At the risk of sounding unpopular...

 From the early 1900s, Cornell University had Practice Apartments for female students. It included learning basic housekeeping, cooking, and silly things like keeping a budget.
And here's where I will probably sound unpopular, but I honestly do believe that uni students now could do with this. I hear many people saying "I can't cook", and to be honest, cooking is simply following directions. Yes, there is a "language", specifically terminology. But that can all be learnt.
So can simple things like how to clean a mirror, how to wash dishes by hand (and in what order. Did you know there is an order that dishes should be washed in?), the best things to mop tiles/wooden floors with (you shouldn't use methylated spirits or vinegar on wooden floors, but you should use them on tiles. In fact, you should only use them on specific types of tiles. Slate should only be mopped with very hot (almost boiling) water). 
And while I'm at the obvious, I know a whole pile of friends who cannot change a button, iron a shirt, fix a hem, swap out a zip...

I suppose what I'm getting at is that there should be a course, possibly like that researching course we all had to do in first year at uni, for domestic sciences and arts. At least then, people will realise what a great resource they have here (the internet) - it is, after all, the best recipe book I've ever found.

Delinquency and the ineffectiveness of perceived authority

 I've been watching the London (now UK) riots with interest, not least because of where they started. Quick background story is that my grandfather is rumoured to have played for Tottenham Hotspurs. 

Thing is, I understand the original riot. I do not condone it in any way shape or form, but I understand it. Police shootings are such a rarity in the UK, mostly because their police do not ordinarily carry firearms. And so, when a shooting does occur, it does create a great deal of controversy.
And when it is a parent who is shot, it makes it even more horrifying.
Now, I am not saying it was justified. Nor am I saying it wasn't justified. I wasn't present at the tragedy, and I am not in judgement on the case, so I do not know the facts. That isn't my place (thankfully).

What I can say and judge is the behaviour of the rioters since that first night. Destroying the store on the corner, the one where Mum and Dad buy milk and bread on their way home from work, is not justified, nor justifiable. As for burning down KFC and McDonald's, I get why you would want to. What I do want you to consider is the 16 or 17 year old kid who works there after school so s/he can save up to buy a car, or the 19 year old who works there to have a bit of extra cash while at uni. Where does their income come from now? 

As for the cops not reacting until the last 24 hours to the rioters, I've been doing some reading. It turns out that a report was released around 10 years ago. It shows that people in poorer areas of the UK see the police as a "white mans" job, and that only middle class background (and higher) people make it in. There's a definite "them and us" sentiment in regards to areas like Tottenham. 
Add to this the ethnic diversity, and you have a whole swathe of the police force who are afraid to arrest people because they don't want it to be labelled as "racially motivated", and thus thrown out of court.
The same report also discussed that the police should (simultaneously) regard every arrest as valid as any other, and they should also exercise caution when apprehending someone of a non Anglo-Saxon background. 

This is what has allowed the riots to continue for so long. The constabulary are afraid to act either way, and so they don't. This allows the criminals (that's what these rioters are, let's not kid ourselves) to get away with so much, and get a slap on the wrist at the end of it. It now is a case of too little too late.

And now we get to the rioters.
I do get it, honestly. I get the fact that you are so frustrated, angry too, that you want to destroy things. I don't get that you think it okay to wilfully destroy other peoples property. I don't get that you think it okay to injure others. I do not understand an 8 year old participating in the riots - where were his parents? If his parents were also rioting, that's a great example you've set for your kid there. 

I know what it is to grow up with little money - I had a heap of friends whose parents were much wealthier than mine. It doesn't mean I would have been destructive. It meant that I was determined not to be the same. And I'm not. I'm not wealthy by any means, but if my girls want new shoes, or a new shirt, they get it. I have enough. And I have it because I worked to get out of there, and my mother encouraged that. Don't blame delinquency on a lack of money. Manners cost nothing, nor does consideration of others. 

The whole thing is a comedy of errors - unnecessary reactions and lack of reactions has caused this, and funding needs to go to the right places. And I tell you now, I'd willingly pay an extra $5 a week in tax to have properly equipped recreation facilities, police, socialised health, etc. 

Online presence

I've been thinking quite a lot about online presence. Most of you would know I have two blogs. I have a Myspace that I cannot seem to shut down (each time I go to do so, there's a "server error", so I've just stripped all the info from it).
I also automatically crosspost to LJ from here (DreamWidth).
I've also jumped on the bandwagons that are Facebook, Twitter and now Google+.

For me, each of these have unique uses. Blogger (and Wordpress, et alia) are useful for getting ideas across of length. I have no word limit with them. I can express myself clearly, and with great clarity when and if desired. They're also open to anyone.
LiveJournal is especially useful for the groups - I belong to a few Latin groups, a few religious based groups (though I'm more interested in spirituality and comparative theology than any particular religion), some cooking groups and even one that has hints and tips on alternative cleaning and living techniques.
Dreamwidth is especially useful for being able to keep thoughts and ideas within a close circle - if you're on Dreamwidth and I have you, you are one of few.

And now for the "social networks"... I find FB useful for keeping in contact with people. It is also handy for organising events. Twitter is useful for news headlines - and the crosspost to FB for short and concise statuses. Google+ is what a social network should be - no ridiculous word limit, complete amalgamation of Google accounts (such as Picasa), none of those annoying games and invites that FB does. The ability to easily share a status (or post) of someone you follow is also a great benefit.

I find each account I have to be useful in its own way, and will continue using each for its individual benefit.

(no subject)

  I've found myself to be a stay at home mum, and in a bid to save a bit of extra money, and maybe even make some, I want to take up knitting and crocheting. I live nowhere near any family (my mother in law is my closest family member, as the crow flies, and she's a 2 hour drive away), so I know I'll likely have to teach myself. There's a knitting circle at the local library who donate all works to local charities, but to start with, I want to make some simple things for my children - scarves, beanies, etc. 
Anyone on my f-list have any books that are easy to follow and easily available outside of the US that they can recommend? Books with DVD instructions (I don't mind using my computer to help as a tutor ;) ) would be even better.
Thanks :)
Australian flag

An ANZAC Day tradition

 I'll be in Sydney for ANZAC Day, but before I go, I wanted to post this. I post it every year, in memory of my own family who've done service, and everyone else who served, fought and died for our country.

The Ode comes from For the Fallen, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon and was published in London in the Winnowing Fan; Poems of the Great War in 1914. The verse, which became the League Ode was already used in association with commemoration services in Australia in 1921.

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children
England mourns for her dead across the sea,
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres,
There is music in the midst of desolation
And glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow,
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again,
They sit no more at familiar tables of home,
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime,
They sleep beyond England’s foam.

But where our desires and hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the night.

As the stars shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are stary in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Lest We Forget

A rant regarding gay marriage rights...

Yesterday, I came across a status update of a girl who I went to school with. It turns out she's a very traditional Catholic.
Thing is, yesterday, her status read "We have equal marriage rights. Any gay man is free to marry any woman he chooses. Start hurling those tomatoes now, but the further we move away from our biology the more problems start."
Now, I'd like to put in a few disclaimers here.
I have a loved one (part of my family, in fact) who is gay.
I also have come to care deeply for an online associate who is gay.
From the descriptions that follow, anyone that knows either (or perhaps both?) will be able to tell who they are.
One of them is in a long term relationship with a Roman Catholic. His partner has a masters degree. He himself is working on his bachelors. Both are very intelligent (yeah, I admit it. He has a brain. It's just whether he chooses to use it ;) ). Both tried not to be gay. In fact, at least one (and likely both) dated women when in high school.
My other friend had intended a life in service to God. Unfortunately, his sexuality is frowned upon by his God. Or more likely his Faith. It has caused all kinds of conflicts for him. I'm almost certain he has contemplated suicide on more than one occasion, and I'm almost certain that his depression is likely rooted in this contradiction between his Faith and his biology.
Because, see, that's what it is. Biology.
I can choose my hair colour (with the help of chemicals). I can choose my eye colour (with the help of contacts). I can choose which shirt, trousers, underwear, shoes, etc I shall be wearing today. I cannot choose my sexuality.
*sigh* I don't know the right way to put this, but I'm gonna try.
What if it wasn't a law about whether a man could marry another man, or a woman another woman. What if, instead, it was defined by genetic markers? Only (natural) brunettes may marry each other. Only (natural) hazel eyed people may marry. Or that one we all are horrified by, and are glad was abolished - Only whites may marry whites, only blacks may marry blacks.
To me, there is no difference. And to even infer that sexuality is a choice is wrong.
God made my friends, loved ones, the way they are. Perhaps we should respect, understand and love Him for making that choice, perhaps we can change our laws to reflect that.
Or will we, Australia, once more lag behind the rest of the world when it comes to equality?

As an afterthought, our laws have recently changed to better accommodate de facto relationships. My loved ones are allowed to claim their partners estate automatically post mortem. However, they are not automatically entitled to each others superannuation. Only marriage gives you that right. Perhaps, it should be changed to civil unions give you that right (including pagan handfastings), so that if we do not allow gay marriage, at the very least, they have a legally recognised right to which a married couple is automatically entitled.
Perhaps our definition of "marriage" should be changed, that it becomes a religious recognition, and if not blessed by a God (of which ever flavour you choose), it is a civil union.
Just some food for thought.
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Filling everyone in...

A while back, the clutch cable on the Big Blue Bus (8 seater van) died. 3 weeks later, the thing was finally back on the road.
Around a month after that, the van died. Totally. No hope of getting it going again, and the repairs to it would have cost more than the thing was worth. So we sold it.
At that time, an offer was made to us to borrow the money to buy a new vehicle. Yanno, one that would fit me, Ian and 4 kids. Within a week, said offer was retracted, and the offerers car was substituted. Its big enough to fit Ian, me and the girls. Doing anything in holidays with Michael is out of the question.
So, anyways, last night (Sunday night) we were on our way to the local workers club for dinner in said 5 seater. We get to the parking lot, Ian puts it into reverse, and the whole thing dies. Won't reverse, wheels won't turn. Ian turns it off, and the stupid thing won't turn over.
So, we try rining the cars owner. From 6 pm until 10 pm we cannot get through to him.
11 am, we finally get hold of him, only to find out that the car is covered by Holden roadside assistance. (Thanks for letting us know last night...)
The car is now in getting repaired, Ian has no way to get to work tomorrow, we will have to pay for the repairs (though we have NFI how, or with what money), and roadside assist have no idea what's wrong with it - except to say its something electrical, and it isn't the battery nor alternator.
All I can think is if the original offer had have been kept, then we wouldn't be in this predicament.
But what would I know? It's not like I have the money and ability to call the shots.

EDIT: Turns out the guy from roadside assistance is an idiot. It is the alternator that's screwed. What is it with Ian and alternators going? This is the fourth one to go in 7 years.
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This year

So, my resolutions for this year have changed slightly.
Earlier this week, I was diagnosed with tenosynovitis in my right wrist. I'm very right hand dominant. In fact, even as I type this (I don't touch type, but I do a damned good job of typing fast none the less), my right hand is up to 5 times more active than my left. Thing is, treatment for tenosynovitis is rest, and a brace. I also have to take ibuprofen each day.
So, I'm revising the resolutions. Especially since it now seems I have approximately 6 months in which I can't work (would you take on someone who is wearing a wrist brace or bandage? I sure as Hell wouldn't).
And, that brings me to my resolutions.
Margaret is returning to day care. She starts not long after Katharine and Isabella go back to school. That gives me around 6 hours a day to clean the house and do Something Else.
And study it is.
I'll be doing two courses, both by distance education.

  • First off, I'm enrolling in a Real Estate Course. I'm going to study to become a property sales manager and auctioneer - both live stock and real estate.

  • Secondly, I'm going to learn another language. The choices offered at basic and intermediate levels are French, German, Italian, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese. I'm thinking I may take French. I did it for 4 years at high school, so its more a case of revising that, and going from there.

After 6 months, if my wrist is still a problem, I'll still be able to get a job in real estate. Even if it is as a trainee. I'll have shown some personal initiative, you see. Something that should far outweigh an injury.
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(no subject)

My thoughts and prayers are going out to friends and family in Queensland.
My closest possible relative (my identical twin sister, bastyseult, is in South East Queensland, just west of the Brisbane. My biggest prayers go to her and her not-even-4-month-old twin girls, as well as her 15 year old son, her partner and their pets.
Just a note there, too.