Everything I learnt about makeup I learnt from the Sims

So I have spent my life being femininely challenged. Only one significant female figure in my childhood (hi Aunty Pam), I was to shy to ask how to do the things every other girl seemed to know – what clothes to choose, how to do makeup. A marvellous single father did his utter amazing best, but there were some things this man, born to a devout Irish Catholic mother and hard working, loving, self sufficient father. Those legacies he imbued in us without knowing, good and bad (the Catholic bit he moved away from in disgust at the wealth of the church when still young, and I could never manage the belief needed for any religion, disturbing to him but accepted grudgingly now). So makeup was pretty well avoided. I played a bit with it with my girl friends in high school, but beyond the odd bit of eye liner, and the occasional dip into mascara, makeup always felt like playing dress up – and icky on my face!

As a young adult who had a strange spate of trying to fit in with the young mums around me (it lasted a few years, a fish so far out of water it may as well have been desert for the way I starved to death emotionally and mentally), I tried makeup again. I dutifully bought some at one of those ‘parties’ designed to blackmail you socially. But I could never figure out HOW to apply the stuff. Five years later, the nearly intact set was gleefully given away. I had found myself, and the bloke, and settled into my earth mother phase, up until recently the happiest time of my life (now is oddly beating it, despite the whole ‘constant crippling pain and disability thing’).

Then older and trying to find my way, starting my first employment in IT, I found how much more seriously I was taken as an older woman engineer (early 30s felt so old even then around the younglings I knew at Uni). So I tried again, with the patient help of friends, but it was a strange duality, as if layering on a mask.

And now – I am finding something similar. I ‘mask up’ to gather some gravitas and professional veneer, finding myself a woman of 46.5 years, disabled and strange in a large electric wheelchair that reminds people inexorably of Stephen Hawking’s chair. Many women engineers don’t, but they are ones who are hugely successful (my dearly loved supervisor and model to emulate being one of those).

But what, oh blog, does this all have to do with the Sims? Well, I found that playing the Sims 3, I spent a lot of time in the creation of the Sims(houses and people being built are what I tend to enjoy, the actual play – not as much. Suspect it’s the engineer in me playing god ;) ) I found I build females mostly, as that is what I know. And I’d play with their makeup, learning about colour and style from modeling. A very scientific approach actually! I found myself designing Sims with similar features and coloring to me to play with hair and makeup. And before I knew it (and discovering the body Shop ethical and light makeup options) I was able to use the stuff without flinching.

Of course, I carry makeup wipes frequently, and have it off before I even hit the bus;)))

As to fashion – life’s cosmic sense of irony is having four daughters interested in fashion. So I have my own personal shopping assistants, dressers, outfit designers, and critics, choosing my clothes and jewelry combos for the next day each evening. Bliss!!!

On the weekend, naturally I revert to hippy clothes, second hand shop cast offs, and geek tshirts. And no makeup!!!

It’s been a while…

Dear blog,

Welcome to Friday. It’s 6.41am and I am at a bus stop, waiting for the bus to the Uni. It’s 13.6F, but with the breeze, feels like 8.7F, according to WeatherAU app on my beloved iPhone 5. Running the new iOS 7, more on that later. I’ve taken my gloves off – and yep, the app is correct. Nice to verify the app;)

Why so early? Well, it’s a great chance to get work done when it is quiet at the Uni. Two solid hours of quiet. I practice Ukelele, work on my thesis, (teaser), mark assignments, work on lectures. Plus my body is most tolerant now, and I sleep so poorly that I am awake at 3 it seems nowadays.

I have not been blogging since semester 2. I only have so much time, after all. But this morning I realised I often spend twenty minutes playing in my iPhone at the bus stop – why not resume blogging (and my poor neglected journal – Day One is the must have multi platform app for that!)

Teaching two subjects is so much of a time vacuum. Rewriting one as I go makes it hugely so. So, being me (pause for bus) (now on bus) I enrolled in my Honors degree stream. I always felt bad about not finishing my B.IT (Bachelor of Information Technology), degree. With RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning), I qualify to do the four year B.IT Hons degree. And of course, being me, that’s not enough. I want a PhD. I’ve always dreamt of that. Why?

A PhD seems like a weird life goal. When I was originally at Uni 20 odd (some very odd) years ago, I longed to stay there. I looked with awe at the lecturers – even the Post Grads seemed involved in something so special, so – aspirational. A huge fan of Dorothy L Sayers, her ‘Gaudy Night‘ was a book that captured that sense that a University was a place if something higher – higher standards, loftier intentions. learning in its purest form. Now, amongst it all, I am perhaps more realistic, and my awe is also lessened, (we lecturers turn out to be just people after all!), but the passion for knowledge, scientific rigor, and the joy of collaboration and research is strengthened. While lecturers are more human than many students give us credit for, we genuinely believe in what we are doing – and everyone I work with genuinely CARES about what not only their research, but also the students, and their importance.

Anyway, here I am on an early bus heading in to work on my thesis presentation (lecturing to a hundred students is not nearly as scary as presenting to ten or fifteen people about what my thesis is covering). I will talk more about that another time:)

Oh, and iOS 7? As someone passionate about the user, about UI, and interfaces – a solid round of applause Apple. A big leap – with much of the improvement a subtle thing that many won’t notice, the big ticket items garner the attention,but from my point of view, there is much behaviour that is a huge step into a new and exciting direction.

I will be back, dear blog. I have found the corner of time needed, and after all – It’s About Time.

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It’s been a while

I don’t know if anyone reads this blog you know. I make such a halfhearted effort to post – yet I am prolific on Google Plus, which becomes prolific on Tumblr and Twitter by default, as one feed morphs into many. If Google releases an API that allowed me, as once I was able to do, to post directly here and thence outwardly I would be so much happier. But here it is.

And perhaps I do so much writing at work, that at the end of any day I may have posted some comments on links found on G+, written in my Journal (DayOne has proven to be a godsend cross platform app), and spoken to so many people that my meandering has no need for a further outlet – indeed, I am unable to consider it. And yet I have many thoughts and ideas that are deeper than the brief comment, the 144 character remark, the noting briefly of the day’s events. This is what the blog exists for.

I guess I am always tired, too – the spirit is willing but the flesh is struggling day to day. And there has been much to process emotionally lately. So I have decided that it may be about time, (yes, the title of the blog is actually a pun that is also deliberately targeting these things), time to address such big things.

Where to start? Perhaps the King of Hearts has a point about starting at the beginning, and going on until you mean to stop, and then stopping. But beginnings are not always clear cut. For this concerns my disability, and happy anniversary indeed to you, car accident, 8 years ago. 8 years ago March 11 my spine started to morph into Evil Back, my bitterest of enemies and strongest of teachers. But I do not need to start quite that far back.

So, my birthday. 46 and aging rapidly – for being female and wishing to still feel young in body as in mind, 46 is an odd transition. I have these beautiful young women, my daughters, to reflect how hopeless that aspiration is. And I resent that not. I do resent the mirror, however. And the weight that wants to lurk in formerly untroubled places – oh belly! Oh hips! How ample thou art! And exercise, of course, basically impossible, beyond merely keeping what works working. So diet it is, but diets for someone who has struggled with eating disorders in the past is a bit fraught. And medication plays a trump wildcard on there. Oh blast and bother, can the scales not sympathetically just LIE occasionally? No??

That’s two pieces. Disability behind both of them to more or lesser extents, merely being flavoring in the background, or adding a more solid foundation for the feelings of sadness and inadequacy. Though I think those labels are a tad simplistic, and it is more complex than that. I like being more mature as a person, and love where my life is at creatively and professionally, as a mother and as a friend and partner. Disability is so intrinsic to who I am now that is it is there in everything, no matter how hard one tries to avoid it. Yes, I am more than my disability, yet I am unmistakably disabled, shaped and strengthened and limited by it. Sometimes I find myself dreaming of past events, or even remembering the past – and in my dreams I am still disabled, in my memories I find myself slightly shocked that once I walked and ran and rode and was without this pain, this constant insistent companion.

So other things, other things I have inferred. Well, meet my new companion, the as yet unnamed vehicle: 20130310-170817.jpg – an electric wheelchair. It tilts, allowing me to adjust my position during the day to an almost full recline, so I can hopefully do more. I can catch buses again, and hurtle round, and generally do things more independently than even the scooter allowed for. All with less of an impact or issue, as it fits in more places, and has a tighter turning circle. It has memory foam cushioning, which is incredibly useful when one sits so much. It has changed and liberated my life.

So why do I feel so oddly guilty for using it? Like I am not quite disabled enough? A normal wheelchair is damned hard work, and I work on the side of a hill, and pushing it aggravates Evil Back something fierce, as he is a spiteful sod. Sure, I am sitting in bed for the second day after pushing myself too hard, now even getting to the toilet is a long and painful process while Evil Back decides to be ascendant until rested into a more placated mood. But I CAN walk after all.

Ok, it’s jolly painful on even a good day, and as the day wears on, the letterbox is a world away and too far to manage even with the walking stick and all the time in that unlikely world. I mean, in that world I can lie down for a day after even the mildest walk to this letterbox – or on the very very best times, to the corner and back, but always with the stick, and a long long time to slowly accomplish it. But that’s not much to live a life with, a small world boundary, you see, and the chair is designed to prevent Evil Back from getting so cranky, malign, and vengeful. It’s allowing me to do so much with fewer consequences.

And yet I have had odd looks and snarky comments from people about it, I find myself having to defend this liberation machine, as if one must pass some sort of strict approval process to be worthy of being deemed disabled enough. Oh well. I must learn to move on from that.

And there’s the last bit to process. It’s MRI time again. Claustrophobics like me will all be shuddering at the idea. And why is it time, well, evaluation and keeping an eye on what the cranky old EB is up to is useful obviously. But also because there is fear my spine is collapsing more on its damaged side. That one day I will move and then not be able to move again, that what mobility I have will be gone. Sometimes I think that is a consummation greatly to be desired, as that could mean no pain. And yet even more issues arise with paraplegia. The body, as I have found, dislikes inactivity, and is designed to move by evolution, and sitting constantly has some very nasty issues that I do faithful physio exercises to try and relieve.

But no pain. Is that a price I am willing to pay? My family would be overjoyed to see me out of pain, and losing the medications would be an additional celebration here. But then, how badly damaged would I be, how much care needed, how restricted would I be, how much more of my precious hard fought for independence would i lose?

So life gets big. I guess it always does. But to lose more of myself, to diminish further would be to lose independence, I have realised, not movement. It is th e unknown that weighs on me, the fear of becoming a burden to those I love, of being even less than I am now. That becalmed increasingly intolerable as a thought, so I try to just revel on what freedoms, what movement, what mobility I have, with or without devices. Of course, I must find a suitable name for my chariot of freedom, to truly celebrate what it gives me first.

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Owning Social Networks (without them owning you)

twitter logo map 09

twitter logo map 09 (Photo credit: The Next Web)

A list of fixes for social networks made me start commenting with my own list, and it got longer than my one or two sentence post to a socnet alone rule. These become actual blog then socnet posts. And that is rule number 1.

2. I am not owned by my socnets. Sometimes I answer a comment. I guarantee I read every single response, but unless it merits a reply, I merely acknowledge and note whether that is someone I will follow more closely. I do not have time for anything else.

3. I try to allocate a session each day, a half to one hour postarama, with augments throughout day if I stumble across articles I find interesting. For everything I post interests me. If I miss a day due to

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

busy life, well, so be it.

4. I post only for me, and never look at viewing numbers, and only occasionally check out how many are following – for what do those numbers mean?

5. I am trying to blog once a day on longer form things that interest me – see rule one. More if something makes me want to, else one is sufficient, and see rule 3.

6. I sanity check email one big burst a day, trying for the same time each day, then allow ten minutes each two hour block to sanity check. Again, it does not own me, and I have had no complaints. Of course I am still drowning in it, but it helps!

7. If multiple socnets, post once, disseminate everywhere. Things like or various extensions and plugins allow you to blog then post to many networks – Google Plus feeds through to Twitter. I have tried but failed due to Google Plus API to do blog (WordPress) to G+ then Twitter and Tumbler, but I have. WP extension to try tomorrow that may work, but I have to lower security and turn off two factor authentication, thanks Google, that sucks.

8. No, no Facebook, too hard and too socially weird for me, I tried a couple of times and ended up overwhelmed, and being friended by people who aren’t of course really friends. I prefer quality. The way G+ handles relationships just works better for me, and I despise FB rules on privacy.

9. I also handle accounts for Flinders Uni CSEM, so Hootsuite is my friend. As is having the same tools configured on every platform/tool, so I can quickly post.

10. GOTO 1 ;)

Top 10 Facebook, Twitter And Other Social Annoyances You Can Fix Now | Lifehacker Australia.

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As Clive James faces death, I face losing one of the most formative heroes of my life

Clive James is dying. my heart is full of sorrow.

this man is such a formative influence on me. his books (i adore his poetry), his writing, and his broadcasting (my ‘gateway’ to his work) are a huge part of my life. i listen to his reading of his own (audio based) books (again, the poetry rocks), and read his essays, collected criticisms, stories and poems literally weekly. i just got his collected postcards dvd set. magic. I’ve been hunting out of print books second hand on amazon, just obtaining what i think is an under rated mater work – fame in the 20th century. i wish i could find the dvd.

i – WE – owe thanks to a fellow Aussie, a world citizen, and a master of communication in so many forms of media. what he did was bring a different culture to many of us when it was thought culture belonged to other people. he instilled (long with Dorothy  L Sayers) my longing to go to university – and stay there. and here i am, teaching at my beloved Flinders University.

(yes, my sentences aren’t capitalised. i am incredibly lazy on here, as i have to be so careful at work. mea maxima culpa. and this is about Clive, so stop it.)


Clive James wistfully faces death, admitting he may not see Sydney again | Culture | The Guardian.

Make-up can be a complete pain in the ass Mamamia

Make-up can be a complete pain in the ass Mamamia.

Well, I have a confession – I turned 45 in Feb – and I’ve just STARTED wearing a bit of makeup.

Powder, eyeliner, skerrick of blush, a clear gel for my already long lashes (damn lucky genetics there), and some lippy (wonderful side effect, my lips aren’t as dry from air cond any more. Oh and Neroli Jasmine perfume. Have long long LONG loved that. All (yes, all) ethical  products.

I have also started dressing nicely ( #Metallicus, I adore you). I feel more confident, and as a disabled woman in a male dominated world (I am a developer in mobile phone software, a research project co founder, and as of next semester, adjunct Uni lecturer), it really changed my outlook.

Of course, I do none of this without the input of daughters two and three, Ms almost 20, and Ms 17.5.  Ms17.5 is my accessories critic of a morning – a gay daughter who loves playing the role of critic to the HILT, imagine your own episode of Queer Eye…:))

I wish I had known how to do this years ago, but I was busy (from age 19 onwards), being as good a mum as I could be, while working on IT stuff. And I was younger….

Do I think all women SHOULD have to? Aww HELL no! But it has worked, in reverse for me. It is kind of like my uniform, getting me into work mode. I do use makeup wipes (no soap or alcohol) in car now on way home – start the process back into daggy mum mode:) and I also love not doing anything on the weekend:)

What is happening for me atm?

As of yesterday:

1) doing PhD over next few years
2) frantically coding for May release for the Serval Project
3) now working for the next two years at Flinders University as an academic – a lecturer in two Comp Sci/Eng topics
4) after two years, if all going well with PhD, get employed by uni as perm staff
5) continue with the growing excitement of Serval
6) one last trip to IEEE as handover- but continuing research on IEEE network issues
7) we have a sleepover party* for ms 10 tonight, so caused epic spring clean, very little of which i can do with disability


*5 ten years olds – meep!