Monday, 10 February 2014

DIY Travel Journal

Three journals on their maiden voyage.
Thoughts are fleeting and more often than not forgotten without being made into memories. With this in mind, I went looking for a small form factor travel journal to carry around as a substitute for a functional brain.

That's a good sentence.
Most commercial products are hideously expensive and use a paper size that locks you in to buying proprietary refills. I wanted a journal that I could easily refill with my preferred paper from an easily accessible source. The Midori Traveler is probably the best known journal out there, so I decided to make my own Fauxdori journal.

I have made four covers for the material cost of about $16 (leather: $10; elastic: $3; bling: $3) and I still have leather left over to make a few more. Add a few dollars for the paper and you can see that this is quite a thrifty DIY project.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

How to Survive the Internet

File:Graham's Hierarchy of Disagreement1.svg
Graham's hierarchy of disagreement
A few weeks ago I blogged about an unfortunate incident involving my luggage and it garnered a LOT of comments not only on my blog but all over the world as it went viral. I was heartened to see how civil the majority of posters were despite the incendiary subject matter. It surprised some people to learn that I don't censor or delete comments from my blog because the overwhelming majority of commenters were well behaved and seemed to be singing from the same hymn sheet.

But you'd expect to hear hymnal choruses in your own digital echo chamber.

With this in mind, I'd like to post a far-from-comprehensive guide to surviving the Internet, with respect to comments and social media posts. The suitcase incident went massively viral, and I survived the ensuing debate (read: shitstorm) by keeping the ideas below in mind.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Parker "51" Fountain Pen

A trio of Parker "51" on a bed of rice.
This is an ode to a pen I reach for more than any others despite it not being my favourite: the Parker "51" (P51) fountain pen.

I had heard a lot about these pens, usually from mouthfoaming zombies rabidly spewing hyperexcited praises for their pens that were made 60 years ago. Never one to question the integrity of the undead, I heeded their wizened words, have been bitten, and now go around talking through excess drool to anybody with a functioning ear.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

One book isn't enough to understand
the universe, other people, or yourself.
This post is in response to a thoughtless comment made at a party I attended a few nights ago. It was originally written as a cogent long-form argument, but it was tired and preachy. So here's the abridged and snarky (and still preachy) version!


What was that you said? Love the sinner, hate the sin? Really?

I know we were talking about homosexuality and the great love you have for "those people" and the way you would show your love for them. Denying them civil rights and dignities must make your heart fuzzier than a peach.

You know the "sin" of homosexuality isn't a choice, it's part of the person, it is who they are, an attribute they were born with. Hating the sin is actually hating the sinner. The two are inextricable.

And I don't think love means what you think it does.

Denying a person the right to marry the person they love is not loving the sinner. 

Telling a person they can't adopt because they are gay is not loving the sinner.

Lobbying to ban homosexuals from working with children is not loving the sinner. 

Claiming that God prefers to watch hetero sex over gay sex is not loving the sinner.

Believing that homosexuals are abominations is not loving the sinner.

"Loving the sinner" sounds disingenuous to me. If you are doing something harmful to a person, it doesn't matter if you love or hate them. What matters is that you are seeking to harm them.

I like how you drew a very neat circle around yourself and started  throwing rocks at the people outside. At least it comes from a good place, a place of love.

Jesus said to look after your own sin, not other people's. Seeing the sins of others is the proverbial plank in your own eye.

Let's try some words instead of love. Let's see how these fit the template "____ the sinner.":
  • demean
  • punish
  • ostracise
  • degrade
  • disenfranchise
  • humiliate
But we can encompass them all with love.

What is sin anyway? It's a made up absurdity and you have to buy in to for it to have any power. Just like kids playing tag, they must buy into the idea of someone being "it" before the rules of the game demand conformance. You had to jump through quite a few hoops before you came to the conclusion that gay love is a sin.

Sin is useful for setting people apart as righteous or unrighteous, with the lowly sinners being lesser-people, defective, damaged and in need of redemption.

Maybe even in need of your love.

I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. You can keep your sin and your love. I wouldn't want to be beaten down with your largess.

You can say that you are loving the sinner a million times over but that won't ever make it come true. Hopefully one day you will learn the real meaning of love.

Monday, 14 October 2013

That Horrible Suitcase

"I AM GAY" was plastered over my suitcase while in transit...a response.

Having missed out a night's sleep, I am quite tired at this moment and ask that any mechanical language errors below be treated kindly.

Here is the original tweet.
(See also my follow-up post about
going viral -- surviving the Internet)
Yesterday I tweeted a photo of my luggage after a Jetstar flight from Perth and it has caused quite the stir on social media. It has burst out of my own digital echo chamber and has been reverberating around the world for the past 24 hours.

I would like to point out that Jetstar has contacted me and offered a very sincere apology. For which I am grateful.

They are also conducting a "serious" investigation that I am assisting them with. Their PR machine is making all the right noises and saying all the right things. I have set no expectations of Jetstar with regards to their procedures or outcomes.

I have also been approached by media of all forms from around the globe but I have not offered any comment or answered any questions. Whatever you read/hear/see is based purely on the content of my Twitter feed and the posts in this blog. In the age of soundbites and limited column inches, I am not confident that anything I say won't be used out of context for the sake of time/space limits. Also, I can't keep up with the requests so I apologise if you don't get a personal and polite decline to your queries.

What I would like to share with you is what happened from the point where my luggage is on the carousel. I won't speculate as to what happened in the lead up.

My suitcase was the first bag on the carousel. The entire flight's passengers were shoulder-to-shoulder looking for their bags and I'm pretty sure that most people would've seen mine rattling along the rollers. I saw a big red case approaching and excused my way through the throng in order to retrieve it. I noticed some white bits on the side and turned back, apologising to the people who I had just pushed passed. "False alarm," I said to one gent. Then I realised that it actually was my bag and that the white bits were the sign you see in the image above.

I plucked the suitcase off the carousel and had many eyes look me up and down. I was taken aback by the slogan but thought I had thick enough skin to ignore the leering. My connecting flight was about to board so I had to speed through the terminal to check in with Qantas. As I dragged the case through the terminal, I looked back at the people I had passed and they too looked at me differently. My luggage was a scarlet letter.

I am a white heterosexual male. This trifecta of privilege means that I'm not routinely subjected to prejudice. But for a few minutes I got to walk in the shoes of a gay person in a public place. For no good reason I had had a slur marked over my luggage. I was degraded. I was shamed. I was humiliated.

For me, this was only a few minutes of one day of my life. If what I felt for those few minutes is extrapolated out every day over a lifetime, then I can fully understand why our gay friends feel persecuted and why they have such high rates of suicide. It is unacceptable.

It is said that words can't hurt you. That it is true. But it isn't the words that hurt, it's the intention behind them. "I am gay" was not emblazened across my luggage as a celebration. It was used as a pejorative. It was used to humiliate. It was used as a slur.

Some people have been commenting that it's probably just some loser in backrooms making a distasteful joke. Or that Jetstar has a culture of homophobia. Unfortunately, the mistreatment of our gay friends spans society. It goes all the way up to our political leaders and includes such luminaries as our Prime Minister. Our laws ensure that homosexuals are not afforded the same rights and dignities that many of us straight people take for granted every day.

Until our political/religious/community leaders acknowledge and address these inequalities, until we de-normalise prejudice, we can't expect the "losers" to follow.

As for the people calling me a whiner and telling me to toughen up, I would like to quote Lieutenant General David Morrison: The standard you walk past is the standard you accept

This incident isn't about me, it's about what we as a society find acceptable. 

Friday, 3 May 2013

We are Like Giants - Spanking Kids

We are like giants to them.
I play in a social sports team - all nice people, most are parents. I like them. I don't necessarily agree with their views though, but how often does a group align?

A few weeks ago we were warming up on the sideline and the conversation revolved around funny things that happened while they were hitting their kids. One example is the belt recoiled and the buckle smacked the dad in the nuts.

They all laughed and made comments like "better not put that on Facebook!" as though they knew hitting their kids wasn't right. But they did it anyway.

Sleepy Dad has never hit his kids.

When the Little Dude was 18 months old, he had a play date with a friend. The friend did something wrong (?) and his mother smacked him and he cried. The Little Dude looked at me, aghast, with an expression saying "What the hell? Did you see that? Could that happen to me?"

Friday, 26 April 2013

Old Stuff Better Than New Stuff: Pens

Mightier than the sword, mightier than the biro
A pair of Pelikan piston-filling fountain pens
Today's "old stuff is better than new stuff" topic is pens. Oh, how exciting I hear you say! Stationery paraphernalia, yay!

I would understand your sarcasm if I was talking about ballpoint pens, sharpies and 2B pencils, but I will be gushing about fountain pens.

(Note: I have no affiliation with any products or manufacturers mentioned.)

Why fountain pens?

Fountain pens are fantastic writing instruments. Writing becomes a pleasure that is anticipated rather than a chore to be avoided.

In the past I had tried various ballpoint pens, gel pens, mechanical pencils and rollerballs and all of them left me cold. I had lots to write but found the physical process tedious, tiring and, at times, terrifying.