Saturday, 31 January 2015

A Sunday Morning Mish Mash.

I have no cohesive topic for a blog post, so it's a miscellany this morning...

From the department of WTF: Melbourne weather. Seriously. 20 Degrees and rainy? NO WAY. This sucks. Though Syd I see has had its share of rain.

I have some serious skirt wearing plans, Melbs, so buck up, princess.

From the department of Painful First World Issues: Since coming off the pill, I have a number of less pleasant side effects.

My hair is falling out a bit more than usual. This, according to Google University, is common and usually temporary. I have not seen the hairdresser in a while, thinking "what is the point?" but now I am a bit more "treat yo self". I might even change up the 'do a bit. Maybe some blonde streaks? Who knows.

I have had my perioral dermatitis and oily skin/acne return with a vengeance. I went and saw the dermatologist. Unfortunately, the singularly effective treatment, tretinoin, is absolutely out of the question at the moment. Hence I am on some special cream to my chin, and a particular skin care regimen. I have to avoid oily products at all costs. There are days when I need to cover my skin a bit, and I am now on the hunt for some good cosmetics that won't inflame anything. I have been doing some research - perhaps some Clinique or Jane Iredale? Hmmm.

The dermatologist also sent me for some extractions of clogged pores, which was very painful and I felt traumatised. I am on the hunt for some good products.

From the PhD and Work House of Pain: I now have 3 chapters of the PhD in the can. I am now impatiently awaiting consultation with a statistician to show me the way forward with the number crunching. I have my completion seminar, where I present all my results to the boffins in the department, on the 19th of March. I hope to get the beast written by June/July. While I am at it, I am putting more participants through my study, and working lots of sessions. This next 4 or so months will be frenetic and I am stressing about it a bit. But un giorno per tempo... (or one day at a time).

From the department of Vacations and Leisure: The frenetic pace which I must keep has exacerbated some post holiday blues. We all know that the best way to tackle post-holiday blues is to plan another big holiday, amirite? Well, for the first half of the year, there will be none. Hence I will need to maximise active de-compression on the weekends. Binge-watching Orange is the New Black. I am reading a book called "The Girl on the Train", which I recommend. I have binge-read two Liane Moriarty books.

I went and saw "Wild" yesterday. That Reese Witherspoon deserves an Oscar for it.

The Jean Paul Gaultier Exhibition is finishing next weekend, hence we are off there.

I have a week of leave in April, which will be used to whup the PhD writing into shape.

I have changed my Boston conference to a Barcelona conference. Barcelona in June will be lovely. My fella will be on another Euro conference then so we can meet up. Mixing business with pleasure.

I am planning a proper holiday in August. It will be needed then.

From the department of Health, Wellbeing and Fertility: The very last thing I feel like doing when I get home is doing exercise. I just want to curl up in bed. I know the routine. I also drag my carcass out to exercise activities because I always feel better for it, and it is a social thing too. So I am keeping it up. 

My fella and I are going to see a dietitian who does couples visits. Our bodies being temples and all...

My back feels marvellous after some pilates sessions. Yin and Yang, I say.

And I am waiting patiently for the body to do it's thing. It is getting there. I am trying not to get too stressed out about things, as I am doing all I can to optimise things, and that is all I can do.

From the department of Canine: The dog is delightful and regardless of whatever stress we are under, she always makes us smile. God bless the woofy.

Over to you
What beauty products do you use for problematic skin? Any exfoliation tips?
What are your weekend delights?

Monday, 19 January 2015

Good and bad in the Post-Facebook Era.

So those readers o mine who are my friends on crackbook might have noticed that I have gone AWOL.

It all came about when I read an article on FebFast. Traditionally FebFast was about giving up alcohol for a month (!). Now they have gotten canny and you can detox from anything - sugar, junk food and social media.

It got me wondering about my use of it. I am on it multiple times per day. First thing in the morning and before sleep. It's so accessible. Going to the webpage was just something I did, like a twitch. Type F into the browser and autocomplete takes you straight to the page. Often the first thing I did when I felt stressed or overwhelmed (which is often during thesis-writing) was press F on the browser. Often without any particular thought process.

I am self-aware enough to know that I am a bit given to impulsive behaviours (these things being partly genetically determined and governed by dopamine), especially when stressed. And, to tell the truth, I probably was/am addicted to Facebook. Partly as an escape, a procrastination method, or from FOMO.

I decided quickly (impulsively?) that the best thing to do would be to go cold turkey. When pushing the F button become so automatic, a slow wean would not do.

I have heard psychiatrists say that, when they counsel addicts, they often ask them the good things about their addiction. Here are mine:

  • Keeping in touch with people.
 There are my beautiful internet friends (you readers) who I don't often get to see, who I miss. But hey, there is blogland? And liking a status or sending a quick message/wall post - well, it just doesn't take that much effort, does it. And all those who matter most have my mobile number or email address, or blog address, or can even drop round to mine for a cuppa. And you know what? I don't miss the people who can't.

I have cousins who are on facebook. I only know them as they are now from facebook, and I wouldn't know how to contact them outside of that. And, as harsh as that sounds, I am ok with that.
  • Stalking people from my high school
Seeing who got married, who had kids, who got fat. I am more entertained than I care to admit by the romantic escapades of a now divorced mother of four who has met a new fella and is living it up (good on HER). However, most of  the kids with whom I attended high school were arseholes, and judging my an ill-advised attendance at a high school reunion in 2011, they still are! My high school friends are still my friends.

  • Some genuinely funny/heartwarming/happy status updates, and lovely photos. I miss them. But I can deal with that, because I can see most of those people IRL (in real life).
  • Sometimes I just want to share my thoughts, however, it is not actually essential that I share them!

  • Videos like this
Dogs, cats and Pharell's Happy. Some of my favourite things. This is the best thing ever. 

And the things I am relishing now:

  • More time!
Oh my god I have more time! I can write my thesis for good chunks, without too much distraction! That is wonderful and empowering! I get to work earlier!

And I have time to blog! 

  • Less overload/overwhelm
We are all at risk of being overwhelmed by things, things that might get our attention and might even get us worked up, but that don't really matter. The idiots sledging Muslims/gays/overweight/single mums and the poorly worded arguments that came after. The poor spelling. The detoxes and fat cures in the side bar (and in my feed). Passive aggressive status updates.

  • Less of a need to vet myself.
I sometimes had to think long and hard before I put up a status update. Sometimes I took it down. It made me a bit self-conscious. I think self-monitoring is generally a good thing, but, again, my friends know who I am, and I don't need to vet myself as much in front of them.

Et tu?
Pros and cons of FB?  What do you like and not like?

Monday, 12 January 2015

On baby planning and brain overheating.

2 posts in 2 days. That is a lot, for me.

I went to a posh baby shower on the weekend, in a super posh suburb.
It was full of rich educated women. Strictly speaking I am one of them. I looked like most of them (nicely dressed, groomed, accessorised, sporting precious stones etc).
Underneath it all, I am a bogan from wezza. The privilege sticks out to me, and I feel different. I am fine with that.
It makes for interesting people watching, being the bogan posing as a rich white woman.

Dainty quantities of posh food were taken. Some sipped a glass of champagne (only one thankyou) and some wanted soda water. No sugary drinks. Private schools and renovations to houses in posh suburbs were discussed.

It was very different to a non-posh baby shower.

The presence of "all things baby" is ubiquitous as oxygen and food. It's everywhere. It can cloud my consciousness.

The process of "trying for baby", try as I might to be patient and not worry about it too much, takes up a lot of my consciousness too.

For the latter half of every cycle, I am second-guessing every glass of vino I have. Wondering whether that carb craving or those sore boosies are related to a pregnancy or a non-pregnancy (pms). That takes up a lot of brain space.

Making two parallel sets of plans for the year. Trying to be ok with both of them. Alternatively trying not to look past the first six months of the year, and PhD completion. Trying to be ok with some uncertainty regarding my work that might occur after that. Trying to tell myself that things will work out for the best.

My brain is a bit overheated at the moment.

How do you  guys deal with uncertainty? Anyone care to share?

NZ Holiday. Things I like about NZ.

Howdy ladybugs!

I have just come back from NZ. I really wish I were still on holiday. We had a delightful time.

We started out in Christchurch, where my Fella's family live, for his special "zero" birthday. We headed up to Hanmer Springs, an alpine spa town, much like Daylesford in Victoria. We spent NYE there (the town pub was going off like a frog in a sock). We then headed up to Picton, the gateway to the Marlborough sounds. We spent 5 nights there, doing a hike, a kayak, a wine tour and a trip to Blenheim. We saw birds, seals, the hills, the sea, sunshine. We ate, drank, talked, laughed and generally reconnected.

It was great for the soul.

NYE. Scallops, Pork belly and Tamarind - OH MY.

Off from Picton, Into the Sounds we go!

If you look'll see the seal posse!
oooh, look!
And these little birdies are called Oyster Catchers

A hard earned thirst was watered here, after the walk

You know the Savvy B? This is where it comes from!

The savvy b went down very well with this.

Some things I love about NZ
  • The food. No really. They make good food, especially in Christchurch. Not so much in Picton. 
  • The coffee. Most places. A flattie comes with two shots as a norm. 
  • The vino.
  • The People. Very friendly, very chilled.
  • The public toilets. They are always clean, and they are never without toilet paper or hand soap.
  • Tui Beer. Yes. Tui is to NZ like VB is to Victoria - a bit of a bogan beer. But it is a beer I like. And I don't like much beer.
  • Whittaker's chocolate.
  • Fush and Chups. Particularly in Kaikoura. Check out Tiki Takeaways if you are passing through. Best Fush and Chups ever.
  • The rivers. You can see right to the bottom, they are so clear. 
  • The difference between mince pies and steak pies, and that they are both meat pies!

 Am now back at work and acutely feeling the post-holiday blues. Today, Monday has come with a few "thwacks" from left field. It gives me good practice to keep my focus on completing the PhD, rather than sweating the "thwacks". It's also practice in having faith that things will work out as they are meant to.

Next trip will likely be to Boston. For the conferences.
There is a bit going on between then and now, so hard to focus on that. Un giorno per tempo, I was told.

I am really enjoying being home with the woofer, though. No matter what thwacks the day has bought, she always makes me smile.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Free's fraught, and probably not actually free.

Howdy partners, and a happy new year!
Fear not, I will have some pics from the hols in NZ up as soon as I get them downloaded in my camera (my fella was the official event photographer).

I mainly do posts about something that I have been thinking about a lot, or something that I have had to get my head around. They might come off as a bit navel-gazing, particularly in comparison to some of the other blogs around, but it takes all types, 'eh?

There has certainly been a lot to think about in the news recently. Big events like the Sydney Siege and the Paris shootings give me pause for thought.

Most recently, I have been thinking about the nature of free speech. This is because there have been a few things in the news that have raised this as an issue. There was the horrendous massacre of civilians at a satirical newspaper. Perhaps less prominent is the call to ban anti-vaccine advocate Sheri Tenpenny from speaking in Australia.

Now I will say from the outset that I abhor violence and lawlessness as seen in Paris, and I am staunchly pro vaccination.

I have seen the upsurge in support for the writers of the French publication, we are all Charlie etc. Their right to free speech has been vigorously defended throughout the world. In almost the same breath, there has been a push to deny Sheri Tenpenny a platform in Australia. Her camp have been claiming that they are being denied free speech. Technically, they are right. This dissonance had made me bit uncomfortable. Freedom of speech is not absolute, but relative.

It is one thing to provide an honest and balanced report, for example, the goings on of a corrupt government. This is clearly in the interests of the community, and will increase the odds that the baddies will be brought to justice. Free Peter Greste!

Is it actually in the interests of the community to gravely insult somebody's religion? I really can't see how any good can come of that. In fact, such a thing would be banned in Australia (section 18C of the Racial discrimination act). In Australia, we don't actually have the right to be bigots, despite what George Brandis says. Cartoons depicting insulting images of women, homosexuals, the obese or any other minority group would have been met with shrill calls for their removal, and rightly so.

The cartoons were absolutely not justification for brutal murder. But those cartoons will reasonably offend a section of the population. This occurs in the setting of increasing division within many European Societies - a rise in both ultra-nationalist groups, and conversely in extremist religious groups. It is easy to see how things might deteriorate. And then the media responds by cranking things up a notch, in the spirit of "not bowing down to terrorists". And so it goes.

I take Fr. Rod's point of view on this issue. As Einstein said, a problem cannot be solved with the same consciousness that created it. To tackle this form of extremism, I would be interested in talking with a prominent moderate member of the faith. Tolerance and understanding will in the long term go a much longer way than escalation of anger and hatred.

With the right to free speech comes responsibility. We must remember who we might offend, and what the reasonably foreseeable consequences of that might be. It's not about bowing down, it's about being a good citizen. The consequence of Sherri Tenpenny being allowed to talk in Australia is that some poor kid might not get vaccinated and die of a preventable disease. In this case her right to free speech is outweighed by the need for public health.

Anyway thankyou for reading this far. It's good to get that off my chest.

What has been vexing you? Rant away, or link to a news article.