Saturday, 24 December 2011

Less Than Perfect (or self-forgiveness is the key to getting anything done, at least in my case)

Happy New Year!*

A couple days late perhaps, but I'll forgive myself that. I've made it my resolution to forgive myself when I slip up and fail to adhere to my plans perfectly (which as a crippling perfectionist* shall be a challenge). This is especially important to me this year as I have a grand master plan to add value to my life.

Perfectionism is the reason I don't post as regularly as I'd like. I've scrapped far too many posts because I didn't feel they were good enough. So daft. So from now on, I'm not going to aim for perfect, just for getting my point across and posting regularly. After all, if I don't post, I can't have the conversations I'd like to have with people.

Oh wait, I mentioned a grand master plan earlier, didn't I? All shall be revealed tomorrow.

Anyone got any good resolutions this year?

*I posted this on Jan 3 2012, I have no idea why the publish date is Dec 24 2011. It really had just been the new year, honest!

Monday, 12 December 2011

Does God Matter? (or would we live our lives differently knowing an undebatabely true answer?)

I typed this post up a week ago and lost it on my computer. I realised* half hour ago that it wasn't saved on my computer but to Google Docs. Duuuuuuhhhh.

*yes with an 's' - stupid Google stop trying to make me spell like an american!

God. What is He doing? Is He a He? Is He even real? What is the grand plan? Is there one? Does it matter?

...Does it matter?

I don’t think so. Not one tiny bit.

For pretty much as long as I can remember God and I have had a strange relationship. We don’t really write or call each other. Sometimes we poke each other to see what happens.

When I was really young, I think maybe five or six years old I made a really strange request of God, to test whether or not he was there. Now I know you aren’t meant to test God, but I was 5... or six... and didn’t know any better. You’re all going to laugh when you read this, and I’ve never shared it before so be kind :P

Tiny little five or six year old Brett, all tucked up in bed one night, wondered if God was real. And if he was real, did he listen? Did he grant requests? Would he listen to me? So I put my hands together, closed my eyes and prayed.

I asked God, to give me a sign that he was there and that he was involved in the world. Tiny little five or six year old Brett, all tucked up in bed, hands together praying, asked God to make it so that if he touched the colour orange, said the word orange, ate an orange, that he would need to shit.

Don’t ask me why. Of all the possible signs a person could ask for, my strange five or six year old brain asked to be tortured by the colour orange. And it worked.

For what seems like it was weeks, maybe months after that. If I touched orange, ate oranges, said the word orange, I would very shortly after need to run to the bathroom. So it seemed, God listened. I spent a long time avoiding orange in all it’s forms. Though I think after a while I prayed for God to take 
it away. And it stopped, though I was still wary of orange.

So for a while as a kid I was pretty certain God was around and paying attention and oddly indulgent of a chilld’s silly wishes. As I grew, I became extremely agnostic however, and these days I would chalk up that experience to being self-induced. I’ve spent many hours contemplating the divine. What form it might take. It’s name. How many gods there might be. Which religion might be right.

These days I would describe myself as a devout agnostic.* I want to believe very very much. Sometimes I feel there is definitely something out there watching over us, whether actively taking care or not. Other times I feel staunchly that there is nothing there and that the world is a construct of maths and science.

I am a scientist. I have a degree in biomedical sciences and I believe in evolution and the big bang. I believe the entire world can be explained mathematically. That doesn’t mean I discount the possibility of the existance of a deity, obviously, hence the whole agnostic thing. 

Whether God exists or not is not going to change my basic operating patterns. I'm going to live my life the same way either way, I'll still be a good person and do my best for all around me. If God is watching, hopefully that'll be enough to get me into heaven/nirvana/elysium.

I could spend hours writing and discussing the arguments for or against the existance of God. But why bother? What would be the point?

If God exists, then there’s a grand plan right?** And if there’s a grand plan we’re all doing exactly what we need to be doing. And if not, then who cares? Whatever the hell we decide to do is fine. To paraphrase Robin Ince in his TED: if there’s no God, we all get to decide what the point of our lives is. So we follow the grand plan and our lives are meaningful, or we do what we like to make our lives meaningful. Either way we’re all cool. Sweet.

*Don’t argue. I get to choose what I call myself.

**Which would link in nicely to my thoughts on free will vs determinism, but that's too much for this post.

Definitely want to hear what people think on this one. Let me know :)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Preparing for Spring (or collecting plastic bottles and dirt for my nefarious purposes)

A few days ago I started watching TED talks obsessively. For those not familiar, TED organises conferences around the work discussing different themes and has some amazing speakers come and talk about their work, prospects for the future, life, poetry, science, EVERYTHING! They are amazing. I'd known they existed for a couple of years but never watched any, until the other day. And now I'm hooked. It's my new morning routine. Breakfast or a cup of tea and a TED talk. It's a great way to start the day as they generally leave me feeling inspired and revved up to take on the world.

By far one of my favourite talks was given by Britta Reilly of It concerned the development of systems for growing vegetables and plants in small indoor spaces, particularly flats and studio apartments. I would absolutely recommend anyone check it out, even those of you with your own out door spaces to grow, just for the pure joy of seeing the inspirational and innovational approaches being developed as a collaboration of everyday people across the world who live in cities but want to grow their own food.

This is basically an arrangement of plastic bottles with good soil in them being used to grow things. A pump system is used to get water to flow through the soil and provide nutrients. As more people are collaborating and sharing their designs (which is what has really driven the development of this project and allowed for enhancements in energy requirements and carbon outputs etc) the systems get sleeker and better and could really make an impact.

So this is my challenge for 2012 though it starts now: collect as many plastic bottles as possible (without giving money to bottled water companies on account of they're stupid), start a small compost pile somewhere, decide what to grow, collect materials to construct the frame and build the thing!

What an exciting way to take my first steps into homesteading. If I can achieve any measure of success with this, I will be over the moon and able to integrate growing my own food with some of the plans I have for the next decade or so of my life before I have my own land.

Thoughts, comments and concerns welcomed as ever. I'm really keen to hear what people think about this. I'm sure there's some aspect I'm overlooking.
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