A Quick Lesson in Acronyms

Now I know that I am a little obsessive over this but it really annoys me when people use acronyms incorrectly. The following two examples are my biggest pet hates and they go hand in hand.

ATM Machine

I have had many friends ask me where the nearest ATM machine is. Why is this annoying? ATM stands for automatic teller machine. You are asking me where the automatic teller machine machine is? Now doesn’t that sound wrong?

PIN Number

And when they get to the automatic teller machine machine they will giggle and say “oh, I forgot my PIN number”. Again, why is this wrong? Because PIN stands for personal identification number.

So now, said friend is standing at the automatic teller machine machine trying to remember their personal identification number number. Perhaps if they stopped so much duplication they might be able to remember the four digits!




The Lost Art of Gift Giving

I went to a wedding on the weekend. It was a beautiful wedding. Very simple and elegant.

As I arrived, I lugged a huge box from the boot of my car into the foyer of the venue. It was a gift that I had spent hours the previous day trudging up and down the stores at my local shopping centre trying to find. I agonised over many objects until I finally settled on something I thought right for the couple.

I chose a vintage drink dispenser; a large glass jar with a little silver tap that you can place beverages in when entertaining. I thought it would suit as they are a couple with young children. He also dabbles in brewing. In my mind, it was the type of item that you would not normally buy yourself but is nice to have. The type of item that I think is the perfect gift. It is useful to their needs but not so practical that they would have already purchased it themselves (or having two  would not be a problem).

When I got home I agonised over wrapping my gift. Not wanting it to break, I carefully placed it in a cardboard box and taped it up first. I then searched high and low for wrapping paper. Not finding any, I settled on brown paper and neatly wrapped the box. To decorate, I tied white ribbon, lace and a string of beads.

As I entered the foyer I approached the gift table. The invitation had not specified any gifts. There was no registry to follow or requests for cash. Yet when I got to the table (and I was running late so the rest of the gifts were already there) it was starkly obvious that I was the only person that had gone for a traditional gift. There were two or three small boxes on the table and my large box stuck in the middle of the table. To the side of the table was a large glass jar marked “cards”. This was full. Everyone, except for me had given cash.

Now I am not opposed to giving cash necessarily… ok… I am a little. When I say I am not opposed, I mean that I understand that life is expensive. These days most couples live with each other before they get married and have already got a toaster, blender and the rest of the household appliances that they need. What they need is cash.

But it still doesn’t sit well with me. When did gifts suddenly need to be practical? Who decided that you can’t just give frivolous objects that people might simply like?

I have this argument with my mother every Christmas. She has decided to cut back on the amount she spends on my children. Her argument is that they get so much stuff at Christmas time that they really don’t need more. Instead, she has opted to buy a small gift and put the money she saves into a bank account for them for when they are older.

I think the bank account is a nice idea and appreciate what she is trying to do.

What gets up my nose is the fact that Christmas has a value on it. Although I appreciate her actions, I find it unnecessary. Who decided that a certain amount needs to be spent on each person? Why is it that gift giving has become about a dollar value and not about the joy of trying to find something that the receiver might like? Why can’t children get heaps of useless crap at Christmas time? It’s something I just don’t understand.

I feel that we have lost the meaning of gift giving. For me, giving a gift was about the simple act of trying to understand someone else’s likes and choosing or making something that would bring them joy and happiness. I relish in the delight on a child’s face when they open a box a find a toy they haven’t seen before.

When someone opens a card and pulls out a $50 note, says thanks and shoves it in their pocket I feel that we have taken away some of that magic. All this focus on practicality and dollar values seems to have stripped the pleasure of gift giving.

Maybe I am just being old-fashioned or reading too much into it but I love gifts that are outside of my comfort zone. I love when people buy me things that I would never have thought to buy myself. It helps me to be adventurous and experience the world. There are things I have been given that I would never in a million years of thought to buy with my money (or given money).

What are your thoughts? Is this a lost art or do I just need to get with the times?

What Happened to the Courtesy Wave?

I have noticed lately that some people just do not know the rules regarding the courtesy wave. In fact, in some areas the courtesy wave seems to have disappeared altogether. This really gets under my skin.

It is quite simple. When a driver waits pulls over to let you pass or holds back so that you can move into their lane, you need to raise your hand to give a little wave. It may not be written in the legislation, but it probably should be.

Too many people are just not understanding what is required. Maybe people are more ignorant or maybe they don’t understand common decency.

Although, I don’t really care why people don’t understand, there are really no excuses.

Of course, I’m sure all my readers are polite and wave when someone kindly delays their driving journey briefly to put their needs first. I know you are all kind enough to acknowledge these small but important gestures. I just wish everyone else was like you…

Being Different

I am often told that I am “different”. This is something that I’ve found hard to deal with over the years. I have long grappled with the true meaning of being different and why others feel the need to remark as such.

Foremost, I question what I am different too. We are all different. We all come from different places and families and different ideas and values. We come in different colours and sizes and all have parts of our bodies that we love and parts that we would change (you should see my freakishly small little toes). I have never met 2 people who are exactly the same and would never want to. I love all the differences in people in the world.

Yet if everyone is unique, why don’t we call them all “different”. This seems to indicate that “different” in this context means something else. Is it different to “us”? But then, who is “us”?

In essence it often seems that the person making the remark feels a likeness to those around them but not to me. Is this unlikeness due to my physical appearance, my choice in clothing or is it more internal? Perhaps it is my outlook on life or my values.

I think what has haunted me for so long about being “different” is the value judgement that is perceived. If someone feels the need to remark that I am different then obviously they feel I am not like them. For many years I took this to mean “not as good as” them. I could never understand why people would say this. I would think, “but we are all different and you haven’t made the same remark about anyone else”.

As I grow older, I embrace being “different”. I still find it odd that people actually feel the need to tell me that I am different. I don’t think I will ever understand that. I have wondered if it is an ignorance on their part or if it is something that makes me stand out from the crowd. I don’t feel “different”. I have always felt this way. It is only recently that I have started to be comfortable in my own skin. To feel happy and proud of the way I feel. Glad that I am “different”.

Why Do I Care?

I have found myself wondering a lot lately what other people think of me. I worry that they won’t like my work or the way I behaved on my days out. I worry that they won’t like me for who I am, or worse, that they don’t know who I am. Most of all, I worry that people think I am stupid or not good enough.

But why do I care so much? My logic side tells me that if people don’t like me, so what? They are no better or worse than me and it shouldn’t matter what they think. If they don’t want to be my friends or like my work, it shouldn’t matter. There are others who will.

But I do care. I can’t help myself. I don’t know why.

Breaking into Song: A Soundtrack to My Life

Sometimes I wish that my life was a musical and people on the street would break into song and a choreographed dance routine at random moments in my life. I have images of random people leaping forward in matching attire and suddenly moving in time to my personal soundtrack.

There are times I feel dreamy and I can hear the music playing in the background. Around me, I imagine ballerinas in white tutus twirling about gracefully. The music floats on the air. Something like Laura by Bat for Lashes plays. It starts to rain as I walk down the street. Graceful ballerinas are jumping on park benches at bus stops, the rain dripping down their faces.

Other days I feel happy. I imagine a cute and quirky song playing, like 1, 2, 3, 4 by Feist. Girls in brightly coloured 1950s style dresses start to dance happily. They are accompanied by guys in suits that match their dresses. As I wait in the queue at the supermarket, someone cartwheels in front of us. All the check-out registers click in time. As the bells ding, the lights above the registers go on.

Some days I it needs to be cheesier. I want Abba’s Dancing Queen. As I enter a bar, glitter falls from the ceiling. Everyone is dressed in lycra and covered in sequins. A mirror ball spins from the roof. Arms are flying high in the air and the room is full of electricity. Someone puts a tiara on me and I am lifted to a podium in the middle of the room.

Then there are days when things aren’t going my way. My partner and I are arguing at the café. Suddenly Pat Benetar‘s Love is a Battlefield is playing. All the girls in the establishment get up and start pointing fingers and shimmying their shoulders at the men. 1980s prom dressesand lace gloves are essential.

Then there are my romantic and playful days. I can hear Imelda May‘s Inside Out plays. I am suddenly dressed in a sleek black wiggle dress, with bright red lipstick and a great rockabilly hairdo (sudden costume changes are nothing extraordinary in musicals). Men in black suits click their fingers as I prance playfully to the beat.

As you can tell, my life’s soundtrack is a little cheesy. I like all kinds of music but when I am imagining people breaking out into choreographed routines, it is usually to pop songs. I would love for it to happen one day.

WOW its Better than Cake! Why I Love Volunteering

I volunteer with a program called Words on Wheels (WOW). It’s a program run through my local library service and is staffed by volunteers.

WOW is all about bringing stories, entertainment and discussions to aged care facilities. We have numerous kits that are based around a particular theme. Each kit has a collection of short stories, poems, song lyrics, jokes, trivia and other activities.

The whole purpose of the program is to bring the outside world into aged care facilities. It was found that many of the residents were losing touch with the world as it exists around them. They were also losing touch with their own pasts as they became more focussed on the day to day living within the facility.

With WOW we use the kits to generate discussions and get the residents to connect. The whole purpose is to get people talking. It doesn’t matter if we stick to the topic or not; and we usually don’t.

I have been participating both in researching and editing the kits and also as a presenter. I visit an aged care facility once a month with my kit and whatever props I can find.

For my next session I am using a kit titled “Anyone for Cake?”. As a prop I have made these cupcakes for each of the people in my group. As many cannot eat sugar, these are each made of face washers. I will give them to the residents as a gift.

I didn’t realise how much I would love volunteering. Not only do you feel great knowing that a little bit of your time has brought joy to someone else’s life, I have also grown and learnt so much from the program.

WOW has brought out my creativity. I love finding stories and jokes to add to the kits. I have expanded my literary knowledge and found some fantastic websites as a result.

I also love designing fun activities and props to take to the sessions. It has really got me thinking about different crafts that I can get into.

I was very hesitant when I first signed up. I thought that the generation gap between me and the residents would make the sessions a challenge.

I couldn’t be more wrong. They don’t want me to be perfect. The just love to have a chat.

The residents have taught me so much. Through our conversations I have gained an insight into life when they were growing up. It has been wonderful to go back in time with them and relive games, activities and events of their era.

All in all I have found the experience to be very uplifting. I even enjoy it more than eating cake and it’s much healthier!

If anyone is interested in learning more about the program you can visit this website http://yprl.vic.gov.au/about/careers-and-volunteering/volunteering/wow.