Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Poem Of The Week - Rudyard Kipling

I am not particularly drawn to the so-called "dead white males" of poetry, you just need to browse through my previous selections to see where my tastes lie.  However I don't deny these poets their rightful place in our literary history.  This weeks poem continues my theme of "poems I discovered through unlikely channels" being sent to my by a work colleague in IT, yours truly being the exception rather than the rule in IT when it comes to an interest in poetry.  Thank-you Vernon for Rudyard Kiplings "If..."


IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

25 Simple Things You Can Do To Help Save The Planet

A lot of people that I speak to are both concerned about the state of the planet and resigned and cynical that there is anything they can do that will make any difference. "What difference can the actions of one person make?" they ask. Taken individually they may be right- though I have had it pointed out to me that any-one who thinks they don't make any difference has never tried sleeping in a room with a mosquito :) What is sure though is that if no-one takes action the future looks bleak at best.

So I urge every-one to become climate change activists, not the out on the streets with placards kind (though you can do that if you want to), but right in your home and in your own life. Don't go to sleep at night until you have taken at least one action to save the planet. Each day ask yourself what is the simplest thing I can do today to save the world and do that. Together we do make a big difference.

Live simply that others may simply live. - Mohandas Gandhi

If you are stuck for idea's here's some to get you started.

  • walk, ride a push bike or use public transport instead of taking your car

  • when you are not using them turn off at the wall computers, audio equipment and other electronics

  • grow your own vegetables- even a small planter on the balcony will help

  • rip out your lawn and replace it with native plants or gravel

  • replace incandescent globes with compact fluorescent or LED globes

  • recycle your household waste

  • start a compost bin and/or worm farm

  • write letters to your local and federal MP's and Newspapers telling them you are concerned and demand that they take action

  • don't buy products that are over packaged

  • buy locally grown and manufactured products

  • find a replacement for retail therapy- try exercise instead

  • buy organic

  • plant trees

  • take shorter showers

  • have your car serviced regularly and keep the tyres pumped up

  • re-plant your garden with waterwise and native plants

  • eat less meat, especially red meat

  • install a solar hot water system

  • install rain water collection tanks

  • buy "green power" from your power company

  • install solar panels to supply/supplement your power needs

  • when replacing appliances buy the ones with the highest star rating

  • turn off the lights when you leave a room

  • replace leaking tap washers

  • become an advocate and encourage the people around you to take action

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Poem Of The Week - Georg Trakl

I discovered Georg Trakl via Richard Gabriel's Dreamsongs web site which I stumbled upon while looking for a solution to a programming problem I was having. Unfortunately I can't remember what the issue was or if Richard's site was any help with it, but I am still very thankful for the introduction to Georg Trakl. If this one leaves you wanting more of Georg Trakl Richard has a pdf available, and the introduction by Robert Bly serves as a nice doorway to the man himself as well.

De Profundis

It is a stubble field, where a black rain is falling.
It is a brown tree, that stands alone.
It is a hissing wind, that encircles empty houses.
How melancholy the evening is.

A while later,
The soft orphan garners the sparse ears of corn.
Her eyes graze, round and golden, in the twilight
And her womb awaits the heavenly bridegroom.

On the way home
The shepherd found the sweet body
Decayed in a bush of thorns.

I am a shadow far from darkening villages.
I drank the silence of God
Out of the stream in the trees.

Cold metal walks on my forehead.
Spiders search for my heart.
It is a light that goes out in my mouth.

At night, I found myself on a pasture,
Covered with rubbish and the dust of stars.
In a hazel thicket
Angels of crystal rang out once more.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Poem Of The Week - David Whyte

Via my good friend Claudio who sent me David Whyte's reading of this poem on YouTube. Thank-you Claudio! Also worth hearing is Leave Everything You Know Behind.

Everything Is Waiting For You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Poem Of The Week - Goethe

I've said before that I love when my seemingly diverse interests collide. I never anticipated any meaningful chemistry from the intersection of motorbikes and poetry though. And how wrong I was. Courtesy of Olaf Tiemann's gorgeous Honda CB750 Café Racer I bring you Goethe, another poem giving voice to the otherwise inexpressible. What is it that draws you in until you are lost?

The Fisher

The water rolled, the water swelled;
A fisher sat thereby,
And quitely his angle held;
Chilled to his heart was he.
The water in dreamy motion kept,
As he sat in dreamy mood;
A wave hove up - and a damsel stepped,
All dripping, from the flood.

She sang to him, she spake to him:
"Why wilt thou lure away
My sweet brood by thy human art
To the deadly light of day?
Ah! knewest thou how light of heart
The little fishes live.
Thou wouldst come down, all as thou art,
And thy true life receive."

"Bathes not the sun with all his skies?
Bathes not the moon by night,
To breathe my dew awhile, and rise
All smiling doubly bright?
And tempt the not the deep, deep skies,
Here spread in watery blue?
And tempt the not thine own dark eyes
Down through th' eternal dew?"

The water rolled, the water swelled;
It wetted his bare feet;
A something through his bosom thrilled;
He seemed his love to meet,
She spake to him, she sang to him;
With him 'twas quickly o'er:
Half she drew him, half sank he in,
And never was seen more.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Poem Of The Week- Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova is another poet introduced to me by a friend and another I owe a debt of gratitude for. Anna Akhmatova tells you the truth, you catch your breath, your heart skips a beat maybe you bite your tounge but always you want more.

In Human Closeness There...

In human closeness there is a secret edge,
Nor love nor passion can pass it above,
Let lips with lips be joined in silent rage,
And hearts be burst asunder with the love.

And friendship, too, is powerless plot,
And so years of bliss with noble tends,
When your heart is free and known not,
The slow languor of the earthy sense.

And they who strive to reach this edge are mad,
But they who reached are shocked with anguish hard --
Now you know why beneath your hand
You do not feel the beating of my heart.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Poem Of The Week- Wallace Stevens

This poem represents one of those odd little intersections in my life which I enjoy so much, it's read out at one of Landmark Education's courses. But it's a poem that speaks for itself.

So far male poets have dominated my selections, I'm not sure how that happened but I promise to remedy it with the next poem. Have a favourite female poet? Let me know in the comments below.

Of Mere Being

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance.

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm, without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings. Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The bird's fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Another 2 second guide to the Landmark Forum

Landmarks programs are like Tai Chi for the mind. You discover ways to be free from the habitual patterns of the mind. The occurring world transforms. In place of struggle there is flow.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Poem Of The Week - Māris Čaklais

I can't tell you a whole lot about Māris Čaklais, the best information I could find, in English at least, was sadly an announcement of his death. I was given a copy of his book Premonition by a friend otherwise I am sure I would never have encountered him. No doubt Robert Frost was correct when he said "Poetry is what gets lost in translation" nonetheless this is a gem of a book with some beautiful poems, I hope you enjoy this one.

A Little Fairy Tale

It was all in the land
Whose gates are now locked against me,
Whose keys I have lost-
In my childhood.

As in everyone's childhood,
I, too, had a fairy tale,
And like everyone's fairy-tale
Mine, too, had a princess.

She did not converse like grown-ups.
She spoke our own language.
The princess sang songs.

When, behind the window, the car
Hooted, to carry the princess away,
We clung to our princess-aunt's skirts
And we cried.

When our breath had melted them all-
Every flower of ice on the window-pane,
Only then, we remembered
To finish playing at soldiers.

It was all long ago.
And the fairy-tales
Which even now I believe in
Are of a somewhat different order.

Why do I speak of it then?

There are times when the past, like a child,
Clings to one's skirts, and cries-
And one does not know what to do.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Poem Of The Week - Rabindranath Tagore

Another in my irregular Poem Of The Week series. I don't remember when/where I first encountered Rabindranath Tagore but lines from his works have been fixtures in my quote file for a long while. It was the anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore's birth yesterday so I'm a day late, I hope he and you can forgive me.

If any-one can shed light on the "Iffe" in "In the Iffe of the seeker" please comment below and also please do share your favourite poets/poems.


I wonder if I know him
In whose speech is my voice,
In whose movement is my being,
Whose skill is in my lines,
Whose melody is in my songs
In joy and sorrow.
I thought he was chained within me,
Contained by tears and laughter,
Work and play.
I thought he was my very self
Coming to an end with my death.
Why then in a flood of joy do I feel him
In the sight and touch of my beloved?
This 'I' beyond self I found
On the shores of the shining sea.
Therefore I know
This 'I' is not imprisoned within my bounds.
Losing myself, I find him
Beyond the borders of time and space.
Through the Ages
I come to know his Shining Self
In the Iffe of the seeker,
In the voice of the poet.
From the dark clouds pour the rains.
I sit and think:
Bearing so many forms, so many names,
I come down, crossing the threshold
Of countless births and deaths.
The Supreme undivided, complete in himself,
Embracing past and present,
Dwells in Man.
Within Him I shall find myself -
The 'I' that reaches everywhere.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Poem Of The Week- Redhawk

I first discovered Redhawk through New Edition bookshop when it was on the café strip in Fremantle, they always had the best poetry section of any bookshop in the state, not sure if they still do but Borders in the city has a good range. I picked up a copy of the Art of Dying and I loved what I read, had to take it home with me. The copy I brought has page 69 torn out; that poem must be really good, I hope whoever has it really appreciates it. It's hard to pick a favourite from the book, for me Redhawk is good everywhere but I've been thinking about this poem all week so here it is.

Who's your favourite poet/favourite poem? Let me know in the comments, I love to discover new poets through peoples recommendations.

Some Meditations on the Art of Poetry

Given 2 good choices, both unfettered
in their meaning, the simpler is better.

Mastery of rhyme was understood by Frost:
impossible to say which rhymed word came first;

that rhyme is most sound
which surprises when it's found.

Irony is the rarest of quality in verse,
wit next; their absence is a curse.

Brevity is not only the soul of wit,
no virtue in verse overshadows it.

If the queen of virtue is brevity,
her handmaiden is humility.

Who things they've found the truth, hesitate
and when they write it down, understate.

If the choice is form or meaning,
form needs weaning.

Real art is hard, but the hardest part is
ars celare artis.

What is seen in great poems as art
is in truth the urgency of the heart.

Those who believe they are the source
sew the seeds of their remorse;

those who serve something higher
step into a holy fire

where they burn.
This is what the best poets learn.

The secret to revision is well known:
cut it to the bone.

The secret to reading well:
risk the whisper, conserve the yell;

let the poem create the spell,
chatter in-between is mostly hell;

keep it shy of an hour,
and mix wit with power,

with comic relief.

From the Art Of Dying by Redhawk

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Computer Meet Compressor

For a while now my computer has been screaming like a banshee every time I've turned it on. I thought it was had the bomb, on it's way out, kaput. It would start off quietly enough but slowly get louder and louder until it was unbearable. I complained about it at work the other day and someone suggested that maybe it needed a bit of de-dusting. I scoffed at the idea because it's never been in any particularly dusty environment. But since I was on holidays this week and I had to move the compressor (we recently moved house and the compressor was still at the old place) and it gave me the excuse to go to the hardware shop (a treat in itself) and buy one of those funky blowing attachments I thought I would give it a go. I got all the bits home performed the essential assembly and then introduced the computer to the compressor. Wasn't there some dust and lint and, well stuff in there! I could hardly breathe for a few minutes. The blower attachment worked a treat and you know what? The computer is back to it's old quiet self now. I never thought the power tools in the garage could fix computer problems before, I wonder what other problems I can solve, the angle grinder hasn't been used for a while...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Toxic Asset

Toxic Asset

A liability in an assets clothes.

I keep hearing this term in the media and I decided it was time it had a definition so that people can decipher what is being said, or hear what is not being said.

At the time of writing the top search in google for toxic asset is Yahoo! Answers where the "Best Answer" perfectly describes a liability and still fails to call it one- "Why would somebody pay for an asset that guarantees you will lose money?"- because it's a liability.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Parent & Partner

Being a parent on the one hand seems like a tough job, there's all this stuff you have to do and not do and there's this little person there who just completely depends on you and at the same time has a mind and a will of their own which doesn't always agree with yours even when you have their best interests at heart. On the other hand it's pretty simple, all you have to do is love them.

Being a (parent) partner also seems like a tough job. There is all this stuff you have to do and not do and there's this other person there who has a mind and a will of their own and... on the other hand it's pretty simple, all you have to do is love them.

Jasmine Rose is growing up at a rate of knots and she surprises and delights us every day. Being a parent and a partner might seem like a tough job sometimes but it's the most rewarding one I've ever had.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tips For Travelling With Babies

Pack plenty of sleep,
it's hard to find over-seas
especially if you cross time zones.

Pack optimism and love
and an extra large serving
of look on the bright side.

One or two changes of clothes
will do for you
but pack 18 changes for them.
Plan on visiting laundries.

Pack dummies and toys,
bottles and nappies,
doodads and miscellaneous baby things.
Think about packing ear plugs then leave them at home.

If you're travelling by plane,
wear a thick skin
and take frequent doses of patience.
The flight attendants will fill in the gaps.

Plan all your sight seeing
within an hour or two of your room
so you can quickly get them
to bed, changed and fed.
Go somewhere and stay a while
break camp as little as possible.

Insist on a routine,
but not too intently.
Plan for frequent changes,
to nappies and schedules.
Plan on giving up and then
just let go.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Kite Renter

John Stanley Associates just published an article I wrote on customer service Keeping Your Existing Customers stemming from our travels to Spain last year. If you are wondering who the travel agent was the (rhyming) clue is in the title of this post.

Thanks to JSA for publishing my article and look closely before you rent your next kite folks!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Quoting Hell

Perl (my fav programming language) is often accused of being line noise and other atrocities so imagine my delight when a colleague forwarded me the following line of code from VBScript

retValue = objWShell.Run(""""& executable &""" -l -s " & my_period & " """ & the_file & """", 1, true)

The equivalent perl (he was rewriting a perl script I wrote to run in windows because they don't install perl there) was a very happy

my @cmd_out = `bplist -l -s $date $file 2>&1`;
my $err_status = $? / 256;

Admittedly there's some oddness (2>&1 and $? not to mention the backticks) if you don't come from a unix world but it's a world ahead of the quoting hell in the VBScript.