Day 46 – The Farm Down the Road

I was out for my coffee today, and the turn into the parking lot was abnormally congested. The traffic backed up from the lights all the way to the roundabout before it and nothing was moving. I decided to try my luck on a side-street, wondering what might be going on.

It looks like it was just an unfortunate confluence of events.

There were signs all over the place for the local politicians doing their last-minute campaigning. The ALDI store had just opened last weekend and was trying to draw a crowd. And as a result of one of these a little petting zoo appeared in the little courtyard off the shops.

Cross between a chicken and a rabbit?
Cross between a chicken and a rabbit?

There were goats and kids intermingling in the pen, and cups of food selling for $1. Not sure what the fund-raising was for, but it was definitely drawing a crowd.

I didn’t see the ducks roam free at any point, and Abbey made the hopeful plea for me retrieving any excess ducks on her behalf. I didn’t actually ask though. Hope she doesn’t read this.

Caged ducks, non-excess stock
Caged ducks, non-excess stock

I have to assume this had something to do with ALDI, because they had a sign on the road suggestion that families might want to visit their new store and make a fun outing out of it. Inside there was another play area set up for kids with some unsafe looking obstacles and a lot of supervision.

All ALDIs look alike, so I didn’t go in, but I did have a browse to see what else new might have appeared in the extension to the shops.

Indian Grocery?
Indian Grocery?

The Post Office moved to a newer (larger?) location. There is now a Hot Dollar as well, because we all need ready access to a 2-dollar-store 😉 [I know where we will be able to find any and all future “treasure” if we have need].

And an Indian Grocery, Which is something I had never seen before myself. I’ll have to have an extended browse sometime to mentally catalogue their inventory, but I definitely like the shop front. It speaks to the design-nerd in me.

Day 45 – Work BBQ

Alas, once again no picture. The moment I realised the work BBQ would be the best story for the day, everything had already been packed up.

So instead, I’ll ask you to imagine the following… It’s a sunny 29 degree day in Sydney. The CEO is in town, which is always an ideal occasion to have a social lunch at the same time.

Today’s feast: rolls, BBQ tandoori chicken, sausages, rissoles, beetroot, salads, mint sauce.

I get there relatively early so there is no queue, and I end up enjoying my meal in the shade at the table with 4 managers one level above me. I tend to not pay too much attention to that kind of thing, so it’s not really relevant to the day or my story.

Sorry, nothing scandalous happened.

Then I get up, chat a bit with my boss and the CEO in the sunshine before discovering there is dessert also.

I really should have had a picture of this, because I have no idea what it was. They were donutty balls with a hint of spice and cardamom in some delicious liquid… with vanilla ice cream. And since there was way too much of everything left over, I helped. I’m sure the scales will tell me off for my mistake tomorrow, but today I’m fine at least.

It was very tempting to stay out in the sun, but then work rudely called out its siren song.

Next time I promise to have my phone camera to hand.

Addendum: per Sin’s comment below, it’s totally Gulab Jamun (<- link to image search).

Day 44 – Lost My Legs

Tonight I was in my second Pump class since my long streak of horrendously missed classes. Last week I took it a bit easy on myself, but this week surely I’d be back up to full speed, right?

Wrong!

I think the squats and lunges killed my legs. As I came out of the class I worried I was going to stumble and collapse in front of Holly. You can never show weakness to gym buddies because they are merciless 😉

And there’s some good news there… sounds like she’ll be able to keep up her gym habit for a while longer. She’s keen to throw some cycling on top of the weights classes, and I never say no to a challenge, so here we go!

I just may end up draped on the couch a bit more often.

Not that this is a bad thing either. Just letting everything relax with the dull ache of the exercise still in my legs feels just great to me. I guess it’s that natural exercise high.

I’ll sleep well in any case.

Day 43 – Jaymes Diaz

I forgot to take a snapshot myself; I didn’t think to until I was already in the car driving on to work from my morning coffee stop.

The thing is; at the same time Mr. Jaymes Diaz wasn’t showing up for his Greenway Election Forum this morning, there was a flesh-and-blood person outside my coffee haunt in Stanhope Gardens bearing more than a casual resemblance to Mr. Diaz (Hint: it was Jaymes Diaz).

I didn’t find out about his forum no-show until I was at work, but I guess after his worldwide-publicised gaffe earlier this month, he decided that chatting one-on-one with the occasional passer-by that was prepared to stop was actually a safer way to spend the morning than standing in front of a questioning audience in Blacktown.

Funny that.

Day 42 – Ideas vs Execution

Today will be header-image-less, because I just didn’t have inspiration. First days back from leave are always over quicker than any other day, so I didn’t have as much time to work with as usual. And I feel oddly tired.

In one of my many meetings today I had an opportunity to talk up an initiative I’m running with, and I always feel a bit self-conscious about that. Taking credit doesn’t come very naturally to me, whether it is due or not. Maybe it has something to do with having an inclination to gravitate towards “what needs to be done” and then doing it. It just doesn’t feel like it requires congratulations.

Stepping a little while back, I got congratulated for my efforts on a major project. Frankly it didn’t feel its success had a lot to do with me. Granted, I’d nudged it into a development structure at the start that seems to have paid off very well, but ideas are cheap, and to my mind some members of the development team have done much more to run with that particular ball than I myself have.

Execution trumps ideas every time.

Which is why it’s so funny that even today’s case (a knowledge sharing initiative) where the idea wasn’t mine, but the bulk of the legwork was, still makes me uneasy when it sounds to my ears I might be taking the credit.

At some point I’m really going to have to give myself a break and unabashedly take credit for something.

I just can’t help looking around for someone to object.

Day 41 – Four Days is Not Enough

Four days of leave over a long weekend is not enough. But only on the last day; Sunday morning felt luxurious when my mind had decided that I had already spent my quota of down-time for the weekend. Two extra days feels like a lot at that time. But on the last day it’s just never enough.

Still, four days has been enough to:

  • Do all the usual weekend chores around the house
  • Play an extra video game or two
  • Go on two trips trying to take sharp photos
  • Clean out my backlog of bookmarks to manageable levels
  • Have 8 coffees
  • Wonder what to do with the second half of my last day

My next holiday will be longer though. Because four days isn’t enough to start something actually substantial, like complete research into an in-depth post on an interesting topic, or define and start the development project that has rattled around in my head for some time, or go on an actual trip without feeling rushed back to work afterwards.

First thing to do tomorrow: book a few weeks over Dec/Jan somewhere. Right after making sure all reports that are due by noon are complete.

Link Triage – On Sexism

Some links I had bookmarked are on the topic of sexism. I had planned to build a grand post linking it all together, but I think that is beyond my ability to pull off well enough.

My slightly less ambitious approach below is to just explain the links I collected (and some additions I found specifically for this post) and why I did.

Note that it has been a while I reviewed these links in detail. I will do my best to skim all of them and put warnings where needed before hitting “Publish”, and most of them will have been written by authors careful to put their own warnings on, but a blanket trigger warning might be appropriate here.

In Comics

It must have been a couple of years back that I first saw a post on Boing Boing on this topic. Everyone knows how female super-heroes … let’s say, do not have exactly the same kinds of outfits as the men. The standard counter-argument revolves around how unrealistic the male characters look as well… except they do not get put into over-sexualised poses at the same time.

An Equal Serving: Not so Comfortable
(via: Boing Boing)

It’s funny how images like this elicit “ow my eyes” and “make-it-go-away” style comments from guys that’d otherwise make the exact argument I reference above. Hypocrisy much?

In my efforts to try to re-find this image which I unfortunately hadn’t bookmarked, I came across another few good links on the same topic:

  • The Hawkeye Initiative (trigger warning) – which takes submissions of “fan” art that places Hawkeye in the poses of female characters; I haven’t checked the comments, and I recommend you don’t either
  • The Avengers Re-imagined – perhaps a little over-the-top (I think the artist has something for asses), but the point stands

On the flip-side of this particular coin, there is a Tumblr that specifically has images of Women Fighters in Reasonable Armor. It’s what it says on the packaging. Again, I’d recommend against reading the comments, but the images should be okay.

In Gaming

That last link above belongs in this section as much as the previous one. There is another Tumblr called Repair Her Armor that takes images of skimpily clad female characters and fixes them up. There is one specific post that digs into the dire state of female outfits in most MMORPGs though: Clothes I’m Forced to Wear in the Majority of MMORPGs.

Functional Armor

Now, let’s not get too stuck on clothing… it’s not the only problem surrounding women in gaming by a long shot, but it may well contribute to some of the other problems.

There is a series of very worthwhile videos by Feminist Frequency on YouTube that deal with the Damsel-In-Distress situation in games. It’s more dire and pervasive than you might think:

And let’s be clear, as Anita Sarkeesian herself suggests; there is nothing wrong with enjoying the games. But it’s important to acknowledge the problematic and pervasive dis-empowering stereotypes these games are commonly built upon. I hadn’t realised how common the Damsel-in-Distress is until she put loads of them back-to-back Daily-Show-style.

Then, early last year there was a story surrounding a Capcom fighting competition turned reality show (trigger warning). There is a video that shows how a female member of the team being shown gets harassed. And the story includes gems that equate the fighting game community with sexual harassment. By the coach of one of the teams. It’s stomach-curdling.

Unfortunately this isn’t unique to fighting games.

And it’s also not unique to the players alone. The story of Jennifer Hepler who got stalked and harassed on the Internet (trigger warning) for indicating in an interview that she doesn’t like playing games so much as experiencing the stories they contain. Her job? She’s one of the writers for Dragon Age. The same players that enjoyed her contributions to the story of the game ended up crucifying her over the admission that story matters more to her than play.

In Movies

Ever hear of the Bechdel Test?

It’s a very simple test that requires the following three things from a movie, and these three things alone:

  1. It must have at least two women in it
  2. They must talk to each other
  3. About something other than a man

Surely that cannot be a very difficult bar to clear for a movie? You’d be surprised. Painfully and unpleasantly surprised.

Enjoyable Movie, but Fatally Flawed in One Way

Some recent movies that fail to clear this low bar:

  • The Lone Ranger
  • Monsters University
  • Pacific Rim
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness
  • The Avengers
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure
  • Looper
  • Cowboys & Aliens
  • The Muppets
  • Rango
  • Kick-Ass

This is by no means comprehensive, I just picked a few of the most recognisable titles for the list. And all the ones I’ve seen were very entertaining and I would see again. But that doesn’t change how troubling the systemic nature of this fundamental story flaw is. Many more movies that technically pass would fail the test if it required a whopping 60 seconds of conversation fitting the aforementioned requirements, so let’s not even go there.

In Science and Technology

This one I feel least able to be objective about, so instead of doing my own writing I will summarise the links I had bookmarked on this topic. They are all worth a read for what it’s worth.

I haven’t checked every article below in detail, so a general trigger warning applies… and again, don’t read the comments. Never a good idea on these kinds of posts.

Generally Speaking

I’m not sure why this post.

Actually, I am. Going through life as a straight white male is the lowest difficulty setting possible, and sometimes it’s good to remind myself of what a very common higher difficulty setting can look like.

Day 40 – Photos on the River

I am still not entirely satisfied with the sharpness of my shots at full resolution. One day I’m going to print out a shot at poster-size and want all my pixels to look sharp dammit! 🙂

But I had a fun day at the river near Penrith.

Models in my shots: Ken, Abbey, Bronte, the Crowd, some Ducks.

Enjoy.

Link Triage – Serious Links

This is a few buckets mashed together for convenience.

Programming

Software Design

(Web) Design

Writing

Other Work-related