At Dad’s 80th birthday party on the weekend we met DJ’s sister, Caroline.  She has anorexia.  Like her mother, she is quite petite.  As I have seen very thin girls before, it was not quite shocking, but still quite sad.

DJ is in a little cottage next to Peter and Lynda’s house.  He is Tanya’s partner and they have three children.  Caroline is staying with them, as she is travelling for a year and they have a spare room for her out the back.

The house where Peter lives seems a lot calmer now.  They have two pizza ovens that they built in the last month or so.  The first one is smaller and was the test run.  Now Dad is keen to build one at our place.  Mum and I went to North Lakes library on Monday to take out the book we put on hold on outdoor projects.  There is a lot of information on the internet as well, but Dad is not keen to start learning how to use the internet.  He prefers books.

Mum is against the idea, as it seems like more work for her.  The microwave does a great job of cooking pizzas, although she now prefers the cooktop for rice and oats, as they are less gluggy than in the microwave.

I think it’s a great plan and look forward to the day that we can have a little furnace in the garden.  If we use the right bricks, we could even do pottery.  Somehow, I think it will be just plain bricks, though, unless Dad finds furnace bricks at a garage sale in the near future.

At present, I am debating whether I should ask DJ about doing some counselling with Caroline.  My current studies in mental health and my wellness coaching should be useful.  However, I have no idea whether that is what Caroline would like.  Somehow, I can see her going off in the bush or to a remote community to commune with the Great Australian Outback.  Although, where Peter lives is not that bad and at least it has plumbing.

I’ll think on it and make a decision.


Dawn Service

This year, I was up at 4:30 am and dawn is at 6:10am.  However, it was still not early enough to find a close parking spot for the Anzac Day dawn service at the sea front.

Next time I will try to leave at 4:45 am instead of 5:15am.  At least I was not alone in trying to find a parking spot.  Every shopping centre and council car park and many side streets were totally full.  Main roads and main streets were also full.

The commentator said that it was the largest gathering he had seen at Redcliffe.  It seemed twice as large as last year.  There were tents set up for the main speakers and activities.  The coast guard had a boat for laying wreaths in the water by service group representatives.  Four wreaths were put in the water all together.

I missed the march from the top of Redcliffe Parade.  The jetty had a few people, the beach and rocks at the fore shore were filled with people.  Dogs on leashes came in all shapes and sized.  There were two SES people in bright orange emergency uniforms as well.

The bugler player the Last Post, and later the Reveille.  Someone sang a song and poems were read.  One poet was the grandson of a soldier.  They spoke of North Korea and Vietnam.  There wasn’t as much talk about Gallipoli as last year.

I took my smart phone and could not shut off the flash. The pictures were still mainly dark with a few street lights.  Others had cameras and videos as well.  They posed on the bigger rocks by the beach or just on the grassy parklands.

Everyone was quiet, sombre and respectful.  An aboriginal lady was saying to her husband, “At least they look after our land”, as I turned to walk back.  A Muscovy duck by the city pond seemed to think I was going to throw breadcrumbs.  He came towards me waggling his duck tail.  I took pictures.  There was a beautiful, large, red waterlily.  It took some pictures of that as well. 

Rather than face the traffic as everyone left, I had turned to go back home a bit earlier than most people.  It was a quiet drive home.  When I returned, the news was on with other Anzac Day celebration stories.  The radio in the car had some more reports from other places, including Gallipoli.

Then Max started to bark.  He missed his morning walk.  I had something to eat and a cup of coffee while checking my e-mails.  We went for walk so he could roll in the dewy grass.  How he loves that.  There were lots of other people jogging and out with their dogs.  The cyclists who usually chatter at 4:30am as they cycle past our house were out late, just like me.

Next time, I will set my alarm earlier.  I don’t mind being out before dawn.  There are lots of other people out then and I have a torch.  Max likes it whether we are out in the early morning light or any other time.  As long as he has his walk, he is a happy puppy!


Anzac Day tomorrow

Tomorrow is Anzac Day and we have a public holiday in Australia and New Zealand.

Last year I was up early and went to the dawn service at Redcliffe for the first time.  There was a woman there with a dog like Max, so I could actually take Max for a nice long walk to the service. 

The Red Cross is also accepting blood donations from 9am to 3pm on Anzac Day, so I might go along now that my cold has cleared up. 

I expect there will be a huge crowd for the 5:30am parade to Anzac park, across from the new RSL building.  It is certainly worth being there early to find a good vantage spot.


Beautiful weather

These last few days have been glorious!  I love it when the temperature dips below 30 Celsius in Autumn.  The skies have been clear and blue with a beautiful cool breeze blowing our way.

It has been great weather for writing, but also great weather for going outdoors.  Mum has been gardening for the first time in months.  She scoffs at us when we put on a light jumper.  We don’t wear it for long, as moving around any amount at all soon makes it warmer.

Our large chickens, the ones Jim and Kit gave us, are now in the aviary.  There have been about ten escapes from the chicken pen since they arrived and Max has enjoyed chasing chickens around the garden.  We have been chasing Max and the chickens, raising a lot of commotion in the process.

Now, the large ones are in with the canary, Indian ring necks and cockatiels.  They seem to like the environment better.  Dad put sugar can mulch on the ground and Mum threw in some vegetable scraps.  They chase worms and lizards with great enthusiasm.  At night, though, it is taking a while for them to roost properly.  I saw two sitting on a canary nesting box yesterday.

It seems the large chickens are the meat producing birds, whereas our cute little smaller chickens are the egg producing variety.  They certainly don’t get on with each other.  It’s as if they were different species all together. 

At least now we can guess as to why Jim and Kit were so keen to pass them on to us.  Although, they are quieter in the mornings now.  The first day we thought one was a rooster.  It turns out they were just very, very hungry and did not know how to eat food pellets.

They have had our giant sweet potato, that we found when starting to weed the vegetable garden after several months of lying fallow.  Mum cooked and mashed it.  It was not until we mixed it with green vegetables that they recognised it as food, too.  For a while they seemed to eat the shredded paper in the nesting boxes.  Now they have sugar cane mulch.  It’s all that we had in the garden that was close at hand when they went in the bigger aviary.

Mum and I were appreciating our neighbourhood yesterday, on the drive back from shopping.  The city council has done a lot to add water taps, shade areas, trees and playgrounds.  There are lots of little paths for walking now.  It is improving all the time.  If only I could work out how to get the surf ski down to the water to try paddling in the early mornings.



Writing and Journalism

The news of the Boston bombings has been the focus of our television viewing in the last three days.

Even though we are far away from the US, the Boston bombings has been to the forefront of our news gathering from the media accounts.  Somehow, it seems to be at a standstill, with people arguing about possible defence tactics and strategies.

The issue of refugee students and international students is of interest to me because of my Master’s research thesis, which I am rewriting at present.  Particularly in Australia, where boat people and detention centres are politically sensitive, these issues are just below the surface all the time.

In any case, for me the take home message is that there is a great deal of interest at the level of national security and that personal responsibility or accountability are key issues.


Search for the counter narrative

As usual, I am up early, about half an hour before dawn, making coffee and catching up on the news.  This time, it is not fb and e-mail, but the American news.  It’s all about Boston.

We sat enthralled yesterday as the drama unfolded and Boston was in lock-down.  The evening news had the updates.  In the morning, our time, early evening in Boston, the analysis was well underway.

It was the strangest thing.  In between going out for a jog with Max and my normal routine, all of a sudden my little world was part of the bigger picture.  Jogging, watching inspiring Nike videos online, watching the Junior Nationals Gridiron Championship online, catching up on assignments… it’s all part of my information net that suddenly grew very large.

It seems the bombing was part of an initiation rite for a Caucasian-related group.  The separate bombs were the signatures of two separate would-be initiates.  The cost of study without scholarship and family support led them to want athletic scholarships in wrestling…. The prestige of Harvard beckoned.  Being an unrecognised minority did not help if there was an FBI record of past activities.

Is my thesis really on international students?  Am I really studying career counselling? Do I really go to my Certificate IV in Mental Health classes on Fridays?  How can this be?  There seems to be an “altro polo”.  The academic as against the chaotic and watching a movie last night with Dan Akroyd in “Ghost Busters” seemed all so relevant.  Even the 1980s hair on Sigourney Weaver seemed somehow appropriate.

Too much connection for one day….


Defining my Discussion Chapter

My thesis discussion chapter is next up for rewriting.  In the last few days several concepts have made sense to me, partly as a result of studying the Systems Theory Framework (STF) in Education for my counselling course.

In Information Theory, there are different ways of looking at responsibility when it isn’t allowed to be moral responsibility.  I have had a hard time trying to work out the shortest and simplest way to describe which type of responsibility is relevant to my theme.  This morning I decided on political and criminal responsibility, following Benhabib and Przeworski.  For me, it’s really governmental, organisational and non-state individuals, but that is close enough for starters.

Then I had to sort out Pareto efficiency and decided on issues in equity and social welfare related to Pareto efficiency, as per Dubey and Mitra.  This is a treatise in economic theory, though, but both are technical papers, so I will work out the parts that I need to understand and follow up from there.

It’s not really helpful for me to have the STF featured as non-empirical in my studies to date, but at least it is a good characterisation of the way in which data in education is only meaningful in terms of funding for the school.  Really, people only want to know what value they are getting in relation to their own career prospects, when the extreme career development perspective is adopted.  This can apply to parents, community job placement providers and students alike.  Fortunately, a focus on the student’s best interests makes it a more professional exercise.  It makes all the theory meaningful and gives hope to web designers and counsellors who develop pay-for-use programs that can easily be used in schools.

Anyway, back at my discussion paper, I have to look at some kind of algorithm related to my themes or data analysis.  I already have a log-linear regression formula based on graphing my results.  In between times, I should work the data a lot more to tidy it up and make it more friendly.  There is always something to do besides checking references in the body of the text and the reference list.