Wandering Thoughts

May 30, 2010

Just like Jesus with a Jet-ski?

Filed under: Going Places,Ramblings and Musings — terence @ 12:28 pm

This one’s for all those who don’t believe in miracles. Make sure you watch it right through (the real miraculous stuff starts about two minutes in).

HT: Chris Blattman again. The pedantic among you might want to read comments under his blog post.

May 26, 2010

The nature of things

Filed under: Ramblings and Musings — terence @ 10:00 pm
Tags: ,

Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe. – Frank Zappa, 1989.

Hat-tip: Chris Blattman

May 15, 2010


Filed under: Surfing — terence @ 12:52 pm
Tags: ,

The tale of how I ended up organising surfing contests is a complicated one. By nature I’m not much of an organiser and, other than a brief phase as a teenager, contests don’t interest me. Organising them takes time too. Lots of it. Time which, to be honest, I’d sooner spend surfing myself.

Or, at least, the tale of how I ended up organising surfing contests should have been a complicated one, but it wasn’t: in reality I’m just no good at saying no. The club needed someone to run them. I got asked. I said yes.

And so I ended up at Riversdale on a summer’s day striding round, corralling potential judges, drawing up heat schedules, and explaining the rules. That morning, when we started the event, the surf had actually been pretty decent. We’d located ourselves about 50 metres south of the surf club, in front of a series of sand bars on which glassy waves peeled left and right. Head high sets maybe bigger. Which is about perfect size for Riversdale – if the waves get any larger the paddle out becomes a nightmare.

Inevitably the sea-breeze came up and the waves became messier as the day went on, but they held their size. Maybe even got a little bigger. It was a nice day to be at the beach too. Warm Wairarapa summer weather. The clubbies had their flags out, kids were swimming, two lifesavers in an IRB patrolled the beach. And we plowed on with the contest.

By mid-afternoon we were running the long-board ‘final’. Which was, in reality, just a mega-heat for the 6 longboarders who had shown up that morning. I gave them half an hour in the water. They needed it. It was low tide and the paddle out took even the better longboarders 10 minutes slogging out against windblown lines of white water. A couple of them struggled to get out at all. One overweight guy only made it through a triumph of will that should have seen him awarded first prize simply for tenacity.

Anyhow, eventually they all made it out the back and we started the heat. Which was when the head lifesaver came jogging down the beach towards is, beer belly bouncing under his yellow shirt, jandals kicking sand into the wind.

“Hey. You gotta get your surfers out of the water. The guys on the IRB radioed in to say they spotted a shark.”

He then turned on his heels and ran off to help in summoning the teenage swimmers to the beach.

“Shit. What do I do?”

Lars was nonplussed.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s probably just a dogfish. And, anyway, they’re only long boarders.”

The other judges were no more help.

“Uh dunno mate. Up to you.”

Such is the loneliness of leadership.

“Fuck – alright. We gotta get them out of the water. Hey. HHHHEEEEYYY!!!! Come in. COME IN. Shark!”

James started sounding the siren which we used to start and finish heats. And everyone began waving towels and t-shirts.

“Shark! Come in! Shark!”

It took them a while, but eventually the longboarders figured something was up and came crashing in through the white water. Gathering around me. With puffed and puzzled looks on their faces.

“Sorry guys. The lifeguards spotted a shark. I just thought it would be safer to get you out of the water.”

“Are you sure mate – we didn’t see anything.” The overweight guy looked particularly pained. All that wasted effort.

“Yes of course I’m sure. The water’s as murky as out there. I’m not surprised you didn’t see it.”

“There’s no sharks at Riversdale…”

“…it was probably just a dogfish.”

“I’m telling you. The lifeguard said it was a shark.”

And that was the moment the lifeguard chose to return.

“Just heard back from the guys on the boat. You can start your contest again. The shark’s only 2 foot long.”

“Two feet?”

“Two feet. The fin looked bigger but it’s tiny. Just a dogfish.”

“Oh, um, good news. Great, um back out into the water then guys(?).”

And so it was that the only casualty of the great Riversdale shark siting of 2005 was my already tenuous motivation to run surf contests. Eaten by a dogfish.

May 8, 2010


Filed under: Going Places,Surfing — terence @ 7:37 pm

I was camped by the coast and keen on surfing alone. The plan was to get up pre-dawn and paddle out in the twilight. I set my alarm for six: early enough, I thought, and drifted into uncomfortable sleep.

I woke up in the light. No alarm, just light. I must have slept in. Or maybe dawn was earlier than I thought? I was bone tired and hazy, but – loyal to my plan – I pulled on my clothes in a hurry, joints protesting the contortions, and crawled out of the tent. Outside, where it wasn’t dawn at all. Instead the moon hung in the sky. A mirror for the sun, full enough and bright enough to have the campground lit up. I could see the trees and cars and tents around me. Shaking my head I climbed back into bed.

Although I didn’t last weekend, there have been times, camped at the coast, where I’ve sat in the moonlight watching the waves. Listening to the crack and swash and imagining myself riding on silvered water.

Like almost everything about the sport, night surfing is easier to imagine than to do. It’s cold in the middle of the night. And the sea is black proper. Sharky and eerie. And so, although I’ve thought about it a lot, I’ve only ever tried night surfing once, in small glassy waves at Freshwater. Late summer in Sydney, with a friend to accompany me, and the vague thought that night surfing had to be safer in a bay.

The moon that night was bright but not quite enough. Waves arrived unannounced and the half-light skewed perception. Which made it pretty hard to surf. All the more so in the short sharp beach break waves. Still, in between spills we got rides, enough to be happy. And in between rides we marveled at the patterns the moonlight made in the shallows, white ripples, refracted by the sea, crisscrossing the sand. And just that once, as we sat waiting for waves we were free not to about the dreaded crowds of the northern beaches. At one point I managed to duck my head into a little barrel, watching it spin, without colour, only light.

Like everything else about surfing, riding waves in the moonlight is difficult. Difficult, but on that one night at least – worth it.

May 5, 2010


Filed under: Ramblings and Musings — terence @ 11:17 am

Meetings? Never been a huge fan. And now I have evidence:

Researchers at Texas A&M University… have just demonstrated that when you gather a team for a spot of brainstorming, the members are not stimulated by each other’s brilliance, but actually produce fewer ideas than if they were working on their own.

May 3, 2010


Filed under: Aortic Valves — terence @ 3:34 pm

“Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.”

Years ago, in a new-age book, I read that quote. Like a lot of what I read in new age books, it sounded profound but never really made sense.

Now it sort of does, although I can’t imagine my understanding is the same as the author’s. I’ve written about my post-perfusion confusion before. Deja vu, dreams recalled, memory loss, and a feeling I could never describe other than to say it was unpleasant. The good news then was that the episodes were slowly becoming less frequent. By the time I finished work in February they’d almost stopped, I was untroubled by them as we prepared to move. And deeply relieved to be untroubled.

But no – on arrival in Australia they returned. On a frequency of one sometimes two a day.  I have no idea why they’re back, but they’re back. Slightly different, maybe milder, and as unpleasant as ever.

Anyhow, there’s nothing much to be said of this, other than that the quote at the beginning of this post makes sense to me now, in a personalised way. Having the recollection of dreams, or other things that never happened, exist in in the place of my memories is disturbing. Threatening. And absolutely unconducive to the peace of anything.

I really, really hope the episodes go away.

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