Front yard voyuer #blogjune

We all know that walking is good for our health, however I also find it good to feed my curiosity.  I love looking in peoples’ front yards when I go for my daily walk.

Today I was in a part of Melbourne that could rightly be called prestigious.  I hadn’t been here before and was early for an appointment; so a perfect opportunity for a wander and a nosey.

gnome

by Frankileon on Flickr

As much as I enjoyed walking the leafy streets, and seeing the lavish landscaped gardens, it did occur to me how few gardens  we see these days have individual personalities.  We seem to have become all  “Better Homes and Gardenised”.  Lifestyle shows, TV make-overs, and numerous magazines telling us what is appropriate and proper to put in our garden or in our houses.

Where is the whimsical, offbeat, or just plain different? Don’t you wonder where all the gnomes have gone?

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When the person fits their job #blogjune

It was the annual visit to the vet today.

I located the cat carrier, vaccination records, and last but definitely not least Harriet (the cat).  We then went through the painful process of transportation to the vet clinic.  I don’t think I ever hear a more mournful sound than what emerges from the cat carrier during these visits.

vet and black cat

By Andrew Dunn (http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com/) CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

However once we arrive and see Murray the vet, my traumatised cat becomes the most friendly and docile pussy cat.  She seems genuinely relaxed in the hands of a master, and even the injection doesn’t seem to register as unpleasant.

Dr Murray has the aura of an animal whisperer, he chats happily about his own two cats and their different personalities all the while Harriet is being held and stroked, much more than she allows at home.

It is refreshing being in the presence of someone who is so obviously suited to their profession.  It leaves a glow that even the mournful sounds on the way back home can’t quite diminish.

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Command line joy #blogjune

I’ve recently taken the plunge into the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) pond and am undertaking a Python programming course.

I’ve submitted my Week 1 assignment and feel optimistic about completing the full ten weeks.  However, with the average completion rate of MOOCs being less than 10% this would put me in the minority.

I’m doing the course primarily to learn a new skill, but along the way to experience online learning from the perspective of a student. command line prompt

One of the surprising things to discover in my first assignment was how my past experience from many years ago was able to be dragged back up from the depths.  Despite all the amazing advances in interactivity, graphical interfaces, and usability there is still something to respect in the humble but mighty c:\ > prompt.

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More than a game #blogjune

As a Melbourne-based supporter of an interstate club I don’t get to go to many AFL games a year, so it was a joy to get out the footy scarf, fill up the thermos, and travel to the MCG on a surprisingly sunny Saturday afternoon.

Melbourne Cricket Ground

MCG

With around half the followers of Australian Rules being female, I’m not alone in my enjoyment, and at times obsession, with the game.

Research at Deakin ( The Conversation) is debunking some tired stereotypes about women fans, e.g that we are just interested in tight shorts, and instead finds what any supporter would tell them; that we “watch football for the skill, athleticism, competition and atmosphere.”

It wasn’t the best game I have ever attended today, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. Something any footy fan, male or female, would understand

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Fear of failure or is it mediocrity? #blogjune

Some days it seems that the universe is trying to tell you something.  fear road sign with red diagonal

The day started listening to a podcast (The Good Life Project) that asked is what holds you back the thought that you are not good enough, smart enough, skilled enough or any other ‘enough’?

The reality is that there are probably  smarter, more innovative and skilled people out there.  This  shouldn’t stop you however from trying to do something of value.

Then at a VALA library event tonight Jan Holmquist  gave the quote “A company that is excellent at making the wrong thing will fail. Yet it can be mediocre at providing innovative things that people want, and it may succeed, at least for a while”.

Failure and mediocrity book-ending the day, highlighting my natural inclination to not do something because I fear that it will not be perfect.  Not participating in the #blogjune challenge prior to this year is a good example of this fear.

To succeed professionally and personally these days however we do need to risk not just noble failure, but perhaps even more challenging, risk being mediocre.

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We’ve not come a long way baby #blogjune

I was not living in Victoria at the time Joan Kirner became Victoria’s first female premier but I remember the moment well.  I felt optimistic that it would only be a matter of time until the gender of politicians would no longer be an issue.  I was confident I would live to see Australia’s first female prime minister.

Joan Kirner

Portrait of Joan Kirner as Premier of Victoria, Parliament House Victoria
Artist Annette Bezor

Fast forward 20 years, and yes Australia had its first female prime minister, yet I am no longer so sanguine.

Now ‘taking the mickey’ out of people in power is a long standing tradition, even a duty in a free speaking democracy, but some of  what Julia Gillard had thrown at her was beyond simple satire, it was simply sexist, caustic and cruel.

I’ll let Julia Gillard have the last work about whether her gender had anything to do with her treatment in the media “It doesn’t explain everything, it doesn’t explain nothing, it explains some things”.

Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard 2010 by MystifyMe Concert Photography

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Driving me crazy #blogjune

I love my new job which I started about 18 months ago, but it has taken me almost as long to cope with the drive to work.   Whoever said ‘life is the journey not the destination’ wasn’t stuck on the Ring Road between Furlong Road and Sunshine Avenue on a Friday evening!

cars in multi-lane freeway

Driving cars in a traffic jam. Photo by epSos .de on flckr

Over this period I have attempted a variety of coping mechanisms,  they range in effectiveness (from least to most) as follows.  During the course of any commute I will sometime use all of them.

  1. Using the time to learn a new language via audio book
  2. Listening to talk back and news radio (increases stress)
  3. Listening to ‘easy listening’ radio stations (hello SmoothFM, but a bit too much Buble)
  4. Altering attitude (e.g. grateful I have a car that works, travelling on roads that are maintained, a job and a home to go to, the person who just cut me off must be a troubled soul who needs my sympathy and isn’t a jerk)
  5. Consciously breathing and being in the moment when I feel the stress levels rise – Ahhh
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