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Current blog: Pablo Garuda
Old blog (just a few posts]: Watching & thinking
My oldest blog posts (before I chose a proper blog site) are below:
This is Chris Watkins' page - telling you a little about me, what I'm doing, and where I'm doing it.
I'm a utilitarian, social liberal, green, yoga-practising, Wikipedian development engineer and Indonesia-phile with an advanced case of wanderlust who holds a naturalistic worldview with Buddhist sensibilities.
I plan never to grow up and be responsible. Being a responsible nice guy has only caused me problems. While I believe in compassion and being a positive force in the world, I've learnt to be careful not to be pressured by the expectations of other people.
I was born in the dim dark pre-Wikipedia days of 1970. I've become very involved with editing Wikipedia. I grew up - kind of - spent too long at university. The first four years were the worst... but I then studied water and sanitation engineering (aka public health engineering) at a different uni and loved it.
Where I am
(As of Feb 2007) I'm back in Sydney, so my mobile phone is working now (same number).
April 06: I'm back in Sydney. Escaped the Nimbin vortex. Said goodbye to my herbal friends, my mentally ill friends, my trance-party friends, and my drug-dealer friends. If I'd been on drugs (or didn't have things I wanted to do with my life) it would have been even harder to escape. Plenty of aimless people in Nimbin show no sign of escaping.
There are decent and interesting people in Nimbin. There's a strong level of environmental concern. Although the majority have probably a greater negative impact than a city dweller (little recycling, sprawling residences...), there are also permaculture gardens (notably Djanbung, where I spent some time), and groups such as Earth Makers & Rainbow Power which are doing good & creative things. I'll write something about the drug culture some time... but my hands are taking a lot of abuse from my Wikipedia editing.
Hard to say when I will leave Australia - I've had ear problems for years and have just found I might need to have something done to them. That could hold me up.
March 06: Still in Nimbin... (apart from some time up the road in Uki, on the nearby coast, and visiting the rellies on the Gold Coast). Something about this place, always keeps me here longer than planned. I came here to finish up some business (closing my export business). Actually I've got a lot done here: I've been doing yoga daily & feeling better for it; I've been reading about history, culture, religion and sustainability (Guns, Germs and Steel, Stasiland and Nine Parts of Desire were all excellent); not to mention a few novels (a Danish novel, Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow, sounded girly but was actually very good); my Indonesian has improved a lot, as I'm reading an Indonesian language book by Johan Silas on urban planning in Indonesia; and the Appropriate technology-related articles in Wikipedia are making progress. But I haven't been so good at doing actual work... in future, once I've wound up this import business, I'm be far more careful about what kind of jobs I actually commit myself to.
It's been a good time here in Nimbin, but I'm looking forward to leaving. The general level of weirdness is high. But I just discovered someone else who actually doesn't believe that someone has invented a way to run a car on water and has been shut up by the men in black. So I'm not the only mostly sane person here. There is a lot of belief in weird ideas & especially conspiracy theories around here. But considering Nimbin's famous for its use of cannabis, the only partial hands-off approach of the police, and the many mentally ill who self-medicate with cannabis and who come here because of the tolerance they find here... paranoia isn't a surprise. --02:57, 17 March 2006 (UTC)
January 06: Nimbin, aka hippy-ville. Have been on the North Coast, New South Wales since late Dec 2005, finishing up some business stuff - no, not marijuana-related. I'm one of the few people in Nimbin who isn't involved with marijuana in some way. Returning to Sydney late Jan 2006, to catching up with people & tie up loose ends before heading o/s.
Where I'm going
So many places to see... East Timor and Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, India, Khazakstan, Turkey... I'll have 4 main activities:
- Working on Wikipedia, focusing on the appropriate technology for water and sanitation. This can be an excellent and comprehensive resource, but it will take a lot of work.
- Volunteer development work, particularly in the above areas. I'm a member of Engineers Without Borders (Australia).
- Buying handicrafts and textiles and sending them to my customers in Australia (and anywhere else I can find customers). Shawls and wooden elephant statues will be among the main sellers.
- Teaching English as a foreign language. Ideally at university.
The Wikipedia one will be ongoing, and the others will depend where I am. If I need money I'll teach English in Taiwan. Later on I want to teach English in Prague - that way I can see Europe when I have time off.
China is off my list. I'll visit there, but I've cancelled my plan to work there, having discovered that they block the Wikipedia website. I would find it stifling to live in a place with so little freedom of expression, but more importantly I wouldn't be able to work on Wikipedia articles such as Appropriate technologyW & Category:Appropriate technologyW. This might be an issue with Vietnam as well. -- 01:19, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
I want to do a Vipassana meditation course - probably when I go to South-East Asia. I've heard good things of them, though it's quite challenging. 10 days of silence. It seems like a genuine service, rather than an attempt to convert people to following a guru. -- 04:00, 24 January 2006 (UTC)
What's caught my attention recently:
- Khan Abdul Ghaffar KhanW
What's been happening
I love swimming in the creeks while here in Nimbin. The water is cool, and there is some beautiful wildlife. Swimming at 7:30 one morning, near Rainbow Retreat where I stay, I passed a water dragonW, then swam around the corner where I saw a duck let itself get washed down the rapids (if penguins go tobogganing, why shouldn't ducks shoot the rapids for fun?). While doing backstroke on my return to my clothes, a bird flashed by quite close. I turned to see a small, beautiful flash of bright purplish-blue. I can't describe the color, but it was vivid and striking. As it landed in a tree and flitted about, I caught a glimpse of a long narrow beak, before it dived from a height of 3 m into the water. I think it was most likely an azure kingfisher.
Not all the wildlife holds this much fascination for me. There was nude male human singing in falsetto when I went for a dip yesterday. Thankfully there was room enough for me to maintain a good distance away. Not that I mind - I'd rather listen to amateur singing than to people complaining. And as he showed no sign of entering my personal space I wasn't too bothered by the nudity (it would be hypocritical if I was). --
I went to a music festival at Tenterfield called Exodus, January 13-16. Some good music, some good times, but it was a bit boring. I heard others say that the "vibe" was different this year and it was much less international, so it wasn't just me.
A lot of the people there would identify with the Rainbow FamilyW (aka tree hugging hippies). Much like NimbinW, where I am now. While I find they're largely decent and genuine people, with a friendliness and compassion that I really appreciate, I find it hard to relate to people who are really into astrology; who eat organic food yet smoke unfiltered tobacco and take all sorts of mind-altering chemicals; and who care about the environment yet drive their cars hundreds of km to attend a festivals where diesel generators run 24 hrs a day. Not meaning to be too harsh - it's just not where I belong.
But on the topic of the festival: Why not at least use a battery and inverter setup? And they even had electric water heaters in the showers, run by diesel generator! A very inefficient setup. I think I'll write to the organizers with these suggestions; also that they organize and promote the use of buses and car pools to and from the festival, especially from the main hippy hotspots of Byron Bay and Nimbin.
I don't mean to be too harsh - they're just acting like ordinary, resource-hogging, polluting Australians. I just would have expected better. And I went by car, with limited success in car-pooling (got a passenger for the return trip). But I'll be more circumspect about these festivals in future.
--03:08, 17 January 2006 (UTC)
I went to school with a girl called Sophie Heathcote, and we starred together in the year 11 production of Guys and Dolls. Okay, she starred and I had a speaking part. One line. But I knew her for two years and she was a nice girl and a decent person, so I was sad to hear that she has just died of skin cancer. --01:19, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
I've spent a few days on the Gold Coast, visiting my sister. Saw my half-sister & her daughter, 12, & son, 10. My niece was amused when my sister corrected something I said. Still acting like sister & brother.
Mostly however, I don't see much of my siblings. Not spending Christmases with my brothers and sister reduces the chance of homicide. --01:50, 9 January 2006 (UTC)
Christmas was sangria in Nimbin - very relaxing, pleanty of time for reading and swimming in the creek. New Year was a midnight swim in the tea-colored waters of Lake Ainsworth in Lennox Head, and a few days of bodysurfing and windsurfing. Meeting interesting people from Israel, Slovenia, Germany, the USA and elsewhere. Photos to come. --07:08, 5 January 2006 (UTC) (Later note: photos never came, due to technical glitches - must get my own camera soon.)
Sydney, 2005 I moved out of my place in Sydney - a step closer to leaving Australia and going traveling & working overseas. I stayed with my friend [www.geocities.com/davidbofinger David] for a couple of months. He was extremely kind and hospitable. He's also an extremely sharp thinker and very knowledgeable, and I feel smarter from having spent this time with him.
Un-Australian I was born in Australia and spent most of my life there, but I'm an alien. I'm un-Australian. I don't like beer, I don't aspire to a house in the suburbs, I believe that our treatment of vulnerable people is more important than interest rates (and I don't believe what our government tells us about interest rates anyway). Although I like women, I choose not to engage in the standard Australian mating ritual (go to a pub or club, get drunk and hope to get laid). I get along better with Germans and Canadians than with most Australians and I sometimes feel I have more in common with Indonesians. The Wimar Witoelar type of Indonesian, not the Abu Bakar Bashir type.