There's a bug in my bonnet

Well, it needs to be said. It is enough to break my blog-silence. I hate it when the "pharmacy assistant" tries to bully me into/out of buying some sort of drugs that I know that I need. Now, I am not trying to be nasty, but these "pharmacy assistants" are not qualified, do not have a degree. Why should I listen to their "advice"? And... they always try to bully you, being bossy in their interrogation of why I should want a particular product.

A couple of months ago I sent Thomas in (unsuspecting) to buy some Dimitap for Maya, and he walked out with his tail between his legs because of the hounding the lady gave him, claiming his wife knew what we needed better. I should have warned him about what he was walking into.

Anyway, I am very assertive when I walk into the chemist's now. I tell them in no uncertain terms what I would kindly like to purchase (I don't purchase these kinds of products very readily - I believe in sleep and water for everything first!) and don't back down until they hand it over.....beware!!!!!

Let me know if your local pharmacy is like mine!!


(From Warning Label Generator, via Read/Write Web)

Christmas is coming...

...and I started thinking about the whole deal - presents, travel, eating, family, traditions. Here's a handful of things the Williams family did/does at Christmas time, because, well, we've always done them (and most we never do at any other time of the year):

As kids, Christmas Eve was spent watching Carols by Candlelight on TV. At some stage during the night, Mum and Dad would herd us into the car and we'd all go looking for Santa. Often there'd be a "sighting" as we all looked around desperately for a flash of red. Later on, right before bedtime, us kids left out a piece of shortbread and a can of Coke for Santa and his reindeers. By morning time, if any of us remembered to look, the shortbread and Coke would be gone and replaced with crumbs on the plate. But, no matter how late we stayed up on Christmas Eve, we never saw Santa...but the presents were always delivered!

On Christmas morning, we kids weren't allowed to open our presents until everyone was awake AND it was past 7:00AM. That meant that at 7:00 o'clock on the dot, these of us who were awake would run in and jump on those who were not. As kids, we had a special pillow-cover each which was a sack for all our presents under the tree. When we were all around the tree, and ready to go, unwrapping presents was a big free-for-all, grabbing from our sack as fast as we could - no handing out presents and unwrapping them one by one!

After the commotion of presents unwrapping, Christmas morning is still breakfast at my Mum and Dad's house, and it's usually chicken and champagne. Most often, 99% of the time, we go to church on Christmas morning.

The main event on Christmas Day itself is lunch with my Mum's family, which stretches into dinner - nowadays, we don't see Dad's family at Christmas. Dessert after the huge Christmas lunch is Christmas Pudding with pennies and thripence in it, which takes 6 weeks to prepare, and is eaten with custard and icecream. For afters, my Gran makes rum balls, my Mum makes shortbread, and my Aunty D makes mince pies. Yum!

Boxing Day is basically a day to play with presents and recover from over-eating - when we were kids, I don't remember ever going anywhere on Boxing day (good for a relax!)

What sort of customs does your family celebrate?

Being a Dad Helps Me In My (Future) Job

Tucked away somewhere I have a Bachelor's Degree in Education, reserved for use at some unspecified point in the future (one of the plans for its use was that I would move to teaching when TJ goes to school in 2007). Since achieving this degree I have had both a sense of anticipation at stepping into the classroom to teach school-aged kids, and a feeling of foreboding at leaving my current type of work in technology.

I guess it's in order here to recap on the type of work I do, exactly: I sit behind a computer all day, sometimes with music in my headphones, figuring out solutions to technology problems by writing new programs or fixing ones I've written previously. By "writing programs" I mean that I design "screens" or web pages that allow someone to query, manipulate and report on data gathered from the hospital, whether it's patient data, financial figures or something else. When you click a button on the screen or click a menu item, I determine what will happen. This also involves an element of pencil-and-paper design and of course collaboration with whoever wants the progam written. Oftentimes my programs need fine-tuning or the requirements change, and so I do spend a lot of time fixing problems that I've introduced (the ubiquitous computer "bug").

Most people that know me will tell you that computing is my love/obsession/vocation. Given what I've described above, it seems to me a million miles from teaching in a classroom. But I think I'm finally putting the missing pieces into my training for teaching - by being a Dad!

I'm amazed to find that having kids has helped me get excited about working with kids. I'm starting to think that my role as teacher will be a little like being a Dad in that I can help kids come to their own decisions, expose them to a wide variety of experiences, help them figure things out for themselves, etc. I realise that this is a small part of the actual job of teaching, but it's good to have the overall vision sometimes.

I guess it's one of those things that you can't know until you do it (here I'm speaking both of being a Dad and getting my courage up to teach). I reckon I'll make a better educator as a 30-something Dad than as a twenty-something adult teenager...

Olivia Skydives!

Olivia SkydivesLast Sunday, Olivia went tandem skydiving as a present from TJ, Maya and I for her birthday. We had booked in for 3:30 in the afternoon, but early Sunday morning someone from Commando Skydivers rang and asked if we could make it earlier because the wind may pick up. I had organised for friends and relatives to arrive at 3:00 so we couldn't really change the time - we just hoped that the conditions would remain good, and understood that there was not much we could do about it anyway.

At 1 o'clock in the afternoon, with Maya screaming in bed and TJ happily watching "Bob the Builder", I checked with Olivia how she was feeling, She was busy getting organised and was not nervous at all - in fact her only feeling was that there may not be enough food for her party! We rang the skydiving place and we were told that conditions were good - the jump was on...

We arrived at Tooradin Airfield a little before 2:45 to set things up, to find that all our guests had already arrived (maybe they were as pumped as Olivia was). Olivia went straight to the office to get through the necessary paperwork of signing up and becoming a member, waivers, and agreements that "skydiving may be dangerous", while I got her strawberry cheesecake birthday cake ready. Olivia's team of Chris, who Olivia was to dive with, and Sam, her photographer, were ready and waiting, so we sang a quick "Happy Birthday" and it was off to some basic training for Olivia.

Olivia looked really cool all suited up and was still not nervous...hmmm. While she was practicing lifting her feet up for the landing, my dad, Olivia's dad and my Grandad inspected the plane and it passed muster despite the fact it had no doors! Olivia and another student were bundled in and the plane took off to a fanfare of well wishes. Back on the ground, the gathered onlookers (about 25 of us) ate cake and spent the next 1/2 hour craning our necks to watch Olivia's plane climb to 10,000 feet (which was really high - the plane looked the size of full stop!) To add to the excitement there were other planes and a helicopter taking off and landing, plenty of food, and of course the playground held lots of attention for TJ, Maya, Raymond, and Jack, the "youngies".

Olivia JumpingThankfully a couple of times some helpful people from the skydiving place came out and helped us spot the plane. We were finally told "2 minutes to jump", and thanks to Brad's binoculars we spotted Olivia jumping out - which was impossible to see with the naked eye. She was in freefall for about 30 seconds, during which time she covered 6,000 feet, and then had maybe 8 or 10 minutes steadily descending in the parachute. After a beautiful and safe landing Olivia had earnt a glass of champagne and we all gethered round as she described her awe at seeing the world from up that high, her lack of nervousness, and what everything looked like from nearly 3 kilometres up.

We also had the chance to see things first hand because Sam mixed the videotape of Olivia's jump and an interview with her, to music, and we all watched it in the Commando's office. Wow! I was really impressed with the setup and tandem package - all the people we dealt with at Command Skydivers were helpful and friendly and very professional.

The grin on Olivia's face was priceless for me. I can't believe how much she enjoyed her first skydive and how brave she was. A great birthday present, if I may say so myself.

Happy Birthday Wifey!

Olivia Skydives

Olivia's big birthday present is a tandem skydive (the first sky dive she has ever done) which she's going to do this Sunday. Here's an artist's impression of what the event will look like ;-)

Naturally I'm excited for her, as this is a pretty cool thing to do. The idea was seeded a couple of weeks ago when Olivia and I went on a date, and Olivia mentioned that's she's always wanted to jump out of a plane. Well, her chance is coming up. I'll be sure to post photos, maybe Olivia will be able to write about the experience!

Olivia's Birthday

Happy Birthday to my Beautiful Wife! My wife whom I love, I hope you are having a fantastic day. Love and more love from your Hugsby.


Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia, is really starting to impress. I was telling Olivia about it the other day - a site where anyone can add and edit entries. I told her you could even add an entry for "Carrum Downs" (the outer Melbourne suburb we live in), which you would not find in any other encyclopedia. I think she was impressed, but it's hard to tell!

Well, someone beat me to it, the entry on Carrum Downs described where the suburb is, and even has links to the surrounding suburbs. Cool. There's not much information there now, a kind of "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy"-esque "mostly harmless". Maybe I could elaborate?

UPDATE: One of the problems with a site where anyone can add and edit information is that some of it is going to be untrustworthy. Doh!

Being Australian

Rodney quips that he is "un-Australian" by not really caring about the Melbourne Cup. It was that phrase that made me notice his post - I have always found it hard to imagine what being an "Australian" means.

An analogy is a giant wall map of Australia, made up of tiny thumbnail images illustrating the lives of the people that make up Oz, snapshots of what we can define as being "Australian" (my definition is trying to deal with what is as opposed to what we would like it to be).

The problem with the wall picture analogy is that I feel like I'm standing with my nose right up against the wall, looking at the little picture that I'm in, and I can't get a wider scope. What does it mean to be Australian? How can I find out?

p.s. I don't care about the Melbourne Cup either. I enjoy the day off (although yesterday we did watch the race itself).

2 Years Of Blogging

This blog has been going for two!

I've been trying to write this blog as a personal diary/reminder and a collection of my current thoughts, as often as I can. My approach is that I write up a post as a "brain dump" and often spend twenty minutes or more getting it right.

What I described above is my attempt to keep each post coherent and to write spontaneously, but then also to apply a level of "writing skill" so that each post is spelt correctly, reads well, doesn't repeat, is not repeating, and makes sense. Make sense?

My target audience was originally me and perhaps my immediate family. I'm glad it has widened to connect (even on a one-off basis) with lots of people from all over the place. The fact that this site is in the public domain hopefully invites comment and back-and-forth (however, I read other people's blogs and don't always make a comment, so don't be embarrassed if you don't comment).

Anyhoo, I was wondering if anyone out there would be interested in giving feedback on my "writing skill" (such that it is). I want to keep improving! Perhaps we could trade ideas or constructive criticisms?


Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Copyright Thomas & Olivia Williams 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009