Since I will not have my usual computer access for the next few weeks, I’m going to do a series of shorter posts. I thought this haiku would be a good one to start with:

Try to stay present.

Not before and not after.

All we have is now.


Today I finished reading Nicholas Nickleby, which I started reading so long ago that I don’t remember exactly when I started it, but just have a vague notion that it was around the middle of the year last year, and so I must have been reading this epic tome for about eight months, give or take a few weeks.

To be fair, it was certainly not the only book I was reading in that time – there were several Book Club books scattered throughout, and attempts to re-read The Hobbit as well as re-read Sabriel (both of which are favourites from my adolescence) – not to mention interception of my time by other pursuits, most notably Farsi and piano.

But Nicholas Nickleby is finished now – all 777 pages of it – and, because it is as masterfully written as any Charles Dickens classic, I thoroughly enjoyed it (despite what the 8-month reading of it would suggest).

[If you choose to read on, be warned there are some very minor spoilers.] Continue reading

of the heart

I was going to write something a bit more expansive today, but I heard something remarkable on the radio this morning, and thought I’d share that instead. The below piece is called 800 million heartbeats and was composed by Stuart Greenbaum. I believe this recording – by NZTrio – is the same one I heard this morning.

What is more, or at least equally remarkable is that the title of the song comes from the purported fact that most mammals have lifespans of 800-million heartbeats. The example given by the radio presenter (who I think was paraphrasing an “analysis by the composer”, which you can find online) was that hummingbirds have very rapid heart rates, and live relatively short lives. Sloths, on the other hand, have much slower heart rates, and live longer.

But humans are the exception: 800-million heartbeats would only take us into our twenties.

I think it’s cool that someone, somewhere, has measured and calculated all this. It doesn’t really matter if this is a very useful fact or not. Maybe it doesn’t even really matter if it’s actually true or not. There’s still something romantic in it, no?


I don’t think I’m a particularly clumsy person, but I suppose we all have our moments. The other week, I dropped something onto my favourite tea mug, and chipped off a bit of ceramic from the lip. The damage isn’t that terrible — the mug is very much still useable — but the missing piece is quite obvious. Continue reading

up and down

I was going to include a graph in this post but it’s of rather ignominious appearance, which is to say that it is not very pleasant to look at because there are many sharp corners on account of the high variability of my sleep patterns occasioning the graph to take many turns up and down as it traverses along the x-axis.

(It should be noted here that I’m still making my way through the last several chapters of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, who is renowned for his lengthy sentences, and whom I greatly admire as an author, and so it is inevitable that after reading any of his books for any considerable length of time, I’m bound to incorporate elements of his style of writing in my own.) Continue reading