"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Monday, 23 May 2016

Therapy Is Not a Dirty Word


Has anyone ever quietly pointed out to you that you have a bit of food stuck in your teeth? Or that there's something weird going on with your hair? Something you didn't notice yourself but are glad someone was there to pick up on? You're usually embarrassed, but at least thankful that someone pointed it out to you. I think it's safe to say that our perspective of ourselves is very different from others' perspective of us. Sometimes it just takes that outside point of view to help us to see things that we couldn't on our own.

When I was 17 (cue the song), I went to see a teenage psychologist. Nothing was going well at home or at school and I was finding it really hard to function anywhere. During those sessions, I happened to mention a friend of mine who was also struggling.
'Do you think this friend would benefit from seeing a professional?' the psychologist asked.
'Yes I do,' I replied.
'Do you think he will?' she asked. I thought about it for a second.
'No, I don't think so. I think there's still a stigma attached to the thought of seeing a psychologist. It implies that you can't deal with life and you need someone to handle all your problems for you.' As I said this, the psychologist grimaced. I could tell that this was something of which she was painfully aware.
'Yes I think you're right, and I wish that would change,' she said in a rare show of emotion.

A few years later, I was sitting down to dinner with most of the members of the Buttercup Gang. One of them was casually confirming what I'd hypothosised in that therapist's office.
'I'm just saying, who needs to see a psychiatrist?' he said. 'If you've got issues, sort them out yourself! You don't need to pay someone $100 to tell you things you can work out for yourself. It just means you can't handle life.'
The rest of us exchanged glances that were both disapproving and knowing. There were eight people at the table that night and I happened to know that at least half of them (including me) had seen a professional therapist at some point in the past. And yet we were all happy, wonderful people. We all silently lamented his claim that we couldn't handle our own lives.

Cut to earlier this year. I found myself in a really bad headspace. I was being plagued by what I called "demons" - a barrage of negative self-talk that I couldn't seem to shake and that would make me very depressed. It would happen mostly when I was idle. One of my many jobs is handing out free food samples in grocery stores, and I'd often find myself standing there for the duration of the four-hour shift, nobody approaching me, giving me time to mull these awful things about myself over and over in my head. The worst part was that sometimes this self-talk wasn't even anything specific. I just felt... inadequate. Inadequate as a person.

Remembering my comments in the psychologists office at age 17, I resolved many times to try and see someone about it. But then the demons would go away on their own and I would think "Ah, it's not that bad, I can manage." It's very easy to forget what pain feels like after it subsides. But then it would come back and I would become even more resolved; "Okay, I definitely have to see someone." Finally, after the worst attack yet, I made the call. I spoke to our family GP - one that had known me since I was born but that I hadn't seen in years because he's always in high demand. We spent a couple of minutes catching up before he asked the question;
'So what brings you in here today?'
'Well... I'm worried about my mental health.'
There was a look of surprise on my GP's face, but he was very understanding about it. I described what I'd been going through and my own thoughts about it. He gave me a questionnaire called a DAAS - Depression, Anxiety and Stress - survey and told me to fill it out at a time when I'm feeling low. It was one of those questionnaires that makes a series of statements and asks you to rank them into "Never", "Sometimes", "Often", "Always" etc. There were statements like "I find it hard to keep control of my feelings," "I find it hard to get excited about anything" and "I feel my heart beating without any physical exertion." I filled it out and brought it back.
'Well Michael,' said the GP at my next visit. 'I've added up the scores. This tests for a person's levels of depression, anxiety and stress. For anxiety and stress, you scored very low - which is good, the lower the better. But for depression, you scored in the range that we would consider appropriate for someone with mild depression. This is certainly enough to qualify you for a referral to a psychologist.'

Our wonderful, amazing system of healthcare in Australia covers us for 12 visits to a mental health professional in a period of one year. The amounts that the system will cover us for vary from doctor to doctor, but as I intended to pay for these visits myself, I agreed to go to one that had no GAP. That means I was able to get 12 visits to a psychologist absolutely free. The first visit was, as this new psychologist called it, a "getting to know you" session. One where he just collects information and sets up a plan for future sessions. I got along with him really well. He was clearly just out of school and inexperienced, but I could see he'd be able to help me out. At the end of the session, he asked me a question that took me off guard.
'The last thing I'd like to know Michael, is what do you hope to achieve by the end of our sessions?'
I hadn't actually thought of that. Part of the problem was that I didn't know exactly what was wrong. It felt like trying to find a light switch in the dark. But then I remembered that that's the point. The reason one should go to a professional is simply to have a set of eyes looking in from the outside. One that can help you see things that you can't from your point of view. There's nothing to be ashamed of about that. It's nature. Humans get ahead by teaming up to solve problems. I simply told my psychologist that I'd like to get a better understanding of what I'm feeling and why. Because understanding it takes away its power.

It didn't take very long at all. I was retaking that DAAS test at the beginning of each session, just to get a snapshot of my progress. With each session, my scores for everything got lower and lower, to the point that in the last three or four sessions, I had zeros across the board. My psychologist wrote a letter to my GP saying that my scores had "plummeted" and that in his professional opinion, what I was going through wasn't depression. It was just stuff I wasn't dealing with at the time. I wouldn't have gotten to that point if I was afraid of the "stigma" of mental health. I didn't view it as "I can't deal with my own life". I viewed it as "I'm missing something and there's a person here that's trained to help me see it." If you're struggling too, I encourage you to seek help. It takes more strength and courage to do that than to try and handle it yourself.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Waiting On a Diagnosis

I got a phone call from my Dad.
'Hi Michael, the crash repair place got back to me.'
'Yeah? What did they say?'
'I've got some bad news.'
I wasn't expecting that.
'...What is it?'
'They estimate the damage on the car to be about $3600 worth. They also reckon the car is valued at around $3900. Normally what they do when the values are that close is pay you out the value of the car and sign it as a write-off.'
'What? But it's just the side door! There's no damage to anything else! How could they value the whole rest of the car to be worth $300?'
'Relax, they haven't decided anything yet. The insurance company will be sending someone out to give it a proper valuation on Friday.'
'Okay, but... I like my car.'
'Well hopefully, the results come back positive.'
I sat back and considered my situation. My first car was in hospital and it was looking like the doctors wouldn't be able to operate. I was suddenly in the position of needing to work out a succession plan. I was already borrowing my late grandma's old car, which was small and smelled of moth-balls. I wanted my friend back.

I bought my first car on April 25t2012. It had taken me ages. In Australia, you can get a learner's permit to drive at age 16. You can get a provisional license at 16 and a half and once you've done the required learning hours. Then after two yours of that, you can pay to get your full licence. Me, I didn't get my learner's permit until I was almost 17. By the time I upgraded to my P's, my L's were two days from expiring. And then when I did get my P's, I was borrowing my parents' cars to get places. I was 20 years old when I finally decided I needed to buy my own wheels.

My parents both owned a type of car commonly called a "City 4WD" - a car with the body and function of a 4-wheel-drive, but which doesn't really have the toughness or grunt to do any serious off-road driving. I did all my learning in those cars, so I wanted my first car to be the same thing. I loved the height the vehicles as well as their practicality. I wanted to be able to just chuck everything in the boot, take the seats down if I needed to to fit in a bike or other equipment. If my friends and I were going away for the weekend, I wanted to be able to chuck everyone's gear into it and take it along. I wanted it to be the go-to car, which everyone defaulted to when it was time to decide whose car to take. But not too many people shared my vision. So when I came home two days later with a big blue Mitsubishi Outlander, having parted with over half of my life savings for what was just my first car, my parents thought I'd made a big mistake.




But my parents eventually saw what I saw in it. I immediately got good use out of the boot space by holding all my equipment for work in it.



Over time, the car became a defining part of my early adulthood. There were times I've had to get changed in the back seat as I rushed from one job to another, countless dings and scratches on the paint, each with their own story, trinkets hanging from the mirror and the sunshades that came from other countries and time spent sitting inside it with the amazingly-effective heater going on bitter cold winter nights. I had it decked out with little plug-ins and add-ons which meant I could almost run my life from in there. I have a double-adapter plugged into its cigarette lighter, in one end I have the car's GPS and the other I have a USB charger with three ports. On the windscreen, right next to the GPS is a cradle for my massive phone, on which I can call and text people using voice command while I'm driving. And I have a little device that plugs into the headphone socket of a phone and broadcasts its audio onto the car sound system. Friends can come in and blast their playlist on Spotify, or they can just pick something from the stacked CD folder under the passenger seat.

My ex reminds me all the time about our first New Year's Eve together that year. It was well past midnight and I'd agreed to drive a friend to her home in the Adelaide Hills. As we made our way up those winding roads, I realised I was literally falling asleep at the wheel. So when we got to my friend's house and she disappeared inside, I turned to my girlfriend and said "I made need to get some sleep in the car here before we head home or I'll probably end up killing us both." Being a responsible person, she was completely on board with that. So I reclined my driver's seat and said "Well, goodnight," falling asleep instantly. I woke up three hours later to find my girlfriend staring at me, shivering so hard her teeth were chattering, covered in whatever she could find to use as a makeshift blanket. "C-can we g-go home now?" she stammered painfully. She claims she never used to feel the cold before that night, but now she can't stand it.

Eventually, after three and a half years of owning the car, I finally had an opportunity to use the car for its number-one intended purpose. My friends and I planned out a road trip to Victoria. We were to drive the 730km to Melbourne, stay there one night, then spend the next three days winding along the Great Ocean Road, stopping to set up tents in local caravan parks along the way. Four of us went, and we discovered that my car was big enough to hold all four of our gear as well as ourselves. The 3-port USB charger came in real handy with four people constantly needing their phones charged and the radio transmitter got a work out too. It's possibly my favourite trip ever and I've been to Singapore, America and Italy.













 








In the end, it was such a stupid thing to do. Our house has an open two-lane carport in which we keep four cars. My sister and I have to move and swap our cars around to make room for each other and other things like the washing. Often when I move my car, I won't even turn on the engine. I'll just take off the hand-brake and the parking-brake and push it to where it needs to go. But stupidly, arrogantly, I thought I could do the same thing while the car was on the driveway. What's worse is that I didn't even get into the car to take the brakes off - I just leaned in through the driver door. The moment I put it into neutral, it started to roll backwards. The open door caught on our brick fence and snapped around until it was just dangling from its hinge. It tumbled onto the road - where there were luckily no cars coming - and had managed to pick up enough speed that it hopped over the gutter and onto the footpath on the other side of the road, coming to a stop just inches from the neighbour's fence. The next day, I got that call from Dad and I had to face the real possibility that my time with my first car had come to an end.

It wasn't all doom and gloom. As I thought about my friend in the hospital, I thought about how much it had been through. There was a big scrape on the left hand side where I'd misjudged the room I had in a parking lot and scraped a pylon. There was still a hint of the awful smell that came from the time I left it parked with the windows open a crack and then it started pouring with rain, soaking the whole car's interior. The brakes were creaking and there was often a thump that came from somewhere under the car when I accelerated too fast. I started to think about buying myself a new friend. A better friend. One with leather seats. I have a lot more money now than I did back then, so I could afford to get something a bit better than that bottom-of-the-line Outlander. But on the other hand, I've been saving up to buy my own property for a long time. Having to buy a new car would blast all the savings I'd worked so hard to make. The thought of a new car excited me, but sacrifices I'd have to make didn't. And one of those sacrifices would be to say goodbye to my old car, whom I love.

Friday came and went and I didn't hear anything back. I had to painfully wait out the weekend, driving that uncomfortable car that belonged to my grandma. I've been driving it for almost a week and yet I still haven't been able to get those tiny side-view mirrors right. I'm having to be very careful when I'm reversing to remember that the car extends further than the rear window. I had to perform one of those back-seat clothes changes on Sunday and - shock horror - I had to take stuff out of the car before I left to endure I had enough room to change. Then, late on Monday afternoon, Dad called again.
'Michael, I've just had a call from the crash repair.'
*gasp* 'Yes?'
'...They can operate. They'll start fixing the car as soon as the parts come in.'
I let out a sigh of relief. The car would be okay. I was still excited at the thought of getting something new, and sooner or later I will. But like the faithful pet that's been in the family since before the kids were born, I don't want to put her down just yet. The old girl still has life in her.

Monday, 16 May 2016

How Should You Vote in the Upcoming Election?

Australia recently announced its federal election for 2016 and the moment it happened, the posters went up and the spam mail was sent out everywhere. On Friday I got this flyer in the mailbox. It was addressed specifically to me and it came from my local member of parliament Chris Pyne.


Somewhere it was on file that I'm 24 years old and am therefore classified as "youth". So Pyne's office sent out this targeted flyer proclaiming that the Liberal government is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into a number of new programs that will help youth secure work or start their own businesses.

This is a timely initiative. From what I've heard, people my age are graduating from university, having slogged for four years or more through all the deadlines and grades, and yet are struggling to find employment in their chosen fields. However, this doesn't affect me at all. I chose not to go along the path of tertiary education, choosing instead to go straight into the working world and try to find a pathway about which I'm truly passionate. I've never struggled to find work. I've had periods where there's not a lot of work coming in, but that's just the nature of the jobs I pick. In fact, I often joke that the reason none of my peers can find jobs is because I've taken them all. So while I think that introducing programs to help youth find work is a great idea, it only benefits people who happen to not be me.

So then an interesting question occurred to me: Should we be voting for the party that best serves our own needs or the needs of the greater population? The whole point of our system of government is that a person is elected to represent us in parliament. Each member of parliament represents around 100 000 people and the assumption is that the member's desires and beliefs reflect the desires and beliefs of the majority of those 100 000 people. What if I've misread what's going on around me and it turns out that there really isn't any sort of youth jobs crisis? What if those hundreds of millions of dollars could have been better spent elsewhere but it's not, because the people have voted them in based on that policy? Could voting for the party out of empathy for my unemployed peers actually end up being detrimental?

Consider this:
Say for argument's sake that 60% of voting youth were finding work just fine. The other 40% are struggling. 40% of youth being unable to find work is a huge number. But the other 60% decide that they want to start families. There's only room in the budget to accommodate one of those groups. Party A is offering to assist the unemployed, while Party B wants to help start families. Everyone votes for the party that serves their own needs best, so Party B gets in. The 60% group get help starting the families they badly want and the 40% are still no closer to finding a job. Is this a good or a bad outcome? Is it good because the majority of people had their needs met? Or is it bad because finding work is a greater need than starting a family?

I tend to lean towards the former - that the needs of the many outweigh those of the few. But there's a huge flaw in that belief. What of those whose needs can't be heard? Here's Scenario B:
Party A wants to invest a nine-figure sum into programs that help the disabled and the elderly. Party B instead wants to put that money into roads and infrastructure. Everyone votes according to his or her own needs. But not only do many of the disabled and elderly not have the mental capacity to vote, but even the ones who do are far outnumbered by the rest of us that are able-bodied. Party B wins in a landslide and the lives of the incapable get worse and worse as each election passes. In this case, I believe firmly that empathy needs to be taken into account when voting.

Finally, consider Scenario C:
60% of youth find it hard to get a job. Party A is offering to help them with that. But also, 60% of the elderly are living in poor conditions, and are struggling to survive with their current retirement benefits from the government. Party A isn't willing to help them, but Party B is. The catch is if Party B helps the elderly, it won't be able to help the youth. One of the groups may have to give way to the other. Should either of them put their own problem aside? Or should they both be selfish and try and get their own dire needs met first?

This of course uses the unrealistic assumption that only one demographic can be helped at a time. But the question I feel is still valid. When voting in someone to represent you in parliament, should you be selfish or selfless? Is it possible to find a party that strikes a good balance between the two? Would ranking issues in order of necessity help you make a decision or just make it more complicated?

I hope you find it easier to make a decision than I do.

Friday, 13 May 2016

How Long Have You Been Blogging?

For most of us, it's a labour of love. More often than not, we pour our hearts out onto the the keyboard and what results gets seen by dozens, sometimes hundreds, if we're lucky even thousands of people. Then it disappears into the murky depths of the internet and isn't seen again.

So after some discussion with a few people who take part in the monthly Question of the Month bloghop, we've decided to start a new initiative. It's called Flashback Friday - a time of the month where you can republish and old post of yours that maybe didn't get enough attention, or that you're really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc. Personally I can think of a whole bunch of these.


If you'd like to join us, we've decided to make this happen on the last Friday of every month. That means the first one will be on the 27th of May. Enter your blog's name into the Linky List below and grab the code so you can put the list on your page and spread the word.

<!-- start LinkyTools script --> <script src="http://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=269358" type="text/javascript"></script> <!-- end LinkyTools script -->



Monday, 9 May 2016

Be Like Tom


I get a lot of what's generally called "incidental exercise". I can't stand getting out of bed and going for a jog just for the sake of it. But I get a lot of fitness through my day-to-day happenings. I do football umpiring, which requires two nights per week of training, and then I do multiple games on the weekend. I've taken up a martial art, which I do on every Wednesday I'm available. I'll sometimes go bike riding with my friend Mitchell. And on the weekend just passed, Mitch and I got together did a grueling 12km obstacle course called True Grit.

In true grit, competitors have to jog through a vinyard, pausing every once in a while to complete an obstacle, which can be as simple as monkey bars or a rope climb or as inventive as dragging tractor tires around a course or crawling through a mud-filled pipe.


Really, I have no right to be as fit as I am. With the amount of actual effort I put into getting fitter, I should struggle a lot more than I do. But my secret isn't in my physical fitness, it's all mental.

We had a mantra while doing the course this year - "Be like Tom". Tom being Australian footballer Tom Rockliff, current captain of the Brisbane Lions. Since the '90s, the captain of the Lions has been known for just being tough. It started with Jonathan Brown, a man who it was said could inspire the rest of his team to walk a bit taller when he was around. He'd put his body on the line all the time. Towards the end of his career he even crashed into a pack so hard the he crushed his cheekbone and had to have surgery. There was even a legend that went around that as a kid, Brown's dog bit him... So he bit the dog back. He was a tough cookie.


When Brown retired, Rockliff took over. Rockliff was tough in a different way. While Brown was all bash-and-crash and would make you scared of being tackled by him, Rockliff just has the drive and determination to play through anything. Early last year, Rockliff broke a rib during the first quarter of a game. We didn't know until he tweeted it after the game. He missed games after that, but he rushed back into the team after only two weeks, he was just that keen to play (and was that needed). In his return game, not only did he re-break the bone, he also managed to puncture his lung. This time, the viewers could see he was in a lot of pain. But still, he played out the whole game. It was inspiring.


That's my secret - Be like Tom. Like Tom, I've gotten injuries and kept pushing through it. At True Grit last year, when we were about two thirds of the way through the course, I managed to blow out both my calves within 100 meters of each other. We were just jogging along and - BANG! - my left calf snapped. I kept jogging. I just couldn't stand the idea of stopping. I was kind of limp-jogging when 100m later - BANG! - the other calf went. Still, I jogged. It was bloody painful, but I did. We got to the end of the course, where competitors would slide into the river to wash off all the mud they'd accumulated, and when I hit the cold water my legs cramped so badly that I cried out in pain and literally couldn't move them any more. I had to slowly paddle my way to the river bank using just my hands and try to keep my head above the water.

Another time, during a game of footy, a guy crashed into me so hard the my own rib dislocated. I couldn't play out the rest of the game, but I fully intended to go and play a game of mixed netball that I was due to play after that. Unfortunately (or fortunately according to some people), this was before I had my driver's license and I was relying on my parents to drive me places. My mum flat-out refused to take me to play another sport while I had a dislocated rib. I chucked a tantrum at that.

When I did the City-to-Bay fun run - Adelaide's biggest - a few years ago, I had never before run that distance in one go. Yet I finished all 12kms in 65 minutes - much slower than all the professional runners, but much faster than all the regular Joes. One time at Christmas, the boys in my extended family were ribbing each other on their respective levels of fitness. It turned into a bet to see who could run at an almost-sprint on my uncle's treadmill for five minutes straight. My uncle predicted the result. "Michael will be able to do it. Not because of his fitness, just because of his mental capacity. His sticking power." In the end, just to prove a point, I sprinted for six minutes instead of five.

So that's my secret, sticking power. I don't like giving up, because once you give up, you've given up forever. It's an attitude I noticed in Tom Rockliff as well. So that's why as Mitchell and I were wincing with each footfall on the sand dunes and staggering over balance beams and under nets, we kept jokingly shouting to each other "Be like Tom!" "Remember Tom!" "Tom! Tom! Tom! Tom! Tom!"


Friday, 6 May 2016

Twenty Things to Do If It Were Really Your Last Day on Earth

  1. Cry
  2. Donate everything you have to charity (even your used underwear)
  3. Tell someone you're madly in love with them
  4. Place a dead fox on your boss' desk
  5. Try hallucinogenic drugs
  6. Watch season 4 of Breaking Bad
  7. Get to the top of a really tall mountain by helicopter and just sit
  8. Try to solve a Rubik's cube
  9. Listen to everyone else tell you what they'd do on their last day on Earth
  10. Win the lottery and then listen to Alanis Morissette's Ironic
  11. Discover the secret to immortality
  12. Commit atrocious crimes
  13. Eat a baby to imbibe its youth
  14. Go through all 254 entries to the A Life Examined blog
  15. Write your memoir pretty quick-smart
  16. Challenge a friend to emulate William Tell, but instead of a bow and arrow use a shotgun
  17. Place yourself in cryogenic suspension until society discovers the secret to immortality (because you had a whole day to do it and you couldn't even get that done)
  18. Find out how many of the booby traps on Home Alone the human body can actually handle
  19. Poke a grizzly bear in the eye
  20. Just end it early

Monday, 2 May 2016

Question of the Month: Blogging Advice

Each month, a bunch of us get together to answer a question set by the talented Michael from A Life Examined. This month, Michael wants to know "What are three pieces of advice you'd give to people starting their own blog?"



Blogging's a hard thing do give advice on. There's so many different reasons blogs are started, so many different things that are written about and a really large array of possibilities for content. But if I were to give three pieces of advice that I found to be really helpful but are still as universal as possible, they'd be this.


  1. Spend every moment you can visiting and commenting on other blogs. At least at the beginning, those people will be your blog's biggest source of traffic. They can also provide ongoing content. I once had a joint blog post with Cherdo at Cherdo on the Flipside where I answered questions about Australia that were posed by her school students. But it's VERY important that this interaction is genuine. It's no fun to go to a new blog and say "Nice post!" before leaving a link back to your blog. If you do that, I hope your blog withers into obscurity.
    If you get that part right, it's a great way to make new friends. When I went to Canberra last year, I met up with someone who until then I'd only known online and she took me to Questacon. We had a great day.
  2. Links. Links everywhere. Search engines like web pages that are linked back to more than others. If you place links in your comments when you comment on someone else's blog post, that's an extra point. If it's a blogger you've never met before, there's a chance they'll follow the link and you'll get a new regular reader. just make sure that that's not the sole purpose of your commenting on others' blogs. That would be disingenuous. You're aiming to make a new friend, not gain a new hit.
    Within your own blog, post links to old posts as often as you can (as demonstrated in point one) to help get more use out of content that would otherwise fade into obscurity as you pump out more.
  3. Pictures will increase the interest level of of your post a thousand times, but if you can make your own pictures, that will also give your blog its own distinctive style that that will set it apart from all the others. Cherdo is great at that, as well as Bryan & Brandon from A Beer from the Shower.
We come up with a new question each month, so if you'd like to join in next month, join the list below. We'll email you during the month with the next question. It's a lot of fun.



Saturday, 30 April 2016

Zombies

Part Z of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, where every day this month except Sundays, I'll be talking about things I love - one thing for each letter of the alphabet.


It's not the zombies themselves that I love - they're not very good company. It's mainly thinking about how I'd go in a zombie apocalypse that I enjoy doing.

My frame of reference for zombies these days is The Walking Dead. So in this scenario, people form gangs or societies and try to rebuild some form of life before the attack. But the humans are also harder to deal with than the zombies themselves. My first (and major) problem is that I wouldn't be able to kill a human. When my clan is mugged for our supplies, I wouldn't really do much to stop them. I'm sure I'd be good in a fist fight if I actually tried, but right now I'm too scared of getting hurt myself. The zombies would be easier. unlike most Australians, we do have guns in our house. I haven't used them too often, but for someone who uses guns as rarely as me, I'm a decent shot. A while ago I went to a firing range and tried out a number of different handguns. By the time I got to the last one, I'd certainly gotten my eye in.

That's from six shots. The instructor was impressed.
So I'd probably last a bit longer than some others when it came to fending off swarms of zombies. But to really help out in that case, I'd make sure that my family and I got into immediate contact with my Godfather.

My godfather and his two sons are gun enthusiasts (enthusiasts, not nuts; that's very important to note). They have memberships to a gun club and go to the firing range practically every Sunday. And due to his work as a security guard, the Dad has permits to carry some weapons that others aren't allowed. Those three and the Mum would 100% be the first people I'd try to align with in the case of a zombie outbreak. Then there would be a family crisis meeting. My Dad and his brother would come together, each bringing his wife and kids, and they'd discuss what to do with their sister, who has mental problems. She'd be a nightmare to bring along - she has no ability to move any faster than a waddle, no matter how much danger she's in. And her screaming at the first sign of danger would be so piercing and hysterical that it would make me want to rip my ears out. But admirably, my Dad and uncle would accept that that's just something we have to deal with. If she slows us down so much that we end up being overrun, that's still preferable to the horrifying thought of leaving her alone and defenseless to die.

There would likely be a rift going on in my Mum's mind over this. My Mum is fiercely protective of those she loves, and she couldn't imagine leaving her kids' side for any reason at a time like this. But as unimaginable as it would be to leave us, it would be equally unacceptable not to be with her own Dad and sister. The only solution is for her Dad and sister to joins our group, but then she also has a brother, who also has a wife. Would he want to be with his Dad too, or would they team up with her side of the family? This is one side of the whole zombie apocalypse scenario that doesn't really get looked into enough.

So let's say that in the end, we form a group that contains myself, my Mum, Dad and sister, my uncle and his family (5 people), my paternal aunt, my Mum's Dad and sister and my Godfather and his family (4 people). Let's also include my Dad's cousin and her family (4 people) because her husband's side of the family all live in Melbourne, so their loyalties wouldn't be as split. That makes a group of 20 people. I'd then try to find a jail. The one they used in The Walking Dead was perfect. It was a place with high barb-wired fences and a lot of solid brick walls. It had watch towers for snipers and a maze of pathways for a quick escape if needed. There was also a big green field for growing crops, which for me was the best part. If you're able to produce your own food, you wouldn't have to search farther and father to find food that's already there and you also wouldn't be tempted to raid other humans for theirs.

But having said all that, I doubt I'd last long. I find it too hard to get my hands dirty. I'll just stick to watching The Walking Dead and stockpiling ideas just in case.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Yes

Part Y of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, where every day this month except Sundays, I'll be talking about things I love - one thing for each letter of the alphabet.


This is very similar to my Y post from last year. I've had so many great or at least fascinating moments because I have a generally accepting attitude. I love saying yes.

  • My friend Brooke had her 21st birthday in Thailand. Our mutual friend had the idea to go there with her to celebrate it. It was the first time I'd ever been in Asia.
  • I agreed to come along to an improv workshop after meeting a new friend at a stand-up show. I fell in love with it and dove right in, gaining great new skills and becoming friends with some of my favourite people in the world.
  • I spent a few weeks attending a Mormon church and gained a better understanding of what it means to believe in God.
  • It doesn't just have to be big profound things either. For example, my experiments with combining foods has lead to some of my favourite things to eat, such as peanut butter on cheese.
  • I now have a written list of movies, books, music, YouTubers, comics and TV shows that have been suggested to me by friends and even people I've just met. I'll never be stuck for media to consume again.
  • I was once in a band for about three months, despite not really being able to play my instrument.
  • Although I had no belief I'd actually get the job at the time, I applied for an 8-month contract touring primary schools with a kids theatre company. They liked my resume, then my screen test, and eventually it led to me getting to go to Sydney for a final audition with them. I didn't get the job in the end, but it was awesome to get that close.
  • I always make a point of investigating new work opportunities, no matter how likely it is I'll take it. That attitude has led to me hosting five trivia nights a week now and making more money than I can actually spend.
  • A few of my friends suggested I apply to go on The Chase Australia. I did, and after about three rounds of hoops I had to jump through, I've been added to the shortlist of contestants they've agreed are good enough to be on the show. It's no guarantee that I'll be called up, but they've basically said "If we can find a spot for you, you're in."
  • This whole blog came from my friend Sarah asking me to start blogging again. From that, I came up with the New Experience Challenge and that eventually led to amazing experiences like skydiving.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

X

Part X of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, where every day this month except Sundays, I'll be talking about things I love - one thing for each letter of the alphabet.

That's an X, as in wrong, as in, I couldn't come up with anything that I love that begins with X. I'm sure if I had more time I could have thought of something, but I'm going to be flat out for the last few days of April. I'll give the rest of this challenge my darndest, since it would be a shame to come so far just to peter out out the end. But no promises.
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