Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Knock Knock!

Who's there?

Oh, sorry. You've probably heard that one.

Time to have an opinion. Where's my gauntlet?

Is TV bad for kids? Of course it is. It destroys a child's ability to communicate and think for themselves. They either waste away to nothing or turn into something bloated and disgusting. They all become mass murdering, chip eating, sugar loving, misogynistic, anti-social brats. And it's all because of TV.

Or is it? In case it's not obvious, I don't actually think TV is bad for kids.

There has been a recommendation made recently that children under two be banned from watching TV and those under four be only allowed one hour a day. The impetus for this move is to combat obesity in our society, which I wholeheartedly agree needs some combating. The reports I have read also suggest that communication skills are significantly reduced and that eye movement may be retarded.

One simple solution would be to make very large widescreen TV's that are voice controlled and powered by treadmill mandatory.

I think that research would find that if a child would sit and read books for several hours a day that the very same conditions mentioned above would likely develop. The effort of turning pages notwithstanding (some of those cardboard pages are pretty thick after all), books are no more interactive than TV. I suppose the act of actually lifting the chosen book off the shelf may be slightly harder than pressing the button on a remote.

Ok, so what about eye movement? Do the eyes get a better work out scanning through lines of text or watching TV? Before we answer that, let's ask if it is actually relevant. After all, kids books are mostly pictures and while they don't move like they do on TV, they are typically smaller than a TV screen. So the range of movement can't be considered greater. But wait, you might say. The kid stares at an unmoving TV screen for hours and a child normally looks at numerous books in the same period of time, forcing their eyes to move far more than when watching TV. I would argue that the contention here is not a comparison of time spent engaged in this particular activity, but rather the specific nature of the act itself, that is, the looking at a book versus the watching of TV and the movement of the eye to cover the information. We will get to the time spent shortly. I think most people would agree that a book is actually not bigger than a TV and the eye can traverse the display space equally effectively for both.

But the time issue is significant, however, maybe not for the above reason. In all the literature I have read, none has suggested that books are better than TV because for every unit of time, your eyes get a better workout with books than with TV. The studies do address the time concerns, but they all focus on the macro movement of the whole body. So while there may be a gut instinct to defend books as a better experience for eye movement, there doesn't seem to be any actual scientific data being offered to support that idea.

Before we jump on the main issue, let's look at the other idea of verbal skills. We are encouraged to read to our kids and speak to them normally, no baby talk, so that they develop a mature, natural way of speaking. Hearing lots of spoken words is the only way a baby can begin to develop speech. Books are full of cool pictures and (to a baby or toddler) otherwise meaningless words. Those words only gain meaning when read aloud to the child. The story comes to life and the significance of those strange markings on the page start to creep into a child's mind.

I am a great believer in reading aloud to your children and I have been doing it for Princess and Little Man since before they were born. Ok, I read Harry Potter for DW while she was pregnant with Princess, then known as Bob. But I also believe it is a valuable thing for the kids to have access to the books themselves. This allows them to go through the book at their own pace, to explore the pictures carefully and to try to retell the story as they remember it. It also has resulted in the ultimate destruction of some "overly loved" books but that is probably worth it to foster the joy of reading.

But...and you knew there was a but coming... I don't think a child learns anything about speech when they are sitting quietly on their own, not hearing the words being read and not trying to say the words themselves. That is not to say that such time is not valuable, but how does it help speech? More often than not the child will soon tire of that activity and find something else to do, all the while learning valuable skills but unless they are hearing words spoken or trying to speak themselves, they are not practicing that particular skill.

Does TV help? Most of kids TV consists of people or characters talking or singing, sometimes themselves and other times with the help of a narrator, but there is always lots of words involved. Most programming targeting young children have specific educational goals, such as learning colours, shapes, words and numbers and even morals. Some even include other languages. Many encourage the children to participate, asking them questions and giving them time to come up with an answer and pretending it is an interactive medium. Whatever you may personally feel about TV, I think you would have to agree that it presents a wide variety of speech learning opportunities for a child.

So on to the next objection. TV may have lots of words and talking but that is not as good as sitting with your child and reading a book, or talking to them about what they are doing and so on. That is absolutely correct and also completely irrelevant. I am certainly not contesting the value of spending personal time with you child, whether it is reading a book, drawing a picture, baking muffins OR watching TV. The more one-on-one time you can spend with your kids the better. But this argument is about comparing the solitary act of watching TV with the solitary act of reading a book for a preliterate child.

So just how much one-one-one time can you spend with your child? Each parent will have their own answer for that but when it comes down to it, you simply have to let them have some time to themselves, and not just for your own sanity. A child needs time away from the stimulation of discussions with a parent to integrate the information. They may play with blocks and they may look at a book, or heaven forbid, watch TV. Invariably we all need some mental downtime to let our "subconscious" play with the ideas we have just been exposed to. Kids are no different. I should point out that kids certainly do need time away from TV for the same reason, but that is a long way from saying they should not be allowed any time in front of the TV in the first place.

And now for the biggie. Kids are fat. Ok, not all kids are fat, but most of them are, so the generalization is fair. Only is it? Well, to be quite honest, it really is fair. A generalization is a description which fits the majority of the subjects. In this case, the majority of kids are overweight. That is not to say that your kids or my kids are overweight, just that for every kid that isn't overweight, they are more kids that are.

My kids are not fat. They are active and vibrant and very, very healthy. They also watch more TV than the new recommendations allow. Actually, they watch more TV than the old recommendations allow. They probably watch too much TV, but I certainly couldn't use their weight as an indicator of that. Actually, there is only my unfounded belief that they watch too much TV. I have no actual evidence of that at all.

Kids need to be active and my kids are like humming birds. But back to the argument in question, how is TV any less physically active than sitting reading a book? It is certainly less active than bouncing on the trampoline or riding the scooters, but the question here is about reading. I'm sure you can agree that in this context, TV and reading use up about the same calories and develop the same gross motor skills, which is to say, none at all.

And here is some more fuel for the fire. Fat kids aren't really the problem. The problem is they grow up to be fat adults, so perhaps the ban should not be on kids, but on adults. I don't see that ever happening, or ANY political party brave enough to even suggest it.

Basically, our kids need to eat healthy foods MOST of the time, get plenty of exercise and gain as much experience of the world they safely can, be that with a parent, playing sports and with friends, reading and yes, even TV. No-one would ever dare to suggest that books should be banned - that would be akin to blasphemy! But the lack of actual evidence and the emotive arguments make TV an easy target. The problem with the suggested ban is not that it is unenforceable, but rather that it will not achieve what it sets out to, and that is help children be healthy and grow into healthy adults. And to make matters worse, it WILL succeed in making excellent, loving and dedicated parents feel guilty when they turn on the TV while they have their morning coffee, just for a moments peace. And God help anyone with more than one kid.


Thought for the Day: Say everything with conviction, especially your retractions.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Hey, Hey it's... what day is it?

It's time to put pen to paper, shoulder to the wheel, nose to the grindstone and get some finger tappin', mind melting, fog inducing, thought reporting blog-style.

Ok, before I forget, I should mention some of the wonderful kid-isms that seem to pop out at regular intervals at my house. Firstly, Little Man is going through an "angry" age. Everything seems to annoy him, though he can be extremely happy at other times. I don't think he is manic depressive or anything scary but at four, I'm told kids go through a difficult age. Actually, saying kids are going through a difficult age is a load of crap. They are difficult period. They start out being difficult and then get steadily more difficult until they have kids of their own. It would be more useful to describe an age or phase using some scale - DW and I currently use the Richter scale, other families might be different.

Anyway, the other day I was cooking dinner and Little Man objected to what I was cooking, or possibly the idea that the Earth is round - who knows. The thing is he declared his hatred for me, as he so often does these days:

Little Man: I HATE you!
Me: But I'm cooking you dinner.
Little Man: Fine! Then I love you and I hate Mum!

I should note that DW had nothing to do with this exchange whatsoever.

On to Princess, who is embracing the skill of reading with great gusto. However, a few nights back she had finished the age-appropriate readers and had come home with a book of her choosing. It was called "Cockatiels" and was in fact an in-depth reference book regarding the breeding and care of various types of cockatiels. Now while Princess can read very well for her age, this book was chock full of bird-breeding-related jargon and nearly every second word was one she had not come across before in her reading travels. In fact, many were new to me as well. So after a few pages of reading what might as well have been in another language, I suggested that the book was a little over her head.

The next day, when it was time to do her reader I asked her if she had remembered to get a simpler book, unlike her book about cockatiels. She assured she had by saying her new book was not at all the same - it was about bees.

She couldn't understand what I thought was so funny.


Thought for the Day: Even if they do smell funny, it's not something people expect to hear. Don't expect a "thank you". Honesty is its own reward.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Good morning.

I know that sounds rather more formal than is typical but I don't want to alarm you.

I believe Little Man has been abducted and replaced by a short, angry psychopath called Lightning McQueen...asaurus.

Seriously, either that or the kid has gone nuts. In all fairness, the creators of the replicant have done a great job. It looks just like Little Man and sounds just like Little Man. But a couple of things are amiss. For example, he now talks more than Princess and hasn't taken a breath for twenty three days straight. The best Princess was ever able to manage was eighteen hours and she was in peak form.

The Little Man we knew would give hugs and kisses and say "I love you Daddy" all the time, but the new one kicks, punches, bites and screams blue murder when the ads come on TV. He's even worse when something REALLY annoys him. He's a menace!

I am calmly told by those who are more calm than I, that I should calm myself and try to maintain a calming atmosphere for Little Man so that he too might calm down. My response is below:

For your information
Until now I have been
Calm and I do
Know exactly how to cope with this

From now on, please keep your
Foughts to yourself.

Or words to that effect. A measured response if ever there was one, I think you'll agree. I should mention that very occasionally the real Little Man pops back and gives hugs and cuddles and says "I Love You" and makes DW and I feel less like the parents of an angry velociraptor. We treasure those brief moments and use them to steel ourselves for the maelstrom that is Little Man Unleashed.

In case anyone is wondering about the Lightning McQueen reference earlier, Little Man has been obsessed with the hero of the Cars movie for ages. He is also obsessed with dinosaurs, hence the "...asaurus" addition. He alternates between flying his cars around the room, blasting everything in sight, ala Angry Blue Lightning McQueen (cf. Cars dream sequence) or roaring and leaping about like a dinosaur. He chops and changes which dinosaur he is at any given moment, depending on which one he thinks would inflict the most damage in a particular scenario. He really commits to the role as well.

It is not just during play that he is completely crazy. He deliberately rejects any suggestion of Princess' when it comes to deciding what to watch on TV. The only food he admits to liking is noodles and screams his replicant head off (ok, it doesn't come off but it does seem to turn further than it should be able to) whenever something else is served. He still eats whatever is put in front of him eventually, and will occasionally admit to liking it, but its still not noodles, dammit!

It is DW's considered opinion that the behaviour is not that of a changeling, but rather a result of Little Man giving up his day sleep before he is really ready to. I have applied the principle of Occam's Razor to her argument and decided that it is more likely he is a short, angry psychopath replicant, rather than just being overtired. I mean, how else can you explain the inhuman strength and super spit?

I don't remember Princess going through a similar phase. DW offers two explanations for this supposed lapse. Firstly, Princess did go through the same phase and I am simply repressing the memory. Secondly, and seemingly at odds with the first, Princess is a girl and girls are different to boys and go through different phases. It was unwise to suggest she should just pick one and stick to it.

To her credit, DW is the one who bears the brunt of dealing with the replicant-freaky-monster destructo-boy. The fact that he still lives is a testament to her self-control. Thank God he hasn't touched her knitting.

Now if I reach my mind out to the most extraordinary possibilities I must concede that it is possible that the horrible little punk monster is actually our beloved son, Little Man. I admit it may be, however unlikely, that he is going through a phase and it is exacerbated by him being overtired. Maybe. But I doubt it.

I'll keep you posted.


Thought for the Day: Never rush doing up your fly.

Friday, May 08, 2009

"Let them eat cake", she said.

Princess has been making this world her own for seven years, as of yesterday, at about 1:01pm. And she made nearly as much fuss as she did on arrival.

Well, we had already had the birthday party but Princess was just about beside herself pending the actual anniversary of her birth. She was humming with anticipation the night before. I don't mean humming like most people hum. I mean her whole body was shaking almost imperceptibly and she appeared in a constant state of motion blur.

While DW worked on what must be said to be one of her best birthday card creations, I set about wrapping the presents. I am pretty proud of the presents I chose, bar one. DW suggested a series of kids books about the adventures of Tinkerbell, which Princess loves, but I chose the rest of the presents on my own. I think I did pretty well considering my lack of shared interests with a seven year old girl. I bought her a microscope. Ok, we have some shared interests. She calls it her science thingy with the bits and other stuff. Ok, so I got her something for me to play with, but you know, quality time and all that.

I also got her a board game called Cluedo Jnr, where rather than solving a gruesome murder, the kids are called upon to solve a far more insidious crime - who ate the last piece of chocolate cake. Are we preparing our kids for the real world or what? I also bought her Monopoly Jnr (a great deal on the double pack) but DW decided that along with all the presents she had already received and are still coming, we would hold off on that one. I'm not sure how that is preparing Princess for the Global Financial Crisis but there it is.

Now, those all sound like responsibly, well thought out gifts, yes? I agree. It was the last gift, or rather the one we let Little Man give to Princess, that is the questionable choice. For the last year or so, Princess has been asking for a "yada yada yada." It turns out this is actually the name of a toy, and not me just hearing her say what I always hear when she asks for something. It is a little voice recorder that can record all of six seconds of whatever and then play it back. It can only record one clip but the real magic, at least for Princess, is that it can play it "high and fast or slow and slow". She evens says the slogan in those voices.

I love Princess dearly but her voice can be a little piercing and she talks A LOT so that can get a little annoying after a few seconds. Imagine what its like after seven years. And now, she can record herself and play it back "high and fast". As her voice is already high and fast, it is difficult to explain what we are now being subjected to, but suffice it to say, DW would probably have preferred I'd bought her a sports whistle.

Because it was Princess' 7th birthday, I took some flex time to stay home yesterday. As luck would have it, it was also the day DW was scheduled to do classroom help in Princess' class, so what better opportunity for Dad to "see first-hand" just what goes on in the grade one classroom. What joy! What rapture? What a funky smell a room full of grade ones make.

Princess was terribly excited that I would be with her for the first couple of hours of the day, and pretty much wanted to cuddle me and sit on my feet the whole time. However it was good to see how well she does in class and how she really listens and works hard for the teachers. Now I just need to learn their secrets and get her to do it at home. "Not likely", she tells me. So I wandered around, helping the odd kid with their writing, chatting with the normal kids and practicing my pasting. I've still got it, by the way. It was an experience, and by and large a rewarding one. I'm very proud of Princess and I've discovered I can hold my breath for nearly two minutes when it's really necessary.

Then it was cake making time. DW had a couple of cake mixes that she said I could have a go at making. And yes, she said it a little condescendingly if you ask me. Anyway, I set about trying to make the birthday cake. I would have followed the instructions to the letter if DW hadn't informed me that she does it differently to the instructions and proceeded to modify the recipe. I, being a dutiful and sensible husband, followed her instructions up until the point of the discussion over which cake tin to use. Our opinions diverged slightly and in a rare display of backbone, I chose a different cake tin to DW's "highly recommended" one. In my defense, mine was what the original recipe called for. I guess having survived the morning with Princess' class and so little oxygen, I was feeling brave and slightly light-headed.

All appeared to go well until the cake came out. From above, it looked perfect, just like the packet. Unfortunately, it nearly disappeared when observed from the side. It had certainly risen in the oven, but some mysterious thing happened when it cooled - it compressed itself into a thin, firm disc. I was able to add some height with, I guess it could be said, too much icing, and I made it rather pretty with, again it could be said, too many smarties. The result was a very pretty cake, especially with candles and such, but not the best eating. Unless you thought of it as more of a tort, which was closer to the mark, but still, pretty hard going.

The kids had a fair go at the smarties and ate their way down through nearly a cakes-depth of icing, but couldn't proceed past what we were now calling the base. I think DW must have felt sorry for me and ate her whole piece. She started laughing toward the end, but it took nearly twenty minutes more before she could explain why she was laughing. Apparently she had been trying to speak after putting in the last mouthful and it had taken her that long to clear her mouth to speak. It did have a slightly clagging effect, I'll admit.

We discussed its various merits later. The possibility of using it for roof insulation looked good until you consider the cost of reinforcing the ceiling to support the weight. It could also be used as a bullet-proof vest, with or without the smarties, and with the added bonus of being able to stick the wearer to a wall, or a reinforced ceiling. It could also be used as a Frisbee of mass destruction or for weight training. We also considered that we could market it as the closest thing to Elvish Lembas bread. I ate four pieces.

Anyway, the most important thing is that Princess had a great day, and is now counting the days until the next present epoch, Christmas. And we all survived the experience. Little Man made his presence felt yesterday but that will have to wait for now. Stay tuned.


Thought for the Day: Highly concentrated chocolate goodness. Doesn't sound so bad now, does it?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hello World!

Time for another blog.

In two days it will be Princess' 7th birthday! I find it hard to believe that this girl has been with us for such a long time. I also find it hard to believe how quickly seven years can go by. You would think that I could average the two out and have it feel like seven years but No! No matter how I think about it, seven years just seems wrong. But seven years it is.

Because its is Mother's Day on Sunday coming, we decided to have the birthday party last weekend. DW did her usual stellar best and organized an excellent party. If I ever have another 7th Birthday party, I want her to organize it. However, this year, Princess decided to help. She found herself a clipboard and discovered the joys of making lists. She made lists of her lists and stuck them about the place with various ticks besides those she deemed accomplished to her satisfaction.

I also make lots of lists, but I lose them. I found a list I made in 1992 and I hadn't done anything on the list yet, but I figured if I've gotten by this long without doing those tasks, I probably don't need to worry about them. I can't find the other lists.

During her list making, Princess would come up to DW and I and ask politely in her most demanding voice, what we were going to do about such and such. We would give some answer and she would stare at her list and apparently tick things at random. I'm sure it all made sense to her. DW was concerned that bad weather might interfere with our plans but Princess declared the she and I had come up with an "Inside during Wet Weather Plan". DW was impressed and asked what the plan entailed.
Princess replied that we would be inside if there was wet weather. Good plan. Aptly titled as well.

As it happened, we had an almost perfect day for the picnic. In fact, it was a little too hot if anything, but that only ruined the jelly cups. Everything else went according to plan. Kids running madly. Eating like locusts. The occasional tears which disappeared as quickly as they started. More eating. Cakes and candles and "Happy Birthday to you"s. More tears. Did I mention the red cordial? (Actually we didn't have red cordial - Princess likes to get her face really close to other people and tell them that red cordial makes her go nuts - and at that distance they truly believe her).

Perhaps the most amusing thing for me was that as the only male adult in attendance, I ended up as the unofficial MC. I didn't mind. At one point all the kids were running in all directions and I was reminded of gas particles in a contained space. So I yelled at them all to "run much faster!" and bless them, they actually did. Pretty much until they fell over. The other parents might have thought I was being a little mean, abusing my power like that, but I'll bet when their kids fell into bed and went straight into a deep sleep that night, they filed that little trick away in the back of their minds.

Anyway, on Thursday there will be no party as such, but a family celebration. No doubt another blog will ensue.


Thought for the Day: Initial experiments indicate that frisbees are attracted to birthday cake.

Friday, May 01, 2009


I've never started a blog with G'Day and I promise I will never do it again.

I have recently been tempted into the world of Twitter. Obviously many people already use Twitter and I signed up a while back wondering what the big deal was. My first instinct was that there was, in fact, no big deal. Basically, for those not in the know, when using Twitter, you "tweet" whatever you're doing at any given moment, whenever you feel you have something of interest to tweet. Actually, even if it is not of interest, you can tweet. In fact, especially then, if judging by the current world of Twitter is anything to go by.

This is slightly different to FaceBook, which asks the question "What's on your mind?" Now that is a dangerous question to ask me, seriously. So mostly I just post little inanities and the occasional plug for my doritos ad at (Spies Like Us) but nothing too challenging for my small array of friends.

Fortunately there is a FaceBook app called Twitter which allows me to post simultaneously to both with the same entry. But it is often not the case that what I am thinking is the same as what I am doing.

I am left with the distinctly uneasy feeling that I don't actually understand social networking online. What makes me uneasy is the fact that my track record in social networking in the real world seems to be following me into cyberspace. But cyberspace is supposed to be my domain. It's where nerds are cool and geeks are hip. Or is that have hips? Not sure but it is supposed to be the one place you can meet other nerds and geeks while wearing a cape and carrying a broad sword or magical staff and actually command some respect in a pub.

For what its worth, don't try the broad sword thing in a real pub. People don't seem to feel threatened. But I think they respected the cape, at least a little.

So, back to my social ineptitude. I have cleverly masked my dysfunction in the real world (my cape has a hood) but the real people have stopped going to pubs and now drink at home while Twittering and telling their friends on FaceBook what's on their mind. Now you may laugh or shake your head at me for my comments about swords and capes, but who throws sheep, honestly? And what are you to do with said sheep?

I had someone hug me the other day. Not for real, not a hug like DW or the kids can give. Just a message that someone had sent me a hug. Wow! That is so nice! Someone cared enough to send me a hug, along with the other 2342 people in their friends list. I felt so special but couldn't help thinking, if you're going to send me useless intangible crap, why not send me a million imaginary dollars. Or a bazillion dollars. Why not send me a bucket full of dirt? Why dirt you ask? Why the hell not? I could lie in it while I wait to become a vampire. You see, apparently someone else, who didn't think I deserved a hug, set a vampire on me instead. Honestly though, I couldn't tell the difference. In fact, the next person who sends a hug to me may well find themselves beaten on the head with a sheep and have a spike rammed through their heart. And a million imaginary dollars because I care.

There are probably a whole bunch of people who read the above (I wish) and think that maybe I have missed the point of online social networking, and perhaps the hug was just a nice thought, and the sheep is only harmless fun. I think you are probably right. If you remember, that was my initial point. I don't understand online social networking. I don't have time to find out just how many mothers from eighties sitcoms I can name, or to prove I have a decent IQ to whoever it was claimed I'm the dumbest person they know. There are damsels what need savin', don't you know. And that IS a sword in my pocket.

However, I do try. I blog, for instance. Actually, I mostly do that for the catharsis but sometimes I actually try to make someone else feel better about themselves or voice my consternation about an injustice. But blogging is different. It is a much broader expression of self, but maybe not everyone needs such an expression. And so I also use FaceBook, though not to hurl sheep or discover which planetary region I come from. I have found some small measure of satisfaction in knowing that several friends who have seemingly drifted away a little are back in touch, even if its only to say they like my status.

Its funny, but I find I have no interest in what someone's Bejewelled score is, or how many citizens they have in their very own little metropolises(?), and yet I am very interested in what they are thinking. I read recently that a friend was sad. Another person unknown to me but close to my friend asked what was wrong and my friend confided her pain, not just to the one asking, and not to the whole world, but to those who are interested in what she is thinking, her friends. Obviously some things need to be kept private but it made me more aware of my friend who is living a long way away.

And in that lies the heart of the matter. Online social networks, while no substitute for real interpersonal communication, allow us to fill some of the empty moments in our day with thoughts of our friends. You don't need to spend more time in front of a screen, because many of those active online are spending less time in front of the TV, watching imaginary peoples' lives unfold. Those little messages, and hugs I suppose, are a tiny glimpse at people we would otherwise see only rarely. I know there are nay-sayers who condemn these communications as taking people out of the real world, disconnecting humanity from personal interaction. While they have a point, it is proffered without consideration of the benefits. Their are also proponents who are quick to bring those arguments of how socially inept people can find some measure of meaningful communication with others they might not enjoy in the "real" world. But in my opinion, those that potentially suffer most and also those that stand to benefit most greatly are those of us in the middle.

Technology is change and all change brings with it both promise and warning. It is up to us to work out how to progress rather than regress. It is certainly up to us to educate our children in practices that will see them reap the rewards of these developments and at the same time be mindful of the dangers that lurk. It is a brave new world and I suppose I can get used to it.

Now, I must go. Someone sent me a dragon egg and I'm told it needs tending if it is to hatch into a ferocious weapon that I can wield in my quest to save damsels and get respect in pubs. Gotta love the respect.


Thought for the Day: I can't express my thoughts in Twitter's 140 character limit.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Its cold again. I'm cold. I'd like to feel warm. But I don't. Still, I now have a cup of tea and that is helping.

I think its time I bought a new winter coat. I haven't bought one for a long time and my old one is disintegrating. A new coat would be nice. It would make me warm. I wish I was warm right now.

Ok. Enough whining. On to today's blog.

Football. Some people drag themselves through the summer just to get to the start of football season. Others notice the insidious encroachment of football into their usual TV schedules. And some don't give a hoot either way.

Me, I quite like football, but I quickly get enough of it. I was lucky enough to be offered free tickets to a Geelong game on Sunday but I declined. "Why?", you may ask. Well I'll tell you. Basically over my lifetime I have been to maybe half a dozen AFL football games and I have failed to enjoy any of them. I don't like the noise. I don't like not being able to see properly (certainly not now that I have my 106cm fullHD LCD at home). I don't like the neanderthal-like regression displayed by some of the supporters. I assume its a temporary regression but its entirely possible those particular people were like that before they come, and continue to be like that when they leave.

And I don't like to watch Geelong lose. Every time I have gone to the footy, Geelong have lost. If I even watch Geelong on TV, even my beautiful new 106cm fullHD LCD TV, they usually lose. In fact, the only way for me to see Geelong win is if they manage an unassailable lead in the first half and then I can tune in. Even so, Geelong still hold the record for having established the greatest three-quarter time lead and still manage to lose. I saw that game.

As I was coming to work this morning I entertained myself, as I do, by thinking up strange changes to the world around me. This morning it was football. I wondered if Aussie Rules Football might not be more interesting if it was called in the spirit of Dungeons and Dragons.

I imagined Gary Ablett Jr attacking the enemy combatants with his +6 boot. Someone casts the dreaded "Chewey-on-your-boot" charm, but the young magician is not deflected. The Brisbane Lions defenders collapsing before his skill. The Geelong forward line unite in a frontal assault, hacking and slashing their way through. Dragons and Trolls doing bloody battle. The final score reveals The Mighty Cats take the day with 18 major strikes and 18 minor hits and take a paltry 5 strikes and 3 minor, barely denting their armor, leaving the Barely LionCubs with a deficit of 93 hit points. While The Cats celebrate their XP boosting win, the Brisbane Lions barely have the strength to kick their wounds.

I'd watch that.

But not soccer:
England swing at Italy and miss. Italy swing at England and miss. England swing at Italy and miss. Italy swing at England and miss. England swing at Italy and miss. Italy swing at England and miss. England swing at Italy and miss. Italy swing at England and miss.
The End

Grid Iron might be ok though, for a laugh:
The Chicago Bears are facing the Dallas Cowboys. Both teams are in full armor. They stare at each other while one of them tries to count. When they realise that isn't working, they all drop their weapons and punch each other in the face. In fact, rumor has it they are lined up facing each other to make sure they punch the right team in the face.

Maybe not, but I like to daydream.


Thought for the Day: Mr Whippy! Mr Whippy! Where for art thou, Mr Whippy?

Monday, April 27, 2009

I'm just interested to see how easy it is to blog from my iPhone.

[Ed.: It's not too bad but I'd like to be able to post and edit the posts within the one app.]
Good morning, World!

It's Monday and it's cold. We are getting to the last part of Autumn and winter is apparently anxious to be about.

We had a reasonable amount of rain last week and somebody stole my umbrella. It greatly annoyed me. I know I shouldn't but I often have a quiet snicker to myself at people who don't think ahead and carry an umbrella. I'm mean it's Melbourne people! Anyway, I was unfortunately one of those people running through the rain, wishing some prat had not stolen my umbrella. Perhaps I shouldn't laugh at other people's misfortune because perhaps some of them were in the same predicament as I. Who am I kidding? As long as they look funny, I'm gonna laugh.

So it was a cold, wet weekend at our house which meant the kids probably watched more than the recommended two hours of television. They got a little stir crazy. The place looked like a bomb hit it. Actually, two bombs. Princess and Little Man are surprisingly effective when it comes to uniform distribution of all they own. Apparently they like to be able to see all their toys and clothes at once. DW has to go around every day and tidy it all up only to have them do it again to next day.

I don't suppose our kids are unique in this penchant for disorder, so I guess most mums or stay-at-home dads have a similar problem. However, Princess and Little Man are certainly proficient to a high degree. I know DW finds it very hard to have to do the same thing every day, clean up after the kids, wash the clothes, wash the dishes, make the meals, rinse and repeat. Finding time to do the things she needs to do for her own sanity often get bumped to the background and she has been doing it for over seven years.

This year promised some respite as Princess is in Grade One and Little Man is now at three-year-old kinder. That means DW has a whole 5 hours (nearly) to herself. So what does she do with that precious time? She reorganizes her week to do those chores that are easier without the kids in tow, like shopping or paying bills. She doesn't actually get that time to herself. The impact is not insignificant because overall, her week is slightly improved because she doesn't have the shopping battle with Little Man trying his level best to help. Princess is not stopping her to read every single word she sees on the street. But it isn't down time.

I read a while back a comparison of activities which cited looking after a three-year-old as being equivalent in energy demand to eleven hours of sex. I'm sure there are many mothers (or fathers) who firstly have never experienced eleven hours of sex, but probably feel the comparison is fair. They might also have a slightly improved respect for hookers. Or not. But the point is, its hard. Energy draining, body mass reducing hard. At least according to the study.

But I don't think it's quite accurate. It probably feels that way, and therein lies the problem. Looking after small children is hard, but mostly that challenge comes from having to let a significant part of yourself slide to the background while you pick up toys, wash clothes, make meals, rinse and repeat. It is a physical job, but it is the mental challenge and self-sacrifice that really makes it hard.

So to DW and other mothers/fathers out there who struggle with the daily grind, I say thank you. I hope every one of you has someone who will say that to you in person and show you their undying appreciation. Your kids will probably not understand yet just what you are giving them but one day they will. And when that happens, they will realize that they can never repay the debt, except by being such a parent to their own children.

So as you start your next day of mindless tedium and unending chores, just remember that you are appreciated, perhaps not fully and perhaps not by everyone, but at least by those future adults who were once so completely dependent on you. And me. I think you are all doing a great job. Thanks.


Thought for the Day: Eleven hours! OMG!

Friday, April 24, 2009


Yep. You heard me. Doritos.

For those who watch TV or those who eat chips, and those few who do both, you may be aware of the Doritos ad competition. Basically the idea to to make a 29 second ad featuring Doritos. Sounds easy? Well, yes and no. If you visit the website you will see that some people found the competition very easy. In fact, some of the ads took no apparent effort at all. However, a couple of ads did show some extra spark, and they would have been far more challenging.

I have created an ad along with my regular co-producer Narelle and crew. I think its pretty cool. If I ever manage to get it submitted (currently some server issues), hopefully you will able able to see it too, and vote for it (you can win chips!). But I have been thinking about the other ads submitted.

There is a very cool little cartoon about a corn chip trying to win a singing contest in the vain of Australian Idol or one of those shows. Its very dynamic, funny and well produced with very high production values. It is engaging and a worthy contender for the top prize. Obviously I hate it because it might beat my ad, but I applaud the effort.

There is one ad I hate even more. Its the ad with the girl in the corn chip bikini that apparently falls off after she dives into the pool. It might be the best ad ever. Hell, even I nearly voted for it. I still might. Apparently I am squarely in the target demographic because it is a such a simple concept. Sex sells. Based on the number of votes, lots of people are buying.

Don't get me wrong. I wish I had thought of it and had the budget to put something like that together. It is very slick. It has very high production values. And it can be extremely easily adapted to sell anything from corn chips to BBQ tongs, swimming pools, any form of soft drink, and pretty much anything that could potentially be used to barely hide breasts. And there's the rub (no pun intended - well not really). Basically it has done exactly what any good ad does. It taps into the audience psyche and wraps them up in endorphins. Then it can sell them pretty much anything it wants. The perfect ad. I hate it. One day I hope to create an ad just like it. Shallow, I know.

Actually, we had a lot of fun making the ad so that in itself is some reward. Even with these few good ads in the competition, I'm still hoping we can make a good showing of ourselves.

As an amusing aside, due to scheduling conflicts and so on, I ended up playing the scientist. I don't usually like being in front of the camera. In fact, I still don't but I decided it would be best in this instance. What was funny was DW's reaction to the beard I grew. Its not like I haven't grown a beard before but usually I don't trim it. Its either there, wild and unkempt, or its not. What I wanted for this scientist was something more deliberate and repressed, so I very neatly trimmed my beard. One might think that would look better. It certainly sounds better. DW was horrified. She hated it. She thought I looked sleazy and wouldn't even give me a kiss until I shaved it off. Which she made me do a few minutes after we finished shooting.

Oh well. The things we do for art. And for love. Often not the same things.


Thought for the Day: Super powers don't make the superhero. Its the underpants.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Ho?!?

Is this a blog I see before me?

I'd better step around that. I don't know where its been. Or where its going.

Well, it's official. I haven't blogged for a while. I bet everyone thought I had spent all my words on rubbish like lollies or footy cards, but No! I have been saving them.

In fact, I've been saving them so well, that I decided I should probably use a few before they simply EXPLODEOUTOFTHEKEYBOARDUNDERTHEINCREDIBLE

There they go.


Let me just wait a minute.

Ok, all done.

Now, where was I?

Blogging. Ok, I've decided to start blogging again because of the aforementioned and because I simply haven't been writing for my own enjoyment enough lately. Writing is fun, even the way I do it. Also, I was thinking that I don't typically record all the events that happen in my life in any other form. Not that this format is entirely accurate, or even remotely accurate, but it serves as a reminder of my state of mind.

Now you are probably thinking why would I want a reminder of that but eventually it may be useful in establishing my deteriorating mental state should I ever need to plead temporary insanity down the track. Also, its fun.

What has happened in my life since the last time I wrote. Well lots of things but the most bestest of all is that Blogger now allows for Followers! Yay! I have followers! Well, follower but I hope to add more. Now before you dump me as a leader, please understand I take this responsibility very lightly and will try not to lead you or any of my flock astray. Unless its fun. So I urge everyone to become a follower and be prepared to be led astray.

I'm a little embarrassed. Apparently the term "follower" on blogger doesn't mean quite what I thought it meant. But that's up to you good people now, isn't it. I say good people, but I don't mean to discriminate, so please don't be offended if you don't fall into the "good people" category. Especially don't be offended if you fall into the "vengeful psychopath" category.

So what does the new blogging me have in store? Well, apart from more of the above tripe, I will be giving updates on Princess and Little Man, as well as DW, friends, family and pretty much anybody who wrongs me.

Stay tuned for tomorrow blog: Doritos!


Thought for the Day: Sometimes I can seem arrogant, which is fair.