Thursday, December 30, 2010

Resolving to have a good time

I'm heading to the beach with some of my favourite people for the New Years weekend. No doubt it will be a weekend of beach wanders, wave dunkings, and lot and lots of laughter. Hopefully it will be the catalyst to the start of a year of goodness and joy for all of us. I hope, for you too, the new year will see sunshine and lollipops coming your way, and will be a year to remember for all the right reasons.
Oh, and good luck with your resolutions if you're making some:

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Good from bad

It's 3:30am Christmas morning and I've finally finished wrapping all the presents Darling Mother and I rushed around purchasing this week. I'm exausted, and honestly don't know how I'm going to get up in four hours for breakfast with our neighbours. Or how I'm going to muster up a whole day of Christmas cheer.
When I was younger I loved Christmas. The lights, the tree, the confusing carols tra-laa-ing about snow and sleighs while we were sweltering in thirty degree heat - I loved it all. Even a few years ago I remember counting down the sleeps, getting Christmas-ed up the whole month of December, and pushing through the mandatory family arguments to find that magic everyone talks about at this time of year.
But the past few years I haven't been able to find much (if any) of the elusive Christmas Spirit. At one of supposedly the happiest times of the year I seem to be finding myself dragging my feet in the cheer department. I still love the gift giving, and even with an incredibly tight budget this year, I've managed to shower my favourite people with gifts which I hope they will love. But even that was (horrifyingly) a struggle. And it seems I'm not the only one - so many people I've talked to the last few days seem to be feelin the same.
Friends and family are feeling lonely, sad, or just poor. Others are sick, anxious about looming problems, or have recently had a loved one pass away. Still more are just feeling like Christmas just came too fast and left them behind. For whatever reason it's just not the jolly season it should well be.
I went to church tonight and the readings, as is typical, were about the birth of Christ and the reason we celebrate this holiday in the first place - how he came into a world of pain and suffering to save us from the darkness. The Pastor talked about the beginnings of the Christmas Tree - a fir tree - (apparantly it was all Mr Martin Luther's idea - smart fella) and how it symbolised the growth of new life even in the deepest, coldest, darkest winter.
And I talked to my neighbour who's boys have been ill for the past 15 years, and still fight every day just to live without pain. She told me how the oldest one is still struggling to recover from surgery over a year ago, and how the youngest one is about to undergo a long process of similar procedures. And how a boy - the eldest's good freind who suffers from similar health problems - has just passed away. And, even with all that was happening in her life, the chance to spend Christmas with her family and neighbours was wonderous to her.
And I realised that maybe that's why so many people love Christmas so much - becuase even when everything is hell, Christmas - the ideal of goodness, and faith, and love that we celebrate through Jesus, and Santa, and just by giving gifts and spending time - that's why it's so important. It reminds us that even with all the bad stuff, deep down in the core of it all, this life is something special.
John reckons so too, so it must be true.

So, from me to you, I hope your Christmas is full of joy and happiness. But if it's not - if there's pain, or sadness, or loneliness, or if everything just seems too much, my thoughts and prayers are with you, and my hope is that you'll find some good at the heart of it all.
Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jam Cool

So now that I've updated on the Tran adventure I can get down to what I really wanted to share today. This post is a bit of a shout-out to Miss Vodka, because I know how much she loves good design and, I think at least, this constitutes some pretty fine design.

It's called Jambox and it's a portable mini-speaker that provides big sound in a tiny littly package. I found if via Black Eiffel, the design blog chock full of awesome. Now while the Jambox itself is pretty neat looking, what I loved the most is the packaging.

I'm definitely one of those people who spent more time playing with the wrapping than the gift as a kid.

Trans-America II: Thanksgiving dinner and a crazy risk.

Thanksgiving has come and gone so it's only right that I should update on the Trans. I follwed this story through and it turns out the Trans were just as excited to make a new friend as James West was, so they invited him along to Thanksgiving and even offered to pick him up at the airport and spend the whole weekend with him. They ate, they drank, they gave thanks. They seemed to all be having a great time, and the Trans have not only invited West back again next year, but have invited themselves to Sydney to visit him.
The story, while maybe not viral, certainly seemed to gain a bit of momentum with West interviewed on Sunrise here in Australia, and a Tran/West interview with the local Florida news in America. In all the updates the Trans and West chatter and bicker like old friends, and the whole family seem completely relaxed and thrilled to have him share their Thanksgiving.

That said, obviously not everyone has felt that this adventure was a great idea. I think maybe in my last post I was a bit vague about a few things, and maybe exaggerated or generalised a bit too much - it's a bad habit, I know. What I probably should have said is that the majority of the people I know happily admit to randomly checking out (or "stalking" as it's jokingly reffered to) strangers on facebook - whether it be someone they met birefly and thought was cute, or an interesting friend of a friend they catch a glimpse of and suddenly want to know more.
I'm also not saying I totally agree with the way this whole thing started out - there was an intrusion of privacy, and the releasing of certain information. However, West, being a journalist, would surely have been well aware of where the line is in relation to the release private and confidential information. He would have also been aware of the risks he was taking in admitting to reading the Tran family emails - yet he did it openly and, I think, with respect, acknowledging that risk and not hiding behind a screen name or annonymous moniker. Things may not have turned out as sweet as they did, in fact they could well have got quite nasty, and props definitely should go to the Tran family for being so cool and welcoming.
I guess, while I saw the negatives in this whole thing from the get-go, I also saw a bit of what James West saw to come up with such a crazy idea. It's kinda nice that in a world where virtual and digital communication has led to less real physical contact, someone would create for themselves an opportunity to take a virtual communication into realtime, outside the realm of internet dating. As West states, there's a lot of mistrust and cynicism out there - what better way to dampen that than taking a risk on the opposing side and trusting that a hair-brained idea created on one side of the world would be met with good-will,a great time, and some new friends on the other?