Monday, February 28, 2011

Still more female TMI

I'm here to whinge to you all about thrush.

No, not this little guy that I found on the internet. Though he is a lot more pleasant to look at. The picture is from this site.

Thrush is a naturally-orruring yeast.  It is kept in check by naturally-occuring bacteria. When you take antibiotics, bacteria die. Thrush sees its opportunity and GOES INSANE.

Last year, I had to take four days off work because I had it so badly that I couldn't walk. Peeing was so painful that, on the second day of my confinement (I started having symptoms a few days before it became crippling), I nearly threw up and then nearly passed out.

Even a standard infection is itchy and burny and just generally unpleasant. WHY IS IT EVEN THERE?? I'll bet no one even knows what this damned yeast actually DOES. I'll bet that the only reason those bacteira exist is to keep the thrush in check. I can just see it*:

Bacterium 1: Why are we here, Syd?
Bacterium 2: Ah, the fundamental question of the universe! Why are we here? What is our purpose? How...
B1: No, no no! I mean, why are we here? In this dark, damp place?
B2: Oh! Well, to keep those guys over there in line!
B1: Well, why are they here?
B2: Well, I guess they're here so that we have something to do...
B1: So what you're saying is that they're only here because we're here, and we're only here because they're here. Would anyone even notice if we all just left??
B2: ...

*Inspiration for this dialogue was taken from Red vs Blue, because that show rocks.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Snapshots of my world (part 1)

I'm not dedicated enough to do something like Project 365 or A Day in Pictures, but I do want to show  you a bit more about the world I live in, so I'll be taking and posting pictures of various parts of it. No idea how many pictures, no specific deadline.

So, here is the first one: My desk at work.

It includes:

  • My Dr Who lunch box
  • My personal electric fan
  • My laptop and its accessories
  • Stationery
  • Teacup, coffee mug, tea
  • Sunglasses
  • Safety goggles
It doesn't look very neat, but this is actually after half an hour of tidying and rearranging. The textbooks are on a shelf which is on the adjacent wall, as is more stationery. I don't have a lot of room for it, because directly above where the photo ends is a window looking into the classroom, which I can't obscure.

This is my basket:

I use it to transport stationery to class. I got this big basket because carrying everything in a smaller basket last year didn't work. So, I'm trying something different! I consider this to be part of my never-ending quest for neatness!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ADHD 101: Taking things literally

ADHD shares a few characteristics with Aspberger's, and one of the overlapping areas is that of taking things literally.

I not only take things literally and get mental images to suit (eg: "undressing you with my eyes" - EW EW EW GROSS!), but I also answer questions far more literally than most people do, and the result is that I come across as a smart arse. Here are some examples of conversations I've had.

Example 1:
Me: My friend is having an identity crisis.
Her: Oh no! What about?
Me: Um... Himself?

Example 2:
Her: Why are you slicing up those mushrooms?
Me: Because I'm planning to cook with them.

Example 3 (we'd arranged to meet at the Southland Shopping Centre food court):
Her: Where are you?
Me: Southland.

It's not just that it's literal, I tend to take a broader interpretation. I'm not sure whether I can blame it entirely on being a "big picture" thinker, but what the hell.

So, when you're asking me a question and you want a specific answer, you do actually need to be specific yourself or you'll end up frustrated and I'll just be confused!

Monday, February 21, 2011


Yesterday, I did the Melbourne Summer Cycle! All 40km, and I didn't walk my bike for any of it! Not even going up the West Gate Bridge! =D

It was rather awesome. I had friends around me to talk to, and my darling Oolon Colluphid waiting for me at the finish line. He'll be competing with me next year, when he doesn't have a thesis deadline looming.

He also rescued me earlier in the morning. You see, forgetfulness is one of my trademarks. I've been known to show up to school concerts where I was going to play in the orchestra having left my instrument at home. Thankfully I did not forget my bike yesterday morning, but I did forget something without which I also couldn't ride: My helmet. Here in Australia, it is illegal to cycle without one so having forgotten it meant that I was stuck at the starting line. I could have bought a helmet from one of the stalls that was set up in the park but, because I'd just spent several hundred dollars on dental maintenance a few days earlier, I really can't afford to buy a new helmet when I already have a perfectly good one.  

The wonderful, wonderful man brought it over for me. I can't praise him enough for putting up with my brain wackiness and helping me out when it's important to me. So, I'm taking him out for dinner in the near future as a token of my thanks :-)

It was fun. I raised money, I rode the bike, I got to the finish line. I so totally rock!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Books I can't read

Recently, I blogged about what I look for in a film. Now lets have a look at some of the things that I find important in books.

Everyone has a style of book they like to read, and styles that they don’t. We all have books we love, and books we loathe.

When I’m reading a book, the main thing it needs is a good story that is comprehensive and moves along at a reasonable pace. This is why I never got through The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan. It also needs a reasonably well-constructed and consistent world. On that note:

There is one series of books that I was never able to read: The Lord Of The Rings series. I just couldn’t do it, and it's not through lack of trying. I tried about 4 times. I mean that quite seriously - four attempts. Never got to the end of The Fellowship. I also tried The Hobbit a couple of times. Couldn’t get through that one, either.

Part of the problem is just how much descriptive writing there is. Some people love this style of writing; they love the thought and detail that the author put into their construction of the world; they appreciate being able to read the effort that went into designing all the aspects of the book before it was put together into a novel. Some people need that much detail to be able to construct images of what is going on. I'm not like that.

Unfortunately, I have an extremely visual brain.  If the author says “grassy hills”, my brain inserts that image for me. Saying “Grassy hills on a partly cloudy day”, my brain gives me hills with grass, clouds in the sky, and corresponding patches of shade. It'll even insert the breeze that makes the grass sway.

If an author tells me that there is a door, my brain immediately forms the image of the door, which is mostly complete. The colour of the wood, how it’s carved, the relative dimensions, and these will depend partly on the context and the location of the door.

If the author then starts giving more and more information on the door after said door has already been inserted (colour, grain, type of knob, etc etc), my brain has to rebuild the image it already has which causes me to overload on information, put the book away and avoid ever picking it up again.

I don’t care how many shades of green the grass is - I can handle that bit. Get on with the story, please. Let me construct my own doors.

Like with movies, this is a matter of balance. World-building, action scenes and social commentary (Hugo, Tolstoy; I’m glaring at both of you!) should not overpower the plot. This has caused me issues with Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglass Adams (which I still got through and liked in general), and also with Ringworld by Larry Niven (which I read and kinda hated, despite falling in love with the idea of a Ringworld).

It’s also why I like the writing of Sarah Douglass (The Troy Game is my favourite series), as she writes for people like me.

So if I tell you that no, I have not read The Lord of the Rings but the movies were OK, and that I’ve only read the abridged version of Les Mis, but I loved the musical, don’t look at me like there’s something wrong with me. It’s entirely to do with the way my brain constructs images, and the way it overloads when it is given too many things to factor in at one time.

Or, to put it simply, I have a Powerful Imagination!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Differing definitions

I used to do a martial art, and part of that was a strength and conditioning (S&C) class. This class was a lot of fun, but it was hard-core. If you hadn't been doing it for a while, the warm-up alone was enough to nearly kill you. The rest of the class was designed to work the muscles in your body until you could barely walk, and if you didn't take showers with alternating hot and cold water that night you would not be able to make it down a flight of stairs the next day (going downward is most definitely more painful than going upward!).

I also have SVT, which means that my heart will happily beat at over 200bpm, just because it feels like it.

As a result of a few years of doing S&C on a weekly basis and having a wacky heart condition, I see "light", "moderate" and "hard" exercise differently to how most people seem to. Allow me to define the standard terms in my own words:

Light exersise (moderate walking pace; moderate cycling pace on flat ground): You aren't actually doing any work. You can hold a conversation, so you may as well be sitting all the couch and channel-surfing for all the good it's doing you.

Moderate exercise: Ok, your heart rate's up a little. You've now graduated to walking from the couch to the fridge as far as actual benefit goes.

Hard exercise: Finally, you got off your lazy arse and did something. It's a start.

You see, when I was at the gym my idea of actually doing work on the treadmill was the treadmill's idea of "STOP NOW YOU'RE GOING TO GIVE YOURSELF A HEART ATTACK!!!". My idea of a "working" heart rate is 170bpm or more, when apparently for my age it should be at around 155bpm.

Also thanks to S&C, I don't see exercise-induced muscular pain as any real kind of problem. For me, sore muscles are really just part of every-day live. You complain a little, but ultimately you just get on with things.

This means that I'm probably fitter than I think I am, but also that I'm harder on myself than I probably should be! None the less, I think I'll get back on my bicycle.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy commercialisation of love and discrimination against singles day!

I appear to have mixed views on Valentine's day. On the one hand, I hate how crazy people go over it. On the other hand, I love the idea of doing something special for someone you care for (regardless of their relationship to you).

So, I don't do anything big for it, but I do something, and I do it that week. The most I've ever done on V day was go out for coffee in the morning, though I would have done more had I not been restricted by other factors.

In any case, whether you're single or paired or other, enjoy the sentiment by telling someone you care that you do, whether they are a friend, lover, blood relation, or a person who has made your day easier in some way at some point.

Just don't get caught up in the hype - fist fights in florist shops are just unseemly.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Me: 1. Me: 0

So much of my life and keeping it functional is about beating myself at my own game. I have had to figure out how my own psychology works, and then how to get around it. Sometimes, I do this simply by appealing to my own vindictive nature. Other times, I have to just be aware of what sort of things are likely to get in my way (and this I learn from past experience).

I wrote recently about how having a new bike that's fully kitted out for any situation is all part of my plan for not having any excuses to take any transport other than a bike. Well, this is a big part of it. I figured out (from experience)  the sorts of excuses I'm likely to give when it comes to what sort of transport I take, and I worked around them.

A few years ago, I desperately needed to lose weight (I managed to gain about 20kg), so I joined the gym at school. Fortunately, I also had a car. So, I had no excuse NOT to go to the gym, as I could take my gym bag by car (dragging it along by bus would have put me off) and the gym was right there on campus so I had no reason at all not to go, as long as I had an hour free, which I did on most days.

The simple fact is that I am completely and utterly paranoid. I have absolutely no sense of how long things take, so the time I'm using up just getting to places is unbelievably important. I'm also forgetful and paranoid about being forgetful, so taking PT for an hour to get to work is out of the question, because what if I realise part-way that I'd left something at home?? No, just no.

The world isn't out to get me, I'm out to get myself. And I'm also out to thwart myself. And thwart the thwarting. Because I won't stand for any thwarting going on in MY head. I think my brain just exploded.

In any case: I'm self-aware, I'm paranoid, and I am also sneaky enough to be able to figure out ways around a lot of those neurose and get it to work most of the time!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sleep habits

I do envy the way other people seem to be able to fall asleep. I tend to just lie there for ages, trying to find something to focus on that won't make me so tense that I'm lying there awake for hours.

I guess that's meditation. I sort of have to latch on to an idea and just follow it, and I'll eventually drift off. Unfortunately, in order to work, it needs to be a neutral idea; not something that will get me hyped up or angry or feel any strong emotion. It just needs to be something fairly bland that I can follow a long, like a trail into the land of sleep.

It's an absolute pain in the arse, especially when the person (or people) you're sharing a room with have clearly dozed of half a dozen times while you're still trying to get your brain to JUST SLOW DOWN. It's especially obvious if you're sharing a bed, because people tend to twitch in weird ways and click their jaws and do all sorts of things as they're drifting off. And then they snore.

If you haven't managed to fall asleep before the snoring starts, you're doomed. You can just hope that they'll enter the next phase of their sleep cycle soon and stop with the jack-hammer. Meanwhile, you just have to try not to focus on the angry train of thought about how they're asleep while you're not and how DARE THEY snore and interrupt your careful and strategic search for the PERFECT SLEEP MANTRA.

Why not think about the same thing each night, I hear you say? Because it's boring, that's why. No, seriously. It's like watching the same episode of the same TV show every single night before you go to sleep. Eventually, you'll want to ram your head through the damned screen. Except in this instance, your head is the TV, and that leads to really mind-boggling levels of recursion...

So, sleep is difficult to find. I need to go to bed at a reasonably similar hour every night and I need to meditate before I can get anywhere in that department. And then there are all the little things to deal with, like having all my limbs evenly covered, warm enough, not too warm, sheets not crinkled, etc etc ad nauseum.

No wonder I'm tired so much of the time :-/

Monday, February 7, 2011


I've been wanting to publish more photography, so here are some photos I took on the last weekend of my holidays:

A pier at St Kilda Beach

Keeping Cool

People after my own heart :-)