What's all this then?
All this Life to the Full stuff?
Have a read of John 10:10
Friday, August 1. 2008
Globally, World Youth Day's have already made a bit of a name for themselves for various reasons and breaking various records. So far there has never been a 'small' WYD. It's unfortunate for the city in the process of hosting them, but they come with expectations.
The Australian media leading up to WYD08 were on the rampage expecting disaster. If the appalling WYD 08 site was anything to go by then it did look like something unpleasant looming.
Instead, the car load of friends from Brisbane, my Mother re-defining the boundaries of 'youth' and myself discovered that World Youth Day 2008 was a miracle - a piece of Heaven on Earth. Something astonishingly good and profoundly stimulating hope. It was also a lot of work, but satisfying.
Much could and should be said about WYD08 but if you prefer pictures then this gallery might be to your liking.
Sunday, March 25. 2007
Jean-Michel Jarre, that funky old romantic is releasing a new album worldwide tomorrow (26th March). It's called Téo & Téa.
After a few year's in a personal and creative wilderness, and the last few albums being ok but not great, the Grandfather of the Synth has gone back to his roots, and made an album that succeeds in being full of energy, true Jarre, while probably being his most accessible album to date.
People afraid of the long allegorical tracks that are a Jarre tradition, need not be concerned. The shorter and downright funky tracks will hopefully introduce many a stranger to Jarre's work – they'll be getting down to it in no time at all.
Yet, there are more than a few “Proofs of Jarre” evident, with many of his signature sounds and textures animating the music with layers and depth as well as being fun.
And the thing I find most heartening is that Jean-Michel Jarre, that wonderful old romantic, despite all the suffering he's endured (some of which was of his own making) has with this album re-affirmed his faith in Love. More specifically that hard to quantify yet timelessly astonishing period of New Love. He mentions this in an interview with Metro International.
The names Téo and Téa are abbreviated from Theodore, which is derived from the Greek name Θεοδωρος (Theodoros), which means "gift of god" from Greek θεος (theos) "god" and δωρον (doron) "gift". It more than amply symbolises the astonishing richness and urgent energy of two people in the initial stage of falling in Love. That tremendous vigour, the unprecedented rapport and divine necessity that animates those intensely stimulating moments in time.
This music encapsulates this phenomena, if you wish to listen for it. For many however it's simply awesomely funky music.
As he has done in the past, Jarre delivers a whole package, magnificent music that is more than the sum of it's parts, and for those who are interested, food for thought. Thank you again Jean-Michel!
Monday, October 9. 2006
At about 11:36 AEST today (9.Oct.2006) the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea's official name) detonated a Nuclear weapon in an underground test. There should be minimal or no short term radioactive leakage.
It was detected by South Korea's Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources as a tremor of a magnitude 3.58 to 3.7, and the US Geological Survey detected it as a tremor of a magnitude 4.2
The location of the blast was North-East of the country, 70 km North of Kimchaek, North Korea. 90 km South West of Chongjin, North Korea, and 180 km south of Yanji, Jilin, China.
A Seismic event of 4.5 on the Richter scale according to this University of Nevada guide would equate to a blast yield of about 5.1 Kiloton, which makes it about a quarter the size of the Atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki in WWII. Of course this is a rough estimation of the blast yield of the North Korean Nuclear device, and not a definitive indication of typical nuclear warheads in the North Korean arsenal.
South Korea, Japan, Cambodia, China and other nations have condemned the test, as did Prime Minister John Howard in Australian parliament.
Interestingly, China who have long been seen as Pyongyang's most important ally and the only country with enough leverage to influence Kim Jong Il's behavior have denounced the test as "brazen" in unusually strong language, and demanded Pyongyang stop any action that could worsen the situation.
Missiles which North Korea were testing earlier this year include the Taepodong-2 which is estimated to have a range of 6000 km. Enough to reach Brisbane.
Hope you find this reference material useful as something to ponder on, and please remember that Brisbane has been in range of a lots of nuclear weapons for a long time, so the are no new concerns in this regard.
Tuesday, August 22. 2006
Just in case you were suffering from any misunderstanding or illusion, Jean Michel Jarre is one of the most influential and important contemporary creators of music in our age.
Very few even come close to the scope and magnificence of the wonders of beauty he's nurtured into existence. And then there's Zoolook... He's human after all I guess.
The world and human experience could never be the same again thanks to the music he has gifted us with, and we are so profoundly richer and better off thanks to it.
Unfortunately, like other artists who get too comfortable, it's impacting on his work now, and rendering some of it a little soft, bland and less than the Earth changing revolution that the bulk of his work is.
Those with an imagination can do far worse than sample some Jarre while letting your creative juices flow. Like many of the 'Classics' before him, Jarre has the ability to reach into the human soul and allow something wonderful and good to come out and say hi.
So how was a humble Jarre fan such as I to respond to the discovery that the City Of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra has recorded the "the Symphonic Jean Michel Jarre" to be released on the 2nd of October this year?
With over 200 musicians, the 120 voice crouch end festival chorus & singers and approved by Jean Michel Jarre himself, what is one to make of it?
Well to start with, it made me feel old to even consider listening to such a thing! What's next, Jarre on bagpipes or Jarre on kazoos with whoopee cushions?
However, after listening to some of the excerpt samples and contending with a haunting familiarity of each of the tracks, some have their spirit intact while others limp along maimed and harmed.
Those with rich and animated spirit intact include Chronologie 3 and Industrial Revolution - Part 1, despite being a tad laggy and lacking crispness. Magnetic Fields 1 shines like a world of grace and goodness to an astonished arriving soul that's long been in need of a miracle. Yep, Magnetic Fields 1 is intact.
Some of Jarre's babies that die in translation include Equinoxe 4. Such a shame.
Will I buy this confusing and out of context album? Well I guess I'll have to. Partly for reference, and partly for classical music loving friends of mine who could use an introduction into the God blessed music of Jean Michel Jarre.
One last question regarding this perplexing album; who was the moron who encoded the id3 tags of the samples with Genre set as Blues? Someone smack that joker in the head for me!
Tuesday, June 13. 2006
The World Cup is the most watched sporting event on planet Earth. It has been for a while.
I recall as a little nipper, my Father waking myself and some siblings in the very early cool winter mornings to see World great teams play each other live on TV. It was always a source of sadness that Australia wasn't also playing among the best of the World, in the World's favourite game.
So when by stamina, skill and a sheer force of will Australia defeated Uruguay and earned the right to play the World's best in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, I was united with many an ecstatic Australian. At long last the curse was broken!
Picture this humble traveller, mindful of the Australia vs Japan game for some time as that it was one we must in an absolute way win to have any hope of making it through to the second round. I happened to be on a train (hoping it was the correct one) from Brussels-Nord to the Brussels 'National' airport (which is actually their interNational airport) when the game started.
Not long after a friend SMS'ed me to let me know that Japan had scored against us. One nil against the Socceroos. Hmmmm not good.
With this dark news hanging in mind I navigated my way through the unfamiliar Brussels airport to get ready to fly to Rome. Giggling erupted as I saw a huge Boeing propaganda billboard in the foyer. They really are terrified of the A380!
After Checking in, passing through security, and taking a photo of a huge Hergé moon-rocket advertisement, I headed for my gate and sighted an airport pub, which like all pubs in Europe at this time had a large TV with live World Cup games playing.
Immediately I recognised that it was the all important Australia vs Japan game in progress and that the score was still one nil against us. Bother!
I proceed past the pub to find exactly where my gate was. An old habit I developed to avoid missing a flight. After locating the necessary gate, and with a bit of time to spare I immediately returned to the pub to see what the Socceroos where up to.
Still one nil against us as I returned and the game was getting deep into it's closing stages. It dawned on me at that time that people must pray more when the world cup is on - so I joined them. "Dear God, please help us!". I watched a few more anxious minutes then added a second prayer " but Your will be done Lord."
Continue reading "Australia vs Japan from a Belgium airport pub"
Tuesday, June 6. 2006
Of it's very nature a passenger train exists to serve. The service that a train might reasonably be expected to provide is to safely transport passengers from one location to another according to a time schedule and in some comfort and security.
One such passenger train that does not meet this criteria is the Viterbo to Roma line that has it's main station at Flaminio in Roma.
The fact that the stations along it's only line completely bereft of a discernible time table seem to have more to do with the operators hedging their bets. If you don't know what time a train is supposed to arrive or leave then they seem to think it's less likely that you'll be disappointed when the expectation isn't met.
A case in point based on my experience would be the first train of a work day from Morlupo station to Flamino. This train is supposed to arrive at Morlupo at 5:25am. Given that this slug on wheels normally takes 45 minutes to creep along the windy track to the city leaving on time is important if you intend to catch an 6:30am international train from Rome's Termini station.
So much to my disappointment but not surprise it arrived at Morlupo about 7 minutes late, and then continued this trend all the way to Flaminio station at Rome ultimately arriving about 20 minutes late. The net result? Well, I missed the only connection to an international fast train.
The trains on the Vitterbo line are not only slow, but also grotty, covered in skill-less graffiti and contain no external and little internal indication of where they intend to go. The LED signs on the platform don't help much either - a kind of vacant attempt at technology that's actually useless.
The only sure way to work out what a train's intention will be, is to ask the driver or a well frustrated passenger who regularly depends on this "service".
While it's lovely to see a statue of the Madonna on the platform of this line's main station, one can't help but wonder how bad the service would be without divine assistance.
Thursday, June 1. 2006
After having travelled a few times in the past to various parts of the world, this was the first such occasion for me to be leaving Australia alone. It seemed a waste to have this kind of experience and not share it. Thankfully Blogs can assist with that.
Packing for me can take an enormus act of will, especially when you work up to the day of departure and buy last minute presents. However starting the process of putting things into your luggage 2 hours before you need to be at the airport is somewhat lacking in prudence. On the plus side, I did get to Mass & buy a new pair of shoes. I also managed to catch the flight too!
The 'road' to Rome for me was in three parts; a Qantas flight from Brisbane to Singapore, A long KLM flight from Singapore to Amsterdam, and a comparatively short connection from Amsterdam to Rome.
I normally prefer on an airline flight to sit behind the main wing, with a window seat. On the Qantas Airbus A330 flight from Brisbane to Singapore the best I could manage was a middle seat in the middle column of seats. This would normally be most unpleasant for me, but thanks to a delightful young lady from the Sunshine Coast by the name of Eliza Palmer, it was better than bearable. We conversed about Italy, as she was bound for Milan, about the transfer at Singapore (Her first ever) and her work in the fashion industry. She was very young, probably not much more than 18, and yet was ready to travel and learn.
Here's a tip however: If you have the opportunity to watch various movies made available via the aircraft entertainment system, don't watch "the Downfall". Undoubtedly it's a brilliant movie excellently told with exceptional acting, but all together too disturbing - especially in a confined space. I did much pondering after watching that!
After arriving at Singapore, sorting out the transfer and waiting for the next flight I was gob-smacked and delighted to discover that one of the airport electronic stores was selling a key-ring WiFi detector! Just the device I attempted to buy in 2004 in London in vain. Having put off the purchase of such a device since then I immediately jumped at the opportunity to have one for this trip! All WiFi networks are now belong to ME!
Amsterdam to Rome was uneventful enough, and we by no deliberate act of Eliza or myself ended up sitting together again. This aircraft was an ageing KLM 747-400 with no interactive entertainment system to speak of, though it wasn't missed. To my surprise and benefit, and thanks to industrial grade earplugs, I managed to lightly sleep a generous portion of this 12 hour leg.
Continue reading "Roads that lead to Rome"
Saturday, April 22. 2006
Toss a few coins in the Trevi fountain, and you'll keep returning to Rome again, and again, and again ... not that I'm complaining.
Although it took me some convincing from friends who I'll meet up with in the first week of my three week Northern hemisphere visit, I eventually agreed.
Weddings bind people, families and nations together, and it's for a wedding also that I'm travelling to the eternal city.
A significant reason for my reluctance was my lack of ability to fulfil a request made of me by my Italian relatives in 2004. "The next time you visit Italy" they asked me, "bring your Father with you".
It's understandable that they would like to see their infrequently communicated with Brother, Uncle & Cousin, but sadly he's not so keen to reciprocate. On three separate occasions an all expenses paid offer was gently made to travel, but Dad would like to stay at home.
Continue reading "Rome-ward Bound"
Sunday, March 19. 2006
On a Sunday, the last Mass in the Archdiocese of Brisbane is at 7:30 in St. Stephen's Cathedral. Colloquially it's know as "Lovers and Drunks" as both these types of people seem to frequent this Mass.
Lovers, because they've just spent the whole day together and lost track of time (as often happens when love is young). Drunks because they seem to be wandering by after being kicked out of a pub, and want to see what the crowd is about, and have their say if the whim takes them.
Tonight I caught the "Lovers and Drunks" due to poor time planning. "Thank God for this Mass" I thought to myself as I pondered on life, humanity and God before the Mass started.
In a certain sense, the Catholic Church itself is a lot like this Mass. It's open to all of humanity, including those aglow with love to whom all the world is wonderful, and those who are tasting bitterness and disappointments in life, in part due to unjust circumstances, and in part due to their own disordered choices, weaknesses and addictions.
The Church welcomes the cynical, those with soaring spirits, all of us in between, and invites us to unload the burden of our sinfulness, to listen to Christ and be better people, to be there for each other and to remember that hope springs eternal.
Catholics hold that Christ is truly present at each Mass, and as He did when he walked in Palestine 2000 years ago, He ministers to all; the lovers, the drunks and me.
Sunday, March 5. 2006
Without even knowing, my Mum understands how Open Source works perfectly.
My Mother loves plants and flowers, and loves to make them grow and flourish. As well as her love for plants she loves to share the love and freely gives away cuttings or whole plants she's grown.
Walking back home today she noticed a dying flower in a neglected flower bed of a government building. She broke off the head of a flower that had dried up, and seemed dead, yet was about to seed. With this cutting in hand. Mum will be able to grow fresh new plants, keep some and give many away to appreciative new homes.
Coding for Open Source software works almost exactly like this. Grow some code, keep it and give it away at the same time.
Continue reading "Even my Mother understands Open Source"
Friday, March 3. 2006
An Italian parliamentary commission has reported that Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish man who shot and seriously wounded Pope John Paul II in 1981, acted at the behest of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.
"This commission believes, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the leaders of the Soviet Union took the initiative to eliminate the Pope Karol Wojtyla"the commission's leader, Paolo Guzzanti, stated in the report, which got leaked to the media last Thursday.
Agca, who shot John Paul in Rome's St. Peter's Square May 13, 1981, was found guilty of the attempted murder and has recently been released from a Turkish prison.
The commission confirmed the existence of the so-called "Bulgarian connection" by establishing the presence in St. Peter's Square of Sergei Antonov, a Bulgarian working in Rome for Balkan Air who was arrested in connection with the attempted murder and eventually found not guilty for want of evidence, in 1986.
Continue reading "Brezhnev wanted Pope JPII dead"
Saturday, January 7. 2006
Due to a kind of fast forming tradition, as I finished my previous position last year, the IT fellows I worked with got together and purchased an Estes model rocket as a farewell present.
Naturally, I was overjoyed, and the next day at 8:00am prior to work, we did 2 launches, both of which were great fun, and with safe landings and recovery.
So what do you get with a hobbyist model rocket? You get instructions an airframe, launch pad, remote launch panel, a blast plate, and parachute and a solid rocket booster not unlike the variety found on NASA's Space Shuttle, just smaller.
Smaller indeed, but it still burns with a no-nonsense intensity that gets it off the ground with a significantly swift acceleration and velocity. It's at this point that I discovered what rocket scientists the world around also know; at ballistic speeds, small variations become big differences quickly. At that point all you can do is watch - Whoosh!
Later over Christmas with nieces, nephews and family around I did another 2 launches, which were less successful than the first 2, but not catastrophic.
The first launch (pictured here) lost it's parachute, and the second went for a wander on the wind. The lessons learned; Check the condition of all of the equipment prior to launch & don't launch when it's windy!
Saturday, November 12. 2005
This morning a friend and I caught up with others from the Redcliffe Aeroclub, and three aircraft with eager passengers flew into Brisbane international airport to welcome the arrival of the Airbus A380. Photos are in the Gallery.
A reasonable crowd accumulated at the airport and the media had a significant presence, as this was not only the first A380 to arrive in Australia, but the first to land anywhere in the southern hemisphere. A humble yet historic moment.
Yet most people just wanted to see the 'really big plane' which in the flesh only has a little more 'presence' than a Boeing 747, yet what most managed to miss is that this Aircraft represents a whole lot more than advancement in aerospace technology.
The A380 is a visible sign of the struggle and decline of the US as the primary economic global power and the gradual rise of Europe. This annoys the stuffings out of many commentators in the US, and they've been rather vocal about it. The USD being less valuable than the Euro was embarrassing enough.
Continue reading "Airbus A380 - A sign of change"
Thursday, November 3. 2005
In Las Vegas, (where else would this happen) Pope JPII's one time car, a light blue 1975 Ford Escort GL, sold at auction for $690,000.
The fellow who bought it, a Houston multimillionaire, said he intended to put it in a museum in his hometown.
"To me, it's a piece of history," said John O'Quinn, 62, a Baptist who said he has a collection of about 600 vehicles. "What a great human being Pope John Paul was."
"The car will never be driven," said O'Quinn, who said that at least temporarily it will be warehoused with his other cars. "But hopefully, in my life, I'll be able to go back and touch this car and feel the pope's spirit."
May I humbly suggest a better way to "feel the Pope's spirit" is to have a read of some of his published material. It's more likely to lead to a profound experience, and won't rust.
Sunday, October 30. 2005
Taking a weekend off for a retreat is great gift, and a rather good thing to do annually. A time when everything else can be put on hold, so that you can focus the attention of both your the mind and soul on God and your relationship with Him, and by natural progression, everyone else.
I was fortunate enough this weekend to make such a retreat with about 20 other people, and although my physical health is not currently optimal, spiritually I'm very glad that that I did.
You see, anyone with half a teaspoonful of wisdom is aware that there's a lot more to life than what you see. Add to that the significant tradition over multiple millennia across multiple cultures of inner reflection and prayer and an inquiring mind would be inclined to ask; why?
The much abbreviated answer is that God not only exists, but is much closer to each one of us than we may acknowledge, consider or prefer. We live and move and have our being as a direct conscious act of God's will. He wants us to live, move and have our being.
Continue reading "A Weekend of Silence & Prayer"
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