Guest Post: Leaving on a Jet Plane.

My first memory of the airport is fragmented: seeing my cousin off to Berlin a couple of years after the fall of the wall, all I remember is a green glow emanating from Tullamarine airport (which is more than likely a figment of my imagination), playing with a plastic toy set of some kind bought for me by my grandparents at the gift shop, and the smell of The Body Shop’s cocoa butter moisturiser.

Almost fifteen years later I made my return to the terminal, my first ever flight being en route to San Francisco via Sydney as part of a US exchange program. It was scary, and a lonely trip overall, but it instilled in me the travel bug.

Twenty plane rides later, I’m hoping my next trip will be to New York for my 25th birthday in 2012. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve travelled anywhere interesting, unless you count the two hour train journey from Melbourne to my country Victorian hometown, which I don’t!

Personally, my favourite thing about travelling is the interrupted reading time; up to 20 hours on some flights! The atmosphere of the airport, with all its luxury stores, newsagents and overpriced food bars, comes in a close second, so after reading Chris Guillebeau’s “For the Love of Airports” piece on The Art of Non-Conformity, I solicited my high-school best friend, Natalie, who I remember being obsessed with aerospace travel, to write a post on her love of airports.

Airports have always been a favourite place of mine; having grown up travelling overseas every couple of years since I was an infant I have fond and happy memories of the terminals. Although it’s so large, there is somehow an atmosphere of warmth amongst the hustle and bustle at the airport. I love that you can be there any time of the day—morning, noon or night—and see so many people heading in all directions to catch flights. Just watching them, wondering where are they off to…

My favourite memory of going to an airport was probably the most disastrous start to a family holiday. It was the day before Christmas Eve and my family and I were headed to New Zealand for the holidays. We had many delays and ended up getting a free overnight stay at Tullamarine’s Travelodge Hotel in the interim. Although it was stressful and annoying for my parents, I really enjoyed all the excitement of having to shuttle our way to the hotel and knowing we would be returning to the vibrancy of the airport the next morning; anything to prolong my time there!

To me, airports symbolise many things. Often the happiness of reunions between families and friends, the enjoyment of embarking on a holiday, and the sadness of seeing someone off [Scarlett Woman note: I will be seeing my good friend April off indefinitely to Canada in a couple of weeks. I will be packing tissues]. At times, airports can be stressful, scary and unpredictable but they’re also mesmerising and intriguing to me. I could sit in a cosy departure lounge all day with my face pressed against the warm glass, marvelling at just how those big airbuses get off the ground. Sometimes the airport is more thrilling than the journey, because there’s always so much to look forward to: café food, duty free shopping and my favourite of all, the smell of aeroplane fuel! Strange, I know, but it always sends those airport memories flooding back…

Elsewhere: [The Art of Non-Conformity] For the Love of Airports.

UPDATED: Apocalypse Now—2012 Come Early?

 

In light of my doomsday musings on 2012 being the end of the world, I came across this “Comment of the Day” on Jezebel, which lamented the supposed discovery of the lost city of Atlantis:

“Oh, fuck. All the loose plots are being resolved. I guess the world really is going to end next year.”

With all the natural disasters and political uprisings in the world at the moment, you’d be forgiven for thinking the end of the world—2012, according to the Mayan calendar—was happening as we speak I write.

But with Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, New Zealand’s recent earthquake, Queensland and Victoria’s floods and Cyclone Yasi, the civil war in Libya and the Egyptian revolution, the end is nigh.

Now personally, I don’t actually believe the end of the world will occur on December 21, 2012, when the Mayan, or the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, finishes. I think it will be more of an ideological shift caused by catastrophic events, like those happening in Japan, than Armageddon.

But let’s have a look at when the end of said calendar occurs and what it actually means.

In a (very sketchy) nutshell, December 20, 2012 marks the end of the 13th b’ak’tun, (equivalent to 144,000 days and 394.3 solar years), while December 21, 2012 will be the beginning of the 14th b’ak’tun.

There have been rumours that no prophetic predictions have been made after 2012 by Nostradamus et al., but Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, says that reaching the end of a b’ak’tun cycle was cause for celebration and that the 2012 hullabaloo is “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”

This lends evidence to my theory that with the world literally cracking up, it’s only a matter of time before we have to take heed of global warming warnings, which are manifesting themselves in natural disasters across the globe. Is it merely a coincidence that the first stage of the ratification of the Kyoto protocol finishes in December 2012?

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock (pardon the highly distasteful pun) in recent days would know that the Japanese quake was the seventh most powerful in history, and was actually so forceful, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the University of Toronto, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that it actually “shifted the Earth’s axis by 25 centimeters (9.8 in). This deviation led to a number of small planetary changes, including the length of a day and the tilt of the Earth. The speed of the Earth’s rotation increased, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds due to the redistribution of Earth’s mass.”

Not to mention its repercussions across the rest of the world, including Hawaii, the U.S. and Canada’s west coasts, Tonga, American Samoa, New Zealand, Russia, Mexico, Peru and Chile, and the holdup the nuclear disaster will cause for other countries interested in adopting nuclear power, including Australia.

Egypt’s uprising and Libya’s civil war seem like child’s play in comparison, but one humanitarian disaster after another seems to be the way of the future unless we get our act together and think of the bigger picture.

Twitter played a huge part in Egypt’s revolution (the Libyan people haven’t been so lucky, with internet access shut down by the government); mobile phones allowed Christchurch’s residents trapped in the rubble to contact family and emergency services with their whereabouts. With electricity, phone and internet connections down in Japan, it’s proving difficult to take the same road (again, pardon the pun; the tsunami washed out roads and train lines, leaving most Japanese residents in affected areas stranded). However, Google Person Finder, which was used in the Haitian, Chilean and New Zealand disasters, is coming in handy.

I’m not 100% sure what this all means, or even how it all relates to the supposed “end of the world”.

What I do know is that it seems increasingly likely that every time we turn on the news or open up our web browsers, we won’t see Charlie Sheen’s latest antics, but another disaster that is leading us to the end of the world if we don’t take a look at ourselves and make a change, as Michael Jackson so poignantly sung.

Elsewhere: [Jezebel] Comment of the Day: Earth Prepares for 2012 Series Finale.

[Wikipedia] Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar.

[Wikipedia] 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami.

[USA Today] Does Maya Calendar Predict 2012 Apocalypse?

[WebCite] Japan’s Quake Shifts Earth’s Axis by 25 Centimetres.

[CBS] Earth’s Day Length Shortened by Japan Earthquake.

Related: Apocalypse Now: 2012 Come Early?

The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March, 2011.

Minus Two & a Half Men.

Images via YouTube, Wish I Didn’t Know.

 

Apocalypse Now—2012 Come Early?

 

With all the natural disasters and political uprisings in the world at the moment, you’d be forgiven for thinking the end of the world—2012, according to the Mayan calendar—was happening as we speak I write.

But with Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, New Zealand’s recent earthquake, Queensland and Victoria’s floods and Cyclone Yasi, the civil war in Libya and the Egyptian revolution, the end is nigh.

Now personally, I don’t actually believe the end of the world will occur on December 21, 2012, when the Mayan, or the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, finishes. I think it will be more of an ideological shift caused by catastrophic events, like those happening in Japan, than Armageddon.

But let’s have a look at when the end of said calendar occurs and what it actually means.

In a (very sketchy) nutshell, December 20, 2012 marks the end of the 13th b’ak’tun, (equivalent to 144,000 days and 394.3 solar years), while December 21, 2012 will be the beginning of the 14th b’ak’tun.

There have been rumours that no prophetic predictions have been made after 2012 by Nostradamus et al., but Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, says that reaching the end of a b’ak’tun cycle was cause for celebration and that the 2012 hullabaloo is “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”

This lends evidence to my theory that with the world literally cracking up, it’s only a matter of time before we have to take heed of global warming warnings, which are manifesting themselves in natural disasters across the globe. Is it merely a coincidence that the first stage of the ratification of the Kyoto protocol finishes in December 2012?

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock (pardon the highly distasteful pun) in recent days would know that the Japanese quake was the seventh most powerful in history, and was actually so forceful, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the University of Toronto, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that it actually “shifted the Earth’s axis by 25 centimeters (9.8 in). This deviation led to a number of small planetary changes, including the length of a day and the tilt of the Earth. The speed of the Earth’s rotation increased, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds due to the redistribution of Earth’s mass.”

Not to mention its repercussions across the rest of the world, including Hawaii, the U.S. and Canada’s west coasts, Tonga, American Samoa, New Zealand, Russia, Mexico, Peru and Chile, and the holdup the nuclear disaster will cause for other countries interested in adopting nuclear power, including Australia.

Egypt’s uprising and Libya’s civil war seem like child’s play in comparison, but one humanitarian disaster after another seems to be the way of the future unless we get our act together and think of the bigger picture.

Twitter played a huge part in Egypt’s revolution (the Libyan people haven’t been so lucky, with internet access shut down by the government); mobile phones allowed Christchurch’s residents trapped in the rubble to contact family and emergency services with their whereabouts. With electricity, phone and internet connections down in Japan, it’s proving difficult to take the same road (again, pardon the pun; the tsunami washed out roads and train lines, leaving most Japanese residents in affected areas stranded). However, Google Person Finder, which was used in the Haitian, Chilean and New Zealand disasters, is coming in handy.

I’m not 100% sure what this all means, or even how it all relates to the supposed “end of the world”.

What I do know is that it seems increasingly likely that every time we turn on the news or open up our web browsers, we won’t see Charlie Sheen’s latest antics, but another disaster that is leading us to the end of the world if we don’t take a look at ourselves and make a change, as Michael Jackson so poignantly sung.

Elsewhere: [Wikipedia] Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar.

[Wikipedia] 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami.

[USA Today] Does Maya Calendar Predict 2012 Apocalypse?

[WebCite] Japan’s Quake Shifts Earth’s Axis by 25 Centimetres.

[CBS] Earth’s Day Length Shortened by Japan Earthquake.

Related: The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March, 2011.

Minus Two & a Half Men.

Images via YouTube, Wish I Didn’t Know.

Emerging Writers Festival: Stuck in a Lift With… Rachel Hills & Gala Darling

Being a recent expat to Melbourne, I am now relishing in the fact that I can go to an after work event, weekend market or party and not have to worry about getting the last train out of Sydney Melbourne back to the country.

However, with the advent of Twitter, anyone wearing pyjama pants can gain access to this week’s Emerging Writers Festival from the comfort of their lounge room/bed, with events all over the city as well as today’s “Stuck in a Lift With… Gala Darling” by Rachel Hills.

Hills is using the “magical bookstore” format, and each floor corresponds to Gala’s favourite book.

However, it’s not always smooth sailing, with followers interjecting their questions and comments. For a first time Twitter user, it was a bit overwhelming!

So here, in a nutshell that I have so lovingly crunched the questions into, are Hills’ 10 questions and Gala Darling’s 10 answers.

  • “What’s the first book you ever read?”

– “HAD to have been the Spot series… I also remember loving The Very Hungry Caterpillar… I really loved all that very British stuff too, like Enid Blyton & Peter Rabbit…”

  • “Are there any other kids books that you remember or are fond of?”

– “I was mad keen on the Faraway Tree series… But I was really a voracious reader, would come home from the library every Saturday with an enormous stack of books & devour them throughout the week before going back for more. Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High, horror stories, anything spooky or supernatural or American! I was obsessed with America & their slumber parties & junk food & always felt like I was missing out being stuck in boring old New Zealand…”

  • “What were your other fave teen/coming of age books?

– “I loved Judy Blume for talking about sex… It’s weird actually, I feel like I moved from Judy Blume to Poppy Z. Brite but SURELY that’s not right. I think Anne Rice might have been the stepping stone. & Stephen King?

  • “You do a lot of travellingwhat books do you like to take with you when you’re away from home?”

– “Depends on how long I’m away from home. The types of holidays I have don’t usually leave much time for reading! But I have moved house many times and I always take Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas & Lolita with me!… But usually when I travel I take the mags I haven’t yet caught up on (ughh I know), or what I’m reading at the time… No guilty faves really. I haven’t read a tabloid in years because they make me angry, haha! I love pretty much every fashion magazine though… You know what? I buy 99% of my books secondhand on Amazon. IT’S SO CHEAP. I can’t stand to pay full retail. Bad Gala!”

  • “Is there a book you turn to when things get emotional?”

– “I guess it depends on what the ‘emotion’ is. I love to comfort read, aka read stuff I know off by heart… Actually when I’m feeling emotional or moody I prefer to watch television. Entourage or SATC work every time… Lolita, Fear & Loathing, anything Bukowski, American Psycho, umm Lost Souls (shhhh)…”

  • “You’re a hugely successful writer. Is there a book that helped you learn your craft?”

– “I love Anne Lamott. There is something so brilliant, clear & deep in her writingit is impeccably crafted. The first time I read Bird by Bird I thought my head was going to explode, & I have read it over & over. I’m also really interested in Zen Buddhism so that helps! I also like Natalie Goldberg, but don’t read lots of books on writing.”

  • “What book has taught you the most from a NON-writing perspective?”

– “Oh, big question! I feel like every book teaches you something, whether it’s how to live wilding (Fear/Loathing!) or bet on horses (Buk.!), but I guess if I could only recommend one book for life lessons, it would be The Success Principles by Jack Canfield. It is a frigging marvel. Every time I pick it up I learn something new… It is as thick as a bible, all about manifesting & integrity & keeping your word & stuff, I can’t describe!”

  • “What books have kept you late into the night?”

– “Haha, pretty much every book I’ve ever loved. I was a secretly-reading-under-the-covers child. I remember reading the Neverending Story one day (yes, one DAY!) when I had the flu & was about 10, fantastic. So it may not have kept me through the night but it certainly compelled me.”

  • “What book do you wish you had written?”

– “Ugh, Lolita. It’s like a braingasm. Every time I read it I am shocked at just HOW fucking good it is.”

  • “What book do you return to again and again?”

– “All the books I have just mentioned, plus anything by SARK, Russell Simmons’ Do You!, Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block, Fear of Flying by Erica Jong, Grapefruit by Yoko Ono, House of Leaves…

I wish someone would ask me these questions should I ever have the fearful pleasure of being stuck in an elevator. I so have the answers!