Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tonight I'm grateful for the great celestial happenstance that resulted in our planet having a moon. Despite the fact that I know it's just a large lump of reasonably reflective rock, I still find it uncannily soothing to see the full moon out my window. It always calms me and makes me smile.

Pride Cometh Before the Fall

Yesterday, I was responsible for this tweet:
We have had a virtually accident-free day. Dry daytime sleep nappy. I'm seeing a change table free existence in my near future!
Pretty much as I was typing this on my way to a spot of Hoyden Karaoke, Elissa was taking a dump on the floor. This morning, she was basically point blank refusing to cooperate in any way, shape or form. However, the afternoon nappy was still dry, and she was much, much better in the afternoon. She managed our excursion to Petersham Bowling Club with only minor indiscretions. It's not so much a journey as a line dance.

Them Crooked Vultures

Despite my best intentions, I didn't get time to even listen to the Them Crooked Vultures album, let alone find out much about the band before I went to see them. All the press on them shouted "Josh Homme, Dave Grohl and John Paul Jones" so that's what I knew about them. They had a 4th guy playing guitar, but he was well and truly "the other guy".

We grabbed a seat in the second row of the old people seats. This meant we weren't close up, but we had a clear view. Since I'm a short arse, I wouldn't have been able to see a bloody thing standing anywhere but the first 3 rows on the floor - and since I didn't have 4 hours to stand in a queue to achieve such a spot, it was a seat or a nice view of the backs of tall people's heads.

Since I didn't know the music, I can't tell you much about how this or that song sounded, however I can tell you that pretty much every single pedal ever created for the guitar was used in the set, possible all at once on some occasions. I mean this in a good way. It was a fantastic show - you could hear the influences of all the band members' past lives as well as a good dollop of old school heavy metal.

Musically they are amazing. Josh Homme's voice is incredible, John Paul Jones plays bass and all sorts of other oddities and is as fantastic as his mythical status would suggest and Dave Grohl.... Well I haven't seen Dave Grohl drum for a whole gig before - he does a short stint with the Foo Fighters - and it's definitely an experience. I can't work out whether it's more probable that Jim Henson had a time machine, or that Dave Grohl modelled his style on Animal, but either way the similarity is uncanny. And while watching him was worth the price of admission, listening was even better. I love great drums.

So now to listen to the album a bit.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sydney Big Day Out 2010

Dear Homebake,

For details on how to run a festival, please see Big Day Out.

Fans of Festivals

The second Sydney Big Day Out, 2010, marked the 100th BDO show. They put on a pretty good day to celebrate.

But first, a whinge. I know our State Government is broken. I don't expect a lot of them. Still, planning trackwork on half the train lines that deliver people to Olympic Park on the day that 50,000+ people have to get there is a whole new level of stupid. We tried two methods of getting ourselves there, and in the end my wonderful friend Cate called her even more wonderful friend, Lisa who heroically drove us to the venue. If you'd seen the roundabout at Underwood Rd, you'd say "heroically" too. Just to make the whole situation that much more irritating, Adam was waiting for us at Olympic Park, and his trains were not affected, so he was waiting quite some time since I had his ticket....

Ok, so back to the happies. We had given ourselves a pretty large FUM*, so despite the debacle, we made it in time to see more than half of Lisa Mitchell's set. This was largely because getting into Big Day Out is not an exercise in marathon queuing, it's a slow stroll with a short queue for ticket and bag checks.

Lisa Mitchell was a fantastic choice for kick-off. Her bright pop sounds were perfect to warm up the crowd. Although, as a warning to the kiddies - don't write songs asking "Do you have a dollar for me?" and then sing them for an Australian crowd. Dollar coins hurt when hurled at the stage. Given that she sang the whole song, her sincere plea for people to throw $10 notes or nothing must have been heard.

Blue Juice
were next up. Talented they ain't, but they're entertaining. And they put in the hard yards for their audience - they were all wearing yellow spandex body suits. I hope they had industrial strength deodorant, or I pity anyone who needed to be near their dressing room.

Working on the theory that seeing two bands in a row on the same stage would be lazy, we went back to the stage Lisa Mitchell had been on to check out Kisschasy. They were pretty good, I'd be happy to catch them again, but by that time (just after 1pm) it had hit 38 degrees C (100 F) and was still getting hotter, so we decamped to the boiler room for Decoder Ring. This turned out to be the second time I've been in the boiler room and had to ask if the band were on stage, or whether this was still the filler music. Ahem. I am no dance music aficionado. However, it was eminently listenable, and the room was cool with a breeze blowing through. The water we'd been pouring over ourselves all day brought it all together for a pleasant break.

There was some angst about whether to see Kasabian or The Temper Trap, and the latter won. Back to the opposite end of the site. I think they were really good. I can't be sure, though, because my brain had melted and was running out my ears. Up until that point, the day had been hot, but cloudy. Watching The Temper Trap, the sun came out and it hit 43 C (109F). It was a choice between finding shade or ending up crispy - next stop main arena and a seat in the shade.

We caught the last song of Kasabian, but the sound was terrible. It looked like the crowd were well and truly into it down the front. I have a theory that the sound is always crap on the main stages when it's hot - the combination of hot, swirling air and the lower volumes that seem to be enforced during the day makes it very hard to make the sound any good. On average, Australian bands seem to do it better, which is presumably the result of bitter experience.

Eskimo Joe
were next up, and demonstrated the Aussie theory I just mentioned, in as much as they sounded better than Kasabian, but it was still pretty ordinary. If you need any proof of how damn hot it was - it was so hot that Eskimo Joe were on stage without scarves or vests! About 10 minutes into their set the first breezes of the southerly hit, the temperature dropped and the sound improved. They were great, they played stuff off all their albums, but sadly still neglected Beat of a Drum.
The main stage just about the time that the breeze came up

With the temperature dropping, we figured we could brave the outside stages again, and headed up for The Decemberists. I knew nothing about this band, except that lots of people had said they were amazing. I liked them, wouldn't say they were amazing, but I imagine that familiarity would be a big bonus. I spent most of my time trying to place all the other bands they reminded me of. The list was long and varied (The Living End, They Might Be Giants, Irish folk music, Neil Young, for example) so I'm not accusing them of lacking originality.

The Green stage before the downpour

The Horrors were next up and for the first time we stayed in one place for more than one act. I can't tell you much about them. The weather gods played another card, and it bucketed down rain and howled with wind. We fled to the bar and stayed there, half listening to the muffled sounds of the music, half being stunned that we were now cold. The same pretty much applied to Rise Against, which is a shame, because I think I would have liked to give them a decent listen.

Anyway, we were always going to go halfway through to see Lily Allen. Last time she was here, she didn't impress me. She clearly felt she was too good to for the gig, even throwing around insults about other performers. No matter how good the music is, I'm not going to enjoy it if the people on stage are bitter and resentful. (Well, unless it's Tim Rogers and goes right on through to hysterically funny.) However, I'd heard good things about her having a much better attitude this time around, so I kept an open mind. It paid off. She was fun, lively and I got to skip to "Fuck You".

Another band, another stage change. Jet were heaps of fun. The crowd were by far the most amusing of the day - some of the best air guitar you'll ever see, all played in the spirit of utter silliness. Fabulous. They're pretty dull on album, but live they really lift. We then had a factional split, and Cate and I stayed for Ladyhawke and everyone else went to Powderfinger. I quite enjoyed her, although she didn't completely grab me. That may say more about my stamina than Ladyhawke, though.

My restful approach to Ladyhawke left me well placed to make the most of Grinspoon. These guys are always fantastic live, and this was no exception. They did a classic festival set, with a bit of everything, including a crowd choice between "Dead Cat" and "Just Ace" - both songs they don't generally play. (Just Ace won.) I was going to head down to Muse half way through the set, but I was having too much fun. The lads next to us were too. They created themselves a huge ring in which they slam danced through the second half of the set. I dunno, the youth of today - they were careful and explicitly didn't involve anyone else in their silliness. Heartwarming it was.

See, I was in the crowd for Grinspoon

I very much doubt anyone is still reading, but I'll carry on. Muse were brilliant, if a bit same-ish. Their cover of Back in Black was well worth the effort.

I didn't trouble myself to get too close to Muse

The BDO folks put on a pretty cool pyrotechnic display at the end of Muse, including great leaping flames that looked awesome. The fireworks weren't massive, but thoroughly entertaining. I rather hope they carry it on as a tradition.

Some of those shots of flame

Oooooh, pretty.

We bailed after that - Massive Attack were not sufficient incentive to dive into the sea of bodies in the Boiler Room. It was a great day despite the weather. There was heaps of free water available, we never waited more than five minutes for a beer, or food, or toilets. Strangely, despite the short wait for alcohol, we seemed to have managed to control ourselves and not get plastered too. Amazing, I know.

I'm looking forward to the next 100 shows.

*FUM = Fuck Up Margin

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Medical updates

Further updates: I picked up the films from my scans the other day.

The useful bit of the report says:

The small nodule on the right is likely to be a benign lymph node. Further imaging is recommended in, say, 6 months.
The rest of it says that whatever it is, it's the same as last time, and the reason that the ultrasound was much quicker was because he gave up looking for it much quicker than the other sonographer, rather than having found it much more easily. It can't be seen on ultrasound at all apparently.

So, given that my doctor had asked for a fine needle aspiration to be done if necessary, the conclusion that this was "likely to be a benign lymph node" had already been drawn before I left the place. Certainly the sonographer had concluded that he couldn't see it.

What am I? An empty shell with possibly defunct bits? I will be going back to my doctor to have her interpret what this means in the context of my ongoing care and risk management, but there is no reason (that doesn't involve a complete collapse of common sense) why the information they had couldn't have been passed on to me at the time. For godsake, the sonographer just told me when there was no foetal heartbeat way back then.

I understand that if what they've found is life threatening, or complicated, they may want to say something along the lines of "We've found something, but you really need to discuss this with your doctor". Of course, you'll know that's not good news, but you'll also know you need to see your doctor ASAP. I also understand that having to tell someone this is distressing, but really, if you are doing this kind of work, don't you have to accept that sometimes the news will be bad?

Anyway, I'll be discussing this with my doctor too - about whether there are other places that might be more prepared to talk me through what's going on, or about whether there are some other arrangements that can be made to make sure I don't have to fight for information. Maybe I just need to learn to ask the right questions. Realistically, I'm getting older, I'm going to be having more run-ins with the medical profession, and I need to learn how to navigate the system and minimise the mushroom treatment.

I also want to thank all those people who offered sympathy and support. I wasn't all that concerned (more angry at the system), the odds were on my side, but I was surprised by how much better I felt that so many lovely people had stopped by to say something. It's a wonderful thing, this blogging.

You know you want it

More toilet training updates.

We have had several instances of weeing in appropriate places - either on "ducky" (a kid-sized toilet seat insert) or on the potty. Not peeing is definitely not the problem. She can go hours without it. The problem is convincing her to go when in the right place. Even when she manages it, it's stop-start.

However, since we were away, it all went to pot really. It started well, with a few successes, and she clearly wasn't fond of the feeling of going in pull-ups, but with all of the in and out of cars and swimming and so on, she ended up back in nappies.

So today she went off to day care in undies. I figure we'll worry less about holding on, and more about letting go, as it were.

God I'm bad at this.

My School is fine thank you

...but what about the others?

I went to have a look at the schools in our area on the My School website that Julia Gillard has launched today. I figured I should at least have a squiz before I bitched loudly about it. (For non-Australian, or uninterested Australian readers, this is a Government sponsored website which reports basic stats and results on standardised tests for all schools in Australia - none of the other myriad things that go into making a school what it is are mentioned.)

The school my son goes to doesn't do NAPLAN tests, because it only goes to year 2, and they start in year 3. However, the school he will move on to next year is there. It's fine. It scored above the national average and about the same or better than its statistically similar cousins. Surprise, surprise. We live in a pretty good area, with an ever decreasing number of children who don't speak English at home (the last main migration wave in our area happened about 10-20 years ago, so we are very, very multicultural, but with an increasing majority of second generation or later migrants) and enough local schools for kids to be able to move about and find the environment that suits them.

But what about all the places where this is not the case? An enormous number of factors influence the marks that get spat out of a standardised test. The basic premise of this website which claims to provide "a new level of transparency and accountability to the Australian school system" is that the teachers and other staff of a school are accountable for the results the kids in that school get. And yes, to a point, they are. However, there are so many other factors.

Good schools attract good teachers, for one. Which is not to say there are no good teachers at schools which don't perform so well on standardised tests - there are some amazingly wonderful, dedicated teachers at troubled schools - but it's going to be a harder job, so many of our best teachers will opt for the easier schools to teach in.

Also, in areas where parents are poor, have little social support, a very low appreciation for education and therefore low attendance rates, no teacher, no matter how wonderful, will make those scores look wonderful. They may, however, inspire a love of learning in some kids who otherwise would never have found it. Surely that is as valuable, if not more so, than managing to teach my kid to read to the state sanctioned level.

There are also issues of culture, language background, focus on specific results rather than the whole educational experience. The list of reasons why this thing is stupid are long.

It's kinda hard to talk about this sort of stuff without sounding like you're blaming someone. As I'm writing this, I'm trying not blame the parents of kids who don't go to school, because that's not how I see it. It's more complicated than that. Which is why this one dimensional website is disgusting. It fails to recognise that kids are human beings who live surrounded by other human beings, and instead treats them as a product. I don't know where this thing will go, but I sent this email to Julia Gillard, just because I don't want to sit here silently and let it go on.
Dear Ms Gillard,

I'd just like to register my disgust at publishing the kind of information available on the My School website. The number of ways it can be misused and misinterpreted is endless. I have school-age children, and they are fortunate enough to live in a socially advantaged area and all their local schools look fine on this one dimensional measuring stick. However, many other children are not so lucky. I can't see how this can do anything but further disadvantage already struggling schools.

The underlying premise is that these results say something meaningful about the staff and the way the school is run, which is dubious at best. The Government should be committed to maintaining a high standard everywhere, not vilifying schools which are already strained to breaking point.
And this doesn't even begin to address such things as school leavers having prospective employers looking up their schools and writing them off as a result of what they find. If this information must be collected it should be used only to see where extra funding, both in schools and in the community in general, should be directed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Medical Mysteries

I have a something in my right breast. I know this, because they found a something 3 months ago and told me to come back for a followup. And then, today when I came back for said followup, they chose to only ultrasound the right breast. From this I conclude that the something is still there. In addition, it took a lot less time to locate the something this time, which probably means it's bigger, but not necessarily, I suppose.

This is all I know, because despite the fact that several people looked at all the pictures they took of me, no-one told me anything about what they saw. Why?

I can't pick up the results now until Thursday next week, since we are going away. In all likelihood, it's no big deal, but I can't actually know that until someone tells me what they saw.

There is something exceedingly arrogant about this. Why can't they tell me what they are seeing? They might be wrong, but that's ok, as long as they tell me what they can and can't glean so far, that's all I need. Is it because the medical profession needs to maintain an air of infallibility? Is it because they think I am too stupid to understand an indecisive answer? I would much rather be privy to the thought processes and reasoning that is going on. Then I can make sensible estimates of the goodness or badness of the news and at least have some clue as to whether there is anything to worry about. I will almost certainly not over-ride the medical professional's conclusions, but at least I will feel like I exist.
Today I am grateful for the opportunity to stitch with women with a fascinating diversity of experience in every aspect of their lives. I love hearing about Alex's wedding dress, Melissa's girls (toilet training woes and all), teaching in primary schools, grandmother's wedding dress and this week's news. And I love the generosity of skills and resources - people sharing their knowledge and their patterns and their threads. The corned beef rolls for lunch are bearable too.

Thanks ladies.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A wee bit of progress

You may have noticed a distinct lack of toilet training updates. This would be because there was nothing happening. A few more wees on the grass at day care, a little bit of unproductive potty sitting, but mostly an utter lack of commitment from me which was echoed by everyone else.

At dinner time this evening, she had the second dirty nappy in an hour and some vicious nappy rash. I rather dropped my bundle. I told her I wasn't letting her wear nappies any more, because they just make her bum sore. I put her training pants on and told her that I would be cross if she did a wee in her training pants. (Yes, I know, this is not how you are supposed to do it, but endless offers of lollies have got me nowhere.) There were some positive bits. We put her pants on with her standing up, which she was pretty chuffed about, so I grabbed the opportunity to reinforce the big girl thing, no need for a change table any more and so on.

We had dinner without incident. She voluntarily sat on the potty downstairs, sadly with no result. The boys had run themselves a bath, so I decided to go with more standover tactics. I told her she couldn't get in the bath until she'd done the wee in the potty. I left her to it and brought the washing in, and when I came back..... the deed was done!

There was applause. There was the proud phone call to Daddy. There were wild dreams that this was the breakthrough and it will all be plain sailing from here.

So it's taken two weeks to get a real wee in the potty. If we're really lucky we might be finished by Christmas.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Lemony goodness

Blog awards are lovely things, they remind me that someone actually takes the time to read the ridiculous tripe I write, and they give me an opportunity to thank other people for their words. Chally of Zero at the Bone fame, very kindly passed this one my way - so many thanks to you Chally, m'dear!

The point of this award is the old "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" thing - awarded to bloggers showing gratitude and having a positive attitude. Since I'm a bit of a fan of positivity and gratitude (if not actually managing to maintain either of them as much as I'd like), I'd love to pass this one along to ten bloggers, as requested. I might steal the idea Mim stole, and pass them along over time, though.

Dion at The WhimWham exudes positivity. His passion for music, movies and his impending honours course is infectious.

Nap Mom at No Regrets, who when handed a broken oven at Christmas time, made a no-bake Christmas happen, including a cookie swap, of which I am in awe.

Aztec-rose from WoLFi Tales, who is looking forward to a world in which that which we get paid for is valued no more nor less than the unpaid work of raising and nurturing family.

Meng at Novice journey in life drawing/painting who sees beauty all around her, and is learning to express that visually.

So it seems obvious that today I am grateful for the bloggers of the world who inspire me, challenge me and make me laugh.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Today I'm grateful that while I had to go to work, I also got to drive there. It was a magnificent morning and I got to listen to the cicadas chorus at Haberfield,

View Larger Map

to smell the sea breeze as I drove over Anzac Bridge

View Larger Map (this morning was much nicer than the day Google were out)
and to hear a song that grabbed me on the first hearing. I was smiling happily as I swung round to King St, and the universe rewarded my good mood with a park equidistant from the parking meter and the stairs down to the building entrance.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Work again

I've got myself snowed under in work again, but then this one was always going to happen. We've been relocating a client, which is always an exhilarating, supremely frustrating, inspiring and bad language inducing exercise. Today was pick-it-all-up-and-move day. It went pretty well. I'd be finished, but apparently it is impossible to find a contractor who can locate their own arse with both hands in some disciplines, and I have to go back and babysit the one we've got through finishing the job tomorrow.

Today is a good day to remember that I am grateful. Today I'm grateful to be able to work with clients who can be themselves together, who can let out the tension with humour, and who respect everyone for their contribution - not least because they all know their own.

Hopefully I'll get back to blogging in a day or two. I've got a backlog....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday updates

About 2-ish this afternoon I thought I should leap into action. I finally went and bought the surrounds for the tree. Here's the tree-when-planted and tree-now photos to prove something got done.

While I'm showing updates, this is the then and now for the front garden.

That massive mess of green on the left hand side is two tomato plants. They'd be the ones that everyone told me were weeds, merely on the basis that I didn't actually plant any tomatoes. Not only are they triffidising nicely, they are also growing tomatoes.

There are many more, in various stages of development, and they're still flowering.

The frangipani on the left that's hidden by the tomatoes has thrived since it got out of the pot it had been in for many years.

So that's the garden.

Toilet training. Yes. Well. Other people are doing fine. After our first day, Elissa went off to day car for two days. Each day she had one pair of training pants, and wore them until she had an accident. Both days she showed evidence of knowing what was going on, and even managed a small wee in the potty on Friday.

Sadly, I then took over. On Saturday nothing happened. We spent the day out, and she was in a nappy all day. Today, she was starkers all morning, resulting in a puddle on the floor and a poo in the front yard. The latter rather upset her, and she seemed sincere when she said it would have been better in the potty. By then it was bed time, so we put the nappy back on.

After sleeps the nappy was dry, so, thinks I, she is in need of a pee. I bribed her to sit on the potty for at least half an hour, including sitting in the front yard while everyone was working. When the lollipop ran out, she demanded to get up and put a nappy on. Within 3 minutes she had done her wee. At least I know she has plenty of control now.

*sigh*. I'm thinking nakedness for a week may be the only option.

20th DUFC

 The DUFC is almost old enough to drink, and you can check out the 20th one at Pharaoh Katt's More than Sides. Well, you've been able to do so for a couple of days, but it hasn't gone anywhere.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Sydney Festival opener

Despite tummy bugs, toilet training (yes, in theory, it's still happening - not so much today) and the attack of Chicken Little*, we packed the kids up and took them into Hyde Park for the opening day of Sydney Festival. The really good stuff is on tonight, but as Responsible Parents, we are watching Iron Chef and Rockwiz instead of Al Green.

It was a fabulous afternoon. It was a little warm today in Sydney (probably still >30C outside now at 10pm), so the first thing that inspired all of us was this.

The kids embraced the opportunity to get wet with impunity.

Ben was in amongst it with the big kids in the raised part of the fountain within moments.

Charlie wasn't too keen to pose, but he loved the spouting water. A lot.

Elissa was just immensely happy to be wet. In any way at all really.

Of course, it ended in tears.

Ben hurt his finger and had a sulk. But I suspect it was worth it.

After we were all thoroughly soaked, we wandered around and found hula hoops for the taking.

That's St Mary's Cathedral in the background, and very probably Charlie's finger providing the smudge on the lens. It turns out that I can still whirl a hula hoop, but fortunately there is no photographic evidence.

There were snacks and strolls, and then we came across the wonderful bubble guy Mr Incredibubble, who Mim Tigtog previously blogged about, but I can't remember his name nor find her post** but I apparently can't remember anything. He mentioned he will have a website next week, so you may be able to check him out. ANYWAY, he makes huge bubbles, and if you throw a coin in the metaphorical hat, he will let your kids stick their heads in bubbles. They loved it. Squeals, smiles and giggles. Well worth the $5 I chucked in for the entertainment. I didn't take photos because I was too busy looking at the pretty bubbles.

Tram trip home, supermarket visit to buy hot dog makings for kids and meat & salad for ourselves, plus ice creams because a day like that should always end with ice creams.

There was happiness all round, significantly enhanced by the air conditioning we can turn on so as to pretend it isn't 30 degrees outside.

Further Updates (also courtesy of Mim): Apparently we were at the fountain at the same time as the SMH photographer. If you look hard in this photo, you can see Ben, Charlie and Me.

*Chicken Little is an employee of a client who has decided that small boxes being in an inconvenient spot might jeopardise a whole office relocation. I tried to be professional in my response, I really did. 

** Edited information provided entirely by Mim. I didn't even managed that bit.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Uncover or else

Oh FFS sake, France, could you be any less coherent?

Reading this article about the proposed French law to outlaw the burqa is an exercise in confusion and contradiction.
"The law will address an issue of security ... The proposed measure would prohibit the covering of the face in public places and on the streets, with the exception of special cultural events or carnivals."
This is Jean-Francois Cope. So we'll start with the theory that this is about security. I can see an argument that in places where, for example, motorcycle helmets are not permitted to be worn, full face covering burqas should also be excluded, as should balaclavas. Speaking of balaclavas, does this mean that they will also be banned on the ski slopes? Or would they be "special cultural events or carnivals"? It's hard to imagine that there is a need to demand that all people show their faces in all public places, but if there is, it's going to have consequences beyond women wearing burqas.

However, Cope isn't sure that it is about security.
"We can measure the modernity of a society by the way it treats and respects women"
Perhaps it's about women being forced to wear burqas? If so, then this legislation makes no sense at all. It provides fines for women who wear a burqa. So it seems that Cope is arguing that the way to stop men from forcing women to wear the burqa is to fine the women. Granted, there is also a fine for men who force women to wear a burqa, but how, exactly, could that be enforced? And besides, there is still a fine for the woman who has no choice.

While we're on the subject of contradiction, if Cope wants to be able to view France as a modern society that respects women, he may wish to consider that some women may, in fact, choose to wear the burqa in a fully informed way. While I understand the need to protect women from oppression, I can't imagine any woman who freely chooses the burqa feeling as though she has been liberated by this law. I don't know if any of the 1,900 women in France who wear it, choose to do so freely (not being psychic and all), but surely, neither does Cope.

Since Cope can't decide why the legislation is required, and doesn't address the consequences of it for other face coverings, it's pretty difficult to see this as anything but vilification and oppression of Moslems.

I'd suggest that we can also measure the modernity of a society by the way it treats minority groups. Personally, I do place the well being of the women above the well being of the religion, but I don't believe you enhance women's well being by making grand gestures without involving those affected. If the government has concerns regarding security and the oppression of women, perhaps they should take these concerns to the community involved. Perhaps they should consult with Moslem women - both those who wear the burqa and those who don't - as well as women's advocacy groups which have an understanding of these women and their communities. This may not be an easy, or headline grabbing path, but is much more respectful of both the group identity and the women involved. It might even go a step towards resolving the tension.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Toilet training

A long time ago, I blogged Elissa's progress through learning to sleep through the night. That was a success story.

Just to prove that I am happy to show the world what I can't do, as well as what I can, I am going to blog Elissa's toilet training. Expect horrors and failures. This will no doubt be a study in how not to toilet train a child. Educational tips (including "You're Doing It Wrong, you idjit") are welcome.

We have been doing the prep. We've been talking a lot about using the potty. I've read half a book about toilet training. I bought Elissa a book about toilet training (which she loves). She's sat on the potty (both of them, we have two types) at length, but never really done anything in it. (There was one occasion a long time ago, when I caught her mid stream in the bathroom and sat her on the potty to finish, but it was never repeated.)

So today I finally bought some training pants, brought her home and put them on. We had the potty at hand, and explained the Plan. She was keen.

Half an hour later, she announced she needed to go to the potty. Yay!

Crash pulled her pants down and fortunately, was able to catch the poo before it landed on the carpet. Unfortunately, he was able to catch the poo before it landed on the carpet*. Nothing was forthcoming in the potty.

Strike 1.

About an hour after that, I asked if she wanted to go to the potty again, and discovered another poo in the pants. I'm smart, I learn from other people's mistakes and had checked before "pants down".

Strike 2.

At dinner time (maybe 45mins later) I was pretty confident she was due for a wee, but she wouldn't have a bar of sitting on the potty. This should have been a warning signal for me. It wasn't. I found her standing in a recess in the dining room in a puddle.

Strike 3.

At this point we put the nappy back on, in order to actually eat dinner in peace. There was a plus - she stood in the corner for the wee. She must have known it was coming. I explained that instead of standing in the corner, she should have sat on the potty. Maybe it made it past her ear lobes.

She's at day care tomorrow, so the plan is to send a pair of training pants, and have her wear them until she has an accident. Hopefully accompanied by a good deal of encouragement to use the potty.

Please feel free to chime in with ideas. Or just point and laugh. 

*This is word for word what Crash told me when I got home from work, I merely replaced "I" with "he".

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

In which Apple woos me again

In all the time I've been using PCs (about 23 years), I've only ever had one disruptive virus - you know, other than "1 virus found and removed" messages. It was, however, a doozy. It stole money from my bank accounts, and when caught, rendered my PC FUBAR. I decided that this was my message from the gods to buy a Mac desktop.

It's always been my machine that runs the show in our home network, so switching to Mac was always going to cause some disruption. I finally got around to Googling how to allow the Vista machine to print to the Mac-attached printer yesterday. I found (mostly) consistent instructions and set to. Sadly, I had no joy (with either permutation, and despite reboots). This is all utterly unsurprising, but what happened next is directly from the Twilight Zone*.

I asked the interwebs at the Apple forum, and within two hours, someone had labbed the situation up, found the problem and provided a solution. What's more, the solution worked!

And you know what? Customer support does, in fact, work as a marketing strategy. After that immensely satisfying experience, I figured the best way to sort out backups was to buy a Time Capsule. I'm still sorting stuff out with that (supported again by the forum) - but only with the wireless network - backups are in progress as I type.

It seems I am hell bent on selling my soul to Google and Apple.

*At least for Microsoft customers

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Douglas Adams plagiarised

No, really, he did, and I have the proof!

Mum & David looked after the kids today while Crash & I went to the cricket, which is a pretty monumental effort - especially when the cricket was rain delayed and so finished late. We got home in the middle of bedtime and got to hear all about the day's fun. There was no picnic (as promised, due to said rain) but there was a blue goo bath and home-made (and most delicious, apparently) pizza.

Charlie explained to Crash that "David made the pizza exactly the way you don't."

It seems Douglas Adams may have got his best line ever from a four year old - it being a standard turn of phrase for them.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

How did I get here?

Last night I had one of those moments. You know, one of those Talking Heads moments, where you look around you and think "This is not my beautiful house" and (in my case) "These are not my beautiful kids".

I went outside to give them their 10 minute bath warning, and as I stood there looking at them, I found myself wondering how I ever came to be a mother, what on earth I thought I was doing attempting to raise children, and by the way, how did I get to be 38? I'm sure I'm still 25.....

But seriously, I'm responsible for these little people. How did that happen? I'm sure I'm not qualified and for that moment, I just couldn't really believe they are real. I never wanted kids. I was never going to have them. Until I changed my mind. So now I have three! I was never going to have more than two children either. Until I changed my mind.

Then again, I spend a great deal of my time pretending to know what I'm doing, and generally get through. I guess I just have to keep faking it for another 16 years or so.

Friday, January 01, 2010

I just don't trust police

I don't have a good track record with police. I have pretty much never seen them as anything but a) the enemy or b) bumbling fools who couldn't find their own arses with both hands. A lot of this comes from years of festival going and a diametrically opposed view on drug use from both our government and the police force, but it also comes from a bunch of experiences in which me & mine have been on both sides of the law. In fact, I have been most disgusted by them when I was a victim of crime - mostly because they seemed only interested in the amount of paperwork that would be generated and nothing else. They definitely didn't care about me, nor did they care about the perp they caught (because his mother called them and told them he had done it, not due to any effort on their part). I did, as it happened, care about the perp (still do, he's my neighbour), and I wanted his so-called friends to be held as accountable as he was. Apparently photos of said friends taken on the retrieved stolen camera couldn't help the police identify the other kids involved.

I know this doesn't mean all cops are terrible, I know it's pretty much entirely the institution and the process. So when I say "police", I mean the great amorphous mass, not the people. No doubt they are mostly like everyone else with a job - doing their best with what they get handed.

But this story, about the police chase that ended in the death of a two year old girl? I was trying so hard to keep an open mind. Then I read today that the chase involved two highway patrol cars and a helicopter. There was a chopper following these guys. I know there will be an investigation, and I can't know all the circumstances from where I sit, but seriously, I am struggling to see why it was necessary to continue a high speed chase when there was a chopper on their tail, and at least another 100km of pretty frequent towns with other highway patrols who could be alerted and updated with the two men's whereabouts. A little girl died because of this. Nobody should be defending anyone's actions until they have been investigated with a microscope.

It goes without saying that the two men driving the car hold the ultimate responsibility, despite the incomprehensible claim by one of the offenders' brother that "it's not their fault. All they were doing is a job and getting away, that's it." Yeah, right, getting away at any cost. About as justifiable as apprehending them at any cost.

My Word for 2010

Last year MPJ at A Room of Mama's Own set herself a word for the year. I chimed in and said mine for the year was insane optimism, since I'd already written this post about 2009. Insane optimism kept me afloat through the year, but it got me into some trouble too. I did way too much last year, and so didn't do any of it well. I may have been the worst fund raiser the P&C has ever seen. I was annoyed that the essay I wrote about feminism vs multiculturalism was too broad and insufficiently deep. I knew it when I submitted it, and it was marked accordingly, but I just didn't have time to fix it. I didn't devote as much time to project management as I would have liked, which fortunately didn't affect the project much, but definitely made our job more stressful. All in all, I need to be doing less.

So this year, my word is "Pause". When presented with an opportunity or a problem*, I will not immediately assume that I should do something personally about it. I will pause long enough to consider all the consequences of that decision - for me, my family and the other commitments I already have.

"Pause" also reminds me to take the time to enjoy what I am doing, and to take the time to do nothing occasionally. Those Rush lyrics that pop up sometimes over there on the right hand side have been running through my head a lot recently:
Time stand still
I'm not looking back but I want to look around me now
Time stand still
See more of the people and the places that surround me now
Freeze this moment a little bit longer
Make each sensation a little bit stronger
Experience slips away
I'll be keeping my optimism - although after the farce that was Copenhagen and the advent of Tony Abbott as leader of the Libs, it'll be sorely tested - because I really think it's a pre-requisite for success. "Pause" isn't a resolution, it's more a tone for the year, something to keep in the back of my mind rather than something to succeed or fail at.

Now I'm going to head on over and find out what MPJ's word is for 2010.

*My business partner claims that all problems are opportunities, but I think his MBA has addled his brain.


I don't normally do New Year Resolutions (yes, they definitely all need capitals), but I do have one this year. I'm going to make sure there is more music in my house. I have always loved to have music around me, but it's interfered with being able to hear the kids and just generally increased the noise levels in an unpleasant sort of way in the last few years.

However, the youngest is two now, and the eldest is seven. The latter can be relied upon to let me know about the rare tragedy that the former isn't capable of informing me of personally. They can all be booted outside, upstairs or into the front room for long stretches of time. If they don't like it, they have a means of escape.

I have fond memories of the music that was played in my house when I was growing up. I still can't really clean effectively without music playing. Background (or indeed loud) music lifts my mood and makes everything better. I want to share that with my kids. I also want to pass on their musical cultural heritage. I'd like them to know everything from The Beatles to The Herd. It doesn't really matter if they don't pay attention, it'll be lodged there somewhere in their subconscious.

It's a gentle Resolution. It has no moral imperative. It's just a thing I think will make our family a teensy bit cheerier. Anyone else got a Resolution? I have other plans for 2010, but I won't give them the title of Resolution, because they aren't. I might get to blogging about those soon.