Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Fearlessly Fragile

I feel strange today. My senses are a knife with a dull blade, my eyes peer out through foggy glass, my tongue tastes shadows of flavour, faint aromas fail to arrest my attention. If I really knew what, or who myself was, I would say that I am not feeling myself today.

I'm achievement oriented; a big fan of 'to do' lists, a planner and a thinker. My down time from work is often filled with reflection and imagination. I envision the future I want, and I spend considerable energy trying to figure out how to get it, how to make it mine. I guess I am not unusual in my desire to maintain some degree of control over this crazy messed up thing called life.

Some days it's a piece of cake. I'm well organised and energetic. Decisive and productive. But in the words of Chris Cornell "Some days it ain't so easy." Some days I really flounder. Some days I feel like Samson, other days like a dandelion. The slightest puff  of a breeze can destroy me, the most insignificant of obstacles or distractions can render me useless.

I am okay with my weakness. Really. In fact, I believe that the strongest people are those who admit their weakness, who acknowledge their faults and who ask for help. As I Lay Dying wrote a song called Upside Down Kingdom. The chorus says:
"Simplicity is not a curse where strength is humbled and the powerless rise. This is a kingdom born upside down. This is a kingdom where the broken are crowned."

Have you embraced your weakness and accepted the fact that control is an illusion? 

Broken Egg in Nest photograph by Brian J Krummel

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lost in the Twittersphere

I thought Facebook was addictive but it pales in comparison with Twitter. Twitter isn't new, but I'm always behind the times. The only cutting edge I am a familiar with is my MiracleBlade knife, (it slices beautifully without undue force.) I am a newly hatched chick discovering the Twittersphere, hopping around, tweeting, and learning what I can about how to use this terrific communication tool: social media. What a modern wonder.

As a writer, I am told by those who know, that if I am not tweeting then I am barking mad. What do I say and how often should I say it, and to whom? And who should I follow? How do I make Twitter work for me instead of enslaving me with promises of popularity? There are lots of people offering advice on how to get the most out of Twitter. How do I decide which pieces of advice to heed and which to reject? If I encounter conflicting nuggets of wisdom, how do I choose between them? How many people need to say the same thing before I can accept it as gospel? Fumble, bumble, somebody turn on the light please. Credibility is an issue. Authority is an issue. I need to consider what I want to achieve - that's a piece of cake but how do  I get there? Which ferry will take me to the other side? Or do they all travel to the same place but use different routes? I just don't know. It could be me. My lack of technical nous and my paucity of social media experience has me floundering in the Twittersphere. How am I going to break through the noise and be heard?

I know one thing for sure: popularity is not necessarily a refection on quality. Whether my writing is popular has very little to do with how good it is. It is very good actually, in case you were wondering. An average singer came second on X Factor and won a recording contract while better singers were eliminated from the show because they didn't receive enough votes. People get more likes on Facebook for pictures of their bellybuttons than they do for saying something intelligent or thought provoking. Sometimes Facebook makes me despair for humanity. There's a YouTube video featuring ducks crossing a road which has been seen by millions of people. Popularity is a weird beast, and in the Twittersphere, excellence does not seem to count for more than a hill of baked beans which give you gas. I may be lost but I'll keep trying to find my way through the maze. I am a work in progress. Tweet! Tweet!

A final thought, a question: Who Tweets more? People who care about what others think, or people who don't?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Penis is the Dark Knight

I went to buy some boxer shorts recently. I like to sleep in boxer shorts for obvious reasons. Also for obvious reasons I am not especially concerned with their appearance. Very few people get to see me in my boxer shorts so it doesn't really matter what colour they are or what slogan is printed on them. What I should say is that it shouldn't matter what is printed on them, but apparently it does bother me. Some of the words I have read on boxer shorts (in stores and on line, not on bodies) disturb me. Here I am blogging about it, so what does that tell you? That I'm a prude who is obsessed with trivialities?

Maybe I don't have a sense of humour. 
Let's try some out, what do you think?
Rise and Shine (giggle). Handle with care (titter) Yes, I'm happy to see you (snicker) Go ahead make my day (tee hee) I've got a Big Banana (chortle), Danger Big Load (guffaw) Satisfaction Guaranteed (rolling on the floor), and my favourite, The Dark Knight Rises.(hysteria)

Is it just me,or are there too many double entendres here? An oversupply of references to penises and erections? I mean, I do get erections but I don't feel the need to advertise them, and although I have a penis, I am not going to start calling it the Dark Knight. It's all a bit much, isn't it?

What do you think? Double entendres on boxer shorts? Comical or crass? Amusing or embarrassing? 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Families and How to Survive ThemFamilies and How to Survive Them by Robin Skynner, John Cleese
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting and different book on psychology which is aimed at the average reader rather than the psychology student or medical expert. It takes the form of a conversation between English funnyman, John Cleese and his psychologist, Robin Skinner. Much like actual conversation, it tends to ramble at times, but it is quite witty. I could hear Cleese's voice in my head as I read. It also features cartoon illustrations which add to the "not too heavy" feel to the book.

As Freud blamed all psychological ailments on penises and patients' poor relationships with their mothers, so "Families and How to Survive Them", tends to, in my view, oversimplify some of the issues. Conversely, and a little paradoxically, it does explain and demonstrate quite clearly the complexities of human personalities and relationships.

Interesting, thought provoking, perhaps somewhat controversial especially with respect to the views expressed on homosexuality, funny and worth the read.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Make Money Online

Before I begin, I am not going to tell you how to make money on line. I don't have amazing secrets, guaranteed schemes, easy sure fire steps to follow in order to get rich from home, with your computer, using the internet. I brought you here under false pretenses. I'm sorry, and you are free to leave now, if you want to but I would like you to stay. Please stay.

The world wide web must be the most competitive market in the world, ever! Googling "make money on line" will give you 941 search results. All of these sites will promise you ridiculous success with little or no effort. Most of them will charge you for their secrets, tips and advice, and thus make themselves rich while seducing you with promises of potential cyberspace goldmines. Apparently, there are many people in this world who are interested in getting rich quick, and as Jason Robards' character, Frank Buckman, said in the film Parenthood, when defending his youngest son's latest idea to hit the big time, 'What's wrong with getting rich quick? That's the best way to do it!"

Nothing has changed. Why do you think the prizemoney for lotto is so huge? People want to win, so they pay money for the chance to get rich quick. The bigger the jackpot, the more people buy tickets and so the bag of money gets fatter and fatter. Picking a set of numbers and hoping they are selected by a machine is about the same sort of wishful thinking that is applied to internet marketing. I'm sure that some people are making a lot of cash on line, but I reckon there are many more who are not.

My desires are more humble, if that doesn't sound too immodest. I want people to visit my website. To read my blog, to follow my blog, to share it and then to check out the links to my books, and buy them, or just tell other people about them. I am trying to make money, but I am also attempting to escape the obscurity which is the domain of most of the world's writers. I need to attract people to my website so naturally I search on line for how to do this. I won't overwhelm you with my staggering stories of success because I don't have any. What I do have are stories of hours of fruitless web surfing, investigating sites, reading articles, watching videos, choking on jargon (traffic, SEO, syndication, affiliates, backlinks, spinnable whatsihoosits) gagging on false claims of simplicity, and getting frustrated. It's all about marketing, and I suck at selling things. Always have.

This article you are about to finish is just one more pathetic attempt by me to advertise myself and my writing Would you like to buy my book?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bleeding to Death

In a recent survey, a majority of Australians said they were in favour of the Federal government taking control of the health care system. The current situation is that although significant amounts of funding are supplied to the states to pay for hospitals, doctors, nurses etc, by the commonwealth government, it is the various state governments who determine how that money is spent. This arrangement is a primary cause of  the sickness afflicting the health care system in Australia.

The federal and state governments waste time and money arguing about these inefficient funding arrangements. They blame each other, instead of doing something to get it right. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd sought to overhaul the system during his relatively brief and tempestuous reign. In trying to negotiate a new deal with the states he went so far as to threaten a take over if the states did not sign up for the new arrangements. I was excited by the prospect, but unfortunately Mr Rudd did not follow through on his threat and we were left with a weak compromise. We do have a different system, but it still sucks.

According to AHCRA*, we have poor access to care for many Australians, consumer frustration with problems navigating an overly complex system, a disturbing health care gap between indigenous and non indigenous Australians, increasing out of pocket expenses for services, an insufficient focus on primary and preventative health care, an inefficient allocation of resources caused by current state/commonwealth funding structure, and a severe shortage of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals.

These are serious issues which are getting worse. While the government keeps reaching for Band-aids, the health care system is bleeding to death. It needs radical surgery to save it's life, but the government is too busy arguing about who should pay for it, and who should be in charge of the operation.

*AHCRA (Australian Health Care Reform Alliance)