Tuesday, February 27, 2007

In Pursuit of Happiness

I'm not happy. I don't know why. I just feel that something is missing in my life. This was demonstrated most clearly at my recent birthday celebration weekend. While having drinks with friends, and going out for dinner with more friends, I pondered over the state of my situation, comparing it to when I was 25, followed by 24, 23, and so on and so forth. I came to the conclusion that something was seriously missing. Could it be money? Sex? Food? Friends? Job? Expectations? My motorbike?

Well, money and job would probably go together. I am holding (in my opinion) an ideal job for someone with my background and experience. Fresh out of uni, you can't really jump into a high flying job. And I'm learning new things everyday. Of course some days can be really boring, while others can be hectic. But overall, its all good. The salary is ok. I'm not filthy rich, and I'm not poor either. I'm comfortable. And I'm not overworked.

Sex? Er....well....I'm single at the moment. And I hope that doesn't last. There are a couple of girls I fancy. And I think only one has the potential to lead to something more. But the situation is pretty murky at the moment. So I'll just have to wait and see how it turns out. But I've been without sex before, for a longer period of time compared to this, and that hasn't caused me any problems.

Food? I eat pretty healthily. Lots of fruits and veg and water. A very balanced diet. And I work out pretty regularly too. And I make sure I get enough sleep everyday.

Friends? I've got loads of friends, as recently proven during the weekend of my birthday. Old friends from uni. Friends from overseas. Friends from work. Friends from home. Many friends that wished me well for my birthday.

Expectations? Hmm....what does that mean? Am I supposed to be in a secure job with a girlfriend or *gasp* wife with kids? A few of my colleagues that are younger than me are getting married. Or am I supposed to be back home with my family? I don't know. There's a big question mark for this one.

My motorbike? Hehehe, this might actually cure my problem. I'm expecting the arrival of my next motorbike very soon. And its one hell of a bike! I'm not going to spoil the surprise, but suffice to say, I shall be writing about it here. Keep an eye (or ear) out for it!

So what is it? Why do I feel that something is missing. Will getting a new toy (motorbike) or girlfriend solve it? Will earning more money make me happier? Will going home to my family make me feel satisfied? What, at the age of 26, is a physially fit young male that feels like he is 4 or 5 years younger supposed to do? This is in no way an identity crisis. Nor is it a midlife crisis experienced by many men around 40. This is not a moaning post either. I'm missing something here, and I intend to find out what that is.

Note: Coincidentally, there is a movie that has just been released, starring Will Smith called "The Pursuit of Happiness". I have to say that this post is in no way related to it. I have not seen it.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Animal Encounters XV

Well, here we are again. It has been a pretty hectic weekend for me. Celebrating my birthday, meeting up with new friends, hearing from old flames, feeling grumpy and old.....all rolled into 3 days. What can I say? I'm immensely popular :)

The Victoria Crowned Pigeon

This bird is very different from the pigeon we are used to seeing in towns and cities. The crowned pigeon is quite spectacular, being blue in colour and as tall as a turkey (74 cm). It has a large crest of feathers on its head that can be raised - hence its name. It is the largest of all living pigeons and is found in the wild only in New Guinea and some smaller offshore islands nearby.

Meet Fred

These beautiful birds forage the forest floor for fruit, seeds and snails. They seem to spend time in small flocks. Very little is known about them in the wild as they live in dense forest.

Meet George

The sounds that these birds make are unusual. Their contact call sounds a bit like the sound created by blowing over the top of a milk bottle, whilst their display call is a dramatic 'boom-pa!'

Fred & George foraging around

Did you know that the victoria crowned pigeon is the largest living pigeon? But the extinct dodo - also a member of the pigeon family - was much larger, weighing around 14 kg. Like the crowned pigeon, the dodo fed on the forest floor, and with no predators on its island home of Mauritius and so not needing to fly, it evolved shorter wings and became flightless.

Fred & George looking faintly interested

They are hunted for food and sport and collected alive for illegal sale. There are also forestry and mining activities that threaten the forest they live in. They have largely disappeared from areas of human habitation but are thought to be fairly common in the wilder jungles of New Guinea.

As you probably already know, I hate pigeons. Not Fred & George, but the kind which you find in cities. The common pigeon. To me, they're like giant rats with wings. They're pests. They shit everywhere. On trees, on cars, on buildings, on statues, on me. Given the chance, I will stomp on one if I can. And remember, never feed the pigeons. Ever.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Happy Birthday....

Well, well, well.....its that time of the year again. Yup, its my birthday. Or it was my birthday. Mine was on the 21st Feb, so its one day late now. A grand old age of 26 years! So what did I do you ask? Well, initially, nothing. After "some" persuasion from friends and housemates, I went out for a few last minute drinks in the end. I drank two pints of cider. Very strong cider. End of story.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Animal Encounters XIV

Hello there folks! I hope everyone is well and warm in this cold but refreshing month of Febuary. The latest animal from Bristol Zoo to grace this page is a very elusive animal.

The Cassowary

The double-wattled cassowary is one of the largest birds in the world. Weighing as much as 128 pounds, only the ostrich is heavier. Flightless birds, cassowaries are covered in coarse black feathers, with the exception of the skin on the head and throat which is brightly colored red and blue. These coarse feathers are an adaptation to the thick vegetation of the rain forest where cassowaries live. The flight feathers are reduced to five or six quills on both sides of their body that protect the bird when it is traveling through the undergrowth. One of the cassowary's most distinguishing features is the large protuberance on the top of its head called the casque.

Check out my cool casque!

It is believed that the casque assists the cassowary in pushing through the dense tropical forest vegetation, and may also provide some sort of protection. In captivity, cassowaries have been observed using their casques like a shovel to search for food on the ground. It is believed that the size of the casque may indicate dominance and age, since the casque continues to grow throughout the life of the bird. Another distinguishing feature of the cassowaries is their wattles. Wattles are present in two of the three species of cassowary. These brilliantly colored folds of skin hang from the bird's neck, and may act as social signals in the dark forest. Cassowaries have powerful legs and feet that enable them to run up to 30 miles per hour and jump as high as five feet. Their feet are equipped with sharp claws and the inner toe is formed into a long dagger-like claw that can be a formidable weapon.

Cassowary chick

Double-wattled cassowaries are found in New Guinea and northern Australia. They are most often found in the rain forest, occasionally straying to swampy forested areas. They are excellent swimmers and are often found along river banks. Cassowaries are very important to the native people of New Guinea both economically and ritually. Cassowaries have been traded for pigs and even for a wife. Some tribes hunt them for their meat which is considered a delicacy. They use the feathers to decorate headdresses, and the feather quills for earrings. The sharp claws are often placed at the tips of arrows, while the strong leg bones are used as daggers. Cassowaries have been traded throughout Asia for at least 500 years, and it is believed that this is how the double-wattled cassowary reached Australia. For many native people, cassowaries are full of legends and mystical powers. Some tribes believe that cassowaries are reincarnations of female ancestors, while others believe that the cassowary is the primal mother. These tribes do not hunt or deal in trade with cassowaries.

I'm shy!

Although none of the three species of cassowary are globally threatened, all are suffering from loss of habitat. Their strict ecological needs mean that they are especially vulnerable to shrinking habitats. As rainforests are cleared, cassowaries are forced from one forest to another, often crossing roads where they are in danger of being hit by passing cars. Introduced feral pigs and dogs prey often upon chicks. In New Guinea, an increase in the price of cassowary feathers by the native people, has led to an increase in hunting of the cassowary.

On a seperate note, I've just moved houses and am now settling in. As always, I find the process of moving traumatising and troublesome. The decision to keep some useless junk for sentimental values compared with the need to be practical and realistic always have me gnashing my teeth and pulling my hair out at the end of the day. This goes to show what a stubborn old dog I've become ......