Old Melbourne Jail and the Melbourne Aquarium

31 03 2012

gardens outside Melbourne Museum

In May of 2010 we visited Melbourne to see the Titanic Exhibition at the Melbourne Museum. While we were impressed to be in the same room as some of the artefacts that had been brought up from the wreck on the ocean floor, it is fair to say the children, not being so well-acquiainted with the story and history, were underwhelmed. No photos of this I am afraid, photography was forbidden to the entire exhibition.

The children were more impressed with the Old Melbourne Jail and the connection to Ned Kelly – his armour, a bust of his head – and the flogging and scaffold. They are still somewhat amazed and shocked that human beings would do such things to each other. We followed this up with a visit to the Melbourne Aquarium (not really my thing, but I do love penguins and I love photographing jellyfish, even though they come out blurry because of their indeterminate borders. The othr big hit was the hop on hop off trams that loop around the city. Despite being packed, they were very impressed with them!

Enjoy!

wool bombing in the gardens by the Melbourne Museum

whipping frame

exterior of the Old Melbourne Jail

exercise yards

Ned Kelly's death mask

Ned Kelly's home-made and ultimately ineffective armour

Love penguins!

There is a fish in this photo, well hidden. Can you see it? It is slightly more sparkly than the sand.

Leafy Sea Dragon

Nemo!

a mass of stars

a mass of stars

lunch?


Want more photos of Australia? Try…
At the edge of the Ocean
Life is a beach

or subscribe – more photos to come.





Cruising for Trouble

31 03 2012

Cruise Ships and a tall ship in the Bay of Sorrento, off Sorrento, Italy, 2011. No reason to think any of these have had trouble though!

Guess what I got for Christmas?

I got a brochure for a cruise around the Mediterranean stopping off at points north, south, east and west of the sea – a quick jaunt around fifteen countries (ish) without having to unpack or move hotels. Sounds fab?

January 13: The cruise ship the Costa Concordia hit a rock in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the eastern shore of Isola del Giglio, off the western coast of Italy. The Captain, it is alleged, steered the ship too close to the shore – allegedly a common practice to give passengers and people ashore better views – and then bailed out in one of the first lifeboats that was launched. Investigations continue – at least 30 dead.

February 27: A fire on the cruise ship the Costa Allegra left that ship without power and adrift in the Indian Ocean 200 miles southwest of the Seychelles. This area is frequented by pirate ships.

March 31: Cruise ship the Azamara Quest is adrift powerless in the waters south of the Philippines following a fire that took out its engines.

Alarmingly, googling “cruise ships 2012 incidents” brought up way too much information – much more than I really wanted to know. (If this is your thing, or you want to scare yourself precruise, try here and here.)

Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something?





Banning Books

31 03 2012

When I started to research this, I had no idea there was actually a Banned Books Week. It appears to occur in September, although there is a bit of confusion between the US Banned Books Week and an International Banned Books Week, promoted by Amnesty.

Anyway, in the spirit absurdity, here are some of the more surprising banned books.

John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. Now I have never recovered from reading this at school (hence it is one of my least-liked books) but it is a classic. It has been banned at various times and places in the US for obscenity and the portrayal of the US as seen by migrant workers and those living in extreme poverty. Sometimes the truth hurts.

The Dictionary. Various versions of the Dictionary have been banned for various reasons, often by local schools. For instance, Webster’s 10th Edition was pulled from classroom shelves in Menifee Union School District, California, in Jan 2010, because it include a definition of “oral sex”. Since looking up “dirty” words in the dictionary is a favourite of primary school children, I can only say, what spoil-sports! At least they are reading.

Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach, and The Witches. Beloved favourite of children the world-over, these books were banned in the US for obscenity and violence (J&TGP), and sexism and devaluing the life of a child (TW). Maybe they just didn’t get the British sense of humour?

Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl. This classic and heart-rending exposition of the life of a young Jewish girl living under Nazi occupation has apparently attracted the wrath of book-banners several times, most recently January 2010 in a Culpeper County, Virginia school for “sexually explicit” and “homosexual” themes. I think they are missing the point.

The Lorax (Dr Seuss). The Lorax is one of many Dr Seuss Books banned at various times for their secret messages corrupting the minds of innocent children. In the case of The Lorax, it is its environmental “save the trees” message that was seen to be anti-big-business. The latest dispute happened in 2012 during the filming of a movie based on the book, but it had previously been banned (the most recent example I could find was in Laytonville, California in 1989 from a local public school).
Mind you, Dr Seuss was asking for it – The Sneetches discusses racism, The Butter Battle Beetle is about the cold war, isolationism took a blast in Horton hears a Who, Christmas in How the Grinch stole Christmas, and the effects of fear-based thinking in Green Eggs and Ham (banned in China between 1965 and 1991 because of its alleged portrayal of Marxism). How he wasn’t blackballed by the McCarthy Commission, I don’t know.

Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland was also banned in a province in China in 1931 for its portrayal of animals speaking, thinking and otherwise behaving like humans.

George Orwell’s Animal Farm is probably a less surprising banned book, giving its explicit political overtones. It was banned in the US in 1945 for being overly-critical of Russia (obviously pre-Cold War). It was also banned in the United Arab Emirates in 2002 because of the talking pig.

Picture book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Bill Martin Jnr was banned in 1967 in the US when its author was confused with an obscure Marxist theorist…… Bill Martin being such an unusual name… (yes, that was sarcasm you detect). Quite what it was about the book that was considered worth banning is not clear. Perhaps they were just being safe in case there was a hidden message.

Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales was banned in America under the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act in 1873. Puritans! It was of course for all the tales of sex and debauchery – if you read through the olde Englishe to understand them.

For a map of recent book bans (upheld and overturned) in the US, have a look at this very interesting map. Click on the blue pointers for details. Again, it often seems schools, those places for learning, are the ones doing the banning, often at the instigation of individual parents.

For a selection of books banned in Australia, click here Notable inclusions: The Kama Sutra, a selection by William S Burroughs, Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms, and Ian Fleming’s The Spy who Loved Me.

And if this sort of thing amuses you, google it – this list is really only the tip of the iceberg!





Off the cuff

31 03 2012

I had to do some public speaking today. Just a few words to say how thrilled I was about a new library at my children’s school. I had no warning, I thought I was there purely to cut a ribbon when I got handed a microphone to say a few words as well.

And I am thrilled to say it didn’t worry me.

Various surveys over the years have indicated that people are terrified of public speaking – it ranks higher than death in terms of fear.

But as with all of these things, practice and familiarity take the sting off it.

And now, having spoken at conferences, lectured at university, stood on stage in staff forums, and answered questions in council, I can honestly say that providing I know what I am talking about, it truly doesn’t worry me.





Pinterest revises terms of service, gives up right to sell your content

25 03 2012

Via Scoop.itMudmap

Social media sensation Pinterest has revised its terms of service and following user-feedback, is giving up its right to sell your content from April 6.

Via venturebeat.com





Lunar-tics

24 03 2012

In my twenties I worked overnight for a medical locum service. We sent doctors out on the road to visit people at home overnight. Not quite medical emergencies, but at least in theory, things that couldn’t wait until morning.

Because I was studying at university at the time, and possibly because I was quite fond of a certain quality of life, I worked the weekends. Half of Thursday night (3am to 8am), all of Friday night (10pm to 8am), all of Saturday night, All of Sunday night and half of Monday night (10pm to 3am).

It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. It paid very well. (Very well.) And there is an entire community out there that works weekend nights and we got to know each other and had chats and sometimes met up for breakfast at the Hilton or the Hyatt in the morning. And it was nice driving home when rush hour was heading in the other direction. Every so often, I actually had a social life on the weekend and I would swap with the woman who worked the weekday nights.

Which is where my full moon story comes in.

It was a well known fact for we night workers in the medical industry that full moons were weird. Not in an astrology way, in a literal sense. And sometimes really bad. And the worst of all full moons was the Saturday night full moon, probably because it combined with a major drinking / partying night.

Full moon nights would be characterised by:
• Pubs – more fights and more injuries
• Police and Ambos – more call-outs for drunks and disturbances
• Hospital EDs – more bizarre cases, more injuries from fights and falls
• Nursing homes – patients restless and wandering, falling
• Prisons – more disturbances amongst the inmates

So the whole full-moon-thing is a fact, not a fiction.

Of course the reasons might be different – less the “lunatic” and more the fact that additional light means people sleep less deeply, are more likely to be out and about on the streets, etc. Either that, or the tide has gone out on their brains. Present company excepted of course.

So back to the story. I used to comment on how completely bizarre some of my Saturday full moon nights were, and the lovely woman who worked the week nights used to sympathise.

Until one day she did a swap with me and actually worked the full moon Saturday night.

And swore she would never swap with me again.

So yes, Virginia, there is a full moon syndrome. And everyone working those shifts knows about it – medicos, nurses, police, ambos, publicans, wardens. And I have to say, the bizarre stories in the media (and particularly social media, which I monitor) come thick and fast at the full moon.

So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

The next full moon at time of writing in Australia is 6 May 2012. You have been warned.





Surplus social media

24 03 2012

As an intrepid explorer of social media, I find I am increasingly coming across a number of new social media options. And quite frankly, I’m not sure of their value and I’m not sure if I physically have the time to deal with them. So let me know your opinion.

I’ll start by declaring my social media preferences: I am addicted to Facebook, I love LinkedIn, I am quite active on Twitter (but largely promoting my blogs – true confession). I am somewhat present in Pinterest and Foursquare (although frankly Pinterest’s “ownership” of content makes nervous). I dip into Youtube from time to time but generally I don’t actually have the time to sit through a 3 minute video. True story. And I am obsessed with blogging. If you can count it, it is a competition. Sad but true.

1. Klout. I confess I lost faith in Klout when it nominated me as an expert on London. Why? I have no idea since I have not knowingly written anything about London online (it is too long since I have been there) and only a couple of my English friends live in London. How did Klout decide this was my area of expertise (as opposed to, for instance, the country I live in)?

2. Branchedout. This Facebook app bills itself as the network boasting the most job connections on Facebook. Hmm. Possibly because there isn’t any competition.

3. Aboutme. Point? Niche? I just don’t get it.

4. Peerindex. Seems like a copycat Klout.

Fundamentally these all don’t seem to add any value to my life, they take time and they request and collate my personal and online information into yet another source that I need to manage. Maybe I’d be better off being streamlined – sleek and aerodynamic and dump all the excess baggage.

Of course I could just be grumpy.

Thoughts?