Monday, March 30, 2009

Farther On

There are times when we must make choices in our lives that may seem strange or difficult to understand by outsiders looking in.   But the old adage “walk a mile in my shoes” is never more pertinent than in those cases, for unless we can state without fear of contradiction that we know absolutely every reason why another person has chosen a particular course of action, we cannot truly understand their motivation.
Any imposition of our own beliefs, or our own experience, will only match up with the true reasons for a particular course of action by the most flukey coincidence.  Should we then either believe we know the answer or take the word of someone else who says they do?   Or should we take the time to talk to the person about why they did the things they did and therefore educate ourselves with first hand knowledge of their point of view?
It is very easy to jump to conclusions.  It is perhaps even easier to accept carte blanche the word of someone we regard as a friend.  But in doing that do we actually sell the other person short?
I ask these as rhetorical questions.  Any of you who have gone through a marriage break up or who have watched a friend’s marriage disintegrate may well have found yourselves in a situation where you have had to choose one side or the other.  In some cases that choice may be an easy one.  Perhaps you were a friend of one of the couple before the other, maybe you were the shoulder to cry on for one and not the other, or perhaps one person’s behaviour was anathema to you and you couldn’t find the time to walk in their shoes or to even ask why they did what they did.   Maybe it is just easier to deal with things if you are able to place the blame squarely at the feet of one or the other.   For blame is itself an explanation and justification in not being able to forgive.
But before you wipe a person off can I suggest that there are always two sides to a story.  If your friendship had any value at all, if you cared for both people, do you owe both of them equal time?  Do you wipe one off simply because it is easier?    Is it done because it seems like less of a betrayal of the one you side with?
One thing I've learnt is that things do not stand still.  That life moves on and lives change, what seems broken and confusing one day may have a perfectly rational explanation the next.  And truth is something that changes when we change our viewpoint, in an ocean our knowledge of height is simply the distance from the peak of a wave to a trough, standing on top of Everest or at the rim of the Grand Canyon our perspective of height and distance is very different.  Imagine then how much more different it would seem from the moon.  Place yourself where your friend stands before you wipe him off, before you impose your reality of what height is on him.   You may then find it in your heart to forgive and maybe see a way forward where you do not have to choose one over the other.  Consider there may be room for both.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Orangutan rescue

I was amazed to see these photos of a mother orangutan swimming a flooded river with her baby in her arm after being stuck in a tree for what some reports said may have been days.    Local wildlife rangers had tried to build a rope bridge to rescue her but failed and in an apparent final attempt threw a rope out to her.  To everyone's surprise she caught the rope, entered the water and swam across to the river bank carrying her baby to safety.

If anyone doubts the intelligence of these creatures then consider this.   The act shows a knowledge of danger, it shows an amazing degree of forethought, it shows understanding and faith in the rope itself and possibly in the people who threw it out ot her.   These are what make me re consider what qualities are in a creature that make it human and what right we have to believe in our arrogance, that we have the monopoly on that elusive concept of humanity.

Friday, March 27, 2009


In December last year my first little sister turned 50 which makes me feel old.  My other sister and I decided that we would do a photo book for her and it ended up taking much longer than I thought it would.  However, it was done, arrived a couple of weeks ago and we gave it to her the following weekend, late but I hope worth the wait.

My sister Deb and I both wrote a foreword and I am publishing that below.   First from Deb and then from me.

Dear Kaz,

Happy 50th birthday! Wow - where has the time gone! I remember when I was a little girl, how I always wanted to tag along with you and how I looked up to you and everything you did.

I remember being dressed up by Mum as "twins" and thinking that was the best thing in the world. (even though she says she didn't!!) I remember watching you in your dancing costumes and wanting desperately to do that, even though I was a Brownie and not allowed to do 2 things. I remember watching you get ready for a night out and thinking how beautiful you were. I remember you teaching me how to pluck my eyebrows
 when I started to develop the mono brow and how terrible I thought it was.

I remember you teaching me about the facts of life, because Mum wouldn't and taught how to use "women's stuff". I remember raiding your cupboard when I could and then emphatically denying it to you. I remember you always going out with boys, and being terribly lonely when it appeared I didn't have as many as you did! I remember you and Shirley and our days at Corowa each year, and again, being really jealous because you were surrounded by boys.

I remember you kissing that boy in the swimming pool at Corowa and then "bribing you" to take me out or "I would tell Mum!" I then remember how you did take me to the movies at Corowa, but wouldn't sit with me! I remember using that bribe over and over and you falling for it! I remember you coming back from America, so brown and tanned and wearing a gorgeous slender blue dress, with your green eyes peeping out at me, and I remember thinking, that's just what I would do! And I did!

I remember your wedding and how gorgeous you looked. I also remembered that I caused  a real fuss over not wanting a flower on my waist! (And winning again!) I remember you & Gerry moving into your house - the church - and remember how horrified Mum & Dad were!

I remember thinking how lucky you were that "you had escaped!" I remember you giving me my 2nd nephew and how proud I was and how I didn't think it would ever happen to me! I remember the first Christmas we had with Luke & Jacob - and how I spoilt both of them, with their own Christmas sacks - even though Santa had already bought them one!

I remember wondering whether you were proud of me when I joined the Police Force and that you couldn't make it to my graduation being a sense of sadness, even though you had just given birth. I remember you having your subsequent babies and what a joy it was to have Jacob, Myles, Clayton (oh boy!) and then Shez. I remember thinking how incredibly lucky you were to have your 3 boys and then a beautiful daughter! I remember when Nana died and how sad we all were!

And I remember when Dad passed away and you weren't there with us and how I wanted to hold you and cry with you! We did just that when you returned!  

I remember our family picnics. I remember our family holidays. I remember our family.  But most of all, I remember how lucky I am to have such a beautiful, caring, loving  BIG sister and how lucky I am to be younger than you! No seriously, how lucky I am,  just to have YOU!

Happy 50th Birthday Kaz, from the bottom of our hearts,
Deb, Andrew, Brody, Chase & Laine. xxxx

And from Me -
This photo book is not a record of my sister Karen’s life, it is however, a record of the life that Deb and I and our family and friends have shared with her.  Each photo is a snapshot of a point in time and collectively they paint a picture of that shared part of the first 50 years of her life.  And there is a lot revealed.

The photos are in no particular order and that is my fault because it was difficult to sort everything in a strictly chronological order but I also think in the end that it is a strength of the album because in turning each page there is a surprise to be had.

If you look closely you will see the simpler times spent growing up at Richardson Street, the bikes we got for Christmas one year, the swimming pool that Dad kept shifting around the yard and remember the times we’d spend going round and round in circles to form a whirlpool.  You’ll see the go-kart and some of the dress ups – Karen as Annie Oakley and me as the Sheriff, the two of us with the Hoogens wearing plastic buckets on our heads playing Zig and Zag.  There are first days at school, christenings, family days with our cousins and the barbecues and day trips with the Browns.    There are the birthday parties, one with Uncle Arthur walking around a circle of kids playing drop the hankie, and others where we blow out the candles.

There are some of Christmas and Easter holidays – Corowa, Koondrook, Eden and Narooma, wonderful times we all shared and have continued to share as our own families have grown up.

Study the black and white photos and you’ll see that old divan we lay on recovering from measles and mumps, the black and white Admiral TV set and the convaire briquette heater that cheered and warmed our winters.   There are the venetian blinds and later the orange curtains and the wall paper.   In the driveway are the many cars we’ve had, Dad’s old van, Mum’s Vauxhall, the Mini Minor that all five of us went to Adelaide in [I still don’t know how we fitted] and the Holden that I did 100 mph in on the road from Corowa to Howlong.

And as you watch the faces grow older through the pages, take note of the clothes.  See how Mum dressed us for a visit to Father Christmas in the City, Karen with Hat and gloves, me with bow tie and fedora.   Look at the photos of the 70’s as our hair  grew longer and trouser legs wider, and remember how even I wore the platform shoes.  Watch how Deb mimics her big sister through the years.   Look at some of the very bad paisley shirts and have a laugh at Karen’s short hair.

I wish I could include the smells and sounds of those times as well.    The Sunday roast dinners, the scones at Nana Joyce’s, the petrol Dad tipped down the open drains, the smell of cut grass and the fermenting apples as they fell from the trees in the front yard.    I remember Mum playing old records like the Ballad of Davey
Crockett and the Indian Love Call, the choruses of the Browns and Joyces singing that song about getting drunk, 3AK where no wrinklies fly, the XYZoo, Rick Melbourne and his wakeup calls on 3DB.

You’ll see the introduction of our partners to the family and the growth of the 11 grandkids we collectively gave Mum and Dad.  You can watch the parade of hairstyles that Karen and Deb have had over the years and note the disappearance of Gerry’s and latterly my own receding hairline.

There are also photos of those who we shared parts of our lives with who have either  passed away or moved onto other things and that is a reminder that each snapshot is a precious moment to be remembered and enjoyed for that reason alone.  It is a reminder that the future is not writ, that innocence, happiness and the sad times will sometimes creep upon us and at other times leap out and grab us by the jugular.   That hopes and dreams all change over time and what makes the future worth anticipating is not it’s predictability but the unknown factor, not fate, but the ability to choose for ourselves.

And not only people come and go in our lives.  We shared a lot of time with furkids over the years – Noddy, Bamby and Billy Jack, Chai, Spike, Bessie and Tuppy.    Pets  who were friends who did not judge us but always welcomed us home with wagging  tails.

I could write a story about every one of the photos contained in this book but that would make it the longest book ever written and don’t they say that every picture is worth a thousand words anyway?  And if I did that, it would become more my story than that of Karen @ 50.

Siblings have a special bond, more than friends, there are the shared experiences that make the relationship unique.  I am privileged to have two pretty good sisters [I don’t want your heads swelling too much] and to have been raised in a loving family.  We don’t pretend that everything was always perfect because in the end life isn’t really a fairy tale.  It’s the unexpected that keeps things interesting and the memories that provide the anchor which allows us to steady the ship in hard times and move forward knowing that family is the shelter we can turn to.

Thank you for being my sister Kaz.   Sorry I got you into trouble at times when we were growing up, but it was your fault that you climbed into the pram I was pushing down the hill.

There are of course many more years to come and many more photos to take, snapshots of lives we’ve been sharing for more than 50 years now.   I hope I’m around to do the second 50 years.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

I don't get....banning frisbees.

I hate political correctness, or at least the way the world now dictates we need to react to certain situation.  In the Sunday Herald Sun this week we read about two primary schools in Melbourne who have banned the use of frisbees in the playground in case some kid gets hit in the head.

A Melbourne University stud has found that in other schools the following things have also been banned -
  • piggybacks 
  • tree climbing, 
  • tackling in football matches, 
  • running, 
  • trading cards or toys 
  • cling wrap in lunch boxes
  • Wooden cricket bats, 
  • marbles, 
  • charity bracelets and 
  • bringing GI Joe dolls to show and tell 
Is it just me or are we tying to take the kid out of kids these days.   Falling over and grazing your knee, or bruising an arm, and coping with a blood nose were all part of growing up when I was being raised, and what's wrong with that?  We played chasey, humpo bumpo and British bulldog every lunchtime, when we weren't kicking a football or playing basketball.  Sure we got hurt occasionally, ripped the knee out of our trousers and got blood on shirts, but we learnt all sorts of lessons that have stood us in great stead as we journeyed from childhood.  Things like how good it felt to win, and how it wasn't bad to lose if you had tried hard.   We learnt that most of the time, pain doesn't last, that we were good at some things and other kids good at other things.  We learnt team work, and competition and the value of striving, of trying to be the best you can be.

My lady just told me that when her daughter was at kinder they banned kids from playing the Lion King because one of them fell off Pride Rock and her mother complained.  Can you believe that?

Now what are we doing?  What the hell are kids supposed to be learning these days?  School is only partly about class room learning, it is more importantly about school yard learning, about socialising and learning how to win and lose, how to compete and strive.  It seems to me that we are forgetting that these days.  And why is it that most people agree with what I'm saying but we still allow these absurdities to happen?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I am not sure if that is a real word or not but it was what sprung to mind when I read yet another chapter in Richard Carlson's book, "Don't sweat the small stuff".    In this Chapter he speaks of a Buddhist teaching which tells us that nothing lasts forever, that plants spring from seeds, grow old and die and decay back into the earth that it came from, that all living things also go from not exisiting, to living and finally dying.  He says in recognising this we can begin to accept that when things do leave us that it is a normal part of life.  If we break a favourite glass we should not worry that it had broken but simply recognise that the breaking was inevitable and be thankful for the time we shared with it.

That does not mean we become apathetic or that we do not mourn, rather that in recognising ephemerality we can then move onto acceptance far quicker than we otherwise might.

Image from Splutphoto

Monday, March 23, 2009

Musical Monday - Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu - Voice of an Angel

It's been a long while since I posted a "Musical Monday" [in fact the last was way back on 5th November 2007]  but this man is an exceptional talent and deserves to be heard around the world.   Maybe this little blog will help that in some way.
I am a little ashamed to say that I have not heard of this bloke before.   Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu is the Northern Territory's 2009 Australian of the Year.  Born blind he is a remarkable talent.  
The bio on his website states -
Gurrumul [his traditional name] is a member of the Gumatj clan of north east Arnhemland and it is the songs and stories of the Gumatj clan that Gurrumul sublimely adapts into contemporary song styles. At the age of 15 he was identified as a young and extremely talented multi-instrumentalist and joined the ARIA Award winning band Yothu Yindi where he played an integral role until 1992. Currently a member of the hugely talented Saltwater Band he has contributed greatly to the Indigenous music industry which was recognised again this year at the NT Indigenous Music Awards where he was awarded the Album of the Year and Song of the Year 2008. Recently he has earned the attention of the mainstream music scene in Australia and has been nominated for several 2008 ARIA Awards including the coveted Male Artist of the Year and Album of the Year. His debut self-titled album Gurrumul released in February 2008 has received exceptional worldwide reviews and is set to attain GOLD status in Australia before the year ends. Gurrumul has come onto the international music industry radar where he has received an abundance of media interested and recently the album entered the European World Music Chart at number 8 – September 2008.

Have a listen and I hope you enjoy his voice and playing as much as I have.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Work Choices

On Saturday we went into the City and decided to wander up to the Royal Exhibition Buildings where a Travel Expo was being staged.   We'd been to a backpackers expo there a few weeks ago and I have to admit that was more to our style than this one - trips were more expensive and more aimed towards the upper end of the market and to be honest, out of our price range.   But whilst wandering around I bumped into a lady who is a member of the Board that sacked me last year.  She ignored me, unsurprisingly.

I should take Richard Carlson's advice on not sweating the small stuff and for the most part I do.  But if I'd asked myself a year ago whether my sacking would still be important a year down the track my answer would have been yes and no.  In fact, when I see the people responsible I find that the anger is still not far from the surface, and this lady bears a bit more responsibility for that anger than some of the others because of her hypocrisy.

For those non-Aussie readers I need to explain a little about the industrial realtions system in this country to explain why I call her a hypocrit.

Under the previous Federal Liberal government a package of industrial relations reforms were introduced under the banner "Work Choices" and this became a major issue at the last Federal election in November 2007, to the point that it was a reason why the former government was thrown out.

Now this particular person is a member of the other major political party and was outspoken and vehement in her opposisition to work choices.   She was also a committed unionist and had in fact been in the forefront of a march by the teachers union on the office of our local member of Parliament, also in 2007.

Work Choices meant that I was unable to sue my former employer for unfair dismissal because they employed less than 100 people.   So this woman, an outspoken opponent of Work Choices, got the protection of that legislation because it meant I was unable to launch a case.   My legal advice was that I had other grounds for suing them, both for breach of contract and for deceptive and misleading conduct, but the advice was that they may have been more difficult to win, whereas the unfair dismissal was pretty much a fait accomli.

I have had someone ask me how I know this lady didn't defend me and argue for my retention and it's true I can't say she didn't.   What I can say is that she remains a board member and therefore if she had argued on my behalf, she did not have the courage of her convictions otherwise she would have resigned from the Board as well.

The other major difficulty I have with this woman is that she was one of three Board members who knew that at the time they were sacking me, we were buying a house.  She in fact knew that the day before I was sacked, we had put a 10% deposit on the house which we stood to lose had I not been able to find work immediately.  She was party to the partyline they pedalled after sacking me that it was just "unfortunate timing".   Most people agree that is was morally and ethically corrupt.  It wasn't as if the sacking wasn't planned, in fact they had decided to get rid of me in February, but held off telling me because it suited them politically.

So I am still sweating this small stuff as much as I wish I could put it behind me.   I wish I could let go of the anger, but at the moment it is still there.

As a postscript, in the past few days the Work Choices legislation has been repealed and as it now stands I would be able to sue them for unfair dismissal, but not retrospectively unfortunately.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Dr Ure's Cure for Cholera

On page 112 of the 1927 edition of Vitalogy we find Dr Ure's celebrated remedy for Cholera -

"Tincture of kino........1 ounce
Tincture of opium........4 drachms
Common Starch.......1 ounce
Tepid water.......3 wineglassfuls
Mix.  Inject slowly into the bowels.

This injection mixture should be of about the thickness of thin gruel.   If it should come away, it should be repeated immediately.   If the injection be properly administered, and in sufficient quantity, it will stop the discharge from the bowels in fifteen minutes, and nothing will pass them for several days.  If the above injection cannot be quickly obtained, a preparation of starch-water, containing a solution of alum or aludanum, forms a convenient and effective injection.  I have seldon failed to cure this diseases with this remedy.

To cure nausea at beginning of an attack, wring a cloth out of hot turpentine, place on the bowels, and givecarbonic acid water to drink, or champagne if you can get it."

I should warn people not to do this at home, although I guess that for around 40 years the readers of this book were probably doing this very thing.

When I found this I thought I'd try and find out who Dr Ure might be and came across this article in the
The General Malaria of London and the Peculiar Malaria of Pimlico Investigated and the weans of their Economical Removal ascertained By ANDREW URE MD FRS Pamphlet Pp 39 London 1850 We believe Dr Ure to have been unfairly treated in the Kenilworth street affair and that Prussian blue did actually exist in the mud of that fatal sewer There can be no doubt that gas lime refuse is a source of malaria and the sulphuret and cyanide of lime which it contains a potent cause of disease and death We shall have occasion to allude to the Kenilworth street tragedy in a future article on Hygiene meanwhile Dr Ure may reconcile himself to the opposition with which his views have been received by the conviction that through his agency one of the hitherto unknown and secret sources of destruction and death has been brought to light To be forewarned is to be forearmed Medical Times of 1850: "The General Malaria of London and the Peculiar Malaria of Pimlico Investigated and the weans of their Economical Removal ascertained By ANDREW URE MD FRS Pamphlet Pp 39 London 1850 We believe Dr Ure to have been unfairly treated in the Kenilworth street affair and that Prussian blue did actually exist in the mud of that fatal sewer There can be no doubt that gas lime refuse is a source of malaria and the sulphuret and cyanide of lime which it contains a potent cause of disease and death We shall have occasion to allude to the Kenilworth street tragedy in a future article on Hygiene meanwhile Dr Ure may reconcile himself to the opposition with which his views have been received by the conviction that through his agency one of the hitherto unknown and secret sources of destruction and death has been brought to light To be forewarned is to be forearmed".

Could this be the same celebrated Dr Ure who could cure cholera with this mixture?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Vitalogy - Foreword

As promised here is the first venture into the wonderful world of Vitalogy and what better place to start than the foreword -

The knowledge her imparted and explicit and effectual instructions given for its application to the preservation and restoration of health, in all stages and conditions of life, are worht more to a family or individual than all the strong drugs in existence, leaving out of consideration the fact that it will enable its readers to dispense in a great measure with the costly services and the nauseous drugs of the apothecary.

Particular attention is directed to the "Food and Home Remedies"" in the departments on diseases, which have of late years been so extensively employed in Europe and Japan, and which have never before been given in any American publication.  There are also given the various remedies of like character of our own country, which have recently come into use, and which have demonstrated their success in the cure of physical ailments.  These remedies will be found as easy of access as they are nexpensive and safe, reliable and effectual; and they free from the dangers attending the use of poisonous or deleterious drugs, which while removing one disease too frquently pave the way for some more dangerous malady, or undermine the constitution.

The merits of this book are not obscured by any effort to mystify its contents with high souding phrases.  Everything will be found in plain, pointed and easily apprehended language, and condensed so as to convey its lessons in the most direct and leat ambiguous terms.  It makes no demand for professional learning or hard study.  The rationale of treatment in all cases is given in such a simple and thorough manner that the commonest apprehension will be able to utilise the remedies intelligently and successfully, and the average reader can avail himself to its aid readily and as effectually as the most accomplished scholar.

And so my dear average readers whose wit, wisdom and advice I have greatly appreciated during my blogging life, I am going to give you the opportunity to tell me what particular afflictions you may wish to hear about.  There are all sorts of things described herein including such things as vomiting, boils and carbuncles, tuberculosis, apparent death from starvation, freezing, syphilis, worms, scurvy, hysterics, nettle rash, dandruff and many, many more.      We can answer questions concerning the wonders of liquid air and the dangers in tonics and appetisers.   I can only wonder at the article titled "Vigorous Manhood"and "How to make domestic happiness complete".

Comment and let me know which of these or anything else you would like me to consult with the book about and I will publish it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Mum has been going through some old things lately and passing them onto myself, my sisters and our kids. Little treasures accumulated over her near 79 years of life.  I'd prefer not to think about why she may be doing that at the moment but it has meant that I've been given a book that belonged to my Grandmother.

Called Vitalogy it was written byProfessors Wood and Ruddock and published in chicago in 1927 and was only available by subscription.  Published by the Vitalogy Association, 431 South Dearborn St., Chicago, Illinois it claimed to be 20 books in one and included -
  • Diseases of Women and children
  • Hydropathy (Water Cure)
  • Materia Medica
  • Home, Training, Exercise, Hygiene, Secret of Longevity
  • Science of Nursing, Diet for all, Diseases, Homeopathy, Osteopathy, Obstetrics
  • Mental Therapeutics, Magnetism, Palmistry, Mind Cure
  • Psychology, Moral and Sex Hygiene, Marriage, Child Culture
From what I can find on the internet this was published between at least 1899 and 1930.  There are a few volumes for sale on ebay for around $200AU, but given the links to my family I will never sell it.

One website describes it thus -

In 1899, VITALOGY, a home health encyclopedia was first published. In 1930, after a half-million copies were sold, a new expanded edition was published.

The original 1,010-page comprehensive guide to health and home was cherished by millions. Filled with chapters on anatomy, diseases, herbal remedies, and moral advice for the home, it served as a complete reference book for the household.

By WWII its use diminished, more "modern" medical drug guides were issued and the VITALOGY home health encyclopedia faded into obscurity.

Seventy-seven years later, its advice is both strangely prescient and very dated, and the health manual is once more at the cutting edge!

It is a fascinating insight into a truly lost world and over the coming weeks I'll dip into it and share some of the folklore that it dispensed.   I'm sure you'll find it amusing and entertaining and maybe learn a little as well.  It would appear that E. H. Ruddock may well have been one of the founder of homeopathy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The First Law of Emotion

My divorce came through a week or so ago and I have been asked how that makes me feel. Truth is the marriage was over a long time ago, it was just that neither of us recognized it at the time. But when I sit down and look back there were a lot of obvious signs and if I’d read them early enough who knows what may have happened. I think one way or the other things would have come to a head far earlier rather than having been allowed to drift, because by that point the damage was too deep for me to do anything about it. When I finally found the courage to leave, I did all that I could to protect my ex from any damage to the point where my own relationships with family and people who I called friends was damaged, again maybe to the point of no return.
But if people read this blog front to back I hope you will find that I sheet no blame on anyone other than myself. And let me state right now that I am in a relationship that gives me more than I had in a long time and my ex would no doubt say the same about the one she is now in.   And that maybe says more about how things were than anything else I could say.

So I have wondered if there is any point at all in raising what went wrong.   If this blog does have any value beyond the personal satisfaction I find in writing, I think it is that I have given a man’s viewpoint to midlife and to some of the issues that I faced, am still facing, through that period of my life. If a single person reads something and pauses to reflect on what I have said then maybe some of my struggles have served a greater purpose than just a personal learning experience.

I have written before about the need for communication because ultimately it’s lack is the cause of all relationship issues. That is no to say that it will solve every problem, but it will at least sort things out before they fester, because it is the festering that is dangerous to relationships. Loz’s first rule of relationships is to ”Talk”.

I think it is also difficult to maintain a relationship if there is a lack of friendship, and friendship must arise from shared experience and a genuine attempt to be interested in what the other person is doing.  Real friendship can lead to love, and the lack of it can just as surely kill love.   If your partner tells you often enough that the stuff you find interesting is either boring, or would be better done in the distant future when the kids are off your hands, or that they simply have no interest, it is very easy to begin to shut the doors of communication. When they tell other people the same things, and suggest that interests are obsessions, then it is easy for guilt to set in and for the interests to become something that is resented and eventually hidden, rather than something that is spoken openly about.   Loz’s second rule of relationships is therefore “Show Interest”. And the third is “Be Friends”.

And finally, maybe selfishly, it is that we should always understand that there are two sides to every story, and that even shared experiences can lead to different memories.  Understand, therefore, that whilst it is sometimes easier to place the blame fully onto one person, or indeed, maybe for that person to fully assume blame, that perhaps there is an underlying history that means blame should be shared.  Maybe not equally, but shared nonetheless.  So whilst we can share the responsibility for the good times and accept that praise, equally we should also accept some of the blame for the bad times as well.  But never all.   Loz’s fourth rule is therefore “Share the blame” because it is an unfair burden to load it all on one person.

Do I regret my marriage?  No, we had a lot of good times together, and have four wonderful children to show for it.  Am I sad it's over?    Of course, at times I am.    That doesn't mean I am not far happier now than I was then.   It's easy to look back now and see the things that lead to the end, but it is a waste thinking that things may have been done differently, because I could only change my own behaviour and that is no guarantee that the behaviour of others would have changed too.    I have learnt that actions and reactions are not necessarily equal, that the first law of motion does not apply to emotion.   And in learning what went wrong in the last few years I hope I have brought a better part of me into the current relationship.  I wish my ex-wife well and hope she finds all she is looking for wherever she travels from now on.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Become a Better Listener

I've worked with a couple of people who I thought always really failed to listen what other people were saying.

"I hear what you're saying but."

"I understand your point of few but."

In each case these people were so focussed on having the right answer to the questions asked or the issues that has arisen, that they couldn't see anyone elses point of view.  They didn't either hear what was being said, nor did they understand those other points of view.

Richard Carlson says that if we slow down our desire to respond and open ourselves up to the ideas of others by really listening to what they say that we will reduce stress in our lives.

Maybe it's a hangover from what we learn as children which is often that "the squeaky wheel gets the grease", or that he who laughs last laughs loudest, that sees communication become a competition.   We compete in relationships, at school, at work, and that communication competition often leads to a blockage in being able to take on board ideas that don't conform with our own belief system.  It is easier to ignore other opinions than admit that we may be wrong.  And let's be honest, most of us don't like to admit to being wrong.

In learning to listen rather than just hear, we can also learn to modify our opinions to take into account the best ideas that otherspresent to us.   It is not an easy thing to do, but if you can manage it, the respect you gain from others because you value what they say, will far outweigh any negative feelings you may have because you may have to admit you were wrong.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Global Warming - the Boogie Man for Now

Now I am confused.  The headline that sums it up best for me is "Global Warming can cause Global Cooling".

Wasn't it once called "Weather"?

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I came across this word on Google trends a few days back and made a note to look it up.  Depending which dictionary you look at it means -

All agree that it derives from a Charles Dickens book Martin Chuzzlehit which I have to admit never hearing of before.   If we look at the Wikipedia entry we'll find a list of characters in the book.

The first to be introduced is Seth Pecksniff, a widower with two daughters, who is a self-styled teacher of architecture. He believes that he is a highly moral individual who loves his fellow man, but mistreats his students and passes off their designs as his own for profit. He seems to be a cousin of Old Martin Chuzzlewit. Mr. Pecksniff's rise and fall follows the novel's plot arc.

As a word that one goes on my list with petrichor, peristalsis, fescinnine and schadenfreude.

Let me know some of your favourite words.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pi Day

Tomorrow is Pi Day because in the way Americans write dates March 14 becomes 3.14 which are the first three numbers of the number Pi, if you get what I mean.   So mathematicians and bakers around the world will be celebrating tomorrow as they do every year.

People apparently celebrate in all sorts of ways - in one school kids had to memorise the numbers and the kid who won got to 181 digits, he was in fifth grade.  In other places kids get to throw pies in teachers faces.
When I was a kid we had pie nights which had absolutely nothing to do with Pi.   They were usually held at local sporting clubs where the boys got together and ate Pies with sauce, while their fathers sat around and drink beer.   And for any Yanks who drop in here, our Aussie pies are made with meat, not whoosy fruit like apple or blueberry.    Pies are main meals not desserts for crying out loud.   But I digress, the days of pie nights seem to be long gone.   Now kids eat pizza.
I have to admit that maths wasn't really a strong point of mine, even though I struggled through to first year university, it was a struggle and not something that I took to.   So I'd be stretching things if I said that I could remember a lot about Pi.  But there are a few things like Pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.  And if we are going to celebrate 3.14 then we should get really happy when we get to just before 2pm because that would be or 34 seconds before 1400.

Some people take this way too seriously, like this Canadian school teacher Mike Pretli "who shattered a 34-year-old Canadian record of 4,096 decimals for correctly reciting from memory the sequence of Pi. Pretli ended what he termed “the mental marathon” at 6,320 decimals."  This guy spent a year of his life memorizing 10 digit numbers and their sequence.   And if you think that is a little weird you should know that the US record is 15,340, and the world record, 67,890, set by Lu Chao of China.

And if you think I jest may I refer you to the official Pi Day website.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Why is October the Tenth Month?

You would think that it might actually be the eighth month if we were to follow English convention.  No wonder kids get things mixed up.  And in pondering this I thought I'd try to find out the answer by doing a bit of research.  And what I found out was that I have very little original thought.

Over on a blog called Betsy's Deep Creek Lake Blog she writes an identical post and in the first paragraph says -
Why is October the tenth month when it begins with "Oct"? Should be eight right? Well, I decided to do a little research...

And she does answer the question which you can see when you visit the link.  But rather than rely totally upon plagiarism I thought I'd at least try and do some research myself and in doing that found out that the Gregorian calendar has actually changed a bit over time.

Originally there were ten months and Wikianswers tells us they were -

1. March
2. April
3. May
4. June
These first four were named after various gods. The next six were were named for numbers from the roman counting system.
5. Quintilius (5th)
6. Sextilius (6th)
7. September
8. October
9. November
10. December

After various revisions, another two months were added at the beginning of the year: Januarius and Februarius. Also, Quintilius and Sextilius were renamed Julius (July) and Augustis (August) after the famous Roman leaders.

Now back to Betsy - she wrote her post on 22nd October 2008.  Over on From the Front a post with the same name was posted on 16th October 2008.  And despite a reasonably intensive search by Google I can't find any other links to blogs that ask the same question.  So I guess I'll have to settle for being the third to raise it and leave it at that.

Maybe I should have done that post on Do Fish Cry instead?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Nature of Friendship

There's something happening that has made me examine the meaning of friendship again and I'll write about it elsewhere but I thought I'd examine what it means to be a friend here.

One of the earliest mentions of friendship comes from Aristotle who distinguishes three different kinds of friendship. One he calls genuine friendship and the other two based on mutual usefulness and pleasure. It is the first which he says doesn't dissolve whilst the other two are ephemeral and come and go according to need.

The first he says takes place between two good men -
'each alike wish good for the other good, and they are good in themselves'. Aristotle continues, 'And it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality' (Aristotle 1976: 263).

So what is the nature of the other two? Well Aristotle and others claim that they are based on utility which last only as long as the need for the friendship lasts. Once that is gone the frienship goes with it.

An article on Public Book Shelf states -

Friendships of this kind seem to occur most frequently between the elderly (because at their age what they want is not pleasure but utility) and those in middle or early life who are pursuing their own advantage. Such persons do not spend much time together, because sometimes they do not even like one another, and therefore feel no need of such an association unless they are mutually useful. For they take pleasure in each other’s company only in so far as they have hopes of advantage from it.

Aristotle in The Nichomachean Ethics, 1155a3, 1156a16-1156b23 states

Friendship based on pleasure. Friendship between the young is thought to be grounded on pleasure, because the lives of the young are regulated by their feelings, and their chief interest is in their own pleasure and the opportunity of the moment. With advancing years, however, their tastes change too, so that they are quick to make and to break friendships; because their affection changes just as the things that please them do and this sort of pleasure changes rapidly. Also the young are apt to fall in love, for erotic friendship is for the most part swayed by the feelings and based on pleasure. That is why they fall in and out of friendship quickly, changing their attitude often within the same day. But the young do like to spend the day and live together, because that is how they realize the object of their friendship.

Perfect friendship is based on goodness. Only the friendship of those who are good, and similar in their goodness, is perfect. For these people each alike wish good for the other..., and they are good in themselves. And it is those who desire the good of their friends for the friends’ sake that are most truly friends, because each loves the other for what he is, and not for any incidental quality. ... Friendship of this kind is permanent, reasonably enough; because in it are united all the attributes that friends ought to possess. For all friendship has as its object something good or pleasant — either absolutely or relatively to the person who feels the affection — and is based on some similarity between the parties.
...The wish for friendship develops rapidly, but friendship does not.

True friends show sympathy, care and concern for their friends. If they judge, it is in the context of the shared experiences they had and with a desire that their friend is cared for and ultimately happy. Can a friend wish their friend ill, or hope that they are unhappy, I think not. Can they still be friends even if they think that their opinion is being ignored?

Cicero also follows this line of thinking -

Let this, then, be laid down as the first law of friendship, that we should ask from friends, and do for friends', only what is good. But do not let us wait to be asked either: let there be ever an eager readiness, and an absence of hesitation. Let us have the courage to give advice with candour. In friendship, let the influence of friends who give good advice be paramount; and let this influence be used to enforce advice not only in plain-spoken terms, but sometimes, if the case demands it, with sharpness; and when so used, let it be obeyed. (section 13)

So what happens when relationships break down. What if a friend hurts another friend? Where do true friends stand?

Often in the case of separation and divorce friends take sides. There are all sorts of reasons for that – maybe they are more sympathetic to one side over the other, maybe one side inevitably has less contact and therefore less opportunity to present their own point of view. It is interesting that often one or the other sides, loses friends who had been very close. In some cases they find it harder to move on than the divorced couples, probably because they only knew them firstly as a couple, and probably only saw them in times when conviviality and shared experiences were positive rather than negative. It may also be that the person who appears to have caused the break up of the marriage is seen as a threat to their own relationship. Because if best friends can break up when everything from the outside seems good what may happen to them?

But the discussion for me raises more questions than it answers and I do believe that the answer is different for a man and a woman.

What does it mean when you say “friends are there for you”? Does it have to be a random call every now and then to see how you are? Does it mean physically getting together and spending time doing things that you mutually enjoy? Does mean anticipating when a friend may need your help even when they don’t ask for it? Is it enough for a man to say – call me if you feel like it and is that a different expectation to what a woman has for friends?

Does it mean that you should have the courage to offer an opinion even if the opinion may be rejected? Should the rejection of the opinion mean the end to the friendship?

What is a best friend? For me that would be someone who doesn’t judge.& Maybe a person who can imagine walking that mile in your shoes. Someone who at the very least tries to understand their friends decisions even if they believe them to have been wrong.

If I had to define a friend in a few simple words it would be this. A friend is someone who tries to understand your point of view, even if they disagree with it. A best friend would be someone who stands by you irrespective of that conflict in opinion, who does not judge, but who does attempt to walk in your shoes.

Aristotle says -

The dissolution of friendship is warranted when one party has become depraved, since he has changed from being the person who was the object of friendship. But he should not be given up while there is hope of restoring his character.

So when should one give up on a friend? If you valued the relationship then you should at the very least make an effort to attempt to understand what caused the friendship to decay. Should that happen by stealth so that time and distance simply allow it to fade away?

In researching the topic I came across these quotes and it is worth pondering each of them -

MARK TWAIN on Friendship wrote -

When we think of friends, and call their faces out of the shadows, and their voices out of the echoes that faint along the corridors of memory, and do it without knowing why save that we love to do it, we content ourselves that that friendship is a Reality, and not a Fancy--that it is builded upon a rock, and not upon the sands that dissolve away with the ebbing tides and carry their monuments with them.
- Letter to Mary Mason Fairbanks

The proper office of a friend is to side with you when you are in the wrong. Nearly anybody will side with you when you are in the right.
- Notebook, 1898

True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance.
When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don't stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven't hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.
It is not so much our friends' help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us.
It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.
We read that we ought to forgive our enemies; but we do not read that we ought to forgive our friends.

I am hurting at the moment. Maybe I have no right to be hurt. I do understand that the break up of the marriage and therefore the break down in my friendships was my fault. But I have trouble understanding how some can move on and be happy, whilst others still seem hell bent on sheeting blame. So I am no closer to finding the nature of true friendship, maybe it actually lies in that unconditional companionship one gets from their pet dog. Those who do judge, maybe only do so because they don't understand the other persons point of view. But shouldn't true friends take the time to find out what that is?


Postscript 11/12/2010 This post has been rewound for Life in a Pink Fibro's Weekend Rewind

Monday, March 9, 2009

Look beyond behaviour

Richard Carlson advises us to look beyond the overt behaviour and try to understand what might lie behind that behaviour.  If a loved one snaps at you does that mean they no longer love you, of course not.   It may simply be that they are having a bad day.   If a stranger doesn't live up to our expectations it may be that we've set them too high.

I am reminded of two of Don Miguel Ruiz's 4 agreements when I read this - Don't make assumptions and Always do your best.

If we can recognise that there are days when we don't really perform up to our own expectations we should also then remember that sometimes other people can have bad days too.  If we can remember that, then any irritating behaviour that makes us angry or anxious can be put into it's proper perspective.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Weird Fish Stories

I know I'm a bit of a sucker for weird animals but I wonder how many of you think this one is cute - I can see a pixar movie coming.    Macropinna microstoma also called the barreleye was first described in 1939 but researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute recently photographed one.

And also in the news last week is the banning of Dr Fish pedicures in some American states.  This is a recent fad in Asia where you allow fish to eat the dead skin off your feet.   One of the health issues is that there is no way of cleaning the water between patients.  So tinea and other fungal diseases like athlete's foot may be passed on from one person to another.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Imagine Yourself at Your Own Funeral

From Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, Chapter 21, in which Richard Carlson, tells people to imagine their own funeral and consider what they would like people to remember about them.    He wrote -

"With few exceptions, people wish they hadn't sweated the small stuff so much.  Instead, they wish they had spent more time with the people and activities that they truly loved and less time worrying about aspects of life that, upon closer examination, really don't matter all that much."

I found when my father died in August 2004 that I had these overwhelming feelings of regret.   I wished that I had told him more often that I loved him.  I wished I'd taken the time to truly talk to him because in some ways he died a man I didn't really know.    I wished that I'd cared enough to learn how to play golf so that we could have played together.

I had baggage that I feared I would never really be able to ditch, that I would carry those burdens with me for the rest of my life.

Then one night after I had separated, some time in the first half of 2006, I was lying in bed, alone in my unit, trying to go to sleep.  My father came to me that night and sat on the end of my bed.   I thought that maybe I was going mental, the rational man in me would never let a ghost visit me.   He didn't speak to me and I swear that I was not asleep when it happened, but I drew a great deal of comfort from that.   A few weeks later my ex-wife told me that she had dreamt of my father.  He came to her in a dream and told her that he had been trying to talk to me but that I couldn't hear him.  She said that he asked her to tell me that he was OK.

When I think of my funeral I think of what eulogies may be written and perhaps the one that I would like more than any is simply "He did his best."   I am nowhere near the perfect man, was not the greatest husband, son or brother, nor perhaps the most caring father, but I did my best.

And now I am continuing to make changes to my life that make me a better person.  I don't really care if other people believe that or not, or whether any of those changes are visible.    And the best way I can explain that is in the words of Colonel Sherman Potter of the 4077 MASH, who said "The only person I have to get better than is who I am right now."

And on a lighter note I am also reminded of Yogi Bera who said "Always go to other peoples funerals, that way they'll always come to yours."

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Unknown Blog Visitor - Who are you?

I grew up in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Box Hill South.  Although only about 11 miles from the city in the early 60's it was an outer suburb only just being carved out of the orchards that stretched out to the then holiday hamlets in the Dandenongs.   But that has nothing to do with this post.

Every couple of days someone visits this blog after doing a google search for "Laurie Joyce blog" or "Laurie Joyce midlife".    Coincidentally that person has an IP address of Box Hill.   I wonder whether it is the same person each time or a different person from the same area.  If it's the same person why don't they just save the blog in their favourites.  Maybe the answer is it's not a favourite.

Here's a challenge, introduce yourself.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Power of Me

I forgot to grab my book yesterday morning and I hate doing that my one hour train trip each day seems much longer when I don't have a book to read.  So the obvious thing to do was to go out at lunch time and buy something that would make the trip home bearable.

Two people have commented recently about Eckart Tolle and his book the Power of Now and it has practically jumped off the shelf at me several times in the past few weeks, as it has fallen off the shelf as my lady walked past it, so it was obvious to me that I should purchase it and see whether the hype matches the reality.

I should start by saying that as I look back over the recent years that I am a significantly different person now to who I was then.  I was once a totally rational man, the spritual meant little to me.  But if I said that I have seen auras and shapechangers, that I have had my dead father sit on the end of my bed, that I can feel pain by passing my hands over people, I would expect most people who know me to call me mad.  And perhaps they would be right, sometimes I feel that way as well.  I once would not have found the courage to write such things and perhaps that is the measure of the change.

And I have read much that has changed me, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, Gordon Livingston's Too Soon Old - Too Late Smart, and of course Don't sweat the small stuff by Richard Carlson.   Each of those have opened me to the spiritual and it is fair to say that my journey is at the beginning and that I have much to learn.

I have been both empowered and enslaved by my life.  That should be no secret to people either because we are all the same.  What I have begun to learn is that my life experiences have shaped me and the decisions I have made.  Some have not liked that and many, including myself, have probably not understood it.  So if I have spent a lot of time reflecting on this blog, it is because I am learning lessons from those reflections.  I am understanding what has made me what I am.

I have just begun the Power of Now and I will be interested to see how it does change me as I find my way through it.  I have no preconceptions for the knowledge of my self has been found in unexpected places.  No doubt there will be at least a few blog posts where I discuss what he talks about.

The train trip last night was not the place to really get into the book so instead I decided to try and open my senses to what was going on around me.  I have tended to spend the time on the train totally divorcing myself from the Now, but tonight I decided that I would exercise each sense and try and feel what was happening.

I saw people swaying with the movement, some sleeping, reading papers and books, doing cross words, listening to ipods and in most cases oblivious to those around them, seated next to and touching total strangers unaware of the contact.

I heard the clickety clack of the train, and the whine of the steel wheels on steel tracks, the whoosh of air from the pneumatic doors, the sound of my breath, of music leaked from ear phones, the bells of level crossings, occasionally a phone would ring and I could hear one side of the conversations about when people would get home, or what was for dinner, and the whisper of conversations from seats away.   When the automated announcements of upcoming stations was played over the loud speaker systems I not only heard it but felt it reverberating in my chest.

I felt the pressure on the balls and heels of my feet as I stood in the doorway for an hour, and the brush of my trousers on the hairs of my legs as I swayed to the movement of the train.  I felt an itch on my back and the scratch of my nail as I reacted to it, and the movement of air through my bowels as I resisted the urge to fart.   In clasping one hand on the other I felt the blood rushing through my veins and the beat of my heart.  A breeze caressed my face as the air forced it's way in through the door seals.

And I looked around a last time and saw a hundred people cloistered in their own world, oblivious to everything I had experienced and I wondered how many times I had done the same thing and missed what was truly happening around me.

I have no idea if the Power of Now has anything to do with what I did tonight but I am looking forward to finding out.  Stay with me!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

$27 million to stop cows farting

Apparently livestock are the third largest producers of carbon emissions in this country so in order to meet the climate change targets set by the government, they have decided to spend $27m to prevent the expulsion of methane from the bowels of cows and sheep into the atmosphere.

Now there are probably more ruminants in this country than people and I have a solution.  Instead of trying to prevent the production of the gas by tampering with their feed or altering their DNA, how about we harvest it by sticking a hose up their rear ends, collecting the gas in tanks and using it to provide electricity to the urban areas.

Image from Gizmodo

Monday, March 2, 2009

Letting go of the anger

I have spent way too much time angry in the past year.  Angry with ex-employers, angry with ex-family and friends.  I'm not saying that it wasn't justified.  In my mind I had every right to be angry with all of them.  I had wrong done to me.   Whether they would ever admit it or not, and whether I deserved some of what I got or not, I was treated shabbily by a lot of people.

My ex-employers breeched my contract, breeched their legal obligations to me as a terminated employee, breeched their own code of conduct which stated that they were to treat people with Honesty, Respect and Professionalism, lied to members about my departure and used deceptive and misleading conduct in hiding their decision from me for at least two months.    There were meetings with people I used to work with where they were told that I had lied about having a three year contract and that in fact my contract had expired.  

People within the industry with whom I had job interviews told me they were told that I couldn't handle my staff - my answer to them was to ask my staff if they enjoyed working for me, and to look at the awards that the organisation had won over my period of time there and then to ask themselves the question about whether I could handle staff or not.  I have a reasonable idea who was saying these things and I have no respect for that person any more.

For much of the year I felt like I was treated like a dead man by people once close to me.  I was seen and ignored in public places.  People turned away from me rather than acknowledge my existence.  Everything seemed to be a constant battle and none of it was resolved or capable of being resolved.

I was very lucky to be given an opportunity to work in an area I had little experience in and struggled to find my feet for the first few months.   It was only as I got to know my new workmates and started to gain some of the background knowledge that I was missing, that I finally felt like I was making a worthwhile contribution.

And always the anger was boiling away under the surface.   Friends set me adrift, the vindication of my self esteem by excelling in my profession was left behind with the sacking and the self doubts were allowed to creep in.   The good things that were happening were sometimes masked because the anger hid them.

And many people who knew me in my old role were complaining about the direction my old work had taken since I left.  I wrote that off as people telling me what they thought I wanted to hear for a while, but not one single person has said one good thing about it to me since I left.  But hearing those things just fed the anger.  I thought I'd done a good job, and you wonder why, if that was the case, that people not only decide to get rid of you, but do it totally behind your back.  I was warned in January last year that moves were afoot to terminate me but two things made me take the warning with a grain of salt - firstly I had two years to go on my contract, secondly I had the word of a supposed friend that he wouldn't go behind my back.  I have since told him that if ever anyone asks me if he was a man of his word I would tell them no.   Pity is that it was the second time he had broken his word to me, I should have learnt from the first time.

But I have come to the conclusion that I have to let the anger go because it is wasted.  I can change neither what was said and done, nor can I be responsible for the actions of others.   To take those actions personally is foolish.  If those people had a problem with me then it is their problem and only they can make it right.

So in letting go of the anger let me grab hold of this prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr -

Grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be changed; the courage to change that which can be changed, and the wisdom to know the one from the other.

To New Beginnings!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Choose being kind over being right

This is a hard lesson for me.   I am neither good at admitting I am wrong, nor in accepting fools gladly and what's worse is that there are times when I won't admit I'm wrong even when I have been.  In Don't Sweat the Small Stuff Richard Carlson says that we can choose whether to let everyone know that we are right or we can choose to be kind and not belittle others or put them down.

He says that if we point out that other people are wrong that justifies our belief in ourselves and must therefore vindicate that we are right.  But that comes at a price because deep down we know that it's not the right thing to do.  Far better to build people up and bask in the good feelings that come making other people feel good.

I do snap at times, not often, but when I do, people are aware of it and those people are generally the ones I care about.   So I will try and understand the points of view with a little more compassion than I have sometimes shown in the past.