I’m scheduling a few posts while I still have an internet connection, because I can’t resist…
“The Wintergartan Marble Machine, built by Swedish musician Martin Molin and filmed by Hannes Knutsson, is a hand-made music box that powers a kick drum, bass, vibraphone and other instruments using a hand crank and 2,000 marbles.” —Wired Magazine article
Get the audio track “Marble Machine” by Wintergatan:
Marble Machine built and composed by Martin Molin
Video filmed and edited by Hannes Knutsson
For real this time. Sat up all day and all night with a dying Macbook, like tending a sick child. Tried every trick I knew to make it go again…flipped it over, opened it up, cleaned the points with alcohol, disconnected the battery, swapped the RAM cards around. Did an SMTP reset, a PRAM reset. Over and over and over. But it will not charge, and even on AC power it often will not start. Sometimes it starts and then, overwhelmed, dies again. Each time the clock is reset to Dec. 31, 2000. I do believe the battery has breathed its last. So that’s it for my laptop, at least until I am in a position to replace the battery. Really I want a new laptop, but that’s not happening till middle of next year, if I am a good girl and go back to work and save my minimum wages!)
No matter. I am calm. I accepted, earlier today, that it was going to die. I have backed it up, have downloaded some music onto my iPod, have de-authorised my iTunes account for this machine, have moved my plane and flight tickets to a USB thumb drive for printing, and I have, well, said goodbye. And I’m saying goodbye, for just a few months, to all of you, too.
Funny, I don’t feel anything but a mild annoyance, anymore. A small part of me is relieved. I spend far too much time on the internet, and that has always irritated me. I often sit down telling myself “I’ll just check my e-mails”, and then look up 3-5 hours later, eyes watery and brain full of rubbish, and the best part of the day or night wasted on, I don’t know, cat GIFs on facebook, or photos of what my friends are eating.
It’s like being drunk…it’s not really that fun, but you can’t stop once you get started. I always know I am drunk on the internet when my Facebook page fills up with a motley collection of meaningless, stupid shared posts…ha-ha political memes, people’s stupid home videos of something their kid/dog/talking parrot/hamster did, and environmental slacktivism memes that everyone clicks the sad face on, before moving on to the video of the elephant that did that thing with its trunk in the next post.
Clearly not time well-spent. I threw the television out of my life 20 years ago, only to let the internet replace it. A useful tool, I agree, if you can stick to the plan, but also one of the world’s biggest time wasters, if you don’t.
I am looking forward to going back into the real world for the rest of my stay in Guatemala. I will try to get a post up once in a while, if I find a decent internet cafe nearby, but I can’t promise anything. And what, you may be wondering, about that cheap tablet I bought in Venezuela as a solution for the last time this happened? That died even earlier. The battery is 94% full when it dies. It was a waste of money and I was a fool to buy it, all so I could keep this virtual thread alive.
I suppose I could try and stretch it on and on…if I open the guts of the laptop a few times, do the disconnect/connect thing over and over again, reset with fancy key combinations, I can get the thing to run on its AC power cord. But every time I turn the computer off, there’s a 50/50 chance that I won’t get it up and running again. It seems more stressful, at this point, to try and keep the internet in my life, than to let it go!
And who knows what cool things I’ll make in the time that remains me, in Guatemala? When the mind is finally weaned of its internet fix and cleared of the fog, I might sit myself down, every afternoon, and spend those normally blighted three to five hours of Facebook and Twitter and other peoples Instagram accounts, on producing something beautiful! And wouldn’t that be so much better than seeing the video of the little girls dancing that got swallowed up by their own rubber floor mat when the wind lifted it up that I recently shared on my Facebook page, just because it made me guffaw once? Like the television, social networks have a dumbing effect on the brain. I find myself becoming shallow and lazy-brained and insubstantial.
I have my tickets, so the end of this 18-month voyage is in sight, at last. If all goes well, I am set to arrive in Darwin, Australia on the 15th of October. That’s really not so very far away, now! It has been an amazing trip… Thank you for following me almost all the way to the end of it! If anything major-major happens I will blog from an internet café, but otherwise I am taking a break. Go with the flow. Work with what you have. The way out of the problem is through the problem…
Promising lots of goodies when I get back home to Sonofagun!
- Skillshare courses, first of all (I was personally invited—I’d never have thought I had something worth teaching, otherwise—though anyone that wants to can create a course on Skillshare)
- Fresh art for my poor ol’ Society6 shop. (By the way, to whoever did her Christmas shopping early and bought all that stuff from me…THANK YOU!)
- My ETSY shop will re-open, full of things inspired by my travels.
- Plans for an exhibition, when I finally have the space to paint freely again.
- I’ll be back at some of Darwin town’s bigger craft markets, too…
- AND I made up my mind, this year (thanks to your comments, reactions and encouragement) to finally get cracking on my writing…when I was younger I thought I would be writer, and then literary criticism (as well as the realisation of just how truly painful and difficult a line of work it is, if you want to be honest and keep high standards) scared it out of me. I never quite let it go, though, and it has been on the backburner all this time. I think I may even have something to say, at last.
So long, for now…three months will pass like nothing, you’ll see. I do hope you’ll keep me at the bottom of your Inbox until I get back…it would be very sad to pop back up and find nobody, nobody here at all.😦
*The photos are of some of the things I bought during our two weeks of backpacking in the Guatemalan highlands, and me on some steps in Chichicastenango, fresh off the chicken bus…
Left my glasses at a tortilla shack in town today, will go back and get them tomorrow. In the meantime, just a post of things I’ve been playing with, lately, and not a lot of soulful writing… because I can hardly see what I’m doing!
In the first three photos are some of the art I put into old-fashioned letters to friends…though I’ve since learned that Guatemala’s post office no longer functions. (The government put a Canadian company in charge, but hasn’t paid the company’s fees in past months, so the postal services have shut down.) Bummer. May just have to post these from Mexico.
Also, some meaningless photos of paint…I’ll be going home to Australia later this year, and I’ve just realized that I can’t take my paints with me. Arrggh! So I am doodling, playing, experimenting, and being quite heavy-handed with the palette knife these days, trying to use up as much as I can. Hopefully they won’t dry out before Kris gets the boat (and all my art materials) back to Darwin…though they’re at least a couple of years old, already, and dry out very quickly on the palette.
At a backpacker’s café where we went for a late breakfast and I was introduced to the peanut butter and banana smoothie. Anything with peanut butter has a special place in my heart…this was so amazing that I had two. And then I drew the recipe into a letter to a friend (though I don’t know whether she likes peanut butter).
At the second bend in the steep gorge, the wind died. A strong current started to push us back, the sun was setting, and it was too deep to anchor. We tied Kehaar to a couple of trees growing out of the limestone walls of the gorge (to the scandalised rubbernecking of the herons) her mast grazing the branches overhead, and hunkered down for the night.
No people live around the gorge, and a spell settled over the river as darkness fell. The jungle came alive around us: the movements of animals rustled and crashed in the treetops. Unseen river creatures surfaced, splashing and glub-glub-glubbing around our boat. Big shadowy birds crossed overhead, silhouetted by the narrow strip of moonlit sky visible between the limestone walls, their wingbeats smacking the air. Something buzzed a few inches over my head that I will always think of as “the 2 lb. bumblebee.”
At midnight a torrential rain came down, blotting out the last of the moon’s light. The rain pattered onto deck from the trees overhead, and an army of ants began to cross over onto our boat from the branches, intent on moving into our dry home.
It was a long, long night.
Morning was glorious, though, and with our moods improved we went for a row around the banks of the river, getting in close to admire strange flowers and disturb the many snowy herons that favour this bend for fishing.
We waited most of the day, hoping that the wind would rise and we could sail out of that tight spot, but it never came. By late afternoon Kris decided that we would have to move upriver some other way.
“Warping, or kedging, is a method of moving a sailing vessel, typically against the wind or out from a dead calm, by hauling on a line attached to an anchor or a fixed object.”
Kris went for an exploratory row further up the river and came back with the news that yes, there was plenty of wind ahead, and it was coming from the right direction. We just needed to reach that point. So we tied several lengths of rope together and attached one end to the boat. Kris got in the dinghy with the bundle, rowed as far ahead as the rope could go, tied an anchor to the other end and dropped in the water. Standing at the front of the boat, I pulled Kehaar along this length of rope, arm over arm until my arms ached.
We had to do this three, maybe four times, to get out of the dead spot. Then it was dark, so we anchored, had dinner, and went to bed.
The next day the wind came, at mid-morning, and we sailed for a stretch. We came to a second hairpin bend, with the wind blowing from the very direction we wanted to go. This time, however, we knew better than to hope for better sailing conditions. We warped the boat right away, five times, and made it to where we could pull up the sail once again. Fishermen and passing water taxis cheered us on. By this time the word had gotten around that we had no engine and were trying to get up the river.
That same night found us anchored in Lake El Golfete, a wide open expanse of water with plenty of good sailing wind. From there the rest of the voyage upriver was beautiful, and we made it all the way to our final destination, a small marina on Lake Izabal, in one day.
Río Dulce is where we will be based for the next 4-5 months.
THIS is the standard by which we should be judging our presidential candidates—indeed, all of our government officials.
The great José ‘Pepe’ Mujica, of Uruguay. He has been described as “the world’s ‘humblest’ president” due to his austere lifestyle and his donation of around 90 percent of his $12,000 monthly salary to charities that benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs. He has also been called “The World’s Poorest President”.
This is what a president should be…a servant of his people, not a celebrity. A man with his feet on the ground, his head clear and unswayed by power or money, and his heart filled not only with his people and his own country, but also with his planet and every other human being on it.
INCORRUPTIBLE. Not because it was his platform or because he was being ‘watched’ but because wealth and power simply did not interest him.
A selfless, simple man who refused to live in the presidential palace, or drive a presidential car (he drove his 25 year old Volkswagen to work every day when he was president) In 2010, the value of the car was $1,800 and represented the entirety of the mandatory annual personal wealth declaration filed by Mujica for that year. In November 2014, the Uruguayan newspaper Búsqueda reported that he had been offered 1 million dollars for the car, which was manufactured in 1987; he said that if he did get 1 million dollars for the car it would be donated to house the homeless through a programme that he supports.
A president who chose to spend taxpayers’ money on a rescue and medical helicopter for remote areas, instead of on a presidential jet. A man who never thought of his own comfort or pockets when he was in government. Who did not allow himself any luxuries that the most ordinary citizen of his country could not have.
After his 5 year term he refused to run again…and he went back to his old profession of flower farming with his wife.