15 November 2013

The asylum issue

I try very hard not to be ranty - here, on FB or in my communication with officials - but sometimes the soap box just has to be dusted off. There have been some incredibly shameful incidents in Australia in recent days; incidents sanctioned by government, incidents instigated by government policy. And I am disgusted.

Just a few from this week; JUST ONE WEEK:
Morrison: Offshore Camp Can Handle A Profoundly Disabled Child
Asylum seeker separated from her sick newborn in Brisbane
Job ads describe quandary of caring for unaccompanied children on Nauru

What I'd really like to do is slap a few politicians, teach them a few lessons about compassion and justice and being people focussed (things our daughter learnt before she was 10). In lieu of that, I've started doing something I've never done before - writing to politicians. Again, trying hard not to be a ranter, but that's difficult when I feel, firstly, outraged that this happening in my country, and secondly, so helpless to change anything. There's not a lot else I can do - sitting in middle class, comfortable Australia; enjoying my persecution-free, safe life with all its privileges.

When I read the article about the mother and baby yesterday, I sent an email to Scott Morrison, the guy in charge of the policies, the Minister for Immigration and "Border Control" (that should be 'sea border control', 'cause they don't care if you arrive by plane). (deep breath, deep breath). Today, with the disabled child and the unaccompanied children, I wrote again. I have to do something.

And today, not content with just sending an email to Mr Morrison, I thought I'd share my thoughts with the world, or that very small portion of it that reads my blog.

Email to Mr Morrison, Federal Minister for Immigration and [sea] Border Control

I am astounded. I am beyond dumbfounded. Quite frankly, I am gobsmacked that our politicians - one would presume incredibly smart and intelligent people since they're running the country - can be so woeful ignorant of the consequences of their policies. I'm dismayed that it's not just a Liberal or Labor problem. It appears to be rife throughout both major parties. Doesn't leave a lot of room for hope.
As leaders you, the politicians, 'set the tone'. The leader of any group or organisation sets the tone, determines the way forward, gives life to the vision that the people follow. Winston Churchill both represented and created the stoic British attitude during World War II. Similarly Hitler turned almost an entire nation, plus a few extras, into haters of the 'other'. A leader, for better or worse, sets the tone of the culture of the led.
And our current politicians appear to have no idea what future havoc they are breeding for themselves, for those that follow them into governance, or for the nation. Instead they have taken a narrow minded, short-term view - let's win an election, let's create fear, let's breed racism. And when the next Cronulla hits the news, you'll all stand back, wring hands, and say, "What is happening to our country." And no doubt, you'll all be out there stirring up more fear, more racism - creating a downward spiral of culture decay.
YOU set the tone, YOU determine the culture, YOU choose who or what to vilify and commend.
The government's current policy (and the previous governments' then policies) are creating a culture of fear, racism and xenophobia. No sooner had we started to undo the harm of the White Australia policy, the yellow peril and reds under the bed, than the government reintroduces the same fear, the same narrow mindedness. The 'enemy' may have changed; the attitude remains the same.
The policies of the past 15 years towards asylum seekers (NOT illegal - such an illiterate position) are sickening. They have created and will continue create a nation that is self-absorbed, self-seeking, cruel, and, quite frankly, ugly. These are people who have been through trauma that few, if any, of us can imagine. And instead of offering hope, compassion and justice, we heap more hurt, more indignity, more ugliness into their lives. And in doing so we remove the hope, compassion and justice from our own national culture. The danger to Australia's way of life is not those that come to us from overseas; the danger is the enemy within.
This is not a time to be proud to be Australian. Forget the ugly American. We are fast becoming the ugly Australians.
And the only ones who can change that are you - the politicians, all of you, any of you. Stand up for what is right, as a human being. Otherwise, move over McCarthy, Australia offers you, Morrison. Cruel, cold-hearted, unfeeling, more interested in party politics than people.
Sad. Very sad.

13 November 2013

Sewing room - Aladdin's Cave (in progress)

I've jumped the gun, according to The Mr, and partially moved into my new sewing space (Sewing Room Inspiration). I can't fully move in, because it still needs to act as a front entrance. I am moved in enough to be kicking myself for not realising years ago how big the area was.

For the past 10 years my sewing room has primarily been just that - a sewing room, but I have also had to keep an awareness of it needing to covert to a guest bedroom. And the most recent incarnation was supposed to also be available as a sitting room.

The room has a full wall of 50cm deep shelves. Perhaps that doesn't sound very deep, but a standard bookcase is 30cm, and paperbacks will easily fit on a 15cm deep shelf. Deep shelves mean you can't have lots of little things; the stuff at the back gets lost, knocked over, and generally isn't easy to use. I found the easiest way to organise my stuff and keep the multi-purpose space tidy was to keep everything in boxes.

I went to the cheap shop and bought the biggest gift boxes they had. From the stationery shop I bought sticky business card holders (I think they're designed to go the front of conference folders to take name labels). I like the plastic slips because it's easy to change the label without it becoming messy. I also kept shoeboxes; some got covered, some just got used.

I piled like-stuff into a box and labelled it. Some boxes I filled with zip lock bags of stuff. My 'sewing stuff' box had bags of zips, ribbons, lace, etc.

This is not a bad way organise a space. It has worked for me for a number a years. The biggest hassle I had was that I didn't have a 'shelf per box', so boxes were stacked. Sometimes a heavy box ended up on top, which made getting lower boxes out a little tricky.

In my new space; however, I do not want big boxes filled with 'stuff'. I want lots of little containers, in single rows on shelves. I already have a set of 15cm deep shelves on one wall, and I will definitely be adding more to the space. Obviously, not everything can be stored on a narrow shelf, but lots of stuff can. My plan is to gradually post how I'm storing various 'stuffs'. As I'm trying to keep costs to a minimum, there's lots of imaginative recycling and reusing happening.

08 November 2013

Drastic measures

A friend posted a rather innocuous comment yesterday about feeling at odds because there was nothing on TV, nothing happening on Facebook, and just generally feeling dissatisfied because she wasn't 'connected'. I started to think about my level of 'connection'. This morning I decided my Facebook addiction (and that is what it has become) has to come to an end.

I didn't consider complete cold turkey; I do enjoy the interaction and keeping up to date with friends and family. Heck, if I didn't post on Facebook my mum wouldn't know what I was doing in life. But I did decide that checking in every time I walked past the computer or sat down had to stop.

Taking into account my disastrous attempts to give up coffee, late nights and chocolate, I realised I would need some 'assistance' to limit my access. I have added Leechblock (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/leechblock/) to Firefox. Leechblock allows you to specify sites and add 'rules' for access; either a time limit (e.g. 1 hour) or time range (e.g. 9:00am to 9:15am). You can also set rules for what happens when you try to access the blocked site outside the rules and you can hide or block the app so you can't change the rules while they're running (that is, if the rule says only one hour, once your hour is up you can't just open the app and change it).

I haven't been too onerous. I have blocked Facebook for six hours on weekdays - 9 til 12 and 1 til 4. I haven't hidden the app or blocked it. And I've only installed it on one computer; I could still use my laptop or phone. However, I figure if I can't limit my access this way then I really do need help - professional sort of help.

Today has been quite productive. I've got things done that have needed doing for some time. I have struggled to not want to just sit and gab all morning. The three hour afternoon session seems to be a little easier.

As I've set this up on the main computer, there may be others who try to use Facebook during my blocked sessions (I couldn't find a way to block just my access). I've set up a page here on my blog (http://suebk.blogspot.com.au/p/facebook-not-available.html) that Leechblock will redirect to, if anyone tries to access Facebook in the blocked out times. If you open the page - don't worry, your Facebook account has not been blocked.