Quick update

Lyota’s doing great! He spent the first day wedged in the gap between the heater and the glass, and I was really worried he was cold. After some experimentation turning the filter on and off, I discovered that the filter they provided is too powerful for a 9L tank and was basically pushing him around, creating a current which he constantly had to fight. Poor guy was being worn down from the effort, so I took it out. It seems strange they provided such a filter for a tank that size – I thought Aqua One would have known better! I’ll have to keep on top of the ammonia, NO2 and NO3 levels to make sure he’s okay without it, but he seems much happier now. I also upgraded his food, but he doesn’t seem to realise that he can eat it while it’s floating. Apparently betta’s can be fussy and take a few days to adjust, so perhaps tomorrow (day 3) he’ll start eating.

I started my full-time placement at Swan District Hospital in Midland today. I don’t really want to think about it because of all the brainpower that’s required. Without getting too much into it, I met a lot of people and learned a lot about a new organisation and environment. I really enjoyed it and I love the team, and when my brain isn’t too overloaded, I’m sure I’ll happily work there. My anxiety has come up a few times throughout the day, seizing me with a sudden panic whenever I’ve thought about an uncertain future of work, but I’ve said my lines and walked along side it, and I seem to be managing okay. I’m certainly not panicking as much about whether or not I’m cut out for social work as I expected, which says to me I’ve grown at least a little.

I’ve learned my first black belt kata in karate. It’s shisochin, and Steve was kind enough to say that it looks good. I’m not really sure how I’ve changed over the past two years of training – I still apply myself just as hard I think, but I seem to be getting better and better over time. I find it puzzling – I’m not really changing the way I do things, but I seem to be improving nonetheless. I dunno, it perplexes me. I guess I’m fortunate enough to have a school where practicing the right thing over and over leads to growth, not maintenance.

That’s about it right now. Gotta get up early for work tomorrow! Really looking forward to some gaming with Craig-kun later in the week.

Oh! And Japan! I’m going to Japan in February with Beth and Mr Craig! Our main destinations are Osaka, Tokyo and Kyoto, with day-trips to Iga and Hiroshima. Does anyone reading have any suggestions for what to see and do? Japan has been a life-long dream of mine – I often fantasised about growing up as a samurai or ninja. I’m starting to reconsider my enthusiasm for training there (after hearing about new students being beaten up) but I’m still stoked to see it.

That’s it! Sleepy times now! Night guys.

My friend Lyota

So Sam died. In truth, I worry that I took him out of a comfortable environment. In the back of the fish room, in dim lighting and without filtered water or a heat source, he thrived – healthy and beautiful and making little bubble nests for a potential mate to come and join him in his paradise. I took him home (during which he spent two and a half hours in the bag because I drove to Rockingham to drop a colleague off while the trains are down) and he lived a quiet two and a half days in my tank. I discovered him yesterday morning, gently pirouetting in the gravel.

I took a water sample into work to test the pH, the general hardiness and the ammonia. The pH was unusually high (8.1, when it’s supposed to be around 7) but that probably wouldn’t have killed him. I’ve bought some pH down and a testing kit, and work was kind enough to pass another fish into my care. His name is Lyota, or Leo (or possibly Lion) for short. So far he’s survived the night, pressed up against the glass of the heater. It was particularly cold, so I’ve cranked it up another degree. I’ll do my best to help him at least see summer.

I’m sad at the possibly needless loss of life, and that I might have somehow been responsible for it, but I’m not weighed down by the loss. Here is the only picture I ever took of Sam, and a picture of Lyota sitting on top of the heater. Apologies for the quality, but I found it hard to take a picture of him against the dark background when he spent most of his time at the bottom of the tank. Here’s to hoping I don’t continue this train of death and make another “My friend” post tomorrow.

Sam the Fish

Sam the Fish

Lyota the Fighter

Lyota the Fighter

25 facts about me

25 Facts about me. Why am I doing this? Well, what can I say. I’m a sucker for filling in surveys and quizzes and questionnaires like this.

1. I have a circulatory disorder known as Reynaud’s Disease, and it basically means I get painfully cold hands and feet. So much so that I can’t really touch Beth’s skin in winter until I’ve warmed up first.

2. I have formally studied the following martial arts: 2 years ITF taekwondo, 2 years shotokan(?) karate, two years WTF taekwondo, 1.5 years shinto-ryu karate, four months Yang tai chi, two years Chen Pan Ling tai chi, two years wu-wei dao (primarily goju ryu karate), and three years mugai ryu iaido. I also have some small experience in jodo, kobudo, baguazhang, and hsing-i. I’ve tried my hand at a few different martial arts, and from all my experience I’ll say this: it’s not the style, it’s the teacher that matters. Find a good teacher and you’ll be awesome at whatever you do.

3. I am attempting to grow a ponytail. So far it’s just the hair on the back of my head, but I reckon I’m about five months away from being able to pull all of my hair back and tie it in place.

4. Bethwyn and I have been going out for five and a half years now. Woo!

5. I can semi-fluently speak the fictional language “Dino” from Starfox Adventures on the Nintendo Gamecube. All I’ve ever used it for is writing covert notes to myself.

6. I’m a mostly-vegan. I do slip sometimes, but generally speaking I don’t really need animal products to be happy. And when I do, I eat them.

7. My favourite animal is the wolf, and yet I know sadly little about them. The romance of being a pack hunter appeals to me.

8. Despite my obsession with the martial arts, I am repelled by violence and unkindness.

9. When I was ten, my best friend was an invisible girl named Velvet. (She was named after Joanna’s generic twin sister from Perfect Dark on the Nintendo 64.)

10. I’m a bit of a Nintendo fanboy. So far I’ve owned the NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, Wii, Gameboy, Gameboy Colour, DS, DSlite and 3DS. I feel bad about not yet buying the WiiU, but there’s just not enough out there that appeals to me right now. And from experience with the 3DS, if I just wait a year they’ll bring out a cheaper model which is superior in every way to the model that people lined up for on launch date.

11. “Wizard” is the word I use to compliment someone who is skilled in something. For instance, I refer to a colleague as a fish wizard, and to myself as a “monitor stabilisation wizard”.

12. My favourite game series of all time is the Legend of Zelda. Ocarina of Time stands out as my favourite, and then second place is held by Windwaker, Twilight Princess and Skyward Sword. Yet despite my love for the series, I still haven’t played about half the Zelda games (though I’ve bought them and can start them at any time.)

13. I try quite hard not to buy new stuff. Clearly I’m failing because I took home a fish yesterday, but I’ve come to the realisation that most of the stuff we hoard won’t make us any happier on unhappier. Humans need very little to live, and to live happily, and I regularly donate large portions of stuff to op shops.

14. I’m totally for diversity in sexuality, and the respectful expression of this. If you like the idea of having more than one sexual partner, or if you secretly fantasise about having a penis, or you like the idea of being with transgendered people, good for you.

15. One of my proudest moments was when I punched a fly off my friend’s chest. I hit him soft enough to save the fly’s life (and not squish it on his shirt), but hard enough to stun it so that it fell unconscious to the floor.

16. I love my own writing. I love my use of language and my narrative voice. I often re-read stories, blogs and essays I’ve written just for the pleasure of seeing a well-constructed sentence or a clever progression of ideas. Obviously, not all of my entries are particularly eloquent.

17. I’ve almost completely eradicated the word “should” from my vocabulary, and it secretly bothers me when people use it.

18. I don’t have a computer. I’m borrowing my brother’s, and sometimes I use Beth’s. I dislike the idea of being chained to it, but unfortunately this means I get quite out of the loop for what’s happening online/in the world. I generally avoid reading emails until I’m in the right space of mind and have an appropriate amount of hours to tackle all the microactions that have built up.

19. I have OCPD – Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. But honestly, if you judge me by that, you don’t know me very well. To me, mental illness labels are often tools to help you understand yourself, not diagnoses of disease which need treating. (At least, not always. I concede in many cases that medical treatment is very important.)

20. I’m going to Japan at the start of next year! I’d really love to learn more Japanese and practice it more often! But how..?

21. At one stage I was training five or six days for like fourteen hours a week. Now it’s a little more settled at around two or three days a week for about 3-5 hours.

22. I’ve started creating my own “xing” or “kata” (form, or pattern of martial arts techniques) using the unbreakable umbrella I bought. Even though it’s based on another xing, it’s quite challenging to figure out ways of applying the same principles and techniques using an umbrella instead of a fist (or tiger claw/crane break). So far it’s got some pretty cool balance poses, hooks and traps, flicks, strikes, thrusts and deflections. Not quite finished with the first draft though.

23. The greatest meal I ever had was on a Buddhist one-day meditation retreat. After hours of peaceful meditation, my mind slowed down so much that the intensity of flavour and texture in the meal was unrivaled. I strive to achieve such a level of mindfulness again.

24. Alas, despite my loving heart, I have great trouble giving blood. I get dizzy very easily and don’t like to think about needles. How far I’ve come from the young man who would dare the doctor to inflict pain upon him so that he might test the strength of his spirit.

25. Twenty five was way too long. Here, have a link to Beth’s blog instead. Beth, consider yourself tagged.

My friend Sam

Alas, I am quite tired so I fear this entry may not be a very well-written one. It seems that so often I get home and spend hours cleaning and organising, and that I stay up far later than I intend doing things that I’ve been putting off for days. I suppose I just need to do less, procrastinate less, live more.

As it stands, I’m having a wonderful time being alive. I’ve never enjoyed work more. Not just on a superficially joyful level, but in an honest and heartfelt way. I love helping people, and I love having the competence to help keep the store running. I realised the other day that “there are no rules”. There is absolutely no need to wear a uniform or be punctual or sell products in exchange for money. These things are all artifices, and at the end of the day, what matters is that people are happy and healthy. The main reason why I go to work is to facilitate that happiness – to be a conduit for them, a medium by which they can enjoy shopping for their beloved animal companions and giving up money (numbers in an account and plastic sheafs) in exchange for knowledge and goods. And when I look at it like that, it really doesn’t matter what I do, so long as the job gets done. Once I get past the fear of nigh unlimited possibility, life is actually pretty grand.

But tonight I want to talk about my new friend Sam. He’s a half-moon betta, more commonly known as “Siamese fighting fish”. A deep blue and red, he is healthy, intelligent and utterly gorgeous. When he’s relaxed, he spreads his fins into a beautiful disk, hence the name “half-moon”. Why Sam? Well, he just strikes me as a Sam.

I was really excited about getting a fish and putting all my knowledge to use. I bought a tank and set up the filter and heater, conditioned the water and let it run for about a week (so that colonies of bacteria could establish in the biological media of the filter. It fills me with such joy that I can say a sentence like that an understand why it’s important). I took Sam home tonight, and I was very nervous about putting him in his new home. I checked on him every few minutes to see how he was doing. It’s quite hard to tell whether he’s stressed or happy, healthy or worn down. So far he’s spent most of his time in the bottom of the tank not moving, and I started to worry that the temperature was uncomfortable or that the moving water was distressing or that turning my room light on bothered him etc. I worried and worried and worried that I’d taken this poor, innocent creature and forced him into a life of imprisonment for my entertainment.

As a vegan, I try very hard to preserve life and minimise suffering. I’d like to think that I’m taking this fish out of the elements of the wild and providing a safe and comfortable home for him where he can live happily with all he needs. But a small part of me still wonders if he gets bored or distressed or if I’m causing him undue suffering. It’s not an easy decision for me to take the wellbeing of another creature into my hands, but I’ve decided Fuck it. He’s a beautiful companion, and I’ll care for him as best I’m able (to which end I wield considerable knowledge). Whether he’s happy or unhappy is not my decision, but whether he’s healthy or not is well within my influence. I hope to bling out the tank a little when he’s settled in (sadly, the black gravel and backing paper do little to complement his dark complexion), and it is my hope that he lives a long and happy life.

If not, I’ll probably just get a goldfish.

Thank you video to TINO

In the past year and a half or so, I’ve written twenty blog posts for the youth wellbeing website TuneInNotOut.com. Each of these blogs has received either a $20 gift voucher (in the early days), or more recently an item of my choice of equivalent value. Anyone aged between 16-25 is eligible to write or submit content for them, so if you’ve got some ideas you want to share, now is a great way to get sweet gear in exchange for them. After a jittery hour of filming, and many, many frustrating hours of struggling with video editing software, I put together a video to thank Lynsey (and anyone else involved with the publishing of my blogs). In it, I am ecstatic to announce that I tried out my new unbreakable umbrella, which is every bit as unbreakable as they say. Rob and I practiced some free-form with the umbrella and a jo (four foot staff), and the umbrella was completely unharmed from the blocking, striking deflecting, thrusting, hooking and throwing. I did, however, lean it against a wall and it fell over, scratching the crook slightly. Although slightly heavier than anticipated, the wide crook is perfect for hanging over my shoulder or neck if I need the use of my hands, as well as being convenient for hooking over other people. Overall, an amazing product with a lifetime guarantee, and I have already started experimenting with creating a new form of the thunderstick through applying the principles of other kata (i.e. tiger crane). If it’s good enough, I dunno, maybe I’ll take another crack at filming it! I’m all hyped up on the success of making a video (not that it’s especially good).


Anyway, here it is! Skip to 2:15 for the sweet umbrella action.