Wow. Simply, wow. This was my first DJI experience, and the entire thing was absolutely seamless from start to finish, with an excellent app and an incredible drone that stayed the course during high winds with barely a flitter on the camera. Really incredible. And I didn't crash. Win!!
Will write more soon!
As my impending travels get nearer, the final purchases are coming into play, which is so exciting I’m a kid at Kwanza. I may even pee. First up is a personal alarm <not exactly on every child’s list for Santa, is it? – Ed> which also triggers upon movement so if you can finally hear your bag disappearing around the corner. I’d love to tell you how loud this little device is but all my screwdrivers are in a vehicle floating 5000 miles away in the Pacific, so . . . yeah. A tiny Rode microphone too has been purchased too so I begin my vlogging experience, along with the piece de résistance: a Mavic Air drone.
As regular readers will tell you (hi mum!), I had a drone before. I wouldn’t say it ended in disaster, but let’s just say that obstacle avoidance technology wasn’t around then, and the rest writes itself.
In the Mavic Air, DJI, aka the Drone Elves of Rivendell, have brought out a 12-megapixel RAW shooting, 100mbps video wonder-fairy with obstacle avoidance technology at the front and back, which means whichever way it goes, it should end up with the same result (avoidance, hopefully!). It also comes equipped with a sexy looking carry-bag, hub battery charger, 3 batteries, spare propellers, 8Gb built-in memory and a supercool folding remote. There is a cost of course, but when you think about it, who needs two kidneys anyway, am I right? And my first born was also going to be just testing the waters, so really, I’ve lost nothing.
If all that lovely tech wasn’t enough, the whole package has Apple-esque engineering, which to me is the benchmark of cool. Years ago, when iTunes consistently ruined playlists and deleted contacts, I built a good amount of loathing against that company, but their design is flawless. If you have ever played with AirPods, you’ll know what I mean: it’s simply one of those products where nerves in your fingers instantly trigger your vocal chords to audibly opine ‘ohh…that is nice, isn’t it?’.
Clearly DJI have been avid readers of my blog, as they have finally come to the party with a folding drone that is impossibly tiny. It’s smaller than your hand and weighs less than half a kilo. When I first opened the box, I expected the controller to be in this tiny zipped package, not the actual drone. Incredible. Basically, it’s hotter than Jennifer Lawrence’s underpants in a sauna.
So Reed, what is like to fly? The simple answer is that I have no idea. I’ve had it for 24 hours and I’m absolutely scared shitless. My heart won’t take another crash. But I will go out today and report back. Let’s hope for a different result than last time.
Bet it’s crowded though, eh? You're an idiot. It's the one thing that everyone knows about Australia other than it's hot - its spacious! Terra Australis is roughly the same size of the contiguous United States of America (sans Alaska, Hawaii and other territories) but with roughly 280 less million people. Per square mile the mighty USA has 103 people. In comparison, Australia has 8. This means the country is blessed with clean-air and huge swathes of countryside/scrub land that are easy to access. Not so much escape from if you’re clawed to death by a drop bear, but meh!
What about earnings? The minimum wage here is a staggeringly high at $18.29 per hour. Yes, it makes a lot of companies uncompetitive, but it’s great for the worker. And that worker can party late into the night, come home on public transport (yeah it’s not great, but it works at least 80% of the time!) with crime being very low, and gun crime being almost irrelevant. Unemployment rates are also better than even France and Canada.
Are there any down sides, because I’m packing my bags!? Well, yes. I think it’s something unique to patrotism that whilst waterfalls of praise are fine, identifying any improvements is tantamount to heresy.
You’re going to tell me about the bloody wildlife aren’t you? I frikin knew it! Bags are going back in the cupboard. . . are there spiders in my cupboard? Kerrrrrist! I will tell you about the wildlife, but not yet. Life here is very easy. Australia is so far removed from the rest of the world, it’s almost forgotten about, and the feeling is utterly reciprocal. The world could be raging with a zombie apocalypse (Brexit, Trump, Kanye West . . . bloody may as well be raging already!) and Australia would barely take a moment before opening another cold beer. It’s more than just being geographically removed: it’s emotionally and intellectually as well. A conservative government just brought in gay-marriage, for example (at a cost of $120-pissing-million, but still).
Well that doesn’t sound too bad? Does it? It doesn’t, but it’s hard to explain. What’s your favour meal? Lasagne? Wagyu Steak? Sounds great, right? What if you could get your favourite meal every day, forever. It’s kind of like that. It’s an island paradise where you come to not only retire after years of working servitude, but retire from the world. So if you can brave the spiders, snakes, scorpions and sharks (all beginning with s…how odd!) come hither! Just remember to leave the world at the door because it’s not needed.
Come to Australia, retire from life? That’s about the size of it.
For the first time in probably three or four years, I feel like I’ve got some fight back in me.
I don’t think there was a singular event that caused the change (not even Trump getting elected!) but more a culmination of a multitude. The work-life balance, the relationship with my partner, the stresses of friends and work colleagues in their multifarious situations, family pressures and the want of grandchildren, and probably most significantly, the pressure I place upon myself. I’m an arse, what can I tell you?
I am my biggest advocate in the same way that any man is: born with an innate self-belief that given the time, tools and some luck, I can achieve anything. Where this originates I cannot even fathom, as it’s clearly utter bollocks! And yet men approach all new tasks in the same optimistic fashion, pondering that as it’s raw elements, how hard can it possibly be? There isn’t a scintilla of a brain-cell that chimes in with common sense as a man grabs a hammer-drill to sort out that aching tooth.
Being Your Own Worst Critic
Coincidentally, I am also my biggest critic. For the last few years, the optimistic knave gets shouted down, and the black devil jumps on my shoulder and whispers ruinous nothings into my ear. The spring in the step wavers, the shoulders lade. The mind starts devolving from the I can to the what if I cannot? The questioning, the second guessing, and the gradual wilting of hope and self-belief.
The vehicle being shipped in the last week and my housemates moving out at the end of December mean that I’ve had some solitude, and it has been utterly refreshing. The breathing space enables me to think again, to start questioning again, and start naked Tuesdays again. Perhaps it’s the body readying itself to travel once again (not the naked bit): the mind has to be alert; to question everything that its being told; to problem solve on the fly; to duck and weave to reach the prize; to have faith and believe in oneself.
Reaching for Calm
It dawned on me only recently that the escapism I felt whilst travelling – sitting atop a volcano; mounting a temple summit to welcome the new dawn – were exactly the same as that when trying to focus on mindfulness at home. Taking ten minutes to simply sit and reclaim the calm helps keep the voices away, although it doesn’t keep the travel bug away just yet.
After the last few hectic weeks, it's nice to relax . . . and then, exciting times are here again! Travel is knocking at my front door ready to whisk me to inevitable disaster and disappointment! May get some nice pics though.
As with most of my travels, especially the big ones, I need to do what bookworms do best: revise. Oh, and have no friends. But revise, too. Some may look at books or scour the internet or ask friends, I simple get maps of my destinations and start to feel what lays ahead. Then comes the books and the internet to get the finer points. I’ll work out distances, journey time, what is on the path, what is worth skittling off the path for, and then if I can allow an extra day here or there for something unknown and special, then abso-bloody-lutely.
Revising Doesn't Ruin It
This does in some way take away the surprise element and the feeling of getting lost in a country, and yet with my driving and navigation abilities that is pretty much inevitable! It’s just one of those accepted facts like there being no forks in my work cutlery draw or that very special museum piece you’ve lusted after for years being loaned to the country where you’ve just come from (am not forgetting that, Iran!). And yet if you don’t do your research, you can miss something magical. For me at least, knowing about the Sistine Chapel and seeing pictures of the Sistine Chapel is absolutely incomparable to actually being there. I can tell you all about making a snowball or kicking the crunching leaves on an autumnal day, but doing it is something else entirely.
Lonely Planet Books
As much as Lonely Planet gets some bad press on occasion, I find these guys and girls terrific – insightful with good amount of detail, with naturally always the bit you’re interested in being glossed over just to keep you wanting more! Also, if you buy one of their ebooks (and this is my HOT TIP of the day) you get access to a myriad of their maps which you can then print off and help plan your journey. How awesome is that?! The other side is that there will always be stuff you’ll miss. Always. But the world doesn’t end, and if you’re really enraptured, you will find a way back!
As my previous post will tell you, when I’m stressed I’m up early at four or five in the morning. The other day it was half three. Where previously I would pass this off as just needing less sleep and being a part-human part-cyborg amalgam, albeit one that was also a good part-bloody-tired, I understand now that it's pure stress.
Preparing for the Pan-American (antipodeanadventure.com) is entirely my own doing but now one much closer to realisation: I am only a week away from shipping my vehicle. I won’t complete everything, but it’s comforting, not stressful, to say that. Not every task must get done, but that takes some perspective, prioritisation and time. For any task I will set up a reasonable duration in my head. Cup of tea? 7 minutes – three to boil, four to brew. Making and eating lunch? 30 minutes. Making love? 2 minutes 35 seconds with the wind behind me. Sometimes my girlfriend barely has time to get the stopwatch.
For planning I try to look at the sunny day scenario and then treble it: usually, in project world at least, you allocate 3 times more time than you think you’ll need if you’re unsure of the task. Here is a prime example when fitting in some new car seat belts. Sweet Jesus . . . anyway, here goes, please bear with me, there is a point I swear it!
Celebrate The Small Wins
Now, am not saying that every job I undertake is exactly like that, but they are all exactly like that every time for every single bloody thing that ever needs touching. Bolts impossible to undo, then they’ll sheer, then the tool you use to extract them will break. This tells me about my own resilience though, as well as that of the bolt.
I am finding I can do things once again and for me that’s one of the key things in getting back resilience: do small things, build yourself up. Like training for a marathon, it doesn’t happen by whacking out a 26 miler just before you’ve knocked back a full-English heart-attack breakfast, it takes time. Be kind to yourself during the falls, celebrate the small wins however you know best.
Images and References:
The sleepless nights have returned again. Much to my chagrin, it’s 5.30 am and I’m listening to the birds wake up on the last corporate working day of the year here in Australia. That picture sounds pretty good, especially as it’s only a few days to go until Christmas! The added factor for me is knowing that stress is causing the early mornings.
A year ago I would wake up early thinking it was perfectly normal that I could go to get at eleven or twelve and wake up 4 or 5 hours later, and then work through the day as best as I could feeling a little cloudy but otherwise fine. Occasionally hiding yawns that would effectively tear my jaw off like I’m a snake trying to swallow a passer-by if they get too close. The stress for me at the moment is in preparation for a departure of my vehicle to South America (antipodeanadventure.com). I’ve been preparing myself for a long time for this trip, a final trip of my ‘young adult’ life, across the Pan-American where hopefully, if things go well, my partner and I aim to start a family of our own afterwards. There’s a lot to be stressed about. Stressed and excited.
Today I have two sponsors providing me gear for my journey, a little late in the show as it’s almost the final act as I prepare for shipping the car in January, but am humbled by the generosity of the two companies and will be making as many final preparations as I can.
However, I will take ten minutes to sit on my couch this morning with some fruit tea and gather my thoughts, something I’ve only done once this week with a mixed degree of success: at 9 or 10pm after completing all my project for the day, I promptly just fell asleep. Nailed it! I will also try and take in the advice of my new mentor: think of your life as a film. We tend to get caught up in the precise moment but know that now is only a tiny bit of the story: this day and even week is only a microcosm of the bigger picture of your entire life. I like this.
Figures to Help Manage Stress
Since I’m a Business Analyst at heart, naturally I can’t leave it there. The average life expectancy in Australia is 82.5 years which is roughly 30,094.25 days (as an aside, since 10,000 days is quite a milestone at roughly 27 years of age, I like that I can hopefully hit two more milestones). But overall you have 30,000 days to play with. Today is only 0.003% of the wider contribution of your life. Hell, an entire week is only 0.02%! Don’t sweat the small stuff, see the bigger picture, drink fruit tea, relax. Merry Christmas to you and yours, hope you have a wonderful festive season break.
aka What it takes to be a Deity
I have read the terms and conditions of my employment, and I don’t believe proclaiming I am a God is against the rules. Some may not be surprised to my claim of divinity, for I am quite the specimen, and yet I would imagine there would be doubters. Naturally they will be thrown into hell later on in their lives, but for the time-being they need to remain non-deaded since that’d just piss people off. That’s like rule 1 on the first day at work to make friends: don’t kill everyone in sight.
Proof of God
Proof is somewhat tricky. I think there is only so long I could carry the line ‘God works in mysterious ways’ when nothing they ask of me comes true and then every time I phone rang claiming that I did that. Late trains? Well you had it coming. Won the lottery? You’re welcome, my son. Death in the family? Erm . . . well I can’t control everything and be everywhere! Despite clearly being omnipotent and controlling everything and being everywhere . . . have I mentioned those mysterious ways?
Picking Your Time
But as humans we never do anything until the last minute. It’s only when insomnia strikes that the constant bleeps of the fire alarm mean we eventually change the battery. So for my religion to be successful I need be there at the key moments in your life: birth; moments of desperation or as others refer to it, ‘marriage’; and death. Out of all of those, death is the key: very few look at death across the table and just ask to pass the salt. The deathbed is the catch-all, but just because they died doesn’t mean they don’t still live! <well you and I know it does, but hey . . .> They’ve just moved to a different place where I’ll take care of them, they’re very happy. I mean, who doesn’t want to be told something like that which they desperately want to believe in? No one questions the good stuff. Tell someone they’re an immensely good looking, wonderful person, and they’ll flap their lips about being gracious etc Tell someone they’ve got a face like a baboons arsehole and they’re all up in your grill.
Come to me, Sheep!
All I need is a key number of followers that would back up my claims. Naturally if they got to run some kind of profit-enterprise where they could reap in rewards – I don’t know, plucking a number out of the air, something like 10% - where they could set-up their own franchises in my name to get the coin in, I’d have plenty of backers. I could go on television and claim everything is running according to plan, praise science a bit to get them off our backs, tell everyone about God’s mysterious ways . . . please send your cheques to my secretary and I will send out my new informational pack! Now for a name. Suggestions?
I possess few qualities, three that I can name. Abundant intelligence, classic good-looks and the ability to make a huge amount of money aren’t any of those qualities, but would make my life fuck-tonne easier if they were! I don’t use that word often, am trying it out. It’s technically much bigger than a tonne, I believe.
I’m unsure of the qualities’ origin, most certainly in nurture I would have thought. My first quality is calmness, to take each problem as it comes without distraction from the main goal. Of course, there are times when letting out some expletives helps such as yesterday when Google Maps directed me straight into 10 minutes of traffic instead of a quicker way home – minute long tyrannical curses gushed forth via a direct line from hell – yet I’m not really angry. My calmness comes from feeling that each challenge is temporary, just a minor obstacle to overcome, side-step or problem solve. Anything worth doing is always difficult, otherwise everyone would do it. A sense of perspective is a wonderful ally.
Apparently a Virtue
The second quality I am endowed with is a huge penis. Sorry, I meant patience. That’s right. Huge patience, I always get those mixed up. An easy mistake to make I feel, yet try explaining that to single women after wooing them back to the flat. Fortunately, those days are behind me and my girlfriend loves me for more than my button mushroom. I am an extremely patient person, perhaps down to expectations I have upon people to deliver when they say they would (am not talking about pizza here) or that things won’t go my way all the time. I have become overly familiar with missing trams, for example. Nominally I walk to work, but sometimes I will take my favourite form of public transport. Yet when I arrive at said tram stop, I am 95% certain the object of my affection will be fleeing for all its worth. It’s not quite a super-power, but there is nary a human alive that can get a 30-tonne tram scampering the opposite direction quite like I can.
The last of my qualities is, I believe, an ability to understand humans and to not pass judgement. I am very easy to talk to, am shocked by very little, and can understand the perspectives of almost anyone from this earth. I do have a blind spot in the perspective of my girlfriend, but that’s entirely different. She’s from a different dimension <I think I can back my way out of that by saying she’s heaven-sent, right? No? Shit> I am fortunate to have friends from multifarious backgrounds, cultures, religions, sexual preference and even sexual avarice . . . some far more avaricious than others! But the core is that they are all good people, which at their essence is simply people being people.
So there you go, my qualities are not world conquering perhaps and I may not reach the nadir of society through being calm or telling rubbish penis jokes, but if I can make someone’s day slightly better for an instant, that’s me done. Should my fourth quality be about being easily pleased?
References and images:
The Love of Order
So I'm starting with the little things like making my bed in the morning, ironing my work shirts on a Sunday. Getting up at 5am on a Monday isn't part of the plan, but I've woken up anyway so may as well make full use of the time with some writing and a cup of tea. I think the routine helps to put a little order in life, and there's nothing quite like a pending house-inspection to put a bit of order up you! For too long I've been unhappy at how unkempt my room is, so a thorough tidy-up of my physical and mental space is required. Although some would say my mental space has been pretty vacant for a while.
As per my recent posts, taking time for myself is imperative and this still pervades. This is not TV time, book time or even phone time - I know, your hands will no doubt just reach out and punch random strangers with all this free time!! In fact, pack up your TV and put it in a cupboard or drape a cloth over it. When my housemate moves out in a few weeks’ time, I look forward to not having a television at all for a while. That along with no news (3 months in or some such) has left me vastly cut-off from the world. I do have friends though that have chimed in on occasion: Well I can understand no news, but you must have heard about Mugabe! Whilst I did know of him, I didn't know about the non-military coup conducted by the military chap wearing military gear and representing the military. It's the kind of smooth takeover a squashed field-mouse has with an elephants foot. Albeit, a field-mouse that is quite the murdering bastard.
Yes, Penelope, I'll be there in a minute! Urghh, she wants me. Again. Routine, not all good, is it?
Image credits: personalitycafe.com and davidsteen.co.uk