Life in the fast lane – the science of colour

How do you describe colour to someone with vision impairment?

In researching the question, I discovered it is a philosophical and scientific question.

If blind from birth you can’t rely on senses to describe colour as they are meaningless.

For those who have vision impairment and may have some memory of other senses, you can talk to them about feelings, texture etc. The debate on whether you can teach someone who is blind about colour is apparently as endless as ‘I think, therefore I am’.

Today, however we will go on a journey and use senses other than sight.

I would like you all to close your eyes, get into a comfortable position.

Now, put your awareness to your breathing, the rise and fall of your chest.

Let your mind take you on a journey.

Feel the sun warm on your face as you begin to walk to the edge of a rain forest. As you enter the forest the sun is filtered through the trees and there is the distinct smell of eucalypt as if the rain has allowed the gum leaves to dance. Take in the fresh smell of the gum leaves and look with your mind’s eye at the colour of the leaves.

Take in the smell of the forest after rain. The smell and texture of the earth beneath your feet.

You come to a little clearing, where you sit down, and run your hands through the damp earth, there is also a little babbling brook. With your senses now awake, just near where you are sitting there is a shrub, the scent is overwhelming, it may remind some of you of times past, fragrant, fresh, and elegant. It has the complexity of a herb but is used as flowers in vases, potpourri, bath oil and body lotion.

Take the time to feel the plant with your hands and become engulfed in the scent.

What you feel is a woody perennial or annual herb with downy foliage, a strong scent, and flowers, borne on long stalks and arranged in a whirl on the end of the stalk with two to five long petals at the end. The flower contains aromatic essential oils that are used to perfume a multitude of products.

The scent is soothing and relaxing and is used to reduce the pain of headaches.

Let the name of the herb or flower come to you and now look at its colour. Hold on to the scent and colour as you walk back through the rain forest, feeling the warmth of the sun.

Now bring your attention back to the present where you are now and when you are ready open your eyes with the colour and name of the herb you have just experienced.

Lavender – Purple/Lilac/Mauve

Purple, lilac, mauve

Purple, lilac

Life in the fast lane – communication technology


It is evolving communication technology that keeps people with severe disability involved. So how far can communication technology go? As far as possible says Christopher Hills. (The Age, 310714).

Christopher Hills, 18, is quadriplegic, born with athetoid cerebral palsy, which severely limits his ability to control muscle function and speech. His brain works fine but to use a computer he relies on his neck muscles to operate a switch control.

He started at the age of 5 with a desktop PC, controlling it with a great big switch on the floor, which he tapped with his foot, then progressed to a trackball, and an eye-tracker, and then finally settled on a switch strapped to his headrest.

A four-button mouse set him loose, letting him scroll, click and drag. He became obsessed with changing the look and feel of Windows when he was six.

To his parents’ surprise, he became so masterful on his Mac that he qualified as an Apple Certified Pro in Final Cut Pro X software and has ambitions to be a visual storyteller and is studying video production online at RMIT. His father is somewhat shamed; he didn’t have high hopes or expectations of achievement given his son’s profound physical disability. Communication technology has enabled Christopher and others with similar disability the ability to be a part of society.

For Chris and many others with profound physical limitations the continued development in communication technology is a must.

At this years’ Melbourne International Film Festival the documentaries Web Junkie and Print the Legend deal with the subject of how technology has the power to affect our everyday lives. (Cynthia Karena).

In China the children at the rehabilitation centre in Web Junkie had been using the internet for days and nights, they’d dropped out of school, abandoned their friends, and their parents had placed them in care as a last resort.

One thing all the children at the centre had in common is loneliness. In the documentary, one child says: ‘‘When I feel lonely I go online and there is another lonely person who sits on the other side of the computer.’’ (The Age Digital Life 310714).

The directors of Web Junkie, said that the overuse of technology is becoming a universal concern. They believe the boundaries between reality and the virtual have become increasingly blurred. Reality is compromised and people are losing their footing. The internet has created a deep change in human relationships. We are increasingly connected to each other but oddly more alone. (MIFF July 2014).

It is interesting to note that in the 80s it was the fear that children were watching too much television and losing the art of communication, something that is learned when participating in group play, sport or drama.

Two diverse illustrations on the future of communication technology, which brings me to the conclusion that there requires a balance, we can’t stop progress and the pros outweigh the cons. Another more spectacular illustration can be found in the article Russian lizard sex research out of this world Can geckos still manage to mate in zero-gravity?


Life in the fast lane – How to write to a fairy

Piri's door

Piri’s door

How to write, make an envelope and send a letter to a fairy

Piri is a grand fairy who lives through a little door along the skirting board of Nanna and Granddad’s study.                                                           

It is early in the morning and the sound of a little girls excited voice echo’s through a house that is in slumber.

‘Nana, Nana, I’ve found a fairy door, there is a letter and it’s for me.

The little girl was right, there was a fairy door and there was a letter. It was a very tiny letter with very tiny writing, but they could make out what it said.

To: Little girl

From: Piri, your friendly fairy.

The little girl was overcome with excitement, a letter from a fairy, then a frown appeared on the little girl’s forehead, the frown became a wrinkle then the wrinkle overtook her nose and her whole face, something was beginning to dawn on her. With a little sob, the little girl said, in a very small voice

‘How do I write to a fairy’?

Nanna sat down with the little girl on the floor of the study and began to explain ‘how to write to a fairy’.

There are different types of writing depending on which fairy. The Tooth Fairy, doesn’t really need a letter, they prefer a little bag left under the pillow. To write to your fairy, you will need:

2 sheets of writing paper

Some colored pencils

Stickers and

Fairy dust.

Take the first sheet of paper and a pencil and on the paper write:

To Piri

Then write what you want to say to your fairy. Like,

Hello, I’m 6.

I like your door. I would like some more fairy dust.

Love, (and write your name)

Your fairy understands that you might have trouble with your writing, but she really likes it if you try. If you are having trouble, she doesn’t mind if you ask a grown up for help.

When you have finished writing your letter, fold it in half and then half again, now you need to make an envelope for your letter.

To make the envelope:

Get the second sheet of paper and put it on the floor or on the table in front of you.

Take the top and bottom left hand side of the page and fold them to meet in the middle. It will look like a pointy end.

Then fold the bottom of the paper half way to the middle. And do the same with the top, fold it half way to the middle of the page.

Turn the paper around so the pointy bit points away from you and fold the bottom up to the start of the point.

Fold the pointy bit down. When you have put in your letter you can seal the envelope with a sticker.

On the front of the envelope write To Piri, you can decorate the envelope too if you like.

Place your letter inside your envelope and seal it with a sticker and pop it just inside the fairy door and sprinkle some fairy dust. Sometimes Piri might be away for the weekend so you should address your letter to her assistant, Fluffy Bottom.

The end:


Leave your letter just inside the door

Leave your letter just inside the door



Life in the fast lane – Lally Katz in conversation with Liam Pieper

Liam in mid brilliant sentence

Liam tells it how it is

Lally introduces Liam

Lally introduces Liam

Last night at Readings was Q&A with Liam Pieper who has  just published his first novel ‘The Feel Good Hit Of The Year‘. My colleague had read it but I hadn’t so I didn’t quite know what I was in for. I Knew Lally Katz, I had seen a number of her plays and heard her on radio so I knew she would be good at the probing questions. What I hadn’t bargained for was a young man, self-effacing, articulate, colourful and funny. He was terrific. The novel is a memoir, the son of hippies his short life has been memorable and in his words, his ‘words’ may be quite litigious, as most people in the book are still living. A young life well lived, sad, funny, overwhelmingly dangerous. It is good to see him come out the ‘other side’. Whatever the other side is, but at least it’s longer dangerously drug fucked.

He is published by Penguin: Liam Pieper lives in Melbourne. He studied creative writing and then journalism and now works as a freelance writer. Before that he worked as a chef, a music critic, a non-union itinerant labourer and a mediocre criminal. His work has appeared in Meanjin, The Best of The Lifted Brow, Going Down Swinging and The Sleepers Almanac, and he is the co-recipient of the 2014 M Literary Residency. You can find him on Twitter @liampieper or on the Internet Proper at (

Getting in on the act

Getting in on the act Lid, Liam, Tim T.



Life in the fast lane..In conversation with Malcolm Fraser


I am listening, really

I am listening, really

The Fifth Estate at the Wheeler Centre – In conversation with Malcolm Fraser, with Sally Warhaft.  

For many years I railed against Mr Fraser and rightly so, but at the moment he seems to be the only sane voice we have, among insane political voices and viewpoints that make me ashamed to be an Australian.

What a turn around. His book?  Dangerous AlliesMalcolm Fraser argues that Australia should adopt a much greater degree of independence in foreign policy, and that we should no longer merely follow other nations into wars of no direct interest to Australia or Australia’s security. He argues for an end to strategic dependence and for the timely establishment of a truly independent Australia. (MUP)

It is about Australia’s independence. Not a republic, that would be too much for an old liberal and fiscal conservative. But our independence from super powers, for example the USA. Not blindly following others into wars that have no bearing on Australia. His reasoning is good, it’s going to be a great read. I chatted to Sally afterwards, she says the book was extremely interesting, and we both agreed that no PM will take it on, pity really.

You may ask why he has his eyes closed in the pic. My response is, that he got tired of me talking about a Memphis Hotel and no trousers!’

I redeemed my Tory fraternizing with dinner at the waiters club, cheap plonk in tumblers, good food and great company.



Life in the fast lane – the launch of ‘M’ by John A Scott

John A Scott in full flight

John A Scott in full flight

There’s something cool about going to a book launch where you know nothing about the writer or the book that has been written. You sit there with great anonymity watching friends and colleagues of the writer chatting and laughing and full of pride. The reason I was there was because I have set myself the task, or perhaps an opportunity to go to at least one literary event per week during term. It really is fantastic. Am I discerning, yes sometimes, but also I am interested in what is it about ‘this’ book that has a publisher interested. In this instance I really liked what the book was about, that it was ‘different’ and also that Rodney Hall was launching it. A fine writer himself.

The area at the back of Readings in Carlton where they have their in conversations and launches was full to overflowing, the wine was overflowing donated by a friend of the writer who was duly thanked.

I managed to nab a chair and sat next to a gentleman by the name of John, a critical friend and friend of the author. John was a retired Creative Writing teacher from Newcastle. How brilliant for me! I asked him if he thought books would be around in thirty years time. He replied with ‘as long as there is poetry, there will be books’. This quote or similar can be found in Joe Orton and Shakespeare’s writing. love it. He mused that it was reading that was losing the battle.

John A Scott, was nervous, he spoke well of his tome his labour of love and the people who had helped him and the publisher for taking the risk. It is a big book over 800 pages. It sounds very interesting and is on my reading list.

I love going to literary events.

Life in the fast lane ‘FRANKENSTEIN’

Frank rehearsals

Frank rehearsals

My time at Malthouse is usually on a Sunday at 5pm, but for some reason I went Saturday night. Weird, wired.

Was it worth the push through footy traffic to get there. The show FRANKENSTEIN, Grapple Theatre Co, show created by Kate Davis and Emma Valente.

If you saw O last year at Neon, then you would know what you would be in for.

Interestingly I received an email from Malthouse during the week letting me know if I thought the content would be too much for me and I could swap to something else. I wondered why. I didn’t receive anything from MTC re O or if I did I can’t  remember. But it did get me thinking. Was Malthouse becoming mainstream? surely not. The reason I go there is because you know you will see something interesting, innovative that you will either love, semi love, not like much, or hate, but it would have been worth it.

Now Frankenstein is not for the fainthearted or if you are about to give birth or going through IVF, so I’m thinking the email was from a duty of care stance. I’ll accept that.

Set in a box or was it a womb? with millions of small black balloons filled with water. A slippery floor, a small swimming pool and microphones strategically placed, hanging from the ceiling.

Lighting to tear you up – flash lights in front of your eyes. Perfect for actors to get on and off the set. But did the show work for me, not really, bit gratuitous for mine. The birth of the monster, the lack of love, the desire for love and nurture, the ripping out of another’s uterus – blood.

They do have a following and even if I didn’t like it, I will probably see their next piece when ever that will be.

ah life in the fast lane