Nearly midnight…

It’s nearly midnight – Saturday 1/10/2016 – and I am done with work for the night, listening to Imagine Dragons (possibly too loud), and my brain is fizzing with thoughts – about my industry, about people, about life, and the world.

All I know is that tomorrow is a new day and it will be FUN – even if daylight saving is going to steal an hour from me!

In the mean time, I thought I would share some photos from my travels.

elevator garden garden-2 park rooster waterfall beach beach-2 beach-3 bike

Yoga and being over forty

Seven Reasons Why Every Man Should Take up Yoga” – it’s the title of an article I read today. It could have been an average puff piece with little substance, but it turned out to be a worthwhile read. And I am certain that every reason is as much applicable to women as it is to men.

What really caught my attention though was that the article was written by a former cricketer Andrew May – and it focused on how yoga is especially beneficial to older men.

2016-09-08-14-29-42Everything that he said I have either experienced or could could relate to – specifically as a man who is now 44 years old. I’m not twenty-something (this is a good thing really) and I don’t have a young man’s body. Like Andrew May and his professional sporting colleges I have a legacy of injuries, large and small, I don’t heal as rapidly as I used to, I am not as flexible as I once was, my skin isn’t as elastic as it used to be, and I now tend to gain body fat more easily around my middle. All typical aspects of aging for men.

But that doesn’t in any way mean that I dislike my body, or feel bad about it, or don’t feel attractive. On the contrary, I love my body. And being older has actually brought some improvements. When I was in my twenties, I was always very lightly built. I’m no heavy weight now, but I have “filled out” you could say. My upper body is larger and stronger and I build muscle much more easily and quickly than I ever did in my twenties.

Anyway, for many people – male or female – aging is a huge challenge for our perception of self. We are no longer the person we feel we should be. Our body is busy betraying us, and of course work and family life make it all so, so much harder.

Andrew May’s response is that yoga is the answer – and I honestly can’t disagree.

I personally prefer pilates to yoga, but they share enough basic principals (like flexibility, core strength and stability, and control) that I personally feel they are interchangeable. 10 years ago, pilates gave me a solution to a lifetime of back trouble that started when I was 15 years old.

Andrew May observed that doing yoga bought him “better mates”, better mood, and better sexual function (amongst other things). Unexpected benefits perhaps, but I would say that it shouldn’t be a surprise really. Undertaking a discipline like yoga is completely at odds with the permanently busy, consumerist lifestyle that so most of us are ruled by. Taking time out to stretch, to breath, to extend our bodies and our awareness of ourselves forces you to stop, to disconnect from the rest of the world and to just be, for a time at least.

It is no wonder I think that in doing so we can find broader benefits than being more flexible – and of course there is nothing here that says women can’t benefit just as much as us men!

John.

April in Melbourne – part one

I have just flown back to Sydney, having been in Melbourne for only two days – it felt like a lot longer though thanks to interesting people, a vibrant city, and catching up with family and friends.
I tweeted a lot of the trip because I was excited to be back in Melbourne and feeling a connection with it.  So I thought I would share those tweets…

I flew out of Sydney eventually, but only after Jetstar cancelled my flight and moved me to a qantas flight instead.  More aggravation than I needed and it left me lucky that my Monday afternoon booking had cancelled! Continue reading

A little art

There are some neat pieces of software out there on the Internet.  There are image processing versions of Google’s Deep Dream engine (Google created it for machine anaysis of images).  Also a site called Linify that reproduces images using coloured lines.

I picked a photo that I took a while ago and ran it through both systems and I thought I would share it here.

lorikeet

My feathered friends

dream-800

How Deep Dream sees them after three iterations of the engine

linify-800

How Linify sees them

John.

The Sydney Skinny – 2015

Well, the Sydney Skinny has been and gone for another year!
I swam in the fifth wave (I think) this year, which (totally accidentally) turned out to be the Body Image group.  It somehow seems appropriate given “me”.  Anyway, it was, as with last year, a fun group of people who all stripped off on the beach and swam either 900, or 300 meters.
Sydney Skinny 2015

I found the swim a lot easier than last year, but it was still a lot harder than I expected.  There was a reasonable amount of chop and some bigger waves (of perhaps 50cms) from ferries or other boats.  My main problem was that I actually started to feel sea sick about one third of the way through!  I was trying to move with the waves, rather than bashing through them and it turned out to be a pretty sickening rythm.

So, next year I am thinking that I need to do more open water swimming in preparation.

Anyway, it was a fun experience yet again and great to see so many people getting out and enjoying the sunshine, the water, and the freedom of being nude!

John.

 

There is another Sydney…

We think that we know the places that we live.  They are familiar to us by site, sound, smell, and feel.  But (if you are lucky) every now and then you come across a side of your home town that you have never seen before, and your eyes are opened…

I was lucky enough to be taken to visit a very unusual building.  It is almost in the CBD of Sydney, but the owners (whoever they are!) don’t seem to care about it.  It is home to a mix of people, but it is as far from your average apartment building as you could imagine, half squat, half artists commune, half… something else (yes, that’s three halves, but it seems strangely appropriate for this place).

The roof of the building has become an amazing art space for graffiti.  Uncontrolled, no rules, yet civilised in a manner that society at large may be uncomfortable with.  Don’t forget to click on each image to see them full size and enjoy the photos.

graffiti 1

graffit 2 John.

A bit of hard work…

Ok, it’s an excuse to post a photo with no top on, but what they heck, I’ll do it anyway.

I am working on a project to build a large cupboard at the moment and it was pretty hot last week, so no shirt!  Ripping a 2.4 meter long sheet of 18mm thick ply wood into two pieces was really hard work by hand, but prefer to use hand tools.  Reliable, simple, and a skill that I think is worth having.  By contrast, cutting these shelves was easy going.

cutting woodJohn.

Tuning the Beale …

My partner’s piano has (ever since she can remember) had one key (the A6) that was out of tune.  Inevitably it’s a key that many pieces of music require.

Recently (while watching the remake of the movie Total Recall) I heard a piece from Beethovan’s Tempest (Sonata No. 17) and suggested to S that she should learn to play it.  If you don’t know the piece you can see a rendition of the Total Recall version (played much slower than the original) here on Youtube:

Of course Tempest requires A6, so yesterday – in the face of stern warnings to the contrary on a label inside the piano – we set about attempting to tune that key.

The piano is an upright, a Beale Vader semi grand.  It is over 100 years old based on the serial number, and despite not having been tuned in at least 50 years (if ever) it is still surprisingly in good tune (mind you this was the Beale’s claim to fame that it would hold its tune come hell or high water, which seems to be true!).  Apart from one key.

Thanks to modern technology tuning things is much easier than it once was.  For instance, to get the note right, I simply downloaded a tuning app (called G-String) to my phone.

piano_tuning_1

piano_tuning_2

The g-string app works a treat. No need for an expensive dedicated tuner.

Tuning a piano if you have the right tools is not really a difficult task.  It’s like tuning a guitar, only you can’t sit it on your lap.  Each key has three strings behind its hammer and all of the strings have to be tuned to the desired note to create that wonderful, crisp, unique piano sound.

I made up some wedges to mute the two strings that weren’t being tuned and we set to work.  The result was good, not perfect, as one string was fractionally higher than the other two, but definitely a serious improvement over its tone before tuning.

And as to the question: do you always tune pianos in the nude?  Well, maybe ;-)

John.