Friday, April 29, 2011

Ridiculous news stories

We don't have television in our house. When I say television, I don't mean we don't have a television in our home. What I'm saying is that we don't have it linked up to receive television shows. Let's take a moment for that to sink in because I know for some of you this may be incredibly hard to fathom.

Right, shall we move on?

Due to this lack of television, I rely heavily on the Internet for my news. During the Christchurch and Japan earthquakes for example, I was metaphorically glued to my laptop for DAYS! The live feeds from around the world were incredibly useful in finding out what was happening.

There is a bad side to getting your news from the Internet though. I have discovered that apparently respected news providers have a very loose definition of what 'news' actually is.

While I realise that what people find 'news' is relative (take the royal wedding for example), there has to be a line about what is reported by mainstream media. Some things that have been reported recently have left me wondering why?

A phenomena that is rather creepy is a fascination with reporting on non celebrities. Those people in our world that haven't actually done anything, but are followed around and their lives are documented as if they were important to our daily lives. A news article recently reported that Paris Hilton's boyfriend was pushed outside court. Really? This is news? I got pushed in the supermarket yesterday but it didn't make the papers. Do people seriously care?

Another irritating trait of mainstream media is reporting on a hunch. The obvious example at the moment is will Prince William and Duchess Catherine's marriage last? This isn't news, this is a question that NO ONE could know the answer to. Not to mention incredibly rude since they have been married less than twenty four hours! And yet it is a story that makes it into mainstream media worldwide.

The one type of news story that makes me go GRRRR? Pointless research stories. These include research which claim if you don't have enough nutritious food to eat due to poverty you will be depressed, if you don't interact with your child they won't develop and my personal favourite parents with young children often don't go to the gym. Really people? We really didn't know all this already? How is this news? We should be researching things which are important and unknown or (now here's a thought) acting on the knowledge we have already gained and help improve society. But that is another blog entirely.

What would I like to see in my news? Coverage of local, national and international events which change the makeup of lives. I want to be informed. I want to be challenged. I want Judy Bailey back. But that again is another blog entirely.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Know me before you hug me

I am not a hugger. In fact I would go as far as to say I am possibly one of the least huggy people you will ever meet. I come from a family that does not hug unless someone has died, been born or has gotten married. Oh and if the All Blacks score. But that goes without saying really.

My in laws and adopted family and friends despair over my aversion to hugging. There have been many discussions about how hugging shows love, and how hugging is a source of comfort. Even after all these years, I still don't really get it. So when I found out my brother was marrying into a family of huggers, there was some fear and trepidation about the impending wedding day and the unavoidable hugs to follow.

Now don't get me wrong. My brother's in laws rock. They are pretty cool people who I have gotten to know over the past few months and consider them an extension of my own family. So when it came to hug time, I just sucked it up and hugged them (briefly). It was slightly traumatising and made me incredibly uncomfortable (and this is with people I like!) but it was their custom so I hugged these new members of our family.

After the required hugs were over, I breathed a sigh of relief. Until, from out of the blue, a random stranger grabbed me and HUGGED me! With no warning.

Apparently, saying 'get the hell off me' is not the appropriate response to someone hugging you at a wedding. Also describing this ambush (and I was ambushed) as bad touching is also viewed as slightly over the top.

Why do people feel compelled to hug me? I kind of understand people who are close to me wanting to hug me, but strangers? Why would someone want to hug a stranger?

This person at the wedding looked stunned when I didn't hug back. In fact they looked offended. But they weren't family, they weren't even someone I knew, so I told them 'I'm not a hugger'. Their response? 'Oh don't be silly, it's just a hug'.

As a hugging novice, I am guessing that hugging shows a degree of love. So it seems inappropriate for a stranger to hug someone because they don't have that level of intimacy with you. It's not just a hug. It's a sign of love.

I don't think I am a prickly person. I am generally a bubbly person who will talk your ear off if you let me. I just don't like being hugged. So my advice for you all from the non huggers of this world: know us before you hug us. Wait for us to initiate a hug. It will happen, just not as regularly as you huggers would like.

And if you are a stranger, don't hug me. Next time, the mace is coming out.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Destiny's Child, you have inspired me

I have discovered something about myself over the past forty eight hours that I have suspected for some time.

I am the Facebook Police.

I stole this expression from my father in law. It is used to describe someone who feels obligated to monitor what people discuss over Facebook. Before you view me as a CRAZY stalker, maybe I should explain.

When I see people airing their dirty laundry over Facebook for all the world to see, I get cranky. There is something tacky about it that just rubs me the wrong way. However, the most surprising thing is this phenomena is no longer reserved for bitter teenage girls fighting over Twilight. It appears to be happening more and more among adults who should know better. Which has caused me to pose the question: Why?

I have always been a strong believer in confronting problems in person. While I can appreciate that some people find this intimidating, I find that a direct approach is much more effective, kind of like ripping off a Band Aid really fast. The problem with arguing over Facebook is that it draws the conflict out, sometimes for days. This creates even more tension and the initial issue often gets lost amongst the mud slinging.

The other major problem is everyone can see what you are discussing so you get them popping their two cents worth in which is often unhelpful as it drags in even more issues, taking even longer to resolve. Also, just as an issue is about to be resolved, a third party can jump in and the fight starts again.

But my major issue with people arguing over Facebook? It is there forever. You can delete it, you can kiss and make up, but it is always there in the vast expanses of cyberspace. The issue will never go away. This lessens any chance of resolution and, because it is a public forum, forces people to take sides, sometimes permanently.

So, in response to observing this time and again, I have become the Facebook Police. When I see people I care about brawling over Facebook, I have a somewhat unique way of expressing my distaste for what they are doing.

This is where Destiny's Child comes in.

In 2001, Destiny's Child released one of the greatest songs of all time, 'Survivor'. This is a great song on so many levels, but the one line that has changed my life for the better is 'I'm not gonna diss you on the Internet, 'cause my momma taught me better than that'.

So now, when people are fighting it out online, I quote Destiny's Child to them, sometimes repeatedly, for many, many posts. It is getting to the point where soon all I will have to do is type 'Destiny's Child' to them.

This is all from a place of love. I don't want you to hurt someone so badly that you may never get that friendship or family relationship back. I have seen this too much recently so I am begging you, next time you sit at your computer screen to type something confrontational ask yourself:

WWDCD? (What would Destiny's Child Do?)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Old people behaving badly

I am surrounded by old people. I live in a town where it's the place you go to retire. I work in a rest home. I am exposed to old people probably more than the average person. So let me share an insight with you.

Old people are incredibly rude.

Now before you all jump down my throat and tell me about all the wonderful old people you know, how old people fought for my freedom, how your Nana used to bake you and everyone around you cookies, realise I know those old people too (especially the last example!) and I love them!

What I want to expose is the dark side to old people, the hidden side that only a select few get to see.

There is a running joke in my industry that you know you work in a rest home when the most cutting thing that has ever been said to you is uttered by the tiny ninety year old woman in a wheelchair. Here are some actual real life examples of nasty things old people say to their caregivers and nurses:

'You must be such a disappointment to your family' (said when I mentioned I had been a caregiver for 10 years)

'You are so fat you need to stop eating' (said to my friend who is a size 14)

'I don't want a black nurse' (said to my Samoan friend)

'Just as well you are funny because you are ugly' (said to me when I laughed at HER joke)

The list could go on and is regularly added to by my friends and me after each shift and each outing to the supermarket. Do we take it personally? No. Do we wish it would stop? Sometimes.

Another example happened to me yesterday in a cafe. An old lady yelled at me to 'control my children' when my two year old squealed with delight at the lollipop given to him by the owner. I went over to the offending old lady's table and apologized TO HER! If she hadn't been old, I would have cussed her out so bad her head would have spun! But instead I felt like I had to be nice and not call her out on her rudeness. And yeah, I felt dirty doing it. But I was compelled to apologize. Why?

Why do we allow old people with complete mental competencies to be rude to us? Why do we excuse this behaviour as we would if they were a toddler with no concept of what they are saying? When does it become okay to say to an old person 'Don't be rude to me'? I'm actually starting to wonder.

Respect for old people is a good thing. Anyone who is cruel to an old person, be aware there is a special place in hell for you. But in saying that, I have always believed that respect is a mutual experience. I don't think it is okay to be treated badly by anyone who knows what they are doing. And yet, there appears to be exceptions.

The other question that could be asked is what makes old people become rude? When does the switch change when they lose all sense of what is and isn't appropriate to say? I'm assuming they haven't always been this way (as I am told regularly by embarrassed family members of my residents) so what happens?

I think there is a certain level of 'pack mentality' involved. This is obvious at meal times where I work. If one person starts to complain about the soup, everyone starts to complain about the soup. If one table gets served before another table, all hell breaks loose. And don't get me started if the tea isn't strong enough. It would give you nightmares.

I also think there is an attitude of 'Screw it I can't be bothered being nice anymore'. Theirs was a very suppressed generation who sacrificed a lot. I think they are just over it now. This is obvious from a lady in the supermarket who said to the checkout lady 'And why not?! I want THEM and I want THEM NOW!' when the checkout lady said they didn't have her brand of cigarettes.

Whatever the reason, the secret I give to you is that old people are ruder than you could possibly imagine. They are portrayed as loving, almost religious icons in their own right. But DON'T BE FOOLED. That's when they get you!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When the time does not fit the crime

Today I became a firm believer that sometimes justice just isn't served. There was an article on Stuff.co.nz which illustrated this perfectly. The article was about a Belgian bishop who abused his two nephews , one for thirteen years, and discussed his complete lack of remorse.

What struck me was when it described the punishment that he could face, the only punishment listed was he MAY be stripped of his priesthood, and even that was almost an afterthought at the end of the article. Also, this is after he has confessed on live television. Which made me wonder, why are some people apparently exempt from the laws that govern society?

This has been widely debated in many cases involving the Catholic church, where people's abuse of children was covered up and condoned for decades. I have always been under the assumption that there is a definite separation of church and state in most countries. Maybe I have been misinformed.

Before you think I am against the Church, I am not. I believe the church has done many good things for society, including helping the poor and disenfranchised within society. What I am against is a group of people being able to not be punished under the same law as everyone else.

It's not just churches where this is happening. There has become even more cases of celebrities behaving badly and getting away with it. Cases of drug abuse, domestic violence and other crimes which go unpunished and, by a cruel twist of fate, seem to make them more money.

So what makes priests and celebrities above the law? Why are they any different than you or I? Are we so blase about these groups of people that we condone child abuse, violence, theft and other crimes because of purely who they are? If that is the society we have become, then something is drastically wrong. Something which needs to be fixed now.

I have always believed that we, the people, have the say in what happens in our own backyard. We can trigger change and have done so before with things we have found unjust and unfair. So, as a society, have we accepted that there are groups in our society which are above the law? I would like to think not, but with example after example of people being let off for crimes, maybe we have.

So where do we go from here? How do we bring about change?

This would have to involve a chunk of society and they would need to be prepared to protest in person, in writing and through other mediums. They would need to be dedicated to bringing about a change which says 'everyone is to be treated the same by the law'.

I'm game. Are you?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Things that make you go GRRRR

There are things in this world that just irritate me. Little things which, in the grand scheme of things, don't matter but annoy me anyway. So here are some of the top things that make me go GRRR!

Pyjamas in public
Pyjamas are a night time clothing you wear at home. They are not for wearing at the supermarket or at the mall in the middle of the day unless you are a child under 3 or an old person that is lost. I don't understand how people can look in the mirror and think 'Yeah all I need now are my keys and I'm ready to go!'. If you have the ability to make a conscious choice about what you wear, DON'T WEAR PYJAMAS! It's not a fashion choice, it just makes you look like an escaped patient from a hospital.

YOUSE
This is not a word. It is 'you'. It can be a plural or a singular word. I heard this recently in a presentation given at my work. The woman was very articulate but kept saying 'youse'. I don't think I heard anything in the presentation because I was too busy twitching to the point where a nurse asked me if I was having a fit. So unless you are talking about sheep, the word is 'you'.

Doctors who don't listen to mothers
I know there are some mothers out there that are (for lack of a better word) just crazy when it comes to their kids, but the majority of mothers know when their kid is sick. They know intricate details of their child that no one else could know. So when a doctor dismisses you, then words are going to be said, most which are better said away from little ears. We are often sleep deprived zombies at this time after dealing with our sick kid and not listening to us is not wise for your health. We don't want to be there. We would rather be anywhere else actually because doctor's surgery's are usually full of other sick people (surprising I know) and we don't want to see anymore sick people than the ones we have to deal with. So just check our child and we will be on our way. But check the child at least. Because if you don't, we will be back and will be looking for your blood.

Sitting on tables
Not only is this culturally unacceptable in this country, it is GROSS! Think for a moment of what gets in contact with your clothes. Would you want that on your food? I think not. There are chairs for this reason. It's just laziness. So get your bum off the table and sit on the MANY chairs in the room. Or sit on the floor. I don't care just don't sit on my table!

Weight bigots
People who feel it is perfectly acceptable to say 'You are so skinny!' irritate me. People who feel it's okay to say 'You look disgusting and should eat something' bring out the crazy in me. People are skinny. People are fat. That's none of your business. They shouldn't need to justify it, they shouldn't need to be embarrassed by it, they should be able to walk down the street and not be harassed by strangers about their weight. That's what family and doctors are for.

Kid haters
My children are loud. Actually my children are often beyond loud. But they are generally happy little individuals who just like to talk at a level more suited to a rock concert. People who stare and complain about children in the supermarket or in a cafe annoy me. They have a right to be there too. If there was a switch that would make them quieter, trust me the parent would have not only found it by now but would have used it. If you want to shop in peace, do your shopping online. If you want a coffee without hearing 'The wheels on the bus' at full volume, don't go to a cafe near a playgroup at 10 o clock in the morning. And be aware that approaching an already stressed out mother and complaining about her child may result in you being beaten to death with a cucumber.

And my number one grr thing....


Early morning joggers
I often start work at 7 o clock in the morning. There is something incredibly irritating about seeing people smiling and voluntarily jogging at 6 o clock when you would rather be in bed. Especially when it is raining and cold. That kind of happy can only be tolerated at a more godly time. Now while this may seem like a rather bizarre and overly critical thing to find irritating, keep in mind that it is dark at this time and these joggers often don't wear bright clothing and just jump out in front of cars. After you have slammed on your brakes and had a mild heart attack, there is nothing more irritating than someone smiling at you and proceeding to jog away. It brings out the crazy in me.

I accept that I am a cranky individual. Small things in the world annoy me, but don't be mistaken, big things in the world annoy me too. And I will be writing about those too. Please share with me the things that annoy you. I may be one of those things and that's fine. But get them out there! Too often we are expected to be happy and balls of sunshine all the time and this is not healthy. Things get done by angry, fed up people. So this is a place where you can wave your cranky flag without people telling you to cheer up (another grr thing). So wave your cranky flags proudly!