Archive for October, 2010

Ignorance Isn’t Bliss, It’s An iPod

A victim of a vicious sexual assault, just 100m from her St Kilda home, warns women not to walk around listening to your iPod. She was attacked as she walked home from the station, iPod ear pieces in place and listening to her favourite songs. Fortunately a passing motorist disturbed the attacker.

I have seen this behaviour in women for years. Before iPods it was a Sony Walkman blaring away and before that, girls reading books, even while walking the street! They have absolutely zero idea of what is happening around them. Their environmental awareness is non-existant and they are prime targets for predators.

Forget the iPod, ladies. Look alert and look around you. Take note of who is near you and how they are behaving. Most criminals can be spotted long before they strike, if you are looking for the signs. Shifty, unnatural behaviour stands out. Incongruities are obvious, like wearing raincoats or other heavy clothing on warm days, what are they hiding under the coat? Loitering in a car park when everyone else is walking either to or from a car. Hanging around with no apparent purpose… why?

Attitude plus awareness equals avoidance and trouble is best handled by being avoided than having to actually manage a problem.

The Bucket List

Ever since the movie ‘The Bucket List’ written by Justin Zackham and starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson hit the screens the phrase ‘bucket list’ has been tossed around. It has made it into the lexicon, pretty much like ’24/7′ and to have ‘closure’. One of the big ticks on a lot of bucket lists is to climb Mount Everest. In fact, with a spare fifty grand and two months of your life, you too can add to the growing number of ‘Summiteers’ or frozen bodies the tick has created in the past couple of decades.

I always wonder how much a claim to something like this is done for one’s own personal development, to prove to yourself you can push your boundaries… and how much is about showing off. Don’t get me wrong, showing off is a genuine human trait we have all shared a sometime in our lives and not restricted to toddlers or teens. However one should consider the risks involved and despite a 13 year old and a 76 year old on the list of Summiteers, getting to the top is still no walk in the park. Is it worth it? Only those who try and fail or succeed can answer that question. The rest of us can only answer the question ‘is it worth it for me?’

Not for this little black duck. Even if I had the money and time I don’t have the health and fitness anymore. Life deals you your hand and shuffles the cards now and then and while once you were young and fit and healthy you can easily become older, overweight and ill. You have to be honest and to an extent accept your situation and limitations while always looking to stretch those boundaries and achieve more. You can do this sensibly or stupidly. For me, even thinking of Everest is stupid. Sensible is perhaps something a little more within my capabilities and experience, like sailing around Cape Horn.

I’m 50 next year and I plan to round the Horn as one of the events on my own ‘bucket list’. I call it the ‘Faking It At Fifty’ list because I don’t feel any pressure to get it ticked up before I kick the bucket, rather just within the year I turn 50 and the year I am 50. So I have 24 months to work with. If I don’t get it all done in time… I’ll add it to my ‘From 50 to 60′ List. There’s nothing like being a little flexible when it comes to ticking off things on lists… or life itself for that matter. Few things we ever contemplate, attempt or achieve are truly, ‘life or death’ after all.

Monkey Murderer

In Malaysia a four day old baby was taken from her crib, bitten on the face and neck and then hurled to her death from the roof of the house in Seramban. The murderer was a Macaque monkey. Tragic and not something one might consider when assessing the risks a new born faces in your own home. Unless you live in Malaysia.

Having lived not far from the location for several years I know wild life is a hazard, even in built up urban areas. In Singapore we had a 20 foot long python emerge from a drain and cross the road towards our block of flats before it was driven over by a taxi and then collected in the cab’s boot and taken away for supper. Snakes were just one hazard faced, in Malaysia monkeys are common and quite often carry rabies and other diseases. They have large canine fangs and are not shy in using them against humans.

As a tourist in Bali I was one of many that visited the monkey forest and laughed as they clambered over the visitors seeking peanuts and other treats. It was all very amusing until one lady decided her handbag was not to be taken and rifled through by a large male. He turned on her and savaged her hands and face in seconds, leaving her bleeding, infected and without her handbag.

By all means do the tourist thing but never let yourself  forget these are wild animals. Even ‘domesticated’ monkeys, kept chained up as a pet or amusement by the hotel you stay at can turn nasty in a heartbeat. So would you if you were stuck there all your life.

In Bangkok I watched a young elephant, brought into the city to beg for food by its owner, spit the dummy and run amok, crashing into cars, knocking over motorbikes and generally behaving badly. Try stopping a couple of hundred kilos of peeved pachyderm!

Animals are great, I love them to bits but I don’t trust them, especially the cuddly looking ones. A boat was holed and sunk by a whale off the Western Australian coast the other day and the three crew spent hours in rough seas until rescued. Don’t let the Save The Whales message make you forget they are large and powerful creatures and not to be messed with when in their element and your boat is smaller than they are. Hey, I don’t even pat my own dog! (kidding).

Superglue Blinds Woman

An elderly woman who had previously had a cataract operation accidentally put superglue into her eye thinking it was her eye ointment. The tube of superglue is very similar in look and feel to her ointment. Fortunately she was able to have her predicament resolved by emergency medical treatment but she could easily have been left blinded. She is the most recent victim but not the only one. In 2005 a Thai Buddhist monk, aged 81, made the same mistake.

Then there are the prank playing kids and other fools who mess around with superglue near their eyes and other body orifices on purpose.  It is like an eye ointment tube in size and shape and easily confused. I once mistakenly gave ear drops to a soldier who needed eye drops as they were in identical bottles and the writing had worn off due to the rough conditions the section first aid kit had endured. We knew right away something was wrong and washed it out asap but it still caused pain and discomfort and potentially could have blinded him.

According to the official Super Glue website, things aren’t as permanent as the media reports would like us to fear. Eyelids will come apart in 1-4 days  and even if it gets on the eyeball it will dissolve in a few days after some weeping (and no doubt gnashing of teeth!).  Acetone such as that found in nail polish remover is the stuff to use, very carefully. We have small children in the home (lots of them!) and I am always very careful with chemicals, toxins and corrosives and glues, paints, oils etc. Like most things, prevention is better than cure.

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