"Movember" and Men's Health

Australian blogger Darren Niemke is joining in to the "Movember" campaign for men's health, specifically prostate cancer and depression. I've heard Darren speak two or three times and met him at Code Camps before - he's a very down-to-earth speaker and is now an author too!

"Movember" involves growing a moustache in the month of November, and getting sponsored. Good on you Darren, I'll have to get my sponsorhip details together to support you.

The Movember web site points out some alarming men's health facts:

  1. Men are far less healthy than women. The average life expectancy of males is 6 years less than females.
  2. Every year in Australia 2,700 men die of prostate cancer – more than the number of women who die from breast cancer.
  3. Depression affects 1 in 6 men…Most don’t seek help. Untreated depression is a leading risk factor for suicide. Rates of suicide are more than double the national road toll.
The last statistic is terrible. I hope that the visibility of male depression issues starts to catch up with the visibility of the TAC (Transport Accident Commission), who I reckon have done a good job advertising over the last couple of years.

A related article from ars.technica caught my eye today, about Australian researchers finding "Net-based psychiatric treatments sometimes beneficial".

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Spending More Money

Mick (SplaTT) Stanic posts about "A-Z Retail Tricks To Make You Shop" - things retailers do to make you spend more money while you're in their shop. The quote at the top of the article says it all:

"If we went into shops only when we needed to buy something, and if once in there we bought only what we needed, the economy would collapse, boom." Paco Underhill, CEO Envirosell

While the article isn't exactly localised to Australia, it lists obvious and not-so-obvious tactics that even I've noticed while shopping. My favorite idea from the article is:
Hopscotch – One American supermarket chain hit upon the idea of drawing a hopscotch in the aisle next to the children’s cereal in order to make the children play and thus pin Mum & Dad to a point where the children could hassle them for treats.

I reckon I'm pretty good at not being swayed by obvious ploys, but some of these marketing tactics are aimed at the subconscious level. The antidote to these kind of things might be sites like Get Rich Slowly (reading this site has helped me learn about finances and spend in a more controlled manner - not that I was ever spend crazy).

The good news is that my wife looks after the finances for the family, and we're doing well, so I could probably learn a lot from her. Perhaps her antidote for subliminal marketing is to shop with 3 kids in tow?

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The worst thing a sibling has done to me is...

Rodney asks: what's the worst thing a sibling has done to you?

I thought, since I've got 3 brothers, I'd dedicate a whole post to the various attrocities committed in our younger years:-)

Truth be told, there wasn't many bad things my brothers (singly or collectively) did to me. I can remember various arguments and fights, but while I don't remember who had the upper hand, I also don't remember needing to plot revenge because I came off second best (perhaps because I'm the eldest and biggest?)

Maybe my brothers can remember things I did to them. Hopefully they can't, or won't, tell. Maybe we weren't quite as nasty/violent/mischevious as stories I've heard of other families?

Some incidents that spring to mind (no names, to protect the innocent):

  • being really punched in the face while play fighting (which in turn made me hit my head against the wall behind me, ouch)
  • being laughed at because I broke my arm, falling off the exact same piece of play equipment that a brother had broken his arm on, exactly one week before (hey, that hurt too!)
  • being told I was getting old (which, while technically true, is still not a nice thing to hear)
On reflection, this list is actually quite docile. No permanent scars or long-term mental anguish. I love my brothers!

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Earth from Above


If you're in Melbourne anytime from now until December 2006, take some time to have a look at a free exhibition called "Earth from Above" on the banks of the Yarra near Federation Square. Olivia and I, along with the kids, spent about half an hour last week looking at the beautiful, huge photographs and reading about conservation and sustainable development. And it's free.

The photos were taken by Yann Arthus-Bertrand who also has downloads available on his site.

The photo I've sampled here is a camel caravan in Niger seen from the air, although at first glance it doesn't look like that.

My only regret is that we ran out of time at the end to buy a souvenir. I might be able to find the picture I liked on the photographer's site, if I can remember which picture I liked most...

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"The Bible Is Dangerous"

The quote above (the heading for this post) grabbed my attention this afternoon as I was reading. Paul Fromont points to a short, almost bullet-point-like post by Andy Goodliff on the Bible:

...I'm not interested in reading the bible as if it were a text book or an instruction manual. Let's stop pretending we all know how to read the bible. The bible is not a book to be studied. The bible is not a book that can be mastered. The great tragedy of the bible study is it has made the bible dull and boring. The great worry of the bible study is we've turned the bible into a weapon against those who interpret it differently. The bible study has created as many infallible popes as there are Christians, all who believe that they are right because their bible says this or that. The bible is a book to be wrestled with. The bible is a dangerous, world-changing, life-altering text that is out to transform the reader...
Both Paul and Andy point out that the Bible is life-changing and unsettling - dangerous. I can agree, especially in context of some of the sayings of Jesus that we've been reading at church (also known as "The Beatitudes"):
 Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say
all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because
great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the
prophets who were before you.
  From Matthew 5, NIV

The stuff Jesus said above doesn't make much sense in real life - rejoice when you are picked on??? Perhaps that should be filed along with other wise but hollow sayings. But Jesus meant for this teaching to be applied. This is one of the many things that make the Bible "dangerous", in my opinion.

It's worth looking at the rest of Matthew 5 to see how counter-common-sense/anti-current-thinking Jesus' teaching is.

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Meeting Rodney (Finally)

As a follow on from last week where I was an idiot, on Thursday, our whole little family trekked in to Melbourne to meet Sonshine FM Announcer and Perth dweller Rodney Olsen.

It was great to meet Rodney and his family. We chatted for about an hour and a half over coffee and cakes, while the littler kids ran (safely) around the Southbank Food Court.

While we were there we also met Kitty from Peregrine Sojo. Nice to meet you and your Mum Kitty!

Afterwards Olivia, TJ, Maya, Heath and I did a quick bit of shopping and finally headed up to the Rialto Observation Deck to watch the sunset and have dinner (until I get my photos on a not-too-happy computer, there's some cool pics from others at Flickr).

All in all another highly enjoyable and memorable afternoon in the city.

After all these excursions on Thursdays, next Thursday, spent at work, is going to seem downright tame by comparison!

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I'm An Idiot (Again)

Dateline - Thursday, September 28th, 2006: Thursday was the day fellow blogger and West Australian native Rodney Olsen had organised a meet-up in Melbourne, as he travels the east coast with his family.

I took the afternoon off in preparation for meeting Rodney and his entourage at Southbank in the city. Olivia, TJ, Maya, Heath and I all jumped on the train with our picnic lunch and, on arrival, relaxed on a small strip of green next to the river.

3 o'clock rolled around - the designated meeting time - and we leisurely wandered into the food court, spotting several West Coast Eagles supporters, but no Rodney. After around 20 minutes, I gave him a call (not having actually spoken to him ever before). Not wanting to be pushy, I came up with a gentle, tactful (hopefully) question: "Are you far away from the food court?"

Rodney's tactful response:

"That's next week! I'm still at work!"

I'm an idiot. Next time, I'll let Olivia handle my social appointments :-(

The moral of this story: If you're interested in meeting Rodney, the correct date is October 5th :-)

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