I love this hilarious post on the different countries’ outfits at the 2012 London Olympics.

The Blog and Portfolio of Julia Hass

In case my excessive tweeting hadn’t tipped anyone off, I fucking love the Olympics. Love them. I spent the entire afternoon enraptured by fencing. (And looking up lessons, because nothing says “good idea” like me and sharp objects, am I right?) I also love making bitchy, sarcastic commentary on things I probably have no business critiquing, and because I was bored today, I decided what better to do than semi-belatedly (and only on the internet can “24 hours after” be considered “belated”) critique the fashion from the Parade of Nations? That’s right. Nothing could be better. After all, coming together as a world to mock countries that aren’t ours is what the Olympics are really about.

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Water – the new gold

Water – the New gold

I can’t understand why people spend good money on bottled water.  Here in Sydney people spend up to AU$5 for a 600ml bottle, when we have perfectly good water coming out of our taps free!  I recently calculated that some people are paying vastly more for bottled water than they are for petrol, which has doubled in price over the last few years.  And yet, no-one seems to complain about it.Apart from the cost, I think of all those plastic bottles being swept down the stormwater drains and into the sea, or our beautiful Sydney Harbour, choking both the harbour and its sea life.Coca Cola has become one of the biggest investors in bottled water, which just goes to show how much money it is worth.    As they are one of the sponsors of the 2012 London Olympics, they  want people to buy their products e.g. Coca Cola and their brand bottled water.  Spectators cannot bring in water containers over 100mls to the Olympics, although there are areas where you can refill your bottles.  I can’t imagine too many people would want to queue for ages to fill up 100ml containers though, especially when there are bigger bottles available for sale.   This makes it more likely that people will buy prebottled rather than bring their own limited size bottles.  Thus branded water has more of a monopoly over sales, with Coca Cola hoping to benefit most as the only seller available there.People are led to believe that bottled water is “pure” whilst tap water contains all sorts of nasties, but that has been proved to be untrue with laboratory tests, and sometimes the reverse is actually true.  We bought a water filter years ago which was quite cheap and very effective in filtering out the majority of harmful chemicals or bacteria.

Perhaps the main reason bottled water has become such a big seller is the branding and snob value.  It has become almost essential to be seen with your bottle of “pure mineral springs” water, whether you are working out at the gym, sitting outdoors at a cafe or just walking around.  Tap water cannot compete on that level, but you can still pour it into an empty labelled bottle if you want to impress others.

http://www.abc.net.au/environment/articles/2011/07/04/3260626.htm

The above article taken from ABC Televisionsums up the illogical use of bottled water and environmental impacts much better than I can, and also documents some creative and effective  ways people are finding to say NO to bottled water.

Icelandic Glacial bottled water
Icelandic Glacial bottled water (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Time is on my side

I recently had another birthday.  Someone asked me if it was a “big” birthday.  I replied : “What is a big birthday?” and was told anything over 50.Well, I certainly qualify if that is the case, but to my mind ALL birthdays are big.  From the moment we are born we are learning and absorbing information about the world around us.  We start off as babies when our brains experience an explosion of information and learning through the stimulation of the senses which we will probably never be able to replicate again (unless we are taking mind-altering drugs and feel we have discovered the secret of Nirvana).

Every year brings new challenges to experience and overcome.  When we become teenagers just having pimples on our face can be a major obstacle to enjoying life and feeling comfortable with our peers, let alone lack of control over our body’s sudden changes or betrayal of our feelings.

Looking back on past birthdays, none of them stands out from the rest (except maybe my nineteenth when I was living in London and drank a huge amount of gin while feeling homesick and then felt a million times worse).  Each year brought new experiences, new friends or lack of them, and at the end of each one I was the same person, yet changed by the inexorable infiltration of life.  All experiences, good or bad, added to my life and coloured my views of people, places and the general meaning of life.

It is not so much birthdays that become big, but the looking back on the ever- expanding time one spends on this beautiful planet.  The number of people that we  meet who influence our thinking or become indispensable friends, the animals we have as pets, our children or lack of them all become part of a rich tapestry of life along with all our families, workmates and those we meet fleetingly, sometimes on travels overseas or even on a long train journey.

In the end I have come to the conclusion, it is not the birthday which assumes such importance, but life itself with all its positive and negative connotations.

I am thankful to have had another birthday and to have reached the 21st Century.  There are many things about this world which are unfair and terrible, but there is also so much beauty.  We will all experience love and loss in life, but that is part of what makes us who we are and a life without any feeling would be a life I would not like to live.

 

To Blog or Not to Blog: an Essay on the Joyful Tyranny of Blogging

I am a fairly recent convert to blogging, and in fact did not even know what the word blog meant until I looked it up on Wikipedia today.  The Macquarie dictionary I had was published long before blogs existed so I had to look online.

According to Wikipedia the word ‘blog’ is a portmanteau of the word web log.  I then had to research further as I didn’t know what a portmanteau is, although I recognise it is French, and it sounds like some sort of briefcase.  On further research I found out that it is a combination of two or more words or morphemes into one word.  To save a longwinded explanation of morphemes (also unknown to me previously) I will include a link to Wikipedia where it is explained clearly and concisely.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog

Anyway I digress.  I was thinking recently about how many blogs there and the almost irresistible urge that comes over me at various times to sit down at my computer and either write something, or post some photos or embed videos, and all the millions (possibly billions?) of bloggers feeling the same.  Could this be described as Bloggomania and those who suffer the condition Bloggomaniacs?

This led me in turn to thinking what would have happened if great people such as Shakespeare had been able to blog.  Would Hamlet’s famous soliloquy that begins with:  “To be or not to be” suddenly morph into:  “To blog or not to Blog that is the question” and would Michelangelo spend hours at night uploading photos of his artwork in the Sistine Chapel.

Would Shakespeare have more followers than Maru the Cat, who has his own Facebook page and Twitter account, and would this make him jealous and post nasty comments on his blog.

Perhaps Wordsworth would be compelled to change his poem “I wandered lonely as a cloud” to “I wandered lonely as a blog” and Keats would be posting his  beautiful odes on his blog and obsessively checking his followers and likes.

What is it that makes us all want to blog?  For me it is the opportunity to share a part of myself with others and to connect on many different levels with people all over the world who may live differently and speak different languages, but in the words of the singer Goyte are also “desperate to connect”.   We are all part of the universal stream of consciousness, and blogs  bring us together on many levels.

There are so many talented and creative blogs out there:  blogs full of beautiful photography, great writers, cooking blogs that make me start drooling and funny blogs that have me laughing to myself like a madwoman.  There are sad blogs, political blogs, technology blogs, personal blogs, travel blogs, etc. etc.

Anyway, the main thing is that we are all getting an insight into the sameness/differences about us all through our blogs, and I have found myself inspired, touched and in awe of the content of some blogs and I love the way we are all connecting on some subconscious level through this interaction.  I think I will carry on blogging for quite some time as I am enjoying my adventures in cyberspace and the people I come across  with the click of my blogging button.

So carry on blogging but make sure you keep maintaining your relationships in the real world as well.  In the immortal words of the great bard  William Shakespeare (if he were a blogger):

“All the world’s a blog

And all the men and women merely bloggers:”

William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Boy from Glebe – The Beaumarks and Vietnam Remembered

A Boy from Glebe – The Beaumarks and Vietnam Remembered

I am including this video sent to me some time ago by John Strange, a musician who played with my brother Richard (Rick) in The Beaumarks in Vietnam back in the 60s.  They were entertaining the US troopsin some of the most dangerous and often remote areas.

This is a compilation of some of the places and people they entertained as well as a glimpse of some of the other entertainers who were there from Australia and the US.  They were some of the unsung (pardon the pun) heroes of the war, enduring extreme weather conditions, poor pay and often hazardous conditions to bring some joy into the lives of the US servicemen.  Some of them died over there and all of their lives were changed forever by the experience.

An Australian movie called “The Sapphires” was chosen to be shown at the 2012 Cannes Festival.  It is directed by the acclaimed Aboriginal actor and theatre director who was responsible for the film “Samson and Delilah” starring two unknown Aboriginal actors.

“The Sapphires” is a music biopic about an all girl singing group plucked from a remote Aboriginal community to play for US troops serving in Vietnam in 1968.  It is based on a true story and features some well known local Aboriginal actresses, including Deborah Mailman and is creating a buzz around the film world.  It is supposedly a really uplifting film, unlike Samson and Delilah, which although a groundbreaking film with superb performances from raw young first time actors dealt with the harsh and heartbreaking side of modern Aboriginal life, complete with drugs and violence and the breakdown of Aboriginal community life.

Hopefully this film will bring this era and the performers who were part of it back into focus for the generations who came after it.  This was the pre-IPad, mobile phone, computer and internet era, when film was reel to reel, and bands performed live rather than in studios.

I hope this video gives you a feel for the time, the rawness and makeshift stages and the power and passion in the performances.

In Memorium – For My Brother

In Memorium – For My Brother


“There’s no time to lose I hear her say
You’ve got to catch your dreams before they slip away
Dying all the time,
Lose your dreams and you will lose your mind
Ain’t life unkind?”
(excerpt from Ruby Tuesday – Rolling Stones)
These words would come back to haunt me. They were included in one of the letters my brother Richard (Rick to his friends) sent me from Vietnam where he was entertaining the U.S. troops in 1967.
Richard was only 23 when he took his own life.   His life was brief, but full, and although he died long ago he continues to touch many people in different ways.
His life started in England in 1944. Our mother (who was Australian) had left Australia in search of adventure at the age of 21. After living in England for some time and working for the SOE, she volunteered to go to Africa to work as she wanted more excitement. This was during the Second World War whilst buzz bombs were going off all around her in London, but Mum was always independent, and a few buzz bombs weren’t going to deter her from adventure.
She married our father, a dashing Major in the Lancashire Fusiliers in Egypt, and lived for some time in both Egypt and South Africa. They returned to England where Richard was born in the middle of one of London’s fiercest bombing attacks.   Two years later I made an appearance, and they decided to leave England and return to Australia to seek a better life.
We spent the first three months in Australia with our aunt and uncle who had a sheep property outside Cooma in the Southern Highlands, near the Snowy Mountains. Later we moved to a property called “The Willows” outside Cooma, and finally to a small house fondly called “The Shack” opposite the cemetery in Cooma. I remember pushing some poor cat around in a pram there with Richard. We didn’t have a proper toilet, but this residence was only temporary whilst Dad bought a block of land to build our house in Cromwell Street, Cooma.
Cooma was a wonderful place to grow up. The summers were hot and the winters so cold we occasionally had quite heavy snowfalls, but we knew nearly everyone and were free to do our own thing most of the time.  I owned a horse from the age of 13 and used to spend most days riding for miles with my friends and my dog for company.  My parents’ only restriction was that I had to be home for dinner.
When Richard was about 14 or 15 he became very interested in music, and Mum bought him his first guitar. Dad had extended the house after my sister Louise was born, so Richard and I had our bedrooms right at the back which was just as well when his muso friends came to practise.
Mum would prepare snacks, which I would take out on a tray, so I could sneak a glimpse of his cool friends and listen to their music.
I remember him playing at the school dance at Monaro High, and feeling so proud that my big brother was up on the stage singing and playing guitar. Later I would sneak in to the Alpine Hotel with my friends to watch him and his band (the Zodiacs) playing.
His taste in music was incredibly wide-ranging. Our parents had worked for some time as managers of 2XL, the local radio station, and Dad was always bringing home old records (he was a hoarder and could not bear to discard them) so we had every influence from classical to rock. We had heaps of 45s as well as long playing records to listen to. I remember some of Richard’s records – Leadbelly, Miles Davis, Stefan Grapelli, Blind Lemon Jefferson. I was into Peter Paul and Mary (which he used to make jokes about)and later Dylan, and he was into blues and jazz. I used to often sit in his room with him and listen to the music, with him playing along on his guitar. He always had a look of intense concentration on his face whenever he was playing – he was in another world.
I will always remember him as someone who lived life full on. He had lots of friends, loved cars (which he drove like a maniac and sometimes crashed) and always had time to help out someone who was worse off than him. He stood up for me on occasions when I needed help, had a strong sense of justice  and was very creative. I remember his crystal set phase, when in his early teens he assembled numerous sets himself with absolutely no help. We had great fun racing our home-made billy carts down the steep road near our house and managed to avoid being killed by cars at the bottom (the advantage of living in the country).
Most of all I will remember him as my brother.
Richard’s first band in Sydney in 1965
The Beaumarks on Hill 724 – Hai Van Pass – Vietnam 1967 – entertaining US troops – Rick has red guitar
For anyone interested, see Entertaining Vietnam – Mara-Wallis

English: Australian Aviation Pioneers Memorial...
Australian Aviation Pioneers Memorial in Cooma, New South Wales, Australia, with artifacts recovered from the Avro 618 Ten aircraft, “Southern Cloud”, that crashed on 21 March, 1931 in the Australian Alps’ Toolong Mountain range. Its wreck was found on 26 October, 1958. The memorial was officially opened on 13 October, 1962 by Professor T.D.J. Leech C.B.E. BSc BE. Memorial’s Engineer and Architect: Andrius Rimka of Lithuania. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Cooma Court House. Cooma, New South W...
Cooma Court House. Cooma, New South Wales, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)