Stellar Chariot

By Arun Neelakandan

Site Update

Sorry about the lack of posts recently. I have an excuse!

My site is powered by some blogging software called Octopress. After I updated some software that Octopress depends on, things broke and therefore, that has put me off blogging for many months.

I’ve now reinstalled Octopress, and changed my theme — because I had to, because the old theme didn’t work with the new version of Octopress as well as I would’ve liked.

This current theme is the Readify theme, which I’ve just tweaked with the ‘Stellar Chariot’ colours. I would like to create my own theme again, but I just don’t have the time. I figured doing something is better than nothing.

An Opinion on Opinions

It seems that every man, woman and canine has an opinion nowadays. Often, we’re pressured to have them, despite not grokking the topic at hand. Not opining is a matter of unworthiness. What do you mean you don’t have an opinion? Everyone’s got one!

I say, how can you have one — especially so easily? Even if you do, what makes your opinion so valuable?

We swim in a sewer of unverified factoids, and I for one, find it difficult and oftentimes exhausting to see through through the muck. In order to formulate an opinion that is reasonable, I must filter and investigate this effluent — and it’s a stinky job, I tell you.

Is this just the Dunning-Krueger effect at play?

Lemon Prank

Last year, my friends and I filmed a little stunt/prank outside Town Hall, Sydney. Check it out:

‘Saturnic’ by Rotaris

Here’s a recent tune I made.

An ominous soundscape experiment. Tinged with pulsing industrial noises with an other-wordly vibe.

On Friendship and Shizz

I had a crappy day yesterday. I came home to find that I’ve been fined $405 dollars for running through a red light a couple weeks ago and given 3 demerit points (for those of you unfamililar with demerit points, it’s akin to a ‘strike’ against your name — it’s a penalty points scheme). What stings is that I didn’t do it on purpose. I ran the red because I was wholly oblivious to it, driving home late at night, vision distorted behind a aqueous lens of tears. I ran the red because I was emotional and teary at the time.

I wanted to talk to someone about it, but didn’t know who. At times when I’m emotional and irrational (they naturally go hand-in-hand), it feels like I have a great many acquaintances, but not many friends I can turn to. The people you can just call up randomly, without a particular agenda, for no other purpose but just to chat about something tangible.

I do have a few friends I could’ve turned to, but there is this sweeping sense of bother, and pride, that butts in and prevents me from doing so. To talk about shit that’s bothering me. Why is it that I’m happy to share about mundane, seemingly insignificant rubbish on Twitter etc but not something that is all-too-important and meaningful? But maybe this is it. Maybe I just answered my own question.

My family know about the driving offence, but I didn’t really talk to them about the true nature of it all. Shit bit silly y’all.

I think about the ‘friends’ I’ve had over my life. I can’t help but think about how many were and are simply friends of convenience. Calling upon help when they needed assistance (“can you help me out with this assignment dude?”), but then not engaging on any other level or time. Then I wonder whether I’m the same kind of person — taking advantage of people when needed and then forgetting them later. Yes, I can recall some instances when I’ve done this myself — but it feels as though I haven’t been as bad as the others.

Anyway, this is just rambling. I almost didn’t publish this post. But you know what? I’ve decided that I should be authentic and honest.


Author’s Note

This post was originally written on 28th August, 2013 at approximately 8:34pm.

Good Enough

I have an issue. I get stuck when working on personal projects because I think my work isn’t good enough. I try desperately to overcome this molehill but seldom do I succeed.

This very website drew its first breath years later than it should’ve – plainly because whatever design, whatever domain name I conceived, was simply not good enough. I must’ve gone through hundreds of domain name ideas and several design mockups, hundreds of thumbnail sketches until I finally decided to set aside my perfectionist tendencies and just fucking do it. In fact, when this website was launched, I picked an existing website design/theme and went with it. Yes, I know it’s not great even now, but it’s better than nothing. You know what else? I knew well during my dilly-dallying that the content mattered more than a shiny, bespoke design that virtually no one is going to bestow much attention to – yet I still delayed things, paralysed through overanalysis and outwardly ridiculous thresholds for quality.

Notably though, I’ll swallow the bittersweet pill of imperfection if there’s a deadline – but only if the deadline is set by a somewhat impersonal entity such an acquaintance, employer or university/school. Then not only do I get shit done and on time, but with a high calibre of output (or so I’m often told). What upsets me is my incongruence in applying this deadline strategy: If I’m doing work for a close friend or family member, then I’m often afflicted by the disease of oh, it’s okay if I can stretch the deadline get a better result or they’ll forgive me even if I take a long time and actually finish up procrastinating. Mo’ time, mo’ problems y’all.

So what prompted me to write this blog post? I was trying to compose a rap song and got stuck after a few bars (lines) and I couldn’t go past this sticking point. I wrote many other lines independently, but couldn’t stitch the other parts with the part I was flummoxed with. Nothing sounded right or good enough. After what felt like an age (I swear I felt my beard grow a few millimetres), I tapped out, mentally exhausted and frustrated about why I couldn’t break through.

Why am I writing this blog post? Because I haven’t written anything in a while.

P.S. This is all despite me having steadily shed my perfectionist inclinations since the mid-noughties.

P.P.S: I actually wrote this post on 28th December 2013 at approximately 6:15pm. I’m only publishing it now (7th May 2014) after months of neglect. Oh, the irony!

Guest Post - Hugs

Guest Post: By Adrian Boyd

Hugs, there’s nothing quite like them. They can be used to communicate hello/goodbye, acceptance into a group, a desire to establish a friendship or a romantic interest. Hugs can also have meaning on all sorts of other levels, depending on the precise way the hug is delivered and accepted. Within an established relationship, hugs are can be a very effective way of communicating support, comfort, or desire.

The level of intimacy/good feels/acceptance communicated by a hug is connected to the timing of the hug, the intensity of the hug, and how relaxed the participants are during the hug. However, there needs to be a least some trust before both parties will enjoy a successful hug. This is because the very action of hugging requires a certain amount of vulnerability. How comfortable you are with a person hugging you would seem to be directly related to your relationship with them. Are they a friend, a lover or part of your family/group? If so you’re probably open to some sort of hugging.

Kittens hugging

Personally, I love hugs. To me hugs say so much in an instant that thousands of words would never come close to. I can remember once on a field trip, one of my fellow companions came up to a group of us and gave the girl next to me a hug. It went on for a good 20 seconds or so. I remember being jealous both of them; I wanted to be the one hugging someone. It was such an overwhelming urge. Even now, if I haven’t been hugged for a while I miss it.

Hugs have been around for as long as physical contact has been used to communicate, probably as long as we’ve been wondering around in groups. Physical connection is important in all societies but hugging is not always the primary form. Humans as a general rule seem to do it instinctively. However, it wasn’t until the last fifty years or so that we’ve have discovered what actually happens when people embrace.

In 1958, after noticing the attachment of baby monkeys towards the cloth covering the floor of their cages, a experiment was set up to determine the importance of physical affection. The baby monkeys were separated from their mothers soon after birth and were looked after by two artificial mothers. One mother provided food and the other provide touch. The baby monkeys overwhelming attached themselves to the ‘mum’ that provided touch. This indicates just how important emotional connection is for health.

Subsequent, research has shown that hugging reduces blood pressure, decreases heart rate, reduces cortisol (stress hormone), and increase oxytocin. Oxytocin is sometimes called the ‘bonding hormone’ due to the important part it has to play in promoting a sense of intimacy (Light 2005). Physical touch including hugging has been shown to activate parts of the brain associated with increasing attentiveness, decreasing depression and enhancing immune function (Field 2010). Hugging has even been linked with pain alleviation!

Types of hugs

Pound Hug or Bro Hug

Strong, large on football field about to Hug

This type of hug is typically used to show a sense of pride between two males. Often seen after various sporting achievements or when two blokes want to share a victory while still maintaining their manliness. If the hug is perceived to be too caring, the participants usually try to kill something soon after in order to protect their image. It’s predominately seen in western culture, as the rest of the world has a different perspective generally when it comes to masculinity.

The Man Hug

Manhug

Following on from the pound hug is the man hug. The man hug is a normal hug, where genitals remain as far as possible away from each of the huggers, and the hug overall is pervaded by a sense of stiffness. This is because men, even friends, in Western culture do not relax around equals. If you are a straight white man, try it sometime; hug a bro and both of you consciously relax into it. Feels uncomfortable and weird right?!

The Standard Hug

Lion Hugs Man

The hugger and huggee embrace as enthusiastically as their comfort levels allow. May last for a good 20 or 30 seconds depending on level of intimacy and length of time the parties have gone without contact. Also, used to signal the beginnings of a friendship, acceptance into a group, or a greeting/goodbye.

The Side Hug

Promoted by religious groups in the 2009, a rap song performed by Ryan Pann talked all about this non-hug hug. A side hug is a hug where the hugger throws their arm around the shoulders of the huggee and pulls them into their side. A side hug happens when both parties are too awkward to risk anything below the waist getting entangled. Ryan Pann said later that his song was satire. Yeah. Right.

Part Time Gigs

I’m happy to announce a side project I’ve put together over a few rainy days. I give you Part Time Gigs: http://www.parttimegigs.org/

You can help by giving me feedback, posting a job ad and spreading the word :)

Addressing Scotophobia

My submission for the poetry competition “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” in 2014:

I am faster than light
But none give me credit
I am the black canvas
On which you see the crescent
Meant to be together
The dirt to your shovel
I seek space as treasure
Modest, and ever so humble
Let me be clear: I am your friend
I am not your chief nemesis
I am meant to crawl into all crevices
From epilogue to genesis