WHISPER: One word prompt

I HATE hearing whispering!! I have always hated it.

There is a particularly spitty p-p-p lip flapping whisper that my parents used when they had their early morning cuppa at about 6 am. They whispered because they thought it would not wake me up but when it DID they just kept whispering.

I told them time and again from about the age of four that I couldn’t stand it and could they speak softly in normal voices. But no. They whispered until I left home just before I was 18 to go to uni in the city.

It’s that ear-drum vibration that whispering creates that I can’t stand. I have trouble even these days if I am depressed and a bit agitated, then someone speaks with a spitty voice. My ear-drums start buzzing and I have to run away. It must be the high-pitched sounds that are near or over the upper limit of true hearing because other people say they can’t perceive the spitty sounds. No matter what, it bothers me, so this prompt was bloody easy!

DSC00377 (2)

Some bright types tell me it is an angry reaction to my parents wanting to talk privately and I felt left out. But I couldn’t have given two hoots what they talked about; it was merely the manner in which they went about it. I could have done with the extra sleep. They were probably compiling the grocery list or gossiping about the neighbours- not of ANY interest to a little kid. I got my neuroses from what my parents DIDN’T do or say as much as from what they did.

Whispering is just an innocuous activity that pisses me off mightily, out of all proportion to its significance!

 

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Another one word prompt: Conversant

OK. I’m conversant with a lot of topics and issues. In fact some people call me a “know-it-all” but I DO know a lot about a variety of things and that’s definitely a fact! On quiz nights I’m quite handy except on sports and most things Hollywood.

In my various jobs as a university lecturer and a researcher I had to be conversant with a certain range of topics before I got those jobs. As time went along the jobs themselves required me to become quite conversant with new-to-me concepts and to integrate those with the knowledge I already possessed.

Now I’ve got into family genealogy I am almost wishing I was NOT conversant with the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)! That might seem a strange pairing but believe me it is mighty annoying to look at the alternative spellings of surnames in BDM (Birth Death and Marriage) databases and wonder how anybody could pronounce them alike. For instance how are Cable and Cafley or Coville alike when spoken  by a native English speaker? cant2Sure the first two have some letters in common and have two syllables, but, honestly I cannot imagine anyone confusing them when spoken. However, the database never spits out any Kables (my name), Cabels, Cabells or even Cavel. Being conversant with the sounds of written names just leads me to frustration as I vainly search each separate possible spelling as deduced by myself.

I first became conversant with the IPA when I was 11 years old and we met Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales for the first time in our English class. Chaucer sounded really good when our teacher read it out, much better than the odd spellings looked on paper. In our textbook there was an explanation of how to pronounce examples of Middle English plus a copy of the IPA. So I taught myself how to sound out the IPA and then “translated” a page of Chaucer into phonetic symbols so I could have a go at reading it properly myself. It was great!cant1

But seriously, about the so-called phonetically similar alternative names in the FreeBMD and the England General Register Office of Births Deaths and Marriages, someone should give their basic programs a good polishing up, separating names that sound alike from those that might look alike when written in long-hand. They need to remember that names were often given to children by illiterate parents who could not tell whether the Parish Clerk or County Clerk was spelling them correctly when they registered their child. There is also the transcription of handwritten names to longer district lists and to “Bishop’s Transcripts” for ecclesiastical purposes. Once handwriting was mainly superseded by typewriters, then computers, there was another level of transcription to surmount. This is where the shape of a word or name becomes important and the shapes of letters in various styles of handwriting can have a large impact on both the spelling and pronunciation.


I have made some huge breakthroughs for some friends in the world of ancestor-hunting by finding that Jane Brown became June Bourne on her own marriage certificate through ambiguous handwriting. And Kable became Havel! Just last night I decided to try “Hedge” as an alternative to the surname “Kedge” when the database was trying to sell me “Kates”. I won! The shape was more important than the exact letters.

In conclusion I would say that being conversant with something is not always an advantage but at other times it’s almost miraculous what you can achieve!

Links to some BDM databases for anccestor-hunters and beginner genealogists:

  1. FreeBMD (UK) URL: freebmd.org.uk
  2. General Register Office of Births Deaths and Marriges for England and Wales: URL: GRO
  3. South Australian BDM compiled by volunteers (not a government site): URL: https://www.genealogysa.org.au/

Conversant

Just bloody do something!!

[Instructions to self]

I replied to a Facebook Friend’s post where she described getting stuck into a new quilting project with this:

“It would be so lovely to feel “free” enough to embark on a much-anticipated project, to enjoy doing it and [eventually] completing it! My mental state these past few months just will not allow me to have a decent series of days where I feel happy engaging in my hobbies. If I could keep other things from getting on my “list” I would be fine but I have no power to say “NO” to the other activities and they always end up winning. If I do the nice hobby things I feel guilty about not doing the boring things, it clouds my enjoyment and I stop. Grrrr! what is your secret? I think I need more pills- my mind is not responding to instruction! I’m going to put this post in a blog!”

If you’ve read my blog before, you will realise I have reached another “stuck” time. I HATE being stuck! I feel competent enough to do a heap of tasks related to my interests yet I cannot get myself to do them or complete them. Part of it must be procrastination with a touch of “fear of failure” but some of my interests like writing tunes on my Korg nanoPad are not classifiable into success vs failure. I merely like to noodle away and enjoy myself.

Things I could do at the moment include sowing salad seeds and looking after them, finishing a top I was sewing for myself before Christmas, making a colourful quilt to my own design, knitting something from some of the wonderful yarns I have, embarking on a new photo project or writing some tunes with cumbia rhythms.  This site is a great source of rhythms.

To me it’s obvious that something is going on with my inner reward system. I seem to make my hobby activities contingent on having first done things that are useful but which don’t give me any pleasure, like doing the washing or fertilising the pot plants. Am I not worthy of these pleasurable activities? Admittedly my self-esteem is very much tied up in what I do with my time as it was when I worked in paid employment.

I always needed a job that I found interesting or I would slack off and/or become crippled by depression. When people made my pleasurable job less enjoyable by imposing irrelevant conditions on it- like having to write down what I was engaged in every 15 minutes – I became rebellious, angry, then depressed. It took me a long time to get back to my old level of performance; the exact opposite of what the bosses were trying to achieve. Mind you, how was a researcher supposed to improve by interrupting their train of thought to report on it? Admittedly, a lot of entries on my log said things like “spent 15 minutes wondering how I would analyse the data from X, Y and Z”. When quizzed about what I had “produced” in an hour, all I could say was that I had consumed a certain amount glucose processing thoughts in my brain! Not what they wanted.

So why can’t I just barrel along with my train of thought and enjoy my hobbies now? I don’t need to work for an income now I am retired as my superannuation has cut in. There are no other humans to care for except whatever I can contribute to household maintenance and there are the two healthy little cats who spend far more time having fun than I ever will!

Yummy fresh basil for tearing over pasta or making pesto.

basil

 

OK, so maybe I need to get more mindful of my hobbies. But how can I impose this when the actual imposition will destroy the pleasure of the activity? Sure I could meditate and practise etc but I’m not getting anything useful from this.

Fluffy, juicy parsley to eat straight from the bush!

parsley

 

 

 

What about looking at the products of my activities already achieved? There is lovely water-well pot full of basil and parsley in the backyard that I regenerated after it was attacked by looper caterpillars and snails! I enjoy going out in the courtyard and pinching off some basil leaves and parsley to eat, right then and there and that is rewarding. However most of my interests involve doing something which I enjoy in the moment, even the music. I don’t get anything from re-listening to music I have “finished” or abandoned. It was the creation I enjoyed.

So where to now, baby blue? I’m leaning towards a temporary hike in pills. Will go see the doc.

bluells

I would like to make this quilt.

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References on reward systems and depression: 

Pleasure systems in the brain. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425246/

The neurochemicals of happiness. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201211/the-neurochemicals-happiness

Need to stop thinking about…

I’m wishing tonight, after having a pleasant dinner out, that I could stop thinking about things that touch me too deeply. Tears are welling in my eyes and threatening to fall down my cheeks as I can’t do anything to help. I’ll try to concentrate on something I COULD do last weekend.

I managed to help my young friend Olu “Climate” Idowu from Nigeria raise the last couple of hundred dollars that enabled him to attend an important meeting in Ethiopia. He has been running a program to teach youth to sustainably work the land so they can become employed and feed themselves and their families. By flocking to urban areas, rural people in developing countries have lost the skills they thought would be useless in the city. As Olu and I were chatting on Facebook I also got a message from Thalini who is training to be a surgeon in NSW, Australia, wondering how to do something that I know all about, and I thought !! Bingo!!

Maybe Thalini would have some of the cash Olu needed for his conference and I could in turn help Thalini with her problem! It worked and didn’t cost me a cent of the money I haven’t got!

So this week I became an international online entrepreneur! That must be an achievement I can be happy with.

What techniques can I use in the future to stop myself becoming too sad and emotional about problems that other people are in a much better position to fix? Genuine help needed!

Positive post script:

The rescue cat pictured below was adopted and neutered. She was previously on death row at Manhattan Animal Rescue in New York City because she was found roaming the streets. She was approximately 5 years old, and as you can see, not the most attractive-looking animal you might expect to take home.

Kitty's got the blues

Kitty’s got the blues

I contacted a heap of people who lived in or near NYC to try to get her a kind, warm home. Someone responded and I am so very relieved.

Praise was a no-no

Child development: The right kind of early praise predicts positive attitudes toward effort.

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When I taught developmental psychology to young teacher- and childcare-trainees, I fought a losing battle most of the time trying to show them how to use praise in the best way to enhance the lives of the little ones in their charge. All the other teachers on the programs thought that you must “treasure the precious little children” by [wrongly] “boosting their self-esteem” in saying “wow, that was good” or “don’t you look gorgeous”, no matter the merit of child in any way.

This article points out where I was doing OK and they were NOT encouraging the children to try hard and put their best efforts into whatever they did. I believe the “wow, you’re wonderful” style of upbringing has resulted in generations of youngsters who won’t put in an effort, try to get by on appearance [at which many succeed & others derive much misery from], feel entitled to a good job no matter how lackadaisical their performance and are intolerant of less than perfect traits in a partner. Who knows?

As I mentioned on Google+ in response to this article, my life has been heavily influenced by getting no praise or the wrong kind when I was a little kid. I was virtually “squashed down” because apparently the “tall poppy” syndrome reigned in the 1950s. I can only remember a few instances where I was praised for any achievement, and this was by school teachers or other kids’ parents. As an adult [in years, maybe not in mind!], I have not usually tried very hard at most things, because I achieved most things as a kid by just turning up and doing. No one will believe me, but I got into med school that way- however, lack of effort after being ill for a long time probably made me drop out, where I might have been able to cope with some coaching and support for a while.

Kids I went to school with apparently often tried to topple me from the top of the class, but, not having put any effort in myself, I didn’t notice their frustrated efforts! Therefore, I didn’t congratulate them or praise them either because I hadn’t experienced it myself. These days I sometimes chat on Facebook to some of these old friends and discover how “victorious” some of them felt when they topped me at something and how some of them were jealous of my performance/”marks”, disliking me as consequence. It all seems so trivial now, but THEY have mostly succeeded in life with good jobs and happy families, whereas I am long term unemployed with a still “itchy” mind!

So, from many years of experience and contemplation I would say to parents “Be alert to your children’s achievements in every sphere and give them plenty of praise about the way they achieve.” My idea would be to teach kids as many things as you can quite deliberately so they don’t have to make so many mistakes along the road to becoming adults themselves. Teach them about praise too, once they are old enough to get the idea, and they will become sought after companions in life for their peers. Show children how to do things and don’t keep saying “No not that way” and correcting them – let them work through and discover for themselves the best methods once you have shown them, except when it’s dangerous, eg. diving off the high board!

Surely I might be happier and healthier now, maybe even suitably employed if I had been able to build on a solid basis of feeling competent and autonomous when I was learning to become human. I’m working on it.

What’s affected me this week?

I was chatting to a friend at aquarobics this morning and he said that I tend to promote a lot of causes and “sad cases” on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus. He thought this was all very noble but he felt that I should try to communicate about happier themes, since I am becoming like the national news! Maybe I would be able to dig myself out of my frequent depression by latching onto cheerful topics.

Bird & lotus

Bird & lotus

Now, I hadn’t noticed that I was negative in this way before and it hurts a little to think that the things I am most passionate about – affordable health care for all, looking after our ecology and food supply, reducing the use of manufactured chemicals in our food and environment which could enter our bodies, using discussion not weapons to solve national, tribal and territorial disputes and being at least civil (if not kind) to each other and to animals – seem negative. All these things tend to occupy my mind during the day, when I am mostly alone, since I don’t go to work like my partner. How am I going to change these themes around? Perhaps I could seek out positive stories or I could blog about other topics altogether. Would anyone like to weigh in?

Bronwyn Clee was saying, in her blog announcing #52b52w that:

Ideally all posts will be authentic and informative and have a clear message.

I’m not so sure about sticking to all three guidelines all of the time. However, I’m being authentic in asking for some ideas on how I can be more positive. I’m just not into positive affirmations like “I write uplifting blog posts” for motivating myself, although I’ve adopted the

Almost 22

Almost 22

practice of putting Smiley stickers on lots of things. Some friends have been mildly shocked by finding the Smileys on my laptop, phone and handbag! For a long time I had an excellent Smiley on the kettle so that I could smile at it every morning. It even had a name, Edwin, and I would say good morning to Edwin & grin cheesily as soon as I got up. One positive step I can take is to put a replacement Edwin sticker on the kettle right now!

Ending on a positive note! How did I do?

Finding hope

I’ve joined the 52 blog posts in 52 weeks blogathon started by Bronwyn Clee, so I thought I would announce my theme. My personal goal is to find hope for the longer term future for myself.

If you’ve ever visited this blog before you might have noticed I get visited by the Black Dog quite a lot, although less during the past 12 months [yayy!]. Hearing about my miseries may have put you off coming back, so I’m resolving to pursue a happier path if I can, blogging about daily events and topics that take my fancy, tying it all back to the “HOPE” theme.Cawfee

Just a bit about the “setting conditions” so you know where I’m starting from this year:

I’m now over 60, feel as though I’m about 30; I live with my partner Steve, aka “Spotrick”, and currently, three cats: Moustiers [nearly 22 years old], Mogadon [six] and Bendix [four]. No kids or grandkids courtesy of mistaken genetic instructions. I’ve had several “careers” and I had been hoping for a new one, but it hasn’t happened. Firstly I was a junior sort of university lecturer (in developmental psychology), then I was a researcher in mental health (mainly on a psychiatry ward of a general hospital with eating disorder patients), then a general public health and computer network dogsbody all over the place. I’ve been doing a Masters in Public Health over the last several years and have finished except for the details that I and my supervisor need to decide about my dissertation/journal article. Hopefully I can sneak into the April Graduation Ceremony.

I V

I V

This year has a loose plan of generating some longer term hope for me and I don’t plan on applying for any more jobs because that could mean pressure and negative mood triggers. My application to volunteer at the South Australian Museum for one day per week is being considered right now and I hope to get that so I can introduce some outside structure into my week. If successful, I will be part of one 4-person team among several, which will digitise the non-written Aboriginal artefacts the museum holds in storage. Only 2% of the collection is ever on display, so we have the other 98% to record in detailed photographs and notes before they need to change the display again! It sounds like quite an intriguing project. We will be cataloguing everything from tiny pieces of bark cloth to whole canoes hewn from trees.

When I get this structure to my week, there are other things I would like to fit around it such as doing more online courses to keep my brain alive, rallying people in the field of public health around Australia to use online social media to keep up to date and have short meetings, my various crafty hobbies, continue my Street Name Alphabet photography project started last year, keep socialising with friends every second day on my shrink’s prescription[!] and make our small garden beautiful again by looking after what’s there and adding to it. That’s plenty to do, I reckon, without having any pressure or time limits and should keep me moving forward while I search for long term hope.

Knowing that most of the other bloggers in the  #52b52w crowd have jobs/careers/family commitments to occupy their time, it might seem a bit weird to have my sort of goals, but that’s the way it is and I’m sticking to it.

Hopefully I can gain some ideas that will lead me towards my goal by seeing how the rest of you are travelling towards your goals and futures in your blogs. Happy blogging  #52b52w crowd.

 

From the WordPress Dungeons: 2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,200 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 48 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 216 posts. There were 9 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 7mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was May 13th with 56 views. The most popular post that day was Another dream, another toad….

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were plurk.com, flickr.com, au.loadedweb.com, photofriday.com, and WordPress Dashboard.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for henna patterns, smoking child, child smoking, beautiful roads, and persephone.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Another dream, another toad… December 2009
4 comments

2

Child abuse and neglect May 2008

3

Ten beautiful roads in India::Harish Bhatia in Delhi : Photography blog at Rediff iLand March 2008

4

Cakes with Henna Patterns February 2009
1 comment

5

About November 2008
4 comments