‘Once there was a man who had much of the mind, but less of the heart. Being, as such, top heavy, and with little support between his head and his legs, he fell while climbing some stairs and died.’ The old monk chortled, then coughed, then told the junior disciples to consider it while he was meditating. So saying, he entered his chambers.

The junior disciples tittered for awhile, then fell silent, for none of them wanted to admit they did not know what the old monk meant. And so one of the more outspoken (but no less clueless) of them ventured to wake their master. Upon reaching the door of the senior monk’s abode, he paused, for he thought he could hear a rhythmic droning. Surely the master was chanting some scripture.

Overcoming his trepidation at disturbing his teacher during such a holy act, he pushed the door open a crack, so he might have a glimpse of what sacred text the master might be perusing. However all he saw through the crack was the steady rise and fall of an old man’s chest. Smiling to himself, he gently closed the door and retreated to the hall of juniors. His colleagues gathered around him, eager to learn what knowledge the master had bestowed upon him.

Clearing his throat, he told them that their teacher had forbade him to tell them that knowledge, because it was sacred knowledge, which grew less holy with each telling.

And so they regarded him highly from then on, and eventually he himself became an old monk and a teacher, and whenever his disciples badgered him about his considerable wisdom (such did they flatter him), he would gruffly brush them off, and emphasize the importance of sleep in the life of a man.

Lying awake,
On the brink of the little death,
Ecstatic to no end, perhaps
Blitzed on crystal meth.

Not the only cause, of course.
Possibilities abound,
Reasons upon reasons,
That one’s mind is not sound.

However, such reasons
Can only fall under
Certain categories, to be sure.
A few examples:

I. Excitement

Tomorrow’s the big day!
Graduation, marriage, jubilaté!
Time to move on, to ever greater things,
Or maybe that stupid ad was true,
Red Bull gives you wings!
Caffeine, sugar, orgasmic bliss, will
Drape your mind in hypersensitive mist.

II. Insomnia

Staring at the ceiling, listless,
The clock ticks on, lazily,
Your brain weighs heavy, patience thin,
While time spirals away, crazily.
It is hard when you know
There’ll be hell to pay, tomorrow,
Nodding, nodding, dozing at work,
Ratted out to your boss, by
Your co-worker, the jerk.
(Who no one likes anyway.)

III. Fear

The pit of the stomach stirs, and
The sandman shies away,
Why won’t it come to me,
A small voice asks plaintively.
Faster and faster goes
The thumping in the chest,
The fear and the sorrow,
Staying any rest.

There’s no way out,
Lies come to light,
Your doom is upon you
So why don’t you just…
Give up the fight.

Shadows in the room grow longer,
And dawn breaks on stuck-open lids,
For it is impossible, you see,
To sleep when the soul is uneasy.

The morning sun diffuses through the clouds, but it’s still too bright for me to look at directly.

Earlier I watched the dawn from the small, triple-layered Perspex window, over the massive turbojet engine with the double-R Rolls Royce emblem. First a lazy band of purple, then all of a sudden, the first true rays burst through, setting the endless sheet of cirrus ablaze, like iron about to be quenched. Gradually, it settles to a regal yellow, glowing with victory over the night, as always, as far as we can remember anyway. There’s quite a big difference between seeing the sunrise from the ground and from the air. The engine throbs satisfyingly, comfortingly, millions of parts and years of human ingenuity at work, unlike the usual stillness punctuated by the calls of birds in heat.

Now the sun is higher, and the plane lower, so each can’t see the other through the clouds. Looking down, I can’t tell where the clouds end and the ocean begins, they both glitter, and for a moment I wonder whether we could be over sand instead, it seems so still. But no, ocean it is. Because I spot a silhouette, like a crayon cut in half lengthwise, lying on the surface. It is a tanker or container ship, moving at a stately pace, compared to us anyway. We soon leave it behind. No sooner we do than more shadows appear, some as large as the first one I saw, some smaller. The trade lanes of the Persian Gulf provide easy pickings for Somali piracy, after all.

Then, drifting out of the cloud bank in the distance, a peak, no … a range of peaks, dark against the blue. What range is that, I wonder, and promise myself I’ll find out. Turning my gaze downwards again, I see the piers of Dubai’s port stretching out of the cloud, before a mass of light brown joins the white and the blue in my field of view. I notice things I didn’t on my initial journey, Dubai has few 4-way intersections, and many roundabouts, scattered like early crop circles in the uniformly brown landscape, interspersed by carefully planned patches of green. The angle isn’t right, so I can’t see the glint of the sun on the windows, so I have no idea what kind of buildings constitute the blocks that make up the district around the port.

We’re moving fast, still, though the captain’s just reported that we’ve begun our descent. Thickly clustered asphalt and concrete structures give way to squat bungalows and straight highways, both bleached by the sun, sand and the salty air. It is a scene out of a movie, the houses are white, very white, wait, a few brown ones whisks past. Sandstone perhaps…. The amateur geologist of my childhood whispers, but I chide him, sandstone is too soft to withstand these harsh climes. Ah well, they’re gone, without the chance for further observation. A new object below attracts my focus, a large, flat protrusion out of the sand, of the same colour. A plateau of some sort, or possibly the remains of a quarrying operation, though I can’t see any pit which would usually remain alongside. Sandstone? The little voice asks timidly, this time I stay silent, because I don’t know.

Finally, the black bars appear, like thick brush strokes making up the runways and the approach to the airport. The engines are still throbbing comfortably, but a new whistling joins them as the flaps are lowered. One does not get the sense that we’re slowing down at all, the plane is too massive, carries too much inertia for those within to feel the effects on the outside. As one, the passengers bounce as the plane touches down, their seatbelts digging into their thighs (or rolls of flab, as may be), EK 006 has landed.

Today is the 16th of June, and today marks the 46th year that a woman went into space. Suffering from nausea in the cramped seat of Vostok 6 (the last Vostok space capsule), Valentina Tereshkova orbited the Earth 48 times in almost three days. With that one flight, she logged more time in space than all the American astronauts before her combined … I find this amusing. She would be the last woman in space for 19 years.

Just thought you might like to know.

Also, in about a month, 40 years will have passed since Neil Armstrong first walked on the Moon. I think that’s pretty cool.

So, browsing Youtube again… Nothing new there. However, I came across this old video of Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra playing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, also known as the Ode to Joy.

Now this is a popular piece of music, not far behind that (horribly, horribly) overplayed Canon in D by Pachelbel and Orff’s O Fortuna from his Carmina Burana (damn you X Factor). Yet most people only know of the climax, which falls right in the middle, with no buildup, no resolution, no soul. Before today, I would have included myself in this category. No longer.

I guess I’d like to share this with as many people as I can (hah, how many people do I think will read this…). Anyhow…

It starts off with a short introduction by Bernstein. Did I mention a very young Placido Domingo is the solo tenor?

After all that excitement, here’s a literal version of Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Pupils focus on paper.
Silence falls, heavy.
Failing, achieving, leaving.

A new method of writing onto gold nanorods may provide as much as 10 TB of space on a single DVD sized disc!

10 TB is… it’s unimaginable to the average person. It’s far more than the information in an average library; it’s 521, 000 minutes of music at 320 kbps; it’s 400 Blu-ray discs; if the US Library of Congress digitized all its holdings into plain text, two of these discs could hold all of it.

The full article here:
BBC tech news.