Saturday 15 August 2009


“Perception is a clash of mind and eye, the eye believing what it sees, the mind seeing what it believes.” - Robert Brault

And now, something different for Art Sunday. Here is the link to a cute quiz, which you can try, to see whether you have an eye for art or not. Some paintings are given to you and you simply have to guess whether they are by a famous artist or by an unknown artist (unknown for their art in any case…).

You may get some surprises in the end, especially where the identity of the unknown artists is revealed. The quiz is marked and scored automatically for you. I got a score of 92% right!


“There is no surprise more magical than the surprise of being loved. It is God's finger on man’s shoulder.” - Charles Morgan

Imagine yourself in the arms of your lover after a wonderful day (and evening!) that you have spent together. Heart and body are replete with the joy of being together and enjoying each other’s company. A caress on naked flesh, a tender kiss and the comfortable feeling of being together and watching the stars outside the window winking at you as the winds blow wildly. Inside it is warm, quiet and a sweet repose is making your limbs relaxed and heavy on each others body. You smile contentedly and the mad world outside seems far away and insignificant. Did I mention that sweet music is playing? Yes, it is, and it is this:
The Mozart Serenade No 10 In B Flat Major K 361, 3rd movement, Adagio…

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday 13 August 2009


“This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield, and the battle takes place. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition, the shafts of with start up like sharpshooters. Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with powder.” – Honoré de Balzac, "The Pleasures and Pains of Coffee"

One of the pleasures of travelling is sampling some of the local food and drink specialties. I had a meeting today in one of the cafés close to work and on the spur of the moment I ordered Viennese coffee. The coffee was excellent, but rather than Viennese coffee, it reminded me more of a coffee that I had in Germany when I was visiting Rüdesheim, the local specialty, Rüdesheimer Kaffee.

Rüdesheim is a lovely little town on the Rhine, amidst hills laden with terraced vineyards and having an atmosphere that’s straight out of a fairy tale. Since the beginning of the nineteenth century Rudesheim has been an attraction for English and German poets alike, and is today, considering the modest number of residents one of the most visited towns in the country. Historical landmarks, include the Klunkhardshof, the fortified Adler Tower, the thousand-year-old Broemser castle and the ruins of the Ehrenfels Castle. The nearby extensive forests of the nature park Rhein-Taunus are an added bonus.

From the vantage points of the Niederwald, the visitor can also enjoy breathtaking views of the Rhine valley with the Nahe river estuary and the beautiful uniformity of the steep vineyards. The superb Rüdesheimer Riesling is the local alcoholic specialty and one can enjoy it, together with music and dancing, in the Drosselgasse or in the numerous inns, wine bars and taverns.

But I digress, here is the recipe for the coffee:

Rüdesheimer Kaffee
Ingredients (for 4 cups)

150 ml cream
Vanilla sugar
160 ml brandy (Asbach Uralt, if you want to be really authentic!)
12 sugar cubes
800 ml scalding hot espresso coffee
Dark chocolate flakes


Whip the vanilla sugar and cream until stiff peaks form and reserve. Heat four flameproof cups (there are special Rüdesheimer coffee cups and you may want to buy some if you become addicted to this coffee!) and place three sugar cubes in each cup. Pour equal parts of the well-warmed brandy over the sugar cubes in each cup. Light the brandy-sugar mixture stir, and allow to burn for a minute. Pour in the hot coffee and fill to about two centimeters below the rim. Fill the cup with the whipped vanilla Chantilly cream. Sprinkle the cream with dark chocolate flakes.


Wednesday 12 August 2009


“I’m right-handed, whereas the fellow in my mirror is left-handed. I start shaving from the left; he starts from the right. Differences only in perception, but religious wars have been fought over such.” - Robert Brault

Today is International Left Handers’ Day! On the 13th of August 1992 the International Left Handers’ Club launched International Left-Handers Day, as an annual event that allows left-handers everywhere to celebrate their sinistrality and increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed. This event is now celebrated worldwide, with many regional events to mark the day, including left-vs-right sports matches, left-handed tea parties, pubs that use left-handed corkscrews where patrons drink and play pub games with the left hand only, and nationwide "Lefty Zones" where left-handers’ creativity, adaptability and sporting prowess are celebrated, whilst right-handers are encouraged to try out everyday left-handed objects to see just how awkward it can feel using the wrong equipment!

These events have contributed more than anything else to the general awareness of the difficulties and frustrations left-handers experience in everyday life, and have successfully led to improved product design and greater consideration of our needs by the right-handed majority, although there is still a long way to go! Our language is a prime example of the prejudice that left-handers have had to deal with since the dawn of history. Left-handers have been linguistically abused for centuries! There are hundreds of (mainly abusive) terms for left-handers. There are a lot of phrases and sayings where “right” is good and “left” is bad eg, “being in your right mind”, it will be “all right in the end”, being “dexterous”, as against having “two left-feet”, “a left-handed compliment” (one that is not really meant!), a “sinister” purpose, being “gauche”, etc.

Here is an interesting test from the Club’s pages:

We all, of course, know in which hand we hold a pen, but how far does this bias extend throughout your body? Are you left-eared? Left eyed? Here is a simple test you can apply to yourself.

1. Imagine the centre of your back is itching. Which hand do you scratch it with?

2. Interlock your fingers. Which thumb is uppermost?

3. Imagine you are applauding. Start clapping your hands. Which hand is uppermost?

4. Wink at an imaginary friend straight in front of you. Which eye does the winking?

5. Put your hands behind your back, one holding the other. Which hand is doing the holding?

6. Someone in front of you is shouting but you cannot hear the words. Cup your ear to hear better. Which ear do you cup?

7. Count to three on your fingers, using the forefinger of the other hand. Which forefinger do you use?

8. Tilt your head over on to one shoulder. Which shoulder does it touch?

9. Fixate a small distant object with your eyes and point directly at it with your forefinger. Now close one eye. Now change eyes. Which eye was open when the fingertip remained in line with the small object? (When the other eye, the non-dominant one, is open and the dominant eye is closed, the finger will appear to move to one side of the object.)

10. Fold your arms. Which forearm is uppermost?

If you have always considered yourself to be right or left-handed you will probably now have discovered that your body is less than total in its devotion to its favoured side. If you are right-handed the chances are that you were not able to be 'right' 10 times.

Are you left handed or right-handed? Maybe you are ambidextrous? Tell us about it!


“It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” Mark Twain

Safely home after the late night flight from Perth. It was a very long hard day’s work without break. However, it was quite successful, although another trip to Perth is on the cards in the near future. Going to the airport it was hard to ignore the signs of spring…


The plum trees blossom again this year,
For whom?
The sun regains its warmth, its brilliance,

New leaves unfurl,
The trees bedeck themselves with emeralds,
The garden is fragrant once again
As bulbs wildly bloom.

The earth is springing forth
And yet again, the mornings bright.
Where are you?
Have you seen it all?

Has anybody noticed it,
Has somebody really wondered,
Become enraptured?
Or has the spring blossom
Uncurled its fragrant petals,
All in vain?

Jacqui BB hosts Poetry Wednsesday

Tuesday 11 August 2009


“I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine." - Caskie Stinnett

I am in Perth a couple of days for work. It has been a very long day as I got up at four in the morning, then left by taxi to get to the airport at five with my flight leaving at six. The flying time from Melbourne to Perth is four hours, and then allowing for the two hour time difference, I was going in to work at 8:30 am, Perth time. I put in a good day’s work with several meetings, resolution of a few issues and also a couple of teleconferences with our Melbourne and Brisbane campuses.

I left work at about 4:00 pm and went for a walk around the City. The weather was quite pleasant, although the people here are complaining of a cold and wet winter. The temperature was an equable 18˚C and apart from a few gray clouds on occasion across the sky, it was fine. Certainly a very mild winter by Melbourne standards. Apparently it was a dreary and gray day in Melbourne today, raining and hailing…

In the City of Perth today it was quite busy and the crowds were lively and cosmopolitan. Many tourists around and especially so, those of the young and backpacker variety. There is still an atmosphere of excitement, growth and a pioneering spirit in this westernmost state capital of Australia. New buildings are still going up and there is a buoyancy in the air despite the economic gloom that still seems to plague the rest of the world. The shops were full and people were out there buying, buying, buying!

I always like to wander down the pedestrian mall and walk through the London Arcade. This is a quaint and “olde-worlde” arcade that is housed in a wonderful pseudo-Tudor confection of a building. Very fake, very touristic and very twee. Still it manages to capture a little of the atmosphere and it is easy to imagine oneself in one of the wonderful old streets of London. Some beautiful shops are right next to the tourist traps and one can admire tacky displays of Australiana right next to elegant and refined, artisan-made merchandise.

I have another full day of work tomorrow and then straight to the airport from work for a 6:00 pm flight to Melbourne which means I won’t get home until after midnight. It’s going to be a long day…

Sunday 9 August 2009


“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

We watched the 1996 Joel Schumacher film “A Time to Kill” at the weekend. The cast included Matthew McConaughey, Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Oliver Platt and Donald Sutherland. This was a film that was in the specials bin in my local video store and it was the cast that first attracted me to it, as I had not heard anything about it prior to seeing it there. Reading the blurb on the back cover of the packaging convinced me to get it. It was a good decision as it is a very powerful, albeit very harrowing and confronting film.

The plot concerns a Mississippi black man’s struggle for justice for himself and his family in contemporary America. The black man is Carl Lee Hailey (Jackson) and the catastrophic series of events begins as his 10-year-old daughter, Tonya, is brutally raped and bashed almost fatally by two young men with previous similar convictions. Hailey is an acquaintance of upwardly mobile young white lawyer Jake Brigance (McConaughey), who had previously defended successfully his brother in court. Determined to see that the two rapists get what they deserve, but knowing that rapists are often acquitted, Carl Lee takes the law into his own hands and guns them down in cold blood inside the courthouse on the day of their arraignments.

Brigance, struggling to keep his law practice solvent, finds himself defending Carl Lee against murder charges in Canton, Mississippi, a white-dominated town. Ellen Roark (Bullock), a law student from Ole Miss, offers her services gratis to Jake just for the opportunity to help with this case about which she feels strongly about and eventually convinces him to take her on. In the meantime, the Ku Klux Klan becomes involved at the prompting of the brother of one of the rapists, and a chapter of the KKK is reconstituted in Canton to deal with the “nigger-loving” whites. The situation explodes into violence and confrontation between blacks and whites, while the court case provides opportunity for airing intolerance and the racial prejudice question in the USA today.

This film was made from the novel by John Grisham and appears to be a good adaptation (as far as I can tell, seeing I have not read the novel). Comparisons with the novel and film “To Kill a Mockingbird” are inevitable as the similarity of the main thesis of the plot is obvious. Yes, it is not as good as these classics but nevertheless, I feel that Schumacher has made a tight, suspense-filled film that engages the viewer. The issues are confronting and shocking. The rape of the young girl was not explicitly shown, but was all the more terrifying and appalling for it. The concept of the theatrical obscene (ob scaena – “off the stage”) is understood by this director in this respect. The gunning down of the rapists is another matter and the violence there is graphic and extreme.

It is very difficult not to be drawn into the core question of the movie: “Has race equality been achieved in the USA of today?” The events depicted in this movie highlight the prejudices of contemporary American society and also point out the differences between North and South, rich and poor, well-connected and less well-connected people. A particularly good point of the film is that of course not all whites are bad and not all blacks are good. The thesis that each person is an individual and should be judged on his or her merits and actions independently of race, social position, geography, wealth etc, is underpinning of the film.

A sub-plot is ambition and what people will do to achieve their goal. Four different lawyers are compared and contrasted with each other. The savvy, experienced and wildly ambitious DA (Spacey) who is prepared to do anything to achieve success and a high political position; the young idealistic lawyer (McConaughey), who dreams of being successful while still maintaining his ethical standards; a formerly successful and now alcoholic lawyer (Sutherland) who has seen the futility of success and high places; and the mercenary, shallow divorce lawyer (Platt) whose only goal seems to be an easy life, fast cars, beautiful women and a conscience that is forever asleep.

The film is good and well-worth seeing. I should like to think that the USA of 2009 is different to that portrayed in 1996. That the America of Obama has lessened a little the rift between black and white, that there is a little more tolerance and understanding in a society that has long been troubled by racism and intolerance.

Other blogs posting about films on this Movie Monday:

Dangerous Meredith

My Soul's Words

Virtually Lea