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.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Housework sucks.

I posted recently about why things get messy, now I’m posting about why they tend to stay messy.

Nobody likes cleaning and tidying. It’s a chore which takes time and effort, and which everyone wishes would just do itself. It’s a bit of a pain.

For me, tidying is even more difficult than for most people. For one thing, I have no idea where to start. When I see a messy room, I don’t see messy sections, but rather I see the whole mess. I have actually been in the situation where I stood in the middle of my room, trying to get to all corners at once to tidy the whole thing, and the result was that I didn’t actually move for about a minute while my brain started crashing. It looks kind of like this:

Apple have ruined beachballs for me. Forever.

If I do manage to, eventually, pick a starting point, I will zone in on that section and tidy it to  absolute perfection. I will then step back feeling exhausted and proud of my work. I will then look around the room, see just how much more mess there is, and lose all hope of ever getting the whole lot tidy again and give up.

The other thing that makes me lose hope is not knowing where to put things while I’m tidying. There are multiple places that they could go, and there are multiple items which could go into any of these multiple places, meaning that I overload on all the possibilities, put everything that I can’t immediately sort into a new pile, and try not to think about it. This means that I will have several piles (in boxes if I’m lucky) of “miscellaneous items” which get forgotten and I often wonder where these things go. I find them again later in this pile, try to sort it, and panic again.

It’s easier when I have someone there to help, partly because things get cleaned more quickly and thoroughly. This means that I don’t get disheartened about the fact that I’ve expended all this time and energy for no apparent reason.

Clearly, I must never live alone. Or I will have a breakdown.