Why salad is overrated 

Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table.

Source: Why salad is so overrated - The Washington Post

Hahahah ok just a funnily written article. The first 4 paragraphs alone are worth the read

My favourite parts (of which will make up a large majority of the article so perhaps just better to read it):

  • As the world population grows, we have a pressing need to eat better and farm better, and those of us trying to figure out how to do those things have pointed at lots of different foods as problematic. Almonds, for their water use. Corn, for the monoculture. Beef, for its greenhouse gases. In each of those cases, there’s some truth in the finger-pointing, but none of them is a clear-cut villain.
  • There’s one food, though, that has almost nothing going for it. It occupies precious crop acreage, requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world, and adds nothing but crunch to the plate.It’s salad, and here are three main reasons why we need to rethink it.
  • Salad vegetables are pitifully low in nutrition. The biggest thing wrong with salads is lettuce, and the biggest thing wrong with lettuce is that it’s a leafy-green waste of resources.
  • Nutrient quality index — a way to rate foods based on how much of 27 nutrients they contain per 100 calories. Four of the five lowest-ranking foods (by serving size) are salad ingredients: cucumbers, radishes, lettuce and celery. (The fifth is eggplant.)
  • A head of iceberg lettuce has the same water content as a bottle of Evian (1-liter size: 96 percent water, 4 percent bottle) and is only marginally more nutritious.
  • Lettuce is a vehicle to transport refrigerated water from farm to table.
  • Save the planet, skip the salad.
  • Lettuce has a couple of No. 1 unenviable rankings in the food world. For starters, it’s the top source of food waste, vegetable division, becoming more than 1 billion pounds of uneaten salad every year.
  • But as we look for ways to rejigger our food supply to grow crops responsibly and feed people nutritiously, maybe we should stop thinking about salad as a wholesome staple, and start thinking about it as a resource-hungry luxury.

Photos of humanity

Sometimes you're on Facebook and you come across something really nice, like this: 30 photos which reveal the strength of the human spirit Looking at these made me want to work for National Geographic or be an explorative photographer or just be a part of or do something to share moments like these. To celebrate life and humanity.

I really really liked these ones

Monking sharing lunch with a tigeter Teenager gives a flower to a soldier during a protest Child of the Ethiopian tribe Erbore 100,000 monks praying for world peace Teenager screaming at British soldiers during period of unrest in Northern Ireland A woman from the Mursi tribe of Ethiopia examines "Vogue" for the first time. Children who live inside the Arctic Circle. Tazov Peninsula, Russia.

Especially that last one. The way they look just struck me, like I knew in some recess of my mind that Russians within the Arctic Circle might look like that (gleamed from Babushka dolls most likely...). But to see it in real human form - particularly in children - is just so striking.

When I die, I'll dance among the stars

I've been having quite a busy week, like 4 things back to back in a day with assessments sprinkled in between. Last night, I decided to forego rock climbing and have a nice relaxing night to myself. To just chill out. I ended up spending the rest of my night on TEDxUNSW, a project I'm working on to help bring TEDx to my university.I enjoy everything I'm doing. I used to really like the feeling of being busy, of having many things on my plate and being a part of a lot of things. But now I also value just not being productive at all sometimes. Sometimes it's nice hey.

So this morning I had the most delicious sleep in ever and listened to music in bed. I ended up thinking of this song that a boy once showed me a long time ago, back in my trance days. I remember... he told me I had to listen to it properly. With headphones in, eyes closed, volume up. I did.

And it took me to the galaxy.

I think I'm a galaxy oriented person. I love the stars. Sometimes I imagine myself playing amongst the stars.

Today I listened to this song and my mind just started floating. I imagined walking through the galaxy with the stars all around me. Playing with the lights. Spinning amongst glowing twirls.

I say I imagined but it didn't feel like an imagination, it felt like my spirit was actually there. Like the glowing ball inside of me was up there.

And I just started crying so hard. Perhaps it was the built up busy-ness of the week. It wasn't a sad crying. More like the cry you cry when you are hit so hard by a realisation. I was hit by the fact that I'm a child of this universe.

Maybe this makes no sense to you. That's okay. Sometimes it's okay to just read how someone else thinks without having to understand it fully.

But I just fully felt that I'm a part of this universe, every single part of me. It made me feel happy to realise I was a child of this universe. I had this thought that it would be okay when I died, because finally then my spirit could be amongst the stars. Dance and glow and play. And I know people might be sad if I died but I felt this desire to tell them like... It's okay. I'm dancing amongst the stars.

I'm not trying to be pessimistic and morbid with all these thoughts. It actually felt more like a welcome relief. Like for this split, SPLIT second, I fully embraced life and death at the same time.

 

The Alan Kazdin Method for Making Your Children Behave

So now that's what comes before the behavior.And now the behavior itself. When you get compliance, if that's the behavior you want, now you go over and praise it ... very effusively, and you have to say what you're praising exactly.

From The Atlantic article: The Alan Kazdin Method for Making Your Children Behave

A very interesting article for me because I've been recently discovering the depths of positive-reinforcement and how it can work. I think everyone knows the theory that it's a good thing to do but it's rare to consciously put it into practice in your life.

This article has some pretty nice insights about how it might work with kids. But not just that, I think positive reinforcement is something adults probably should practise too. Another reason it's particularly interesting for me is because I've gotten into babysitting this last year and have just started to notice more and more the relationship between parent and child.

Highlights (It's quite long but I think the examples are important to call out. Plus the article is long so really this is me cherry pickin the good stuff):

  • The other thing is, our brains are wired to pick up negative things in the environment. It's thought to be very adaptive from an evolutionary standpoint. If you have a partner, significant other, or a child, if they do 10 nice things, that 11th one that you didn't like, you're going to really be all over.
  • So you're really desperate. You shout, you try to reason, you think you're a wonderful parent. You think that you're just the greatest parent in the world. You sit down and say, “No, we don't stab your sister, she's the only sister you have and if you stab her, she won't be alive much longer.” It's always good to do that with your child, to reason, because it changes how they think, it changes how they problem solve. It develops their IQ, but it's not good for changing behavior.
  • So it's good to do that, but apparently it doesn't change behavior. And once that fails, and we know it fails, because parents have this wonderful expression, sadly, “If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times.” What the research shows is that telling an instruction does not change human behavior very well.
  • There are a whole bunch of things that happen before behavior and if you use them strategically, you can get the child to comply. Let’s say the child always just folds her arms and says, “no.” That's not such a big deal, that's actually easy to change, but a parent's not going to be able to do it. They're going to say, "you better do it because I say so,” or “we have to go,” or “you better do it now or I'm going to force this on you,” and that's typical parenting.So what comes before the behavior?

    One is gentle instructions, and another one is choice. For example, "Sally, put on your,”— have a nice, gentle tone of voice. Tone of voice dictates whether you're going to get compliance or not. "Sarah, put on the green coat or the red sweater. We're going to go out, okay?" Choice among humans increases the likelihood of compliance. And choice isn't important, it's the appearance of choice that's important. Having real choice is not the issue, humans don't feel too strongly about that, but having the feeling that you have a choice makes a difference.

  • And now the behavior itself. When you get compliance, if that's the behavior you want, now you go over and praise it ... very effusively, and you have to say what you're praising exactly.
  • This works for all ages. Let’s say you have an adolescent daughter and she says to you, “Mom, you are such a bitch. What have you ever done for me? You only think of yourself.” That makes parents want to jump out of their windows, because their whole life has been devoted to that damn child. So how do we get rid of teen attitude? We call it positive opposites: Whenever you want to get rid of something, what is it that you want in its place? Because getting rid of it is not going to do it.
  • The teen may be at the dinner table and just being quiet and not saying negative things. Well, when you're starting out, one of the positive-opposites can sometimes be reinforcing the non-occurrence of the behavior. And you just say, “Marion, it's nice having dinner with you, it's nice that you're here.” What that does is reinforce the likelihood that Marion will be at the dinner table and not say negative things. Marion might also say, “Can you pass the avocado and garbanzo stew?” And you just say, “Of course.”You proceed from easy to more complex behaviors, and soon you have Marion outside the dinner table, saying nice things. We train parents to jump on those occasions that will build it up, and pretty soon you don't get the, “you're a bitch,” anymore, you build positive opposites. You don't try to suppress— “Don't give me attitude for all I've done for you!” What research shows is that it will lead to escape behavior on the part of the child. It will lead them to avoid you as soon as they get home from school and it will model negative interactions toward you.

The Other University Degrees

Today I was thinking about cheating on my university degree.I was just lying in bed (at 5:30pm - a prime time to lie in bed) and just thought "Hey man, you know what, it would have been heaps of fun if you'd done a degree in Industrial Design instead."

And I thought this because I was imagining how cool it'd be to be able to build one of those roof-top car tents where you could also remove the opaque top so you could see through it - and then you could see the stars!!

In fact, let this not stop at roof-top car tents but let this procreate and blossom to all other tents and cars and houses in general!!!

Recently I've been meeting quite a few people at university because I've joined some new groups, and the question always comes up. In fact it probably comes up with almost every person you meet during uni... "What are you studying?"

I usually reply something like "Marketing and accounting?"

I always seem to say the answer as a question by accident. I think it's because as soon as my brain hears the question, I think "Oh no not this question again, what do I say, should I say commerce, should I say business, should I just say marketing, or should I throw in the accounting in there too, will that make things more interesting, oh no say something say something--

So here is a list of other university degrees that I think I could have had a lot of fun in:

  • Industrial Design - I'd get to think of cool things I'd like to make and then learn how to ACTUALLY make them
  • Philosophy - I think and ponder so much in my life already, would be cool to get marks for it
  • Sustainability / Environmental Studies - I like that this is inter-disciplinary, you get the science and environmental geography side of it but also learn about politics, people, society as sustainability affects everything.
  • Languages/Cultural Studies - I'm currently learning the Spanish language and doing a Chinese Philosophy course and I am loving both heaps.
  • Video and Music Production - Making videos and finding the perfect music to match to it would be pretty mad. I always find it SUCH a good feeling when the music is perfectly matched to the video.

And then I began getting sad thinking like "Man, if I want to learn any of these I have to either do another 3 or 4 years in university for a bachelors or do an intensive masters." This made me sad because I have had a tumultuous relationship with academics and have despised it at times and thought of quitting university.

But then!

I daydreamed about how cool it'd be if I could make a place that people could sign up for "crash courses" in. Because sometimes you want to learn about something, but you don't necessarily want to become a professional in it or dedicate your whole life to it.

And sometimes it's nice just to have a little, in-depth introduction to something to give you a good foundation before you try to keep learning on your own.

Some ideas for crash courses which I think people would like:

  • Parkour!!! (I am the biggest fan of Parkour ever since I did a 'beginner crash course' of it at university last semester)
  • Intro to 3D design
  • Intro to Photoshop
  • Intro to Video Editting
  • Spanish (and of course other languages)
  • Intro to Website Building
  • Intro to Music Production

And I know a lot of these things probably already have crash courses. I know. But I think they're usually quite expensive (I'd rarely ever pay for one) and can vary in how long they are. Also, the places probably specialise only in the crash course of their specific area (i.e. a language school would probably specialise in just language crash courses)

But when I talk about this place, I'm talking like ONE PLACE that would offer all these crash courses. And it'd just hopefully bring together people that like to learn about new things and new skills.

Characteristics of the crash courses I'd imagine:

  • Good teachers (obviously haha but really this is the most important)
  • 10 week courses
  • Not ridiculously expensive; affordable so that the average learner who has just an interest could do it, and not just people who want to become serious in it
  • Not super formal with qualifications and what not. The teachers don't even have to be certified teachers or pro's in it, could just be people who are very passionate in it. The whole idea is just getting people to learn something they might not have any idea about

Anyways that's my thoughts for the day! If this place already exists out there, feel free to tell me so I can see :)

P.S. It's been ages since I last posted aye.

 

How to: Get Around Paris

If you're visiting Paris then you'll hopefully also know that it is a big, BIG city. We're talking like 45 mins - 1 hour walking distance between major attractions. I've been on three separate occasions: the first two were very short, transit stays but the third time I stayed for more than a week. :) From my trips, these were the three main transportation options and my thoughts of each:

  1. Walking - Unless you are a 5-time-award-winning marathon walker, only suitable for exploring a small local area
  2. Metro - A convenient option for getting from place to place, but is very expensive as well as boring
  3. Biking - This was by far my favourite option - Paris has a bike rental system called Velib that even visitors can use.

I'll go into detail on all three in this post. :)

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Setting the Seine

To first give you some background context first, Paris as a city is HUGE.

It's split into 20 'arrondissements' - basically like suburbs where each one has it's own personality and attractions. Each arrondissement is numbered in the below map.

paris

To give you some indication of how far apart things are in Paris:

  • Louvre (1) to the Eiffel Tower (7) Arrondissement 7 is just across the river from Arrondissement 1
    • Walking - 45 mins
    • Metro - 20 mins across 2 metro lines (15 mins on metro + 5 mins walking)
    • Bicycle - 19 mins
  • Notre Dame (4) to Louvre (1) - Arrondissement 4 and 1 are NEIGHBOURING arrondissements
    • Walk - 24 mins
    • Metro - 13 mins (4 mins on metro + 9 mins walking)
    • Bicycle - 10 mins

So if the above examples are of Arrondissements right NEXT TO each other,  you can imagine how far it would be to get to an arrondissement two or even three over.

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1.  Walking

When I refer to walking here, I mean as a means of transportation. I'm not referring to the normal walking one does when you get to a place, walking around an attraction, walking along markets or streets, browsing restaurants, etc.

So as a transportation method, I would only recommend it if you are staying in an arrondissement and want to explore the local area. For example, some areas such as Belleville have a lot of GREAT street art - big and small - which we really enjoyed discovering.

One of the days I was in Paris with Mr. Human, we walked for a few hours and decided to explore one of the biggest cemeteries in Paris. It was a really really nice day but I think we literally explored for 4 hours straight and we didn't get that far from our home at all. In fact, I think we only managed to explore up to ONE arrondissement over.

So some cities are walkable cities - like Amsterdam, Prague, etc. But Paris DEFINITELY is not one of them.

2.  Metro

Most people take the metro. In fact, Paris has THE best metro system I have experienced amongst all the European cities I've visited. Once you get a map from the first ticket attendant you see, the metro lines and signs are very simple to pick up.

Also, the metro on every line usually come every 3-4 minutes. It's so fast that, even as I come down the stairs and see the doors about to close for the line I need to get on, I don't even bother running for it because the next one will be THAT soon.

BUT each metro trip is 1.80€. And you usually do AT LEAST 3 trips per day, usually more if you want to see a couple attractions. For example, on my first trip, I was there only one day and wanted to have a little peek at everything so I took like 6 metros within 6 hours.

Whilst there are multiday passes that give you unlimited travel, to me these are QUITE expensive: 1 day (12.30€), 3 days (27.30€) or 5 days (39.30€) - prices sourced from the official Paris visitors website.

So you can see how the costs might add up if you are staying a few days.

Plus, the Paris metro life basically just looks like this...

You walk in between a rush of people through these tiny tunnels, clinging onto these little directional signs because they are your life's guiding force to finding the metro line you need haha.

paris velib - 15

And usually standing in silence, secretly looking at other people on the underground journey haha.

So while it is quite convenient, it's quite a dark and un-fresh way to travel for what can sometimes be 20 - 40 minute journeys.

Whilst I do love biking the most (which I'll talk about next), sometimes you are too tired or need to get to a place quickly so the metro DEFINITELY does have a place. So when you do take a metro, keep these points in mind:

  • If you'd like to buy a metro ticket from a ticket machine, it only accepts coins.
  • A metro station often has more than 1 entrance and you usually can only get a ticket from ONE of the entrances. So depending on where you enter from, be warned you may be stuck without a ticket and either have to find another entrance or find a way through the barriers.
  • Depending on how long you're staying, a good option is buying a carnet of 10 tickets (basically a stack of 10 individual tickets) for 14.10€. Then, it's very handy to keep this in your wallet so that you don't need to go through the effort of finding a ticket machine/coins/ticket person EACH time. This is PARTICULARLY handy if you are travelling with a group. If you're travelling just you or as a couple, even if you don't get 10, it's handy to keep a couple spare in your wallet.
  • If you have heavy luggage, be warned that there are NO elevators in metro stations. Some do not even have escalators so you are left to carry things yourself through a labyrinth of stairs. Be prepared. There is no shame in taking pit stops.
  • If you find yourself in a situation without a ticket and need to get in, enter through the "Exit Doors". The Paris metro works like this: you put a ticket into the turnstile and it opens up for you. But when exiting, you don't need a ticket, you simply push through the "exit doors". You can only open these doors from the inside of the barriers BUT, if you're tall or just try enough, it's not hard to just grab the top of the door and open it from the outside. I do not recommend doing this if there is a lot of people exiting in a rush. You will annoy them. However, when it's quiet enough, I saw heaps of people doing this. People even opened it for me, when they saw I was stuck without a ticket. I'm fairly certain a decent percentage of Parisians probably ride without tickets. In the week+ that I was there, we weren't ticket checked once. Play this game how you will.

3. Biking with Velibs

Anyways, if you don't want the cost of the metro system and want something fresher, my favourite way to get around was by Velib. It's a bike renting service where visitors to Paris can pay for a 'subscription': 1 day for 1.70€ or 7 days for 8€. Then, there are 1,800 Velib stations around the city, placed one every 300m, with a total of 20,000 bikes.

paris velib - 16

This is the map of all the Velib stations in Paris. It's pretty funny.

Within your subscription period, you can take a bike out of any station and use it for 30 minutes for free. This is generally enough time to get you from one point to another in Paris. Then you just dock your bike at any of the Velib station, ready for someone else to use, and head off to where you need to go.

If you go over 30 minutes, they charge 1€ for the next 30 minutes. But you can always dock the bike at 30 minutes, wait 2 minutes (you can usually take this time to just walk to the next Velib station) and then get a new bike. I recommend keeping a timer on your phone so you know.

Why do I like it so much? 

  • Because I lived in Amsterdam (where almost every single person bikes everywhere), I really grew to love biking as a mode of transport. It's truly liberating and feels really good. Now every city Mr. Human and I go to, we always try to rent bikes and see the city - something I really recommend if you enjoy biking.
  • You get to check out the city as you bike and get a feel for it. When you're in the underground metro, you don't really get to see a lot - you travel half the city but the tunnel looks the same. The vibe is also a bit darker, dingier and quieter down there.
  • You can stop whenever you want to take a further look at things that you come across

day 3 - 1

  • It feels really good for your body and it's a really sustainable way to travel :)

How is bike riding in Paris?

Paris as a biking city: I'd recommend it for riders who are comfortable bike-riding, not for beginners.

  • Some of the bikes paths are shared next to cars.paris velib - 18
  • Generally though there are dedicated bike lanes
  • Some bike rides can get pretty long (30 mins+) as Paris is so big. People not used to it likely will find this a bit tough
  • There's usually at least one uphill in your journey. A lot of the uphills are small and manageable. Other's are just.... no. You should see me when there's a painful uphill and Mr. Human (who is an INHUMANELY good bike rider) tries to encourage me with "You can do it, it's just a little one." I am just like "JUST GO AHEAD OF ME YOU INHUMAN BIKING BEAST!" and crawl along on my bike at -5km/hour.

But, besides those haha, I did genuinely love biking there so much that I wanted to write this whole post about it and gushed to all my friends about it. :)

How is the Velib system?

Overall I am a huge fan of it because I really enjoyed the bike riding all week (despite the occasional uphills) and I was just surprised that Paris was more bike friendly than I thought it'd be. Also, quite a surprising amount of the locals do it too.

Points to consider, although this is strictly from a visitor's perspective and not a local's perspective

  • YOU MUST first check the bike you want to take before you take it out. So our system went like this: Mr. Human goes to check a bike (e.g. Number 9) for if the bike tires are flat and that the gears work (just use your foot to give the peddle a push around). You have to do this beforehand otherwise you undock a bike, start peddling it down the road for a minute and realise you've got a flat tire or a stuffed bike. So then you have to go to the trouble of finding another station and repeat the whole process, etc etc. This didn't happen a LOT while we were there over a week, but at least a few times the bike was no good so DEFINITELY check.
  • Sometimes it took a while to find a Velib station which had bikes we could use. For example, in popular areas, the docking station will be completely empty and you'll have to go to the next station. Same goes with docking bikes - in popular spots, the station(s) will already be full and there's no space for you. However, luckily, there is maps at each station that shows the closest Velib stations so it was easy to find the next one over.

paris velib - 17

  • For locals and people with internet on their phones, there is a Velib app that tells you where nearby stations are and also how many bikes are available there or how many free docking spots there are. We didn't have internet on our phones though so we had to forego this luxury. Luckily, the stations were numerous enough that we generally always found one, and also you start to get a feel for where they tend to be (e.g. next to bigger/main roads).

      

  • We went over the 30 minutes a few times. In the end, I was billed 15€ for exceeding 30 min journeys during the week, which means I went over 30 minutes on 15 separate journeys. Which DEFINITELY does not sound right because that means I exceeded it twice a day everyday of the week we were there. Which is not true at all. But the bill didn't come through until a while after I'd left Paris and I was not motivated enough to chase it up because I can imagine the headache. All in all, I think it was still very cheap for bike rental for a week considering we used it multiple times a day. But take this as a warning to try stay within the 30 mins if you want to avoid this issue, we were quite lax about it haha.

If you'd like to check out the Velib website, feel free to go here to browse the subscriptions and details.

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Anyways, I thoroughly enjoyed my time on my most recent week-long trip and the bike-riding was a huge part of the joy! :) You can read more about the little Parisian life we made for ourselves or about a cool art centre to check out, if you'd like to see more about my experience in Paris.

Otherwise, as always, I hope this 'How to' helps some person out there! :)

Fossil Daddy Longlegs Sports a 99-Million-Year Erection

The unfortunate harvestman, the first found fossilized in amber with a fully erect penis, also belongs to a new arachnid family.

I really think the title and picture says it all guys. I haven't even read the rest of this National Geographic article yet, I instead felt it more important to have this on my website.

But when I saw this I thought, "If I hadn't already wanted to work for National Geographic, I sure would now" hahahah.

That killer title.

Attention-grabbing... yet informative.

Actually, one of the things I've thought about before is that I'd actually really like to work for National Geographic. Like I'm not really one to dream about working at big companies and all, but National Geographic is really really one I think I'd like. I figured this out sometime between watching the documentary series "Life Story" by David Attenborough last year and constantly taking close-up pictures of flowers, ants, slugs, birds.

And what better way to share this with you guys than with a 99-million-year old spide-y erection. Enjoy haha!

Source: Fossil Daddy Longlegs Sports a 99-Million-Year Erection

The Intergenerational Learning Center: A Preschool Inside a Nursing Home

For the elderly residents, the kids are a jolt back to the world of the living—and for the children, the experience is a bittersweet lesson on aging.

This article introduces a concept I've never heard of or even thought about before: the simple combination of having young children interact with older generations inside the same place.

The Atlantic article is a really good and smooth read - enough that I actually thought "Hey, I should read The Atlantic more often". It goes into depth about the Mount Saint Vincent retirement centre in Seattle, check it out here if you want to read the full article: The Intergenerational Learning Center: How a Preschool Inside a Nursing Home Helps Children and the Elderly - The Atlantic

I'll just go through a couple of parts that I want to reflect on because it did make me really really excited to read. While I was reading it, I thought "I WANT TO DO THIS." :)

" Five days a week, residents and staff share the 300,000 square-foot facility with up to 125 children, ages zero to five.

The program was designed to counterbalance the loneliness and boredom that so often characterize life in a nursing facility... “We wanted a living, vibrant community; to make sure that this was a place where people came to live, not die,” says Charlene Boyd. "

I think the reason why this is so interesting to me is because in the last year I visited a nursing home a few times to see Mr. Human's grandmother and I also started babysitting. I think both these experiences made me see a whole new side to old people and also a new side of kids too.

In the nursing home, Mr. Human's grandmother is more than 90 years old, can't really hear properly and some would say "doesn't really seem to be all there." When he and I visited her, we just spent time exchanging simple sentences and she actually just spent a lot of time just sitting there. On other occasions when I visited with his wider family, she would once again sit quietly in her chair in the corner and look on. I was never quite sure if she was observing, thinking or just not really noticing much at all. It really was hard to tell what exactly was happening behind her blank stare, if there was a storm of activity or just not much at all. I kept asking Mr. Human what she does all day, if she was thinking about things, but I think the truth is that she really does spend most of her days sitting in her chair not doing a lot. In addition to that, she had her food made for her because she couldn't really cook for herself much anymore and had to have a lot of things done for her.

When I came back from Amsterdam, I started babysitting in Sydney. My first family had two girls - a 3 year old and a 7 month old baby. I think it's around this time I started to fully realise how cyclical life is. You start out as a baby and can't do ANYTHING for yourself. ANYTHING!!! Babies need you to feed them, to help them SIT up (they don't even have the muscles to sit up themselves, they just fall right over, how weird is that), to wipe their poo for them. Like literally the first day I babysat, my 3 year old girl went to do a poo and I heard her calling out after she was done. I looked at her mum like "Can she wipe her own poo?" and she shook her head 'no'. I wasn't surprised because it actually triggered my own memories of being 5 years old and sitting on the toilet with the door open yelling "MUUUUUUMMMMM, I'M DOOOONNNNNEEEEEEEEEEEEE." But imagine that, still a shock to think about how young kids actually do not have the physical ability and co-ordination to wipe their own butt. How crazy is that.

And so your parents do EVERYTHING for you. I think one thing babysitting has taught me is that parenting really does require you to change your entire life around this little kid. Parents quit their jobs to take care of their kids, parents give up their free time to do everything for their children. Because kids really can't do a lot for themselves, you gotta do it all. Like my 3 year old can't even eat her own noodles or dumplings because they are too slippery and she can't coordinate it into her mouth without it all slipping off haha. But then as you grow older, you start to be able to do more things for yourself, from your 20s until maybe your 80s. But then it goes back down. Things start to degenerate and you can do less and less. And then you need others to take care of you. But in our society, I don't think giving up your whole life (as parents do for their young kids) to take care of your old, aging parents is anyone's ideal way to spend time. Taking care of old people just seems a lot less appealing than taking care of babies or kids (who admittedly are more cute and energetic and full of life and curiosity).

"Humans are, and have always been, an intergenerational species. Still, to keep up with the demands of the culture and society of today, the responsibilities of child and elder care have, out of necessity, been outsourced to professionals. "

I think this follows on from what I talked about above and is definitely something I've thought about before. How, in our increasingly busy society where people just have not enough time, people tend to put their kids into childcare or put the elderly into nursing homes for others to take care of.

Oh, I just thought of something. Just as going through schooling from around ages 5 - 18 years old is a normal custom in society (and which helps parents a lot as they have somewhere to put their kids during work), perhaps there could be a school for older people later in life. Not learning the same stuff you learnt as a kid, but just learning wider things about the world. To keep people learning, using their mind, curious. That would definitely be a weird thought, huh? Haha imagine if the norm was to go BACK to school when you're older.

But I do love this whole thought around humans being an "intergenerational species". I think this links with how I watched a Ken Robinson TED Talk once about how it's almost like schools 'mass-produce' children on a factory line where our age is used as our batch number.

Ken Robinson TED Talk - Batches

And after I saw that vivid illustration, it just cemented that thought in my head. And having after interacted with kids a lot more (I've really really loved babysitting) and realising that people who have been influential in my life have been from so many different age groups... the friends I grew up with who are of course my age, my piano teacher for 10 years who was 60+ years old and who I cherished a lot, my favourite teachers in high school who were anywhere between 28 - 60, and friends I've met since I started travelling the world more. I think I really do place a personal importance on interactions across generations.

" Another resident with advanced Alzheimer’s whose speech was incomprehensible garble was able to speak in complete, fluid, and appropriate sentences the moment she was wheeled into the baby room. “You could immediately see that she had accessed some part of her brain that had raised several kids,” Hoover says.

While it’s unclear what kind of impact such social interaction has on children, research suggests it may come with a variety of benefits for them as well. For example, kids who have early contact with older people are less likely to view them as incompetent—and simply exposing children to positive depictions of elders makes them less likely to exhibit ageism... As many of the parents whose children attend the ILC will attest, the kids are prone to feel more comfortable around those with disabilities and impairments of all kinds than their peers who lack such experiences. "

I thought this part was just cool to read about. I think I can believe how much of an impact this system would have because I think when people are around children, it's like they get a whole new demeanour. People generally love watching kids and their antics and how they muck around doing silly things that would NEVER be acceptable, let alone cute, if an adult did. Even after I babysit I always feel like I've learnt something about them or about children in general.  So I can truly imagine the positive impact this would have.

Now I really really want to see this sort of thing implemented into places close to home. And will even keep this concept rattling about in the back of my head in case I ever get the opportunity to help make it happen.

NB: All images and quotes are sourced from The Atlantic article, unless otherwise stated. :)

 

Beyond Festival 2015

This is a throwback to a drawing I did last year when I was living in Amsterdam and attended the Beyond Festival in May 2015. :) The reason I'm posting this now, 8 months later, is because I was reflecting on my original goals for this website when I first created it. I envisioned it to be a really nice blend between showing my thoughts, art, how-to's, interesting things I discover, etc. So that it wasn't just a blog about me, but really just a place where all different types of people could come to read about interesting things.

But I realised today that it's become more and more skewed towards just 'my thoughts' and 'personal' happenings, which is not at all what I want. I really don't want it to just be a blog, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered creating all these pages and this structure and all.

At the same time, I also realised I've been less excited about my website of recent. I don't feel the same bubbling excitement I used to feel. And I think that's perhaps one of the reasons - that my mind was skewing me towards just recounting days and thoughts, rather than remembering to keep fresh all these other aspects I was so excited about.

[x_line]

So Beyond was actually a new festival in the Netherlands that wanted to take a different approach. Whilst I do love my Dutch festivals, I admit that I think some are a bit on the commercial-side and lack a little soul. But Beyond was trying to take it... well, beyond. I think the badges below can give a better reflection of what it stands for.

Beyond 2015 badges

Additionally, this is their website (http://www.beyond.nl/) or their Facebook page (Imagine Beyond) if you want to have a little looksy.

[x_feature_headline type="left" level="h3" looks_like="h3" icon="75px"]How be the festival[/x_feature_headline]

I really really liked it, I had a really special day there. It wasn't really a festival about taking photos and posting them all over, so I actually took zero photos on the day. Definitely not because there was nothing to take photos of, I actually instead had to consciously re-wire myself so that my automatic reaction wasn't to take a photo when I saw something cool.

At first I told myself to just enjoy it and take it all in and remember it. But so many little things happened during the festival, so many small details in the event, small things that you noticed other people doing - that I ended up deciding that I had to have some other way of remembering it all. My memory is definitely not enough.

So I ended up drawing this picture after the event. :)

Beyond 2015

One thing I really liked about this festival was that it wasn't just coming to a festival to 'consume' or 'spectate'. We weren’t going to simply look on, consume other people’s music, take in the scenery from a distance. We were there to create the festival, contribute something of ourselves to it.

So I'll try take you on a little tour of my drawing, because I know it looks like a big mess of scribbles but every part in it I drew because they were each special little moments or things that happened during the day.

For example, when we first got into the festival, there were all these empty canvases mounted in a little area, and a sign saying "Graffiti Workshop".

beyond 1 graffiti

Anyone was invited to participate in the graffiti workshop and spray paint the canvases, so that at the end of the workshop all these previously blank canvases were full of colour and life.

On top of that, throughout the day people would continuously graffiti new things on top of each canvas so that each time you walked by, there was usually something different to see.

Another thing was all the different ways people dressed. Mr. Human and me went in with just normal casual clothes but I actually felt sad about that. I admit it, I totally wanted to dress up a little and schuzz things up haha.

Later on in the festival, we found some wooden boxes scattered around the event with random articles of clothing people could create outfits with. We're not talking glam items here but more things you'd find in a second hand shop. I dug something up and so did a lot of other people.

The end result was that you just saw really random outfits created around the festival haha.

I think it really, really added to the festival. It was really a lot of fun and joyful  for me to just walk around and enjoy other people's odd outfits and them, in turn, admiring your's. That's why I felt sad wearing normal clothes in the beginning because I was enjoying looking at everyone else's outfits and creativity. But I didn't feel like I was giving anything back - I wasn't contributing anything - which was a sucky feeling for me.

I just found this image below that I think sums up what I mean.

Another really special part - after night had fallen, Mr. Human and me were wandering along one of the hills when we looked down across the festival and started to see small pricks of fire lighting up in the darkness. We honestly had no clue whether this was part of the festival or a huge fire danger. Well, it actually turned out to be a little bit of both haha, but it was honestly really nice.

What it ended up being was that they had started to pass out these tribal torches to people that you could light up your torch from someone else's fire. So what started out as a few people with torches lit spread out as the fire was passed on from torch to torch.

beyond 2 torches

Mr. Human and I were lucky enough to receive a pair of torches. I think the cool thing is that we had no clue where it started from, where the organisers of this were. But they'd passed on torches to people who'd passed it onto other people and eventually they had their way to us. After everyone's was lit, there was this beautiful lit up bicycle/ship fusion thing slowly making it's way around that everyone with a torch ended up streaming behind. It was this beautiful sea of flames and it was really cool to walk with this stream of people, everyone's faces lit up red and gold with the light of the torches.

Another thing was the random yoga spots around the festival. Early on, Mr. Human and me would look on as we saw different people doing funky, funny yoga poses. Later on we ended up playing around and doing some of our own yoga moves where he'd lift me up or I'd lift him up. That's us in the red circle below haha. Don't hate on my incredibly odd-looking yoga couple, it's really hard to draw stick figures doing yoga poses, ok haha.

beyond 3 yoga

In the midst of our session when I was (unsuccessfully) trying to lift Mr. Human up, this BIG guy comes up to us. He goes "Do you want to stand on my shoulders?" with his hand offered to Mr. Human. He decides to give it a go and this big guy, who seems to be some shoulder-standing guru, teaches Mr. Human how to do it. After a few tries and slips, Mr. Human is perched perfectly on this guy's shoulders.

beyond 4

It made me really proud to see that. Because Mr. Human is completely the type to simply enjoy taking things in around him, he doesn't really have the same burning desire to participate that I have. I actually got upset at him for that, at the festival. Because I wanted to be participating and joining in with the buzz around me. But instead, I was just spectating from the side with him.

But when I saw Mr. Human standing there, all 187cm of him, I felt really happy. You can see us in the drawing - I'm the little stick figure on the left with the love heart next to her, Mr. Human is the one with the little love heart next to him haha.

beyond 4 shoulders

We actually had a fight during the festival. Like I mentioned before, I was burning to join in and contribute to the atmosphere but Mr. Human was happy simply looking on and enjoying everything. I got quite upset about it. We sat down for a long time, in silence, in heated arguing, in upsetness. But eventually we talked it out. And after we talked it out, I had this weird realisation that I really had never had before.

That Mr. Human, somewhere along the way of hanging out and dating and becoming boyfriend and girlfriend and arguing and living together, had become my best friend.

beyond 5 best friends

When I told Mr. Human my realisation, he said "Oh. Well, yeah."

Apparently it was already obvious to him a long time ago and I was just late to the train haha.

My last favourite part of the day was near the end of the festival. All the mini stages and camps were filled with music, everyone dancing in full swing. Then, the music stopped. All across the entire festival, everything went quiet. Everyone stopped in their tracks and looked at their neighbours in confusion, wondering. Had the electricity system suddenly gone down? Had the festival organisers shockingly overlooked something? Had things gone terribly wrong?

Then, the sound of a single bongo starts beating through the silence of the festival. People are drawn to this singular beat. Our feet instinctively leads us closer to the sound, to o a huddle of bongos. A figure encourages people with soft hand gestures to sit down so that others behind them can see what's happening. Slowly, each bongo joins into the rhythm and their sound is the only sound travelling through the entire festival. A single dancer sways between the flow while a figure with soft white wings floats between the drums.

beyond 6 sitting

The crowd sits and stares entranced. Everyone's breath is held, hundreds of people sitting, breathing as one. I'd never been a part of something like that before.

After the event, people poured onto the Facebook event page with their comments and reflections and photos. I kind of really liked that - that it wasn't just an event to attend and then forget about. People were interested in sharing their experiences, offering suggestions that could be improved for the next year and contributing their own little stories.

And so that wraps it up, my own little story of Beyond 2015. :)

Video of the Day: Adele Carpool Karaoke

Oh man. This is just... definitely a good use of 15 minutes.And I think that says a lot coming from me because I track where EVERY SINGLE minute of my day goes so I am super super aware of spending my time on good uses.

Also I'm not really a huge fan of videos, I don't even watch like 5 videos a week - let alone a video that doesn't even pass the "is it under 2 minutes" test. And which instead goes on for 15 WHOPPING minutes.

But there are a lot of things to like about this.

I won't spoil it haha. Normally I like to gush about the things I liked and the funny moments but yeah no, if I want to read about that again the future, I'd rather just watch the video again haha.

And fellas that certainly does say a lot.

"So what are you doing when you graduate?"

So this has been in my head for a very, very long time. I've mentioned it to quite a few people already - it's my answer to the inevitable question that always comes when students are about to graduate... "So what are you going to do when you finish?"

Because in June this year, I will finally be finishing my university degree for good.

(for good!!!!)

(FOR GOOOOOoooooOOOooooOOOOOOOOOOooooDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!)

So my plan is to go to South America. I'm not really sure where and I'm not really sure how long. This idea sort of just planted itself in my head 1.5 years ago after I visited Spain and I guess it's begun to sprout now.

Originally, I was going to go alone. I had a few things in mind that I wanted to do. I want to try WWOOFing ("Worldwide Workers on Organic Farms) to learn a bit more about growing things. I wanted to live in and help out in any eco-communities that I could find just to understand how they worked and just see what it'd be like to live in a system that is so different to the society that I am used to. I want to teach English in Chile, if it comes to that.

But now Mr. Human is coming too. :)

Because he graduates in June this year as well. We are in a (very) long distance relationship and have always been required to be in our respective countries for schooling. But since we both graduate this year, well... I guess we realised that neither of us felt the need to STAY in the cities we grew up. We wanted to be together and finally we could be when we graduated.

We debated it a lot because he wasn't really sure about going to South America with me. He didn't want to feel forced into just following what I wanted. But we decided to join forces now and will go together. :) And I think it's for the better. As much as I would love a solo trip and and how fabulously-independent-you-go-gal that would be and all, it is exciting to go together.

So now we've started to talk about it a bit and look into some research. Mr. Human found this really cool Flickr album by a couple that drove through South America in their own 4WD, taking along their adventurous little kid.

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9q2WaK[/embed]

You can see their full Flickr photostream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/58605390@N02/

All the photos below are from this photostream and I give all credit to Hein Suzanne Witte and India. :) I've picked out a few that got me really, really excited...

Like this. This is Argentina??? Is this real life???

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9xxbhx[/embed]

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9swA6j[/embed]

Or is this just fantasy????????!!???

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9uKcS5[/embed]

Riddle me that.

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9uK3Vf[/embed]

I totally forgot alpacas were in South America.

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/a3FQJA[/embed]

 

In fact, for some reason, I totally forgot that the biodiversity and animal life in South America would be completely different for some reason. But different it is.

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/a4XgFE[/embed]

After I saw all the pictures of lizards, a part of me was glad that Mr. Human was coming. I mean I don't think I'm weak or anything but these lizards are BAD. ASS. I did karate as a kid but I'm fairly certain they could kick my ass if it came to close-quarter combat.

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/a4UfHH[/embed]

Another thing I forgot to think about was how different the trees might be...

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/a3FUz3[/embed]

Oh man, I totally forgot that the giant salt mirror that is always on those "Places to see before you die" lists is in South America, Bolivia. Guess I'm going to Bolivia haha.

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9ht4a6[/embed]

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9ht3Xi[/embed]

EDIT: Fun fact for you all. DID YOU KNOW that Argentina is super super close to Antarctica? Like the distance between it is half the distance Tasmania is to Antarctica (according to the official measurements using my finger on my laptop screen on Google Maps).

South America - 2

How cool is that. They look like little dragon tails touching.

Anyways, this is their little kid. As in the couple's, not Argentina's and Antarctica's.

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9xBVc9[/embed]

They had a tent that could be placed on top of their car so that they could sleep wherever they could park their car. Which I'm assuming is a lot of places.

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/a4W6CV[/embed]

Which makes me happy because Mr. Human and I sort of realised that with the two of us there, we could pool our money and get a car together and organise our own little sleeper...

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9q6fEu[/embed]

And make our own little gezellig times. For those who don't know, gezellig is one of my favourite Dutch words. I am sure it's also the favourite of many Dutch people. It means a combination of cozy, comfortable, warm, happy. So a dinner with friends can be gezellig, a person can be gezellig, a house can be gezellig. All good things. :)

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9q2Vx4[/embed]

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/a3Fv4q[/embed]

A funny picture.

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/a4VZsz[/embed]

Another (on top of the many) things I forgot to think about was that the people there might have different style of clothing.

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9N2JBQ[/embed]

Wow, for some reason that photo actually looks like it was out of some movie. But it was not. It was out of the local convenient store.

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9MYW6H[/embed]

I got really excited looking at all these photos, having this small glimpse into what might be a part of my future. I really think there are some gezellig times ahead of us. Hard, interesting, exhausting times, but I think always gezellig. :)

[embed]https://flic.kr/p/9N2E1L[/embed]

Rainy days in suburbia

So since I got my camera in December 2015, Sydney has been at the HEIGHT of its summer - endless blue skies, glorious sun, everyone in full swing at the beach, mangoes in season... But these last few days, it's been pouring rain almost non-stop. It's been cold enough that people were wearing beanies and coats out in the city last night. And we're not talking like light coats, we're talking like fur-lined winter coats.

So today I was walking home, huddled under my umbrella, and I was just hit with the suburbia-ness of it all. More and more my little suburb has grown on me, of recent.

So this is my photoset called "Rainy days in suburbia".

[image class="rainy-days" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-1-1024x576.jpg" alt="Rainy days in suburbia 1" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-1-1024x576.jpg" title="Rainy days in suburbia"]

I didn't edit any of the photos for this photoset (except for some crops here and there) so some of the photos may seem dark, grey, dull, dreary. But honestly that's because the day was exactly that haha.

[image class="rainy-days" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-4-1024x682.jpg" alt="Rainy days in suburbia 4" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-4-1024x682.jpg" title="Rainy days in suburbia"]

Of course, can't have a photoset in Sydney without an ibis...

[image class="rainy-days" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-2-673x1024.jpg" alt="Rainy days in suburbia 2" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-2-673x1024.jpg" title="Rainy days in suburbia" width="492" height="749" align="left"]

... or ten. All those white specks you see in the background are actually ibises as well. I have no idea where they came from, they've just descended on my local park. Maybe they're seeing if anyone fancies a game of cricket.

I actually had this weird thought though like... how do ibises deal? With the rain, I mean. They don't have tiny bird umbrellas so just imagine. They just stand there in the rain and they don't care at all. They just be standin there. All their feathers getting wet. Do they get colds??

I guess this gang doesn't.

[image class="rainy-days" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-3-1024x576.jpg" alt="Rainy days in suburbia 3" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-3-1024x576.jpg" title="Rainy days in suburbia"]

This house at the corner of my street has the best garden. I know the man behind this lovely little garden and one time took a really nice photo of him before, with him all nestled amongst his flowers and plants. When I saw his wife out getting the mail, I thought "How nice, I can make a little matching photoset of them two and give it to them!" and asked her if I could take a photo.

She just made like this little grunting sound and turned away...

[image class="rainy-days" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-5-683x1024.jpg" alt="Rainy days in suburbia 3" width="492" height="738" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-5-683x1024.jpg" title="Rainy days in suburbia" align="left"]

Pink leaves and ants.

[image class="rainy-days" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-6-682x1024.jpg" alt="Rainy days in suburbia 3" width="495" height="743" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/rainy-days-in-suburbia-6-682x1024.jpg" title="Rainy days in suburbia" align="left"]

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Being asked for money in Sydney

Perhaps this is a strange topic to write about but it is something that I find really, really confronting. A few occurrences happened tonight and my mind just can't get over it, I don't really know what to do about it.Today, I was catching up with two of my favourite teachers from my high school, also joined by one of my best friends (I'll just call her B for ease of reference haha). The four of us were getting teas at this cafe near Town Hall Station, so that we could have a nice place to talk and catch up.

A little bit into it, a (I assume this, but I could be wrong) homeless man came up to our table and asked us for spare change. One of my teachers said "Yeah actually" and pulled out her wallet to give a coin. To be honest, I was kind of surprised. I guess because people approach you for money often enough that over time my default response has been to not give money. On a few occasions I have but it genuinely is not consistent.

Then, later on, we were approached again for money. This time, the man came almost directly up to me and asked the group for money. He had this half-distant voice as if he was not fully FULLY there, but also half-insistent at the same time. I felt so caught. I knew everyone was watching and I just had no idea what to do. I sort of mumbled "Sorry no..." and he'd just reply "just a little change" and I'd mumble "no sorry" again and then he'd say again "com'mon just some change" and this went on a few times.

Eventually after this whole exchange of me just being helpless and him insisting, he went away. But I just felt so deeply confronted and strange and unsure of what to do. Another thing I never am sure how to feel about is how conversation after this should be. I have nothing against conversation resuming following occurrences like this, but I just personally never know how to deal. Like do we talk about what happened or how does everyone else feel about this?

I just don't know.

It sort of rested from my mind after that, when B and I went on to have dinner together. But I think the thing about Sydney is that you never really fully forget about it. Because the signs of it is everywhere. I'm not sure if it's just me but I always just see the signs of where someone sleeps for the night - a blanket or mat or a little huddle of items stowed in some corner. Or just a figure lying in some discreet corner. I know I'm not the only one who notices but it just feels like there is a lot of homelessness in Sydney.

After, we decided to share a bubble milk tea, something which we'd been saving to have together for a while, just as a little joke between us. We sat in a courtyard near Town Hall Station, underneath the overhang of a building since it'd been raining and all the benches were soaked. There were a few people dotted here and there in little glows of light, and some places had this strong stench of urine. I honestly felt it was the kind of an area where homeless people would be.

Perhaps you'll think that I am some privileged, pretentious, snobby kid, saying all these things which could be seen as demeaning or rude or politically incorrect. But I don't know, I just want to share my honest thoughts. And yeah, if you think they are wrong then I am fully open to being challenged. That's part of the reason I'm writing this post, to first get my thoughts out, next to try see any different perspectives out there and lastly because... I just feel helpless about what to do.

While we were sitting there, it was okay enough because the average person was still walking by here and there. But if it had been any later or more empty, I would've felt a little more insecure. Sometime into it, this scruffy looking guy smoking came up to us. He started by asking if we were from Sydney and we were uncertain about all this, but said yes. He then explained how he was from Coffs Harbour and someone had stolen his bag and he needed money to get a bus home, asking us for money. This is a weird thing but the moment he SAT DOWN with us, I felt so so weird. Like maybe it's just me but when someone SITS DOWN with you, it just gives me this overwhelming feeling that this person is forcing themselves on you, like it's not just a quick situation they are here to stay for a while.

I just felt so, so confronted and uncomfortable.

My friend and I made a side glance at each other. I think if you've been in this sort of situation you must know the look. A look that says "Man this doesn't feel so good, what should we do?" She came out with the question "How much does your bus ticket cost?"

He said $47 to Coffs Harbour and he had $18. He was saying he could give us change if we had a note to give him. He was saying that he was coming back to Sydney on Friday and could give us money back then.

The thing with situations like these is that the story could be true, or the story couldn't be. But to be really honest, I don't really care about the story. Perhaps I've grown into some callous, privileged city-dweller. But I think just what matters for me is if I get a trustworthy vibe from the person or not. And I just didn't have a good feeling about this guy - the way he came up to us, the way he smelt, the way he pressed us, just the way he was. Perhaps I'm too quick to judge, perhaps it's wrong of me to use cues like this. But mostly I've learned to trust my sense of character and the overwhelming feeling I got from him was uncomfortable.

So I just decided to tell him. I just said "I'm really sorry about this but I just don't feel really comfortable in this situation. I feel very confronted and prefer not to, I'm sorry."

And you know what. I looked into his eyes when I said that. And for a moment I got scared that he would hit me.

He responded "You don't have anything? A note? I can give you change." and I just said "I prefer not to" because I honestly did not want to give this guy $30. But he went on with "You don't have anything? I really want to get home."

There was this pause and then B and I were both sort of resigned, we got out all our coins from our wallet and gave it to him, probably a total of about $6 or $7. He looked at them silently and started counting them one by one in front of us. Then he looked up and said "You don't have any notes? You don't have any more?"

My friend was saying "No sorry I don't, I also need some coins for my bus ride home" and I knew that wasn't true but I think we both just felt like we wanted this situation to end as fast as possible. It felt like he was intensely scrutinising us, knowing we had more, pushing for more. And yeah the truth is that I did have notes sitting in my wallet. But I chose not to say anything. I know sometimes it's better just to say that you have nothing left to get through the situation but I just... no.

Now I look back on this, I feel a small upset at him. Now I reflect back, I think he must've known that if he kept pressing we might give in more. Because the initial pressing had worked. I've never had to beg before so I probably speak in a clueless, unforgiving way. But if I analyse the theory of it and I was - say - a 'pro-begger', I guess if you sussed out people who were kind of not-shutting-you-down, you know you could probably keep pushing them and end up getting something.

But it's sort of pushing people into a place so uncomfortable that they feel they need to give you money or pushing people into a place where they would lie to get rid of you. To me... I don't know. I just don't know.

After a little bit more, he left. We walked back to the station to head home. On the way, we saw this guy bent over a fountain, trying to get money from the bottom. When he was done and walked away, this other homeless guy holding a couple bags, a portable mattress thing and with a dog started yelling at him. "Fuckin if I see you in there fucking again, I'll kill you. That's for the fuckin kids", threatening at the guy. Their yells echoed along the way as we walked towards B's bus stop.

As I walked through the empty underground toward the train station platforms, I admit I felt scared. Scared or wary or maybe both. I just felt so wary of being approached again, or possibly even cornered, I have no idea. I just got this feeling that I didn't like being in the city anymore. And then I felt a bit strange. Like did I want to escape to some place where all this didn't exist? Was this all a product of the society we were in, no one to blame except the system? Is there no right or wrong in situations like these? Is it anyone's fault?

I think a common thought that is easy to have is that it is their fault for being homeless. Because in places like Australia or the Netherlands, you are fully able to get social welfare from the government. And it's their choice not to get it and to instead beg for money. But at the same time, I know that social welfare comes with conditions and it's definitely not free money, you are under the restrictions of the government. So I can get why people choose not to. But I know I will never fully understand unless perhaps it happens to me one day, or someone I know or something just happens for me to understand.

I'm really sorry if I might say something offensive or rude in this post but I really tried to state things how they were or exactly how I felt them. I just wanted to be honest about a topic that I think most people don't really want to talk about, and even I don't talk about or fully understand and am utterly at a lost about.

For now, I guess my choice thus far has been to take it on an individual basis even though for the most part, I am cautious of people giving people money who come up and ask for it. I feel like just as they have a complete choice whether they ask me for money or not, I have a choice to give or not. And maybe that's a privileged non-understanding thing to say. Some might say "Do they have a choice?", "They must really need it if they're asking." But I just don't know... I really don't know.

And I think that just sums up how I feel about all of this.

I just don't know.

New Year's Eve in Sydney

I could not have had a more classic Sydney New Year's Eve. A sizzling barbeque at the beach during the day, and fireworks to cap off the night. :) [x_block_grid type="three-up" id="sydney-summer"] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-3.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-3.jpg" title="Sydney BBQs 3" lightbox_caption="Sausage sizzles - the sound of my childhood."] [/x_block_grid_item] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-1.jpg" alt="Sausage sizzles - the sound of my childhood" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-1.jpg" title="Sydney BBQs 1" lightbox_caption="The rains are coming, Marge."][/x_block_grid_item] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-2.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-2.jpg" title="Sydney BBQs 2" lightbox_caption="Police on duty joining in on a little cricket"] [/x_block_grid_item]

[x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-4.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-4.jpg" title="Sydney BBQs 4" lightbox_caption="NYE doesn't feel complete without a view of the Harbour Bridge"] [/x_block_grid_item] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-5.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-5.jpg" title="Sydney BBQs 5"] [/x_block_grid_item] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-6.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-6.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 1" lightbox_caption="A little calm amongst the crazy"] [/x_block_grid_item]

[x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-7.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-7.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 2" lightbox_caption="Dancing feet"] [/x_block_grid_item] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-8.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-8.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 3" lightbox_caption="Waiting waiting"] [/x_block_grid_item] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-9.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-9.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 4"] [/x_block_grid_item]

[x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-10.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-10.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 5"] [/x_block_grid_item] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-11.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-11.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 6"] [/x_block_grid_item] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-12.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-12.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 7"] [/x_block_grid_item]

[x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-13.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-13.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 8"] [/x_block_grid_item] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-14.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-14.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 9"] [/x_block_grid_item] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-15.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-15.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 10"] [/x_block_grid_item]

[x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-16.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-16.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 11" lightbox_caption="Light up the sky"] [/x_block_grid_item] [x_block_grid_item][image class="sydney-summer" src="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-18.jpg" alt="Sydney BBQs" type="thumbnail" link="true" href="http://immahuman.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/NYE2015-18.jpg" title="NYE Sydney Fireworks 13"] [/x_block_grid_item] [/x_block_grid]

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Paris: Our Parisian Life (Part Two)

Continuing on from interesting things about Parisians, besides their ACTUAL infinite love for cheeses and wines... Another thing about Parisians is that they seem really, REALLY into their dining out. For example, one time we went out for lunch and the entire restaurant was PACKED. Like to the point we had to share tables with people (which I think is considered normal in Paris). And sometimes we'd walk past these fancy restaurants and people would be eating huge steaks with potatoes and a glass of wine. For lunch.

Crazy!!!

One interesting lunch we had was 'bo bun', which is a popular Vietnamese dish in Paris apparently. Basically it's a Vietnamese rice noodle salad thing, and you mix it all up yourself with a generous serving of fish sauce.

Now, to say I have a thing for Vietnamese food is an understatement. When I'm with some of my friends and they're like "Hm what should we get for din--" I'm like "VIETNAMESE FOOD!!!!! V to the I to the E to the T to the N to the A to the M!!!!" I eat Vietnamese food at home and I still always get excited to eat it haha.

So it was pretty cool to be at this restaurant that literally ONLY sells this one dish 'bo bun'. And then to see all these French people around me and gobbling up the food of my people so passionately for their lunch. That was interesting.

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Another example of Parisian's interesting way of life is when we were on our way to dinner on a Monday night. We were bike riding along in our neighbourhood and saw this street that was just beautiful.

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It was only later that we realised what had happened here at La Carillon.

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After the Paris attacks in November 2015, I started reading a lot about it and about Paris. I think that everybody did, but since I knew I was going there soon after and also that our Airbnb was in the exact area that it all happened, it was on my mind a lot.

But one thing I remember reading that struck me the most was this. It was an Instagram series by an artist, talking about how France is an old country, where lovers kiss freely.

He says, "Paris is our capital. We love music, drunkenness and joy."

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The people who went out that Friday night were going out to sing, to drink, to live. And what happened to them, the goal was trying to divide their people. But he says "Instead of dividing us, you remind us of the preciousness of our way of life."

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If you'd like to read the full set of drawings and story, it's here, and it really changed my view of Parisians. I think if I'd gone to Paris with my previous mindset - basically that it was overrated, overdone and not that open - then I wouldn't have appreciated them. But this time I went, I really realised that Parisians do seem to celebrate life.

The pizza place we ended up on that Monday night, recommended to us by our Airbnb host as her favourite local pizza restaurant, was right across the street from La Carillon. It was packed out on a Monday night, literally all the tables inside were full so we sat outside. And everyone was sharing pizza and of course had a glass of wine. And we noticed that everyone also got the house Tiramisu to complete their meals.

It was just kind of crazy to me to see everyone feasting and sharing so freely, on a Monday night, right in the middle of a recently attacked location. I don't think it's to say that these people are callous and don't care about those that passed away. I think it just made me realise that it's not really their way to cower in fear for the rest of their life, they really do love and embrace the joys and pleasures in life.

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Another thing I liked a lot from Paris was the street art. This was a line of wall leading up to La Carillon, which I think a lot must've gone up after what had happened.

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This was a street that we came across as we were wandering in our area.

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You can see even the bins and poles don't escape this makeover.

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And street art was actually EVERYWHERE. In fact I'd say a common sight in Paris is actually street art, cars, and people.

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There is always a person or car in the way in Paris. Always haha.

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Another cool thing is how the grunge of Paris weaves in with the old and ornate.

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Because, to be honest, Paris is definitely not a 'new' and 'fresh' city. In fact, I actually thought a lot of it could be seen as old and a bit on the dull-coloured side.

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But then you'll be walking along some normal dinge-y way and then BAM, there's some super old beautiful building there.

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The below was a funny sight for me, for some reason haha. I don't know why. Just these two normal looking dudes having a casual conversation on their intricately designed balcony likely built during the prime golden age of the Renaissance era. I think it's funny because you just don't get scenes like this in Sydney haha.

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Other times, we would be running some errand and then we'd realise we were right in the area of some famous monument. One example is when we ran into the Notre Dame and were like "Oh hey Notre, we were right in the area, thought we'd drop in". Another time we realised the Louvre was right nearby to where we were standing so we were like "Maybe we should go see it."

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Here we are checking out the Louvre. Mr. Human is looking at something else, perhaps he is trying to play it cool. Inside he was probably squealing and exploding with excitement like "Oh my GOSH ~~~!!! It looks EXACTLY like in the games!!!"

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After, we decided to leave and saw a cool looking bridge and wanted to go sit on it. That's how we ended up at the Seine.

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I think that's the thing about Paris, that it has SO MANY of these these famous well-known things everywhere so even if you don't intend to look for them, they all just come up anyways and you end up by the banks of this famous river you've heard of.

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Afterwards we decided to walk along it. Mr. Human pointed out the colours on the rivers, apparently 'famous Parisian colours' that you always see in movies.

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Here is a famous Parisian tree (it has probably been featured in countless movies). Something else Mr. Human and me liked to do in Paris, besides happening upon famous attractions, was climb stuff. France is the home of parkour after all. :')

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Throughout our time there, I kept looking at everything and taking it all in. When I stay in a city for a while and get to appreciate the more subtle things, I usually try do this thing... "If this city was a person how would I describe them?"

And for Paris, I thought like... old, busy, fast-paced. But the one I settled on - that I think fit encapsulated everything - was just interesting.

Like I think even if someone didn't like it, thought it was too busy or something, I don't think even they could deny that it really is such an interesting city.

In the end, I'm not sure Mr. Human and I would live here but I think we definitely, DEFINITELY loved our little Parisian life there. Thank you Paris and to all that shared their love for life with us. :)

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Paris: Our Parisian life (Part One)

Okay I don't pretend to understand the intimate details of what it's like to live in Paris. AND, I admit that I previously kind of thought Paris was an overrated city on my short stays in the past. But I am really, really glad that Mr. Human and I stayed there for more than a week and weren't there to do tourist-y things. We sort of went to climate events and in between going to these we'd look at things we liked, run into cool stuff or just do our own thing.

So this is a look into the little life we had in Paris. :)

This first post will be more about our place and home in Paris, and then the next post moves to wider Paris. So, for starters, our place. After my cosy concrete bed on day one haha, Mr. Human and I organised to stay in an Airbnb we really really liked the look of. But the thing with Paris is that all the apartments are super super tiny, and it's definitely not a cheap city to live in.

If this gives any context to the situation, the city of Paris has a density of 21,000 people/km2. In comparison, Shanghai has a density of 3,800/km2, Amsterdam 4,908/km2, Hong Kong 6,544/km2 and Mumbai has a density of 21,000/km2.

I was shocked by that. But you can see the evidence in our apartment. Below is basically our entire apartment.

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The bed ROLLS IN to become a couch.

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The picture above and below are sourced from the Airbnb page in case you wanted to have a look. Although I think that was obvious given the neatness.

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We definitely were not neat haha (admittedly, it is more me than Mr. Human that is messy) (I only admitted it because Mr. Human reads the website so he might accuse me of misleading people about him if he finds this out) (he is a neat guy, everyone).

Here is us having breakfast one day, utilising Mr. Human's suitcase for its second purpose in life. Behind me is my suitcase hahah.

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And we basically never rolled in the bed because we liked laying in it too much throughout the day hahah.

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Mr. Human and me also have sore/stiff backs a lot. So I though one of the days that yoga would be a GENIUS idea. So below you can see that the bed doubles not just as a couch, but also as a yoga instructor.

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I loved our apartment a lot. So, so, so much. Home really was my favourite place to be honestly. I could never wait to get home and escape the chilly weather, curling up together with a hot tea.

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For times we did make it out of our apartment, we explored our little local area of Belleville.

One thing I found was that Parisian attitudes towards food is really really interesting.

For one, of course, is the passion for cheese. Entire shops dedicated to cheese. They even have a word for 'cheese shop' - la fromagerie. Here we are at our local fromagerie.

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The guy who worked in the shop was SUPER helpful and knew so much about all these kinds of cheeses to match what we wanted. Here he is cutting us a sample of some of his delicious, must-try cheese.

Yes, you read right, that is a SAMPLE sir. My face was like "OH MY GOD THAT'S LIKE HALF THE BLOCK, IS THIS HEAVEN?"

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And, of course, the pastries.

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I insisted to Mr. Human that we eat at least two a day, each. Do as the Parisians do, I said.

He didn't believe me but we got the pastries anyways.

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Another weird thing about Paris was that all the supermarkets are tiny and it doesn't really feel like there is very many, compared to the Woolworths domination in Australia and the Albert Heijn tyranny in Amsterdam. Which makes sense because Parisian real estate is so expensive. Another reason I suspect is that Parisians don't seem to cook in as much as other cultures.

So this was the supermarket we saw around a lot, called Franprix.

But Mr. Human and I were REALLY glad to find this one a few minutes away from us. As soon as I saw it, I was like "Hm yes, hmmmm this is definitely more our style."

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When we lived in Amsterdam together, we had a shared passion against Albert Heijn (which is basically the biggest supermarket chain in Amsterdam and the prices are quite expensive. We are more like Lidl and Aldi shoppers - it's nice when you get to the checkout there and you are actually PLEASANTLY surprised by the total. Unlike trips to the likes of Albert Heijn or Woolworths where each trip is like a deep stab into your wallet and - more honestly - your soul.

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But eating breakfast with Mr. Human in our home was one of my favourite things.

There is a Dutch word called "gezellig" which encapsulates feelings like cozy, warm, comfortable. So a conversation with someone can be 'gezellig', a warm and welcoming home can be 'gezellig'. It's said the best way to understand gezellig though is to be in it. And then you'll be like "Oh yeah. This IS gezellig."

But being in our home with Jan was, for me, the perfect definition of gezellig.

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Check out Part II to read about how Parisians enjoy life, about street art and about how old, beautiful landmarks will just spring up on you in Paris. :)

Paris: The journey home

So I'm skipping ahead a little bit in my trip but only because I've been wanting to post these photos for a while now. In fact I've been wanting to show it to people all the time when I meet up with them haha. So here I go. On my way back from Paris, my stopover was in Singapore.

And in Singapore... they have a Butterfly Garden. It's pretty cool.

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Okay, it's really cool.

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AND YES. If you were wondering, that IS indeed that butterfly's mouth as he/she drinks some tasty fresh pineapple juice. Isn't that so cool? It's like a long ass straw but instead it's a mouth.

In fact, I was just watching this butterfly super close up and you could actually see it drinking through its straw. As in, the straw was like moving as if the butterfly was taking big gulps of juice. Must've been thirsty.

But WAIT!

THE COOL DOES NOT STOP THERE!

They also have this little incubation room to show how they grow the butterflies. And it is JUST. SO. COOL. Look here, you can see the green one all the way on the left is just a young wee little cocoon, perhaps with a caterpillar inside.

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Then in the next one, you can see the butterfly body starting to grow.

In the next one, you can see the butterfly is basically fully grown and BREAKING OUT from its cocoon, but is not quite yet finished so he was just hanging still there. Bidin' his time.

And below you can see more of these butterflies biding their times, perhaps they will emerge at the same time as the fella above. Maybe they'll be friends. Or maybe....

They'll be enemies.

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Anyways, later on my flight back to Sydney, I knew we'd pass over the middle of Australia in our flight and it would be day time. So I booked myself a window seat to check out what the Middle Australia looks like.

And well, sir. It looks quite fine.

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Oh man, I'm looking at all of them again and they are just so cool. I know I'm saying 'cool' a lot but I just... when the cool is cool, you cannot deny the cool.

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Oh man, look at this one. When I saw it I was like "MY GOD! It looks like deep red scars in the Earth, like some prehistoric beast from the Dreamtime slashed at it."

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And then I finally understood a little of why the Aboriginals came up with their Dreamtime stories and all those Aboriginal stories we learnt about in primary school. Like the land really just seems to inspire it.

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All these textures, all these stories.

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And of course, I must share some clouds with you because I love clouds and that is that haha.

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And to finish off my flight, it was sunset in Sydney. :)

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Paris: Why I feel slightly better about dying

On one of our last few days in Paris, Mr. Human and I decided to visit this giant cemetery that we'd biked pass a few times already. According to Google Maps, this was the resting place of quite a few famous people. Upon entering, there was a map of the graves of famous people, one of whom was Oscar Wilde.

But of course his grave was on the extreme opposite end of this colossal, uphill cemetery.

map of cemetery

Nevertheless, we trekked on.

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It was a really old cemetery. And it was a really cold day.

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As Mr. Human and I were making our way uphill, surrounded by these graves and sometimes very big house-like tombstones, I had this thought.

That I didn't want to be buried in a coffin with a great big tombstone.

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With no disrespect to those resting in peace in their after-life homes. But I think I just realised it wasn't the sort of home I wanted. Strangely, death has been on my mind a bit recently, I think linked with all the Paris attacks. Actually one of my fears in life is that Mr. Human and me will die not at the same time.

But I had this thought aloud to Jan that day... that if I die first, I want to be cremated.

Because I realised that, when I die, I want my body to go to life. I want my ashes to be used to grow something and be returned to the cycle of nature.

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At first I wanted to be a flower flower but then Mr. Human asked what happens if he was trying to grow the flower and it died (as was the case with our last four flower plants).

So I figured I wanted to be something stronger, something sturdier. I wanted to be a tree.

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I thought how nice that would be. To provide shade for people in the future. My family could sit underneath my shade and rest and relax. How nice that would be.

And my great great grandkids could sit under the tree and say "This was my great great grandma" with pride haha.

Of course, after I told Mr. Human, he said he also wanted to be a tree. And I said he couldn't be because he'd be copying me. But apparently he's had the idea to be a tree a long time before I said it and had just never told me.

Okay, Mr. Human. Haha.

But after it just made me feel a little better about dying. Like okay I'm not going to be completely cool with dying tomorrow, touch wood. But I don't know. It just made me feel that slightest bit better. To know that even after I died, that that wouldn't be the end.

Anyways. By the turn of the century, we finally arrived at Oscar Wilde's grave.

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And that is where we conclude this humble tale. :)

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Paris: D12 Protests

Well guys, I'm going to admit it now: I suck at this writing thing. Haha. I constantly have all these ideas and posts I want to share. And then it all just builds up and there's chaos in my head and it literally becomes like that feeling "when you have so much work to do so you end up doing nothing instead". It's like that.

But I think I've finally figured out how I want to structure everything in the way that helps you best understand it. So I hope you bear with me as I keep trying to figure out this whole writing thing haha.

So on Saturday December 12th was the D12 protests. I want to give you my account of it. Because if you see it in the news, I think you're just going to the get the highlight reels of people cheering and chanting and the front-line people. What I want to show you is what it actually was like for me.

So throughout the week in Paris, all the preparations, all the workshops, all the banners we've seen have all lead to this event. All the people coming to Paris are coming here for this event of civil protest and disobedience.

We had the final briefing for it on Friday, the day before.

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To give you an overview, the basic gist of it is that at 11:45am on December 12th, everyone would come together to occupy a big street that ran between the Arc de Triomphe and the Arc de la Defense. This is a HUGE street and they would block the entire area off so no cars could enter.

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Then, at exactly 12pm, thirty foghorns would go off to signal to everyone to showcase their red, to create a red line with our bodies that would send a message to the political leaders that we would not let them cross us.

Then, we would also hold up red flowers which they gave to us and have 2 minutes of silence to give respects to all those that have died to the climate devastations.

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Then, after that, a brass and samba band which would play so that everyone could show their protests.

But here I'm going to be frank. I don't really think this was my thing. Like I admit I had a LOT of doubts about all this. Like how much effect it would really have. Like whether the idea and co-ordination was really done all that well.

Because the thing is that so, so many people came from so many different places to be in Paris. When we were having Q&A during the briefing, so many people got up with questions like "I'm a musician from XXX, is there any way I can help more" or "A group of friends and I have come here, is there any activity or group that we can join in with to do MORE than just this?"

So to me it just seemed like this wasn't enough. It just seemed to me that a huge array of people had all come to Paris for this and all they would be able to contribute was to get there on the day and wear some red and do a little walking and chanting. I just felt like if you have SO many passionate people, surely there is something more you can co-ordinate for them to do that is more impactful.

But perhaps I'm being a little harsh because the organisers (350.org) had already done a huge job gathering this many people together with a lot of background preparation. But one idea I had was that if I were to organise an action, I would love to co-ordinate a really really good song to be composed and to teach to everyone. Like the one from Les Mis haha.

Oofh I just rewatched that now and got shivers.

But despite my doubts, I still wanted to go and be a part of it. Why? Because I think it's important to show the numbers of people that are passionate about this cause. And also because I was just curious what it would be like.

So how did the actual day go down?

Well, for starters, I admit that Mr. Human and I were a little late in arrival. But to be honest, we didn't mind as it didn't seem we missed too much.

When we got there, there were a lot of people milling around, everyone with their banners. There were two 160m banners made for the event with people holding on. Sporadically they would wave it around and chant a little.

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Here we are giving the banner-waving and occasional chant a go haha.

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I'm not going to lie to you here and say that everyone was chanting and yelling and jumping up and down non-stop. I think today made me realise that during these sort of protests there is actually a lot of just standing around.

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Understandably it's really hard to keep chanting for like an hour straight haha. And it's also really hard to co-ordinate 15,000 people.

But it was just interesting to see because in news clips and stuff, you only ever see the videos when the crowd is cheering and chanting, never clips of when they're just quiet and walking around haha. Some people were even sitting down.

Something I did find cool though was just seeing the different groups who'd come. My favourite was Grandparents Against Global Warming haha.

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And there was also this other group that, even though they were barely audible amongst all the commotion, just kept singing songs.

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There was this one person who would stand on top of the traffic lights, and here they attached a red banner to one of the lines.

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And of course there was SOUP!!! Provided by the Action Kitchens. This is Timon. I cooked with him on one of the days, and he is just an all-round top notch guy, I liked him a lot.

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After this part, the plan was that everyone would make their way to the Eiffel Tower. This was actually really really nice and a lot better than the first part. 15,000 walking through these little Parisian streets together, chants echoing down the line.

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People would stand across intersections and block cars, and it was just odd to see how only a few people could just stop all these cars.

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So one learning is that if you're going to organise a protest, make it a march. There is only so much people can do and chant if it's confined to one location. When people are marching, it feels like there is much more momentum and excitement.

When we got to the scene of the Eiffel Tower, Mr. Human and me climbed onto one of the ledges and just sat and watched the march unfolding. This was my favourite part of the whole thing. Like I said, we weren't really big on the waving banners around and yelling thing. So this was just nice to see and realise just how many people had come.

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My other favourite part was when people decorated the statues. I thought it was genius haha.

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I think this would've been another cool idea, like a co-ordinated decoration of the statues in Paris. Like not in a vandalism kind of way, but just in a nice, goofy kind of way. Putting signs into their hands, draping them with red. :)

Overall, I don't feel like I contributed that much haha. But I guess I'd rather chose to be there and show my support than not. And, at the end of the day, I realise that what you get from the protest, is what you give in. So yeah, if I'd been one of the people who'd made a huge banner and come with a big group who were all chanting together, then I think I would've felt like I'd given a lot and made a big impact.

But I was there with Mr. Human and I guess we had our own quiet way of taking it in. And I am glad I went, I learnt a lot from it and had some cool ideas. At the end of the day, I think we realise that if we really want to help the world, the way us two are going to do it is not by participating in a protest. Maybe that's one small way but I think what we learnt is that, for us, we have something else in store. :)

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Paris: Jardin D'Alice

A space I really, really want to introduce you to is Jardin D'Alice. The Garden of Alice. I gave you a brief intro into it in my post about day one but I want to go into further depth here because I've actually been back here so many times and it's probably one of my favourite places here in Paris.

Jardin D'Alice is an art space. It feels like a squat (which is basically where a group bands together to squat a building that isn't being used) but it's legal. Artists banded together to buy the entire building and it's their space, but it's also an open space.

For the climate action from December 7th - 11th, they opened it up to the public where anyone could come in and create art and banners for the upcoming D12 climate protests on December 12th.

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The theme of the D12 is "Red Lines" - all about how we're creating a red line of 2 degrees which the UN Climate Agreements can't cross.

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For me, it's been really nice going there because every time I go there, there's always people working on banners and new banners hanging everyday.

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This is one of my favourites actually haha.

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Now, for most of my time here, I've just been wandering through looking at what other groups have been doing. One of my plans of coming to Paris was to create something, but I hadn't yet figured out what.

But on Friday, the night before D12, Mr. Human and I were here and we decided we'd do a stencil. And I think this is a testament to how great the vibe is here. We asked some dude walking around if there was spare cardboard we could use and he pointed us to a big pile.

We found a spare table and some pencils lying around and started sketching ideas.

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They have all the tools you'd need here so we grabbed some razors and started work on our stencil.

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And then, when we had to start on the harder letters, someone overhead our discussion and offered us their super good personal scalpel set they'd brought, complete with different tips and all. They let us use it even after they left, saying we could just leave it near their stuff and they'd find it tomorrow, in case anyone else wanted to use it. I think that shows what kind of place this is. :)

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They also have a kitchen capable of cooking for 500+ people and they opened up their space to serve breakfast / lunch / dinner each day, on donation. Action kitchens from all over Europe have come to help out here, you can read more about it in my post on Action Kitchens.

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This has been one of my favourite spaces here - just a free, open and creative space. It's full of life, it's hearty and anyone is welcome. I really really like that.