Sunday, January 06, 2013

Hobbit: Unexpected Journey - Misty Mountain Cold

In short: I liked it. I didn't think it was too long.

Based on Tolkien's first Middle Earth novel: Hobbit - it incorporates other stories from other writings and notes by Tolkien so please don't get your knickers in a twist just because so and so character appears in the movie but not in the book.

I watched the movie twice already.

And above all I love the haunting music which took part of its lyrics from the Dwarf's song Misty Mountain Cold.

Here it is in its entirety:

Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold
To Dungeons Deep and Caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To find our long forgotten gold.

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.

For ancient king and elvish lord
There lay behold a gleaming hoard
They shaped and wrought, and light they caught
To hide in gems on hilt of sword.
On silver necklaces they strung
The flowering stars, on crowns they hung
The dragon-fire, in twisted wire
They meshed the light of moon and sun.

The Pines were roaring on the height
The winds were mourning in the night
The fire was red, it flaming spread
The trees like torches blazed with light

The bells were ringing in the dale
And men looked up with faces pale;
The dragon's ire more fierce than fire
Laid low their towers and houses frail.

Far over the misty mountains grim
To dungeons deep and caverns dim
We must away, ere break of day,
To win our harps and gold from him!

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Beautiful things: Hand drawn calligraphy of Silmarillion

Beautiful things are a joy to look at. They lift your spirits up. They fill your mind with positive energy.

I read this online- a graphic illustror decided to do a calligraphy book of the Silmarillion for his thesis project. I think its just so beautiful.

You can read it here. Below are two works done by the artist: Benjamin Harff. All praise to him.

I dislike people with short tempers

I dislike people with short tempers, particularly people who are petty minded. I think they are one of the worse kind of people to be around with. They often have very big egos or self-esteem issues and constantly need affirmations of some kind.

They are also very tiring to be around with. Emotionally draining.

And when they sulk - they expect the whole world to sulk too. "I'd like to buy the world a Sulkist and furnish it with emo depression..." See it doesn't even rhyme but I'm sad so deal with it etc....

I see it as a bondage of the mind. They are bound by a spell, a word, which holds them back. They are caught in a trap and desire to ensnare others in it as well.

Daily I pray for her release. Sometimes every minute in the hour is spent in prayer. Even on a boat in the middle of Papua, my thoughts are with her.

And I also pray that I do not become like her and the person that I will eventually marry will not be similarly tempered.

New Years Day 2013 - the day I nearly died

Damn, I nearly drowned today.

I went to Back Beach 16, in Rye with a friend who didn't swim.

The surf was rough as usual but I didn't think it would be a problem as I had swum in similar conditions before.

On the left side a high school crowd was sunbathing and one of the cute girls was wadding in the surf, ankle deep only.

I terribly underestimated the power of the sea. Foolishly I didn't choose to wear my fins because it would have made running into the surf awkward. I still wore my wetsuit and my hood.

I rushed into the surf, a wave knocked my mask so hard, the snokel came out. That should have already served as a warning sign but I didn't pay heed to it.

I swam further out and then I realized, "I'm stuck. I can't swim back." The sea held me in its grasp. When I swam forward, the tide pulled me back. And then it dawned on me - and so it should - the tide was changing.

Damn, I'm stuck; I'm going to drown.

Each time I tried to swim back, the receding tide would grab me and pull me back. Shockingly I found myself further away from the shore. The cold was getting to me and I was tired. Whats worse, I was swallowing too much salt water.

When you go scuba diving, you just inflate your BCD or use your air tank to swim under the currents - being used to that sort of experience made me ill-prepared for this.

I could see the people on shore but I was too embarrassed to call out for help.

Lying on my back , I closed my eyes and told myself not to panic. And I started to swim diagonally from the tide - it was slow progress but eventually I got back to shore - dumped unceremoniously onto the beach like a whale. Covered in sand, I was an awful sight to behold.

I walked back to my friend - and lay on the sand - vomiting out salt water. My head was pounding like crazy probably due to all the salt water in my system.

My expensive Aqua Atomic clear mask was lost when a wave wacked me hard on the way back; but I got a damn lesson.

The experience was sobering but also bizarre for me. For a few days I was wondering whether I had actually drowned and that God was letting me "live" a few more days on Earth. Everything I did afterwards took on a heightened, surreal sensation. "Wow, I'm eating", "Cool I'm watching a movie now", "I'm eating popcorn instead of sand!!!" etc..

It did lead me to appreciate what I have; I guess occasionally idiots like me have to experience this sort of harrowing episode and taste the sting of disaster more palpably to make us more conscious of ourselves.

eBay fail: Art Deco bronze statue failed delivery from Spain

Back in March 2012, I purchased on ebay a bronze statue - it was the Roman goddess Diana, walking her greyhound - it took two months to arrive in Melbourne but the wait was worth it.

It was fantastic. I've always had a thing for well made objects. But this one was really superb. Everything about it was excellent. The female figure was in a gorgeous natural pose - I just love the way she leans back as she attempts to restrain the dog.

Her body figure is classic feminine - her proportions are simply divine.

And her face was good looking as well. Usually the faces of bronze statues are - to put it mildly - ugly.

The face on this one was however lovely to look at. .

I liked it so much that I decided to purchase another one. And it all went downhill from there.

I have never encountered a serious problem with an eBay sellers. They are usually honest, reliable and I've only once used the Paypal dispute to get my money back. In that instance, it was a local seller with a very high rating who suddenly defaulted on all his settlements for some reason.

A couple of times, I even had sellers sending me the wrong item - and I, in honesty, told them about the error - and had it mailed back to them or settled amicably.

So it is unfortunate that I have encountered a really bad eBay seller over a transaction involving a sizable sum of money - AUD $411.

The seller is known as antiquity001. And used the email:
Usuario de eBay: antiquity001
and also uses the name "Victor Manuel Aruguas Nsue" -
I bought this statue in March, however it took over 2 months to arrive in Melbourne. At that time, I checked on the parcel arrival nearly every week. And the seller reassured that it would come as the mail from Spain is notoriously slow, esp. from large heavy packages. Eventually it arrived and I was overjoyed by the quality and sheer beauty of the statue. So I decided to buy another one.

I bought it using the eBay/Paypal system. Initially, the seller just want to avoid ebay - but I wanted the protection that ebay extended to its customers + a photographic point of reference instead of a paypal invoice with a word "bronze statue".

The seller gave me a tracking number as before. I assumed everything would go like the last transaction. And frankly I wasn't worried when I didn't receive the parcel after the 1st month. The 2nd month rolled by but my mum was sick at that time - suspected stroke. I finally contacted the seller after the 70th day and got an immediate reply back to the effect of  "you should have received the parcel by now. What's your address again? Let me check."

I supplied my address and then ... nada... total silence from the seller. No apology. No excuse. Nothing.

I contacted ebay/Paypal and my bank but they were not interested in helping or taking any action because the transaction was over 45 days old (ebay/paypal statue of limitations), and over 70 days for the bank.

What I should have done was to contact the seller about it after 20 days and make an official complaint to eBay and Paypal on the 30th day, despite any protestations from the seller. That way I would have quite likely have got my money back.

Through my own private investigation I have deduced that the seller may have made a mistake in sending the item to another purchaser living in Australia at that time. There were two or three other buyers in Australia purchasing items from the seller and a shipping error may have occurred.

Anyway, extremely disappointed. I am trying now to contact the Spanish police to lodge an official report now.

But again I could have saved myself a whole lot of headache if I had simply put in a complaint to eBay and Paypal when the item did not arrive after the 30th day.

Sidenote - one other thing that made it hard for ebay to help was that the seller corresponded with me directly using email rather than through the eBay messaging system. That way, it was impossible for ebay to track our conversations. So in future, always use the ebay messaging system for correspondence.

So eventually ebay and Paypal refused to help. But because I used my credit card to pay for it - my bank Westpac said that they would look into it. Strangely however they decided to ask for my documentation only after I told them I was going overseas and would be uncontactable. And then sent me a letter telling me they couldn't do a thing about it because I didn't send them the documents or sign a particular form. However they did tell me to complain to the banking ombudsman about this. Which I did. And after about 2 or 3 weeks I got a call from Westpac telling me they would refund me the full amount if I terminated the complaint to the ombudsman. Today.

WOW!!!! I signed the waiver and I got the full refund within the week. Thank God for Australian Consumer Protection Laws.

Approaching that time of year again...

Yes, approaching that time of year again.

A time of retrospection and being morose. I'm not particularly good at taking alcohol so I don't find it fun to get drunk. I or rather my body doesn't see the point of it. I could handle many 5 cups of good red wine and then I stop.

Not much to really complain about. Got a good roof over my head. Bank account is fairly solid. Got an outstanding mortgage to pay off - but who hasn't?

But love life wise - it has been pretty much going nowhere. I thought that a scuba diver friend "SL" would prove a match. But it fizzled it out faster than 10bar.

At least with the share trading front that seems to be a glimmer of hope and "MD", after much prayer, has reined in her gambling habit to an extent. But it is a constant neverending worry. She now wants to buy an iPad after seeing how easy one of her friends use it. Irony. Sometime back - I told her I'd buy her one and she literally screamed at me.

I thought of  "C" today. And I miss her. I miss her body next to mine. I miss her kisses. I miss going out with her to the classical music concerts.

But its been 4 years since we were last physically together and we parted angrily. Although she did send an apology text message and I reciprocated the same.

But the summary is that it won't work. She has a child (by another marriage) and she keeps on wondering whether I'll be like her former husband despite the fact that I am not.

But that day that we departed, well, I remember it to this day. And I realized as she drove off that it wouldn't work.