Friday, February 27, 2009

My kids

Things I love about my kids right now:
  • The way Elissa (after being put to bed) listens for me to finish with the boys and then screams the moment I set foot on the stairs. I go in, she has a cuddle and immediately lays down to sleep.
  • Elissa's evil, evil laugh.
  • Charlie's transformation from toddler to pre-schooler. He looks like one, and more and more he is acting like one.
  • Charlie's complete inability to maintain the rage when presented with anything remotely amusing.
  • Ben's blossoming ability to read. Watching it all come together for him (although he's not there yet) is just awesome.
  • Ben's increasing self-confidence. He'll have a go at most things now. He'll listen to advice and even criticism (sometimes) without a meltdown. I can see him actively engaging in learning how to be a social being, and I love it.
Things I could do without in my kids right now:
  • Elissa's 0-screeching in 1.7 seconds temper. That child has way too many opinions for my own good.
  • The fact that 90% of Charlie's conversations end in poo.
  • The strange contrast that while Charlie can't seem to wrench his attention away from poo, Ben can't seem to remember he did one long enough to wipe and flush.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The summer's almost over

I always feel a little down at the end of February. I can feel the cooler air and the shorter days (interspersed with hideous humidity, February isn't a great month for weather really) and the reality of winter approaching sort of brings me down.

I went to the doctor today and was diagnosed with 2, or possibly 3 cases of probably nothing. Of course, turning probably into definitely means blood tests, a visit to a specialist, monitoring my blood pressure, making sure I get enough sleep and cutting out all coffee. So if the planet isn't telling me loudly enough that the fun's over, my doctor is chiming in too.

So I've sat myself down with a mug of Darjeeling and contemplated my awful fate. And the restorative powers of tea have reminded me that we have a good month and half or more of very good weather to come. The coffee ban is diagnostic, and will only become permanent if caffeine turns out to be a culprit. I am, at least, not just getting old - something (or somethings) odd is happening. And for reasons I can't quite explain, I love an excuse to break out the blood pressure monitor.

I just won't look out the window at the grey, blustery day that started this whole downward spiral in the first place! :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Just when I think they're over-reacting

I sometimes find myself a little impatient with people who write about the world viewing women as nothing more that tits and a uterus. I mean, no-one I know treats women like that. Ok, some of them think that it is pretty cool that people they like to drink with also come with boobies, but that isn't quite the same thing.

And then, over on Cake Wrecks, I find this:

Apart from the (hysterical) analysis already done by Jen - at the point in your pregnancy when you feel like you are pretty much only tits and a uterus, is this the cake you want to have presented to you at a baby shower? *shudder*.

Granted, as cake, it is much less disturbing than this, but who in their right mind thinks anyone wants to be depicted this way?

Monday, February 23, 2009

The other Charlie

Charlie, it seems, lives a double life. This, from his pre-school teacher this afternoon:

"I was just telling Mrs B today how wonderful our lives would be if everyone was like Charlie."

Who is this Charlie of whom you speak, and what have you done with my child?

The thing is though, the afternoons he has been at pre-school, he really is delightful. He is currently playing with his sister on the lounge, and they are both having a ball. They have been at it for half an hour and there have been no tears, or yelling, or anything but giggle and laughter.

It just highlights how frustrating it is that schools here only have one intake per year. He just isn't going to be ready academically to go to school next year, but I really think he'll be ready for the structure and the independence and identity outside of this house. If he could start mid-year next year, it'd be perfect.

Plenty of school systems start kids when they turn 5, what's wrong with ours?*

*Yes, ok, I know that question requires at least an essay in response, but it was just a figure os speech. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

To make you feel guilty

Courtesy of my sister, is the The Story of Stuff. I've no idea how long it's been kicking around, so you may have seen it. It isn't anything new, but seeing it all put together in such a succinct form has made me face the reality of our consumerism. Again.

I definitely need to put more emotional energy into resisting consumerism. She says, typing on her Mac, watching her LCD TV.

However, I am giving myself, perhaps, a slightly more attainable goal. I am going to try to resist at least the "perceived obsolescence". The LCD TV was only bought when the 20 year old (second hand) CRT died. Not everything in this house can make the same claim. I need to work much harder on that.

Perhaps I need a 12 step program. And a sponsor. Someone to tell me when my consumerism is showing. Geez, they'd be busy. But seriously, this can't be that hard. And the alternative may be much harder. Wish me luck.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Distractions from a previous life

Last September astronomers saw a massive gamma ray burst - the biggest on record. I love a big explosion story. It happened 12.2 billion light years away, and from the ABC website:
Taking into account the huge distance from earth of the burst, scientists worked out that the blast was stronger than 9,000 supernovae
Cool. That's a big kaboom. But what amused me most about this story was some of the comments about it. It started well:
Wow! - to think this explosion occurred only 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang. Amazing stuff, really. (from Derek)
But the followup comment was just hysterical:
Which part of...
"the gamma-ray burst occurred 12.2 billion light years away"
didn't you understand? (from Gypse)
If you are going to be smug, it's best to be in possession of a clue.

There were a several people who provided the explanation that if it was 12.2 billion light years away, the light took 12.2 billion years to get here. Therefore it happened 12.2 billion years ago. The universe is thought to be about 13.8 billion years old (give or take, depending on today's prevailing wisdom), therefore this happened about 1.5 billion years post Big Bang.

Incidentally, if you do read through those comments, the ones saying that you can't make a star and have it go supernova in such a short time are wrong. The early universe was full of huge, short lived stars. The fact that our sun is about 4.5 billion years old is utterly irrelevant. It's a conservative middle of the road star, not a super massive live fast die young kinda star that made this massive kablooey.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Innocence at play

Today, Elissa was cheerfully picking up bits and pieces in the front yard and putting them in my hands. Drop. Repeat.

She picked up something that looked slightly odd, so I dropped very quickly. Good thing too. It was a bee. She'd picked it up by the wing and dropped it into my hands. Some quick action moved the bee off to another part of the garden before she could repeat the process. Lucky little beastie she is - not actually managing to get stung.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

From DINK to Family of Five

Aztec-rose has asked for "post-birth" stories - stories about how becoming a parent affected you, both personally and with respect to work.

I'm writing it here so that I can spend enough time to make it worth the effort.

When we had our first child, we were both earning substantial incomes. We were making enough money to renovate our house to make it big enough for kids, which we did at the end of the pregnancy. We moved back into our house when Ben was about 8 weeks old.

Like Aztec-rose, I lost all interest in work when I was pregnant. I pretty much lost all interest in anything that didn't involve the couch. It took me quite a while to work out that it was the pregnancy, and not just uncontrolled laziness. Then again, maybe it was both. There was a fair bit of self doubt happening.

Then the kid actually arrived. Nasty but uneventful delivery, but he looked like a purple octopus when he was born, which might have horrified me if I hadn't been so busy thinking he was dead. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to look at the midwife and obs and decided that they wouldn't look so bored if the baby was dead. He needed a bit of oxygen, but not for long and he was fine.

I know this is supposed to be "post-birth" but the fact that it was a less than rosy birth experience just played into my innate dislike of babies. The fact that I find breastfeeding painful and Ben was a grumpy, grumpy baby just piled it on. I wasn't disappointed, just reinforced.

On the plus side, our ridiculous pre-baby devotion to work left us with a lot of leave. Crash took 6 weeks when Ben was born, which made a massive difference to my sanity. I used up all my annual leave at half pay for my 6 months of maternity leave. I was happy to go back to work at 6 months. I went back full time, but I was much less inclined to work indefinite hours. My sister was looking after Ben, so I didn't feel he was abandoned. And I was in a much better state to deal with him when I was home.

At 10 months he walked, and he turned into a whole new baby. It was about then I was actually prepared to consider another child - despite always wanting two kids the whole concept had given me the willies me up until then.

I had a miscarriage when Ben was about 18 months old. Work was fantastic about it - told me to stay at home until I was ready to come back in, and I had about 2 weeks off (time between ultrasound and D&C). However, it did start to change my focus. As work got more stressful, I made the decision that my health and that of the family were more important than the income. When I was pregnant with Charlie, I quit and started my own business. As a result, I had no maternity leave at all with Charlie (did a big install 2 hours away when he was 2 weeks old - he came with me). However, I did get to arrange my time so that I spent time with them.

This day to day balance definitely contributed to my decision to have a 3rd baby. That and the fact that Charlie was an angel baby and gave me hope that I might not have another 6 months like Ben's first. Crash eventually made the same sanity decision as me, and we now work together in our business. Maternity leave was also non-existent with Elissa - I took her to a work site at 7 days, with Crash to look after her between feeds.

Income is much lower, but, most of the time, we can get to the really big events. We can spend time with them all. The trade-off is that we virtually never get a block of time (like a week or more) away from work. Hopefully this will not be forever. Even the work punctuated week we took in January was great therapy for the whole family. I want to be able to take more family holidays, especially as they get older.

Looking at it from the other side, my work life has absolutely had a massive impact on my parenting. I had no idea how to be a parent. I had to ask the midwife to show me how to change a nappy. However, since I had always worked outside my comfort zone, I just naturally approached parenting the same way I had all the other projects I was way out of my depth with.

I read up on the theory, with a healthy amount of skepticism that still wasn't enough to stop me believing some awful rot (exactly the same as at work). I read Up the Duff, Baby Love, Kid Wrangling and Babies!. Then I started the bootstrap process - assume what I know is right, see if it works, if not, ask people who know (friends and family) and look for other expert advice (Tanya Byron was and is a guiding light for me) from people who actually do this stuff in practice. Then try another approach as gleaned from others, always assuming that there will be holes in the conventional wisdom, and that there is always the possibility of another approach that might work better for me. This is a process that has stood me in good stead at work before and after kids. I never assume that I am incapable of anything, I just don't have enough information (or in some cases, inclination). So parenting was much the same. This isn't working? OK, try another approach. I am capable but not psychic. It's been a blessing to have this experience at work, because while I am constantly appraising my techniques, I don't question myself as a parent.

Huh, I actually effectively practise "criticise the action, not the person" on myself as a parent. I hope I do it as well with the kids!

If you are inclined, tell your story to Aztec-rose. She's doing a PhD on this stuff, which I think is an excellent thing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Disciplining other people's children in the wild

We use exceptional parenting techniques on Saturday mornings - we take the kids to McDonalds for breakfast after swimming to avoid getting-out-of-the-water tantrums. The particular one we go to has an undercover play area that Charlie can manage without help, and they always play for a good half hour after they wolf down a muffin and hash brown.

Last Saturday there was a boy, about 4 or 5, who was playing amongst the throng. He decided he wasn't going to let Charlie play with the sliding balls. I didn't see the beginning of the episode, so I have no idea who was playing with what first, so I let it all go until he started deliberately slamming the balls into Charlie's fingers. I then asked him to stop in some generic "Don't do that please" sort of way, but to no avail. I needed to step up to him and say "Uh-uh" quite close to him. He started to protest and this conversation followed:

Crash: Where is your father?

Kid: I don't have a father.

Crash: Where is your mother?

Kid: [now yelling] I don't have a mother! You're a stupid head!

Me: [silently] Oh Christ.

The kid bolted off and a little later I heard him telling a woman all about it - I don't know what he said, I could just hear the persecuted tone, and then I heard her say "Do you want me to speak to her?" and I thought "Oh dear, here we go."

So in she comes (on crutches, which probably explains why she wasn't in the play area to start with) and, with my heart in my mouth, she starts talking to me.

Her: Was there a problem with my child? [nice wording - still don't know if the kid was telling the truth]

Me: [Feeling decidedly on edge] Yeah, well he was deliberately smashing the balls into my kid's fingers. We asked him to stop a couple of times but in the end I had to go up to him.

Her: Well he has a hearing problem [Oh great, he may or may not have parents, his carer is on crutches and he has a hearing problem - I am an evil person], but that doesn't excuse his behaviour.

Me: [huge, silent, sigh of relief]

She then turns to the child and says, among other things, that she would have done exactly the same thing considering he was hurting someone and if he wants to play he needs to play nicely and next time they come he won't be able to play.

In the wonderful jargon of marketing departments everywhere:

Lessons learned:

1. Most parents (or carers or whatever) are reasonable and want their kids to behave as much as you do. Conspicuous outlyers notwithstanding.

2. Ask "Who is here looking after you?" and not "Where is your mother/father?". It protects you from either asking a cruel and heartless question of a child who has gone through hell or a child lying to make you feel like you've asked a cruel and heartless question. :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sensible Charlie

Charlie: [while driving] I don't like having to stop.

Me: Well, if there is a car in front, we have to stop. It wouldn't be good if we crashed into the other cars.

Charlie: Yeah.

Me: Someone might get hurt if we crashed into the other cars.

Charlie: Yeah, we have to do it slowly.

Wisdom of the ages

Many parenting truths may have fallen by the wayside, but a child's innate ability to make a liar of you is alive and well.

Leaving Mim's BBQ last night, Elissa coughed a couple of times in an ominously croupy kind of way. I confidently told Mim that Elissa gets traditional, 4 or 5 day long croup - annoying but "at least I won't have to go to the hospital tonight." I should have covered Elissa's ears.

We gave her Nurofen when we got home and she went off to sleep fine. At 3am, she woke up with stridor, but she calmed down and her stridor stopped about half an hour later. "Following her usual pattern", I said to myself, "I would have looked like an idiot if I'd taken her to the hospital half an hour ago." However, I stayed in her room, just to make sure. At 5:30am she woke again, this time very distressed, with pronounced tugging in her chest. "Ok," I said, "we should give her some Redipred now." Only BOTH bottles were out of date. And so she made a liar of me. We were home again by 8am, dosed with Dexamethosone and armed with both a second dose, and a knowledge of the correct dosage (0.3mg per kg, so I that I can find this next time it happens). Now I just need to check that the dex we have is NOT out of date.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Tourist Tokyo

I got myself out of the hotel, bought a Pasmo card for the trains and headed up to Asakusa.

Image credit here

Asakusa is famous for the Senso-ji Buddhist temple. This photo was taken at the same time of year, but it was a lovely sunny day today. I took a couple of photos, but failed to bring my USB cable with me, so I won't be inflicting them on you. The temple was originally built in the 7th century, was rebuilt in the 17th century and then destroyed in WWII. This one was built in the '60s.

Around the temple are crowded markets selling an infinite supply of dangly things for your phone, hand bags, Japanese fans and food on sticks. I chose some random food on sticks for lunch, wandered through the gardens and peered at all the cool (and not-so-cool) things in the stalls. I bought some chop sticks for the kids, a dangly thing for Ben's school bag and a train for Charlie. A lot of stuff there would have been good value when the Yen was worth half what it is now...

I was there for a few hours, it was very pleasant really. Then, since I was on the Ginza line anyway, I got off at Ginza to see why it's a name I know. I possibly should have looked it up before I went, since it is the upmarket shopping and night club district. Not exactly my first choice of location, but I got off at Ginza and walked back to Kyobashi and got back on the train. Now I can say I've been to Ginza. :)

Some things I like about Tokyo:
  • The sound of wind in bamboo
  • Iced water with chunks of pineapple floating in it
  • The fact that just about all the food is sweet
  • A copy of The Teaching of Buddha in my room
  • Japanese gardens
  • How graciously everyone deals with my 3 words of Japanese
  • The dancing red lights on the buildings at night
  • Heated toilet seats
Some things I don't like about Tokyo:
  • Smoking! I forgot how nasty it is when people can smoke inside - especially when you are eating.
  • The insane value of the Yen
  • The fact that there are 5 ways to say sorry (and none is appropriate for all occasions), 3 different ways to say hello (I can only say hello in the afternoon), 4 ways to say thank you (again, none is appropriate for all occasions, and one is the same as one of the "sorry"s) and a word for please that I just can't manage to hear well enough to be able to repeat it.
  • The strange reservedness of the people, even children - I haven't heard a baby or child scream since I got here, and it isn't due to a shortage of kids.
I can see why people fall in love with this city. It's overwhelming at first take, but even in a few days I feel more comfortable. I can navigate the trains (thank god for the World Cup for putting English names on all the stations!), I can get out enough pleasantries to avoid really offending people and there is a serenity in the bustle that lets me keep smiling regardless.

But I do have one question for the gods. Why, oh why, do I always get the noisiest possible hotel room? At least 50% of all hotel rooms I have stayed in have been intrusively noisy. This one has an occasional rythmic crashing noise - thump, thump-thump-thump-thump, thump-thump-thump-thump - which is sufficient to wake me up (3:30am today, 5:30am yesterday) and happens more frequently throughout the day. I tried asking about it, but if they aren't acknowledging it, there isn't much I can do about it. *sigh* Otherwise it is a great hotel, and I have loved drinking their champagne in the club lounge looking over the Tokyo skyline. It's enough to dispel any stress the rest of Tokyo can throw at you. It also provides enough canapes (read: sushi) to supply dinner and thereby massively reduce my costs. :)

What the fuck is privilege?

Since I have been blogging, I have been really introduced to the term "privilege" in a way that I had not previously encountered it. It is used to isolate, condemn and dismiss. Don't get me wrong, I don't deny that privilege exists. I just think it is exactly as ludicrous to describe a white male as privileged as it is to describe a black female as worthless.

There is extreme privilege, it is extended to the few. Those few are mostly white males. But few white males receive it.

Then there is mild privilege, but that is countered in many ways. To be rejected by the Powers That Be, is to have a freedom that those who are accepted will never have. I am only female, it is the only "non-privilege" I have. Apparently this excludes me from understanding or relating to anyone who has more "non-privilege points" than me. But it also allows me to ignore female stereotypes, to be whatever I want and to have the support of the people in general. My sons will not be likely to enjoy that freedom.

It is not the notion of privilege that I object to, it is its usage. "Don't you know how privileged that sounds?" Everyone suffers for who they are. Almost no-one meets the criteria to truly be privileged. Well, except that we all do in comparison with people who just want enough to eat.

And I get a bad feeling in my stomach when I hear the "But what about teh menz" dismissal. There may well be many men who deserve that, but what about those who don't? What about those who stand well outside the male stereotype. The ones who are demeaned by men and women alike?

The status quo sets a narrow band for who everyone must be. It provides an archetype for white men and white women, and ignores or ridicules everyone else. It is true that if your nature puts you inside the white archetype, you win. For all the rest of us, it seems to have turned into a shit fight about how much you are screwed. I reject that.

The notion of privilege, at its best, can make us think about things in a whole new light (and disability is one I am currently pondering - thinking about the Fillijonk "A disabled body is not just a broken able one" deeply), at its worst (and I feel most common) it is divisive and dismissive.

I challenge you to look a 6 year old boy in the face who has already been told that "boys don't cry", "boys marrying boys is evil", "pink is only for girls" (when pink is his favourite colour), "boys don't dance", "boys don't talk to girls" and "boys don't like school" and tell him he is privileged. Maybe, if they break him, he will be privileged.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Hot hot hot

While I'm here, whinging about sore ears and hating the cold, temperatures are soaring in SE Australia. Many people have died in Victoria, and NSW is on the cusp, with fires burning all over the place. And tonight, I found a couple of Canadian blokes to chat to in the bar. They told me they were supporting global warming. I pointed out that global warming tends to cause colder winters and hotter summers, something their hometown of Toronto really doesn't need. I don't know if they cared, but I felt the need to say something.

Somehow I doubt my compost bin is off-setting a lot of my carbon emissions (although, MPJ, it seems to be working pretty well - very hot, not stinky and settling stuff we put in there within a few days). When asked recently, by GetUp, what I thought the economic stimulus package should be spent on, I said interest free loans for solar power installations. If I could pay off such an installation off the back of reduction in my electricity bills, rather than find the $20k or so it would cost up front, I would cover my roof with solar panels and massively reduce my carbon footprint. Alas economic realities exist for my family. Less so for our government. They can go into debt, no-one takes their country away from them. Come on Kev, let us borrow enough from you to make solar our world, it might save lives as well as carbon.

Employment equality predicted for the US

In the English language Japanese newspaper I was reading this morning, there was an article predicting that women will make up more than 50% of the US workforce before this recession is out. It's very sad that this been achieved by reducing male opportunity, not by increasing female opportunity.

82% of job losses in the US have been men. Women now represent just over 47% of the workforce (compared with 40% in most western nations) and if job losses continue, they may well top 50%. Unfortunately, this isn't good news for anyone.

Women will be supporting families with less full time work, less health insurance, less unemployment insurance and still doing more of the caring duties in the house. To quote the article
Many of the unemployed men interviewed say they have tried to help out with cooking, veterinarian appointments and other chores, but they have not had time to do more because job-hunting consumes their days.
One poor dear saying that "he spends 35-45 hours a week looking for work".

Yep. Those veterinarian appointments are onerous. Huh? How many hours are their wives working? Not to mention that many of these people have been out of work for a very long time, is this time spent job-hunting actually time well spent? Has it ever occurred to these guys that it might make more sense to look at some different options. Spending some time looking for a job, some time doing caring work and maybe even some time doing a part time job to ease the cash burden. But no, men are breadwinners, so even if they aren't doing that, they have to devote all their time to trying to be. Leaving their wives to do absolutely everything else.

The article says this is changing long standing gender roles, but it isn't at all. It's just reducing the living standards of the people involved. My heart goes out to everyone affected by our economic overlord's negligence and incompetence, but it will take more than numbers of women in the workforce to change gender roles.

Just because

For three kids who are often told they look alike, these are three pretty different looking babies. And what's with the hair colour? Two red heads and a black head. Now they're all mousey brown.

I went looking for these because Charlie was telling me he was a big preschool boy and had never been a baby. Given the alien in the pictures I showed him to prove otherwise, I don't think he was convinced.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A day in the life of Tokyo

Today I learned a few things:

1. I am culturally inept. I feel impossibly self conscious trying to utter any non-English words, and pretty much the same attempting straight forward aspects of the Japanese culture (bowing, exchanging business cards (I'll come back to that) and so on). It's not that I don't like doing it, it's that I feel like I'm doing it wrong, and thereby causing even more offense.

2. Sushi is GOOD. Ok, I already knew that, but eating sushi that is laid out without explanation is a fantastic experience. One of them was particularly unusual and divine: a dense fish outer layer (possibly eel?) around a thin layer of sushi rice and then nori surrounding smoked salmon. Mmmmmm.....

3. It is apparently impossible to have a conversation in a bar without a pick-up attempt. Surely I can't be the only business traveller in the world who would like a chat in the hotel bar without jumping in the sack! And no, I didn't see a single lone female who might have reduced my odds of being made a pass at.

About that business card thing - I find the Japanese (and to a lesser extent, rest-of-Asian) business card exhange protocol both enchanting and hilarious. The passing of the business card, right side up to the recipient, with both hands as a sign of respect, and then the pause to actually read it, is kind of nice. It gives you a better chance of taking in the information on it, and can be very helpful. Sadly, my utter self consciousness gets in the way, and I always seem to run out of hands to get the card out of its holder and pass it appropriately to the recipient. But at the same time, I can't help contrasting with the traditional Australian method of tossing the card across the table. The Japanese approach seems so ludicrously pompous in comparison. The Australian attitude is one of "If you want to get hold of me later, this is how", whereas the Japanese treat the business card as a formal introduction. Amazing that such a silly little piece of cardboard could hold all that nuance.

On the plus side, the work itself went well, and as a result I have tomorrow off (pending a lunch/drinks invitation to client). So I might actually get to see some of Tokyo that isn't inside a hotel or office. Thank the lord for Google maps, even if I can't get it to give me anything in English.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Interwebs are winning

Since last time I travelled, free Internet access has hit the Qantas lounge. And I didn't realise for the first hour I was here. Bugger.

I think all international business should be done in spring and autumn. This attempting to find clothes for the opposite season nonsense is just more stress than a person reasonably needs. Not to mention what to wear for the flights. 30 degrees here, 5 degrees there. What ensemble meets that need, I ask you?

All being well I'll be able to bring you plenty of culturist tales of Japanese society from tomorrow evening. It is a bizarre culture that seems to produce lovely individuals from a massively broken society - I love visiting the people I know there, but I constantly feel the Japanese Culture as a palpable presence, watching me and judging my every move.

Wish me luck, that I only cause minor offence in an amusing, gaijin, kind of way.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Fat is the new wog

On Saturday night, Nerida brought over Better off Dead - an absolute classic - and apart from shamelessly objectifying John Cusack, we laughed about the fact that the lead roles were played by fat chicks. At least, by current standards, they were fat chicks. They had, like, thighs. And hips.

It occurred to me, since we had a wog in our midst, that fat needs to follow in the footsteps of wog. Wog was a terrible insult, until the wogs of Australia embraced the term. Perhaps, in some places, there may be some stigma still, but you can pretty safely call your friend a wog and know that it will be taken as meant - slang for "of Mediterranean descent". Fat needs to mean "not what the media thinks is thin". If we start thinking of everyone who the media thinks is "not thin" as fat, we can all accept that we are fat and move on.

"Do I look in fat in this?"
"Why yes, you do."

"I'm fat, I need to lose 5 kgs."
"Yes, and no."

And then tonight I read Sweet Machine talking about "But you're not fat", and she was echoing my thoughts, from a different angle. Sweet Machine is fat. Her thighs are wider than her femurs and her stomach is not concave. She might even be harbouring organs in her torso. She is fat. I am fat, my thighs look like swiss cheese and when I tried on a delightful tight dress with a seam down the middle of its front, I looked like I was carrying an arse up front. (If you thought this was unattractive, you should have seen that little number!) But the thing is, even when I weigh less, this is still true. So I will always be fat. Time to get over it - not to accept that I am fat, but to embrace it. To say "Yes, I am fat, thanks for noticing."

Given that it took a while for wog to make the transition, I am not expecting this to happen overnight, but I may try very hard to never say "But you're not fat" to anyone again. I hope not too many people will be offended by "Yeah, you're fat, and you look fucking fantastic."

I hate school zones

School is back (yay!) and so are school zones. 3 hours a day when cops sit around waiting for someone to forget what time it is and raise some more dollars.

This morning I needed to drive though seven of them, there were cops sitting 20 feet from the end of one of them. I saw precisely 3 kids within the school zones - 2 of whom were behind 6 foot fences.

I probably wouldn't have a problem with them if:

1. They all had lights and were operated by principals only when required, instead of for a random 90 minute window twice a day.

2. They were not outside high schools

3. It was illegal to park within the school zone, so that visibility of kids crossing the road was maximised.

At our school, for example, it operates, like all of them, from 8am to 9:30am. Kids are not even allowed at the school before 9am. If a child arrives 5 minutes late they are not covered by it. In the afternoon, the school zone starts 55 minutes before the kids come out. Not that it matters there - it is a cul-de-sac and you'd be hard pressed doing more than 40 anyway - but I am guessing it isn't the only one.

Right now it is a revenue raising exercise, and it irritates the crap out of me.

Monday, February 02, 2009

So long and thanks for all the controversy

Justice Michael Kirby stepped down from the High Court today, as required by his age. He's a man I admire and respect, and Australia is a better place for his existence. I read a tiny bit of his work when I did a law course, and had difficulty reading it with sufficient criticism - it was wonderfully written and inspired a lot of yelling in agreement from me, much to the amazement of my hairdresser.

I would just like to add my thanks to all the tributes to him. I would like to thank him for continuing to make decisions guided by his conscience despite strong opposition. I would like to thank him for making his sexual orientation public and refusing to be defined by it. I would like to thank him for his other charitable work. And I would like to express my delight in finding him to be a warm and friendly man on the one occasion I was fortunate enough to meet him.

I'm sure Virginia Bell will be a worthy replacement, and I look forward to reading about her work in the future.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

He's modest

As Charlie was getting ready for his bath on Friday night, he casually mentioned "I did a Jackson Pollack today". Indeed, he did. And I used it to wrap a birthday present today. I can guarantee it was the only present at the party wrapped in a Jackson Pollack, even if it was done by a three and half year old.