Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Will the 12th Doctor have the same sense of wonder the 11th Doctor had?

Let's take a break from all the discussion of stress and study and talk about something far more enjoyable!

Not long now until season 8 of new Who is launched (okay, so it's about 2.5 months, but seriously it's never too early to get excited). Of course, we're kicking off with a brand new Doctor - in fact, a whole new life cycle of The Doctor! It's very exciting but also a little scary. It's a lot like a first date, isn't it? We have no idea what he'll be like, we've only really seen his photo, and very short (I mean REALLY short) taste of his talent in the last Christmas Special). It wasn't enough to form an opinion from.

The new Doctor will be older and I'm not about to suggest that is a bad thing. Let's face it, the very first Doctor we saw was an old man who progressively seemed to get younger. Maybe that is what will happen now. Of course, who the next 'next Doctor' is, or even if there is another Doctor after Capaldi will depend wholly on the success of this new Doctor - so let's start with him.

My biggest question at the moment is will the new Doctor have the sense of wonder the last Doctor had?

This is what I'm talking about…

Matt Smith was absolutely priceless with his ability to tap into the child in the Doctor. That ability to see things for the first time despite a millennia of life experience was nothing less than inspiring. Tennant didn't do this, Eccleston certainly didn't even come close to doing this. This was something almost unique to Smith - though I have heard it said Trouton had this ability (I haven't seen much of Trouton as I was only born in the early 70s).

I'm sure wonderment isn't essential to The Doctor, it's just that I'll miss this aspect of his character so much if the 12th Doctor doesn't possess it.

The 12th Doctor looks a bit scary to me. I'm sure that's just because I haven't seen him in action, but he looks like someone who can be quite ruthless (and the 11th could be ruthless, he actually had something of a temper when things weren't going his way).

He doesn't look like someone who might look for the fun in things the 11th Doctor did, though he might have the potential to be a bit unstable, I think, perhaps not playful though.

Time will tell! <~~~~ See what I did there? Ha!

And we'll see two new companions as well, which should be interesting because companions have always deeply impacted how The Doctor operates, which role he takes on; grandfather, mentor, father, boyfriend (oh, come on, the 10th and Rose were pretty just in a platonic courtship), mate - no, not that kind of mate, mate! -, friend, or son-in-law, it really all comes down to the companions… Let's hope they bring out the best in him!

I wish we had a launch date, I want to start a count down calendar - this is my 'something to look forward to' when life seems all-too-hard...

Monday, May 26, 2014

Looking forward to getting past this next month...

Back in the office today to do some revisions and more work on the colloquium document. I know doing this is not a waste of my time; it will provide me with a solid foundation and plan for the next eighteen months, but I have to say, it is tedious.

I'm starting to long for a solid chunk of creative writing time, or even researching time.

Nerves are playing a big part in my dread of this next month and a bit. In exactly 32 days I'll be coming in to Uni to present and defend my thesis proposal. The past twelve months have been working toward this point. I have to do a ten minute talk up front and that really makes me nervous. I can quite easily stand in front of a class and talk, but this is quite different, these people know more about what I'm doing (though not specifically about my topic) than I do, and it's my job to make them interested in what I want to research, but also to them to see the benefit in my research. That is scary!

My supervisor says I'm too humble. I need to toot my own horn more. That is hard, I have spent an entire lifetime training myself to do this less. When I was a little a girl, I used to make grandiose statements about what I could do and how important I was. Since that time, I've been told over and over again to pay my dues and be humble. It's really hard to say, 'I'm am an expert in this field!' even though there is no one else who researches what I research (part of my job here is to find other people who research what I research and if they're out there, then they must be hiding very well!).

Only twenty-one days until this document has to be polished, that's only twelve office days. So, I guess I'd better get off here and do some work...

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Compartmentalising my life...

I realised the other day I am increasingly compartmentalising my life to cope with the various stressors.

When I'm at Uni, the PhD is my world and although I am still secretary of the mature age student club, I can no longer it give my energy. I'm done with it, just going through the motions. I cannot see the point of it anymore, and it is certainly not enhancing my university experience. It is nothing like how I thought it would be - this Uni experience. I had hoped for some sort of community, I certainly gave all I had to build a community, but in the end, it wasn't enough. I wasn't enough. So, now when I go to Uni it's all about the PhD, and despite my best efforts I find myself feeling as isolated as I ever did doing my masters degrees by correspondence.

That is not saying this can't change. I'm still hopeful it will, but I may have cast my energies in the wrong direction, is all. I'll wait and see what the future brings, but for now I'll put more effort into my degree.

At home, at the moment, my energies are divided. One thing is worrying about housing and the utter lack of stability in our lives which I see is affecting the kids - in particular Bryn; who has now started waking in the night with panic attacks he cannot explain. I know worrying won't achieve anything. I know we've made it through every situation until now. I know we'll figure something out. I think I'm just angry. We've been battling for almost 18 years, and for that entire time I've worked under the belief that if we just keep trying the quality of our lives will improve. It hasn't. We still struggle financially, we still can't seem to get reliable work - or any work at all, at the moment - and we're still dependent on the goodwill of landlords. If anything it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure a home for longer than 12 months. Yesterday we were musing over my brother having lived in one place for six years and the next for almost four so far, and here we are moving every year.

The other thing I'm focused on at home is crocheting squares for a friend's blanket. I committed to this in less stressful time (relatively speaking) and then just didn't get around to it, so now
I'm playing catch up. It's a labour of love, so, I don't mind at all, I just wish I could enjoy the process more.

I've decided to take a break from Facebook as it is causing me more upset than joy at the moment. I feel under attack a lot, I bite my tongue a lot, I hide images and links a lot, and I know this has more to do with all the other stressors in my life - this Federal government, not least of all, but I find myself feeling like I don't exist as a person to people, just a 2D avatar.

I'm also questioning my apparent need for validation outside myself. I think, very possibly my life lacks substance if I spend chunks of time evaluating my identity through Internet personality tests, or what other people post as memes. Taking a step back, that all seems just a little insane when I look at it from the outside. It's not that I take these things seriously, I don't rationally. But then, why even do those tests, why share memes, why be voyeur to other people's lives? Is my life so boring? I definitely need a break. I haven't been on twitter in a long while either and am probably going to delete my account with them.

I will keep Instagram though because I feel like I get a lot more from the images I see and post there. I might make more of an effort with my photography again.

Also, it may be time to revisit journaling. I haven't kept a consistent journal in about fifteen years. I think a bit of reflection that isn't in the public eye might do me some good - might allow me to work through stuff I hold back online.

Also, and this is a stressor I forgot about until just now when I moved from composing on my iPad to working at my desk top and saw my neglected workbooks  - I need to put much more effort into practicing braille. I have really been neglecting this and it is showing.

I guess this will make my world a lot smaller for a while. Online friends don't really cross over if they notice you have left the online world for the most part (and that's okay, really, it's good to keep stock of who the people in your life really are, as opposed to who you parallel play with online).

I basically think I need to be more grounded; be more in the three dimensional world and less in the two dimensional world - which I realise is enough for a lot of people, but I think it drives me a bit around the bend.

Maybe if I can get a grip of the physical world, I can begin to integrate the parts of my life again in a way that will be even more conducive to coping. Shutting out extraneous noise and trying to figure out what is really important to me, as opposed to being blown hither and yon by bytes of infotainment which ultimately only work as a distraction in my life, maybe that will help me to centre myself more effectively?

I really hope so. I'm tired of feeling the way I do now.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The House Sold...

I started this blog post on Monday, but didn't get far before being called away. That's probably a good thing as it saves me posting about the sale of the house twice.

You see on Monday I was going to tell you the house sold for over 100K above asking price, which was an excellent outcome for the owners. They thanked us with flowers and chocolates, which was lovely.

We were told on Saturday that the new owners were investors who wanted to rent the place out for a year or two before developing it in 3-5 years time, and that we would be given first refusal on renting the property.

That all sounded pretty good to us, getting to stay in the house for a couple of more years was exactly what we were hoping for.

On Monday night, the Grumpy Old Man told his mum, and when he made it all sound set in stone, I felt very uneasy about taking so much for granted and warned him things might not turn out exactly as we'd been told on Saturday. He thought I was being overly pessimistic.

Yesterday we received a called from the sales real estate agent asking if we would allow surveyors onto the property on Thursday.

Hello, this is exactly what happened at our last place.

He told us the new owners were looking at keep us on until February next year. That's not 'A year or two.' That's barely nine months - and only four months from settlement.

So, it looks like we'll be moving after all.

There is some confusion at the moment about when the management of the property will be handed over to the new owners. The agent, yesterday, seemed to suggest it would be in a couple of week's time - which means they could give us two weeks notice any time after that. The Grumpy Old man rang the current agent to see if that was likely, she didn't seem to think that was usual practice, but couldn't tell us if this could happen in the old owners agreed to special circumstances.

The Grumpy Old Man told his mum last night. We were hoping she would see the time to consolidate our finances had come - she is heavily reliant on our care these days - but she is not in that frame of mind yet.

The thought of moving into yet another temporary home has ben feeling sick. I just can't face it. I can't face looking for another place, applying, moving and not knowing how long we'll have in that place before we're moved on again.

We found this place easily - very easily! But we aren't in as good a position this time because we will have lived in three properties in five years now, which will not look good on the application for when we have no taxable income.

I hate this!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Ask How...

The older boys' monthly GPA came out yesterday. While Erik's improved on the last report before the holidays, Lukas' didn't. To be clear, Erik improved in one subject, which brought his average GPA up. Lukas dropped in a number of subjects, which took his down.

One of the most interesting changes was to their maths results. Each boy has now attended three maths tutorials (missing last week's because the school concert was on that day). Erik has seen an improvement in his maths outcomes - generally speaking in class participation (he says this is because he has been helping other students). Where as Lukas has seen a rather dramatic drop in his maths GPA - a whole point!

So, we had a talk about these results last night, and what came to light with the comments from the school and through talking to the boys, is that they lack initiative. They do exactly what is asked of them, but no more. They don't offer to answer questions in class, and if they don't have outstanding homework before maths tutoring they don't do any work (because the tutor is not there to set work, but to help with problems they bring up).

This got us talking about asking questions and I found myself saying the following to them…

'Don't ask what, where, why, who, or when, ask HOW!'

Asking all the W questions puts the responsibility for action on the other person.

I gave them this example, 'You want to go hang out with your friends, don't ask me, '
"Mum, can I go hang out with my friends.", instead ask me, "Mum, how can I get you to let me go hang out with my friends."

'Don't ask your teachers, "What should I do in English?", as them, "How can I improve my skills/participation/preparedness in English?", they'll tell you!'

Erik argued that this was a form of bribing. I said it wasn't because bribing is giving something of not-much-consequence to you, to get something you really value, trading very little for very big. This kind of questioning is all about co-operation and learning. Learning what it takes to work towards your goal of improving you outcomes. Improving you class mark, or improving your chances of hanging out with your friends more often.

I think this works very well for adults as well. If you are in a difficult situation with a person who just won't co-operate, ask them 'How can I convince/reassure/encourage you?' It shows you also care about them, not just about what you will get out of the situation. And it shows initiative. It shows you are willing to work for a better outcome, not just wait for it to present itself to you!


Don't ask What, where, when, why, or who - ASK HOW!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


The house will be auctioned this coming weekend, and my colloquium papers are due in four and a half weeks. The colloquia is in six and a half week. The Federal budget came out yesterday and as an unemployed, student, mother, living with a disability, on a pension, who sometimes requires medical assessment and medications, I'm a seven times loser.

I am trying to gain employment; that is what this degree is about. I am desperately hoping that once I've passed my colloquia seminar, I'll be offered tutoring work which will provide me with the essential teaching experience I lack amongst all my qualification.

The Government does not want to make it easy for me, or people in my situation to become more skilled and more employable though. As of next January, there will be no more pensioner education supplement (which I don't get but used to get and it helped me get my first masters), there will be no more education entry payment (which I also don't get, but did get once, and it really helped pay for textbooks).

As a person who will most likely soon be seeking new housing, I will be have less income to declare on my applications as the FTB B will disappear, and the supplement bonus cutbacks will see our family over $2000 harder up per annum.

And if we were to become homeless, the research project on homelessness has been cut, and homelessness assistance has been cut.

We will have to pay $70 per annum more for doctor's visits, and who knows how much more for medications!

Oh, they say they want to give the Grumpy Old Man up to 10K to get a job, but not a cent of that money will be paid until he's been employed for six months, only then will his prospective new employer get $3000, and six months later another $3000, and six months after that $2000 and finally, if the Grumpy Old Man manages to stay employed for two years, the new employer will get the final payment of $2000. But what employer is going to take on my husband for a pay out between six months and two years away? Especially when there will be so many more desperate 25-30 year old willing to cut throat for the same job because they have no income at all for six months…

As a panelist on Q and A the other night said. 'We have an economy, but we no longer have a society.' Of course, this would please good old Tones, because well, his hero, Maggie Thatcher, once said, 'There is no society, there is only the individual.'

So, you might think the heading of this blog post refers to my own denial. And it would not be completely surprising if I felt a need to stick my head in the ground and whisper in soft tones to myself, 'I want to go home, I want to go home.' because we now live in a strange place that no longer resembles the Australia I used to be so homesick for in 1980s…

However, it is not my denial I'm referring to, but rather the denial of the people who voted this Government in. The delusional state they must have been in when they ticked the boxes on their ballot papers and somehow convinced themselves Tony Abbott and his cronies would take care of them. It is the denial some people still have that Australia is actually one of the shining economic lights on this global, not the crisis ridden state the Government would have us believe. The denial that allows people to think that pushing families and the vulnerable in society to the brink, while only temporarily imposing pitiful tax on the wealthy is worthwhile for the sake of the demented beast Tones worships, call the economy.


Wake up Australia, have some courage, some hearts, and some brains - rise up against this Government for the sake of the greater majority for whom life just became a hell of a lot tougher!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Fortnightly marathons...


I just finished another fortnightly marathon. That's what I'm calling these mini-deadlines for my PhD supervisor. I get to meet with her every two weeks or so, and in between she gives me work to do and hand in to her before the next meeting. For the first few months, these marathons were easy-peasy. In fact, I sort of wondered what other PhD students were complaining about, I seemed to be managing to work through it all quite easy. The last couple of months have brought a renewed understanding of why doing a PhD is a full time job!

I enjoy it, I really do, but some days when I go downstairs to meet the Grumpy Old Man in the carpark, I feel like I couldn't possibly get any more information inside my brain. These past few months I've been doing a crash course in identity theory and the Icelandic sagas. Every time I open a new article I feel as if I fall through the looking glass into a new topsy-turvy world of jargon. Then after a few days immersed in that world, I start to assimilate what I've been exposed to, and then I inevitably stumble on a new door behind which there is a new looking glass and a new topsy-turvy world to adjust to.

Sometimes I get completely waylaid by a topic only tangenitally associated with my topic, but it's all so fascinating. I spent several hour on Monday reading all about Loki from old Norse Mythology. I had grown up hearing about Loki, but I have to admit I did not know the sagas which he is involved in. I still don't know them, but now, at least, I have a better - if somewhat shallow - understanding of the role he played in the sagas.

I've already lost track of how many articles I have read, and which of those I have referenced. It is all a blur, so tomorrow I'm going to add them all into Endnote online so I have some sort of overview, but most importantly, so I don't lose track of some important authors!

I'm getting close to the colloquium now. I don't think about it much because it makes me very nervous. I feel as if the information is all still so new. It's a bit like that icebreaker game hosts make you play at conferences where you have to learn the name of the strangers at your table and some basic facts about them and then you are asked to introduce them to everyone else at the conference. Holding all those facts and names in your head, when you haven't had much opportunity to making a meaningful connection feels almost impossible. At the colloquium, I'll be asked to introduce the panel to the relevant authors and the work they've done when I've only just gotten to know them myself. I can see I'll be doing a lot more reading in the next couple of weeks just to get all this information clear in my head. A mind map might be in order!

Good Job!