Going back

Consider another of my blogs: Floating Life which began in 2007 and continued until superseded by this blog. Later archives from Blogspot (mainly) were added, taking the entries back to 2005.

Near the end of its run I did a retrospective series under the tag Decade called “Blogging the Noughties”. Another series followed, Picks from 2009 photos, and then Floating Life closed.

One of the “best of 2009” pics

In the "Blogging the Noughties" series I refer to my old Diary-X site a number of times. Diary-X was a bit like a WordPress that failed, though it was much less ambitious. It was a nice place and we regulars loved it.


That links to the surviving copy on The Web Archive.

20 Jul 2001
While the Prince is away…
Holiday almost over

The salt mine beckons…

With the Crown Prince being on a Royal Progress at the moment, I feel I must make sure the Diary is kept up pending his return. I confess ICQ seems slightly bleaker though…

Today I coached in Chinatown and ran into yet another ex-student who was doing business there. Prior to that I spent some time in the UTS Library, where I found an excellent article by Wayne Martino from Murdoch University, published in The Teaching of English (a journal I have neglected of late) 127-128, May 2000 (published by the Australian Association for the Teaching of English (AATE): "The Boys in the Back: Challenging Masculinities and Homophobia in the English Curriculum". While some of that journal is available on the Internet, that article isn’t–which is a shame. It slots well into the issues I raised in the diary before last. I did find on the Net, after searching for "Wayne Martino" on Google, some interesting things from the Tasmanian Department of Education which those interested may follow up.

There was also a thoughtful cautionary article in an earlier Teaching of English (124, March 1999) by Andrew Kowaluk, "Boys and Literacy: Challenging Orthodoxies". This article questions using critical literacy as an instrument of social change on the grounds that as it challenges values it may well meet resistance and entrench the values it seeks to problematize. Oh my God, I have used that word! In referring in the diary before last to the reception of the efforts of a female colleague, I hinted at that phenomenon, and indeed I think teachers need to move carefully in raising such issues.

The whole thing is something I must give more thought to, because I know that what we have (in my school anyway) is, despite exceptions, the ethos entrenches a conception of masculinity that is really destructive. Those exceptions are large and important, of course, but should they be exceptions? Why should the power elite in the school so often be unreflective? Why should bullying tactics on the part of certain staff go unrebuked? Why should a certain type of maleness be so rewarded?

Yes, there are people reading this who know precisely what I mean (and who I am too) and I would be interested in their views.

My late mother’s birthday today: makes me a bit sentimental.

And again:

7 May 2001
After the storm
A bit of a roller-coaster

First, let it be said that banks have lost the human touch. No elaboration–sorry!

There was a bit of a storm a day or so back, but comparative calm has returned. In fact, a couple of storms–one work-related, one domestic! The value of one or two who regard one in a positive light was brought home to me.

Yes, it’s one of those cryptic entries again, folks.

Lunch was like a clear pool and a shady tree in a desert place. I heard too at lunch that a slightly radical change in accessories is in the offing; I look forward to seeing the result 🙂

Lovely talk last night with a new ICQ friend, Kenny–a priest. I am looking forward to this friendship developing. And speaking of ICQ friends: Happy Birthday, Atakan!

Kenny was Ken Sinclair, a Melbourne priest, 6 Feb 1927 – 19 May 2005 – but his website lives still. *

Here are the links to some friends’ sites. The first one, known as "Ninglun", is a teacher at a boys’ high school in Sydney, and in addition to his routine teaching, has a lot to do with teaching and inculcating attitudes of anti-discrimination. The second, "Sal", contributes a lot of material to a group called "The Gay Catholic Clubhouse", and is a great guy. In fact, they are both great guys!

The next link is to the site of Michael Coyne, an internationally known photographer, who,as I tell him, I’ve known for so many years that I knew him before he was famous. The link "Present Australia" belongs to a couple of long-time friends, Mike Clohesy and Oliver Scofield, who set up this business called "Present Australia", that handles everything for people wanting to visit Australia. The next link is to a site called "Woodchips", set up by our Fr Wood’s brother and nephew, to be about the Wood family. In the graphic, Fr Wood is the tall guy second from the right at the back. He is 81, and his mother, seated in front, is 103!

Ken’s link led me to my VERY FIRST SITE on Angelfire! Well, not quite, as I had a site on something called Talk City for a while beginning 2000.


This is rather ironic:


A shame that didn’t stick: imagine the difference a decade of not smoking would have made financially as well as healthwise!

You can even visit the guest book – well, one page!

Back to Diary-X.

Monday, March 25, 2002

On my Diary Key page I have three other diaries linked, all with permission obtained some time back. I thought I’d tell you a little about each one today, and think about why we do this.

I’ll begin with the youngest diarist, Lucas in Montreal. He is about eighteen and uses this diary (he has another) to reflect on his feelings, what happens, his growing definition of himself, and what appears to be quite a battle sometimes with depression. I like his sense of humour and his touch of self-irony. He is a very aware young man.

Queer Scribe is also a North American. His diary is often raunchy as he is much more, shall we say active, than I am. He is a bit younger than I am, but not all that much. He is also very reflective, very self-aware, and, it seems to me, very honest. This is a sample from the latest entry, not so raunchy this time. He is telling of his contribution to a talk-back show:

"But, you know," persisted Tracey, "I’m not so sure I like this having to watch what we say. I mean, doesn’t language constantly evolve? Like the ‘that’s so gay’ thing; sure, maybe it was once a homophobic slur but when we use it now without knowing that, isn’t it ok?"

"Well," I said, "I don’t lose too much sleep over whether this phrase gets said or not. But I think it’s good for us all to be sensitive about the language we use. That’s not political correctness, it’s just about recognizing that the words we choose have an impact on who feels a part of or apart from the dialogue."

(I’m not sure that last sentence is verbatim; I doubt I said anything quite so "articulate".)

…It’s good to be a little uncomfortable because it makes us think about what we’re saying and who our words might be trampling upon. That’s not censorship so much as it is a desire to communicate.

The last one linked from my Diary Key is Drew. He is a thirty-something English guy, very bright. He writes very well indeed. When I first came upon his diary he was living in New York, and his entries around September 2001 make very interesting reading. He is now back in the UK. He has a section explaining his reasons for keeping an online diary–that is what the link in this paragraph takes you to. I rather like what he says, which includes:

I’m a shy self-effacing person in my daily life, but my alter-ego craves attention. I get a kick out of seeing my words, thoughts and observations published on the web and out of knowing that someone else might see them too.

But there are more noble and important reasons as well: The knowledge that I have an online journal to maintain gives me a new sense of responsibility towards my diary. It disciplines me into writing daily, or almost daily. It also encourages me to write well, or as well as I am able.

And I know that I’m a happier person when writing is part of my life.

My diary began also as a discipline, and as a way of getting control over certain things in my life. That was before it went online. Going online was in a way to launch the longest letter to a friend ever written 😉 and it has continued that function, but one knows others read it, and the feedback has often been encouraging. I think I too am "a happier person when writing is part of my life."…

I can’t stop without correcting an omission. One of the first sites of this kind (though it is not strictly a diary) that I encountered is Yawning Bread, a very articulate gay man in Singapore. It is well worth visiting for all sorts of reasons. He writes beautifully and thinks…boy, can he think! His entries for March 2002 are just up and deal with religion, culture and gayness from an Asian perspective. The bill of fare on this site is extraordinarily rich, sustaining, sane and humane. You would be mad not to read it regularly, as it is better than mine!

And there is Mitchell’s site too (see below) which is also a kind of diary, but sometimes a knowledge of wrestling helps, especially on the guest book. A quirkish irony/humour pervades Mitchell’s site, with an underlying seriousness at times (I think he might admit to that if pressed and in the right mood.) I have been known to have been taken in by it in its more ironic modes 😉 It is also a bit elliptical at times. Oh, and there is a gallery.

An issue raised by all this – in fact I had read the article before starting this entry – is in today’s Sun Herald: Journey past the last post by Neil McMahon.

We live so much of our lives online but what becomes of our digital selves when we’re gone?

Neil McMahon reports on virtual life after death.

This phenomenon of us sharing lives in various virtual worlds is so recent that we’re still contemplating what it means in the here and now, with most of us yet to consider what it means when we’re dead and buried. But the debate is beginning. In the US, entrepreneurs have given thought to questions yet to trouble most of us: what to do with the digital trail we leave behind, from Facebook accounts to Twitter posts, from the endless gigabytes of email to that personal YouTube channel that was fun at the time but which may not withstand the demands of eternal life. And these are not mere memories – many will also leave behind significant financial assets online, from music libraries to valuable e-book collections.

In the meantime, some of us will go about creating that digital legacy with the only assistance from outside being asking a trusted loved one to hit "Send" on our final words.

Jessica Horton was not the last blogger confronting mortality to consider how best to give eternal voice to their online self. This month Canadian writer Derek Miller, 41, used his blog, penmachine.com, to deliver what he called The Last Post. It began: "Here it is. I’m dead, and this is my last post to my blog. In advance, I asked that once my body finally shut down from the punishments of my cancer, then my family and friends publish this prepared message I wrote – the first part of the process of turning this from an active website to an archive."

For Miller’s family, as for Horton’s, the lesson seems to be that a legacy managed is a legacy the bereaved can live with. As Horton’s mother, Julia Whitby, says: "We respected her wishes. I like the fact that it’s out there. I know Jess would have liked that. She loved to write, and if she’d lived I think she would have been a writer. I’m very proud that she had an impact, because that’s what she wanted to do."

It’s an interesting issue, eh!

* Ken Sinclair – obituary 2005 pdf

Ken Sinclair,   6 Feb 1927 – 19 May 2005

Fr  Ken Sinclair, openly gay man and priest at St Francis (Melbourne) for many years, died earlier this year, aged 78.

Many of us who went to the national homosexual conferences of the 1970s and 1980s will remember Ken with affection.  He only missed one of the 11, and was a great counter-example to the prevalent view  of the time that Christians were the enemy of gay people.   The conferences helped Ken affirm his confidence in being gay – and in gratitude he spoke publicly for gay rights, sometimes in the face of considerable censure from his own Church. Ken contributed to the gay community in many ways:  in his pastoral work, in his writing, as a supporter of groups, the Australian Lesbian and Gay Archives among them, to which he donated large amounts of material over the years, and in friendship to the many whose path he crossed along the way.   His PhD thesis in 1995 examined the churches’ responses to HIV/AIDS through the filter of their

attitudes to homosexuality, based on interviews with clergy and people living with HIV/AIDS.

There is an interview with Ken in Dino Hodge’s book, ‘The fall upward;  spirituality in the lives of lesbian women and gay men’ (1995), which captures much of what was so likeable about Ken.  For Ken, simple principles of love and charity were at the heart of his religion and nothing could excuse cruelty dressed up as piety.  It was summed up in this passage about ‘particular friendships’, which were frowned on by official teaching when Ken was a novice.

"But as our director said:  ‘Any friendship has to be particular otherwise it’s not a friendship’.  I can’t remember if it’s Charlie Brown or Linus in the cartoon strip that says:  ‘I love humanity.  It’s individual people I can’t stand’. But of course you can only meet humanity through individuals."