Boomers and television.

An idea that hit me recently was that my generation and a little older, say up to about 65, is the first generation to have had television available from birth. People older than this would have had some time in their life when a television in their home was not a thing.

I quizzed my editorial team (my Mum and step-dad Mauri!) on what they remembered about the introduction of TV and life before the Goggle Box.

Memories of TV’s first years

My own mum and dad used to hire one from Radio Rentals as they were too expensive to buy outright for most families. I was 3 months old when the first TV came into our family home. Before that,  radio serials were a big part of life. With some of the favourites being When a Girl Marries, The Goon Show and Caltex Theatre.

You needed to buy a  license for listening to the radio and watching TV. My mum didn’t pay for hers once and ended up in court!

There were many more cinemas than today. Mauri says:

“The visual appetite was satisfied by the local cinemas. When living at Kogarah we had the choice of Rockdale, Kogarah & Carlton – all within walking distance. Two more at Hurstville weren’t much further away. I can’t remember the entry prices but it must have been affordable because we went quite frequently.”

When TV’s were first introduced they were the focal point of attention. People would stand outside shops and watch with a crowd. Since not all households had a TV, families with them became very popular! If you went to someone’s place, eyes would stay locked on the television and there was no conversation. I remember my paternal Grandfather being glued to the set in his TV room. My brother and I had to tip-toe past and not disturb him.

Transmission time was limited to certain hours and the stations would close down. Even I remember the test pattern! Colour TV came to the Australian market in time for the 1976 Olympics. The first colour transmission on ABC TV (the government-run station) was Aunty Jack.  Aunty Jack is an Australian enigma. You’ll need to see it to believe it!

test pattern

 

These days podcasts step right back in where radio left off. The ability to be freed from a screen while still being entertained is very satisfying. I have added to my list of favourite podcasts.  The most recent addition to my listening library being “A Beautiful Anarchy”.

Back in the 1950s TV was the big disrupter. A technology that no doubt caused many people to lament the state of future generations.  We talked about “square eyes” in the same way we are now concerned about screen time.

These days I watch very little “TV” as in free to air shows. I do use the TV for streaming of shows on subscription services like Netflix. We no longer have to wait a week for the next installment of a series, as we can watch on-demand. In fact, many people wait until the whole season is available and binge-watch it. Many shows are released all in one go for just this express purpose. I wrote about some of my favourites in a previous post.

YouTube has become the instruction manual for so many aspects of our lives. Need to know how to change the seal in your washing machine? You’ll find 50 different versions.

The internet has meant that we have the ability to create our own version of TV. This is good and bad. It gives people a voice but also means that some of the loudest voices are the ones that mean to do us harm. It also means we get to hear about things that perhaps others would like us not to hear. It’s power to the people, use it wisely!

 

Planning your best life.

Do you want to live your best life? What does that even mean? Have you ever felt that if you did everything you were supposed to do, to keep yourself fit and healthy, you would run out of time? Is it even possible to fit it all into a standard 24 hour day?

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Got any plans for July yet?

All those things like daily exercise, adequate sleep, cooking healthy food from scratch from the organic produce you bought plastic-free from the local farmers’ market, saving the planet by not wasting stuff, feeding your worm farm, and staying in contact with your friends and family!

All these potentially optional activities overlay the fact that many of us actually have to go out and earn a living for a significant portion of the day, as well as the time taken to commute.

For those of you with families and children, you have to add on yet another layer of complexity as you juggle the mental load of managing family life.  Like shopping, washing, housework, organising kids and their activities etc etc. etc….

Is there a silver lining in the Global Pandemic?

No wonder so many people have found a silver lining in the “Great Global Quarantine of 2020”. The wide scale and permitted (nay encouraged and lawful) rolling back of activities and the fact that you have a very good excuse for not running around frantically, has given us that breathing space to see another way.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the change in the Corona Zeitgeist as people began to realise there was a quieter, slower (dare I say it more meaningful) life to be had.

But how can we maintain a slower pace of living in the long term? We do have to get back to work eventually.  Soccer training, ballet lessons, and book club will be back on sooner than we want it to be. (By the time this is published, normal may well have returned!)

You need to plan for slow living if you want it! I don’t just mean planning your activities but sitting down and thinking about who you want to be in 20 years time.

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No events! The P&C meeting was cancelled too!

 

Setting your lifestyle climate.

Perhaps we need to look more at our lifestyle-climate rather than always being focused on the current lifestyle-weather? Climate and weather are different ways of looking at our physical environment. One is long term, the other, short term. We are familiar with using these terms when we are talking about the temperature outside and whether it is raining or not.

“Though they are closely related, weather and climate aren’t the same thing. Climate is what you expect. Weather is what actually happens.” 

For many of us, we have crammed so many things into our daily life we are experiencing shit-storms every day! The weather is crap! Just like the global climate change that is causing our planet to heat up, the expectations of modern life have caused our own lives to warm up to intolerable levels. We beat ourselves up by comparing ourselves to others.

The lockdown has shown us we can move to someplace with a better climate! Where things are not so busy.  Where things are not so hectic, and where you don’t have to yell at your kids to get ready for piano lessons!

We let so much of our lives just happen without thinking about it. In general, we set short term goals, if any. We worry more about the weather, and less about the climate.

It’s time to balance our lifestyle-climate so we can manage the life-style weather. We need to map out what we expect and want from our lives more deliberately and only do those things that make the daily weather manageable.

Look at the big picture

I am advocating taking a bigger picture view of your life. To make a calculated plan. Not just go from day to day and pile stuff on. To accommodate the things you think are important and to not put too much pressure on yourself when you end up having pizza from the box in front of Netflix because you can’t be arsed cooking lentils again!

For instance, if you decide that exercise is an important part of your lifestyle-climate, look at it long term.  Perhaps you don’t get a chance to exercise every day but if you look back over the year and see that you exercised more days then you didn’t, then that’s a win.

If you managed to cook healthy meals for 80%  of the 365 days – that’s a win!

Avoided plastic and waste most days?  That’s a win!

Kids involved in one activity? That’s a win!

Made a plan? That’s a big win!

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Your plan need not be rigid, but should not be so flexible it blows away with the first breeze. It needs to be anchored by strong roots.

Next week, I will share my lifestyle plan. You may be surprised to know, I do have one! (sic). I sometimes need reminding to stick to it!

 

Cracker Night no more.

Here’s a link to a post I wrote two years ago! I noticed it was getting a bit of traffic so people must be looking for stories about Cracker Night.

This weekend is the Queen’s Birthday Long Weekend again. As was the case two years ago, there’ll be no fireworks tonight. COVID restrictions are almost all lifted but large gatherings are still prohibited. Even without COVID19, I doubt I will hear many crackers tonight.

It’s no longer a thing. In my childhood, it was a huge event, eagerly anticipated. We would save up to buy crackers for weeks. It was not without its problems. This article from the Sydney Morning Herald points out the inherent dangers.

The Sad Case of the Vanishing Cracker Night

 

A humanist eulogy

I recently did a course through Future Learn on humanism. One of the set tasks was to write your own eulogy from a humanist standpoint. That is, there is no afterlife and once you’re dead, you’re dead. It’s a viewpoint I feel quite happy with. Don’t worry I am not planning on dying anytime soon. I hope that I am around for many more years to come!

A eulogy for Robyn

Wow! What a life! What a life my friend lived! She lived with passion, enthusiasm and vigour. She was never afraid to try something new. To create a challenge or set a goal. She annoyed us with her special projects and obsessions. She annoyed us with her bossy and dominating personality but still, we loved her energy and drive. Her get up and go! Her pizazz! 

Well, her get up and go has finally got up and gone and her chirpy voice with it. We are sad at her passing but OUR lives are richer for her being here and we pause today to celebrate that life. That temporary cohesion of elements and energy that combined in a unique way  and in this time-frame, to make the human we called Robyn. 

Robyn’s one life was, in the end, a life well-lived. She tried each day to make a difference to someone or some cause that needed a little boost. She had kind words to say to those who would listen. She had new tricks to learn and she kept us entertained. 

Robyn’s philosophy of life and death was a simple one. 

We start from nothing. We end as nothing.  But our life is our everything and it is not for nothing. 

For her, a life well lived was one that leaves behind a string of memories and inspiration for those of us who remember her.  We remember her travels. We remember her photos and quirky little movies. We remember her stories. We remember she couldn’t type to save her life and was hopeless at editing her own work! But these things did not stop her from getting out and having a go. For being brave enough to put her thoughts out in the world. 

In her autumn years, she supported the plight of older women, The Old Chooks. The older women marginalised by society who became vulnerable, homeless and forgotten in a culture that values youth over the beauty of a caring soul. She asks that you support charitable causes that help older women rather than put flowers on her burial place. 

Robyn’s motto “Be Invincible, Not Invisible” will live on in her memoirs and autobiographical short films. 

Robyn’s last wish was for you to stand here with her one last time, to enjoy the good food her family have prepared and add one small memory of your time with her to the slips of paper and add it to the jar being passed around. 

She asks you to move on, think of her fondly and know that she’s looking forward to becoming fertiliser for those trees!


I know some of my posts have been a bit dark lately. Don’t worry, I am not feeling dark. I am grateful that I have a secure job in an “essential Industry”. I am grateful that I am still healthy and have plenty of food in the cupboard.

If you are feeling dark and need help, please reach out to services such as Lifeline

Stay Calm and wash your hands!

 

Saving the planet – one pair of socks at a time.

I am balancing precariously on the intersection of two conflicting intents. The conflicting intents? Saving money so I can retire and saving the planet.

Personal savings intent:

I am 59, and I have a huge mortgage as a result of getting divorced and needing to start again. I don’t want to downsize as I am already in a small villa. I want to retire by 62. I have set myself a goal of saving a little over a third of my net pay for the next four years. This should get the mortgage paid off and means I won’t end up homeless.

I am achieving this through a number of strategies which I set out in my Year of Zero Post. Essentially I’m saving money by:

  1. Placing an embargo on buying new things and only replacing stuff if it gets broken or wears out.
  2. Being much more frugal in terms of food, entertainment and lifestyle in general.

Saving the planet intent:

I want to be a more sustainable and ethical buyer. I want to buy from smaller companies, not multinationals. I want to buy local more often and hyper-local wherever possible. I want to buy from people who have bonafide planet-friendly strategies. I want to buy Australian made and Australian owned.  I want to buy from those companies whose triple bottom line includes, profit in terms of money, environment and people.

My dilemma? I need new sports socks. The ones I have are disappearing inside my shoes as I run.

Weighing up the options

I can go to the local chain store KMart, and get three pairs of socks for $2. I won’t buy those because I know they won’t last long and are probably synthetic and will end up smelly. I can afford to splash out and get 3 pairs for $12. KMart has an ethical buying commitment. They are establishing a framework to ensure their suppliers’ employees are paid a living wage.   Their sustainability policy concentrates on sources of cotton and cocoa, social responsibility and saving energy by installing LED lighting. Their environmental bona fides are not great, but they are working towards it. They’re are thinking about it, but they are not there yet.

On the other hand, I could buy from a company like Boody. Boody is an Australian family company which manufactures underwear and socks from ethically and sustainably sourced bamboo. Their environmental credentials are impressive. The bamboo is grown and treated in China. Some of their products are made in Australia, but from their website, it is hard to tell where the items are actually knitted or stitched together.  They employ local people, pay a living wage,  and have a close to zero waste production cycle. They give to planet-friendly charities. They tick the environmental boxes but not the manufactured in Australia box.

Given the KMart socks are also not Australian made, this factor can be cancelled out.  BUT one pair of bamboo socks will cost me $10! I can get a discount if I buy five pairs. This brings it down to $8.80 a pair.

The Decision?

And here is where I get stuck. This is, I fear is where most people get stuck. Do I spend 400% more buying the eco socks or stash the cash in my own account? What wins? The now or the later? My economic future or the future of the planet? What legacy do I want to leave?

The answer becomes clearer when it’s personalised, and I think about my own family. What impact will my actions have on my offspring? What impact can I have as one person?

The journey has to start somewhere, and this time I am going to give the eco-socks a try. My desire to ensure that this one planet remains liveable and viable for my grandson has won the argument.

DISCLAIMER: I have no connection to Boody. They just came up when I searched Google for ethical and sustainable socks.


Nearly $60 later; the socks arrived, they’re soft and fluffy and good quality.  They are labelled “Made in China”. I hope they last!

 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I am anti-social…

The COVID bubble begins to burst!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-social or anything, but perversely I am sad that the restrictions for COVID19 are being lifted. I have been enjoying my State-sanctioned semi-solitude. I had a perfect mix of interactions with others and being allowed to retreat all worked out.

It’s a selfish stand, I know because I wasn’t all that disadvantaged by them.   I kept working through the whole time, was able to get out and exercise and had a steady stream of activities to keep me occupied. I was not affected by the great toilet paper shortage or scarcity of other items due to some uncanny coincidental forward planning. I didn’t have kids to home school.  I didn’t get sick. I had already planned a low key year. I did miss seeing my grandson and daughter, and that’s about it. One other big regret was not being able to attend my good friend’s funeral at the end of April.

At work, I was able to be proactive and not reactive. Every item on my daily to-do list was crossed off, and I left at a reasonable time. I didn’t have students to discipline. The parents I did talk to were appreciative and not berating me for dealing with their children.

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Plenty of iso-baking happened at my place!

Don’t get me wrong I’m not anti-social but with most of the teachers working from home, the constant stream of interruptions to solve other peoples’ problems dwindled to next to nothing. They return en masse this Monday, bringing their problems with them. (11/5/20)

A  rumbling low-level of anxiety is beginning to penetrate my calm as the invitations to “catch up now that we can” are starting. It’s not that I went out partying every weekend anyway but having to stay at home, HAVING to be cocooned because I was told to, gave me a legitimate reason to stay quiet and at peace.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I don’t want to see people, but this time to be slow, deliberate and self-sufficient was tantalisingly comforting. The bluer than blue skies have already started to brown over as more and more people are going about their business.

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Bluer than blue!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-social, but I have discovered that I am also not pro-social either. When I am with people, I feel on guard. Will I say something stupid? Will I accidentally offend someone? Does my hair look alright? What will they think of me? The internal monologue never ends. Sometimes it’s so noisy I forget to listen to the person in front of me. That voice has been so quiet these last two months. I guess it proves that even though I am friendly, loud, bossy, speak in front of a large crowd etc I am in essence a socially awkward introvert.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-social, but I could live in this bubble forever… I think…  As long as the bubble had a door. It might be different if I didn’t have the option to leave when I wanted.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I am antisocial, but I might re-gig my world a little so I can keep the calm for longer. Please don’t be offended.

 

….and Mum! Don’t worry, I am OK!! 🙂

 

Can I live a life without alcohol?

I have just completed Day 100 of my alcohol-free year. It is the second time I have reached this milestone in the last 12 months. I decided to quit alcohol in the 100 days before Christmas,  2019. I did it for a few reasons. Firstly for my health, secondly to see if I could, and thirdly because I have been becoming more and more concerned about my complicated relationship with alcohol.

I have always been a drinker. I come from a family of drinkers. At some stages in my life, I have been a very heavy drinker. People who know me in real life will know that I am usually one of the first at the bar.  I would usually have a glass of wine (or three) when I got home from work and while cooking dinner. I’d have a few drinks on Tuesday night when I went out with friends to pub trivia and a “few” more on the weekend. Some weekends I’d have two glasses and other weekends, two bottles. The only other time I have had an extended “dry” period was when I was pregnant.

 

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Home-brewed kombucha, cheap but not nasty!

That original 100-day stint was not as difficult as I thought it would be. The first three weeks back in September 2019 were challenging from a habit-breaking point of view. I swapped wine for (homemade) kombucha, soda water with lemon or just plain water. My friends (eventually) stopped questioning my no alcohol stance and I was able to sip on soda water or non-alcoholic beer without being hassled when I went out.

 

 

 

It was my intention to return to “normal” after Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Day 99, I was riddled with anxiety. Not because I was craving for alcohol, but rather that I didn’t want to start up bad habits again.  I had felt more energetic, had less joint pain, was sleeping better and was saving money. I had declared very loudly to my family that I was doing “A 100-day challenge” and joked about enjoying my first drink with them over Christmas lunch. I had bought a very nice bottle of wine which was sitting in the cupboard in readiness.

When D-day arrived I was torn. I had done the work, moved over the hump of looking for wine when I was cooking or socialising and I was doing just fine!

I did have a few glasses of wine at Christmas time but I did not enjoy them with the same gusto as in the past.  I had discovered in those 100 days, that I could have just as much fun without it. I started my next ‘challenge’ enthusiastically on the 30th of December and included it as part of my Year of Zero. This time I  planned for a year-long abstinence.

As a society, we tolerate and even celebrate drunkenness and “party” behaviour. For me, like most people, alcohol meant “fun”. You wouldn’t be going out if you didn’t have a drink or two. Too often though, two leads to three, three leads to four and after that who’s counting ? I have had more hangovers than I can count and many mornings where I have woken with that dreaded feeling of not knowing what I may have said or done. I know I have caused some people distress. I also know I am not alone in this socially endorsed way of using (or abusing) alcohol. It’s almost un-Australian not to drink! Still while I remain a functioning adult and don’t miss work or my responsibilities or break the law, it’s deemed “OK”.

I couldn’t help thinking there was a  story to tell to others about my experience and it would seem I am not the only one thinking along the same lines. In January 2020, I came across two stories by Flip Prior in  ABC Life about her year without alcohol.  She wrote

“Because excessive alcohol consumption is so normalised for many of us in Australia, no-one had ever said anything to me about the way I was drinking or raised it as an issue, even though for me it felt like a problem to fix.”

Snap that’s a match, Flip! I wanted to solve my problem of overusing alcohol. It was never my intention to not drink again, but rather give it a break to prove to myself I could. I guess in the back of my mind I was trying to prove to myself that I was not an alcoholic.

Let’s be frank. Alcohol is bad for you! Seriously bad! Physically, emotionally, financially! You don’t have to look far to see that.

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Moderation is not one of my strong suits. It tends to be all or nothing!

Flip wraps up her story with a sentiment I  wholeheartedly agree with.

[After a year of not drinking] “You’ve done all that work, you’ve got rid of all those triggers and associations and your brain no longer equates fun with alcohol — why would you want to go back to drinking poison? It makes no sense.

Will I drink again? I don’t know. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. I am not going to say I’ll never have alcohol again, I am not ready to do that.

I’ll let you know in January 2021.

(PS: by the time this post is actually published it will be 122 days)

 

EDITED TO ADD: These video are great! Four short (fun) videos in the affect of alcohol. 

To-do list or ta-da list?

A to-do list is helpful, right?

Have you got a really long to-do list of all the things you should be doing in this Age of Corona? Now you are not commuting every day because you’re working from home or your place of work has closed down, you’ve got heaps more time! Right? You might have more time because you are not going out to the movies or drinks with friends and EVERYTHING in your calendar has been cancelled? Right? You should be using this time productively, right?

Empty Calendar
No events! The P&C meeting was cancelled too!

Is this to-do list making you feel guilty as you sit in front of the TV and watch one more episode of the latest binge-worthy show? Just one more and THEN I‘ll go to bed! Promise!

I started off ISO with this big to-do list. It ran to three A5 pages. I wrote it before the lockdown started in an effort to avoid getting to the end of this and thinking “oh darn that’s right! I should have done….XYZ.” XYZ being whatever the really important thing that I could have been doing but didn’t get done! I also have to keep in mind my overarching year-long plan – the Year of Zero.

The list became a yoke across my shoulders. A burden to bear. One that didn’t allow for the contingencies and emergencies of daily life. It didn’t allow for the weather. It didn’t allow for my mood.

From to-do to ta-da!

So I put that list aside for reference and created a new one. I have simplified and broadened it considerably. Now my list has only four things on it. It is flexible, adaptable and infinitely adjustable.

Here is my daily to-do list:

  1. Learn something.
  2. Create something.
  3. Organise something.
  4. Move everything! (as in exercise)

So for instance today,

  1. What did I learn? I watched a lecture about sustainability and learnt that if we returned to a 1970’s level of consumption (of goods and energy), we could work 80% less.  The 1970s wasn’t too bad, we just didn’t have as much STUFF. The lecture does not suggest we return to 1970s technology (or fashion!) just the level of stuff we accumulate. It’s the first of 12 in a series from The Great Courses which I accessed for free through Kanopy. Kanopy is a video streaming service which I get for free with my library membership. Lots of public libraries offer it. Check to see if yours does.
  2. What did I create? Well, this post for my Sunday Post series for a start! I also finished off some of the tea cosies I started the other day.
  3. What did I organise? I am working on a document called “Death Admin” which has information for my family if/when I die. This was triggered by a podcast  (The Pineapple Project) I listened to recently.  I am getting together the information and documents I need for that.
  4. Did I move? Yes! Before breakfast, I did a 30-minute online exercise class which has been provided by my (closed) gym. Later today I will do a Zoom session with my sister, the personal trainer. While I was watching the lecture in Point 1 above I stood up and stepped from side to side and did squats and all sorts of in-place moves so I wasn’t sitting on my bum for another 30 minutes!

My to-do list is now a ta-da list! I can shrink or expand the items to suit the day, the mood and the life that gets in the way!

Smoke and mirrors maybe, but it’s making a difference to how I feel!

Podcast review: The Eleventh.

One of the benefits of self-isolation during the Age of Corona is the ability to binge listen to podcasts. This week I have gobbled up the ABC podcast The Eleventh.

Most Australians over 55 will get the reference almost immediately. The Eleventh of November is  Remembrance Day, but politically aware Australians also remember it as the day our democracy took a beating.

On this day in 1975, the elected Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam and the elected government were sacked by the Governor-General.

I was 14, but I still remember it vividly. It’s hard to believe it was 45 years ago! I can also remember back to the night that that Labor Party was first voted in,  in 1972. That night was the first time I had ever stayed up all night. My parents were at a party, gathered around the TV, waiting for the results. Unlike these days when things are all wrapped up by about 10 PM, results took all night.

This podcast, presented by Alex Mann, is an entertaining, in-depth and balanced analysis of the events leading up to the Dismissal. His team have made extensive use of the archived materials and recordings that have been available for researchers for some time. However one set of papers of vitally important papers, letters to the Queen, remain locked up.

Listening to the podcast was eye-opening. I knew about the event and the story in outline form, I did not realise just how deep things went.  Was America involved? Did they play a part? Did they topple our government like they had in other places? This podcast answers some of those questions. Some can’t be answered.

Regardless of your politics and whether you agreed with the Whitlam Government’s reforms, it should never have happened. It had not happened before, and it has never happened again. The podcast spells out step by step and in glorious detail who had a hand in it and why it happened.

There is plenty of intrigue and mystery. Alex’s style is very easy to listen too. Even though the main players, Whitlam, Fraser and Kerr are all dead, the combination of archival footage, contemporary interviews with those who are still alive and Mann’s pleasant voice make it easy listening.

Regardless of whether you are a dyed in the wool Liberal or Greens voter, thank Gough and his government for universal health cover, childcare,  no-fault divorce laws, ending conscription, indigenous land rights and many other things we enjoy here in Australia. I, for one, benefited from his free tertiary education policy, which sadly has been dismantled. You can read a quick summary of their achievements in this speech.

AND thank goodness for the ABC!

I give the podcast 5 stars!

 

 

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This is my daughter with Gough in 2012 (?). Margaret in the background.
  • The banner image courtesy of the podcast