Big 50, Volume 16: My Idols

I don’t know what I was thinking when I chose this topic.  Because it’s SO hard to write about!  Mostly when people think of idols, they think of someone that you REALLY idolise.  But as I’ve got older, I’ve realised that I don’t really idolise the people who influence me, or who I find fascinating, or inspirational.  I think I did in some ways when I was younger, because there wasn’t any sense that these were people just like any other.

Ok I just remembered a story.

I have always been a huge fan of Billy Connolly.  Ever since I can remember.  Not just because he’s funny, but because he seems to be able to articulate things that I could never express.  And I’ve always loved his child-like wonder at the world.  However I must note that he seems to be losing that as he gets older, his comedy has changed from delight and wonder and general hilarity at the world around him, to something more akin to a grumpy old man having a rant.  Fair play to him I say, he is 70 now, he actually is an old man and he’s as welcome to grow and change and shift his perspective on the world as much as anyone else.  But the humour and passion he had as I grew up is what I loved most about him.

Anyway, it was well known amongst all of my friends that I’m a huge Big Yin fan.

So you can imagine my dismay at what happened one day in about 20 years ago.  I am about 19 years old.  I was on my lunch break from my job in the advertising department of a local AM radio station (a country music station, God I hated the music that was being played then!) and browsing through a nearby music store (for those of you who go back that far in Brisbane, it was the Brash’s in the Wintergarden, which is now HMV).  I’m standing there idly flipping through the CD’s, when I look up at the tall man on the other side of the CD rack.  “Hmmm, that guy looks like Billy Connolly.” I think to myself.

The man who looks like Billy Connolly goes over to the counter and speaks to the girl behind the counter.  The man who looks like Billy Connolly has a thick Scottish accent.  Fuck!  Fuck!  Fuck!  It IS Billy Connolly!

The man who looks like Billy Connolly, and IS Billy Connolly, turns around and walks towards me.  I stand there wide-eyed, looking at the man who looks like Billy Connolly and IS Billy Connolly.  My brain is thinking “Say hello.  It’s Billy Connolly.  Be cool!  Say something!  At least ask for his fucking autograph!”  My body will not comply.  I stand there with my mouth open, fixed to the spot, trying desperately to get it together to say hello.  The man who looks like Billy Connolly, and IS Billy Connolly, catches my eye.  He smiles warmly, winks and says “Hello.” in that lovely accent of his.  I STILL stand there like a stunned mullet, unable to move, smile, nod, anything.  The man who looks like Billy Connolly, and IS Billy Connolly walks past me, and leaves the store, and is gone.

I stand there for a little while, completely gobsmacked.  I then trudge back to my office, sit down at my desk, and promptly burst into floods of tears of frustration and embarrassment.

I’ve always regretted that moment.  I have met lots of other awesome famous people in the years since that one, and always managed to be coherent and talk to them.  I’ve made great men laugh, told amazing women that they’ve inspired me, had friendly banter with the most droolsome actors, and hugged amazing musicians.  But I will never forget that moment back when I was 19 and the man that I admired the most at the time walked briefly into my life and I made a colossal idiot of myself!

January 3, 2011. Big 50, Billy Connolly. 5 comments.

Big 50, Volume 15: When I Was a Teenager

When I was a teenager, it was the ’80s.  God that seems like such a long time ago now.

I went to school in a public State School, and had a really hideous uniform.  The junior part of the school wore a grey princess line pinafore with a white button up, collared shirt underneath, black Bata Ponytails and white ankle socks for the girls, and grey shorts and button up, collared shirts, and black Bata Scouts with grey knee socks for the boys.  In winter we could wear a maroon jumper.  The seniors wore a white button up, collared shirt and a grey sack of a skirt for the girls, grey shorts for the boys.  More Bata shoes and and white ankle socks for the girls, grey knee socks for the boys.  Our sports uniform was a maroon skirt (it started out as a flat wrap skirt when I was first in high school but they changed it to one of those awful pleated netball skirts when I was in year 9 or 10), a white polo shirt (which they later changed to this hideous collared v-neck t-shirt that clinged to budding young breasts terribly) with black “runners” or sports knickers worn underneath.  The boys had maroon shorts and a white polo shirt.  It was all pretty ugly and impractical.

My teenage years were tough for a lot of reasons, but I think in this post I’ll remember all of the positive things from that time.

I was a music fanatic.  I watched Video Hits on a Saturday morning, Countdown of a Sunday evening, and later Rage through the night and into the early morning.  I bought every music magazine I could get my hands on when I had the money, and taped all my favourite songs off the radio.  When I could I bought records and cassettes, and always put my order in for music for my birthdays and Christmas.  My bedroom was completely wallpapered with pictures of my favourite bands and artists out of magazines, not a bit of wall visible.  I covered my school books in pictures out of magazines too.  When I was about 16 I started going to live gigs too.  The first Australian band I saw were Icehouse, and they were shit live.  The first international band I saw were Transvision Vamp, and while they sounded good, the lead singer was so fucked up on drugs she could barely stand, was wearing a filthy pale pink dress and couldn’t remember the lyrics.

A significant moment in my youth was Live Aid.  I was completely blown away by Do They Know It’s Christmas (which people think is naff now, but it was a really big deal at the time) and when I heard Bob Geldof was getting together musicians from all over the world for a HUGE concert to be simulcast globally, to raise money for famine struck nations in Africa, I knew that I wouldn’t miss a minute of it.  I remember sitting through the whole 16 hours or whatever it was, set up camp in the living room to watch it all.  I remember using the live crosses to Molly Meldrum to go to the bathroom, because even then I loathed Molly bloody Meldrum!  I remember Phil Collins jumping into a helicopter, then on to a concord so that he could do both the London and Philadelphia gigs.  I remember watching Freddie Mercury completely blow everyone away with how amazing and powerful his voice was, and his fantastic stage presence.  I remember Bob Geldof raising his fist in that moment of I Don’t Like Mondays and the whole world just stopping, holding their breath and letting that moment sink in, as to what we’d all done.  And I remember his embarrassment at being hoisted up onto the shoulders of Paul McCartney and Pete Townsend at the end of the gig, the tears streaming down my face that it was coming to an end.

The first movie I went and saw without any family members was Ghostbusters.  I saw it at the drive-in with friends, some of whom were older boys with cars.  My parents would never have let me go if they’d known, but I was at a sleepover with a friend, and off we went.  I remember it was a ute (pickup for those of you outside of Australia) and we backed in and watched from the tray of the ute.  It was AWESOME.  I think I was 13 or 14.

I remember getting drunk for the first time at a party too.  I had somehow procured two flagons of very cheap, nasty port (we called it monkey blood because it looked like Mercurochrome, that antiseptic stuff you would paint on wounds) and drank the bulk of them.  I woke up in a garden behind the house, covered in dirt.  I remember trying to sneak into the house un-noticed because I felt so gross, only to be met in the hallway by the hottest dude in my school.  He simply hugged me and said “You had a big one last night huh?” and we were firm friends from that day on.  Sadly I’ve lost contact with him.  He probably still has my initials, tattooed on his ankle in maths class when we were about 16.

What about you?  What are your defining moments from your teenage years?  Do you remember all of your firsts from those years?

December 28, 2010. Big 50, Eighties, teenagers, youth. 2 comments.

Big 50 Returns! Volume 14: Shopping

Good lord I think I have my life back!  After the past couple of months of complete chaos at work, almost nil social life and a whole lot of exhaustion, Christmas feels like it has reset my life back to one where I had time for myself, a social life and all of the things I’m passionate about, like blogging.

And the first thing I want to do is get back into the Big 50!  I know a lot of other people set it to be done in 50 days, but that was never my intention.  I just wanted to set myself 50 topics to have a go at, to keep me thinking about different topics.

So we’re kicking back in at Volume 14, which is Shopping.

Now this, THIS is a topic I really know something about.

I love shopping.  Oh how I love shopping, always have.  I’ve never got any money, never save properly, simply because I love to shop.  I figure that I have one life, and shopping makes me happy, so I’m doing whatever pleases me, so long as the bills are paid of course.

Historically, I always shopped for accessories.  Cos you know, fat girls aren’t allowed to shop for clothes.  I was always about shoes, handbags and earrings.  And books.  But since discovering fatshion blogs all over the internet, I’ve found a love of clothes shopping too.  I still have a far more limited range of stores I can buy from, but I’m finding those that work for me and I love regularly browsing their wares, both in store and online, and snaffling bargains!

I never thought I’d like online shopping.  I normally like to touch everything I’m browsing, because I’m such a texture junkie.  But I’ve found some really good online stores, like We Love Colors, Evans, The Book Depository and Yours, that I enjoy shopping with online as much as I do in brick and mortar stores.  I’d shop in them if they were brick and mortar stores local to me, but it’s great to have the online option too.

In the past I’ve been called a shopping addict, and even had it suggested that I have a “problem” or that I’m using shopping to fulfill some need.  Strangely enough, the people who made these statements were usually gamblers, or smokers, collectors of something useless, or spent all their money on some frivolous hobby.  I don’t have any other vices, work hard and pay my bills.  How is enjoying shopping hurting anyone?

One kind of shopping I don’t like is grocery shopping.  Hate it in fact.  I don’t need to buy much, but when I do, I usually try to do online grocery shopping.  I just hate pushing a trolley around supermarkets with rude people pushing me out of the way, kids screaming and running around, and bored, underpaid supermarket staff.  Not to mention lugging it all home on public transport.  Ugh!

So do you like shopping?  What kind of shopping do you like, or are there kinds you don’t like?  Do you shop online?  Tell me about your shopping experiences!

December 26, 2010. Big 50, shopping. Leave a comment.

Our New Baby: Kenmore Library

Yeah I know I haven’t blogged here in ages.  I’ve been bringing a new library into the world!  I’ve mentioned quite a bit around the traps how much work has been going into a couple of big projects we’re doing, well, I think I need to share the fruits of our labour.

Kenmore library has been in the planning for a long, long time.  It’s been burbling about for I don’t know how long, and finally this year really and truly happened.  We opened the doors to the public on Tuesday (14/12/10) and it was wonderful to finally show our new baby off.  It was also wonderful to see the lovely members of the public come in and just be delighted with their new library.  It made all the hard work and lack of sleep of the past weeks worth it.

Without any further ado, I’ve got some photos to share with you all:

Such a simple thing, made so beautiful.

New Books
I love the display units that Brandi Exhibitions put together.

It’s so good to see colour in libraries!

Reading Corner
There’s nothing like a little festive touch in a reading corner.

Public Internets
Even the public computers are laid out to look lovely.

A welcoming Junior area.

Junior PC's
With computers JUST for the kids.

Where the Wild Things Are
Makes me think of “Where the Wild Things Are”.

Junior Corner
Reading nooks make me happy (especially if they have discreet storage in them!)

YA Area
With the nicest Young Adult area, complete with X-Box station.

Leaf Shelves in YA
Including innovative and funky shelving and seating.

63" Plasma
Of course, the technology is my particular passion – which is good because AV and IT are what my part of the picture is.  Look at the size of this thing! Sports in 63″ plasma glory.

42" Plasma
Or if you prefer the news…

Meeting Room South
I am so proud of the meeting rooms. These are actually three rooms opened up to one. The technology available for the customers to use is SO sexy and simple.

Meeting Room North
With lovely kitchenettes for those events that need a cuppa and something to eat.

As you can see the old stereotypes of libraries were blown out of the water with this beautiful new library.  Lots of people worked so hard to bring this lovely, vibrant library to life and I’m so proud to have been one of them!

December 19, 2010. Kenmore, libraries, technology, work. 5 comments.

Things I Have Done Today

  1. Had a briefing meeting about installing PC’s over a coffee at 7.30am.
  2. Met with a supplier’s new manager.
  3. Explained the difference between staff and public computers.
  4. Took someone on a tour through the library site and shown them all of the technology I am responsible for making happen.
  5. Explaining why we have things like Foxtel (Pay TV), X-Boxes and HD-TV in libraries.
  6. Tried to get a new computer build created STAT.
  7. Explained why it is important for the new library to be created as a “site” in our computer system.
  8. Measured joinery ready for a cabinet to be installed.
  9. Demonstrated where cabling for Foxtel is installed through the ceiling.
  10. Tried to find out how wall decals are installed and how long it will take for them to be dry/ready so I can work around them.
  11. Learnt how a PA system works, and what kind of cabling it requires if it has to be cabled more than 15 metres.
  12. Decided where the PA system point will be.
  13. Learnt how a video intercom works.
  14. Explained to someone how a hearing loop works, and what the current Queensland law for hearing loops in public buildings entails.
  15. Learnt how to shut down COMMS boards and why I would need to do so.
  16. Decided on where Foxtel decoder boxes should be mounted.
  17. Designed an ergonomics system for an entire library.
  18. Learned what Corian is, and how you need to cut it or drill holes in it.
  19. Measured desks to sink holes for cables and bolts to go into them.
  20. Finally got to go to the ladies room and grab a drink of water.
  21. Logged on a brand new PC ready to add software and configure it.
  22. Walked away from PC to demonstrate how a desk will be set up ergonomically.
  23. Met with a Self Checkout machine supplier to show him where the new machines will go, and explained how they fit in with other furniture.
  24. Showed an electrician where power and data points were to go and explained the difference between public and staff data points.
  25. Inspected a credenza and how it fits against a wall and where it’s cabling goes.
  26. Showed someone an AV rack, explained each component in it, how it was cabled and what the man sitting in the corner near it with a laptop was doing.
  27. Demonstrated the trompe l’oeil effect of mounting projector screens with different ceiling heights.
  28. Sat down at that brand new PC again, partially installed one piece of software.
  29. Had to run and find the joinery fitter and work out when I can get joinery cut.
  30. Showed two staff how to use the payroll system.
  31. Tried to finish installing that software.
  32. Answered a phone call about ergonomics.
  33. Discussed lighting levels and acoustics.
  34. Was shown a very expensive piece of equipment and now I’ve forgotten what it does.
  35. Managed a complaint about builders leaving half eaten food (noodles) in the middle of sites for 3 days.
  36. Finally got that software installed.
  37. Called three people getting information for an electrician.
  38. Tried to start configuring the PC again.
  39. Ran downstairs to bring someone into the building site.
  40. FINALLY finished that first PC, rebooted it and logged it in ready for the staff to use!
  41. Decided it was time for a break.  Ducked downstairs to a cafe and hid in a corner for 10 minutes with a coffee and some pecan pie, just trying to get my brain back into order.
  42. Answered my phone twice.
  43. Ran back upstairs because someone was looking for me about something in the office next door to the library.
  44. Logged on a second PC to install software and configure it.
  45. Was asked for a DVD to test some equipment.  Thankfully I just HAPPENED to have one in my backpack.
  46. Hung around to watch the equipment being tested, because I’ve worked so hard to get it happening and it’s so lovely I wanted to see.
  47. The first words that came across from the DVD player from a Frasier DVD were “Is this thing on?”  Weird!
  48. Was informed a desk was the wrong design.
  49. Told informer to go away and let me think about it.
  50. Answered my phone again.  Told caller to email me whatever they needed and I’d make it happen… somehow.
  51. Went through a delivery docket with hundreds of pieces of equipment on it and worked out if every piece was there.
  52. Went and looked at desk.  It doesn’t fit.
  53. Freaked out a bit.
  54. Tried to get more software and config done on that second PC.
  55. Decided it would be a good idea to photograph everything I’m doing to document it.
  56. Ran around photographing everything.
  57. Called the boss about the stupid desk.
  58. Solved a problem with networked drives.
  59. Talked to the head builder about all the things we’re trying to get done in the next week.
  60. Tried to find the joinery dudes again.
  61. Sent my two IT techs away for the day, they’d done all they could.
  62. Decided to experiment with the desk.  Asked for volunteers, took photos of the desk with two lady librarians sitting at it.
  63. Went back to that second PC and finally got it finished.
  64. Realised that I needed to measure burly blokes on that desk.
  65. Rounded up the two tallest, broadest shouldered blokes on site and made them model for demonstrative photographs at the desk.
  66. Laughed.  A lot.
  67. Realised I was still carrying a large bolt in my pocket.
  68. Decided at 1.45pm that I was STARVING and needed some space.
  69. Went and got lunch, and was sitting in a corner sending text message photos of the desk with aforementioned burly blokes modelling to the boss when a colleague and an IT manager plonked themselves down with me.
  70. Lunch became a meeting.
  71. Went back to the site.  Gave up on trying to install software and configure PC’s.
  72. Had another run through of the AV.  The AMX programming is coming along nicely, and now the lovely motorised screens go up and down, projectors running, DVD players in, two out of three touch panels installed and looking amazing.
  73. Head builder told us they were turning the power off on us in 5 minutes.
  74. Updated the library TL on progress.
  75. Discussed further requirements with IT manager.
  76. Came home.
  77. Spent 2 hours on emails dealing with “normal” work.
  78. Realised I have to do something similar all day tomorrow.


Why the hell am I doing all of the above?

Because I love it.  I love technology.  I love working with builders and techies and tradies.  Because I run around a building site in lipstick and hot pink pigtails with all of these burly blokes and laugh and have fun despite the frustration and stress, and enjoy the ever changing task list and environment.  Because I believe in what I do, and I do it for the people of my city/community.

And because I’m bloody good at it!

PS. Operation Baldy is up to $467!!  Almost to the halfway point.  For an update, click here.

December 2, 2010. about me, AV, blokes, computers, humour, IT, laughs, librarians, libraries, organisation, responsibility, technology. 2 comments.

Big 50 Volume 13: Childhood Illnesses

Oh I had ’em all.  Some of them I don’t remember, some of them I remember all too well.  But I was a SICKLY child.

My Grandma tells me that when I was just a baby, before I turned 2, I had gastroenteritis so bad that she thought I was dead.

I can remember having mumps, on two occasions.  I remember having one mump the first time, and then both mumps the second.  Mump is a funny word you know.  Mump.  Mump.

Apparently I’ve had both measles and German measles (Rubella).  I don’t remember the regular measles at all, but I do remember having German measles.  I remember feeling sick and my  mother coming into my room to get me up for school and the look of shock on her face when she saw me.  I remember looking down at my chest and seeing this weird rash.  I think I must have been about 10, it was definitely before we were lined up to get the Rubella vaccination, which was at about 11 or 12.  I remember the girl in line before me having a complete and utter meltdown and having to be strapped to a gurney to get her shot.  I was scared and when I got in there, the doctor jabbed me and I said “Is that it?”  I had been sure they were going to torture me or something from the previous girl’s antics.

I got the chicken pox at 12 and I remember it REALLY clearly.  Because I woke up on Christmas Eve with the chicken pox.  You never, ever forget having chicken pox at 12 on Christmas Day.  Especially if your shitty little cousins spent the whole day chanting “You’ve got CHICKEN COCKS!!” at you.  I remember being in a lot of pain with the chicken pox.  We were staying with my great aunt and uncle, and I remember sleeping a lot of Christmas day with their new kitten curled up asleep beside me.  It’s like she was comforting me.

The worst thing about chicken pox though is it means you can get shingles… and I got shingles as an adult, let me tell you, that sucks worse than having the chicken pox at age 12 on Christmas Day!  My God I’ve never known pain like it.  I thought I had spinal cancer.  It really freaked me out.  I hope I never get it again.

As well as illnesses, I hurt myself a few times rather spectacularly.  At 5 I stood on a sewing needle, the eye end punctured my foot and broke off, and then buried itself deep into my foot.  It went in just below the ball of my foot, and the surgeon removed it from an incision beside my little toe.  I still have the scar 33 years later!  I also stacked my bike once and ripped open my left knee, and have to have stitches.  It was full of dirt and rocks and crap too.  And I can just remember being about 6 and having some kind of pinched nerve in my hip that left me paralysed from the waist down for awhile.  Must have been scary for the adults in my life.  I just remember being carried everywhere like a baby.

So what about you?  Have you had any spectacular or memorable childhood illnesses?  What about accidents and injuries?  Did you have annoying younger cousins who made fun of you for it?

November 28, 2010. Big 50, children, illness. 2 comments.

Big 50 Volume 12: Music

Oh where to start on this one??

I have always said that I would rather be blind than deaf, simply because I couldn’t live without music.  It makes up some of my earliest memories, has punctuated my life, can change my mood in an instant, and is the thing I turn to in times of celebration and need.

I learnt music when I was a kid.  Many, many years of it.  I learnt the organ.  I know!  For a few years while I was at a very good music academy, my teacher, a deliciously camp man named Francis (we once had a fundraiser to buy Francis a pair of purple leather pants.  I kid you not.) allowed me to play any instrument that interested me at the time, so long as I didn’t tell my mother.  I really liked the saxophone, violin and drums.  I think that’s what made reading music “click” in my head, trying it out on various instruments.  I remember him saying I had a natural gift for the saxophone.  I asked my parents if I could switch from the organ (cringe) to the saxophone, but they wouldn’t let me.  I can still play the piano and read music (though I’m a little rusty).

I used to play a game as a kid called “What’s that song?”  The idea was to listen to the radio and the minute a new song started, I’d have to name it and the artist before the intro had ended.  I was always REALLY good at it too.  Could remember hundreds.  I used to play another game where someone would give me a word, and I’d sing a song with that in the lyrics.  Another one I was really good at.

In High School, I was known for my weird music collection.  I’d have badges stuck to my bag of bands that my peers had never heard of.  Nobody of my age knew who Frank Zappa was at school, and I had some pictures of him stuck to a folder, with his name underneath it, and suddenly my nickname was Zappa.   The jerks turned it into an insult, but it was the first time I’d been given a nickname that I loved.  I was weird and it was worth it if I got to listen to awesome music.  Later my love of “weird” music made me some awesome friends and a couple of great boyfriends too.

In my early 20’s, I had a music store.  It was only a small one in a country town, but my passion for music meant that I really engaged with customers because I had such broad tastes.  I made a lot of friends through that store.  It was a bit of a haven for all the odd-bods and offbeats of the town.  You can imagine in a country town, a lot of the population is pretty conservative, so being offbeat is tough.  Where better to head than the music store?

My music collection is huge.  I have boxes and boxes of CD’s.  I have stacks and stacks of vinyl.  I even still have a shitload of cassettes.  Don’t ask about my iTunes.  A friend of mine used to rifle through my CD’s and say “Geez Kath, you’ve got something to offend everyone in here.”  I took it as a compliment, which is how he intended it.   I love something from every genre.  And some things that defy genre.  I have some stuff that is so middle of the road you’d want to puke.  I have stuff that I bet you’ve never even heard of.

I can’t live without music.  I have it playing more hours of the day than I don’t.  It’s my lifeblood.

What does music mean to you?  How significant is it in your life?

November 23, 2010. Big 50, music. 1 comment.

Big 50 Volume 11: Writing Letters

I got my first penpal when I was 9 years old.  Her name was Claire and she was the 11 year old niece of one of my mother’s colleagues, a woman who had migrated to Australia from Scotland.  Claire wasn’t very nice, she thought everything I told her about in my letters was “stupid”, including me, but I was hooked on writing and receiving letters, so I kept writing to her.

When I was about 12 and started buying Countdown and Smash Hits magazines, I started writing letters to the people advertising for penpals in there.  Some of them wrote back.  One who was fairly local (Brisbane to my Rosewood, about 45 minutes drive apart) and I became friends for a few years.  Later in High School, I wrote to people who had advertised in Dolly magazine, THE teenage girl magazine of the time.  When I was 16, I had a penpal advertisement in Dolly myself.

It went in to the January 1989 edition.  By Easter, I had received over 500 replies.  I wrote to all but a handful of them (I got free postage in those days!) and struck up a correspondence with more than half.  They ranged in age from a 12 year old girl to a 45 year old man.

I know what you’re thinking about the 45 year old man writing to a 16 year old girl.  But you know, I wrote to Nicholas for about a decade, I still have most of his letters and  he never said anything inappropriate, never asked me personal details, just told me about his farm and the music he liked and we talked about TV, movies and books we loved.  We would trade mix tapes and I found so much amazing music through him.  We lost contact during one of my frequent moves.  I often wonder what happened to him, he’d be in his 60’s now.

Almost 22 years after I placed that ad in Dolly magazine, I still write to one of them.  Her name is also Kath, she’s about the same age as me and lives on a farm in Western Australia.  About 5 years ago we finally met when she and her husband and daughter came to Queensland for a holiday.  The following May, I flew to Western Australia and had a holiday with her and her family.  We still write fairly regularly, but these days it is via email.  I consider her one of my best friends, despite the fact that we live so far apart.  We’ve watched so many things unfold in each others lives over the years that we are fairly well connected despite the distance, and always seem to know just when we need each other, and what to say.  She’s one of the special people in my life.

Nowdays, I do all my writing online.  I keep in contact with friends via social media.  I miss writing on paper with a pen.  Sometimes at lunch time I will go and hide in a nearby cafe that always seems fairly empty, and write in a notebook.  Quite often I write blog posts, or just thoughts about something down, but the act of writing with a pen and paper is something that is soothing to me.  I hope I never lose the skill of being able to write the old fashioned way.  My handwriting is never going to be called anything special, I learnt to write just as they were changing from cursive to the standardised printing, so I have a funny mix of styles, and my mother used to say my handwriting was like me, big and loopy.  But it’s as much mine as my fingerprints, so I like it.

Do you write with a pen and paper?  Have you ever been a letter writer?  Do you like to read letters?  Tell me your stories.

November 22, 2010. Big 50, letters, writing. 3 comments.

Big 50 Volume 10: Phobias

Ok, before I go on to do this post, I just wanted to thank those who have already donated to my Operation Baldy fund, I’m sitting at $270 raised in the first 24 hours of the project!  More than a quarter of my $1000 goal already.  If you’d like to contribute, and every dollar is welcome, here is the Linky Linky for paypal.  If you’re in Australia and don’t use Paypal, leave me a comment (it gives me your email address) and I’ll drop you an email to sort something out.

Now, without further ado, let’s get back to the Big 50 posts!

Phobias huh?  Well, I am definite arachnophobe.  Spiders terrify me.  You know how some people think it’s really funny to put a plastic spider in the visor of a car and scare someone?  Yeah, don’t do that to me.  Particularly not if you’re in the car with  me.  You will crash the car as a result of my panic.

Actually I really loathe that idea that it’s funny to prey on someone’s phobias and play practical jokes on them.  Phobias are not rational, nor are the reactions that people have when confronted with whatever they are phobic of.  Nobody should be induced into that kind of fear as a joke.

A friend of mine tried to cure me of my arachnophobia by taking me to the movie Arachnophobia.  I spent the entire movie in his armpit, sobbing hysterically.  Didn’t work at all.

There are a lot of phobias I don’t understand.  Like clowns or birds or  cockroaches.  I don’t understand them because those things can’t kill you.  Spiders, snakes, heights, sharks, water, all of those things can.  That doesn’t mean those phobias aren’t valid, just because they’re of things that aren’t as dangerous.

Years ago, I had another friend who was terrified of birds.  Unfortunately, I found out this fear, which he was deeply embarrassed by, when I chased him with a bantam chicken in a friend’s backyard one evening.  I was horrified to find out he was THAT terrified of birds and that I’d done something like that.  I’d never have done it if I’d known.

I don’t really have any other phobias.  I have a healthy fear of things like sharks or snakes or heights, but nothing that really sends me off the deep end like spiders do.

What is your phobia?

November 14, 2010. Big 50, Operation Baldy, phobias. 5 comments.

A Tribute to Neville Longbottom

Remember that kid you picked on in school?  You know the one, the little fat one from primary school that seemed such a dork.


He didn’t seem real bright, and always made a bit of a fool of himself.


Even when you guys got to high school, he was still daggy and looked funny.  You made fun of his buck teeth, and how he was such a nerd.


He never did anything mean to anyone, and he always wanted to please.  He tried hard in class but struggled with a lot of things, he just worried so much about what other people thought.  As you got older, he was always there in class, but you’d never talk to him unless you wanted something, or to make fun of him.


You girls never noticed him, or if you did it was to roll your eyes and say “As if!”  You fellas, you thought he was just hilarious to make fun of.

In the year before your senior year, you realised he was really talented in one of your classes, so you asked him to help you with homework or assignments a lot.


Then your senior year rolled around.  You came back to school after the holidays, all ready for the same old same old for your last year of school.

You got there and couldn’t believe your very eyes.  Look who was there.  That dorky kid.  Only now…










I never doubted that he’d grow up into someone special. I never doubted that he was strong, and kind, and beautiful, and brave, and had a lion-heart. I always knew he’d grow up to an amazing man. He was always there, whenever anyone needed him to do the right thing, he was there, without question. He never doubted what was the right thing to do. He never backed away from a fight, even though it terrified him. When something really difficult had to be done, he always did his best. He stood beside those that stood up to make a difference, even though most of them didn’t show him much respect.

I’ll just leave you with this shall I?


Footnote:  I can’t wait until the first movie of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows comes out later this week.  Mostly because having read the books, I know we’re getting close to that great shining moment for Neville Longbottom, possibly my favourite character of the whole series.  I’m delighted to see that Matthew Lewis has grown into such a handsome man, because it means Neville has too.  That’s my boy!!

*I will quietly admit that I had some real struggles with how bloody attractive a man he has got – but I must say I’m thrilled to hear he is 21 now.  Lessen’s the concern of inappropriateness altogether to know he’s an adult now!  I’d already been struggling with fancying the Weasley twins for a few years now!!

November 13, 2010. Harry Potter, Neville Longbottom. 8 comments.

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