Sunday 30 December 2012

The Resolute and the New Year Resolutions

Linking up this old post with the Lounge, as I've still not come up with a bankable idea...but it is still on my mind. Head over to the Lounge to see what other ideas are floating about!

I wish you all a Happy New Year! Hope everyone had a merry festive season and has much happiness in the year to come.
Do you set New Year's Resolutions? Do you keep them? For the last 15 years, my New Year's Resolution has simply to be happy. I feel that is a task in itself, and a constant goal (though self perpetuating as you need to be happy in achieving the goal too - if you want to get all buddhist on me, it would be closely linked to mindfulness, but as I'm spiritually bankrupt, happiness is happiness, a state of being, both goal and journey.) Anyway, I didn't mean to come across all preachy, but the reason for the post is because for the first time in many years, I'm adding to the resolution. Before xmas I zipped into the hardware shop and they were selling all sorts of trendy doorstops and funky keyholders etc. I thought "Man, I could invent something like that". So...drumroll...this coming year, while maintaining a state of happiness, I want to invent something.

My 8 year old constantly asks "When will someone invent the hover chair?" and I reply "Do engineering and physics at University and you can invent it yourself." (yep, therapy pending, I know). So I am taking my own advice and I will invent something, some bit of useless crap that hardware shops can sell at xmas time to people who don't know what to get someone. Not aiming too high, but it's a stretch for me! Obviously it's going straight on to the list:

Torshlusspanik List:
1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed
7. Jetpacking (check)
8. The Color Run (in training)
9. Invent something

 What are your Resolutions? I'll be back in December to ask you if you kept them...

Tuesday 25 December 2012

First of the Month Fiction - January

Again I am getting in early, as I am scared of mucking up the linky thing.  I hope everyone one has/had a swell night for the New Year Celebration and heads aren't to sore for writing or at least reading today (if it is indeed New Year's day when you stumble across this).

For those that haven't heard, there are two categories - Exactly 100 words or less than 30 words. (see here for rules and examples). Post your stories in the comments section then link your blog in the linky thing so we can all subscribe or read more!

My friend, Sue Howard, author of Leaning Towards Pisa offered up this one in the 100 words:

A sharp sunlight beams through the taxi windscreen.  The driver blinks and turns to his passenger, a young woman with long, fair hair ... a tourist perhaps, or a student.
My wife has gone, he tells her.
Oh, she says, uncertainly.
Yes.  She ran off with my best friend.
Oh, the girls says again.
But I still have my mother, he goes on.  What all's said and done, who else in the world really matters?
The girl glances down, and when she looks up there is a tear the size of a small chickpea rolling down her cheek.

Mine is of the less than 30 this time:

I read the sign. "If you read this, you will soon know what I did. But not for long. Vale".

See December offerings here, and please give it a go below. I have a brilliant idea (I can say that cos it's not actually my idea and it is brilliant, but I need to get up some contributors first...stay tuned)

You have a month to prepare for the next one, and then I might reveal my great plan...

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Each and every day of the year

 With Some Grace suggested a highlights clip of the past 12 months and so before taking 2 weeks off (I'll have trouble prizing the kids away from the computer, and I want to have some sleep ins!) Here's my 2012 year in review...(with apology to Neil Sedaka)

(January) you start the year off fine

We had gone on a group weekend away to Pittwater YHA and the teens in the gang went to bed last, neglecting to shut the lounge room door. I was the first adult awake, heading off to keep our three year old from waking the other 30 sleepers, when 2 children ran to me in a panic. 'There's a snake in the lounge! A big one".
I could see a thick cord draped from the chair to the window and so I responded "Don't be silly, it's just a power cord for the music or someone's jumper....No, you're right. That is a massive snake! Let's just shut the door until someone who knows what to do gets up". The MASSIVE 2 metre python at this point had turned it's head to look at me. It proceeded to curl up on the chair and stayed put. Eventually, one of the dad's bagged him and released him back to the wild....

(February)you're my little valentine

A non descript month despite birthdays and Valentine's day - My eldest started walking home from school by himself (One small step for the little man, one giant leap for his parents)

(March)I'm gonna march you down the aisle

Not a highlight but I was well and truly into visiting High Schools (5), my eldest sat the selective test and my head was a spin with forms for Pre-schools and High Schools alike. Coincidentally it is our wedding anniversary this month!

(April) You're the Easter Bunny when you smile

For the first time in 4 years, we went overseas - we had a wonderful time in the Maldives (The Honeymoon is over, otherwise known as travel with kids) but I'll be honest, I fell in love with Singapore. I can't explain it, and I'm not a shopper but we had 8 days there and barely scratched the surface - we had fun, saw art, ate well and ran out of time for so many other interesting things...It's a great city with an interesting history and for some reason so under-rated. Most people don't give it time or try to explore it. Even my husband didn't really see it through my eyes, though the kids did, and it's still a much talked about destination...

(May) Maybe if I ask your dad and mom

Ok, I know, the song lyrics don't really work anymore, but I'll keep going and give myself an earworm...The wee girl started pre-school for 2 days a week...strange to have 2 free days.

(June)They'll let me take to you to the Junior prom

I started blogging...

(July) like a firecracker all aglow

Busy school holidays, lots of fun but the highlight was an overnight trip up the coast with friends to go sandboarding - I loved the drive through the dunes and was amazed at how beautiful it was. I loved the simplistic fun of sliding down the massive dunes (pics here). And it was all Olympic fever in this house...

(August) When you're on the beach you steal the show

I started writing for a website as a hobby that pays me money! And the Torshlusspanik list commenced.

(September)Light the candles at your sweet sixteen 

These lyrics really aren't working out...I went away with my girlfriend of 40 years for our delayed 40th celebration - It had taken me over 3 years to save up but it was finally here! Had a great time but also learnt that I like travelling with my family best. I missed them so much and kept wanting them to see things that I was seeing. (Lovely Langkawi).

(October) Romeo and Juliet on Halloween

Halloween! My favourite day of the year (Twas the fright before christmas)....Went shooting this month for the first time (as part of the list) - but it won't be the last!

(November)I'll give thanks that you belong to me

Started First of the Month Fiction (Remember people, I'll be back for that on the 1st Jan, so head over and post a short, short story)

(December)You're the present 'neath my Christmas tree
It's been busy and amazing, and all three kids have grown and had successes of their own, and that's all that I can ask. Next year has more changes to be made, more schools to be looked at but we'll see how we go and hopefully have fun along the way.

yeah, yeah, my hearts in a swirl,
I love, I love, I love my little calendar girl life
each and every day of the year!

Merry Christmas to you all. Have a wonderful holiday and swing by on the 1st for the first of the month fiction!

Linking up for the last time this year with Grace from With Some Grace.

Monday 17 December 2012

What I learnt from Life of Pi

Last night, I was lucky enough to get along to Life of Pi, early preview screening thanks to Nuffnang. Having seen the ad, I thought it looked visually rich, and in 3D it really was sensational. (I tend to complain about what a waste of time 3D is, but this time, in a couple of key moments, it really takes the film to the next level visually). I'd not read the book, but the story is enchanting with a lot of messages to leave with and think about or discuss (but read on, I won't cover them here!)

Now there are some big lessons to talk about but for spoiler sake, I won't. So until the rest of you get out to see it, here's what I learnt (through pondering issues raised):

1. The uncle who saw the world via their pools. This is as good a reason to travel the globe as any other. I loved the simplicity of it, yet they would all be different, with a feel of the country where it's located. I've been pondering if I have a similar trait, as I've been to lots of weird and wonderfully odd places around the globe but no theme seems to run through my visits. This idea appeals to me though, so the travel blog might start running on a theme...stay tuned for rebranding.

2. Pick and Mix Religion (no offense meant to anyone, just exploring an idea from the film). I love the idea that you can honour not only your God but other Gods (as your God introduced you). I love that as a child he can see the good points of all religions. Perhaps there is a lesson of tolerance for us all.

3. Bananas do float. I did the experiment. Photo proof.
 For those that have read the book, or seen the film, you will understand the enormity of what that says about my personality. Such a wonderful film and a story with so many messages, and I came away from it with a burning desire to see if bananas did float or not. What can I say? I love science and I'm pedantic.

Alas, I really can't elaborate on more as it will ruin the film...and I hate that more than anything! So rush out and see it so we can talk about it some more...

Friday 14 December 2012

What I don't want for Christmas...

Christmas is an odd time. It brings out a whole lot of issues for people, which could all be avoided if traditions were different. So before I can focus on the joy and relief of Boxing Day, here's what I don't want for Christmas.

1. To have to think of gifts for people that really don't need them. In the old days, you didn't just buy new shoes when you needed them (or a new bike, phone or whatever). You scrimped and saved and if you were really lucky, you got it for xmas. Nowadays, I'm struggling to think what to get my partner that he hasn't already just purchased for himself...

2.The stress of bearing witness to family arguments. Even if I'm  not directly involved, I find it stressful waiting for the inevitable blow up at both Christmas Day functions.

3.The feeling of agitation and anxiety I'm experiencing as I realise I'm fast running out of time to (a) decorate (b) send cards (c) buy gifts.

4. Stuff. I really don't need anything. I don't know how to say I love that you're thinking of me but don't waste your money (I love all the lovely gifts I get but everyone could spend their money more wisely on themselves or someone who does need something.)

5. To listen to really awful Mariah Carey and Wham xmas songs from 20 years ago on the radio. What gives?! They were hideously crap then, and still are. Of course, I grew up with Col. Saunders Christmas Album, and it's still my favourite (seriously and yes, I believe we got it free with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken in the early '70's) so I understand it's a high standard to compete with...

Not sure what gives this Christmas but I've truly hit the wall. Here's hoping next year I get my elf mojo back and am full of the festive cheer late November...

Have a wonderful day with your family and friends and enjoy all the Christmas magic that hopefully abounds...

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

Linking with
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Thursday 13 December 2012

When ignorance is bliss

This is a short but disgusting one. Prepare to be repulsed.
We had a cockroach problem. We started to see a few in the kitchen. Then one day I saw one come out of the drain in the bathroom. Enough is enough I thought. I rang 'the guy'. He came and did some sort of magic.
Now we have cockroaches dying on our floors by the second. I do a perimeter sweep (literally) 4 times a day and still the bodies are piling up.
We are talking millions. It is repugnant. I now worry about how many times all these creatures ran across our bench tops at night.  I preferred it when I thought we just had a few. Now I KNOW we HAD an empire of them. A Lord of the Rings army load of them. Anyone considering this, it's worth every cent but be prepared to be revolted, and embarrassed anytime a visitor drops by. Even if you sweep the carcasses one minute prior to their arrival, there will still be a body count for them to witness on departure.
Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

Linking up with the lovely Grace for FYBF

Monday 10 December 2012

Oh you can color my world with happiness all the way

I'll be honest, and as some of you know, I don't get Twitter at all. I struggle with it, but like most things, I give it a go (so may as well apologise now if I'm treading on toes and not following etiquette - I'm old and don't know better, no offense is intended). The other day though, something caught my eye.

Laney the Crash Test Mummy (if you somehow have not discovered her, her blog is here - of course, if you are reading someone as pint-sized as me, it's ludicrous to think you haven't heard of her!) was tweeting some colorful phrases - My little boy blue, and Got by orange (this is from my old and inaccurate memory, her actual tweets were clever enough to pique my interest, and make me look at the accompanying photos).

They were doing the Color Run. One look at that welcome page and I knew it was destined for the list! I don't run or jog but if you are chasing me with paint, I'll make an exception. That just looks FUN! On closer inspection, I'd missed the Sydney date - entries were already closed. I was disappointed, but not for long. We'll just road trip to Canberra! So Canberra Color Run it is....or so I thought. Strangely, the Universe is on my side today, and I got an email last night saying spots for the Sydney Colour Run are open again - so I got in quick, as they say, and we are signed up as a family. Really looking forward to it now! Feb 10, for those interested. Website here (and for the record, not on the payroll - paid the whopping full freight for four of us, I'm just easily excitable and assume others may be too).

Road trip is off. Canberra will need to raise it's stakes to tempt us, but I'm sure it will.

This has renewed my interest in Twitter, so I'll keep persisting...(remember that apology peeps!) as who knows what else is out there waiting for me to discover it? Have you discovered anything of interest via Twitter?

And so the list grows:

Torshlusspanik List:
1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed
7. Jetpacking
8. The Color Run

Linking up with the wonderful Jess for IBOT. See who else is there here

Wednesday 5 December 2012

Dear Santa,

I was chuffed to be tagged for My Christmas List by Always Josefa (and then a little alarmed as I'm racing against the clock this week, having over committed myself to too many things) so I pondered through the night and I realised I don't need anything but like the Hatter, there is a relationship I need to repair, and that is with time.

"If you knew Time as well as I do,' said the Hatter, 'you wouldn't talk about wasting it. It's him...I dare say you never spoke to Time!...Now if you keep on good terms with him, he'd do almost anything you liked with the could keep it to half-past one as long as you liked."

So Santa, what I need is more time.

1. Time to see all the wonders of the world, the lava fall into the ocean in Hawaii, the Pyramids, Antarctica in all it's glory, the craziness of Vegas, the animals of the Galapagos Islands and everything else I've yet to lay eyes on.

2. Time to understand all the marvels of science. I was never very interested in science at school, and now as I realise how little I know, I find I'm the one asking the questions at the Observatory, or pausing in fascination at the Powerhouse. I'd like to truly know it all, not to show off but because every new fact is such an intriguing joy of discovery.

3. Time to enjoy with my friends. We rush from social event  to social event, and it becomes tiring - the looming dinner impinges on the leisurely lunch. The pressure to see people takes away from the pleasure of actually seeing them. I want to fit everyone in more frequently, and being able to enjoy it at the time.

4. Time with my children. They are getting busier, so our time together when the outside world isn't breaking in is getting less and less. I want time to engage and play with them, without thinking about the washing or the next place we have to be or the other people I need to be talking to. I just want to enjoy being with them, and the people they're becoming.

5. Time to get stuff done, and done well. I am falling apart in the multitasking dept, and I feel like the mouse in the spinning wheel, getting nowhere. I am racing through a 'to do' list but nothing seems to get done. I want time to get it all done and feel organised in the process.

Now I have not been a good girl this year, so I am assuming Santa won't be bringing me anything on my list. I have, however, got my own pressie (never one to be disappointed) and am wearing it as I type...something I'm trying to work on.

Perhaps what I should ask for is help with my unhealthy obsession with Ron Swanson (it's his saying from Parks and Recreation)? That's even weird for me.

So Santa, see what you can do, or I will continue to try to follow my mantra from the genius of the Phantom Toll-Booth: "Time is a gift, given to you, given to give you the time you need, the time you need to have the time of your life. "

PS As I got that shirt last year, I've sneakily updated my gift to myself to be a pair of roller skates - my 5 year old is also getting a pair from Santa so we will skate everywhere, like Rollergirl but without the porno connotations and with clothes on (for those old enough to remember Boogie Nights - that movie is now 16 years old!! Seriously! I am aging in hyperdrive!) Actually, Santa, while I'm asking, chuck in a few extra years - it would be great not to be so old.

What's on your Christmas list?

Linking up this old post with #Lifethisweek because sadly not a lot has changed and Time is still the thing I want more of. Or maybe I should be glad I still feel this way?. 

Monday 3 December 2012

Someday maybe you can.

When I was a kid we had the Childcraft series, a series of educational books for children with stories, poems and facts - facts seen from the point of view of America in the 1960's. I tried to get my son to use one on a project on another country, and let's just say I quickly whipped it away. The words weren't pretty.

In the volume 'How things change', there was an entry called 'Fly to School?' about jetpacks, though in those days they were called "rocket belts". "Who needs a bicycle or bus to get to school? Look at you! Flying to school." It even had real photographs taken of the U.S. Army experimenting.

This idea appealed to me so much, I remembered it clearly, and felt slightly ripped off that the future didn't bring jetpacks as a mode of every day transport as promised (it also promised a hover car, but that's for another post). my other gig, there was a trial of a jetpack adventure up for grabs....WHAT?! How did this exist IN SYDNEY without me knowing about it? A quick google and I discovered Sydney Jetpack Adventures. Of course I applied, and waited with my fingers crossed! The winner was announced but I missed out. I couldn't believe it. It was perfect for the list, and I was MEANT to do it...confusion and disappointment swirled in my head, but not for long - where there's a crazy demented determined will, there's a way! I'd just add it to my xmas list - what's easier than a voucher? Google again, both Red Balloon and Adrenalin have them...(I'm more amazed I've been oblivious to the jetpack existence as I get emails regularly from both these sites.) However, a last minute reprieve came through and I am booked in next week (it would have been yesterday if it was up to me, but they were fully booked!!). I am bursting with excitement and joy at the thought of it. I've been dancing round the house, annoying even the children (rubbing it in their faces, according to the oldest).

The poem in the book ended with the magical line that planted the seed so long ago:
"Wouldn't it be fun,
if you really could
put on your rocket belt
and fly to school or to the movies?

Someday maybe you can."

Well, someday is Monday the 10th, baby!

So the list grows...

Torshlusspanik List:
1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed
7. Jetpacking!

PS This is not a sponsored post (though sponsors, I'm here and penniless, feel free contact me!!) but I am getting a free trial for my other gig to write a review of the experience - Just TRY to shut me up about it!! I've been telling EVERYBODY!!!

Linking up with Jess here for IBOT. Head Fly over to see who else is there....also, check out the lovely First of the Month Fiction by Carly (Confessions of a 30 something woman) here. Her story is great. You have a month to write for the Jan 1st....reminder will come out again beforehand.

Sunday 2 December 2012

I must confess I am not organised enough...

...for I must confess, for this pending festive season, for all the end of year school things that need to be done, for just life in general.
I have wheels spinning but no traction. I have articles long over due, appointments to make and people to catch up with, and just not enough time (or I suspect discipline to remain focused on prioritizing).
I seem to have lost my triage.
Usually, I send ALL my xmas cards out on the first of December. I've written 10 but not addressed even those.
Usually I've got my shopping sorted, and wrapped! Not even close.
I don't know what's prompted the unravelling but my current aim now is to enjoy what's on and not let the guilt distract me...
Short and sweet, will try to be more on top of things next week...but no promises!

I wrote this two years ago, and it is still applicable, 24 months later. Way to improve! Yay me! Except, this year I'm not bothering to send xmas cards (I've already mentally made that call!)
Linking up with the Lounge

Tuesday 27 November 2012

First of the Month Fiction - December 1st

Now normally this would be posted on the 1st, but we have an out of town wedding, leaving at 8am and as I am technologically challenged, I need some time to work up the blog-hop part of the linky thing. So come Jan 1, I will have it all sorted, and in the hangover haze swing by, but for today (and the next few days), you have a head start.

There are 2 categories (examples here) 100 words exactly or 30 words or less. I think we can say that feed back on offerings are unnecessary, but if you really love someone's story, maybe go to their blog and mention it there (if this is not how people want it to work, let me know, was just thinking it's better for the readers to read the stories all together). Add your stories to the comment section, but don't forget to add your blog to the link below. My offering is in the 100 word category. (I know I cheated with "who'd" but what can you do!?) Look forward to reading yours.

 She had longingly watched him pass by this spot every day on his way to work since he was a young man of twenty. Her day always brightened with his sighting. She’d felt heart-breaking envy when his new bride joined him. Over time, their laughter declined and eventually they ceased talking. Nowadays, he wandered miserably alone, but she knew he would still never notice her, and she ached for the love she would never know. Toby looked at the painting of his grandmother, who’d died in childbirth, and wondered why it always looked sadder when his dad was near.

Monday 26 November 2012

First of the month fiction

Now I have an idea, which some of you may be interested in - but as I've only noticed fly by fiction, maybe none of you will be...but I'm not one to let popularity get in the way of an idea...

Awhile back, I entered a competition where you had to write a story in exactly 100 words - not one more, nor less. I enjoyed the challenge so much, I wrote another one, even though I couldn't submit it. I found it quite therapeutic, like sudoku ( and Heaven knows I need the therapy!) James Patterson wrote a brilliant one for Half Minute Horrors (every one should own this book, it's brilliant to see what writers do with the challenge of writing horror stories that can be read in 30 seconds) called Grand Entrance. Track that down, it's excellent.

Then  Random House put out the challenge to write short stories in 30 words or less. Hemingway's six word 'novel' being the most famous.

Or the  world's shortest horror story, by Frederic Brown, called Knock.

Thursday 22 November 2012

"Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever,"

That's a quote from the very brilliant The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I have had it emphasised to me today. We got our laptop fixed by remote IT techs, and somehow since then, a porn page kept opening up after they'd fixed the other issue (ironically a worse issue came in it's place). Now I'm not a total prude but there is one image on the 'welcome' page of this site that has stuck in my head in a disturbing fashion.

One woman has had massive implants, and I mean not human implants. These fake breasts are larger than any other females' on the planet. They are easily larger than her head - individually! There is something almost beastial or alien about it. I can't really get that any guy would find it sexy. It just looks really uncomfortable to me. And disturbing.

Then the practical side starts buzzing in my head. Where would she find clothes? Would she ever be treated like a normal person? The word 'freak show' springs to mind, I'm afraid. We are not talking large, we are talking crazy implants. Think Anna Nicole Smith is an A cup in comparison, this woman is a JJJ. (Pamela Anderson is too small to make the chart, in this example). They are literally as big as her torso.

I am not taking issue with implants, nor porn. Both are pretty common these days but the size of these implants means the woman stops being a person and just seems to be a pair of enormous breasts. I mentioned it to a friend who had seen a similar site (or the same site, care of a virus) and she asked me if the woman had brown hair. I honestly had no idea. All I could see was those huge distorted and uncomfortable looking breasts.

Fortunately the techies then fixed this problem, so I won't share the photo with you (actually I wouldn't have anyway). But I keep wondering what my son would have made of it, and the conversation we would have had to have about it. I really don't think I could explain why a woman would do that to herself.

Don't the doctors have some sort of responsibility? When someone says 'We can get it specially made but you'll need to wear bespoke clothing and undergarments, and your back was never made to carry this sort of weight", do you not rethink your pending choice? And surely if you've already gone up a few sizes, whatever the size before this is must have hurt your back and caused problems. What is the driving force to go bigger again? It just seems so sad and tragic, and I really can't comprehend the process, and the fact that obviously someone must see it as desirable, makes me uncomfortable about my fellow mankind.

 So Mr McCarthy's warning still resonates with me today, years after reading The Road. I think I would happily take his disturbing apocalypse images over this tragic disfigurement.

Monday 19 November 2012

Are we raising spoiled brats?

We went away in a big group with our 12 year olds school friends and their families. There were 40 odd of us in total. After dinner the first night, I asked the year 6 kids to wash up. They acted like this was some unreasonable request. They mucked around flicking tea towels at each other, being silly and basically not doing the task at hand without another mother and I barking orders at them.

It was a small thing but it really bothered me, and made me cross with them all, my own son included. It wasn't until we got back, and I was looking at a list of gift requests for an orphanage that it fell into perspective. There was a 12 year old girl, asking for her donated gift to be school stationary. I knew my kids, and their friends never thought once of the money spent of books and uniforms as something to be appreciated, It was taken for granted, we just got it when needed. It wasn't a birthday or Christmas gift, but it was still a lot of money to be spent.

So too was the weekend, as we've done a few with this group. They don't see it as something special that their parents gave up their weekends to take them away with their friends, their parents spent a lot of money taking them all somewhere fun and their parents did a lot of work cooking and cleaning up after 40 people. Three times a day. They were asked to contribute to once and they accepted that task in an appalling fashion.

We do a lot of household tasks for them because it's quicker and easier to do it ourselves, and I think this is a disservice to them. We make excuses for them because of their age, but twelve is really past that age, but we've lead them to this point by using their age as an excuse up until now. It is our fault, not theirs.

We have another group weekend away and I'm going to ask that we roster the 12 year olds on washing up for the whole weekend, and let them know what is expected of them prior to going. I think they should know they are expected to contribute, and more importantly, why they are expected to contribute.

They are all good kids, but it needs to be a lesson taught, and it's our fault, the parents, if it isn't. If the kids do the washing up even once each over the course of the weekend, they will at least get an idea of what work and effort goes into creating such a fun weekend for them. They might even appreciate it, instead of assuming it just 'happens'.  I'll be thinking of a task for the 8 & 9 year olds too. As I have no intention of them getting to 12 and being in the same boat.

I don't wonder that I'm known as the 'mean mum' but I'm hoping it makes for a lovely young adult in the future...

Linking up with the lovely Jess at Essential Jess - drop by HERE to see who else is about...

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Too weird for real life

I had a moment today - I'd like to say epiphany but I don't think that's the right word. I was flicking through the Dymocks Christmas catalogue and by the time I hit the kids section, I realised there wasn't a single book in it that interested me. There were crappy biographies of aging rock stars, more cook books than anyone on the planet could be interested in and a host of junk I would never read. And I LOVE books. I know, however, that a great deal of care goes into selecting the xmas best sellers, which means the majority of these books appeal to the majority of the population.

I thought about how I'm constantly saying "who watches this?' about almost every show on tv. I hate what Kirkman has done to the Walking Dead (Shamefully moralising it and destroying the whole point in one soap opera judgmental swoop), while all my friends seem to love it.

Into my head popped a line from Pals in Peril* 'Sometimes Jasper, you're just too weird for real life'. It came from nowhere but it gave me a jolt as I considered it. Could it be me? Far from feeling superior to society, it actually threw me into a minor panic.

I have a theory, that if you are fighting with everyone, then you need to note that in those situations, you are the common denominator, so you are probably the one with the issue, not everyone else. So in this situation, I'm the one out of step.

I'm not sure what to do with this information. I will ponder some more. It does worry me a little, I'll be honest. That said, I've got through forty odd (apparently that's the operative word) years, maintaining long friendships and relationships, so it can't be too drastic. Pop culture, reading matter and interests are small potatoes. I will be watchful on the big issues....stay tuned.

I comfort myself with this quote from Maya Angelou - and if she says it, it must be good advice, right? "If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be."

* M T Anderson (who is great, read Feed everybody) wrote this for the 7+  age group and it is HILARIOUS and quirky. I would recommend it but I'm now wondering if that's wise, given my taste is so out of step with the rest of society. He does win lots of awards, so award boards like him too, if that is more trust worthy.

PS People that added me to their circles, if I didn't do it back it's because I'm old and  don't know what I'm doing - I did try but I'm not sure if I did it right. But you made my day! Thanks!

Linking up for FYBF with the lovely Grace at Pop over and see the more popular bloggers with less angst....but thanks for dropping by!

Monday 12 November 2012

Stranger in a Strange Land (Part 2 - Ready to travel)

A while ago I talked about going to the EB games expo (see here but not really relevant, just in case the Part 2 had you thrown). Yesterday we trundled off to Good Game Live at the Opera House, as the kids were keen. I drew the short straw, so after a lovely lunch in town, we headed our separate ways and the boys and I made our way to the Opera House.

I had low expectations, so the fact there was an Art of Dr Seuss exhibition in the foyer made it all seem worthwhile. That man is truly a genius, but that's a tale for another post. This post is to tell you what I learnt....

All in all, it was actually quite entertaining. It was very funny - even for someone who didn't really know anything about games and gaming. I am, as they say, a total Noob and okay with that. (Has anyone noticed I have a habit of adopting the new lingo of whatever I'm doing to sound like I know what I'm talking about?)
So here is what I learnt from Good Game Live:

1. Television really does make you fat. Hex, who is slim (in a normal looking way) on TV is positively TINY. She is noticeably thin and petite. I even looked up at her on the screen and she went back to 'normal'. So I think I was right to make it a rule never to go on TV. I would look terrible - and take up half the screen.

2. The hosts of Good Game talk to the robot - I mean they really engage with the robot as if he's real. They'll make jokes and then direct their smiling faces to the robot, where as the other panelists tended to direct their jokes towards the audience. I don't know if they're really, really professional or if they've spent so long making the show they actually think of him as real? For some reason I found it very sweet and it made me like them more.

3. The pacman ghosts are called Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde. (Clyde seems to be a popular gaming character name. I don't know why).

4. The Evil Big Business in Resident Evil is called the Umbrella Corporation, and it's catch phrase is "Our Business is Life Itself". I think we could all have a think about that, with our attachment to consumerism and dependence on technology (Read Feed, everybody, by the magnificent M. T. Anderson). Also a topic for another post.

5. Sonic the Hedgehog is actually the name of Chromosome 7 in the human genome. (and as a hopeless speller, I just learnt that chromosome is spelled with an 'M' not an 'N" - seriously! So double win there.) It's responsible for growth.

6. Mojang is Swedish for gadget. I'm now going to use it in everyday circulation. We have 'gadget free time' at our house, so it's now no mojangs. I tested it out on my son yesterday and his reply was 'That only means we can't play minecraft'. Have you noticed kids have a comeback for everything?

7. In one of the games, they showed a clip from some really bad movie with Scott Wolf (Double Dragon). I predict video rentals of this movie will skyrocket this week. I thought it, and the guy behind me said it "We've got to see that movie!"

8. Jimmy Giggle looks really different in real life. I wouldn't have recognised him. He also behaved differently too - but when a little girl came over to him at the end of the show, he bent down to talk to her and was all 'Jimmy Giggle' again. Which is nice.

9.  In Portal, the evil mastermind (?) is GLaDOS and while guessing what it stands for, Giggle said "Great Lord of Doom and Stuff" which is not correct, but I think I might steal it as my sign off. (It actually stands for Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System, which is boring.)

10. I think I should try one of these games. I don't really get the appeal or the kids obsession with them - they can talk about it with their friends for ages. They tape Good Game to watch other people talk about games. The audience was a really nice crowd and their enthusiasm was infectious. I thought, why wouldn't I want to visit a country where the countrymen are so friendly? So when they showed a still picture of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, gazing out from Ponte Vecchio and I thought "that looks alright." (I'm sorry I didn't think in a more eloquent and profound manner).  I think I will start with that one. "I have lived my life as best I could, not knowing its purpose, but drawn forward like a moth to a distant moon; and here at last, I discover a strange truth. That I am only a conduit, for a message that eludes my understanding." (to quote Ezio) Who doesn't love high brow pretension? (Gamers, if this is totally the wrong place to start, let me know. I know with Comics, I would steer them in another direction if someone wanted to read Watchmen with their first attempt at the genre, so advice is welcome).

So the list grows:

Torshlusspanik List:
1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving
6. Play Assassins Creed

I've been sitting on the sidelines judging, without really knowing what I'm talking about. It may not be for me (as I can barely use any of the technology the world offers with any skill) but at least I'll have tried. Who knows, next year at the Games expo, I might be dressed up as a character and cheering like the rest of  them.

Yours truly,
The Great Lord of Doom & Stuff. (GLoDaS) who's off on a voyage of discovery, like a moth to a distant moon to discover a strange truth that eludes my understanding.

GLoDaS has been over IBOTing with the lovely Jess at Essentially Jess. Pop on over to see what everyone else is talking about...

Thursday 8 November 2012

Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. Part 2 (More Misconceptions)

So awhile back, I decided to start a list of new things to try. (see here if origins are of interest).
As part of the list, I signed up to a fencing school for 2 lessons. (as discussed here). My friend thought it sounded like fun, so she joined in and last Monday night we finally headed off.  At first we were all giggles at the outfits and the funny polka-like movements. Then the instructor started to hit me on the head. It didn’t actually hurt but the noise on the metal mask was loud and disconcerting and it seemed like it should hurt, so my brain somehow processed it that way.  I did not like it, Sam I am.
I also didn’t like hitting with the sword either. I am apparently not as violent and aggressive as my enjoyment of the target shooting implied. (misconceptions again). Let me tell you, shooting is way more fun!   Ironically, on paper, I thought I’d enjoy the fencing more,  so I was very surprised by the internal reactions. (I just noticed I wrote this at the start of September   “I hope I am as excited by the actual fencing as I am by the IDEA of fencing…”. Perhaps I put it out there and jinxed myself?)
I did however, become very good at parrying  (I sound like I know what I’m talking about). I paid close attention to the part of the lesson on how to block attacks. I am not co-ordinated in any way but I was determined not to be hit in the head anymore. Where I lacked skill, however, was once I’d blocked the attack, I’d  then neglect to launch an attack myself. I tended to just stand there preparing to avoid the next assault. I clearly will not be taking this sport to the Olympics.
However, once we got suited up in the electronic scoring gear, and my friend and I took to each other for real, I enjoyed it. We were both hesitant (there was a lot of jumping about, waving the sabre but not striking) and laughing. THAT part was fun! And I am still giggling at the thought of how we must have looked to the instructor. She actually had to tell us that we didn’t need to jump around quite as much as we were if we weren’t  going to attack each other. We’d jump around from the start line until we reach striking distance and then we’d stop and wave our swords around but not strike.

We have another lesson, but we’ve decided to just go back and play each other (do another introductory class, so to speak). It’s fun, but not a sport I’ll continue – unlike shooting, where our numbers are growing for the January rifle shooting day (three of us ladies will be doing rifles and pistols in the same day, 2 more ladies will be trying pistols for the first time…we’ll be a regular Ladies Gun Club at this rate, high tea at the range afterwards).
When I was fencing with my friend, I seriously had to control my impulse to start saying, as I moved towards her “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” I was too embarrassed to do it in front of the instructor (she might have hit me in the head for being an idiot).  Next lesson, I will…and I’ll be wearing my new shirt that turned up the day after the first lesson, but I don’t think the six fingered man need worry.

Torshlusspanik List grows:
1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (check)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet
5. Off road buggy driving

So next time we talk, I should hopefully have a croquet mallet in hand...(or a flamingo if the Red Queen has anything to do with it).

Linking up for FYBF with the generous Grace at Head over and see who else is about.

Monday 5 November 2012

Growing old disgracefully

I am getting old. I can tell when I try on clothes and they look ridiculous on me (unfortunately my taste hasn't matured with my years.) I can tell by those pesky grey hairs that require me to keep purchasing various shades of hair dye. I can tell by the topics of conversation that keep coming up when with friends at dinner. And I can tell when m kids roll their eyes at a lecture I'm giving them or correct my antiquated terminology. (Video shop is now as hilarious as wireless was in my youth).
I'm okay with it. I'm happy with where I'm at in life, which made it all the more surprising when I had an alarming reaction to the news that I needed (dah -dah - daaaaaaah! ominous chords) BIFOCALS!
I am apparently young to get them, though this could have been the optometrist reacting to my panicked face as the blood drained away and I got that instant tunnel vision only truly bad news brings. But there it is. It's official - I am old. Old people wear bifocals. I am on the downhill run and things will only get crappier from now on, physically speaking.
So despondently I went to choose the frames. They need to be much 'deeper' than my usual style (to match the ensuing depression, I thought). I tried on all these ugly, big frames, like the ones I wore in the eighties. I just looked crap. No other word for it.
Then, I picked some Peggy Sue catseyes, and said "These! I'll take these!" The glasses looked great with my 'going to town' dress and heels. I already know they'll look terrible with my normal birkenstocks, shorts and scruffy tee.
With that split second decision, I have just committed myself to doing my hair and make up everyday, wearing heels and dressing immaculately, no matter what the occasion, even if there's no occasion at all. Ironically, I may become one of the few who looks better in old age than I did in my lazy youth. I know my knee-jerk reaction is extreme and quite probably something I'll regret. However, as I often say 'When you're on thin ice, you might as well tap dance.'  And the best part? I'll fit right in at the Roller Derby.

Linking with #lifethisweek, as it is my youth that I will never see again, but not all losses have to be sad.

Thursday 1 November 2012

Crazy Cat Shoes

I went to Malaysia with a friend I’ve known for forty years. It was meant to be for our fortieth birthday celebration, but as I was still breast feeding, and had no income to speak of, she kindly let us delay our trip. It took me three years to save up the money to go, but eventually we went, no longer to celebrate our forty years on the planet, but forty years of friendship.
We had a wonderful time, relaxing, reading, massages galore and fabulous cocktails for lunch and dinner. It was weird to be away from our husbands and kids, but nice to be unencumbered for a change.(Imagine just being able to jump in a taxi and do your seat belt up? No Maxi taxi with carseat fiasco, no clicking everyone in). It was also lovely to have some time together, as we live in different cities, and I am remarkably the world’s worst telephoner: I call no one. I’ve lost the art of phone conversation.  I don’t really enjoy the faceless voice at the end of the line, though apparently I’m fine with faceless emails.
We shopped, with marginal success, she acquiring luggage limits of new footwear, me happy with just one pair of fancy red ankle boots, but more Angry Birds and Gangnam Style shirts than you can imagine.
We headed off to the airport together for our hour apart flights home. While she was in the chemist line, I popped next door to a shoe shop. In a moment, I saw them and had to have them. Miraculously, they were in my evidently elusive size. Within a minute they were in my bag!

The Crazy Cat shoes are super comfy, and literally put a spring in my step! I love just looking at them, because they are quirky enough to make me smile. They also have the whole holiday experience wrapped up in them – they remind me of my friend, my week off from reality, and the lovely laid back island of Langkawi.
Another friend told me I should enjoy them while I can, because there soon comes an age when you can’t wear those sort of shoes (I suspect I am that age already but inner city living means anything goes and there’s always someone weirder than you walking by).
I rang my friend for her birthday, slackly but predictably two days late. She mentioned she thought we should look at Vietnam for our next beach holiday, sans enfants. Guess I better start saving…Do you think they’ll have animal footwear in Hanoi?

Do you have happiness wrapped up in an item of clothing?

Linking with #HappyTuesday

Monday 29 October 2012

Twas the fright before Christmas

I used to love Christmas. I loved the build up, going into town to see the windows, decorating the tree, giving and getting presents, the food and the parties. Over time however, I find I go through all the traditions, but it seems to be fraught with obligation and a lot of the joy has been taken from it. We have a busy festive season, and I sometimes find myself juggling two simultaneous Christmas events for the kids, then racing home to get hurriedly dressed for an adult event. I should enjoy all this socialising but I get tired. I could say no, but then I feel mean if I deprive the children of their social occasion for the sake of my own.
Then there’s Christmas Day itself. We rush all over the countryside to accommodate both family events – a lunch and a dinner. Both families are fraught with a dysfunction (no different to any other family) that I find stressful – it’s a matter of waiting for someone to be unhappy about something, someone to throw out an unintended but hurtful barb, some minor drama to unfold.
I like to take the kids into town for the big city Christmas festivities, but we rush after school and in part, we see Santa to lock in the xmas wishes.
I know all those things are not the actual reason for Christmas, but for those of us secular types, that is the celebration, all those Christmas traditions. I also dare anyone to try saying to their family "We won't come to lunch because we're only going to celebrate the birth of Christ". Even the most committed Christian grandparent would probably not be happy with that.
All of the obligation and minor pressure is why Halloween has far eclipsed any other celebration as my favourite. It’s all the good things of Christmas without the bad. I decorate the house – it takes a few days to get everything up, as over the last ten years I've amassed quite a collection of display materials. I order in the USA seasonal candy – so we have ‘special’ festive food. I have a big party, where I invite my friends and their children (if they have them), and there is no obligation or expectation ruling who I must celebrate with or what I must do. We get to dress up, as we like – and it’s fun. The kids are so excited, but without any greed (well, maybe a little, for the ton of candy but it’s more about the decorations and the carving of the pumpkin and planning of elaborate costumes).
We read Halloween stories nightly for the two weeks leading up to it (the wonderful Judy Sierra's works are my favourite), craft activities revolve around making decorations for the party. Selecting the pumpkin has become a tradition like going off to find a tree was in my youth. We drive around the week before singing along to Halloween songs. My three year old is delighting in all the light up, moving, singing, dancing ornaments that are appearing around the house.
However, I’m the one who is most excited – the whole extravaganza is driven by my enthusiasm for the event. And I guess that’s the indicator of my own dysfunction. It’s my gift to me, as Christmas and birthdays seem to have become about pleasing everybody else. For me it’s like the Christmas of my childhood, where it’s festive and fun, and purely about enjoyment.
To all the anti-Halloweeners, who see a decorated house and complain we are taking on American traditions, consider the possibility that there may be more to it than that. Perhaps it’s reclaiming the lost joy of celebration for the sake of enjoyment and pleasure, that the commercialism of Christmas has stolen.
So Happy Halloween to you all – I’m off to stencil ghosts onto the grass.

Linking up with #Blogtober  #SeniorSalonpitstop

esmesalon senior salon pitstop

Sunday 21 October 2012

“ You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” - Ansel Adams

I read an interesting quote on snapshots last night.  “We take photographs not so we can remember, but so we can flesh them out with the rest of our lives. That’s why there are snapshots that are true, that hit the mark directly, and snapshots that aren’t, that don’t. Snapshots are images that time sets in their right place, giving significance to some and denying it to others, which fade on their own, like colors over time.” I can't think of any of these photos that I’ve taken,  off the top of my head, but I know when a friend of a friend died in an untimely fashion, everyone looked at the photos of her at a recent wedding, where she’d worn black, not remarked on at the time, but seen as an omen in hindsight. Can you look back at a photo and see the future that unfolded caught in time?
Which then, of course, got me thinking on memory, and how sometimes our memories are not really the memory of the actual event but the image a photo taken at the time has captured - it's really the photo we remember, but we think it’s the event we remember...
This in turn, leads me to wedding photos. The amount we spend, both financial and in time is completely out of proportion the event itself. We get false poses, or photos with family we hardly ever see, in a dress most of us never wear again, and in my case with a hairstyle I'd never worn before or since. So what exactly are we documenting?  Are we trying to create memories, in case the actual day is not up to our standards? Or do we want a lot of photos of when we are looking fabulous, for some of us at a level we will never repeat? Originally wedding photography was to capture the day, now it’s more like portraiture – and often called such. It’s just the done thing, so we do it.
A woman I worked with,  had her wedding overseas but didn’t like her photos, so got someone else to take more on her return. She actually said “I’m busy this weekend, I’m having my wedding photos redone.” Not judging that she did that, but I do wonder how you explain that to people. ‘That’s not my actual wedding, it’s us in our wedding clothes’. It’s no different to people that get married in one location then drive elsewhere for photos, which is common enough, just not normally two weeks later.
When our second child was born, we had a photographer come to the house – I looked fat & with rings under my eyes, and barely had time to put on make up. Our eldest refused to not hold up Bruce the shark in every photo, no matter how much we coaxed. In the end, the photographer did a great job, I looked great and the shark was missing in all but one photo. But the photo that makes me smile, and seems the most real to me, is the one with the shark The glam family is not us, the stubborn boy with the shark in his fist and the laughing parents is the real us.
My husband said if the house burnt down he’d grab the passports and some photos. I used to always say that, but now I think I’d just grab the kids – let’s face it, getting three kids out of the house from a deep sleep is going to take some time and effort, and realistically, we don’t look at our photos much after we take them. If we have the kids, can just take new ones, and then not look at those either…We dug out our wedding photos to show the kids on our tenth anniversary. We’d not looked at them for nine years. After an initial interest, the kids got bored and wandered off. My husband and I continued looking at them that morning but then they were packed away and not looked at again in the last two years.
My eldest son has a million baby photos not looked at since, the second has less but equally ignored after being put in the album, and the third has so few printed off, that there’s not even a specific album for her.
I love seeing them when they were little, when I stumble across a photo of them, and I love being reminded of the fun we had together on a holiday or at a museum, because how I ‘remember’ them is as they are now. The snapshot is almost of another time and person, when I was another person.  But I don’t actively put aside time to look at the photos. I’m usually hunting for a particular photo of a place or country to show someone. The flipping through the album is a by product.
Yet I keep taking them. I document the kids and our adventures together, but I’m not sure to what end. I like to take them, I like to email them to my husband at work, and I like to show people if it’s particularly interesting. But then the photos are stuffed into digital file oblivion.
As the photographer of the family, I’ve only just insisted I be in some of the photos – I don’t really like photos of myself (because in my head I’m much better looking than I am in reality, so the photo always jars with my perception of myself) but a recent death made me realise the importance. I was looking for photos for the funeral, and I realised how absent I was from the frame. I guess I think the kids won't remember I was around, or what I looked like, if they don't have an image to hold onto.
I guess I think it’s important to take photos, and I like to take photos but I don’t really know to what end? I suspect I’m not one to dwell on the past, and perhaps that’s why I’m not as attached to the images as I used to be.  .  As Imogen Cunningham said “ Which of my photographs is my favorite? The one I’m going to take tomorrow. “

I don’t know what I make of all this, still pondering on it, but I am curious as to what others think and feel on the subject.
Feel free to disagree or even add a different aspect that I’ve overlooked.

Linking with #ArchiveLove

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Shh, Randy! Not in front of the children!

I listen to a lot of hip hop and rap – and I have a few rules about it. I never play it with other people’s kids in the car, and my kids and I have had plenty of discussions about the inappropriate attitudes or swearing and they even understand the issues around the “N” word.  My 11 year old informed me he’d refer to Ni**as in Paris as ‘Track 3’ and he was quite horrified when he heard it on the radio “But Mum, what will they say when they back announce it? (eyes wide in alarm) What will they CALL it?”
So I thought nothing when I dug out the Randy Newman Songbook CD – lovely, melodic grand piano sing-a-long music…or so I thought.
My 8 year old had endless questions – “Why does he love money so much?” (It’s Money that I Love), “Why did they kill them if they were gay?” (Great Nations of Europe), “How can they be holy if they kill people like that?” (Great Nations of Europe) and midway through Rednecks, “Why do you like this guy? He’s weird.”  (I did realise Rednecks is TOTALLY inappropriate but it’s so catchy I can’t help it. I thought I could explain it but I failed miserably. )
He’s not weird, he’s clever and a satirist. He points out the hypocrisies of mankind, and that is harder to explain to a child than a few warnings about swear words and offensive or sexist/racist words. There is apparently some age when you don’t get it, and then you magically do, that concept that what the words are saying, and what the songwriter actually thinks are not the same.
Kids hear and see such adult things these days - I hated that Katy Perry could sing about getting so drunk she blacked out and having a three way and every little girl merrily sings along. Jesse J says not to dress like a 'ho' and that gets beeped out. What do our kids make of all this? I don't know what to make of it!
For the record, by the time I got to Leave your Hat on, I just pressed skip. Even I wasn’t brave enough to go there.  Political Science, on the other hand, I loved as a kid.  It came out in ’72 but I didn’t hear it until after Short People (I was slightly nuts about Newman as an 8 year old.) I figure if I could understand it was a joke at 8 (in the less savvy '70's), then my kids can too. Otherwise I’ll just have to dig out his Toy Story soundtrack….at least I KNOW those songs are safe!

Linking with #ArchiveLove

Saturday 13 October 2012

Home, Home on the Gun Range - Part 2 (misconceptions)

So for those of you how came in late, I've set myself a challenge of trying new things - read more here. The first on the list was shooting. So yesterday we headed out to the Sydney International Shooting Centre, the 2000 Olympic site and tried pistol shooting.
Before we left for the hour drive, I was very excited but once we hit the centre, I became extremely nervous. I was jumpy every time a gun went off - not really the place to be for that! My friend then told me a terrible story about a person in America 'taking out' people on a gun range. This is not the story to tell someone with an already overactive imagination and anxiety issues.
We settled into the safety presentation, and this only made me more nervous. A lot of the discussion seemed to be about accidentally shooting people. I'm not sure if I was more nervous about being shot or being the person who killed someone by accident. All in all, I was very jumpy by the time I got the gun in my hand. The reality of the danger of the exercise had really kicked in.
It was a Luger .22 pistol and a target 25 m away, but I had an instructor by my side the whole time supervising, so I was, after the initial practice rounds, a little more at ease and able to concentrate on the target.
Initially I was off the target, then the outer rings. After a while I got closer to the centre. The highlight was a bullseye - not just a bullseye, but a 'bull' bullseye - which gives you 11 points in a competition, instead of the usual 10. Dead centre of the target!
It's a sport that requires patience and concentration (neither my strong point) but a skill that you can see instant results too. I could tell when I'd done a bad shot before I saw the target screen, and usually it was because I was distracted (in my head) or talking.
In the 'try shooting' group, there were 2 couples, a group of males and my girlfriends and me. Three women turning up without male counter parts is obviously a curiosity, as we were asked by the safety briefer 'who organised our outing?' (quite possibly because I was jumping when the woman shot the gun in the instructional video), and my instructor asked me if 'hubby had organised it?'. I explained my unhealthy interest in Nassar Al Attiyah and how I thought if he could get bronze at the Olympics with only 10 days practice, how hard could it be? The instructor found this hilarious, and given my final score, I can see why - though he was very encouraging about it as a first timer's attempt.
It was an interesting exercise in judgmental preconceptions - everyone there was normal. I was expecting the whole redneck gun crazed thing, in a dingy room. The facility is bright, airy, clean and pleasant. The people were just like us, and well dressed. There were a few high school kids in uniform for practice with their school rifle club. The instructors were friendly and encouraging. The whole experience, outside of my head, was enjoyable.
My instructor, when I was jumpy, informed that I needed to calm down, because I'd mess up my shots, and that for some reason women were much better shooters than men. No one knows why, they just are. I found this surprising as I tend to associate shooting as a male hobby. But there is an expression "God created men and women, Samuel Colt made them equal".
We've planned to return to try the rifles, and I might go early and take another shot with the pistol, to see if I can improve on my score. It's a really fun experience, and quite different to what my preconceptions led me to believe. And that is the important lesson of the day, our judgments cloud our opinions, sometimes based on nothing factual at all!

To conclude, I've added a few more experiences to the list:

Torshlusspanik List 
1. Shooting (check)
2. Fencing (got voucher, date to be set soon)
3. Play croquet at Croquet Club
4. Laser skeet

(was that what you were expecting of this gun totin' lady?)

Sunday 7 October 2012

Stranger in a Strange Land

I spent eight hours on Friday at the EB Games Expo – as a non gamer, I saw it with quite different eyes to the majority of the crowd. Like any traveller, I think it’s good to explore other cultures with an open mind. There I witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly – but not probably as I’d expected.

While not a gamer, and totally ignorant of most things techy, I am a distant cousin, the ‘comic book guy’. So the highlight of the expo for me, were the cosplayers, who had gone to amazing effort and the standard of most was exceptional. For those even less in the know than this old lady, cosplay is the term for those that dress up, or costume play. The amateurs had better costumes on the whole than the professionals sent out by the expo.

I love that there is a part of the culture that still has that enthusiasm and passion to throw themselves whole heartedly into a character, regardless of their age. There were Jedi, Dr Eggmen, Pikachus, Luigis – you name it, someone went as it.

The queues were horrendous. I have been to Game On and Game Masters and I think the EB Games Expo organisers need to learn from them. The Black Ops queue was three hours, Halo was two hours and Nintendo Land was over 90 minutes. I will credit gamers as the nicest and most patient group of people on the planet. Most people didn’t seem to mind, people patiently waited their turn without argument. My son said of the Halo line “Oh, it was ok because people around me were talking about Halo, so it didn’t seem that long”. It was us non-gaming chaperones that complained loudest. It made me more grateful for the fantastic cosplayers, as that gave us entertainment while in line. In fact, instead of the VIP passes being for sale, the expo should reward the effort of those dressed up by letting them ‘express pass’ the lines.

While waiting for my son to exit a gamecube, I watched a promotional film on a big cinema style screen. I didn’t recognise the game but it was a war type one. On second loop, I realised it was a promotional video for the Australian Navy, with a recruitment desk at the foot of the screen. Before I continue,  I need to clarify, I mean no disrespect to the Service men and women of Australia, nor to the Navy itself. I do, however, have an issue with the frankly horrifyingly underhand and in my opinion,  unethical recruitment tactic being used. Even my 11 year old thought it seemed ‘sneaky’ that they didn’t say it was for the Navy. They used terms such as “Combat Console Careers” and “online global game of hide and seek”. “Challenge friends” using state of the art technology (showing a missile “targeting”), top secret missions and the tag line was “The Globe is your Gameboard”. The armed forces, Navy or otherwise, is not actually a game. Advertise and recruit by all means, but don’t pretend it’s a game.
The US Military spends over $20 million a year on game development for recruitment and training, so these tactics obviously work. As this campaign is aimed at young teens, I think parents need to be aware that this is going on. Explain it carefully to your children, so they aren’t being duped or taken advantage of. Going into the Navy is a fine career choice, as long as you actually are making that choice, and not thinking you’re playing Xbox.

Exhausted, but with twenty minutes to go, we headed to the chill out area. The kids merrily fought over Pacman and Frogger while I played Pinball.  It’s old, but it’s still good! And at least with Pinball, I know where I stand.

Monday 1 October 2012

The People of the faceBook

So one thing is clear, everyone has an opinion about what should be put on Facebook, how often, and what it means about the person posting...There are judgements flying thick and fast in the ether and in print. The latest craze in blogs seems to be the demonising of “oversharing” parents. My question is WHO makes these rules? Who says what is interesting? Who says what is needy or approval seeking and what is appropriate?

I took myself off because I was beginning to get irritated by my friends (no, I'm not innocent in this judgmental behaviour either), and because I was constantly being told I didn't use it 'properly' (I talked books, sport and movies, never posted pictures of the kids, rarely even mentioned them). Ironically, the same people who complained are the ones suggesting that I go back on...While my daily post was annoying them, they miss it now that it's gone.

A friend posted on his profile (ahh, the irony!) the Guardian article that stated if you have a lot of FB friends and post frequently, you are probably exhibiting Grand Narcissistic traits (or Gross Egotism). It was a criticism of frequent posters yet while he posts rarely, he's also on Twitter - so is a daily post on FB more narcissistic than frequent posts on twitter and occasional posts on FB?

There are so many shades on this new and ethereal beast - a friend’s teenage daughter said people looked at a girl’s FB page to see how many friends she had and how many likes their comments got before deciding whether to be friends with her. I was unsure whether this 'friends' meant on FB or in real life as well...I suspect it was both, which makes me shudder, given in 10 years we'll have a teenage girl ourselves...

Why do people choose to use it? Why do they choose to share what they share? Is it healthy? I know for me, there was a certain level of addiction, and I've had 3 friends take themselves off, only to come back on. I was chatting in an online forum about Fahrenheit 451 and one member posted the following " There was no Internet in the 50s, and here am I, in Edinburgh in Scotland, writing to you in where? California? Does this reduce the isolation, or increase it?" Does Facebook, with our constant chatter bring us closer together or divide us?

In a possible backlash, I’ve noticed some posts along the lines of “I may not comment on them, but I love to see the photos of your family and hear about your daily lives. Repost if you feel the same – I’ll be watching”. However, this post opens with “To prove a point”. Is the point that a lot of people are happy with the deemed over sharing or is the point that no one looks at what anyone else posts on Facebook and it is a purely egotistical exercise? I guess it’s all up to how you use it…

Monday 24 September 2012

It's very nice to go trav'ling

But it's oh so nice to come home, so the lyrics say. I flew in last night from KL, and had the bad luck to arrive at customs with 3 other flights, all full, and one from Bali, judging by the hair. The queues at immigration were huge, and a guy behind me said to his friends "Oh, so now you get in quicker if you aren't an Australian" as if this was yet another instance of the Australian citizens being bullied by foreigners in their own country. He proceeded to do his imitation of what I think was meant to be an Asian person "Oh solly, me no green card, me go through". Much laughter from his mates.
It took all my will power (and fear of prolonging my time in immigration) not to say something then and there.
Firstly, if you are on a flight from Bali, there is a good chance that 97 percent of the passengers are made up of Australian citizens. That's just how it is, and lucky us for being able to travel there for holidays. That plane is what made the queue so lopsided. Our plane from Malaysia was about fifty-fifty as it was a co-share with Sri Lankan airlines and KLM, so there was a huge number of visitors, as well as travelling Australian Residents. It's not a Government conspiracy to punish Australians, it's just luck and possibly poor organisation. Small price to pay for a lovely overseas holiday.
My gripe, however, is this example of the delusional attitude of some people that somehow they are being discriminated against. I will say this upfront. In this country, if you are a white male who can afford holidays overseas, I find it highly unlikely you are being discriminated against at any level. You are top of the tree, yet somehow some people don't realise this. We have a wonderful country that attracts immigrants, but the melting pot has been on the stove for well over a century, so surely those Rudyard Kipling days are long gone, and we can all see each other as people, as Australians? Every race and creed that has actually been discriminated against for centuries around the world must find our distorted view hilarious.
We are a great nationality, though there seems to be an ugly racism growing unchecked and I'm not sure why. I also don't know how we stop it, because the statistical evidence doesn't seem to justify the complaint, which means it's not based on facts, just emotion.
Perhaps in our travels, we need to look at countries where large populations of different ethnicity do mix harmoniously? Isn't that why we travel? To see different countries and people?
I sincerely believe we are better than that.
I'll finish with the odd coda at the end of the Sinatra song, because while I do love to travel, there's also a certain happiness that I only find here, living in this sensational city, Sydney.
'No more customs
Burn the passport
No more packing and unpacking
Light the home fires'

Thursday 13 September 2012

A little bit perfect

I am off on a holiday with my friend from preschool - and I mean when I was in preschool. It's been a long time coming, as we planned this as a trip for our 40th's, but that year came and went, and with no income, it takes a while to save up enough to get overseas. So now it is a celebration of 40 years of friendship. An achievement more fitting celebration, in my opinion.
However, as I've never really been away from my husband AND kids at the same time, it's really tearing me up inside. I know I'll be fine once I'm there, but it brings tears to my eyes to even think about saying goodbye to them.
My daughter announced this morning in the car "I'm a little bit perfect". I love that as children we have this euphoria, in the medical definition of the word: "an exaggerated or abnormal sense of physical and emotional well-being not based on reality or truth". I think it is a terrible aspect of human nature that this confidence is quickly eradicated, by early school age.
So on this trip, I've decided, I'm going to step out of my natural inclination and find everything "a little bit perfect" including myself. I want to be that person again. Not entirely sure how to get it back but it's the mission of the break away - that and read about 6 books in as many days and sleep, the unbroken sleep of many moons ago. Oh, and have cocktails at this beach bar I've found, that has hammocks and beanbags and salsa dancing on the sand. I hope to return with a bigger and bright perspective on life. Stay tuned...
So I'm also wishing you all an upcoming holiday, that is a little bit perfect.