Letter from Bali – XIX
A few auspicious dates to share with you, reader. It has been two months now since the visitors first arrived so we’ll talk a bit about guests. It has been almost two weeks since the book was completed – finished – The End – can you believe it? – so we’ll talk about that. It has been two days since Earth Day, so we’ll give a renewable mention in that direction and, finally, today is Easter Sunday, when Christians everywhere celebrate the torture and execution of their Lord and Saviour and subsequent resurrection with the giving and devouring of…. chocolate rabbits. Not to be outdone in religious zeal or mystical association the Hindu Balinese are happy to jump on that bandwagon. Since chocolate doesn’t do too well at 27 degrees, would a dyed and painted baby chicken do instead, Mister?
“Good price for Jesus!…”
“I’ll take three, thank you, my good man. What colours would you like, boys?” <crunch, crunch, crunch> “Mmmmmm. Delicious!”
This is the 19th edition of the Letter from Bali, the one where YOU get to name the book. Read on.
So the day came at last. I’d like to say it was a dark and story night but in truth it was a Sunday morning some time after ten, a day I normally don’t write on but a VISITOR had interrupted the flow of the universe on the previous Thursday and I was soooooo close. Then I was there, and half way down a page, (274 I think it was), I got to write those last two words. For eight months those words have been a mirage on the horizon… a cool spring in which I itched to dip my well oiled ladle… no no no, wrong book, wrong book! (We talk at the lunch table you see – it can be so confusing sometimes). So The End came… and went… and what the hell do I do now? There is a hole in my day, I tell you. A HOLE. Since nature abhors a vacuum it is tantamount to a duty that I should fill it. But I need a little help.
I think the appropriate thing to do, in this situation, is to have the thing published to pay for a beer or two. I mean, why not? It’s not like there are a great many other uses for a spare manuscript lying around your room, is there? But before one gets a manuscript published one needs a publisher, and before one gets a publisher one usually needs an agent, and before an agent takes you on your manuscript needs a) polishing, b) a snappy title.
Help me buff my big work! So here is the appeal. If you have the time and inclination and constitution to stomach a read and feedback you can e-mail me. I’m interested in what stumbles. Nothing else. Not grammar or theme or voluptuous cover art. I’m just looking for a few brave souls for a read through and notation on where it drags or didn’t make sense or you felt it didn’t flow. It is about 80,000 words and I’d like the input back within about three weeks if possible – because I’m looking to start making changes after that. If you’re up for it drop me a line. You get paid nothing, of course; it is called martyrdom. Apparently some people like it.
You get one other thing to help on, and no, you don’t get a free copy for this bit either. Never the less, it’s a biggy as book decisions go. What’s in a name you ask? Consider this: ‘Pride and Prejudice and Protractors’. Page one. “Mr. Darcy, the mathematics teacher, had twenty thousand a year and was hung like a…” Stop, stop! Now you see why there are editors. Likewise, ‘Romeo and Ethel; the Dread Pirate’s Daughter’. It would have sold a lot of lunch boxes, but it’s not posterity! Now let’s not hyperventilate over names, but would you buy a book called ‘Incontinent and Proud!’, bold typeface, 72 point? Which is exactly why I took it off the short list… but what did make the shortlist now follows and the final decision, gentle reader, is in your hands.
You clicked? You did it? Three voters, new record! I’m so happy! OK, lets move along.
There was going to be a bit here about visitors but, god bless ’em, another crowd just showed up. I don’t have the heart for it. I will say one thing. They are very useful for stealing photographs from, they do this so much better than me. Here are a few tourist snaps so you can see the place, save your dollars, and stay at home. For a more complete experience try to sleep in a pet shop with twelve water bottles strapped to you after reviewing these shots. The Bali ‘immersion’ experience can be had by staying awake for thirty eight hours in an uncomfortable chair beside a crying baby before looking at the pictures beforehand, then go to the nearest Post Office and mail me a large bottle of Campari, ‘Duty Free’. Now you’ve got it, you’re only missing the sunburn.
…and another one….
… and another one…
… last one…
… no, I lied…
… what you put in your suitcase is not my concern…
This is another day to be remembered – a post that actually covered what it said it would? Well, almost. So Earth Day came and Earth Day went. I’m not so big on these things myself; like Hallmark moments the calendar drips with these fabrications. Who the hell made Earth Day up? The kids had something going on at school because of it, I had to hide the fact from the staff or they would want another day off. It’s not that it isn’t a nice idea, I just think there are only 365 of the things so we should be a bit judicious about divvying them up. At the rate we’re using them there won’t be any days left for our kids to attribute to their own whims and causes – trite, well meaning, religious or otherwise. Secretary’s day?… I mean who the hell made up secretary’s day? And no disrespect. There are days for diseases now and there is a bicycle day too. I like bicycles but if Buddha and that Hindu one, the guy with flames shooting out his backside, if both of them were to climb out the clouds together and take a twirl round Bali on a tandem in front of me and the cameras… well, I still wouldn’t be in favour of a bicycle day. Earth Day? Noble idea but you can keep it. We shouldn’t need ‘days’ to remind us of what’s what.
I did my bit though, after I had a good complain about it, and the kids love this stuff. They eat it up. So I thought I’d be practical and help out (yes – they make you do pledges and nonsense like that – just so long as I don’t have to sell cookies around doors to impoverished locals I’ll agree to just about anything for an easy life). Here is my helping out bit then. I’m going to show you how renewable energy actually works. Do you know how biogas works? You do? Smarty pants. I had only half a clue and then I went for the demonstration.
It goes like this. You need a) one big bucket, b) one slightly smaller bucket you put inside and turn upside down, c) one tube that you don’t smoke around, d) a lot of poop or dead animals. It is cleaner if you get children to do the next bit for you. Biogas plant in operation: 1) add poo and water to uninviting spout, 2) upside down drum rises as methane forms, 3) pipe runs to kitchen stove to cook and/or generator to make electricity, 4) When new ‘fuel’ is added it is delivered to the bottom, the old ‘fuel’ at the top overflows and is now nitrogen fixed fertilizer.
I find this sort of thing fascinating. Fascinating and slightly useless for the suburbs of Vancouver. It leads to some wonderful conversations though.
“So, how many cows for a day’s supply?” (White woman in Armani goat hair sarong)
“About two is perfect for the needs of a small family to cook from and power one small bulb.” (Zen biogas master, nodding thoughtfully)
“But there are no cows here?”
“Not many, and those few roam freely. That means a collection problem.” (Much nodding all around).
“Pigs then?” (Another voice)
“Pigs would be fine.” (ZBM)
“This is a Muslim country,” (Australian voice of reason) “and what about the fuckin’ air conditioner, mate?”
“er, yes. The a/c… The a/c’ is a bit of a pain.” (All Exit Stage Left, still nodding).
But in India or Bangladesh or SE Asia or in much of the third world such a thing as the Biogas bin is dirt cheap, easy peasy, and it works. All organic matter works as fuel, by the way. Poop and dead things are just quicker. These things stop the methane from being released into the atmosphere and the fertilizer (since it is nitrogen fixed due to anaerobic decomposition) is excellent. Sling one together in your back yard and get on the potty! But no a/c for you.
Now this beast, the Vortex (great name!) is like a giant toilet bowl. It was thought up by some Austrian bloke.
The website can be found if you Click Here, and there is a link to it on the side of the Blog too. The one at the Green School awaits only a turbine which would be suspended into the whirlpool that you see above. The water speeds up as it is ‘flushed’ through the basin. The spinning water turns the turbine blades, the magnets inside the turbine spin and electricity flows. The bowl is ~5m (~15ft) wide and is close to the nearby river with a small channel diverted to feed its flow. This design does not hurt the fishes (even with the turbine). One of these can power about 15 homes at an average western demand.
I think it’s great. No dam required, small infrastructure cost. I think of Canada or rural Britain. Small communities or Native Indian bands. Of course the application goes anywhere and as many times as you want, but it’s the simplicity that gets me – the turbine is exposed! Repairs and maintenance are simplified – you don’t need wind or sun to make the juice or to go chasing cows or sheep to feed your drum. Not that there is anything wrong with chasing sheep, you understand.
Earth Day’s over; I’ve done my bit,
Easter too; a tasty chick.
Be a sport and pick a name,
This post’s over! Come back again.
It is late, very late. And there is no poetry in the book. You can sleep easier for that.