Friday, June 30, 2006


Originally uploaded by morgspace.

Morgan just posted this pic to Flickr and it cracks me up. I'm not sure whether he's calling me bitesized or the mini cupcake...

[Picture taken at the Sydney Photobloggers get together at Meredith & Andrew's house last night, for the eating of Mexican food and the viewing of honeymoon pics. I bought along 2 dozen mini cupcakes from a fabulous store called BabyCakes. Nummy nums.]

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Merely Labelled

Originally uploaded by Other Andrew.

One of the terms that crops up all the time in teachings by Lama Zopa Rinpoche is "merely labelled". Every time we receive some sort of stimulus, we apply labels to it. The first label might be "flower" but it might also be "pink" or "pretty", or in this case "weed". This is Lantana, it is both pretty and also a noxious weed in Australia. Without knowing that I would definately have labelled it "pretty", I mean it is pretty, let's face it. It's a 'good' label. Knowing that it strangles out great swathes of native plants though makes me also apply the label 'bad' to it.

We make these judgements and apply these labels all the time don't we? One day the beach is glorious, another day the sun's too hot, the sand's getting in your shoes, I'm going to get sunburned... The beach hasn't changed, so what has? You. Your mind. Your attitude. The way you choose to label it. That's what Rinpoche is trying to make us see, everything around us we have labelled. It's important to challenge those labels, and examine how true they are.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Snapshots In Time

Blogging is a curious thing. Fabulous, sometimes a bit of a struggle, and frequently very illuminating. I never kept a diary before I started blogging. I would decide to, jot down a few pages, and then lose motivation. Inevitably I would have just read the diaries of Virgina Wolfe, or Gertrude Stein or some other vintage diarist (not just lesbians I hasten to add) and decide that being a diarist would be Very Grand Indeed.

History of the "such-and-such did such-and-such on this day" type bores me to tears, but books about how people lived, what they enjoyed, how they dressed and what they ate fascinate me. Social history. I'm nothing if not social, and apparently it's how I like my history too. I mention this because being a diarist, or journal keeper, or even blogger of the "today I had noodles for lunch" school does not really interest me. Thoughts and feeling do, sometimes I like to record a day in words or pretty pictures sure, but mostly this is about how I felt on that day.

So I mention this in the context of the entry I made on Monday night. It reflects where I was at on the day. I'm not distancing myself or downplaying it, just putting it into the context that it is a snapshot of a moment in time. A moment when I was pretty cranky with myself for being silly, a bit paranoid and for forgetting some of the lessons I've spent the past few years learning. In that context it's interesting for me too, as I hope it might be for you, because it also reinforces what I know to be true.

Impermanence. None of us are the same person we were two years ago, two weeks ago, or two hours ago. Ditto for the future. This too shall pass, the 'good' and the 'bad'. Trying to hold onto any of that, thinking that things can exist as fixed in time, or that there is an unchanging "I" that can be fixed in time, is a recipe for disaster and dissatisfaction. Sometimes this blog shows me all sorts of lessons about just how changeable things are, and just how different my thoughts, reactions and judgements can be depending on the mental state I am in at the time. Potent stuff and a valuable lesson.


So, tonight I attended the AGM of my Buddhist centre, nominated for a position on the Executive Committee and was elected. I'm really pleased. As important as being the bookshop manager is to me, it'll be great to also be a part of the team that is responsible for guiding the bigger picture. More about ensuring that all the goals of the centre are met. I'm chuffed because it's a way of giving back to a centre that has given me so much. My role running the bookshop won't change, because the committee only meets about 4 or 6 times a year and is primarily concerned with structure and direction. Exciting times ahead.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Old Patterns

Do you ever see yourself as others see you? Do you ever have moments where you see your behaviour as someone else might see it? Just the outward appearance of things, without all the back story, hopes, fears, decisions, justifications, experience and weaknesses that lead you to that point? To only see the tip of the iceberg, the bit that manifests above sea level. See level, perhaps.

Sometimes I get those moments and they can be quite sobering. Sure that's me, my words and my actions, but that's not the full picture. There's a story behind it. There's a prologue, footnotes and a glossary that needs to be read before you really understand the sentence.

I see the way I can behave when rattled, when feeling that things might not be going right and there must be something, anything, I can do to stop it. To fix it. To make sure that things really are alright. The slightly crazed manic edge, the one that endlessly asks "Are things ok? Is it ok? Are you ok?" but is really asking "Am I ok? Do you think I'm ok?"

Gah. Even I find it exhausting and irritating, and its my behaviour we're talking about here. All that energy seeking validation.

I don't want to overstate the issue, we're talking about occasional behaviours here. One thing I am not is a gibbering validation seeking missile. I'm talking about the moments when you hear the words as they leave your mouth and you go "Oh, shit. Here we go again with the same old song. Why did I say that, rather than just keeping my big mouth shut?"

Anyhoo, seeing a problem is the first step in understanding and then solving a problem. The ruthless exploration of my own mind, and all the many lessons I've learned through Buddhism about mind delusions, about how destructive the stories we tell ourselves can be, have both helped and made the behaviour more noticeable to me.

Partly we're talking about confidence here, about not getting paranoid, about not expecting worst case scenarios, about not applying the Doom Filter and learning to just basically chill the fuck out for Chrissakes.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

More Proof Of My Puppy Obsessiveness

After a cool start to the day this morning, the sun came out and it turned into a gloriously mild and sunny winter's day. A lunchtime meeting with a blogger friend of Morgan's, and her family, down at Coogee beach turned into a great afternoon of eating, chatting, taking photos and spot of seaside strolling.

Puppy Watching

We walked along to the 'off lead' dog park around the point from the beach, and chanced upon a crowd gathering to watch a couple of whales frolicking just off shore. I didn't have a strong enough lens to capture the whales (although Morgan did!), but I did see some wonderful leaps through a pair of binoculars.


But, oh the PUPPERS! Dogs everywhere. This beautiful Shepherd came and sat with me for a while, received some pats and sat for a few pics, before heading off again.


This miniature Schnauser was one of a pair, owned by a lovely lady who stopped and chatted, encouraged her dogs to pose and receive pats, and watched whales with us for a bit. There were dogs of all shapes and sizes, playing in big friendly packs.


Surrender Dorothy

So, the show last night was fantastic. The orchestra played live in front of the movie on a giant screen, to a digitally remastered print that had all the music removed. The main songs and all the incidental music. I wanted to get up and warble along with Judy on more than one occasion. Sadly, no skipping arm in arm with my favourite cowardly lion though (although I could have possibly found a bear or two in the audience).

The logistics of playing in time with a pre-recorded vocal boggle my mind a bit, although it's probably not that far removed from what movie orchestras have to do when recording a regular soundtrack. The conductor would have to match the timing of the original orchestra and then not deviate from it noticeably.

The sound quality of the movie varied a bit, which was a teeny bit distracting every now and then. In few scenes the dialogue was a bit soft and the sound effects quite loud. No fault on behalf of the orchestra though, they were excellent. Much of the time I found myself so caught up in the film that I forgot it was an orchestra I was listening to! The audience reaction was very enthusiastic, but the format obviously does not allow for an encore. Hey, let's play that all again! Once more from the top!

But what you really want to know is, was the place crawling with gay boys? Well yes, and no. There were couples here and there, and the odd gaggle of six or so, but it was a popular night with families. Kids, kids and more kids. Morgan and I had 4 pre-teen girls behind us who got The Look from me for chatting and seat back kicking a few times, but I kind of hated myself for it a bit afterwards because it was a long show for small kids to sit through. They did ok.

The Morgster and I both looked pretty fine, me in a high button black suit with striped shirt and charcoal silk tie, and himself in a dark navy suit and charcoal shirt. The Opera House was a glorious as ever, glowing slightly in a misty and slightly rainy winter's night. We had a light, late supper afterwards of savoury pastries and a hot chocolate over looking the harbour.

It was a great night.

Breakfast Of Champions

A winter Saturday morning.

Breakfast of Champions

Plus porridge with honey & sultanas.

Enter The Dragon

Plus strong black coffee = a good start to the day.

I'm kinda happy right now.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Just When You Thought I Couldn't Get Any Gayer...

Tonight Morgan and I are off to the Opera House to see a Wizard of Oz extravaganza. A celebration of Garland in a gingham frock, with red shoes that kind of clash with that outfit really, but being sparkly and magical and all we are willing to overlook that fact.The Sydney Symphony will play along with a newly transcribed score, including previously lost pieces, while a new remastered print of he film plays behind.

I'm guessing there'll be 6, maybe 7, straight men in he entire place, tops.

There's no place like home, for homos at least.

Now all I need is for Wicked to make it's way Down Under...

Here Kitty Kitty!

Just so you don't think I only like puppies...

Here Kitty Kitty

...I'm partial to kitties too.

[Chinatown shop window, snapped last night on the way to dinner with the Sydney Photobloggers.]

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Small Packages

Man, I need a dog. I cannot pass a creature of the canine persuasion without cooing and reducing myself to a complete gibbering idiot. On Monday night Morgan and I had dinner at the home of Morgan's friend Canice, and both Morgan and I were desotted by his little dog. A little bundle of personality with black button eyes and fur soft as silk. Oh sure, those of you with Small Dog Aversion are probably struggling to see the charm right now, but picture a cross between an ewok, a mogwai and a teddy bear and you are close to this little bundle. Chuck in a fiesty attitude towards the game of fetch and a healthy ability to play tug of war with a squeaky ball. All thankfully yap-free.

I generally gravitate towards bigger dogs, but having had a pack of smaller dogs (in a previous life as Dog Show Widow) I grew to appreciate the little fiesty guys too. All that personality in a pint-sized package. Anyone?

Winter Is A Comin' In


Diamonds & Jade


Some lunchtime sights, on a grey and rainy day. Most of today it rained lightly and constantly, then when I left work the sky was piled up with heavy, slate coloured cloud. Back lit and somehow nacreous. Ten minutes later it was full dark and raining heavily, and I was glad to have my umbrella, scarfe and heavy cashmere & wool coat.

In the middle of the day though, all it took was a close glance to see that everything had been glossed, coated in shellac, and sprinkled in gems.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Nice Feelings

  1. Really warm feet on a really cold day.
  2. Little puppy dog snuffles in your ear.
  3. A new doona.
  4. Holding a small dog in the crook of your arm.
  5. A belly full of really good genuine home-made Thai food, made by a lovely Thai lady.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Winter Colour

Finally a bright and sunny winter Saturday! It was cool, but not so cold, and a perfect day to run rampant with a camera in the company of a bunch of my Sydney Photoblogger friends from Flickr.

Road Safety

This lady was one of a pair of costumed characters passing out fortune cookies with road safety warning messages and conducting a survey about road safety in Newtown. Possibly the strangest Road Safety concept ever, but memorable.

Turquoise & Red

A fabulous vintage ride on King Street south. I heart fins and rocket tail lights.

Cookie Monster

A bakery window on King Street. If the place had been open there would have no biscuits left to photograph and my ass would twice its current size.

My Mantra

My mantra.

Seriously Freakin' Famous

Being a celebrity is hard y'all.

Well not really, but I got a minute taste of celebrity last night. Oh, and by that I don't mean that I saw someone famous and licked their face like a puppy (although there are a bunch of special and noteworthy exceptions that I would break the 'no lick' rule for, but I digress...)

Morgan was out with a bunch his workmates last night so I had a night out with Mikey (The Lovely Ex) and another friend Dave for a session of recreational beverages at the Green Park Hotel. During the course of the evening I noticed a man looking at me quite frequently, then towards the end of the evening he came over and asked me if my name was Andrew. He introduced himself, and amusingly (and apt for this blog) his name was Andrew also. As I was wracking my memory for a context to where I might know him from, and why I didn't recognise him, he filled me in.

A blog reader, who recognised me from this blog.

Happily, I can report that he confirmed what I always suspected about you all. You are sweeter, funnier and downright better looking than your average blog audience.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Dancing Shoes

Dancing Shoes
Originally uploaded by Other Andrew.

Is this a look that would work for me, do you think?

I mean, the sensible heel isn't too much of a challenge and the tights would both keep out the winter chill, and disguise my hairy, hairy legs. Just a thought.

(Japanese teenager I snapped in Central Station last Monday while out with Morgan, Bodhi and Quintessential 60's Girl. When I was taking her pic she even gave me the classic "V" peace sign, even though I was shooting only her shoes. She was very cute.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Prognosis Good: Not Dead

Sorry, it wasn't my plan to have a mini hiatus but that's what the past week morphed into. Thursday night through to last night was a blur of starting a new job, preparing for Lama Zopa Rinpoche's visit, the actual visit and then tidying up afterwards. With some time off for good behaviour to meet a real life Flickr buddy (and frequent TOA commentor) the stunningly lovely Quintessential 60's Girl.

So, again sorry.

Now it's your turn to tell me that:
a) you still love me despite my neglect,
b) that, actually, the disdain was kind of a turn on, thank you for asking,
c) you, um, hadn't noticed I was even gone, or
d) well, anything really. Wa'ssup?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Rendezvous With Lama

It's late and I'm tired, after a long day of work at the new job (good), attending the opening of the new centre (very good) and getting to meet Lama Zopa Rinpoche and receive a blessing (excellent). Then I had to stay back and pack up the bookshop for the event tomorrow night (kind of sucked), but that only took a little of the gloss off the day. Suffice to say that things seem a bit less blah from where I sit right now.

Tomorrow will be kind of long but exciting. After a full day at the new job I'm off to hear an evening of teachings with Lama. Apparently he always teaches until he feels he has said everything that needs to be said, and it's not out of the question for him to talk until the small hours of the morning if he feels the need! It's scheduled to finish at 9pm, but in reality we could still be there at midnight or later. He's an amazing teacher though, so provided I can stay awake it should be a perfect opportunity to hear some excellent teachings. A rare opportunity.

I took some pics at the opening of the centre today, which I'll post soon. For now I'm watching he rest of the Amazing Race finale and then off to bed. Nighty night.

Geekarama At Wagamama

Last night was the 22nd mid-week Sydney Photobloggers Flickr meet. As usual there were drinks, food, photos and loads of laughs.

Oishii desu ka?

We started and ended the evening at the bars of King St Wharf, first James Squire's and then Cargo Bar. Morgan captured some great shots from both bars.


Highlight of the evening for me was definately dinner at Wagamama. I love the food there, and it's so much more fun with 15 of your favourite geeks along for the ride.

Oh, and big news of the night is that there are now three romances amongst the photo geeks! Who ever said photography was a solitary pursuit?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Blah Dee Blah

It's been cold and raining here for about 4 days solid now. Oh sure, those of you who spend months a year shovelling your driveways are thinking "And, so what?", but 4 days of solid rain with just tiny breaks of not raining is taking its toll. I already posted about not really feeling ready for Winter, about really enjoying Summer this year. This rain has ushered in a mini dose of the blahs. Just a mini one.

Stress is playing a part maybe. While everywhere else seems damp, coincidentally work has dried up this week. Next week will be better I'm sure. IT WILL, RIGHT? It will. You know what, while I'm being honest I might as well add this thought, I fucked up. A year of great income and how I managed not to save money is beyond me. OK, I did clear some debt, but really not as much as I could or should have. I don't want to go back to that job, even with the money, because although it started ok it was a pretty toxic environment from around the start of the year onwards. Good riddance.

Morgan and I are still good, great in fact, but we're at that three month danger zone. The one were you start renegotiating things, where excitement starts to get tinged with reality. Maybe you spend a little less time telling each other how fabulous they are and start reacting to little perceived negatives. Do you know what I mean? It's not a bad time, but it's a noticeable change and that needs to be treated with care. It's the time when all the little stories we all make up constantly about why someone says or does something, or doesn't do something, what they are thinking or what their motivation is, are potentially dangerous.

I've been really busy at the Buddhist centre this week, and the next four or five days will be very busy too as we are hosting our spiritual head Lama Zopa Rinpoche and a few hundred students for a series of events. The bookshop I'll be running is expected to be busy. Frantic, no doubt.

So, the blahs. In some ways I think it's a bit of a standard response for me when things seem a bit too much. Parts shut own. The lights in the unused wing get turned off and the furniture covers are thrown over for the duration. I'm not depressed, I'm certain I'm not, it's far short of a visit from the Black Dog. Moody is maybe a better description.

This too shall pass. A successfull event over the weekend, some work next week, a few kind words and a bit of blue sky will fix it. Oh, and maybe a cupcake.

[Updated: Ok, if you write it, they will come. The work thing is sorted for the next six weeks now, I just got a call from my agency. Bad news, they wanted me to start tomorow which completely throws my plans for setting up the bookshop at the event on Friday into disarray. Cripes. I managed to negotiate a half day tomorrow, which lets me attend the official opening of the centre, but I need to be there all day on Friday. Crap. I'm grateful for the work, but c'mon people your timing sucks.]

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A New Home

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activity. Tonight the spiritual head of my Buddhist tradition Lama Zopa Rinpoche arrives in Sydney to give a series of teachings and to officially open our new centre.

Prayer Wheel

The paint is still drying, and my permanent bookshop fixtures haven't been built yet, but the centre is 95% finished and boy does it look impressive!

Altar Detail

Light, bright and airy, yet the touches of earthy accent colours and all the traditional Tibetan art make the centre feel like a real modern Buddhist centre. It's stunning.

Finished Gompa

The facilities are a huge leap forward from our old centre. Where we used to crowd anywhere up to 30 people in our old gompa (meditiation room), a room that was not much larger than a big bedroom, now we have a massive purpose built space.

Gompa Doors

Thursday night were are expecting a few hundred people to come for the opening ceremony and some teachings wih Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Then once the place is full and buzzing with students it'll feel like we're really in our new home.

[Click the pics for a trip to Flickr and the full size versions with descriptions. All my photos from the new centre are tagged Vajrayana Institute.]

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Search Engine Surprises

A check of my stats this afternoon showed that I scored surprisingly well on some very interesting search requests...

So, (a) there are some very disappointed folks out there, who expected hot lust pics of a trashy Jeremy Sheffield's foreskin and got something like cupcakes instead and b) there are strange, strange people out there and c) it seems there's a strange person in here, or at least Google thinks so.

On How To Be Pop-ular

Cupcakes are the answer.

That's right, my top 3 most popular and most interesting pictures in Flickr are cupcakes. Cupcakes. Not artsy fartsy botanical shots, but pretty cupcakes.

I infer no plaigarism, but others have also gone down the 'cupcakes road' recently. Hell, there's a whole cupcakes community out there.

Don't get me wrong, I also infer no criticism here. I mean I love to eat the little buggers, but if I'd known this was such a sure fire way to popularity I would have spent my entire High School years in the kitchen. Just sayin'.

[Michael honey, the title of this post is a Wicked shout-out just for you! I'm buying the soundtrack his weekend. Original cast, natch.]

Friday, June 02, 2006

Accidentally Closeted

Have you ever found yourself in a situation that you didn't engineer, but find it hard to extricate yourself out of? Last week I mentioned my 'partner' to a work colleague here at my temp job, but then later in the conversation he mentioned 'my girlfriend' and it sort of passed me by without me really clocking it. A few sentences later I was like oh, wait on... but the moment had passed, and a nun had joined the conversation*, and well I let it slide. Now he's getting all hetero on me, mentioning my girlfriend all the time and pointing out women to me in magazines.

I mean, is he blind and deaf? Or just dumb?

* True, I'm currently working in a Catholic hospital.

The Winter Of Our Discontent

Shhh, don't tell anyone but I'm engaging in a prohibited activity, using The Internetz at my current workplace. Last day here, so whatevs... I'm so kinda Devil-may-care, don't you think?

Despite the title of this post, it's not a whine. Not really. I will not be covering myself in ashes or tearing at my hair, I mean ME intentionally MESS MY HAIR? Never. Going. To. Happen.

I digress. You see, it's officially the second day of Winter here. I'm not happy. Normally I like the changing of the seasons, but I'm not ready for it this year. I'm not emotionally prepared. I haven't made peace with the concepts of 'cold' or 'wet', yet.

(Small reality check. Let's face it the changes in seasons here in Sydney are really not that dramatic. There will be no snow shoes required this Winter, for example.)

I've enjoyed the Summer and early parts of Autumn this year, relished having lost weight and being able to rock out in warm weather clothes without feeling blobby and uncomfortable. I've just about lived in my favourite pair of Esprit shorts. In my Book of Memories this summer is forever stamped with meeting Morgan, fun photography outings, day trips in the car and long strolls into work with a camera in hand.

This Winter feels more uncertain. Work is up in the air, for example. Much of what was great about Summer will be still be great in Winter though, Morgan and photography outings just two examples. The difference is largely point of view. Seasonally Affective Disorder.

It's hard to keep the sunny outlook, when it isn't.