Where I am, today is the last day of summer, although, tecnically, “summer” tends to extend several weeks (if not a month or two) beyond it’s school-book defined limits (traditionally, summer is only meant to be from the start of December to the end of February).

I’m definitely not a fan of heat and humidity, so it’s actually my least favourite season. I like winter because it’s cold, and I like autumn because it leads to winter. But, because I always try to be positive (the operative word here being “try”), I thought I’d make a list of things that I actually like about summertime. I wonder if I can get up to ten…

  1. There are more daylight hours. This is kind of part of the problem of why it’s so hot, but having more daylight means that when I leave work after 6pm, it’s not pitch dark already. Seasonal affective disorder is a real thing, people!
  2. School and uni students are on holidays for most of summer, which means less people on trains/buses, which means I can commute in peace without thinking angry thoughts about the school kids who take up half the seats.
  3. Every day is a good day to have ice-cream (granted, any day of the year is also a good day for ice-cream)
  4. Summer storms actually have a bit of a nostalgic quality about them – you know, when they’re not being desctructive and all…
  5. I can take cold showers every day. This is mostly important to me because I’m weirdly environmentally conscious, and have a thing about energy conservation. Basically, I’ll think of these three months when I haven’t used any water heating as being a small saving for the environment.
  6. Summer makes me really appreciate the freezing cold aircon at work. On good days, I will be so cold leaving work that I will have only just defrosted by the time I get home (and take a cold shower).
  7. Mangoes are in season. They are delicious. I don’t think I need to elaborate.

I’m actually really struggling to think of more reasons now. I just keep thinking of reasons why I don’t like summer. Then I did a search of my blog to see if I’d written stuff about summer before, and it turns out that I did a similar post (although not as elaborate or list-y) at about this time last year. It seems like I’ve always had a bit of trouble coming to terms with this dislike of summer… but no matter how hard I try, I just cannot make myself like it more.

Perhaps instead of trying to cover up the dislikes with likes, I should just come out and vent away all my frustrations with summer:

  1. Of course, problem number one is that it’s too hot and too humid.
  2. In winter, if it’s too cold, I can just wear more layers or grab an extra blanket, but in summer you have no choice but to have the air conditioner running 99% of the time (may or may not be an exaggeration), or otherwise risk melting and evaporating away (assuming the humidity will permit you to evaporate). This is related to my slightly obsessive must-try-to-be-environmentally-friendly mentality.
  3. There are more mosquitos. I don’t know where mozzies go in the colder months (are their natural lifespans long enough to justify hibernation?) but when it’s summer, they are everywhere.
  4. There’s no AFL or NRL – only cricket. At risk of sounding a bit “un-Australian”, I really don’t understand cricket; I have exactly zero interest in cricket. Ok, maybe, like, 0.01 interest.
  5. The sun rises earlier and disturbs my week-end sleep-ins by shining brightly through my curtains. To be fair, this is partly my fault for not closing the curtains properly, but that is probably because I’m too busy trying to fall asleep in a puddle of my own sweat. I’m just kidding – I’d probably have the aircon on.
  6. The UV danger rating is always “extreme”, which means I’m thoroughly discouraged from going outside anywhere between about 8am and 6pm. We’re always being reminded of the high risk, and hence the high rates of melanoma in our sunny state, so I think it’s no wonder that I’m so afraid of sunlight.
  7. Storms can take out powerlines and be generally quite destructive. And no powerlines means no power, which means no aircon and no refrigeration.

Actually, even with this list, I’m struggling to get to ten. Maybe summer’s not that bad after all… or maybe the intensity of the items on the second list is greater than that of the items of the first list, which means overall I still don’t particularly like summer.

I’m kind of predicting that I’ll have this same dilemma next year…

posting skeletons

I have approximately 40 minutes to write this before I have to go to bed. Based on past experience, this won’t be enough time, but I’m going to try to power through, anyway.

I don’t usually impose strict bedtimes like this, but I have 7am starts at work for all of this week and next week, and since I’m kind of filling in for the manager (well, one of the managers) – hence the earlier starts – I kind of feel like I need to be at optimal alertness and general brain function. This is kind of part of the reason why I don’t really want to be a manager – all problems filter back to you.

I also don’t usually force myself to just sit down and write posts (not that I am forcing myself to write this now) but I’m kind of, let’s say, concerned that I won’t have the time/energy to write a post later in the week, and then I might forget on the week-end. Also, I just prefer to get my post-for-week done and dusted earlier on in the week, so that I have one less thing nagging away at the back of my mind. (Imagine if I ever committed to writing a post per day! I’d just never sleep.)

After many years of blogging (not even keeping track of that anymore), I’ve come to notice that I have several … paranoias surrounding blogging. Posting earlier in the week so that I don’t forget, or in case something happens and I can’t actually write a post, is an example. I will also sometimes schedule posts if I just have a hyper-productive week of writing, and decide that I can leave a post for the following week instead of publishing immediately.

In the very writing of the preceding paragraph, I also exhibited another paranoia (although you can’t actually tell just from reading it). I know how to spell the word “paranoia” but because it’s a word that I rarely write and rarely read anywhere, and the word itself looks strange, I just had to double-check the spelling. I’m sure there must still be spelling/grammatical errors (occasionally) throughout my blog (but hopefully not too often) due to lapses in usually-rigorous editing, but there are certain words that I get paranoid about (just slightly!). I know that the people who read my blog aren’t the snarky grammar/spelling nerds that police blogs and other sites (like Facebook), but I suppose this is kind of like a “fear of judgement” that is equivalent to how other people might worry about their physical appearance – it does kind of affect perception of the actual content and substance, but it’s not the be-all-and-end-all for determining and setting other people’s opinions.

(I hope that paragraph – especially that last sentence – made sense. I’m kind of just writing as I think here. Does this count as a “stream of consciousness” post? I’ve been seeing those around on various other blogs, but don’t actually know what it means. Pretty much all of my posts are not extensively planned; at most, I’ll formulate an outline in my head, and then start writing.)

Alright, it’s getting late now (late for me, anyway). It’s still within my set time limit, but still late nonetheless, and I’m starting to get sleepy. This, conveniently, leads me to another one of my paranoias: post-publishing paranoia. It’s kind of similar to the grammar/spelling paranoia that happens as I write, but it happens after I’ve hit the “publish” button. A very keen (almost stalker-ish) observer will have noticed that the vast majority of my posts are published at night-time (well, my night-time, anyway). As such, it tends to be one of the last things I do before I go to bed (such as tonight), and consequently I might be quite sleepy by the time I click “publish” (also such as tonight). As such, this paranoia might actually be delayed until the following morning, when I wake up and wonder if I spelt that word correctly, or if I finished that paragraph/sentence properly.

Well, it looks like the proofreading process kind of tipped me over the time limit, so I’d better head off. More on strange blog habits another time perhaps!

of the mind

Alright, so I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while now, and it seems like tonight will be the night! By “a while” I don’t mean just this last week (the absence of posts thus far this week is a result of me being busy/lazy). I was actually thinking about this a few weeks ago, and then never got around to actually writing about it because I kept forgetting about it when I sat down to write a post (I’m not a very organised sort of blogger, as you might be able to tell from the erratic posting of random topics), or I kept putting it off.

Where I work, I have a lot of colleagues. As such, I assume that it is by chance that, in any given week, at least one person will be feeling unwell in some way, or will actually call in sick and take the day off. Ok, that’s probably a bit dramatic or exaggerated, but that’s what it’s felt like recently. I’m not complaining or whining – that’s just how it is. Like I said, it’s probably more by chance or probability or something.

Well, not to gloat or anything, but I’ve never had a sick day from work in the three years that I’ve been full-time here (let’s hope I don’t jinx it now!). It’s one of the downsides of having a good immune system and not engaging in dangerous activities: I’ll never get paid the sick leave I’m technically entitled to. But, whatever, I don’t really care about that.

A friend then suggested, helpfully, that I could take a “mental health day”, which is like taking the day off to recover from a physical ailment, except that it’s actually, well, a mental ailment. Say, for example, if you just feel really unmotivated to do anything, or if you’re just really frustrated and you feel like if you go to work, you’ll go insane, or maybe have a breakdown, then you’d take a “mental health day”. I actually like the idea of it, and think it’s as valid a reason as any to take the day off (particularly if you’re on the verge of a breakdown).

But when I think about the practical side of actually doing this, I’m not so sure that it would be so well-received by upper management…

Since everyone’s taken their turns being sick, I’ve kind of developed a mental catalogue of reasons why people call in sick (or get sent home sick, as the case may be). Being in such proximity to doctors’ rooms and a hospital, anything that’s infectious becomes an issue that could lead to someone having the day off: cold/flu, food poisoning, eye infections, etc. A lot of people reckon that diarrhoea is a good excuse to use because no one is going to want to ask for more details about that. And then, of course, there’s pain: migraines, back pain, cramping, etc.

Whatever the excuse, most of the time it’s legitimate; I’m not doubting that. The issue is that if someone called up the HR manager one day and said “I don’t think I can make it in to work today because I just have zero drive to do anything, and even the thought of getting out of bed seems meaningless” – I don’t think that’d go down too well… Not that the HR guy is cold-hearted or whatever, but I’d be surprised if he’s ever taken that sort of a call from an employee.

But despite all the controversies (Is depression over-diagnosed? Are anti-depressants and anxiolytics over-prescribed? Do drug companies make up variations/sub-types of psychiatric conditions in order to sell more drugs?), any educated human being could understand and accept that depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc are all real conditions. Then why do people have to use another excuse (a physical ailment) when they take a “mental health day”? (The friend who originally suggested it is not the only one who thinks it’s a good idea – just don’t be so upfront about the reason.)

And I know that Major Depression is pretty serious, and of course there’s a difference between a clinically diagnosable condition and just “feeling down” now and then. But just because it doesn’t fit the duration criteria for diagnosis, doesn’t make it less valid – you could still fulfill all of the other criteria/descriptors.

If anyone reading this thinks that I’m going to try to use this logic to rort the sick leave system, rest assured that I don’t have any intentions of doing so, nor do I encourage or condone it (since abusing the system would belittle these mental health conditions). These are just random thoughts about the disparity between mental and physical illness.

on this day

Today I am recovering from my run yesterday evening – the run up and down the bicentennial bikeway. I had an early-ish (5pm) finish at work, and the rain had stopped, so I was going to run. Now, after a sleep-in (to about 7:45am), breakfast and some reading, I’m feeling pretty good. I mean, I’m sore, but it’s that kind of glorious soreness that I’m pretty sure I’ve read an author describe in a novel before (perhaps in my current read, “The Hotel New Hampshire” by John Irving). Even so, I am, right now, as the sun is breaking through the clouds, contemplating what workout to do today: another run, or interval training, or some circuits, perhaps?

Today I am also hoping to get a decent amount of reading done. I need to catch up on my Pharmacy journals (for “continuing professional development” (CPD)), but I also want to get through “The Hotel New Hampshire”. The other day, when I had a late lunch at work, and I was sitting in the hospital cafeteria reading THNH, a lady (kind of randomly) came up to me and offered me a book. It was a novel I’d never heard of by an author I’d never heard of, but she seemed keen to share, so I accepted (besides, why would I turn down a free book?). She also offered me another novel, which I also accepted with much gratitude and some disbelief in this random kindness. I am actually keen to read these novels, but first I must finish THNH.

Today I’ve been listening to the music played by the construction workers next door. They’ve been working away all week and, among the Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Killers and Hilltop Hoods, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to hear some Kelly Clarkson and even Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” (which will be forever known and referred to as “the Twilight song”). And I know it’s their own playlist, and not the radio, because there have been no ads or pauses between the songs. Unfortunately, they’ve turned their music off now, so I guess I’ll have to put my own music on: maybe some Avicii, Calvin Harris and Sia to keep the energy up.

Today the weather is quite mild and cool. There’s a good breeze going, pretty decent cloud cover, and the humidity is low. It feels like summer is abating. It’s the sort of day that’s perfect for sitting by a wide, open window, or perhaps on the porch or verandah, and just watching the world go past – maybe while chatting to a friend, listening to music, or intermittently looking up from a good book.

Today, all I really needed to do was write this post (my post for the week, that I was too busy/tired to write earlier), and since that’s done now, my day is complete, but also just getting started…

of moths and butterflies

I’m not sure if there are actually more butterflies around the place than usual, or if I’m just noticing them more, but I feel like, recently, there have been a whole lot more butterflies around the garden, the park – everywhere. I don’t know where they’ve come from, or where they were in previous springs and summers. As I said, maybe they’ve been here all along, and I just have never really noticed them – or taken note of them.

Since reading “100 Years of Solitude”, butterflies always make me think of Mauricio Babilonia, whose presence was always marked by yellow butterflies.

Recently we’ve had some large black moths (sorry, I don’t know their proper name) fluttering around the house, and settling on random places – the TV screen, the face of a carved wooden figure, on my desk – and just in general being an annoying presence. I carefully evacuated several of them (and released them back into the wilderness of the back yard), but they didn’t bother me so much as they bothered certain other members of the household.

I’ve previously wondered why people detest moths but like butterflies. Those big black moths could pass for butterflies if they’d just adopt that characteristic gentle wing position that butterflies have at rest. (I’m not sure if this is scientifically true, but I remember being taught in primary school that the way to differentiate a moth from a butterfly was to look at the way it holds its wings when at rest – butterflies have their wings up, whereas moths’ wings are spread flat.) I’m sure there are plenty of other differences, but it’s funny how two similar things can evoke very different reactions.

Of course, moths probably don’t take offence to this; the discrimination probably doesn’t register in their minds. This means that my sympathy is probably wasted on them (hence I stopped being sympathetic and banished them from the house).

Thinking about all this makes me want to re-read “100 Years of Solitude”, even though I only finished reading it fairly recently. There was actually quite a bit about moths and butterflies and ants – the never-ending battle with ants. I do not like ants. I don’t think it’s possible to like ants. I’m sure the ants don’t care, though.

I’m not sure where I was going to go with this post… Thinking about insects tends to lead to contemplation of the meaninglessness of their lives – their short lifespans leave them only enough time to survive and reproduce. Now, thinking of ants and butterflies, and even moths sometimes, makes me think of “100 Years of Solitude”, which is, in my opinion, a very profound and compelling novel. Isn’t it interesting how something so small and seemingly insignificant can lead to such profound and philosophical thoughts?

DDF supplement

Ok, so I was kind of too tired/sleepy to properly write yesterday’s post about the Deep Dark Fears site. I probably should have just saved it as a draft to be finished off tonight, but I clearly did not think of that in my sleep-deprived, low-energy state last night. (Why am I so tired? More on that later …maybe. Actually, I might put it in another post … also, just maybe on that one.)

Yesterday’s entry doesn’t seem substantial enough (as good as that site is) to stand alone as the only post this week in my post-per-week goal, so I thought I’d supplement it with another one (i.e. this one). Some of the fears featured on DDF seem really random, and I have wondered if any are actually just completely made up. It looks like people can submit messages about their own fears, and these could get posted, so I do wonder if people just try to think up weird “fears” so that they can get featured.

But, you know, I’m really not that cynical – not for something like this anyway. I, myself, have random fears. Not morbid fears or anything to that extreme – they’re more like things I worry about a little, at one time or another. Let’s see if I can think of some examples to help illustrate my point…

I don’t usually use my phone while commuting, but if I do happen to have it out while boarding a train, the thought of accidentally dropping my phone onto the tracks as I step onto the train does tend to come to mind (strangely, I never think about this when I’m getting off the train). And then I wonder about what would happen: I’d probably have to wait for the train to leave, retrieve my phone, and then wait for the next train, but I’m pretty sure it’s illegal, or at least “not allowed” to be on train tracks without some sort of permission…

When I was a kid (I’m talking about early primary school years here), I sometimes worried that I’d get pupil-free days and school days mixed up, and thus accidentally skip school. Similarly, if I went out (with a parent, of course) on a pupil-free day, I thought that maybe some people might mistakenly believe I was skipping school (at that young age, I didn’t realise that most schools have the same pupil-free days).

So umm… I suppose these two examples are pretty tame; they’re probably normal/common fears. If I think of some better examples, I might post them separately, or maybe even submit them to DDF…