megpie71: Animated "tea" icon popular after London bombing. (Default)

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megpie71: Denzel looking at Tifa with a sort of "Huh?" expression (Are you going to tell him?)
Wednesday, September 7th, 2016 06:21 pm
Just been reading through some back issues of "The Secret Teacher" on teh Grauniad website, and one of the issues which comes up repeatedly is "homework" - essentially, teachers think it's No Big Deal, parents either complain there's too much, or too little, and the kids always think there's too much.

More under the fold )

As so often occurs, what truth and peace there is in the whole argument lies somewhere in between the extremes of it - or at least within the overlapping spaces in the argument's Venn diagram. Homework and home study skills are useful - but they're useful in the same way algebra, geometry, geography, and learning the finer points of diagramming sentences wind up being. Yes, they're massively useful if you're going into education as a profession; they're peripherally useful if you're thinking of going into an area where you'll need the practice at self-motivation, goal-setting, and meeting self-imposed targets. But for the vast majority of people, they're skills you learn in school, for school, and never need again throughout your working lifetime.
megpie71: Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles (Impossibility)
Monday, October 12th, 2015 11:58 am
In the interests of my continuing mental health, I've had to banish a few words and phrases from my vocabulary. One of them is "should".

"Should" is a word which has disappointment built-in from the start. It's a word used to talk about ideal situations, ideal results, ideal worlds. As such, to someone like me with an anxiety disorder, it's essentially poison for the psyche. Because, you see, one of the things at the core of any anxiety disorder is this: we want the world to be perfect. Perfection implies control.

So to someone with an anxiety disorder (and this also includes the vast majority of people with depression, since the two conditions tend to be co-morbid to an astounding degree) a "should" is not a vague ideal to be used as a general directional indicator. Instead, it is a definite goal, which needs to be achieved (in order that the world be perfect). So phrases like "you should know better" or "you should be able to do better than that" or "I shouldn't need to tell you" and so on aren't just expressions of regret for one single instance - they are clear indicators that we have failed on a comprehensive level to achieve the goals set for us[1]. The world is imperfect and it's All Our Fault.

As you can guess, that kind of feeling doesn't do much for anyone's anxiety levels.

Then there's the other kind of "should" - the ones we tell ourselves, the ones which come with the invisible tag of "but I won't". "I should stay on this diet... but I won't". "I should Clean All The Things... but I won't". "I should do this disagreeable task... but I'm not gonna!". Again, not only is the world imperfect, and not only is this All Our Fault, but we're also unable to even rely on ourselves to do things. How hopeless are we?

(Something else which doesn't do much for anyone's anxiety levels).

However, banishing "should" (and its close cousin, "ought to") from your mental vocabulary is a hard thing to do at times. For a start, there's all the externally imposed "shoulds" - the expectations of parents, partners, friends, children, teachers, employers, co-workers, advertisers, marketers, manufacturers and so on. ("You should buy $PRODUCTNAME!") Plus there's all the internal ones, yelled at us by our jerk!brains on constant loop - including the ones which come up as part of the memory tapes bringing up old humiliations to dance on the stage of the Grand Olde Embarrassing Recollection to remind us of what we "should" and "shouldn't" be doing, or have done.

What's the solution to all of this? Well, the one which worked for me was basically stepping back from what I "should" be doing, and asking myself "what, realistically, can I do?" This one works particularly well for the memory tapes. Asking myself "okay, what am I able to do about this problem/issue, right here, right now?" tends to make the tapes suddenly grind to a glitching halt - because usually the answer is "nothing". I can't fix past mistakes from the present. I can make an effort to alter future behaviour, but other than that? There is literally nothing I can do.

This works well for other people's expectations of you as well. I have a lovely little icon (created by Copperbadge a while ago) which reads "Impossibility established early takes the sting out of the rest of the obstacles". If other people want you to do something, if they think you "should" be able to do it, ask yourself: "can I do this?" Are you physically, socially, mentally capable of performing the task they're asking? (This includes such things as "do I have the skills needed?", "do I have the available spare capacity?", "do I have the available spare time?" and, of course, "do I actually want to do this?"). If the answer is "yes", then perform the task. If the answer is "no", then tell them so - give reasons if the person asking is a reasonable person (unreasonable people don't deserve reasons for your answers, because unreasonable people can't or won't be reasoned with).

By bringing things back from the ideal world of "should" to the actual world of "can I, am I, do I, is this" you wind up being a lot more realistic about your own capabilities, and a lot less prone to stressing yourself out over things which are outside your own control.

[1] You'll note one of the apparent "goals" being set there is fully functional human telepathy. Nobody said the goals of a "should" were ever either realistic or achievable.
megpie71: Kerr Avon quote: Don't philosophise at me you electronic moron; answer the question (don't philosophise)
Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 09:49 am
[Inspired by: - particularly the comment thread]

I was born in Western Australia, and I lived most of my life until I was about 27 in the south-eastern suburbs of Perth. I then moved to Canberra, in the ACT, and lived there until about mid-2006, when my partner and I moved back to Perth.

I hated it in Canberra. The land wasn't right. The way the sun rose wasn't right. The way the sun set wasn't right. The water wasn't the same. The seasons were all wrong. The city was put together strangely. I never felt settled, never felt "at home". I felt displaced.

I went to London for a month in August 2002, on holiday. I felt more "at home" in London during that one month than I had in three years living in the ACT, despite the different hemisphere, different latitudes, different everything.

I went back to the ACT, and lived for another four years in exile, before returning to Perth, Western Australia. Since then, I have come to wonder whether the profound feeling of "home" I feel living here is akin to the Indigenous notion of "country". Whether that horrible feeling of being displaced, of being exiled, is what they feel when they're forced by circumstance or government policy to move away from their country. I know that for me, songs like "My Island Home" now have a whole new meaning, because I hear them through the filter of my experience living in Canberra.

This is part of why I feel angry and upset about the WA state government's decision to close a number of remote communities. I would not want to push that feeling of displacement, of always being in the wrong place, on anyone else. It would be a wrongness, an evil, a wicked thing to do. I am angry the government of Western Australia is doing this in my name. I am upset the Premier, Colin Barnett, is implicitly claiming he has the support of white Western Australians to do this. His government does not have my support, or my consent.

These days I'm living in the south-western corridor of suburban Perth. The sun rises in the correct way, over the right hills. The sun sets properly, over the ocean. The ocean is there, within reach - I'm about twenty minutes drive from the beach, if that. The seasons flow correctly, from dry heat, to stormy heat, to gradually cooling dry, to cold and wet, to gradually warming and drying, to dry heat again. The city is the way it should be, the right mix of architectural styles and geographic features. I'm home. I would say I'm in my country, and I would challenge anyone to uproot me from it.
megpie71: Avon standing in front of Zen's dome, caption "Confirmed" (confirmed)
Friday, June 29th, 2012 06:13 pm
I can see I'm going to need to clear things out a bit more often.

I've just done a bit of a sort through of my various "PC media" storage boxes. What I discovered would probably be invaluable to any electronic archivist, or archaeologist of late 1990s PC miscellanea. The total included:

* Two plastic bags worth of PC magazine discs[1], dating back at least 10 years or so.
* Various install CDs for outdated versions of Linux
* Two Australian phonediscs (phonebook on disc), probably from the late 1990s.
* Various MS software designed for Windows 3.11 (Encarta 95, MS Ancient Lands, and the tragically misnamed MS Works).
* Game CDs for games which came with my first personal PC (bought back in 1995 - these are games which were designed to run on Windows 3.11) as well as games purchased subsequently. Some of them are compilation CDs of multiple games from back in the bad old days of 5.25" floppy disks - thousands of games on the one CD because they were designed to fit into Kb of memory, not Mb.
* Manuals for most of these game CDs.
* Driver CDs for hardware which is now obsolete (or at least no longer in my posession).
* Demos of games which never made it to mass market (or if they did, bombed badly).

As I say, a digital archaeologist, electronic archivist, or computing historian may be able to make some use of these. I'm going to see which of the games I can get to run on the current PC, which ones the antivirus rejects as malware (for some reason, AVG doesn't like certain bits of the Sims 2, and it also pings up Settlers IV as malware as well), which ones aren't worth the disk space (probably most of them) and which ones still interest me after all these years.

The rest... well, the rest I'll probably bin. If there are any archaeologists, archivists, or historians who are interested in this stuff, do let me know.

Footnotes below fold )
megpie71: Text: "My grip on reality's not too good at the best of times." (reality)
Friday, October 14th, 2011 11:33 am
I'm an accumulator. I accumulate things. Every so often, I go through the pile of things I've accumulated and clear out the excess. And every time I do this, I think "I should be more organised".

Today, as part of my standard thirty minutes of household chores, I cleared out the backlogged accumulation of glass jars in one of the kitchen cupboards. I pulled out about a half-dozen largeish glass jars with lids that I know I can find a use for, as well as all the small spice jars and the little dark glass ones that my medication used to come packaged in, and I put those into a plastic storage box. That about filled the box. Then I went through and started taking out all the other jars (and lids) and dropping them into our "items for the recycling" box. Once the "recycling" box was full, I emptied it into the recycling bin. I wound up making two trips to clear the backlog. Now, I have the storage box shoved into one corner of the shelf, and about a half-a-cupboard's worth of vacant space.

My next project is probably going to be the plastic stuff. Like everyone else who has any plastic storage stuff in their cupboards, my plastics store is a mess. So I'm going to have to do the standard sort through, find all the stuff, find all the matching lids, and figure out what I'm going to keep and what can be thrown out. I have a suspicion our recycling bin is going to be a tad on the over-full side next fortnight. My next project after that is likely to be the pantry.

Why am I doing this? Well, part of it is sheer irritation crystalised by the joys of having a rent inspection yesterday. Another part of it is realising that, to be honest, I can't find things in our kitchen. I know me. I know the way I work. If I can't find something when I want it, I get frustrated. If I'm frustrated, I get angry, and getting angry gets me depressed. So somewhere along the line, I have to take a step back and deal with the source of the frustration. At the moment, one of the sources of frustration is clutter.

I know why I have the clutter, too. I have the clutter because I'm coming out of a period of enforced poverty, where my instinctive reaction is to clutch onto everything that comes into the house with both hands, and attempt to save money wherever I can. I hoard things, and I'll buy up bulk and try to "save money" by attempting to reuse and recycle as much as possible. But the problem is, this hoarding is actually counter-intuitive, because I hoard so much stuff that I can't find anything. And if I can't find it, I can't use it. So how much money have I saved, really?

Something I need to keep in mind: if I keep something hanging around, but never use it, no matter what it is, it isn't cheap. It's expensive. It's taking up space, both physical and mental (the mental space is in the justification for why I'm keeping hold of it). If I buy food on special and wind up throwing it out because it passed its best-by date without being eaten, it was a waste of money. If I store something, and wind up buying three more of them because I can't find the original, again, it's a waste of money. Things are only economical if they're actually being used for a purpose. Otherwise, again, they're a waste of time, money, and brainspace.