It's a Resolution, Baby!

52 Weeks. 52 New Year's Resolutions.

Week 42. Resolution 42. Zombie walk! October 25, 2010

Why are vampires always stronger than werewolves in the paranormal romance novels that clutter the minds of our women folk? Let’s look at the facts. A vampire, even with super fast agility and strength, is still only made of human flesh. Dogs can already kill us with their crushing jaws and powerful physiques so if you add super fast agility and strength, the smarts of a human and the ferocious desire to kill everything in its path, it stands to reason that werewolves > vampires.

Yet it’s the ZOMBIES, probably the least likely to survive a vampire / werewolf barfight, that are still the most badass and terrifying of all paranormal killing machines. Perhaps because they’re completely incapable of falling in love with whiney, awkward teenagers which is AS IT SHOULD BE.

Since zombies have thus far managed to escape the wrath of Stephenie Meyer they are highly celebrated the world over with annual zombie walks involving thousands of gore and blood covered folk terrorising the unsuspecting while ambling through the city streets feeding on camera wielding Asian tourists.

For years my friend has hounded me to zombie up for this event but my reserved nature, born out of the shame of practically failing acting at high school, always sounds the alarm at the thought of being publicly on display and so I’ve never succumbed to the call of the zombie (which sounds a lot like BRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS). The only way to solve this problem was by slotting it into the resolution list and with no further option to object, my terror turned to joy at the prospect of playing dress ups.

My first step in ‘transformation zombie’ was to head to the website of the local organisers http://www.brisbanezombiewalk.com/ to register. As you can imagine, there is much complaint by people commonly known as ‘killjoys’ about such an event, so registering on the website allows the organisers to provide numbers to the authorities. There is also the option to give a cash contribution to cover the event costs with any excess being donated to the Brain Foundation of Australia. Depending on how much you contribute this entitles you to a wrist band, after party entry or a T-shirt. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t contribute you don’t deserve to join the zombie legions.

I then began to assemble an outfit before receiving the heartbreaking email that my zombie lovin’ friend would be out of town come the big event. My balloon of big ideas rapidly deflated as I realised there was only one thing worse than making a spectacle of oneself, and that is of doing it alone, much like tripping in front of a group of school kids.

The only way to remedy this horrific situation was to attend in the guise of a photographer, although the thought of being the non fancy dressed odd-one-out around thousands of brain-sucking undead filled me with such dread that I had zombie nightmares all week leading up to the event. But on arrival in Wickham Park where the shenanigans were to begin I realised there were plenty of other blood-free camera-equipped people with the same idea as me.

At 3PM on Sunday the 24th of October, the city of Brisbane was overrun with zombies.

While many simply wore regular clothes spattered with blood, the majority dressed in zombified themed costume from geriatrics and brides, to Smurfs, Native American Indians, Na’vis from Avatar and SANTA. Naturally swarms of zombies also attract gun-toting zombie fighters who lined the hill out front of the initial assembly point at Albert Street Uniting Church, much to the horror of the minister who was trying to conduct a wedding. At one point I saw her filling buckets of water to throw at the crowd. She was obviously confusing zombies with the Wicked Witch of the West.

For the next couple of hours I was all action, snapping away delightedly as the zombies hammed it up for the camera. Highlights included being hissed and screamed at by small children, almost being barrelled over by roller-skate-wearing Dead Meat and co from the Sun State Roller Girls derby team as they fake-stacked it on the sidewalk around me (brilliant!) and hearing zombie Neytiri from Avatar yelling ‘DON’T TOUCH ME’ at whoever wanted to pose in a photo with her. It was exciting and thrilling and barrels of fun.

Before long the crowd spread out and sped up, most likely picturing the beer at the end of the long, hot walk. Even though I was running to try and reach the front of the horde I kept finding I was still stuck with the same group of people, sort of like that scene from ‘In The Mouth of Madness’ where the same bicycle keeps riding past. The large police presence kept the cars at bay for the entirety of the walk and I couldn’t tell whether their chorus of honking horns was to show support or frustration.

The walk ended in Centenary Place Park where I lurked for awhile before heading to the train station while many others set off to whet their zombie whistle. On the way I spotted The Joker standing precariously atop a van featuring the sign ‘Welcome Zombies’ who was all too happy to pose for snaps. (Mine sucked but you can find some GREAT photos of him HERE.)

While waiting for the train I was bemused by the 40-something woman who admitted her terror at being surrounded by the hordes of blood soaked people and I it made me realise that there probably is nothing scarier than gangs of youths covered in blood. Except maybe tripping in front of them. I will probably never forget the look of horror on her face when I left her alone to walk further down the platform to meet someone.

Tragically, my pain-in-the-arse camera was a real let down, although special mention goes to one of the other photographers for taking a look at it for me. My second (and better) lens refused to work and the majority of my shots are blurry. I’m now questioning whether I should ever pick up a camera again.

Either way, I won’t need my camera next year because nothing will stop me from being one of those looking to snack on your brains. Watch your back.

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Week 41. Resolution 41. Try Cake Decorating. October 18, 2010

When Mum was my age she was no stranger to the alchemy of turning an ordinary cake mixture into a magnificent, edible character for my birthday parties.  But as my biological clock is permanently set to snooze, the unexpected side effect of my dormant maternal instinct is that I’ve never tried my hand at cake decorating.  However with my bestie’s birthday coming up it seemed a fine time to show the cakery goddesses what they’ve been missing.

I thought that choosing a design would be as simple as thumbing through Mum’s old cake books—books as familiar to me as my favourite childhood picture books.  But as I’m the kind of person who always has to give the perfect gift, and failing finding such a gift am more likely to give you nothing at all than something mediocre, I was unsurprised to find this attitude extended to cake.  It took a day of searching cake websites, looking at everything from Toy Story and Nightmare Before Christmas cakes to those shaped like roller skates or record players before I stumbled upon this Scott Pilgrim-themed six-storey rainbow cake monstrosity which was THE ONE.  It was also at this point that mysterious coins seemed to fall from the ceiling (Scott Pilgrim reference for the uninitiated).

The cake elite do not freely give away their secrets and so the hunt for a rainbow cake recipe began.  Although I could have saved myself some time and effort had I known that such a search should always begin and end with the Oprah of the craft world, Martha Stewart.  And so I decided to use this recipe … which is based on a recipe discovered here.

After reading the comments I began to have reservations about how disgustingly sweet a six-layered cake lathered with icing was likely to be and so my search turned to finding a low sugar, low butter alternative to buttercream.  Fortunately I remembered that one of my favourite bloggers, Rachael Kendrick, had discovered just such a thing in one of her recent posts.  Naturally this is derived from a recipe found on Martha Stewart’s site.

With the recipe locked in, Day 2 was about acquiring ingredients while Day 3 was devoted to getting that cake a-bakin’, but my attempts were riddled with frustrations as I seemed to lack the mindset required.  First, I absent-mindedly added the baking powder to the sugar instead of the flour (tip: do not place similar looking bowls next to each other) which, in hindsight, was not such a drama since it all ends up in the same place anyway.   But failing to recognise this fact had me manically trying to remove every trace of baking powder from the sugar which potentially threw my ingredients out of whack.

To divide the batter evenly into six bowls, Martha suggests you weigh the mixture and then divide the weight by six to ensure each amount is exact.  For some reason that only my deluded thought process understands, I decided it would be okay to include the weight of the bowl into this equation.  Have I ever mentioned that math is not my strong point?  So, while colouring the third layer, with two layers already baked, I realised I was quickly running out of mixture.  This, added to the stress of my purple and blue layers coming out brown and splotchy, caused angry wisps of steam to escape my ears.  That is, until the fridge light of my mind switched on to show me the solution.

I had already foreseen a number of potential problems with this cake:

  1. I was worried about the size of a six-layered cake. I knew I wouldn’t have it ready in time for her birthday dinner and that’s a lotta cake for one person.
  2. I had two layers that were fat, discoloured and appeared to be undercooked, despite having thrown them back into the oven for a further 20 minutes.  How a cake can be both crumbly and sticky is beyond me.
  3. I was short on batter for the remaining layers.
  4. I was concerned there wouldn’t be enough icing.

Thankfully my mathematical stuff-up offered a feasible solution to all of these problems.  I decided that instead of using an 8-inch wide cake tin, I would reduce the size to 6 inches and instead cook in a soufflé bowl so the remaining batter would still make sizeable layers.  It also meant I could cut off the brown edges of the layers I’d already cooked, revealing their brightly coloured insides.  Genius.

These smaller cakes cooked perfectly, and having to cut the edges off the pre-cooked layers meant I got to keep the yummy crunchy bits for myself.  Sadly, my dreams of an authentic rainbow cake were gone as I’d had to forgo the orange layer and the purple and blue layers were far too crumbly to use as a base.

As I had to work that night I saved the icing for the final day.  Rachael’s version of the buttercream recipe has less ingredients and a slightly adapted method of preparation than Martha’s but was a dream to make and turned out perfectly thick and fluffy.  I chose to leave out the nutmeg and cinnamon and was disappointed that the icing was still sugary and buttery enough to burn the back of your throat, although this may have had something to do with the normal butter in Rachael’s recipe as opposed to Martha’s unsalted butter.  Still, I could not.stop.eating.it.

It is imperative to ice between each layer to ensure they stick together and there was ample icing for this purpose with plenty left over to cover the cake (and stuff in my mouth).

For the outside I used packet fondant icing which I was already terrified of thanks to Mum’s cautions regarding its wily nature. First I kneaded the colour in and then rolled the icing flat with a rolling pin on an icing sugar coated mat to stop it from sticking.  It stuck anyway and as someone with little patience for finicky tasks the sides ended up going on riddled with holes that I had to patch up with excess icing.  This looked terrible so I placed a second layer over the problem area and rubbed some water over the edges to disguise them a little.  I then popped the round top on and made the wonky pink ribbon edges.  Sadly the cake was lopsided and had inappropriate bulges and the icing didn’t have the clean, straight lines of the original picture.  But hey, I’m no expert.  Next I added the Converse-like stitching and stars, although I didn’t have a rounded 5-pronged star cookie cutter to be brand authentic.  I also stuck a few stars around the sides to cover the problem areas.

After realising I’d stupidly forgotten to get a candle and rifled through Mum’s Tupperware cupboards to find a container to fit the awkwardly sized cake, I was ready for cake delivery to the birthday girl.

As my cake was such an abomination to the original design I didn’t mention the Scott Pilgrim connection, so I imagine the brightly coloured icing was a touch off-putting.  Michelle didn’t want to cut it before dinner and so I had to reveal the cake’s rainbow surprise in fear of never witnessing the finished product.  Instead we ate some for breakfast (at a time which was more suitable for afternoon tea) and it was not quite the terrible disaster I’d envisioned, although were I to make it again I would use a better cake recipe and perhaps give a different subtle flavour to each individual layer.

However, I’m certainly in no hurry to rush back to cake decorating and I imagine the goddess of cakery, who it turns out is Martha Stewart, is currently weeping in therapy for my sins against baked goods.  Still, the point of cake is celebration, and what better occasion to celebrate than my special friend Michelle’s 30th birthday.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LOVELY LADY!

 

Week 40. Resolution 40. See the Tim Burton exhibition. October 11, 2010

To you Tim Burton may be that creepy wild-haired director who sodomises your favourite classic film by packing it full of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter and the sense that there’s something dreadful lurking around every corner.  I have a friend who recently admitted she runs a mile from any project emblazoned with Burton’s name (an admission I find inconceivable because regardless of your feelings about Burton, surely the promise of spending two hours with Johnny Depp is enough?) so I’m well aware that Burton’s work is not for everyone and even I, committed fan, agree he has made some poor choices and had some poor choices thrust upon him.

 

But it is not Tim Burton’s directorial choices that fill my heart with boundless joy. It is the world of darkness that resides in his head, so evocative that it manifests in his films as moody set pieces, tormented creatures and shadowy landscapes.  Although I’m intensely fearful of horror films Tim Burton has a gift of making horror comforting, almost cartoonish, giving the sense that while you may find something terrifying beyond your wildest fears when you turn that corner, you may also find something equally sweet and simply misunderstood.  Only Tim Burton can make me recapture that feeling I had as a child when I still solemnly believed fairies and witches were real and if there were some way to step out of this world and into his, I WOULD DO IT, without second thought, without looking back (and regardless of whether Johnny Depp lived there or not).

 

Naturally, on hearing Tim Burton: The Exhibition was moving into Melbourne’s ACMI (Australian Centre for the Moving Image) I was ready to sacrifice my favourite childhood toy if I thought it would help me get me there.  But lack of money being a source of unremitting frustration this year meant that I was going to have to stay home and live vicariously through the tweets of those who could go.  The exhibition was launched in Melbourne by Tim Burton himself, complete with red carpet arrival and the apparition of a headless horseman and carriage rolling around Melbourne streets.  To accompany the three-and-a-half month exhibition ACMI ran a Tim Burton Masterclass which was beamed to the watching public in Federation Square, the Burton Club—a nightclub featuring cabaret acts, workshops in subjects such as make up, animation and soundtrack, talks exploring his works, a film retrospective, a competition to find the horseman’s head and an online gallery to which artists could submit their Burton inspired works.  It’s enough to make your head spin (if you have one).

As any ardent fan knows having to live with the guilt of never making it to the exhibition would have been much, MUCH harder than whatever sacrifices it would take to get there and so I always knew I would get to Melbourne somehow.  Initially I suggested to ACMI that they should run a competition to fly Burton’s biggest fan to the exhibition and save on advertising costs by giving the prize to me.  (To which they replied ‘nice try’.)  But thanks to the note on my desktop with the exhibition’s closing date serving as a daily reminder and much scrimping (whatever that is) and saving I eventually booked my flight to Melbourne to attend the exhibition in its final week.

 

It was a perfectly overcast Tuesday morning when I made my way to Federation Square and after paying the $19 admission fee and passing by the Batmobile and inflatable Balloon Boy I reverently entered the exhibition while my insides did star jumps.  Descending the escalator into darkness I was first greeted by a topiary deer and Edward’s scissor hand, although having to view this from four people deep initially made me feel like going all scissorhands on their hair, but thankfully the crowds thinned eventually.  The first area addressed Burton’s youth, featuring childhood sketches, student films and school assignments, giving an excellent opportunity early on in which to relate personally to him.

 

The next room featured a dizzying display of drawings from his days studying at CalArts and working for Disney, covering a range of styles and techniques that alone would have constituted a fantastical art exhibition, clearly highlighting when his vision began to adopt its own style.  I was quite surprised as I hadn’t realised he was such a talented, diverse and prolific artist.  There were also large sculptures and a showing of Burton’s twisted Japanese short film adaptation of Hansel and Gretel.

 

I then entered the ‘Burtonarium’, a black-lit hallway surrounded by neon monsters ending in a carnival tent that contained a glowing carousel atop a plasma lamp.  The next few rooms extensively covered Burton’s film career with art, costumes, film snippets, sculptures, hand-written notes, storyboards, models and set pieces from all of Burton’s films—Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice, Batman, Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks!, The Adventures of Stain Boy, Sleepy Hollow, Planet of the Apes, Big Fish, Corpse Bride, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sweeney Todd, Alice in Wonderland, the upcoming feature Frankenweenie and all the pieces in between. *deep breath*

To explain any of the pieces to you would be an injustice to those I didn’t (the severed heads from Mars Attacks! were particularly cool even though I was unnerved about having to share my view of them with a little girl whose fascination bordered on disturbing) but the exhibition was so vast and wonderfully atmospheric that were I still living in Melbourne I would have bought a season pass and been there every day.  There were countless exhibits I wanted to rip off the wall and run away with, or even seek out someone I could ask about buying certain pieces, but I decided I’d have to settle with whatever the gift shop had to offer.

 

It was only later that I discovered the exhibition was curated by my new heroes Ron Magliozzi and Jenny He, curators of my second favourite exhibition ever ‘Pixar: 20 years of Animation’ (Tim Burton is now the first).  In an interview with them I read that the exhibition was so comprehensive in part due to Burton’s diligence in archiving his own career which, for some reason, makes me love him more.

 


Evil citizen

With some time to spare I began to wander back through the exhibition again and take an odd sneakyphoto on my iPhone until random cranky woman told me off for it.  I cannot stand when normal citizens take it upon themselves to uphold the photo law and was so put out that I left.  I most likely deserved it but that didn’t make me feel any less dejected.

 

I was all prepared to throw money I don’t have at everything in the gift shop until I read in the exhibition pamphlet, with great excitement, that I could buy a copy of ‘The Art of Tim Burton’ for $89.95.  You can imagine then how gutted I was to discover it had sold out, so I bought a copy of the exhibition book instead (why do these books never sufficiently capture the exhibition for people who want to relive their experience?) and dragged myself away.

 

Unfortunately most of the extra-curricular activities surrounding the exhibition occurred in the early days or on weekends and so I wasn’t able to partake in any of these fantastic events, although having already seen Burton speak in London I was not too fussed.  In fact, I was just so thrilled to have made it to the exhibition at all.

 

Ever since, I’ve been on a fanatical mission to acquire ‘The Art of Tim Burton’ having spent hours scouring the Internet for a copy, although as it turns out, you can only buy them online from the publisher for $69.95 US (if you’re prepared to fork out $130 for postage).  While I’m fighting this for now, I’ll no doubt give in eventually.

 

Cue Vincent Price voiceover.  Fade to black.

 

ACMI

Photos courtesy of ACMI, my SLR and sneaky iPhone, Sea of Ghosts and err, some other places on the web.

 

August / September update on resolution #4 – Read 3 books a month. October 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — H-Ro @ 2:50 PM
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AUGUST

1.      Eat Pray Love – Elizabeth Gilbert – Look, everything I have to say about this book has already been written more eloquently and amusingly by Vera Bermuda in her review of the film.  Go read it instead:  Eat Pray Love review. Make sure you come back though.

2.      Juliet – Anne Fortier – If you threw a copy of Romeo and Juliet in a blender with The Da Vinci Code the result would probably taste something like this.  Tis a good lil adventure story, well researched with enough suspense to keep you reading.  Would have been a winner had the ending not been anticlimactic.

3.      Kin (The Good Neighbors Book 1) – Holly Black – It doesn’t take much to get me to read a graphic novel, particularly when it’s described as a cross between Neil Gaiman and Charles De Lint, both amongst my top five favourite authors.  But even though I read this only five weeks ago I can barely remember what happened.  Hopefully this has more to do with a dull storyline and less to do with early on-set alzheimers.  Anyway it was something to do with fairies and crime solving, so if you like those things probably read something else.

 

SEPTEMBER – the month of reading books with gold lettering on the covers.

1.      Clockwork Angel – Cassandra Clare – This is the first in a prequel series to the City of Ashes, Bones and Glass which I read earlier in the year and is virtually a carbon copy of the original series, except set 100 years before and featuring lots of robots.  Robots.  In the 1800s.  Anyway it’s sort of cold and violent and not nearly as engaging as the Mortal Instruments series.  Has a pretty cover, although you shouldn’t judge it by that.

2.      The Undrowned Child – Michelle Lovric – As this is the third book set in Italy that I’ve read in a couple of months my travel bug was getting kind of antsy.  It details the adventures of a young girl who, through her mermaid friends, discovers she is the saviour of a sinking Venice, overrun by monsters and ghosts.  I’m still trying to work out who the market for this book is because it’s complicated and quite scary yet the main character is only eleven and rather juvenile.  It also equally engages and excludes both boys and girls.  A fun read regardless.  Also has a pretty cover.

3.      Tomorrow, When The War Began – John Marsden – Brilliant tale that I knew very little about before reading so I shall spare you the details.  I will say that I found the suspense troubled me on such a subconscious level that I had nightmares every night while reading it.  Perhaps because I’ve come to take so much in life for granted?  Anyway, read it if you can.  Although how Marsden manages to sustain the story for another six books and then a follow up series will probably forever remain a mystery to me as I’ve no time to read them all.

 

Week 39. Resolution 39. Learn about Web 2.0.

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Earlier this year while searching for the holy grail of the working world, a Government job, I stumbled upon a promising position with criteria that seemed to accommodate my hodgepodge of skills.  That was until I reached the one asking for Web 2.0 experience.  Despite having used computers since roughly the same time I learnt to read, back when making our archaic old monstrosity display ‘Hello Hayley’ and do simple arithmetic equations made me squeal delightedly, I’ve somehow managed to learn nothing about computer programming.  I dejectedly shut the job ad down and threw ‘learn Web 2.0’ on my resolution list, knowing full well it was one resolution that would remain unfulfilled.

 

As I was perusing pamphlets at the Brisbane Writers Festival I noticed one called ‘Looking @ 2.0’ which I stuffed into my bag, only to later give it a more permanent home on my bedroom floor.  A few weeks later and one well-placed accidental kick dislodged it from the pile and sent it scuttering across the room into my field of vision.

 

This is when I first learnt that the State Library of Qld was offering an online course in Web 2.0 that was not only free, but they might even give me a prize for completing the modules.  Golly gee!  This is also when I discovered that Web 2.0 has little to do with computer programming and actually refers to “web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing”,  such as blogs, wikis, RSS and social bookmarking—things I’ve known how to use all along!  (Stupid Government jobs and their stupid fancy lingo.)

 

Despite already using Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and a number of other Web 2.0 based sites on a regular basis I figured by completing the course I would undoubtedly learn something I didn’t already know, so what did I have to lose?

 

The course (found at www.slq.qld.gov.au/learning) contains eight modules, with one released every fortnight, which each focus on a different topic.  (Currently five of the eight modules are available.)  It is open to everyone, although the prizes are only available to Queensland residents who fill out a pre-program survey and complete the current module.

 

After settling down in my study (commonly known as bed) I began the first module.  Each lesson consists of an hour long video lecture lead by Linda Barron from the SLQ learning program, instructional videos and written information related to the websites, activities to experience the sites hands-on, and a quiz to test your knowledge.  The lecture is optional as you can simply read the information on the site and watch the instructional videos, however I enjoyed hearing Linda’s personal experiences with the sites, despite the lecture’s scattered nature and frequent technical glitches.  You are not required to do all the modules if only some interest you and they can be done in any order you like.

 

The first module, ‘Organise Yourself’, looks at social cataloguing websites (in particular those related to books), online ‘To Do’ lists, and social bookmarking sites.  Social cataloguing booksites are like virtual bookshelves to organise and rate books you are reading as well as join discussion groups related to your literary interests.  They’re also fantastic for finding book reviews which I’ve previously always used Amazon for.  Online ‘to do’ sites are exactly what they say they are and become so addictive you’ll be tearing your hair out with frustration when the site goes down for maintenance.  As a serial organiser I already well and truly use both these kinds of sites with Goodreads and TeuxDeux being my weapons of choice (and sanity).

 

The module also looks at a site I’ve never heard of, Big Tent, which would be a godsend for anyone attempting to coordinate group activities, and lastly touches on social bookmarking sites to make your bookmarks / favourites accessible to others within a social environment.  I’ve not yet used one of these sites as I’m happy enough to bookmark within my browser however as Linda speaks so highly about Diigo I plan to use it to easily access the websites I can’t bear to be parted with.

 

The second module, ‘Listen, Watch & Mix It’ discusses podcasting, vodcasting and mash-ups.  For some unfathomable reason I don’t enjoy listening to podcasts or watching things on my computer or iPhone, meaning there’s a whole world of keyboard playing cats that will never bring me LOLs, however I now know where to find them should I ever forget to use grammar and start uttering things like ‘I can has more lolcats?’

 

The third module, ‘Talk & Connect’ talks about social networking sites—MySpace and Facebook (no stranger there) as well as instant messaging and Skype which are useful for you chatty types (provided your life is devoid of school bullies).  As someone who dislikes non face to face chatting, I tend to avoid Skype and IM these days, despite once being a big advocate for instant messaging.

 

‘Get It Out There’ addresses blogging and wikis.  Having written a few blogs in my time I’m relatively well knowledged in this area but besides the all-knowing Wikipedia, wikis are entirely new to me and can be useful in ways I’d never imagined.

 

‘Keep Up To Date’ introduced me to RSS feeds which I was aware of but have never used before and have since taken to like a proverbial duck to a proverbial body of water for keeping track of my favourite blogs.  My preferred website to do this, having experimented with a few, is Netvibes.  The module also discusses Digg (another bookmarking site which might have been better off in the ‘Organise Yourself’ module although the lecture wasn’t working at the time so there may be a good reason for its inclusion here) and Twitter, my current stomping ground.

 

Future lessons will discuss sharing photos, online gaming and getting creative on the web.

 

The modules are comprehensive and simple to follow, taking about an hour or two to do depending on how thoroughly you wish to explore each website and, being online, they’re easy to do at your own pace and leisure.  I have learnt a surprising amount even about the websites I frequently use and am eagerly awaiting the final three modules.  I hope SLQ plans to keep the lessons up indefinitely for others to discover.

 

The World Wide Web is now so necessary in almost every facet of our lives, becoming more and more so every day, that it’s impossible to conceive of life without it, or even to remember how we managed in the past and Web 2.0 is where it’s at, having taken the Internet from a passive environment to an interactive one.  Those who choose to resist will quickly be left behind. Revenge of the nerds?  I think so.

 

(Here’s a selection of my favourite blogs:)

http://www.thevine.com.au/blog/verabermuda/default.aspx

http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/stuart-heritage

http://www.thevine.com.au/blog/rachaelkendrick/default.aspx

http://milasdaydreams.blogspot.com/

http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.com/

http://theoatmeal.com/

http://www.27bslash6.com/

http://catalogliving.net/

 

Week 38. Resolution 38. Get to know my local area. October 1, 2010

Where I live isn’t precisely “the sticks”, more like “the twigs”–close enough to the city to be able to travel there regularly but far enough away that it’s cheaper to fly to other cities than to catch a taxi home.  When I first chose to crawl back into the nest I had no idea that what was meant to be a temporary stop-over would become a more permanent arrangement and so I never bothered to explore my surroundings beyond what necessity dictated.

Prior to the election I was investigating the credibility of my local Greens candidate because his listed profession as a ‘Chemical Process Engineer’ had roused my suspicions and discovered that he’d set up our local CREEC community group (which stands for Caboolture Region Environmental Education Centre).  While I regularly drive by signs pointing to CREEC my past experiences with these types of associations had lead me to believe they are usually an excuse for hippies to find meaning in their lives.  It turns out CREEC holds a local market every 1st and 3rd Saturday and as markets are my weakness, come the 3rd Saturday I had my family bundled into the car at some ungodly hour with the intention of purchasing organic produce.  I had expected the markets to be small but I didn’t expect us to be the only people there, although with a mere four stalls operating it’s easy to see why they don’t draw a crowd.  Dad was so mortified he stayed in the car while Mum and I pretended not to be too interested for fear of being pounced on by the overly attentive stall holders.  However, we did buy some of the most incredible bread we’ve ever tasted and will now feel eternally compelled to attend every second Saturday for another taste of the divine grain.

This got me thinking. What else don’t I know about my community?

The developers of the estate in which we live retained much of the natural flora, with bushlands peppered around the area and walking tracks that weave throughout. There are also an abundance of parks, playgrounds and BBQ areas to keep the locals entertained.  Unfortunate then that I so rarely utilise the loveliest thing about living here.  In an effort to appreciate my surroundings more and also to atone for the chocolate binge of last week Mum and I decided to start walking for an hour every morning taking a different route each day.

I also had an ulterior motive to spot a koala in the wild, having never seen one outside of a zoo, because rumour has it that’s there plenty in the area.  But it appears that my pores exude an anti-koala venom as I still failed to see one and now the perpetual crick in my neck will always be a constant reminder.  Perhaps I’d have better luck finding a platypus.  Or a hippopotamus.

As well as my immediate area I also wanted to explore what the surrounding suburbs have to offer so Mum and I jumped in my car and went touring around the region.  Starting at Scarborough we drove the length of the well-signed 35km Northern Moreton Bay Tourist Drive, stopping first at Pelican Park in Clontarf to watch the daily pelican feeding and jet skis taking a spin.

I was astounded by how many lovely seaside spots are nearby for cycling and strolling along or even for taking a mini seaside holiday.  I’m still unclear about swimming though.  We took a reprieve in the picturesque Moora Park in Shorncliffe, a park right by the sea, for a spot of cake in Cafe on the Park and enjoyed the pleasant views and atmosphere from under the rotunda.

The drive ended in Sandgate (unless you’re super ambitious and want to link up with the Southern portion of the drive) so we turned around and drove back to Deception Bay to see if we could put to rest why the bay is so deceptive.  We pulled over to harass the local galah population as well as stroll by the still waters, discovering yet another lovely place to while away a few hours, although with less water sport around due to the shallowness of the bay there’s not too much to see.

Next we drove to the retirement capital of the Brisbane region, Bribie Island.  A 50 minute drive to the north-east makes this the closest beach to my house, and probably the least populated.  Mum seems to think I’ve been there before but as usual I don’t remember it.  Lucky I’m writing this stuff down.  Regardless, I was elated to learn there was a proper actual sandy swimming beach nearby.  After lunch at the surf club we drove around the habitable part of the island which is much bigger than it appears on a map, since 85% of the island is only accessible by off-road vehicles.

On the way home we decided to explore the turn-offs along Bribie Island Road in an attempt to find other beaches closer to home.  A 15 minute drive along a lifeless farming road took us to Godwin ‘Beach’ which is the true deception of the area and should be more aptly renamed Godwin Mudflats.  Not having learned from this lesson we then drove to Beachmere, to find it was another liberal use of the word beach.  On investigation ‘Beachmere’ means a beach upon marshy ground.  So in other words, NOT A BEACH AT ALL.  However it was a sweet little out of the way area containing many strange houses and beautiful blocks of land.

With my quality navigational skills on display I missed the turn off to home and instead drove through Caboolture, past Centenary Lakes (the next place on my exploration agenda) which, in a fortunate turn of events, took us past the nearby Kandara strawberry farm where they were selling strawberries by the roadside.  Although, sadly not their raspberries which I have fallen in love with.

So what have I learnt from this experience?  I’ve learnt that there are countless places to explore and a multitude of activities on offer in my nearby vicinity that forgo the frustrations of having to drive into the city or up or down the coast.  I just wish I had more friends nearby to capture the holiday spirit with every weekend.

And I’ve learnt there is beauty all around if you just bother to look.  But not koalas.