Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Toilets while travelling

It's always a bit of a worry.  What kind of toilets will I have to endure while travelling? Horror stories abound. I am hoping for the kind of toilet shown in the clip below. That's not asking too much, is it? Shame I'm not traveling to the Philippines.

Monday, December 29, 2014

I have to fly soon

Fast approaching is my date with international air travel. I'm going over the other side of the world to check up on my mum and dad for 10 days.  Recent news events are not helping my nerves. I am not a great traveller. I like to stay home. Deep breath.  Wish our airport had some of these guys helping out.

HT A holy experience

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Make your own wooden pliers

Cool.  Just the thing to do over a long summer - learn to make your own working wooden pliers with just ten cuts.

HT 22words

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Who's in charge of the Big Bad Tablet?

One of our children has bought themselves a tablet.  After a YEAR of saving, this kid made it to their goal and brought home the long-hoped for device.

It's one thing to congratulate a kid on saving up.  It's another thing to live with the device. 

Because while they are in charge of loving it and feeding it electricity, but we all know it's you that will have to monitor it, regulate it, ensure that they remember to stop for food and maintain the ability to speak in multiple syllables to real human beings.

And then there is porn.

So in case any of your Christmas delights will include a screen or two, here are two apps worth considering.
Dinnertime is a free app that lets you control their tablet from your phone.  You can shut down their tablet for a dinner break, a study break or for sleep time.  If you go for Dinnertime Plus, you can also set time limits for the use of the tablet, time limits for an individual app or just block a particular app during homework time. Yes, you could do all this by physically removing the device but there is less friction involved when you can simply press a button and leave the device on charge in their room without having to police it.  Only available for Android tablets... but can be controlled by either an Android or iphone. HT The Vicar's Wife
Net Nanny is our content-blocker of choice at present. It is not a substitute for monitoring your children or teaching them to handle the world of the internet. However, it's a great tool for restricting some of the real and present dangers that lurk on the net. Cheap tablets often don't come with the parental control options that ipads have and so they can indeed be a totally unrestricted device. Cost is an ongoing subscription and varies depending on how many devices you want to have on your account. It's reasonably customizable: you can have your 16-year old and your 7-year old as separate users with different levels of blocking.

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Mysterious Benedict Society - book review

Loved this book - it's very, very clever. It's a great middle-to-upper primary read. The story is about four highly gifted children who are selected to help defeat an evil mastermind.  The great villain can only be defeated by children and it is they that must face all kinds of difficulties, puzzles and mysteries to save the world. One of the consistent themes in the book is creative problem solving and the reader is allowed time to wonder how they are going to get out of each puzzling situation and solve the riddles as they come along.  As we read the book aloud, we stopped and discussed the various problems and tried to guess the solution.  Good fun.

But the real highlight of the book is the deeper themes it addresses: truth, courage, the need to belong, self-sacrifice and bravery.  In particular, the idea that we need to think through the messages that are fed to us (through the media, television, education etc.) and stand up for what is true and good forms a major part of the plot itself. Although this would be a fun book for an upper primary kid to read on their own, I think it is much better as a read-aloud book that you share and discuss as you go along.  That way you can hopefully launch into some really interesting discussions based on the dilemmas faced by the main characters.

A little warning though - for very sensitive children, the kidnapping and constant suspense and danger might be a bit much.  Under 8 - use caution depending on your child.  Over 8 should be fine.

I give it five stars and I'll definitely be chasing down the sequels.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Adventures on ebay


So, did you know that Fatfingers is a website dedicated to spelling mistakes on ebay?  Here's the thing: if an item is misspelt, it is harder to find and therefore doesn't get as many bids.  Possible bargain therefore.  Don't tell me I only ever serve you up luke-warm youtube clips! This is gold, my friends, gold.


I thought that was a terribly clever concept and gave it a whirl. In the process I found this:

Which brings me to the obvious question: what on earth is a IKA color squid magnetic plate stirrer???  And the less obvious question: can you guess which word I typed in to check for a misspelling?  Shouldn't be too hard to guess....

And how about this:
Love these.  Especially the 'Tis but a flesh wound'.

Friday, December 19, 2014

To all the dads out there

Thank you, dads, for all the stuff you do.  Sometimes, it's the little things you do when it really counts.  Like this dad - who saved the day when his daughter was on MasterChef.

HT 22words

Because hummus is awesome

Thursday, December 18, 2014

I Am the Very Model

If you have an interest in ancient semitic languages (which admittedly is a rather niche demographic), then you'll enjoy this:

Great inventions yet to happen

This list is awesome: solar powered a/c that cools your car when it's parked in the sun, the ability to un-press a wrongly pressed elevator button by holding it extra-long, a transparent hole-punch so you can see where the hole will go and more.

And here's the some inventions not on that list that I personally want:

* a vacuum cleaner that can automatically detect and reject lego pieces
* a version of the "kreepy-krawly" pool cleaner that would go around the shower recess and clean the tiles
* a handbag where a light comes on inside when you open it - just like the fridge!
* a Roomba-iron: just dump it in your ironing pile and it sorts it all out
* a formal report-writing program where you could tell it what you really think "lazy as all get-out" and it would translate it into edu-speak "has difficulty sustaining motivation when undertaking complex tasks".

Do you have any inventions you'd love to see?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Actiwait - ping pong for pedestrians

My kids get to the walk button at the traffic lights and press it .... over and over again. Even though the light will not change any faster.  In Germany, they have a solution for this.  It's traffic light ping pong.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Matt Price moment 2014

Last year's winner was the "suppository of all wisdom"...

Actually, it's all a bit depressing at the moment. Like most Australians, I feel particularly jaded when thinking about federal politics these days.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Picky eaters

Other people's children's crazy food things are obviously stupid.  Until you have a child of your own.  Then you understand how, in the quest of sanity, you can be tempted to go with the craziness just so that meal time can be over without anyone getting hurt.  It's not a long term plan.  But some days are just survival.  Proof that children can be dictators in the making here.  It gets better...eventually.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Ending the week on a high note

It's hard to quantify the amount of ground our family has covered over the last few weeks.  So much happening.  But tonight I've got a moment to sit back and take a deep breath.

I am settling into the new office (it's not oval in shape which is a shame...however it is on the west wing on the building so.....). I had to make my first actual decision today. Hope I didn't mess it up.

The kids have had their end of year school performance nights and the eldest survived their piano exam despite being as cranky as a cat being stuffed into a pillowcase on the way there.

The stand-out moment of the week was picking up the keys to my parents' house this afternoon. It was a very sweet joy to ring my parents with the news that everything had gone through and they were now really and truly the owners of a house of their own for the first time ever.

Yep. Big week.  But lots of things for which to be very thankful.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Locking up little kids

More than 700 refugee kids are currently held in detention in Australia. There's a new campaign coming hoping to put pressure on our government to do better. Truly, we can do better.  It won't surprise any of you that this is close to my heart at the moment.  If you want to join the campaign, you can follow the link at the end of the video.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

'Snakes and Lattes' and other great cafes

I know quite a few friends who would happily lose an hour or two with me at a board-game café. Cool idea.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014


This article in the SMH, tells of a shocking discovery made during a house inspection.  Two potential buyers and a real estate agent were looking at a empty house in Milwaukee, USA.  The house was empty having been put on the market due to foreclosure a couple of years ago.  Upon randomly opening one of the cupboard doors, they found the body of a deceased male in his 50s.  He'd died alone in a cupboard, lying under a blanket, having broken into the abandoned house trying to find a warm place to sleep away from the freezing night air.

So very sad.

But it wasn't that sad fact that gripped me as much as something mentioned later in the article.

Apparently, this gentleman had been without a fixed address for many years and had been suffering from schizophrenia for most of his life. His brother had been looking for him and trying to track him down. He had been treated for his schizophrenia on and off but he often stopped taking his medication.  When asked about that he told a psychologist, "I'm so lonely, and sometimes the voices make me feel not as alone."

And that, my friends, is beyond words.  To feel so alone.

The pace of life


There have been Things Happening (those of you who read A.A. Milne will be familiar with the style of capitalization being used).

Firstly, we are almost at the finish line for buying my parents' new house.  But this last week presented some interesting hiccups that had me scrabbling and waving my power-of-attorney documents around like a lead investigator at a new crime scene. But. we. are. almost. there. I am very much hoping we've jumped the last hurdle.

I have a child facing their first piano exam this week. We are all trying to be super-cool about that so we don't pass on any kind of nerves. I wonder if I'm fooling anyone. Mind you, I have been mighty distracted by other things....

I spent all of last week agonizing over applying for a new job within my current workplace. A job which would take me to full-time.  I'll spare you a full re-run of all of the soul searching involved, suffice to say I did apply.  Then this week I had the job interview.  The night before the job interview, our hot water system stopped working.  For a few hours there it looked like I would go to my interview unwashed.  Thankfully, my genius of a husband was able to fix it. I don't think I've looked at him with such deep, intense affection since that time he rigged up a lead to connect power to my island bench.  Because - pause - I had no hot water - pause - right before a job interview with - pause - all of my bosses.

Anyway, it was a huge relief to wake up the next morning and know there was hot water. I am giving him substantial credit, therefore, for the fact that I didn't stink at my interview and got the job.

I get an office of my own now.  Nice.  Obviously not why I went for the job.  But still.  You have to enjoy the idea while you can before that office is totally inundated with Things I Must Do Soon Or Fail Everyone.

It's also that fun time of the year when we mark exams and write reports. I cranked through the last of my History exams today and I am pleased to report that the end of the tunnel is in sight for reports.  But meanwhile, our older students have already started their 2015 classes and I have two subjects that I've not taught before so my preparation has been about a day ahead of the lessons on average. But I seem to be filling up the lessons with useful stuff so we're doing okay.

I am teaching Philosophy again.  My students are so keen and so much fun. Here's a youtube clip one of them found explaining Plato's idea of the forms.

And they enjoyed watching this Monty Python clip on the nature of an argument - stop at the 4 min mark because it goes off on a tangent from there.

And, well, the rest of the nitty gritty doesn't really seem worth mentioning.  Don't know how this sudden catapulting into full-time working life will affect this blog.  We'll have to see.  
But I thought I should just let you know.  I'm still here.  And it's all good.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Christmas truce

This is one of my very favourite stories of World War I - the 1914 Christmas truce.  Sainsbury's has done a brilliant job with this ad that re-tells the story.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

It's daylight saving (singular)

Should have had this up a month ago but it's still funny.  And, Alison, just so you know, my "fix" for videos is totally not working again now.  So I still have no idea.

HT Laughing squid

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bono and Jesus

I like how he says "who is Jesus" is a defining question. I agree.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Shake, baby, shake

Wish I could do this.  Say about half-way through a double Year 8 History.  Just shake it all out.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's times like this


Sorry about the radio silence.

Life has been a bit full-on.  About three different stressful events, plus a couple of awesomely happy ones like a friend's wedding, have all dovetailed into one another and there has been much juggling of life's responsibilities and much burning of the candle at both ends.  Can't tell you about most of it because there is much that is not my story to tell.

However, I can tell you that on the weekend, one of my children was bitten on the face by a dog and needed to go to hospital.  No, not our dog.  Yes, we have warned our children many times to be careful about dogs and not to put their face too near a dog in case it feels threatened.  It just happened that they did and the dog bit.  We are sad and we are thankful that they are going to be okay and that it wasn't worse.

And it wasn't that bad.  And it was awful.

Even when you know things will be okay, seeing your child hurt is like a sudden downpour of emotion. As it worked out, my husband was the best person to drive our child to hospital and then to stay with them.  I had the other children to look after and supervise until they came home.  But then it was decided that the bite needed an overnight stay and a proper clean-out under a general anaesthetic.  My valiant husband stayed bedside all night.  But I was far away and it was terrible to not be there.

Everything is healing and improving steadily. The hospital visit was declared quite okay (mainly because white bread, butter and cordial were allowed in abundance, unlike home).  Much love and fussing and phone calls have helped.  The marks will be slight and the scar unlikely to be prominent. 

But it's been a big event for both the little one and the parents.  Now that it is all over, we all feel rather spent.

So that's the news around here, or at least part of it.  For those of you who already knew and were praying for us, thank you.  We appreciated it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

God doesn't need you

I found this article - The Key to Radical Generosity - a great encouragement last week.
I didn’t have “more” I needed to give; I actually had nothing God needed to begin with.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Time travel and the gift of perspective

A beautiful bit of Dr Who...

Thanks to the Concert Pianist for sending me the clip.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Blogger and embedding videos

Well, Alison, I didn't totally solve it.  Let's say, I improved the situation.  Videos still won't show up in emails.  However, they now appear and play in Bloglovin on my ipad.  And they now show up as an image in other feeds (but won't play) and then you can click through and play.  So at least it's not just a big blank space anymore.

I have to admit I'm not entirely sure how I did it.  A friend was helping me with a whole host of suggestions.  Something worked.  I think the most likely candidate was this:

Inside the blog design screen, click into Settings and then click into Other.

Scroll down till you get to the heading "Site Feed".  Check that the final option 'Enable Title Links and Enclosure Links' is set to "yes".  I think that's what worked for me.  Then you need to find some good videos to post so we can all check for you. :)

Site feed

Drawdle - an app review

iPhone Screenshot 1

iPhone Screenshot 3

iPhone Screenshot 2
Drawdle is a fun app that creates a series of simple challenges based on physics.  Don't let the word physics put you off - it's very entertaining.

The basic script is that you draw a shape and flick it towards a balloon filled with paint.  The idea balloon should then bang into, and burst on, a picture that is then filled with colour.  As you go through the levels, you are faced with obstacles that require some creative problem solving in order to keep pushing the balloon on to the target.

My 6-year old loves it but it is even amusing for an adult.  So if you are looking for a game you are happy for the kids to fiddle around with that also involves problem-solving and creative thinking, this just might be the ticket.

Available for both iOS and android, it's currently free with the option to buy the full game for around $1.29.

The last week

Ugh.  We have had a nasty virus going through the family one-by-one over the last week.  It started with one child last Saturday.  Every two days or so, someone else in the family would come down with it despite our frantic cleaning and germ-prevention-techniques.  On Thursday, it culminated in my husband aborting his commute to work in preference to coming home and taking to his sick bed, followed by my surrender in the late afternoon.  We kept everyone - even the now seemingly-well children - home the next day in the hope of quarantining ourselves for the greater good of the community.  I'll spare you the nasty details, but it was a truly revolting bug.

Today, we are on the mend.  The children are bright and bouncy.  My husband is okay.  I am still feeling tired but improving.  I am thankful for so many things - good healthcare, jobs that allow for leave, a nice bed to feel sorry for myself in and that everyone is well again.  But I haven't felt that ill in a long time - since I was last in hospital, I think.  So it was a humbling reminder of how fragile we can be so easily and what a blessing it is when we are well.  While I was awake in the middle of the night, I was praying for those I know who at the moment feel ill all the time.  May God grant them grace, endurance and a speedy recovery.

I did have a bit of fun when I went to the GP for my medical certificate.  My appointment was with one of the new (very young - I must be getting old) doctors that I hadn't seen before.  Whoever had entered my occupation on the practice's database had been rather specific.  When he checked my file he looked up and said, "Oh, a Year 12 Philosophy teacher!"  What followed was a rather amusing conversation that leapt through philosophy, altruism, youtube, Crash Course History, John Green, The Fault in Our Stars and Grey's Anatomy. He's not an introvert, this new GP.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Put your foot down

The Drowned Vault: Ashtown Burials #2
'Cyrus looked around.  "Yeah, but what do we do now?"
Rupert smiled. "A philosopher stood on one leg in the middle of a road, unsure of what to do. 'What is the best and wisest step? Where shall I put my foot?' he asked.  A farmer passing with an ox gave him his answer. 'Put it down,' he said. And so the philosopher did, but his other leg rose up. 'Terrible advice!' he yelled. 'My predicament hasn't improved. Where shall I put this foot?' And again, the farmer told him, 'Put it down'."

 "And...," said Cyrus.
"And this time when the philosopher put his foot down, he put it squarely in a pile of the ox's dung.  Concluding that the farmer was either a trickster or a fool, he left his foot there and never moved again.  As for the farmer, he walked on to Rome."
Rupert met Cyrus's eyes and laughed. "Your father loved that one."
Cyrus groaned. "So the joke is that philosophers are stupid and farmers aren't?"  He blinked and shook his head, looking around at the rooftop. "Why are we even talking about this right now?"
Rupert grinned.  "Two reason, Cyrus Smith.  First, the next step is always right in front of you.  Pick your feet up and put your feet down.  Second, we are most definitely standing in the dung right now.  Your first trek starts now, and it's madness.  Are you ready?"
Wilson, N.D. (2012) The Drowned Vault, Random House, New York.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Okay. I can live with it.

So, it's not solved.  However, even though the embedded video didn't show in my last post, at least the link to the video worked if I clicked through.  So that's what I'll have to do for now: embed my video and then also link directly to youtube so that rss viewers can at least click through to the video.

Surely, surely there is a fix out there somewhere for this.  It's hard to believe Google has failed me in this regard.  In the meantime, I'll have to be content with the link method.  To help me cope, I'm going to listen to rainforest sounds.... for 11 hours.

Okay.  11 seconds is enough, if truth be told.  I tried searching for truly relaxing sounds - "sounds of students working hard on research assignment", "sounds of children cleaning up after they have made a mess" or "sound of bin being emptied before it became over-full due to procrastination" - but youtube didn't seem to have those.  Strange.

Well, here's another try

I'm beginning to lose all hope.  Seems serious bloggers don't use templates like Blogger but do proper grown-up blogging with their own name and site and so their stuff shows up.  And mine doesn't.  I feel very uncool and left out.

Here's another random video to test another change to my settings.  Wilde Legal law firm kindly supplied some entertaining videos on the Australian legal studies.  The first one is an overview of the Australian legal system explained while mountain biking.  As you do.

The waterfall post

If you can see this video in your RSS feed, then my settings changes have worked.  Enjoy three hours of relaxing waterfall sounds. Otherwise....SIGH.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Blogger question

Does anyone (anyone? anyone?) know how to make embedded youtube clips show up in my RSS feeds?  As in, when you read my blog on the interwebs (ha), the video shows up fine, but if you received it via email or feed or a blog reader like Bloglovin there is always just a blank space where my wildly amusing clip should be.  Anyone solved this before?

A post related to the Bachelor - look away now

My husband opened up (because we've reached our limit of "free articles" for the month with the other only-slightly-less-dodgy online paper) and found these two pictures had been neatly stack on top of one another.

Could that have possibly been an accidental juxtapositioning?  I'm guessing not.  Amused.

Friday, October 3, 2014

And here we are

So the last few weeks have zoomed past.  Here we are.  I have no energy for deep and meaningfuls so here's a summary of life in our house.

1. We bought the house for my parents that we were looking at.  The building inspection came back positive and we were good to go.  Now there's just messy paperwork and settlement stuff to do.

2. I went into these school holidays without a clear plan.  I didn't have anything lined up.  I knew we had my father-in-law visiting at some point so I left everything rather fluid.  It's been okay but I think we all would have benefitted from a bit more structure.  Next time.

3. I'm in a short-term Bible study on Saturday mornings with some new ladies at church.  We are using the "Just For Starters" study.  It's been really encouraging to go over the basics of our faith again and it's fun to be in such a diverse group.  There are four of us, all with a different first language, three different childhood religious backgrounds, and we use a mix of Bibles in several languages.

4. I still haven't started my marking for work.  Busy days and tired nights haven't been conducive to getting on with it.  I'm going to have to face it on the weekend.  Blah.

5. I'm teaching four weeks on medieval Japanese history when I get back.  I'm trying to read up on it...but (oh the shame) I find remembering the names really, really hard.  They just seem to flow through my brain like water and out the other side.  And not in a Zen kind of way.  In a not-sticking-in-there-who-was-that-guy-again kind of way.  Aghgh.

6. We had a really encouraging letter this week from our sponsored child in Thailand.  This particular family often like to write a separate note in addition to the child's own letter and it's been really great to feel we are getting to know them as parents too.

7. One thing we did get done this holidays was reading aloud the second book in the Ashtown burials series.  "The Drowned Vault" is great but I think older primary and young adult would be the best audience.  There are some pretty tense and scary moments which younger readers would be best to avoid.  That said, our six-year old was listening in and was okay with it.  Wouldn't have read it to him on his own though.  It was also pretty complicated because new characters were being introduced at a rate of knots and he had trouble keeping track of who was who after a while.  We are going through the three books that are out so far at a rate of one per school holidays.  Lots of guns but a great read.

Well, that's all I have to say about that.  Once we are out of school holidays and back to routine my brain might come back into gear and I might have something reasonable to say.  Cheerio!

Random bear from a stock photo site because post must have a photo to be appealing etc, etc.  Sigh.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I was fascinated to learn of Alfred Stafford today.  He was an Aboriginal gentleman who was the personal driver for 11 Australian Prime Ministers.  His personal papers have just been donated by his family to Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.  His close proximity to some of the most interesting moments in Australian political history - Menzies, Holt, Whitlam - is tantalizing in the possibilities it would have offered for a unique perspective on those events.  I would love to see a well-produced mini-series that covered his life. Imagine the big moments in Australian history intersecting with his own private life and story - it would be very compelling viewing.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Super doggie

Another reason why dogs are awesome.

It's also amusing to think how a cat would react to the same scenario.  I imagine if a cat was called over to smell an iphone it would sniff it disdainfully and then saunter off with an aloof air of disinterest.  Anyway, we all know cats only use Blackberries.  Iphones are so.... common.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

All the excitement

So, we think we've found the house for my parents.  Just waiting on the building inspection.  Hoping this one's a keeper.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A dog's work is never done

If you are the dog of a family, you carry big responsibilities.  Everyone needs to be safe at all times.  Even when swimming.  Especially when swimming.

HT 22 words.

Friday, September 19, 2014

True joy

Happiness is not a set of giddy feelings where you go through life high-as-a-kite and regularly assault people with your positive-thinking slogans and toothy-grin.

Those kind of people make my head ache.

Rather, it appears when you have a settled contentment about your lot in life and it is fuelled by the knowledge that you are the undeserving recipient of God's lavish grace.

There's a bloke in my staffroom who exhibits this quiet joy.  He is a humble but deeply kind man who you never hear involved in grumbling or weighing in on the office gossip.  His desk features photos of his current and past homeroom classes so that he can pray for his students each day.  He is the sort of person I want to grow up to be like.

I was reminded of this the other day when we were discussing real estate.  I asked my colleagues what they thought of a particular area in the neighbourhood which has a bit of a bad reputation for run-down houses and dodgy neighbours.  There's a nice unit going in what looks like a nice street within that area.  'Was it really all that bad?' I wondered.

So this bloke spoke up.  He's lived in that neighbourhood for years.

"We've live there for 30 years.  It's perfectly fine.  We've never had a single problem while we were living there."

I said, "You mean, apart from the time your house burnt to the ground and you lost everything you owned?"  Because it did.  About 10 years ago.

"Oh, yes.  But we built in the same spot and it's really a very nice place."

Now, wasn't his reference for the quality of the neighbourhood I found interesting.  It was that when he looked back on the last 30 years, he didn't bother to mention that big event when his house burnt to the ground and he and his wife and children lost ALL their possessions and had to start again.  If I had been telling the story, in all likelihood I would have slipped that in.  As an aside.  As a mention.  Because - hey - if my house burnt down, you'd be hearing about it.

But, he obviously doesn't keep his life accounts in that manner.  His house burnt down.  But he does not wear it around like a badge of suffering or honour.  It was just something that happened.

Sometimes we can hang on to things and they become the marker of the stages of our life.  We take up any opportunity to share that event/grievance/suffering even many years after the situation is gone and we've moved on.  We stay bitter.  Or if not bitter, then at least we drag it out for a show-and-tell when we can.

A person of contentment doesn't do that.  And in doing so, I think, they open the window to joy.

Photo credit: charmaineswart from

Just because you can argue it...

...doesn't make it true.

This clip comes from the BAHfest.  The BAHfest is the Festival of Bad Ad Hoc Hypothesis. BAHFest celebrates well-researched and cleverly-argued, but still ultimately wrong, hypotheses about evolutionary theory.  Here, Tomer Ullman, presents a hypothesis that crying infants carried into battle provided an evolutionary advantage to early man.  It's a humorous example of the fact that great theories do not necessarily equal truth.  I'll probably show it to my Philosophy students next year as an illustration of the need to approach complex ideas with healthy scepticism.

HT The Laughing Squid.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Buyer beware and other adventures in consumer law

Interesting times in our house this week.  On Monday I put in an offer on house on behalf of my parents.  Looked just right.  Felt I might have to haggle a bit over the price so I worked out my strategy and I put in the first offer subject to (and this is the key point) a building and pest inspection. 

On Wednesday, a nice inspector looked at the property.  On Thursday, I rang him and found out that this lovely four-year old property has a drainage problem and the concrete slab has lifted and that's a major structural problem.  Because the house was so new, the damage was not yet visible when we had a good (but amateur) look around the property before putting in an offer. But if we'd bought the house, and obliviously waited a few years, we would have been rewarded with all the tell-tale signs of cracked brickwork and doors that no longer open and close properly.  And we would have had problems re-selling the house.  So glad we forked out the money for the inspection!

Photo credit: krosseel from

I explained this politely to the real estate agent later that day.  He tried to talk me into continuing the contract.  I was confused.  Maybe the problem wasn't such a big deal.  I rang the inspector back and told him the estate agent was giving me some push-back about cancelling my contract.  The inspector told me that he had been very direct with the real estate agent and had told him that any remedy to the situation would require consulting a structural engineer.  "Hang on," I said, "Did you just say that you had told all this to the agent yesterday?  Because I just spoke to him and he acted as if he was completely unaware of the issues and tried to talk me into continuing to buy the house!"  I was, shall we say, unimpressed.

I firmly cancelled the contract this afternoon.

Meanwhile, I was also on the case of untangling the mess that had been made by hackers in my Skype account.  Skype, bless their hearts, have been very helpful and stopped all the early morning texts coming through from Denmark and Sweden.  And they also refunded me the cost of the 1012 unauthorized texts sent from my account.  Nice Skype.

If only everyone who was selling products had such good service (I'm looking at you, Mr Sneaky-the-real-estate-agent).

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

So much is happening

Life is going at full throttle around out place at the moment.  Here's some of the stuff:

1. Someone from Denmark hacked into my Skype account and sent just over 1000 SMS in the last month before I figured it out.  Thankfully, I've nearly untangled that and am hoping to get my account unfrozen soon.

2. Honey, the dog, turns out to be doing the work of a dog and a cat.  She caught a mouse on the weekend.  Talk about a value for money pet!

3. I am housing hunting for my parents who are promising to finally retire next year.  This has involved a lot of *interesting* paperwork and lots of Saturday open-for-inspections.  But I think we might be on to something after last weekend.

4. My copies of the New Philosopher magazine arrived today.  So exciting.  Now I just need a few quiet moment to enjoy them, slowly of course, because they need lots of serious reflection.  Thanks, Alistair, for the recommendation.  I bought a couple of back copies too.

5. Speaking of Philosophy, I've got the numbers for a class next year.  So come November, I shall leave the Legal Studies department (all two of us) and become the Philosophy department once more (just me - although I don't know for sure yet whether I can truly prove I exist at all).  Hooray!  But I will miss Legal.  I had grown very fond of defences for murder and the details of consumer law.

Oh, and all the other things.... not all of which I can share online.  But suffice to say it's been busy-busy but in a good way.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Friday night meatballs

Photo credit: SDRandCo from

This is a great article about one family's approach to doing more hospitality.  There's good advice on how they manage it each week without stress and fuss.

I really need to get back on the hospitality bus.  Life gets busy and we stop doing it for a few weekends and then it takes an effort to re-start and get back into it.  But I'm always so happy we had people over after we've done it.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Can I be angry for a minute?

I live in one of the most prosperous nations in the world.

Some people have come here looking for a better life. They claimed they were fleeing an impossible situation and needed refuge. We decided the best thing to do was not to assess their claims straightaway. Instead, at a ridiculously huge the cost to the tax payers, we locked them up and told them they must wait indefinitely until we were ready to process their claims. By locking them up, we took responsibility for their food, housing, accommodation and medical care. Because if you are locked up, you are at the mercy of those who hold the keys.

And then, one of those persons cut their foot. And about two weeks later, his family made the decision to turn off his life support system after the infected cut progressed to septicaemia.

He cut his foot and then he died.

Something is very wrong with the way we are going about this, folks.

Look, perhaps you didn't come looking for yet another rant on this topic from me.  But please understand this issue has become intensely personal for me in the last year.  I am frustrated by the very little I can do to have my voice heard in this matter.  If only people knew what it was like to be one of these very vulnerable asylum seekers right now.

Even the defence force chief responsible for border protection under John Howard has slammed the current system.  Admiral Chris Barrie said the current policies are a "mess that reflects badly on all of us".  I am so disappointed in Australia right now.

Where is mercy?

Friday, September 5, 2014

This is pretty special

He's having his hearing aid switched on for the first time.  Precious.
via Laughing Squid

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Getting to school in the mornings

Oh, dear, sometimes it's hard to get all the kiddies out of the door and off to school in the mornings.  However, at least from that point on my trip is very simple.  Check out the pictures of these youngsters and their incredible treks to school.

Photo credit: wedhatted from

Monday, September 1, 2014

Father's Day BBQ spice rub

It's been a long while since I've posted any of the boys' club crafts.  This week we are preparing for Father's Day.  It's not an original idea but it is a good one:  a homemade BBQ spice rub from here.  The post at designmom also includes the links to the printable tags which you can use for a homemade BBQ sauce as well.  I was originally going to choose the BBQ sauce because the boys love cooking and mixing so much but the 1 hour simmering time put it beyond our time frame.

I could see the spice rub idea working for a teacher's end-of-year gift or Christmas presents or a whatever-gift that young hands could easily do and proudly give as their own work.  The jars are easily found at a $2 shop and we found ours in the right size for only $1.  Bargain!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This is today's car technology

Hyundai are obviously not the only car company with this technology.  I imagine in a few years it will be standard and we won't even think about it.  But for now, I think it is amazing.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ouch! Poor Honey!

My husband and my youngest took Honey for a walk this afternoon and she was attacked by a husky.  Both dogs were on leads at the time but the other owner was busy talking on a mobile phone and didn't control her dog.  Honey received a bite to the face.  It was a horrible thing for my youngest to see.  She's been to the vet and is on antibiotics to prevent infection.  She's not doing badly (she managed to eat tea okay) but I feel awful for her.

It would be lovely

It’s been a very full month. I think I say that every month now. I keep waiting for life to get quieter but that doesn’t seem to be part of this season of life so I think I may as well quit waiting.

Anyway, there’s been much going on. However, given that all the goings on have primarily been in lives of other people that I’m close to as opposed to my own life, I don’t have much I can share about it all. As a result I feel like a cloud heavy with words that does not dare to rain. And it’s been a busy time too so that all the words and all the thoughts and all the feelings seem to be stacking and squeezing and shoving on top of one another to fit inside my head without a chance to have it all sorted out with a good long purge.

But who’d have the time to listen anyway? And I’m conscious of whinging. So best not start.

On the other hand, I feel like there so much unprocessed right now. Like when you are searching for the right word and it’s on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t remember. I feel like if I could just stop… and think… and talk it out, I just might be able to make some sense of all these jumbled feelings and ideas.

Last weekend, I was just weary with it all. Weary. That’s a good word. People I love are in deep waters in a number of different places and situations. And I can’t seem to help much, if at all. The world sometimes makes no sense. And at other times it’s beautiful. But very often it is downright terrifying and depressing. And lately it’s tinged my days with a fragile layer of sadness over top of everything else.

And I just long to talk it all out. So on Sunday night, I sat in the gloom that descends when the last flicker of the TV goes off and sighed. Loudly. And said, for perhaps the hundredth time in the last year, “I miss J.” That other city is all the richer for having her but I am all the poorer for missing her now that she’s moved away. My mind tells me that if only we could have a talk – a really long talk – I'd be able to get all the knots out and be sorted again. But it’s not really true. It would be lovely. But it wouldn’t work.

The truth is, despite my extended case of the poor-me-s, I do have friends who listen. Good friends who listen well. But that is never really enough. It doesn’t truly satisfy. There will always still be that inbuilt longing for one who can understand it all, make sense of it all and feel what I feel from the inside out. There is only one who really satisfies those deep unspoken, unutterable, longings for understanding. Only Jesus is enough.

And so I pray on. For my friends. For wisdom. For peace. Maybe for understanding.

For just going on when we are weary.

For forgiveness and for the grace to forgive.

And I hold tight to hope. Because hope does not disappoint.

Evening Sun - Jon Bryant

Lovely song.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Psalm 121

During a really difficult time, it can be a song that speaks louder than ordinary words. This song was on repeat constantly for me when I was pregnant with my first child. A large tumour, unrelated to the pregnancy, was unexpectedly discovered while I was having my 20 week scan. Days, and much longer nights, were spent lying in hospital waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for surgery, recovering from surgery, waiting for pathology. Often times, this was the last song I played before I slept.

Since that time, I haven’t listened to the song at all. Not because I believe it less or love it less. It’s just that the very sound of it takes me straight back to that time. And it has taken a while (well, a decade) for the intensity of it all to lessen enough for it to bearable.

Now this week I’m reading my friend’s words as she waits in hospital with her own dear one. I’m taken swiftly back. So with much love… here are some words that were precious to me then. Praying for you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Not too long ago, on the road between Bath and Bristol, there was a landslide that closed part of the road.  The necessary detour was adding about an hour to the trip and commuters were getting very frustrated.  Government repairs were estimated to be another five months away before completion. Fed up with the situation, a local man hired a field, brought in some gravel and created a detour which he has set up as a private toll road.  The 2 pounds it cost you to use it is less than the petrol it would cost to go around the long detour.  And thus we have the first private toll road in England in 100 years.

You can read about it more detail here at 22 words.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Seven churches in Antarctica

Did you know there are at least seven churches in Antarctica?  I have to confess, I'd be really tempted to choose my church based primarily on its heating credentials in that environment.  It might be a great sermon, but if I have already frozen to death...

Anyway, check them out here.  I think the wooden Russian one is very beautiful.  But it would be cold.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A rant about restaurants

Tonight we went out to eat.  This lovely treat was provide for us as a reward from hubby's work.  Regrettably, we had all sat down and begun to order before I clued in that there was a TV up on the wall (with closed captions on so you could read along with the plot) not far from our table.

WHY do they do that?  It's a relatively recent thing and it absolutely grates on me.

Sure enough, our kids spent 98% of the time twisting their necks around to watch the Simpsons.  Grrrrrrr.  I suppose at least they practised their reading (because there was no sound).  But it made for a very boring family dinner.  If I'd wanted to watch my kids watch telly, we all could have done that at home.

I see this phenomena springing up everywhere.  One of our cafes has done it and now I can't take my child there for a little mummy-daughter date because the conversation dies as soon as she sees The Screen.  And last time the grandparents took the kids to McDonald's there was even a TV there!  It was blaring away in the corner as if no child could bear the discomfort of a trip to McD's without entertainment.

I predict the end of civilised conversation as we know it.

So annoying.


Found this notice on a post leading into my local shopping centre.  The local fauna must be more diverse than I thought.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Glasgow and Nelson Mandela

CardsAsGifts alerted me to a great story within the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony told by Billy Connolly.  Glasgow had awarded the "Freedom of the city" to Nelson Mandela in 1981 when he was still in prison. In 1986 Glasgow then changed the name of the street St Georges Place to Nelson Mandela Place. This was of most significance because the South African Consulate was in that street and, in the middle of the apartheid regime, they now had to give their address as Nelson Mandela Place on all of their letters, a man who at the time was a political prisoner. Those canny Scots!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fried sandwiches

I am currently into frying my sandwiches.  Obviously, I'm also currently into oversharing because this is my third post for the day.  That is because (a) I have a weird fortnightly work schedule which means I'm just coming to the end of my quiet half of the fortnight and about to disappear from the internet for the busy half and (b) I don't have an Instagram account to show you the food I'm eating.
So you know: here is food that I eat and I am cool.

Frying sandwiches produces a heaps better result than squashing them in a sandwich maker.  It's a universal non-relative fact.  Stop squashing your food and live a little.