thief of time

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Spider and other Addictions

I have just almost won for the third time in a row at my game of Spider and think I will leave now while the getting is still good. I have a strong love/hate relationship with Spider, and find I have becoming far too dependant on it. The first thing I do when I sit down at this computer is play a quick game or two. If I win, it’s fine. If I don’t win, I have this strange compulsion to keep playing until I do.

I suppose it’s similar to a gambler’s addiction to the Pokies, except I’m not putting money down a slot with every push of the button—just wasting valuable time from my life. At least it should be valuable to me, but I just keep pushing that “New Game” button. I must try and break free.

This is what comes of getting a new computer. Free Cell was a passing amusement to me on the old machine and I was quite enjoying my Tetris type game until my daughter got on and by some strange fluke and, no doubt, a computer programming malfunction, managed to get up an absolutely unbeatable score. Both games were enjoyable, but not addictive the way Spider is.

I’ve always been a very bad loser ever since I was a child. When you’re young, adults are always trying to point out such philosophies as “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose…” and “you have to be a good loser, or look like a baby”, but I’ve found it’s not so bad being a poor loser when it comes to things like the Pokies, because it would drive me absolutely wild to see my money pouring down the maw of one of these machines, so I just don’t do it. Besides which, there’s the massive boredom factor.

With board games and such, I don’t worry a great deal one way or the other if I do win or lose, though it’s always nice to beat your husband, isn’t it? So, in a way, I thought I’d gotten above such things as being a poor loser, except where it was good and kept me away from gambling.

When it comes to Spider, though, I just find myself getting more and more determined to beat the darn machine. I know this is foolish, because the computer isn’t alive and isn’t even programmed to gloat--which makes it a bit childish of me when I finally do win and gloat at the machine. What’s the good of gloating if you can’t be getting a sulky reaction from someone?

Gee, I guess this means I’m a bad loser and a bad winner.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Getting even older

I remember when I was younger that I would stay out to the early hours of the morning—not often, but occasionally—and then be up at the crack of dawn, or thereabouts. Those days sure are no more.

I had a fairly light day yesterday work wise and even though I had to go up to the office at the end of the day and then to a school meeting later that evening, neither lasted particularly long and I was at home in plenty of time to relax. Maybe that was the problem. Maybe there can be such a thing as too much relaxing?

One of the few shows I make an effort to watch nowadays is Angel, but because it mustn’t be doing terribly well in the ratings, I’m sorry to say that it’s been shunted from a bearable 10:30 to 11:30. And that’s not the worst of it, because we poor fans have to sit through some of the ghastliest television known to man to make sure we don’t miss our programme. Once it was some dreadful island dating thing. Another time, it was some celebrity unmasked rubbish—and you don’t dare leave, as Channel 7 is likely to put the programme you’re waiting for on at any time when your back is turned, because a starting time of 11:30 doesn’t actually mean 11:30, it means 11:40, or 11:50.

I managed to last till about 11:20 when I was gone. I remember waking up in a panic and asking my husband if it had started yet and he told me it was half finished, whereupon I settled back down and went promptly back to sleep. I’m glad one of us has clung to their youth and was able to make it to the end of the show. He knows that one of the reasons I married a younger man was so that he could look after me in my old age. I just never expected it to come so soon.

At least I have something to look forward to tonight and I’d better enjoy it, as there aren’t too many shows left, since the last episode has just aired over in the States. It’s going to leave a hole in my life, I’m afraid.

Still, I suppose I should be able to catch up on some sleep. Since Buffy finished last year I did gain one night’s rest. Soon Channel 7 won’t have us Buffyverse people to kick around any more and they’ll have to foist their rubbish on some other poor late night group.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

More thoughts on aliens

I was thinking a bit more about what I wrote yesterday on the disassociation I felt towards the characters in the series on Charles II and realise I’m probably being a bit harsh towards an entire time in history, because when I think about it, there are lots of other areas that are equally incomprehensible.

I hope that some day I’ll have the reassurance that the Jerry Springer show is totally scripted and acted by very distasteful, but imaginary people. As characters, they're beyond belief and very alien.

There are the revolting revelations that seem to come out about the rugby league players every few days on their behaviour and their attitudes towards women. Just when you think that they’ll have learned their lesson and will keep their heads down, out comes another idiotic statement or story.

Then, when you think about troops that are supposed to be defending democracy and leading a chaotic country to a better way of life and the way they treat powerless prisoners, you wonder who wrote that script.

Maybe as a middle class adult who associates with other middle class adults who have similar ideas, it comes as a complete shock when the façade that is supposed to be covering our civilisation cracks and shows things for the way they could be if we don’t keep the lid on.

How long has it been since we were in the playground and it was the law of the jungle, with everyone keeping an eye out for the teachers? Do we forget the bullies and the pecking system where you hoped you weren’t poor, or different or weak in an identifiable way, so that the powerful kids couldn’t have fun at your expense? Kids always picked on other kids, treated lesser kids with a total lack of respect.

Guess it had better be up to the adults to keep an eye on things and hope that by being alert and not allowing things to slide by, we really will have a society and citizens we can be proud of.

Monday, May 24, 2004

TV Musings

I've actually got a break in my day for the first time in a long time. I knew it was coming up, but I didn't allow myself to expect it, as counting your breaks before they're hatched can be a very disappointing habit indeed.

l've popped into McD's to use their facilities and now am sitting in my car with a tall cup of black coffee and my PDA to try and get a start on another blog.

I was rather tired last night, but thought I'd have a quick look in on a mini-series on Charles II that was supposed to be the show of the week. It was only going to be a quick glance before heading off to bed, but I was stuck there fascinated and ended up seeing the lot.

Being a BBC production, it was very well done indeed. Production values were high, the costumes were gorgeous, the actors were well cast and the script very well written.

None of that is what stuck with me today, though. What struck me was the very strong sense of ''otherliness'' I felt about the characters and their motivations and the whole time period. I don't think you could do a show about aliens and ET's and convey the same sense of The Other as they managed to do in this show.

Even though our civilisation comes directly from this era via 300 years of history and a lot of our institutions found their birth here, I felt very disconnected from these people and their concerns.

Charles was very charming, but so weak and indecisive when you wanted him to show a little backbone, that ultimately you didn't care what happened to him. Everyone in the court seemed to be out for themselves and they schemed so much and took offence at so much that you couldn’t really see the point in it all. Decisions of state seemed to be made for no particular reason at all. People of common sense weren’t listened to and petty nationalistic pride took precedence over national interests (maybe not so alien, after all). The hatred, the anger and the bigotry went from the top of society all the way down. These people that were shocked at the savagery of North American First Nations peoples had very unpleasant ways of dealing with their enemies themselves. The whole court was filled with such nasty, unsympathetic creatures, except for one or two characters, that I felt totally divorced from the whole works of them.

Maybe I’m too used to seeing Hollywood style costume dramas where all the characters are basically modern people in fancy dress expressing all our modern ideas of truth, justice, freedom, tolerance and spunky independence.

We smile at medieval and Renaissance paintings of biblical scenes where the biblical characters are all got up as people from the era of the painter and think “how quaint that they don’t realize how anachronistic they are”, but really, if we look at most movies and series, whenever they’re set, from the far past to the far future, the characters are all recognizably Twentieth Century (now 21st Century) in attitudes, motivations and reactions to situations. I guess we’re all like the old painters that try to fit everything into our mold so we feel more comfortable with what we’ve created.

I’ll have to try and catch the end of the series next week, but I’m afraid I cheated and reread an old history book to refresh my memory about what happened to some of the lesser characters. It’s not exactly like reading the last page of the book. Honest.

Divine right of Kings. Bah, humbug. It’s enough to turn you into a Republican.

Charles II, the Power and the Passion. Try it.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Night on the Town

I had an exciting trip out to the city last night. Well, maybe not exciting, but certainly mildly interesting.

I was reading a blog a few weeks ago by someone who lives in Sydney and who was enjoying the night life and clubs, etc. and was planning to head out for a bit of fun, and I thought, “Oh yeah. There is that other part of Sydney”. I guess you have to be young and free to experience much of the stuff that makes life wildly interesting.

It made me feel a bit jealous for a minute and then I thought, “Don’t be silly. You never cared for that when you were younger and you sure couldn’t stand the pace now”. I certainly don’t need to go into midlife crisis about something that I’ve never been particularly stuck on in the first place.

Anyways, I had to go into the Rocks to take part in a market survey and found it quite different to be in a tourist area at dusk in the autumn--a bit dreary, to tell the truth. I don’t know whether things heat up a bit later in the evening, but it certainly wasn’t a good advertisement for the area at that time of the day. Not that the Rocks is probably the place to be for a lot of excitement, though there were a few eating places and the odd pub that must see a bit of action or they certainly wouldn’t be there, as it must be an expensive place to own or rent.

We got off the train at Circular Quay and were greeted by a group of Aboriginals playing traditional music in traditional garb. Boy, better them than me. I’m not that tough out near the water, in the evening, in the autumn. Brr.

We walked by someone who was (I think) being a statue. I think I saw him move one finger, but we didn’t linger. Looks like a very boring way to make a few bucks. Maybe he should have looked into playing the digeridoo. At least then he would have had something to occupy him that’s culturally significant to the country. But then I’m one of those people that says “I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I like”, so I’m afraid I don’t know what I’m talking about at all.

We also went by someone all in silver with a sword who was at least having a bit of fun by having his picture taken by a couple of tourists. If he was supposed to be a statue, he’d obviously given up on it and was even smiling. I hope he made a bit of money.

We were a bit early, so went into a café and ordered a coffee and a chocolate something or other. It wasn’t much bigger than a rather fat finger, though I do have to admit to having long fingers and it was imported from Belgium the lady said, as my husband picked me up off the floor where I dropped in surprise at finding out it was nearly six dollars.

We were having a wild fling, so bought it, but only one to share (the fling wasn't that wild) and it definitely wasn’t worth the price, no matter how imported it was. I have to confess to being a home baker in my previous life as a real mum (instead of this rather pale imitation I do, now that I’m working a bit too much), so I’m afraid my standards are a little high. The coffee was very nice though.

My husband then abandoned me to my discussion group and we joined up again later and made for home. He’d enjoyed wandering about and having a look at things he hadn’t seen for a good long time. Poor fellow. That’s married life for you, I guess.

As we headed back to the station, things looked a bit more lively since it had become evening proper, but it still wasn't really hopping. Still and all, it was the middle of the week and hopefully for our tourist industry, things are a bit better come Friday.

We decided not to contribute any more to the economy ourselves that night. I was still trying to recover from my $5.80 confectionary. Imported. Bah. Humbug. Take me back to the suburbs where my mars bars only cost about $1.40 (less, if they’re on sale!)

Of course, if I was really energetic I would get busy and bake. I will. Soon.


Sunday, May 16, 2004

Procrastinating Again

Well, after telling myself to get onto my studies for a number of weeks, I finally got enough time at home in a semi alert condition last week to start to go over the materials we’d been given. Don’t myself see how we’re to finish it all by mid June through work, but if I use it as a training exercise, it should help if I do it through TAFE later. I hope.

I’m going to start to actually go through the exercises and assignments….any minute now. Really.

Since the sun is shining on this side of the house, I have to work in the bedroom, as it should start to thaw out shortly. One must be comfortable, after all, if work is to be done.

Then I had a look at the bedroom and decided that before any work could get done, it really had to be vacuumed, as it would be too annoying otherwise. I’m not the world’s greatest housekeeper. Day-to-day things like bed making, cooking, dishes, laundry, etc, get done, but dusting and vacuuming get put to the bottom of my list--until the appropriate time, of course.

Well, once you go to all the trouble of getting the vacuum out, you really shouldn’t waste your enthusiasm by stopping there, so a quick vacuum all about obviously needed to get done.

Then I remembered we have a supper after church tonight, so I have to make a slice. Honestly, I really do. So, the oven’s now on heating up. It takes a half an hour to warm up, as it’s a very old oven, which leaves me with a half an hour to fill.

It’s a bit useless to get stuck into the assignments for such a limited period of time, as it would totally disrupt my chain of thought, so I thought I’d better get on here and do some blogging, which I don’t think I’ve done for about a week.

One thing that has always totally annoyed me about my son is the number of excuses he can find for not getting down to his studies. For a minute today, I started to worry that maybe he was getting it from me. Then, to my relief, I realised that this wasn't so at all, for the obvious reason that my excuses are perfectly valid.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Inflation

The other day my son asked his dad for his week’s allowance, which was $20. He needed it a bit early because he and a friend were sponsoring each other for the Forty Hours’ Famine and thought it would look better if someone else other than themselves were a sponsor, so they were going to exchange $5 bills. Logical in some universe, I suppose.

It sent me to thinking about “in my days” as we old people like to say. I remember my first allowance being 5 cents. I was probably about seven or eight and had heard about this strange habit some families seemed to have of giving their children money, just for the heck of it. After discussing it a bit with my sister, I decided to approach my dad about getting some money of our own, for no particular reason that I was able to come up with. When he asked what I thought might be an appropriate amount, I thought I’d better not push it too far and asked for the 5 cents, which he thought he could manage.

It was great in those days how far 5 cents would go. You could drive a shopkeeper mad at the lolly counter trying to work out to get the most out of the penny lollies. Now that I’ve helped at canteen when the children were in primary school, I realise how much restraint those shopkeepers exercised when you were trying to decide whether a penny’s worth of lolly A was better than two cents’ worth of lolly B. Mathematics was never my strong point, so the calculations took some major figuring, especially since you had to factor in the relative taste of lollies A and B.

I can still remember a few years later, holding a conversation with a very worldly cousin in her teens explaining to me that when I was older, $10 would seem like nothing to me. I'm still waiting for that time to arrive, though I have to admit the $10’s seem to flow out in ever increasing amounts. I just cringe in dread when my son brings me a note from school, because as sure as shooting it’s going to cost me some money—the only question is “how much this time?” What ever happened to free education?

So anyways, these modern children just don’t realise how lucky they are. I had to do the ground-breaking work of asking my father for an allowance and since I already realised the necessity of an allowance, my own kids have had access to one right from the start. Not much of a one, mind you. Poverty has precluded the massive fortunes their friends seem to get, but it may spur them on to earning a bit of money of their own. At least that’s the theory.



Sunday, May 09, 2004

Mother's Day

Well, Mother’s Day has been and gone and I feel the most alive that I think I’ve felt in a couple of weeks. Too many extremely early starts lately, and even getting to bed early doesn’t seem to have done it for me. I didn’t realise how tired I was until I fell asleep after lunch and didn’t get up till 4:30. What a waste of a rather nice day—except for the catching up on sleep, of course.

This evening, after we’d eaten, instead of slumping in some sort of stupor, I actually wrote a letter I was supposed to get off and then completed and prepared minutes for mailing—and only four days after the meeting, which is a record for me lately. It sure gives a feeling of accomplishment!

I’m someone that prefers something practical for Mother’s Day. I’m one of those strange people you can buy a toaster for, if ours looks like being on the blink. Judging by commercials and anecdotal evidence, there aren’t very many of us about. Of course, an allergy to smelly stuff puts paid to a whole segment of the Mother’s Day industry and an innate laziness means there is nothing I would like less (except for perfumey stuff) than nick nacks to dust. Chocolates, though, are another story, but something that I should really control. Luckily, the family is very willing to share when I get chocolates.

Everyone should get a new wallet every couple of years. My daughter noticed the increasing rattiness of my old one and thought she’d better get me a new one before I lost the family fortune. It’s incredible when you go through all the nooks and crannies of a wallet what you’ll turn up with—some of it totally out of date. I’ve found stamps from former pricing eras (Christmas card stamps, ordinary ones, and overseas ones) that I’ll need to buy extra stamps to go with, just so I can use them. I found a gift voucher that I’d forgotten that’s due to expire at the end of the month, so that’s one thing that needs attending to straight away. I have business cards of people and businesses that I haven’t been to in years.

So, anyways, today has brought me sleep, organisation, accomplishment, chocolates! and a gift voucher for Borders, so I’ve had a very good day. Oh yes, I nearly forgot—also a laundry trolley to replace our old one that has certainly seen better days. This too is something that I can share with the family—though for some reason they don’t seem to appreciate it as much as when I offer to share the chocolates.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Parent/Teacher Nights

Monday night was Parent/Teacher Interview night for we poor parents.

I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but it’s been basically the same in both my children’s high schools and so, from my extensive research in two schools, I’m presuming the same misery goes on all over Sydney once a year/student for all parents.

In high school, the kids have to make an appointment time with each teacher and, for some strange reason, the times usually seem to be in an almost solid block with five minute breaks in between, except for the one subject they couldn’t fit in, which ends up right at the end of the evening.

This means the parents start off the night full of confidence, if they’re Year 7 parents, and full of dread if they’ve already been through one of these nights before.

You see, even though we’ve all been allotted our five minutes of face-to-face and are told the teachers are keeping to this and that any parent who wants extra time should make a separate appointment with the teacher for a later date, you just know that none of this is going to happen.

We all arrive clutching our crumpled appointment schedules and start off hopefully with our first teacher, where, if we’re lucky enough to get there for the beginning of the Interview evening, we’re usually in and out of on time (for of course, we keep to our five minutes).

Then the queues start, if not with teacher number two, then certainly by number three. We line up behind these teacher hogs who ramble on about their precious child and just can’t seem to feel the gimlet gaze of increasingly irritated parents glaring at the back of their impervious thick skulls. I’m surprised they don’t fall back as though slugged when they turn away from the teachers and face our collective hatred.

For of course, this very inconsiderate person has very probably made at least one set of parents, or possibly two and onward, late for their next five minute segment with the next teacher.

Then, you catch the parents who wander over to the teacher you’ve been waiting for for the past fifteen or twenty minutes and you ask (politely, of course) what time they’re down for. If you’re lucky, they’re one or two behind you. If not, and they’ve only just escaped from their last hold up, you very kindly let them know that you’re after them and casually discuss how bad the hold ups have been this evening—just to let them know you hope they’re not one of these problem parents coming to inflict another bottleneck on the teacher you’ve almost grabbed.

We’re basically civilised here in Sydney, but don’t cross a thwarted, hungry parent too often or we’ll turn and rend you.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Wandering

Have just spent a few hours wandering around in the Blogverse, following links to other people's blog favourites and I am totally overwhelmed by what's out there. The quality ranges from fantastic to definitely unfantastic. I've done this before, but usually just go to a couple before getting down to business.

How in heaven's name to people keep up with all the blog sites they've listed? Even if only a fraction of the sites are updated regularly, it must be a mammoth task to keep on top of it all.

I'm speaking as a reader here--a compulsive reader. There is nothing I'd rather do than read and I've spent most of my life doing so. I always have a book (sometimes two or three on the go--don't want to be caught somewhere without something to read after all).

Right now, I'm suffering from reading overload. Not only is there a pile of books beside my bed that I'm falling behind with, there are also newspapers (my son has to subscribe to a daily paper for one of his highschool courses), there's AvantGo on my PDA, there's simple browsing about on the Web, and now there are all these very involving blogs to keep up with.

Maybe is would have been easier to have lived in a simpler time, when you just would have had to keep waiting for the latest Dickens' blockbuster, and then you could have had the illusion of keeping on top of it all.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

Generous

What is there about getting together with a large group of friends and acquaintances in a party situation that leads many people to think that everyone in the neighbourhood would truly enjoy a generous taste of said party from the comfort of their own homes?

Now, maybe I live in the wrong neighbourhood, but I've hardly ever heard anyone's musical selection that made me think, as I laid in bed, "Gee, this is great. Now I have something decent to listen to as I try to get to sleep".

Jungle drums are truly not something you want to have to listen to for extended periods of time. Even if they're not badly done, for some reason they tend to be very repetetive. After all, even if you're sharing everything with the neighbours free of charge, I think we non party people do deserve a more professional attitude on the party goers part. After all, we're usually not caught up in the moment, so we're likely to be a bit more discerning about what's on offer.

I guess we're just lucky our neighbours only do this a few times a year and we're truly lucky that we're not right next door, plus--no babies to try and get to sleep! I knew there'd be a silver lining somewhere, if I just thought long enough. Of course, I'm afraid the mental processess are not working at anywhere near peak efficiency. The drumming and wailing have set themselves up so they're derailing the old train of thought.

Never mind, It can't last forever. Can it?