Friday, September 30, 2011

Enough already

I see this on the news.

I don't like to see anything caged, no matter that the cage cost millions.  That caging them may preserve them from humans seems, well, not a good solution to an issue.
I recall, decades ago, seeing the first gorilla at Taronga Park zoo.
His arrival and his display was greeted with noisy pride and acclaim.
He was in a small enclosure.  He sat, legs crossed, leaning on his fist,  and looked like an (obscene)  middle aged CEO. He stared back at us with contempt, rage, extreme boredom and deep, deep despair.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Small Mercies

As I slammed the boot down on my groceries, I saw, too late, my car keys sitting where I had thrown them, on its floor. Fortunately -70/30 - I had left the car unlocked, so could open the boot to retrieve them.
Coming home from shopping, I found that I didn't have my house keys. Fortunately, by chance I not only had the key to another door, but had left it unsnibbed:  a rare occurence.
After leaving work I realised, at my car, that I no longer had the work keys. I retraced my steps in this very poorly lit area and saw a tiny, slightly denser area of blackness: the keys.
Small problems which could have wasted frustrating hours and hours.
When Mark was painting my house I told him that he had to accomodate the fact that this front window had previously been painted closed, and couldn't be opened.
"No it's not," he said, and used one finger to open the window

So, for 15 years or so, in this area which has quite a high burglary rate, I could have been easily burgled.  But wasn't.
Small mercies. Big gratitude.

Sunday, September 25, 2011


After my husband died, quite a long time ago, I had a dream in which I was driving along an aquaduct..(aqueduct?) like this, from Cooma to Canberra.  It was perilously narrow, but, thankfully, straight for the 100kms or so.....(yes, I hate that incorrect construction:  I should say, "I was thankful that...").
The dream seemed symbolic:  I was alone on a fraught, narrow path to somewhere different.
Canberra,  I had some association with, but why Cooma I have no idea - maybe a suggestion that I didn't feel that I was starting from  home.
After that dream, I developed a phobia of driving over bridges.
Prior to that, I would have been unsympathetic to phobias: now, I had to grip the steering wheel, keep my eyes focussed on the other side, blot out everything else, and hold my breath and wait to reach solid ground.  As I did...(although sometimes I strayed far too near the middle of the bridge, to the deserved hostility of other drivers).
It wasn't the fear of the bridges that was the only problem:  it was the limp, sweating, weakness after I crossed that compounded the issue.
And the fact that it was irrational and illogical was maddening.  I had driven for decades with no issues.
To be honest, there was also an issue with my car.  Many had been recalled because of a computer error:  the company had writen to me, but the local dealers refused to recognise it.  I spent many  $oos on trying to fix the car on its habit of stopping abruptly.  I was a silly air-head woman.  Barbie-headed. And then at last it happened to them when they were returning it to me.  And then they fixed it.
After this, for some years, I challenged the phobia by driving my children here and there.  On the whole, the phobia won the challenge.
From which, I can assure you that getting back on the horse after you have fallen may work for the moment, but it can also suggest that  finding a different method of transport is a more sensible option.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger," is a typical platitudinous lie that they tell children.  What doesn't kill you can make you weaker.  And weaker.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Shawn Achor, previously referred to, speaks of the pressure for "success", such as the pressure, the commitment, the devotion, the sacrifice of self and other interests or other aspects of your personality, or gifts or tastes, in gaining entry to Harvard.
He cites a mum keeping each baby and childish scrawl because "it will be in a museum one day."
Now, that's putting pressure on your child.
He demonstrates the problems for half the Harvard students, once they've arrived, in accepting that, in spite of these immense sacrifices, their great abilities and their extraordinary achievements, they are below the (Harvard) average.
There seem to be some flaws both in our system and thinking.

A Happy Woman

Happiness precedes success: not follows it,as we are taught, says Shawn Achor, who has written a book re same.
Ann Moyal seems a perfect example of this.
An Australian academic historian born in 1926, she seems, according to her autobio I have just read, (Breakfast With Beaverbrook), to have loved learning from an early age, and been successful in, by and through it.
Her last and 3rd husband was Joe Moyal, mathematician, whose early work in physics was so before its time that it is now far more highly regarded and understood than when he first wrote it. Her previous marriages and break ups do not seem to have been at all traumatic or unfriendly for either party.
Ann's academic work and writings are exemplary and highly regarded. Rational, pragmatic, evidence based.
So, I enjoyed particularly her recount of staying, courtesy of an American colleague, at the former home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf, in Sussex.
A huge admirer of Virginia, she was given V's garden study in which to sleep. With doors and windows closed, she was woken during the night by violent bangings of things being thrown around the room. Too frightened to move , it was only morning that showed her bits flung around the room. She quotes the distinguished biographer and expert on the Bloomsbury group, Leon Edel, as saying: "I'm certain that that was Virginia herself."
I am impressed that Ann Moyal has published several books this century. In photos she certainly appears to be still a happy, vibrant, interesting woman.