Day 3: What’s on your mind?

Today’s Zero to Hero assignment is to write the post that was on my mind when I decided to start a blog.

That’s a bit too long ago.

I can’t remember any particular piece that I wanted to write, but the general feeling was that I wanted to write regularly, let my Mam know what I was up to while she was travelling, and create a space to record the various offline and online projects that I was participating in at the time.

However, I do know why I want to re-vitalise the dilettante blog and I hope that participating in Zero to Hero 30-Day Blog Challenge will assist me with that.

I am on leave from my university coursework and will not be doing any units until Semester 2 starting at the end of July. During the next six months, I want to write more regularly so I don’t get out of the habit of researching and writing.

More recently I have been reading 365 Less Things and Becoming Minimalist, and have decided that 2014 is going to be a more concerted effort to declutter. My goal is to declutter one item or spend 15 minutes a day decluttering, whichever comes first.

Dilettante will hopefully be filled with 365 posts about decluttering, as a primary focus – well, I’ll try. There so many items, topics, and things to take delight in.


Peace at Eco Beach, Broome, Western AustraliaFor 2011 I resolved to become fitter and stronger, and I did.

I lost 5kg, rode my bicycle to and from work/university (20km round trip), and completed the year’s units in my Masters well.

What I have learnt during the year is that it is ok to make an appointment with myself, and doing my best most of the time instead of aiming for perfection is key to achieving my goals.

I didn’t do this all by myself.

The Progress, Not Perfection SparkTeam and many SparkPeople friends greatly assisted me with consistency in good nutrition, getting enough sleep, and exercising both mind and body.

In addition, I participated in a Stress Management Programme at The University of Western Australia’s Robin Winkler Clinic facilitated by two research students as part of their degree. I benefited greatly from participating in this group, and the tools and skills I learnt from this are still with me months later. Almost every day I practise:

  • relaxing or calm breathing,
  • thought challenges, and
  • non-negotiable self care.

Less frequently now I practise progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), although I have it on my self care list to do now and again.

I am not going to make any resolutions, but I will do some more streaking – a new one every 30 days.

January streak is to do more of what makes me happy. and because a “goal without action(s) is only a wish” I am planning on reflecting on the day and practising gratitude as part of kikki.K’s The Collaborative Happiness Project.

February streak is to find new ways of decluttering and jumpstart the decluttering I started year before last. Admittedly, I started this on New Year’s Day by joining eBay and since then listing something new on eBay every day.

March streak is the most challenging of all. I do not have any units to take in first semester having completed them all, so although I am enrolled I will not be taking any units until Semester 2 starts at the end of July. I want to form and implement a plan of self-study to revise in preparation for a 3/4 load. That’s if meteor doesn’t make us dust!

The idea of streaking is that you go for as long as you can. However, while searching for decluttering resources I came across the idea of a 30-day trial. That is, you try a new habit for 30 days, and if you like it, you keep it, if you don’t give it up. So this is why I have three streaks leading up to the doompocalpyse.

playing games

On Facebook, I was invited to play games, but began to find them very tedious as crops, animals, and fish would die, or neighbours would help by providing gifts that then needed to be recipricated within a certain time frame. I have cut back to one game on Facebook, that is, PetVille. So Facebook gaming friends, if I don’t appear to be responding, it’s because I have removed all the games from my account except for Petville.

I was introduced to Travian through Facebook, and I have been playing for just over 18 months, the first game I registered lasted the longest. This first game was on au4, and I overlapped this with aux, and I am currently in the end game of au3. I have played as a Gaul for all games, except for when ‘sitting’ other accounts.

What I enjoy most about Travian, is that you complement the game with other web sites, forums, IRC, and Skype. The conversations in and around the game are as much fun as the game itself.

Although you start off as an individual, it is difficult to continue to play well without teaming up with other players to sit your account and join an alliance.

I’m not sure if I will continue to play Travian as I am currently working fulltime wtih two parttime jobs, and hopefully in a couple of weeks time I will be working parttime and studying parttime. So patchy internet access and time needed to focus on new activities to do well.

inside out

Aesthetic Crossovers in Art and Science (VISA2214) allowed me to explore not only the art and science crossovers in the life sciences, but introduced me to a new way of seeing and interpretation by artists and scientists.

One of the assignments was to produce a prototype. As I was still considering the question ‘what is art?’ it took some time to decide on an approach that I perceived as suitable to complete the work. However, the prototype gave me an excuse to review the histology slides from my Medical Technology degree which was an added bonus.

From the many slides, I selected two views and prepared some digital images.

I did not wish to create a temporary piece, so settled on making a paper mache object. My idea was formed from remembering that a long time ago, anatomical models were made from paper mache.

During the lectures and tutorial sessions I learnt that ‘things’ can be be classified into non-human animals and human animals. I decided to create a cat as I thought I could observe my own pets and use the photographs to realise the 3D object. Also, I liked the idea that I was superimposing human animal cells on a non-human animal.

Having not made paper mache before, I found some resources on the internet to provide some guidance. I found the initial making of the shape or form somewhat frustrating, but the layering of the paper mache over some weeks was time pleasantly spent. Time really did slip by as I got absorbed in the project.

paper mache cat (liver cells, naphol green)

Green Cat (liver cells stained with naphol green)

Red Cat (lung cells stained with H & E)

Red Cat (lung cells stained with H & E)

The final part of the assignment was to give a presentation. I took my prototypes in our cat cage covered in cloth. It was quite fun to see my classmates looking into the cage to see if my biological art was alive. My presentation probably does not stand alone, but it is included here as part of the documentation for my project.

Green Cat and Red Cat are not yet completed. I have been asked to consider giving them a face. I’m still thinking on this.

July to November reading

July through November I did not read as much as I usually do. This may have been due to the increased amount and different type of reading that was required for one of my university units. Also, I found I was just too tired to read before sleeping, which is when I do most of my recreational or reading for pleasure.

However, I still managed to read the following, not necessarily in this order:

All of which will be wild released over the coming week as I feel I have some serious BookCrossing to catch up on.

Most of the books were obtained through the local library as discards or donated to raise funds for the local library or from Grandad’s box of books.

Currently making my way through Moran v Moran. Definitely not something to read between mandatory or necessary reading for research and study. The book was donated to the library fundraiser and has newspaper cuttings inserted as bookmarks, and various sentences underlined. Definitely will look at some ‘lighter’ reading after this one.

on the nose

The last couple of nights we have been to Cinema In A Cave to see the winning entries from the 2008 Sexy International Film Festival, albeit we did not stay for the fourth session.

The last couple of nights cinema viewing has got me thinking as to ‘what is sexy’? Just as I am continuing to ask myself ‘what is art?’ with regard to the living or biological art that is being revealed to me in the Aesthetic Crossovers of Art and Science unit.

We have been to Cinema In A Cave a few times now, and the films are of mixed quality, but there is always something that we will continue to talk/discuss/argue about. This to me is the sign that a film is worth seeing. Whether it is the cinemaography, sound, music, acting, genre, story, transitions, or just a film that gets you thinking.

From the 2008 Sexy International Film Festival, the most memorable (so far) are ‘Between The Sheets’. ‘Channeling’, ‘Je te Love’, ‘From Here to Maternity’, and ‘Corroboree’. However, the same films are not being shown on tour.

Jason Turley, Melbourne filmmaker and curator of the Sexy International Film Festival is now taking the festival to London, Paris, New York and San Francisco. So watch out for it if it is coming your way.

science and poverty

Last week I attended a talk by Prof Peter Quinn titled ‘An overview of modern astronomy and our quest to find the dawn of creation’. It was great to see Peter in action having listened to him on my computer for several weeks during the creation of a storyboard for a video. Face to a voice and all that.

Although I was by now familiar with the content, the questions from the audience (secondary school science teachers) were the most interesting. Peter finished his talk with information about the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). Being that there is much interest in the project as Australia has been shortlisted as one of the two sites identified as potential locations for the SKA.

The question that I have thought the most about was comparing the number of dollars to be spent on science versus that on solving world poverty. The teacher that posed the question asked how do we resolve the amount of money spent on the SKA when $X can address poverty. He also recounted that at another event he attended an audience member had symbolically shown a bowl of rice to question the cost of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Peter I thought effectively addressed the question, but there is still no answer. In Australia 1.5% of GDP is spent on science. That’s every little bit of science research you can think of including the SKA. Globally, the average spent on science is 2.0% of GDP.

So I think the question of solving world poverty would be better addressed to the people that handle 98% of GDP given that a piece of a larger pie is that much greater. Also, I don’t think you can skimp on science to solve world poverty, and 1.5% of GDP is already too little for science.

a day for everything


Open Access journals and archives assist me greatly in my research for work, study and various interests. Peer reviewed scientific articles freely accessible online are available to everyone with an internet connection.

I am fortunate that as an enrolled student that I have access to much scientific literature through the university subscriptions, and many are available online either on campus or through a proxy server from my place of study.

However, Open Access journals are preferred and often found first as I am able to search open archives and repositories without needing to go through various proxies and gateways. The huge benefit is that I am able to share my research with others and link to appropriate articles online.

Publications held in databases such as ScienceDirect and Web of Science, I can only share with others that have access through academic and professional libraries. Whereas publications in Public Library of Science or. BioMed Central (BMC) or any of the others listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) are accessible by everyone.

For more information about Open Access, see Peter Suber’s A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access, the Open Access Day web site, and browse journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Happy Open Access Day.

March reads

Read four of Mam’s beach novels and The Turning which I got in time for the play (adaption), but only cursorily looked at prior to the performance.

I tried to finish the beach novels before they were required for second-hand bookshops somewhere between Perth and Naxos. The were all quick reads, some more memorable than others.

  • Death in Holy Orders by PD James is a Commander Adam Dalgliesh tale set in an theological college on the East Anglian coast. A student is murdered and the ongoing investigation is helped and heeded by the isolated close-knit community.
  • Not in the Flesh by Ruth Rendell was an intriguing story about the investigation led by Chief Inspector Wexford when a body is found wrapped in a purple cotton sheet. I thought the novel was going to be a straight forward whodunit, but there was bit more to it than that.
  • Piece of My Heart by Peter Robinson was a little more plodding, but the scene of the crime – a rock festival, made it a little more interesting. The threads connecting the present day to aging rock stars is a little tenous though.
  • Exit Music by Ian Rankin is DI John Rebus’s last case in the force. A bit of winding up occurs, as Rebus attempts to pass on/fob off his unsolved cases and business to colleague DS Siobhan Clarke. Some of the jobs are not resolved as one would like.
  • The Turning by Tim Winton I got from The Book Depository which seems all wrong since Winton is a Western Australian author. But it was just too easy and the price was right. I don’t know why books have to cost so much in Australia in comparison to the UK or USA. Anyway, The Turning read and on the bookshelf means that I have all Tim Winton’s books, so far. Having finished it, I wish I had more to read. The book follows three generations of a family, and each chapter/short story is sort of complete, but sort of keeps you hanging. A certain amount of cringe material and rawness as the place and some periods felt familiar to me.

I thought that uni would slow up my reading, which it did in a way but only from a time point of view. I was just too tired at the end of the day from reading scholarly papers to read some more for entertainment. However, I did find that non-fiction was good for a few hours escape.