy-up in the garden. The big bamboo is looking lovely, the new lawn is fertilised, three palms sold and will be removed in a week or two, and the vegetable garden is all cleared of weeds and ready for cloches and seedlings. Tauranga weather is so mild, things don't really stop growing in winter, but at this time of year I usually manage to catch up on the rampant weed growth for a little while.
Through the fog, the sun did send.
My dark path is now gone,
I will fumble no more..."
Not a good time for me at the moment. Oh well, Stuff happens. Just fake it until you can make it.
Sunday, 10 August 2008
Here's the sea on the Cook Strait ferry crossing on our recent trip down to Dunedin. We had to wait an extra day before it was calm enough (!) As an artist, I loved the texture. As someone with a stomach, I found it best outside in the wind.
Saturday, 9 August 2008
Apparently there are only three types of people who pick things up properly. Children, pregnant women, and people who have previously hurt their back by picking things up wrongly.
I had a sore back for three or four days last week.
My friend, a retired electrician, told me that Precious McKenzie (above) came a couple of times to his work-place and taught him how to lift things up properly.
I remember that my back bible "Treat Your Own Back" was written by a McKenzie. So I get it out and find it's not Precious, but Robin.
Both of these men are New Zealanders, and both highly regarded in their field, but known mostly in other countries. This is not uncommon here. We have an expression "Tall Poppy Syndrome". It means that 'tall poppies', especially those on their way up, are not appreciated nor supported, even 'cut down to size'.
Yet New Zealanders are inordinately proud of fellow countrymen and women, when they do make it up there. Just not a lot of help on the way. The list is long, and begins with the likes of Earnest Rutherford.
Friday, 8 August 2008
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Mickey Rooney's famous quote "You always pass failure on the way to success." is great.
But maybe he was thinking mostly about celebrity status, in which case, not so great. And if he was thinking about being rich, also not so great.
However recently in an interview he redeemed himself in my eyes when he said: "Being a celebrity is not the important thing in life, it's being nice to people. And enjoying what you're doing, loving what you're doing, loving what you're cut out to do."
I feel these two things are exactly what we should be doing, it is our contribution to society. The importance of being nice, of taking care of people around you. That's one.
The other is having your work, what you do easily and like doing.
Finding your work is not always easy, but if you try enough different things, you'll find that one that you love doing, the one that comes easy to you. And you will know it, because other people say 'oh, how do you do that? You are so good at that, I admire you! You make it look so easy!' This is what you are cut out to do. Your shape fits it. It fits you. We shouldn't settle for less, if at all possible.
Perfectly illustrated by my daughter's art work "Web of friends", that she did when she was about ten.
(and lovingly dedicated to that same N, who's wondering at the moment what it is she's cut out to do.)
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Well-written but not one I would have to have on my list.
1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen 2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien.
3 Jayne Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 The Harry Potter Series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible.
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier 16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien 17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks 18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck 29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll 30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis 34 Emma - Jane Austen 35 Persuasion - Jane Austen 36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne 41 Animal Farm - George Orwell 42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley 59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime- Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold 65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett 74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute 97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 HAMLET - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo