Musings From 30,000 Feet

A short and sweet totally random curtain raising post today apropos of nothing.

Having spent a fair bit of time on planes lately, I wonder whether having concluded a job interview for an air cabin crew position, the interviewer points the candidate to the nearest exit. Or maybe the real test is to see if the candidate remembers how many rows between him or her and the exit.

photo from flikr, april-mo’s photostream

The things that go through one’s mind at 30,000 feet!

Actually the best flight I ever had was one from Cairns to Sydney. All the cabin crew were male and I certainly have no complaints about that. But what topped it was then the captain’s voice came over the microphone and introduced herself as “Jane”!! Certainly not  common in this country.

Has this ever happened on a flight that you have taken?

Come fly with me, come fly, lets fly away…


Saturday Soapbox: Taking Responsibility And Owning It

Here I am feeling all mellow and inspired from my road trip only to read about this piece of litigation lunacy.

Briefly, a Victorian student (let’s call her R) is suing her former high school in Geelong for failing to provide adequate academic support to enable her to gain entry into a prestigious law school in Sydney. In addition, R’s mother is suing the school for compensation for rent and loss of income from her fortune cookie business as a result of relocating to Sydney. R claims that she never felt adequately supported academically whilst at the school to enable her to REALLY excel. R was allegedly criticised for using words that were too long in her essays which lead to R losing confidence in her essay writing abilities. This loss reportedly caused R to become “quite distressed” when her English marks began to fall.

Created by Theodore Eadman
Law School Memes

Entry into this particular law school requires a student to effectively rank in the top 0.3% of all students in the State. Places are highly sought after and the university has produced some of Australia’s greatest jurists. However, it is by no means the only law school in Sydney and certainly not the only law school in the State.

With the greatest of respect to R, she is in denial, and no… it is not that river in Egypt.  I know what R must be thinking, this must be someone’s fault, right? There has to be someone to blame, someone has to pay because R’s life plan didn’t work out to the letter?

Somehow, somewhere along the way, we as individuals seem to have lost the art of owning the consequences of our actions. The notion that we are the masters of our own destiny seems to have been usurped by a notion that our destiny is controlled by those persons and institutions with whom we have had contact, particularly those with potentially deep pockets. These persons and institutions have somehow adopted a greater responsibility to us than we have for ourselves.

I have long been concerned about the current trend to constantly reward our children for just being. When my sons were in primary school they received merit awards for “being entertaining members of the class” and “for faultless class attendance”. Whilst they also received merit awards for good behaviour and academic achievement, I found these aforementioned “token” merits disturbing. To me there was nothing meritorious about them – they served no real purpose other than to enforce a sense of entitlement. Positive enforcement is one thing, but rewards should be reserved for achievement over and above the norm (including a person’s individual norm).

There are no guarantees in life and no guarantees to entry into law school or indeed, university. Entry is handed out on academic merit and students should not feel entitled to a place. It takes hard work, persistence and sometimes a detour or two before you get to where you want to go.  And sometimes, there is just no logical reason why a person makes it or doesn’t make it. Call it bad luck, bad timing or whatever….sometimes crap happens. Crap does not necessarily justify a legal remedy.

The case continues in August.

In the meantime, I leave you with these relevant fortune cookie sayings:

The world may be your oyster but it doesn’t mean you’ll get its pearl

Skill comes from diligence

Do not mistake temptation for opportunity

None of the secrets of success will work unless you do

And remember, dear readers ….this blog has a protective coating.

Have there been any court cases that have left you scratching your head?

The Getting of Wisdom Road Trip

Confucius said:

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is the noblest; Second, by imitation, which is the easiest; and Third, by experience, which is bitterest.

Confucius was a smart guy. He obviously thought about stuff. Far be it for me to improve on Confucius, but I think that the third method of learning should not be the bitterest, but the bittersweetest (assuming that’s a word). To me learning always has an element of sweetness even if the lesson is forced upon you, because you have come away with something. The process may be unpleasant, the result not so much.

I am going on a road trip, something that I love. Living in a big city, there are not many occasions where I just get to drive on the open road, listening to music and savouring my inner dialogue. It’s one of my ways to get perspective, experience the new and possibly unexpected and see some of this great country. Here’s to the getting of wisdom through door number 1.

On this trip, I will be travelling to Queensland…..beautiful one day, perfect the next…. to visit a friend. I feel doubly lucky with this one, because at the end of the trip there will be more getting of wisdom though some much needed girlfriend therapy – open doors number 2 and 3!

Everyone needs to do something daily that feeds their soul. It can be something as simple as taking 20 minutes to get out of the artifice of air-conditioning, looking at flowers, breathing deeply, whatever…. I never used to make time to do that, thinking I was always too busy or that the feeding had to come through some grand, complex experience.

Now, it’s the single most important thing I do daily. My family relies on me to be there for them. I am the root, they are the tree. If the root is not healthy and fed, neither is the tree. It is my responsibility to ensure I get fed, other people can feed me, but they do not have an obligation to … they can be unreliable, even with the best of intentions and love in the world. A well fed, healthy root system gives back abundantly – more fruit, more shade, and more structure.

Love this – thanks

I’m leaving the males in my family behind as the guardians of the castle and can only hope that they don’t run out of paper and cordial. What’s that saying again about absence and heart fondness…?

The curtain raising bus is hitting the highway and is looking forward to coming back with some road trip widsom.

Happy mother’s day to all of the mum’s out there!!

Sockcam: Calling All Venture Capitalists

Living in a house full of males makes laundry days very dull affairs. A serious yawnfest and study in homogeneity.

On laundry days, I peer into my laundry basket and all I see is a sea of black and gray. Mind you, I am eternally grateful for that sea because it actually means that by some extraordinary miracle, the laundry of my children has made its way into the room where laundering takes place. I am assuming for the minute that the laundry didn’t crawl there by itself, although anyone who has teenagers would know that is a real possibility, especially when the laundry has aged waiting for the bus to arrive.

Back to the sea. For some unknown mystery male reason, the males in my house only ever wear black or grey underclothes. Colourless socks and undies, all uniform, all designed to drive the laundry lady, aka me, spare. Washing I can cope with, but when it comes folding and matching those little suckers, I’m definitely thinking life is too short. If some person of the male species reading this could enlighten me as to why colours and gasp…a pattern or two are a no-go zone in the male underworld, then I would be forever grateful.


Guys, you need to have pity on those of us who do your laundry!

As if the lack of colour does not increase the degree of laundering difficulty enough, when it comes to matching and folding clean socks I always have less than I started off with. It’s almost as if these individual socks have had enough of toeing (get it?…toeing) the shoe line and wait for the minute they can escape to I know not where. Presumably, there is a single sock bar somewhere just waiting for escaped socks or they go and sign up for e-sock harmony or go out to fight at sock club waiting to heel (get it?… heel) or something.

This mystery requires in-depth research and hence my proposed invention…..


That’s right, a mini waterproof camera that could be fitted on top of the toe of a sock to track its every adventure sending images back to basecamp. We could witness the spying of the escape route, the brush with natural predators up the pipe and the foraging for a mate and finally acceptance in the sock’s natural habitat so that it can ditch its footloose (surly you knew that was coming) status. The footage so exciting that  it would be turned into a three episode mini series with David Attenborough commentating.

This has got real legs, a sure winner.

All I need is come capital. Any takers? Any suckers sockers out there? Be a part of this ground-breaking research, amaze your friends at parties and help revolutionise laundry day around the globe.

In the meantime whilst I wait for my venture capitalists to appear, I’ll continue running my co-op for disenfranchised socks and hope that I can integrate these single socks back into their drawer societies in the not too distant future.


Soapbox Saturday: Disabled Parking

Sir Peter Alexander Ustinov once said:

“Comedy is simply a funny way of being serious”

As you know I’m a big fan of comedy and humour. In fact both are essential to my life and that’s why I like to write posts that make people laugh. Occasionally, I like to get a little serious and today is a day for a little seriousness.

On 3 May, 2012, Harper Faulkner posted the following scenario under the heading Ethical?  on his blog All Write:

So, as I’m walking to the entrance of my building this morning, I notice a man I know a bit more than casually parking in a handicapped spot. His license plate has the required handicapped logo and, additionally, he has a handicapped sign hanging from his rearview mirror. He’s legal. I meet him on my journey into work and being the kind (not nosey) person I am, I enquire about his health. His health is fine. So, I remark on his handicapped status expecting to here of an unseen ailment that restricts his walking.  “Oh, that,” he responds. “That’s my wife’s car.”  He explains her disability and indeed, she does have problems. We ride up in the elevator and he remarks, “I always like driving her car, because I can park so much closer.” I exit and he travels one more floor.”

Harper received approximately 60 comments on his post and thankfully the overwhelming majority of respondents were of the view that this was unethical. I was one of them.

I wanted to expand my response, hence this post.

Australia has a national disabled parking scheme. Permits are provided to those with a Clinically Recognisable Disability which includes paraplegia, quadripligia, cerebral palsy, neuromuscular conditions and blindness. In addition to this scheme, each State operates a mobility parking scheme which requires medical certification and applies to a person:

    • Who is unable to walk due to the permanent or temporary loss of use of one or both legs or other permanent medical or physical condition; or
    • Whose physical condition is detrimentally affected as a result of walking 100 metres; or
    • Who requires the use of crutches, a walking frame, callipers, scooter, wheelchair or other similar mobility aid; or
    • Who is legally blind.

In both cases the permit is used to the person not the vehicle and is only valid for use whilst the person with the disability is using or a passenger in the vehicle. Whilst this is a proper and correct rule to have, in reality it is very hard to police. Furthermore, the issue of permits in my State is terribly lax and the scheme is systematically abused. These are the facts which generally lead to people with disabilities having to take matters into their own hands – with mixed success.

From a moral standpoint and taking the scenario posed in Harper’s post, I cannot understand how a person feels they have a right to park in a spot reserved for a person with a disability simply because they have a disability permit in the family. On what basis can this ever be correct? To treat disability as a convenience is in my view reprehensible. There is nothing about a disability that is convenient. One cannot take the perceived “benefits” of disability without experiencing the burden. Roll a mile on a set of wheels and experience all of the other complications, societal ignorance and double standards that come with that sort of life and then see if you have the energy and the expenses to go out and steal parking spots. Vicariously experiancing these things through a spouse is not the same.

This may be a small issue to some, a minor transgression if you will but to me it’s more symptomatic of a general disrespect to people with a disability and a lack of emotional accessibility, which I wrote about in my E post for the April Challenge. And this, from a man who should understand and respect disability a little more than most given his wife’s situation. This is why some people with a disability view able bodied members of the human race (of which I am one) as the enemy. Let’s keep on digging that great divide, shall we?

To you sir I say ride the bureaucratic windfall if you must, but one day the parking spot someone steals will be your wife’s. Karma has a way of finding you.

May The Fourth Be With You: Memories Are Made of This

Happy Star Wars Day!

This is not a Sith joke……. but the day to rattle your light sabre, don your human hair ear muffs, have dinner with your favourite droids under multiple moons and practice your Wookie.

As most of you know, I am not a big science fiction fan. However, the original Star Wars movie, now called Star Wars: Episode IV  – A New Hope is one of those movies that holds a special place in my memory. It really was a ground breaking movie for its time when it was released in 1977, both in terms of special effects and in terms of introducing relatively new actors to the scene in Harrison Ford, Carrie Fischer and Mark Hamill.

It is special because my late father loved science fiction. He could never convince my mother to go with him to such a film and so it fell upon me to accompany him. Star Wars (all original three episodes, being IV, V and VI) was our little father/daughter adventure,  an experience we shared – just him and I. We would talk about each movie for weeks beforehand and plan the time we would see it. Dad would make each excursion special by buying a bucket of popcorn so big that it could accommodate Darth Vader’s mask.

Dad used to marvel at the special effects, which given the advance in technology since, are now laughable.  Remember sensoround sound? Dad could never resist telling all and sundry about the magnificence of the scene where Luke is piloting his X-wing fighter down the narrow alleys of the Death Star chased by Darth Vader and his wingmen. My father was a natural story teller and he had a great knack of making something seem relevant even when it was not. Want to talk about the price of fuel? Clearly, Luke’s flight through the Death Star is relevant.

I will also always remember that Dad and I first saw Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back in Tokyo, Japan. We were on a holiday and couldn’t resist the temptation to go see the movie upon its release. I imagine we were the only two people in the theatre who did not require the Japanese subtitles.

This day therefore holds some poignancy for me and I have since shared the three movies with my sons.

There is one more reason why Star Wars is memorable and why I saw it four times at the cinema. Remember that those were the days before videos and DVDs. For you my blog readers, I will reveal a never before told secret. Yes, it’s true…I had a MAJOR crush on Mark Hamill, his Luke Skywalker character and James Earl Jones’ voice.  Oh yes, oh my… “Luuuuuuke”.

Do you have any particular Star Wars memories?

Ryan Seacrest Is Now On The Carpet… For The ABC Blogging Award

A sense of humour is a beautiful thing. A sense of humour with a touch of irony is not only a beautiful thing but a match made in heaven. Give me a sense of humour, with a touch of irony sautéed in creative word play butter and I’m in orbit.

So having just landed back to earth and having waited for Ryan Seacrest to get his crispy clean tux back from the dry-cleaners after that OTHER award show, I am now in a position to pay the ABC Blogging Award forward. Some time back in April, Wendy from Finally…Wendy Wonders presented me with the ABC Blogging Award for Awesome Blogging Content. Not only did Wendy present me with the award, but she did so whilst I was partway through the A to Z Blogging Challenge and with a requirement that I have to make an alphabetical list of 26 things about myself (still laughing at that one) – that’s a home run into orbit, right there!!

Here is the award:

which I think is so much better dressed than these:

You’ll excuse me if I dispense with the alphabetical list of things about me with the paint on my Z post only having just dried. If you really want an alphabetical look into me, please read my Challenge posts.

So I have consulted with the PWC auditors, who have kept the results of the awards secret until now and they have handed me the envelope. The results have been audited and verified and well…let’s try and forget all about Enron, shall we?

I have come across some great bloggers in my short time here. You have made me think, made me laugh, made me nod my head and marvel at your talent. Whilst it is hard to choose only 5 blogs to receive the award, I hope you will agree with me the following 5 are mighty fine.

And the award goes to:

Fretym by Life With The Top Down – a fabulously fun blog involving wisdom, humour and a convertible that never fails to satisfy.

Of Glass and Paper by Sisyphus47 – a blog about writing, imagination and the soul written by a scholar and a gentleman who makes you think.

Wordsmatter by Tammy Davis – a well written family orientated blog that covers a diverse range of topics.

The Sound of One Hand Typing by John Holton – a really interesting blog by the fact king, once again covering a great diversity of topics with some baseball thrown in.

Grown and Flown: Empty Nest Parenting by Grown and Flown – a wonderfully wise and often times witty blog about life in the empty nest.

Please swing past and read these great blogs and maybe even leave a comment or two.

Congratulations to you guys and now a reminder that with glory comes responsibility. Compose a list of 26 things about you alphabet style and then pass on the award to five blogs which you consider are worthy of the title Awesome Blog Content.

May the fourth (which is tomorrow   – in my world anyway) be with you!

1 is for The First Day Of The 1 to 100 Day Blog Challenge

photo from flikr -
leo reynolds'

Ok, so here it is day one after the conclusion of the A to Z Challenge, wondering what I’m going to do with myself now that the structured impetus for daily blog posts is over. Wandering the wilderness of the Internet, looking for avenues to appease my blogging bug. Folks, I have now got it bad.

The 1 to 100 Day Blog Challenge means a blog a day for the next 100 days based on numbers. After that, I am moving to symbols and next colours (and we all know how good I am at those) …the Challenge possibilities are endless. All you have to do is stick with me for the next 100 days.

Day one: the number one, what a wonderful sleek-looking number it is. A powerful number and a common denominator for all. Let’s marvel at the number 1:

photo from flikr -
leo reynolds' photostream

I can hear the collective groan now, 100 days?

yep, 100 straight days of curtain raising posts

wisdom roast followed by a sinfully rich dessert of self deprecating humour

chicken soup for the blogging soul

88 is looking real good, excited about 25 too. 45 though, I think is going to be trouble – too many jagged edges.

I am kidding……there is no 1 to 100 Day Challenge!!

However, I do want to say a big thanks to those who joined my A to Z blogging Challenge party – no matter how briefly. If it were not for your readership, enthusiasm and support it would have been much harder going than it was.  Whatever challenges we may face (whether by choice or by circumstance), it is good to know that there are those who are prepared to share some aspects with us. For a novice blogger trying to make her way, this means much. For those who read my posts the whole way through, commented, liked or ended by following me you guys are numero uno!

photo from flikr -
leo reynolds'

Thank you!!

Z is for Zumba: 10 Things Zumba Class Taught Me About Life (#atozchallenge)

photo from flikr -

I come to this last Challenge post with a degree of excitement and a huge sense of relief. I’m not one to give up and well, here we are at Z. I’ll be writing more in a post containing my reflections on the Challenge next week after attending to some non-Challenge unfinished blogging business.

So with a great deal of ZEAL, I write my Z post.

I started taking Zumba classes about a year ago. Looking back at that first class, I can’t help but be transported back to that OMG feeling and the eternal question:

 “Just what the heck were you thinking?”

It was an introductory class, so at the END of it the instructors taught us some of the basic latin dance steps of the salsa, cha-cha and merengue. That’s when things began to look particularly bleak. Not sure where I was when they handed out the co-ordination gene, but clearly I was not in that line. My Zumba journey has been a real trip and keeping with the perseverance theme of this post, I bring to you my 10 points of Zumba wisdom.

Here is what Zumba participation has taught me about life.

1. Nobody is born an expert, not even an expert smart-arse. Becoming an expert takes time, training and a whole lot of missteps along the way.

2. Introducing a new routine inevitably increases the chance of missteps. It takes a couple of weeks to feel comfortable with the routine, but once you break through that comfort barrier, it becomes a whole lot of fun. Only you and hard work can break through that barrier and when you do… oh what a feeling! New routines keep life interesting.

3.Nobody focuses on your missteps other than you. Everyone is more worried about their own. There is no spotlight or microphone highlighting that you zigged, when you should have zagged (note the rather topical consistant use of Z words). You think your missteps are so good ? Ha, I’ve got news for you. Ditch the self – consciousness and get out there!

4. Bring your own style to anything you tackle, don’t worry about what to wear, how you look. You can’t do worse than my original outfit of baggy T shirt and old bike shorts. Individuality is exciting and interesting. Remember this also in the context of rule number  three.

5. Everything is more fun with a latin beat ………jajaja!

6. Pitbull is a Zumba class favourite and most of his songs have a great beat that can motivate you to do housework, blogging and other activities …. “two worlds English…Spanish….”

7.  The salsa, cha-cha and merengue are highly technical dance steps. Zumba is not the latin dance championships and you will not be scored on technical merit. Usually, keeping up the energy and your legs and arms moving in something that loosely resembles dance moves is enough. In other words, give yourself a break and just enjoy life’s experiences.

8. The intensity of each routine varies. There is a slow build up starting with the warm up moving to high impact, then a slow catch your breath number, another build-up and finally a warm down. Life is not about being at full throttle all the time. Down-times are permissible and absolutely necessary.

9. Break each routine down to its basics. Start with the leg movements then add in the arms and then put it all together. Sometimes we all just need to get back to the basics and take small bites rather than try to eat the whole pig, which will probably cause you indigestion anyway.

10. A hot looking Brazilian bloke in line next to you makes the hour go faster and sends the energy levels soaring.  Always carry a hot Brazilian looking bloke around with you if you can or if that’s not possible hold onto the idea of something or someone who motivates you.

There you have it, rules and skills for life according to Zumba Zen. I still don’t know how to properly do the salsa, cha-cha or merengue and I’m glad the technical aspects of all of that did not distract me from the bigger picture. I’m moving, sweating, having fun and mixing it with some great people and that to me is more important than championship ballroom technique.

And so with that, here endeth the Challenge.

Y is for Yoda and Yarn: Connected, They Are (#atozchallenge)

photo from flikr -
leo reynolds'

I am not a procrastinator by nature. In fact, I’m the opposite. Once I have made up my mind, I go for it, totally zonal and focused. That was until it came to starting a blog. Just six short weeks ago I knew very little about blogging other than how to read and subscribe to one. What a journey it has been.

It was the A to Z Challenge that really put an end to the procrastination. I had to get the blog up and running for 1 April to be able to participate and really knew nothing about the tech side of things. Once I became aware of my blogging options, I got caught in the analysis paralysis trap, too many choices as I really wanted my blog to look sleek and welcoming. Of course, I was modelling my expectations by looking at blogs that had been up and running for years. Big mistake! At that point I realized that blogs evolve, are not just made and let my preconceived ideas go. It was then simply a matter of putting a pin in WordPress and typing.

I still pinch myself that I am sharing the blogosphere with real writers. My aim with this blog is to entertain by sharing my life experiences and to polish my writing along the way. Others of course have different aims. To those of you who can create characters and write fiction or achieve publication you have my utmost admiration.

A couple of weeks ago I started a writing course. I have learned some techniques that will help me get inside a character’s head and develop a story line. The classes have been fun and because I am already putting my writing out there in the form of this blog, I am less conscious about sharing my work with others. Creating, I have learned, is about just letting go, silencing the inner critic and keeping the pen moving.

Science fiction is not my movie genre of choice, I’m more of a chickflick girl. But one science fiction character I dig is Yoda. If ever there was an epitome of a wise oracle type of character, Yoda is it. From his wisdom to his ears to his speech, I wouldn’t change a thing. So it was with some delight that the convenors of the course chose to motivate us by giving us the following well-known Yodaism:

So here I am, doing!

As for the yarn, I am talking about this:

Informal A long, often elaborate narrative of real or fictitious adventures; an entertaining tale.

not this:

One of the writing exercises we had to do this week was to create a character and write on the topic “Love Hurts“. A short two minutes of creating, keeping the pen moving and practicing conveying emotion. With Yoda’s wise words firmly in my head I did just that and I thought I would share with you the yarn that I produced in those two minutes.

Lilly knew she had to do it today. She knew it wasn’t fair to string Brett along any longer. She had to break it off, let him go his own way to find a girl who could really appreciate him for who he was. Being at work in a busy restaurant wasn’t ideal. But Brett was here now, having started his shift as a short-order cook not twenty minutes before.

Lilly always felt lousy at times like this. She was always the one that instigated the break up. She had no desire to be the dumpee and Brett had gotten too close. She hated these moments, hated being the bitch… but her upbringing had taught her that love hurts. Yes, fear could do that to you.

Nervously looking to her left, she followed Brett’s every move. Distracted she almost dropped the plate of food she was carrying to table four. That just wouldn’t do, laden as it was with peas, carrots and gravy.

J. K Rowling I am not (nor do I want to be), but I am really liking this character and feel that I want to bring Lilly more to life. I’m not sure where I will go with her, but this is a huge leap for someone who is used to being overly descriptive in her writing style. I am starting to let go and leave matters to the reader’s imagination.

So this blog is a little different today and now I’ve put it out there and done more than try. I’d love to hear any feedback you want to give me, good or bad.

As Yoda would say, curtain you have started to raise. Go a little higher, you should.