Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Monday, April 30, 2007

Bright spot

I'm still quite shellshocked about yesterday, but I have had one very cheering thing happen today - I got my first maths assignment back, and the mark was a High Distinction - 18.5 / 20. I was really worried about the assignment because it was based on a set of activities I did with my extremely bright 11yo sister, and since she had no trouble doing the activities I had no problems to observe and discuss! I wasn't sure I'd get above a credit for it and avoided picking it up last week because I was too scared lol. But apparently the lecturer really liked how I’d discussed the activities and built up arguments despite having had a maths whiz as a subject.

It’s truly bizarre that my highest mark so far has been in the subject that was my absolute weakest at school. But if teaching maths is something I can do, it very much makes up for the fact that I can’t do maths itself!

Oh, ffs . . .

Just when you thought it was safe to breathe!

My housemate, with whom I've been getting along splendidly, has suddenly and randomly decided that I have to move out. We haven't fought or even had an uncomfortable moment in the short time I've been here, and especially not in the incredibly small amount of time she's actually spent here as opposed to at her boyfriend's house which is where she really lives. And she refuses to give any explanation or even talk to me about it - just that she won't be renewing my lease and I'm "welcome" to move out sooner, because she "doesn't feel it's working out".


I was wracking my brains to think of what could have gone wrong, but there's nothing - the place is clean and tidy and I've been half-killing myself to get my stuff sorted out despite having had three assignments to hand in and having been sick twice, since I moved in. I was getting really upset about what it could be, but both Mum and James (my stepdad) are of the opinion that it's not me at all, and that the housemate has some problem of her own that she can only solve by forcing me to move out. This seems quite likely as she's been stuffing around with the storage and space use arrangements we had worked out - she promised me space for my boxes in the little storage room and space for my treadmill in the sunroom, but now she's totally filled up the storage room with her furniture, and then kept hinting that my boxes shouldn't be in the sunroom because she wanted to put her table in there (which would have taken away the room for my treadmill, not to mention making the sunroom another place where my storage boxes couldn't be). So it seems like she just didn't understand that having a housemate meant that you had to give up more of the house than one bedroom!

This infuriating circumstance has a silver lining though. When I found out about this yesterday, James was on his way to drop off the treadmill and pick up some of my storage boxes and furniture which could be stored in their shed. I phoned Mum to see if he had left yet, because obviously there was no point bringing the treadmill if I was moving again. When I burst into tears and explained what was going on, Mum suddenly said: "do you want to move home for 8 months?" (which is all the time left until I'll be off in the country teaching). I went back to their place to stay overnight, and we've worked out an arrangement that means that I can live in their tiny spare room until I get a placecment. I'll still have to work but I'll be able to pay off my debts with that money rather than just paying my bills, which is great.

It'll be strange going back to living in Mum's house (especially as my 11-yr-old sister now has my old bedroom, and I'll be moving into an even smaller room that is currently the kids' TV room), but it's worth it, and honestly I'm quite glad to be getting one last little taste of ordinary family life before I'm off into the strange wilds of the countryside!

The room really is tiny though. I'm going to have to give up my beloved queen bed (it would take up the whole room, almost!) and sleep on a single again, and I'll only be able to fit my wardrobe and desk and a couple of little chests of drawers in the room. But I'll manage, and 8 months is not a long time. Especially not the way time seems to fly these days - I'm still wondering who stole the middle of April!

So overall I'm actually very pleased with the way this has worked out. I'm going to have to start looking for a job in Midland - I can get to my current Subway job from Mum's place, but it's a very long way to go and currently you only have to be breathing and standing upright in order to get a job in WA, so there's no point working a long way away when I really don't have to.

I'm even wondering whether I might be able to go back to playing in the Perth Hills Concert Band on Tuesday evenings. That would be fantastic, I've missed that band hugely and I'll be able to use Mum's car to get there. I've never got to play my new flute around anyone else - I bought it on a whim in Sydney and I haven't been in a band since before I moved there - and I'd love to get to play it in concert.

As they say, change is the only constant . . . but this time I think it's a change for the better. Onwards and upwards . . .

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Subtle Stereotypes

Since my recent epiphanies of self-knowledge, I’ve been listening to a selection of fairly soppy pop songs on the subject of self-belief, self-actualisation and generally moving forward. And I noticed that when the songs are sung by women, the message, subtly or overtly, is almost always that the point of all this esteem-building is to be capable of finding or attracting love. I was surprised and concerned to realise this, for two reasons.

Firstly, some of the most messed-up people I know, with the lowest self-esteem and worst attitudes, are in what they consider to be great, true-love relationships; some are even married, despite the terrible way they treat themselves (and sometimes others as well). So clearly a healthy mental attitude to oneself is not a prerequisite to achieving a relationship or even to being happy with that relationship. So why is popular culture selling women the idea that we can’t be attractive if our soul is a little knocked around?

And secondly, why the hell is finding love the point of positive self-belief anyway?! Surely it’s an end in itself, something to be celebrated as an achievement not as a stepping-stone to something else? Not that I’m against thinking about a good relationship as something to aim for, but as far as I can see it shouldn’t be the driving force behind getting to know and understand yourself and facing down your demons. Isn’t being happy a good enough reason to do that?

I have no answers to either of these, but the whole thing is concerning. It seems to me that while today the forces of evil are calories and low self-esteem – rather than wicked witches and cruel stepmothers – we’re still all being trained to see that Prince Charming is the reason why we’re fighting. And that’s not right at all.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007


They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old,

Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning

We will remember them.

Lest We Forget

 Last week I felt that I couldn't afford the taxi fares to go to the ANZAC Day dawn service in Kings Park, but yesterday I decided that I could, after all. So I've had a bit of a surreal morning - I left the house at 5am after about 4.5 hours' sleep, got back at 8am and went back to bed until midday. My body isn’t really sure what time it is!

The ceremony took place at Kings Park, an area of botanical gardens and natural bush that sits atop Mount Eliza, overlooking the city centre. Click here and scroll down to ‘State War Memorial Precinct’ for some images of the Cenotaph and the Flame of Remembrance, and you can check out some of the other memorials in the park too.

The service was magical. I’ve been to ANZAC services before – even participated in one as a schoolchild – and they all follow pretty much the same sequence, but the atmosphere of this one was just so special. It was incredible to stand there in the chilly dark with literally tens of thousands of others – veterans, current service people, and just-plain-folk like me – first watching war documentaries on big screens set up for the purpose, then watching the ceremony itself at the State War Memorial Cenotaph.

The playing of the Last Post wasn’t the best I’ve ever heard – there were several trumpets and I think it’s better with just one – but it was still deeply moving.

I don’t have any ANZAC war dead to remember, but my two Australian great-grandfathers were both ANZACs in WWII – Ernest was in the army and Kenneth was in the air force – and they are both gone now. And of course my non-Australian relatives were deeply affected by the war, in England, in Czechoslovakia, and in the then Dutch East Indies.

I don’t believe war is ever right or good, and I don’t support our leaders’ decisions to drag us in to some of the conflicts that Australia has been involved in. But when it comes down to it, rightly or wrongly, the lost service people of Australia died doing what they thought had to be done, and that’s all that matters. Regardless of my opinion of war, I do honour their sacrifices.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Science Experiment

On Monday, in our science curriculum workshop, we did a little mini-experiment. We were given three small jars: one containing a bit of a yeast and tepid water mixture, one containing a bit of a mixture of yeast, tepid water and one teaspoon of sugar, and one containing a bit of a mixture of yeast, tepid water and two teaspoons of sugar. We put balloons over the tops of the jars and watched as they filled with the gas produced by the respiration of the yeast, noting which jar produced the most gas (it was the third one, for the record).

While we were discussing the different variables that one could use in a yeast experiment, one that was mentioned was "the type of sugar". I do a lot of baking so I have a few different sugars around the place, and once I started thinking about it, I counted up no less than 7 different types of glucose-based foods in my stock cupboard.

So, feeling inspired, I stopped off at Target on the way home and bought myself a set of 8 little plastic jars (meant for cosmetics, but perfect for my purposes) and some balloons, and set about doing a yeast experiment for myself.

My ingredients all set out and ready to go

Using a funnel to avoid spillage, I added ¼ teaspoon of yeast to each jar. Then, again using a funnel for the dry sugars, I added ½ teaspoon of the following: 

Jar 1: No Sugar (control)
Jar 2: Glucose Syrup
Jar 3: Golden Syrup
Jar 4: Honey
Jar 5: Brown Sugar
Jar 6: White Sugar
Jar 7: Caster Sugar
Jar 8: Icing Sugar Mixture (contains cornflour as well as sugar - normally I have the pure stuff!)

Then, with the funnel, I added two tablespoons of tepid water (tepid is just warmer than room temperature) to each jar, and then stirred each one briskly and placed a balloon over the top of the jar, ensuring that there was no air in the balloon when it went on.

The jars (left to right = 1-8, they are labelled in red pen if you look closely) just after the balloons went on. No reactions visible yet. Yes, I did the balloon colours that way on purpose!)

As the gas in the balloon increases, the balloon puffs up, and there reaches a point where the balloon will suddenly pop upright due to the pressure of the gas. 24 minutes after I put the balloons on, the first one popped up: 6 - White Sugar.

White sugar balloon puffed up with carbon dioxide

Over the next hour, the balloons continued to pop up, in this order:

1st: 6 - White Sugar (7:07pm)
2nd: 8 - Icing Sugar Mixture (7:10pm)
3rd: 4 - Honey (7:11pm)
4th: 3 - Golden Syrup (7:13pm)
5th: 7 - Caster Sugar (7:22pm)
6th: 2 - Glucose Syrup (7:35pm)




From the back, at 7:53, you can see the mixtures with their varying amounts of foam. Control is a little hard to see but you may be able to make out the fact that there was no reaction at all without a sugar substance.

5 - Brown Sugar did not pop up, but by 9:07pm I was able to gently stand it upright.

9:07pm - Brown Sugar balancing upright, despite not being fully pressurised at this point (as you can see - it is wrinkly around the edges).

By 10:51pm last night, 4 hours and 8 minutes after the experiment began, the balloons had reached the extent of their expansion and the real result of the experiment could be observed: which sugar produced the most respiration, and thus the most gas?

10:51pm: results are in!

As you can see, Glucose Syrup was far and away the most successful substance, producing twice as much gas as any of the others. This was the final tally:

1st: 2 - Glucose Syrup
2nd: 7 - Caster Sugar
3rd: 3 - Golden Syrup
4th: 8 - Icing Sugar Mixture
5th: 6 - White Sugar
6th: 4 - Honey
7th: 5 - Brown Sugar

Table: Rankings of Sugar Types

The most obvious thing I discovered in this experiment is that brown sugar is clearly not a good medium for producing respiration in yeast. It performed very poorly.

Excluding brown sugar and the control, a very interesting pattern emerges in the data. White Sugar, Icing Mixture and Honey were 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the order of inflation, but were 5th, 4th and 6th respectively in the amount of gas they produced. On the other hand, Golden Syrup, Caster Sugar and Glucose Syrup were 4th, 5th and 6th in popping up, but 3rd, 2nd and 1st respectively in the amount of gas they produced. This suggests that a fast reaction is not necessarily going to produce the most gas; and in fact that the substances that took a little longer to get going produced more gas in the long term. One could postulate that this is because the substances that were quick to get going were used up before large quantities of gas could be produced?

Glucose was clearly the outstanding winner for producing sustained, regular respiration in yeast: it was slow to get going, but did not peak early and taper off the way the faster substances did.

Although my experiment was completed at this stage, I decided to leave it in place overnight, partly due to laziness and partly to see what would happen.

The Morning After

As you can see, Glucose (most gas) and White Sugar (first to inflate) remained inflated to an extent, although less than they were at their peak. The others had deflated and fallen down. I'm not sure why they did so, whether it was leakage or the gas was reabsorbed, or some other explanation.

But I'm not looking forward to opening them all up and filling my house with the smell of sugary yeast!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Wishing I had a car already . . .

For years and years I've wanted to go to the ANZAC Day dawn service at Kings Park. But it's just never been feasible because I haven't had transport, or haven't been allowed to use transport I did have access to (Mum was not keen on me driving her car all the way into the city at 3 o'clock in the morning when I'm a night-owl who would only have had a few hours' sleep - not unreasonably!).

This week it occurred to me that this may be the last year I'm anywhere near Kings Park on ANZAC Day, for the forseeable future. Next year and the year after I'll be in the country somewhere (and unless ANZAC Day falls in the school holidays, I won't be able to get back to Perth for it); and after that I'll be in London. Most country towns do have their own small services, and there's even services for ex-pats in London, but the country ones won't be the same quality and I've got no idea whether I'd be able to make my way to the London ones or not - especially as it's not a public holiday in the UK so unless it was a weekend, I'd have to work that day.

And I have no way of getting to the dawn service this ANZAC Day (next Wednesday), unless I walk (for 3 hours, which means leaving around 2am, and therefore having an almost totally sleepless night!) or either take a taxi or find some cheap accommodation in the city that would mean I was right near the shuttle buses to Kings Park . . . both of which are extravagances I can't afford at the moment. So it's not going to happen. Humph! 


I also have a bad cold courtesy of someone at work (all 5 of us were sniffling yesterday, so probably all of our customers will get it too!) so I don't feel great. Not fair since I had a stomach bug last week! But then I do always get everything that's going around, in cool weather, so I shouldn't be surprised. Damn immune system.

/second rant

I've been having fun the past week reading up on visiting and living in London, courtesy of the Lonely Planet Guide: London and a book called Living and Working in Britain by David Hampshire. The latter is a little out of date - published in 2005 - so I've found a few things that I know aren't correct. But apart from those it's an amazing resource and I'm discovering all sorts of things that I'll need to know but didn't know yet (such as, the UK still has TV licenses lol ). From the Lonely Planet guide I'm getting all excited about how much there is to see in London, let alone the rest of the UK and continental Europe. I can’t wait to go!

I've also straightened out the bits about citizenship/passports etc that I was having trouble with. Mum was born in England but is a naturalised Australian, and she had thought that her new citizenship wiped out her British citizenship. I've found out that she was wrong - British citizenship is an inalienable birthright and she still has it. Which also means that my brother, half-sister and half-brother all automatically have British citizenship by descent.  I don't think they know that! I don't have it automatically because I was born before a law-change in 1983 (when automatic citizenship for descendants was granted to the children of female citizens as well as male citizens) but all I have to do is apply and I can have it. That gives me a British passport and the right to work unhindered in Britain for as long as I like. Good, good 

Only 2-and-a-bit years . . . !

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ticky-tacky Talk

Little boxes, on the hillside
Little boxes made of ticky-tacky
Little boxes, little boxes,
Little boxes all the same

There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky-tacky
And they all look just the same

This song has been stuck in my head all afternoon, since my maths curriculum class. In the maths classes the workshop leader prefers to teach us how to teach maths by getting us to do the activities we'd be using to teach our students. Today, among other things, we had to use grid paper to make as many combinations of six squares as possible, then predict which ones could be folded to make a cube, then finally cut them out and see which ones actually would fold into a cube. Hence, we wound up with lots of little boxes made of ticky-tacky, and the song stuck.

The real point of this post wasn't really little boxes though lol. The actual story is that I had a great time in Maths today - I missed the last two workshops and we had two weeks' holiday before that, so I'd forgotten how much fun that class is. There's a number of other people in the class with the same slightly silly sense of humour that I have, including the workshop leader, and today a group of us engaged in a little mild heckling and red-herring-ing, and got the workshop leader giggling helplessly. It was great  

All that fun got me thinking about how I feel about myself today (which is great - the watershed of the last week has resolved a lot of things and I'm moving forward at an incredible rate) compared to that feeling of barely existing during that terrible bout of depression last week. And I was thinking about the effect that isolation of the soul can have. Everyone knows that you can be surrounded by people and still be lonely - because you're not connecting with the people around you beyond a superficial level. I think, more than anything, this might be what went wrong when I went to Sydney. I had loads of people around me, but no kindred spirits and no one who even came close to being a kindred spirit. Essentially, no one who would get my jokes 

That's something to bear in mind when I go to London, and even beforehand, given the people-finding powers of the internet. It's quality, not quantity, when it comes to not being lonely. When I go away to the UK, I need to seek out a few people who I really connect with, so that I don’t begin to doubt my own existence again. This time I will have an advantage as my cousin Jess will already be there, and she’s one of the people who gets me (and who I get, for that matter).

I give you all fair warning: the odd feelings of insubstantiality during that depression episode are leading my late-night musings into some very interesting territory. Be prepared for the possibility that the ramblings on this blog will touch on some very heavy subjects over the next while, such as: “What is an Identity?”, “What is a Personality?”, and “What is a Life, and How Do You Know if You’re Having One?”. 

Just letting you know 

Monday, April 16, 2007


So I'm sitting in the food court at lunchtime today, dutifully doing my readings before my science curriculum class. One particular reading, which was concerned with engaging students in science subjects, began with a charming little vignette of a hot, dusty, disgruntled scientist suddenly realising that she had discovered the toe bone of a previously unknown species of dinosaur.

That was all well and good until the writer revisited this vignette halfway through the chapter. I quote:

"As noted earlier, you should think of childrens' role in discovery learning as that of scientist - say, the archaeologist we met at the beginning of this chapter."
(my bold)

*bangs head on desk*

The paper in essence was an inoffensive, if pedestrian, discussion of the process of helping children make scientific discoveries of their own through guided yet open experiments. But what I really learned from it was: always check what words mean, especially subject-specific terminology, because if you get it wrong, there will be a student who knows more about the subject than you do, they will call you out on it, and you will lose the students' respect if you are shown up for pretending to know what you're talking about. Admitting that you don't know something is okay, but bluffing and bulldanging with confidence is a bad, bad idea. I find it painfully embarrassing that this chapter - from a book which used to be the unit text book - went to print without anyone having once looked up the definition of the word "archaeologist". They assumed that they knew what it meant, and went with that.

I've turned this experience into a bit of a mantra, and I would suggest that any other teachers or prospective teachers out there attempt to remember it too:

Never use terminology unless you've double-checked the meaning . . .
because archaeologists don't study dinosaurs.

(image is of a poster from

Moving on . . . this happens to be my 100th post to this blog (yay!) and it seems apt that it should contain both main components of the blog: philosophy and photos. You've had the philosophy for the day, so here are some photos.

Contented Jemima on the Sunroom floor:

Very cute Jemima on top of her climbing toy:

Dozy Jemima on my window sill:

The kitchen in the new house, which has a lovely old-fashioned feel, for all its lack of surface space (the doorframe isn't really blue, the white has just shown up that way in the close-range camera flash):

The original art deco doorhandles I've been raving about:

That's all for now - more philosophy coming later.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


I was watching TV just now, and I could hear some faint rumblings over the sound of the TV. I pressed 'mute', established that it was fireworks somewhere, and switched the sound back on. I decided to switch channels to see how the footy match (West Coast vs Fremantle, being played here in Perth) was going, and just as I switched over the commentators were going: "you can hear the fireworks in the background there" "yeah, what's that about?" "well, whatever it is, you don't know about it!".

Nice timing lol

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Little poem

Last week in my English workshop, which I missed, the rest of the class did simple water colour paintings based on words they pulled out of a hat. Today, we all had to choose a painting that appealed to us, and we were given five minutes to write something creative about it. I chose one which was a soft blue oval ringed by fluffy strokes of red and green, all surrounded by pastel greens and browns. This was my poem:

The park is quiet
No longer soft
The grass shows the stain of summer
Medley of greens and browns

Little lake ripples
Around its shores
In reds and greens, plants cluster
Clinging to their source of life

It turned out that the lady sitting next to me had painted the picture (from the word ‘water’) and she was thoroughly delighted that I’d recognised that the blue bit was a pond, let alone that I’d written something so interesting about it!

All in all, rather a nice class.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Well, the first big swag of major assignments is all over, and I can now relax and let things go back to normal for a couple of weeks, before they ramp up again in preparation for my May prac.

I'm rather chuffed about one of the just-handed-in assignments, in which I was able to use the term "self-regulation". As a child, I was taught to understand that the way I was being brought up was a technique known as “self-regulation”, which was pioneered by my grandparents in the 1950s and the subject of several books they published. I also knew that while they were still in England my grandparents associated with a number of other people who were also at the leading edge of positive childrearing practices, including their good friend A. S. Neill, who ran the Summerhill school.

This year, for the very first time, I heard the term “self-regulation” from someone outside my family. Fifty years on from my grandparents’ first attempts to make people think positively about children, the term they used (and possibly helped to invent, I’m not sure of its origins) is now standard education theory. Woohoo!

Mum has copies of three of A. S. Neill’s books, and on a whim I borrowed them when I was there on Friday, along with my grandfather’s book Educreation and a little book of childrens’ contributions called The School That I’d Like . To my delight I was actually able to quote and reference Neill’s book  Summerhill on the value of self-regulation, in my assigment.

It’s really delightful to see my family’s long-standing childrearing beliefs – for which I am often ridiculed by the ignorant, even today – being embraced by the education community. As they should be! 

Sunday, April 8, 2007


The body grows slowly and steadily, but the soul grows by leaps and bounds.
~ L. M. Montgomery

L.M. Montgomery was an excellent observer of human nature, and this quote is spot-on. In the last few days I’ve experienced a quite astonishing and revolutionary change of heart and soul that’s left me quite breathless and full of plans for the future.

It started last Monday. We were having our last Social Studies Curriculum class before moving on to the Science unit, so the workshop leader threw the class open to any questions on any topic. Knowing that the workshop leader once taught in Brazil, one of the students asked her about overseas teaching in general. Up to that point I’d been determined to teach either in Perth or in the general south-west region, but suddenly I felt the stirrings of curiosity. Other people my age effortlessly flit around the world and do interesting things in interesting places without feeling lost and homesick and abandoned. The reasons why I feel that I can’t are obvious. But they’re historical reasons, and I began to wonder whether they still have to apply.

The thought grew at the back of my consciousness until Friday, when I was at my mother’s house for a family lunch. My grandmother casually dropped in to the conversation the possibility that my cousin Jessica, who I am closest to out of all my cousins, is going to try to convince me to move to London with her next year. Jess is three years older than me, has just finished a PhD in history, and intends on relocating to London permanently.

In that instant it suddenly flashed into my mind: why the hell not? I’m young, I’m healthy, I’m not tied down to any permanent commitments, and at the end of the year I’ll have a teaching degree that is valid anywhere in the world. And if I don’t go now – if I move to some tiny town in the south-west and put down roots that may become permanent – then when will I go? Will I ever go?

My mother temporarily derailed this train of thought by pointing out that I’d have to do something with Jemima. But a quick bit of Googling sorted that out – if I get Jem immunised against rabies in June then she can enter the UK in December without any requirement for quarantine. All I have to do is afford her flight as well as mine, and if I can save for one I can save for both.

I will have to take on extra work as soon as prac is over in May, but I can do that with ease – people are desperate for workers of all sorts in Perth, I’ll just send out a raft of applications and take whatever’s going, same as I did this time. If I work my butt off all winter, save all of my tax return, work extra shifts when my course-load lightens next semester, and work full-time once my final exams are over in mid-November, I can save enough for everything I’ll need – air fares, immunisations, passports, warmer clothes, buffer savings etc. Plus I have furniture, appliances and personal possessions that I can sell. I’ll have to have a garage sale. I wouldn’t plan on taking much more than clothes, my computer, a few photos and ornaments that are very dear to me, and personal effects such as jewellery. Everything else can either be sold or get boxed up and stored in Mum’s shed.

Getting a job in England as a teacher will not be difficult. They are desperate for teachers over there and there are dozens of websites by organisations that recruit and place overseas teachers in British schools. Once I’ve got my first semester results I can confidently contact these people with some indicative grades, and I will be on my way to getting a placement.

I would have to fly out just after Christmas, as the next possible English school term starts on the 2nd of January 2008. And I’ve decided that I am going to do it. Of course, it may turn out that I don’t. But everything I do between now and then will be working towards getting to London, and if life takes me on another, as yet unseen path, then so be it!

I feel powerful and full of life again. I don’t have to live the life that my life so far is funnelling me towards. I can go a different way, and it feels good.


Saturday, April 7, 2007

Feeling Grey

For the last few days I’ve been feeling dreary and unhappy for no reason I can readily define. I’m fine when I’m around friends and family, or talking to them online or on the phone – their love, approval and admiration fills me with light. But once I’m alone with my own thoughts I fade away into a sort of listless sadness in which I feel lost, awkward, meaningless and utterly dulled.

There’s plenty of niggling little reasons why I might be feeling this way. Physically, I’m worn out and achy from the sheer drudgery of moving and cleaning house and working at Subway, my ankle isn’t getting any better and my old wrist/hand injury has flared up. That doesn’t make me feel great, of course.

It could be the house move, but I’m loving the new house and that just doesn’t feel like the problem.

I’ve got the usual nagging student anxieties of course – money, assignments, readings etc. And then there’s various other things . . .

. . . I’m anxious about Jemima, who hasn’t settled in yet, and who has a lump on her back where the immunisation went in last week – I know temporary lumps can often result from immunisations, and it’s too early to worry, and she’s not sick or in pain, but I’m worrying . . .

. . . .a cousin’s wedding last week dragged up a family row from last year that I really didn’t want to remember . . .

. . . a vague case of “itchy feet” has me half making up my mind to move to London with a cousin and teach there for a year, just to see if I can . . .

. . . my high school sweetheart is getting married next month, and while I wouldn’t want to be marrying him now, the news has made me reminisce about those good old days, when I was less careworn than I am now . . .

. . . and for some reason I’m really craving physical contact at the moment – my family and friends hug me when they see me of course, but I don’t see my family or my huggy friends anywhere near often enough.

So while there’s plenty of candidates, I just can’t put my finger on anything specific that’s making me feel so drab and languid. But it’s not a comfortable way to feel, no matter what the cause.

Maybe it’s just the weather!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

A small victory for common sense

A couple of weeks ago I was left fuming after the driver of the bus I was riding on decided to go against the red, flashing, jangling stop signals at a railway crossing. I was very angry that the driver thought it was okay to risk the lives of everyone on the bus just because she wanted to get out onto the main road just a little bit quicker; and I wasn’t the only person distressed, as we went over the rails I heard several other passengers gasp as they realised what the driver had done.

I sent a very strongly-worded complaint to Transperth about the incident, pointing out that a normal driver caught running against a rail crossing light would be charged with a serious driving offence, and that the whole reason for rail signals is that human judgment is not good enough, so the driver had no right to stake our safety on her personal opinion that she could get us across in time.

I requested a response in the complaint form, but after I didn’t hear back within the promised 48 hours, I gave my complaint up as lost in bureaucracy, never to be attended to. So I was very surprised today when I finally got a phone call from Transperth. They said that the driver had been spoken to and would be sent back to driver training if there were any more incidents. They also said that all drivers had been reminded of the laws about obeying railway crossing lights.

It’s not much, but it’s something. And that’s better than nothing!

Frustration at the desperate . . .

I’m taking a moment away from my assignment to share an irritation that’s been getting to me for a while now.

I’m a member of several online dating sites, one of which I’ve paid for, the rest of which are free memberships. I’ve joined these sites not because I’m desperate to find love, but because I mope if I’ve got no prospect of finding it at any given time. So I keep my profiles up, enjoy getting some attention here and there, talk to the occasional semi-interesting guy, and basically keep myself connected to the world in a way that just might work (I met Daniel on one of the sites, after all, and while that didn’t work out there’s nothing to say that the next one won’t!).

So anyway, my profiles on the various sites are pretty specific about one thing I won’t compromise on in a partner. While I don’t care about the background, education, career etc of my friends – I’m as happy chatting to a friend who didn’t finish high school as I am chatting to one with a PhD – when it comes to a life partner, it matters. I value my tertiary education and experience highly, and I need a partner who not only also values tertiary education (as you can value it without having it), but who has been through the experience of attaining a university degree and moving in to a professional career. I’ve tried pretending that it didn’t matter, and it was a disaster every time. It’s a personal value, I don’t expect others to necessarily agree with it, but for me it’s non-negotiable.

And I make this very clear in my profiles. On some sites I’ve written it in my description of what I’m looking for; other sites have a drop-down box where you can choose the education level you’re looking for in a partner. You can even rank the importance of it on some sites.

So why, when I’ve written and selected and flagged the fact that I’m only looking for a university educated partner, do I get dozens of winks/kisses/flirts etc from guys whose education level is ‘high school’ or ‘trade qualification’?! It drives me nuts. Especially when these guys send little messages saying something like “I’ve read your profile carefully and I think I might be what you’re looking for”. CLEARLY DIDN’T READ THAT CAREFULLY, DID YOU?!


So that’s today’s frustration. I simply don’t understand the philosophy behind messaging someone who has already stated uncompromisingly that they won’t be interested in you. It doesn’t make sense to me, and it’s disappointing to find that I have received a wink/kiss/flirt then look at it to discover that it’s been a waste of time. Not that I don’t get plenty of contacts from guys who are eligible - I do get lots - but the wasted ones frustrate me.

Back to the land of Maths Curriculum Assignment 1b . . .

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Hints of oddness

This afternoon I went up to Mum’s house to interview my 11-year-old sister to get data for a maths curriculum assignment. On the way back, at the bus station, I saw a guy dressed in a full-body Spiderman suit, mask and hood included. I thought this was a little odd – while Perth has it’s share of strange folk, such complete costumes are not usually involved.

Then, on the bus on the way home, I was trying to read the newspaper over the shoulder of the woman sitting in front of me. While the paper looked exactly like The West Australian, I noticed immediately that headlines like “Easter Rabbit: Not Real” are not commonly part of the West’s repertoire. Then the guy in the Spiderman suit made sense. Today was Prosh day.

Prosh is an annual charity fundraiser run by students at the University of Western Australia, where I did my bachelors and honours. Students from UWA (and students from other unis who have friends at UWA) dress up in costumes or peculiar clothing, parade through the streets of Perth, and spend the day selling their mock newspaper, full of silly or farcical articles, to anyone who will buy it. The event is such an institution that most lecturers and tutors cancel classes for the day so that their students can attend.

In my four years at UWA I never managed to participate in Prosh, mainly due to work commitments but also because of lack of transport and not having friends who were involved in proshing. It’s one of the things I regret having missed out on because I was not as carefree as my still-living-at-home classmates. Never having set foot in the UWA tavern is another indicative regret!

In other news, I got my hair cut yesterday because its length was annoying me. It’s now much shorter, up around my shoulders, and the genius hairdresser managed to cut it so that it bounces and waves instead of hanging limply. I really, really like it. Here’s a photo (not the best, as my hair’s a bit limp from the hot day, but you get the idea):

I’m frantically working on an assignment which is due tomorrow and which I thought was due on Tuesday. I have some philosophising to share but it’ll have to wait!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Moved in . . .

Well, I’m here, as bruised and scratched as I always am after a house move (although the best bruise actually had nothing to do with the move, the culprit there was a heavy door at uni yesterday!), but otherwise well, relaxed and very happy to be in this house.

Moving on Sunday went smoothly, and cleaning the old house yesterday took about four hours, but it’s done, and done well. Now all I have to do is unpack, repack stuff that can stay in storage, and do three assignments. 

It’s too dark at this point to take photos, but I hope by the weekend I’ll have a nice set of pictures to blog. It’s a very pretty two-bedroom brick house with wooden floors throughout. To my delight, while I was packing I found some house-dating diagnostic sheets, and put them in my overnight bag, so I’ve been able to examine the house’s characteristics in detail. As far as I can tell, and I’m reasonably certain about this, the house dates from the first half of the 1930s. The roofing takes it slightly out of the true California Bungalow style, and the brick decorations around the windows and porch point to the later part of that period. The interior door handles are original art deco fittings, and the chimney stack, while undecorated (which places it later), is square, unlike the rectangular chimney stacks of the post-WW II houses. Based on all of that, I’m pretty happy with putting it in that era. Of course, I could be wrong!

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