Monday, March 31, 2008

I'm Amazed!

I've just seen this video...

I'm absolutely gobsmacked. I defy anyone to watch this video and not be amazed, and not believe the intelligence of these magnificent animals. I'm incredulous!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Just been thinking about life and relationships of late. Mostly because of a few conversations I have had recently, things have been ticking over in my head.

There seems to be a perception out there that being in a relationship is the completion of one's journey in life. That's not to say it's seen as the END of one's life, but as the zenith, the pinnacle that all need to achieve to become complete. I constantly hear people say "Only one thing would make my life better... to meet The One." Or "Having someone by my side would make life complete for me."

It's got me thinking. Is that what life is really about? Just being paired up and then it's all groovy? Do people really think that just because they've found a partner, their life will suddenly get all easy and they won't have any times where they struggle, or where things could be better? Does that mean because I am single right now, that I am somehow deficient in some way?

I don't think so. I think there is only one thing that can make my life better. Me. Just like the only thing that can make your life better is YOU. My life isn't completed by having a partner. It's lovely, it's something I do want, but not to complete my life. It's there to compliment my life. Life certainly won't stop having it's "shitola" moments, where it's difficult or confusing or frightening, if I have a partner.

Which brings me to the thought that there are whole swathes of people out there that are either putting their lives on hold until they find a partner, or they're not appreciating the fabbo things about the life they are having as a single person. They're always focused on what they don't have, rather than what actually IS in their lives. I'm guilty of going through those phases too, but I've learnt over the past... well God knows how many years, that focusing on what IS, right here and now is far healthier and more satisfying than constantly lamenting, even in a jocular or wistful way, on any perceived lack in my life.

Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't want a relationship. I do, very much so. I not only think it would be a lovely thing to share my life with someone, but I do believe that I have a LOT to bring to another person as part of a relationship. I want a family. I want romance (I am a hopeless romantic!) I want that intimate companionship. I want sex! Ok, I know, TMI there people huh?

But that said, I don't think those things are going to complete my life in any way. They'll certainly be rather delicious add-ons, but life is still rich and full and amazing without them. And in the areas that it could use some improvement, well that's my responsibility, not anyone else's. Besides, what an awful lot of pressure to put on another person! I certainly wouldn't want to be responsible for the completion, the pinnacle, the zenith of anyone else's life! I want to be a complimentary feature of their lives. An enhancement feature perhaps.

Life is what you make it people. Not what other people bring to it.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Online at Work?

Found this cartoon in The Courier Mail today. It's just perfect for the stuff I'm working on at the moment. Some may call it Web2.0, I personally just consider it how we use the internet today, being content creators and editors as well as content consumers, but I'm getting involved in how we can move into the online world as a Library Service. How we are relevant to our customers that use the internet to communicate, study, socialise, express themselves, research, plan, and generally just compliment their lives. We are exploring as an organisation how we can have a presence in that online world, and how we can use those things as tools to work more efficiently ourselves, not to mention keeping up with our industry.

Now of course, the biggest problem in our organisation is that most of the websites that one would use to explore these things, the most POPULAR websites... are all banned to staff. So no YouTube, no Facebook, no MySpace, no downloading podcasts or vodcasts, no social sites, no multimedia... it's all blocked. This is because there is a perception by those that make the decisions on things that:

a) Staff will waste valuable work time "playing".
b) Staff will "say something" in a public forum that will damage the organisation/leak confidential information.
c) There is no way to "control" intellectual property that is created on work time, which therefore "belongs" to the organisation.

Now the truth is, those staff that are going to waste time playing are already doing it. They're reading the paper all day. Ringing their spouses/families/friends two dozen times a day. Hanging out in the kitchen chatting to anyone who comes into their zone all day. They're fudging their timesheets to show that they've worked more hours than they have. They're chucking sickies when they're not sick. They're rorting the leave system so they get more time off than anyone else. Adding access to the internet stuff that is currently blocked is not going to make more people waste time at work, it's just going to give those that already do it another method to do so. And the answer isn't blocking the internet for all staff, it's management knowing those staff that do waste time, and keeping an eye on them, and ACTING when they observe it happening.

As for staff leaking information or speaking unfavourably about the organisation online? You think they aren't doing that already? You think they're not the same ones who write letters to editors under false names? You think they're not already blogging all their bitching and griping from their home computers? You think they're not bitching and griping in any other method they can find to all and sundry? Sorry, but that's already happening too, and adding full internet access at work is not going to make it any bigger a problem. What's needed there is a clear, decisive code of conduct agreement that covers all media.

And then there is the intellectual property issue. The organisation believes that anything created on work time belongs to the organisation, not the employee. Perhaps it does. But why can't that be shared? I mean this blog belongs to me. My thoughts and writing, if copied by someone else... well, they're a bit boring if they rip my stuff off but what does it hurt if they do? Eventually if anything big comes of it, it will be found out. Same goes for any ideas or work I come up with while I'm on the clock at work. If I present someone else's ideas as my own, it will be found out. And who's to say that the organisation won't actually BENEFIT from sharing ideas and concepts? Who's to say others won't build on those ideas, that they won't put their support and enthusiasm behind them? Who says that we won't get ideas from other organisations or sources that will enhance ours?

I think we need to change our attitudes towards the use of the internet as a work tool, and also change our attitudes towards the use of networking and social sites on work time. We need to understand that networking and socialising are not trivial activities. That for many people, those are the ways that they expand their knowledge and efficiency. And that with some trust and some clear guidelines, creativity can be an amazing thing.

Here's some food for thought for you...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spreading the Hate

In my email recently, I got one of those forwards from a relative, you know the type "Forward this thing so that the whole world knows about it and we can stop the atrocity." I also had someone send me a YouTube clip of a supposed comedian puppeteer, who's character is a suicide bomber, but it's just racism against Muslims. Ok now I know the power of email and the internet, and yes I can understand people forwarding on stuff in the hope that others will speak out against something they feel strongly against.

But do they actually read it, read every line, and think about what they're sending before they hit that forward button?

The one I got was thinly veiled as "save the children" but what it really was, was a hate mail against Muslim people. It referred to Islam as a "backward religion" and inferred that this kind of practice (punishing a child who has stolen something with brutality) is the law amongst all Muslim people.

Now I'm no expert in Islam, but I am somewhat interested in comparitive religion, and do read a LOT, being a librarian and all. So I know, that like any other faith, Islam has it's fundamentalist extremists who hide behind the Koran to commit the atrocities that they do. As does Christianity - look at the nutters that planned to picket Heath Ledger's funeral (and do picket funerals of servicemen and women killed in Iraq etc) because he once played a gay man.

Or those that shoot doctors and nurses working in a family planning clinic for distributing condoms and birth control pills. Now I've read the Bible (being a good Christian girl myself) and nowhere does it say "Thou shalt not kill, except if someone is providing contraceptives, then shoot away folks."

But generally speaking, all of the major religions actually do have the same rules and regulations. Whether they be commandments or whatever, they're all the usual stuff of don't kill, steal, shag someone else's spouse, honour your family, love thy neighbour etc.

But why do so many so-called good Christian people assume that if someone doesn't belong to the same faith as us, that they must be some extremist nutcase out to slaughter anyone who doesn't follow their faith? Or that they're out to convert and control us all into their faith? Now I don't know about you, but I don't feel the need to convert anyone else to Christianity with me.
My real problem actually lies with how people just spread these messages of hate, under the guise of being a good Christian. Doesn't Christianity teach us to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?" So why would you spread ill informed messages of hate around via email?

I think the biggest problem lies in the fact that so many folks actually don't think of people who are different to them as being just that... people. They see the veil, or the colour of the skin, the clothes that are different, the surface stuff and they don't realise that generally speaking, all people, no matter what their race or religion or background, want the same things in life. Ask any everyday person, regardless of their race and religion, what they want from life. You can pretty much safely say the answer will be along the lines of a healthy body, a happy family, a roof over their heads, food in the belly and to be safe to live their lives peacefully. They're not going to say "Oh I'd like to blow up everyone who isn't the same religion as me, that's what I really want."

Yes, there will always be fundamentalist extemists who use religion to gain power, control, wealth or simply because they're insane and can't see that what they're doing actually goes against any true faith. So how about we help do something to prevent THAT, rather than sending around hate campaigns? Or how about we help those that have been victims of such atrocities, which often are people of the same faith as the extremists. How about helping some refugees from Muslim countries? They are usually forced to flee their homes because they don't believe the extremists that are in power.

Or if you really have a problem with people who have a different faith to you, how about leading by example? Live your life as you would wish others to live theirs, regardless of their religion. Behave with dignity and respect. Think about what you are saying when you make that comment about a "towel head" or a comment about another faith. Read that email and think about whether or not it's truth (maybe even do some research online) before you hit the forward button.

Spreading hate of any kind isn't going to make the situation any better. It's just going to perpetuate the problem. Plus it's not good karma!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Does This Bother Anyone Else?

Is anyone else bothered by the whole Wayne Carey saga? For those of you outside of Australia, Wayne Carey is an Australian Rules Football player who has a long history of womanising (he had an affair with a teammate's wife, the same teammate who was supposed to be his best friend), had a history of abuse and infidelity with his wife, and now is in the news for violence towards his current girlfriend, including allegedly glassing her in the face in Florida. He has admitted to a drug problem (cocaine at least) and has been arrested more than once for violent outbursts.

Now the hoo-ha is all over the papers because the major media are paying this cretin money for his "story". One of the major women's magazines here has paid him a huge sum of money, reportedly $180,000, his girlfriend too for their story. His girlfriend has come out and said that he's "not abusive" and that their relationship troubles are "her fault". Sounds like the victim of domestic violence to me, don't you think?

Now Andrew Denton is having him on Enough Rope (Australian interview show) to tell his story too. That REALLY bothers me, because Andrew Denton is known for being a sensitive, thoughtful interviewer, and why he would have this cretin on his show really boggles my brain.

There are massive advertising campaigns in Australia directing both men and women to speak out AGAINST domestic violence, but now major media players are paying a man who is famous for abusing his partners to give his story. How is this giving a positive message to the victims/survivors of domestic violence, when this man is being rewarded for his disgusting behaviour? How is this telling the perpetrators of domestic abuse of any kind that their behaviour is not acceptible?

As the child of a domestic abuse situation, it makes me sick. My father is completely unable to admit the fact that he was abusive towards his wife and children. Because there was always someone to make an excuse for him. If not himself, then someone else around him. Oh he was a Vietnam veteran. He suffered depression. He was an alcoholic. He hated his job. He was unhappy. He came from an abusive family himself. And the list goes on.

But the truth is, so long as anyone makes excuses for these pigs and their behaviour, they're going to continue it, and other men are going to decide it's acceptible for them to behave in this manner too. There are many, many good men out there who have just as many hardships in their lives that DON'T choose to inflict this abuse on their families and partners. And more than anything, we need to appreciate these good men, and they need to speak out against domestic violence as much as they can so that the other scum know that it's not acceptible and that there IS NO EXCUSE.

And we need to speak out with our money and choices too. Don't buy those magazines that pay these cretins for their stories. Don't watch the interviews on television. And when people start to talk about it, say out loud "He's disgusting and there is no excuse for domestic violence, EVER."

Until we do just that, often and loud, these poor excuses for men are going to continue terrorising the people they are supposed to love.

Being a man does not mean showing no emotion but anger. Being a man does not mean expressing yourself with your fists, or your foul words, or by controlling your partner and family emotionally, sexually, financially, socially or physically.

Being a man means showing that you love your family and partner. Being a man means expressing yourself in a respectful manner. Being a man means accepting responsibility for your actions. Being a man means admitting you are wrong sometimes.

If you know someone who is a good man, tell him so. Let's encourage these guys!

For help in Australia with domestic violence, go to:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Reminiscing - Illinois

I've been uploading videos to YouTube tonight. The stuff I took on my trip to the US/Canada. It's got me reminiscing so much!

Here's the first one I've uploaded...

One of the places I miss more than anything is Illinois. Simply because some of the dearest, most beautiful people I've ever had the fortune to come into my life are there. And I'm missing them terribly. Danny and Melissa that I stayed with. Stephanie and her adorable son Bobby. Danny and Melissa's three dogs, Sasha, India and Loca (alias poo-breath butthead - below).

I totally connected with the Illinois crew I spent time with. I felt more at home there than any other place on my trip, and that's really saying something because I felt quite at home at a lot of places. So much that when I was upset... I just wanted to go back to IL. When I got sick at the end of my trip and was having so much trouble organising transport... I wanted to go back to IL. And it's lucky I did because I got REALLY sick and Melissa and Danny just took such good care of me.

I don't miss tacos though. Danny eats almost nothing else. Tacos and other things drowning in chilli. I used to like both tacos and chilli before I spent time in Aurora IL! Danny, is that a Gar fish?

I wish I could just jet over there any time I liked. It was just Bobby's birthday and I would have given anything to have been able to take him to Cold Stone and buy him an ice-cream, and spend some time just goofing off with him. He's such a great kid.

I miss the way Stephanie would make me laugh so hard I would almost pee. I miss her crazy laugh. I miss how cute she is. Melissa too for that matter, they're both two of the most disgustingly cute sisters I've ever met.

I miss Danny and Melissa's dogs SOOOO much! Occasionally I find myself opening my own front door and calling them. I miss the way Sasha would do her little reverse park thing between my feet. I miss how she'd hop up on my lap and eventually I'd find myself sitting in some weird position to accommodate Her Highness (left). I don't miss Loca's breath, but I do miss scratching her butt with my boots, and how she would put her chin on my lap and just look up at me in adoration. I miss how India would just quietly come and sit beside me for a pat. (below)

I miss Melissa's biscuits in egg gravy. I miss Danny's fried cheerios. I miss Panera in Oswego where I could actually find decent coffee in the US, and they have a fantastic mushroom bisque soup served in a bread bowl. I miss Grandma's Table, where the food is simple and wholesome and bloody delicious! I miss Krispy Kreme in Naperville. I miss Culvers, for the butter burgers.

I hope one day they can all come and visit me here in Brisbane too. Because I can't imagine never seeing them again in my life. They mean so much to me!

Oh, and today is not only St Patrick's Day, but it's also my friend Megan's birthday...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Do we "Settle"?

I was just reading another blog about whether or not women "settle" for less than they ask for in a partner as they get older. The blogger posted a rather funny gag, and asked if readers thought that we (we women anyway) settle as we get older. It got me thinking.

I personally don't believe I've changed what I'm looking for in a partner, but then I think I've always had a bit of a different attitude to the whole thing to most of my friends.

I've always thought it a bit strange how many young women create some kind of list of attributes that a potential mate must have. Women that I would not in any way consider shallow, but they seem to create a list that is quite arbitrary. Things like hobbies he must have in common with her. The type of job he must have. How he dresses (I read a newspaper article that said women won't accept a man who dresses in a shirt an tie anymore, they must be more fashionable and casual!) Whether or not he can dance. Things like that.

A little while ago, I had a friend tell me "I'm just looking for a man that's right for me. A tall brunette man (I couldn't date a blonde!) that works in the corporate environment, is able to ballroom dance, loves French films and other arthouse cinema and well, he should be older than me."

This boggled me. I mean, this is an intelligent young woman who I would consider emotionally mature. But she had this kind of identikit man picked out that she would accept as a potential partner for her. And she's not the only one.

Where I think the argument about women settling comes in, is that many women expect this kind of tailor made man to be out there somewhere, but then they never find him. Or they find another wonderful man, and he doesn't fit the identikit, so they reject him. Or they meet a guy who fits that identikit... and he's a jerk. So they're eternally disappointed. Then perhaps they realise that those things they'd listed are actually not that important, and they change what they are looking for. And folks assume that it is settling for less than they wanted before.

Me personally, I think it's realising that there is MORE than what they were looking for. Realising that what is attractive in a man is not his hobbies, or his ability to dance, or his job etc. What is attractive is respect for himself and others, the fact that he has a work ethic (as opposed to a particular job/career), his sense of humour, his intellect, his honesty etc. The other things, the commonalities... well they'll be there but who knows in what sense? My first love and I had only really one thing we had in common by way of hobbies and interests, but in the course of our relationship, we shared so many things and introduced each other to new hobbies and interests, things I still have a passion for many years later.

So I don't think it's a matter of women settling as they get older, but shifting their focus and expectations as they mature. I think perhaps the attitude that women "settle" comes from an archaic attitude that if a woman gets past a certain age, then she's "on the shelf" or an "old maid".

Sadly that attitude is still really prevalent in our society.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

And the Beat Goes On...

Ok so my trip is over. So that doesn't mean I can't keep blogging right? After all, LIFE is a big adventure right?

So... well... don't you hate when you start to blog and nothing comes to you?? Normally you can't shut me up, but sometimes when I sit down to actually write something, nothing comes out. It's kind of frustrating.
Ok, today is the local elections for Brisbane. So we're deciding who we're going to let run Brisbane for the next four years. Do we keep things as they are, a split team (Liberal Lord Mayor/Labor majority councillors)? Do we strengthen it towards one bias (Liberal or Labor)? Do we wipe the lot and start afresh? Do we go with one of the smaller political parties?
It affects me pretty big, because whoever is elected becomes my boss, since I'm an employee of BCC. Whatever way it goes, there are likely to be changes that affect my working life. Hopefully they will all be for the BETTER!
I have to admit, the thing that is most important to me at election time (other than having my say, but I'm very low key about my political choices) is that it's lamington drive time!
For those of you who aren't Aussies, a lamington is an individual sized cake. You take a square of vanilla sponge cake. You dip it in dense chocolate icing, then you roll it in dessicated coconut. EAT. SWOON. They're a little piece of Aussie heaven. Here's a picture of one...

Mmm... chocolatey, cakey goodness.
Thing is, I think the schools have had a stroke of genius by holding fundraisers on election days. Voting is compulsory in Australia right? So we all have to go. And of course, polling booths are always at public schools. So here they are, with a captive audience filing onto the ground for 12 hours, everyone in the area. Why not have some kind of fundraiser since they have to give up their space for a Saturday to allow voting to happen, having all and sundry traipsing through their grounds?
Yeronga State School, which is where I go to vote, always has a lamington drive (for non-Aussies, a drive is a fundraiser), a sausage sizzle (barbecued sausages in a slice of buttered bread with a little tomato or barbecue sauce) with cold drinks (wise on a hot day) for sale and usually a raffle of some sort. The one they had today is an Easter raffle, huge big basket of Easter eggs.
Well, I found something to blog about after all. I'll be back, don't worry!