Archive for January, 2014

Scaredy Chaps

Posted: January 31, 2014 in General Rants

Further proof that women are the dominant gender – men are afraid of the weirdest stuff.

If you ask a man to grab something out of your purse for you, he will bring you your purse. Ok, maybe not always, but probably 99% of the time.  I don’t know what kind of hand mutilating snare you think is in there, but I assure you there is nothing that can hurt you.  One guy actually said to me, “There could be female product things in there.” Again, I don’t know how you think they work, but if we use them in our most vulnerable region, they certainly won’t cut, pinch or abrade you.

The other day I encountered another situation illustrating a pathological male fear.  The ladies washroom.

Our washrooms at work have motion sensor lights. I’m not sure why, but the motion sensors never sense me. I can tell you it is slowly wearing down my self-esteem to be so blatantly invalidated.

I had one foot propping the door open to let in light and was waving my arms like a fool trying to get the lights to come on when a man came out of the mens washroom across the hall. Not wanting him to assume I was a raving lunatic, I explained I could not get the lights to come on.

He came over and suggested that perhaps if I walked further into the room, the lights might come on. He held the door as I went all the way to the far wall, still waving my arms like a hysterical orang-utan. He suggested maybe if I waved my hand under the air dryer, the lights would come on.  Adding salt to my wounds, this second device also refused to acknowledge my existence. I was about to suggest the power to the whole washroom might be out when the man took a single step into the washroom, but then immediately stepped back out and gave a tentative meerkat glance into the washroom.

Um. If there is someone in here lurking in the dark, we have more to worry about than you being spotted in the women’s washroom.

And thanks for sending me into the deep dark corners of a washroom that may be housing the kind of super-villian that would lurk in a dark ladies room!

Chivalry? Dead.

I am not so sure why men are so afraid to go into a women’s washroom, but I’ve witnessed this before.  Women may avoid mens toilets, but that is mostly because we expect them to be urine soaked cesspools of bacteria. But we certainly have no problem bypassing the inevitable queue to the ladies room and heading into the mens when needed.

Why we are not ruling the world is beyond me.

Funny

Posted: January 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

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It’s not easy being green and having a speech impediment.

Earth in Love

Posted: January 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

I always assumed Mother Nature was married to Father Time. If they are the romance has been rekindled, and if Martha and the Vandellas are to be believed, Mother Nature is in love.

I’m melting. Melbourne is currently the hottest place in the known universe. Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I’m pretty sure this is what hell feels like.

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Here’s another potential explanation for all of you climate change activists. It isn’t carbon pollution. Mother nature has just hit menopause. And these 5 day heat waves are hot flashes on a planetary level. My menopause theory would explain the global hormone fluctuations seen in the catastrophic weather events. Think about it people. Floods are like random crying jags. Earthquake like anger erupting.

Whatever the cause, I need it to stop. My 15 minute walk to work has become abject torture. And not just because of the searing heat – heat that makes your skin prickle within seconds of stepping outside. But also because in Melbourne, on garbage day, people put their rank, rotting garbage bins, out on the front streets.

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The olfactory assault is unprecedented. I have a very sensitive nose and I’ve smelled some pretty disgusting smells, but this..this actually stops my breath. As if my diaphragm has kindly decided to spare my nose and just stops inhaling, mid breath. Its kind of like being punched in the nose and the solar plexus at the same time.

As you know, I chose my apartment for its character. So needless to say, it does not have air-conditioning. So after struggling home, skin prickling, nose burning and diaphragm spasming, I arrive to a very large pizza oven. The only thing that got me through the evening?

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I seriously need to take more care in choosing where I live next time.

I cannot believe I have 2 more days of this to go. My urge to get Mother Nature onto some HRT is only quelled by the increased cancer risk – in earth terms, more humans.  And I like earth too much to do that to her.

What’s My Age Again?

Posted: January 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

This morning, as my bones creaked and groaned getting out of bed, I started to think about my age.

I’m 43.  I’ve never felt the need to lie about my age. Well, at least not to make myself younger. I cannot deny that I have considered saying I’m older than I am, just to hear someone say “You look fantastic!”

I’ve done a great deal of research with older adults and it seems that very few people feel their age.  I recall asking one woman at what ages she thought a person became old. She replied, “As soon as they think they’re old”.

Age, like everything else is relative and I think the experience of age is quite fluid. Take for instance an interaction with my young neighbour. He was telling me he would be having friends over for NYE drinks. I think it then occurred to him it would only be polite to invite me as well. I’m sure he was relieved when I declined with “That’s very kind of you, but I try not to hang around with people too much younger than me or I just feel like someone’s mom.”

I move between worlds that really mess with my sense of how old I am. At the university I am surrounded by young people who make me feel very old. Even compliments can have a backhandedness to them. Once among a ream of anonymous student evaluations I found such an example, “Marry me Dr. B.  I’ll take care of you in your old age.”  I suddenly felt like the old dog at the RSPCA. I moved from being the object of desire to the object of altruism in 13 words.

But then I go and work with older adults in my clinical and research work and I feel quite young again.  I’ve been complimented on my beauty (could be cataracts, but who cares? I’ll take it). I’ve been told my hair style is very modern. And I’m nearly always referred to as a girl, “Ah, you’re the girl from the university.”

This term is in turn completely counteracted by the comment of a pimply faced youth at the record store (although my age is pretty apparent calling it a record store) who viewed my purchases with surprise and said, “Nice choice lady.” Which as we all know is equivalent to, “Nice choice, grandma.”

So back and forth it goes. I suppose that is why this is called middle age. The interactions hover around the mean and I have not had experiences at the extremes – no one has invited me to a rave and no one has offered to help me across the road.

I don’t know if I feel 43. The only 43 I’ve ever felt is my own. I’m sure my aches and pains are due to my mattress and not my age. And I’m even more sure that making such excuses is not a sign of getting older.

Anthropomorphising is the attributing of human characteristics to non-human objects. Ranging from objects that are similar to humans, such as animals, to those that are decidedly not, like lamps.

One of my favourite tv commercials of all time is one from Ikea, which illustrates this phenomenon brilliantly.

Some might argue that the music and staging with the depressing rain creates the sense that this poor lamp has feelings.  But consider this short video clip.

I use this video clip in talks I give to various groups and people from 8 to 80 are able to articulate the story that they see. They are able to attribute personality traits, thoughts and emotions to the characters. This is truly astounding when you consider the actual content of the clip – lines and shapes moving about on a screen!

Humans are exceptionally good at anthropomorphising because we are painfully egocentric.  This is the way we are, therefore everything under the sun must be too.  We don’t actually know the experiences of other things, so we project our own onto them as our best guess. Dogs, creatures that don’t even understand not to look at your hand when you are pointing to something, through the absurdity of anthropomorphisation have deep and complex thoughts about the world.  Even more strangely they can be quite critical if they spy you doing something stupid.  I’m pretty sure I’ve had a cat roll her eyes at me.  The mind boggles at what she could have been thinking. Whatever it was could probably be summed up with “stupid human”.

The truth is, we’ll never know what cats are thinking. We don’t even know if they think as we define it – their brains are the size of walnuts for pity’s sake!

Well, I’ve taken this absurdity one step further.  I’ve attributed a tree with abilities that even humans don’t possess.

Telepathy.

Yes, telepathy.

There is a tree I pass every day on the way to work.  A very strange tree, of the like I’ve never seen before.

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It has very rough, splintered bark.

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In the winter, when it had no leaves, I had the thought that it was ugly.

And then I felt guilty. As if it could read my thoughts AND feel hurt by them.

To this day I feel a little bad when I walk past it. I tried to think better of it as spring arrived and it grew leaves and blossomed with strange, white, puff-ball flowers.

It is absolutely absurd to think the tree could possibly know that I thought it was ugly, let alone care! And that I mentally tried to make amends.

And if it did, it would take one look at me and think “Whatever, have you seen your hair?”

Further proof that I am indeed crazy.