I think I can hear you. “Not again one of these attention-seeking headlines…” you might be thinking. Don’t worry I actually mean it, because I have been asking myself this question slightly more often than usual over the last 4ish months. Only 2 days ago this question popped up again.
Just after a week of news from the US and the BLM movement, Sydney planned a peaceful protest in support of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. I had not, absolutely no intention of going. The thought didn’t even cross my mind. Well, once it did, which led to this blog post.
Forget about the challenges of finding someone to look after the kids or the fact that I think that, just as we (in Australia) managed to keep new corona infections to a minimum, hanging out with 50000 other people in a public place while funerals are still kept to 12 people and a 4sqm rule is imposed on any eatery environment, doesn’t strike me as a particularly clever idea.
“You are a bad person, you don’t care about the BLM movement, if you are quiet you are part of the problem, white people need to speak up…”is what I could read across all social media outlets and there the question popped up again…am I a good person? If so, I should attend the protests and speak up. But I didn’t.
If you have read some of my blog posts you will now that I do believe that climate change is man-made but I have never attended a climate change protest. Not one.
I won’t go into a defence mode here on my views re black people or any other race for that matter. To my conscious mind, I don’t have a single thought in my head that would discriminate against race, religion, colours, age, sex, culture and all other possible ways of treating another human being differently. I know that doesn’t change the fact that many humans around the world face discrimination in many ways and that it should not be like this. I have lived the majority of my life in countries where I was a foreigner but that’s different from the BLM issue.
You will have noticed I said “conscious” mind in the previous paragraph. That’s because we all do have a subconscious mind – the part of the mind of which one is not fully aware. And that little bugger is very much influenced by the way we grew up, our background, the environment we grew up / live in, etc.
Harvard University has been running Project Implicit since 1998 and as part of their research, they developed the IAT – the Implicit Association Test.
The Implicit Association Test makes it possible to penetrate your subconscious mind and measures implicit attitudes and beliefs that people are either unwilling or unable to report. Give it a go you will be surprised by the results. You can do this test on your computer or iPad across all sorts of areas such as race, skin tone, weight, sexuality, gender, age etc.
Coming back to – are you a good person? I leave you with some words from Alain de Botton, my favourite philosopher.
There is really only one question you ever need to direct at someone to work out whether or not they are a good person – and that is, with deliberate simplicity:
Do you think you are a good person?
And to this, there is only one acceptable answer. People who are genuinely good, people who know about kindness, patience, forgiveness, compromise, apology and gentleness always, always answer no.
The price of being genuinely good has to be a constant suspicion that one might be a monster – combined with a fundamental hesitation about labelling anyone else monstrous. A guilty conscience is the bedrock of virtue.
You can find Alain’s recent blog post and more details on this here.
In 1987 I met Wilfried Erdmann. I was 15 at that time and he had come to my hometown to give a talk about his 1984 to 85 non-stop, solo circumnavigation from west to east with the prevailing winds with his boat Kathena Nui in 271 days. I don’t really remember why I went to this event I only remember that I went there by myself.
Winfried Erdmann is the first German sailor who sailed across the world alone. Because of the size of his boat, nobody in Germany believed him first. Erdmann was able to give proof of the visited ports of call, though.
Later he would go on to spend his honeymoon with his wife Astrid on a 1011-day long journey (69 to 72), which eventually became his second circumnavigation. Having sold Kathena, his first boat, they traveled with his second boat Kathena 2. From 1976 to 1979 another journey to the South Pacific with his wife and his 3-year-old son Kym. 1984 to 1985 the solo circumnavigation he presented in his talk and in 1989 he did two Atlantic crossings with winners of a contest of German magazine Stern.
In 2000 to 2001 another non-stop, solo circumnavigation from east to west (contrary to the prevailing winds) with Kathena Nui in 343 days. He was the fifth sailor worldwide doing such a journey.
Needless to say he is quite a hero in the sailing world and I have felt inspired by him and his journeys. Partly because of the event in my youth did I start sailing. Being the youngest at the event he asked me to come to join him on the stage. He asked me if I liked sailing and I said, sure but had never been on a real sailing boat.
Following that another sailor in the audience spoke up and offered to take me and a friend on his boat in the Med for a trip. A few months later I joined Willy (who had offered the trip) on his boat and we sailed the Med. Coincidentally we he had his boat in Alicante the exact same place where Wilfried Erdmann had started his first circumnavigation! Another coincidence I only found out today is that I share the birthday month with him. On the 15th of April Wilfried Erdmann turned 80. Happy Birthday – you are an inspiration!
Following my last rather aggressive rant I’ll try and tone down in this week’s blog post. That’s not to say I am in any way ok with what’s happening in our national and global political landscape and its response to the biggest crisis since WWII. That’s the human part.
As for a view on some of the political leadership, I’d like to share a short video of George Monbiot with you. He puts similar views into a very clear language in a way that I can’t. George is a writer and independent journalist and lives in the UK. I have read two of his books and in general, think he is a lovely chap.
Economy. Well, I think we can all agree we were hoping 2020 would be “the year”? The word’s New Year resolutions didn’t even have time to be forgotten when Covid19 started emerging. Forget about that. Not going to happen.
Research suggests the current crisis won’t hit the global economy as hard and long as the GFC in 2008 did. Honestly that remains to be seen. I have a different view, but let’s just focus for a moment on why it apparently is not going to be as “tough”.
Research by some clever people of some of the big economics and financial firms suggest that the GFC was essentially a “balance sheet” recession. “The bursting of an earlier housing bubble punched a hole in household balance sheets, forcing a collective shift towards saving/de-gearing rather than spending.” This exposed vulnerabilities in a highly-leveraged banking system and as counter-party confidence collapsed, the financial system froze up. This all manifested itself in a collapse in demand.
A few slides that give you some insights regarding GDPs, credit defaults and more of the current COVID-19 impact.
COVID-19 affects both supply and demand within the economy. Restrictions on people movements (factories, travel etc) reduce the productive capacity of our economy.
The same research suggests that fiscal responses by the governments – ramping up now and over the course of 2020 – will act in time to buffer the economies from recession. Globally, the paper continues, the firms believe there is ample liquidity in the financial systems to absorb financial market volatility.
Maybe, but let’s not forget that we are not talking about corporates helping societies to get back up on their feet but governments. Governments by their very nature need to “borrow” unplanned budgets from the future. As shitty as this sounds (and is) it is borrowed money from our kids. Why? Because governments have only one income stream: TAX. Borrowing from the future means higher tax as we move forward and given the amount of cash needed to get economies back afloat simple means we all have to chip in. Watch this space because none of this is being discussed at all.
Which brings me to my last point.
Everything is going to be better
I have heard many people say, “this is our lesson, the world will be a better place after this”, “people will wake up and see that we have to change” and so on. As I said in one of my blog posts before. This is what’s going to happen.
Humans don’t run on information. Humans don’t make decisions on facts. Humans don’t spend money based on data. Humans run on feelings.
Humans want stuff, humans want ownership, control and independence (BTW there is a great book I read that explains more of why this will not make you happy) You can read my previous blog post on this in relation to climate change here.
By the way, did you know that the Great Barrier Reef suffered its third mass bleaching event in five years? News of this study came out two days ago. Humans don’t run on information. Humans run on feelings. That’s why anyone who has never dived there or is not directly impacted by climate change barely lifts an eyelid.
We were lucky because we came into the world in countries of advanced capitalism at a time when there was unprecedented economic growth, near ‘full employment’, relatively low inequality of wealth and income, access to education, no shortage of food and no war.
So here we are. Only a few months ago I said to my wife that we are the “lucky generation”. We were lucky because we came into the world in countries of advanced capitalism at a time when there was unprecedented economic growth, near ‘full employment’, relatively low inequality of wealth and income, access to education, no shortage of food and no war.
My German granddad lost a leg in the second-world war and even though he passed away when I was very young my grandma filled in the blanks for me. I pretty much remember all the stories about the Nazis, the bombings, food shortage and other horrible things.
As Yuval Noah Harari wrote in his book Homo Deus: “We have developed the means to defeat famine, decease and the effect of war…we are more likely to die from obesity than hunger…war is an exceptional occurrence rather than a given, you are more likely to die from diabetes than war and even the Ebola crisis killed “only” 11000 people.”
But here we are.
Humankind is now facing a global crisis. Perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation. The next few months will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture.
I look at my two boys and am pretty scared. Not panicky scared but really scared. Yes, this crisis will pass and we will survive but we will inhabit a different world. We are no longer the lucky generation. Nor are my kids in the lucky generation.
Who knows how this all will impact them. Mental illness and suicide rates are predicted to go through the roof, some Governments including the Australian and US government scare the shit out of me.
A five and a thirteen-year-old boy died in the UK of Coronavirus, Germany today has 800 infected kids in the age group 0-4 and 1600 in the age group 5-14. Australia doesn’t show any numbers and I suspect that’s due to the fact that kids are not tested because they don’t show any symptoms.
Of course, these numbers are a tiny drop in the ocean compared to car accidents or the “normal” flu. To be honest, the next person that comes up to me with that braindead explanation I’ll… never mind. Car accidents don’t jump on the plane and go viral in another country. Get a f&%*ing perspective and do some reading on how serious this is.
What is totally beyond me is why in Australia childcare centres and schools are still open? Both are hotbeds of infections at the best of times and even though the kids “show little to no symptoms” they are can very well be infected, carry the infection and pass it on. Like every other human being. Whether they actually die from this (well they seem in the UK?? Hello!!!) is totally irrelevant, they should be in self-isolation as every adult. In our case, the boys have been kept from school for the last 4 weeks starting with the first news from Italy.
Please don’t come to me with the “essential service workers” won’t be able to go to work if they have to look after their kids. There are solutions for this and I can tell based on my litmus test of 7 doctor friends, they have had their kids at home before you even knew about the virus. Of course, doctors and nurses are not the only essential workers. That includes cleaners, postmen, truck drivers, grocery store workers and so on but please, there are super-easy solutions for this such as dedicated childcare workers or centres for essential workers. It is pretty straight forward, more importantly, everyone gets tested (kids and carers) going in/out. There you go.
I am super angry and had to write this down. I currently live in Australia and am extremely unhappy with how the Government is dealing with the crisis. I am a big fan of Bill Gates, not for his achievements with Microsoft but this guy has single-handedly eradicated Polio off the face of this earth, was in involved in helping with the Ebola crisis and even warned about this current crisis 5 years ago (see video below) and he says (with a focus on the US) “if we do it right, we’ll only have to do it once for six to 10 weeks, but it has to be the whole country,” on the complete lockdown of the US. The same is true for Australia but I fear the exact opposite is going to happen. We are not in full lockdown at all and given the decreasing numbers of daily increase of new cases we will soon see a softening of the self-isolation rules. I do not believe this is over yet and we have not done enough testing. A second wave as predicted and active in man countries is highly likely.
The weird thing is, Australia has the unique advantage of space and distance. Our major cities are wide apart making a lockdown and detailed monitoring much much easier than in any other country on this planet. And for everyone talking economy here’s my take: we can bring an economy back to life, dead people not so much! And please don’t be so shortsighted. We are part of a global economy even, even if Australia was all hunky-dory tomorrow we have umbilical cords to economies like China, UK and US, plus the rest of world that send tourists to Australia. Australia’s Service industry comprises over 70% of the GDP. It dominates the economy, which employs over 79% of our labour force! That’s the tourism, media and entertainment, healthcare, logistics, education, and finance sectors. Without the other world economies being well again we will have no economy!
What’s your dream? What do you enjoy doing? What life are you living?
If you are a parent, what do you want for your kids? Picture the day they walk out of your home as grown-ups – what do you want them to look back at, and more importantly, will you have managed to give them everything they need to live their adult lives?
Do you enjoy getting up everyday at the same time, hopefully have breakfast with your loved ones, then make your way to what ever you do for a living, 8-10 hours later you touch down at home (if), have dinner, spent some time doing something (kids, hobby, reading etc (hopefully)) then rinse repeat x 5 interrupted by weekends x 52 x your life expectancy – The End?
Oh, not to forget the one or two times you have a 10 days break per year to “recharge your batteries” and then back to rinse and repeat?
So, again: What’s your dream? What life are you living? Is it your dream life? Do you enjoy what you are doing? Love to hear what you think.
I recently finished a book by Richard Eyre – The Happiness Paradigm. Don’t want to go into too much detail but there is a part about serendipity as an alternative to control (ie. control everything in your life to be happy that is).
Serendipity is often defined as fate or luck or something good happening to you by pure luck. It is a bit more than that.
Serendipity does not come from Latin or Greek, but rather was created by nineteenth-century author Horace Walpole after having read the ancient fable called the 3 princesses of Serendip (now Sri Lanka!)
In the fable the 3 princesses search for fortune but through their awareness and perception they discover love, truth and opportunities to help others and realise they got more than they intitally were looking for.
Walpole realised there was no word in the English language that expresses that happy ability to find things that are better than what we were looking for – so he made up the word serendipity.
So it’s not just luck but the fact that you are exploring that will lead you to something much better 🙂
For the last two years I have been working on my next book. It looks like it will be ready to be published in April or May this year.
Sign up for my newsletter if you like to receive a notification once the book is about to be published.
Tobi & Mobi Dee – The Secret of the Arctic Ice – is a story about a young sailor Tobi and his best – whale – friend Mobi Dee. The two were born at the same time and have been traveling the Seven Seas ever since. While Tobi lives on his sailing boat SV Rainbowchaser, Mobi Dee swims along during their adventures.
Through a magic event in his childhood Tobi speaks “whalish” and is able to communicate with his best friend.
In this book Tobi and Mobi Dee get a request for help from their friend Franz, a one-tonne walrus, who lives in the Arctic Circle. Franz is worried about the amount of Ice that keeps on disappearing around his family home.
This is not just a story about two friends and their adventures but aims to educate young readers as they follow the story. Kids will learn about sailing, wind, weather and ocean related terms and are immersed in a story that uncovers climate change related issues and solutions.
The book is the result of bedtime stories I told my own kids that were deliberately spiked with some real life sailing and climate knowledge.
Tens of thousands of people have fled from the fire-ravaged regions of New South Wales and Victoria as bushfires continue to devastate Australia. The worst is yet to come, with extreme fire conditions expected to kick in next couple of days.
Givit Charities like Givit specialise in goods, where the exact items people need are listed via charities and the public can match that or register the items they have, in case someone has use for them.
Airbnb have set up pages to share free accommodation for people who are evacuating the fire zones. Find emergency housing or list your property via the NSW or Victoria page.
“He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree.”
Santa Claus lives in the Laughing Valley, where stands the big, rambling castle in which his toys are manufactured. His workmen, selected from the ryls, knooks, pixies and fairies, live with him, and every one is as busy as can be from one year’s end to another.
It is called the Laughing Valley because everything there is happy and gay. The brook chuckles to itself as it leaps rollicking between its green banks; the wind whistles merrily in the trees; the sunbeams dance lightly over the soft grass, and the violets and wild flowers look smilingly up from their green nests. To laugh one needs to be happy; to be happy one needs to be content. And throughout the Laughing Valley of Santa Claus contentment reigns supreme.
On one side is the mighty Forest of Burzee. At the other side stands the huge mountain that contains the Caves of the Daemons. And between them the Valley lies smiling and peaceful.
One would thing that our good old Santa Claus, who devotes his days to making children happy, would have no enemies on all the earth; and, as a matter of fact, for a long period of time he encountered nothing but love wherever he might go.
But the Daemons who live in the mountain caves grew to hate Santa Claus very much, and all for the simple reason that he made children happy.
The Caves of the Daemons are five in number. A broad pathway leads up to the first cave, which is a finely arched cavern at the foot of the mountain, the entrance being beautifully carved and decorated. In it resides the Daemon of Selfishness. Back of this is another cavern inhabited by the Daemon of Envy. The cave of the Daemon of Hatred is next in order, and through this one passes to the home of the Daemon of Malice—situated in a dark and fearful cave in the very heart of the mountain. I do not know what lies beyond this. Some say there are terrible pitfalls leading to death and destruction, and this may very well be true. However, from each one of the four caves mentioned there is a small, narrow tunnel leading to the fifth cave—a cozy little room occupied by the Daemon of Repentance. And as the rocky floors of these passages are well worn by the track of passing feet, I judge that many wanderers in the Caves of the Daemons have escaped through the tunnels to the abode of the Daemon of Repentance, who is said to be a pleasant sort of fellow who gladly opens for one a little door admitting you into fresh air and sunshine again.
Well, these Daemons of the Caves, thinking they had great cause to dislike old Santa Claus, held a meeting one day to discuss the matter.
“I’m really getting lonesome,” said the Daemon of Selfishness. “For Santa Claus distributes so many pretty Christmas gifts to all the children that they become happy and generous, through his example, and keep away from my cave.”
“I’m having the same trouble,” rejoined the Daemon of Envy. “The little ones seem quite content with Santa Claus, and there are few, indeed, that I can coax to become envious.”
“And that makes it bad for me!” declared the Daemon of Hatred. “For if no children pass through the Caves of Selfishness and Envy, none can get to MY cavern.”
“Or to mine,” added the Daemon of Malice.
“For my part,” said the Daemon of Repentance, “it is easily seen that if children do not visit your caves they have no need to visit mine; so that I am quite as neglected as you are.”
“And all because of this person they call Santa Claus!” exclaimed the Daemon of Envy. “He is simply ruining our business, and something must be done at once.”
To this they readily agreed; but what to do was another and more difficult matter to settle. They knew that Santa Claus worked all through the year at his castle in the Laughing Valley, preparing the gifts he was to distribute on Christmas Eve; and at first they resolved to try to tempt him into their caves, that they might lead him on to the terrible pitfalls that ended in destruction.
So the very next day, while Santa Claus was busily at work, surrounded by his little band of assistants, the Daemon of Selfishness came to him and said:
“These toys are wonderfully bright and pretty. Why do you not keep them for yourself? It’s a pity to give them to those noisy boys and fretful girls, who break and destroy them so quickly.”
“Nonsense!” cried the old graybeard, his bright eyes twinkling merrily as he turned toward the tempting Daemon. “The boys and girls are never so noisy and fretful after receiving my presents, and if I can make them happy for one day in the year I am quite content.”
So the Daemon went back to the others, who awaited him in their caves, and said:
“I have failed, for Santa Claus is not at all selfish.”
The following day the Daemon of Envy visited Santa Claus. Said he: “The toy shops are full of playthings quite as pretty as those you are making. What a shame it is that they should interfere with your business! They make toys by machinery much quicker than you can make them by hand; and they sell them for money, while you get nothing at all for your work.”
But Santa Claus refused to be envious of the toy shops.
“I can supply the little ones but once a year—on Christmas Eve,” he answered; “for the children are many, and I am but one. And as my work is one of love and kindness I would be ashamed to receive money for my little gifts. But throughout all the year the children must be amused in some way, and so the toy shops are able to bring much happiness to my little friends. I like the toy shops, and am glad to see them prosper.”
In spite of the second rebuff, the Daemon of Hatred thought he would try to influence Santa Claus. So the next day he entered the busy workshop and said:
“Good morning, Santa! I have bad news for you.”
“Then run away, like a good fellow,” answered Santa Claus. “Bad news is something that should be kept secret and never told.”
“You cannot escape this, however,” declared the Daemon; “for in the world are a good many who do not believe in Santa Claus, and these you are bound to hate bitterly, since they have so wronged you.”
“Stuff and rubbish!” cried Santa.
“And there are others who resent your making children happy and who sneer at you and call you a foolish old rattlepate! You are quite right to hate such base slanderers, and you ought to be revenged upon them for their evil words.”
“But I don’t hate ’em!” exclaimed Santa Claus positively. “Such people do me no real harm, but merely render themselves and their children unhappy. Poor things! I’d much rather help them any day than injure them.”
Indeed, the Daemons could not tempt old Santa Claus in any way. On the contrary, he was shrewd enough to see that their object in visiting him was to make mischief and trouble, and his cheery laughter disconcerted the evil ones and showed to them the folly of such an undertaking. So they abandoned honeyed words and determined to use force.
It was well known that no harm can come to Santa Claus while he is in the Laughing Valley, for the fairies, and ryls, and knooks all protect him. But on Christmas Eve he drives his reindeer out into the big world, carrying a sleighload of toys and pretty gifts to the children; and this was the time and the occasion when his enemies had the best chance to injure him. So the Daemons laid their plans and awaited the arrival of Christmas Eve.
The moon shone big and white in the sky, and the snow lay crisp and sparkling on the ground as Santa Claus cracked his whip and sped away out of the Valley into the great world beyond. The roomy sleigh was packed full with huge sacks of toys, and as the reindeer dashed onward our jolly old Santa laughed and whistled and sang for very joy. For in all his merry life this was the one day in the year when he was happiest—the day he lovingly bestowed the treasures of his workshop upon the little children.
It would be a busy night for him, he well knew. As he whistled and shouted and cracked his whip again, he reviewed in mind all the towns and cities and farmhouses where he was expected, and figured that he had just enough presents to go around and make every child happy. The reindeer knew exactly what was expected of them, and dashed along so swiftly that their feet scarcely seemed to touch the snow-covered ground.
Suddenly a strange thing happened: a rope shot through the moonlight and a big noose that was in the end of it settled over the arms and body of Santa Claus and drew tight. Before he could resist or even cry out he was jerked from the seat of the sleigh and tumbled head foremost into a snowbank, while the reindeer rushed onward with the load of toys and carried it quickly out of sight and sound.
Such a surprising experience confused old Santa for a moment, and when he had collected his senses he found that the wicked Daemons had pulled him from the snowdrift and bound him tightly with many coils of the stout rope. And then they carried the kidnapped Santa Claus away to their mountain, where they thrust the prisoner into a secret cave and chained him to the rocky wall so that he could not escape.
“Ha, ha!” laughed the Daemons, rubbing their hands together with cruel glee. “What will the children do now? How they will cry and scold and storm when they find there are no toys in their stockings and no gifts on their Christmas trees! And what a lot of punishment they will receive from their parents, and how they will flock to our Caves of Selfishness, and Envy, and Hatred, and Malice! We have done a mighty clever thing, we Daemons of the Caves!”
Now it so chanced that on this Christmas Eve the good Santa Claus had taken with him in his sleigh Nuter the Ryl, Peter the Knook, Kilter the Pixie, and a small fairy named Wisk—his four favorite assistants. These little people he had often found very useful in helping him to distribute his gifts to the children, and when their master was so suddenly dragged from the sleigh they were all snugly tucked underneath the seat, where the sharp wind could not reach them.
The tiny immortals knew nothing of the capture of Santa Claus until some time after he had disappeared. But finally they missed his cheery voice, and as their master always sang or whistled on his journeys, the silence warned them that something was wrong.
Little Wisk stuck out his head from underneath the seat and found Santa Claus gone and no one to direct the flight of the reindeer.
“Whoa!” he called out, and the deer obediently slackened speed and came to a halt.
Peter and Nuter and Kilter all jumped upon the seat and looked back over the track made by the sleigh. But Santa Claus had been left miles and miles behind.
“What shall we do?” asked Wisk anxiously, all the mirth and mischief banished from his wee face by this great calamity.
“We must go back at once and find our master,” said Nuter the Ryl, who thought and spoke with much deliberation.
“No, no!” exclaimed Peter the Knook, who, cross and crabbed though he was, might always be depended upon in an emergency. “If we delay, or go back, there will not be time to get the toys to the children before morning; and that would grieve Santa Claus more than anything else.”
“It is certain that some wicked creatures have captured him,” added Kilter thoughtfully, “and their object must be to make the children unhappy. So our first duty is to get the toys distributed as carefully as if Santa Claus were himself present. Afterward we can search for our master and easily secure his freedom.”
This seemed such good and sensible advice that the others at once resolved to adopt it. So Peter the Knook called to the reindeer, and the faithful animals again sprang forward and dashed over hill and valley, through forest and plain, until they came to the houses wherein children lay sleeping and dreaming of the pretty gifts they would find on Christmas morning.
The little immortals had set themselves a difficult task; for although they had assisted Santa Claus on many of his journeys, their master had always directed and guided them and told them exactly what he wished them to do. But now they had to distribute the toys according to their own judgment, and they did not understand children as well as did old Santa. So it is no wonder they made some laughable errors.
Mamie Brown, who wanted a doll, got a drum instead; and a drum is of no use to a girl who loves dolls. And Charlie Smith, who delights to romp and play out of doors, and who wanted some new rubber boots to keep his feet dry, received a sewing box filled with colored worsteds and threads and needles, which made him so provoked that he thoughtlessly called our dear Santa Claus a fraud.
Had there been many such mistakes the Daemons would have accomplished their evil purpose and made the children unhappy. But the little friends of the absent Santa Claus labored faithfully and intelligently to carry out their master’s ideas, and they made fewer errors than might be expected under such unusual circumstances.
And, although they worked as swiftly as possible, day had begun to break before the toys and other presents were all distributed; so for the first time in many years the reindeer trotted into the Laughing Valley, on their return, in broad daylight, with the brilliant sun peeping over the edge of the forest to prove they were far behind their accustomed hours.
Having put the deer in the stable, the little folk began to wonder how they might rescue their master; and they realized they must discover, first of all, what had happened to him and where he was.
So Wisk the Fairy transported himself to the bower of the Fairy Queen, which was located deep in the heart of the Forest of Burzee; and once there, it did not take him long to find out all about the naughty Daemons and how they had kidnapped the good Santa Claus to prevent his making children happy. The Fairy Queen also promised her assistance, and then, fortified by this powerful support, Wisk flew back to where Nuter and Peter and Kilter awaited him, and the four counseled together and laid plans to rescue their master from his enemies.
It is possible that Santa Claus was not as merry as usual during the night that succeeded his capture. For although he had faith in the judgment of his little friends he could not avoid a certain amount of worry, and an anxious look would creep at times into his kind old eyes as he thought of the disappointment that might await his dear little children. And the Daemons, who guarded him by turns, one after another, did not neglect to taunt him with contemptuous words in his helpless condition.
When Christmas Day dawned the Daemon of Malice was guarding the prisoner, and his tongue was sharper than that of any of the others.
“The children are waking up, Santa!” he cried. “They are waking up to find their stockings empty! Ho, ho! How they will quarrel, and wail, and stamp their feet in anger! Our caves will be full today, old Santa! Our caves are sure to be full!”
But to this, as to other like taunts, Santa Claus answered nothing. He was much grieved by his capture, it is true; but his courage did not forsake him. And, finding that the prisoner would not reply to his jeers, the Daemon of Malice presently went away, and sent the Daemon of Repentance to take his place.
This last personage was not so disagreeable as the others. He had gentle and refined features, and his voice was soft and pleasant in tone.
“My brother Daemons do not trust me overmuch,” said he, as he entered the cavern; “but it is morning, now, and the mischief is done. You cannot visit the children again for another year.”
“That is true,” answered Santa Claus, almost cheerfully; “Christmas Eve is past, and for the first time in centuries I have not visited my children.”
“The little ones will be greatly disappointed,” murmured the Daemon of Repentance, almost regretfully; “but that cannot be helped now. Their grief is likely to make the children selfish and envious and hateful, and if they come to the Caves of the Daemons today I shall get a chance to lead some of them to my Cave of Repentance.”
“Do you never repent, yourself?” asked Santa Claus, curiously.
“Oh, yes, indeed,” answered the Daemon. “I am even now repenting that I assisted in your capture. Of course it is too late to remedy the evil that has been done; but repentance, you know, can come only after an evil thought or deed, for in the beginning there is nothing to repent of.”
“So I understand,” said Santa Claus. “Those who avoid evil need never visit your cave.”
“As a rule, that is true,” replied the Daemon; “yet you, who have done no evil, are about to visit my cave at once; for to prove that I sincerely regret my share in your capture I am going to permit you to escape.”
This speech greatly surprised the prisoner, until he reflected that it was just what might be expected of the Daemon of Repentance. The fellow at once busied himself untying the knots that bound Santa Claus and unlocking the chains that fastened him to the wall. Then he led the way through a long tunnel until they both emerged in the Cave of Repentance.
“I hope you will forgive me,” said the Daemon pleadingly. “I am not really a bad person, you know; and I believe I accomplish a great deal of good in the world.”
With this he opened a back door that let in a flood of sunshine, and Santa Claus sniffed the fresh air gratefully.
“I bear no malice,” said he to the Daemon, in a gentle voice; “and I am sure the world would be a dreary place without you. So, good morning, and a Merry Christmas to you!”
With these words he stepped out to greet the bright morning, and a moment later he was trudging along, whistling softly to himself, on his way to his home in the Laughing Valley.
Marching over the snow toward the mountain was a vast army, made up of the most curious creatures imaginable. There were numberless knooks from the forest, as rough and crooked in appearance as the gnarled branches of the trees they ministered to. And there were dainty ryls from the fields, each one bearing the emblem of the flower or plant it guarded. Behind these were many ranks of pixies, gnomes and nymphs, and in the rear a thousand beautiful fairies floated along in gorgeous array.
This wonderful army was led by Wisk, Peter, Nuter, and Kilter, who had assembled it to rescue Santa Claus from captivity and to punish the Daemons who had dared to take him away from his beloved children.
And, although they looked so bright and peaceful, the little immortals were armed with powers that would be very terrible to those who had incurred their anger. Woe to the Daemons of the Caves if this mighty army of vengeance ever met them!
But lo! coming to meet his loyal friends appeared the imposing form of Santa Claus, his white beard floating in the breeze and his bright eyes sparkling with pleasure at this proof of the love and veneration he had inspired in the hearts of the most powerful creatures in existence.
And while they clustered around him and danced with glee at his safe return, he gave them earnest thanks for their support. But Wisk, and Nuter, and Peter, and Kilter, he embraced affectionately.
“It is useless to pursue the Daemons,” said Santa Claus to the army. “They have their place in the world, and can never be destroyed. But that is a great pity, nevertheless,” he continued musingly.
So the fairies, and knooks, and pixies, and ryls all escorted the good man to his castle, and there left him to talk over the events of the night with his little assistants.
Wisk had already rendered himself invisible and flown through the big world to see how the children were getting along on this bright Christmas morning; and by the time he returned, Peter had finished telling Santa Claus of how they had distributed the toys.
“We really did very well,” cried the fairy, in a pleased voice; “for I found little unhappiness among the children this morning. Still, you must not get captured again, my dear master; for we might not be so fortunate another time in carrying out your ideas.”
He then related the mistakes that had been made, and which he had not discovered until his tour of inspection. And Santa Claus at once sent him with rubber boots for Charlie Smith, and a doll for Mamie Brown; so that even those two disappointed ones became happy.
As for the wicked Daemons of the Caves, they were filled with anger and chagrin when they found that their clever capture of Santa Claus had come to naught. Indeed, no one on that Christmas Day appeared to be at all selfish, or envious, or hateful. And, realizing that while the children’s saint had so many powerful friends it was folly to oppose him, the Daemons never again attempted to interfere with his journeys on Christmas Eve.
Lyman Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919) was an American author chiefly famous for his children’s books, particularly The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its sequels. He wrote 14 novels in the Oz series, plus 41 other novels, 83 short stories, over 200 poems, and at least 42 scripts. He made numerous attempts to bring his works to the stage and the nascent medium of film; the 1939 adaptation of the first Oz book would become a landmark of 20th-century cinema. His works anticipated such century-later commonplaces as television, augmented reality, laptop computers (The Master Key), wireless telephones (Tik-Tok of Oz), women in high-risk and action-heavy occupations (Mary Louise in the Country), and the ubiquity of advertising on clothing (Aunt Jane’s Nieces at Work).
Got up this morning at 3:45am. Shower and kiss the family (boys asleep – love you boys). Fastest Uber drive to Syndey domestic terminal 2. No traffic at 4:30am 👍
Was a bit anxious about my life vest which was in the check-in luggage. It has a CO2 cartridge and is considered as “dangerous goods” under aviation laws.
I had two options. Not to tell them and hope for the best or tell them and then go through all the nonsense procedures (call manager, get dangerous goods slip and so on)
Keep in mind these CO2 cartridges are the exact same cartridges all planes carry under the seats in the onboard life vests.
What can I say I am not good at lying so when lovely “Jenny” asked me “do you have any of these dangerous goods in your luggage (pointing at the poster) I gave in. Only 35min later I was able to go to the gate. First Jenny had trouble finding the right phone number, then I had to unpack the vest, show them, pack again, another call, manager arrives…anyway I spare you the rest. I made it. Next time I won’t say a word. Promise.
After touching down at Melbourne Avalon the airport presents itself with what must be the worlds smallest luggage claim. Very sweet.
Continued on the Skybus (24$ one way) to Melbourne CBD. Turns out the bloody bus takes longer from the airport to city center than the whole flight from Sydney to Melbourne 😳 Note to self. Fly to Tullamarine next time.
Arrived at Skipper’s house met everyone and then dropped off all our luggage at the boat. Fixed a few things and in general prepped the boat for our big sail to Sydney.
Illustrator Steve Cutts sets his animation, “Happiness,” in a teeming urban environment, with hundreds of near identical cartoon rats standing in for human drudges in an unfulfilling, and not unfamiliar race.
Last week I had the incredible pleasure to play with stingrays. Yep, stingrays. Well, to be correct they are actually called cownose rays because of their unusual bi-lobed head, with two large fleshy lobes under the snout. Still, they are part of the stingray family.
As you know we are currently searching for the right boat for us. Our favourite is a Beneteau 57. As with all bigger purchases in life this is about compromising and considering all sorts of options such as affordability, space, seaworthiness and so on.
About 9 months ago I decided to write a book. Given that I will soon turn 50 that might very well be a “midlife crisis idea” except, I actually started writing many many years ago. Some of the stuff I have written will make its way into the book.
Rianne, Gerben and Jr. Captain Benjamin set sail to explore the world and feel the breeze on their Beneteau 57 “Perfect Sense”
The "Feel the Breeze" crew has been cruising since
Over the next few weeks I will be posting a series of short profiles about some of the most interesting and inspiring cruising families. You can find the full list of families here and if you feel I missed someone, please shout.
Sailing around the world as a family might sound crazy but I am glad to let you know there are plenty of families doing exactly this. We have been following these families on social media and are in contact with some of them.
It is about time I got back to completing this short blog series about the “6 rules for happiness”. I know “rules” sounds a bit weird. Don’t care. What I do care about is the fact that this actually works and I wish I had the balls to actually do something about this many many years ago.