“Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that's where you renew your springs that never dry up.” - Pearl S. Buck
Some days dawn and find us in a quiet, introspective mood, which remains with us for their length. Such was today and even now, well into the night my mood of this morning still keeps me company. I haven’t been very good company today and although we got lots done, my words were scarce and my thoughts were whirling inside my head.
My usual daily routine is to wake up early and go for a walk for about an hour. Today was no different and I walked down to the Yarra River, which is only about 20 minutes walk from our place. The morning was cool and the paths by the river deserted. The sun rising in the east coloured the horizon a golden yellow and the river water flowed slowly, almost imperceptibly. Long shadows by the river banks trailed the flow of the water and the boats fro rent by the Fairfield Boathouse were neatly lined up, all tied to the riverbank. A few lone ducks were swimming and I sat and reveled in the quietude of the hour, the crispness of the air and my rather gray mood.
Soon it was time to walk and start the day off, which looked as though it was to be another warm one.
For Music Saturday, Tchaikovsky’s “October - Autumn Song” from “The Seasons” Op.37 played by Dong-Hyek Lim. In keeping with my morning mood of introspection.
"One man's meat is another man's poison." – Proverb
Russian roulette is a well known “dare”, which can be played by people who get their thrills in all sorts of dangerous and life-threatening ways. This practice of loading a bullet into one chamber of a revolver, spinning the cylinder, and then pulling the trigger while pointing the gun at one's own head is an activity that is potentially very dangerous and not infrequently (in 16.7% of times, in fact) fatal. But how exciting, how thrilling, how delightful if you survive, say its adherents!
Now for those of you that do not like to play with guns in order to get your thrills, there are other ways and many of them involve food. It is well known that many people who go and gather wild mushrooms (even the experienced ones) may sometimes pick the occasional poisonous one. The other complicating factor is that some people may eat a wild mushroom type with no toxic effects, while others may have violent reactions after consuming the same type. See this link...
For centuries the Japanese have enjoyed the highly prized tasty fish known as fugu. This is the Japanese name for certain species of puffer fish or blowfish (eg: Takifugu rubripes), which, though considered delicacies, contain a poison so toxic it can kill. It is imperative that fugu be cleaned and prepared properly that entire books have been written on the subject. The fish contain lethal amounts of the poison tetrodotoxin in the internal organs, especially the liver and ovaries, but also the skin. In commercial Japanese kitchens, where this fish is used in both sashimi and nabemono preparations, only specially trained and qualified cooks may deal with fugu. Even so, there are several cases of fugu poisoning in Japan annually. See this!
A rather rare but horribly fatal disease associated with consumption of tainted food is known as botulism. This is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. Foodborne botulism is caused by eating foods that contain the botulism toxin and can be fatal. Foodborne botulism can be especially dangerous because many people can be poisoned by eating a contaminated food. Deaths have resulted after people have simply taken a bite of a contaminated food just to taste it.
Foodborne botulism has often been associated with home-canned foods with low acid content (eg: asparagus, green beans, beets and corn). However, outbreaks of botulism from more unusual sources such as chopped garlic in oil, chilli peppers, tomatoes, improperly handled baked potatoes wrapped in aluminum foil, and home-canned or fermented fish. Persons who do home canning should follow strict hygienic procedures to reduce contamination of foods. Oils infused with garlic or herbs should be refrigerated. Potatoes which have been baked while wrapped in aluminum foil should be kept hot until served or refrigerated. Because the botulism toxin is destroyed by high temperatures, persons who eat home-canned foods should consider boiling the food for 10 minutes before eating it to ensure safety. Butlism outbreaks have also been linked to improperly sterilised commercially canned foods.
Botulism toxin is the most potent biological toxin known (a single gram of the toxin, if properly distributed, could kill a million people) and is a well-known potential threat in acts of terrorism. A vaccine has been developed against this toxin, but it is not produced in large quantities and mass vaccinations with it are not carried out. All sorts of interesting possibilities for crime/thriller novel plots spring to mind, where the murderer manages to vaccinate himself and invites the victims to dinner serving up some canned asparagus with botulism toxin dressing…
Many people (me included!) love to go out into countryside, the forest or even urban parklands and collect wild herbs and greens that can be used for food. It is amazing how bountiful nature is and how many delicious wild plants, herbs, nuts, berries, fruits and fungi can be used as delicious and wholesome supplements to our diet. The one important proviso of course, is that you have to know what you are doing, as it is easy to pick the wrong plant! For example fiddleheads are the young shoots of the Ostrich fern found growing in clumps in marshland. They are delicious and generally considered safe. But to the uninitiated, the young shoots of bracken fern could look very much the same. To the initiated, however, bracken shoots are seen to grow singly and are spread out over a dry area. Bracken has been found to be carcinogenic and should not be eaten. (Ostrich Ferns are particularly easy to recognize as they have spore bearing dark brown fronds rising out of the clump; the bracken does not).
Some plants are not toxic themselves, but become dangerous only where there is danger of contamination by insecticides, fertilisers, herbicides, traffic fumes, industrial effluent, runoff from farmland. Though thorough washing of the plants is necessary, this will not always get rid of contaminants, so the area where the plants are collected should be studied carefully. Watercress is a good example of a plant easily contaminated and it should not be collected from areas where there is danger of a runoff from farmland, for example.
Some plants contain toxic parts or may need special procedures to render them non-toxic. We can enjoy young rhubarb stalks, but the leaves are poisonous as they contain high concentrations of oxalic acid. Potatoes which have been left exposed to light and turned green also have toxic properties as they accumulate the toxin solanine. The green part should be removed before they are used, or if there is too much greenness, the whole potato should be discarded. Those familiar with Pacific island cuisine, know of the root vegetable taro. In its raw form the plant is toxic due to the presence of calcium oxalate, although the toxin is destroyed by cooking or can be removed by steeping taro roots in cold water overnight.
Much more important and serious, as well as more prevalent of course, as a means of poisoning ourselves with our food is concerned, is the slow toxic effect of an unhealthy diet. Foods rich in cholesterol and saturated fats, low in fibre, highly processed, containing additives are a ticking time bomb and are implicated in many diseases. A diet low in fresh fruit and vegetables, high in red meat, with excessive use of pickles, smoked and salted foods is also unhealthy. Not to mention the even more common problem of overeating and obesity, lack of exercise and a generally sedentary existence…
Eat well, eat little, exercise daily, take care of yourself, do as much good as you can, laugh and smile often, be happy, live well…
“The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.” – Ben Okri
The email message I received was short, to the point, almost business-like. I had to read its simple words several times in order for their import to sink in:
Hi Nick, I have some very sad news indeed. Phillip took his own life a couple of days ago. I'm going to the funeral this coming Saturday. I’m devastated. Just thought you would want to know…
This email from overseas, about one of our common friends. This is the sort of news that hits you in the gut and winds you. No easy way to break such news, no easy way to read it, cope with it, no easy way to live with it for the survivors close to the suicide. In the wake of such news one tries to rationalise the irrationality of the act. One tries to understand the incomprehensible. One attempts to forgive, to make excuses for, to deal with an act that leaves in its aftermath such intense pain and desolation.
Phillip was a middle-aged man, divorced for a couple of years now, with two grown-up children. He was a gentle, kind man, softly spoken. He worked with people with special needs and enjoyed his job. Since his divorce he withdrew into his shell and lived a solitary life, becoming depressed and difficult to engage with. His manner always polite, but his usually chatty humorous emails became shorter, mundane; written more as chore than as a means of communication. His mother died last year and this was another terrible blow, as he adored her. He had some counselling and seemed to finally come out of the dark place his life had become.
He visited Australia in the middle of last year. His smile was not forced, not disingenuous but distant. His eyes never seemed to smile. In retrospect the seeds of this, his last act, were already sown and we, perhaps, should have suspected something. It is so difficult not to feel guilt, so hard to dispel the complicity one senses in the wake of such an act.
He was grateful to his friends here during his visit, and his goodbyes when he left to go back home have become so much more significant now, in hindsight. A life cut short prematurely, a great waste, his pain too immense to be borne. How can one put oneself in Phillip’s position and replay his last thoughts? What jet-black despair could drive someone to commit this act of murder against oneself? Could it have been prevented? What could have been done? What a terrible waste!
Suicide was a criminal act in many countries in the past, it still is in a few. If it is considered thus, then one can understand the opinion of those who consider the suicide to be a coward. If we do not consider suicide a crime, then it may be argued to be the mark of a courageous and brave person who chooses this way to rid society of his perceived useless presence, and free himself from all feelings of suffering and peril. The religious person views suicide as the ultimate act of godlessness, the gravest sin, a mortal offence. The cleric’s prohibition may be enough to stay the hand of the devout, but a mind unhinged by weakness of faith, lack of purpose, great depression, dejection and despair will not be stopped by thoughts of God.
Phillip, I do not blame you, nor accuse you of a crime. You were neither brave nor a coward. You were sick with loneliness and despair, you found yourself in some deep dark alleyway with no exit and acted in a way that your tortured mind dictated as the only effective and permanent solution to some problem, that perhaps the choice of life would have proven to be temporary. I wish there had been some way to help you, I wish I had been closer, I wish you talked to me about it.
Vale, Phillip. I hope that you are now in some happier place…
“True Friendship is like sound health; the value of it is seldom known until it be lost.” - Charles Caleb Colton
The virtual world of 360 is a strange one, sometimes funny, at other times sad, perhaps distressing or maybe even frightening, but always interesting. It is a microcosm fashioned in the likeness of reality and one may find in it all of the human types one may encounter in one’s immediate neighbourhood. I always take people at face value and try to be as honest as I can be without betraying confidences, by respecting sensibilities and by protecting those whom I love. However, even with such a policy how often is it that what we write here can be misinterpreted, misconstrued, misunderstood? How often is it that what a reader reads will reflect what he or she wants to understand, rather than what we write simply, honestly and without artifice?
How much more clearly can I say to people than this: “I am not here to search for a partner, a wife or a lover”? Is there any better way to say to someone: “If you do not allow replies to messages sent from your blog, I cannot reply”? Or how much more clearly can one say the following: “I cannot add you to my friends list as I have reached the maximum number of friends allowed by Yahoo”? One tries to be gentle, considerate, polite, urbane, tactful and respectful of others, and one may reap abuse and inarticulate ramblings in reply.
I am blogging here because I like to share some of my thoughts with others. What I know I wish to share with others. I think that what I write here may interest a small number of people and many of you have become dear friends, even though may thousands of kilometres separate us. In the past I had more time to enjoy reading many more of my friends’ blogs. My work and personal commitments lately have meant that I have had to curtail much of that agreeable activity. It is hard enough to keep up with writing my daily blogs sometimes, but I persist as they are a welcome break from my busy schedule and a way of resting my mind. An intellectual meditation in a sphere distant from my everyday mental gymnastics at work. A noetic workout that relaxes me and clears my mind from the matters at work that demand much care and responsible decision-making.
I wrote this poem recently and dedicate it to lost friends, here on Yahoo 360.
Of Friendship Nipped in the Bud
I smiled as my open hand I stretched, My gift so generous, was misconstrued, And from a giver, I was made a mendicant.
A singing bird my heart was perched On greenwood branch; but soon the warble rued My wings were clipped, I turned into a flightless elephant.
To share with joy, all my possessions fetched, But my offerings were thrown out and strewed And my frankness - dismissed as mere cant.
You yearned for love, I offered companionship You searched for passion’s fire, I gave you fellowship. Just as the flower of friendship was to bloom, You nipped it in the bud - now emptiness, now gloom Where bright flowers could have been.
“Of all things upon earth that bleed and grow, A herb most bruised is woman.” – Euripides, ‘Medea’
I have blogged before about “Chick Lit” or “Pink Lit”, a genre of fiction aimed at a predominantly female market and whose plots often feature a plucky heroine searching for her place in a big city while holding down a trendy job and possibly juggling a bit of romance. "Bridget Jones's Diary" by Helen Fielding is a typical example, "The Bachelorette Party" by Karen Lutz, "Family Trust" by Amanda Brown, "Man Eater" by Gigi Levangie Grazer, "The Devil Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger, "The Nanny Diaries" by co-authors Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus, Sophie Kinsella's "Confessions of a Shopaholic" and "Bergdorf Blondes" by Plum Sykes are all other notable examples. What started it all, I guess, was Helen Gurley Brown’s "Sex and the Single Girl" published in 1962 and was representative of the newly-found power of the independent young woman making it on her own in the big city. Here is how some authors of “Chick Lit” define their genre. Chick Lit of course has its opponents, and this article by Elisabeth Sheffield is worth reading.
Having read a few of these novels upon recommendation, I can say that I have enjoyed some, have disliked many, have been neutral about quite a few. If nothing else, this type of fiction presents an interesting perspective of the female mind, and is quite revealing of the place many women see themselves as occupying in these post-feminist days of equal opportunity, affirmative and life-changing legislation, and supposed endless prospects for success in the professional and personal fields of women’s lives.
I have recently finished reading Wendy Holden’s “Bad Heir Day”, a typically British “Chick Lit” novel, although I would tend to describe it as “Pink with purple spots lit” rather than “pink lit’. Why? It is quite funny (especially if puns and sometimes quite wry and dry humour amuse you) but there is also a sense of the tragic in some of its comedy, in the sense of what hurts most we tend to trivialise or joke about in order that we survive it.
In a nutshell the plot revolves around Anna, who is an aspiring writer and whose gorgeous boyfriend, Sebastian, is an unfaithful, snobbish, priggish, thoroughly nasty piece of work. Dumped by him, Anna jumps from the frying pan into fire when she takes a job with Cassandra Knight, a romance writer with writers’ block whose gin consumption far exceeds her written output. Anna thinks that being Cassandra’s assistant will be a marvellous opportunity to learn from a published writer. Cassandra thinks that Anna’s job (regardless of what they agreed on) is to do all the housework and take care of her spawn of Satan son, Zak, all the while dodging her lecherous, has-been rock star husband. Anna works like a slave simply because she has no choice, but this does have its advantages; she finally drops that lasts 10 pounds and learns all about the exotic nanny subculture. Eventually, she meets handsome Jamie, Laird of Skul, who whisks her away to his ancestral castle in Scotland. Its just like a fairy tale but all is not well in Skul… Here is Wendy Holden talking about her book:
Overall, this book was amusing and light and tongue-in-cheek. I don’t know whether I’d want to read many more such books, especially after having read another such novel by Wendy Holden, “Pastures Nouveaux”. Pastures Nouveaux is described on the cover as "A Comedy of Country Manors" and this heralds a collection of other cringe-worthy puns and wordplays that can get tiring. Although neither book taxed my grey matter too much in the reading (hmmmm, rather like junk food for the brain, maybe?), such novels can become repetitive and too much dependent on formulaic plot development and stock characterisation.
As far as the plot outline for “Pastures Nouveaux” is concerned: Cash-strapped Rosie and her boyfriend Mark are city people longing for a country cottage and the romance of country living. At the same time, dreadfully nouveaux-riches Samantha and Guy are also searching for rustic bliss - a mansion complete with mile-long drive, manicured lawns, upstairs maids and gardeners. The village of Eight Mile Bottom seems quiet enough, despite a nosy postman, a reclusive rock star, a glamorous Bond Girl and a ghost with a knife in its back. But there are unexpected thrills in the hills. The local siren seduces Guy while a “farmer fatal-e” rocks Rosie's relationship. Then a mysterious millionaire makes an offer she can’t refuse. But should she? Once again, here is Wendy Holden talking about her book:
I have been rather remiss with Movie Mondays in the last couple of weeks as the festivities of the Christmas/New Year period rater got in the way of my routine. However, this does not mean I have not been viewing movies and you’ll be pleased to know that I’ll make up for lost time by reviewing several good movies we have watched over the past couple of weeks. I was busy catching up with the recommendations of several people and of course, the gift exchanges of the holiday period meant that I could answer the question: “What would you like me to buy you as a present?” quite simply with: “Such-and-such DVD…”
Firstly a wonderful film from Spain/Mexico, Guillermo del Toro’s, “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006). This is a dark and highly original film where reality and fantasy mix seamlessly to create an absorbing but grim fairy tale set in Spain at the conclusion of the Spanish Civil War. It is a very violent film and some of the images are quite disturbing, but at the same time it is tender and shows with delicacy the emotions, fears and concerns of a teenage girl who finds herself in an extremely unpleasant situation, moving into a country house with her stepfather and mother is who is expecting his child. A highly imaginative film, which uses fantasy and a dream world to poignantly highlight the immense political and social problems of post-civil war Spain. My rating: 8/10. Genre: Fantasy/Historical/Drama. Cautions: Violence/Graphic images
The uplifting New Zealand film “Whale Rider” (2002) of Niki Caro, had been on our DVD shelf for a couple of years now, and we finally got to watch it yesterday. This is a beautifully filmed and well-related tale of a coming of age of a young New Zealand girl, Paikea, who is being brought up by her grandparents. Her grandfather, a Maori chief is for years mourning the loss of Paikea’s twin brother (at birth), on whom he had pinned all his hopes for succession of the leadership. This is Paikea’s story and how through her determination and willingness to fight against tradition she succeeds in achieving acceptance by her grandfather, who represents the old traditions, and of how she becomes his hope for the future. Keisha Castle-Hughes who plays the young Paikea is a pleasure to watch and her acting is simply magnificent. My rating: 7.5/10. Genre: Coming-of-Age Drama. Cautions: Have your tissues handy.
A beautifully atmospheric film that combines elements of adventure, romance and a distinct period feel is “The Illusionist” (2006). The film is set in 19th century Vienna and the central story is the impossible romance between a duchess and an illusionist, a stage entertainer. Add to that, the insane antics of Crown Prince Leopold of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a persecuting police inspector and some neat magic tricks and the film becomes rather fresh and entertaining, where one would expect it to be stale and sickeningly saccharine sweet. My rating: 7/10. Genre: Quirky Romantic Drama/Mystery Thriller. Cautions: None really, lightweight and enjoyable.
Mira Nair is an Indian director who became well-known with her 2001 film “Monsoon Wedding”. We watched an equally powerful and well-filmed story, “The Namesake” (2006), last week. The plot revolves around a gripping family saga beginning with an arranged marriage in Calcutta, the story follows the transplantation of the newly-married couple to new York and their trials and tribulations as they raise their family in this foreign land. The story becomes that of the firstborn son, Gogol, who has to grapple with his father’s seemingly cruel choice of a name for him, that of the rather morbid Russian novelist Nicolai Gogol. Mira Nair has said of this film that it was her most personal project as she herself lived in Calcutta for 12 years and then in New York City for 25 (the 2 cities that the characters in the film travel between as well). This is a wonderful film that I too was rather sensitive to as I am a man of two homelands and a person whose life has been coloured by living in quite culturally diverse environments. My rating: 8/10. Genre: Culture-Clash Drama. Cautions: Some confronting themes.
The Hermitage is a short walk along the shore path, of the Eleven Acre Lake from the Cascade. It is a stone rusticated pavilion built by William Kent in 1731, made from very large stones, one of its two little towers being carefully ruined. Above its little arch doorway is a pediment, on which there is a faded carving of panpipes and a wreath.
Inside the structure, are three semi circular benches, within arched niches, where one could sit in the gloom, and contemplate. This particular Hermitage never actually housed a hermit, as some other 18th century Hermitages really did. But oddly, there were few hermits actually willing to take up residency in such abodes, another example of this being Jack Fuller's Tower in West Sussex, and many a true hermit had to be actually paid by the builder to reside in them. Hermits were often bound to live under very strict rules, no talking, no washing or shaving, or cutting of the hair and nails. If, after living this way for a given number of years, the happy hermit, perhaps with a beard now as long as his arms, could be made into an honourable gentleman…
James Pulham and Son were eminent landscape gardeners and creators of follies of the 19th and early 20th centuries, and are now most widely remembered for the spectacular rock gardens they created in many country estates around the United Kingdom, including the Royal Estates at Sandringham and Buckingham Palace, and the RHS Gardens Wisley. James Pulham obtained his first Royal commission in 1868. Mr Broderick Thomas, the Prince of Wales' Head Gardener at Sandringham, had dug out two artificial lakes, and contracted Pulhams to build 'Waterfalls, rocky stream, and cave for boat house' on the bank of the largest one, near the house.
There must also be a possibility that Pulhams did the actual construction work on the lakes themselves, since this is exactly what they did at Dunorlan Park, in Tunbridge Wells, for Henry Reed, a few years earlier, but no confirmation of this is available.
This is a picture of the main lake, with the boatcave, and 'The Nest' folly in the background. The lower layers of the boathouse rockwork are locally quarried carstone, but the massive blocks above are Pulhamite.
Tucked away in the quiet village of Caerwent, not far from Chepstow, in Monmouthshire, is the Dewstow Golf Club, owned and run by the Harris family, who used to farm this land. At one time, the house and estate belonged to a rich, but rather eccentric recluse named Henry Oakley. He bought it in 1893, and lived there until his death in 1940, after which the property passed through various hands until it was eventually broken up into 'parcels' during the 1950s.
Most of these parcels were sold individually as houses and smallholdings, but the main bulk of the estate was made up of Dewstow Farm and Dewstow House - with the portion on which stood Dewstow House being rather like a slice in the 'cake' of Dewstow Farm. The farm was purchased by W E Harris and Son, while Dewstow House was sold separately. The Harris family continued to farm the land until 1987, when they decided to diversify, and 'take a swing' at the golf industry. The Dewstow Golf Club opened its doors in August 1988, and has expanded progressively since that time. Meanwhile, Dewstow House came back onto the market in 2000, and was purchased by the Harrises, with the result that the whole estate is now back together again, almost in its entirety, for the first time in sixty years.
But all this is simply background history. What really matters is that, when Elwyn Harris, and his two sons, Mark and John, started to examine their new property in greater detail, they noticed something rather strange in the garden and grounds. There were pieces of rock projecting from parts of the soil - some close to the house, and some further away, down the slope towards the road. This was intriguing, and they decided to look further. They very carefully began moving the soil away, and, as they did so, more rocks were uncovered. And the more soil they moved, the more rocks they found - so what was going on? Was it a natural fault in the ground strata, or had they stumbled across some major archaeological discovery?
In fact, it was neither of these, because they then noticed that some of the rocks had their corners chipped off, and, beneath the natural-looking surface, there appeared to be bricks! They were artificial! They were Pulhamite. Thankfully, the Harrises decided to proceed with great care and caution, and eventually uncovered not just a very large surface rock garden, complete with streams, cascades and pools, but a labyrinth of underground tunnels, caves, grottoes, ferneries and follies!
This garden is something very special and unique, and we must be grateful to its new owners for its restoration, which they hope to complete sometime during 2004. Here is the Lion Grotto, with walls and columns covered in tufa, and a profusion of planting pockets.
Here is another Pantheon wannabe at Stourhead, which is is typical a Garden Folly, an Architectural Ornament of Landscape Design. It was created by Colen Campbell (d. 1729). Campbell published Vitruvius Brittanicus (1715), sponsored by Boyle, along with two more volumes published in 1717 and 1725. He also published important editions of Palladio’s Four Books.
I had a rather tiring couple of days this weekend as we decided to buy and install a gazebo in our back yard. About 20 years ago we had put in a small garden arch and as it was collapsing under the weight of the plants growing on it, it was high time to replace it. We went looking at various garden centres and we were surprised by the variety and wide spectrum of prices for these manifold structures that one can put up in the garden. We ended up buying a moderately priced gazebo in aluminium with a canvas roof and a surprisingly big area (as I found out after assembling it!).
I went through the usual rigmarole of trying to interpret the instructions, you know the sort: “Insert part A in the large hole of part B, using screw X and nut Y, taking care not to obstruct channel C or hole F through which you need to thread part D after attaching E and G with screw Z…). Nevertheless, I managed to erect the gazebo and at about 2:00 pm today we were able to sit in its shade and admire the garden while sipping a cold drink.
Quite apt for Art Sunday, therefore to consider the type of garden structure called a “folly”. This is a peculiar building, usually costly and ornamental with no practical purpose whatsoever, especially something like a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park. The large English-style gardens of the 18th century were quite renowned for these follies and if one visits the English countryside and the various stately homes and gardens that abound there, one will no doubt see follies galore!
Many follies in England were constructed in imitation of renowned buildings of the continent, (especially Italian and Roman) which were constructed in miniature (of course!). This picturesque garden with a folly paying homage to the Pantheon s the work of Lord Burlington (1694-1753) and can be found on the grounds of Chiswick House, Middlesex (which was begun 1725).
I have been blogging daily on this platform for several years now. It is surprising that I have persisted as the world is changing and "microblogging" is now the norm. I blog to amuse myself, make comment on current affairs, externalise some of my creativity, keep notes on things that interest me, learn something new and to surprise myself with things that I discover about this wonderful, and sometimes crazy, world we live in.
I sometimes get the impression that I am on a soapbox delivering a monologue, so your comments are welcome.