A Long Way


Hua Hin beach on a cloudy morning

Hua Hin beach on a cloudy morning (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “Tell us about the farthest you’ve ever traveled from home.”

Far from home. When I think of far from home then physical distance isn;t the first thing that comes to mind. If you want distance then we are talking about London (500 miles further from home than Boston).

London for the first time was a strange mix of the known and the unknown. So much of it was learnt from books and movies over so many years. A London cab, a tube station, a mailbox, a telephone booth and the Beefeaters at the Tower of London were all so familiar that I may as well have been home. At the same time the shops along a street and a hundred other details were different. The two conflicting aspects made for a couple of strange days as I adjusted.

The strange thing is that London feels closer to home than some other places I’ve visited.

Walking through the natural calm of the Daintree rainforest north of Port Douglas seems a million miles from the urban noise of Sydney. Outside the forest is a blistering hot day but inside the light is filtered through the canopy and it’s cooler and tinted green.

Sitting in a cheap restaurant with Laminex tables in Hua Hin, Thailand. They gave me a menu that was obviously “westernised” so I ordered by pointing to dishes being eaten by the locals on the tables near me and ended up eating a mouth watering meal as the owner’s wife giggled when one of the curries burnt through my resolve and had me gulping water.

Camping by the side of the road in Outback NSW with my father. Outside the circle of the gas lamp it is so dark that you can hardly see your hand in front of your face while overhead the night is so clear that the sparkling dust of the Milky Way is thrown across the sky. The camping spot is dusty and red, the same red that is caked onto the car.

Then there’s the time when even the house I live in is not home. The times when the major depression has stripped me of any ability to find pleasure, peace or calm and it seems I will never stop sobbing.

Those places all seem a long, long way from home. Distance is just not a simple measurement of miles or kilometres but how far away you are from your every day, your known, your safe.

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A Thousand Words


Today’s Daily Prompt: “If you normally write non-fiction, post a photo. If you normally post images, write fiction. If you normally write fiction, write a poem. If you normally write poetry, draw a picture.”

I usually write non-fiction with the odd poem thrown in so I guess I need to post a photo. Should I take a new photo or use an old one?

I decided to open up iPhoto and have a quick scan and see what grabbed my attention. I ended up with three.

Here’s the first I found (you can click on them all to see them larger):

Newtown_Festival

It’s a picture of the Newtown Festival from almost two years ago. I went the day before I flew out to Boston for Thanksgiving. It’s shot diagonally across Camperdown Park just by the stone wall to St Stephen’s Church and just out of shot in the distance is the house I lived in with my ex-wife.

Here’s the second:

Fremont

This one is Fremont Street in Las Vegas. It’s where I met my brother and his wife on the way to Boston. I guess that makes it my second trip to Vegas but my first to Fremont Street.

Here’s the third:

Lace

This is a closeup of some “lace” made out of iron. There was a brilliant exhibition of all sorts of lace at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum and I took some great photos.

Experience


Bill Clinton talking at TED conference 2007. H...

Bill Clinton talking at TED conference 2007. He won TED Prize 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “If one experience or life change results from you writing your blog, what would you like it to be?”

The heart of today’s question is what is the one life change I’d like at the moment. I have a whole list of them but the chances of this blog triggering most of them is slim at best.

Falling in love would probably be at the top of my list, I’m a romantic and always enjoy being in love, not to mention that when you’re suffering depression one of the nicest things to get is a good cuddle – makes you feel much better.

A full time job would be nice. At the moment I’m making do with short jobs for old colleagues and past customers but something more stable and lucrative would be nice.

I don’t think either is a likely result of my writing here.

I write here because I enjoy it, I find writing a relaxing pursuit. I also find it helps with my depression to let some of the thoughts inside my head out and onto the screen. So I don’t do it to change anything or gain a life experience.

That said if someone from TED was to read my posts about depression and invite me to talk I wouldn’t say no. That would be an amazing life experience, giving a TED talk.

Of course everyone who writes would love a book contract so I would be over the moon if some publisher reading this blog was to decide to offer me one.

But let’s inject some more reality. Neither of those is likely to happen. How about a more likely outcome?

The life experience that I’d like from writing this blog is to strike up a conversation with my readers. I really enjoy every comment I get here and would love to hear more from you. If you are prompted by one of my posts to write a few sentences I’d enjoy reading them. If you don’t want to make a public comment then feel free to drop me a note at tonyw at honestpuck dot com.

Sports Appreciation and Fandom


Cadel Evans in the final time trial of 2011 Tour De France

Cadel Evans in the final time trial of 2011 Tour De France

Today’s Daily Prompt: “Are you a sports fan? Tell us about fandom. If you’re not, tell us why not.”

Am I a sports fan? No, I don’t think I am. I appreciate sport, in fact I just saw Ashton Agar score his 50th run on debut for Australia in the First Test at Trent Bridge between writing the previous paragraph and this one.

To me “fandom” implies an obsession I don’t have. My father was a cricket fan, he watched it whenever he could. Indeed our family got it’s first TV for him to watch the first cricket broadcasts and we got a colour set in time for him to watch the first Ashes series broadcast from England in colour. Not only did he know the entire Australian team well he also had a good handle on all the state players. He was a fan. He was obsessive.

By contrast I’m just an appreciator of sport. I enjoy watching good cricket, I can watch the Sydney Swans play Australian Rules, the Patriots play US football and I even like watching a mountain stage of the Tour De France.

While not an expert I know enough about each of those sports to be an informed viewer and to appreciate good play.

As I write this Ashton Agar has just become the highest scoring number 11 in Australian history and finished the over at 67 runs. His stroke play has been brilliant and the English bowlers are playing right into his strengths. He and Phil Hughes have been together for 97 of Australia’s 215 runs. After a terrible start to our innings Australia has now equalled the English first innings score.

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Life On The Move


A contemporary Tibetan nomadic tent near Namts...

A contemporary Tibetan nomadic tent near Namtso lake. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: If you could live a nomadic life, would you? Where would you go? How would you decide? What would life be like without a “home base”?

What exactly is a “nomadic life”? If we take the literal meaning of nomadic then we mean a fairly simple, primitive life constantly on the move from one spot to the next. In a modern world we talk about “grey nomads”, retired people who spend a fair amount of the year in a mobile home travelling around.

There are also people who live a life a less simple who might be called “nomadic” who move from home to home across the globe. People with homes in Sydney, London and New York for example. Actors often have homes in Los Angeles and elsewhere moving between them as required. Modern musicians will also move from city to city to work with producers or to go to a specific studio, staying a few months and then moving on to various homes.

These are all, in their own way, nomadic lifestyles.

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My Little Secret


anxiety

anxiety (Photo credit: FlickrJunkie)

Today’s Daily Prompt : Tell us something most people probably don’t know about you.

That’s a hard one. Most of me and my life is an open book, I don’t have much hidden away.

The only thing really hidden is my internal life and even most of that has been told. I feel the only thing most people would find surprising, that most don’t know, is how much of the time I’m scared and frightened.

I try hard to project an air of calm and confidence but when I’m talking to you I’m scared of saying the wrong thing. If I don’t know you when we start talking I’m frightened that you’ll find me weird or strange, too different to like.

With almost every task I undertake I’m scared of failure, anxious that I’m going to do something wrong. Professionally I’m OK, when I’m working on a systems task or fixing a computer problem I start out believing I can do it. It only takes a minor setback and that anxiety is there, though it is in the back of my mind and usually well controlled.

I have the same problem in my relationships, I’m full of fear. I don’t think my partners ever knew how anxious I was.

I’m anxious that as my lover you don’t know how I feel, I’m scared that I’m not open enough. I’m frightened that I’ll get left, get hurt. I’m frightened of hurting you, I’m nervous I’m asking too much, I’m scared about not doing enough, I’m fearful of controlling and I’m concerned I don’t leave room for you. A litany of anxious thoughts.

Of course there are times when I don’t feel anxious, frightened or scared. They are the moments I can relax and I treasure them all.

Naturally Exploring


English: A variety of corals form an outcrop o...

A variety of corals form an outcrop on the Great Barrier Reef near Cairns, Queensland, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today’s Daily Prompt: “Describe your first memorable experience exploring and spending time in nature. Were you in awe? Or were you not impressed? Would you rather spend time in the forest or the city?”

The problem I have with questions about “first experience” or “earliest memory of” is that I have no idea about the chronology of my earliest memories. Is the memory of being on the beach earlier or later than the memory of the picnic by the river or the lantana and creek behind the houses across the road?

I spent a lot of time outside when I was a small boy. I grew up in a suburb of Newcastle that was under development and had bushland behind the houses across the road, not to mention a chicken farm at the end of the road, though it closed when I was still small. So I spent a great deal of time exploring the bush. I also spent a lot of time climbing an oak tree on a vacant block near my house.

The family went to the beach a lot, indeed we went to Surfer’s Paradise for two weeks every year. We also visited the local beaches of Newcastle frequently in summer. I remember feeding hot chips to seagulls, running in and out of the waves, watching my footprints in the wet sand get washed away by subsequent waves. I also remember building sandcastles with a plastic bucket and spade, collecting shells and sitting on the sand next to my parents while I read ‘Treasure’ magazine. I remember running at flocks of seagulls to scare them into the air.

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Taking It Slow


Big bike ride

Today’s Daily Prompt: “You’re going on a cross-country trip. Airplane, train, bus, or car? (Or something else entirely — bike? Hot air balloon?)”

My favourite cross country trip was my first Big NSW Bike Ride. I’ve travelled cross country in cars, buses, trains, large aeroplanes and small aeroplanes and the only thing that came close to the fun and joy of the Big NSW Bike Ride was a trip from Brisbane to Kingaroy in a Robinson Helicopter. I have yet to do a trip by motorcycle and it is high on my bucket list, now I’m over fifty it would be much harder to cover 650 kilometres in a week on a pushbike so a motor holds a definite appeal.

Eight days of cycling over nine days took 1500 cyclists over 650 kilometres. You can read my essay about the ride for some details.

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Just Another Bloke


Me

Me

Today’s Daily Prompt: “Often, our blogs have taglines. But what if humans did, too? What would your tagline be?”

The tag for my blog is “Just another blog” and that goes with the self-deprecating humour typical in Australia. Of course I don’t really think this is just another blog, I hope that the writing you find here is better than average and that the content pleases and often makes you think.

So what would my personal tagline be? How about “Just Another Bloke”? No, I think not.

On my business card I have the title “The Macintosh Guy”. Over the years I’ve worked at large organisations where most of the computers run Windows and I’ve been supporting or administering a smaller Mac fleet so I’ve often been known as the Macintosh guy, the Mac expert. Seven or eight years ago when I was working support at Sydney University it was a compliment by my fellow workers and I grew to love it. When I was at Newcastle University most of the people I shared an office with tried to make it an insult (yes, they were those sort of people) but by then I owned it so strongly that it never worked.

So that might be a possible tagline. It doesn’t feel right for the Tony Williams that writes here on this blog though. As well as my passion for computers I also have a passion for reading and writing and that’s what this place is for.

Since I learnt to read while on a beach holiday when I was almost four I’ve loved books. My parents and older brother spent a lot of time on that holiday reading and my Mum bought my brother a great magazine called “Look & Learn” and me one called “Treasure” that was mostly pictures with captions. She insists that a the beginning of the fortnight I couldn’t read and at the end I was reading the magazine without help and the hard part was getting me to stop.

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Jump Right In


Today’s Daily Prompt: “What’s the biggest risk you’d like to take — but haven’t been able to? What would have to happen to make you comfortable taking it?”

Risk. Strange thing risk. One person’s risky is another’s safe and secure.

I don’t often think of my actions in terms of risk. I’m more likely to give in to anxiety than to feel that something is too risky. I know that sounds the same but it isn’t. Considering risk is a rational decision, anxiety is an emotional one.

There is one place where my anxiety is tied to risk. When it comes to my relationships with women I’m always too anxious, to aware of the risk of pushing for what I want. I’m never prepared to risk losing a friend to push for romance, I don’t want to risk losing romance to push for a sexual relationship.

Just ask the women I’ve dated. I move so slow there are sloths laughing at my lack of speed. I wrote the short story ‘The Kiss’ as a semi-autobiographical exploration of how one woman I was dating decided to take matters into her own hands.

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