Being Accosted Never Smelt So Sweet

Where does time go? I’ve turned around and its been a whole month since I last blogged.

In all fairness I have been thinking about blogs to write, flirting with poignant topics relevant to all of us battling a life crisis sandwich. For the uninitiated (and that would be most of you because I just made

picture from vaboomer.com

picture from vaboomer.com

this up), a life crisis sandwich is the meal that comes from that special place where mid-life crisis meets teenage angst. And this past month has been spent dealing with that special place.  I am not sure whether in this house, the adults have regressed or the teens have progressed, but whatever the case we are all dealing with change and questions. I think God must truly have a wicked sense of humour to coincide my offspring’s teenage years when they are questioning the meaning of life and their own existence with the very point at which their parents are doing the same. Two thumbs up there. May we all survive this test to reach what comes after the life crisis sandwich, namely the post apocalyptic fudge brownie.

At this stage, the fudge brownie remains just off into the distance. I can see it, sort of, if I squint long and hard enough and can almost smell it. Only a few more bites of the life crisis sandwich to go. My commiseration to all of you also experiencing the joys of the life crisis sandwich. I hope you now know you are not alone.

This gives you an idea of what I have been up to in the last month and why I haven’t blogged. Also good manners, because I would never blog with my mouth full, even if it’s just a no calorie life crisis sandwich.

All of this is a long-winded way of saying I really wanted my first post back to be poignant, but instead, dear readers, you are going to get this.

Over the past few months I have been accosted in my own home on several occasions. Not only me, but other members of my family have been similarly accosted. Every time it happens we reinforce that we need to be wary, keep our guard up and not let it take us by surprise. And we fail every time.

I see it perched up high on the picture rail or sometimes, just to keep us guessing, sitting on the side board. Watching, waiting, ready to pounce. Light blinking, nozzle pointed, waiting to expel its deadly gas. The minute a body comes into view, nay even before that, the minute the air pressure changes to indicate a moving being, it aims, shoots and scores. A menace to all unsuspecting wanderers, its activities are not confined to nocturnal maneuvers. Night or day, it is on high alert waiting for its next victim. With a pfft and a click you know you have been hit even before the odour reaches you. Its stated aim is to release air freshener, but this is just propaganda. Its real objective is to startle the living daylights out of you, especially at night.

This little device is the SWAT team of odour prevention. There is no shield thick enough, no night vision strong enough to defeat it. You would think it would be a fair fight, six feet of human vs one foot of motion sensor air freshener, but this fight is neither fair nor foul. In fact it takes place in a haze of Lilly of the Valley and with an innocent demeanor. Flying below the radar, it infiltrated my home without my permission, having snuck into the Itallian Stallion’s bag.

Lilly of the valleyBut I’m now onto this trespasser. After being accosted at 3.30am the other night, I have decided to deactivate the little bastard. Indeed, at 3.30am with a stuffy nose and a throbbing head to have a useless invention for the “genteel” accost me on a headache tablet mercy dash is entirely beyond the pale.  Clearly, there is much use for a fine spray of Lilly of the Valley with a head cold (not).

And lest you think my stealth skills are substandard, my strapping sons have also been accosted from on high. Like a swooping magpie protecting its nest in Spring, the air freshener rains on their heads at the first hint of movement. Perhaps this is not a bad thing with teenage boys, but I’d hate to have them invite their friends over only to be sprayed. That would make them feel real welcome.

So the time has come to reclaim my corridors. No more Lilly of the Valley, not more pfft that goes bump in the night. I’m reclaiming my right of peaceful passage without a treaty of surrender.

One last pfft for man, one giant leap for mankind (at least those in this house).

Have you ever been accosted by a device in your own home? Is there any device that you would really like to banish?

air freshener

Deactivated!

Judgement With Your Coffee? One Lump or Two?

Are you fanatical about your flat white, crazy about your cappuccino or desperate for decaf?

Coffee seems to be the drink on everyone’s lips these days. Whether you can’t function until you have had your first cup in the morning or spread your coffee load throughout the day, coffee seems to be the brew that illicits emotion and conversation. Ever wondered what your coffee choice says about you?

The answers from the National Coffee Choice Report, commissioned by DéLonghi may surprise you. The findings, which pertain to Australia, are reported in this article from the Adelaide Advertiser and indeed many other Australian online news outlets. No need to spend your hard-earned dollars to talk to a therapist to reveal your personality type or anyone elses and no need to waste pesky time actually engaging with others, just focus on the drink.

The report reveals that if you are a flat white drinker, you are likely to be considered down to earth, laid back and boring. Order a latte and you’re high maintenance but make sure you hang around with cappuccino drinkers who are considered fun. Alternatively, you can bask in the success of an espresso-lover, but be sure to stay clear of those arrogant macchiato mavens.

All very interesting and somewhat disturbing. Have we really progressed to judging ourselves and others not by their depth, but by the depth of their coffee cups? Has coffee become the new Rolex?

Apparently so, according to the findings in this report, at least in this country, because the Report apparently also found that bankers and accountants admit to showing off by ordering stronger coffee and that people change their coffee order depending on who they are with. So perception really is more important than reality.

Just like in the great Steve Martin coffee ordering scene from LA Story, below.

What would Steve Martin’s coffee order say about the character he played in the movie? Creative, trend setter or just disorganised and confused?

And what about these favorites?

  • Turkish/Italian espresso – spoon contortionist or fashionable leader?
  • Hot chocolate with marshmallow – a push over or a sweet-toothed nurturer?
  • Decaf – a passive aggressive faker or health conscious intellectual?
  • Coffee drunk really hot – a person without taste buds or boot camp lover?
  • Coffee drunk weak – coward or individualistic and head strong?
  • Irish coffee – sneaky or fun-loving?

No doubt there are many others.

Up to this point, I had no idea that I was being judged on my coffee choice.

coffeee cartoonWhat disturbs me is that this is not a fluffy phone poll undertaken by a lifestyle magazine, but a piece of research commissed by a coffee machine maker who will no doubt use this report to make marketing and manufacturing decisions. It indicates that we really do judge others based on the superficial and that we feel compelled to change our personal preferences to play to perceptions.

I think I’ll stick to my choice of cappuccino and lattes. In fact, what does it say that I mix up my coffee preference? There goes Judy, she’s just such a maverick [sigh].

Note to self: as an espresso hater avoid all future meetings with bankers and accountants.

Supplemental note to self: the last meeting I had with a banker he asked for a cup of hot water. As in no coffee. Was he really an alien?

Are you game enough to reveal to us your coffee preference?

Digital Culture: It is All About YOU!

As some of you know, I’m back at Uni doing a Masters in Law, Media and Jounalism. One of my courses this session requires me to run a blog relating to online and mobile media. I therefore unveil my new student blog, Social From The Middle and my very first post. My first post is all about You, so come a long and join in the conversation. Would love to have your comments and feedback.
Warning, this blog is produced from my non-reptillian brain, under no circumstances will it contain any humour whatsover… well maybe just a wee bit, enough for survival. Isn’t that what the reptillian brain is all about?

Social From The Middle

We hear the term “digital culture” everyday. Usually it is used with a negative connotation, describing a counter-revolution to traditional media delivery and consumption and the death of reading and writing as we know it. But what does the expression really mean and what is our place in this so-called “culture”?

Digital CultureLet me start by outlining what it is not. Digital culture is not the same as being digitally cultured. There is no doubt, our children are growing up more exposed to digital devices than ever before and at an ever earlier age. My children were born before the smartphone/tablet revolution, so it always intrigues me when I see toddlers out with their parents at restaurants with smartphone or tablet in hand. They have replaced books and plastic keys as the distraction devices of the new millennium. And from what I have observed, the practice is almost universal. In fact…

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It’s Unofficially Official: Feeling The Love In Australian Politics

Forgive me WordPress for I have sinned, it has been 41 days since my last post. Suitably repentant, I await your pronouncement.

Just popped back to share the political love.

You may remember, we used to have a female Prime Minister. Now we don’t. She didn’t get voted out by the people, no siree, that would be far too democratic. She got voted out by her party only to be replaced by the guy whom she knifed in a similar leadership spill about 3 years ago. The same guy whose senior party colleagues pronounced that his methods of leadership were unworkable and lead to a paralysis in party and Government decision making. Our first female Prime Minister went out in a blaze of orange haired glory amidst an onslaught of blue tie wearing men, cries of misogyny against our male politicians, most notably the leader of the Opposition and visions of knitting yarn and crocheted kangaroos (for the royal baby of course).

All of this because Australia must hold a federal election this year and the governing party got jittery over its serious slide in the polls. So, in a back to the future move, it reinstalled the campaigner and got rid of the governor.

Are you with me so far?

In short, we have been swamped by politics and received little governance. Democracy in this country has taken a hit.

men in blue tiesWithout a wiener or a sexting in site (our politics are simply not that colourful, especially not after all the male politicians starting wearing blue ties) the question on everyone’s lips is when will the new Prime Minister call the election? This is important because it will be held in Spring. In Spring people start to stir from their winter hibernation and they have wedding vows to exchange, holidays to take, gardens to tend and lives to lead.

Being the good organised governor she was, our former female Prime Minister set the date for 14 September 2013. In an unprecedented move she set this date in February so that the ever dutiful populace could clear their diaries. The new guy wants to keep us guessing.

So we are having an election, we just don’t know when and the Opposition can smell blood in the water.

It’s unofficially official, we are NOT in election campaign mode.

Except no-one told my local candidates, who have suddenly woken from their slumber after two decades of hibernation. I’m feeling so much love, I can’t tell you.

Let me digress with a little background. Australia is divided into 150 electorates. For the purposes of determining which party governs, we each get to vote for our own local member who sits in the lower house. Whichever party has the majority in the lower house governs. Unlike the United States we do not vote directly for our Prime Minister, unless he or she happens to be our local member and is the leader of the party who wins. I live in a safe party seat. The details of which party has reigned supreme doesn’t matter, suffice to say that to lose the seat would have required a swing of between 8-13%, a huge margin in Australian politics. So no attention for us, after all the prize has always remained in the bag. The prize for us being a bald-headed, former high profile rock star local member who only turned up to attend school annual prize giving ceremonies.

Now, however, there’s a real contest here because the popularity of the Government at the hands of our female Prime Minister has suffered greatly. And that’s not because she’s female, rather because of

Do you think they know it's a battle of the polls, not a battle of the poles?

Do you think they know it’s a battle of the polls, not a battle of the poles?

her inability to connect. And suddenly, our Opposition candidate has popped up in the electorate with a physical and media presence. A couple of weeks ago he was standing on a median strip in the middle of a six lane road during morning peak hour waving cheesily to passing motorists. He wasn’t standing at a traffic light, so couldn’t talk to anyone, but just stood there waving. What he was hoping to achieve other than a death wish was anyone’s guess.

Posters have popped up everywhere bearing his image, trucks are driving around on the weekends bearing yet more posters and love letters are coming in the mail.

Better yet, his office is phoning asking us what we think are the three most important issues facing Australia today and asking who will we vote for. A personal call, with a real voice, caring about what we think. Such love, and we have only just begun, well not really, because it’s not official yet.

Ever had one of those friends who only come around when they want something? Especially one in a blue tie? Yeah, me too.

Sort of officially unofficial friendship if you ask me.

Have you ever felt the love from a politician? Do long political campaigns hold your interest? What do you think of blue ties?

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday Soapbox: Angry Men – There Should Be An App For That

Angry Birds

Angry Birds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have all heard of the angry middle aged men stereotype. Hollywood has even recognised the concept with a movie, which spawned a sequel.

To be honest, I haven’t paid much attention to it up to this point. Sure, I have come across the odd old curmudgeon in the past, but that was usually in the professional space and usually they were really old, I mean, like seventy-five or something to my then twenty-five or thirty. I figured by that age you earned the right to be a little bit cranky having honed the ability to spot a fool and respond accordingly. I hadn’t thought until now what a younger version of an old curmudgeon might look like and how these curmudgeonly skills are actually acquired. Clearly, by the time you have earned the right to get away with being angry you have been through middle age anger training school and have obtained a Bachelor of Bullshit Spotting in the University of Life. And I’m OK with that.

Lately though, my life has been full of angry middle aged men, both on and off the professional field. Pure coincidence, some Godly test or this because of my own middle aged station in life?

Let me be clear about the type of anger I am talking about. It’s not an overt type of anger, there is no name calling, physical violence, smashing of china, just a seething resentment and mounting frustration. Guys, let me tell you it is apparent to most of the world. It’s in your tone, your general attitude and your demeanor no matter how well you think you have it hidden. And what’s more and this is the biggy, it is usually directed at those who have NOTHING to do with the source of your anger. Or maybe the connection is that these men are angry at the world and we fellow Homo sapiens, being part of the world, are entitled to see the consequences in all its glory.

Typically, men tend to think they can handle their mental and physical health issues on their own. And its great that you have the whole macho thing going on, but spare a thought for those of us who have to come within your orbit.

Which is why someone needs to invent an App for Angry Men, similar to the concept of Angry Birds. I am reliably informed by Geek In Training that Angry Birds is based on a bunch of birds going after the pigs Anger quotethat stole their eggs. Do these fine feathered creatures sit around seething in frustration and resentment, snapping at each other. No! They catapult themselves into the air and go after those piggy thieves, crash tackling their way through structures and generally dissipating a whole lot of negative energy, even if they don’t get their eggs back.

The App would feature an angry man character having lost his cheese. He would be catapulted into the air by a non-angry female to take the long journey to find his cheese, flying over a convertible, his grown children, younger men in their primes and a bevy of buxom beauties. When he finally finds his cheese, he will have to smash through a few structures to get to it, but the more arduous the journey, the healthier and riper his cheese will be.

In all seriousness, there is no shame in taking a little time out in middle age in working the issues through. It is a period where many men, and women for that matter, feel a loss of control. The fact is a lot of things at this stage of life, inevitably change and if you try and resist, then someone will definitely move your cheese whilst you are busy pouring all of your energy into that resistance. Rail against the world if you must, but channel that energy into something benign, like a punching bag. A true punching bag in no way resembles a human being. We are more curvy and generally more witty.

I hope all my friends in the blogosphere are doing well and enjoying the various seasons, summer for you Northerners and winter for us Southerners. I have been reading your posts and ruminating, but just had to get this one off my chest.

Angry men to the left of me, frustrated men to the right… stuck in the middle with you.

 

Today I Give Myself Permission to be Xenial #atozchallenge

Letter X Since well before the start of the Challenge, I knew this letter was always going to be …challenging, especial after the gauntlet was thrown down.

A couple of weeks ago I had the good fortune of having lunch with a friend who also blogs. She has chosen the dark side for her blogging platform, but I won’t hold that against her. We got to talking about the Challenge and she threw it down, right there in the middle of the bistro where we had decided to dine. The gauntlet. She bet me that I couldn’t come up with a real X word to write about noting that words like eXcited or eXternal were ruled out. My friend blogs at Annals from a Citrus Grove In the Suburbs, and has chosen Australian icons for her Challenge theme. Today she blogged about XXXX Beer (pronounced fourex beer) and I can’t help thinking that the gauntlet has found its way to the right place. Anyway, I tend to have a thing for picking up gauntlets and I just couldn’t let this one go.

That’s the back story to why I’m being xenial today. Like all good hosts and in keeping with the theme for today’s post I wish to make you comfortable and to feel welcome. So here’s a cup of coffee for you to enjoy and an ottomon or three for you to put your feet up.

coffee ottomons

Let me show you the fun welcome mats I found during my research for this post.

welcome mat - messy house Welcome mat - knock knock welcome - wipe your paws welcome - beware of the wife welcome - don't expect much welcome - grandma Welcome mat - awesome pants welcome - underwear welcome - social interaction

My house is certainly ecstatic judging by these standards and isn’t it always nice to peg expectations up front?

I think my favorite though is knock, knock because it’s such a classic and classically simple and I’m totally bummed that I didn’t think of it first.

But getting back to being xenial, I have spent the weekend getting the spare room ready to host a friend from interstate next week for a couple of nights. We will be going to a much awaited concert on Friday night and shooting the breeze and just spending time together.

And as a final tidbit, I will leave you with this little gem that you always wanted to know, but just wasn’t aware of until now  – the Hotel Xenial can be found in Biratnagar, Nepal and has been rated as the best choice in Biratnager by Tripadvisor. If you’re in the area, drop by, if only to take a photo of the name.

Time to go and fluff up the welcome mat.

Today I give myself permission to be Xenial.

 

I Give Myself Permission To …Reveal My #atozchallenge Theme

If you’re around my vintage, you might remember the television show Welcome Back Kotter.

The show which ran from 1975 through to 1979 brought many memorable characters to our screens and provided more than a few laughs. As a moon struck teenager I used to eagerly wait for the weekly time slot so that I could feast my eyes on one Vincent (Vinnie) Barbarino played by a youthful John Travolta. Apart from his machismo, who could forget Vinnie’s classic retort:

Up Your Nose With A Rubber Hose?

cast-of-welcome-back-kotter-5Vinnie was one of the students in Mr Kotter’s class (played by Gabe Kaplan) and he and his fellow class mates, Arnold Horshack (Ron Palillo), Freddie “Boom-Boom” Washington (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs) and Juan Epstein (Robert Hegyes) kept us entertained with great one liners, bravado and compassion. One of the great “non-characters” in the show was Epstein’s mother. Epstein’s mother, who we never saw on air, was a prolific permission note writer. In many an episode, Epstein (the guy in the denim vest in the photo) would miraculously produce a cleverly worded permission/excuse note from his dear old mother when placed in the hot seat. So close were the pair, that when Mr Kotter would read the note aloud, Epstein would mouth the words verbatim. Epstein’s mother certainly sounded like a formidable woman!

The concept of Epstein’s mother and the class permission note has stuck with me over the years. Self-permission has become particularly relevant to me in recent years as I take the journey through midlife. It’s the time for taking stock, for shedding the old skin and charting a solid course to the future. In short, it’s time to say it’s OK and to find the reasons why those dreams can and should be pursued instead of focusing on why they can’t.

Everyone’s midlife journey is different and whilst mine has not been without its challenges, it has, in the main, been a positive time. The potential for happiness is huge, the uncertainty is becoming less and less and the future looks full of promise. I’ve determined to fly rather than crumble as I focus on all the doors that are beginning to open rather than on those that may be closing.

Over the next few weeks of the Challenge, I will be blogging a 26 point permission slip. 26 permissions that we tend to deny ourselves in our lives caring for others and wish I had given myself earlier. I’ve come to the point where I have acknowledged that I am just as worthy as those I care for and deserve to give myself a break.

permission granted

Midlife has its perks. Google “midlife” and you’ll be met with a raft of articles about the midlife crisis or about the Middle Ages. Regrettably, there are very few positive messages about middle age and I’m aiming to change that. Some of my permissions will be funny, others deep. Hopefully you will find more than a few that resonate.

So, in the wonderful tradition of Epstein’s mother I give myself permission to create and commune in April.

Please join me for the A to Z Blogging Challenge Journey.

midlife prayer

Have An Uneasy Relationship With Your Photo ID? This May Give You Hope

It was not so long ago that photos displaying a bad hair day or an acne breakout could be safely locked away in the privacy of a bottom drawer.

Some of you might remember the luxury of being able to pick and choose which photo of your person would escape for public consumption. Remember sitting around with friends looking through photo albums that had passed through the family’s Censorship Department? Apart from your passport photo for which you were always suitably attired and somewhat somber, there were generally no photos circulating out there for which you had not primped and prepared. And all of this before the days of Photoshop.

Let’s roll the film forward (pun intended) to the present day in which photo ID cards abound. Apart from having a photo album on tap via a smart phone, most people walk around with a photo album of bureaucratic memories in their wallets. An absolute highlight reel of bureaucratic encounters and of putting your best worst face forward.

Rowan Atkinson funny ID photo

Some of my personal chart topping looks are:

  • Drawn, Haggard And Sunburned at the Motor Registry
  • You’re Kidding, A Photo, Really? at my local social club
  • You’re a Security Guy Taking This In A Dimly Lit Dungeon Using a Two Bit Camera at my work place
  • Gonna Have To Live With This Legacy For As Long as I Work Here also at my work place

Now, I don’t know about you, but the question of whether I’m going to have a photo taken on any given day is not on my daily morning checklist. It is enough to race out of the house in the morning with two matching shoes. I can’t tell you how many times I have confused navy with black in the early morning light. As a business woman, I know I’m not meant to talk about this. We are after all high-powered, multitasking infallible Amazons! But, a straw poll of some of my fellow working friends reveals that this is more common than the polished, together, high-powered female business fraternity have you believe.

So, I have never worried about how I look in ID photos. Then again, I have never had to date in the world of ID photos. Perhaps it’s different when a potential would-be beau is looking through your wallet and stumbles upon Drawn, Haggard and Sunburned at the Motor Registry. Better he sees the real you, I think. Less room for morning after the night before surprises.

I am now wondering what happens to the mountains of ID photos once they are taken. As I’m writing this, I have visions of faceless bureaucrats scouring through mountains of photo ID’s looking for hot dates, perhaps even plotting the creation of a ranking system like in the beginning of the Facebook movie.

It is impossible to believe there will ever come a time when we can offer up our own selfies to bureaucracy.

However, I’m pleased to report that a photo ID miracle occurred this week. Having stumbled into a situation where I needed to create a new photo ID, I headed off to the gallows photo centre to get shot. The lighting wasn’t great (is it ever?) and the camera operator was not a professional. Nevertheless, after a little congenial conversation around how this was my third attempt at navigating bureaucracy to obtain the ID and a couple of clicks I had my photo. Expecting the worst, I took the card, eyes going straight to the mug shot. And then the angels sang! The photo was passable, even more than half way decent. It even looks like a happy and excited me. Actually, it’s probably more likely relief that I had finally been succesful in my quest to secure this ID.

So this has restored my faith in the amateur model, amateur photgrapher shoot and produce process. I now have a new chart topping look – Happy, Excited And Ready For Anything.

And I have learned that it is possible to ace the photo ID and carry around a bureaucratic legacy which you can proudly show anyone, even a would-be beau!

Do you get anxious about having your photo taken? Given the opportunity, do you prepare your appearance for a photo ID shot?

Stop Using The “CC” As A Weapon

Email, you gotta hate love it.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

My introduction to email occurred about two decades ago when it opened up the possibility of real time communication with the whole world through an innocuous click. It also made serious inroads into my mastery of the fine art of workplace corridor loitering, you know the loitering you do as a junior whatever to wait for that perfect moment to jump into an office to experience some face time with a senior.

Some might say it is now outdated technology, that communication is all about flow and interaction. Email has a tendency to be fragmented and usually less gratifying. Some might also say that the advent of platforms such as Skype and Facebook chat have usurped the need for email. However, it seems that email is here to stay, at least in business.

I’m sure most of us have some humorous workplace email stories to tell. I’m also sure most of us have misunderstood or have been misunderstood through email and have had the experience where a lot of time and angst could have been avoided if we had just picked up this somewhat underutilised device, called the telephone.

For example, at my last workplace there was a row of desks and partitioning separating the offices which were located along  each wall of a long corridor. Sort of like the Berlin Wall, but the offices belonged to people from the same country department. Despite it being a five minute walk around the Wall (there were no gun or passport controls in evidence) and despite telephones being standard issue, my colleague would send me a slew of emails to deal with a simple matter that could have been resolved in a two minute conversation. Clearly this dude was not going to brave the Wall. Maybe he was too concerned about being thought of as a rebel dissident.

As I move through middle age, I spend a fair bit of time thinking about human interaction, relationships, motivation, influence and connectivity. I’m a fairly late study to these matters and so I approach all of them with the enthusiasm that only “mature age students” can muster.

I am particularly interested how humans use the “CC” field in email and how over time it has taken on a life of its own.

emailetiquette-cc2

Here are couple of observations:

Using CC as a means of CYA

If you have ever played the ancient art of  “telephone-tag” you will know that the  convenience of an email is unsurpassed. You can get your point of view across quickly to a LOT of people at a time of your convenience.

This possibility has led to a rise in what is also an ancient art, the CYA. The CYA, or Cover Your Arse involves copying an  email (through the use of the CC field  – CC, standing for “circulate copy” or “carbon copy”) to twenty other people, the last eighteen of whom are at least five steps removed from the actual subject matter, and couldn’t give a toss about such minutiae. But, rather than back him or herself, the author has purposely set up an “out” if things go pear-shaped “But you knew, you had a copy of the email!”. Here’s a tip: knowing and receiving an email are vastly different things, especially if you have a high traffic in-box. I truly wonder how much these CC’s readers understand the whole matter, even if they do take time to read the email, given they would only have one side of the discussion in real time. Stop with the CC’s already!!

tearing hear out

 

Using CC as an escalation device – the ultimate weapon

I will admit to this being my pet peeve as I detest passive aggression in any form.

This is an example of highly strategic use of the CC. It involves CCing*  senior managers who are perceived as important. Rather than build relationships with the recipient, the author sees fit to CC* the recipient’s senior managers to make sure they know about what is usually a request of the recipient. This way, the senior manager can ensure that his or her underling is performing the required task.

Is this really necessary? Where are you going to escalate to, when escalation truly becomes necessary – if it in fact does? I’m sure that the Lord’s inbox is a lot fuller than yours and that he has other priorities.

How these people must bask in the light of CC afterglow. The cries of “Ha, I showed you and I didn’t even appear to be as spiteful as I really am” echoing through the cyberworld.

I’m not going to touch upon the BCC (being “blind circulate copy”) field in this post, which takes passive aggression to a whole other level.

In summary, the use of the CC field for anything other than what it was designed for is fraught. The agenda of the author is often clearly obvious from his or her use of the field. It is time folks, that we all stopped using the CC as a weapon and actually used it for the purposes of positive communication. Spare a thought not only for the primary recipient of the email as to how your CC will be perceived but also to all your poor CC recipients, who will either get RSI from hitting the delete key or have to spend hours filing your butt covering tracks away. Time better spent having a non-written conversation with a living, breathing human.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of some CC aggression? Do you have a humorous email use story you wish to share?

* I apologise to all the grammar purists out there for using CC as a verb, but this reflects usual parlance and I treat my blog as a conversation not a literary vehicle

Mother and Son Relationship Punctuation Point #126: Fashion A La Mode

Is there anything more special than a mother/son or a father/ daughter bond? The Almighty has surely blessed me because I have experienced both. One as an offspring, the other as a parent.

As most of you know, I am the proud mother of two sons. It’s an amazing experience to be the centre of a child’s world, even knowing that the centre of that world is only leased to you for a short period of time. As a parent, knowing when to edge more towards the circumference of that world is the key to surviving your offspring’s adolescence.

Every mother/son relationship is filled with punctuation points. Those milestones that signify sometimes subtle, sometimes sledgehammer-like changes in the relationship. The points at which there is no returning to what was. I admit I look forward to these punctuation points because, at least in experience, they have generally been positive or have led to something positive. They are also confirmation that as a parent, one is doing one’s job.

Punctuation point #126 is one of these milestones. It’s the point at which a son develops a taste for fashion and a mother’s role as stylist comes to an end. This point is not necessarily marked by a sudden desire in your son to accessorize or colour co-ordinate or emulate a GQ magazine cover, but rather it means that it’s time to leave little boys clothes behind and become the master of one’s own fashion destiny.

David Beckham

In my experience, point #126 is reached somewhere when your son is between the ages of 12 and 15. Of course, there is always the odd would-be David Beckham prodigy who has the metrosexual thing happening at the age of 8, but they grow up to be Justin Bieber and well, let’s not go there shall we?

The thing is, you never really know the relationship has reached point #126 until you have passed it. You will blissfully be buying packets of 15 assorted colour jockeys as you have done many times in the past because your son needs them only to have them shoved at the back of the drawer with him continuing to wear the worn out underwear with the skull motiff that Aunt Clarice gave him as a Christmas present 3 years ago. The jockeys no longer work because point #126 has unknowingly been reached and because he’s your son and you are his mother, he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. He doesn’t know how to break the news to you.

boys underwearRemember how simple life was when your son was 6 years old and you could go out with utter confidence and buy your child’s outfit? How he loathed shoe and clothes shopping and it was all you could do to get him to the mall to try on a pair of shoes. Remember how you used to go out of your way to never buy your son outfits with “skull stuff” on them? Seriously, when my kids were under ten it was an impossible task to find a piece of clothing without a skull or other gruesome Halloween creature on it. Why clothing manufacturers, why? Why do you want a 6 year old to channel their inner Hulk?

Somehow we got through the horror clothing era, testosterone intact and without either of my boys having dewingined any butterflies or ripped anyone’s arms off to arrive at point #126.

Yes folks, we are now at point #126 with my youngest. And true to form, I only know this because we just passed it with an incident involving socks, a T-shirt and a pencil case.

Him: “Just get me a plain blue pencil case, Mum”

Me: ” I thought your older brother’s advice was to stick the one pen you use for school in your pocket”

Him: “Yeah, that didn’t work. I’ve actually got four pens and a calculator”

Me: “Better that then three weddings and a funeral!”

Him: “Huh? Anyway, just don’t get me anything fancy, Mum. I don’t want any stars, skulls [!!!!! – my emphasis] or anything”

So, as part of the MO code and my service to mothers of adolescents everywhere, here are some of the signs that your son is approaching point #126:

  • he starts wanting to shower everyday
  • he starts taking a major interest in deodorant
  • he spends copious time in front of the mirror
  • he wears the same two T-shirts all week, because he now doesn’t like the rest in his drawer
  • he doesn’t have the usual hangdog expression when he receives clothing as a gift
  • he realises that blue and green are not the same after all
  • he knows the difference between coral and pink

clothes colour chart

He can’t quite articulate what type of clothing he likes until sometime after point #126 is reached. The fashion vocabulary and conceptualizing have not yet fully developed. It takes a mother’s keen power of observation, intuition, planning, mastery and all of your five senses to keep ahead of the fashion game during the transition period which ends when your feldging fashion plate is confident enough to fully develop his own sense of style.

One final word of advice, when your mother/son relationship arrives at point #126, it marks the stage at which mothers have to learn to SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!! Trust me, voicing your opinion at his choice of grey school socks with white sneakers teamed with camouflage coloured pair of shorts only leads to bad juju. There can be no winners in that contest.

Congratulations, you have now made the move from wardrobe stylist to wardrobe consultant. May the Zoolander be with you!

Have you had the same experience with point #126?Is there a similar point with daughters? What is the most outlandish outfit your child has chosen to wear?