i told one of my neurophysios i needed to “rest”/stop after 20 minutes of walking. bless her heart, she “estimated” my “effort” was equivalent to about three hours of walking for an able-bodied individual (i’m guessing it’s probably “closer”to about two hours). my daily exercises have increased it from about 10 (don’t quote me on that) to 20 minutes but what she said “shook” me: if i “lost” five minutes every two years: i’d be only able to manage five minutes in six years!

i asked for a “practical target” (as that’s seem to have worked for me in the past). she suggested that 60 minutes she thinks would cover most activities. using my “logic” to project out using a linear function (which is unrealistic since i’m not a robot and will tire): this is about six hours to another person. nonetheless, i need to work on building my endurance to “boost” my current capabilities.

like one of my neurophysios say, we need to work on what we can to prolong my “independence” for as long as possible. i have begun “slowly” by trying to remain standing whilst watching TV. Also, i am currently noting my speed/RPMs (like was suggested to me) and not just increase the duration on the stationary bike.

while motivation has been tied to “success” – it has recently been reiterated to me that it’s definition should be expanded to what’s personally important and not just the “narrow” criteria of what society dictates (as a migrant i’ve noticed some “variability” in certain aspects).

i thought High Fidelity would always be my favourite franchise. it’s one of rare exceptions where i prefer the film to the novel by Nick Hornby. don’t get me wrong – i like both to the point that i follow it’s TV “reimagining”.

just this arvo, i “stumbled” upon the movie, Hearts Beat Loud on the SBS streaming service and really liked it. there were two lines that resonated withe me (i’m paraphrasing, of corse): one was that when life gives you a conundrum then make art, and the other is, you first need to be brave before you can be good. both are set in a NY record store but probably the reason it “slightly” edges out the other one is that the actors perform the music (instead of “spouting out” a list of songs/events given a particular criterion).

i mentioned before, Juliet, Naked!. it makes my top three (i wish i could “complete” the list in true High Fidelity fashion but i’ve yet to watch enough films “worthy” of this accolade).

in my younger years, i think i was sort of a music snob. i think it was a “necessary” phase – in the same way, i think artists need to “master” realism before they branch out stylistically (IMHO, i don’t think this step is “required” but it tends to provide more “robust”portfolios ). maybe it’s my “advanced” age or “embracing” Australian culture, you like what you like – damn “guilty pleasures”.

i’m not a technophobe but my friend is right – there’s a “warmth” to vinyl (and other analog media) despite sound “impurities” (hopefully, i don’t sound like a wanker). maybe some of it is “nostalgia” as my generation experienced the evolution of media. as my friend once “lamented”, newer generations won’t know the relationship between a pencil and an audio cassette. tangentially to this point, one of my favourite albums of all time is Full Moon Fever by the late Tom Petty – not just because i like the songs and describe them as “cohesive” but because i had the CD version and approximately half-way there is a blurb that at this point some listeners would need to flip their records to continue listening to the rest of it – so to be “fair”, he deliberately inserted a “pause”.

i knew i watched a lot of tennis – i’ve always tuned in to the AO. i thought i liked it because my maternal grandfather, my dad, my sister, my uncle, and my aunt played. my 1st cousin in America even was on the team for his university.

my son plays tennis but neither my wife nor me “encouraged” him to take up the sport. i used to believe that my affinity was primarily due to environment but his “innate” interest makes me think it has something to do with genetics.

usually i’m on my computer most of the time, but the frequency of “long” matches in this years AO has seriously cut into my daily routine – as i’m generally home-bound, it’s a bit more obvious. honestly, i’d rather watch than do other things.

i knew this year was “bad” because i used to just watch a bit and just occasionally checked the score but this year i watched some matches until the end. Maybe it was a bit more “compelling” this year – regardless, a sign i watched too much was when i noticed the players’ sock colours: some of the “next” generation ones sported “darker” shades, whereas the more “well established” ones wore the “traditional” white.

“tangentially”, it didn’t help my schedule that i also watched the SuperBowl (not just the half-time show but also the game – they show different ads in OZ) yesterday – even if it’s “unfashionable” to admit i sometimes do watch the sport.

our parish priest of several years celebrated his farewell mass earlier because he’s been reassigned to PNG. this post isn’t about him but him ending his homily with a few quotes triggered my “tangentially-associative” memory.

i’m not terribly religious but had Augustinian priests for my primary and high school education. one of his quotes was deeply ingrained in me: “To sing is to pray twice”. i didn’t think i would be disturbed but a while back a contemporary personality effectively claimed that the quote was theirs and originated from them.

that was the first time i knew that a person “blatantly” appropriated someone else’s work – the interviewer didn’t challenge them. perhaps it was ignorance. perhaps they didn’t want the interviewee to be embarrassed.

my intent isn’t to shame anybody – in any case, i encourage everyone to share and spread individual’s words, works, ideas, or the like so that they are properly attributed. that said, let me qualify, some times somebody from another time or from a different part of the world may come up with a similar “thing” – the point is that their intent was never meant to “plaigarise”, it’s claiming something is theirs when they clearly know it’s not.

publicising something appears to be an “effective” remedy in dealing with or preventing its occurrence.

i watched Juliet Naked it wasn’t that different from a “formulaic” romantic comedy – it’s just i found the dialogue quite “pithy”.i liked the comedy stylings of Chris O’ Dowd in The IT Crowd (maybe since i used to work in tech i could relate). strangely, it’s his choice of “dramatic” roles i find appealing: this film and The State of the Union, a limited television series.

it sort of reminds me of the movie: High Fidelity ( this was a very rare instance where i enjoyed the film aside from the book by Nick Bantock – who happens to be one of my favourite authors).

it’s probably the writing which i like in both films – i’m a sucker for “good” dialogue. there’s a line in the film which struck me, paraphrasing it was to the effect that art is not for the artist as water isn’t for the plumber – effectively elevating the “beholder” in the power dynamic wrought equation.

generally, i tend to like some of the roles that Ethan Hawke accepts: Gattaca, Boyhood, Great Expectations, Training Day, Reality Bites, and Dead Poets Society, It seems “foolish” to expect i’d like all his movies.

if you’re doing nothing, it’s an “alright” flick to watch.

i’ve always been “terminally trivial”. as i am a keen reader (i consume less books now given my vision impairment) and watch a heap of TV/movies (i no longer watch those exclusively with subtitles as the captions are too fast for me to read), the accumulation of factoids can be said to be “eclectic”. sadly, this hasn’t translated to any pub quiz wins and any major prizes in HQ Trivia.

with the advent of Google (and similar technologies) , this predilection for facts seems passé. the ubiquity of search engines and voice assistants like SIRI have resulted in “information at the fingertips” for some. this “JIT” (Just In Time} approach has transformed our relationship with facts – it’s, after all, when (and no longer if) we need it. it’s psychologically more efficient and practical to store information external to your person rather than in your mind (as evidenced by our “over”reliance on our phones). the onus has shifted from the right answers to the right questions. i’ve always believed questions were important but more so now – Jeopardy! was only “tangentially” right.

i asked a former knowledgeable teacher and very smart friend why digital technologies used the Red Green Blue (RGB) palette when i was taught early on that the primary colours were Red Yellow, and Blue – so i was thinking shouldn’t it be RYB instead. i was told that RGB had always been the standard spectrum. i was placated for a while by their answers but it was always in the back of my mind.

one day i was just compelled to do a web search. apparently, RGB are the base additive colours: That is they are “active” and can be combined to form various hues and shades (through the use of such things as lasers). primary colours uses paint and paper to make other colours and are more “passive” – if that makes sense.

it’s no longer just about memorising facts in the digital age as it is, also IMHO, about having the intellectual curiosity to ask “interesting” questions. From now on, i’ll also share the results of my “research” on this blog.

CAVEAT:  you might have noticed that my title format has slightly changed.  i’m still starting it off with what ever comes to mind and after the colon i’ve appended what i think the post is about (you might interpret it differently or have an alternative understanding when you “read between the lines”).  it has been brought to my attention that some readers may not want to go through the entire thing for the title to make any sense.  this is not an egregious attempt to increase ‘likes’  or to act as ‘click-bait’ but shouldn’t it be part of ‘sharing’ to make stuff ‘more digest-able’ – looks like i still have a ways to go.

i underwent a medical procedure recently – recovery time is typically from one to two days –  because of my age it took me three days. so i temporarily stopped my daily exercise program for about two weeks – this affected me but i didn’t notice right away.  it became first obvious to me at a speech pathology session.  i used to get through them just fine even if they were during the afternoons – i didn’t feel winded afterwords but my sound production performance faltered occasionally.  Moreover when i went to my regular neurophysio appointment, she could physically feel the difference – i found out that apparently pain can also cause your muscles to “relax”.  At first i had done this to reduce my anxiety levels (but perhaps because i now take a natural supplement for it it’s less pronounced) but, also very importantly, getting my core strength up not only helps me avoid falls (and minimises potential injury) but also helps my speech.  Suffice it to say i’ve started up again and hoping to get back to the level i once was.

these aren’t directly related but are also from recent “trips” outside my house so…

i want to whinge about the three (let me be clear: not all or even a majority of them) taxi drivers driving skills were really bad:  the sudden stops-and- starts, not slowing down enough to take a round about, or abrupt jerking of the steering wheel.  These gave me a headache despite sitting in front and having the road visible – imagine how much worse i would have felt if i sat in the back.  i was going to complain about another thing but in hindsight one of my drivers was “self-obsessed’ that he would have acted that way to an “able-bodied” passenger.

Despite using my “letter board”, some drivers (not only taxi drivers but one support worker), still misunderstood me.  i suspect it’s either because they’re not patient enough to listen or having a preconceived notion of what i’m going to say (Ding!  Ding!  Ding!:  it’s usually wrong).  i understand that my speech can be hard to understand especially since this is probably the first time we’ve talked (on a few occasions i get the same drivers) but mistakes ca be avoided:  like going the wrong direction, it’s on the other side, that’s the wrong address, accidentally running me over,  etc.

we just want to feel listened to.  here’s a video by Purple Orange (it kind of reminds me of the You Can’t Ask That format on the ABC) about diverse communication shared on Darryl Selwood(Ph.D.)’s blog:  http://darrylsellwood.com/?p=998.  While i don’t  relate to everything said, i agree with the central premise of respect and the underlying theme of “not judging a book by its cover”.

it is very easy for me to accuse the drivers of not thinking: parking too close to the incline, the ramp, or curb so it’s “tricky” for me to get into or out of the car;  dropping me off by an entrance with only stairs ; driving “far” the door so need to cross the street, walk “some” distance, or negotiate a challenging surface (like inclines, uneven surfaces, pebbles, etc.); ask me directions or instruct them where to pass or stop; or turn the meter on while i’m still trying to get in the car (i believe the law states it should be only activated when i’m seated).  sometimes they can’t be bothered or are in a rush but sometimes i think it’s because they haven’t been exposed to or educated about disability – these are tasks they take for granted so there’s a need for more “training”.

FINAL WORD (let me know if these prompt helps with readability or i should go for more “traditional” headings – i know a poll is a more suitable for this but i probably won’t get enough respondents for a truly statistically valid result and, frankly, confronting my readership numbers scares me).  There’s a tension between keeping the post short-and-sweet and making it comprehensive enough to be informative – after all like they say, perfect is the enemy of good. Moreover timing is an issue, some thoughts have an ‘expiry date’ while others not so much.  While Twitter isn’t for me (trolls aside), it take me some time to type – this has the added bonus of letting me reflect and not simply reacting, All-in-all, i’m still struggling with the balance.  Furthermore, i feel the pressure to post frequently – as evidenced by the number of “self-corrections” right after i publish – when i should learn to recheck my drafts first.

 

ironic

October 2, 2019

it was “surreal” last night.  on ABC last night, it featured MoJo (an iconic advertising consultancy and, eventually, a “full-blown” agency)that influenced and shaped Australia.  For those that don’t know, ABC  is a national TV channel that’s mainly funded by the government and disallows all forms of commercialism (including ads) – you can’t even discuss (much less promote) any brands on their shows.

it was so meta.  Admittedly, they have a programme called Gruen that “humorously” critiques ads but this somehow felt different as it impacted Australian culture.  It can be argued that it was simply a mirror and a true insight into the Australian zeitgeist.

While prior to them “proper” American or British accents were used to voice over commercials, authentic Australian enunciation and expressions were instead  used (although they were considered “vulgar” by the “establishment”). i think this “honesty” was greatly appreciated by the Australian public. i now believe that you should never be ashamed of your actual heritage despite what you were “taught” and the constant stream of messages to put you down. i’ve got a feeling that’s why they dislike the old country so much – it is said that POME was originally an acronym for Prisoner Of Mother England.

Hogs (Paul Hogan better known by some Americans as Mick “Crocodile” Dundee) was the human face of a former tourism campaign – i challenge anyone to say it wasn’t effective as Australia moved from the 78th preferred holiday destination by Americans to the 7th.  Prior to him, it was all wildlife (like koalas and kangaroos) and he was even recognised, arguably, as Australian of the Year for its success.  The catchphrase was even adapted to the Yanks: “put another shrimp on the barbie” – as no one Down Under referred to them as “shrimp” but as “prawns”.  They say a real measure of a tourism campaign isn’t just about the foreign visits but also abut how good the locals feel about their country.

system of a down

February 7, 2019

they showed The Godfather series on free-to-air TV (i rewatched the first two instalments but not the third which i don’t really like.  IMHO, the second film is one of those rare gems when the sequel is as good or better than the original).  I felt bad for the character Michael.  Like Abigail in the film The Favourite (side note: the Academy recognised the Aussie screenwriter), (in my experience) it usually doesn’t really matter if you start out as well-meaning but being part of a “corrupt” system changes you accordingly.

As Trevor Noah talks about apartheid, Hannah Gadsby about marginalisation, and Dave Chappelle about #MeToo, they all point out that these issues are systemic and deeply-ingrained.  Good individuals acting independently are insufficient to effect cultural change – it takes targeted actions (sometimes done in concert) for meaningful results.

i know New Amsterdam is just a tv show (mostly involving trite Hollywood pablum) but occasionally Dr. Goodwin showcases important lessons for us all: he may be over-idealistic at times but, essentially, the key is to understand the underlying structure that causes systemic issues.  It is difficult to improve systems but a good understanding is a vital start.

 

there appears to be a tendency of social media to focus solely on the good – there’a a plethora of “humble” brags and “unrealistic” posts.  i’m obviously not a big fan but i can understand why it’s worth it “following” certain people.  Don’t get me wrong – i’m all for democratisation and giving a voice to the traditionally voiceless but a lot of it is to me vacuous and inane palava (or palaver if you prefer) – not to mention the trolling and glaring divide.  i worked in ICT for a number of years prior to my ABI (Acquired Brain Injury):  technology can be a magnifier for “bad” and  not just a multiplier for “good” – in my experience, it’s a double-edged sword.  i believe posts shouldn’t be policed or censored (free speech and all) but people should be better equipped to discern the “wheat from the chaff” – a form of “natural selection” of sorts (if you will).  It would benefit from balance (like most things in life).

part of this is “processing”.  Some of it is “snobbery” (i’m only human after all).  That said, take from it what you will – i’m not narcissistic enough to discount any “unintended interpretations” of my writing.  My only caveat that it is partly out of need (and partly due to therapy) so it might not be most people’s “cup of tea”.

there’s undeniably some “good” occurrences recently.  Firstly, i’m nearly halfway in completing my online certificate in data science.  This will, “hopefully”, help me get into “gainful” employment again after being “sidelined in the wilderness” for over a decade now.  At times, I used to work a part-time job along with a full-time one – so being homebound was a “drastic” change.

over the last two weeks, i’ve been finishing online crosswords daily. It started with 2.5 hours but now i’m down to a little over 50 minutes usually and my best time is approximately 38 minutes.  i’m merely an amateur cruciverbalist who wants to improve and build up to something challenging like the New York Times Sunday crossword.

i’ve had no falls over the last several months despite my last two  SARA (short for the Scale for the Assessment  and Rating of Ataxia) tests showing slight deterioration.    i think this is mainly due to my neuro PTs’ advised interventions added to (or slightly modifying ) my daily exercise routine.  Sure the NDIS (Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme in case you’re not aware) is a source of much consternation and a bugbear to negotiate (even for mundane tasks) but thanks to it i can now afford to go weekly instead of monthly (which used to be the case).  I had several near-misses lately:  the point is I didn’t fall down where a couple of months ago i surely would have.  As in everything there is both good and bad – i’ve heard it referred as a major reform since MediCare:  there are obvious, signficant “teething problems” with its initial rollout but you can’t really fault the intention (it is the implementation where it falls down – pun intended ).

sadly, i’ve been binge watching a lot lately. Whether to “empty out” the numerous recordings on my DVR (Digital Video Recorder) or streaming over the Internet – i’m such a cheapskate that I only use free services (thankfully, Australia is quite “progressive”).  My  current darling is  “You’re the Worst” on SBS (Special Broadcasting Service) On Demand – the “Resume” function makes the bugs bearable.  I watched all episodes of the four seasons available on the web. I find the writing witty and funny (admittedly, i’ve got a “dark” sense of humour i liked the tv show Legit , i found the movie Pulp Fiction hilarious, and mostly laughed throughout the stage show, The Book of Mormon ). I enjoyed Seasons  1-3 ; S4 was ok (my “disappointment” with the new intro notwithstanding) and still will watch the last season (i’m curious how they will wind it down and then end it). i think Ricky Gervais was right to cap the UK  version of The Office after two series.  i use TV to distract from the thinking i do during the day – so “smart” and “subconscious” programming is much appreciated.  The last show made me think of the novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being although watching is supposed to relax me.  i sometimes read (with the aid of a magnifier) during ad breaks (i know this is counter to my intent but i can’t really help doing it).  i find it helps me think more broadly about things and i’m not limited to seeing things only in a certain way.

My Ph.D. has stalled and as of late i rarely write anything – and when i do i only mange a few words.  Maybe i’ve just “hit the wall” and i’m just tired given the number of years (when a lot of things usually pique my interest) and the effort to type compounded by my waning interest.  Maybe it’s not up to scratch given my exacting standards and past performances.  Maybe it’s my growing frustration with the admin required and my over reliance on altruism upon learning the hard way that it’s self-interest that often yields results.  Maybe it’s my substantially increased anxiety due to my health concerns or fast approaching conclusion of my candidature.  i suspect all of these factors play a role.  Thankfully i’ve got a supervisor who believes in me and my abilities – she’s doing what she can to make that path is still available to me.

i was told that walking outside would do some good – not only would it further develop my legs given a functional task but it would also expose me to fresh air and vitamin D.  I’m trying to incorporate this into my routine but admittedly i’m hesitant given my bouts with hay fever and uneven terrain and inclines.  On days when the pollen count is not too high, I go outside the front of our house to gradually acclimatise me to the irritants and eventually build enough strength to confidently tackle going around the block.

My speech difficulties have taught me to listen more to others.  My walking challenges have resulted in me losing weight (as the heavier i am, the harder it is to remain ambulant), made me appreciate more the challenge of getting robots to balance on two legs.  My greatly reduced typing speed has caused me to concentrate more on quality rather than quantity. As has happened in the past with other persons with disabilities, it has ‘forced’ me to adapt and strategise to perform common tasks.

It is easy for me to continue being negative: seeing silver linings does not come natural.  These are the cards i have been dealt and need to make the most out of them.  Admittedly, it still pisses me off when people whinge about what i consider to be “terminally trivial” things but i have to learn to focus instead on the things i need to do and how i can perform them better.  While the Chinese symbol for ‘crisis’ has been disproven to mean both ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’ simultaneously, it is still useful to see both the  yin and  yang of things.