Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Internet Rules

This past week, there has been a war or words brewing on the interwebs between a couple of Aussie bloggers. Apparently.

I say 'apparently' because, to be honest, I've only read a couple of Facebooks posts and blog posts on it - I haven't read the original post that one blogger wrote that the other responded to, creating what many are referring to online as 'a shit-storm'.

It made me realise how much it isn't my world anymore. Back in my Mummy Mayhem days, I'm sure I would probably have been on top of it, perhaps even involved (respectfully) in the conversation. (And for the record, I believe everyone should be able to express their personal opinion on anything, so long as it is done respectfully.) Not anymore.

A long time ago, I wrote a blog post on MM about blog comments and how they can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Although feedback, communication and interaction can be a great thing in the blogging and social media world, it also opens the opportunity for some to take advantage of that and get, well, nasty. You see, it's easy for people to hide behind their computers and express an opinion they'd never ever probably express in public, face-to-face. Especially those who choose to comment anonymously, or have very little (if any) kind of public profile.

To be honest, I think people often makes this stuff a hell of a lot more complicated than it has to be. I have my own set of rules when online:

1. I don't have to read EVERYTHING on the Internet
If I generally don't like what a certain blogger/writer writes, then I don't read what they write. Simple. This past year, I have unfollowed a handful of Facebook pages because, generally, I disagree with most of what they write. I don't see the point in continuing to read stuff that is only going to elevate my blood pressure!

2. Any comment I make, I have to be 100% certain I want to make it
Any comment I make has to be one I'd happily make in person, and would be comfortable seeing quoted up on a billboard with flashing lights surrounding it, positioned beside a busy highway. It's not always the popular comment, and I may disagree with someone (RESPECTFULLY), but I stand by it. 100%.

3. Don't engage with trolls/haters - Ignore, ignore, ignore
This is the thing that really bothers me - people who give too much time and attention to trolls and haters. I know it's sometimes hard to not take things personally, and in the past on MM I had a couple of posts that became unintentionally controversial and, in turn, attracted some rather, er, interesting comments/direct messages on Twitter/emails towards me. But you know what? I owned what I wrote, I dealt with those commenters as respectfully as I could, and ignored the rest. Engaging with people like this only emboldens them, because for the most part, they're looking for attention. They will also, more than likely, not see your point of view anyway, so why waste your breath? As for those who just make hateful, nasty, negative comments about you - and you don't even know who they are - block/report/disengage/delete. Cut them. Easy.

4. Sometimes walking away is the best option
Every now and then, I come across a post that I disagree with quite passionately, but when I think about it, I realise there's no point commenting. I ask myself, How necessary is my opinion here? Walking (or clicking!) away is sometimes the best idea. Same applies to people who may reply to a comment I have made on a post in a negative way. Sometimes I reply to their replies a couple of times if I think it could be beneficial and/or necessary, but if I feel the person is just looking for a fight, and appears to not be very educated on what is being discussed in the first place anyway, I just stop replying. There's a saying I remind myself of all the time that Mr A has always said: If you get in to an argument with an idiot, then you are the idiot. 

5. Ignore attention seeking
You know those posts on Facebook that people sometimes make, like, 'I can't take this anymore'? Unless you know that person, and know that they wouldn't normally make posts like that and so, perhaps, really need your attention, then just IGNORE. You know these people. We all have them on our social media feeds - they constantly like to make vague posts/tweets etc (known on Facebook as 'Vaguebooking') to induce comments like, 'What's wrong, honey?' You're not helping them by replying.

Sometimes, life - especially online - only has to be as complicated as we make it, you know?


Sunday, October 16, 2016

The tale of the lap-dancing spider

* This is an edited re-post from my previous blog, Mummy Mayhem

Above is a photo of a Huntsman Spider that happily nestled itself in my sliding door the other day. As soon as the weather gets warmer here in Oz, it really is only a matter of time before one of these charming, large spiders come crawling in to your home and settle themselves somewhere in your house. 

Often you find them high on a wall towards the ceiling (they don't like vibrations, hence they usually position themselves far away from the floor), and, unfortunately, they seem to often like the powder room. By the time you realise it's there, it's too late: you're mid-wee, and you have no option (especially if you've given birth - three times) to finish and get the hell outta there. You keep one eye on your little friend, willing for it not to MOVE or, God forbid, JUMP (as they sometimes do), until you can make a haste exit from the room, vowing never EVER to go in there again.

I've had to call in Mr A's services on occasion to get rid of a Huntsman on our wall. His method is the old empty-ice cream-container-over-the-top with a piece of paper slid underneath, captured and then dumped back in to the garden. I've tried this method myself in the past, but couldn't even get the container over the spider without hyperventilating. I prefer the high pressured vacuum cleaner method myself. Ssssuuuuuck! Gone. *dusts off hands*

However, these massive and ugly creatures of God are smarter than you might think. One time, in our old apartment, Mr A humanely removed a visiting Huntsman with his container trick one evening, taking it down three levels to release it in to the garden, only for me to find it BACK the next day in the EXACT SAME SPOT it was captured from the night before! Well, ok, I can't prove it was the exact same spider, but really, what are the chances of that happening? I was convinced (still am) that the spider was messing with my mind. But I won. I used the vacuum cleaner that time. Take that, Huntsman.

But the worst meeting I ever had with a Huntsman was many, many years ago back in Perth after I collected the mail from the letterbox. I pulled out a nice little pile of store catalogues, took them inside and got comfy on the couch eager to sort through them. I arranged them neatly on my lap, slowly flicking through each one - leaving my favourite until last: the Target catalogue. I took my time, relishing each page, making a mental note of all I needed to buy in their latest sale, and then, as I turned over the last page, sitting on the back was the biggest, hairiest, scariest HUNTSMAN SPIDER I had ever seen!!!

I instantly THREW the catalogue high in to the air, leaping up as I did, and screaming for good measure. Then I ran around the house, frantically running my fingers through my hair in case the spider had landed in it, then promptly ripped off my clothes down to my just my bras and knickers. 

Finally satisfied the spider was not on me, I shakily fetched the vacuum cleaner, determined to get rid of the lap-dancing Huntsman.

As I positioned myself, having finally located the pest behind the couch where I had been sitting, Mr A walked in. He smiled - a sort of, Alriiiiight, I'm gettin' me some action kind of smile until I threw him a look of despair, and in an incredibly abridged version of the events that had just occurred (because time was of the essence), explained what had happened. Mr A took over. I insisted he suck the little bugger up, and that particular time, he obliged.

Note to all Huntsman Spiders: Don't mess with me. Me, and the vacuum, are at the ready. (Or, at least - and preferably - Mr A will be.)


Friday, October 7, 2016

Friends like these

I took the boys away down to the Southern Highlands of NSW with a friend of mine and her two boys last week for the first week of the school holidays. I've never done a trip like that before, ie without Mr A but with a friend instead. It was great - all our boys get along so well. My friend managed to find a house that had its own tennis court with a basketball hoop. Although the weather was pretty cool at times, the boys didn't care - they spent a lot of time out on that court. One day in particular was so sunny, and my friend and I sat underneath a pergola covered in vines and sipped coffee while the boys alternated between tennis and basketball. There's nothing I enjoy more than a chinwag with a beautiful friend while sipping on a cappuccino. Especially an uninterrupted one.

We did 'farm stuff' too, like feed the sheep in the hazelnut orchard, and take long walks in hope of spotting local kangaroos (we did) and to check out the cows, all while dodging animal poos galore and large wombat holes. Then there was the time we took a rather disastrous bush walk. We accidentally chose one that was close to a main road - during the walk we could hear traffic and spot local houses! Then less than ten minutes in, Eldest Son spotted a snake in the grass (that looked disturbingly like a brown snake - you know, just the second most venomous land snake IN THE WORLD) and promptly stopped to excitedly take a photo of it before sending it out to friends on Snapchat (as you do). My friend and I couldn't get out of that bush fast enough, and it didn't help that our boys were teasing us by making, 'Look - a snake!' comments, causing us to squeal and run through the remainder of the walk until we (thankfully) hit a clearing. Having decided after some lunch to take the nearby access road back to our cars instead of risking another meeting of the snake, Middle Son -  playfully chased by one of my friend's boys - managed to run straight in to a huge mass of mud, completely drenching his (only) pair of sneakers, and covering the back of his clothes in said mud in the process. *sigh*

My friend's beautiful eldest son offered the t-shirt off his own back for Middle Son to wear, and wore his mum's spare long-sleeved top instead so we could continue on to the beautiful surrounds of Milton Park (with Middle Son squeezed in to Youngest Son's thongs we thankfully found in the car) - a nice change of pace for us after our short, yet eventful, bush walk.

The biggest bonus of our boys amusing each other was that my girlfriend and I got to do a lot of talking. Whenever we get on the phone for a 'quick' chat, it's not unusual for a whole hour to pass. Even if we've already spoken to each other earlier in the week. We stayed at the farm for three nights and every night we chatted for hours and hours, warming our toes in front of the fire, sipping white wine and not once struggling with anything to say. We've been friends for almost twenty years now - we became friends pretty much from the moment she joined the bank where we both worked (where did the time go?). We attended each other's weddings and celebrated the birth of our children and supported each other through the death of our parent(s). (She lost her father just months after I did.) She remains one of my dearest friends today.

While we were down at the farm, the first anniversary of my dear Mum's death came around, and that morning I found a beautifully wrapped gift in my bedroom with a card attached. My friend had written some beautiful words of comfort for me, causing tears to well in my eyes - partly due to the memory of Mum's passing, of course, but also in recognition of the incredibly thoughtful gesture by my friend. I carefully unwrapped the shimmery, pink paper to find a beautiful candle inside.

As I write this, on the day of my mother's funeral held a year ago today, the candle is burning beside me in memory of her, thanks to my gorgeous friend.

I'm lucky to have a number of really good friends in my life. So lucky. There's nothing quite like a good friend, is there? And this one is one of the best. :)