A Funny thing Happened on the Way to a Meeting

A Funny thing Happened on the Way to a Meeting

There are things that happen that in life are so out of the ‘norm’ that you really have to document them before they disappear into the vortex that is your past; ephemeral and on the edge of your memory, almost as if they were way to weird to have been true.  This has been one of those moments…

I flew from Melbourne to Sydney on Wednesday. It was uneventful at that time, but I should already have been in New South Wales that day, having had my flight cancelled the evening before due to unseasonable (and frankly, unreasonable) fog.  Given that I was meant to be in a meeting at 10am and didn’t actually touch down in Sydney till 12.30 I ended up with a couple of hours to kill before the rescheduled meeting could occur at 2.30. (There’s the context, it’s probably too much detail really, but to perserve my memory, there it is.)

I went to Starbucks to wait. (I KNOW, sorry, it really was awful, the coffee is ghastly, and I still can’t believe there were as many people in there as there were.  But hey, free wifi.)

So, I unpacked the laptop for half an hour to get a bit of prep done for the meeting and as I worked, was generally in my own little world as I usually am when I’m head down over the computer. (Stay with me, it’s about to get good).

When I was done with what I needed to do, I started to pack up my kit ready to head around the corner to my meeting and as I did, I was approached from the left by a not unattractive guy who said, “I just had to stop and tell you, you’re stunning!”

My internal reaction was… “Is he trying to distract me, do I now need to go and change all my passwords, is he standing here cloning my laptop, is my wallet safe, did I log into anything that needs protecting while I was on open wifi?” and so on.  What I did, of course, so as not to appear rude, and so as to ‘live in the moment’, was reach out my hand to shake his and say, “Hi, I’m Dee, nice to meet you.”

We chatted a bit, and while I wasn’t in a big hurry I was mindful of time, so he asked where I was off to. I told him, and before we moved away he wrote down his number for me on a discarded receipt. I, again in the moment, wrote down my web site’s address so he could find me if he wished.

As I moved away, he asked if he could walk me to where I was going, I assented, and we chatted  companionably along the way, and when we got near my destination, we said goodbye and he going one way while I the other, I walked up the street to the office rather bemused by what had just occurred.

I conducted my meeting, travelled across town to my destination for the evening, stopped to catch up with my host and have a good laugh about the events of the day, and then checked my email to find that he’d reached out through my website to connect almost as soon has he’d got back to the office!

The events of the next couple of days unfolded slowly, I have had the busiest time on this trip, going from north to south and back again across Sydney, (if you’ve spent ANY time here at all you’ll know that doing so is never a straightforward thing), and in the end when we did try to co-ordinate a meeting, the planets and our timetables just didn’t align.  The scheduling discussion then devolved into a long and completely flattering text conversation that left me feeling both delighted, if a little sceptical.

In the days since there’s been no ensuing contact, just in case you were wondering if this was going to turn into a scene from one of those hopelessly romantic movies.  I am now back in Victoria with a cracking story and a saucy text conversation to look back on to remind me that such things actually can happen from time to time.

The whole situation got me to thinking about what exactly IS the norm?  This brief exchange has certainly been outside my norms. Having spent so many years inside a culture where such a thing never occurs it’s been a refreshing experience.  But I’m curious to hear from my readers, particularly those who don’t live in an insulated (i.e. religious) culture; if you have one, what’s your outrageous pickup story? And, for those of us playing along at home, how did it end??

 

 

 

 

 

Bravery

Bravery

As I write this my adored little sister is under the surgeon’s knife 2,600km away.

This isn’t minor surgery, this is a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and free flap reconstruction. (You can google those if you want) In short, she’s seeing off her ‘girls’ (the ones who made overt threats that they wanted to kill her in November) and the surgeons are recycling other parts of her torso into new boobs. All in the name of removing that long term, underlying fear that one day she might have to hear the words ‘the cancer’s come back’.

It’s sobering, as I know that had my own journey last November taken the same turn, I too, at some point, would be doing the same. The idea is sensible and good, and brave. And the reality is bigger than I expected.

When she and I spoke earlier in the week, she talked about the fear of not waking up from surgery on one hand, and almost in the same breath we joked about Deb Cohen’s Mastectomy Beyonce Dance off (neither Hills nor I have Deb’s killer moves). We also sent the video below to her surgeons for a laugh (no doubt they get sent it often)

We talked about the after and the prospect of going from a D to a B, from an hourglass to a pear, and how her middle son who loves to snuggle in will be sad about there being less snuggle room.

I sent her a text yesterday full of love and empathy about becoming gorgeously dainty in the boob department, she replied with love and with calm. The decision is made, the post operative bedlam will be weathered with great support from friends and family, and I get to travel those 2600km on Saturday and be big sister, and auntie Dee and I am glad to have the flexibility in my world to make that happen.  I am glad that family is only 2600km away and no more.

But above all I am awed by her bravery, and in making a big decision, a big change all in favour of a better chance at a long and healthy life.

It’s made me wonder what changes I am, or am not prepared to make for the same.

Neighbourhood Snapshots

Neighbourhood Snapshots

I got into two arguments this morning.  Two.  With car drivers.

This was not so much a road-rage situation as a road-bemusement one… Bemusement because I was the pedestrian, crossing roads with an island in the middle… the kind of island that was there so I may stop and give way to the cars turning into the street in front of me.  Argument because in both cases, as I stood in that island and waved the cars through while they were pausing to let me finish crossing – they, in turn  resolutely staying stationary waving at at me, so that I would cross… and while they did this the cars banked up behind them so that I had no choice but to cross so that there didn’t end up being a traffic jam.

I have to laugh at the picture that remains in my mind of us people both determinedly waving at each other… neither of us moving.  It puts me in mind of that old KFC ad… “I said now you go.. and Hugo said you go…”

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I was completing my walk down the main road of my suburb and the tram went past… the poor tram driver got stuck behind a driver who was reversing into a parking space… I feel sure he just wanted to ding the hell out of his bell to hurry that driver up… but these things rarely serve to do more than fluster people so there he sat, this rhinoceros on wheels and waited… I gave it no further thought..

until the phone rang… “Hey Dee! I just went past you on the tram… how’s things?” and so we chatted… my neighbour and I and she told me that my DVD, the one I’d lent to the waitress at the restaurant across the street had been returned while I was out… so now we have a plan for a catchup this afternoon and the return of the DVD…

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*HONK HONK* “HEY DEE!

They yell out the window… the chef and the waitress, yelling to say Hi as I’m walking up that same main road while they’re driving past…  this isn’t the first time I’ve been honked at because I’ve been recognised.  It seems somehow friendlier, if a little more embarrassing than the quiet acknowledgement that happens much later when someone says  “hey, I saw you walking up the street yesterday” … Don’t you think there’s something creepy about that?

It’s also funnier if you have your headphones on and only just make the connection and turn to wave in return as they fly past.

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BRIIIING!! Crash… OUCH… OOOPS, Sorry!!

Hit by a marauding scooting 2 year old on the Anniversary Trail,  her papa hot on her heels but not quite quick enough to avoid the collision… her mother and 8month old sister following along behind…. How do I know?  Dad is my osteopath…

The moral of the story.. is … if you’re going to get run over… might was well be in the company of the person who sees you in your underwear more often than anyone else…

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Hey Dee!!!  Again… a drive by greeting!! This time, the publican at that crazy pub across the road… “When are you coming in for a drink??!!!”

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This is my neighbourhood… I won’t lie… it feels good to know and be known.

I love it here.

Still in Between

I really dropped you in it didn’t I?  Sorry, I didn’t mean to. The last week in between tests, consultations and flying to NZ didn’t leave much room for any more than texting results to the ‘tight five’ and jumping on a plane. I’m now in the motherland, staying with friends and family and generally keeping things normal.

And, they are, well, not normal, but not alarming.  Let me give you the low down (seeing as Kelley asked).

Monday morning started innocuously enough, I’d been getting somewhat more alarmed during the weekend trying to mentally prepare for the CT scans and Nuc Med bone scans booked for that morning. I’d expected not to take too long, and had planned to spend the rest of the day working as usual.  This wasn’t to be, simply because once the scans were done I was asked to come back later in the day for a full body scan.

It was pretty much at that point that my brain started into overdrive… WTF? I hadn’t been mentally prepared for this, and my brain went into overdrive as to why they felt the need… all I could think was that they’d seen something that warranted further action.

You really can’t tell your brain at that point that if there was abdominal involvement it would have shown up on the ultrasounds… and it was even harder to have an internal voice of reason when the story across the Tasman had taken a turn for the more serious.  So I called up the Tailor who came over and kept me sane for a couple of hours before I had to go back to be scanned from top to toe.

That scan duly done I went upstairs to the [breast] surgeon’s rooms to collect my referral to the orthopaedic surgeon and went home to call him for an appointment. I was desperately hoping that he was free to see me before I was due to fly to NZ on the Thursday… and thankfully had a slot on Wednesday.  So the awkward in between continued, with something more of a disconcerting edge, until then.

I googled the surgeon… one of his specialities is musculoskeletal tumours… did I say disconcerting? I meant downright terrifying.

My lovely neighbour, offered to keep me company at the surgeon’s, company and moral support, and her son’s mother offered to drive, so it was Dee and the senior citz off to visit the surgeon. But we duly arrived, filled in all the requisite paper work and waited our turn.  As with all the other appointments I’ve had in the last 3 weeks, this one was also on time, quick, and ridiculously expensive…

The surgeon duly read through all the scans and finally pulled out the two relevant to his interests and asked me two things.  “Does it hurt?” (a consistent question throughout the whole affair to which the answer was always no) and “What have they already told you?”.

Based on the fact this thing in my arm has never caused me pain, and on his experience with looking at such things, the short story is that he was confident that he was looking at an enchondroma – I’ve googled them, they don’t sound serious, and as mine is asymptomatic I’m not expecting things to get any more interesting. The surgeon was pretty low key about it, seemed a little bothered at the extent to which my case had been esclatated… but as he wanted to set my mind at ease he is going to schedule an MRI and a bone biopsy to rule out anything dastardly.

We’ll deal with that in January.

In the meantime, I’m back in NZ, Lil’ Sis, is having a lymph node biopsy on Friday, and we’re all crossing everything that it proves negative, given that she went from  low grade, contained (in the duct) cancer to invasive carcinoma in one fell swoop during her biopsy, we’re on elevated alert. (Though at this stage she’s not considered to have life threatening disease… phew).

Thanks to all of you who’ve been checking in, sorry to leave this update so late… when it was all happening I had no brain space to blog, and now that it’s mostly all over I didn’t have any need to vent it out… for now, all is well.  I’ll let you know if that changes, and if I get gnarly scans, I’ll show you my ‘inside out’ pix in the New Year.

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

I know I’m one of probably 80%* of people who have been blogging as long as I have who have run out of ‘blogging steam’ in the last couple of years. It’s easy to do, a blog about your personal life, a life that has settled into some kind of mundane normality, isn’t one that provides much fodder for reflection or much interest for those who may have been reading.  You know, at least as long as all you’re doing is getting up, going to work, eating socialising and so on.

Frankly, I could have been blogging about my Melbourne adventures, but those have mainly revolved around trying new restaurants, drinking new and ever fancier local beers. Furthermore, I  have never wanted this blog to turn into that Christmas letter you see ever year. You know the one, you’ve probably got one on your mantlepiece as we speak, one that rattles off all of the year’s achievements, and sometimes the ups and downs, but mostly which serves to be a ‘on-paper’ Facebook wrap up that shows off the bits of our life that makes us look more interesting than we are.

This makes me think that for some writing a personal blog and reading everyone else’s, at least in this quarter, has run out of steam because we’re only so interesting as we are different from those around us, and as the similarities become more obvious the longer we blog… I don’t know.. I’m spitballing here… just writing until I’m ready to write what I’m actually supposed to write about.

So, about that…

In reference to the title… I had a moment recently when I’d kind of wished that my life hadn’t settled so quickly back into normality even in my new surroundings; I kind of hoped that I had more fodder to write about… and well, here we are after a visit to the surgeon with just that.

More to write about.

Don’t panic.

I’m not panicking, so frankly I don’t you need panicking either. I really only know a little more now than I did before my appointment. That really only amounts to having seen the x-ray and had pointed out the area on those films which has raised these questions.  I do know that the point of curiosity on the x-ray is a 2.,5cm long lytic lesion (go ahead, look it up, but I don’t want you to tell me what you find, thanks) that’s sitting at the top of my right humerus just below the shoulder joint.

The surgeon has said “It could be a tumor”, and the fact that the edges aren’t strictly smooth makes them want to look at it further.  So, yep, I’m still in limbo, still in that ‘awkward in between’ until I have a bone scan and CT scan next week (Monday).

So yeah, stick around, I’ll give you an update then.

*made up number

The Awkward In Between

You remember the rules, right? Don’t blog about work – you can’t call out a client on your blog and not expect it to come back and bite you on the arse……and don’t blog about the family as each person’s story is theirs to tell, and not mine.

Well, I’m breaking the second rule today for one reason, and that’s the same one I’ve broken it for before, and that’s to emphasise the fact that you should take care of yourself, you should be aware of your family health histories and be smart, keep an eye on the signs.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time you’ll have come across the Boob Checking Archives. I’ve kept you guys up to date from first mammogram, through Mum’s diagnosis and so on, and I know, you really don’t want to be thinking about my boobs, or your mum’s boobs at this moment… but take a deep breath, and let’s get this over with… because to NOT think about them with their health in mind, doesn’t bear thinking about (see what I did there?).

Anyway… a couple of weeks ago I missed a call from Lil’ Sis. Thinking nothing of it I texted her that I was out on a train, and promised that I’d call her in the morning.

I didn’t get a chance to… Mum called me first.

“Dee, just letting you know…*”

It was that call that had been in the back of my mind for years… the one that said, one day, our family history would catch up with my generation.

And it has.

Now this is kind of a kick in the guts, not just because, you know, the big C, but because our aunt, (the one the doctors thought would be the MOST likely to have the BC gene mutation) had been gene tested; the results of which had proven inconclusive…

So for whatever reasons, the doctors thought my grandmother’s and aunts’ (both of theirs) cancers were less likely to be genetic (oh, and did I mention my mother’s? The advanced age at which she was diagnosed (60) also meant ‘not genetic’) – so while the girls in my generation had remained vigilant… we felt like maybe the pressure was off a tiny bit… maybe our family history was just an anomaly restricted to two generations.

Not so.

For as disconcerting is Lil’ Sis’ news is… it is compounded by the news that our cousin is also staring down the same barrel, and is by all accounts further along this path. That’s two in our generation in the same month. It’s WTF worthy, to be sure.

So, given that at the behest of my new Melbourne GP, I’ve been under the care of a breast surgeon, I called their offices and asked their advice… basically saying “should the proposed MRI we’ve been talking about be moved up?”

To which they replied, “Absolutely.”

Now, the wonderful thing about private healthcare is absolute speed at which things get done… I called on the Friday, got the word back from the surgeon to go ahead on the Monday and had the MRI on Tuesday afternoon.

The procedure itself is less awkward than the old mammogram, certainly less invasive… but well, if you’re a claustrophobe and sensitive to loud noise, it isn’t exactly pleasant. However, it was over in 20mins and I was there and back without losing more than an hour and a half of the day. I hadn’t really thought anything of the procedure, nor anticipated results, just got on with the rest of the week. Until Thursday when I got a call from the surgeon herself…

“Hi Dee, just ringing to let you know, your boobs are fine… but there are a couple of other things we’d like to look at further.”

“[redacted]!!”

I was in the middle of teaching a class… so I awkwardly listened to the doctor, accepted her advice and asked her to proceed with booking the extra tests and went back to class.

It was rather difficult to concentrate.

The tests required were an ultrasound of my liver, and an x-ray of my right humerus. There was no mention of what they thought they were looking at, though the surgeon did say, “Don’t worry, it’s probably just a liver cyst” – but no mention of what they could/couldn’t see in my arm.

And so, after the final call back I was booked in for the ultra sound and x-ray today.

I went, I got the scans and as suspected, the sonographer advised that I was one of the population’s 5% that has a liver cyst (I’m so special, me!). It’s asymptomatic so I’ve never been bothered by it, and it will probably remain that way. Hurrah!

The x-ray however, is still up for grabs, I won’t have any further info on that until Thursday when I meet with the surgeon.

I guess that whole story was the preamble for the following; some thoughts about living in that state between “we have some uncertain news” and the certainty that it is, or isn’t ‘something’.

I had a choice at the point the surgeon’s nurse said “we need you to come back in”. I could choose to be terrified and play through all the possible outcomes over and over in my mind and let them make me fearful or depressed. Or I could chose to ‘deal with it when the time came’ and carry on with the week as planned.

I chose a variation somewhere in between, there were moments especially early on when I’d wonder… I mean… when you’ve an issue in one place AND your liver, the first thing I think is… metastatic cancer… cancer of the arm… or, something.

I had a choice to take the surgeon at her word when she said “It’s probably just a cyst” or I could be the cynic, thinking instead that she was only telling me such a thing so that I’d feel ok for that ‘last week when I felt fine’ because everyone knows, you don’t actually start getting sick until you get that diagnosis…

I still have a choice; to believe that all will be well, even if all isn’t well. I can put my faith in the hands of the doctors and their wonderful sciences, and I can shore up my resources with my friends who have been standing in the gap and praying for good reports.

The truth is we don’t walk out our lives with any more or less certainty from one day to the next… it could be a diagnosis, it could be speeding car. We always think it isn’t going to be us, and frankly some days it just is.

So, I’m still in that ‘awkward in between’ – I have 50% less concern than I had this morning, and you know what? I feel like things are just fine. But there’s still that 50%… there’s still ‘something’ about my arm. And whatever it is, in the middle of all the potential fears, the best thing about this week has been the people around me who’ve checked in to make sure I’m ok, who’ve promised prayer from here, to Sydney and as far afield as the Eastern US. A significant few who would drop everything for me.

As I would for them.

You can say what you want about the church as an institution, but as a community. I’m glad for them, really glad.

So, I’ll keep you posted about any results on Thursday, and until then, your girls? When was the last time you checked them?

*About Lil’ Sis, I’m not telling her story here… any more than to say we’re as relaxed as you can be given that as she’s been as vigilant as the rest of us, it’s a very early catch by all accounts.

It was bound to happen sooner or later…

It was bound to happen sooner or later…

I’ve been here in Melbourne nearly 3 months… can you believe that?

Before you read any of the following I’ll state for the record, I love it. The place is relaxed, the natives are friendly, the coffee is off the chain. And it’s all very new and exiting and fun. I mean, they have glow in the dark mini golf… what’s not to love, right? (Seriously, come visit, we’ll get drunk and go play mini golf (it’s the only way to play it, it’s so bad it’s amazing and even more so when you’re p*ssed (not that I’d know, or anything))).

In any case, things have been going well, I’ve got enough work, I’m plenty busy during the day, and all in all I love it here.

But there comes a point in any new situation like this when you really start to hanker for the kind of relationships you left behind, the kind of friends for whom no longer having you in their social circle is as big of a gut wrench as it is for me to no longer be in their social circle. And frankly, you do begin to wonder why on earth you thought it was a good idea to leave them all in the first place.

The reality kicked in, I can’t just call one of them up and say “It’s Friday, which pub are we hitting tonight?”, or “Hey, do you wanna go to a movie? What’s on? Is Tom Cruise in it? (If yes, let’s just cut straight to the Thai for dinner…”). This is about the time when not having someone to companionably spill my guts to starts to feel like about the worst thing in the world. This is about the time when that creeping depression that starts off like a smokey edge around my usually cheerful view rears its ugly head. We’re not close, that feeling and I, but we’ve had our run ins over the years and I wouldn’t have been unhappy if I never again had to roll over in the morning and not want to get out from under the covers.

So, colour me surprised that on the other end of that feeling, a weekend of actually putting myself out there in new situations rather than staying under the covers has left me feeling less plaintive and more positive that it’s only a question of time before there are people here who won’t mind me spilling my guts, or who might just say, “Hey Dee, let’s hit a movie, and no, Tom Cruise isn’t in it, but can we have Thai anyway?”

Game On

Game On

Over the years I’ve made my peace with those quirks in my nature that out me completely as a ‘nerd’, or if you prefer a ‘geek’. The funny thing is, those qualities were  dormant for years, rearing their heads on occasion, but never firmly pushing me over the edge into that [previously scary] territory wherein being a geek/nerd/gamer was completely socially unacceptable.

I’m kinda glad that geek is chic these days. I feel less weird about the fact that I spent all day yesterday afternoon watching end to end episodes of ‘The Guild‘ while my nose was completely buried in ‘The Room‘.**

It’s on the basis that it’s the top game for iPad in 2012 that I downloaded the Room yesterday. And it’s worthy of the title. So worthy I played it all the way through over a number of hours yesterday afternoon, and loved it so much I reset it and played it all the way through again this morning.

I love it because it takes me right back to those early days of computer gaming that first pegged me as a nerd/geek/gamer way back in the early 90s. It has puzzles, teasers and all the tricks that are completely absorbing (not to mention stunningly beautiful graphics that blow you away on the retina iPad) and is absolutely my favourite kind of computer game. Which leads me to reminisce for a minute or two about those other computer games that have captured me over the years…

Initially it was those early DOS games… such 8bit goodness in video and sound!! Aaaah, the memories…

hugo1The first one I came across (read fell in love with was) Hugo’s House of Horrors, followed by Hugo 3 Jungle of Doom (Suzy, I remember playing that with you for some reason…). It wasn’t until much later that I found Hugo 2:Whodunnit and played it on some DOS emulator… well and truly after its first release… still very clever even when it was long passed over as archaic!

where_in_the_world_is_carmen_sandiego-showWhere in the World is Carmen San Diego was one of the first games I played on Windows. Very early Windows and it was the highlight of one of my babysitting gigs… the kids I looked after owned it so it was a great day when I got to go over and hang out with them… playing Carmen well and truly into the night hours after they’d gone to bed! My favourite things.. mystery and international travel… all in one wee game. I’ve never seen it in the years since.. is it still out there??

Somewhere in the middle of all this, I was introduced to the Neverhood (I think it was my brother-in-law who found it).  Gosh, whenever I pull this disc out I get nostalgic for all the kids I’ve introduced it to over the years, it’s another game that could use an outing on the iPad. It’s just so flipping awesome… if only because it’s completely built in claymation and follows an everyman hero through a journey to save his world.  It’s perfect for adults and children and if you have a chance, and the right equipment, you should definitely try and get your hands on it.

I think I hit a bit of a lull after that, I moved north, didn’t have access to games or a computer other than in the context of work so I didn’t pick up any kind of games again until 2000 when I was introduced to the LucasArts games by the geek I was nannying for.  He hooked me up with some great games that his kids and I played through (not sure who was the bigger kid at that point) and through them I fell in love with the Myst, the Monkey Island Series and with Grim Fandango (see below). They introduced me to this whole genre of adventure games and I was hooked and for as long as I have had a computer… (which he generously hooked me up with as well (nerd, built one for me from spare parts. Genius)) these have been my games of choice.  None of this First Person Shooter malarkey, just good old fashioned brain bending puzzles!!!

Once I had a machine of my own I picked up the early Monkey Island games, Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s revenge, The Curse of Monkey Island, the aforementioned kids and I played Monkey Island 4: Escape from Monkey Island together, and my nephews and I are slowly working our way through Monkey Island 5: Tales of Monkey Island whenever I go back to NZ.

I’m doing my best to turn them into game nerds too… much to their parent’s chagrin.

[as an aside... I also got into SimCity and Caesar IV - but only lasted as long as it took to build a city that would then need strategic defense... Then it got boring.]

Grim Fandango would pretty much be my hands down favourite of that era, as much as the Monkeys are cool, Grim just tickled my sense of humour and my style.  It’s another adventure game but one whose look and feel is straight out of film noir though is set with themes, figures and motifs from Aztec belief in the afterlife (underworld, day of the dead… sounds dreadful… really is awesome – geek much?).  The game play is set around Manny Calavera, a courier who shuttles people from death into the afterlife, the class of the journey determined by the deeds of the deceased while in the land of the living.  You kinda have to be there, but I have an old windows machine and a copy of Grim that I pull out every couple of years, just for the hell of it. It really is a great game!! Wonder if it, like the monkeys, will get another life on the iPad… (fingers crossed).

The other game series I was introduced to in those nannying years was MYST, an absolute classic of the genre and still really highly regarded as one of the better puzzle adventure series out there.

I played MYST 1 with those aforementioned kids and went on to play Riven, Exile, Revelation and End of Ages (still haven’t finished that one). They’re incredibly challenging and these days, due to time constraints I never really can sit down and just play through, even with a walkthrough to speed things up. But they are beautiful to look at and so, so cleverly put together.

There are elements of the Room that remind me of playing that first MYST game, the puzzles are challenging but accessible, there is no need to be jumping back and forth to guides to get where you need to go, just a bit of patience and some lateral thinking.

Finally, I was outed as a gamer to one of the pastors in my old church, also an unashamed PC gamer who loves Adventure Games like I do… he handed me down a bunch of his old favourites, some I’m still yet to get through but among them are Schizm, Mysterious Journey 1&2, and Riddle of the Sphinx (aah, Egypt and adventures, what’s not to love!).

I never got into consoles, have never owned a Nintendo DS or any of those other ‘gaming only’ type devices, I suspect that what would happen if I did is that I’d lose myself in games never to be found again, or, if my iPhone habits are to be believed, I’d spend a fair bit of cash on games that I get sick of before I complete them leaving it like my iPhone, cluttered with unused apps that will likely never see the light of day again and no small amount of money wasted…

As it is, if companies keep cooking up games as good as the Room then I’m satisfied the genre isn’t going anywhere yet, and if we’re lucky  Adventure Gaming will have a whole new renaissance and a whole new crop of young adventurous geeky followers… stuff it, let’s just say ‘young at heart’ adventurous geeky followers…

I shall unashamedly name myself among them.

 

**As an aside, for those who are uninitiated, ‘The Guild’ is a web tv series made by uber chick geek Felica Day which has run for 6 seasons and which celebrates all things MMORPG (massive multi-player online role playing game – think World of Warcraft).

Picture This – why I gave up on Instagram

Picture This – why I gave up on Instagram

I’ve been watching all the furore over Instagram’s change of terms and conditions with interest, and as usual, there are two sides to the story, and yet people get all energised and a whole flurry of “OMGs” and “WTFs” erupt in my timeline (be it Twitter or Facebook or even my email account).

Here’s the thing.

We are posting our pictures in public. We have to give Instagram permission to display them, and given that it’s a social tool and connects by API (blah blah, tech junk, etc.) to other services, for proper legal standing those images need to be permitted on other forums.

Sometimes those forums will have ads.

One day Instagram will have ads.

It’s the way these things go. We get all excited about a new service, website, app etc., we all jump on board and get hooked on it.

Then it has to pay for itself.

Realistically the terms and conditions need to align with Facebook (remember? Instagram is owned by Facebook), and frankly, those pix that you put on Facebook are covered with the same terms and conditions, if I read things correctly. Are you careful about your photos on Facebook? Have you jumped ship from Facebook because of THEIR terms and conditions?

No, neither have I. I’ve thought about it, but I find the service too useful to do away with, and frankly I’ve got all sorts of tech malarkey going on in the background to strip ads so I never see them anyway.

I’m the kind of user Facebook hates.

That said, I’m still ditching Instagram, but it’s not about the terms and conditions. It’s because, quite frankly, the app doesn’t, for a second, compare to the flickr one.

I’ve been a flickr user for YEARS and had got out of the habit of posting pix on it, because, if I’m honest, I got out of the habit of taking pictures. I fell out of love with my big old clunky D100 and don’t really love the picture quality of my iPhone 4 so I’ve really only been farting about with occasional cat or lunch picture on Instagram.

Instagram has dumbed me down. Big time. (This isn’t a reflection of any one else on Instagram, it’s just me. Promise.)

In any case. My Instagram pix no longer show up on Twitter, the app interface doesn’t do what I want (seriously, I can’t see your photo stream? I have to keep going back to the thumbnails to see all your pix? Back… forth… back… forth = irritating).

Fortunately Flickr has lifted its game in the biggest way with their iPhone app. I can filter pix, my images aren’t cropped arbitrarily, I can see your photostream, I can post them to Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and I can also do way more editing of my pix, can tag them and can make them publicly available for use on MY terms, given all my pix are out there with Creative Commons Licensing. (Edited to add, and because I [happily] pay annually to use it, ads aren’t an issue, at least not now… hopefully, never!)

The only thing that kept me coming back to Instagram was the validation from all your likes and comments, and if I’m sticking with a substandard product just for your validation?

Well, that’s just silly.

There you have it, I’m quitting Instagram. I’ll miss you, but if we’re friends I’ll see your stuff on Facebook anyway, right?

And if you’re an iPhone user, I challenge you to check out the Flickr app (yes, you’ll need a flickr account) and if you like it you can follow me and maintain my validation levels on my Flickr pix (or, you know on Facebook and Twitter and all those other places I play on the web.)

Across the Road

Across the Road

One of the lovely things about the old digs in Sydney is that across the road there was a corner store; such a convenient thing to have within easy reach when you’re in need of an afternoon Coke Zero or a bag of chips. (I know, shocking habit, but OMG Yum, right?) The other lovely thing about that corner store was that it is an Asian grocery, so I had immediately to hand, wonderful things like fried tofu, tamarind paste (mmm, Pad Thai) and real authentic green curry paste.

Gosh, just talking about that store has me missing it already.

These new digs don’t have a corner store across the road. There’s a servo, so I can buy petrol and (at a pinch) overpriced milk etc. but by and large I’ll be doing my shopping at the Coles or Woolies down in Camberwell which is an easy walk or tram ride. Heck I might even get myself one of those nanna trolleys to get stuff home with. Because, if I’m honest, it isn’t so unusual for me to go and do my whole week’s shopping, forgetting I don’t have the car with me, and then find myself having to struggle getting home with more groceries than I can manage. [Adds nanna trolley to the mental shopping list].

The venue of interest across the road in these parts (which I believe is going to be rather a popular) is a watering hole, a drinking establishment, a pub of sorts.

This place is noteworthy more for its quaint charm than for the fact that it’s across the road from me. Truth is, it’s half bottleshop (bottle-o to the locals) and half ‘pub/winebar’. So you can pop in and pick up a six pack to take home and get completely sidetracked by the fact there’s a friendly face at the bar, a few tables dotted around and a lovely black replica (presumably) van der Rohe Barcelona sofa lining one wall.

There’s something uniquely Australian about the decor. The corrugated iron cladding on the wall is reminiscent of an old shearing shed, framed prints of patrons and some other slightly more arty prints almost lend an air of sophistication. There’s no pub grub here but you can bring in your burger and fries, or fish and chips from next door and scoff them down as you quaff your brew; heck you can even call Crust up the road and have them deliver you a pizza, (that’s ingenuity for you).

Finally, and most importantly there’s only one beer on tap, thankfully it’s Blue Tongue*, a nice inoffensive drop and a regular feature in my beer drinking repertoire.

Frankly, I can see a quick pot across the road at the end of the day could become a habit, it certainly is for at least two of my neighbours. But, best of all, when I walk in the door? If Brad’s behind the bar he will call out ‘Dee!’ as if I was a local already…

I’m ridiculously grateful that it’s not VB, this is Victoria, after all. Also, in an unrelated note, drinking Blue Tongue beer will not give you a blue tongue, to my mind this is false advertising… but, still, it tastes like quite nice beer, so, there’s that.

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