Friday, December 31, 2010


It's the end of the year! =D

Happy New Year to everyone tomorrow and best of luck for it! I'm not sure how much blogging I'll do in January, but I'll try to keep up. I'm mostly going to be getting fit and healthy in preparation for the wedding so there will be a lot of cycling and other such activities.

Be merry, celebrate, and dont' diet until the 2nd of January! =D

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More bikey goodness!

So as part of a more complete lifestyle change, I've been kitting out my bike a little to make myself as likely as I can possibly be to take it instead of the car.

To begin with, I got mudguards, a rack, and a basket. Basket is excellent as far as carrying my little backpack/handbag thing, or the cross-bar converter thingo if I've driven it to the park and forgotten to take it off before getting from the carpark to the bike track (I also got the converter thingo, in case you hadn't guessed).

So that's recreational riding taken care of. Now, I also need my bike to be something that is useful to me in more domestic circumstances. For instance, if I either want to buy groceries to begin with or remember that I need them in a very sudden and unplanned way as I drive past the shops. Under such circumstances, I'm less inclined to have brought a backpack with me purely as a just-in-case measure. I just don't think in those terms.

So, I got myself a set of fold-out panniers which start off looking like this:

They sit nicely on the rack on the rear of my bike, and don't get in the way while I'm cycling. In the central compartment I have a few protein bars (in case of rides that are unexpectedly long or vigorous), a first aid kit (in case of sudden crash, which is more or less inevitable given that this is me we're talking about), and a puncture repair kit. I can also fit my wallet, phone, and keys in there in case I don't want to carry my handbag thing but don't want to be without keys and ID. And in case I don't want them rattling around the basket on the front of my bike.

When unfolded, the panniers look like this:

Heaps of space for stuff like groceries or a change of clothes (if, for instance, I'm cycling to my Oolon's place).

I am now set to cycle for any reason other than incredibly large distances.

I finally found a water bottle with a cap that covers the mouthpiece and which fits in the cage thing (being a ladies' bike, there isn't a lot of room for large water bottles, but panniers and basket will take care of that on planned long trips) as I'm stupidly paranoid about putting things of questionable cleanliness in my mouth (infer from that what you will), and today I bought a mini pump in case I get a flat tyre. It also has a pressure gauge, which is kind of cool.

I still need a rear light that can be seen past the panniers and some reflective clothing so that I can ride home from Oolon's place after dark, but that will hopefully happen before days get too short. In the mean while, the worst case scenario is that I leave my bike here and ask for a lift home so that I can get to work on time the next day.

So yeah! I have now set my bike up so I have very little excuse for not taking it places :-) Hooray!

Monday, December 27, 2010

More female TMI.

I want to rave at you all about how brilliant the Mooncup is. You're also about to learn a few things about my own anatomy.

I got one a few days ago, and it arrived right in the middle of a period I wasn't expecting to have (I've been avoiding them like the plague and was hoping to never have one ever again), but it became clear that I would have them at least occasionally (I forget to take the pill when I'm really sick, and apparently my body is only willing to go without bleeding for 6-8 weeks).

So, I ordered this thing after a friend of mine spent a lot of time raving about how awesome it is.

It is f'ing brilliant. It doesn't leak like tampons do, it can handle clots like tampons don't (stupid endometriosis), and it's reusable so I don't have to panic about running out of them. It can also be used before a period, so if you're expecting one at some point in the next three days and have a beach day tomorrow, then you don't have to worry about starting to bleed while at the beach. The Mooncup will take care of it.

It can also be used overnight. Unlike tampons, you're not going to get TSS so you can sleep comfortably without staining your sheets or ending up in ICU. There's also the fact that it sits lower than a tampon, which is great for me because tampons were very, very uncomfortable against my cervix. I'm not sure whether that was the result of the endometriosis or the retroverted uterus (which I've also got; have a diagram).

Getting it in and out takes practice and removing it is less comfortable than inserting it. I recommend using KY jelly or some other water-based lube for insertion because it just slides in, pops open and you're away. It's also good if you're new to using it and tend to tense up, because tense vaginal muscles make it more difficult to use.

I'm thrilled. If I have a daughter, she's getting one of these as soon as she hits puberty and she can start using it as soon as she feels ready to (these things are good for about a decade, or until you give birth so there won't be any rush if she's timid about it).

I've inserted (haha, pun) three small ads for it on my site because that's how awesome it is. One for the distributor in the UK, one in the US, and one in Australia.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Seasons Greetings!

Happy Holidays to everyone! Whatever your religious views, I hope you have a wonderful time with family and friends. There is so little time to spend with family in this day and age that we should take the opportunities that come our way, no?

So! Jingle the bells, hang the holly and have a roaring good time with the mulled wine! =D

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


I forgot to write anything for today! Oh dear.

Sincerest apologies!

Monday, December 20, 2010


Well, it's the first day of the Summer holidays and I've survived my 2nd year of teaching :-) And I'm staying at the same school next year, which is kind of awesome!

This year has been HUGE. A lot has changed, all of it for the better (even when it was painful). Now I'm starting the Summer holidays, a week out from Christmas, and with new-found freedom! I'm looking forward to many things:
  • Weekend picnics
  • Time to read books (thinking about getting some Tad Williams; I hear he's good)
  • More frequent cooking (tiredness gets in the way)
  • More sleep (to get rid of the tired so I can cook!)
  • Spontaneous dinners out
  • Spontaneous trips to varous parts of my city
  • Regular cycling 
  • Attempting to ride all the way into the city from my university (roughly 20km)
  • Successfully riding into the city my university (it may take an entire day, and I may need a thorough wash afterward!)
Basically, I'm looking forward to spontaneity, fitness and relaxation :-)

Also, this is my new bike! =D Innit pretty???

I have added a rack at the back, mudguards and a basket at the front :-) I call her Arien, a Sun angel invented by Tolkien. Had there not been a kid in one of my classes called Marko, I'd have been extremely punny and called the bike "Marko Apollo". Arien is nicer, though.

Friday, December 17, 2010


As a teacher, you need to be able to think on your feet.

This has become a rather common exchange for me:

Anyone who's been in the business knows that this kind of accusation isn't limited to skin colour, and actually doesn't depend on the child's skin colour at all. A kid could be paler than I am and still claim racism because they're black! I'm not kidding, it has happened (though not to me, personally).

The only thing you can do under these circumstances is have a retort handy. Like this one*, which actually got me high-fives from a few of the boys:

*Name changed to protect the guilty

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quincy's Cooking Adventures: Cooking with Quincy (and friend)

I have a friend I used to sometimes cook with. These days, we don’t get to do this very often. We both have unusually busy schedules which results in conflicting dinner times and locations.
But when we do cook together, we’re like a well-oiled machine. Things just kind of flow, and I’ve had a 3rd party try to join in and be both mesmerised and utterly lost by the way things usually go.
For instance, one of us, call her A, will be stirring while the other (B) is chopping. B will say “Utensil!”. A will look over, see what B is trying to do, figure out which utensil is needed, figure out how safe it is to leave her stirring. She will then either leave the stirring or figure out the best way to get utensil to A without stopping. Within 2-5 seconds, the correct utensil will get passed to A, cooking will resume.
It's not so easy when you insert a 3rd person, but a lot of that might have to do with how tiny the kitchen is.
I guess this is one of the advantages of having ADHD: You make seemingly impossible connections and you make them fast, particularly if you are working on something that you are comfortable with (as opposed to being put on the spot, where your brain freezes totally). And when you get two ADD-ers together, performing a task that they are both good at and comfortable with, you end up with something amazing.
I like cooking with my friend.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Interpreting your child's report

With reports on their way within the next week, I thought I'd give parents a helpful guide to what their report might actually mean.

For most students, the reports are broken down into Achievements and Areas for Future Improvement.  This makes the report a bit tricky because what they achieved is often not to the best of their ability, so you may find the same thing mentioned in both sections.

I'll just run through some key phrases which parents may discover when reading through the Science comments. These prhases will be taken from both comment sections of the reports.

Billy has used references from a range of different sources
Billy used both Wikipedia AND Yahoo Answers.

Worked effectively with others
Billy did the entire project for his group.

Billy used appropriate language in his report
Billy didn't use a single swear word!

Billy has demonstrated some organisational skills
Billy always brought something to class. Occasionally it was his pet hamster.

Billy works effectively with detailed instructions from the teacher
I had to sit next to Billy for the duration of every lesson to keep him from climbing out the window.

Billy has developed a basic understanding of the concepts covered.
Billy can now say that he's heard of electricity and the word "particle".

Billy needs to ensure that all criteria have been met before submitting an assignment.
Billy needs to read the goddamned instructions or ask the flipping teacher for help if he's not sure. Getting the teacher to actually look over a draft of the assignment before it's due would be amazing.

Billy can describe concept x when given help.
Billy has a memory like a sieve.

Billy has shown a variety of interests
Billy has discovered girls.

Billy is a unique and remarkable individual
Billy is in serious need of psychiatric assessment.

I hope this helps :-)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hypocrites, liars and charlatans! The Lot of them!

I'm angry about the Wikileaks fiasco. I'm angry because politicians who condemned China for trying to censor Google are now shouting for the arrest of a man who runs the organisation which published their own government's documents.

I'm angry that the Australian government is so pissweak that it will not defend one of its own citizens against calls of "treason"  where none has been committed or against the calls for his assassination.

Go to the GetUp site, and please sign the petition. If you have the means, please donate for the full-page ads that are planned for the New York Times and the Australian newspaper.

I hate hypocrisy, dishonesty and injustice. I hate them most when they are prepetrated by people who are supposed to represent country and its values. When it's people who are powerful and will be listened to by a significant number of those they represent. Lets not allow this to continue.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Statistics: You're Doing it Wrong.

A lot of people don't really understand statistics, and it leads to all sorts of trouble. I get very tired of people quoting numbers and percentages that they've read in the paper while clearly not having a clue as to what they're actually talking about. Papers won't actually explain things properly either because that would make the story a whole lot less dramatic.  I'm hoping to clear some of that up here with a couple of examples of commonly misunderstood statistical talk.

1) Taking drug x increases your risk of cancer by 80%
Hearing this, a lot of people will immediately stop taking drug x, thinking that their chances of getting cancer from this stuff is now hugely amplified.
The actual fact is that it might not be. Lets assume that your probability of getting cancer at some point in your life is 1%.
80% of 1% is 0.8%. So, an increase of 80% means your probability of getting cancer is now 1.8%. Proportionally, this is significant. If your probability is already high, then you're in strife. But in real terms, if you are not already in a high risk group, you don't have all that much to worry about.
It's also why I assume some people use the term "percentage points", so that if probability has gone from 20% to 30%, it has gone up by 10 percentage points. It has also gone up by 50%.
2) How "averages" work in general
The "mean" is the biggest problem where these are concerned, and is the one most people take as what is normal. It is calculated by adding up each bit of data and then dividing your answer by how many bits there are.
When it comes to averages, it is unwise to only look at this one average. For example:
10 people are in a room. 9 of them will earn a salary of $40k this year. The 10th person is a CEO who will earn $4million. The average salary of the room is $436k per year, which is more than 10 times what most of the people in the room earn.
The data is skewed, and therefore not an accurate representation. This is why it is important to note the median (middle value) and mode (most frequent value), and to also look at your minimum and maximum data points so that you have a better idea of how the data is actually spread out.

The useful thing about the median is that it divides the population into two equal halves. So if you had people getting scores ranging from 0 to 100 and your median was 10, this means that half the people got less than 10 as their score. That's not very good...
There are also things called "quartiles". So they show you the quarters of your data. So if the lower quartile for the above info was 7, it means that a quarter of your people scored less than 7 and a quarter scored between 7 and 10. If your upper quartile is 95, then a quarter of your test subjects scored 95 or more (which is actually pretty good) and a quarter got between 10 an 95 (which is a heck of a range).
Medians and quartiles are a really good way of showing how data is spread out.

As far as simple representations go, I really like box and whisker plots. As far as representing data goes, I find them extremely useful: When you line up all the scores in order from smallest to largest, they show you the highest value, the lowest value, the middle value, and two values in between.
Snooty McSmugbox. The Box with Whsikers!

For example, let's say I have test scores for a class of 31:
Highest score: 90%
Lowest score: 10%
6 kids got exactly 30%
3 kids got exactly 34%
7 kids got 62%
13 kids got 74%

Here is the BW plot:

 Each section represents a quarter of my class. Half my kids got 62% or more, which is pretty good. More than half my kids got 50% or over (remember that the median splits the class into two equal halves), which is also not bad.

I think that they're pretty cool :-)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Love: What it is, and when to know if it isn't

Having posted recently on how tumultuous my relationship with  my mother was (while we still had one; it’s been several months since we’ve spoken), I’d like to discuss abusive relationships in general.
From the Reach Out website, these are the signs of an abusive relationship:
  • Checking on you all the time to see where you are, what you're doing and who you're with.
  • Trying to control where you can go and who they can see (this includes telling you they don't like/trust/are jealous of your friends for whatever reason; making feel you bad about hanging out with your friends/family)
  • Accusing you without good reason of being unfaithful or flirting.
  • Isolating you from family and friends, often by rude behaviour.
Put downs
  • Putting you down, either publicly or privately by attacking how smart you are, your looks or capabilities.
  • Constantly comparing you unfavourably with others.
  • Blaming you for all the problems in the relationship and for their own behaviour toward you ("I only got mad because you kept perving at that other girl/guy!" - especially if you weren't actually perving)
Menace + threats
  • Yelling, sulking and deliberately breaking things that you value.
  • Threatening to use violence against you, your family, friends or even a pet.
  • Saying things like 'no one else will want you'.
The key thing is that these behaviours are not present all the time. Generally speaking, in an abusive relationship, if it is good then it is very very good. There is joy and laughter, gifts, surprise dates in new places, strawberries covered in chocolate; the kind of stuff movies are made of. The other person is sweet and gentle and warm. When it is good, it can seem absolutely perfect. It seems like the most loving relationship in the world.

This can often cloud the bad things. 

"But he loves me... He just got angry because I was tactless and that's why he shouted and said nasty things. I'll just be more careful about how I say things next time."

"She loves me - I know she does because she's so wonderful all the time. She just gets frustrated when I do things wrong. She doesn't mean it when she puts me down, and she always apologises afterward..."

"She's just insecure because she's had a hard past. She's jealous of my friends now, but she'll get better when she realises that I do really love her and that she doesn't need to be jealous. Then she'll stop being angry when I want  a night out with 'the boys'. "

"He's just trying to look after me. He doesn't want me being felt up by strangers in a crowd, and that's fair enough I guess. Maybe I shouldn't go to that concert after all..."
I’d like to say this very clearly: If you are being treated in such a shameful way and it never changes; if the other person shows no sign of being willing to alter themselves and take steps to make themselves better as well (because it's always a two-person job), it is not love. To quote the above website:
When you are in a healthy relationship, both individuals support each other, sharing the good times and helping each other through the tough ones.  When someone matters deeply to you, and those feelings of trust and respect are returned, it enables us to face the world with confidence.
Building and maintaining a healthy relationship needs the commitment from both of sides in order to work at it. But it is worth it, because in a good relationship, you feel good about your boyfriend or girlfriend, and good about yourself.
To stay with someone if they treat you in ways that make you feel insecure and unhappy is not to stay with them out of love.
To put someone down, say horrible things to them, threaten them, and still stay with them is not staying with them out of love. 

To keep saying bad things and taking them back but not actively working to change the behaviour is not showing love.

“Love” is not just a feeling; it is a verb. Whether it is romantic love, familial love, or love for a pet, you can claim to  love all you want but if you do not consistently show it in your actions then you are not loving the person.
“Love” is a two-way street. If only one person is trying to change themselves while the other continues to lay the blame, then they are not in a loving relationship. 
“Compromise” is not one-sided. Compromise requires meeting half-way to get the best possible outcome for both parties, and sometimes there can be no compromise. If it is a difference that will affect one or more parties negatively; if it will have a negative impact on the wellbeing of either party in the long run, the relationship should end.

If you find yourself in a relationship where the characteristics above are ever on display, seek help from someone you trust. If you're not sure whether you're in one, talk to someone about it. Talk to a friend. A teacher. A family member. Your doctor. Anyone, just talk to them, as they may be able to see something you haven't. Don't be afraid that they'll judge you or that you'll look like a failure if your relationship isn't perfect or happy; appearances are a bad reason to be in a relationship anyway.

I hate the phrase “true love conquers all”. There are things love shouldn’t need to conquer. There are some things that, if it really were “true love”, wouldn’t exist to be conquered in the first place. Disney can get stuffed.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our consumerist lives

Shopping is a pretty big part of our lives. Most often, when thinking of somewhere to go, places that come up as ideas are shopping strips and shopping centres. I've heard a lot of grumbling in the past about how people really should find something else to do. See a film. Read a book. Have a picnic. Go bowling. Etc etc.

But I had a think, and I realised something: Window shopping is probably the cheapest and simplest form of entertainment you can get.

There are no entry fees, like for cinemas or bowling alleys. If you're going to a large centre, there's no worry about the weather going wrong and spoiling your lunch. You don't need to plan ahead a great deal, and if you don't actually buy anything you've only paid for getting there and maybe some food and drink (though nothing stops you bringing  your own to those places, either).

Now, the weather thing may well be a HTFU scenario, but in reality no one wants to be out in unpleasant conditions if there is another option, even if that option is your lounge room floor. But that is still not ideal, as you're back in the house which you wanted to escape in the first place.

To conclude: I don't t hink that shopping as entertainment is such a bad thing, as long as one is aware of their spending and why they went shopping in the first place.

Answers to Friday's quiz!

Flat surfaces:

  • 6 bookshelves
  • 1 floor
  • 2 levels of the TV stand
  • 2 levels of coffee table
  • The top of my pile of papers
  • 1 foot stool
  • 1 piano stool
  • 1 piano
  • The top of the DVD shelves
  • The top of each box next to the cabinet (3 surfaces)
  • 2 levels of cabinet
Total = 19

There are seven which ones I had already taken advantage of :-)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pop Quiz!

Question: How many flat surfaces can YOU see?
Bonus Question: How many have I already taken advantage of?
Answers at the bottom of Monday's blog!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What I've been doing!

So, I'm back from my break :-) I have not been sitting idle! Here's a brief rundown of what's been happening:

1) Writing reports.

Report-writing is boring and painful business. It's as bad as marking, quite frankly. The worst part is when you think you're finished and then discover that you have to read through all the reports you've written because the comment bank you used included stuff about topics you haven't actually covered...

2) Marking.

Kind of has to happen before you can write reports... Also painful and boring.

3) Weekend away with my sweetheart

We went to Bendigo in country Victoria for a weekend :-) It was lovely. Totally unstructured, so we did as we pleased. Read books, walked around the town, relaxed in the spa. Pure romance :-)

We also stopped in a smaller town called Malmsbury to see a village market. There were jams and preserves, wines, beers, hand-crafted jewellery. The gardens were also amazingly beautiful.

It was a fantastic weekend, and just what we both needed.

I'm now back in the real world and hopefully blogging regularly again!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ADHD: Not quite what you think it is. Or isn't. Cross-posted from one of my personal blogs

This is fairly impromptu, but hearing a couple of people talking and spreading their bullshit opinions made me angry and I felt the need to write this.

I am fed up with people who have no clue about something giving their opinion and talking shit when they have no business doing so.

Just so that you all know:

  • ADHD is a REAL disorder. 
  • Stimulants have been used to treat it since the first half of the 20th century.
  • Caffeine is a STIMULANT. This means that someone who has ADHD and is drinking 20 cups of coffee per day is more likely to be self-medicating than to be causing his symptoms.
  • ADHD is genetic. The genes which are responsible for it have been mapped. It runs in families. So yes, you WILL find families where mum, dad and all the kids are diagnosed and on Ritalin. There is nothing "odd" or "suspicious" about it.
  • ADHD brains are NOT the same as normal brains. The frontal and temporal lobes are underdeveloped. MRI scans have shown this.
  • ADHD is NOT a behavioural disorder, it is a developmental disorder. Hence the lack of DEVELOPMENT in key areas of the thinking/reasoning part of the brain.
  • Parents are NOT trying to zombify their kids. Neither are the teachers. It would be nice if the system was set up to have special resources and support for these kids, but sadly it doesn't. The best we can do is help them fit the world by altering their brain chemistry to resemble that of "neurotypical" kids.
  • ADHD is not just for kids. Plenty of adults never "grow out" of their ADHD. And that's why you'll get the whole family on the meds situation.
So don't talk about things you don't actually understand. Don't just repeat things you hear because they sound all conspiratory. Don't talk out of your arse until you've actually learned something about what you're talking about.

Stop saying how terrible it is that kids are medicated unless you've read up on how the medication works. Stop talking about misdiagnosis and overdiagnosis unless you understand the diagnostic criteria.

Basically, stop being a twit and LEARN SOMETHING.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Short break

It's Term 4, and reports are due in a couple of weeks. This means I really won't have much time for blogging for the next few weeks, so I'm taking a break to give myself the time I need for this. At this stage, I'll be back on December 1st.

Watching The Aeroplanes will still be running while I rest up :-)

See you all then!

Waaav, twoo waaav, that dweam wivin a dweam...

Continued from my previous post, on what can make or break a good wedding:

Oh, is that what that word meant!

DO have someone with very dirty mind proof-read any hymns or songs that are used at your wedding. Singing “Lord, have your way with us” or “Lord take me, take me now” is the kind of thing that will have at least some of your guests in fits of laughter and wondering whether you actually put any thought into this, or whether you picked elements while blind-folded and threw them together randomly. Or they might be wondering what you were smoking when you came up with it.

DON’T be lazy when choosing readings. Most people have that reading from Corinthians at their weddings, and when you’ve been to as many as I have, it gets a bit old and tired. If this is the one you really really really want, then that’s fine. But don’t choose it just because it’s what you think you’re supposed to have at a wedding. It isn’t, and there are plenty of other options not only in the bible, but also from Shakespeare and Byron a plethora of other sources.

DO have someone proof-read and check your programme. Misspelling names and writing that Pachelbel’s Canon was written by Mozart will get you odd looks from those of us who know, and spelling your mother-in-law’s sister’s name with a silent “Q” won’t earn you any points with your partner’s immediate family. If you’re not sure, ask. No one will begrudge you asking, but they will think less of you if you don’t ask and get it wrong.

He said WHAT???

DO set guidelines for things that are and are not allowed to go into speeches. Having the guy giving a speech start with “Now, you know I love you and respect your profession, BUT” and carry on from there is usually a bad thing, and if you had no idea what was coming then you have no one but yourself to blame. It's fair enough to pull faces at him to make it clar that you disagree with what he's saying and disapprove of him saying it in front of a whole crowd of people, but again: You probably should have talked to him about what he had in mind before the party began.

have someone with a sense of pitch help you pick your musicians. Seriously. Those of us who have had musical training, even if we do not have perfect pitch, will not be able to help cringing at every foul note. Have some pity, show some mercy, and don’t go with your cousin’s best friend’s brother’s band just because they’re free and really want exposure.

No! Of course your butt doesn’t look big in that!

DO consider the different colouring, shape and size of each of your bridesmaids. What you think is gorgeous may look dreadful when it’s actually on the person you have in mind. It may look nice on one of your bridesmaids but, again, it may not look good on the others. And remember: it is OK to have each of your bridesmaids wearing a different colour and style. It can work very well. I was bridesmaid at a wedding where the dresses were blue, pink and purple. The colours did not clash, and the rest of the wedding was decorated to suit. It was beautiful.

DON’T have the bucks’ and hens’ nights the night before the wedding. This is a Bad Idea. On a day like that, you want people to be in good shape: No hangovers, no effects of sleep deprivation after a night of LaserForce, and the bruises from Paintball fading.

In general, when it comes to weddings, the key thing is to be considerate of others. Yes, this is traditionally thought of as Your Big Day, but it doesn’t mean you should put blinders on to everything else that’s going on around you any more than you would on a normal day. After all, you invited these people, so you do have some obligation toward them. Your guests are there for you, they won’t criticise you or complain to you and they will always dislike something that you do, but you can still take measures to make the event more comfortable for them, while still getting the things you consider most important.

That’s what society is really about, isn’t it?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Maawige is wat bwings us twogeva, twoday. Or: How Not to Totally Stuff Up a Wedding.

You may have picked up on the fact that I’m engaged, from my occasional mentions of a fiancé. In fact, I’m getting married exactly 5 months! It’s very exciting and something that I’ve been looking forward to a great deal.

So, I’ve decided to write a post about some of the mistakes I’ve seen made when planning weddings. This will be done in two parts, because it’s quite long. And yes, these are all real examples of things that I’ve seen at weddings I have been to (or very slightly altered so as to protect the guilty), having either been done right or done so very, very wrong:

Who are all those people??

DON’T invite everyone, including your cousin’s hair dresser’s mum’s friend's babysitter, and her boyfriend because everybody needs to bring a +1. I have been to weddings where there were 300-400 people, and it is horrible. It’s loud, it’s noisy, it’s crowded, and it’s very intimidating when you don’t know many people there. It’s actually harder to approach people you don’t know in a large crowd, because if there are fewer people then their choices for conversation are also limited and that makes talking to each other (rather than any one of the other 100 people in the immediate vicinity) far more acceptable.

have the ceremony take more than half an hour. People get bored. No matter how beautiful your musical interludes, or stirring your readings, or how supportive the laying-your-hands-on-the-kneeling-couple-to-bless-and-show-support thing (which I would find intrusive and claustrophobic so it freaks me out totally), the rest of your audience really doesn’t want to sit through that if it means sitting there for more than 30min. When you see the musicians who played during the bride’s entrance drooling or polishing their instruments or falling off their chairs with boredom, you know it’s gone on too long.

So, um... Now what?

DO consider the fact that the weather will not be perfect just because it’s your wedding day. The sun will not chase away the clouds and shine down on you just because that’s how you pictured it, or how it was on the day you looked at the park and fell in love with it. Have an indoor alternative, even if it’s just a marquee  to keep off the worst of the rain. Soggy canapés are not very appetising, and wine that's been diluted by rainwater is not considered a delicacy in our society. Also bear in mind that it can be hot and uncomfortable during some seasons (particularly in Australia), so having some shade available, if not an air conditioned alternative is also wise. Having your guests passing out from heat stroke is not the way to show your appreciation for their showing up.

DO check whether anything is happening near your wedding on the date you want to book. Having a military demonstration or ANZAC day marching band happening 10 metres away can completely change the mood of your wedding, even if it does provide free entertainment for your guests. There are some things that you just shouldn't be trying to save money on.

DON’T have the ceremony a long way away from the reception. Having to travel in your finest clothing is a PAIN, especially if you’re a woman and in heels. Having to find parking (again) is a PAIN and should not be inflicted on the people you supposedly care about most (even if you did only meet them a week earlier at your trial hair appointment).

DO think about what your guests will be doing while you and the bridal party are off having photos taken. Of course, having the reception and ceremony far apart and the former in an area where parking is hard to find may be part of your plan for keeping guests occupied while you get your photos taken, but it’s not a kind way of doing it. Have drinks and entrées prepared for those who get there before the party officially starts, at the very least.

These are just some of my tips for the Perfect Wedding.

To Be continued....

Monday, November 15, 2010


I never know what to do on the school bus, going to and from an excursion. I’m not sure what is polite, so I have no idea how to conduct myself. I’m not talking about basic things like not throwing banana peels at people’s heads or keeping the kids from running up and down the isles, I’m talking about the fine art of Conversation.

For some reason, I don’t really feel like conversing on a bus. I’d rather daydream, read, or listen to music. Even if I do actually want to be involved (whether it’s because the conversation is interesting or out of some sense of needing to be social to build these working relationships), I find it very hard to keep the conversation running smoothly.

There’s just something about buses which completely blocks my ability to socialise normally - like they have some sort of force field which completely blocks it - it’s kind of like a mobile phone dead-zone.


Sorry, the cat jumped up on the keyboard. He tends to just go “Oooh! A lap!” and hop up, regardless of what else is on your lap at the time. Though it’s a little different with food - he’ll jump up next to your lap and then stare at your food intently, getting as close as you’ll let him so that he can have a sniff and figure out whether he wants to eat it. Trying to get him away when you’re eating something like steak is always interesting - I’ll try to get video of it to put up.

Sorry, buses:

So glad I wrote those first paragraphs before I got distracted, because if this were a conversation I’d have completely forgotten where I was and where I wanted to go with it. This way, I was able to read back from the top of the page and figure out what today’s topic was.


I don’t often take the bus - I mainly take the train to most places where I want to go and can’t’ be bothered driving. I seriously thought about commuting to work, but after doing the sums I figured out that it would not only take longer, but also cost more to take PT. Which is kind of ridiculous, really.

Maybe I don’t like talking to people on the bus because I’m too annoyed at the cost of a bus ticket.

I have no idea where I was going with this.

Friday, November 12, 2010

OCD and out the other side...

I’m a little bit OCD. Just a little bit. You see, I tend to eat my M&Ms in coloured pairs. Two blue ones, or two brown ones, or two red ones. I’ve had people ask what I do when I don’t have two the same, to which the solution is that I go for colours that are shades of each other. For example: Brown and yellow; blue and green; red and yellow etc. Or I bite one in half and that works too.

I always feel a little bit guilty when I do this.

When I’m pairing my socks, they need to be in proper pairs. Not just the same colour, but also the same texture. The elastic bands at the top need to be the same width and tightness. These last two are even more important than colour, because I can’t see the colours but I can feel the difference when I’m wearing them, and it distracts me. A lot.
I had this fear when I was a kid that I was going cross-eyed because I can see my nose. Kinda. The tip of it is just within my field of vision. I eventually figured out that this is not the case, but rather than ONE eye might be going off in the wrong direction because when I look down, I can see one side of my nose much more than the other. I eventually worked out that it’s because my nose isn’t perfectly symmetrical. That was a relief, because it looks symmetrical enough from another’s perspective.

Going permanently cross-eyed was what I was told
would happen if I kept crossing my eyes.
So I kept having to examine just how cross-eyed I was...

I basically need symmetry. I think this links back to the ADHD, because apparently one of the quirks this gives me is noticing things that are out of place. So if I pick up a brown M&M and then a blue one, the blue one will be out of place next to the brown one, because brown came first so I’m clearly going with brown.

Like when I noticed the purple layer coming off the frame of my sunglasses. A tiny bit was peeling. It was out of place, so I had to remove it. I spent the next 45mins peeling the purple off my sunnies until they were pretty much universally silver. There was a tiny bit left right in the middle of the bridge, but that’s ok because it was right in the middle so it wasn’t asymmetrical and I could deal with that.
Yes, I am clearly insane.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Scary New Tech

There will always be people who resist some new form of technology. People who refuse to get a FaceBook, or an email address (I met one just a few weeks ago), or even a computer at all. 
It makes me wonder about this (relatively) futile resistance to change. Please consider the following*:
2010: “I don’t want a SmartPhone - I have the Internet at home.”
2007: “I’m not going to get a FaceBook! I can just email!”
1995: “Why should I get a mobile phone? I can just call people from my house!”
1900: “Who needs a telephone? I can just send a telegraph if I need to deliver a message quickly!
1845: “Why should I spend money on this telegraph business? I can just send letters by post.
1700: “A double-quill pen*? Nonsense. Penmanship will go out the window if the risk of spattering is taken away! No one will learn to write any more - it will be far too easy!
There are similar arguments with knowledge and learning. These days with Wikipedia and the Internet and advanced computers and funky calculators, a lot of people are complaining that “No one will have to learn anything any more! The computers do everything and it’s all there and available!”**
What made me laugh was when I was at a Maths Teachers’ conference last year and the opening presenter mentioned the way-back-when in Greece when writing first became fashionable. People were up in arms that “No one will have to learn anything any more if you can write it all down! It’ll be right there! Written down!”
Just goes to show that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

* Early fountain pen, in case you hadn't already guessed
** I do not approve of introducing children to calculators in primary school, by the way.

Monday, November 8, 2010

"I'm constantly worrying that everyone thinks I'm paranoid" or "Paging Dr Freud!"

DISCLAIMER: This entry contains some  very personal stuff. Please be nice about it.

Behold! The typical Neurotic Woman:

Notice how she is assuming, from a delay in response to a text message, that her partner is going to leave her; assuming the worst possible reason for the delayed reply.

I try very hard not to be That Woman, but it is something I battle with in most of my relationships. It is getting less difficult with (many years of) practice, but in some situations I still have to put a conscious effort into not assuming that I've Done Something Wrong.

A recent conversation has traced this back to (you guessed it!) my mother. Allow me to illustrate. Please consider the following situation:

That's right, I got my ears pierced at age 21 after wanting it done for over 3 years. Now, here are my mother's possible reactions to this news:

If you guessed (c), you would be right

Of course, the really wacky part is that it could have been any one of these three

Another example was when I lost my graphics calculator. She could have

a) screamed at me
b) burst into tears of disappointment
c) told me off for being forgetful and taken me out to get a new one.

In this case, it was (b). But it could just as easily have been (a) or (c).

When I got to tell her that I wasn't being kicked out of university after failing all of my first year, the options were joy and smiles and love, a continuation of treating me like the scum of the earth (which she'd been doing since finding out I'd failed), or jumping straight into "Lets get you ready for repeating!" mode. The actual reaction wasn't any of these, as she burst into tears of... Something. Probably relief, but one can't be certain.

By the age of 7, I had a minor panic attack every time we left a party because my mother was so damned good at happy farewells that I had no idea whether I'd cop it afterward for some minor indiscretion which I hadn't even known I'd committed (like asking for too many glasses of milk). In fact, the happier and nicer she was as we left, the more I panicked.

The end result of 2.5 decades of this particular variety of mindfuck is, basically, that I tend to assume that I've done something I wrong. That my relationships with people will suffer if I'm not perfect.

Boyfriend din't call me tonight? Something must be wrong.
Friend has gone quiet in a conversation? I must have done or said something to offend.
Friend has cancelled on a party I invited them to? They hate me now because I told them I didn't like their haircut.

This is all stuff which I know is irrational. I know that it's really unlikely to be the worst case scenario. But my brain automatically jumps to that conclusion, because if I have done something wrong and ruined an entire relationship, then I damned well need to be prepared for it!

This was a very good strategy when dealing with someone whose alignment was very clearly Chaotic Neutral, one that has been described as "equally likely to kill it or paint it purple" if they come into contact with a stray dog. Unfortunately, this defense strategy doesn't work so well with people who are reasonably predictable and who do respond to things in more appropriate ways.

I'm working on it. I'm improving. I'm learning to "self-sooth" and not give in to the instincts which tell me I've just ruined everything forever. It's not easy, but I'm glad it's coming along. I like the feeling of gradually becoming more sane :-)

Friday, November 5, 2010


One of the problems with planning to maintain a blog, with regular entries, is knowing what to write. I am one of those people who cannot think under pressure - it is as close to impossible as something can be.

I also have the issue of near-constant metacognition (thinking about thinking); if I’m actually trying to come up with ideas and I don’t freeze completely, I’ll start thinking about the way my brain is working and which thoughts I’m having and why those specific thoughts? Is this a natural progression of the cognitive process, or am I forcing it and coming not coming up with anything because I’m trying too hard to come up with something?

It’s one of the problems with not only being very self-aware, but also with having done an education degree where a big focus was metacognition, and the extension of that was learning about how you learn/learning how to learn. If you think about it too hard, you get nowhere and then your brain explodes. This could actually explain a lot about me.

So here I am, hoping for inspiration on something to blog about, and I think I have it in the form of a post about metacognition and why it’s an absolute pain if you’re like me and take it a little too far.

I just can’t use it more than once, or it becomes cheating.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chalk and... Chalk.

Chalk is pretty interesting stuff. It’s a sedimentary rock and is made from the remains of microorganisms. When combined with a blackboard, the image is one associated with learning. It is used in agriculture, gymnastics, even in building works.
It’s really interesting, useful, versatile stuff.
And I hate it. I loathe it with every fibre of my being. It is the most heinous substance known to man and should never, ever have been put into use as a writing implement. Just thinking about it is enough to make my skin try to crawl off the rest of my body so that it doesn’t have to risk touching the the hypothetical chalk. Actually, that could make a really good album title. But I digress.
I developed my aversion to chalk at some point in primary school. It’s not the screeching sound it makes on the board that’s the problem, as it is with most people - it’s the softer sound it makes normally which irritates me. As I just mentioned, I also can’t touch the stuff so being asked to write something on the board with chalk has always been a deep-seated fear of mine. Had whiteboards not become the dominant type of board, I would never have done an education degree because I would never have been able to work in teaching. If blackboards were still widely used, I either would never have gone into the profession or I would have used up every single cent of my photocopying credit on overhead projections and plain overhead sheets, and possibly the whole school’s yearly overhead budget. And then been fired for it.
I figured out recently that it’s not specifically chalk which is the problem, but rather having dry hands. When my hands are dry, I can’t touch anything; if I’ve just had a shower, I have to use really creamy moisturiser before I can handle anything fluffy (makes towelling off interesting) or made of paper, or even remotely grainy or dusty. Chalk, of course, dries the hands out and is also grainy and dusty, so we have a nice trifecta of “unpleasantness”.
The first time I cleaned out a non-disposable vacuum bag, the dust dried my hands out and then there was more dust to touch and that dried my hands further and made them even more sensitive to the fine particles and grit.... My hair stood on end, I felt like my teeth were being scraped by the dentist (only this was less enjoyable), and then something truly bizarre happened: I started getting hot flashes.
My whole body rebelled against this vile substance, even down to my temperature regulation system. At this point, I dropped the vacuum bag and called for help, because I was freaking out over how horrible it felt. My fiancé took over, and immediately understood my aversion to the task, because he knows about my aversion and his hands get dry too. 
He just doesn’t go into premature menopause over it.