31 January 2014

16 : Facebook Status - Something New

Are you up to date with every second of my life yet???

Facebook is a social networking website that was originally designed for
college students, but is now open to anyone 13 years of age or older. 
 Facebook users can create and customize their own profiles with photos, videos,
and information about themselves.  Friends can browse the profiles of other
friends and write messages on their pages.
Facebook was originally developed by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 initially only for students of Harvard.  Once its popularity grew its member base included other ivy league schools in USA, then high schools and eventually opened up to the public in 2006.  These days most people have a 'profile' and spend much of their day on the social networking site, myself included.
It is astounding how quickly social networking, particularly facebook, has taken over so much time in our lives.  Through the use of smart phones we have access, at all times of the day and night, to our friends and family and can follow what they are up to second by second.  
But how much is too much?  Do we really need to have photographic evidence of what we are eating for dinner every night?  Do we really need to know which friends are going to the gym and which are going out to the cinema?  It seems there are some that would like the world to know every waking moment of their lives, they seek approval for every mundane event they are up to.  There seem to be no boundaries as to what is appropriate for the facebook world to know and what is not.  Before we sober up and regret a posting it is 'out there' for all of our 'friends' to access, copy and share before we can possibly hope to remove it. 
Future employers can quickly search the facebook profile of a propsective employee's name and see what they can find before they make their final decision.  Although there are many privacy settings available to users, these are not always utilised wisely or checked that they are still in place after facebook constantly update their privacy and user settings.
I don't believe that social media is necessarily a bad thing, after all it is here to stay in all of its many forms such as twitter, pinterest and instagram which are also trying to gain the popular following that facebook has found.  I actually think facebook is a really good thing, after all before this technology was available how else could we possibly converse with ALL of our friends and family from everywhere on earth at the same time?  We can now update our 'friends' with pictures of our growing children and important events that are going on in our lives.  The question is 'How much is too much?'  The answer to this seems to differ depending on your values in life and often your age.  Whilst there are many parents that adore being able to share newborn pictures with people they care about but are unlikely to get a chance to visit, others are sick of those pictures and just want to show their latest outfit to their next party.  It all depends on what is going on in your phase of life.
The great thing about facebook is that if you don't like it, don't use it!  Also if you don't like what people post on your page, or on theirs, then you can 'unfriend' them even better 'block' them and they are out of your life for good (at least in social networking)!  Where else in the world do we get this much control?  In addition, watching what people post can tell you a lot about that person, before we didn't get an 'inside view' into others lives, now we do.  Arguably it is a view that tells us often more than we wanted to know about a person, however, it can also allow us to reach out and help someone in their time of need that we may not have known about any other way.
Facebook is a learning experience which is ongoing and, despite threats of this popular forum phasing out, I personally think that it will be here for some time to come.  Facebook is becoming more and more popular, particularly in my generation and older, where more and more friends and relatives learn to access this 'new' experience with joy and become just as addicted as the rest of us.  After all, we all have a tendency toward voyeurism whether we are prepared to admit it or not, otherwise we would not have a facebook account!
Personally I really enjoy facebook, however, I am concerned how often I seem to 'check in' and see what is going on but really scroll endlessly through a boring lot of drivel that doesn't interest me in any way.  I like posting family activities, interesting and inspiring quotes and 'big' events in my family or my life.  That may very well bore the hell out of some people, but it will also be interesting to others; particularly those that are interested in the same kind of things I am.  That is the beauty of facebook, if you aren't interested you can just scroll past it.  I have to say that pictures of meals and the 'check in' updates bore the hell out of me, but I guess for some it's a good way of keeping tabs on what their mates are up to without having to ask.  For me, I really appreciate the positive and inspiring quotes and some of the amazing pictures from around the world.  I believe instead of isolating humanity, it is actually bringing us all closer and more intimate than ever before.
Before I was bored enough to become a member of facebook, whilst on maternity leave during 2009, I have to say I did not appreciate all the positives that could come from social networking.  Being able to update my own status with pictures and comments when travelling around the world has made life much easier to update 'everyone' at the same time.  Having the capacity to follow my niece's life via photo's from a different country is amazing.  Being able to share in the lives of family overseas is all encompassing and a blessing.  Catching up with how my high school and even some primary school friends are going has been rewarding; scrolling through photo's of how they are living their lives and viewing pictures of their children is something I would not have been able to do prior to social networking.  I appreciate the technology, if used appropriately it can be an amazing tool to enhance our lives. 
How exactly we decide what 'appropriately' means, is up to us...

28 January 2014

16 : Time Honoured Tradition of Heading off to Education - Something Old...

Beginning the Long Journey of Learning
It is the first day of the school year here and a first for our family.  My youngest child, Master Four, headed off today for his very first session at Kindergarten.  At four and a half he should be more than ready to embark on his educational journey, however, nerves were definitely evident.  It is something that we all have to go through and such a big change in the life of a child.  For many children this first day isn't their first away from home and parents, for our little boy it was.  He has been very fortunate not to have to attend any Child Care Centres during his pre-school years; today was the first day of his journey to learn to be apart from everything familiar and people he feels comfortable with.  A day to march out into the world, alone.
Amongst the screams and tears of some of the other children, my brave little guy explored his new surroundings with the safety of Mum staying with him for nearly an hour.  When it was time for me to leave he held back the tears welling in his eyes and bravely nodded, agreeing to hold his teacher's hand and take his snack outside for a picnic.  Barely a few hours later I was back to collect him and save him from his new world.  Relieved to see a familiar face he reported that he wasn't coming back to kindy anymore, he hadn't liked being left.  He busily packed his new bag, carried it on his back and held tightly to my hand announcing that he was glad to go home because he thought kindy was forever.
Despite the nerves and having another child knock down his blocks, I'm sure Master Four will settle in soon enough to his new routine.  Just one step on his long journey of education and life...

25 January 2014

15 : Permian Period - Something Blue

Life Before Dinosaurs!
You guessed it, we went to another dinosaur exhibition.  However, this one had a twist I don't think I had even ever heard of.  The exhibition we went to see displayed pre-historic beasts from the Permian Period, 299 - 251 Million years ago.  This period of time was the last of the Paleozoic Era and led into what we now know of as the Triassic Period where dinosaurs roamed the earth.
During the Permian Period almost all of earth's land masses were joined as one and known as Pangaea.  The earth was ruled at that time by amazing pre-historic beasts that became part of earths largest extinction of land animals and sea creatures; even more catastrophic than the dinosaur extinction.  The Permian extinction caused 90-95% of all sea life to become extinct and approximately 70% of land mammals.  There are many theories as to why this occurred ranging from asteroid impacts to volcanic eruptions causing catastrophic climate changes and lack of oxygen.  Either way the earth was made uninhabitable for the majority of the Permian beasts; it still took several million years for dinosaurs to become the dominant species and rule the earth as conditions became more favourable with life. http://www.geologyclass.org/cambrian_concepts4.htm
Well I can tell you that was news to me and our young dinosaur fans who were left feeling very confused about the whole thing.  The exhibit at the museum showed a very interesting arrangement of odd looking animals, reptiles and sea creatures.  Just when you thought you knew everything...

20 January 2014

15 - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross- Something Borrowed...

What do you want to be when you grow up?
“I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the
consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime.”
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
I have been enjoying reading an inspiring and very interesting book, The Wheel of Life, an autobiography by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.  Reading it has reminded me of the importance of making the right decisions and following your dreams, that your life is the sum of the choices you make.  Elisabeth was born in 1926 Switzerland, a time where it was very hard for a woman to make something of herself.  Despite her dramatic entrance into the world as the first born of surprise triplets, weighing only 2 pounds, she went on to not only marvel the doctors with her very survival but also became a world renowned psychiatrist; forever changing the way the world would view death. 
Circumstances early in her life led Elisabeth toward a strong interest in medicine; her desire to become a more caring and hands on doctor than she had so far experienced was a driving force within her.  However, she met with strong resistance from her father who had already decided that she would become his book keeper and not have the opportunity of attending further education.  She defied her father and left home at age 16 working a series of jobs and volunteering during World War II.  After the war she worked hard in rebuilding war-torn communities and even visiting a concentration camp in Poland; these experiences moulded her into the woman she would become.  Defying all the odds stacked against her she was successful in gaining a place into medical school in 1951. 
Her personal experiences and interests led her to go against the grain and the strict medical world and study terminal illness, a taboo topic.  The first of many books, her famous ground breaking book On Death and Dying, was published in 1969. Her book outlined the five stages that most dying patients experience: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Identifying these stages was revolutionary at the time; in effect Elisabeth Kübler-Ross helped change how the medical community cared for the terminally ill.  Her work has since become widely accepted and was crucial to the development of the hospice system, which offers palliative care and psychological support to the terminally ill.  She helped turn thanatology, the study of physical, psychological and social problems associated with dying into an accepted medical discipline.  Elisabeth died in 2004 at home surrounded by her family and friends.  In 2007 Elisabeth was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her work. http://www.biography.com/people/elisabeth-kubler-ross-262762?page=1
It is fascinating to discover how one person has made such a difference to the world.  I enjoy biographies where the individual manages to endure through personal adversity, rising above the doubters to follow their own life path.
It really makes me think 'What am I going to do when I grow up?


16 January 2014

15 : Dragons - Something New ...

The Magic of Imagination
Today we officially live in the hottest city on earth, we are suffering a horrible heat wave which makes you appreciate cooler indoor activities.  Master Seven and Master Four are always happy to draw and make things, especially dinosaurs and dragons, just as much as they enjoy their outdoor play.  For Master Seven I suspect even more, he lives within his amazing imagination and has a very active mind that is always thinking of new ways to play and re-enact his thoughts.  He decided just yesterday he would make a book all about dragons, he has spent hours and hours drawing and colouring with sweat pouring off him.  Master Four has also decided to make his own dragons and cut them out and stick them together with sticky tape.  Neither child ever complaining of the heat or that they are bored.
Master Seven came up to me earlier with stacks of folded paper held carefully between his hands, as if carrying a secret document.  Although he wanted me to see his completed work, he remained hovering over each piece and carefully took each page back one by one when I was finished, to keep them safe.  I was very impressed with his efforts; until we can access a stapler large enough to keep the 15 folded pages together the stack has been carefully placed in our room to prevent any damage.  Its amazing how much dedication and attention to detail he has put into his book, inspired by the movie How to Train Your Dragon, his recall is superb. 
What does a little boy do after spending two days making a dragon book?  Well you draw another dragon apparently, yet another paper dragon is being constructed out of paper, complete with colour and wings stuck on with sticky tape.  Master Four is pottering around after finishing his dragons for the day and playing games with them and including his lego pieces.  I intend to keep some pieces of their art work for them when they are older, I hope the inspiration never leaves them and they are able to use their artistic talents in the future in some way.

14 January 2014

15 : Dinosaurs - Something Old...

Dinosaurs at the Zoo
We enjoyed the start to our summer holidays with a visit to the zoo and discovered a dinosaur exhibit.  You don't normally expect to see creatures that roamed the earth 230 million years ago during the Triassic Period at your local zoo!  Instead of the usual bones or fossils that you may have expected, these were large life like robotic dinosaurs complete with movement and sound.  They appeared to be living amongst an established group of trees and shrubs adding to the lifelike exhibit.  Master Four and Master Seven absolutely loved them, although were a little wary none the less.
It's hard to imagine that these magnificent creatures that once dominated animal life on earth for so many millions of years are now extinct; with the last dinosaurs roaming the earth at the end of the Cretaceous Period around 65 million years ago.  Here we are, human beings who have only lived for about 2 million of all those years, able to rebuild these magnificent creatures and understand how they would have moved and lived.
Unfortunately, we spent so much time convincing Master Four that the dinosaurs weren't real and were only robots, despite the fact they moved and sounded as though they were, that he misunderstood and thought that the rest of the animals at the zoo were also not real and just really good robots.  Oops!  Must be a very confusing world for such a little boy and and having to listen to what everyone else tells you as fact, even though you may not really believe them.  Certainly made me become more aware of what I was saying after that and how it may be interpreted to little ears.
When Master Seven was caught exploring a little too closely to the stegosaurus exhibit and trying to read the map of information behind it, he was told by the caretaker to quickly get away from the dinosaur or it would eat him!  He did get out but told the woman 'No it won't, it's not a meat eater!'  Embarrassed the caretaker had to be told by another visitor that he was correct, that the stegosaurus was actually a herbivore and only ate greens!  Don't mess with my dinosaur boy!


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