Get Your Head Around This

They say the original Blue Marble photograph really showed humanity what a singular and precious world we have.

NASA Blue Marble

For the first time ever mankind was able to see our home in it’s entirety. To see just how isolated we really are, how unique our planet is, especially within the vast emptiness of space. And to understand just how important it is for us to stop all this fighting and destruction and work together for a better future for all.

Well now we have another unique perspective of Earth to ponder; Earth, from another planet!

Earth From Mars
both images reproduced under license courtesy of Nasa Goddard Space Flight Centre

Seen from Mars our home planet is just a tiny dot, no hint of the complexity or confusion that lay upon it’s surface. There are more stars in the Universe than there are grains of sand, and many more planets than that (ie: the ‘star’ at the centre of our solar system is the Sun), yet ours is still the only one that we have found anything close to life on. The current Mars rover Curiosity is looking for any hint that there might once have been water on Mars. If they can prove that they will be pretty certain life could once have existed there. But what will that mean to most of us? In the great scheme of things, not a lot.

Water on Mars is a long way from little green men, and really that’s what most people are interested in, the idea of meeting other intelligent species. But let’s say, against all the odds, that we found them or that they found us. Do we really think they’d be impressed by how we treat one another?

Countless astronauts have said upon seeing Earth from space that it’s hard to believe such a thing as war could exist on such a beautiful and peaceful looking place. And many of them have even dedicated their life to humanitarian missions upon their return home, so moved and changed were they by their experiences. Sometimes all we need to make sense of the world is a slight change of perspective.

As Bill Hicks once said, “It’s a round world last time I looked.” We need to stop looking at our differences and start concentrating on our similarities, both inner and outer. It’s the only way to be if we want to get where we’re going (and be ready for when the sun goes super nova in about 5 billion years!).

A Moment to Reflect

Been away for a little while; just thinkin’, and doin’, and not worryin’ about stuff too much. Went on a retreat, did some writing, been at work, done some yoga. It’s all good.

Got a few little bits to share that I hope you’ll find edifying. First up is a wee clip for the late great Mr Bill Hicks.

Wise words from a giant among men. At the end of the day, no matter what happens, it’s just a ride. Remember that.

And here’s some philosophy from an unexpected source, Chuck Lorre; producer of such TV comedies as Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory.

Always been a fan of his vanity cards, and every now and then you get a little gem like that to enjoy.

And finally, just in case you ever consider taking life too seriously, here’s a monkey on a bicycle.

Cheers. 🙂

30 Days of Kiki : day 7

day 7- a picture of someone/something that has the biggest impact on you

There are a few major influences I’d like to have mentioned – like Bill Hicks, Robert Heinlein, Alfonso Cuaron, Gandhi – but I can’t go into them all so I’ll just concentrate on two for the moment; one a someone, and one a something.

day 21 - peace

With Buddha I’m going to have to include Gandhi, as he came first in my life, and in terms of pure physical practicality he has been the most influential. (NB: If you haven’t seen Richard Attenborough’s fabulous biopic of Gandhi go see it now! It’s an absolute must see.)

Both men talked about understanding the truth about humanity, about knowing what it is to be alive. I cannot pretend I’ve even begun to get to grips with some of the concepts they have presented to me, but I have already been influenced by them in many, many ways.

It was Gandhi who helped me give up smoking, something I mentioned in Day 1, and it was the Buddha, through the Dalai Lama as portrayed in Seven Years In Tibet, who made me realise I had to become vegan.

beginning buddhism

Their knowledge and understanding is a living thing, and to experience it is to allow it in. Read the books, see the movie (at the very least they’re interesting in and of themselves) and if you don’t learn anything maybe it’s because you knew it already. 🙂


My ‘something’ is this, the geodesic dome. Propounded by the great comprehensivist Buckminster Fuller, geodesic domes are one of the strongest and most versatile ways to enclose a large space (without internal support!).

They get exponentially stronger and lighter the larger they get – for example, the domes pictured above at the Eden Project are in more danger of blowing away than they are of falling down – and when tested by the American military to see if they could withstand the high winds and extreme conditions of the Arctic, by attempting to pull them down from the inside, the testing equipment broke before the domes did.

But the most amazing concept for me is this: If you built a dome one quarter of a mile across that was a complete sphere, made out of the most light-weight materials, and you were able to seal it efficiently, the buoyancy provided by the warm air that would accumulate inside (it being a big giant greenhouse after all) would be enough to make it float! Imagine, it’s entirely possible that some time in the future we could be living in floating cities, circumnavigating the globe, true citizens of the world. Wouldn’t that be wild! 😉

Week 21: In which our hero goes offline, then goes glamping

Such an odd week this week. As well as not drinking I decided to do away with electronic distractions also; namely no internet, no DVDs and no iPod. I did allow myself some music, but no radio, and I tried to avoid listening to podcasts. Also, where possible, I left the mobile at home too. As best I could it was pretty total.

library selection

First thing I did, I read a lot. Got through three whole books in the first four days or so, as well as various bits of others. Then I started thinking. That was the point you see, without games to play, e-mails to check, and films to watch, I was leaving myself no refuge. I had to deal with my thoughts, and everything that involved.

Now I can’t go into too much detail on the general subject matter, as it ranged over many topics for a great length of time, but I can share some of the conclusion I came to. Here’s two extracts from something I wrote that pretty much sums it up nicely.

“…be centre stage in your own life rather than a bit player. And above all enjoy the life you’ve chosen, because you’ve got to do something day to day, so you may as well enjoy it, because it happening whether you do or not…”

“And remember, most of what happens to you is a construct in your head. They’re your thoughts, and opinions, and ideas; your moods and your musings; and not immutable facts. So you may as well construct a world you enjoy…”

Buddhists and Taoists will recognise the idea, it’s not original, but putting it into my own words really helped me put it into action. So that’s what I’m doing now, constructing a fun world to be in, because if I don’t, who will? 🙂

first barbecue of the summer

Also, as a consequence of not sitting online for hours each day, I got out and did more stuff. Met up with the lovely Sarah and, in an effort to enjoy the glorious sunshine, we went for a walk down by the river, had a (non-alcoholic) drink in a couple of pubs by the Thames, then went back to mine for the first barbecue of the summer. The burgers were excellent (Redwood Company) but the kebabs were a little under-done. Also I normally put some tofu marinated in BBQ sauce on there to liven them up a bit. Still, as first barbies go it did the trick!


Later in the week I was very fortunate to go ‘glamping’ (glam camping) at the surprisingly lovely Layer Marney Tower near Tiptree in Essex. I went with the Badgers, a bunch who through many years attending The Big Chill, have gotten into the habit of going on mini adventures around the place together (usually Cornwall for a bit of surfing, but we’re open to possibilities).

We are most fortunate in that one of our number is the Travel Editor for Cosmopolitan magazine (I kid you not!) so we get to enjoy the generous fruits of the many publicity driven freebies she has offered to her (God bless you Mrs Mu!).

camping cornucopia

This was by far the swankiest bit of camping I’ve ever done. A massive hut that slept 6, proper plumbing, showers and even a hot tub! I was amazed, and very pleased (I am so over normal camping). A wood burning stove provided heat and cooking facilities – vegan curries and fried breakfasts were abound – and we were quite sated by the end. A good time was had by all, and even getting lost in the fields and absolutely soaked on a poorly planned ‘stroll’ to Tiptree didn’t dampen our spirits.

The interesting bit for me was that, without the internet, I had to go old skool and do everything by phone. From finding out about the unexpected trip, to planning the meet, getting train times and information, I am so used to just having all this at my finger tips. That’s where the internet comes into it’s own, as a resource. It only becomes a problem when it turns into a distraction.

I guess that’s what I have learnt from the whole experience, to keep things in perspective – life, the Universe, and everything – to get out more and just do stuff, and that 99% of how the world is is down to how I view things and what I do about them. As the late great Bill Hicks said, “How about waking up and enjoying the life you’ve chosen?” Amen brother.

ps: I’m famous! The very lovely and super cool Rickicupcake has featured me as this weeks Ask A Vegan on her brilliant blog Seitanic Vegan Heathen Check her out when you’ve got a mo, she’s the tops and well worth the effort. Cheers Ricki for the kudos. I’m well chuffed, hahaha 🙂