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September 18, 2013

Hello

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in a word – Iscrm

March 3, 2011

 

This is what my son wrote on the shopping list today when we ran out of, you guessed it, ice cream. Pretty good considering he could not read at all a few weeks ago. I also admired the initiative.

Took quite a few photos today but this one was the winner. Maybe it will turn into a mummy blog after all…

in a word – REFUSE

March 2, 2011

This photo was taken in the carpark of my workplace. I have been working there once a week and driving past this garbage dump for about four weeks. I’m wondering what goes on with the garbage disposal here? Is this what our world will look like in another 100 years?

Are we all going to be living in piles similar to this one? Do we all have to buy bigger houses just to contain all this s**t? Probably.

There is a wonderful children’s book called “The Tip at the End of the Street” about some kids who find things in the dump. They eventually find an old man thrown away at the tip and take him home. They build him a house in the backyard, made of an abandoned railway carriage and furnish it with other thrown away items. The old man eventually dies but only after he has been found and looked after and shared all his songs and stories with the children. It’s a lovely story.

My office building used to be an old fashioned mental institution or asylum. It has a lot of history, from the days when people with mental illnesses were locked away from the world. These places have a bad reputation and many horrific things happened. They were closed largely due to advances in psychiatric treatments, but also due to social and political movements. At their best and most well-intentioned they were places of refuge, where people who were considered “refuse” by the rest of society could have a place.

As I walked to lunch I saw some of the patients from the newer psychiatric wards, who generally stay for short periods before returning home. The lucky ones have family and the rest stay in government housing. They look and smell different to others, and I found myself avoiding their company. I’m sure they are discarded by most of society. It’s a long time since I worked in one of those wards, but I used to be fascinated by the mentally ill. I wonder how they would perceive their life differently in an asylum or whether they would have a greater sense of community.

There will always be people who look bad, smell different and aren’t able to contribute much in a conventional sense. They are considered a burden and a problem to be looked after. I have found that each of them does contribute something to the world around us, often in unexpected ways to those of us who spend time with them. It may be a gift of laughter, creativity or seeing things from a different angle. Or it may be a hard earned gift such as learning patience from someone who is difficult to deal with. Such gifts are not always easy to see but the reward of some perseverance.

 

In a word – LOVE

March 1, 2011

Me: Elijah, it’s homework time.

Silence

Me: Elijah! Come and do your homework!

E: I’m just in your bedroom

I walk into room.

Me: Come on, it’s time to…

E: I was just putting hearts on all your books, so you would be really happy.

Back to blogging month

March 1, 2011

My challenge for this March is to write a blog post every day – yes this is part of International Blog Posting Month. This will be a big month in many ways, just wait and see.

The NaBloPoMo theme for this month is “in a word” which I think goes nicely with photo journalism. I am linked to NaBloPoMo (ie you can see me there also, I believe)

So we bring you one photo a day for a month, the only rule is the photo must be taken on the same day.

Welcome.

 

energy paradox

January 2, 2010

At the moment, we have a global crisis in energy and resources – simply put we are consuming too much energy. In past years I had the privilege of living next to one of the nicest ocean walking tracks in this city. I would watch a constant stream of joggers every day, and try to resist the urge (based on body envy of course) to throw things at them. At the time I had 2 toddlers, which did consume a lot of energy. I would chase, lift carry and clean and I would burn up my own calories doing so, and surely this was a good thing. Eventually I even managed to lose some weight but not without some serious walks and dieting.

So the joggers, the toddlers, and the news about climate change got me thinking. How about we put this into an energy equation, you know like the things we used to calculate in physics class (umm, 20 years ago?) Much of the world’s energy resources are used by technology devices that are designed to make rich people’s lives easier. And by that I include just about everyone who lives in a Western country. We use dishwashers, dryers, cars and the internet in a constant race to save time and energy. Energy of planet consumed to reduce energy expenditure by humans.

Meanwhile people continue to eat. In the West we have diets consisting of increasingly high-energy food that has been made available to us by the use of technology, consuming the world’s resources to dump excess energy into our bodies which is then largely converted to fat. Again the same thing, energy resources of planet consumed, people end up with excess energy stores.

To deal with resulting obesity crisis, we all then jog or attend gyms to get exercise. Which is surely a good thing.

I guess I am seeing a kind of paradox here, and what I am saying is not really new. I could ask my Dad, who is a physicist, he may be able to help out. But the natural solution is not a palatable one for most people. We get rid of any technology that is designed to reduce energy expenditure by humans. We revert to doing all washing by hand, we walk or bicycle everywhere, we eat only food that we could grow, kill and prepare ourselves. I guess most serious greenies are already advocating this kind of stuff. I am simply looking at this in terms of an energy equation.

today’s sermon: giving

November 9, 2009

This blog is getting very preachy, so why stop now?

This is my very own sermon about “giving”. You know, like those encouraging speeches that are given prior to passing around the collection plate (or credit card form) in the mega-churches. Here is my version of the giving speech.

First Bible verse:

“Give to anyone who asks, and if they take what belongs to you, do not demand it back” – Luke 6:30. This leads into the universal golden rule “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” This suggests that giving should follow a request rather than just occur in a willy nilly fashion, making it somehow easier to decide who or when to give something.

Things we can give to others:

– time

– money

– praise

– care

– energy

– possessions

– hospitality

The list is probably endless, think of anything you have ever been given or given to someone else.

Next Bible verse:

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” – Luke 12: 48

Then put the two things together. Think of something you have been blessed with or given abundantly in your life. Maybe you are someone who has been loved extravagantly, or received a lot of praise for something, or you are just filthy rich. You might have been cared for through a long illness, or someone has just given you all their baby clothes. Anything.

The point is, maybe the thing you have been given, you are also expected to give to others. Hand it on down the chain, that sort of thing.

Whatever you are rich in, maybe it’s praise and accolades, maybe it’s love, money, caring or even time. Find someone who has less than you have – and give them that.

As someone who had kids fairly late in life, I have had the advantage of more stability in many ways (social, mental and financial!) which hopefully has given my kids some benefit as I’m more mature as a mother than I would have been 10 years earlier. I observe this trend of later motherhood and for many people like me it turns out fine in the end, but not for all. However, there is a part of me that believes this is not the natural or most ideal state of affairs, that maybe humans as a species are actually designed in many different ways to reproduce earlier. Here’s why.

The biological side is obvious, there is the obvious problem with declining fertility in males and females. All the infertility experts urge us to start earlier. There is a greater risk of pregnancy complications, birth defects, miscarriage, just about any problem. Older mothers have less energy to stay up all night and run around after the little ones.

What about the psychological or emotional side? I’m really only referring to Western society here, and I am still considering this theory so it’s a work in progress, bear with me. Younger adults or adolescents have different brains, which become “adult” in structure only at around 25. Young people are highly social and connected, concerned with forming their identity. Sometimes they  are more impulsive, flexible, risk-takers with a lack of empathy and a sense of invincibility. They are also highly social. All this is now confirmed with brain research that shows our brain connections are not fully established until the mid-20s.

If child-rearing was to occur in the teens or early 20’s , psychologically parents would be more flexible, able to cope with chaotic baby behaviour without too much need to impose an artificial routine. The highly social nature of teenagers is also adaptive because a social environment is necessary or extremely preferable for children. The effect of having a baby is (for most people) to increase empathy or the ability to put another’s needs before your own. So I think the benefit of early parenting (for the parent) would be actually to help emotional development, at a critical time of development, onto a more productive and cooperative path. We know from psychology that cooperativeness is a great character strength which leads to positive health outcomes (There are other parts of this theory that don’t work like impulsivity & invincibility, so I am working on those)

Socially, having children earlier would have benefits for the extended family. Grandparents would be younger, and could therefore support parents more, rather than having children when one’s own parents are very old and may require care themselves. Having children earlier would mean that they were able to help the parents to care for their own grandparents in old age.

I would see all this as having a benefit for babies in terms of attachment. A more highly supported social network for the mother may lead to a secure baby. Of course a theory like this can’t be universal and I guess there are down sides to this as well.

Why is parenting delayed? These days, largely because of financial expectations we expect to establish careers and do a lot of intellectual work (at least in the West) in our teens and 20s – to get into a reasonable financial position before we have the children. However this kind of career focus requires the maturity of a more adult brain, and in some ways it would be better to wait until over 25 when we may have more capacity for self-knowledge to choose an appropriate career path, wisdom to make responsible decisions for society and the persistence or discipline required for a complex workplace.

The other reason is relationships. People in their 20s now have the cultural expectation of transient relationships, often based on pleasure and self gratification, multiple relationships in order to find the best fit “try before you buy” without expectation of commitment or care of the other. We also expect to have “fun” and leisure before settling down to the “hard slog” of parenting, but I’ll get to that later. I think there is some evidence that this approach to relationships might be damaging. We know that broken relationships can be a grief event, and some of the most traumatic experiences from a psychological, mental health point of view – leading to depression, suicide and insecurity. By practicing serial monogomy or low-commitment and low-care relationships we are actually un-learning the art of real relationship by practising uncaring behaviours. This is actually bad for us in the long run, and sometimes it takes a long time to catch up and heal from the wounds of multiple relationship losses.

Anyway, that’s about all for this theory for today – as I said it’s a work in progress and so it could probably use some references, but this blog is just about ideas, not necessarily references!

Adios for today.

ten interesting websites

November 7, 2009

It’s pretty hard to keep up the blogging post month whatever thing. Running out of inspiration fast, so today’s post will be dedicated to other people’s ideas! Here are ten interesting blogs & websites, in no particular order.

1. Vintage November. Amanda’s gorgeous site with a lovely dress each day for the month. I feel privileged to actually know Amanda in person.

2. Doctor woman. Another mother / woman / doctor / Christian blog. Thoughtful writing and someone I can relate to a lot.

3. Charlotte’s web. My old favourite from the old blogging days (2006-7) good to see Charlotte is still going strong.

4. Creative nonfiction. This is a journal website and also a facebook group, accepts submissions for essays. Here is the definition of creative nonfiction:


“The word “creative” refers simply to the use of literary craft in presenting nonfiction—that is, factually accurate prose about real people and events—in a compelling, vivid manner. To put it another way, creative nonfiction writers do not make things up; they make ideas and information that already exist more interesting and, often, more accessible.”

5. CiteULike. A useful site for storing journal references or creating a library of bookmarks for just about anything.

6. Karaoke Sydney. I like this site because it has a lot of detail about where you can go in Sydney to sing Karaoke. It contains a map for several different days of the week, as well as reviews on some of the venues.

7. Po Bronson. This man wrote possibly the most interesting book of biographical case histories I have ever read, called “What Should I Do With My Life” and has subsequently written other very interesting books including one on parenting.

8. Flow: the psychology of optimal experience. A link to book review of this famous book by the man with a very long name. I really wish I had found, bought and read this book by now (along with the other 137 books which are sitting on my bedside table bookshelves or in fact still in the shop waiting to be read by me) but reading this review I almost don’t have to read the book.

9. Journey Mama. Someone else who is trying to do a BloPoMo (why do we do this again?) and has an interesting life.

10. Last but not least, godless monkey. Who knows what this blog is about, I found it at the “alpha inventions” blog randomiser and I just like the name.

That’s it for today – what a struggle!

 

the white elephant is back

October 22, 2009

Greetings all – the white elephant is back!

It has been over 2 years and the white elephant has been heavily occupied with other pressing matters (the youngest of whom is now 18 months and the older 2 are nearly 4!)

However, while I’ve been away there has been a constant incoming stream of comments about one particular post I wrote back in 2006. I now have 163 collected stories from readers about “tsunami dreams” – obviously an issue that many of us share! There have also been a lot of comments about “thanatophobia” go figure! This steady reminder from blog readers has inspired me to resurrect the white elephant.

So I’ve decided to promote the tsunami dreams topic to its own pages (see menu) to hopefully make navigation easier. I have put all the comments up on their own page, and will try to find more information about this topic!

Generally speaking I’ve also been on facebook which has taken away some of my need to blog (I hate to admit!) but the writing bug never dies, it just goes underground for long periods…

I’ve noticed that many people I used to read are still blogging! So I look forward to coming to visit.