Saturday, 24 September 2011


“They who go Feel not the pain of parting; it is they Who stay behind that suffer” - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

We had a leisurely day today, with a long, drawn-out breakfast and then a stroll in the garden. We then decided to go to the St Andrews market where we hadn’t been for ages. It was packed as the weather was good and the traders were there in full force. We enjoyed it and then went to the St Andrews Hotel for lunch. A nice drive back through Panton Hill, Kangaroo Ground and Eltham where we enjoyed the green fields and the clear transparent air. We watched a movie in the afternoon and then night fell, quite suddenly…

For Song Saturday, a beautiful Greek song with music by Manos Loïzos, lyrics by Manolis Rasoulis and sung by Haris Alexiou: “Everything Reminds me of You”

Όλα σε θυμίζουν

Όλα σε θυμίζουν,
απλά κι αγαπημένα,
πράγματα δικά σου, καθημερινά
σαν να περιμένουν κι αυτά μαζί μ εμένα
νά ρθεις κι ας χαράξει για στερνή φορά.

Όλη μας η αγάπη την κάμαρα γεμίζει
σαν ένα τραγούδι που λέγαμε κι οι δυο,
πρόσωπα και λόγια και τ όνειρο που τρίζει,
σαν θα ξημερώσει τι θαν’ αληθινό.

Όλα σε θυμίζουν,
απλά κι αγαπημένα,
πράγματα δικά σου, καθημερινά.

Όλα σε θυμίζουν,
κι οι πιο καλοί μας φίλοι.
Άλλος στην ταβέρνα, άλλος σινεμά.
Μόνη μου διαβάζω το γράμμα που ‘χες στείλει
πριν να φιληθούμε πρώτη μας φορά.

Όλη μας η αγάπη την κάμαρα γεμίζει
σαν ένα τραγούδι που λέγαμε κι οι δυο,
πρόσωπα και λόγια και τ όνειρο που τρίζει,
σαν θα ξημερώσει τι θαν’ αληθινό.

Όλα σε θυμίζουν,
απλά κι αγαπημένα,
πράγματα δικά σου, καθημερινά.

Everything Reminds me of You

Everything reminds me of you
Simple and beloved things
Things of you, of everyday life
As if they wait along with me for you to come,
And then, it may as well dawn for the last time.

All of our love fills the room
Like a song we both used to sing.
Faces and words and the dream that creaks
When it dawns, what will be real?

Everything reminds me of you
Simple and beloved things
Things of you, of everyday life.

Everything reminds me of you
Even our best friends
Some in the tavern, some at the movies
Alone, I read the letter you once sent me
Before we kissed for our first time.

All of our love fills the room
Like a song we both used to sing.
Faces and words and the dream that creaks
When it dawns, what will be real?

Everything reminds me of you
Simple and beloved things
Things of you, of everyday life.

Friday, 23 September 2011


“A man travels the world in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.” - George E. Moore

I am finally back home after a delayed flight back to Melbourne and a considerable delay in getting the baggage off plane. It made for a long and tiring day, especially after the four very full days that I away in Brisbane for work. Being Food Friday, here is a recipe for lasagne, seeing how we had this for lunch at our workshop (meant I did not need any dinner at all!):

Spinach Lasagne

1 bunch spinach
3 onions
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
Melted butter to taste
1 tsp dried, ground oregano
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp tomato paste
250gm grated tasty cheese
250gm grated soft cheese
1 pkt of Mountain Bread
1/4 cup milk
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
200gm button mushrooms
fresh ground black pepper

•    Trim white stalks from spinach and discard, then rinse leaves thoroughly.
•    Place wet spinach in a large saucepan with chopped mushrooms, cover and cook on high for ten minutes or until tender. Drain, lightly squeeze and set aside.
•    Saute garlic and onion in oil until transparent, stir through spinach and mushroom mixture with nutmeg.
•    Mix 
together cheeses, milk and pepper and combine with tomato pieces, oregano and tomato paste.
•    To assemble, line a lightly buttered casserole dish with one slice of Mountain Bread and brush the bread with melted butter. Layer with one third of the tomato, one third of spinach and one third of cheese.  Top with buttered Mountain Bread, and repeat twice, finishing with a layer of bread. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake at 180˚C for 30-40 minutes.
•    Serve with green garden salad

Thursday, 22 September 2011


“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” - Oscar Wilde

I’ve had another busy day at work in Brisbane at our Academic Professional Development workshop. It is a rather difficult task to be organising everything, ensuring that all is running to schedule, moderating sessions and then also presenting two of them. Nevertheless, it was all worth it and another successful day concluded this evening. All of the attendees were most complimentary and gave positive feedback. One more day tomorrow and then flying back home tomorrow evening.

Tonight I decided to have a quiet evening and after eating something I went for a long walk. It was a quiet night and rather warm so it was pleasant to walk in the street and look at the houses lit by the street lights, catch snatches of music behind closed shutters, laughter from balconies and disjointed conversations wafting in the air and dissipating as I walked on by. The heady, heavily aromatic smell of night-blooming Jessamine (Cestrum nocturnum) hard to ignore, as it made the air redolent with its perfume. The large white trumpet blooms of the thorn apple (Datura stramonium) also sweet smelling, shone out in the darkness, while the more refined, delicate scent of the stocks although distinctive gave no indication of where exactly the blooms were.

I think I met all of two other people walking in the street and it was quite pleasant to say “good evening” and have them reply back with an equally cheerful greeting. There must be many other places in the world where in a city of Brisbane’s size one would not dare venture out in the street after dark, much less greet strangers in this way. How sad! Such is urbanisation and civilisation, then…

I walked back to the hotel and lay down in bed putting some music on and relaxing. It was quite a restful, peaceful time that I devoted to me and my thoughts. The darkened room, one corner lit by a bedside lamp which cast its yellow light dimly around it, and the soft strains of the second movement of Bach’s Concerto In C Minor For Oboe & Violin allowing my mind to trace endless spirals while it followed the mellifluous melody in its wanderings.

Almost time to sleep now, but here is an offering for Word Thursday:

redolent |ˈredl-ənt| adjective
1 [ predic. ] (redolent of/with) strongly reminiscent or suggestive of (something): Names redolent of history and tradition.
• literary strongly smelling of something: The church was old, dark, and redolent of incense.
2 archaic or literary fragrant or sweet-smelling: A rich, inky, redolent wine.
redolence noun,
redolently adverb
ORIGIN late Middle English (in the sense ‘fragrant’): from Old French, or from Latin redolent- ‘giving out a strong smell,’ from re(d)- ‘back, again’ + olere ‘to smell.’

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


“Music and rhythm find their way into the secret places of the soul” - Plato

I am in Brisbane for work and the weather has been marvellous. The nights are soft, warm, balmy and the subtropical vegetation lush and beautifully green. Walking to the hotel tonight the air was perfumed with the aroma of some subtropical bloom and thinking to the picture stimulus of the latest Magpie Tales challenge it was easy to be quite literal and rhyming in my interpretation once again, influenced no doubt by the sweet, subtropical night. Henri Rousseau’s mysterious and beautiful painting is very evocative of music and its power, and his “Snake Charmer” charms also the viewer who feels drawn into the depths of the image.


In the stillness of the night
To the silvern moon’s delight
Sweetly does the flute resound
Spilling music all around.

Ebon skin and hair that shimmers
Shiny glance that softly glimmers,
Sinuous and sweet’s the air
Luring beasts from out their lair.

Music makes the jungle tame
Calms and yet ignites a flame.
Music soothes the savage beast
Rouses passions in the priest.

Neath the moon’s resplendent orb
Flowers music strains absorb.
Snakes start to slither, slide,
And up to the flautist glide.

She charms serpent, beast and bird
With her music not her word;
Now the snakes around her creep
Up they climb, roused from sleep.

Music heals the deepest wound
Makes the air around perfumed.
Music calls to arms and strife,
Yet assassins drop their knife.

And each gentle leaf unfurls,
Flower twines and softly curls;
As the music upwards floats
Rhythm, melody, sweet notes.

In the stillness of the night
To the silvern moon’s delight
Sweetly does the flute resound
Spilling music all around.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one” - C.S. Lewis

I am in Brisbane for work currently and after arriving late for my morning meeting, because of the airline strike disruptions, we got off to rollicking start as the group was really primed up and ready for a good dialogue. There were several presentations, and this being an executive team, discussion was at fairly high level and of strategic importance to the organisation as a whole. It was a gruelling meeting that went from 10:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (including a working lunch) but much was accomplished and the team worked well through some challenging and confronting issues. My presentation went well and I kept within the allotted time, surprising for me, as I usually tend to go over time. However, I think in my maturity I have learnt the importance of succinctness and usually manage to keep within the recommended time frames by being epigrammatic and suggestive, rather than painfully explicit and using many examples. Short, punchy delivery with the use of analogy seems to work well and certainly helps me keep to strictly applied time constraints.

After the meeting we went to our hotel for a bit of a freshening up before reconvening for dinner at Moda Restaurant at 12 Edward St in Brisbane City. This is a great place to relax in and have a good meal, attended by excellent waiting staff. The menu is eclectic and multiculturally modern Australian. Although there were no outstanding dishes, the fare was good quality, fresh, well cooked and served impeccably by experienced staff, who were not pushy, but attentive.

I had a seared scallop entrée followed by sirloin steak and Spanish crème caramel for dessert. By Melbourne standards this was an average meal, however, for Brisbane it was very good and as I said earlier enhanced by the attitude of the staff, who seemed to hover around and respond to our requests immediately, but at the same time were never pushy or overbearing – quite a rare thing nowadays.

After the meal, three of us decided to walk the 1.5 km back to our hotel, but on the way back stopped at a pub to have a nightcap. The three of us have a good working relationship and we usually manage to get together at these national meetings. Although we usually have teleconferences and operate collaboratively quite effectively across the country, these face-to-face get-togethers allow us to cement our connection on a deeper level and take it a step above the purely professional work relationship.

Tonight’s get-together after the meal consisted of drinking a couple of drinks together at a pub, which we stopped at on the way back to the hotel. We sat down, chatted casually about all sorts of things, joked, talked about a few work matters, about sport, about some family matters, photography and about the day’s session. It was a relaxed, de-stressing, unwinding session where we “male-bonded” and shared some experiences. We laughed, talked freely, confident in divulging our feelings and thoughts, but at the same time respectful of each other’s privacy and commonly agreed boundaries. There was not a single swear-word uttered, quite a lot of intellectual repartee was exchanged and a good time was had by all.

In the context of relationships, male bonding describes friendship between men, or the way in which men befriend each other, in an interaction described as camaraderie, or to use the Australian vernacular “mateship”. These friendships amongst men are typically based on shared activities, instead of emotional sharing (which is more common in women’s friendships). Male bonding usually involves playing video games, musical instruments, shopping, sporting activities, fishing, hunting, camping, gambling, social drinking, or working with tools. The first widely-noticed use of the term was in Men in Groups (1969) by anthropologist Lionel Tiger.

This special relationship is a very satisfying one as it allows men to come together in a “safe” environment where competition and rivalry are brushed aside and each man finds something that he shares with another man. It matters not that men in such relationships are very different and their interests are quite varied, their personalities often quite disparate and even their social classes widely apart. It is enough that the men share one single common interest, which can serve as powerful unifying force to create a special link that will allow quite a strong and special relationship to develop, despite the huge number of differences.

Aristotle’s classical description of friendship is often taken to be the prototype of male bonding or “bromance”. He wrote around 300 BC: “It is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality.” It should be noted that these relationships are not at all sexual and the bonding that occurs is of a “homosocial” type rather than a “homoerotic” type. This type of relationship adds a marvellous depth to social interactions and allows men to develop a richer, powerful emotional dimension to their personality.

Monday, 19 September 2011


“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” - Arthur C. Clarke

In the sixth edition of “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”, published shortly before his death in 1790, Adam Smith added a remarkable thought experiment to his discussion on the “Influence and Authority of Conscience”. The experiment had to do with the effects of physical distance on moral judgment. Having suggested that any moral adjudication between two parties must proceed from the place and with the eyes of a third person, who has no particular connection with either, and who judges with impartiality between them, Smith went on to remark how infrequently such judgments actually appear in practice.

If the “great empire of China” were suddenly destroyed by an earthquake, for instance, how would the average European react to the news? Though he might, in the initial shock, “make many melancholy reflections upon the precariousness of human life,” or in a soberer moment consider “the effects which this disaster might produce upon the commerce of Europe,” he would eventually return to his normal life “with the same ease and tranquillity, as if no such accident had happened”. Out of sight, out of mind; the death of distant millions would in the long run fail to register its fated and objectively terrifying imprint on his conscience…

There is a passage in the novel, “Père Goriot”, where French author Honoré deBalzac refers to a place in the works of J. J. Rousseau where he asks the reader what he would do if, without leaving Paris and, of course, without being discovered, he could kill an old mandarin in Peking, with great profit to himself, by a mere act of the will. He makes it possible for us to guess that he does not consider the life of this dignitary very secure. “To kill your mandarin” has become proverbial for this secret readiness to kill someone distant and unknown, if the perpetrator had sufficient self-interest int his death.

This is a rather long introduction to Movie Monday today, but it is quite apt as we watched a film, the basic premise of which related to “killing your mandarin”. The movie was Richard Kelly’s 2009 “The Box”, starring Cameron Diaz, James Marsden and Frank Langella. Its basic premise relates to human nature and what many of us may be capable of doing if a large sum of money were to “fall in our lap”, no questions asked...

The plot revolves around Norma Lewis (Diaz) and Arthur Lewis (Marsden), an “average” suburban couple in Richmond, Virginia who has a young son (Sam Oz Stone). The film is set in 1976 and as Arthur is a NASA scientist, there is connection with the space program. One day the family receives a wooden box on which is a button, seemingly unconnected to any mechanism in what proves to be an empty box. A mysterious stranger (Langella) delivers the message that the box promises to bestow upon its owner $1 million if the button is pressed. However, pressing this button will simultaneously cause the death of another human being somewhere in the world, someone they don’t know. With just 24 hours to have the box in their possession, Norma and Arthur find themselves on the horns of a moral dilemma and must face their true character.

The film was compelling viewing and if one saw it for what it really was, the old “kill your mandarin” story in 1970s clothes, then one has the basis of a good morality tale, which may be quite a useful piece from which to begin a discussion with one’s class in Philosophy 101. True enough, there are ambiguities and irrelevancies, a supernatural/sci-fi underpinning to the story (in attempt perhaps to make marketing it to the teen age group easier), however, the fact remains that one can be sympathetic to the main premise on which the film rests.

The acting is quite good and the 1970s feel is quite convincing. The cinematography, special effects and make-up are good (as one expects nowadays from all bar the very worst Hollywood offerings), making for quite an enjoyable movie. If you watch this film expecting sheer horror (with ghoulies and ghosties and things that go bump in the night), you’ll be disappointed. However, there are some chilling scenes in the film and the feeling of horror is more subtle and depends on the psychological manipulation of the viewer’s emotions and feelings.

There are many loose ends in the film and perhaps there is too much in it. It could have ben tighter and shorter than its 115 minutes. Nevertheless, it is an interesting movie and well worth seeing, especially if you are interested in what I described in my introduction: Are we humans more than likely to “kill our mandarin” than not? Are we basically selfish with altruism a rare exception amongst us? Do we care only for our near and dear and have no interest in nor compassion for those distant and far removed from us? Would you press the button?

Sunday, 18 September 2011


“Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes.” - Voltaire

For Art Sunday today, a painting by Jacques-Louis David: "The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons". This is a large painting Oil on Canvas, about 3m by 4m, painted in 1789 and now exhibited in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.

The full title of this work is “Brutus Returning Home after Having Sentenced His Sons for Plotting a Tarquinian Restoration and Conspiring against Roman Freedom; the Lictors Bring their Bodies to be Buried”. Having led the fight which overthrew the monarchy and established the Roman Republic, Brutus tragically saw his own sons participate in a plot to restore the monarchy. As a judge, he was called upon to render the verdict, and unhesitatingly condemned his own boys to death.

In bringing up such a topic in 1789, David generated hot controversy, and reveals how deeply committed the artist was to the new ideas and enlightenment principles of the French Revolution. Had the revolution not occurred, this picture would almost certainly never have been exhibited publicly. But in the exciting days following the fall of the Bastille, David’s picture was seen as a republican manifesto, and greatly raised the artist’s reputation.  The picture’s influence was immediately felt in other ways, including taste, fashion and even morals.

A commentator noted: “After it was exhibited, fashion returned to hair without powder and women adopted loose hair styles, soon to be followed by men... Corsets were banished, as were high-heeled shoes and women got into the habit of replacing so-called court dresses by light and simple clothes, which were more elegant than sumptuous.” Artistically, David achieved his effect through an uncompromising clarity and a subordination of color to drawing. This economy of statement was in keeping with the new severity of taste, while his themes gave expression to the new cult of the civic virtues of stoical self-sacrifice, devotion to duty, honesty, and austerity.

Seldom have paintings so completely typified the sentiment of an age as David’s “The Oath of the Horatii” (1784), “The Death of Socrates” (1787), and “Brutus and his Dead Sons” (1789). They were received with acclamation by critics and public alike, and have become identified with the ideas of the French Revolution. In all of his historical paintings done in the years immediately preceding the great revolution, David worked hard to introduce the themes of the triumph and role of reason and one law common to all. These high ideals were the kindling that fired up people’s minds and their will to purse equality, fraternity and liberty.