Is it being pretentious to classify the contemplation of the vicissitudes of life as philosophy?
Well, none of the existing headings I had for the limited number of blogs so far on this page seemed appropriate, so philosophy it is.
One of the advantages of retirement is the additional time to reflect. And, that I was doing both yesterday and again today.
A sign at the Sherwood Arboretum, I was there yesterday for a photography shoot, claims it to be one of only four arboreta in Queensland. Who cares? You may say. And, why my interest in trees and shrubs?
For years, many years ago, I was a member of the Society for Growing Australian Plants (SGAP). I even did trips out into the bush collecting seeds to do my own propagation of plants. It was never really a business, more of a passion or hobby, but I did sell some plants in addition to giving heaps away. One of my clients for sales was Griffith University in Brisbane. That university only planted native plants on their campus which were endemic to the area. The landscape architect at the time was a mate of mine, and he gave me permission to collect seeds and other propagating material from the site to grow on in my own mini-nursery. Once the plants I had propagated were well established, I would sell them back to the university. This was in the 1970’s. My day job at the time was with the Brisbane YMCA, and if you visit the Acacia Ridge YMCA or the Jamboree Heights Y-West you can still see some of the results, forty years on, of some of my plants. No, I was not the YMCA’s gardener, I was actually their Associate Executive Director at the time, later becoming the organisation’s Executive Director.
In the past I have been guilty of boring others by giving the Latin botanical names of plants when they have given a common name. Many years after working at the Y, I had lecturing and other roles in TAFE. Although working at the time as the head of the Education Department in the TAFE, one of the TAFE lecturers in horticulture would on occasions bring along plant specimens to discuss with me, and for me to help identify. Sometimes I could help and I got it right. I reckon that if I had not chosen a career in Education, I could very easily have had a satisfying career in the Forestry Department, or in the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Knowing that others may find it annoying, I do try to refrain from giving botanical names of plants to people who could not really care at all if the plants had a name, and what it was. Yesterday however, I found myself inadvertently doing it. It was at a photography shoot I had organised at the Sherwood Aboretum. Two other photographers and my model friend Dallas and I were walking along one of the pathways in the arboretum, and, I happened to make the comment, “that pathway up ahead with the Lomandra Longifolia growing either side would be a good spot for a couple of shots”. I remember receiving a few questioning stares, but nothing was actually said. I shall post one of the shots I took below. It may help break the monotony of the written text.
Dallas is a talented performer who lives in Mackay in north Queensland. Every few months she comes down to Brisbane for a few days to perform. When she does come down, we usually catch up at least once for a photo shoot. As you can see, on this occasion, Dallas was dressed as the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland. And, not just any old Mad Hatter, but one walking on stilts a few metres high.
Now is probably the time for me to refocus and get back to the topic of this blog, “Time, Schedules and Some Random Thoughts”.
Now, I have been giving you lots of random stuff, so I can’t really be accused of straying from the topic given. But, what about the first two parts, “time” and “Schedules”?
Let me discuss schedules first. Most people keep a calendar or some sort of diary or things to be done list, don’t they? Otherwise, how do they know what to do and when to do it? Appointments and other things I have scheduled for myself need to be written down. Otherwise, they will not happen. I certainly could not rely on memory alone.
Look out, I am about to go random again. Talking about not relying on memory brought it on.
I was actually taught by a psychologist not to rely on my memory and to write stuff down.
Those of you from Brisbane who were around at the time may recall that we had The World Expo here in 1988. The area directly south of the city across the Brisbane River prior to Expo had been a bit of a slum area, with grotty, sleazy old buildings and hotels. It was an area most reputable people did not go to. Most of the buildings were bulldozed and the area we now know as Southbank was the World Expo site.
I had taken leave without pay from teaching in the second semester of 1988 to complete the requirements of a Bachelor of Arts degree. In August of that year I was riding my motor cycle out to the University of Queensland to attend a special lecture in one of my subjects. It was actually on Exhibition Wednesday which is always a public holiday in Brisbane. The special lecture was to cover a few topics the lecturer wanted to cover with us as she was about to head off overseas. The roads were quiet and there was very little traffic.
I never got to that lecture, and I eventually completed the remainder of my Arts degree a few years later, the same way I had finished the first two and a half years of it, studying in a part-time capacity. Whilst my classmates from uni were at the lecture, I was lying on a bed in the Intensive Care Ward of the Mater Public Hospital, unconscious with life threatening injuries. Apparently I had been hit at speed by a panel van which had driven through a stop sign on my left hand side.
Luckily, if you can call any aspects of a serious accident lucky, the accident occurred at south Brisbane close to the Mater with an ambulance being quickly on the scene. If the same accident happened further away, I possibly would not be here telling this story now.
My injuries included a left femur with its neck totally shattered, my left hip apparently received the direct blow from the van. My left clavicle and scapula were both fractured as were my top three ribs. There were smashed teeth and closed head injuries and fractured right carpal bones. The life threatening injuries were caused by my broken ribs collapsing my lungs.
I will not go into details of my recovery time and the demoralising affect having to rely on others for everything; including washing, eating and toileting has on you. I shall leave that for another occasion.
But, I was about to talk about my need to write things down. Serious trauma can have an adverse affect on short term memory. And, after the accident my short term memory was totally shot. After discharge from hospital I had regular physiotherapy visits to learn to stand and walk again, and visits to psychologists to develop strategies to cope, especially when I returned to full time work again.
Twenty-nine years after my accident, I retain the habit of writing things down. After years of using a pen and actually writing in the pages of a diary, in recent years I have adapted to technology and now use my ipad. The only problem I now have occasionally is forgetting to check my ipad calendar some mornings.
My ipad lets me know what I have scheduled for today, or next week, or whenever. If it is scheduled, I will do it unless there is some compelling reason not to. And if, for whatever reason, I have changed my mind, I will certainly ensure that any others who may be affected by my decision will be informed of it.
What I find curious is the number of people who claim to be going to a certain event or activity, and then don’t go without giving any apology or excuse to others who may be expecting their attendance.
Here are a couple of examples.
Under the banner of “Passionate About Photography”, I organise regular photo shoots. These are held anywhere in south-east Queensland. Many of them have themes and they are available to anyone who would like to attend. However, people attending are required to indicate that they plan to attend. No money changes hands at these shoots, neither the models nor the photographers being paid. The numbers attending these shoots have varied from zero to well over thirty people. In addition to models, I used to allow any photographer who wanted to attend to come along also. I now limit the number of photographers to a maximum of two others apart from me. And, they need to apply in advance and agree to certain protocols I have set.
The most recent Passionate About Photography shoot was yesterday, Sunday 23 April. The theme for the shoot was “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” and the venue for the shoot was the Sherwood Arboretum. This was going to be a big one. I had been in correspondence with several people over several weeks regarding aspects of the shoot. The relevant Facebook page shows that one hundred and thirty people had expressed an interest in attending, and there were a definite twenty-two who were going to attend. Of those twenty-two, two had sent me messages the day before the shoot that they were not able to make it, and on the day of the shoot, one other got lost.
Colin, Christine and I, the three photographers for this shoot, were all there before the scheduled starting time of ten o’clock. One model, Dallas, was also there. We waited until a quarter past ten for the others to turn up, but no one else arrived. We still had a great shoot. Dallas is a talented performer who had gone to considerable trouble with her outfit. She even brought along her stilts for us to get some amazing Mad Hatter shots. Not only that, Dallas is a visitor to Brisbane. She lives in Mackay in north Queensland and had come to the venue in her hire car.
I still have not heard from the other eighteen people who had said they would be there. I hope at least some of them, especially the kids amongst them, will be disappointed after seeing the photos of Dallas that they were not there to be photographed with her.
I use a Facebook page for the Passionate About Photography Shoots. If someone said they were coming along and then was not able to make it, how difficult would it be to send a message or to place a posting saying so? And, if perhaps there was a last minute problem, a text message is fairly simple to send. As with most people, I generally take my mobile phone with me wherever I go, and my mobile number is on the Facebook page.
It was mentioned earlier that I would give you a couple of examples of people being unreliable and not doing what they said they were going to do. The previous Passionate About Photography shoot, prior to the shoot at Sherwood, was at Wilson’s Outlook at New Farm. A great little park with fantastic views of the Brisbane’s river and the Story bridge with the city skyscrapers behind. Ten people had indicated that they were going to this shoot, and an additional twenty-seven people had indicated that they were interested. The scheduled shoot start time was ten o’clock, and as with all of my appointments, whether they be shoots or otherwise, I made a point of being there early. At ten-fifteen after no-one had arrived, and with no apologies from those who had said they were coming along, I got back in my vehicle and headed for home. A couple of minutes later my phone rang when I was half way across the Story Bridge. Even although I own a hands free device, I don’t use it. I think it is important when driving to give driving your full attention. But, as soon as I could pull over to the side of the road safely on the south side of the river I returned the call. The call had been from one of the models who had indicated that they were going to the shoot and was wondering where everyone was. I explained that I had been there and had given fifteen minutes grace beyond the planned starting time, and was now heading back home.
My home at Jimboomba, is about an hours drive from this park at New Farm. I had arrived at the park soon after nine in the morning. Taking into account the preparation time for the shoot, I had effectively wasted four hours of my time because nine of the ten people who said that they were coming to a shoot didn’t bother to come or to apologise in advance for not coming. One other did not make the effort to be there on time. Obviously, if I knew people were not going to be there I would have found more constructive things to do with my time.
I stopped doing individual shoots for models I had not previously met several years ago, because so many of them were unreliable, and often just did not show up. Organising group shoots I thought would solve that problem. And, generally it has worked. My evidence in only anecdotal, but there does seem to be an increasing trend of people not caring about others, and only thinking about themselves.
Why are so many people so inconsiderate and unreliable?
You may well ask, why do I bother continuing with these shoots? Well, the examples I have given are exceptions. The vast majority of people I have photographed over the years have been reliable and appreciative of my efforts, and the results of the photographs I had taken of them. The majority have profiles on the Starnow, which is a web site specifically for actors, models and performers. Dallas, who I have already talked about, I had made first contact with through the Starnow site. I have just checked and there are over ninety recommendations for me as a photographer from actors and models on the site. These guys help compensate for the others.
Gees! I still have not talked about all the things I had planned to, especially regarding “time”, but this post is getting far too long, so I shall leave the rest for another occasion.