Sunday, 27 March 2016

National Rail System Please!

I can NOT be the only one who thinks Australias reliance on trucks over trains is the STUPIDEST thing ever. I mean, how ridiculous can you get? Yes, there will be times when you do need a truck, but surely anyone with half a brain cells worth of common sense can see that a National Train System would improve this country exponentially.

Oh. Right. Common sense. Yeah.

Here are THE best reasons to get trucks off the roads and their cargo put onto trains.

1. Speed

A train doesn't have to worry about traffic jams. A train doesn't get stuck behind a granny driver in her Honda Jazz (most pathetic "car" ever) doing 20km/h under the speed limit. A train doesn't share a road with cars less than a quarter of its size, meaning it can go faster without worrying about whether or not something the driver can't see is around. Which leads to point number two...

2. Safety

Australia FLOGS its truck drivers. They're under tight deadlines and a lot of stress, which would make anyone driving even the smallest car a very dangerous prospect. Now put them in charge of several tonnes of truck, trailers and cargo. Who else is feeling scared around about now? Now add that a lot of small-car drivers simply do NOT know how to drive around trucks and we have a recipe for disaster, which you read about nearly every day in the newspaper. The only real worry about trains is idiots and train crossings - and even that can be minimised by having less train crossings and more over/underpasses. Plus in the event of a train crash, there's usually less victims, whereas if a truck crashes it usually takes out a few other cars and causes traffic to have to stop, leading to congestion and traffic jams. Everyone loses.

3. Road maintenance

Trucks DESTROY roads, that then have to be used by other cars and smaller vehicles (which, in turn, affects their safety). Just look at the Warrego Highway west of Toowoomba if you need any evidence. Get the trucks off the roads and then other road users can enjoy better-quality roads.

4. Trains are cooler than trucks

They ARE! Plus trains can also be used to transport people! Can you imagine tearing down the countryside on a super-fast train, able to get up and walk around as you please, knowing that you'll get to your destination quickly and safely?

Don't get me wrong, we still need trucks as trains can't go everywhere. With a strong train backbone however, we can cut back the number and size of the trucks on our roads improving the quality of our roads and our trips for everyone.

Monday, 21 March 2016

My Top 5 Punctuation Marks

So I for a laugh I had a look at the Linkin Park Facebook page and now I'm having a LP binge to try and catch up with 8 years of not listening to them. Eh...?

Anyway, I was doodling on a piece of paper and started drawing some punctuation marks when it dawned on me: I'm a WRITER, so why don't I write about my favourite punctuation marks? It's the most logical thing in the world!

So here are my top 5 Punctuation Marks!

5. Semi-colon

Even though it's the only punctuation mark actually on my skin at present (and on my right wrist of all places) the humble semi-colon, which one uses to seperate clauses in a sentence, for example: "Peter hated his job; the hours were long and the people crooked." I'm trying to use them more in my work; semi-colons are nifty little devices after all.

4. Exclaimation Point

How awesome is this little dude! He can get anyone excited or make anyone angry; he's the emphasis of the punctuation world and he definitely makes an impact!

3. Colon

I write a lot of lists and love to describe things, so here is a description of my love of the colon: those two little dots are so cute and easy to write, and I can never escape them. They're used in IT a lot for drive letters for a start.

2. Full Stop

This little guy seperates ideas and allows space between thoughts and ideas. Between the full stop, the comma and the semi-colon, you can control the flow and sound of a sentence, changing meaning with a flick of ink.

1. Ellipsis

Stick one of these at the end of any sentence and people begin to wonder. You can change the whole meaning of a sentence with one of these things. It's the ultimate act of shit-stirring and cheekiness in written form, especially when paired with seemingly innocent sentences...

There you have it, my favourite punctuation marks! Feel free to read my other blogs, or even Chuckles and Giggles; not that I'd mind if you didn't...

Friday, 18 March 2016

Triggers and Panic Attacks

Yes, I know it's Friday, and yes, I know you're all expecting some "Chuckles and Giggles". You'll get it this evening. Right now I'm operating on 6.5 out of 10 on the anxiety scale after a psych appointment and I'm going to type it out. Hopefully this blog provides anyone else going through high anxiety and panic attacks with a bit of a framework that they can use to formulate a plan for themselves.

For me, the pattern seems to be:

1. Get to a high stress/high anxiety state
2. Get triggered by something seemingly small and insignificant
3. Panic attack

One would think after the past few weeks I'd be used to operating on high anxiety, but it doesn't work like that. I rate anxiety using a 1-10 "Panic scale":

1 - Me so chillllllllllll. I'm so chill I'm either writing or asleep.

2 - Walking. Off in my own little world and pretty much content. Also dancing. Of course, I can shoot from a 7 to a 2 and back again pretty fast.

3-4 - Where I usually sit on a good day. I'm alert, but I'm not going to have a panic attack any time soon.

5 - Mildly irritated/grumpy.

6 - Bad days. I can usually cope if triggered, but I will probably need to have a long rest soon.

7 - Will have attack if triggered

8 - Panic/Anxiety attack.

9 - Usually where mutism will kick in.

10 - Autistic Meltdown. I haven't had one of these for years and I hope I never do again.

Unfortunately if I'm high on anxiety I'm more susceptable to my triggers, which are:

-Sensory Overload - touch and sound are my weaknesses, anyone who knows me knows that I'm highly affectionate and crave hugs and closeness - from people I'm close to. Unfortunately anyone else will make me slightly uncomfortable, which I can deal with in small doses provided I'm not already high on anxiety. Sound on the other hand is a bit more clear-cut: if it's very high-pitched (especially a sustained high-pitched noise without a bassline to counter it) then I'm not going to have a good time. Give me deep bass-lines which I can feel in my chest and I'm happy.

-Fear - Stairs, lifts, driving, people looking at me, unfamiliar social situations, heights...again, if I'm not high on anxiety then I can deal with these problems with only a hint of annoyance (except for lifts, I think each of my coworkers has seen me completely freeze up each time I need to go in one of these things). If I'm already in a bad way however, these things will result in a panic attack. Best of all, these things can put me in a high-anxiety situation if either combined or through long enough exposure.

The biggest symptoms of an impending panic attack (that I've noticed anyway) are my breathing getting out of whack (precursor to hyperventalating), shaking and aching limbs. Unfortunately that's all I can think of, usually when I'm already at a high anxiety state I'm not really paying attention to my symptoms, I'm too busy worrying.

The best way I know to prevent this is walking. Also, writing and dancing have been known to bring me down from an anxiety high, alas if my stress levels get too high I either get writers block (GAH!!!) or I become very adverse to being touched/my limbs feel like lead (which rules out dancing).

So far, it seems the best plan is to NOT get into a high stress state in the first place, however given how prone I am to stress this is also the most difficult.

When I have a panic attack, the major thing is that I can't be touched, especially skin-on-skin contact - IT HURTS. Also, talking is good. Even if I can't be touched, I hate being alone when I'm having an attack, and having someone close by is comforting.

Everyone will have their own "panic scale" and triggers. Everyone will also have their own ways of coping and how others can help. The important thing is figuring out your triggers and at what stage you can handle things - as always, I really encourage people who are having problems to seek professional help. It makes figuring out this stuff so much easier.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Creative Responsibility

I'm sure I've mentioned this previously, but Alan Alda is my hero. His character, the great Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce was my introduction into complex characters and storylines, changing my path as a storyteller forever. This was solidified when I read "Little Women" by Lousia May Alcott, especially the chapter where Jo goes off to New York and nearly makes a disgrace of herself.

Yesterday, Mr. Alda made an appearance on the ABC's National Press Club of Australia. He spoke about how "Science Belongs to All of Us", and the speech he made touched me deeply. He's also going to be at QPAC tonight and tomorrow with his play "Dear Albert", based on the letters written by Albert Einstein, humanising this intellectual great of our history. I never thought I'd ever get the chance to even be in the same room as Alan Alda, so as you can imagine I'm very excited. However, meeting my hero isn't the only reason I'm excited.

Mr. Alda described Science and Art as "two long-lost lovers" who have drifted apart, and lamented on how Science has become almost completely inaccessable to the average person. He spoke about how scientists have to learn how to present their ideas and research in such a way as while not dumbing them down, they're more appetizing to the general public.  He also spoke of the medias responsibility to "open the door" to these ideas and concepts. This got me thinking, back to my blog on not writing trash and how Mr. Alda has inspired me to think big.

I loved the Deadpool movie. It was very funny and entertaining. Alas, there wasn't much depth to it, which is something I'm noticing is becoming more and more prevailent in storytelling nowadays. Storytelling, in fact, any sort of art, isn't just an expression of emotion or entertainment. It's also meant to be a way to convey ideas and open minds to new ways of thinking, spawning even more new ideas and ways of thinking. I again fall back on the example of "Harry Potter", where J. K. Rowling has created a world so big, so splendid, that your mind can't resist opening up and being open to so many possibilities. A lot of Japanese anime does this well too, like "Psycho Pass" (a chill just went down my spine), "Naruto" and even, funnily enough, "Ouran High School Host Club". I know a lot of jaws just dropped when I mentioned OHSHC but think about it - it really does make you think about the space between the wealthy and the poorer classes.

I think, as artists, we have a responsibility not just to entertain, but to be the ones to help open the door to different ways of thinking, to opening up minds to not only accept different ideas, but to create them as well. When minds are already open and creating, it's much easier to direct those minds towards things like Science, where open minds and different ways of thinking are not only welcomed, but critical to the continued improvement and learning of our species.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Six of one, half-dozen of the other

I like to think of myself as a patriotic Australian who'd do anything for her country - yes, including voting. UGH, I hate voting! I feel like no matter which side I pick, I've picked the wrong one (except that time I voted for the Pirate Party. Good times). And, as luck would have it, in 12 days Brisbane goes to the polls for a new Mayor, as the Labor propaganda I just found in my letterbox reminded me. So, as a patriotic Australian who wants the very best for her country and her favourite city, it's time to do some research into who will be the best person to lead this great city into 2016 and beyond.

DISCLAIMER: This is my opinion only, for the love of all that is good and pure in this world do NOT take my advice!!!!!!!

Jeffery Hodges - The Consumer Rights and No Tolls Party

I do like the name of his party - and I love the idea of ending privatisation of public assets (seriously, I'd love to smack the idiot who came up with the idea in the first place). I love how they have plans to deal with animal cruelty and their aims towards increasing recycling. What counts against him for me though is his lack of political expertise. That and the whole fact that he once worked for Toowoomba Grammar School. Ewness.

Jarrod Wirth - Independant

Well, the bare-bones lacklustre website is off-putting, but I'll try not to judge a book by its cover. I like that he's had experience in the public health sector, and seen first-hand what goes on. Reading on and I noticed that even he is sick of getting propaganda in his letterbox that's all about slandering the opposition (I had a rant about this last time I had to vote if I recall!), so it'd be good to see if he'll do something about this if he gets voted in. I don't know though, something just seems too "small time" for me to feel confident in voting for him - if I were voting in say, the old Jondaryan Shire Council elections and I saw him, he'd probably have my vote in a heartbeat. Nothing about traffic congestion though...

Graham Quirk - LNP and Incumbent Mayor

Seeing as this election seems to be all about the traffic congestion, what the hell has Graham Quirk actually done to fix the problem? From my experience public transport fares have gone up (and everyone knows how much I love public transport after being deprived of it for so long) and traffic congestion is still a major problem - just check out Waterworks Rd every morning if you don't believe me. I think there might be a reason I've never voted Liberal, and no, it's not just about pissing my Dad off (although that does factor into it - love you Daddy!).

Jim Eldridge - Independant

HE WANTS TO BAN ALCOHOL ADVERTISING ON BUSES!!!!! OMG! I can TOTALLY get behind that! Alcohol is one of the most vile, putrid, revolting substances on this planet, capable of turning decent human beings into violent, disgusting pigs and anyone who fights this disgrace gets a tick in my book. From the look of his website, Mr. Jeffery Hodges also supports this ban, so put another tick next to him. Let's see, equity and diversity (tick), picture book packs for, okay, while I support any measure to get people reading (I am a storyteller after all), wouldn't the money be better spent upgrading our libraries and making access to them easier? Ehhhh.......

Ben Pennings - Greens

I LOVE the idea of solar-powered buses. Plus he's also echoing the sentiment of lowering public transport prices to help ease traffic congestion. Cheaper power is always a good thing (I am NOT looking forward to my next power bill) and the thought of having CityCycle fixed is a pleasing one. Wait, they want to seperate the Cultural Centre bus station so if I want to travel from New Farm to Greenslopes (or pretty soon, Mt. Gravatt) I have to do the dash to make it to the platform on time? PASS.

Karel Boele - People Decide

No proper website, instead a Facebook page? Uh, okay then. Oooh, this "People Decide" thing looks interesting. Of course, it means he has no policies or anything for me to judge him and his party by. Sounds a bit too wishy-washy for me.

Rod Harding - Labor

Oh don't I have a love/hate relationship with this party! YOU BETRAYED ME YOU - ahem, that's Federal Government, we're looking at Local Council (broke my wittle heart and everything...). I love the idea of Fare Free Fridays and a Light Rail, a bit iffy on the whole Kangaroo Point Bridge thing (isn't the Goodwill Bridge enough?). I just don't know, the Labor Government has burned me in the past, and I'm not the type to forget in a hurry (why do you think I research all of my choices now).

I'm sure many of my friends who support these parties will flood my Facebook page will all sorts of well-meaning advice, and hopefully we might see a fight or two as well (and me without my popcorn, le sigh). I'm sure over the next fortnight I'll continue to research, hem and haw over my Big Decision, when really it probably doesn't count for anything anyway.

This is the sort of BS I've been getting. Not cool Rod.