Thursday, July 31, 2014

July 31. Day 212. The cat's out of the bag

I am thinking of getting a pet cat. I have always loved cats. If there wasn't the small matter of the allergy to cats I am sure I would already be a crazy cat lady. A person can survive on high doses of antihistamine and Ventolin, right? Or perhaps a bird would suit me. Normally I prefer my birds more free range but I'm sure I can get over that. Or fish. My past experience of fish has involved many ending up doing backstroke and having to be flushed but there must be an online course in Gold Fish For Dummies. They don't make great walking companions either, still. Okay, I'm fooling no-one. I'm a dog lover through and through but Rumple and The Fed as testing my patience at the moment. Silent as assassins, they strike. I lay down to have a nap. They joined me on the bed. I woke up and there they were sandwiching me, one on my chest, one on my back. I would have got up in court and put my hand on a bible and said they'd been with me the whole time. The alibi would have been false. At some point, they slid off the bed, broken into the garage and had a merry time pulling things off the shelf. Just to rub it in, most of their destruction had occurred not in the garage but on the carpet right outside my bedroom door. Of course, there are no witnesses. Someone could have broken into my house and framed the poor innocent dogs but I think they let the cat out of the bag when they returned to the scene of the crime ...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 30. Day 211. Scavenger hunt

Crows. It is quite possible there is no more maligned bird.
The creator was not kind to the crow cursing it with one of the least musical calls in the avian world backed with unattractive habits such as eating road kill and pulling the rubbish out of your bins. Even the magpie which is just as likely to try and peck your eye out at certain times of the year seems to get more love than poor old crow. After all Stone the Crows is a popular saying but no-one is threatening to do the same to magpies.
But if life was fair (which of course it isn't) the era of the crow should be upon us.
My evidence is this. The crow is the ultimate scavenger and in the human world this is now a much appreciated trait.
Way back when, the charity shop was a place for society's outcasts. Being seen anywhere near such an establishment would be seen as a sign of failure and desperation. There was a huge stigma involved with settling for a stranger's cast offs. But the world turned. Words such as vintage and retro became trendy and scoring a bargain at an op shop became a badge of honour not the equivalent of a social disease. And on top of that terms such as reduce, reuse and recycle gained popularity (although new and shiny still rule in the throw-away world).
So hang in there Mr Crow. You may be the black sheep of the bird world but I rather like the way you seem to thumb your nose (beak) at convention and get on and do what you have to do.
Also your shiny black coat is most fetching. Call it retro and your stakes will rise.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 29. Day 210. You are being watched

Do you ever get the feeling you are being watched? If you don't there's something wrong with you. I am old enough to remember when 1984 was a book set in the future. I remember how outrageous the idea of constant surveillance by the government was. I still recall the teenage me grappling with the idea of what Room 101 would contain and tyring to convince myself that double speak and thought crime was the stuff of fiction. And now everywhere we go there's some security camera watching. Emails arrive from supermarkets offering me specials on products they know I will likely buy in future because my "loyalty" card says I have bought them in the past and every email I write is being captured for future use. The data in my phone allows me to be tracked and often my nearest and dearest do just that logging on to FindMyIPhone to find the phone's owner. But the scary thing about all this, the really scary thing, is that while some of this data collection I have no control over much I give away freely. You do not have to "check in" via your phone when you arrive somewhere. You do not have to tweet your every move. No-one is holding a gun against your head and forcing you to take a customer loyalty card. And like million and millions of others I do. All of this occurred to me as I sat in the audience of 1984 at QPAC this morning. Privacy, just as Orwell predicted, is a thing of the past. Big Brother is watching you and you are freely allowing him to do so.

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28. Day 209. The lightbulb moment

Q: How many of the men in my house does it take to change a lightbulb/replace an empty toilet paper roll/turn on the washing machine?
A: No-one knows because it has never been done before.
Okay, that's not true - but it's not far from the truth. I think, there's a belief that we have fairy who magically does these things with a flick of fairy dust or a wave of a wand or something. Case in point. The pool filter starts beeping in the dead of night. Selective deafness sets it and a game of brinkmanship ensues. I crack first. I always crack first and in fact I am almost certain neither of my males knows how to deal with this problem. Lightbulb moment. Whose fault is that? Can I honestly blame them for not volunteering when they know full well that if they hang off I'll do it and they can stay on the couch? Of course not. Learned helplessness requires both a teacher and a student. This is a monster I have created and nurtured. It might be time to starve it of oxygen.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27. Day 208. A lot to digest

I could see it in their eyes. That slightly dazed look that says either "I have just bitten off more than I can chew" or "Ok, now that's rather a lot to digest". Today was QUT Open Day and that meant I was on duty running presentations for students considering studying journalism (and their parents). That meant fielding question after question about OPs, double degrees, the difference between a BCI and a B Journ, alternative entry possibilities, starting out in a Media and  Communication degree versus a Mass Comm degree if you intend studying journalism. I know the answer to all these questions and more and I attempt to answer them in ways that avoid university slang but there reaches a point when you see the eyes glaze over. It's all a lot to take in especially for anyone new to the university sector. I actually find it very easy to put myself in the shoes of parents at these seminars. In a break between my presentation duties, I took myself off to the Drama, Acting and Technical Production talks in my role of parent to Drama Teen. Here the challenge was to get my head around three different Bachelor of Fine Arts and their OP, versus interview, versus audition entry etc, etc. Fortunately as an insider I felt like I had a bit (ok a great big) head start. Still, by the end of it I felt like I'd had my fill. * Note, this is not a self portrait but a photo I took on the way home. It is, however, scarily like how I felt after many hours of Open Day duty wearing both the parent and the professional hats.

July 26. Day 207. Anyone for seconds?

You might have to be as mad as a hatter to think that everyone should be entitled to 364 unbirthday celebrations. An unbirthday then becomes an everyday occurrence and nothing special to celebrate at all. But twice a year? Well, who could argue with that? For many years, my family has joined with the families of two of my besties for a Christmas in July celebration. For many Christmas in July is an Australian's way to be able to eat "traditional" Christmas food at a time when turning on the oven to roast will cook more than your goose. I've never let the summer heat stop the baking of a turkey with all the trimmings. The way I see it, spreading a little joy of Christmas to the middle of the year can't be a bad thing even though a good many people think that Christmas in July is somewhere sacrilegious and blasphemy. But I love Christmas and a second opportunity to give presents, eat good food and relax and enjoy the company of family and friends is something to be grabbed with both hands.

Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25, Day 206. Sun sets on another week

Most people in this part of the planet live their lives according to the Gregorian calendar. It is s fine calendar that serves most people well. I am not one of those people, well not entirely. My life is dominated by another calendar, the QUT Academic Calendar. This document determines when I teach, when friends can expect to hear nothing from me apart from grunts and tweets about how hideous marking is and when I might be found "researching" by the pool. This week, according to that calendar, is Week 1 and that means we are putting the pedal to the metal again for Semester 2. 
To be honest, this is the part of the academic year I enjoy most. Teaching suits me far better than administrivia, despite the whinging about marking. But because it is a busy time I admit that I was rather happy to see the sun setting on this working week.