The Geek Icon: 05 Jan 2013

Living in the dark dungeons of the internet

Lucky 2013

Well, I've weeded out the 80 gabillion spam comments on my various blogs and had a poke around. I will probably need to put in more serious comments spam prevention on this site (ooh, coding exercise!). I'm not sure anyone out there is even listening anymore, but here I go again.

It's 2013. I'm 35 years old. I'm still a geek. I finally got married. I went to most of the NSW Handweavers and Spinners Guild meetings last year, even if I still haven't attempted my spinning certificate yet. My back yard is a mess, but at least I am working on the architect brief to get the rest of our house finished.

Life is OK. 2013 is going to be about me pulling my head out of my behind and reconnecting with life— living it to the fullest, or at least not letting it get bogged down in stuff that doesn't really matter.

Small Things

You know how people who have small children seem to do nothing but talk about their kids? I have discovered a corollary to that— people with small parrots seem to do nothing but talk about their parrots. I am a case in point.

Loki on his perch

One thing I managed to get straight last year was to invest in a new pet relationship. April last year brought a new delivery to my household, and based on his mischievous nature, he was named Loki. Other nicknames include Loki Monster and Velokiraptor. No matter what he gets called, every day brings new amusements, aggravations, challenges and triumphs.

Some adjectives to describe what I like to think of as Loki's personality, which, though he is not a person, is distinctive and recognisable:

Tanuki on his perch

This year Loki's younger brother Tanuki (aka Tanuki Bear) arrived. Unlike Loki, Tanuki's wings had accidentally been clipped by the parrot breeders, inhibiting (but not completely eliminating) his ability to fly. It's hard to say what is nature and what is nurture, but it's hard not to assume that this has had some impact on Tanuki's personality.

If I were to characterise Tanuki, I would say he is:

Owning (intelligent) exotic pets has also provided a supreme opportunity to geek out. New areas of research like animal behaviour and parrot nutrition have appeared. New creative outlets have arrived in the form of making toys, perches, and foraging for food for my little buddies (interestingly, most Australian flora is extremely parrot friendly due to the large number of parrot species that are native here). New routines and methods for organising my life around these two little feathered balls of energy have emerged. And figuring out how to train them and trying to teach them what to say is generally entertaining although not always successful.

If my blogging streak hangs on, be prepared for more parrot talk to fill up this blog.

Hoist the Mainsail - Part 3 of 3

Well, this only took 4 years to complete. Be amazed at my lightning blogging skills! Anyway, as Paul Harvey used to say, "and now, the rest of the story"...

Dear reader, when last we spoke about my life-changing sailing trip from Hobart to Sydney, I had just awoken on a starkly clear and warm summer day at Clarke Island. We were gearing up to make our way across the Bass Strait, except the wind had other ideas.

The modern sailboat has an amazing capacity to sail at an angle very close to the wind, the best a typical sailboat can do is probably about a 30º angle, which is pretty amazing when you think about it. Generally if the wind is blowing the wrong way, you can angle yourself back & forth and make your way overall in the right direction. But there are times when tacking is also a somewhat futile exercise. We needed to sail northeast to hit the coast of southern New South Wales and make our way in sight of land back to Sydney, and the wind was blowing in pretty much exactly the wrong direction. So we decided to wait it out. We made a short trip around Cape Barren Island to the sheltered southern tip of Flinders Island and the quiet town of Lady Barron.

Lady Barron Wharf

Fortunately, Lady Barron had an awesome pub, because we were stuck there for several days. I also had to try and use the pay phone to call work and tell them I was going to be at least a couple of days late back to work. After a night sleeping on the boat plagued by mosquitos the size of small birds, we even treated ourselves a motel room adjacent to the pub. The motel had a bed that wasn't rocking, and even a shower. Despite the fact that the pipes were completely rusty and the first 5 seconds of water were coloured a deep brown, the shower was completely glorious.

The wind, as it usually does, changed. Our couple of days of rest, fish and chips, beer, and idleness went by and suddenly the weather was ready to co-operate and propel us on our way north. The big moment had arrived and we were about to sail across the notorious Bass Strait.

The first few hours were fun and energising as we picked up speed and made our way over huge rollers. The day was bright and clear, and in every direction there wasn't a hint of land. We were a tiny dot bobbing across an immense expanse of rushing, heaving blue water.

But after the bulk of the day passed, I started to get wet, cold, and exhausted. The wind was blowing incredibly hard, making the boat heel over at an extreme angle. The best thing to do was just brace yourself with your legs and hang on as tight as you could to the railing. After several hours my arms were extremely tired, and as night fell I made my way below and curled up in a soggy, scared, tired ball.

The wind was howling along at 30 knots, gusting up to 35, only a moderate gale force wind, but strong enough to finally shake my confidence. I wasn't able to get up for my evening crew shift and drowsed restlessly in and out of sleep as the boom clanged and the boat pounded its way across the waves of the strait.

Together at sea

Fortunately as the next day dawned, the wind had calmed down to a level I could handle and I was rested and myself and pitching in as a crew member again. I thought everything was going really well— the sun was shining, albatrosses were flying, when BAM! the whole boat shuddered as if it had hit a rock. Surely there wasn't anything under us out here in the middle of the strait? Turns out we had hit a sunfish, a huge animal that can weigh over 1000 kg and likes to swim near the surface of the water. They aren't particularly manoeuvrable, so apparently it's a common thing for boats to hit them on the open ocean. We think it wasn't too badly hurt from the ordeal.

The rest of the trip was pretty relaxed, and at some points even magical, at others, just plain boring. The wind calmed down to the point where we were becalmed, so we had to motor our way up most of the coast. On the way, we had bioluminescent tides, dolphins (including some baby dolphins, which are pretty much the cutest thing in the universe ever), a stop at Ulladulla at my favourite fish & chips shop, and views of the New South Wales coast line.

With all the motoring during our last few days, the trip would have felt really anti-climactic, except for a change just as we were coming up to the entrance of Sydney harbour. The wind picked up just enough, so we shut off the motor (what a relief after days of diesel fumes!), hoisted the sail, and sailed our way into the harbour entrance.

The Crew All Together

By the time we pulled up to the dock at Rushcutter's Bay, I was sunburnt, tired, ebullient, and definitely feeling in desperate need of a shower. I had my moments of weakness during the trip, but overall I was proud of myself just for showing up on what had been a fairly challenging and epic trip.

After four years, I still haven't taken much time out to do more sailing, but I know it's still something I want to do more and get better at. While I'll probably be content with toddling around Sydney Harbour and maybe cruising along the coast, I'll never be sorry that I took the challenge and sailed from Hobart to Sydney. It was definitely a formative and worthwhile event in my life.

So Far Off to a Bad Start

Ray Bradbury's advice to writers is to write your loves and hates. And while I can't say I truly hate my job, I was poking around and read through my last post on this site (greivously over 8 months ago) and felt a wave of anger.

Partly the anger was at myself. Why did I let myself do exactly the opposite of what I meant to do? How did I end up getting sucked in to even more work stress? Getting hitched, spinning certificate, new career, garden — all those things have been sloppily placed on the back burner for, yes, that's right! more work responsibility, more stress, working on the weekends, working late, blah, blah, blah.

Honestly, I don't blame my work.

The question I have is, what's wrong with me? Why do I put all my focus into something thats just my day job, a way to pay the bills. The things I value have all been playing second fiddle.

2011 has not gone as planned. I hope I don't waste the rest of it.

Time to get mad and reclaim something for myself.

A New Decade

My birthday and the roll over for the new year nearly coincide — I was born on December 31st — so a new year feels doubly like a new chapter for me.

This year is my number 33. Can I actually be that old? Isn't someone who is 33 supposed to feel... like an adult? My dad reminded me when we spoke on my birthday that he was 33 when I was born! What have I been doing with myself the past few years?

Once again I get to the start of a new year feeling like I don't get to spend enough time on the things I really love and enjoy. It's getting near to five years working for my current employer, and when I started I made a promise to myself that I would give myself 5 years to work my way towards a career change. This year will be about stopping myself from giving 110% at work (no more working until 11pm on Christmas Eve, which is what happened this year, to get a desperate mess over the line before my week off for the holidays). They can have 80 or maybe 90, and I will do things I love and find a new path to making a living.

The other thing I want more of in my life is an anchor. One that's not related to working and getting paid. A responsibility that has to do with love and affection, and even fun, instead of fiscal security. That will probably take the shape of something like this:

Quaker Parrot (Ivan)

Obviously, this is not my parrot. Photo credit goes to Flickr user Jim B L.

After a long time wanting a companion animal/pet, and not being in a situation to really look after one, it's finally time to change that. Even though I'm a long-time cat person, I feel like a cat isn't a really appropriate pet for many reasons. Quaker parrots are smart, playful, affectionate, and I look forward to having something to come home to (besides a messy house). Since I am much of a homebody anyway, and work from home one day a week, I hope I can provide the attention and support needed for a happy, healthy bird.

I don't have a true resolution list this year. I just want to take a step back from work and relish things I love: spending time in my garden, making delicious food, spinning and knitting, and hanging out with my favourite boy ever Mr Wiggins.

Things I hope might come to fruition this year:



About the Geek Icon

This is the weblog of a computer geek with a thousand interests, documenting the ins and outs, ups and downs of her daily life. A dual citizen of the US and Australia who has settled (for the time being) in Sydney. Read more about her on the bio page.

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