April 23, 2014

Aiming at a moving target: academic philosophy...

I didn't do a lot of work over the long weekend, but I did manage to get the chapter edited and sent of to my supervisor. She was very quick to read it and return it by the next morning with lots and lots of tracking comments…


So, now you know what I'll be doing at work today!

This got me thinking about the various stories - almost like urban legends - I've heard of authors submitting already published manuscripts to editors under a pseudonym and getting them back covered in editing marks. No matter how well you polish something, there will always be something you can improve on.

I had mum go through this essay with me. Mum is a very good essay writer, and still my supervisor had plenty to say on how I needed to change things. Once I've changed everything to her standard, there will be no guarantee that the panel who will be assessing my work will be impressed. It is all a matter of preferences and opinion. 

This is why I can't afford to take criticisms personally. Criticisms aren't about me, they're about the person providing the critique. They're about that person's preferences and understanding of how something should appear to be considered valid. My job is to aim for hitting the centre of their target as closely as possible - the fact that that target is constantly moving depending on who is holding it, is basically my problem, not theirs.

That's my little bit of academic philosophy for the day...


April 19, 2014

How a haircut cost me a pair of shoes...

It's the end of the school holidays, and time for boys to get hair cuts. My boys hate having their hair cut; if left to their own devices they'd have long flowing locks down to the ground, I think. Unfortunately, they are not great at hair washing, and aren't terribly keen to tie their hair up for school - which the schools would require. So, about four times a year I battle with them to get their hair cut.

I'm trying to compromise on what constitutes 'a cut' and so Erik and Lukas have shaggy cuts with long fringes - I hate these cuts, I really do, but I guess I have to relinquish some of the control as they get older and seek to define themselves as individuals (like everyone else - actually, just. like. everyone. else)...



If it were up to me, they'd all have short cuts like Ari...


His hair is wet here, it's quite short, but he does actually have hair, it's not a buzz cut; just a smart short cut, that can be spiked if he wants, or parted...

Bryn had a BAD day at the barber's today. I did tell the barber to neaten the back but not cut too much off, just a couple of centimetres. The barber just cut, and cut, and cut and while Bryn's hair isn't ├╝ber short, he was hoping for something closer to what Erik walked out with (see above). 

Sadly, he was in a flood of tears when we left. The poor younger barber in the shop was worried about him (it was the older one who had cut Bryn's hair). I said the hair cut was fine, just a bit shorter than Bryn had wanted. 

And then I had to go console the distraught eight-year-old who was vowing and declaring he would NOT be going to school next week, or even next term, until his hair grew back!

I found myself promising to make it up to him, and then I found myself buying him a pair of shoes he really doesn't need, but has wanted for a while...


And then I worked some magic with wax and hair spray and showed how his hair cut wasn't all together horrible, it was quite like the 10th Doctor's hair...





And finally, he was smiling again - and it only cost me $40 in the end for his 'horrible haircut'...


April 17, 2014

Do We Really Need a Long Weekend At Easter?source

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I'm all over the place today.

You see, my plan to spend five solid days at Uni this week writing up my chapter for colloquium (just the first draft, I'm trying to be a bit realistic) has been somewhat thwarted by the fact that tomorrow is Good Friday and therefore a public holiday, which means the Uni will be shut.

Because Monday is also a public holiday, the University, in it's grand wisdom has decided to shut down for four whole days. Now, I'm meeting my supervisor on Thursday next week which means that by Tuesday night I need to have this first draft chapter in her inbox. Tuesday is my regular braille lesson, so I won't get to Uni that day as driving to the other side of Melbourne, doing a lesson and coming back takes most of the day.

Therefore, today is my last day at Uni to get words on paper with relative peace. Dave asked me this morning if, since I was going to be home tomorrow anyway, he could drive down to Brighton to see a friend. I have to confess I bit his head off. I'm stressed. He could visit his friend any day while the kids are at school, it doesn't have to be a day that they're all home and need supervising.  I find it incredibly difficult to concentrate on work at home with the kids constantly bickering or in hysterics of one variety or another, or asking me a million questions. On top of this I no longer have a CCTV at home and so reading is all but impossible for me, there.

The thought of trying to get work done while solely responsible for the well being of four kids was just too much.

On top of this, I'm finding myself incredibly resentful of the need for a long weekend at Easter. Yes, Australia, being a child of England, was settled on Christian values, however, we're very much a secular country these days - in practice, anyway.

So, why should those of us who just don't believe in the whole Easter story be forced to put our lives on hold for four days because a minority of people do believe? Yes, I'm completely serious. I know Aussies like a holiday as much as anyone else, but well, it's damned inconvenient to me that the University isn't even open on Saturday.

I got in the lift with the Vice Chancellor yesterday and she commented that the weekend could not come soon enough for her. I said I just wanted to be able to get into the office to work. She said I needed to 'down pens' and take a break! Of course, she has no idea who I am, she probably thought I was staff. I bet she didn't 'down pens' when she did her PhD, though!

April 15, 2014

Remember all the people you've been...

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Many months on, I'm still grieving the end of the 11th Doctor's time. I know, I know, he's a fictional character. Anyone with a heart has connected with a fictional character at some point and I connected with the 11th Doctor. I adore the 10th Doctor, he is dashing, isn't he? But the 11th had elements of me in him. Restless energy, and the constant running away. In the end though he came to the realisation that while you can and will change throughout your life time, if you try to forget who you used to be, you'll only get yourself in trouble. Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

The other day, in a discussion about a friendship, I found myself talking about friends I have on Facebook now who knew me when I was a teenager. We haven't been in the same room in 25-30 years but they know a me my friends today would not recognise.

In another conversation with my mum the other day, she was commenting on my chameleon nature, how whenever I enter a new group, or new environment, I take on the characteristics of that environment. As she put it herself, when she picked me up from a coach line, or airport, she could never be sure if she'd be picking up a someone in a floral dress with brown spiral curl hair and hiking boots, or someone with a sleek black bob and dress in clothing better suited to the 19th century (she calls that my 'goth period', although I never did do the goth thing).

I have been many people over the past few decades, and to me those people often seem like other people - previous incarnations of me who are nothing like me essentially. I feel as if I have lived at least four lives. But I have to remember all those people, what they went through, what they learned and why they changed, because if I don't, I might find myself reliving the past and that is something I absolutely never want to do. 

I do not romanticise my past. I never want to be 18 again, or 26, or 37, no thanks, those days are gone.

I sometimes wonder who I will be next. 

I want to work in academia, and I look at other academics around me - especially now that my desk is in the sessional's room, I look at how they dress and the expressions on their face and I'm not wholly sure I want to change to be like them. I want to do what they do, but can I really change that much? I don't know...


April 14, 2014

Published...

Back in the office this morning, after what feels like an age away. Didn't feel like I managed to get much done last week, which means this week's effort has to be mammoth. Five thousand words, no less! My aim is to write one thousand word a day between today and Friday. I don't have braille this week, so that means I should be able to be at uni every day.

The book I need to from Melbourne Uni arrived on Saturday, which is fantastic because I felt quite hamstrung without it. I have an outline pretty much sorted, so it is really just a matter of breaking it down and writing it up. The hardest part is the referencing, but my supervisor has said to use whatever style I'm most comfortable with, which makes it a bit easier. 

Yesterday I had a visit from one of mum's old students from Tabor in Melbourne. She had been to the launch of Tabor Adelaide's anthology 'Tales from the Upper Room', and she had picked up my complimentary issue as well as two others for me. 

So, now I've been published in four anthologies. I'm going to take individual shots of these books and post them up in the margin of the blog. Along with articles and various other bits and pieces, my body of work is slowly increasing. I would like to vary the source of publication a little bit more, but I can't complain!


Oh well, that's probably enough procrastination for today. Best get back to the grind mill!

April 13, 2014

Understanding my own strengths and challenges...

Aside from my mum, I have known and socialised with more (sheer numbers) and a greater variety (ages, demographics, cultures, races, sexual orientation) than anyone I know - and as I said, I've known a LOT of people.

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Since a very young age, I have travelled and lived overseas, and socialised with the very, very poor and the highest stratas of society and influence. All this exposure means I know people quite well. I know what motivates people. I can pick a personality type very quickly and I'm am almost never surprised by anything anyone says or does.

As a writer, I'm an observer. I observe and make mental notes about people and environments all day long. It is just the way I am. If you raise your brow, I'm watching, if you lower the pitch of your voice, I'm listening, if your body stiffens as you speak, I can feel it without even touching you. You may be standing right next to me, speaking directly with me, or you may be on the other side of the cafe reading a book, I'm still watching you.

As a person with low vision, I main not see details, I'll admit that much, but you'd be surprised by what I recognise from having seen an action up close first.

As a person with ADHD, taking it all in but not focusing on much of it means I sometimes register information only after I've left the environment, but still it manages to seep into my consciousness.

I'm a bit like Sherlock, actually - emphasis on 'a bit'!

I also have a major challenge when it comes to people. Although I know, intellectually, what motivates a person; it might be fame or infamy, it might be love, it might be the need to fill a deep emptiness inside that the person is not even aware of, I cannot understand how people act and speak the way they do.

How can people be so selfish, so callous, so pointedly hurtful? How can people think it's okay to act and speak the way they do? How can people ignore what they ignore? How can people live with their choices?

Sometimes this not understanding how causes me to feel outside of humanity - like I don't belong, I don't speak the language or comprehend the culture. For a person like me who has been exposed to so many people from such a vast variety of backgrounds, that doesn't seem to make sense. And yet, there it is. My strength does not mitigate my challenge at all.



April 07, 2014

The Futuro™ Night Wrist Sleep Support for Carpal Tunnel

Do you suffer from numbness in your fingers or joint pain in your wrists? You may have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and you may be suffering unnecessarily. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is actually quite common in Australia and impacts people's daily lives, reducing the number and variety of activities people feel comfortable doing.

For many, many years, I have suffered with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in both arms. This means from time to time my pointer finger and my thumb go completely numb, seemingly for no reason at all. At first it was just annoying - no one likes pins and needles, right? But as the years have passed it has become quite a worry as the episodes increase in length and frequency.

I suffer more in my left hand than my right hand, for some reason, so for the purpose of this review, I tested the Futuro™ Night Wrist Sleep Support on my left hand.

It was recommended I try the wrist support for at least a week; I ended up trying it for two weeks because it took a little getting used to. You see, I tend to sleep with my hand in this position...


Most often my hand is tucked under my chin, just like this, putting pressure on the median nerve and making my pointer finger and my thumb go all numb and/or with pin and needles. I wake up with numb fingers almost every. single. day. It is not at all what I call fun!

So, I gave the Futuro™ Night Wrist Sleep Support a go for a couple of weeks...


As you can see, what the wrist support does is gently positions my hand and wrist to prevent pressure being put on the median nerve. It's rather brilliant really, in its effective simplicity! There are deep cushioning beads on the inside so my hand lays in a nature slightly curved, relaxed position on a soft pillow inside the support. At the same time it is resting against a firm splint to prevent me from adopting my habitual folded wrist position. I didn't wake up with numb fingers at all during the two week trial, not once! I really liked the slim-line design with air holes to allow air circulation so the supported didn't feel heavy or hot to wear. Though I wore the support on my left hand, it can be worn on either hand.


I'm quite excited to have found this product because I know people who have required surgery for their Carpal Tunnel Syndrome as they were getting to the point where they would drop items they were carrying because their fingers would suddenly go numb, or they would have shooting pains in their wrist. I am happy to wear a non-intrusive wrist support while I sleep to prevent aggravating the condition during the night, if it means being pain free when I'm awake and possibly avoiding surgery!



The Futuro™ Night Wrist Sleep Support is part of the 3M Futuro Therapeutic range, which includes the wrist support for treating Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and the Futuro™ Night Plantar Fasciitis Sleep Support for treating Plantar Fasciitis - you can find those products here. The Futuro™ Night Wrist Sleep Support is also available at all leading pharmacies and retails for $69.95.



Disclosure: I have received complimentary products and fee payments to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions expressed are purely my own.
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