Sunday, 30 May 2010

long May you read

A mixed bunch this fortnight, or is this the monthly set? It’s all blurred. Taking leave from work, travelling home – these somehow disrupt routines. I took some time off to rejuvenate and ended up getting depressed. Now i need a break from writing about the depressing things i saw during my break.

First to the AV set.

Top of the pile is some blues from John Hammond. 'Push comes to shove' i'll take this with me to that hypothetical deserted island.

Then some great Aussie selections from Redgum. 'Caught in the act' is their only live album. Check out "I was only 19" and "diamantina drover".

Tom Petty & the heartbreakers rock with some concert offerings.

There is a book on the songs of Neil Young if you dig Neil Young. Otherwise don’t waste your time.

Then to some videos.

‘We were Soldiers’ is another of those patriotic flicks from hollywood. To be fair it accords equal treatment to both sides of the war in Vietnam. I only borrowed it for a couple of songs on the soundtrack, but it’s okay if there’s nothing else around. Just watch it objectively.

The Oscar-winning film ‘Midnight Cowboy’ is another to watch when there’s not much on TV. I haven’t seen this before and I do like Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight. Although their character roles here are not to be admired, their acting certainly is top shelf. I also borrowed it for the soundtrack which has 'everybody talkin'. This was way back in the early 70s.

To the read list.

The novels. McCarthy’s ‘The Road’ has been both panned and praised. I must have got some bias elsewhere before I read it. Even then i could not find myself enjoying the book. It is way unrealistic.

I read ‘The brothers Karamazov’ before or so i thought. If i did it must have been in another life. Ideal for a holiday getaway. I thought of bringing it to Mainit. Good i didn’t because it would have remained unread.

I picked up Chess champion Kasparov’s book just out of curiosity. I actually enjoyed it. It’s a bit more fun if you know a little chess, but even non-chess players could find some lessons here.

The other items include books on TS Eliot’s works and a biography of Kahlil Gibran. I’d get into them first before reading these books. One of them's fighting in the captain's tower.

More music suggestions.

Oops most are in the first photo too.

Do check out Grant-Lee Phillips. He’s got some good songs.

Then there’s a compilation from The Who.

The who? Yeah you may not have heard of them. They’re of ‘my generation’. He he.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

musing and whingeing

whinge. intransitive verb Chiefly Brit (and Aussie) To complain or protest, especially in an annoying or persistent manner.
Some random notes. there's no rhyme nor reason here...
Where I come from...
Traffic is still at a crawl from NAIA to NLEx.
I am generally an optimistic bastard. But I am cynical with regard to a couple of things.

Global warming

It is the hot dry season and early mornings are not as chilly or as crisp, but global warming is very apparent. The dryness is manifest in the fallen dried brown pine needles, as i discovered while walking under a grove of remnant pines – in the city of pines! There was so much more fallen pine needles and and so much drier.

Parched dry earth- cracks schisms fissures on most surfaces fields roads and building walls and floors.
Some pine trees still standing though are very dead.
Smog and haze now a feature.

Brush fires, forest fires

grim and dim realities
Infrastructure projects are supposedly through the efforts of a politician from the president down to the barangay official - meaning there would not have been that patch of bitumen there if not for them. Wow!
The cost of the project is somehow never mentioned. I suppose if a project is worth billions and the result is only worth thousands...

Politics in the air. News commentaries, ads, endorsements disguised as journalistic pieces.

Politicians or high-ranking officials in unmarked and dark-tinted luxury vehicles with at least two police escorts on some kind of mission – to stop corruption perhaps or maybe to mitigate the choking brushfires.
Disparity between haves and have nots – beggars outside fancy dining places which cost as much as in the west.

to get away from this madness - i took off to my highland home...

Congestion is still a feature of the main road in La Trinidad.
The mountains are on fire and the air is thick not just with smoke - but with something very fishy.

Along the mountain roads on the way home, there is erosion, cut roads, sinking roads, unsignalised unattended single lane roads – all with a very high risk of accident.

Past the dry dusty fields, past gullies now merely with stains from where water used to flow and rush down and gather into rivulets. Clear mountain springwater that used to be plentiful and used to form beautiful waterfalls as they wind and wend their way down from the mountainsides to the sea - they are no more!

The mountain has ran out of tears – it cries no more.
I can feel its sadness as i ride along its dry and dusty roads shorn of significant vegetation. i shiver as i stare at the burnt scarred slopes as dark and black as the evil wreaked on it.

Yes the mountains are no longer gaily and lazily nourishing the rivers that flow down the valleys - down to the once rich lowland agricultural farmlands - and thence farther down to the fishfarms in the deltas. After these many years of conflagration and degradation, they are slowly but surely being washed down to the sea.

But no it’s not just the annual fires that’s caused this defilement. Blame part of it on climate change.

Who’s causing climate change? It’s all of us.
We have rendered the mountain fields bare and sterile with chemicals and such toxic weapons. The hiss is the curse of the parso-ot. The pestilence, the evil influence of pesticides.

Can we blame the farmer? Can we blame the consumer? Can we blame anyone? Can we blame ourselves?
Maybe there’s too many of us.
There is too many of us!
What programs are in place for a sustainable population? a sustainable family? community? society?
Never mind what our political leaders say.
But what do our religious leaders say? Go ye and multiply? Go breed and compete for the meagre resources of your mountains. Blessed are you that are poor, for you will be rich in heaven?

There are now 6.8 billion people on earth. Scientists predict there will be up to nearly 10 billion within 40 years.  Where do we source food water medicine now without destroying the planet?
Yeah go ye and multiply!

I can talk but what am i doing? Whingey bastard me. Nada! Nothing. So i had better shut my trap before someone else does. But this is my blog. And i’ll keep saying

Ay ay salidumay
Aye aye polichay
I and I

I was looking at some job ads one time. Some jobs specify that ‘fieldwork’ may be involved.
Is fieldwork some kind of undesirable job description? Seems that anything that involves walking or sweating or getting dirt in one’s hands, getting rained on or working under the sun, is somehow a bad thing.
I must be an evil person for loving ‘fieldwork’.

well i am off to the field - to do fieldwork!
good riddance indeed!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Home sweet home

I wrote somewhere that this blog could be like a palimpsest.

Well i paid a visit to the old homeland this past month. On arrival there i started noting some things in my mind.

Just the other day I tried dredging the depths of my memory for what i can recall of my visit home and came up with a list. It is of course subject to revisions and visions and sights and sighs and -
my power of recall is well and truly vastly diminished.

I call my list thus:
You know you’re home (in the Philippines) when:
  • about a half-hour before landing the airplane becomes like a marketplace with noisy chatter from passengers expectant to seeing home and family again. The atmosphere brightens when the pilot announces that the plane’s about to land.
  • as the airplane touches down, there’s a burst of applause from the mostly Filipino passengers (i saw this clapping happen at the moviehouses but it’s the first time i see it in an airplane)
  • at the baggage claim, the coded padlock on your suitcase has disappeared and unknown items taken from your luggage.
  • The number of people (N), who are picking up and/or dropping off at the airport, is an exponential function or multiple factor (F) of the number of people travelling (T). N = FT, where 1≤F≤100.
  • Driving along busy night-time roads you see ‘KTV’ signs on the fronts and facades of buildings and somehow know it’s not the popular pay TV channel Kids TV.
  • The bus you’re in and all the other vehicles around, transform a 3-lane highway into a 6-lane racecourse. The one with its nose in front claims pole position or right-of-way.
  • The in-flight movie in the airplane is 12 months old, but the in-house movie in the bus is the latest blockbuster.
  • At a restaurant and in various places and establishments you are addressed as sir or ma’am, but you’re not quite sure if it’s sincere.
  • You are expected to know where to go and what to do even though you ain’t ‘been there and done that' yet, since it’s your first time to do and go.
  • Campaign posters are everywhere and so now you know there’s an upcoming election without reading or listening to the news.
  • You suddenly realise you’re taller than you thought, or at least you’re not smaller than most – for now.
  • There’s a sari-sari store at every corner.
  • At almost every opportunity, you’re reminded of the glory days of the Philippines – oh about 60 to100 years ago.
  • You look at your fellow Filipinos and see such a beautiful and wonderful people. You look at them again and wonder what they’ve done to deserve such great political leaders. You smile in sadness and then look once more at them and are thankful that you’re one of them, and that you wouldn’t have it any other way.
  • The crowing of roosters heralds the dawn, even in the city.
I woke up from a strange dream and found myself in a strange place...

There was another list somewhere in my memory. It's called:
you know you're getting old when...
  • first on that list is.... right on the tip of my tongue... i know, i know - i must be getting old...
Additions to boths lists above are most welcome!

Monday, 17 May 2010

On the surface

Work diary log (September 2009).
The North-South Bypass Tunnel (NSBT) is the largest ever road infrastructure project aimed at addressing the existing and future transport needs of Brisbane.

The NSBT is not just the hole underground. It has many allied infrastructure on the surface that are part and parcel of its intended purpose of alleviating traffic congestion. Many of its ingress and egress features are quite obviously on the surface where they link with existing roads infrastructure.

The project also includes a range of urban enhancements to surrounding suburbs.

Some features include pathways for pedestrians and cyclists. These are all planned and designed to merge neatly with present pathways.

This project also takes into consideration the existing residential street networks and overall residential amenity.

Some residential streets had to be closed temporarily during works.

The rail transport network also plays a role in the design of the tunnel infrastructure. Therefore joins to nearby railway stations are also part of the picture.

The recently operational translink system combines bus, rail and ferry travel.
All these intersecting and overlapping transport routes had to be catered for.

That’s a no-through-road (dead-end street) on the right, which joins a pedestrian footbridge over a 6 or 8-lane freeway (behind fence with windows on left).
Again the residential amenity (in terms of noise) is taken into account here. A residential fence adjacent to pathways on split levels, are all designed neatly beside an acoustic fence of a major freeway.

That’s the pathways on split levels above.
Below gives a peek through the windows of the freeway fence, as well as landscaping features on a no-through-road.

The requirements of commercial establishments such as carparks and access driveways (above and below photos) together with pedestrian footpaths are all taken into account and interlinked with exitways from the tunnel.

Even religious establishments influence road designs.

Rail and freeway overpasses also allow for pedestrian tunnels.

Busway ramps and more footpaths. Pedestrian amenity are as important as roadways.

Links to hospitals are designed for.

Tunnels are generally clearways and off-limits to pedestrians.

Some kind of a landscaped buffer between footpaths and pavements, provides just a bit more sense of safety from the often huge and noisy machines that travel at speed along the roads.

The base for huge pylons or electronic signage hoardings utilise an existing traffic island.

Working beside roadways is always dangerous. Be visible. Be very visible.
I'd be very afraid if i wasn't.

Parkland amenity is not sacrificed nor compromised but rather enhanced as part of design.

Working under a freeway near a railway station.

Not a good photo, but i like what the sign says.
Freedom’s just another word for ...travelling?

Works on the north portal. Am not sure if those are silos or tanks.

More spaghetti. I saw above me - the ribbons of the on- and off-ramps.

The project is 6.8km length in total and includes two 4.8km tunnels linking the Southeast Freeway and Ipswich Road in the south of the city; to the Inner City Bypass and Lutwyche Road in the north and Shafston Avenue to the east.

The south portal. I think i shot this also during the tunnel run. So long ago now...

So this is the job that has kept me busy since September 2009. Well i’m bitchin’ so i must be still involved in it.
I just had a few weeks off hoping that on my return everything will have been put to bed. It somehow feels like i never went on leave.

Anyway, am here to make the final deliveries or put the finishing touches so-to-speak. I wish i could say the final words but i don’t know how to pray for my part in it to be finished.
It's a privilege to have been involved in what is the longest and most technically advanced tunnel of its kind in Australia, but i wish i am now finished with it.
The tunnel, as part of Clem7, has now been operational for the past two months.

Some tunnel facts:
Some key aspects of the environmental program of the tunnel include: Noise and vibration, Hydrology and groundwater quality, Cultural heritage, Air quality, Topography, geology and soils, Materials and resource management, Traffic and transport, Flora and fauna, Land use and planning, Social environment, Urban design, and Hazards and risk.
The jury is still out on whether the project in fact met the criteria.
Already there are grumblings about the toll to use the Clem7.
And as to whether the project also delivers on its long list of key benefits, that also remains to be seen.
As for me...
I thought i saw a light before-
ah there it is again - flickering.
is that the end of the tunnel i wonder.
(It's now May 2010).
I need a looooong holiday...

Saturday, 8 May 2010

March marched on, and April came – she didn’t.

This set sat unopened for weeks. Am not sure if my time was better spent away.
I have much to say but not right now, cause i can't think. It's either too quiet - or too noisy.
depends on how you look at it...
So most of the notes are extracts, 'cut n paste' from various reviews.
you get the message.

Philip Roth. Indignation is a good though sometimes confounding read with the odd subtle turn, as a reviewer wrote: "Indignation is a deceptively short book, written in a style in which limpidity conceals darkness."

Jonathan Lethem. Chronic City. From a review: “The acclaimed author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Fortress of Solitude returns with a roar with this gorgeous, searing portrayal of Manhattanites wrapped in their own delusions, desires, and lies.” I pretty much prefer Lethem’s earlier books.

Herman Wouk. A hole in texas. I take this to be Wouk’s attempt at mainstream fiction. The New York Times says the 88-year old Wouk "spins it into a crackling yarn and writes with an enduring vigor that whippersnappers might envy."

Allan Massie. Charlemagne and Roland. Third in Dark Ages series. As in the previous books, the story is told by a narrator, instructing a young emperor in the ideals of kingship by telling him tales of the great men of the past and their adversities. Massie is a mighty story teller who with his knowledge plays fast with both fact and fiction, but he never plays loose. He displays so much learning and sympathy that one seeks the wisdom that lies beneath.

Toni Morrison. Sula. ‘Sula’ another acclaimed Morrison book, is described as "...a satire on binary thinking, which glories in paradox and ambiguity." I think I’ll leave it there.

Dostoevsky. The house of the dead. about a man serving a prison sentence for murder. It is not an account of imprisonment and system of law but the author's own experiences. on his fellow inmates their personalities, their culture, their way of life and way of thinking to great effect, Its a story of love for humanity, of resurrection from despair, and of a man's final reconciliation with his own life

Martin Amis. Yellow Dog is described as “...readable, amusing and clever, which gives it a head start on the majority of modern novels.” Another reviewer wrote: “...contains moments of comedy aimed at generating discomfort as well as laughter. a tightly constructed novel, bristling with ideas and allusions. Overall the flaws are frequently eclipsed by moments of brilliance.” Still another reviewer: “it is a bad book in the most ordinary of terms. Poorly integrated, pointless, and, for a satire, not very funny, ...Yellow Dog isn't a scandal; it's just kind of crummy.”

John Updike. My father’s tears. Updike’s distinguished writing career spanned more than half a century. It's only fitting that in My Father's Tears, his final, posthumously published collection of short stories, he turns that gaze — bent upon both precision and beauty — to death. not his best, but they are a lesson in love.

Previous notes:
Don DeLillo's 'Underworld' is a bit disjointed but this acclaimed book is a snapshot of american culture and needs a bit of patience to enjoy.

Stephen Mitchell. Gilgamesh. Gilgamesh was written a thousand years before the Iliad and the Bible. This is a very readable and entertaining version that one can finish in one sitting (or one lie-down in my case). The author uses “a loose, non-iambic, non-alliterative tetrametre...”, which I like. I also like that it refers to existing translations. The biblical story of Noah and the flood is very similar to one in this ancient Babylonian tale. This has apparently disturbed some Christians.

Music guide.

I dig Neil Young
I dig Bonnie Raitt
I think the dirt band is grand...
as Kristofferson said:
If you don't like Hank Williams...
you can kiss my ----ocks...
('you can kiss my donkey' i think he said).