G’Day Mate!

I inadvertently (and very oddly for me) used the word ‘mate’ in an email to a friend yesterday. As in, ‘Why don’t you ask your mate Charlie to do blah for you?’

‘So what?’, you might be thinking.

Well, this is really out of character for me and I have no earthly idea why I wrote it.  ‘Mate’ doesn’t figure largely in my vocabulary, in fact I rarely say it at all.  Correction… I NEVER say ‘mate’!  I don’t call people ‘mate’ and even find it somewhat grating when other people call me ‘mate’ (depending on who it is).  And this in spite of my being Australian, and the inherent cultural expectation that tends to infer – ie:  Aussies are presumed to call everyone ‘mate’ after five minutes acquaintance or even less if engaged in a customer service encounters involving cars, carpentry, bricklaying, plumbing, electrical work, hardware and/or yard or home maintenance.

aussie lingo slang jargon australian language

If I do inadvertently call someone ‘mate’, it’s usually in response to someone who has called me ‘mate’, and even then it come off the tongue in an uneasy and unfamiliar manner so as to feel forced and false.  I’m also not one to say ‘fair dinkum’ or ‘strewth’ or ‘you bewdy’ or ‘goodonya’ with any regularity.  It alarms me somewhat that the stereotypical Aussie is anticipated and expected to speak thus.

For the record, I don’t care if all this makes me sound like a the most dreadful snob.  I have a decent vocabulary and I regularly put it to gainful employment.  It’s probably why, when I travel overseas, no one ever takes me for Australian … except on one rare occasion in Tijuana, Mexico, when the roadside spruikers kept calling me ‘Hey Aussie, hey Aussie! Mate, come over here!’  Took me a little while to figure out that my Billabong backpack and my Mr Zogs Sex Wax t-shirt were probably giving me away… they were so annoying even for just that one day, that I ended up responding with, ‘Pardon monsieur, je ne vous comprends pas!’ and they eventually left me alone with rather confused looks on their faces.

But most of the time when I travel I get taken for English… I’ve sat in a Kensington High Street coffee shop and been asked if I lived locally…  I’ve been in Italy and asked where in the UK I am from… I have been in Turkey and been asked if I’m German – okay that one was more based on the blonde hair blue eyed appearance and my inability to speak Turkish, rather than my speech patterns and accent, but the point stands.  No one ever takes me for an Aussie.  And I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.

Because while I am proud to be Australian and feel eternally grateful for having been born in such a wonderful country… I just don’t identify with the cultural stereotypes that we’ve been lumped with.  You know the ones… they’re the stereotypes that Paul Hogan, Pauline Hanson Steve Irwin and Kath & Kim et al., have been solidifying for decades. God, even our current Prime Minister the Honourable Ms Gillard has a terrible speaking voice!

aussie sheila slang jargon g'day mateaussie man lingo jargon slangI can’t tell you how much this shit irks me and how I find it really embarrassing even.

It doesn’t help that many Aussies play it up when they’re overseas thinking it’s cute or amusing and enjoy the attention they get from bunging on the slang when they choose to further cement the idea that all ‘Stralyans (Note: ‘Stralyans not Australians) speak like this!

To my mind the only genuine and valid reason for hamming up how Australian you are while overseas, is in to ensure you’re not mistaken for an American!  Because as we all know… they’re not as globally popular as they’d like to think they are.  Even travelling Americans have been known to attempt to deploy this technique by claiming to be Canadian!

No. I make no apologies for my vocabulary and it’s decided lack of Aussie flavour.  It was many years ago that I decided I could live with being called a ‘walking dictionary’ (a frequent taunt since primary school for crying out loud) which I endured simply because I was a strong reader and therefore capable of stringing together coherent and cogent sentences from an unusually young age.  I am so unapologetic for my propensity towards using the most appropriate language I am capable of employing in any given situation, that I’ve been working hard to instill the same in my son since he too, was quite young.

So yes.  I’m a language snob. Sue me.  On this count, I’m totally prepared to own it and totally proud to wear it and don’t give a fats rats that people don’t immediate pick me for an Australian when I travel!

Reading, reading, reading. Now, writing, writing, writing.

I’m currently engaged in writing a literature review.  Which would be fine if I knew what one was.  I have no criteria, no parameters, no guidelines, no word count, no content requirements, no assessment weighting… basically no fucking idea what they want.  And when I asked the RHD advisor what these things normally look like, I got this response:

“Basically they won’t know what your literature review should look like until you’ve done it.”  Why? Oh why, does that sound like I’m destined to re-do it in it’s entirety regardless of what I give them?

To the best of my knowledge it’s supposed to demonstrate a suitable engagement and understanding of current scholarship relating to my topic… and that’s all I got.  So basically I’m pfaffing around writing things like:

“Dr Wanker asserted in his seminal work on widgets of 1972, “Widgets! Haa! What Are They Good For?”, that blah-di-blah-di-blah was the prevailing perception across the period in question regarding widget use, distribution and type specific popularity.  Wanker’s theory of thought regarding widget usage was widely accepted and sustained until it was robustly refuted in Dr Prat’s lauded compendium “A Brief History of Widgets: An Essential Handbook for Anyone Enraptured by the Haunting Complexities of Widgets” which, citing interesting new developments and statistics relating to widget expansion into blah-di-blah-di-blah.  Today, Dr Prat isn’t alone is his assertions, he is also joined by eminent Professor of Widgetry, from the prestigious Widget University, in his recent journal article “Everything You Never Needed To Know About Widgets” leaving us with the commonly held assertion that as pervasive and popular as widgets are they are still blah-di-blah-di-blah, fucking useless.”

One thing I can tell you for certain.  While this blog may well be 99% nonsense and 1% indignation (Okay, okay maybe 5-10% indignation), it is good for one thing – keeping you in the habit of formulating your thoughts into the written word.  I haven’t had to write an analytical research essay, a journal article, scholarly presentation or anything even vaguely in that ball park for over a year, but have taken straight back to it like a duck to water (I hate mixed metaphors but I did it to you anyway).

Academic writing is a particularly nasty sort of beastie that doesn’t even remotely resemble it’s more refined cousin – also known as, literature – I have recently found that having an almost daily habit of dumping your thoughts into informal and often hastily written words, even in this, the most maligned of formats – the blog – appears to have held me in good stead for returning to organizing and analyzing my thoughts and subsequently spewing forth the necessary bastardized, verbose, circumlocutive, enjargoned, and strangulated academic writing when required!   🙂

Who’d have thunk?  Blogging might actually be good for something!   :o)

writing academic writing literature review

Yesterday someone offered me a baby – to keep.

Deep breath.  That sentence seems so innocuous but it’s so loaded with emotion and tension it’s positively palpable.  It feels like most of my adult life that I have wanted another child and after years of IVF with it’s tens of thousands of dollars spent, and years of constant failure with it’s heavy emotional toil that nearly cost our marriage.  After everything we went through, all those terribly dark years and all that physical and emotional damage, I can’t believe that a friend came here asking me to take care of a little baby girl that needs a home… and I don’t want her.

The situation is just too convoluted, too unknown, too complex, too volatile, too uncertain, too depressing and just too hard.  This child has been born to a young woman with known psychological problems who has worked as a stripper and a prostitute and is known to use serious illegal drugs, and a man with a history of drug abuse, violence and child abuse (this based on what little information I have been given so far).  The poor little mite has spent the first months of her life ingesting various psychopathic drugs in utero (lithium for starts) and most of her gestation being bombarded with nicotine, alcohol and potentially other recreational drugs and substances… this is not someone who took her perinatal vitamins and attended regular natal checkups.  She comes from a family with a history of Aspergers, biopolar disorder, chronic depression, agoraphobia and physical and emotional abuse.  This little girl really needs the best start in life humanly possible.  At present she is barely a couple of months old and the doctors have given her a clean bill of health (no known heart defects common with first trimester lithium use) but who knows what physical, emotional and mental challenges she will face throughout her development in the future.

What complicates this proposal to raise and nurture the child even further is that we know both the infant’s mother and grandmother, socially.  I’ve known the Mum since she was a problem child of 12 herself… always the tearaway who never had a stable home environment, and I have known the grandmother for nearly 15 years now.  Even should the mother be persuaded to give the baby up for adoption – thereby negating any access issues – we would encounter them on social occasions and it would be difficult (negligent even?) to keep the child from forming relationships with her biological family.  Should the mother not agree to allow the child to be permanently adopted then it would be a long term foster proposal… which means frequent contact and going through the motions of dealing with the Dept of Community Services for supervised visits, or worse dealing with external social pressure to allow them access and visitation outside of those deemed necessary/appropriate by the Dept liaison officers.  And then of course, should the poor little baby’s seemingly clueless mother decide to ditch the violent, abusive partner and claim to have cleaned up her life and want her child back… the baby would be torn from the life we created for her to be handed back to her mother who could potentially fail to cope entirely seeing the baby bouncing back and forth, back and forth with no stability and security until she reaches adulthood.

The whole thing sounds like a disaster looking for a place to happen.  🙁

And now I feel like an awful, horrid and heartless person lacking in true compassion or empathy for this poor little baby in need of a loving home.  I have wanted for ever so long to have another child…  these  last 11 years at least.  I have tried for so long and felt like such a failure, and nearly sent us to financial ruin to try and achieve that goal and here is someone saying to me ‘please take this helpless little baby girl and make her your own’… and I just can’t.

It’s obvious to me that I want MY child.  Mine and my husband’s baby, to love and to nurture and to have a loving and fruitful adult relationship with one day.  And I feel selfish and horrible for even admitting it.

baby hands adopt baby foster infertility

Just keep swimming.

I have vague recollections of this chick I knew once who used to walk around to the local pool near her house in the mornings before breakfast, and swim…   She started off just turning up and swimming for a bit of exercise because she’d been in two car accidents and was trying to stay fit while her doctors told her to lay off the scuba diving and water skiing and other fun stuff like that.  So, she started going to the local pool, and because her neck was kinda pooched from recent whiplash, she’d mostly do breaststroke.  Bobbing her way up and down the pool trying hard to keep her hair from getting wet too much because the chlorine would turn it a delightful shade of green if it was exposed everyday.

Everyday.  Back and forth.  Slowly but surely increasing the amount of laps she could do until eventually she had to limit herself to 40 laps a day (about half an hour or so) because she was spending too much time there and then having to rush to get to uni.  Not a cracking pace but a decent distance.

Well, since then she’s gotten nearly 20 years older, had two more car nasty accidents which turned her youthful whiplash incidents into a particularly pervasive and persistent chronic back pain condition, has had a kid, become way too sedentary and, like many of us, has gained more weight than she should have.  So, anyway now she’s out there in her granny togs and she’s back in the pool after a long absence.  Her first day out swimming she managed six laps.  Only six.  With many, many rest breaks it took her over an hour.  To do just six laps.  And oh my god, it hurt so much I didn’t… err, she didn’t ever want to go back.  But she came back the following week and managed to do eight laps, then tried next time and managed ten laps.

It’s costing her a lot of effort and she needs a lot of rest breaks and fuck it hurts to keep going.  And she probably won’t ever get anywhere near the 40 laps per day of her stronger, younger self… but she’s going to just keep swimming anyway.

just keep swimming fish are friends not food

Kogan can shove it up their cloaca!

(review of dealings with Kogan)

Someone I know who may, or may not be heading off on a holiday adventure of a lifetime (squeeeeee!) thought it was time to get her priorities straight…  1) Tickets, and lots of them, 2) Decide what photographic equipment you are prepared to lug around, and then 3) Eventually investigate travel insurance.

So, naturally I’m in the process of compressing/condensing my camera gear so I’m not lugging around unnecessary lenses and stuff like that.  Especially given there will be a phone (and charger), an iPad (and charger), a GPS (and charger) and a camera/s (and charger/s all going in the bag.  Yes, modern travel is not as lightweight as it used to be!

I’ve done a stocktake and decided I NEED a new lens.  A little research, a bit of discussion here and there and I decide upon a Canon EF 24-105mm F/4L USM lens that I believe will meet my travel needs.

worst customer service no information no credit card warning verification system

Next of course comes the shopping around for the best price.  Popped into the Camera House at my local Westfield shopping centre and saw it … my preciousss … for $1699.  Bugger me.  Sooo not paying full retail (not that I ever do).  Hit the internets and find that Kogan, curse their goddamn cotton socks, have the desired lens ON SALE (aren’t those some of your favourite two words on the planet!) for one of the best prices around at a mere $749.

kogan only shop with pay pay

Yay!  A slight moment’s hesitation occurs (and I meant blinkingly brief!) as I considered beg, borrowing or stealing one of these lenses from a friend for the duration before I firmly and decisively decide to place an order while the sale price lasts.  Awesome… enter my Platinum Visa, long suffering and well abused bit of plastic that it is, and ta-da… within seven days I should have my new lens to play with and will be all ready for amazing photographic opportunities that are certain to arise during future travels!

But hang on 🙁  Instead of receiving an invoice number and a ‘we will send you tracking information on your purchase as soon as your item has shipped’ email… I get this:

order delays due to verification process

Oh ferfucksake.  Credit card verification?  Who does this anymore?  So I spent the next 24 hours logging into my bank account to find out how much they charged through so I can tell them the exact arbitrary figure and enable my order to be processed WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY.  Yes, I know I’m not going anywhere for months… but I want my preciousss now goddammit!!!  Else what is the point of shopping on line and choosing expedited shipping?  🙂

Overnight runs happen and the amount is still not showing up in my account.  I send an email to Kogan saying ‘hey, this is stupid this is why I have a Platinum Visa with excellent online buyer protection so that even if the card has been stolen or misused… you don’t lose the money and neither do I’.  Get a BS proforma email in return saying that the system is to make using credit cards safer and less likely to see them be the victims of fraud.  FINE.  Wait another day of logging into my banking sporadically to check to see if it shows up.. wait another o’night run and still nothing.

Fucking huge pain in the arse is what this is.  Decide after the second day that I should maybe give Kogan a call.  Okay perhaps this decision occurred before my medication had worn off for the morning and that’s never a good thing… but it’s their fault they have day light saving and can be contacted so early in the morning.  But anyway to poor young Matt who answered the phone, I am moderately apologetic for the tenor of our call.  It basically went thusly:

Me: What sort of chicken fucking moron came up with this system that totally negates any of the convenience obtained by shopping online by forcing their customers to continually check their bank for half a transaction and holding up order processing and subsequent delivery of their purchase? (Yes, I was having one of THOSE mornings).

Poor young Matt:  It’s standard procedure for credit card purchases now to avoid fraud.  Some Westpac and ANZ customers find it takes THREE to FIVE business days before the transaction will appear… (he says somewhat sheepishly).

Me:  Are you fucking serious?  So 3-5 days to appear in my account, then I tell you; then 7 days to process and then 3-5 more days to ship… where is the benefit in all this to the customer in shopping online, if I end up having to wait over two weeks for a purchase to arrive from Melbourne.  I can get books from the UK BookDepository or gadgets from Thinkgeek in the US to my door quicker than that!

Poor young Matt:  If you had checked out using PayPal you woudn’t have to go through this process.

Oh now he’s got my attention…

Me:  NOWHERE on your website does it tell consumers that checking out with PayPal will expedite their transaction.  NOWHERE on your website does it tell prospective credit card users that they will have to go through a verification system thus delaying their orders. NOWHERE on your website does it even mention a preferred payment option.

Poor young Matt:  Well, if we did that people wouldn’t use credit cards and we wouldn’t be able to pick up fraudulent transactions.

ME:  So the system is designed to attract and catch fraudulent credit card transactions?  I thought you were in the business of selling electronics so why is it that you seem to be in the business of shutting down credit card fraud?  Why not warn people about the verification system to STOP PEOPLE MAKING FRAUDULENT TRANSACTIONS IN THE FIRST PLACE and while you’re at it CANCEL MY GODDAMN ORDER WHILE I SPEND 20 SECONDS GOING THROUGH THE CHECKOUT PROCESS AGAIN USING PAYPAL THIS TIME YOU COMPLETE IDIOTS.

Poor young Matt:  Certainly Ma’am.  That will speed up your order processing considerably, especially seeing the weekend could mean your banks 3-5 days will be sometime in the middle of next week.

ME:  Dig up, dude.

So much for the convenience of shopping online.  Best bit is that Poor Phone Support Matt couldn’t even tell me if it would re-occur if I shopped with them in the future using the same credit card because their system doesn’t store credit card information.

Bzzzt.  Wrong answer.  Never shopping with you fuckers again if I can help it.