Wednesday 28 April 2010

The Pale Blue Dot

Following on from the last post, here is one of my all time favourite quotes by Carl Sagan. It is taken from his 1996 book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space in regard to the image ofEarth taken in 1990 by Voyager 1 from the very edge of our solar system, 3,781,782,502.403 miles to be precise. Utterly humbling and yet in many ways inspirational, in the sense of living life to the full. Here is the quote in all its glory:

"Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every ‘superstar,’ every ‘supreme leader,’ every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there — on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known."

There is a great wikipedia article on the Pale Blue Dot picture itself, and the book by Sagan.

Monday 26 April 2010

Less Proverbs

I'm a great fan of proverbs, found this Swedish one today :

“Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; love more, and all good things will be yours.”

I certainly need to chew and breathe more. It actually reminded me of this from Socrates :

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

Both proverbs underlie that less is more. This is a notion that i firmly believe, and am currently being forced to practise as a result of the Australian Quarantine & Inspection Service taking over 2 weeks to inspect our goddamn crate from the UK, and leave me with a backpack full of belongings to live out of. How can it take so long?  On the flip side, i've been forced into using Ingunn's Mac and have come to like it. I've got a copy of VMWare Fusion running Windows XP as a backup, but haven't really been using it that much other than comparison. Things i like about the Mac :


  • Everything just works.  It feels rather like using a DVD player, or toaster.
  • The user interface is beautiful to look at, i find myself just tinkering with menus and marvellng at the attention to detail.  The designers at Apple clearly have exquisite taste, and UI seems to be slightly more intuative than with Windows.


The main problem i have though, is with a lack of delete key, and my Windows keyboard shortcut muscle memories being of no use. Keep trying keyboard combinations which have disastrous consequences.


Going through some old pics today, here's one from the Empire State Building :

Empire State Building

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Friendly(er) spam

I used to think comment spam was the scourge of the earth, however i'm starting to change my mind.  Have a look at this comment received today on one of my old posts:

"Easily, the article is really the best on this laudable topic. I concur with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your forthcoming updates. Saying thanks will not just be enough, for the extraordinary lucidity in your writing. I will directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. De lightful work and much success in your business efforts!"

Total nonsense, but makes me laugh and frankly a refreshing change from the spam in my inbox informing me off non-existent mortgage applications, or that my knob is too small.

Ia Orana

Tahitian morning


If you ever make it to Tahiti, i'd recommend making takng the extra step and getting the ferry to Moorea, the smaller island to the east. Stayed at a resort called Linereva, formerly a dive centre and run by a friendly French couple. You have a coral reef on your doorstep, kayaks available and bikes to use, and well decked out beach huts. I spent countless hours swimming in / around the reef, plenty of rays, reef sharks and turtles. The pic above was taken standing on the jetty which leads out to the reef.


Thursday 1 April 2010

Moving to Sydney and looking to rent?

Here are a painful lessons i've learnt in the last 4 days..

  1. Get used to the whole house/apartment public inspection, only in a blue moon will an agent give you a private viewing for a place.  Makes you wonder what they actually do at all.
  2. Chances are you won't have employment yet, on your application make it clear you are prepared to pay atleast 3 months + bond upfront, of not the whole tennancy.  We had a couple of applications rejected even though we offered to pay 6 months for a 6 month contract upfront simply because having arrived a few days ago we weren't employed.  Makes no sense whatsoever, but it is just like that.  
  3. Use the fact that you aren't working to your advantage, any inspections after 5pm on a weekday or on a Saturday anytime will be popular (alot of places we viewed must have had over 20 people there), so unless it is breath taking concentrate on those showing 10:00 - 16:00 Mon-Fri, then apply straight away.  
  4. Hand deliver rather than fax applications, found applications got much further if i had a chance to speak with the real estate agent face to face, also led to them telling me about upcoming apartments.
  5. Each applicant needs 100 points of proof, i was carrying my passport, copy of bank statement, copy of credit cards around with me the whole time, means i could quickly make new applications if an agent showed/suggested a new property.
  6. I created a google docs spreadsheet aggregating all the properties i wanted to view for the day.  Could access all the details i needed for properties from the published page on my pda, saved so much time when travelling to and from viewings.  Retrieving property infomation, agent contact details using or mobile search is very slow and frustrating. 
  7. Don't bother visiting real estate agency offices unless you are dropping off an application, all the properties they have will be on domain or realestate. I found using realestate's OpenInspection tool most fruitful.
  8. Phone up an agent before going to an inspection, a couple of times no one turned up and i wasted time and money getting there. If i had my way, those agents would have be hung drawn an quartered.
In the 5 years I lived in Sydney prior to returning i never remember the rental market being so fierce, like a pack of wolves chasing down a small rabbit.  Saw people viewing a property for the first time for barely 10 seconds before handing a prefilled application form to the real estate agent. I wonder what buying a place is actually going to be like?

In other news, here are some of the New Zealand pictures, what an amazing country.

Mirror Lake, Wanaka