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Friday, August 22, 2014

Defining the Nerd

It was with interest that I read that the new series premiere of Doctor Who will be simulcast in Australia, so we get it at the same time as the UK. When did this show become so popular that this can happen? I remember when the series reboot started, only one of my friends watched it. Now everyone's a fan!

But I submit to you that there are not more nerds than there were before. I believe it's actually just more acceptable to "own up" to liking "nerdy" things now. 


Who knows why? I suspect it's the internet's fault. Well do I remember the joy and relief from 15 years ago of finding other people online who loved Star Wars as much as I did. It was so unbelievably reassuring. If you love something - doesn't matter if it's astronomy or Sailor Moon - you can find a community of people on the internet that you could never build in real life.

 Yes that's a very bad pic of me dressed as a Jedi for the premiere of Return of the Sith!

I find it interesting that only certain passions are considered "nerdy". If a nerd is a person who intensely likes something but why is a sports fan or motorhead not considered to be one? The definition of nerdiness seemed previously only to encompass scientific and pop culture interests. That's significant, don't you think? I wonder why.

I do however think the word is being applied in a wider context now. I have heard non-internetty people describe themselves as "family history nerds" or "gardening geeks". It's a slightly self-deprecating way of saying "I'm really into this thing that I think that you might think is slightly daggy or uncool".

I say we should embrace it. Ten years ago I would have been completely flabbergasted by the sight of a girl wearing Black Milk Harry Potter tights at the train stationg but now I think to myself "You are awesome and I'd probably like you".

Are you a nerd about something? Do you embrace it or are you still slightly embarrassed by it?
 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Lady Test

About a month ago I got The Dreaded Letter. The one where you look at it in disbelief and cannot actually believe it's been two years since you last went and got The Lady Test. You know the one.

Yes, I mean a Pap Smear.

So I gritted my teeth and tried not to think about it too much and went and got one done. My GP is a lovely South African man who really doesn't bat an eyelid at anything, so it was fairly ok. There's always going to be a level of embarrassment and discomfort I believe, but I try to just build a bridge.

Today I went back and got my results - there was a moment of concern as he took a few seconds longer than was entirely necessary to read the pathology report, but I got the Big All Clear. Huzzah!

Unexpectedly, my dear doctor then started on a lecture about remembering to come back for my next test. I was thinking "Oh come on, I've only just got over this one, it's two years until I want to think about it again!". But he patiently explained that although each state has a register of Pap Smears that keeps a record of when you have a test and the results, very rarely there can be a problem the reminders aren't sent.

I didn't hear about this, but apparently recently it was reported that there was a failure of the Queensland system and there were almost 1000 women who failed to receive letters warning them about abnormal pap smear results.

This is why it's so important to take some personal responsibility for your own health, and get the test done regularly, whether you're reminded to or not. AND follow up to get your results! Women aged 18 to 70 who have been sexually active are advised to have pap smears every two years to detect early changes in the cervix that may lead to cancer.

So - don't put it off. Don't wait to be reminded. Get yourself tested every two years. If you don't know when your last one was or you have had a change of address, you can contact the register in your state.

I know some women find this test not only uncomfortable, but downright painful. I would encourage them to speak to their GP frankly and find out if there is anything that can be done to make the test easier for them.

Do you have any tips for reducing the emotional and physical uncomfortableness of a Pap Smear?


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is pure genius


If you haven't heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, or just the ice bucket challenge in general, it's basically where you get a bucket of ice water and dump it on your head.

 [Source]

There is some confusion as to whether you should donate to the ALS Association within 24hrs or do the challenge, or do the challenge within 24hrs or donate. In any case, you get to nominate three other people to do it after you.

The ALS Association is a charity set up for supporting people with ALS and funding research into the condition (better known in Australia as Motor Neurome Disease, or less tactfully "What Stephen Hawking Has"). It has raised millions for them over the past few weeks.

So why has it become so popular?

- It's not hard or hurtful. The challenge is daunting enough to make the average person think twice, and cause some discomfort, but generally it's not going to hurt you (unless you stuff it up - and yes there are some people who have harmed themselves by being silly!).

- It's humiliating, and we all like to see people humiliated on the internet!

- The celeb factor. Everyone loves to see a celebrity get behind a great cause, but watching them dump cold water of themselves seems to send people into paroxyms of delight.

Negatives - most celeb Ice Bucket videos I've seen don't even mention the ALS Association or their donation. It wasn't until I saw Kochie do it on Sunrise yesterday that I realised it was a charity drive! However, the hashtag #ALSIceBucketChallenge is gaining traction and should make the average social media viewer realise the whole thing is being done for a reason.

Charlie Sheen just poured money on himself, which works.

And lastly, it's a massive waste of water when there are many, many people in our world who lack decent access to it.

However, I still think it's a great idea for fundraising and whoever thought of it deserves a raise. My faves so far are Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman.








What do you think of the Ice Bucket Challenge?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Staycation

I'm on leave at the moment. Everyone at work wanted to know where I was going, what I was doing. I had to disappoint them as I was not going on a "holiday" per se. 


My friends and relatives also seem surprised I have taken leave for no particular reason, and that I'm not going away anywhere. 

Actually, I just needed a break. To not get up every week day, commute, work at a desk, and come home. The office grind can be wear you down, you know. 


So I'm taking a break for my health. My mental health as well as my physical! Offices are bad for your body ergonomicly, and my brain deserves a break from the usual merry-go-round of numbers and corporate politics. 


I will be visiting my mother at the farm, however, so that will get me out of the city at least. I look forward to a few days of quiet and being able to see the stars at night. 


Do you ever have a "do nothing" vacation?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Costco Fail

I have been excited about Costco for a while. Yes, I am a fan of reducing consumption and shopping local, reducing food miles and supporting local business but there was something about the American giant that intrigued me. Mysterious foods in bulk? This I must see. 


I bought my membership months ago, but such has been the popularity of the North Lakes store I was put off by the crowds and didn't actually go until this last weekend. 


And still it was crowded and busy. I must say I can see the appeal to the average person. Australians haven't seen a shop like this since the old Campbell's Cash 'n' Carry. Not only do they sell everything conceivable, Costco sells it in gigantic quantities. 


Put off by the masses of people, I found it hard to look at anything closely, so I just wandered about, aimlessly pushing my trolley up and down aisles  

To be honest, most of my attention was taken up by trying not to ram my trolley into anyone. I think I was the only person there alone! Seems to be a fun family day out, buying 12-packs of hot sauce and 20kf bags of rice. 


In the end I only had one item in my trolley: a 60c packet of bagels. Frankly too embarrassed to line up at the checkout and pay for them, I searched for a quiet spot to ditch it and run. There was none, so I abandoned it in the frozen food aisle and slipped out, pretending to be part of someone's family group. 


So my verdict? I don't know if I will be getting my membership fee's-worth. But I do know when I go back, I'm taking my mum and it will be at a quieter time!

Do you have a Costco membrrship? What do you love about it?


Monday, August 4, 2014

One is the Loneliest Number


My husband has been away for a week and a half, and I must say I have a new respect for military and FIFO partners. I don't know how you do it for weeks ormonths  on end! If I wasn't working I think I would have gone mad. 

I've forgotten how to live a solitary life, shameful really. But there are some good things about having the house to oneself!

- toilet seat is always down
- whole bed to starfish in
- minimal washing up
- tv completely under your control

And the downsides:
- having to do all those yucky tasks you usually "delegate"
- no one to investigate strange night noises 
- danger of going barmy from talking to oneself

And the sappy one:
- the person-shaped hole in you life where your beloved usually is. 


How do you combat loneliness?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Don't Fob Me Off

In my job, I make a lot of phone calls. I don't think it's any secret what I do - I'm a collector. Essentially, I chase businesses for money all day.

Now I can understand why people don't want to talk to me - I'm asking them to pay their bills, gasp, how dare I? And if you're having trouble with cashflow at present I imagine the last person you want to talk to is your creditor.

But today I'm not talking about Bob from Bob's Services not being able to pay his bills. I'm talking about receptionists and office staff. I'm talking about the person whose job it is to answer the business phone, or the unfortunate staff member in the workshop or warehouse who picks it up when nobody else will.

I find that more and more, people are inclined to fob me off or be openly dismissive. I don't even think it's the fact that I'm calling about money - they're not even interested in who I am most of the time, let alone why I'm ringing. Nope, if they're not the right person to speak to, I get told:
- they're not here
- ring back later
- send them an email

I also don't care if that person isn't in the office today, or if they're sick, or on leave. The least you can do is offer me an alternative person or take a message. 

More than half the time I actually have to push to have them go to the trouble of writing down a message. (I don't want to send an email. Emails get buried and deleted. I want somebody to ring me back). And even worse, I can tell half the time they're not even bothering to write down my number. They respond too quickly and the tone tells me they don't care. I must leave about 40 messages a day and you know how many return calls I get? Probably 3-5. Woeful. 

And while I'm on a rant about business politeness and niceities, I am continually astounded by the amount of phones that are not answered in a way that identify the company. eg. "Welcome to XYZ, you're speaking with Gloria/Steve.". Nope. It's "Hello?". And then I have to enquire whether I've even called the right place. Basic stuff, but it really, really irks me.

I also believe that this is happening in my personal life. People just don't bother to get back to you, they don't identify themselves when ringing, emails are just templates. My husband had a very frustrating but hilarious argument with a telemarketer the other night who kept demanding "Who you?" with him replying "You first! You're calling me!"

I don't know what the problem is, or the solution. I just know that if I have a bad interaction with a company at work or in my personal life, I'm completely put off what they're selling. And I tell other people about it. 

Are you getting fobbed off left, right and centre? Does it give you the irrits like me?

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