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As a New Year approaches it is tradition to evaluate the year past and plan the one ahead. The problem is I find it hard enough to distinguish between a week ago and a month ago, let alone ten months ago from two years ago. This blog keeps track of my life for me. It’s my therapy. It’s my timeline. It’s the closest access I have to how I have felt in my past. It tracks my stories, however I wanted to tell them at the time. So, when it comes to evaluating a year gone by, this blog is where I start.

(Click on the heading to go to the entry)


New Year, New Food Pyramid: eating for health, longevity and a better future

Before I begin my rant about food, I would like to say a big HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all! I hope it has kicked off to a better start than mine (7am New Years Day I was at the hospital having barnacles taken out of my feet) and that you had a great night […]

Feel the fear, and do it anyway

The first time I sat on my scoot I trembled with fear. I drove it around the block, parked it, and waited half an hour for the adrenilin to calm and my heart rate to slow. The second time I did some drills with a friend. My thumb hurt too much the next day to […]

Why does a JOKER trump four Kings? On Wit, Wisdom, and Whitehead.

Have you ever wondered why one Joker can beat four Kings. I mean, what does a joker have, besides a funny hat? How does a character based on the Fool, kick all these kings’ asses? I have been considering the relationship between seriousness and sarcasm, peace and tragedy, efforts to conserve and the innate drive […]

Brisbane’s Narrative Wreckage: Cataclysmic Interruptions and Redemptive Solutions

Content in living out your life: work, money, weekends, holidays, home, kids… and then something happens: a cataclysmic event changes everything. Be it a sudden illness or a natural disaster like the flooding Brisbane is now facing, everything you know – everything you care about, everything you have dedicated your life to, everything you imagined […]

Pepsi: when they don’t have Coke.

I don’t drink Coke except to satisfy the odd craving on a hot humid day like today. My only problem was that the corner shop didn’t have any. But they did have Pepsi. And it did the the job. It also reminded me of the The Invention of Lying, and this awesome (and very truthful) […]

Murphy’s Law Day and a Couple of Lifesavers

Have you ever had “one of those days”, where everything that can go wrong, does? There’s a name for it. Murphy’s Law. Today was one of those days… but thanks to a couple of lifesavers, a Jacuzzi and a taxi driver, it ended on a high note. Let me tell you the story of five […]

The gap between school and real-life

Does school prepare us for life in the real world? Is knowledge passed from academia to public spheres? Are we learning from the past, or do we continue to make the same mistakes? How well do we really understand ourselves and others in our geopolitical, social, and historical context? It seems to me there are major […]

Other Gaps in the Distribution of Knowledge

Last week I wrote about the gap between school and life-there-after, and I gather from the feedback quite a few of you agree.. Well today I’m going to write about some other gaps in our society’s distribution of knowledge that I’m sure many of you have noticed: 1. A gap between knowledge within the university and […]


Yhprum’s Law and a New Moon Wish

Yhprum’s Law is the opposite of Murphy’s Law. As opposed to the idea that “everything that can go wrong, will go wrong,” Yhprum’s Law states that “everything, that can work, will work.” (Yhprum is Murphy backwards). Tonight is a new moon, the best time to light a candle and make a wish. My wish tonight […]

Who is hot, who is not? Socrates decifers the Truth

I want to kick off a mini Socratic series with a quirky YouTube clip staring Socrates and Plato: Who is hot, and who is not? If I wasn’t studying philosophy I think it’d be quite rare to think “today I’m going to read about Socrates death sentence in Plato’s Apology”… but seeing as I am […]

What makes a life worthy? Optimal trajectory and not fearing death.

I will never fear or avoid a possible good rather than a certain evil,’ says Socrates in Plato’s Apology as he stands by his virtues right till the end. For Socrates, a worthy life is one lived in accordance with (what he would call it had he seen The Men Who Stare At Goats) one’s […]

Parkinson’s Law: Using Time to Your Advantage

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” This is known as “Parkinson’s Law”[1]. I’ve been testing it out and so far it does seem true. I’m working more jobs than I ever have before: 4.5 days a week between two jobs, plus a part-time research degree, and working with an […]

The Cock Snowflake: Fractals

A fractal is a shape that you can split into parts, zoom in, and discover the same or similar shape, times infinity. It’s almost magic, this pattern which extends outward and inward, seemingly to infinity. I’ll use the Kock Snowflake (pronounced “cock”, hence my cheeky title), among others examples of fractals to introduce to you. […]

Is “God” a Fractal?

When I inside and outside my “self”, I see one thing: fractals. Fractals explain to me the microcosm and the macrocosm that our cells, bodies, societies, galaxies, and possibly universes and beyond, are a part of. […]



The Very Short Life and Times of Me and Kombi Xee

Love is blind. It makes you do crazy things. Spontaneous things. Fun things. And sometimes really stupid things. I think when it hits you you know the pain that lies ahead, yet you jump in anyway. The first time I laid eyes on her I knew. Maybe it was her bright orange skin, maybe it was the way she popped her top on cue, or maybe it was her cute button nose. […]


You, the Anthropologist, tuning your skills

Do you ever sit there, on a park bench, at the beach, or even out of your car window, and simply observe the people that walk by? What are they wearing? What do their facial expressions and body language tell you? Do you ever put words in other peoples mouths? Guessing what they are talking about. […]

Critical Discourse Analysis

Critical Discourse Analysis is a study of LANGUAGE, IDEOLOGY, POWER and SOCIAL CHANGE. ‘Discourse analysis is not a “level” of analysis as, say, phonology or lexico-grammar, but an exploration of how “texts” at all levels work within sociocultural practices,’ says Candlin in the Preface to Fairclough […]

Attempting Politics

Three years ago, before I went back to uni, I voted Liberal. Why? Three reasons: (1) Because my Dad voted Liberal. (2) I wasn’t interested in Politics. (3) I didn’t know the difference between Liberal and Labour (Australia’s Right and Left). Not a good place for any voting citizen to be. And certainly not the best […]

Youtube & The Global Pyramid

I am assisting the teaching of a master’s subject called The Political Economy of Conflict and Peace, at the University of Sydney this semester. My first presentation was yesterday and in the lead up to it I drowned myself in the political economic papers and books I wrote or read over the last couple of […]

The Pleasure of the Text: Sites of Bliss

 “If I read this sentence, this story, or this word with pleasure, it is because they were written in pleasure.” If anyone has written with pleasure, creating sentences that are near-orgasmic for the reader, it is Roland Barthes. The first time I picked up one of his books, called The Pleasure of the Text, I was […]

A small group of people can change the world

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that has.” Margaret Mead. This quote came from the RSA clip below: The Enlightenment in the 21st Century. The two questions I took from this are: Where are we NOW, how’d we GET HERE, and where do we wanna GO […]


Chomsky vs Foucault: On Peace & Justice

Chomsky and Foucault are two foundational modern and postmodern figures in the critique of “structures” of our society – from language to government to institutions – and analyzing whose has the “agency” to maintain or change these structures. This is a debate between the two thinkers, who have very different ideas about structure and agency, […]

“Te” – spontaneous creative marvellous accidents

Have you ever noticed that when you over-think something, it all falls apart? Te explains why. Te is ‘the unthinkable ingenuity and creative power of man’s spontaneous and natural functioning.’ Intrigued I continued reading The Way of Zen by Alan Watts. The centipede was happy, quite, Until a toad in fun Said, “Pray, which leg […]

Putting PEOPLE back into Democracy, and Corporations back in their place

Following my rants on the problems with our current corporatist version of capitalism, Annie Lennox does a much better job at summing up what’s wrong with our current “democracy”, and how it came to be that way: The programming code in these entities we call “corporations” needs to change. Corporations are not people, and they […]

Carbon trading: the devil is in the details

Who benefits from carbon trading? Wall street??? De ja vu… Annie Leonard, my favourite “make it simple and tie a bow around it” chick, reveals the “devils in the details”: Three problems: 1. Free permits to big polluters 2. Fake offsets 3. A massive distraction It’s like going on a diet to lose weight. We […]

The Angst of Preparations, Decisions & Goodbyes

Soon I am off to Europe followed by the United States, with a very big question mark surrounding my return date. I’m booked to leave 9 weeks from yesterday and be home just in time for Christmas… but I really have no idea what my future holds. Exciting as this sounds, when it comes the […]

Follow the bliss

‘I don’t believe life has a purpose. Life is a lot of protoplasm with an urge to reproduce and continue in being… but each incarnation, you might say, has a potentiality, and the mission of life is to live that potentiality.’ Joseph Campbell is an incredible storyteller, spiritual guru, philosopher, academic (comparative religion & comparative […]

Open the Door (a poem about why I care about our future)

I am one, I am many, I am part of something more I dream, I wake, I laugh, I cry I see a door, and I imagine… – A shift, A new direction From hierarchies, pyramids To systems, patterns, webs – From unchanging objects To dynamic relationships From “ego” to “eco” Farewell fear, embracing […]



Have you ever picked up the phone to call a friend, only to find your friend calling you? Do you notice the moments of “synchronicity” when everything you do happens with ease, green lights all the way, the right song on the radio at just the right time? What does it mean to be “in […]

A curious boy and a curious old man: the voice behind The Pedagogy of the Oppressed

 “The oppressors, who oppress, exploit, and rape by virtue of their power, cannot find in this power the strength to liberate either the oppressed or themselves. Only power that springs from the weakness of the oppressed will be sufficiently strong to free both.” (Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1970: 21) Paolo Freire wrote about […]

Juggling too many balls

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by life? Does your mind and body ever get to that stage where it feels so limp it hurts? Are you juggling so many balls that they all come tumbling down? Yesterday was one of those days. Actually until I left for a run about an hour ago, that was […]

Weaving my world back together: a weekend at Camp Coorong

Have you ever weaved a basket? I hadn’t… “Life’s too busy for arts and crafts…” or so I used to think. I was wrong. Weaving was more than relaxing and therapeutic, it embodied a metaphorical connection I was in dire need of. I learned so so much during my weekend at Camp Coorong. I travelled […]


Time to scratch one’s head

“Give yourself time to scratch your head,” advised Prof Stuart Rees on one of our CPACS sailing trips down in Jervis Bay. These last few months I did not listen to this advice. I have lived the last few months in a mad rush. I have packed up my life and put it in my […]

Losing my Identity (Scandanavia)

Imagine a world where being 180cm, 60kg, with long blonde hair, makes you AVERAGE. In Scandinavia, for the first time in my life, I felt short. It was a strange feeling. Used to towering over people and always kind-of standing out because of my height, blending into the crowd provoked a new stream of thought. […]

A Lesson in Anarchy (Christiania)

Even in Europe I seem to be drawn to South American cultures. Some hippies from Bolivia and Venezuela, as well as the Canary Islands, were selling jewelry on the street. Before long we were playing music, drinking beer, and joining the hippies and a crazy American family on an adventure to the anarchist town of […]

Positive Conflict (In Transit)

Daisy chains and love hearts are great and all, but most of us love a little conflict. Our books, movies, politics, religions, and even our conversations, are based on conflict. The stories we live and tell are based on the contradictions, the tensions, the heroes and villains, the differences of opinion, stories about the good […]

What is Life? (Krakow)

“What is Life?” Ho hum, where does one start to answer this question? The What is Life? conference in Krakow, 24-28th June, which aimed to bridge philosophical, theological and scientific insights to this question. I started with what I see to be at the roots of our understanding of life: our stories. We understand life […]

An Encounter with Evil (Auschwitz)

I hate the word “evil” for two reasons: (1) because of its religious connotations and (2) because its definition is relative and constantly changing. Same goes with “sin”. Two words with definitions that change depending who is in power. Every culture, every civilization, every person, defines evil in different ways. Evil is whatever the people […]

Micro-nations & mickey mouse money (Dresden)

I hadn’t heard of a “micro-nation” until I got to Dresden. As you probably guessed, a micronation is a miniature nation within a bigger nation. Apparently I’d visited one – Cristiania back in Copenhagen. And “New Town” in Dresden was my second – well had I been there 20 years ago it would have been. […]


October-fest in July (Frankfurt)

Student life in Germany is another world to student life in Sydney: free travel, small fees, and for the most part a rent and allowance paid by one’s parents. At least that was life for my friend and his student friends. No part-time job and no living at home – lots of time to and party. […]

Brownies, Bicycles, Birthdays and Babies (Amsterdam)

Amsterdam greeted us with wide-open arms. The sun was shining, the people smiling, “coffee shops” inviting. I immediately felt a sense of belonging. I guess because my mum is Dutch. Elderly women reminded my of my Oma, elderly men reminded me of Opa, and the language – while I don’t understand a word – reminded […]

The good, bad & ugly (Paris)

It was my fourth visit to Paris. The city of lights. Allegedly a city of love. Just not my love. On my first visit, as 2006 opened, my five-year relationship ended. In front of the Arc de Triompf. Champs de Elise will always carry memories of that moment. My second time in Paris, a few […]

I Barcelona

I love Barcelona. I love it, love it, love it! The arts, the energy, the colours, cerveza, cops on scooters, the boys, the beaches, the bumble-bee taxis, tapas, the sunshine, the shopping, the street music, the dancing, the people, paella, pick & mix candy shops, live statues, the language, the list could go on. Last […]

Epics, Tragedies and my Saturn Returns (Rome & Greece)

 “No single life story is pure tragedy or pure comedy. Rather, there are narrative mixes.” [1] I don’t know about yours, but that’s certainly true for mine. Aristotle, a Greek philosopher of the 4th century BC, wrote in Poetics that tragedies are enactments whereby human suffering brings about the audience’s pleasure, or a catharsis – […]


Returning to life

These last few weeks I disappeared in more ways than from this blog. I’ve tried to put my finger on how it happened. It happened so slowly that like a frog in hot water, I came to realise it only at boiling point. It was too late. Some essential part of my “self” had gone. Was […]

Building more bridges… backbends in Europe

As I travelled Europe, my “bridge” art project was on my mind. As a result, some fun shots, some (of what I think are pretty) great shots, and some memorable stories that lie behind most of them (which I will have to tell some other day). […]

Getting real: promising population stats & pending challenges

Hans Rosling gives an illuminating TedTalks presentation on one of my greatest ecological concerns: over-population. Let each box = 1 billion people. In 1960 it was relatively accurate to divide the world into the “First World” and “Third World”, the “rich” and the “poor”, the “developed world” and “developing world” or the Centre and Periphery. […]

Do you know the secret? The “Law of Attraction”… what the bleep?!

“Do you know the secret?” I was surprised when, at Hickory Tavern, I met a CEO of a engineering-programming company who, while talking up his black porche and high-paid profession,  brought it up. I thought only hippy and hippy-wanna-be’s like me were into this stuff. “What’s the secret?” asked my friend, accepting their kind offer to pay for our food and drinks, and get another round. […]

20 Essential TED Talks on Peace

A chick working for Online Colleges contacted me to share the following collection of TED Talks for Peace Studies students. I’m working my way through them and thought you might like to watch some of them too. Just click on the heading and the TED talk will open in a new window. […]

Welcome to Hickory, North Carolina

“Hey y’all! Welcome to Hickory!” bellows a thick Southern accent. “What brought you to Hiiickory???” So I have landed myself in the “Bible Belt”, the heart of the “hospitable South”. An authentic American experience. A deep insight into the psyche behind the democratic public of what many consider to be the global superpower of our day. […]

Telling stories…

So this semester, in Hickory, I’m teaching “Storytelling”. How does one tell a story? What distinguishes a great story from a poor one? What is the role of stories in our lives? How do stories reflect our identity? How do we use stories to create our identity? […]


Joseph Campbell – The Hero’s Journey

In The Hero with a Thousand Faces Joseph Campbell looks at myths and psychology – showing the connection between the stages of the “monomyth” seen in religion, movies and the journey of each of our lives. I’m using this book along with some other Joseph Campbell books and videos for my class… “The mythological hero, setting […]

What are you looking for?

What are you looking for? What do you want? If you don’t know, how will you know when you have it? This was a problem faced after eating a mushroom in Amsterdam. We were walking around aimlessly. We didn’t know what we were looking for! My friend through up her arms, “How are we going to […]

Attention and Ignore-ance

Did you know that Eskimos have five words for snow while the Aztecs had one word for snow-rain-hail combined? That which we do not have the vocabulary for, we tend not to notice. Those things which we notice, we create a vocabulary for. Through the processes of noticing, vocalizing, pondering and comprehending, we build up an understanding of the world in which we live.

The woe of efficiency

Inefficiency is a good thing,” a wise friend informed me six months ago. I must have looked confused. “When I said this to a room full of corporates, you should have seen the horror on their faces!” My face would have read pretty much the same. Inefficiency is good??? “How?” I asked in almost disbelief. […]


Where do good ideas come from?

“Art is the imagination at play in the field of time. Let yourself play.” [1] Do you ever wonder where your good ideas come from? Have you ever tried tracing them back to their source/s? When you have writer’s block or the equivalent, how do you deal with it? How do you regain your creativity? […]

Ten ways to change the world

Recently learning about the occupation of Wall Street, I thought it worthwhile to re-post my two cents on ten ways to change the world: Legally: 1. Change corporation law – redefine “corporation” so that they are NOT treated as separate entities in their own right that can be declared bankrupt in and of themselves. Corporation law […]

“Occupy Wall St” – bringing down The Pyramid?

What is #OccupyWallSt? Who are the 1%? Why did it take the media so long to report on it? What do protestor’s want? Are they trying to bring down The Pyramid? Will they succeed? I am teaching a class on the Philosophy of War and Peace in North Carolina, with a specific focus on the […]

“Occupy Sydney”

If you’re not in Sydney (like me) or can’t make it to protest, you can still spread the word about this peaceful protest to change the rules of our global capitalist game. Stop banks and corporations: – reducing humans to commodities – controlling media – funding both sides of wars – destroying the environment SATURDAY […]

Occupying DC

In DC on Tuesday 18th October, I had a chance to observe and talk directly with protestors, learning more about what they are really about. Camps and protests have been spreading throughout the city, I came across two of them. Each were occupied by a mixed age group, mainly students, retirees, and unemployed. Some had […]

“Shareholder Capitalism” VS “Socialised Capitalism”

Why did our political leaders bail out banks (who caused the GFC) rather than the public (who lost wealth and jobs as a result)? Why did governments spend trillions of dollars repairing a system that, in the well-known cycle of booms and busts, is destined to crash once again? Why are they bandaiding problems caught […]


How do you “know” something? How do you know it is “true”? I have been going through old diaries, intrigued by the development of thoughts and ideas through time. The following is a little rant I had in 2009 about knowledge and truth… From the origins of humanity, life and our universe, to the possibility […]

Evolution not Revolution

I’ve been thinking about the idea of a “revolution”, and wondering why exactly one would want to “revolve” to the beginning, completely start again? What would be the point of bring down The Pyramid, only to have to build one up again? Revolution may not be a dirty word, but it does seem kinda stupid. […]


Life can be tough. It can be tiring and frustrating. In striving for any goal we face a road of trials. At times its too hard. We throw our hands in the air and shout “I give up!” How do you know when to push through? How do you know when to persevere? How does […]

Life is short, break the rules…

 “Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch […]


Chicago, Rednecks & Reading the Signs

Forty minutes into the 12-hour drive to Chicago I was yelling “STOP!!!” with my hands on the dashboard and a frozen car getting closer and closer BANG!!!!!! We hit. The car crumbled. Totalled. Thanks to some guardian angels that (thank God) seem to follow me around the world, no one was hurt. The next thing […]

Life is a Game: Alan Watts & Happiness

I have noticed that in times I’m feeling down, reading or listening to Alan Watts makes me happy again. Why? His deep bellowing laugh and sense of humour? Maybe that’s part of it. But really it’s his philosophy, it just “clicks” with me. It makes me feel good. Life is a game, says Watts.  When […]

Philosophy and Poetics: Aristotle

‘All human beings by nature desire knowledge.’ Opening sentence of his book Metaphysics. For Aristotle, it is the desire for knowledge at root of what it is to be human. Aristotle wrote on Ethics, Politics, Poetics, Physics and Metaphysics. This gives you a funny introduction, but by no means gives a good overview of his […]

Poetry, Creativity and Storytelling

For my Storytelling class today we experimented with using Spoken Word Poetry to inspire students’ creativity and as a fun way to tell some stories… Sarah Kay set the scene: Then I asked students: 1. Write down ten things you know to be true 2. Share and see what you learn from others’ lists (optional) […]

Poking Fun at Society’s Stories

Today I’m looking at the Social Construction of Reality How does society construct our reality? Comedians do a good job at pointing it out… George Carlin: The American Dream Chris Rock: Can White People Say Nigger? Eddie Izzard: Do you have a flag?

Social Construction of Wealth and Happiness

Wealth isn’t only socially constructed. Neither is poverty. Are wealth and poverty only about stuff? How about being wealthy or poor in time? Or in spirit? Pleasure? Love? Friendship? Does the pursuit of wealth in purely monetary terms cause us more problems than the benefits it brings? George Carlin on Stuff to start it off: […]

Social Construction of the “Self”

Alan Watts’ ‘Briefly, the thesis is that the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of sin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East – in particular the central and germinal Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. This hallucination underlies the misuse […]

Social Constructions of Beauty

 “Anata wa chisai atama!” You have a small head! — a compliment in Japan. So much to the extent that some Japanese wear a five-pound Small-Face-Make-Belt around the head while sleeping. Apparently it helps your head shrink over time. A good example of the role of society in constructing one’s idea of beauty. Behind “beauty”: […]

Education, Work and the Social Distribution of Knowledge

How do you know anything? What is the role of society in that knowledge? ‘Men always love what is good or what they find good; it is in judging of the good that they go wrong.’ Rousseau. ‘If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.’ Henry […]

Tips for Communicating Inside Conflicts

While developing a handout for my conflict resolution/mediation class I came across a number of communication tips that I thought worth sharing. They are good for communication in general… although I will note I find them easier to say than do! Focus on behaviour not the person Base feedback on direct observations rather than inferences […]

Conflict Resolution Techniques

Today I’m teaching my class some conflict resolution techniques & tips… so I thought I’d share with you. The aim of Galtung’s method is to transcend, to go beyond, the original conflicting interests, to achieve more than each party’s stated goals. Not either/or, but BOTH/AND… Mediation is usually done with both parties present. For deep […]

A Critical Perspective of the Media: Reading between the lines

Johan Galtung says that it’s not so much what is being said, but what is not being said. Today my class will be reflecting on the use of language and stories in the media. Discussion questions: how do stories in the media impact our understanding of the world? how can we learn to “read between […]

Psychology of Violence and Peace

Posting for convenience for a class I’m teaching… I’ll add more later. Stanley Milgram Experiment and Zimbardo Stanford Prison Experiment: Zeitgeist Moving Forward (2011) part 1 – Human Nature From 9min-40min. Share this article Facebook Twitter Delicious Digg Google Buzz StumbleUpon Add to favorites Email RSS


An Encounter with Being and Time

At the close of last year I had a mini freak out. “Where did 2010 go?” This year is another story. “Is 2011 every going to end?” It feels like three years since last Christmas. How does that work? What is the connection between external time (or cosmological time) – earth’s rotations – and internal […]

Prayers and positive meditations, please…

On Tuesday I leave Hickory for two weeks traveling through New York, Seattle, Vancouver, and home to Sydney. After all the mishaps this year, I have a request… I would really like to make it home safe, in one piece. No more freak accidents, please! If you have a moment to say a short prayer […]

Chemistry, Timing & Ted’s Colour Criteria

What’s the difference between a “modernist love” and a “romantic love”? Is it only fools who fall for the latter? Is one more destined for failure? Let me illustrate with episodes 1 and 2 from season 7 of How I Met Your Mother – which is what inspired this line of thought… Ted compares two […]

New Moon Wishes on Xmas Eve

Have you ever not known what to wish for? Last night, the 24th of December 2011, was a new moon. Making wishes on a new moon is a tradition for me that started with two friends in Sydney right before we travelled to South America. We wrote a list of dreams, looked up at the […]

What Difference Does It Actually Make? Attempting to Compare Individual, Corporate & Military Emissions

When it comes to the big scheme of things, comparing our individual actions to the actions of corporations, government and military: what difference does it actually make? I want to know where I should be putting my effort: is more effective for me to cut my personal Read more […]

2011 in review

This year started with some great highs — a scooter, a kombi, a lot of work upgrading to PhD, a trip to Europe… It peaked then crashed, literally, when I was thrown off a scooter in Greece. I would have suffered a heart attack or broken arm better than I did having the skin ripped from my leg and arm. I am so relieved it has healed as well as it has. In the months that followed that accident, I’ve continued to be in a warzone: good luck vs bad luck… I received a large dose of both.

Certainly the three best things that happened this year are:

(1)  Thanks to my American, two weeks ago I finished editing my book My Brazilian and a kombi named Betty down to 98,500 words, and sent it to the literary agent that requested the reduction (from 250,000 words) late 2010. This brings to completion of three years of writing and editing. The feedback from my first real reader couldn’t have been more positive. Fingers crossed my potential publishers and future readers have the same experience…

(2)  I discovered a love and skill for teaching. The Storytelling course I created a curriculum for, and taught at Lenoir Rhyne university was a great success. I cried when I read my student’s feedback comments. An incredibly rewarding experience.

(3)  Throughout the year’s travels and traumas, I have grown in ways I couldn’t have if I’d stayed in Sydney. My perspective feels deeper and somehow more real. Paradoxically I feel weaker but stronger. I feel more fragile and more afraid of death than ever before, but with this fear comes an appreciation of every day I’m alive. I feel less optimistic, but still possiblistic. The world is in a terrible state, yes. The power of foresight means there’s a chance we can evolve structures to make the good more easy, enticing and exciting than the destructive, and hence innovate and create a more promising future. Will we do it? I don’t know. But the possibility is there.

2012 and beyond…

Now I’m now in Vancouver, relaxing and recovering, and figuring out my next chapter. I can’t yet imagine what 2012 has in store. I suspect it will be quite different to 2011, including this blog — that it will drum to a new beat. A little birdie told me 2012 is destined to be a fun and successful year… let’s make it so!



What are you looking for?

What are you looking for? What do you want? If you don’t know, how will you know when you have it?

This was a problem faced after eating a mushroom in Amsterdam. We were walking around aimlessly. We didn’t know what we were looking for! My friend through up her arms, “How are we going to get anywhere if we don’t know where we want to go?!”

A bridge pose wasn’t much of a solution…

I think I’ve been facing a similar problem with my life: how do bridge toward a future without knowing where that future lies? How am I going to get anywhere, if I don’t know where I want to go?

Be it in decisions of travel, career, or love, in the past I have known what I want after I get it. When from out of nowhere I get a strong feeling that something is just “right”. When my mind can’t think of anything else. When my fingers can’t help but pick up a pen and write. When I make a spare-of-the moment decision, buy a plane ticket and everything works out perfectly.

Some decisions feel like they have been made by some version of Self that is outside myself. I can not not do that thing, make that decision, spend time with that person. That’s how I know it’s what I want. I just know.

But what happens when you find yourself in the middle-land? What should you do when your “intuition”, your “higher self”, or your “God” seems to have abandoned you?

There are times in life where one’s intuition doesn’t seem to speak up. Times when everything seems to go wrong. Times where you can’t see your options, times when there seem to be too many. Times when you are confused. Times when you really don’t know what you are looking for. Then what?

Maybe it’s at times like this we need to take our mind back a few steps:

  • Can you trace your steps backward, like when you lose your keys, and find your “self” again?
  • When was the last time you felt you knew? How did you get from there to the place you are now?
  • Could you be in the place you are in order to learn something? What’s the lesson?
  • Is it time to try something new?
  • If you’re not happy now is there anything you can change to bring back your happy place?

There are things we have control over, and there are things we don’t. The more aware we are of these, the more chance we have of creating for ourselves the reality we want.

The Footprints poem tells a mythical story of a man walking on the beach looking back at his life in footsteps on the sand. Most of the time there are two sets – his, and “God”s. In the man’s hardest times there is only one set of feet. “God” seems to have abandoned him.

My trip around Europe, peaking with my accident in Greece, left me feeling this way. I was questioning EVERYTHING. I was ready to go back to Sydney. I wanted to be surrounded by my family and friends. I realized how much I missed them. I realized how important they are to my life. I realized how great my life is back in Sydney: my little apartment, the coffee-shops, the beach, ease-of-life. I wanted to go home.

I pushed on with my journey. Arriving in the US I was sick to my stomach with feelings of uncertainty. I was more homesick than I’ve ever been.

“What am I doing with my life?” I kept asking myself. Sure I’m doing a PhD. But why? Do you want to teach? Or do you want to write? Do you want to make money? Or do you want to have a family? Do you want to keep traveling? What’s the point in my doing the things I am doing? Are they taking me where I want to go? Or should I just go home? If I do go home, what will I do when I get there?

A friend of mine recommended I sit down and write at the top of a piece of paper “What is the purpose of Juliet?” Then write everything that comes into my head. “When you break down and cry, you know you have hit something.”

I hit that point pretty quick. This exercise, along with time, and seeing the healing of my physical wounds, has helped my mind return to a more normal place.

Though I don’t know what my next step will be – how long I’ll stay in the US, or where I’ll go next, or when I’ll go home – but I have returned to feeling comfortable with that.

The uncertainty is exciting. An unknown future means anything is possible.

The Footprints poem concludes with “God” saying, “When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”

It’s a message of faith: of letting go, of acceptance, and trust. Pay attention to everything that is going on around you. Be limber. Be flexible. Open your eyes. Open your mind to options and ideas that you never thought of. Sleep, eat, exercise, meditate. Be merry. We don’t always need to know exactly where we are going.

Maybe it’s times that we feel the most lost and confused that we need to have the most faith. I’m not talking about faith that people think of means believing in a supernatural religious God. But faith in the bigger story we are a part of. Faith that everything going on in our smaller stories will turn out ok. Faith that comes with understanding that in time we will lose some battles, win others, have an apotheosis, discover the ultimate boon, and return to oneness that we first left. Faith that as we continue on our journey, the energy of the universe (call it God or the Great Storyteller or any other name) will carry us to ever-new horizons.

One of those horizons for me … finish editing my book.



Epics, Tragedies and my Saturn Returns (Rome & Greece)

“No single life story is pure tragedy or pure comedy. Rather, there are narrative mixes.” [1] I don’t know about yours, but that’s certainly true for mine.

Aristotle, a Greek philosopher of the 4th century BC, wrote in Poetics that tragedies are enactments whereby human suffering brings about the audience’s pleasure, or a catharsis – a purging of emotions – through the pity and fear felt during a tragedy that relieves the audience of such emotions.

When I embarked on what turned into quite an epic journey in Europe, I wasn’t expecting it to end in tragedy. I don’t know if telling this story will bring about your pity or fear, and hence relieve you of such emotions in your own life. But it’s a story that, in order to give continuity to this blog, and in a way purge myself of my own such emotions, I wish to tell.

The journey that the last five weeks of entries has followed had its beginning six months ago when Lisa, my best friend from high school, said to me, “anywhere you wanna go, whenever you wanna go, I’ll come.”

I was 28, entering my “Saturn Returns”, re-evaluating my life as I began to “enter the next phase of life”, so astronomers say happens every 28-30 years. What would that next stage be? I didn’t know then, I still don’t.

For some reason I thought discovering Western civilisation’s roots in Rome and Greece would help. So rather than going back to South America, we went to Europe.

Things didn’t exactly turn out how I thought it would. I guess things rarely do.

No lightbulbs went on while I was Rome or Greece. I had a cold in Rome. I had an accident in Greece. I experienced my own epics and tragedies. I read Plato. I saw the lands of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. I absorbed the history of life in Pompei. I remembered the role Ancient Greece and Rome in the evolution of our society. I was surprised by the smelly state of Naples. I was blown away by the beauty of the Greek islands – well at least the one island I got to see. And I missed out on seeing Athens.


The Forum – where “all paths lead”. It was outside Rome’s walls, where most of the trading went on.

The Colosseum – stories of various forms of (largely violent) “entertainment” of our ancestors


Imagine this on EVERY corner!

A problem with the mafia/government/rubbish industry… apparently “there is no more space in the landfills” and no end to the garbage accumulation is yet in sight.


The layers of history, with the present in the middle and nature reigning on top. Another world, an ancient world, buried underground. The Roman underground is a mess because they keep digging and hitting more ruins. What will lie on top of our layer one day?

One of the richer dude at the time’s courtyard.

The detail of preservation was incredible. Wall carvings and hangings, full building structures, contents of inside the structures. All of it more than 2000 years old!!!

One of many wall hangings.

I doubt any of the paintings on our walls would last a volcanic eruption and 2000 years of decay.

Where drinks were served. Lisa accepting her ancient beer.

Mt Vesuvius. I can’t believe I got this shot with no people in it! It’s so much like the picture of the picture I took as I entered the grounds:

I just wished I’d acted fast enough to get a backbend shot here. One second later it people were everywhere again.

Mt Vesuvius is pretty impressive hey… and the only volcano in Europe to have erupted in the last 100 years. No one seems worried about it erupting again thought – short-termed minds that say “it won’t happen to me.

That’s what I said before I got on the scooter in Greece..

A typical street

What’s your address?

Cause I had to.

A family whose camera ran out of battery and so they asked me to take this. I’m still waiting for them to email me for the photo – if this is you, send me an email!


The Pantheon – a temple for all (pan) the Roman gods… given my love of panentheism… while it’s not the same philosophy, the overlap in Latin root and the idea of worshiping all the mythological gods, made me smile.

Restaurants and markets

Lisa threw a coin into Trevi Fountain… apparently that means she’ll return to Rome one day.

Breakfast. As they say, “When in Rome…’ and according to Pier, a Roman boy whose couch we surfed on, nutella-filled croissants is “what Romans do.” Ok by me.


The underground. Are we Rome, or Tokyo?

I doubt you have EVER seen a line as long as this – to enter the smallest country in the world.

We got there early and waited in a different line with a British tour guide who amused us for a while… but we had a flight to catch. Our visit to The Vatican was pretty much a poke-your-head-in each room. Say “oooooh”. And visit the next room.

The ceiling of the Vatican Museum hallway. Ooooooh.

Killing of woman and babies…

Hanging of dudes on the back of the door to St Peter’s Cathedral?

Why are these in the Vatican? By this time we’d left the tour group so I guess I’ll never know.


Arriving in Athens

Relief as after Easy Jet delays and a longer train ride than expected, we made it to our boat just by the chin on our chinny chin chins.


I took this shot two days after the accident. If I put a close-up on here, you would throw up.

On my first day, my first hour on the little 50cc moped, the front wheel slipped or locked (not sure how the heck it happened but a little oil was found on the wheel, so maybe that) and in the blink of an eye I found myself sliding across the gravel thinking “this isn’t happening” “this isn’t happening” “yes this is actually happening” “it’s happening” “you’re losing your skin” “why did you risk it” “where is your leather?” “you were warned about this in Sydney” “f**k f**k f**k”…  “you’re still conscious” “you’re alive”.

A car stopped from one direction, a dude looked out his window. “What do you want me to do?” he said, looking at the road I was blocking.

“Ah, HELP?”

Another car stopped behind him. Another coming the other direction. A family rushed out. “Are you ok?” “Be careful.” “Can you move your neck?” “Can you move your arms?” “Can you stand?”

“I think I’m ok.” I said calmly. “Is there a hospital on this island? A hospital? Can you take me there please?” I held my gaze away from my body. I didn’t want to see. But I was conscious. I was alive. I was ok.

“Of course. Come.” The father put one of my arm around his and his wife’s shoulders. The girls in the car moved across. I sat. After a few moments I looked down. Only when I saw what I’d done did I feel woosy. My head spun, everything went black.

When I opened my eyes I was in a hospital bed experiencing the most intense pain I have ever experienced in my life. The nurse was cleaning the wounds and it HURT. It stung. I grasped the side of the bed. I seized up in agony. I bit my arm.

When it was over they wrapped me up in bandages and sent me on my way.

The good news is that now, two weeks later, they have healed very well. I have to keep out of the sun for a while, which sucks, but apparently if I do I might not have scarring at all.

I know how lucky I am. Lesson #1: wear protective gear. Lesson #2, reinforced by random man on the street who looked at me walking past and said in a stern voice over and over again, “No more scooters. No more scooters.” Maybe I will ask my mum to sell my scooter in Oz, before I’m tempted to get back on.

I had a motorcycle accident in Brazil. Now one in Greece. Third times a charm, right?

In Nepal I was lucky (I didn’t even wear a helmet there). And no accidents in Sydney (where I was pretty much always covered head to toe in gear). I’ve been lucky not to have done irreversible harm in either case. I don’t think I’ll give fate a chance to kill me off just yet.. Well not on a scooter…

Three days later, seemingly to make sure I really truly had learned my lesson when it comes to riding crappy vehicles on dangerous roads, we rented a dune-buggy to drive around the island.

Lisa wanted to show me some of the cool parts of Paros that I hadn’t been able to get to. In theory it was a good idea. In reality driving the rickety old contraption up thin windy dirt roads on the edge of ridiculously high cliffs to the top look-out point, with little more protection than the scooter that had f*d me up… traumatised me almost as much as my accident.

Lisa unbuckled her belt “just in case”… I looked at my immobile legs. Belt or not, if we go over the cliff, I’m doomed. All it would take is the unserviced contraption to fail. In a flash we could be tumbling over the rocks. Visions of it ran though my mind. My heart beat fast. I felt nauseous. Cars came the other way. I beeped the horn as if I was in India. I was pretty sure my time was up. Life was going to be over any minute now… I tried to accept it. I prayed the entire way up and the entire way down. Maybe in a parallel universe I died here. I felt the energy of death penetrate my being.

The buggy did break down. But not up the top of a cliff. It didn’t send us flying into oncoming traffic. It just gracefully lost power and the rental company had to pick us up.

Besides that day of excitement, my days on Paros were very chilled.

Most of my days from here on were spent sipping “espresso freddo” and feeling sorry for myself.

I would look up and see this kind of view.

Then I’d look down and see this.

After Lisa went home I found myself in the most asocial mood I’ve ever been in. I got invited to dinners and parties, but all I wanted to do was sit in front of my computer. Only problem: my computer had died in Rome. So I spent a week and a half skyping through my phone, reading my new Kindle (that I’d ordered in Nice and had delivered to Greece) when I had the energy. I spent 1 euro for every 15 minutes it took for me to fix up a chapter that is to be published in an collaborative book on Peace Tourism, and even then couldn’t finish it because every computer in Paros seemed to have keys or Word or something missing.

I should have been happy given the beautiful location I was in to recover.

All I could think about was going home, but my next flight was not to bring me home. I was scheduled to fly from Athens to North Carolina in the USA – where I was supposed to be teaching for the semester.

Everyone gave me different advice. I wanted to do everything I could to prevent or minimise the scaring. Days on end my head debated with itself: what creams to use (I think I bought one of everything in the pharmacy), which doctor to believe (the cute one in the public hospital, the older one in the private clinic, or the canadian doctor in the cafe), whether to forget the USA and go home, to spend the next few weeks in Greece or try to push on to Turkey… I entertained every alternative.

Then in a swift awakening of my spontaneous side. One morning I had a brainwave: forget struggling with my bags through Turkey, leave my growing depressive state behind in Greece, change my flight dates – go to the US early. I could see a doctor there, make sure I felt ok to stay there for the next 5 months, and if not, fly to Sydney from there. Thanks to the encouragement of Regis, a Frenchman who insisted I be at least a little bit social, during my few hours on Paros I managed to pose for this photo:

And at 8pm embark on a 4 hour boat ride followed by a 1 hour bus ride, 3 hours on an airport floor, a 1.5 hour flight to Munich, a 2 hour lay-over, and a further 9 hours of back-to-back movies on a new two-level airplane. And at the end of something like a 48 hours sleepless journey, I arrived in Hickory – a tiny town in NC. And, well, already lots to tell… some other time.

So all in all, while there were no lightbulbs, and while I experienced my own tragic and abrupt ending to my travels, surrounded by the beauty and history of these places I did feel the planting of some seeds. I felt my understanding of my place in the scheme of human history shift in some way. Hopefully over time these seeds will grow.

Recently my fortune cookie (yes, stories of food in American coming up) read, “Discontent is the first step in the progress of a nation or a man.”

While it seems to be more of a proverb than a fortune but maybe if I apply the proverb to my own discontent – with the end of my holiday coming to such an dramatic end, and I guess also my discontent with the destructive state of our world – maybe my fortune is that progress is on its way.



[1] Dan P. McAdams, The Stories We Live By : Personal Myths and the Making of the Self (New York: Guilford Press, 1996). p. 53.

[2] Aristotle and Malcolm Heath, Poetics (London ; New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books, 1996).

Returning to life

These last few weeks I disappeared in more ways than from this blog. I’ve tried to put my finger on how it happened. It happened so slowly that like a frog in hot water, I came to realise it only at boiling point. It was too late. Some essential part of my “self” had gone.

Was it the incident in Krakow that led me to question my job in America? Did the massive cloud of uncertainty change everything I thought, felt and did?

Was it travelling with my best friend from high school? Did I return to the old clumsy insecure 17-year-old version of myself?

Was it that peak-time travel in Europe takes away the spontaneity factor? Booking and planning in advance sucks!

Was it my secret hopes that this trip in Europe might inspire a sequel to my South America book? Which, by the way, is still in editing, but slowly slowly getting closer to publishing 🙂  Was it the disappointment that The Universe didn’t bring me an exciting plot like it did last time?

Was it the death of my laptop – something I’ve become attached to this last four years? Leaving her behind in Rome was like losing my best friend. I knew the time was approaching, but without her I feel lost.

Was it the other aspects of bad luck that have taken me by storm – bad luck with credit card fraud, bank cards being cancelled, bag zippers breaking… little nuiances that add up to an air of downward spiralling negativity.

Definitely my accident was the cherry on top. Flying from a bike and ending up in hospital on one’s first day in the Greek Islands is enough to scare the life out of anyone.

As you can see in the photo, I am ok. Day by day I feel my strength, my “vi”, my life-energy returning.

Physically – my wounds are healing.

Mentally – my mind accepting the fate of my holiday (no sun and hence very little swimming), the fate of my leg (impending scars) and still various aspects of confusion about my life and what the heck I’m meant to be doing with it.

And hopefully soon spiritually. My “free-spirited self” that my best friend noted was missing from my facebook posts and photos, hasn’t returned yet. I’m hoping it’s on its way.

I think (hope) my recent dose of bad luck is about to change. My bank card that had allegedly been cancelled magically allowed me to withdraw cash. I received an email about the release of new Macs, so it was good I didn’t buy a new one yet. I’m alone (Lisa, my travel buddy, has gone back to Sydney), but I’m strangely happy to have total freedom and not be burdoning anyone else with my ailments. I moved to a new hotel in a nicer part of the island with a community-like feel and my own little balcony.

I am still having my moments where I feel down and depressed, exhausted, homesick, and impatient about my wounds healing. These are being balanced with moments where I feel relaxed and happy, enjoying the scenery and reading books. It’s an emotional roller coaster ride and I’m holding on tight hoping that, unlike my scooter ride, I won’t fall off!


Nico – the dude in the picture with me – was the manager of our hotel. He was in a scooter accident the day after mine. We moped around together complaining but a few days later both felt a little better. Maybe it’s the rough roads, the lack of servicing, the lightness of a 50cc motor and smaller wheels, but scooters in Greece, I have learned, are not to be trusted.


I Barcelona

I love Barcelona. I love it, love it, love it! The arts, the energy, the colours, cerveza, cops on scooters, the boys, the beaches, the bumble-bee taxis, tapas, the sunshine, the shopping, the street music, the dancing, the people, paella, pick & mix candy shops, live statues, the language, the list could go on.

Last time I visited I wanted to live there, and this time I had the same feeling.

“Dos noches es muy pochito. Barcelona es mas grande. Minimum tres noches,” insisted the passionate cleaner of our guesthouse-like hostel.

She was right. Two nights is not enough. I knew that when I booked it, but with plans to spend a couple of nights in Nice, Rome and hopes to spend a week on a Greek Island, two nights was all we had.


Street music:


A city tour on one of those open air buses gave us glimpse into Gaudi’s fine works & other architecture points of interest around the city.


Shopping around town, through small and big cobblestone streets, I came across Desigual – hippyish clothes full of positive affirmations, bright colours and quirky shapes. I went nuts, suffering the consequences when it came to closing my backpack the next morning. I also found a camera shop and bout a 18-200mm Tamron lens to replace the one that broke in Paris. Undecided as to whether its as good as my 18-105 Nikon, it would do the trick.

By the time I got to the beach it was 6pm. The sun was still strong. I had one hour to bake before meeting Lisa for more food, drinks, shops and to watch Midnight in Paris from 10:20pm till well after midnight in Barcelona. You don’t get movies that late in Oz. And at 5 Euros a ticket, the cinema is another thing to add to my list.

Of all the cities I’ve visited in Europe, Barcelona is easily my favourite. In every city I go I try to get a magnet. For the second time I forgot to get a magnet in Barcelona. A sign I will return? I hope so.


The good, bad & ugly (Paris)

It was my 4th visit to Paris. The city of lights. Allegedly a city of love. Just not my love.

On my first visit, as 2006 opened, my five-year relationship ended. In front of the Arc de Triompf. Champs de Elise will always carry memories of that moment.

My second time in Paris, a few weeks later, carries the opposite type of memories: new beginnings, “finding myself”, feeling naked and exposed with my shaved head I magically found my dreams  found myself living in a model flat in the 16th district, looking at the Eifle Tower’s lights, strolling the Seine, running through streets and metro tunnels from casting to casting, job to job, café to café. I have fond memories with friends at the top of Sacre Cuer, fondues, parties, nightclubs, free dinners, free drinks… my brief glimpse of Paris’ glitz and glam.

Toward the end of the year I returned for another season of shows. This time with new head of hair, and an evolving sense of who I was and what I wanted to do in life.


Five years have passed. Five years! Where did those years go??? Time. It passes too fast.

My fourth visit, now, in 2011, it was good to create some new memories. I took Lisa to my favourite places, ate my favourite foods…


I caught up with some old friends and played “spot the difference”:

I added a long-awaited bridge-post photo to my series.

We took a “trip” to Disneyland with our Amsterdam doggie-bag.. enough said…


It seems an appropriate place for me to share an Alan Watt’s quote:

‘For Disneyland exists “as a mystery and a sign,” the land of the fake and the home of the bogus, prototype of the world to come. Even the birds in the trees are plastic, and sing through their hinged beaks with tiny loudspeakers. Plastic deer, bears, elephants, and bunny rabbits stand along the banks of artificial lakes and rivers, monotonously wagging their mechanical heads. Tourists, traveling by river boat through simulated jungle, have the thrill of seeing a plastic hippopotamus shot with a blank cartridge, and a varnished papier–mâché replica of the Swiss Family Robinson’s tree house which vibrates perpetually to the recorded music of an oom–pah–pah band (on a loop tape) going “Pom–pitty bom–pitty pom–pitty bompitty” for ever and ever. Though it takes hours to go through all the “shows,” a decent restaurant—let alone a bar—is nowhere to be found, since this is strictly sodapop–culture, where one must subsist upon hamburgers, hot dogs, ice cream, popcorn, or Fred Harvey–type meals.'[1]

I have had a few other bridge-pose photos lined up in my head for a while: on Champs de Elise, along the Seine, and the Eifle Tower by daylight with the background out of focus. When the day arrived my lens decided this wasn’t to be. A bad rattle sound. A plastic thing in the middle of the shutter…

“Maybe you would have broken your back? Maybe it’s a good thing?” Lisa tried to cheer me up.

Quite possibly I’d have gotten run over on the Champs de Elise – the spot where I wanted to take the photo was a little dangerous –  where Lisa sits, between the traffic.

The Eifle Tower shot I wanted would have involved a bridge on top of a stone wall. Maybe I’d have fallen.

The shot along the Seine would have been ruined by people and the smell of piss. Maybe I’d have caught a disease.

They’d have been great shots, if I’d survived them. Little did I know at the time, the death of my lens was the first of a string of bad luck to come…


Brownies, Bicycles, Birthdays and Babies (Amsterdam)

Amsterdam greeted us with wide-open arms. The sun was shining, the people smiling, “coffee shops” inviting.

I immediately felt a sense of belonging. I guess because my mum is Dutch. Elderly women reminded my of my Oma, elderly men reminded me of Opa, and the language – while I don’t understand a word – reminded me of home.

Of all the destinations we had been this was the first I was visiting for my second time. Last time it was a last-minute decision inspired by Frank, a fellow Aussie on my train from Munich, who remains to be one of my closest friends. That time I stayed at “Bob’s Hostel”. This time we walked down the cobblestone streets, over a number of sparkling canals and rang the doorbell of my friend’s new family home.

In the three years since I last saw Nicola, she had fallen in love, got married, and brought the most beautiful little girl Zea into this world. There is something magic about that. And now, after living in New York for a few years, she had moved to Amsterdam. Her and Mike had created a list of wants, and the universe brought them everything on that list. Their apartment was HUGE. Three bedrooms, two massive living areas, a big park, pond and ducks across the road, and a roof-top terrace on its way. An example of “The Secret” in action. They were an inspiration.

Zea brought out a clucky side of me I didn’t know I had.

The two of us went to the park and I felt an insight into what my life would be like had I made different choices in my past or what my life might be like, depending on my choices, one day in the future.

Feeding ducks


Smelling flowers

Playing in the sand

We went out, we stayed in, we cooked, we babysat, we ate brownies, we rode bicycles…

We planned to stay three nights but ended up staying four and I had my 29th birthday doing all of the above. Thank you Lisa, Nicola, Mike and Zea for making it a special day full of fruits, fun and surprises.


October-fest in July (Frankfurt)

Student life in Germany is another world to student life in Sydney: free travel, small fees, and for the most part a rent and allowance paid by one’s parents. At least that was life for my friend and his student friends. No part-time job and no living at home – lots of time to and party. Sounds good to me…

More benefits of being a student in this part of Germany include legal drinking on the street, go to a nightclub in the castle basement university’s library, and the free October-Fest-like-event-in-July a massive carnival of rides and fun…

It was a good time to visit my friend Marco. I first met Marco at a hostel in Rio de Janeiro and 6 months later gave him my “overseas friends Northern Beaches tour” when he was in Sydney. Now it was my turn.

In every city Lisa and I have tried the traditional cuisine. In Frankfurt this translated to sausages including those made out of blood, music cheese that has a squeaky factor and is smothered in finely diced raw onion, and apple wine that kind-of tasted like a watered down vinegar.

I liked the locally brewed beer better.

Joined by a group of Marco’s friends from university and the social groups of his seven flatmates, we started drinking in their large and impressively clean flat, and walked only 100 metres down the street to the carnival with “wib beers” (roady drinks) in hand.

Now I know why my friend married a German – they throw a GREAT party. Awesome music, awesome people, and while we could have easily kept dancing I wandered back for a few hours sleep around 4am, bringing to close an awesome night.

Next stop: Amsterdam.

Micro-nations & mickey mouse money (Dresden)

I hadn’t heard of a “micro-nation” until I got to Dresden. As you probably guessed, a micronation is a miniature nation within a bigger nation. Apparently I’d visited one – Cristiania back in Copenhagen. And “New Town” in Dresden was my second – well had I been there 20 years ago it would have been.

On a pub-crawl “night-tour” of what’s known as the “new town” of Dresden with Danilo, a slightly odd but insightful and entertaining who taught us about the town’s crazy past:

Mickey mouse money was the currency, seriously!

Unfortunately after a very strange herbal shot, much of what I learned got lost:

I do remember that the night was extraordinarily random. Party food at the top of church look out point:

The night closed at the Metronom-Bar with Danilo trying to tell us about the proletariat of today’s neoliberal system – the”prekariat”. I didn’t get it but a follow up email clarified a few things:

We talked at the Metronom-Bar about an new name of the proletariat
Since exist the capital system,called the lower class "proletariat"
Now, we have since Reagan and Thatcher a development of the capitalist
system, what is called "neo liberialism system" now.
Here makes not a work the money, money makes money - investors are mostly
not interest about the situation of the working class, they are search to
make money in a very short time.
Just since this periode exanges the livestyle of many workers, artists,
owners of small companies, groups of peoples with an sickness,academics
and others.
They have an precarious situation.
So is developed a new name of this class of peoples.
They have work, but can not survive on the free market, like before.

This class called now "Prekariat" - precariat( lat. precarium ).
80% of the german artist living with the support of the State.
Also more than 60% of the temps in Germany for example get support of the

I didn’t really get what Danilo was talking about. According to wikipedia ‘the word precarity literally means “precariousness“, but is now used to mean existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare. It has been specifically applied to intermittent employment, sometimes plus a precarious existence.’

I’m a little precarious I guess. Am I a Prekariat?

Ok, so I still don’t really get it. At least the Mickey Mouse money was cool.

For more, or if you visit Dresden, check out Danilo’s tour and enjoy the ride: