Monday, May 28, 2007

Half Thoughts

Last night I saw the final instalment in the Richard Dawkins' documentary The Root of All Evil?

I find Richard Dawkins’ rhetoric as frightening as that of the religious fundamentalists with whom he finds such fault.

Perhaps it’s because Michel Foucault has had such a profound influence on thinking in the Humanities and Social Sciences, but when Dawkins makes his argument for Reason and Scientific Rationalism above all else I am not convinced.

I agree, there is much to be critical of that has been done in the name of religion: from sidewalk fire and brimstone, to the systematic oppression of women, and the targeting of whole populations.

I do dread the day that my niece discovers I don't believe what she does.

However, there is also much to be critical of that has been done in the name of Reason and Scientific Rationalism: the systematic oppression of women, the targeting of whole populations…

(I'm not always convinced by Foucault either.)

There is much to celebrate about both regimes of knowledge.

I am suspicious of both the evangelical and the dogmatic. I am more persuaded by the uncertain.

I believe in ethical dilemmas.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Heart Starter

I was jolted from sleep this morning by a particularly graphic sequence in a dream. My unconscious mind had obviously been inspired by a number of things in my waking life right now:

  • Over at Sterne, Tim has recounted a harrowing turn of events that saw him rushed to hospital and diagnosed with Pericardia, an inflammation of the pericardium, which is the lining of the heart.

  • As I was reading Tim’s post, I recalled an episode of Anatomy, ‘Circulation’, that I’ve only just watched having recorded it a couple of weeks ago. The program showed the live dissection of a recently deceased human body in order to reveal the pulmonary-thoracic organs and so examine how they worked to circulate blood and oxygen around the body. I believe there was even some discussion amongst the hosts about diseases of the linings of the lungs and heart, especially in relation to how their effects made the dissection more difficult (Sorry, Tim!).
  • Both Anatomy and Tim’s plight conjured up thoughts of my sister, who is a nurse in a coronary intensive care unit.

In the dream, I’m travelling in a bus with my sister. Somehow I’ve managed to extract my own heart, and I’m trying to separate the pericardium from the main organ. I’m sitting upright and using my teeth to bite through the lining. I think I’ve managed it, so I turn to my sister and ask if she’ll put my heart back in my body. She looks at the heart and notices that I’ve been a bit exuberant in my auto-surgical procedure; I’ve also bitten off two chunks of flesh from my heart. V is unperturbed. She pats the pieces of heart into place and then proceeds to return my heart to my chest, with her bare hands, via my mouth and throat.

At that point I had a brief sense that the procedure had been successful, and then I woke up, my breath trapped in my throat and my heart feeling especially heavy.

I got up and made a banana smoothie that I’ve been having for breakfast occasionally, lately. I have called my recipe the Heart Smoothie, because it contains ingredients that are good for lowering cholesterol.

As I was drinking the Heart Smoothie, I recalled my mother telling everyone recently that her blood cholesterol had been measured at 7.2. That was when I realised that instead of having anxious, heart-bothering dreams, I should probably just go and get my blood cholesterol checked.

The Banana Heart Smoothie

200ml light Soy Milk
100ml ‘Heart Active’ Yoplait Vanilla Yoghurt*
1 Banana
1 tbsp Oat Bran

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

*This is the only possible use for this yoghurt. Do not eat it plain under any circumstances. Unless you’re trying to throw up. It’s truly disgusting without all the other ingredients to mask its taste and texture.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Emu Dreaming

Here are a few pictures of the Emu Dreaming platter I bought when I went to Mt Tamborine, in the Gold Coast Hinterland, for my birthday a couple of weeks ago.

There was a piece of paper accompanying the platter that gave pertinent details, including the artist's name.

I would normally have provided these details and probably various links so you could explore further, but the fact is I can't find said piece of paper.

I haven't thrown it out, I just can't locate it in the rubble of my abode right now. When my housekeeping skills reassert themselves, I will find it and update this post to satisfy your curiosity.

I do know the platter is by a Central Australian artist and that the glass is fashioned using a kiln.

And I'm not sure my photographs do it any justice.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bright Lights, Buddha City

Strolling back through South Bank after dinner at Timmy's, where I ate the tastiest Ragout of Rabbit and a Quince and Apple Crumble, friends and I got distracted by the bright lights and colour of the Buddha Birthday celebrations that are being held over this long weekend.

I wish I could tell you more about what's going on in the pictures I snapped with my mobile...

Clearly a shrine of some sort. People approached the altar and poured a small scoop of water over statues of Buddha on the first table...

This 'pond' struck me as particularly ingenious given Brisbane's current lack of water. There is no water in this pond. Strings of fishing line were attached to the dragon's mouths to simulate water spouts.

I can't get enough of the red lanterns. They look quite spectacular, although clearly not in this photo. On the left you'll see this is a kind of gallery of various impressions of Buddha. The art work seemed more Indian in style.

This is the forecourt on the way out of South Bank. It was lined with market stalls selling all kinds of trinkets.

After we left South Bank we had to walk twice as far as usual to catch buses because of the Suncorp Stadium traffic management plan for events at the stadium. What kind of traffic management plan makes public transport more difficult and stressful, I don't know. But let's not think about that now. Even horrible football players and fans and misguided transport officials can benefit from thoughts of Loving Kindness this weekend...

Happy Birthday, Buddha.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

How Life Is

Today was the first time this Autumn that I’ve felt the slightest nip of cold in the air. It was more of a challenge than ever to stick to the four minute shower regimen.

I’ve discovered that it takes approximately 2 litres worth of water streaming from the shower head before a temperature suitable for my ablutions is reached. I know this because I’ve been collecting said water in an especially purchased bucket and tipping it into my water filter for drinking and cooking purposes.

It was cool enough this morning so that I withdrew my light pink robe and matching ugg boots from their storage space in the cupboard and donned them while I drank coffee and marked the last in a pile of first year assignments.

I read that ‘99% of Australians occupy one television’.

For the past week or so, I have been trying to fight off an imminent cold. The first sign of being run down arrived in the form of a tingling in my eye, which heralded the beginning of a sty. As I became aware of the proto-sty, I realised my throat was sore.

I bought a new vitamin supplement called Immunodefence. Its active ingredient is Lactoferrin-Bovine (Dairy). I have also been drinking Immune juice which contains guava, pineapple and an Echinacea supplement. I have further supplemented my Echinacea intake with Echinacea + C lozenges.

Yesterday, I slept until 11.30am.

Late last week I warded off the effects of a disappointment by treating myself to a new cookbook, Growers’ Market: Cooking with Seasonal Produce by Leanne Kitchen. It's an Australian book. It’s nice not to have to translate everything from Northern Hemisphere climes in order to make sense of it here in the Antipodes.

It’s the season for eggplant.

These were transformed into an eggplant jam that I’m eating on scoops of pita bread.

You know your life is not worth living if you don’t know what I’m eating.

This is a home-made tomato soup. The recipe came from the hand-held blender-processor manual. It’s nothing you couldn’t find in any recipe book. The soup’s smooth consistency was achieved using the hand-held blender-processor, which boasts it is also capable of crushing ice.

I’ve been experimenting with cooking kangaroo. It’s higher in iron and protein than beef. I’m finding it difficult to get good results. It has practically no fat. It’s the kind of meat that I think you have to wrap in layers of proscuitto, a bit like rabbit. I’ve made meatballs and bolognaise with the mince, but they seem a bit dry for my taste. The best meals have required the least preparation: a fillet brushed with olive oil and seasoned, then char grilled to medium rare.

Big Brother
has started. Painting Australia has finished. Medium returns this week.

I have been buying TV Week for a month or so now.

Every now and then I am consumed with fury when I replay the comments from my last Sarsaparilla post in my head.

I try to concentrate on the fact that a senior colleague read my post and the ensuing comments and said that he considered me an equal; he didn’t need to defend me or look out for me—I knew how to conduct myself.

I have over forty unwatched programmes on the hard disk of my DVR. Many of them are films.

David Stratton has an entire double page spread to highlight which movies are worth watching on free to air TV.

TV Week doesn’t provide the schedule for ABC2.

Some of my students have started watching Autopsy:Life and Death on SBS at my recommendation. We talk about how queasy we feel when we watch it. I watched Top Gear because my students said it was good—beautifully shot—even if you weren’t into cars. They were right.

I’ve loaned my copy of twenty-six lies/one truth by Ben Peek to a friend who teaches a popular culture course because I think it’s the kind of thing the kids of today should be reading. If she sets it she will get complaints from Christians and education students. When I was in undergraduate they complained about 1988 by Andrew McGahan. In Toowoomba they complain about Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas.

I am secretly reading Middlemarch because people I respect say it’s the best book ever written. Other people I respect disagree.

This Friday is Audrey Hepburn’s birthday. That means it is my birthday too. Therein all similarity ends.