Hey Patreons! I’m up in Indonesia and Malaysia at the moment – taking a break to to to sort some things out emotionally and mentally before this year really kicks into high gear. I’ll be back next week though so I’m excited to see what happens later this month, because we’re certainly in for a big one!

Books I’m reading
With all the political madness going on the US and Australia at the moment it’s been incredibly easy to be pulled into tracking the latest horror in the news on Twitter, and while it’s important to stay up to date it started to become all consuming last month. To try and counteract my endless and concerned scrolling, coupled with a clear despondency I’ve been fighting for the last few months, I decided to get myself back on track by laying out a list of what I need to do to feel ready for Mars One selection in the second half of this year. 

I’ll share my preparation list for Mars One in another post soon, but I’ve already started on the reading list by returning to some old favourites…

Shackleton’s Way by Margot Morrell & Stephanie Capparell – I remember reading an article by two of Mars One’s chief selectors way back when I first heard about Mars One in September 2012, and given I was already looking to apply to the Australian Antarctic Division I immediately latching onto the mention of Ernest Shackleton’s “Endurance” expedition. 

A lot of folks rightly recommended Alfred Lansing’s book, but I gravitated towards “Shackleton’s Way” because it combines the tale of the expedition with very clear leadership lessons punctuated all the way through. I’ve kept a print of the leadership points on the wall above my office desk for years now, but it has been vital to re-read the whole book and take my own notes. Besides being a reminder of the requirements and challenges of true leadership, it has been a critically important personal reminder that – in the words of Shackleton himself – “Optimism is true moral courage”

Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman – This was actually recommended by a friend while I was Edinburgh for the 2012 fringe festival, less than a week before I found out about Mars One. Seligman is essentially the father of Positive Psychology, and has been at the forfront of the real psychological research that most self-help books like to pick and choose from. At the very core of his research is strong evidence that depression is strongly linked to learned helplessness, that helplessness can be equally UNlearned, that optimism can be quantifiably measured through language, and emotional resiliance is strongly linked to how long you spend ruminating on events (both positive and negative).

It’s an absolutely fascinating book, and while there are points where I wish he’d just get on and tell us the end results of the research (even though I first read this years ago), I have to appreciate Seligman’s efforts at using storytelling to share important research that might otherwise be dismissed.

TV I’m watching at the moment
Truth be told I’m not watching TV at the moment – I’ve either been busy writing posts, burning myself out on our home rowing machine, or working on my book. I heard today that season 2 of The Expanse has premiered , and the producers of Rick and Morty are clearly up to something ahead of it’s unannounced season 3 premiere… but right now TV really isn’t on the agenda.

Movies & Documentaries I’ve seen recently
Before I left Perth I made the most of my folks going away for a weekend to hook up my laptop and rent a few films through Google Play. I’d forgotten how genuinely creepy the original “Alien” is at times (managed to spill hot coffee all over myself when Tom Skerritt gets grabbed), and it was good to revisit Star Trek Into Darkness too. But the real surprise was the new Jason Bourne.

Jason Bourne – This was eye-opening for a lot of reasons. I’ve always had a really strong affinity for the on-screen character (less of a fan of the character in the Ludlum books), and absolutely loved the original three fims Matt Damon was in. But elements of this really caught me by surprise: Bourne is physically fit but emotionally broken at the start. Lost. He doesn’t need someone to “save” him though – he needs to pick himself up with a purpose. 

There’s also an element of being on the go with Bourne – he doesn’t necessarily know what challenge is around the corner, but he’s making decisions, working with the best that he has, and constantly moving forward. Even when he’s in one place, he’s till taking action and moving things forward.  It was an important reminder for me – like Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism –  that you need to keep acting even when it seems like there’s nowhere to go.

Music I’ve been listening to recently
After a job in Melbourne fell through recently I’ve spent the last two days churning out applications to a huge number of jobs currently being advertised at Questacon… which means listening to nothing with lyrics again!  

Splinter Cell Blacklist Soundtrack by Mike Zarin & Kaveh Cohen – Like the Bourne film series, I was absolutely in love with the Splinter Cell game series up until about 2010… some might suggest my interest in both dropped after I left the military! Ever since Amon Tobin did the soundtrack for Splinter Cell Chaos Theory in 2005 I’ve always independently loved the music of the games though, and the soundtrack for Splinter Cell Double Agent by Michael McCann is particularly great (even if the game itself was plagued with issues).

Blacklist is the only Splinter Cell game I haven’t played, and I’m sure I’ll get there eventually (other priorities right now, and there’s no way it’d run on my laptop anyway). But if the soundtrack is anything to go by, it’s pretty omminous.

The Arrival and Edge of Tomorrow soundtracks are still getting a hammering when I work too, but I’m starting to suspect listening to them for too long is messing with me too. All three soundtracks are pretty unsettling (especially Edge of Tomorrow) so while they’re great to work to for a little while it doesn’t feel healthy to keep listening to them. I’ll be interested to see what I switch to: the Oblivion soundtrack is much gentler than the title suggests, and Cloud Atlas is always good too.

Black Is The New Black & Welcome To The Drama Club by Everclear – I’m still finding time to listen to music that’s NOT movie/game soundtracks though! I’ve been a huge Everclear fan since I first heard “Father of Mine” 20 years ago (THAT is scary to think about), and had the honour of meeting Art and the band when they were playing in Melbourne in early 2015 (supported by absolutely awesome Melbourne band The Drop Bears.

For reasons I won’t go into here both albums are closely tied to fairly dark times and dying relationships in their own way, so I’d actually avoided listening to them in 2016. They are both great albums though, so rather than continuing to ignore music from a band I love they’re back on repeat – developing new associations and memories as things amp up for 2017!


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