si dawson

experiments in self-improvement

Category: fun

Hot Dog!

Today I went to see a bunch of dachshunds discuss human rights.

No no, I’m not making this up. Really. Check it out for yourself.

Anyway, they didn’t seem very talkative – although I suspect they made roughly as much progress as the regular UN would have if they’d been plonked in a Melbourne park for an hour one brisk winter afternoon.

Some Key points:

  • Russia, as always, looking for new territory (sorry Kyrgyzstan!)
  • Who the hell knows where Gabon is?
  • Bolivia obviously sniffing something.
  • Italy having a siesta.
  • Djibouti checking its booty.

A Frankfurter wiener?

It was, as they say, a sausage fest.

Needless to say, cuteness per square metre pretty much hit an all time global maxima. Good to wear bright shoes too, give the dogs something to talk about.

On the way home I saw a few other things:

This building rocks! (ha! See what I did there?)

These pots utterly captivated me, although I can’t put my finger on why, exactly.

I spent 10 minutes standing here, utterly transfixed. Rooted to the spot by the majesty, the beauty of this vista.

Weirdest garden ornament ever. Yes, that is smoke. On the water. The rim is almost, but not quite, deep purple.

It’s the glorious thing about life. There’s beauty & wonder around every corner.



    I got a set of earplugs a few years back, when I was heading off to Burning Man.

    I saw on them on ebay for, I dunno, maybe 30 bucks. I’m thinking ok, I’ll be there ten nights, I want really good earplugs, since people running around with airhorns at 7am is a relatively common occurrence. 3 bucks a night for decent sleep? So worth it. So, I bought ’em.

    And a pack of 40 sets turned up.

    Uhh, well, ok then.

    So, this meant I had a ton to give away at Burning Man (gifting is a huge thing there), so that worked out pretty well.

    Anyway, these are industrial earplugs. They have 3 baffles on them. You reach over your head with your opposite hand & pull the top of your ear up to straighten the ear canal, then push them super deep so as many baffles as possible as in action., like this:

    & here’s a pdf of full instructions, you know, just in case you’ve ever been curious about how to put ear plugs in.

    So, you see, these are serious ear plugs, not your nickel & dime jobbies. It does take a bit of getting used to, shoving them that deep inside your ear – but that’s where the ear straightening comes in. If you don’t get all three baffles into your ear canal, then they’re average-ok (like foam earplugs, for example), but not super-great.

    Ok, so that’s all well & good. I learned how to put ear plugs in properly, la la la.

    Last year, I went to a thing called Con Fest (a hippie festival, stands for conference-festival. worst naming ever), here in Australia. Took my earplugs, and an eye mask. Found a great little spot in the forest. Super convenient, isolated & wonderful.

    Then four cars drove up, & these farm hands up from up north came and camped, literally, on top of me. I was surrounded on all sides, with my tent right in the middle of their dining area. So much for getting away from civilization.

    Ok, fast forward a few days. I do my usual going to bed routine. Crawl into my sleeping bag (my “beeping slag,” hehe), listen to some David Bowie, then put on my eye mask, insert earplugs & drift off.

    The next morning I get up around 10, get out of my tent, stretch & go about my business. Weird thing – everyone is saying things like “Oh man, we feel really sorry for you” and “Oh wow, how are you feeling?” to which I’m responding “Why?” and “Awesome, why?”

    Turns out one of the guys in the camp-around-me, who’d been dropping acid every four hours around the clock for four days, had been screaming at the top of his lungs. All night. Every single campsite for two blocks in every direction had been shouting at him to shut up.. & he’d been shouting back. & flashing his torches all over my tent etc etc.Everyone else in the area hadn’t slept a wink & were utterly wrecked.

    I hadn’t noticed a thing and slept like a baby. Through it all.

    I like my earplugs.


      The Rat And The Rose

      I was at a friend’s place having a coffee when I saw the weirdest thing (to help you out, I circled it):


      Can you see it? Nope, neither could I, at the start.

      However, we’d been watching the cat (a delightful Burmese). The cat had seen something interesting, so we were curious what it was. Usually this sort of thing is just a bird. This time though, it was a rat, about 6 inches long (plus tail).

      Then we watched the rat climb the trellis. Uhh, what? A climbing rat? Well, ok, I used to be one of those, so I can dig that.

      That’s when it got surreal. This rat grabbed one of the roses in its teeth, pulled it off & started climbing down. Now, I got to my camera after it got a foot down the trellis, but check these pics out (I’ve tried to keep the same rose in the top right hand corner so you can track the rat easier as it progresses downwards):

      Just behind the ‘marker’ rose.

      now well below it

      even further

      and right off the bottom & into the garden.

      Wow, crazy.

      Oddly, Google doesn’t have much in the way of “hey, rats love to eat roses!”, so maybe I just got lucky.


        Just Be You, The Most Awesome You Ever

        Comparing ourselves to others is for noobs!
        As people, we’re funny. There’s this natural tendency to compare ourselves to others.

        Typically, we do something like this:

        1. Me: $30
        2. Donald Trump: $eleventy billion
        3. Conclusion: I suck

        or maybe

        1. Me: kinda good looking
        2. Angelina Jolie: super hot (if you go for that sort of thing)
        3. Conclusion: I suck

        There are a couple of obvious issues here. One might be our choice of attribute to compare. I’m sure this won’t come as a surprise, but people are a bit more complex than just hotness + wealth.

        So why compare ourselves based on wealth, or hotness? Just coz people are generally deluded into believing they’re important? It’s as arbitary & ridiculous as lining up the planet according to nose freckliness!

        So, maybe if we are going to compare ourselves to others, we should just choose better. Eg

        1. Me: Nice hair
        2. Donald Trump: Nice toupee?
        3. Conclusion: I rock!


        Now, this isn’t about taking cheap shots at famous people. Far from it.

        It’s a natural tendency to compare ourselves to others, particularly when we think they’re better than us in some way. Know what though? It’s pretty much bullshit.

        Making these comparisons is a recipe for misery & disaster. But you already knew that.

        Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are. ~Malcolm S. Forbes

        So here’s a better suggestion. Just be you.

        In fact, here’s a even better suggestion than that. Why not be the most amazing you you possibly can be?

        Do you reckon when you get up to heaven, God’ll say to you “Man, you were the lousiest Jack Black ever!”? Of course not. There’s already a Jack Black here & he’s doing a perfectly good job of being him, thankyouverymuch.


        You’re here with one purpose. To be you.

        Not to be anyone else. Not even to be like anyone else, unless you really want to be (& I’ve gotta admit, Jack’s maniacal grin does have a certain appeal).

        Other people’s opinions are none of my business
        Hey, & while we’re on the subject, what’s up with caring what anyone else thinks?

        They’re here to live their life. You’re here to live your life. If they want to think your life is particularly silly? Well, uhh, so what?

        After all, they are allowed to have any opinion they like. Doesn’t make it true! And, while we’re there, you’re welcome to have any opinion you like about their life. Doesn’t make your opinion true either (although, of course, we all like to think we’re right. Heh)

        If you’ve been hanging out on Twitter, you’ll know exactly what I mean. You say something, & suddenly people unfollow you. What the?!? Well, you know what? If they don’t like what you say, why would you want them following you anyway? If they don’t like who you truly are (assuming you’re being genuinely yourself, of course) then they’re going to make pretty lousy friends.

        Ahh, life, it’s a funny old thing.

        So, to recap. Just be you. What anyone else thinks of you? Well, that’s really none of your business, so just let it go. That’s their problem, not yours.

        But who am I?
        Now of course, all this just raises another question. How the hell do you know who you are? The “Why am I here?” question is one of life’s biggies.

        Well, here’s a secret. This is why we have emotions. They’re like little signposts.

        Basically, anything you do which takes you closer to a place of true joy? That’s you. That’s you really being you.

        I’m not talking about enjoyment – the brief happiness that comes from eating an icecream or a particularly satisfying game of Halo – I’m talking about deep, abiding joy.

        Here, watch this video. See the spark on their faces? That’s joy. That’s a couple of people doing what’s nearest & dearest to their hearts.

        Know what? You have that inside you too. Maybe you’ve found it, maybe you haven’t yet, but it’s there.

        There’s something, or many things, that are super easy to you. That you just happen to be great at. You probably don’t think it’s so much, but other people look & go “Wow, how are you so awesome at that?” Well, that’s where you should be looking. That’s a clue.

        If time seems to stand still, or the whole day disappears while you’re doing something? That’s a clue too.

        If something is making you feel crappier? Well, that’s a sign you probably shouldn’t be doing it so much. We’re here to be happy, after all. How do I know? The Dalai Lama told me, & who am I to argue with him!

        Finding that joy, that raison d’etre? That’s the thing to chase. Or rather, that’s the thing to chill out, stop stressing about life & let it find you. Just pay attention, it’s there, you’ll see it.

        Bigger is not better. Think quality not quantity
        Oh, & while we’re on the subject? This whole fascination the western world seems to have with changing the world? That the only life worth living is one where the whole world knows your name? Well, screw that too.

        Life is much, much simpler than that. Sure, some people are gonna be the Mother Therasas, the Bill Gateses, the Michael Jordans (ha ha, name plurals crack me up) of the world, but that’s not what it’s about.

        It’s about the people around you. Those are the people that you’re really affecting.

        If you’re filled with joy & doing what you love, even if it’s something as simple as tending the garden out the front of your cottage, you’re adding so much light to the world. When you’re happy, the people around you feel that. They get happier. The world needs more happy people, so start with you.

        Forget about the starving children in Africa (unless that’s where your joy is). Every day you’re slightly happier, slightly more full of joy, doing that which brings you joy, the world is a better place. The people around you will be in a better place because of you. You’ll be inspiring them.

        That’s all that matters. Everything else is just details.

        It’s ok to have what the world might deem a small life. What matters is just that you lived it fully. That you followed your heart. That, as much as possible, you felt that joy inside you & let it spill out into the world around you. Whether the world that you influence has five billion people in it or only five is entirely irrelevant. Think quality, not quantity.

        Just as a rising tide lifts all boats, so you in your joyful place will lift all those around you. Be that tide. Be truly you.


          Rewrite Your Past

          Memory is notoriously unreliable.

          It’s a fair bet that most of the memories we have are confused, jumbled, or otherwise incorrect. Certainly not accurate enough to hold up in court – this is, after all, why policemen write down everything at the scene of a crime.

          The funny thing is, these are the memories that we torture ourselves with. Regret over things done or not done. Disappointment at other people & ourselves. Perceived failures & missed opportunities.

          Even when we’re not actively beating ourselves up, those memories are still there in the background, providing (unpleasant) flavour.

          If our memories are likely to be wrong (to some degree) anyway, why not at least make them pleasantly wrong? Who’s to say they have to be an accurate reflection of the past? Surely what happens in your head is 100% your business?

          Of course, changing your memory of your phone number isn’t the cleverest thing in the world, but there are plenty of other juicy candidates. How about

          • all those situations where you’ve been socially confident, the life of the party
          • the successful presentations you’ve given
          • how popular you were at school
          • all those payraises
          • the deeply loving & supportive relationships
          • the peaceful breakups
          • how effortless it’s been for you to meet new people
          • those moments with your parents where you truly understood how much they loved you
          • that long history of high figure sales
          • the times you’ve stunned those around you with your brilliance & insight

          You get the idea! Make your (remembered) life as beautiful, poetic & magical as you like!

          joyful_thought.jpg pic by alicepopkorn

          It’s your brain – own it!

          So how to do this? Well, it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than finding a quiet spot, remembering back to specific life situations you’ve had, and imagining them going however-you-want. Keep imagining them until the old memory fades away & the new replaces it (this is very well researched phenomena). If you feel like part of you is struggling with this, you can always tap while you do it, but that’s totally up to you.

          Your life is nothing but the sum of your memories. Why not start a new life, right now?

          Just start with whatever pops in your head. Recreate your memories, making them as awesome as you possibly can. As Orwell famously said “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” Well you control the present.

          As within, so without.

          & here’s a little anecdote to whet your appetite. I had a particular situation with a certain person a few years back, where perhaps they didn’t give me the recognition or appreciation I would have liked. In the few years since then, they’ve never really mentioned this, let alone made any kind of big deal about it. Just not in their nature.

          So hey, I did the above. Imagined them really understanding how much effort I’d put in to help them.. and showing me. I imagined myself feeling deeply appreciated. Loved. Thanked. It was awesome! *laugh*

          Didn’t take long. The whole thing? Maybe 5 minutes.

          The only difference I could outwardly detect was that I felt more loving towards them. That aside, I promptly forgot about it.

          Next day, I’m surfing the web, & what do I find? A couple of paragraphs in a very public location, from them, acknowledging & stating exactly what I’d imagined. Giving me that thanks, that appreciation. Exactly how I (now) remember it going.

          Coincidence? Maybe. You decide.