Day 128 - Beach Boxes Bonanza

Strike a Pose
Aug 13th, 2015

After last night’s late-night writing session ending at 4am, I had a hard time dragging myself to coherent consciousness at 1pm. Again, I let Shimou sleep a little later, eventually rousing her when 2pm rolled around.

I can tell that I'm not as sharp, motivated, or contemplative as I was when eating a lot of veg, and lifting regularly. You may notice a lot less random tangents or ideas being presented in my writings. It’s like night and day. Time to attempt a shift for the upward: yogurt, a pear, and frozen vegetables for breakfast. Nutrition and exercise are the best ways I've kicked it into gear. Well, that, and listless anger.

I'm still managing to edit things regularly, which was difficult the first day here because the new environment made it easy to break any habits I had. A change in scenery helps with both creating or destroying habits, since you have nothing to trigger the normal behaviours, and can create new ones quickly.

We head out into the overcast, chilly day with our sights set on the beach. No, we're not swimming, but rather going to check out the Brighton Beach Bathing Boxes. We jump off the tram one stop too soon, allowing me to buy drawing pencils from a shop. Back on track!

It's a seahorse.
I was trying to ride it...
I am taking a ridiculous amount of pictures, there’s just so many random things that I’ve never seen before. I wonder if Luke is getting annoyed at the amount I’m stopping, though I don't mind running to catch up. The beach is overcast, which doesn't stop me from taking pictures of all the Bathing Boxes.

At the end of the long row of boxes is a 50-something man with a camera set up on a tripod. He offers to teach me something about photography, which is convenient given what I wrote yesterday. I tell him that the only thing I know is the rule of thirds, which he laughs at. "Forget that rule altogether, watch this" as he lines up a couple shots. He tells me that he’s got two degrees in psychology, one in history, and almost finished studying law when his divorce derailed that. He helps guided me with framing a shot, but doesn't really teach me any overarching concepts that’ll help with my general skill in the art. He seems like he’s reached the level of unconscious competence after his 20-something years of photojournalism.

There are 4 stages of skills: Unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competent.

Unconscious Incompetence: They suck and they don't even realize it. This is where the Dunning-Kruger Effect is in full swing, leading these poor fools to erroneously believe they actually do know what they're doing, and that they happen to be quite skilled. Their skills are so poor that they believe themselves to be amazing.

So many Beach Boxes. INSIDE is pretty sweet, apparently.
Conscious Incompetence: Something has brought it to their attention that they are terrible at the skill. This can come from further study at the skill, or being objectively worse at it than peers. This is the most beneficial situation to be in if you have time and motivation to dedicate because you can actively work to improve. You'll also make your greatest strides in this area in the shortest time; skill acquisition follows a logarithmic curve.

Conscious Competence: Getting there! They know what they're doing, and can still verbalize what they're doing, when, and why. These people will make the better teachers because they can still see what makes them better than someone who is less skilled. 

Unconscious Competence: It’s been shown that the best teachers are someone only slightly better than your current skill level because they can help you through the pitfalls you're currently facing. They did, after all, just move through the same problems. Yet we'd usually rather have a master teach us the craft. Masters are actually one of the worst to learn from, especially for beginners, because they often perform their craft with incredible efficiently and without thought. The best you can be at something is after drilling it into your mind so much that it no longer takes conscious thought, just unconscious, automatic action.

The Aussie Box
Phillip, the photographer, tells me he also wants to go to China to teach, and exchanges e-mails with me so that I can provide him with the information he needs to move forward on it. We say farewell and move toward some grub.

The train station is a small trek from the beach. We grab some Joe from a 7-11 (cheapest coffee I can find here) and catch the train back downtown. Luke brings us to an obscure Japanese Restaurant that I didn't even see the sign for. One moment we're walking down an unlit street, then we're through a door that was unlit until he opened it. Bam, restaurant.

It’s like a single-serving hot pot sort of deal where you can customize your soup with all the ingredients and type of broth. I opt for chicken fried rice because I'm hungry and don't want to bother putting together my soup from the list of options. I'm also not actually a big fan of soup.

After dinner, we check out this large mall with a giant dome overtop of it, and an equally big pocket watch hanging from the balcony of the upper floor. We look through the a few shops, and I gather that no one in this place appears to sell a metal, durable pencil sharpener. Only those stupid plastic ones that give you less control, and break easier/faster. They direct me down the street to a department store called “Big W.”

Big W is like Walmart, but with too many signs to know where any particular department is, unless you're currently standing in it. I find my sharpener and a cheap eraser, which should total $3. At the self-scan, they combine for a total of $1.75. Strange, but the barcodes were correct and so were the names, but that’s not what the signs said over the products themselves. I pay the price it asks, and wait out front.

This is the shot the photographer took
Even when paying, I wasn't sure if that was a moral lapse or not. Did I just compromise my morals for $1.25? Should I have called over the attendant to make sure that was the accurate price? This bothers me, definitely more than it would most people. Even just reading this, I can imagine you shaking your head at this line of thinking. Again, I believe that our small actions affect how we approach our larger actions. In either case, I let it lie and leave the shopping centre with Shimou and Luke.

Shimou's still hungry. Culprit: Soup. She gets some Taiwanese-spiced chicken from a shop facing one of the main streets. It takes forever to make, which affords me the time to sit and people watch. There are a lot more Chinese people here than in Perth. Probably more than any place I've been, which I can only guess as to why. I’ve heard that Perth is supposed to be a city full of good looking people, and from that 10-15min standing downtown I’d have to agree that it has more good looking people than I've seen in Melbourne so far. No offence, Melbourne. You're still lovely... on the inside.

Melbourne at Night (from Flinders st)
We catch the train after stopping at this Japanese store. It had random Japanese candy, as well as makeup, jewelry, and more, uh, erotic products. I'm not really sure what tied the products together, besides their nation of origin. I pick up some of the cheapest, appealing candy I can find.

Back home, the three of us give each other space. I edit some more, then write up the events of the day while the other two are elsewhere. Shimou eventually showed up again and Luke seems to have gone to bed. Early night tonight, I gotta shift to this schedule. I figure it'll help with getting up early in China, since 8am there will be 10am here. Hah!

Editing Music: Pink Wine by St. Paul de Vence

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