Brisbane Floods 2011

Preparing for the flood – 12 January 2011

It’s been a huge few days since we first started to realise that it looked like Brisbane would be hit by another of the cyclical floods that happen every 30 to 40 years.

Brisbane is at the end of the Brisbane River, a long, slow moving, meandering brown waterway that drains much of the country from the Great Dividing Range to the west and into the north. As noted by John Oxley as the first explorer in 1823 when he sailed upstream to where Brisbane now sits, the river has no watershed to keep the flow constant but relies on rainfall from it’s catchment. This inevitability leads to periods of low flow where the river becomes a tidal stream washing upstream on the high tide and downstream on the low tide, much like we’ve had for the last 20 years of drought. He noted from the rotting vegetation high on Spring Hill and Kangaroo Point that this natural choke between these high points must cause massive floods during high rainfall.

Flood Waters

Water Creeping Up My Street

John Oxley is basically correct and it seem that the cycle of this flood is based on the La Nina oceanic temperature phenomena where the water temperature warms causing greater precipitation, including cyclones which can impact on Brisbane as happened in the 1974 flood. This cycle has lead to minor and more occasional major floods in 1865, 1893, 1931, 1974 and now 2011.

I remember well, as a 14 year old in Toowoomba, watching the black and white television images of the massive destruction and flooding that was the Brisbane flood of 1974, wondering what it would be like to experience that event, and yes even wondering of how exciting it might be to be involved – Now I know.

On Monday the 10 January 2011 a slow moving trough had settled over the catchment of the Brisbane River dumping rain on the already soaked area that had seen an unusually high rainfall. The long ten year drought had well and truly broken and now the dams were fall and spilling, a vast change from when there was but 25% in them just a few years ago. How good was it to now not to be on water restrictions and able to use water freely but this was getting ridiculous now, with rain soaked ground causing each new drop to run off filling the flood mitigation percentages of the dams and swelling the streams.

Then the unthinkable happened, something that no one has ever heard or seen before. My home town of Toowoomba high on the range at 340m above sea level, sat in a place where the dense moist air rose, chilled and dumped it’s contents on the escarpment and on Toowoomba itself. It was as if God had emptied a bucket on the town, filling the creeks, flash flooding the shops, sweeping away everything in it’s path including cars, shipping containers and people. Sadly two people died when they were trapped in their vehicles by this surging wall of water. This is what they had to deal with in the Toowoomba Flood

Then it got worse…

The water that was dumped on Toowoomba flows west to the Darling Downs causing flooding in many smaller towns, some for the second time in a fortnight but what happened to the east was of biblical proportions of horror. Continue reading

Society Fast – The Experiment Continues

Its been a long time now, as a matter of fact it’s been 16  months since I decided on an experiment, just for one week.

Back in a previous post I mentioned that I wanted to try something, to see how it might go,  just for the hell of it.  To just opt out somewhat from the expectations of society.  I called it a society fast, to not buy into the things that society says that you have to do.

Well that week back in March of last year went okay and my world didn’t end. I still did what needed to be done when things needed to be done and I was able to do whatever I wanted to do as I felt inspired.  So I kept doing it, the society fast.  Doing what I wanted to do as I wanted to do it.

Hanging with Friends in Buenos Aires

And guess what?  I haven’t stopped.  I haven’t found the need or desire to buy back into what society says that I’m supposed to do.  What am I talking about I hear you say?

I’m taking about how our Western Society says that we have to do certain things, like relationships, work,  income, career, worry and stress about tomorrow and how it’s going to be when I’m old and I don’t have enough money in my retirement fund, how at my time of life I should be in this certain type of lifestyle, all of that sort of thing.

That’s why I started the society fast to have a break for just one week away from that and see what would happen and I haven’t stopped.  That was 16 months ago and it has been some of the best times of my life because I’m living in the moment and just doing what is right for now and it keeps working.

Now before you think I have it easy, that’s not my point.  In the last 16 months I have worked for income in an employed situation for only 6 weeks and earned $12,000.  I’ve additionally done a little audio and video recording and editing work and earned another couple of thousand dollars but that is all.  I have been leaning on my credit card and I’m slowly going backwards at about $1000/mth but I’m fine with that.  I live a very lean life and I have everything I need and desire little more.

For a long time I was looking for something to put my attention to, some strong focus and direction that society says that you have to have to be a member of this society.  That was causing me grief and one of the reason for starting this society fast, to have some chill time away from that stress. Continue reading

End of 2009 – Brilliant

Another year wraps up and I’ve been reflecting on it lately.

Back when I came up with the idea and started Your Story I commented on how the years were all the same and the disappointment that there wasn’t any real change from year to year, of my desire to shake that up. Now it’s now been nearly 3 years.

I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing when I started on this path those few years ago but I knew that I needed to start and see where it would go. The first 15 years of my adult life were wonderful years with a great marriage, adventure and achievements but after that it was particularly tough. Now I can say that of the last 15 years since my marriage went south these last 3 years have been the best, most rewarding and enlightening years.

When my daughter was little I used to say that I was running a one off, 18 year experiment in parenting and I’d get back with the results on whether I achieved anything when she is 18. Now that she is I think that experiment has been very successful but that is another story. Just the same as parenting, this last year I’ve been running another experiment in not planning, not goal setting but

Ian in Buenos AIres

simply going where the moment takes me. It started way back in May when I decided, just for one week to have a Societyfast. What could go wrong for one week of not buying into all the stuff of society?

As it turns out after that week I decided not to reconnect with the system and that’s the way it’s been all year since then. Now I’ve always done things somewhat my own way but this was really ramping it up. I have for the majority of the year slept, worked, danced and travelled as it’s seemed right in the moment. I’ve done my best not to project into the future and reminisce on the past. I have at times been far from perfect from achieving this and I have sometimes bought into fear and sentimentality but generally I’ve been able to reconnect after a time and just enjoy the moment. And what wonderful moments I’ve had.

In the last year I’ve only worked about 10 weeks which has caused me to live very lean but my life is wonderful and rich with friends old and new. I have a wonderful social life thanks to my dancing and all that Tango has given me. I’ve travelled yet again, this time to Buenos Aires. I’ve worked for a time with an artist and on Narnia – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader where I made some wonderful things. The podcast is evolving and I’ve managed to meet and get a whole new level of guests to come onto the show. My skills have continued to improve both with audio and video while some people, though only a few, seem to like what I’m producing and keep coming back.

But most importantly I’ve discovered that if I take the time, to take no time, to just be in the moment and make decisions on what needs to be done now and follow that quiet feeling inside me that says that I should do … right now it all seems to work out. Leave my petty ego out of it and be content with whatever happens whether it’s others or my doing doesn’t matter. Instead of worrying I’m starting to have an attitude that something will happen, it’s just that I don’t know what it is. This is creating a new state of wonder, where I don’t know what is going to happen but like watching a film I’m curious and wonder what will evolve. Amazingly it’s working out different and much better than I could imagine.

Yes, what will come of the New Year. I wonder because I have no idea.

Lets find out…

Work – Is it an addiction?

I’ve finished work a while back on the Narnia movie again. I was initially on for a month, which is where I wrote the previous post, then off for a month, then back on for 2.5 weeks and now yet again I’ve not worked for a few weeks. Since I finished up I’ve been thinking about

Book Stands for the Movie

Book Stands for the Movie

this crazy life of mine and how it flies in the face of the Western method of work, whether it’s valid or irresponsible of me, if I’m burning my bridges for my future or if maybe I may actually have something here.

When I finished I knew I had to do the whole readjust again back into the mental head-space of just hanging out doing my thing again. It’s very easy to plug into work, as once I’m on a Job there is a first morning where I get up and head off to another first day and from then on it’s routine. The longer I work in that one place the more ingrained the routine becomes and the more comfortable it all is. That is until the routine becomes boredom. Then another type of stress starts where I question my existence and waste of life in that environment and yet again I have to leave to find myself.

That is very much the way it is for most of the permanent work that I’ve done and the great advantage of working contract is that normally I can stick it out long enough until the project is complete which hopefully isn’t too long and then I get the change that I need. So film work often suits me well in this regard.

Finishing and readjusting to no work is not as easy as compared to starting as I don’t have the distractions that work gives me from what I call the “Void” or “Nothing”. However there are two ways to approach this.

  1. Get another Job is what everyone asks and expects. In a lot of ways that is the easiest option. But for me after all these years of doing the variations on this lifestyle I know that it will go the way that I’ve outlined above. Normally six months and I’m a spent force, bored and ready to move on. It even tends to manifest in physical disturbances in my body brought on by the low but permanent levels of stress.
  2. Embrace the Void. Now it’s not exactly Nothing. It’s not as though I wake up sit down and do nothing until I go back to sleep that night as I have my personal projects and day to day order to keep functioning so there is a whole range of activities and a constant supply of new and interesting opportunities turning up daily to keep me active. However compared to the 40 hour week, 48 week year work model it appears to be a void that requires filling.

The challenges with embracing the Void is that there is no order projected onto the future, no planning and no surety. It’s very much living in the moment and taking the opportunities as they arrive on a moment by moment time frame. That flies in the face of the Western model of how to get things done. I’m supposed to have lists, goals, plans for what I want to achieve and a step by step approach to achieving them. I’ve read the books on goal setting and that’s the way they say to achieve what your after. Sure that’s the model and if you have a specific goal that is what you do to achieve it, I get that.

But what if you haven’t the goal at the moment?

Continue reading


Over the last few weeks I’ve been listening to quite a bit of some Eckhart Tolle lectures and mountain_streaminterviews and it’s yet again got me thinking about the stuff that I struggle with in my life. For those who don’t know, Eckhart wrote the Power of Now which I read just after I went and did a Vipassana meditation retreat back in 2000.

The things that are outlined with both the Power of Now and Vipassana is that with our constant mind chatter we miss out on living in the moment. Therefore if we could live not thinking about the future or past but stayed present in the moment we would have a much more real experience.

So… I’ve decided to have an experiment. Just for one week, (after all how much damage can I do in one week and I currently have a lifestyle suited to it) I’m going to do all that I feel inspired to do in the moment. I will eat, sleep, drink and work as the moment takes me and I’ll see where I am at the end of the week. I’ll have a SocietyFast. No big deal. I’ll still do the things that I have planned if they are appropriate or I will respectfully contact others if affected to inform them of the changes.

Let’s see what happens… Maybe nothing… Maybe something…

Serial Monogamy, Open Relationships and Polyamory

This has been reposted from Your Story where some comments are available and pre dated to reflected the time period in which it was written.

Relationships, we want them but how do we do them?

LoveIn a previous post about how relationships collapse I suggest that we move onto new relationships in a way that is serial monogamy. I suggest that it’s necessary to realise that all relationships end and it’s the disappointment of that, based on the expectations that they last for ever, that causes the suffering.

My suggestion is to come to terms with the fact that it ends, enjoy it while it lasts, grieve when it ends, heal and then move on.

Another aspect is that within the Western view of marriage we expect our partner to be all things in every way for us. It’s natural, especially as when we connect and in the serotonin haze that is created in the first flush of meeting someone, we think they are perfect, the one, our soulmate. Then they change don’t they?

Maybe we change the way we view them!Either-way we find that they aren’t everything to us in all situations. So we become dissatisfied try to change them or compromise ourselves but we’re not satisfied.

Who said that the person you marry has to be your everything, especially in the intimate personal aspects of a relationship?

Oh sorry!

The system said that!

Well guess what the system is wrong. We all get things that are important to us from other people and places, physical, emotional, spiritual and sexual. We have friends that give us things that we don’t get from our partners and within a marriage it’s accepted that we can have these relationships to fulfill us and round us out as humans. Pragmatically we allow our partner to do things that we may not quite approve of because it’s seen as good for the relationship and based on power and survival needs of the family. As the dependence on the other changes through the constant change of the relationship then the barely tolerated behavior becomes a relationship threatening behavior and the slow slide to separation commences.

The conflict is not so much in the behavior itself but in the non acceptance of your partner needing to be this way as their form of human existence. To relate to someone you must accept them as they are. If you have an issue it is fine for you to communicate it to them, even to ask for them to change but it is 100% up to them to change and to do it happily with no compromise to themselves. If they can’t or won’t change you must accept it as it is, happily with no compromise to yourself. If this can’t be done there will be conflict. Either way it’s about acceptance either a new or the old dynamic. So now everyone is happy with each others behavior and all can live in bliss.

But what if I can’t resolve a behaviour by my partner? Continue reading

Relationships Collapse, then we have Serial Monogamy. Situation Normal!

This has been reposted from Your Story where some comments are available and pre dated to reflected the time period in which it was written.

Humans are funny animals aren’t we. Lets look at relationships.

We all want to connect, to be with someone, someone in our life at whatever a relationship means to the individual. Some only want someone for the occasional hang out or friendship or maybe just a sex partner. Others want someone for everything to share hobbies, holidays, work, sex, family/friends, everything! But I think it is a very rare individual that is truly happy to be always alone and to live in isolation as is shown by the fact that the ultimate form of punishment is solitary confinement. I feel that people who genuinely enjoy their own company and aren’t retreating from some pain or suffering still enjoy friendships and the interaction of society. There may be exceptions but I have yet to meet one and if they are out there I’m sure they are extremely rare.

Considering how much we yearn to form community and want to be with others, the amount of effort we put into finding someone special, a soulmate it’s interesting how poorly we do it. Our communities breakdown into tribal conflict and our personal relationships breakdown after a time despite our expectations that they are to remain forever. We want it, we crave it, we have the drive and the systems, biologically and intellectually to connect but we don’t seem to have the mechanism to make it work forever. There seems to be some conflict between expectations and outcome!

Now I must come clean… Yes, I’m also talking about myself. I’ve done the euphoria, the first flush of relationships, I’ve been well and truly beaten with the smitten stick a few times and it feels great. I’ve moved into the relationship with the expectation that it will last forever, to be two elderly people holding hands in the street going through life together. I’ve also had the disappointment pain and hurt as the relationships have ended and dealt with being divorced and a single parent. So I know what it is like and I still want to connect with others.

The problem I feel isn’t that we want relationships, that’s fine. The problem isn’t that relationships end either. The problem stems from the conflict that we feel that relationships should form and not end. Why shouldn’t they end? Maybe having a relationship end is a good thing, an opportunity for something new.

I can hear you… “NOOOO….”

Why do we form relationships? We have a yearning for companionship, sure. We have a biological urge to procreate, sure. We want to form an alliance for strength and power, sometimes that occurs also.

Here in the West we have a divorce rate of between 40% and 60% and I often notice of the remainder the vast majority of relationships are challenging and definitely not what they would call ideal so the percentage of relationships that are as the individuals had hoped for is probably in the single figures. Cast your mind over all of the relationships that you know and consider how many are wonderful and fully functional, even then are you sure, as we have all seen the perfect couple separate.

If you were about to get on a plane or boat and you knew that your chance of surviving unscathed was five or ten percent would you board? These are our odds as we go blindly into marriage wishing that we will be different. Remember research shows that the stress of divorce is similar to that of someone close dying.

So my thought is to take from the old saying “it better to love and lose than never to love at all”.

Considering the odds we would be better off assuming that relationships will end and to enjoy the ride on the way, embracing every moment, as we can’t assume that things will last as ultimately they won’t. After all it will change and it will end, it’s either separation or death we just don’t want to think about it. So get over it and get on with it, unless you want to be by yourself and miserable.

But this isn’t the way we are told it’s supposed to be. Find your soulmate, fall in love, marriage, kids, house and they live happily ever after. Right! Sorry, maybe for the rare few but generally it doesn’t seem to work like that.

Lets go back a few hundred thousand years or so when the human animal is walking around the savanna of ancient Africa. We are living in a small tribe of ten to fifty individuals. Many of us are interrelated, occasionally someone new joins to add to the mix. One day two people look across the camp fire and something stirs in them. Attraction is there, the primal urge says to each that this would make a good combination for children and after some negotiation it’s on and we have a new member of the tribe. The mother along with the rest of the tribe raises the child and the father is there as support doing the provider thing for the tribe and offspring but able to drift about. The mother is basically bound to the child from conception till about four when it is independent enough to support itself somewhat. Sometime during this due to the pressures of the practical life attention moves away from the partner and others are noticed, attraction kicks in again and a new coupling is formed and the cycle starts again. One woman has mixed her genes with a few men and one man has mixed his with multiple women but they are still within the one tribe so they are still around all raising the children providing for the group and living within one large multiple person marriage called a Tribe.

Now if this situation is correct it lasted for a long time and would have been successful or else some thing like monogamy would have come along. But monogamy has come along! No, looking at the mix of human genetics it’s been stated that one in ten people send a fathers day card to the wrong person and that is the way it has been for all of human history! Monogamy is a myth and we’re not designed for it. In the Selfish Gene Richard Dawkins lays out his argument that it is not even about creating new people but about replicating genes and that it’s all about gene mixing, so one partner is not as efficient as multiple partners for gene mixing.

So why don’t we just go at it like rabbits with everyone and spread our genes wider than we do. Why do we want to form relationships and communities as we do?

Power and survival is why. A group is stronger than an individual and resources can be shared more efficiently. No one person has to do everything as there are others to do for them through the group as they also do. Within a partnership a stronger bond is formed to aid coupling, child bearing and rearing but after a few years the partner bond is less important as the tribe takes over the role as the child integrates into the tribe then the individuals move their attraction to someone new.

In our traditional Western Society we see this. They meet, hook up, fall in love and marry. That takes a year or two. A child is conceived and raised to about four. Then things get rocky start to break down and the couple separates. About seven years give or take a few. Ever heard of the seven year itch? Maybe philandering is more natural than we think.

A lot of people don’t separate, or play up, sure but are they still completely in the relationship like they were in those wonderfully heady early years? Mostly no.

So why stay together? For the same reasons as before Power and Survival because we don’t have the tribe to support us now. A couple no matter how dysfunctional the relationship is, has some strengths of support and assistance that an individual doesn’t have in the raising of the child and maintaining the survival of the genes.

People have known this for a long time. Until the mid 1700’s only the nobles in Europe were married and it wasn’t the necessary thing for the lower classes to do. Even then it wasn’t about love it was about power and prestige. Couples weren’t married, families were Wed. Couples/Families wed together to consolidate estates, form alliances and build power bases. Once a couple of children had been produced and the linage of the power secured the couple went their own way with matters of the heart and had affairs, lovers, concubines and all matter of flings. This still happens today. Look at the British Royals for a case in point.

Many cultures have arranged marriages and many of them last a long time as they know the rules, that it isn’t about love but about the big picture of survival of the group. Where arranged marriages are frowned on as in the West, where we have the utopian picture of love based marriage it still happens, just more subtle as often people are introduced within ethnic, family or social groups and it is only the illusion of freedom to find love but the restriction is to find it within the specific grouping. So the power remains local.

So the 50’s dream of the nuclear family was always doomed but we expect it to survive only because we have such a short life-span and limited history that comes with it. If only we were to look at the longer human history instead of just a couple of generations as we have seen things are different. We have been sold the story to such an extent that we believe it. I’m not sure why we were spun this story but I’m sure it’s something to do with keeping us working and consuming for the system as we know it to work. I’ll get back to you about that one.

So marriage doesn’t work, not even monogamy, what then? Lets look at what we are already doing.

We find, love, connect, separate… then we find, love, connect, separate… then we find, love, connect, separate. Well this is called serial monogamy. One committed relationship until completion then move onto another. That’s what most people have done, not just with multiple marriages but the relationships before settling into the supposed permanent relationship.

It starts with dating in the teen years where it’s seen as ok to cruise through a few relationships, not too many, then to settle on The One. Fancy that, we expect to have half a dozen immature relationships then miraculously find our soulmate and be content with that for the next sixty years. Not really surprising that it’s rarely achieved. However maybe the way in which we date is the practice for the way that we are supposed to do it. The way we start in our youth is the way of the human relationship dynamic, to hook up and then move. We practice with dating then we mature to more substantial relationships but ultimately there is a use by date and we move on. So lets just admit it, that’s what we all do!

It’s the belief that it is wrong to relate like this and the hope that the latest relationship is the one that will last, despite the evidence, that keeps us behaving like this. I think serial monogamy is completely functional if both parties accept that it is like this and accept that things will change and then when it does it will be time to move on to a new relationship. By going in with your eyes open the devastation of the separation won’t eventuate as it’s always expected and the appreciation of spending what time you have together is increased as you are aware that the end is inevitable.

With a mature attitude this news is only good and the relationship is enjoyed fully in the moment and the suffering of the separation is diminished and maybe in parting a permanent long term new form of relationship is formed. With this completed and all accepting the situation all move on and if all stay connected harmoniously the tribe is supported and the circle of participants grow. Giving support and power to the group, for the good of all.