Saturday, April 29, 2017

Not negotiable...



You know what really pisses me off? Cheap skates!

About a week ago, I listed three pieces of furniture at more than decently low prices. I thought people would actually jump at the chance of getting these really nice bits of furniture (ok, a steel cabinet can't exactly be described as 'nice' but it really is in good condition). There have certainly been a few bites...

However, without fail, every single punter has asked if I'll negotiate the price. Most have wanted 50% off. FIFTY PERCENT! I'm sorry, what? The price is already excellent. You couldn't get this furniture cheaper anywhere else - seriously, I checked the going rates and cut below them. But hey, cheap skate, go ahead and ask me to lower my price even further. Make my day.

I should have marked them up - anticipated the hagglers. Or put 'not negotiable' on the listing.

At this point in time, I'm looking for suggestions of charities to offer this furniture to...

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Night before Workmas...



I start work in the morning and I'm wide awake with adrenalin coursing through my veins. My friend Robbie would tell me to get off the bloody computer - but what does he know, right?

Luey is keeping me company, he's put a load of washing on and is determined to wait until my clothes finish drying to put his in the dryer - that'll be at about 2am.

I've spent most of this evening cramming JAWS so that I have at least *some* idea of how to find my way around the work computers without relying heavily on my vision. I've had too many migraines recently, and really I should have learned JAWS months ago. I kept meaning to. I was going to do it this year in preparation for getting a job. The job came along a little bit earlier than I expected - a lot earlier than I expected.

I think I can get around fairly well - which is a bit like saying I've learned the alphabet and can read words like cat and dad, very slowly. I'm sure I'll get the hang of it quickly though. This time last week I didn't know any commands at all. I'm a quick study, that may be my strongest strength.

Tomorrow is going to be a long day, as Dave keeps pointing out because he thinks I should be in bed already. I'll be up at 6.30 to feed Harlem. I don't have to be at work until 10am, so I'll have a bit more time than I'll usually have. On the bus at 8.30am, at work by 9.40 - just in time to throw up (nah, I'm just joking...I hope). Work will finish at 5pm, then back to Doncaster where Dave, Luey, and Ari will pick me up so we can go to the high school for Luey's parent/teacher conferences. We should be home from those a about 8.30pm (seriously, I think it'll be takeaway tomorrow). By then I expect I'll be crashing.

Thursday is Induction Day. Friday will be my first proper day in the office, I guess.

Well, I'd better go to bed and try to get some sleep. See you on the flip side.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Humbled...



The other day I replied to a post on Facebook saying that this job would take our family above the poverty line for the first time in eight years. Of course, I've been celebrating this fact in my head for almost two weeks now, but this morning I feel humbled, actually humiliated by my own mindset. This morning two people on my Facebook stream posted two separated articles about entitlement. These two people don't actually know each other, they are in different circles of my friends, so there was no collusion.

I can't help but think this was a bit of a wake up call to me from the Universe. Poverty is relative. The poverty level in Australia is wealth in the most of the rest of the world. In my Australian poverty I have education, a car, access to the internet, sufficient food on my table (and then some), I have so much in my home in the way of things that I actually feel like I'm drowning and I'm currently in the process of purging some of the excess.

What poverty?

I can't pay for my kids education - but they get an education anyway.

I can't pay for extracurricular activities, but really are they a necessity or a luxury?

I can't travel - except that I went to Iceland 18 months ago...

What poverty?

I feel quite humiliated by my own sense of entitlement. I don't have a 'right' to send my kids to football. I don't have a 'right' to annual holidays away from home. Why do I complain about not having a dishwasher. I mean really WHY? I have access to clean water that won't make my kids sick.

Australia is a rich country. Even the poorest people in our society have access to social security (and I   believe they should, because we can afford to help out our struggling citizens). We do have people living on the streets, but only because too many of us with tertiary education, houses, cars, food on the table, access to the internet, and the luxury of the choice to work because we know we could live with less but we feel entitle to more, choose to decide we can't afford to support these people.

Too many of us really believe we are too poor to personally help people in our society who have less than we do.

I was never poor.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Preparations..



The last few days have all been about preparation. With only 6 days to go until I start work, I need to get ready in a number of ways. Being that this is a full time role, I won't be home most of the day on weekdays. I'll be leaving home around 7-7.30 and getting home around 6.30-7pm. Therefore Dave will be doing everything on his own at home. I really won't want to spend my weekends dragging this house back into order after everything has been left to slide during the week (and believe me it does get left to slide when I'm not around to kick arse).

So, aside from spending more of Tuesday and Wednesday, at Kensington (I'll be there again today) trying to get my head around using JAWS, I've also be decluttering - as I mentioned in an earlier blog post. I've packed up 9 boxes worth of stuff we don't use or enjoy, and I also have two large bags of clothes and scarves that aren't bringing me joy (I tend to only wear them when everything else I have is in the wash). I pared our crockery back to the essentials, and already we're seeing a benefit in that the kitchen benches are not getting filled up with dirty dishes - there simply isn't a great supply to draw from.

Tomorrow I need to list a couple of pieces of furniture for sale. I want them gone pretty quickly, so if they don't get sold within a week, I'll be listing them on a give away site - I know they'll go in minutes on there. Even though a lot of stuff is gone, I still feel like there is a lot of more that can be sorted through and passed on to people who need them more than us. The less stuff we have, the less there is to keep clean and tidy. This means I'll get to relax more on my weekends, which will be essential for my health.

I'm also working on a paper to be submitted for peer review. I wasn't planning on getting this job, so that has put a bit more pressure on the writing process, but I'm determined to see this happen. I want to keep researching and putting my work out there. Once in the blood, I think research is always in the blood. I have a couple of other papers I want to write. They seem to just come to me as I keep reading about my areas of research. Obviously, my POD is that I'm looking at it all from a Flash Fiction perspective. It's really good, actually, because I know I'm writing into a wholly new field of research.

It is all very exciting and I have a lot of organise, but I love a challenge, it keeps my synapses burning   like a fire storm. I was a bit anxious about starting work next week, but being in the building a lot this week and talking to other staff as a peer, rather than a client, and really built my confidence. As well as this, I've been told by many different people that there will be extensive training in all sorts of facets of the job and getting it done - I was offered commiserations for all the training coming my way, today. I have an induction day the day after I start. I just heard today that a friend I made at the pre-employment program actually just got a job there today as well! We might be at the same induction, which would be awesome.

Today I lodged my first receipt with MyDeductions at the ATO site, feels real. Tomorrow I ring Centrelink to let them know I'll be starting work next week. I have a loaner laptop from work to practice JAWS on over the weekend. I'll be getting my own laptop and work phone once I start work. I might also get a BrailleSense. which is an awesome portable refreshable braille display. With that I'll be able to take notes on the go, but also get on the net, and all in braille, so no strain on the eyes.

I need to take the strain off my eyes as much as humanly position now. I have been suffering some terrible migraines in the past couple of weeks. I'm wearing sunglasses almost constantly now. I wish there was some sort of safe numbing agent I could use on my eyes, or that I could just switch them off. The pain is debilitating. I'll have to go see my doctor again.

So, yeah, all kinds of preparations happening here.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

How I loathe you, let me count the ways...

I got up at 7am yesterday. I worked all day, decluttering my house of the equivalent of 9 boxes of STTUFF. I filled out about a bigzillion forms for this job - what's with that, didn't it used to be just the superannuation form?

And yet, here I sit at 3.30am wide awake.

Insomnia how I LOATHE you!


  1. I loathe your persistent intrusion on my sleep and my life.
  2. I loathe that the more I fight you, the more you hang on.
  3. I loathe that you know I have a very long day ahead of me, and you Just. Don't. Care.
  4. I loathe that your contempt for my well-being will most likely result in a migraine by tomorrow afternoon.
  5. I loathe your laughing in the face of my camomile tea.
  6. I loathe your long memory for everything past mistake.
  7. I loathe your insistence on bringing up ridiculous inspirations that you should have mentioned before bed time - you know, like this bloody blog post.
  8. I loathe that you will probably skip away about an hour before I have two get up with a cheery, 'See you later!' rather than a considerate, 'Goodbye!'
These are but a few of the many ways I loathe you, Insomnia. I'd list more, but I see you're dancing away into the oncoming long day ahead. I guess I'll see you later.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

Declutterbug...

Let's talk about decluttering.

I am known to be an avid declutterer. Dave literally lives in fear of me saying the words, 'I'm going to get a skip.' He has learned though, that resistance is futile. Starting at the beginning of last year, I've slowly been decluttering the house. There was a pretty big purge last January which involved going through the cupboards being what I called at the time 'ruthless'. However, in the past few months, I've come to realise I really did hang onto a lot of stuff that we don't ever use.

I adopted the Konmari approach to organising some things - mostly my clothes - and that has stuck. I get a lot of pleasure out of folding clothes, anyway, but doing it Konmari style and being able to easily see and access my clothes is very rewarding for me. I've overhauled my wardrobe in the last year as finances would allow and now 90% of it is monochrome, everything worn outside the house is grey or white now - except one jumper which is red, one cardijacket which is red, and one velour skirt which is a dark maroon. Actually, I do have a couple of tan pants and a mocha skirt, but these would be considered neutral as well. Partly, I've done this because Harlem is white and sheds A LOT. Partly, I do this because I wear colourful scarves on my head, and I'm not a big fan of colour or pattern clash - they overstimulate me and cause me to feel anxious (yes, really).

This last summer, we decluttered some furniture, and it felt great. We had more room in the house, and felt like we could breathe. Now, we have a list of more large pieces of furniture we want to sell or give away. This serves two purposes. The first is simply to simplify the house and give us more space to live and think. The second is that it means less to move when we move next, so moving won't take as much time, which means we'll save some money in the long run.

In this next purge I want to pare back the things we don't use or love. Part of this is going to be paring back the crockery and cutlery, the utensils etc. Things like having two coffee machines, two Sodastream machines. We have far too many plates, cups, glasses and utensils and from this arises massive amounts of dishwashing. We don't have a dishwasher other than Dave. The boys help under sufferance - I realise they should help more around the house, and I'm fully able to put the hard word on them, but I've often not been here and with the new job (I still love saying this), I won't be home for so much of the day. Dave really struggles to push the boys, he finds it mentally and emotionally draining - it is simply easier for him to do it himself.

However, everyone in the house is guilty of just reaching for a clean glass, plate etc. without even considering actually washing one for themselves - which just puts more strain on Dave. So, out they go, we'll keep everything to a set of 6 (yes, there are five of us in the house, but I'm not ready to let go of the fact that Erik *should* be here, too). Plastics will be pared down. Things we don't use such as platters, placemats, excess baking tins will be out of the house one way or another as well.

Once there is a proper wage coming into the house, I'll be turfing all our threadbare (often holey - is that how you spell the word that doesn't have a spiritual connotation?) or dirty looking (even though everything in the linen closet is perfectly clean). I'll be replacing it all with new, good quality, stuff. I really look forward to storing all the bedding in complete sets within their own pillow cases - I'm very sad, I know. Tea towels that don't look a hundred years old? Bloody awesome!

I have plans to get the boys on board by giving them money for each item they purge (that isn't a necessity, or that they really do identify as something not worth the money to get rid of). Luey really doesn't have a lot anyway, he basically only keeps the stuff he really likes. Dave won't be getting paid - poor Dave - but again, he doesn't have a lot. He tends to hoard papers and boxes, and that sort of thing isn't too hard to get him to get rid of with some carefully worded encouragement.

The decluttering is not only of tangible things. My inbox is now completely clear. My phone messages and sms' are on their way to being sorted, with contacts being created for the numbers I don't recognise so I can actually recognise them when they call.

Things that need to go are going to be stored in the garage and then shipped off to be recycled, donated, or sold. Whatever is still sitting there come the June/July holidays (or even earlier if I really get sick of looking at it all) will be going into a skip.

I'm really excited about this - yeah, that won't surprise anyone. I have myself a chart for rewarding myself (though, honestly, this is quite easy for me, I don't need rewards), and to track how much stuff I'm actually getting rid off is helpful so I can see I'm getting through the crap. I'm always interested in the numbers and the progress of projects, so having the chart will be reward in itself. Below you can see the second page of the chart - saving it from .pdf to .jpeg went straight to the second page and I can't be bothered fixing it just to show an example of the chart. So, basically, for every item (which can be every plate or a set of crockery, it's completely up to your), you put a X in a box (or you can colour the box in, if you are so inclined).



The final, and most important, step of this decluttering project will be to not replace all the clutter with new clutter. I've read that this is best done by not bringing stuff into the house before really having a think about whether or not the item serves you. Do you need this item? Do you love this item?

I would probably add, do you think you'll need this item regularly, or do you think you'll love this item next week, next year, etc. Is this item something you'll use once in a while, and that you could borrow from someone for that occasion. I have a whole bunch of wine glasses but we only really use two in this house, we rarely entertain and then we usually entertain people who don't drink alcohol anyway. So, do I need a dozen wine glasses? Reducing clutter should reduce impulse buying. It should reduce the mindset that you have to have something because everyone else has it.

I'll keep you all update on how this project plays out.









Friday, April 14, 2017

The learning never ends (she says stating the obvious)...



It's a bit redundant to point out that we never stop learning. I mean, everyone knows that, right? For me, however, so much of that learning seems to be formal learning of one kind or other. For example, for the past couple of years I've been learning to read braille, and just as I have gotten to the end of all the 'new' stuff - just as the formal part of the lessons conclude and we move onto some fun reinforcement work, I'm confronted with a whole new world of adaptive technology.

In preparation for working, I've just started learning how to navigate the most common screen reading program on the market (some would say the best on the market). It's call JAWS, which stands for 'job access with speech'. Basically, it's a program with an extraordinarily long list of commands to assist people who are blind or have low vision navigate the contents of a computer screen, whether it be in a word document, an excel document, or the internet.

Just for fun, let me show you a list of commands:

Reading Text

CommandDescription
Say Prior Character 
Say Next Character 
Num Pad 5Say Character
Num Pad 5 twice quicklySay Character Phonetically
Insert + Say Prior Word
Insert + Say Next Word
Insert + Num Pad 5Say Word
Insert + Num Pad 5 twice quickly Spell Word
Say Prior Line
Say Next Line
Insert + Say Current Line
Insert +  twice quicklySpell Current Line
Alt + Say Prior Sentence 
Alt + Say Next Sentence 
Alt+Num Pad 5Say Current Sentence
Insert + HomeSay to Cursor
Insert + Page UpSay from Cursor
Insert + Home twice quicklySpell to Cursor
Insert + Page Up twice quicklySpell from Cursor
Insert + Say All
Fast Forward during a Say All
Rewind during a Say All
Insert + 5Say Color
Num Pad 5 three times quicklySay ASCII or Hexadecimal Value
Insert + F, twice quicklySay Font
Ctrl + Insert + Start Skim Reading
Ctrl + Insert + Shift + Skim Reading dialog box
Insert + Windows Key + Display Skim Reading Summary

Voice Rate

CommandDescription
Ctrl + Alt + Page DownDecrease Voice Rate
Ctrl + Alt + Page UpIncrease Voice Rate
Page DownDecrease Voice Rate (when using SayAll)
Page UpIncrease Voice Rate (when using SayAll)

Regions, Headings, and Lists

CommandDescription
RRegions Quick Key 
QMain Content Quick Key 
HHeadings Quick Key 
1-6Headings level 1-6
Insert + F6List of Headings
LList Quick Key 
IList Item Quick Key 

Tables

Moving within tables

CommandDescription
TTable Quick Key 
Ctrl + Alt + Cell to Right
Ctrl + Alt + Cell to Left
Ctrl + Alt + Cell Below
Ctrl + Alt + Cell Above
Ctrl + Alt + HomeFirst Cell
Ctrl + Alt+ENDLast Cell
Ctrl + Alt + Shift + First Cell in Column
Ctrl + Alt + Shift + Last Cell in Column
Ctrl + Alt + Shift + First Cell in Row
Ctrl + Alt + Shift + Last Cell in Row

Table reading

CommandDescription
Ctrl + Alt+Num Pad 5Say Current Cell
Insert + Shift + Read Current Row
Insert + Shift + HomeRead from Start of Row
Insert + Shift + Page UpRead to End of Row
Insert + Shift+Num Pad 5Read Current Column
Insert + Shift + EndRead from Top of Column
Insert + Shift + Page DownRead to Bottom of Column

Forms

CommandDescription
FForm Quick Key
BButton Quick Key
Enter (in a form element)Enter Forms Mode 
TabNavigate to Next form Control 
Shift + TabNavigate to Previous Form Control 
SpacebarSelect and Deselect Checkboxes
Alt + Open Combo Box/Jump Menu 
Ctrl + Shift or Ctrl + SpacebarSelect Multiple List Items
Ctrl\Unselect All But Current
/Select Radio Button 
/ or the First letterSelect Element in Combo Box 
Enter (in forms mode) Submit Form 
+ keyExit Forms Mode
Insert + F5List of Form Elements

Frames

CommandDescription
Ctrl + TabMove from one frame to the next frame within the page.
Ctrl + Shift + TabMove from one frame to the previous frame within the page.
Ins + F9Bring up a list of frames that are present within the page

Other Commands

CommandDescription
Ctrl + FSearch for a word or a phrase
Ins + EscRefresh Screen, i.e. repaints all the currently displayed items on the screen
Ins + F5Reformat documents, i.e. reformats multiple column pages to be more readable with speech.
Insert + F1Help with current element
Ha! Okay, that wasn't really fair, and I'm sure you skimmed over 90%, which is just fine because that's pretty much how I feel, too. It's pretty overwhelming and I've got try to learn this in the next month. Also, JAWS - while it can be used on a Mac environment - is a native Windows platform program. I haven't worked with Windows in about six years and back then I was still using Windows XP, so there will be a bit to catch up on there, too.

To begin with at work, I'm going to have to keep using zoom - Windows zoom is different to Apple zoom, but it'll be quicker to learn than JAWS. I'll have to move onto JAWS pretty quickly though because I'm living with horrendous daily migraines because of the glare and strain of looking at computer screens even when to screen contents is magnified by 16x magnification (that's 192 point font). To most of you that would be extremely pixelated, but to me it's only a little bit blurry, and yet, my eyes get tired very quickly even reading font at that size.

So, I pretty much need to learn how to navigate a computer by Voice Over only. I need to do this on a Windows platform. Finally, I need to learn how to use the Client Management System (or CMS) at work. Luckily, I'm a pretty quick study, and I love a challenge. It would be a lot easier to study all of these things if I had a PC laptop to study on, but as one will be provided through work, it's not very cost effective to buy my own. I'm still thinking about doing it, mind you, only because I'm thinking it might be safest to only use the work one for work, especially with all the sites I browse and the crappy nature of PCs when it comes to warding off viruses (yes, I did just say that, I'm still a committed Mac user at heart).

Leaving uni ≠ no longer studying.





Teenagers and the failing parent...