Friday, May 31, 2013

Life's about ...

Life's about the journey.
Screw the journey, life's about the destination.
Life is a many splendored thing.*
Life is like a box of chocolates.

I heard another one the other day, I think it's my new favourite.

Life isn't about the journey or the destination, "it's about the passengers you travel with".#

It's beautiful and it goes to the core of why we do things. It's why we have children, go travelling, go to work and even to go get a cup of coffee. It's why I (sometimes) choose public transport over driving, working in the library as opposed being at home and why I tweet/blog.

Life really is all about about the connections we make.  The people you know, what you share of yourself and what you allow others to share with you.

We meet people all the time, multiple times throughout the day.  Your coffee guy, the bus driver, acquaintances, colleagues, school friends, family friends, random forgot-how-we're-friends friends, your besties, BFFs, etc.

Not all these people you can call a friend.  Not all of them will have your back but they all cause some sort of impact on your life and have lead you to become the person who you are today.

* It's really a song title, 'Love is a many splendored thing', that I took the liberty of.
# quote from a new ABC tv show called, "The Time of Our Lives"


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Anticipation of Happiness

We get so excited by upcoming events and activities.  That party we're going to, the new restaurant we're trying with friends or the trip planned for the long weekend.  However, there are times that we really look forward to something, but when it actually arrives, it's not all that it's cracked up to be.

I'm in the middle of reading the 'Happiness Project' and I came across this thought provoking sentence. It is the "anticipation of happiness that is sometimes greater than the happiness actually experienced" (Happiness Project, Rubin 2009).

In Alain De Botton's 'The Art of Travel', one of the messages of his book is a concept that we are happier thinking and planning our holiday or travel than actually living the reality of it. If my memory serves correctly, De Botton even goes to the extent of saying that we may as well stay in the comfort of our lounge room chairs as the anticipation of our upcoming travel is on the whole, more of a positive than the experience of the travel itself.  It is a bit of a gloomy, glass half-full way of looking at travel, but I see his point.

I myself love travelling and especially going overseas. The idea of exotic locations, languages and food is a huge source of excitement for me. I love planes, seeing them take off and land.  I get jumpy just being near the airport.  However, when I actually get to travel and I'm on the plane, I can't wait to get to my destination, to stretch my legs and to breath in natural air. Then there is the anxious wait to see if the luggage had arrived and is on the baggage claim carousel, there is navigating a different transport network, getting sick or a tummy bug from accidentally drinking the local tap water, dragging luggage over cobbled streets, etc, etc. 

Every year I look forward to my local book sale. I can't wait to stock up on some bargain basement priced books that will enlighten me and keep me entertained. I'm pumped and excited for the day to arrive.  Then the day comes, I get to the sale and rummage.  I don't mind rummaging for a few minutes or on tables, but there is a lot of rummaging in cardboard boxes, on the floor and under tables.  The hall is inevitably a dusty environment, I have to squat and/or bend to get to some of the boxes (in pursuit of getting my book-related eureka moments), I scan my eyes quickly over the hundreds of spines of books, packed in boxes that I can't see the covers of.

I leave the sale, yes, with some books, but I also leave slightly sniffley, eyes hurting, a back nearly broken and feet killing from all the standing around.  Am I happy? Yes, but I was also happy looking forward to the sale, talking about the sale and thinking about the possibilities of the sale. On the whole, both the anticipation of the sale and the result of the sale made me happy, however, 'actual and lived happiness' came with a few detractors.

Women and men who are expecting the birth of a child, look forward to their arrival. Is birth time sheer happiness? Well, from the women I've spoken to ... hell no, but it's the idea and anticipation of a child coming into the world that makes the parents happy.  The pain and suffering of childbirth has to be endured, it is reality and a part of the journey, not always pleasant and a fun time for all.

Of course people will still have babies, travel, eat out at restaurants and go to book sales.  It's just an interesting way to look at the fact that in the lead up to an anticipated happiness, it is pure happiness as opposed to living through that happiness which has its pleasures but also its fair share of negatives and frustrations.


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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

(My) Budget Winners and Losers 2013

It's budget time.
In tonight and tomorrow's coverage there will be more talk of families that are struggling and those earning over $abc are poor. Yes, we all know families struggle, most of them do.  It's not unique to just families in 2013, families in the 60's, 70's, 80's were struggling too.

The budget needs to be equitable. It needs to benefit our truly needy now, it needs to nudge/prop up industry where there will be a strong need for it in the coming years and it needs to take into consideration the changing demographics and indicators in our society.

If I was in charge of the budget this year, here's some of what I would do.
  • More infrastructure for homes for Seniors (this is happening to some extent)
  • Subsidised fees for financial planning; retirees and those individuals/families earning less than average
  • Junk Food & (bad) Fast Food tax
  • Higher health insurance premiums/medicare levy for smokers
  • Private Health Insurance loading is not imposed on those individuals/families earning less than average
  • Get rid of the up-front rebate on university HECS/HELP fees (this is happening)
  • On-shore processing of refugees
  • Refugee families to live in communities and are entitled to work for up to 20hours per week
  • Cap the amount of government spending on Advertising.  Increase Social Media training for cabinet parliamentarians and their teams
  • Cap international travel for non-cabinet parliamentarians
  • No laptops for students
  • Encourage single stay-at-home parents to work/study.  Work with businesses to adopt flexible work practices.
  • Fund more 'green' research and jobs

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Space Junk & Rubbish

With the development of new technologies our space exploration goes further and is more sophisticated. 60 years of space exploration and it's still exciting! We've been to the moon and we've (a space rover) made it to Mars!  

As humans we have occupied earth for quite a few hundreds of years now. As our technology progressed, we've polluted it, abused it, made resources scarce and eradicated a variety of species of animals and plant life.  Now the same is happening to the lower-orbit atmosphere encircling the earth.  Long after missions were complete, debris and redundant technology has been left behind.  Houston, we have a Space Junk problem!

Computer Generated Image of current, tracked space junk according to NASA

Old, decommissioned satellites still remain "out there".  Parts of rockets that needed to be discarded to propel them to get to the moon are still hanging around.  These materials are moving at fast speeds of  "several kilometres per second" that they are colliding with each other and breaking larger items into smaller pieces.

Apart from the clutter, we're now seeing a downside to all this space littering we around the world have been doing. (see list of agencies and countries involved with space exploration and launching

These fast moving pieces also now pose a threat to existing and new space launches and missions.  There is so much space junk out in the Earth's immediate space that NASA established an Orbital Debris Program Office.  Conferences and meetings have taken place to collaborate and work out ways to avoid the space rubbish when new rockets/satellites are launched but also to reduce the amount of rubbish generated and left behind.  It's quite sad that something most of us will never get to experience or see is already quite trashed and polluted.

We fund missions to the International Space Centre, to the Moon, to Mars and other planets, but is there enough funding (or the technology) to bring launchers, rockets and rovers back to earth?  I wonder where the parachute used to land the Curiosity Rover on Mars has gone?  What will happen to the Curiosity Rover when its mission has been completed?

Planning for "active debris removal" is happening. Space and satellite agencies are now developing technologies for space garbo's* such as; robotic hooks, harpoons and clamps, in the hope to capture and/or return this junk back into the earths atmosphere (where some of it will burn up). 

Let's hope we can get some good ideas happening and tidy things up. Any volunteers for Clean up Atmosphere Day?

* - To be used colloquially. I don't mean any harm or to detract from what needs to happen.

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