From time to time, a story pops up about how a childcare centre or kindergarten has taken it upon itself to assess the contents of a child’s lunchbox and found it lacking. A note, commonly pre-printed and often featuring frowny faces, animated fruits and/or other helpful illustrations, is sent home with the child advising that an item or items in the lunchbox is ‘unhealthy’ in some way and that in future a ‘healthier’ option should be chosen. Outrage ensues.
I seldom lend my voice to the chorus, but not because I don’t have an opinion on the subject. In fact, I feel quite strongly about it, although not necessarily for the same reasons that others do. The usual arguments cluster around (a) parental rights; (b) nanny state interference with those rights; and (c) what constitutes ‘healthy’. You may also find discussion of fat-shaming, socio-economic privilege, judgmental attitudes, power-tripping teachers and hyper-competitive parents, depending on the forum. At some point, inevitably, ‘political correctness run mad’ will make an appearance.
My take? Lunchbox monitoring is an exercise of limited utility, because it can only ever be part of a bigger picture which the carer or teacher does not see. Lunchboxes are only part of a whole day’s food, and that day’s food is part of a wider week’s food. Add in variables such as developmental stages, behavioural management strategies, family customs and gatherings, parental working hours and out-of-school activities, and the picture is much more complex than a carer or teacher can hope, or be expected, to be fully across. Continue reading →
No doubt you’ve heard of David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe. I first came across him when my thoughtful in-laws, knowing I like smoothies, bought a Nutribullet for my use at their place. I nearly laughed myself into a coughing fit at the claims on the box, and that was even before I read the accompanying recipe book. I like the blender. David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe, not so much.
I’ve been trying to ignore David ‘Avocado’ Wolfe (let’s just call him DAW for short, shall we?) ever since. It hasn’t been easy, as people have this quaint habit of sharing his memes on social media. Having done a bit of Internet sleuthing after my initial encounter with the Nutribullet’s hyperbolic packaging, I’ve suggested once or twice that sharing DAW memes isn’t a good idea, and had the usual responses: snorts, eye rolls and dismissive hand flips. The memes are harmless, I’m told. DAW’s obviously a bit of a whacky nature-loving hippy, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It takes all sorts to make a world.
But here’s the thing: DAW is dangerous. He infiltrates our social media feeds with warm-fuzzy-inducing fluffy kitties and golden sunrises and inspiring quotes, and then sneaks in dangerous pseudoscientific nonsense, which we absorb without noticing because it looks just like the fluffy kitty memes.
So I thought I’d list just a few reasons why you shouldn’t share any of the memes created by this self-proclaimed rock star and Indiana Jones of the superfoods and longevity universe*. Continue reading →
I would have been eight or nine when I saw Star Wars at the cinema. It was the last movie my family ever attended together. After that, it was kid or kids with mum or dad, but never all of us, ever again.
We kids were excited. We argued about what the promos meant. We were suitably alarmed by the dark helmeted, deep-voiced scary guy, who we thought was the titular ‘Star Wars’. No, it didn’t make sense, but we were kids in single digits. In the 70s. We’d only just got colour television and we weren’t even allowed to watch Star Trek because it was too grown up.
Needless to say, we loved Star Wars. We clamoured to see it again, we got Star Wars action figures for Christmas (well, everyone else did; no Leia, so I missed out) and we role played it endlessly with various groups of friends. We used yellow Mattel race tracks for light sabers, leaping on couches, racing up stairs and jumping out from around corners. We did a lot of shouting. Continue reading →
Last night I dreamed about double dipping. Seriously. There were other things in there too – a dance rehearsal (I don’t dance); an impromptu dramatic performance (I can’t act); Donald Trump playing basketball (his hair was, in fact, a wig, & I pinched it; he didn’t seem to mind); and an old friend with a hangover trying to arrange a formal dinner – but the double dipping thing was the standout. Continue reading →
So, something just happened to me that I’ve only ever read about: IRL.
In Real Life. Sometimes referred to as meatspace.
I’d only been blogging for about 10 minutes, and suddenly I had a case of IRL. Nothing horrible, just utterly time-consuming. And inconvenient. I had finally sorted out a publishing schedule – sort of – and had 4 posts all but finished, when bam: IRL. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t carve out the time needed to take those posts from all-but-finished to completely finished.
I blog for me. I don’t need a schedule; I don’t need exposure; I just like to write. And as I get older, and my memory less reliable, it’s a way of keeping track of what has taken my fancy and how my thinking has developed (or not). So it shouldn’t be an issue that I can’t get near a blog post for a month. It’s just something I do for fun, in my downtime, in the spaces of my real life.
Except that’s not quite how I feel about it. IRL has been a nuisance, interposing itself between me and my writing. Time and time again, I’ve tried to snatch a moment to post, only to have that moment evaporate. I’ve snapped at my IRL family and colleagues; I’ve postponed sleep; I’ve sighed heavily at having to perform all those tasks necessary to the continuance of real life.
So, what have I been doing? Working two jobs, check. Cleaning up after a minor disaster on the homefront, check. Supporting a friend through a family crisis, check. Holidaying, check.
Since I started playing with make-up, the most common comment I’ve had from friends and family is ‘You’re wearing make-up!’, uttered in an astonished tone and usually accompanied by a bemused frown.
This is entirely understandable. For years, I’ve eschewed make-up, other than a bit of lipstick on work days. Mascara if I’m feeling up to it.
So, when I say, as nonchalantly as I can, ‘Yes, I am’, the question that usually follows is not unexpected: ‘Is it a special occasion?’. However, I have been surprised by the frequency of quite a different comment: ‘You should wear make-up more often’.
This little fellow is a bearcat, or binturong. He is, in fact, neither bear nor cat, but is instead a member of the viverridae family (which we know mostly as civets & genets).
Shy, slow and shaggy, bearcats can be aggressive when threatened. They are one of only two carnivores with a prehensile tail, which is nearly as long as their bodies (which are usually two to three feet long). For a carnivore, they are surprisingly omnivorous, and their diet in the wild leans towards fruits, shoots and leaves.
Bearcats are native to Southeast Asia, but as arboreal forest-dwellers, they are increasingly at risk due to habitat loss and degradation through logging and conversion. They are also extensively trapped for the Asian pet, food and fur trade.
They also smell like buttered popcorn. Truly. Recent research has shown that their urine contains the same molecule that forms when corn is popped. Added to their little cat faces, flat-footed bear-like amble and general chattiness, their scent makes them nigh on irresistible.