Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Seriously, just get out of the way!

Traveling on public transport with a guide dog can be a serious pain in the rear end. It's not the dog, but the inconsiderate dirt bags on the trains and buses.

Before I start my full rant, may I just say, there are kind and considerate, and aware people on public transport and obviously this post is not about them. It's about the ignorami.

Three things really boil my blood.

The people who fail to acknowledge they're sitting in a seat specifically reserved for people with disabilities, people who are pregnant and people who are old. I get on a train (this mainly happens on trains), and there will be idiots who not only ignore you while you stand there looking for a place to sit, but will pretend not to hear you when you ask them to let you sit down. Many hide behind their earplugs and phones even when Harlem all but has his nose in their crotch - seriously, you can't see the large, white lab right in front of you? If you are in one of these seats, look up when you get to a stop, just check to see if someone is getting on who is entitled to your seat, then move your arse and let them sit down.

Next we have the people who crowd in the small space between the wheel hubs on buses even though there are plenty of seats to choose from. These people refuse to budge even though they know you're right there trying to get past them with your dog. They may plaster themselves up against the wheel hub, but there is never enough space to get past them without having to walk in front of the dog, which is just not safe. Yesterday, this one young adult wouldn't budge from his standing spot, even though there were five or six available seats. I asked him three times to take a seat, explaining I couldn't get through, but he just stared at me as though I was speaking gibberish. In the end I commanded him to 'Sit!' and which point he scurried past me. I hate having to raise my voice. It galls me that bus drivers never step in and back me up. The space between the wheel hubs is NOT a place to stand when there are seats available. I should NOT have to walk ahead of my dog where I can trip and fall. Move your arse!

The third bunch of people - and they are almost always a bunch - are the people who feel they have to rush onto the bus before everyone has alighted. Why they have to do this is beyond me. Is there a pot of gold on the bus I don't know about? Is it Black Friday every day when it comes to buses? On more than one occasion I've made people back up off the bus again. Squeezing past people just as you are stepping off a bus is, again, dangerous is you are blind. This particularly true when drivers don't have the commonsense to lower the bus for a person who more than likely doesn't have depth perception.

Why are these things so hard to understand?

Why do bus drivers not say a thing?

What is wrong with peoples' brains these days?

Do the right thing, or I'll give you what for because I'm sick of being ignored.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Tradie fashion...

I'm routinely on the train around 6.30 in the a.m. and this provides me with insight to some of the peoples going into the city at that time of the day.

It's a pretty busy time for tradies. A lot of them sleep between Box Hill and Richmond. All these grown men and sometimes - but not very often - women curled up against rattling windows. I don't know how they do it, it would give me a headache, but I suppose when you work hard outside all day long, you need all the sleep you can get.

Flouro clothing is obviously worn for safety. The characteristic orange and chartreuse are instantly recognisable (though, inexplicably, the general public seem to have started wearing them - or the numbers of tradies have swollen in the past couple of years).

Here's the thing, though. It used to be just shirts and jackets, now it's caps, beanies, socks, backpacks, drink bottles, and even boots. I mean, a little strip of sock above a boot isn't a necessity, is it? When did tradies start wearing backpacks while working?

Maybe all these extras are encouraged? I have to wonder though if I'm witnessing a trend, a fashion, in tradie wear? The concept of fashion and tradies tickles me. I imagine tradies swanning the catwalk, and checking out tradie fashion magasines.

'Hey, have you seen those new flouro nail guns?'

'Nah mate, where'd you see those?'

'Tony brought one to the site last Tuesday, you should check it out, it's great!'

'Yeah? Well, you know me, I can never get enough fluoro!'

'Yeah, I know, right?'

Maybe I'm being tradie-ist? Does anyone have any insight? Any tradies reading this?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

It's all about the voice...

Someone put a post up about a synesthetic painter who paints music. She sees music as colour.

I relate to this. I see music as colour and motion. For me it's all about the voice. I will listen to just about any kind of music if the voice works. This morning I was listening to one of my playlists and listening to the voices. I always focus right in on the voice when listening to music. I'm quite happy to listen to Acapella. Some songs even sound much better to me without the music - like most Queen songs. The best version of a Queen song I ever heard was stripped right back to Freddie's voice. He has a great voice which is often lost is the crappy accompanying music.

Of course, my favourite voice is George Michael's. If you listen to just his voice in a song, you will hear that he hits every note right on. There is no breath in his voice, and it is very, very smooth, no sign of crackling in the background. I was comparing his voice to that of Michael Buble this morning and Buble's voice has this ever so slight crackle right at the edge of it. Like a sharp edge, not the curved a beveled edge.

Because of this, George's voice didn't age much as he got old - like old blue eyes, his voice maintained it's smoothness. His registered lower a little, but he didn't develop the huskiness of a voice which was strained early. Boy George on the other to used to have a much smoother voice than he has now. I recently saw him live (on TV), and could have cried over how he has ruined his voice.

While female voice are lovely as well (the obvious recent examples being Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, for me), there is something about a male voice than 'looks' better to me. Bono's voice is quite nice. Phil Collins is good too, though a bit weak. Rob Thomas has a nice voice - deep and relatively smooth. Prince can definitely hold a note and writes great music, but his voice is two dimensional. The only time it become somewhat tubular is when he hits those very high notes, but then it flattens right out again.

For me, nothing compares to George and I grieve that I'll never be able to hear how it would have developed as he got older. It has beatiful colour and amazing shape and movement.

Friday, February 09, 2018

I'm not going to get that paper in...

The deadline for the paper I was going to submit, the one I spent hundreds of dollars going to Adelaide to present just so I'd be eligible to submit it - yeah, that one - I woke up this morning (at 3.50am) and realised I'm not going to get it done. I haven't started on it and there are two and bit weeks left until it's due. The thing that bothers me about this is that I'm not bothered about it. Does this mean I'm letting go of the research thing? Another thing I'm not bothered about is my book. I should be more interested in how it's going, I know the publishers are promoting it, but I have absolutely no idea what's happening with it. I haven't done any work on the next book either.

What does this mean?

Did I just waste 23 years of my life striving to write, to research, to be published to just have my passion for it fade away? Maybe I burned out? Maybe not completely, I'm still writing this blog.

At work at the moment my focus has shifted to advocacy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander vision issues. This, I don't know, area of work, area of research, area of advocacy, it's bigger than I ever expected. For one thing I went to a state eye health committee meeting with a dozen or so health and government officials yesterday - more of whom I expected I knew - and yesterday morning while researching some of the organisations and departments that would be represented, I discovered there will be a conference on relevant topics in March. I have been personally invited to attend the conference by one of the organisers, ha! This promises to be an enlightening time. I would like to see an ATSI liaison position created for Vision Australia. That position would have to be for applicants identifying as ATSI.

Some consultation with a couple of members of the committee raised the issue that our pamphlet for ATSI customers may be off-putting to ATSI people connecting with VA due to the colour scheme. This is the sort of thing we need to be aware of.

I have a meeting with my general manager and the communications director next week in relation to my attendance at this meeting yesterday (they didn't know I was going because I'd been in conversation with the chair of the committee - by coincidence - and had been personally invited to attend by him), I'll mention the pamphlet then. The manager of strategic partnership (and something something), usually goes apparently, and yesterday the general manager was scheduled to go. As it turned out neither of those people was able to make it, so luckily, I was there - timing and location, people.

So, yeah, the research and writing seems to have faded into the background 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Throwing money at it...

I heard this yesterday regarding competition between two organisations. These organisations compete for the same funding source and one already has more funding and is yet very aggressive in their approach to get even more funding still.

This is a very hot climate, a lot of competition and a very small market. The more affluent competitor has a strong brand and people know exactly what they do from their name. Both organisations are somewhat of a money pit, more money goes in than is realised in returns, so to keep their heads above water they need to convince the same market to fund them first.

Setting aside the fact that two very similar organisations in one small market would do best to amalgamate, and just going with the status quo, there is no benefit in complaining.

If you have two stallholders in one market place, each selling blue glass but one stall being able to spend more money on their stall looking fab and glossy and professional, it would be easy for the less spectacular stallholders to pout and throw their hands up and bemoan the fact that only a very small number of people collect blue glass items and they mostly go to the glossy stall first...

Should the stall which can afford a great banner, and helium balloons, and fancy stands for their displays of blue glass just tone it down a bit to give the other stall a chance?

Well, that would not be smart business, the business wouldn't be able to grow as well, the stall holders wouldn't be able to expand their business to offer their customers even better glass or a greater variety of objects. The customers would miss out both ways. While the second stall would grow a little bit, and the customers would be more evenly split between the two stalls, this might mean it would be the same old, same old glass. More stallholders would come along and the customers would be split again.

Whining doesn't get anyone anywhere, it is terrible business. Joining the stalls into one big stall would be ideal. In lieu of that, the smaller stallholder needs to think smarter.

So, if they can't afford a big ol' blingy stall, what can they work on? Maybe offering a more personalised product? Building reputation and creating repeat customers. Working just that little bit harder to spread the word about their products and creating more interest to grow the market stall and create loyalty with the new interested shoppers. There are many ways to think smarter.

Business is business and the bigger stall can't be expected to hold back because it 'isn't fair'. They want to be able to offer their customers the best products, for the benefit of the customers, and growing their business ensures that. It isn't about who has the most money to throw around. It's about who can offer more and better to their customer base and by better I don't mean bigger, I mean better in meeting the needs of the customer.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Three at high school...

Having started high school, Bryn seems to be thriving - it's been a week, but I'll take what I can get. He has a group of friends who came over with him from the primary school, so that has eased the transition considerably. On his first day, it was me who woke up before dawn and couldn't get back to sleep. He was cool as a carrot as they would say in Denmark - okay, maybe not that particular phrase but the Danes seem to be quite obsessed with root vegetables if a recent Facebook meme is to be believe.

So, the cool carrot came home on his third day, flopped onto the couch and declared high school to be a lot harder than primary school! Was it the work? No. Was it the social experiences? No! It was the distance between classes...

'Oh my god, mum! None of the classes are in the same room, and in fact they're usually in different wings of the school. I'm constantly running from one class to another!'

I didn't tell him that would pass - the running. That in about three months, at the beginning of term two he'd realise no-one bothers with the running, they just turn up late... This is why there is a lock out rule. This why if you're more than ten minutes late you get locked out of class. No one runs. I'm not about to tell him that. That's a lecture for another time.

I can hardly believe I have three kids at high school. Of course, with any luck - and luck may be needed - Erik will graduate at the end of this year. Yesterday, he got his graduation pin. Both Dave and I said that might be a little premature... Hopefully, he'll finally find the motivation to turn up to classes and hand in assignments, it will have only taken six years if that happens.

But for this year I have three at high school.

I have very mixed feelings about Bryn starting high school. This can be a very difficult time for kids, and high school can be a bear pit for some. Bryn is a sensitive kid who tends towards pessimism, so I hope he develops a great group of friends who are supportive of each other. Even then there are no guarantees...

Luey is part of a great group of friends, they're always very accepting and supportive of one another, and if for some reason there is a falling out, they always seem to work things out quickly and there is no such thing as ganging up on each other.

Even still, there was a terribly situation on Monday. One of the group went into the girls toilets to find another one of the friends in there with cut wrists. Adolescence is hard and some kids have a lot to deal with. This situation wasn't caused by any tension in the group but nonetheless it impacts them. The girl who found the friend is Luey's girlfriend and on that particular day they'd had an argument and weren't talking to each other. Luey's girlfriend went to Luey to debrief and because of the tension between them, and Luey not knowing what had just happened, he basically told her to piss off. Of course, afterwards he felt terrible.

Adolescence is tough and it is important to have good friends. I'm so thankful Luey has good friends, and I hope Bryn finds good ones as well.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

That familiar knot...

I'm sitting here with that familiar knot of anxiety all bound up just above my diaphragm. I haven't felt this way in a long, long time, maybe in a whole year. I think this feeling last left me when I withdrew from the PhD about a year ago. At that point I'd been living with it for about two years.

I had almost forgotten what this felt like, and then it started to creep back in a few days ago. The question here is why?

I think the answer is money. We have plenty of it, so that is not the problem. The problem is that I set myself a goal of saving money this year. I was going to do it by not spending money and in the past couple of weeks I've gone on a bit of spending bender. Old addictions die hard. With this situation comes the fear. The fear that I will sabotage my savings goal and the fear that I can't overcome this addiction to the purchase. I have found myself looking for reasons to buy stuff.

I got my hair permed and along with that came the purchase of a range of maintenance products. Luey, Bryn, and Ari went back to school and with that came the need to buy materials and sundry items. I can always justify buying something, but really it is the anticipation of having stuff arrive in the mail or even just the thought of 'new stuff'.

The buying binge has resulted in a fear of undoing all my good minimising work. And so one thing rolls over into another thing.

Additionally, regarding my plans to save, there have been not budgeted for costs. I thought I'd have the boys' school fees paid off by the end of January, but then more costs were loaded onto the bill and things I thought I'd paid off turned out to be still outstanding. I ended up $1700 behind the eight ball. I won't have the excess paid off until the end of February - by which time I had planned to have $2600 in savings. This is causing anxiety.

The anxiety is causing stress eating, which is causing weight gain, which is causing stress, which is causing stress eating - you get the picture.

At this point I need to let go of the plans I had and adjust to the new reality. Letting go isn't easy for me, it never has been.

I need to take a few breaths and let go of the expectation I had set on myself for January and February. The fact is, I won't be saving money until March. This month I will be paying off the school bills and reigning in my spending again. I will be focusing on making better eating choices again. I will reward myself with some more minimising because that always gives me relief and pleasure. I will be less demanding of myself. Just take it easy. It's really a process of 'not doing', 'not spending', not eating foods I know cause emotional fluctuations, but replacing those foods with foods I enjoy that also keep my blood sugars stable.

Most of all, I will focus on breathing, regularly and deeply. Breathing consciously.

Good Job!