Heels Over Head…

In an attempt to get some normalcy back into this here blog we are attempting to do the double and if we are lucky potentially the triple this week, we know our adoring fans have missed having something to read each week and our mental health has missed having the writing escape each week that allows us to research each and every topic we write about. That includes bin chickens and bush turkeys folks, two of Australia’s best birds and almost becoming more iconic than the galah or the cockatoo. Unlike most of the blogs we write though, this week’s doesn’t have a lot of science and or research behind it but has more gone with a gut feel, views and those old arseholes, opinions. So without further adieu we’ll crack on into another addition of A Mind of Its Own.

A couple of weeks ago we wrote about online dating and the ins and outs, the pitfalls and the disappointment it can often bring or how it just makes a lot of people feel rather shallow and self conscious. Just like a lot of social media these days. In a follow up to that piece we decided to look at something that has always baffled us, something that just seems to be the norm, something that society has yet to really challenge and those that have, would no doubt have been labelled or even worse put down and ridiculed for their views and opinions. But it does tie in with not only dating but most facets of life, particularly where things have been spelled out for centuries. Maybe not so much in black and white but in that shale grey colour that interior designers tend to love so much these days.

No matter where you look there are rules that govern our lives, some of them are written and passed through parliament becoming a law or legislation, others are more suggestions or have become the social normal throughout the centuries, they aren’t written down but more passed on as things that just are and should be done. It’s these so called social normalities or “unwritten rules” that we want to take a look at and try to get an understanding of the how, what, where and why behind them. How did they become something that everyone did, what happened for that to even become an unwritten rule? Where did it happen? And why did it happen? That’s a lot happening in one sentence. We’ll focus on dating as that’s where most of these unwritten rules seem to exist but we’ll throw in some other examples as we go that just pop up in everyday life.

This all came about as we discussed dating with people after the posting of “I’ll Be Your Man”. Through sharing their personal experiences and leaning on the Boss man here for his unedited thoughts on the world of online dating we were able to get an understanding that there are perceived certain rules in which men and women need to abide by in the dating world. We say rules but some people will say guidelines, either way they are there and they often govern how people interact with each other in the dating world. An example of this is the first date and how long you should wait before you contact someone after. Is it 24 or 48 hours and why should you have to wait to wait at all, to tell someone you had a good time with them and would like to see them again? Because someone made it a social normality that a lot of people have followed throughout the years?

Correct that’s exactly why, someone with an opinion and soapbox to spruke it from suggested that it could be perceived as needy or too keen if you interact too soon after meeting someone in which you may want to pursue something more than just a friendship with. Overtime it just became dating advice and slowly an unwritten rule that you gave it time before contacting them and making a second date. If you didn’t contact them it was understood you weren’t at all interested and that has now taken on the term ‘ghosting’. So we know ghosting isn’t a new thing that men and women do, someone just put a label on it and gave the millennials something to grasp on tightly to while they rock themselves to sleep in the corner because Ted or Tamara just disappeared without an explanation. Our Human need for closure and want to understand everything that comes into play there.

Forgetting all the rules for a minute and standing on the edge of the philosophical lake with the rule book in hand ready to fling it to the depths of the water. What if you did meet someone who you wanted to break all the rules for?. What if that person ticked a lot of your boxes? You know the rules we are talking about, the unwritten ones, ladies and gents, we don’t condone the breaking of statutory rules that govern society to keep us safe unless they are archaic and need to be torn down like a derelict building poisoning the skyline. There is a freedom discussed and whispered in circles that men and women talk about. Freedom that allows us to make decisions and not be governed by unwritten rules. That allows you as an individual to throw the social normalities into the lake and never have to worry about them ever again.

The rules that say you shouldn’t talk about certain topics when you getting to know someone, the rules that say if your marriage falls apart you shouldn’t date until you are divorced, the rule that says sex before marriage is a sin. The rules that say you should follow those rules and not jump in feet first. But ladies and gentleman you wouldn’t go and buy a cow from the market without trying the milk before taking it home would you? It’s the exact same with sex and a lot of things in life. That’s probably not one of the best analogies we’ve ever used but you get the point. Life is full of unwritten rules in which we’ve allowed ourselves to be governed by because they have become the societal norm over centuries. If evolution has taught us anything it’s that we should be breaking the mold and bucking the trend is good for us. It took a world war for women to be allowed to vote and work in traditionally male dominated roles. Yes it’s still going on today but we are evolving (ever so slowly).

In a world full of rules there is something liberating about not following them, something internally inspiring about following your heart, head and gut. Some might even say there is something enlightening about going your own way and doing your own thing when it comes to breaking the social normalities. If we aren’t challenging things what are we doing? Are we just becoming more sheep in the proverbial flock ready to follow around a Shepard? Surely not, as intelligent beings we have the ability to choose, to make decisions and to stick to our convictions and values. As the kids say you do you. We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t follow all the unwritten rules as some of them are just part of being a decent human, what we are saying is that you have the ability to pick and choose. When it comes to dating as people that like to wear our hearts on our sleeves all we can say is follow your heart.

There is the age old story of the Hare and the Tortoise to take into account though, you know the saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’ but there are also the internal factors and feelings that you can’t often be explained and or ignored. Yeah take things slow but the one thing that will always be a saving grace is communicating. And lessons learnt tell us that communicating everything as well as setting expectations early is paramount. Even if it is ugly, bad or makes you feel a little ashamed and less of a person. Don’t show up just because you feel that it’s expected, the path to authenticity is paved with good intentions that often find us in pitfalls doing what we feel we should rather than being truly authentic with people we care about. That’s not just dating that’s through all facets of life.

So what are some of those other unwritten rules that we should follow? We’ll there are the little subtle ones like keeping left on an escalator or chewing with your mouth closed, because no one really wants to hear or see you chewing. Or not being on your phone whilst being served at a checkout and making people wait in the line behind you to finish your call or always letting people out of a door before you enter, particularly lifts, buses and trains. There are some weird ones that are more for personal comfort more than anything else like leave one urinal in between you and the next person where possible. There are also the consideration rules like giving up your seat on the bus or train to the elderly or a pregnant woman. Or replacing the toilet paper if you are at the end of the roll. It’s courteous and just a decent thing to do, it’s all part of taking that empathetic path.

Maybe that’s just the answer, maybe the whole solution to unwritten rules, that are societal norms is to just be empathetic in your approach to life, put yourself in the other people’s shoes and think about how it would make you feel before acting. Flick the rule book out the window and just approach life with an empathetic attitude. When dating if you want to call someone after the first date place some empathy in your thought process and sometimes you just need to take a blind leap of faith and know that no matter what the outcome you are going to be OK. Everything we do in life has a lesson there for us. A teaching in which we learn a little about ourselves and the world around us and if you aren’t learning or are opposed to learning you might need to check yourself on the way out the door. And do everyone a favour don’t let it hit you in the arse on the way out.

Some would argue that more and more we are breaking those unwritten rules as society becomes more self involved and selfish on an individual level. In some regards this is true and we’ve argued before that the youth of today lack respect. But in all fairness it’s not just the youth we all get caught up in our own little worlds and with social media and everything in the palm of our hands it’s easy to overlook little things and other people. In the eyes of this here blog it is just that, a lack of respect for those who have been there before them, to wear in the path through the jungle that can often be this world. Lack of respect does not necessarily mean challenging the rules or even breaking them, it’s a naivety in which our youth have that they are entitled to everything. Technology is partly to blame and society can take the rest of the fall as we’ve allowed them too much freedom and with freedom comes choice. Too many choices results in a lack of commitment hence the vicious cycle that is often online dating.

What have we learnt? Other than hindsight is a beautiful thing that we can learn from? Well, as always, communication is key, be open, be honest and most of all be authentic. If that’s not you as a person then don’t try and be someone you are not. Life is too short to wear a mask to the majority and show the real you only to those in your inner circle. In terms of the rules to quote Josh Brolin’s character Matt Gravers in Sicario “Fuck it All”, rules are there to guide us but some of them need to be challenged and often broken or rewritten. We are big proponents of following your mind, body and soul. Yeah we might sound a little hippy saying that but intuition is something we should all take a little more notice of and follow. If it fucks you, learn from it but most of the time it’ll steer you on the right path and put you where you need to be, doing what you need to be doing at that point in time.

Just because the rule isn’t written down doesn’t mean it’s not a rule, there are many of them and to reiterate what we previously said some of them are just polite and some of them just help to make us decent human beings. Some of them are old fashioned and need to be torn down like the Berlin wall, some need to be challenged like America, would a despotic dictator and some of them we can just keep as they make sense. Like all things in life everything is interpretive and can be taken and interpreted differently by everyone. Maybe take that empathetic approach as we suggested or just continue to accept them as the social normal. Whatever you decide all we can urge is that you follow what you want, there are enough sheep in the world already without adding more to the flock.

Until next week we’ll leave you with some wisdom and words for the wise. If you find yourself in a situation that socially dictates you follow some archaic rule whispered centuries ago think about it before you follow it. If it doesn’t sit with your values then don’t follow it, plain and simple. Unless it’s an actual law then follow it, unless you feel you look good in an orange jumpsuit. Then go for it we say, but don’t start complaining when your new cellmate Trent starts spooning you without consent. From the team we wish you all a happy corporate card day or valentines day for those that like to celebrate it. We like to celebrate love every day here at a mind of its own, not just on days we are told to by large corporations looking to fill their pockets. So until the next one all the best cobbers…

Nocturnal Creatures…

We wondered how and if we were going to be able to top a preppers guide to the Apocalypse in which we graced your screens with a couple of weeks ago and the boffins in the idea factory have managed to do just that. They’ve come up with an idea for a blog that will have you sitting up and paying attention for months to come. Well at least till the event starts then your rapt attention may start to wane. As we enter into the second month of the year it’s we’ve seen plenty of changes to the environment and the landscapes around us. We’ve seen people go and people come from the world but we’ve continued writing and will continue to pump out the blogs one by one until we fall over in decades to come. But let’s be real with technology we could be posting things from the grave, now that’s a scary thought and we’ve shared plenty of them with you. Heck we talked about the apocalypse last post and a week later people were getting a virus from Mexico’s favourite beer.

So as we do every week the great people here at A Mind Of Its Own have put together yet another great time waster for you to read on the train home or whilst on the toilet at work killing some time out of your super busy day. Wherever you read us from doesn’t matter as long as it’s not whilst driving or operating heavy machinery and more importantly that you enjoy reading it. But you must because you keep coming back each week to see what zany ideas the boffins have come up with in the basement for us to write about. That being said we’ll crack on and get into this week’s piece, as always feel free to leave a comment in the comments section. Yes even if it’s mean, we love criticism but don’t be surprised if we call into question your IQ.

It’s a big year for athletes around the world, another year, the final year, in the Olympic cycle (every 4 years for those that didn’t pay attention in primary school) where they get the opportunity to take home a gold, silver or bronze and if they don’t take home one of those they’ve always got the memories of representing their nation on the world stage. As always you know we’ll be there to give you the in’s and outs, the news and just like the Commonwealth Games a review of sports and who to watch out for in Tokyo. There was something that caught our eye even before the first athletes had marched into the stadium for the opening ceremony which we believe will be on Saturday the 25th of July for those wondering at home when the games were (24th of July to the 9th of August). It was something that gave us a good chuckle but also got us thinking once again about practicality. Before we knew it our minds had made their way to the proverbial gutter.

Having spent time around athletes particularly those who have participated at the elite level and in a couple of cases walked away with a gold medal or two, it was interesting to get an insight into the shenanigans that come along after the pressures of competing on the big stage are over. What happens when you put athletes of the opposite sex in a little village and pile on years of pressure to compete on the world stage in one event. Well lets just say when it’s all said and done they like to let their hair down a little, some more than others. In some cases a lot, that four year cycle of non-stop training, living, eating and breathing their sport needs to be vented, after all as much we might idolise them and put them on a pedestal from time to time they are only human.

So whilst flicking through the Socials, as most people have become accustomed to on a daily basis, the other day we came across a piece on Tokyo 2020 more specifically it was focused on how environmental the games were going to be in particular the recyclable beds being installed in the athlete village. It did get us thinking about some of the stories and statistics we had read over the years about other Olympics, you know the one that happens after the actual Olympics. While everyone will be going for gold the spirit behind this year’s games is Green with the environment being front of mind for the organisers. Speaking of those going for gold, they will be sorely disappointed to find out that should they win their event they’ll be wearing a recycled phone around their necks. Fingers crossed for the latest smartphone medal winners. We did say the games were going Green. Further to the recycled phones as medals, the athletes beds are made out of cardboard, yeah that’s right the bases of the beds our elite athletes are sleeping on are made out of recycled cardboard.

We couldn’t be happier that the games are going Green, the more environmentally friendly we are in all aspects of life, the better in the eyes of this here blog. Cardboard bed frames however come into question as we are putting the sporting hopes and dreams of a nation, to rest on them each night they spend in the athlete village. Rest assured ladies and gentlemen the good folks at Airweave, the company that are producing the 18,000 beds of the athletes village have tested and then tested them again. Furthermore they can hold up to 200kg and have been certified sex proof. So unless athletes are planning an orgy of sorts the beds will comfortably hold 2 to 3 people or maybe up to 4 gymnasts they seem to not weigh a lot. Either way athletes can still go for gold between the sheets. But there are no prizes for coming first.

Come the end of the games the beds will be turned into paper products and the mattress yes even the mattresses are going to be recycled into plastic products. The fact that they come in three separate pieces so the athletes can adjust how firm or un-firm they want their sleep. It might not be such a bad thing after the unspeakable things some of the beds throughout Olympic games history have had to endure. So perhaps being Eco friendly is also a good way to destroy any long lasting memories for some of the athletes who don’t want a reminder of their post event celebrations with Ivan the weightlifter or Anna the Scottish boxer.

When the events are done and the athletes can finally relax, the question on everyone’s mind now that we’ve established you can have have sex on a cardboard bed and the homeless community will tell you that you most definitely can have sex on a piece of cardboard. That question is how many athletes end up having to go to the doctor when they get home because they’ve picked something up from someone in the village. And if it wasn’t the question on your mind it should have been! The Olympic games are renowned for the sex romps that go on after the events. If you look at the statistics of condoms handed out at RIO there were 450,000 that’s a whooping average of 42 per athlete. We don’t know about you but that’s a lot sex in a short period of time. Either that or they are using them to start the next world water war. Then again that wouldn’t be very green of our athletes would it wasting all that water and condoms. It seems like each Olympics the stakes are raised in the opportunity to catch a sexually transmitted infection, either that or athletes have control issues once the events are done.

If you look at the trend year on year the amount of condoms handed out at the games has gone up and up. Just last year at the Pyongyang Winter Olympics the usage of Tinder went up 350% during the games resulting in 110,000 condoms being handed out, which still isn’t the highest amount in the history of the Olympics but ranks up there in terms of Winter Olympics to date. We know the Japanese don’t do things half arsed and when it comes to protecting yourself in the bedroom they’ve come up with a few high tech options that include traditional Japanese artwork because every man likes to look at a condom before sticking it on the old fella and admiring the artwork now emblazoning his penis. The number of condoms to be handed out is still to be decided but the likelihood is they’ll lean towards a similar number as the London Olympics. Around 150,000 for those that like to play with facts and figures.

What are these high tech options you’re asking? They aren’t actually that high tech in fact they were pretty boring, perhaps pleasurable, but rather boring compared to where our minds went. Thoughts of talking, robot condoms that give you tips on how to spice it up or release heat or cooling or at least something cool filled our minds. Nope this is as high tech as they get, the ultra-thin 0.01mm condom. In addition to its barely there construction, these Japanese condoms are made of polyurethane, a material suitable for people allergic to latex that is standard in the construction of many condoms. OK so they are good for people allergic to latex but being thin doesn’t make them hi-tec it just makes it feel more like skin on skin. The one thing we do know is there will be plenty of athletes to ask post Tokyo 2020.

We’ll save our review of the games for later in the year but there are 33 different sports both individual and team based across 339 events (50 Disciplines) from roughly 206 countries. Is it just us or is that a lot of male and females congregating in the one area for a couple of weeks while emotions, hormones and everything else is running high? Yeah it’s no wonder they want a release after all the years of blood, sweat and tears to be in a position to represent their country on the world stage. After all they are human like the rest of us, despite the fact place them up on that pedestal. So yeah things could and probably will get a little freaky after the games for some athletes at least they will have 40 something condoms and yes they are handing out female condoms as well to protect themselves with. Some of them will even have pretty Japanese art on them according to the games organisers.

In summary Tokyo sounds like fun if you’re into sleeping on cardboard bed frames your mattress is also able to be recycled, your medal if you win one isn’t actually a medal but rather a phone that’s been recycled and you want to risk getting the Coronavirus. Well there will no doubt be a few athletes suffering from beer inflicted ailments after they finish competing but the risk of contracting the Coronavirus is slim to none unless they decide to take a quick trip to Wuhan in China and kiss a few people. So it’s safe to say that the athletes will be well protected in Tokyo just potentially a little uncomfortable as they become nocturnal creatures between the sheets.

For now we’ll leave you thinking about the beds, the dingers and pending pinnacle of sport that will grace our screens in the middle of the year. We’ll be rooting for the green and gold just not in the same way some of the athletes will be in the village. There’ll be plenty of updates and no doubt some reviews of the stars to watch. Until then there’ll be a couple of blogs about this and that as we done. Enjoy your week amigos!

Bigger Than My Brain…

As we stared out the 3rd floor window of the nondescript office building in which we conduct our day to day job we couldn’t help but think of a post apocalyptic world. As smoke from what will go down in history as one of Australia’s biggest crisis blankets the skies and the news reels continue to show devastation, loss and tragedy across the nation. Our minds wondered to what would happen and where would we go if the world was to descend into chaos. After all there are plenty of maniacs in power who would love nothing more than to leave there stamp on history that have come close to kicking off the world’s next and what would likely be the final world war. Or the fact that we have pretty much poisoned the planet beyond repair in some places.

Perhaps it was waking up at 9am on a Sunday morning thinking it was earlier than it actually was due to the sun being blotted out by the thick smoke or perhaps it was not seeing blue sky for weeks on end that got us to start thinking about our mortality and what we’d do if there was an event that forced us to literally pack up and run. Then we began to think about what we would need and what we would take with us in such an event was to happen. Unlike all the crazy Yanks, Australians aren’t so big on prepping, we are sure there are the crazy, rich likely cashed up bogans who have no doubt built a fallout shelter or have a bug out plan in place but in general should an apocalyptic event unfold itself, most Australians would not have a clue about what they would do.

There are plenty of apocalyptic events that could have people heading for the hills cause lets face it, if there ever is to be an apocalypse the last place you want to be is in a major population center. Particularly if World War Three is to breakout, major population centers would be targeted right after major military installations. Sadly we have researched all this but on the flip side the best place to move to would be New Zealand. Well that’s our thoughts and we think as we unpack this week’s A Mind of Its Own everyone might start to agree with us for a change. So without any further segways and side notes lets get on with this weeks blog and put together a plan for surviving the apocalypse.

Firstly we need to understand what if anything could these apocalyptic events be and what would they consist of, who would they initially effect and what would the ramifications be if any? In order to answer those questions we’ve asked our chief investigator Google to do a little research and begin combing through articles and research papers. We like to keep everything we write about as close to the truth as possible after all why let the truth get in the way of a good story. But in all seriousness if the science is available to back up our blog we’ll always take it. So to start with we’ll look at the very unlikely but potential threat of a Zombie apocalypse.

We were hoping to find some good news that a Zombie apocalypse was something that could never happen but thanks to science we are now armed with the possibility that it could become very, very true. Reading one particular article it unpacked the 5 most likely causes behind a zombie apocalypse and to be Frank for a minute (We had to ask him if it was ok) they scared the absolute crap out of us. Like change your jocks scary. The first of the freaky 5 to cause a Zombie Apocalypse is Brain Parasites according to Google they turn victims into mindless, zombie like slaves. One in particular Toxoplasmosa Gondii is terrifying and to make matters worse half the human population of the earth is already infected with it. The likelihood of it turning us all into zombies though would a little human intervention and a perhaps a megalomaniac with a highly evolved version of the parasite that had been weaponised.

Then you have neurotoxins whilst not rating highly on the likelihood scale there have been cases documented in Haiti where the word Zombie comes from of Alkaloid toxins being used to control people and make mind numbed zombie like workers who harvested sugarcane. We then turn to a rage virus type scenario something like a super mad cow disease where people turn into mindless killing machine and don’t forget that we are only one brain chemical (Serotonin) away from that happening. We already have a human version of mad cow disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and again it would only take some mad scientists to play around with it in a lab to make it a weapon. Moving on to Neurogenesis or basic stem cell research, yeah we spoke about animal/human hybrids a couple of blogs ago but what about regrowing dead brain tissue? You wanted the undead well science is finally delivering, it is now possible to re-grow the brains of comatose head trauma patients until they wake up and can walk around again, throw in the new ability to keep dead bodies in a suspended state of animation and we are starting to sound like a science fiction novel but its all true. Whilst the cortex may die the stem remains so you will be able to function but not actually have any thoughts, feelings or emotions.

Finally we have nanobots yes nanobots, tiny little microscopic, self-replicating robots that can invisibly build or destroy anything. Studies have shown with a decade we’ll have nanobots that can setup and replace neural pathways in your brain. That’s right ladies and gents little mini self replicating robots will be able to rewire your thoughts. So the likelihood of the robot uprising now takes form in the shape of a zombie apocalypse. Think about it, the nanobots are programmed to self replicate but once the host dies so do they. So to preserve themselves they’d need a new host, therefore the last act of the nanobot zombie would be to bite a healthy victim so they can steam in and set up camp. And just like that it’s eat, sleep, bite, repeat and the robot zombie uprising is a real thing.

So what are the other possible apocalyptic events that could have us scurrying like rats leaving a sinking ship? The most likely yet unlikely event is a robot uprising, according to Artificial Intelligence researchers the likelihood of us having a robot overlord is quite slim but if it did happen our robot overseers could combat some of the other threats. The most likely apocalyptic event in which we’d need to bunker down somewhere and then scavenge till the end of days would be a global pandemic or nuclear war and with Trump in power and happy to divert attention away from his pending impeachment trial the later is the most likely to happen as he rattles sabers and assassinated people from the skies above. If it’s not Trump shooting missiles at foreign dignitaries to spark off a war it’ll be climate change deniers that are our undoing as we kill the earth.

If you are wondering if it’ll be something from space that does us in, the chances of an asteroid taking us out is one in 10,000. We are more likely to be wiped out by volcanoes and they are the most underrated threat on the matrix we’ve developed. The sleeping giants that could erupt around the world and blackout the sun while blanketing the earth in ash. There is also the possibility of aliens invading in which we would recommend you hide down the deepest darkest hole you can find and don’t come out for at least a decade. Perhaps Hollywood had been quite prophetic in some of their alien invasion movies over the past century. There is always over population and or of the next big freeze, heck there have even been suggestions that we could be attacked by something below us lurking in the depths of the oceans or below the earth’s surface. There are several other possibilities but these were just the ones that actually made sense or had a likelihood of possibly ever happening.

Chances are that if the world was coming to an end any semblance of order would quickly dissolve into chaos. People would riot and looters would roam the streets. From there things would begin to look a little like the Tom Clancy video game franchise The Division. Whilst we’d like to think people might actually behave in a manner which is respectful and considerate that just doesn’t seem likely and if history is any indication of human behavior in times of chaos we definitely become a bunch of words that mum only allows us to use in the paddock. In times of chaos we change our morals values to benefit ourselves over others so it’s no wonder that people loot stores and gangs lord themselves over others in times of crisis. The end of the world would be one such crisis.

The more research we did, the more we realised that unless you’ve gone to a Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) course which are generally reserved for military personnel with a role designation that could see them behind enemy lines, or have studied prepping and began to put in place the resources and tools required to survive most of us are very much under prepared for any of the likely apocalyptic scenarios that we could be faced with over the next couple of decades. Even the basics evade most people, how many people are trained in self defense or hand to hand combat, not to be confused with hand to gland combat which would only take a quick google search for most people to become experts in that one. Getting back on topic how or would you be able to defend yourself if you were required to? There are several books that outline the basics of survival and having read several of them when researching for our pet project we can highly recommend the following if you are interested in staying safe and surviving.

Safe by former 22 SAS Trooper Chris Ryan is a good read and then there is the Violent Nomad series ‘100 Deadly Skills’ by Former Navy Seal Clint Emerson, that outlines survival tips and techniques for all scenarios and environments. There is also the SAS Survival books written by John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman also a former SAS Trooper. There are several other survival books that have good information but we’ve found the above books fonts of knowledge as well as having good example pictures and providing a B.L.U.F or Bottom Line Up Front, in other words there is a paragraph where the conclusions and recommendations are placed at the beginning of the text to facilitate rapid decision making rather than placing it at the end of the text.

So we now know what we can start to prepare, how we are going to survive them. In order to do that we need to prepare for all likely scenarios. A little like the scouts we’ll always be prepared or at least that’s what we think the scouts motto is. What would you put in your end of the world kit? Well we think we’d start with a vehicle or two and our vehicle of choice if money was no option to survive the end of the world would either be a suped up, all the mods & cons Toyota Prado armored up to protect us from either the infected zombies or the less fortunate trying to steal our prized wheels or a Land Rover Defender and yes it would have a machine gun turret. Desperate times call for desperate measures and if it’s the end of the world we want to be protected. Worst case we’d break into a defence base and steal a Bushmaster or a tank, we’d then find the armory and go nuts like a kid in the candy store taking all the toys we wanted and needed.

We’ve put together a list of things that are required for initial survival. First thing you’ll need is a bug out bag these suddenly chic survival satchels, also known as go bags, are typically lightweight military-grade backpacks stocked with provisions for at least 72 hours. Gray wolf Survival recommends a chain-saw blade stashed in an Altoids tin to harvest firewood. Feminine hygiene products are also recommended as something you should have in your Go Bag, even for men, to soak up blood from wounds. One of those things that you should have is currency. While Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies make news, many people are quietly packing their bug-out bags with rolls of pre-1965 American dimes, quarters or half-dollars, which are 90 percent silver and available from coin dealers and precious-metals websites (silver is currently about 17 US dollars an ounce).

Imagine a true economic apocalypse, one that makes the German hyperinflation of the 1920s, with its wheelbarrows of near-worthless paper currency, look like a hiccup. To prepare for the worst worst-case scenario, some doomsday preppers prefer to stock up on daily staples like tampons, vegetable seeds and cigarettes (that timeless prison medium of exchange) to silver or gold as an alternative-currency. Liquor, particularly in easy-to-swap airline bottles would likely prove a hot commodity, since it not only deadens the pain of surviving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, but also provides useful off-label functions as a disinfectant or an ingredient in herbal remedy tinctures. In the event of apocalypse, bring condoms explained one prepper site. This may sound like a slogan from a sex safety campaign but condoms being featherweight, ultracompact and durable (nonlubricated, please) can be used as a makeshift canteen to store water, a fire starter or as elastic bands for an improvised slingshot to hunt small game.

Should law and order on the streets break down after, say, a massive hurricane or nuclear-reactor meltdown, that condom slingshot might come in handy. But where guns are illegal or highly regulated what are defenseless, law-abiding citizens to do? “100 Deadly Skills,” by Clint Emerson is filled with improvised alternative weapons, like a collapsible umbrella lined with wrenches, Sure, you could master jiu-jitsu but if it’s really on, hand-to-hand self-defense will only take you so far. To balance legality with lethality in a bug-out bag, you have to go simpler hammers, hatchets, heavy tools. That roll of old silver quarters might come in handy, too.

In the event of a breakdown of the food supply that leaves the shelves of Woolworths and Coles bare, you will still have to eat. Many survivalists are placing their hopes of sustenance in rabbit, a high-protein, low-fat meat that is also being embraced as “the new chicken” by sustainable food types. By livestock standards, rabbits are relatively clean and quiet. They can survive on table-scrap vegetables or even grass, and as a bonus, yield valuable fur for improvised winter clothing. And boy do they breed. A doe can produce up to 50 kits a year, yielding 250 pounds of meat, according to researchers.

To master archery and broadsword combat or how to manufacture fabric, bread, ceramic cookware and wood furniture by hand, or to perfect the preindustrial arts of iron craft and tanning of leathers should Armageddon arrive say, in the form of a limited nuclear exchange, global pandemic or cyber mega-attack these hobbies could mean your survival. In other words, chivalry may not be dead after all. You just don’t want to be running around in a suit of chain-mail Armour chances are you’ll be a little slow.

So what we’ve worked out is that, if the world is coming to an end anytime soon your average Joe is not going to be prepared enough to survive for any lengthy duration. In case of a nuclear holocaust the safest place is New Zealand due to it’s lack of major military targets and it’s Australia’s forgotten ugly (yet beautiful, scenery wise) cousin therefore people often overlook they are also an ally of the great Satan. Plus most of New Zealand has moved to the Gold Coast. Everyone needs a go bag with at least 72 hours worth of provisions and tools you’ll need to survive. Having a plan is always a good idea and various iterations of that plan, make it even better. If you can get some self defence training it’s always a good idea even if an apocalyptic event isn’t coming. Ensure you have something to trade or a form of currency and lastly a little faith that it never comes down to you having to survive.

As we wrap up the conclusion is that it’ll only take a couple of deranged scientists and a world leader with an inferiority complex to make the Zombie apocalypse happen. Volcanoes are the most likely apocalyptic event, we’ve researched this way too much and now we are thinking we need to start planning for the worst while we hope for the best. It gets you thinking though and well life is too short for regrets or to be pondering crap like this, live in the moment and make memories that’s what we plan on doing. And just because you identify as a helicopter does not mean you can fly in times of crisis. Until next week we wish well and hope that we haven’t scared the absolute crap out of you. Sometimes it’s good to know that there are freaky things and not all science fiction books and films are made up…

I’ll Be Your Man…

Another week and we have to report the fires are still burning, the air quality in Canberra is still worse than Beijing. But we aren’t complaining things could be a lot worse and we could be burning along with the rest of the country. With New Year’s having been and gone many of us would have set resolutions aligning with our hopes, dreams and goals all in the aim of bettering ourselves as we enter into a new year and a new decade. Whether it was dropping a few kilos or learning to speak Spanish, whatever your resolution what people should really be resolving to is to stick to the goals they set for themselves. Break them down into smaller achievable targets that are realistic rather than going for the big bang approach which has been proven to rarely work. With that said it’s time we moved on to this weeks blog and a topic we are sure a lot of people around the world are interested in hearing about.

Dating is often a hard and soul crushing experience, particularly in the age of the internet, outrage porn, self help books, blogs and podcasts, post industrial, post feminist world. There are no longer clearly defined roles of in today’s society. That goes for both men and women, it also goes for those who don’t identify as either but rather as a helicopter or something else entirely. So when it comes to dating what are the roles, what are the responsibilities and more importantly what are the rules? We live by the rule of consent here at A Mind of Its Own, but we aren’t talking about sexual consent that is a given and defined by the line, No, Means NO! We are talking about consent to allow yourself to be comfortable and be yourself with people you want to date. As a good friend put being authentic is the best thing we can do to attract like minded and like value people.

What is often not outlined in the dating game, and let’s be honest it is often a game, because we can not and do not allow ourselves to be ourselves, is that unless you are happy with yourself and who you are as a person, you aren’t going to attract the people you want to be with. You can read as many blogs, books and listen to podcasts on dating advice but the crux of dating is that you need to be comfortable with who you are and what you want in life. Plain and simple put yourself first and yes it’s ok to be selfish and be who you want to be, not who you feel you should be for others. Whether you are male, female, a helicopter or identify as something else entirely you need to be happy with yourself and as we said earlier the happier you are with yourself the more likely you are to attract the people you want.

At the age of 33 the Boss man had everything going for him, he was happily married, he had a great job (Still has that job but not sure about how great it is), he was planning for the future including a little family of his own. He was in a good place mentally, physically he was looking OK (May have got a little Fappy, for those playing along at home that’s Fat Happy) but could have gone to the gym a little more. Come his 34th birthday though everything had changed, life as he had known it ceased to exist. The last thing he thought he’d be doing was dating again. In a sense he was starting again, for a man that wants a family he was at rock bottom, starting all over again scared the absolute shit out of him. He questioned everything, his hopes, dreams and ambitions. Would he have a family of his own?, Would he ever find that someone special again?. There was a lot of self doubt and a lot of destructive behavior that he thought he had left behind in his early 20’s. Over time he would realise he was being a massive douche and well that’s how we ended up with this blog.

What a shallow and wonderful world dating in the 21st century has become, it’s an adventure all on it’s own. Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Plenty of Fish, eHarmony, Happn and not to mention the specific hook up apps that are available. You name it and there is a dating site or application for it. But what’s it really like to date in today’s modern age of screen time and instant gratification. Well hopefully we can answer all the questions and more as we dive head first into the world of dating, we won’t be taking any self help books with us or cheesy pick up lines but we will be giving you a first hand account of what it’s like out there in the big wide world of dating. We won’t pull any punches or lay down and just take (Pun intended) we’ll give it to you straight. Rejection and all, it’s all part of dating and there is no point holding back anything as it would take away from the real experience.

Firstly it was worked out quite quickly that you need certain things to create a dating profile regardless of whether you are an attractive person or not, we’ll get to why being attractive gives you a leg up shortly. Firstly gym selfies seem to be a must, if you are male a topless flexing pic is always a good idea and if you are female a sports bra and some weights if you don’t do the gym then a beach selfie with your assets on display seems to be the go, helicopters we’ll assume shining rotor blades and if you identify as something else then take from one of the first two examples. Other things you will need is a photo of you drinking, a mandatory boozy photo seems to feature quite heavily just to show people you are fun, a photo with a dog is a must and if you don’t have one borrow one, we have two here that are available for hire throughout the year. They just need a little scratch here and there behind the ear and are very food motivated. Apparently a sense of humour is required and you will also need to have a primary school reading level to make sense of some of the bios you come across but more often than not, people do not list a lot about themselves it’s all part of the supposed mystery or they just post a shitload of emojis that make no sense whatsoever.

As we progress further into the blog we’ll list some of the acronyms we’ve had to work out or have deciphered for us by the boys and girls over at the National Office of Intelligence. We’ll also give you some tips whether they are helpful or not is a different thing but they do say those that can’t do teach. Dating what’s its purpose? Solely to find a mate, another half, someone to spend our time with, someone to share our hopes and dreams with. It’s a scary prospective whether you are just setting out on your journey or have been there and done that before but failed to get the t-shirt. When we spoke to the bossman the last time he dated Tinder and all the other apps weren’t around or were just coming in and solely used for hookups. He was part of the old school where you had to go and make a connection with someone face to face. You didn’t get to text back and forth for ages before you actually meet the person. As we developed a severe case of Tinderitis from swiping we began to uncover some things about the dating world in a town like Canberra. Firstly, it’s small and we say small we mean small, one of those places where everyone knows someone and there a less than 6 degrees of separation. Secondly it becomes easy to develop a reputation if all you are doing is sleeping around.

It’s also no surprise that you will come across people you know, but more importantly you will stumble upon people you’ve always found attractive or had fanciful flights of ending up with. Imagine joining up to online dating and having one of the first people you come across be your wife who’s just left you. It happened to the bossman and is probably why he went through such a hate phase of the fairer sex. Here’s the thing about dating in the 21st century, you will feel shallow at some point throughout your dating experience. But let’s be honest, if you don’t you may be somewhat narcissistic and could do with a trip or two to the psych. Looks are the initial attraction, we’ll always admit that, you are going to swipe on people that appeal to you from the list of things that you find physically attractive when you are looking for your for your ideal mate.

It’s biology, plain and simple, we all have that list of things that attracts us to people from a physical perspective. From there once you’ve swiped or liked someone, it’s a guessing game as to whether they will tick any of the other boxes on our ideal mate wish list. What one person finds physically appealing another may not, we are all different and are attracted to different things. Physical attraction is the initial attraction but with most people who aren’t just looking for the old “Netflix and chill” there are then the other attributes that are important. Intelligence, values, morals etc all play a part in what makes us select the people we do to be apart of our lives.

At some point you are going to feel rejection, you are going to wonder why after swiping your thumb or index finger down to the bone why you aren’t getting matches or why people aren’t writing back. You will wonder whether it’s you or something you have written, you’ll question yourself over and over again as you go around in the little dance circle that is internet/online dating. Firstly you need to work out why you are actually there, are you after a temporary fix, some gratification to know you are still attractive and still able to attract someone, are you actually looking for someone to share your life with or are you just there to get your rocks off and establish no emotional connections whatsoever. It’s all about intentions. No matter whether it’s dating, friendships, work, whatever it is your intentions will set the tone of what happens. You might hide your intentions behind an act but at the end of the day your true intentions will shine through.

We spoke about self-help dating books briefly in the blog and whilst there is a raft of them they will all give you different advice. Some will tell you to ignore women and play hard to get, others will give you a raft of pick lines and there are the ones that tell you to just be yourself and be vulnerable and try not to come across as needy. Ok so we’ve only read one book like that and it was Models by Mark Mansen. Yes the same guy that wrote The Subtle Art and Everything is F*cked wrote a book on dating long before both of those. In fact that’s how he got his start providing dating advice to men. Reading through his book it’s all about intention, honesty and being vulnerable and we break it down even further it’s about being yourself, the true person you are not the mask wearing that so many people throw on through their neediness and insecurities. While being honest is often hurtful people will thank you for it in the long run. If you are looking for a dating book, we do recommend you Models, the principles displayed in this book are applicable to all aspects of your life, not just dating.

When we asked the Boss-man what dating was like he summed it up in one word, Crap, dating makes you feel crappy if you haven’t worked on yourself and understand your values and what you want from life. The boss-man understood this but had not worked on himself enough to ensure he was ready for what was to come, for the rejection. In a sense he was needy, he was seeking validation and approval because he’d been hurt and didn’t have a good relationship with himself. Upon meeting a girl who ticked some or all of the boxes he would become over invested and despite the fact that he didn’t realise it he was being needy. The girl or girls he was invested in would often find this a turn off and split and run for the hills. Because they were less invested than he was, his over investment became a massive turn off.

Sitting with the Boss-man while he sipped a whisky and swiped away on Tinder, Bumble, Hinge and Happn we began to question how serious some people were about finding a significant other. Yes we know there are those that are on there for the sole purpose of instant gratification who are also slightly narcissistic, but then there are those people who have insecurities within themselves that don’t even post a picture of themselves. That’s the thing about the world of online dating you end up with people from all walks of life looking for all types of things. From ONS which is a One Night Stand, to people in open marriages, couples looking for a threesome, the Netflix and chill crowd, it’s a minefield to navigate and when people don’t put at least one picture of themselves, it’s like a lucky dip at the school fete. As it has so often been said you’re values determine your behavior when it comes to dating. That’s the entire point YOUR values determine your behavior not what you think others want, your values will ensure you do what is best for you when it comes to dating.

One thing people struggle with is the ability to be open and honest, to just be themselves and just say what they want particularly when it comes to sex. Women in particular feel they’ll be judged for wanting just sex and nothing more, they worry they’ll develop a reputation and it’s understandable given that for centuries, we (Men) have made them feel that way and in some cases made them sexually repressed. Online dating has allowed women to explore their sexuality and feel a little more comfortable while they do so but until we as a society can make them feel truly safe they’ll continue to be a little less honest about what they want for fear of being labelled a slut or worse, particularly in a small town like Canberra. Throw all that into online dating and you start to get a good idea of why it is such a minefield. It’s not just women who do it though men are the masters of doing it, it all comes back to intentions and sooner or later your true intentions will come to light.

There are no rules to online dating, so once you’ve matched with someone there is nothing left to do but start a conversation. There are many opinions on how you should start a conversation and what you should and shouldn’t say but at the end of the day it’s not what you say or how you say it but again the intention behind it. Just be open and honest and be yourself is the best advice we can offer you. You need to know what you are, and aren’t OK with and set those expectations for the start. If you aren’t into games then you need to be up front and let it be known you won’t tolerate games. According to several magazines, books, podcasts from relationship and dating experts women will actually find this more attractive. They say those that can’t do teach? Maybe that’s why we write a blog each week? Who knows but for now we’ll just continue to write about things that make people feel a little awkward.

What works for one person might not work for another, put yourself in comfortable environments, if you really want to get to know them don’t go into a crowded bar or pub where conversation is difficult the first time you meet them. Go for coffee or a walk, do something that allows you to have a conversation and really get to know them, that’ll tell you if you want to go on a second date or not unless all you really want is sex then do whatever has been working for you but again be open and honest about your intentions rather than playing the game and ghosting. Look we’ve all done it for whatever reason but we can guarantee you’ll feel much better about yourself just being honest with people about what it is exactly that you want. It’s partly why women often ask the question when you first starting talking to them “What exactly are you looking for from this?”. Time is precious so treat people with respect, don’t waste their time particularly if you wouldn’t like your time being wasted. That little empathy you’d want people to show you, you should be showing others it’s all part of being a decent human.

One question that comes up is when should you get off dating apps if you meet someone you like? Again it all comes down to intentions, you need to let that person know you are keen to see where it goes and that you are only interested in dating them so you can see where things go. From there, remove yourself from the online dating scene. What’s the worst that could happen? You end up right back on the dating apps and websites and hey we are all going to face rejection at some point in our life, some of us more than others but if you meet someone you want to get to know better and see where it goes remove yourself from online dating and be open about it. That’s our advice but you don’t need to follow it or listen to it for that matter, as the kids say you, do you! Again it’s all about your intentions.

So to sum it up online dating isn’t for everyone, it is often soul crushing and makes you feel shallower than the babies end of the local paddle pool and is more often than not fraught with twists, turns and upside down roundabouts you weren’t expecting. That’s not to say that you can’t meet people or that special someone through online dating, everyone has their own experience and will get something different out of it compared to friends or people you know who have or are currently dating. All we can say is that the more open, honest and yourself you are, the more likely you will attract the same qualities and values in a person. Your intentions and your values will define what and who you attract in the dating game. It’s like all things in life if your intentions are true and noble, you are open and honest with people and show some vulnerability you will attract the same.

Again we aren’t dating experts and probably shouldn’t be out here giving advice but we have been there, done that had the wedding band. Whilst the first time didn’t work out hopefully the second will and if not then third time lucky as they say. But until then we’ll follow our own advice and speak our truth, be a little vulnerable and be clear on our intentions. That’s all we can do and along the way, you lucky readers may get the odd hilarious dating story but we are in no rush to be in a relationship and at the end of the day we know the universe has a plan for us just like it does for you.

Until next week we hope you’ve all had a great start to 2020 and the new decade. It’s been tough for some of our fellow Australians who have lost people or houses in the bush fires and as we’ve done with the last couple of posts we urge you all to lean in anyway you can to help out in the community. For those of you dating and looking to find that special someone we hope 2020 is your year and if it’s not don’t give up there is someone out there for everyone. As always our advice is just that advice and we are by no means qualified to give dating advice other than the fact we are currently in the same situation as so many Australians, single and ready to mingle. So until next week we’ll sign off once again…

Heroes Of The Sidewalk…

What a year 2019 was, there was certainly some highlights and low lights and in our annual review we plan to cover them all. It’s what we do here at A Mind Of Its Own. As the decade came to a close, a new chapter was opened and the history books were finalised once again with the who, the what, the where and the why of the last 10 years. The team at A Mind of Its Own were there for a lot of it but as it’s our annual review we’ll focus on 2019 and the year that created a lot of change within our country and personally within our lives. It was a year that saw some sadness, some growth and some strange and unusual things, so without further adieu we’ll let the team take it away from here.

Like all good publications we’ll cover the things that made the headlines in 2019 across Australia, yeah we are going to stick to our homeland and spread some of the craziness that made us stop and think over the past year. There was a lot of questioning done throughout the year and not a lot of answers were forthcoming. So to kick us off we’ll look at events and commentary from each month of the year that had heads turning and people palming their own faces.

January

  • 3 January – One man is killed and another is injured following a double stabbing at the Asia-Pacific headquarters of the Church of Scientology in the Sydney suburb of Chatswood, and they still deny they are a cult?
  • 5 January – A far-right political rally held in Melbourne, marked by scuffles with police and counter-protesters, is attended by Independent Senator Fraser Anning, who admits to using tax-payer funded travel to attend the event. Afterwards he got the Australian version of the swastika tattooed on his back for the next rally so he fit in with the rest of the far right bogans.
  • 7 January – A mass fish die-off occurs on the Lower Darling River at Menindee Lakes. Up to 1 million fish, including endangered species, ultimately die in what is described as possibly the largest fish die-off in Australian history. Where’s Greta when we need her to give the government a serve about killing our rivers?
  • 24 January – Professor Tanya Monro is appointed Australia’s next Chief Defence Scientist, the first woman in the position. The female Sheldon Cooper with a personality she’s a smart cookie who has some inspired ideas.
  • 29 January – The South Australian Murray Darling Basin Royal Commission report is released. The commission, which commenced in 2018, was critical of the Murray Darling Basin Plan and the Commonwealth Murray Darling Basin Authority. *Note to the government! Stop selling our water to overseas interests!

February

  • Four people are killed and over a thousand people remain evacuated from homes in Townsville as flooding peaks in the city, following a metre of rainfall in the first week of the month. Among the dead were two men on February 4, and two young boys on February 25, all from drowning. – No comment needed 😦
  • 4 February – The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry final report is tabled in Parliament. The report makes 76 recommendations. Well we all know banks are in the business of making money and that’s just what they did. Not just one of the banks but all of them.
  • 12 February – The Liberal-National Coalition government becomes the first Australian federal government to lose a vote on its own legislation in 78 years, after a defeat on the floor of the House of Representatives. Hmm we’ve touched base on politics a few times throughout the year and well it’s just been disappointing.
  • 13 February – Nineteen homes are destroyed by bushfires in the New England and Northern Rivers regions of New South Wales. Was this a sign of things to come later in the year? We certainly think so!
  • 26 February – Following the lifting of a suppression order, it is revealed that Cardinal George Pell had been convicted in December 2018 of sexually abusing two choirboys in 1996. All we can say is about time! The church has been hiding it’s secrets and disgusting people for way too long!

March

  • 13 March – Cardinal George Pell is sentenced to six years in prison following his conviction over the sexual abuse of two choirboys. Yeah boy! But six years isn’t long enough he should be locked up and the key thrown away! Where do we stand on the death penalty?
  • 23 March –
    • The Liberal-National Coalition government led by Gladys Berejiklian wins the 2019 New South Wales state election and returns to office with a reduced majority. Didn’t stop her from wasting money on a new stadium that wasn’t needed.
    • Tropical Cyclone Trevor makes landfall in the Northern Territory. Who comes up with the names for Cyclones? And how do we get that job?

April

  • 11 April – Actor Geoffrey Rush is awarded $850,000 in damages after winning a defamation case against The Daily Telegraph. What’s the saying mum? Oh that’s right if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

May

  • 18 May – 2019 Australian federal election: Scott Morrison’s Liberal/National Coalition Government is narrowly re-elected, defeating the Labor Party led by Bill Shorten. Scotty from marketing got his job and is now leading the Nation, opinion is divided whether he is doing a good job or not.
  • 30 May – Anthony Albanese is elected unopposed as leader of the Australian Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition, replacing Bill Shorten. Richard Marles is elected deputy unopposed, succeeding Tanya Plibersek. Politics is boring enough through in Albanese and it just makes us want to stab our eyes out with teaspoons.

June

  • 4 June – At least four men are killed and a woman was injured after a 45-year-old gunman allegedly goes on a shooting spree in the city centre of Darwin, Northern Territory. When things like this happen it makes us sad but at the same time we are thankful our gun laws are as tough as they are.
  • 4–5 June – The Australian Federal Police raid the home of News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst and the headquarters of the ABC over national security and special forces stories. Not sure what they found or whether Annika had anything that was of interest but the allegations levelled at some of our national heroes were quite interesting.
  • 24 June – Parts of the Darwin CBD are evacuated after the city is impacted by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake originating in Indonesia. Another precursor that the planet is furious with us for killing it.

July

  • 1 July – David Hurley is sworn in as the 27th Governor-General of Australia. Onya Davey boy!
  • 8–27 July – A biennial joint Australia-United States military exercise Talisman Saber 2019 is held. What an exercise it was, tanks, ships, planes and troops stormed the beaches of Australia in what can only be explained as a joint readiness exercise. Perhaps they knew Trump would attempt to start a war to stay in office.

August

  • 13 August – 2019 Sydney stabbing attack. Senseless violence on the streets once again.
  • 16 August – Pro-Hong Kong protesters clash with pro-China supporters in Melbourne, while police are forced to intervene during similar confrontations in Sydney and Adelaide, following the 2019 Hong Kong anti-extradition bill protests.
  • 21 August – The Victorian Court of Appeal dismisses George Pell’s appeal to overturn his conviction for child sex offences. Yeah they did, rot in jail George you scum.
  • 29 August – An attempt to deport Sri Lankan Tamil asylum seekers Kokilapathmapriya Nadesalingham (Priya) and Nadesalingam Murugappan (Nades) was thwarted by a last minute injunction, forcing the plane carrying the couple and their children out of Australia to land in Darwin.

September

  • 9 September – Homes and buildings, including the historic Binna Burra Lodge, are destroyed by a bushfire in Queensland’s Scenic Rim region.

October

  • 26 October – Climbing Uluru is banned by authority of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park board. About bloody time!
  • 31 October – The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety interim report is published and tabled in Parliament.

November

  • 8 November – Three people were killed and 150 homes are destroyed by a large number of bushfires burning across New South Wales and South East Queensland. Little did Scotty from marketing know that they would just get worse and the entire country would be on fire.
  • 11 November – A week-long State of Emergency is declared in New South Wales and the Australian Defence Force is put on alert amid mounting bushfire warnings.

December

  • 30-31 December – Eight people were killed, hundreds of homes are destroyed and the Royal Australian Navy is mobilised to assist evacuation efforts following bushfires on the New South Wales South Coast and in Victoria’s East Gippsland.

Sport

We saw the return of Smith and Warner to Australian Cricket, as well as the birth of the man affectionately known as “Loose Bus Change” Marnus Labuschagne which immediately instilled faith in all Aussies that we might actually win a test or two this summer. After dispatching Pakistan and now tearing through the Kiwis it looks like we are back on track to continue our domination of the test arena. Meanwhile Rugby suffered a setback when it lost test winger and religious faithful Israel Folau after a tweet went viral condemning most of us to hell. To make matters worse we struggled on the big stage and failed to make the semifinals at the World Cup hosted in Japan.

Our tennis brats continued to make headlines for doing just that being brats. Some of our Olympic swimmers failed drug tests, Richmond won the AFL Grand Final and all barbers opened up for Dusty cuts. In League the the boys from the Eastern Suburbs took the win over the Raiders in the who cares cup. Some horse won the Melbourne Cup after thousands of people got shitfaced and missed the race while some of our bleeding hearts protested the races altogether. Some of the lesser known sports dominated with the Green and Gold fairing well on the world stage. Our Men’s hockey team took out the inaugural FIH Pro League over Belgium while our women went down in an extra time shootout to the Dutch to take silver. As Ricky Bobby said “If you ain’t first, you’re last”.

The netballers lost the world cup to the mother country in a tight fought contest over in the UK, Motorsport well as you are aware it’s not a sport unless it involves a ball so we’ll just say some blokes drove cars or bikes around a track for hours on end. Our soccer players did what they do best diving around the ground in agony after breaking a nail. The athletics department did what they always do and ran, jumped and threw things trying to beat the juiced up Americans and really quick Jamaicans. Our equestrians jumped and trotted around on horses setting the arenas alight with their displays of pure horsemanship. Australia’s water sports people had a good year ensuring they stayed afloat for another year. The golfers holed out and well we must of done alright in every other sport we competed in we are Australians after all.

Other News

Worldly Swedish 17 year old Greta Thunberg rises to fame after telling the world we are killing it and not having seen anywhere outside of Sweden. Whilst her point is very valid and we appreciate her voice in the world there are people actually doing things to make a difference to climate change who are completely ignored. But that’s a story for another day. The reefs are dying around the world so we’re right with Greta on her message of climate change. President Oomph Loom-pa finally got impeached and 2020 will hopefully see him found guilty and thrown in jail, that’s if someone doesn’t claim the $80 million dollar bounty on his head thrown out by Iran recently. The US had even more mass shootings than any previous year recorded. Trump made the news for just being Trump, the UK finally entered Brexit and Boris Johnson got a new taupe. China caused a ruckus in the South China sea once again, Japan made human/animal hybrids. The Russians meddled in everyone’s affairs, the Stans continued fighting among themselves, Africa was once again pillaged for it’s natural resources and Europe well their economy faulted and terrorism ran rife once again.

In a nutshell 2019 was a year that a lot of are happy to see the back of, there was a lot of heartbreak, some good times and plenty of wow and what the fork moments. It was a year in which we learnt, researched and wrote some of our best pieces. The discovery of our own style of writing mixed in with a humorous approach locked in a formula that works for us and allows us to tackle the tough topics that people often find taboo. Strangely enough a lot of them are sexual in nature or relate to things that we’ve been brainwashed not to talk about for generation to generation. And so for the team at A Mind of Its Own we are looking forward to what the next 10 years bring and the evolution of ourselves as writers and a brand.

So until next week where we’ve decided to tackle an age old question that has plagued many a man and women for at least the last decade. Wish you all a fond farewell, again we’d like to send a massive shout out to the women and men on the front lines fighting to keep us all safe from the fires. You guys are truly the Heroes of the Sidewalks! Without our volunteers and the Rural Fire Service things could be a lot worse than they already are and things are pretty bad. To everyone who has donated or given up their time to help those in need we take out hats off to you. Again if you feel you need to help in some way we’ve provided links below for you to donate to one of the wonderful charities helping out those most affected… Thank you to each and everyone of you!

https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2019/12/31/how-you-can-help-bushfire-victims

https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/bushfire-crisis-how-can-i-donate-and-help/11839842

Dear Science…

Ahhh ok we thought we had seen it all, but no ladies and gentlemen the things of science fiction movies are becoming more and more real. We’ve got lasers, clones, electric cars, spaceships and several other things that have become reality from our favourite sci-fi shows and books. But what could get our goat so much that it would make this weeks blog? Read on if you dare but don’t be surprised if you start to question a few things afterwards like we are. We’ve always tried to deliver the hard hitting news with facts and figures as well as a little humor but there are just some things that even we can’t spin and this has seriously got to be one of them.

Ladies and Gentlemen welcome to another week of A Mind of Its Own. Throughout history we’ve had some innovative breakthroughs that have allowed society to grow, have allowed us to prosper, have brought us into the 21st century. They’ve allowed us to explore, to question, to wonder. Human ingenuity has allowed us to invent, create, inspire and to even destroy. We’ve climbed to the top of the evolutionary food chain and tried to claw our way even further. But there is one nationality that has pushed the boundaries, time and time again both socially, scientifically, culturally. They’ve aligned themselves on the wrong side of history from time to time again but they have always figured quite heavily in the academic and technology industries.

As some of you know a lot of the team that write this here blog work for a Japanese company and have done so for quite some time now. So it’s no surprise to us when the Japanese come up in Science and Technology news. We’ve seen a lot of the products released from Japan and a lot of it is cutting edge. They are building the technology and products of tomorrow. Some of our favourite brands come from the island nation. Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Suzuki, Subaru, Mazda, Yamaha, Sony, Toshiba, Nintendo, Seiko, Casio, Fujifilm, Olympus and Canon just to name a few. All of these brands at one time or another are releasing products that are new, innovative and at the bleeding edge. It’s what the Japanese do, they sink Millions upon millions of dollars into research and development (R&D).

So when we read that the Japanese Government had approved the first Human-Animal hybrid research to be conducted we were a little taken back. Our minds immediately went on a journey of all the human/animal hybrids we could come up with. From Minotaur to mermaids to rat boys the possibilities are endless. We even went as far to wonder whether we could finally see Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s vision of ManBearPig finally realized. Whilst our thoughts were somewhat adolescent in creating fanciful hybrids the application and ethics in hybrids is somewhat a little troubling should the ability and technology fall into the wrong hands, and when its the country who came up with Godzilla doing the research questions begin to be asked.

Have we got your attention yet? Fingers flew over the keyboard and hit up google in order to explore, research and find out more behind the intentions of the research teams involved in creating the first “approved” human-animal hybrid. Notice how we said first approved? Yeah there have no doubt been several illegal experiments conducted over the years by mad scientists in secret laboratories around the world. How else do you come up with biological weapons. Plus the Yanky doodles have been doing a similar experiment to the Japanese for years they just stop at some imaginary ethical line apparently.

Yeah, yeah, yeah there is a basement in Area 51 with all sorts of Hybrids running around maiming each other. So once we’d settled down from fanciful thoughts about exotic human-animal hybrids and actually read an article or two we began to see the benefits of this type of research. Whilst the ethics behind it all and the application of creating human-hybrid animals is a little scary the research is designed to get human cells to grow inside an animal which according to all the articles and journals we read isn’t an easy thing to do. So what is it all in Layman’s terms you ask and why? Good bloody questions because we needed to and wanted to know the answers ourselves. What’s got the scientific community in a flap about these experiments and the extent of them, well let’s enter a scientific journey together in order to find out the who, what, where and why.

Stem Cell research has been controversial since the early studies in 1981 where scientists discovered ways to derive embryonic stem cells from early mouse embryos. This early study led to the development in 1998 of the method in which to derive human stem cells and grow cells in laboratories. Fast forward 21 years and Japan has granted approval for Stem cell biologist Hiromitsu Nakauchi to legally conduct trials to not only transplant hybrid embryos into surrogate animals, but also to bring them to term. In previous experiments conducted around the world they had never bought any research to full term. By this they had never allowed the stem cells to fully grow within the animal they had been transported into and “come to term”..

The lead stem cell researcher at the University of Tokyo and Stanford University, Nakauchi has gone from country to country, chasing the dream of one day growing customized human organs in animals like sheep or pigs. With more than 116,000 patients on the transplant waiting list in the United States alone, Nakauchi hopes his idea can transform lives.The ultimate goal is still a long way off, but the next step in his research has at last been given the green light by ministry officials in Japan. As the first researcher to receive government approval since the 2014 ban, Nakauchi plans on taking things slowly so that public understanding and trust can catch up. Trust that he doesn’t create potential monster hybrids that will take over the world. The possibility of ManBearpig is a real thing by the looks of it.

“We don’t expect to create human organs immediately, but this allows us to advance our research based upon the know-how we have gained up to this point,” Nakauchi was quoted saying. So what is the experiment exactly you ask? The experiments will start by injecting human induced pluripotent stem cells (master cells according to Google) into rat and mice embryos, all of which have been genetically manipulated so that they cannot make pancreases. The goal is for the rodent embryo to use human cells to build itself a pancreas. For two years, the team plans on watching these rodents develop and grow. They will carefully monitor their organs and brains in the process. Only then will the researchers ask for approval to do the same with pigs.

While human-animal embryos have been created in the past – such as pig-human embryos and sheep-human embryos – they’ve never been allowed to develop to term before. One of the biggest fears with this type of research centers on exactly where these human stem cells actually go in an animal, and what type of cells they could develop into, once they are injected. While Nakauchi and his team are trying to target this treatment to just the pancreas, if they detect more than 30 percent of the rodent brains are human, they will suspend the experiment. This is part of the government’s conditions to prevent a “humanised” animal from ever coming into existence.

Nakauchi, however, doesn’t think this is going to happen. Last year, he and his colleagues at Stanford successfully made the first human-sheep embryo, and although it was destroyed after just 28 days, the hybrid contained no organs and very few human cells – only about one in 10,000 or less. So there are some caveats on the research and what can be done but the fear from the public and scientific community is still real. The goal of the research is to create viable human organs that can be transplanted. Taking a crystal ball and looking into the future should this research actually pan out would we see the production of organ farms with sheep and pigs running around growing human organs inside of them for transplant recipients? The possibilities are endless and while the experiment is exciting from that aspect, what are the ethical issues behind it all?

It’s a good thing we aren’t scientists there are way too many words to digest and we’ve been hitting Google a lot to understand this whole animal-human hybrid scenario. What do you get when you have a single organism derived from two sets of DNA? A Chimera apparently, and the first thing that came to mind was Mission Impossible 2 where Tom Cruise is running around fucking shit up in Syndey trying to find and destroy a deadly virus called “Chimera” that is created from two different viruses and is self replicating. Then there is the Chimera from Greek mythology that’s part lion, part goat and has a snake as a tail. A true hybrid. In this case it’s closer to the second one and hopefully something that we won’t be seeing anytime soon. However the more we researched, the more we realised that Chimeras can occur naturally in humans. What the Fork? Was our first response as well but when a twin absorbs its twin it naturally creates a Chimera.

So when we inject stem cells into embryos and let them grow, we are in a sense creating Chimeras and that’s not natural according to everything we have read on the internet and if it’s on the internet it has to be true, right?.The main ethical issues are the risks of consciousness and of human features in the chimeric animal due to a high contribution of human cells to the brain, in the first case, or for instance to limbs, in the second. Another critical point of concern is the production of human gametes (organisms reproductive cells), yeah we had to Google what it was ourselves, by such chimeric animals. Can you imagine a rat, pig or sheep that had human sperm or eggs? That would be forking weird but is a major concern within the scientific community when it comes to genetics and stem cell research. From what we can tell there are three main ethical issues with the production of human-animal chimeras.

Human-like external features

It can be argued that the injection of human genes and cells into animal embryos could have an effect on the physical aspect of the animal. In layman’s terms as a researcher at the Australian National University (ANU) put to us, on its appearance. The creation of human/animal chimeras can make the boundary between human beings and other living beings penetrable, inducing questions about human identity. These concerns are more obvious when it comes to a chimera whose physical attributes would let its chimeric quality start to appear. E.G a rat with human arms or organs. It is not only about the creature’s appearance, but also about its specific attributes, such as language.

Human gamete production

The Humanization of animals bearing human organs could result in the production of human gametes. Yep animals with human sperm that could mate with animals that aren’t genetically modified or hybrids. Human embryos could be created using such gametes. The worst-case scenario would be that a pig producing human sperm could accidentally mate with a sow or vice versa. Manbearpig is a real possibility. However, the possibility that the interaction between gametes of different species would result in a hybrid embryo is almost nonexistent, because the inter-species reproductive barrier is very strong. For instance, the injection of human sperm into a hamster egg (the “hamster test”, used to test the quality of human sperm cells) does not give rise to embryos capable of development. Even cross-breeding attempts between human and anthropoid apes failed when tested in the first part of the twentieth century. Keep in mind science has come a long way since then ladies and gents. In addition, this fear can easily be dissipated: sterilization of pigs bearing human organs would be sufficient to prevent their reproduction.

Alternatives to human organs in animals

In the absence of medical alternatives it is essential to justify the development of human organs in animals. However, the issue of organ shortage for the treatment of life-threatening conditions by organ transplantation could be solved by other means in the future. For instance, pig organs could be used. To prevent organ rejection, researchers are investigating the possibility of deleting the main pig genes responsible for organ rejection and breeding pigs in which all porcine endogenous retroviruses are inactivated. The importance of monitoring these developments is massive, because they might represent valid and more acceptable alternatives to the generation of inter-species chimeras.

So we’ll sit back and watch with bated breath as the Japanese create Human/Animal hybrids or Chimeras as they are better known throughout the scientific community and hope the creators of South Park weren’t predicting the future when they came up with their Manbearpig character. There are upsides and downsides for this type of experimentation but does one outweigh the other? In certain people’s eyes that is no doubt the case. With all things in life though knowledge is power, the more you educate yourself around this the more you will understand and be able to make a sound call on where you stand when it comes to Human/Animal hybrid experimentation.

It’s been a tough couple of months for Australia as we burn, homes have been lost, animals, people and much of our beautiful country is still on fire. Our prayers and thoughts go out to all those affected during this time of what we will call a crisis. The statistics alone lead us and many Australian’s to call for a better strategy for handling fire season that encompasses all of Australia not just state by state. Screw a surplus our current government are forecasting, get the women and men on the ground the tools and equipment they need to do their jobs properly and more importantly safely. We’ve provided links below to donate to those affected by the fires including our native animals.

So to a not so Happy New Year we welcome you all to a new decade, who knows whats install for each and every one of us but from the team here at A Mind Of Its Own wishes each and every one of you a cracker of a year even if we are off to a shaky start. Until next week when we launch our year in review we bid you a fond farewell and hope that that Japanese don’t make a Godzilla or Manbearpig. The world is already in enough chaos thanks to a little orange oompa loompa. Adios amigos…

https://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/bushfire-crisis-how-can-i-donate-and-help/11839842

https://www.sbs.com.au/food/article/2019/12/31/how-you-can-help-bushfire-victims

Four Feet in the Forest…

Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the office not a creature was stirring, not even old Al, The cheques were mailed by reception with care, In hopes that a few of us wouldn’t return in the new year, The dogs were nestled and chewing a bone, while visions of chickens danced in their domes. And Maxo on Spotify and I in my hat, we just settled down for a couple weeks nap, when out in the car park there arose such a clatter, we sprang from our desks to see what was the matter.

Away to the window like kids on the bus, tore open the blinds and threw up the latch, the smoke from the fires, stung at the eyes. When what to our wonder should appear but a bloody fat guy, it was the same bloody dick that had nicked the car and told us not to bother, he didn’t have insurance not even AMMI to call. We knew in that moment it was the same prick who bloody ruined christmas when we were just six. More rabid than foxes we were in a rage and he whistled, and shouted and called us filthy names.

“Now, Dickhead! Now, Dropkick! Now Prick and Wanker! On, Cockhead, On CuiN The NT! On, Douchebag! On, Bastard! It’s not a bloody Porsche! Or even a Nissan! Now go away, Go away Go the F#ck away all! As far as I’m concerned it’s a stupid car and when I meet and obstacle we crash through and fly. So up to the houseos and pissheads of course with a sleigh full of sex toys and the fat prick of course. And then in a twinkle he jumped on our roof, dancing and flashing his little man Proof. Poor little Mitsi our car of 2 years down on the bonnet he came with a bound.

Dressed like a pauper, fur head to foot, his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and chicken poop. A bundle of bottles clunked on his back, he looked like a dealer who smoked too much crack. His eyes all bloodshot, his dimples all scarred! His cheeks were all hollow his nose was all marred! His cranky little mouth was turned into a scowl and the beard on his chin all crusty with spew. The half smoked ciggy held tight in his teeth and the smoke it encircled him like seagulls at the beach. A broad sunken face and little beer belly, his breath wrecked of whiskey when he started yelling. And we laughed despite ourselves when he started to share.

A creepy wink of his eye and a twist of his head, soon gave us anxiety and a lot of dread, he spoke a few words but nothing made sense and he filled all the spaces and called us all jerks before tapping his nose and picking a winner, he gave us a nod and sat to eat his dinner. He munched on some beans, cold fresh from the can and washed it old down with a warm bottle of Hahn. And then just like nothing he marched on his way with a little whistle but we heard him exclaim , ere he walked out of sight.

Happy Christmas to all, make sure you have boozy night! Merry Christmas from all our drunk bogan friends across the land. A Christmas classic just copped some of the A Mind of Its Own Brand…

Welcome to the A Mind of Its Own, Christmas survival Spectacular!!! Now normally we aren’t that big on Christmas it’s generally a time of year when we like to crawl into our hobbit hole for a couple of weeks to take some time off and recharge the batteries but there is something in the air this year, well something aside from smoke that’s choking the east coast. Ladies and Gentleman, having kids around at Christmas is great and this year there are plenty of them to share in the excitement with. Children make Christmas and stop us from over indulging on the eggnog or Christmas sherry as well as helping us to run off mum’s Christmas ham. We literally had to stop writing for several minutes in order to stop making everything rhyme but now that we are back we’ll get into the festive spirit and give you the ultimate, go to guide for surviving the Christmas and New Year period in Australia this 2019.

In reality what we are giving you is nothing but common sense. In saying that a lot of us need to be told what’s good for us or what we should be doing from time to time. So as our Christmas present to you all we decided to put together the following tips to help you through the festive period and ensure you all there with us in the new year reading our little blog. We’d make you read it anyway whether you liked it or not. Plus what other blog do you get to learn about racing vibrators, bumper stickers, bin chickens, masturbation, the Dunbar number and self help books. We are only weeks away from doing our annual year in review and this year has been a big one for the team at A Mind of Its Own. So getting back on track…

First things first, before we get started, Air Conditioning is a must across this wide brown land you’ll need that cool breeze to keep you refreshed over the period otherwise you’ll start looking like, a dried up squashed toad on the side of the road in Queensland. Secondly a source of water to lounge around in is always a good thing to have available. Whether it be the dam, neighbors pool or the dogs clam shell. If you have to borrow the dogs shell pool it can be quite uncomfortable especially when man’s best friend tries to get in with you and your tinnies to cool down a little. Thirdly drink only cans, they float better than bottles and stay cooler longer. They are also easier to recycle than bottles. We think, some research may need to be conducted into whether that is or isn’t the actual case.

Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way we’ll get down to the nitty gritty of surviving Christmas and new years. As many of you will know and have experienced, the festive season can often be a little difficult to navigate for those who suffer anxiety and depression. There are expectations both internally and externally that need to be navigated throughout the period but hopefully with our little survivor pack below those of us that often struggle a little, will be able to manage and cope a bit better. Remember there is nothing wrong in putting your hand up and saying you aren’t OK and this time of year is often a little harder on people for a lot of reasons.

  1. You can choose your Friends, but you can’t choose your Family…

We all know Christmas is a time for family and catching up with friends but there are times when it can all become a little too much. The best way to navigate this is to be open and honest, while you set expectations with everyone and often yourself. Whilst that is often easier said than done there are little ways you can you can manage those thoughts and feelings as they come creeping up on you. Set the expectation early that you may need to disappear or take some time out for yourself whether it be 5,10,15, 20 or more minutes. Take yourself out of the environment and get some fresh air into the lungs. It might be hard to open up to friends and family, but they will appreciate it if you do and it could avoid a lot of the “what’s wrong?” questions. Christmas can often be a time of conflict between families as priorities and preferences can often upset people when they feel like you aren’t giving them the time they need. Unfortunately this is always going to happen but just remember to put you and your family first. Those that are upset will get over it, eventually. Communication is key as always.

  1. Money, Money, Monneeeyyyy…

Finances this time of year can often be a little strained but here’s a red hot tip and again it flows on from point 1. Just be open and honest, you don’t need to go out for drinks or dinner to catch up with people. There are plenty of things you can do without breaking your bank. You can go for a walk, buy a bottle of wine and hangout instead of going to the pub, have a coffee. The choices are literally limitless and can be minimal or cost effective. As for presents well there is always a secret Santa, where you buy one present of a certain value for someone in the family. Whilst it is a time of giving if you can’t afford to give, don’t! Stay within your limits. Again just be open and honest and in most cases people will actually respect you for it, as they may be thinking the exact same thing. Make sure you budget and stick to your budget, try to forecast a surplus, that little savings nest egg will come in handy later in the month or potentially in the new year.

  1. I’m an Exerciser…

With this time of year being one of the busiest and everyone rushing to get things done and closed out before they go on leave, we often stretch ourselves a little thin. Burning the candle at both ends while often involving a lot of fun and seeing friends and family it can become detrimental to your health. Both mentally and physically. If you have a regular routine make the time to stick to it, as close to it as possible. We know it’s often hard when you have family and friends around at this time of year however you need to make time for yourself. The time for you to do the things you enjoy is always good for your mental health and for those around you over the busy period. Things like yoga, gym, meditation and the like are always good and you need to keep doing them if they are a regular occurrence in your life. Worst case get out for a walk or run but if you are generally an active person make sure you stay active. Just because things become a little busier doesn’t mean you should cut out the things that make you happy and keep you sane.

  1. Social Media Bleedia…

Limiting the amount of time you spend on social media could have a direct impact on how good you feel this festive season, yes we know we live in a connected world but let’s be honest, generally people only post the good times in there lives. There are studies that point to the fact that looking at other peoples lives via “The Socials” we often get the feeling of missing out and in some cases start to question our own lives. Yes FOMO is a real thing ladies and gentlemen. The holidays, the gender reveals, the babies, family times, the body image and catch ups with good friends. It can and often does have an impact on people’s mental health looking at all of the images and posts of people who seem to be happy and have no issues in their lives. They do but as humans we can now hide behind the mask of social media. From time to time we can often get paid to have our every movement and soft core porn grace the screens and devices of people around the world. It’s yet another thing in our lives that allows us to not have to deal with our own issues.

  1. The Thirst…

Whilst we all love a couple of tinnies or glasses of vino over the festive period we are advocates of everything in moderation. No matter what your choice of poison, drink responsibly. That includes mum’s glazed ham that smells so delicious out in the kitchen. Or the kilo of prawns sitting in the fridge waiting for you to peel. Eat with your belly not with your eyes, over indulgence throughout the festive period whether it be food or alcohol can often lead to heightening of our mental health issues and just poor health in general. Everything in moderation as they say and just because it’s there in front of you doesn’t mean you have to have it. As you all know, alcohol is a depressant and when you are already feeling a little under the weather due to the time of year, adding fuel to the fire isn’t always the best idea, particularly when you have to deal with everything. So whilst we aren’t saying don’t have a good time we are saying maybe have a couple less this year and see if it helps improve things.

  1. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly…

They say to focus on the positives but when your brain is playing tricks on you and spinning at a million miles an hour trying to process and question everything it’s often hard to do. You hear of people talking about gratitude and ensuring you know what you are grateful for in your life. It’s especially important during the festive period to try and focus on the good in your life. The people you want to spend time with, the people you want to waste your time on. As you know time is precious and we should be spending it on the people we want to waste our time and energy on along with doing the things that make us happy. Again if there is something you want to do, make sure you do it, or communicate that you want to do it. Throughout the period the more you talk the more you will achieve and the more you will be at peace within yourself.

So the moral of our survival edition is basically this or the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) during this festive period, communication will solve a lot of your issues and as selfish as it sounds you need to look after you first and foremost. That’s the crux of it ladies and gentlemen. By doing this you could actually be helping those around you and you’ll find you’ll enjoy the period a lot more. You’ll be less anxious, less stressed and will be able to combat those mental health issues that tend to flare for a lot of people this time of year. Whilst we all have to compromise from time to time the more we talk about it the easier things are on everyone. Lastly a reminder that it’s OK to ask for help or to say that you are not OK. It’s generally at this time of year that people need help or are struggling a little and that conversation and asking them if they are OK can go a long, long way.

And so we leave you for another week and this time we can wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! This isn’t the last you’ll hear from us for the year, we still have a year in review to write for you and there is always a Christmas party story or something political that could no doubt rear its head within the next couple of weeks. After all we are waiting got Trumpasaurus Rex to be impeached. But for now it’s a good night or day depending where you are and as we said a Merry Christmas to you all! Felice Navidad…

Work On Me…

“From Birth to death, everything in between is a memory and will later become your history” – T.M Cullen

With Movember in full flight and the upper lip getting a little itchy, while I sport the worst attempt at a moustache for charity since Caitlyn Jenner went the full snip (Too soon?). I only thought it fitting you all heard from the man behind the blog. The month of Movember is a timely reminder of mental health and health issues for men in general with Movember being the foundation in which research is launched into a myriad of growing health concerns. For me it’s a double edged sword, a month in which I am proud to raise money for something that is close to my heart and also a reminder of a former life that helped to push me in this direction but also threatened to break me all over again. A life full of memories both good and bad, a life that I am thankful I got to experience but also one that taught me a lot of lessons about life and about myself.

Known as Daily Write Cullen to the readers or the Bossman to those who contribute to the literary genius that is A Mind of Its Own. I thought it only fitting being almost 2 years down the track that we, more specifically I, tell you the real story about how and why this blog came to be. The inception of what has become a weekly fluff piece or time waster for some people has become a life saver for me in some regards. It’s given me something to focus both my time and energy on week in, week out. It’s an outlet when I am not working on my book, keeping fit by hitting the gym or playing sports. Whilst many will call that a distraction I would say that it’s a healthy distraction that allows my creative side to flourish and gives our fans and friends something to laugh at each week.

What you are about to read is a story that a lot of people will be familiar with, a story that is probably no different to anyone else’s who suffers from anxiety or depression. It’s a story that helped to create this blog and furthermore the rekindling of the love for the written word. I’ve never been good at talking or writing about myself and when you throw my anxiety and depression into the mix it’s even harder to document and talk about. It’s something that over time I have become more and more comfortable with and accepting of. It’s been a part of my journey and a part of my growth to who I am today.

So to start I need to paint you a picture. Looking back at my youth and growing up there were never any traumatic events or occasion that would trigger anxiety or depression for that matter that I can recollect. Even speaking with my parents now about it all and asking questions there is still nothing that we, as a family can put it down to. I was a happy child who despite having parents who divorced when I was very young and having a stepfather who was often a giant arsehat, had an upbringing in which my mother and father strived to give me everything I needed to be successful in life. Like all kids I fought with my brother and sister but over the years have come to realise just how much they mean to me to the point I have their first initial tattooed over my heart.

I grew up with parents who despite being apart, both wanted the best for me and wanted to see me succeed in whatever it was that I chose to do in life. They supported me and bent over backwards to ensure I could go away on sporting trips to represent my state and had everything I needed while doing that. They supported my hopes and dreams and mum was always driving me to training, games and trials. Academically they could have pushed me a little more but at the end of the day I got their in my own way and perhaps that was the lesson they were trying to teach me. Whilst you can help someone as much as you like at the end of the day if they aren’t willing to do it for themselves they’ll never truly do it.

Along with my grandparents they instilled in me great morals and values. In essence they’ve helped to mould the man I am today. There have been others along the way from coaches to friends and family as well as heroes and idols. They all played a part in shaping who I am, but ultimately I was and I am responsible for the person who I’ve become. I don’t blame anyone or anything for my journey and how things have now turned out, after all everything happens for a reason and I would not be who I am today without the lessons life has taught me. The older I get the more I can look back at moments in life and recognise those life lessons and specific events in which they happened. I also have a lot of hindsight moments after the fact but that’s part of being human.

So what does all this have to do with A Mind of Its Own well the answers lie below. When we look at a piece of art, we all see it differently, we interpret the artists intentions and message differently. I guess that’s what it’s like living inside my head as thoughts and feelings whirl around doing back flips, forward flips and somersaults or perhaps that’s what it’s like for everyone living with anxiety and depression in general but I can only speak for myself. While many people are organised and methodical with their thoughts and feelings, my mind is more like a Jackson Pollock painting with paint flying everywhere across the canvas. That’s probably how the first draft of this blog will look before it’s tidied up, spell checked and proofread. A scattergun approach of thoughts on a page to be deciphered and reordered to make some semblance of sense. But that’s the thing with life right?, sometimes it just doesn’t make any sense, no matter how many questions you answer.

I guess I’ve always known there was always something there, a demon lurking within, that was destructive and angry always threatening to pull me down into the dark pit of despair. From a young age there were signs and indications that I can look back at now and identify for what they truly were. From Anxiety attacks when I was younger and forced to do things I didn’t want to, some I now see as silly (The kindergarten Zucchini in Bikini attack comes to mind, a good story for another day) to the day after day of crippling depression that I would cover over as exhaustion or over doing it from training too much.

The funny thing is that there has always been a sport to mask it whether it be cricket, hockey or footy, in fact looking at it now sport or keeping active whilst being great for my mental health just helped to cover up what was really going on inside me. I would feel great from working out and getting a release of endorphins for a day or two but would come crashing down if my routine was thrown out of whack or things became out of my control. I would focus on burying myself in work, assignments and the latest video game in order to not have to admit to myself or deal with the fact that there was something that I was struggling with. That there is something that I will always struggle with.

Our parents and their parents and their parents, parents never spoke about their feelings or thoughts. It was just something you never talked about, there was and still is a stigma around mental health.It was almost like if you did talk you were crazy or losing your mind and on the off chance you found the courage to talk about your inner demons, there was a good chance you were shunned or called some not so nice names, before they threatened to lock you up in the mental asylum and throw away the key. Being male you were probably told to grow a pair and man the F*ck up. It was never ok to talk about your thoughts and feelings. Whenever I hear the saying “Children should be seen, not heard” it always reminds me of the stigma associated with mental health issues and that it’s still seen in certain circles as being not ok to talk about.

The older I got the easier i thought it would be to ignore the pain, thoughts and feelings that often dominated my mind, but that wasn’t necessarily the case. I would analyse everything and question myself and those around me. Have you ever been alone in a crowded room? Well I have, well at least that’s how I often felt and sometimes still feel. I could be surrounded by friends and family and yet still feel completely and utterly alone and that no one understood me. One would think that would be a clear indication that there was something wrong but being a somewhat wannabe tough guy, I would for many more years continue to ignore that there was something wrong and that i was not ok. I was of the elk that it was weak to speak and men didn’t cry despite the nights I’d shamefully hide my crying in the shower. It wouldn’t last long I would meet my match and someone that would push me to my limits until I would become physically sick and finally break.

To date I’ve truly loved two women, what does this have to do with anxiety and depression you ask? Both have managed to bring me to my knees and both times I tried to be someone I am not. I tried to hide what was going on within me and I changed into someone I thought I needed to be not who I truly am. Compared side by side both these women are actually quite similar in a lot of regards. Which had me questioning whether I have a type and whether that type is someone who is not a good match for my mental health but that is a question for another time and place. The one good thing to come from one of those relationships was this here Blog and the fact that I finally found a reason to get the help I needed. It would set me on a path of recognition and respect for myself and the battle that I’ll continue to face throughout my life. It wouldn’t be an easy journey but it certainly was, and is a necessary journey and one that will continue to answer a lot of questions about myself and where I want to go with my life.

Ultimately it would take me sitting by the toilet, tears streaming down my face, throwing up for no apparent reason whilst thinking my chest was going to squeeze the life out of me or my heart was going to explode out of said squeezed chest while my mind whirled with thoughts of what ifs and worst case scenarios before I finally realised I needed help. In hindsight it should have been sitting in the shower crying that did it but no it was becoming so anxious that I was physically ill that did it for me. The next challenge was speaking up and asking for help, which isn’t so hard in theory but something that I struggled with for a long time and with practice have gotten better with over time. I am thankful to the man who helped me through it all and put me in touch with one of Australia’s leading psychologists, he has become a true friend and someone that I can lean on. If I am honest the reason I first sought help wasn’t for me but more for the woman in my life at the time, yeah part of it was my want to be in a good place with my mental health to ensure we had a future together.

Whilst the marriage didn’t last the coping mechanisms and process to help combat the highs and lows will always remain. I would take the first steps to ensure I was on the path to a better, healthier relationship with my mental health. It wasn’t the easiest of journeys I’ll be honest about that. I would wage several skirmishes within myself before I finally accepted what was happening and what needed to be done. When the suggestion to go on medication was tabled I was strongly against it at first. The fear that it would numb me to the point I’d lose my creativity, just created more and more anxiety. What would my friends and family think? Would I be less of a man? Why did I need to do this? All the questions that ran through my head and which I would over analyse for days and days until speaking with the shrink who calmly outlined the benefits and gave me some assurances that I would still be me.

Welcome to my world Sertraline, a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. Yeah what the Fork is an SSRI? I asked that question when I first heard, thankfully good old trusty Google was there to inform me. Along with the leaflets and information packs handed to me by both the doctor and chemist. SSRIs treat depression and anxiety by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) that carry signals between brain nerve cells (neurons). SSRIs block the reabsorption (reuptake) of serotonin into neurons. This makes more serotonin available to improve transmission of messages between neurons. SSRIs are called selective because they mainly affect serotonin and not other neurotransmitters. So I was now on drugs to help me out for a period of time to be determined by the psychologist, my doctor and I. The good thing was I was still feeling like me and I had time to think rather than reacting straight away to things happening around me. I wasn’t experiencing side effects, my creativity was there, my sex drive and even my emotions.

A plan was beginning to form as to how we would tackle my mental health and whilst I was still feeling a little emasculated being on antidepressants and having to talk to a psychologist on a regular occurrence. I was slowly developing techniques and strategies to combat the day to day effects of anxiety and depression. I would also find myself doing plenty of things I never thought I would like meditation and yoga for example. From cognitive behavioural therapy(CBT), Mentalisation Based Therapy (MBT) and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy I would try them all. I would take little bits and pieces from the sessions and build my own tactics and techniques for dealing with things. I would also find out what worked for me whether it was a release or coping mechanism if you will.

I would still have days where I would fall back into the pit attempting to claw my way out, but they would be few and far between. Over the months following my official diagnosis of general anxiety disorder or GAD as it’s known and depression I would rediscover my love of writing. At the suggestion of the psychologist as a way to deal with recognise and acknowledge my thoughts and feelings at the exact moment. I began to write things down What started out as a journal or diary of thoughts and feelings that were noted and then left on the page never to be thought about again until they were or are discovered in a box months or years later would bloom into something that has now become a piece of pride to me. As I sat one afternoon watching tv and flicking through the unrealistic lives of a lot people on social media, my ex wife said to suggested to me a blog would be a great way to get everything out and could potentially help others going through the same daily struggles. I was going to write a blog, I was going to write for others and not just myself. There was just one slight problem that I would need to overcome.

Whilst the idea of a blog was exciting and gave me something to focus on and pour all that unharnessed and often wasted energy into. I still had my anxiety and depression to deal with. As I wrote piece after piece they sat there waiting to be posted and this is where my anxiety would kick itself into overdrive. I would start to overthink and over analyse what people might think of the blog, of the topics and most of all of me. As I battled with myself whether to post or not to post, it eventually came to the point where ‘Dutch Courage’ or drunk Tim as he is better known pulled the trigger and hit the big post button.On the 13th of March 2018 the first post hit the website much to the disgust of my anxiety. I read that post as I typed this one out and laughed at the poor grammar, spelling mistakes and the fact that my life has changed so much since that day.

In what would become a voice for the people, an educator to the masses and a soapbox for the downtrodden. A Mind of Its Own was born out of a want and need to write. It would go through a couple of iterations before it became what it is today and over time a writing style would develop that is fun, factual and engaging. Well at least I feel it is all of those things. As we’ve said before no topic is safe from the Mind of Its Own twist and the more taboo the topic, the more likely we’ll write about it. The research that goes into each piece is a constant reminder of the research that I did when I was trying to understand and build a picture of what was wrong with me. As it turns out there is nothing wrong with me and writing A Mind of Its Own each week has helped me to see that I am ok, I will be ok and if I’m not ok that, that’s ok too. Living with an anxiety and depression is a common occurrence we just don’t talk about it enough.

I still get a little anxious putting things out there for the world to read and judge me upon but for me that is part of the healing process. The moments of pure vulnerability before I hit the post button each week remind me that I’m alive and that no matter what the world throws at me I’ll get through it. But in all honesty I could never have done any of this on my own.There have been a few people who pushed me along the way and to them I am thankful. There are my friends and family who read every post including the ones I warn them not to and show their love and support constantly and then there are the fans. Without them this blog doesn’t have a purpose. It is for you that these are written. Some of the topics have been suggested and some we’ve just winged from the start but every single one is for the people.

What started out as an outlet for me, has grown into a giant manchild of a blog that will continue to tackle the things that you don’t want to talk about but are quite happy to read about as you take your afternoon toilet break as a way to escape from your job for just a few minutes. It’s also got me thinking that a career in writing could be on the cards after all women love a struggling writer don’t they? Or is that just in the movies? Either way I’ll continue to put out the content week in, week out as it helps with my mental health and if people want to read it all the more better. And if they don’t they are missing out. Where else can you get some slapstick humour, digs at celebrities and actual facts all in one place? I literally spent the last ten minutes wracking my brain for an answer. I couldn’t find one maybe the Onion?

And so ladies and gentleman that is the origin of A Mind of Its Own, it started out as an outlet and soon grew legs and some courage to stand up and take its place alongside the fashion blogs, travel blogs, beauty blogs and the boring blogs that live in the dark corners of the interweb to be a blog that can literally take on a mind of its own and isn’t afraid to stand up and say it’s not ok. That’s the story folks, I needed another outlet that I enjoyed to help with my depression and anxiety and this here blog became just that. We’ve covered a wealth of topics and as previously stated will continue to cover any topic that sticks its head above the parapet.

So from all of the team here this Movember pull out your wallet and donate to someone doing Movember. It’s one less coffee, beer, wine or spirit this week and a great cause. The funds raised go to research into various men’s health issues (Cancer, mental health, suicide prevention) as well as support programs. and Hey it’s a great reason not to shave and raise some money. There’s a link below to my page or you can hit up someone else’s but please, please donate today. Until next week ensure you check in and ask someone if they are ok? Do it for me or someone else you know who’s battling. A single conversation can change someone’s life. Adios Amigos and until next time, thanks for taking the time to read my blog and if you have any suggestions for blogs you’d like to see written hit us up in the comments section.

https://mobro.co/CullenTim?mc=1

You’ve Got The Touch…

Who would have thought that a sentence containing the following four words would lead to this week’s blog – “Is that a euphemism?” and the man you can thank for the distasteful topic is none other than the man affectionately known to his mates as Captain Google, because yes Google tells him everything and also runs his family for him. We often hear him responding to his wife with “Ok Google”. Yeah technology has taken over his life and well we are surprised he didn’t have to Google a topic for this week. It’s an interesting one that will fill our search engine with images we can never unsee. We also hope our parents aren’t reading this weeks blog. Mum and Dad if you are reading stop now please for your sake… Yeah ok disclaimer time…

Ladies and Gentleman, welcome to the disclaimer, that’s right the disclaimer, this Australian meat pie institution known as parental discretion will cleanse any sense of innuendo or sarcasm from this blog that might actually make you think and will also insult your intelligence at the same time. So protect your family. This blog contains explicit depictions of things which are real. These things are commonly known as life. SO if it sounds sarcastic, don’t take it seriously. If it sounds dangerous, Do not try it at home or at all. And if it offends you, just don’t read it. With the disclaimer now lodged we’ll get started with this weeks A Mind of Its Own and get you all thinking and conversing around the water cooler. Oh and seriously if you are easily offended or not squeamish when it comes to taboo topics stop reading now…

We’ve all done it or at least tried it once and anyone that tells you they haven’t or don’t do it needs a good punch in the junk to get things started. We don’t condone violence but we also don’t appreciate lying about something that is completely natural and yet is still frowned upon and seen in some eyes as immoral. Yes we are talking about masturbating, about flicking the bean or hand to gland combat, call it what you want there are a lot of names for it, some of which had us in stitches for several hours as we tapped out this topic. A topic which is still seen as taboo across many cultures and religions. But why? We live in a world where we literally have everything in the palm of our hands, yeah pun intended there but you know how much we love to reference the internet and mobile devices. Well it (the internet) has given us all the information and porn we need to understand masturbation and all that it entails as well as getting the arousal levels to skyrocket.

Solo sex, Self Partnering (Emma Watson this is what self partnering is champion, rubbing yourself raw, not dating yourself however you do that you weirdo) or whatever you like to call it, is a topic that is rarely discussed in a group settings. We get though its awkward and usually something you do with the lights off in the darkest of rooms so no one can see. But how many times have you been out to dinner with friends or at a BBQ sitting around talking and gone through every single topic including sex, it’s positions and other weird stuff? Chances are you’ve been involved in one of these conversations and if you haven’t been it’ll happen at some point in your life, you aren’t really missing out. It’s only recently that we’ve sat back and thought why don’t people discuss masturbation? They are happy to discuss sexual positions and ensuring their sex life isn’t plain old vanilla but you never hear about their self love or solo sex. Is it embarrassing to discuss with your friends that you touch yourself or is it still seen as wrong to be touching yourself in order to gains some sexual release? We know that doing it in public is an actual criminal act if you are caught and we don’t condone it ladies and gentlemen, save that shit for at home.

Perhaps religion is somewhat to blame for the worlds views on masturbation? Throughout time religious groups have condemned masturbation. Why you ask? Well, aside from it being an affront to god almighty who in our eyes is a bit of a voyeur sitting up there watching all of us get our rocks off. It is seen as a lack of self control and the gateway to promiscuity. Cause touching yourself is an automatic button to go and shag anything with two legs and a heartbeat (facepalm). Some religious doctrine goes as far as stating that masturbation constitutes a moral disorder. Looks like we are going to hell and taking a lot of wankers with us. So while masturbation for both men and women might be frowned upon by religion it exists and if god or gods didn’t want us to masturbate they wouldn’t have invented it right? He, she or they wouldn’t have provided us with sexual organs that make us feel good when stimulated. We get that we use them to procreate however they could have made it feel like nothing or worse be painful but instead they made it pleasurable and desirable to want to touch yourself and others.

Self pleasure has been frowned upon by society though for just as long as religious views. It has long been a school of thought that your partner was to provide you all the pleasure that is often derived from masturbating. In the 1950’s research conducted by Alfred Kinsey found that 92 percent of males reported choking the chicken while roughly 62 percent of women admitted to strumming the clitar. “It is common to meet women who do not masturbate but a rarity to meet a male who doesn’t” claims sex therapist Matty Silver. Apparently this is easy to explain through the introduction of puberty. When males hit 12 or 13 we start getting erections (like masturbating we found so much slang for an erection or getting wood) Imagine if your last name was Wood and you called your sons Max or Jack Wood the amount of boner jokes those kids would cop is unquantifiable. Females however do not get boners and before magazines like Dolly and Cosmopolitans a lot of young girls may never have heard the words masturbation or orgasm. So apparently it’s not easy for women to learn to masturbate and have orgasms. It also becomes harder when they believe that it is the job of their partner.

While there are plenty of people out there that believe there is no need for masturbation whether you are in a relationship or flying solo. Without self stimulation how do you discover your body and become aware of what you like? The more you know about yourself and your body the easier it is to communicate those wants and desires to your partner allowing for more pleasurable, enjoyable experiences together. It’s probably the one time we feel safe talking about masturbation when we are getting someone else to stimulate us but why does it have to be that way. Like sex it is a natural thing, we won’t say beautiful but in some people’s eyes it may be. The team here however do not see it as a beautiful thing but more a necessary and pleasurable thing that is good for people. Yep we are condoning masturbation, in the privacy of your own homes though people!

On top of the pleasure, there are actual benefits to the body which have been highlighted throughout history. Look at Hysteria as an example, it was often treated by sending women to the doctors who would get them off as cure to hysteria. It also led to the invention of the vibrator to relieve doctors whose fingers were frequently cramping from treating female patients with Hysteria. Afterwards it would become a popular household appliance to help women get off on their own. Although taboo it would still happen. Apparently Victorian era women weren’t supposed to be able to feel sexual desire, so hysteria became a disease completely removed from sex. If a woman desired her clitoris to be stimulated, she was clearly sick with hysteria or so the theory went. The cure of course was to stimulate the clitoris until she no longer wanted to be stimulated.

There is some good news it turns out although our recommendations popping up on Google have taken an interesting and scary turn after researching masturbation, there are health benefits to making the bald man cry or doing the three knuckle shuffle if you are female. Benefits include but are not limited to:

  1. Sexual Arousal and orgasm… Apparently they produce Oxytocin.
  2. Oxytocin is the body’s most potent, natural pain modifier, not just for labor and delivery, but also for many types of chronic pain. Get touching we say!
  3. If it releases Oxytocin that means masturbating is good for reducing headaches, muscle aches, pains and insomnia.
  4. It relaxes and relieves tension. Had a stressful day at work whack one out.
  5. It may help fight off depression. During sex and masturbation endorphins are released which can improve your mood.
  6. If you are on your own and your tinder game isn’t strong it gives you the sexual release you need.
  7. Ahh apparently it can improve your immune system and contribute to your overall health. There will be more research conducted into this we promise.
  8. Research has shown men that flog the log regularly, we call them wankers are at less risk of developing prostate cancer (But still get checked fellas!)
  9. Instead of having to take a pill to stop your fella from going early, masturbation helps in combating premature ejaculation. Through training yourself to last longer solo, you’ll last longer with your partner supposedly.
  10. For the ladies, masturbation allows you to explore your body better, you’ll end up knowing exactly what you like when you are have sex with a partner. This will benefit you both.
  11. Sex and masturbation increase the flow of testosterone in the body, which helps in the transportation of the hormone DHEA, which is important for the immune system. The extra testosterone also strengthens bones and muscles.

Ok we’ll leave it at 11 key points just to be weirdos, but that’s just highlighting some of the health benefits. It has got us looking at the office policy for self pleasure. Could it be considered as part of ‘Self Care’? We are kidding, its highly inappropriate but it did get you all thinking about it for a couple of seconds didn’t it. With Google throwing up more and more suggestions for us we did come across a couple of articles about items that can help you out with your masturbation. From smart cock rings that claim to track the exercise of your man bits as well as detect chlamydia and syphilis to kGoal smart kegeling to strengthen a woman’s pelvic floor there’s a smart device for all your masturbatory needs. They are all mobile app enabled with a multitude of settings that’ll help you explore your sexual bits like never before.

For those who live in smart homes there are even devices that connect to your Google, Alexa and various other smart home devices. “Ok Google, whack me off” may just start to become a phrase uttered around homes across the globe. There are even hands free devices for men now, women have had them for awhile but now men can bring new meaning to “Look Ma, no hands” as they cop up to 180 strokes per minute from there dishwasher safe pocket vagina. It was only a matter of time before the sex industry came a knocking on the door of Silicon Valley to help them out with the latest and greatest. From robots to vibrators there isn’t a toy that can’t be tech integrated. Even the old spanking paddle has got an upgrade and some built in sensors to measure pain levels and responses based on your voice to ensure you get the right amount of force each every time for your basic S&M needs.

It’s safe to say that this week’s blog has been interesting, we’ve covered off a topic that is still taboo to talk about in social circles, depending on your friendship group. We’ve learnt that masturbating is actually good for you and that you can now basically get any sex toy in a waterproof, usb chargeable, smart device enabled model. Whether you touch yourself or not it’s not a topic that should be shamed, masturbation is completely natural and ok we’ll say it can be a beautiful thing as you explore your body and get to know yourself and what works for you. The gods will always be perves but it’s not a gateway to promiscuity or hell it’s about knowing yourself and what gets you off. Maybe if more people were open and honest about what works for them, there would be less infidelity and less divorce but at the end of the day it comes down to communicating what you want, when you want and sometimes how you want. There is nothing wrong with being a wanker ladies and gents hahahaha

So without further adieu we’ll bid you a fond farewell for another week on what has been yet another first here at A Mind of Its Own. We hope we haven’t offended too many people. After all is just masturbation. And I touch myself is a great song. We are sorry though to any parents reading this and having to deal with crusty socks or towels just remember you do it or did it and everything is washable. If it’s not washable, burn it or bury it deep within the earth. Let’s change the conversation and rid the world of another stigma, it’s ok to masturbate and it’s ok to talk about it. Just so you are all aware someone is already on the bandwagon and May is masturbation month with the 28th of May being international Masturbation day. Well that will just about do it from the sickos here at A Mind of Its Own. Go forth and be healthy, self love is often the best love. Go on now go and rub one out…

We Don’t Go In There…

A big shout out to the man affectionately known to his close friends as Bezos Junior, BJs or the Library Monitor for his suggestion for this weeks blog, ok well it wasn’t really a suggestion it was an article he forwarded to one of the team that sparked this weeks deep dive into the mysteries of the land down under and blew into a global scandal that was bigger the latest Kardashian Cheating affair. Speaking of mysteries does anyone know where to find decent ribs in the nation’s capital? There doesn’t seem to be a cinders chance in snow of finding some good ribs. Burgers yes, ribs, no and the cave men that write this blog need meat pronto. Anyway before we start dribbling too much rubbish we’ll get into this weeks A Mind Of Its Own…

The Moon Landing, Elvis, Area 51, JFK, Flat Earth, the CIA and even Australia, yes Australia the proud land in which A Mind of Its Own was born and raised is a geographic conspiracy theory and yet here we sit in the nation’s capital typing out the latest installment for you in a country that supposedly doesn’t exist according to theorists around the globe. Does that mean we aren’t alive and are an artificial intelligence gathering and growing datasets day by day or are we alive and we are all just plugged into the matrix? Did we swallow the blue pill or the red pill? So many questions and so many answers, most of which could be and are no doubt wrong but hey who are we to say what’s right and wrong, what’s real and what’s not? It’s a conundrum in itself ladies and gentleman.

Conspiracy theories, cover ups, scandals, myths and legends have existed for centuries, the rise of the internet (probably some conspiracy itself) however has led to the expansion of these ideas and the freedom for people with half a brain or no brain to post whatever they like, whenever they like. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, opinions are like arseholes everyone has one. The internet however has given everyone with access, a soapbox on which to stand, allowing them to voice their thoughts and ideas to the world. It’s also allowed us to question the sanity of world leaders, self diagnose diseases and communicate with people we’ve never met before. As we read an article sent to us by the aforementioned Knox school for the rich kids Library Monitor, it got us thinking about all the crackpot ideas people had come up with over the years and why. The cover ups and scandals, the conspiracies, the myths and legends.

Where would one start? Well for the team we thought it was best to start in our own backyard and do a little digging to see what skeletons could be uncovered. What better place to start than the nation’s capital right, if there were any bodies buried, the answers would surely be here. After all, the people that are covering up things work here and flock here like seagulls to a chip when parliament is sitting. From the city with the giant penis (owl) statue, the lake that has it’s own fountain, the place made famous by its rules that contradict the rest of the nation, we bring you, weed, porn, fireworks and prostitution scandals. Wait someone has just pointed out that’s a typical week in parliament. We bring you Australia’s greatest hidden truths aka the Australian Conspiracy and cover up files. This is clearly the first edition and will need further additions to live up to that title. It’s a little like the Tim talks podcasts that never got off the ground.

In this edition of A Mind of Its Own we are going into the bowels of Parliament House to lift the lid on one of Australia’s greatest mysteries. As it turns out we weren’t really involved at all but it was an interesting topic to research. From our own version of Area 51 to the Bass Strait triangle, the occult design of Canberra, the city we currently live in and the disappearance of a beloved prime minister we aren’t short of a conspiracy or two. Nor are we short of a cover up or scandal as we said earlier, it’s a typical week in parliament when someone is being ousted for using taxpayer dollars to fund a holiday or watch poor young woman twirl around a pole. But there was one cover up that resonated and started getting us thinking. We’ll start with that. The Sandline Affair, what was it and how were we involved as a nation? Read on friends and you’ll soon be delighted with what could be the plot for a multimillion dollar action film starring a lot of white african actors of people like us doing really bad accents.

Sitting just north of mainland Australia is the sovereign nation of Papua New Guinea, many Australian’s know it well due to the Kokoda Track campaign fought in World War two against the Japanese. But for over a decade the island nation fought a civil war between the government and the traditional land owners of Bougainville Island. Like most wars it was fought over land and resources. In this case it was more the resources and destruction of land, when a massive copper deposit was found in the 1960’s. Enter Australian mining giant Rio Tinto or Conzinc Riotinto Australia (CRA) as they were known back then who established a mine on the island. At the time of its establishment the Panguna open cut mine was the largest in the world. CRA registered various traditional landowners but excluded women despite the fact they are seen as traditional custodians of the land in the matrilineal system. That was error number one right there and one that wouldn’t stand in today’s society. It wasn’t until 1972 that production started under the management of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL). The PNG government at that point in time was a 20% shareholder. Starting to get a picture of where this is headed? Yeah you might be right…

The PNG Independence constitution at the time stated that land ownership was to just below the surface meaning that mineral rights belonged to the state. You can see where the traditional land owners might start to take issue with this given that at the time the mining operations provided 45% of Papua New Guinea’s national export revenue. The Bouganvillians had a very different concept of land seeing it as their lifeblood in political, emotional and social terms. Enter resentment, with substantial payouts going to certain landowner groups and not others you can see why it raised its ugly head. Now there are some of you saying to yourselves, when are they going to get to the good bit? Where’s the action promised earlier in the blog? Hold your horses it’s coming and Australia well we have a bit of a dark part to play in this true story.

With resentment often comes anger and when you aren’t being paid the royalties you were promised and your rivers are being polluted by the tailings for the mine and a belief that the land would never be returned to its natural state it’s only natural that you would become resentful. Heck we’ve been resentful over far less trivial things this year and the only thing that was polluted was our pride. By the late 80’s tensions had spilled over and one disgruntled landowner had had enough. Francis Ona who would later become one of the leaders of Bougainville Republican Army or BRA for short, led sabotage attacks on the mine and by 1989 his band of rebels had forced the mine into shutdown. It was the beginning of what would be a long and bloody civil war. From 1989 to 1998 atrocities were committed in the conflict known by the locals as the “Crisis” there has been no truth telling process or transitional justice. You want the numbers during the civil war it was estimated that over 20,000 people lost their lives. Various accounts of the conflict include reports of massacres, extra judicial killings, torture, mass rapes and disappearances just to name a few.

In mid 1994 Sir Julius Chan became the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, we are still questioning how the man who resorted to military intervention ever became knighted is beyond our understanding, maybe he just liked being called Sir. He started off with the right intentions and tried to resolve the conflict through diplomatic means however he failed to bring the Bougainville leaders Francis Ona, Sam Kauona and Joseph Kabui to the table for peace talks. Enter the Private Military Companies (PMC), by early 1996 the peace talks had faltered, the ceasefire was no longer in effect and Australia was hosting meetings between the PNG government and PMC companies, namely Plaza 107 limited (Which would later incorporate Sandline International), part of the well known Executive Outcomes network. Also present in the meeting were representatives from Branch Energy. Now depending who you believe they are a subsidiary of Plaza 107 Limited. As the picture started to build and the more we dug we realised that as a nation we could have stepped in a lot sooner than we did to help create peace for our neighbours to the north. Instead we let them use sunny Cairns to host meetings between their new Private Military Contractor mates and heads of defence.

Over the next year there would be several more meetings between the now newly minted private military company, Sandline International under the direction of Tim Spicer, Prime Minister Chan and the PNG Defence minister. Yeah Cairns played host to several of them and the city that Juan Anotonio Samaranch so famously called out all those years ago to host the 2000 Olympic games also hosted a meeting or two. By Early January 2007 a proposal had been tabled and contracts changed hands. The proposal would detail how to end the entire conflict and reopen the mine but there would be one small hiccup that would rock the proverbial boat and put a stop to use of Mercenaries alongside Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) personnel. There were plans to use Russian attack helicopters supplied by Sandline International to straffe the island and destroy the Bougainville (BRA) leadership. Ok destroy is an understatement they wanted to wipe them off the face of the earth. But the plan outlined the death of men, women and children, anyone within rebel held parts of the island would be wiped out.

Sandline International under the contract signed by the Papua New Guinea Government, would provide Special Forces Training, and basically an army of highly trained soldiers as well as equipment, tactics and planning to aid the PNGDF to retake Bougainville, the contract would include the following: 42 Mercenaries (including 2 doctors) (Mainly British, South African and Australian) all former special forces soldiers subcontracted from Executive Outcomes, 2 Mi-17 Transport Helicopters, 2 Mi-24 Attack Helicopters, 100 AK-47 Assault rifles, 20 Makarov Pistols, 10 Rocket Propelled Grenade launchers plus 1000 rockets, 10 PKM Machine guns with 125,000 rounds, 800 grenades, mortar rounds, clips, ammunition for rifles totaling 750,000 rounds, crews and maintenance for the helicopters, uniforms including boots and webbing, night vision goggles and various other piece of military equipment all for the low price tag of US $36,000,000 back in 1997 or todays price tag of $57,590,803.74 (For those of you doing the conversion rates at home that’s $83,690,955.99 AUD).

Half of the fee was to be paid upfront and the other half on completion of their assignment (Rid Bougainville of it’s rebellious leadership and reopen the mine), this is of course after Sandline International had already been paid $250,000 US to outline in detail Project Contravene and what it would involve to Prime Minister Chan and his Deputy months earlier before the contract was signed. The outline contained very little to no analysis of what was actually happening on the ground and rather focussed on assumptions of interference from foreign interests (Australia and New Zealand) to keep the PNG economy from flourishing by refusing to offer aid and supporting the Bougainville Republican Army (BRA) by letting them have an office in an Australian City, again the city is Sydney (Said in a spanish accent, thanks Juan). The same country who was hosting meetings between a Private Military Company and the PNG Government. Yeah that was some good sales pitch by Sandline International playing on all the things that were of concern to the current government leading into an election.

The Sandline mercenaries were tasked to “get the criminals,” by which the mercenaries assumed the rebel leaders on Bougainville. Sandline’s plan was to use helicopters to support and ferry an operational force of contract soldiers to do battle where they would defeat the BRA and force a negotiated settlement. In addition to armed force, the tactics used by the Sandline involved manipulating the media and using psychological warfare on the people of central and south Bougainville. This instigated fear in Bougainville and PNG as a whole. The Sandline deal met opposition from Port Moresby Governor Bill Skate, who described it as “a crazy plan” because it reflected a failure on the part of the PNG government to address the crisis and issues of landowner grievance and environmental damage.

By February 1997 Sandline Mercenaries were landing in PNG in preparation while Australia’s Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer (You all remember him right?) lands at the same airport during the unloading of the Antonov aircraft carrying weapons but doesn’t question the military buildup until he is told of the use of Mercenaries to aid in retaking Bougainville. Prime Minister “Caterpillar Brows” Howard gives Chen a call only to be told that Australia needs butt out and mind it’s own business. Ok so by now you are asking yourselves what was Australia’s involvement in all of this and was there any mystery at all? Or are the team just digging through the rubbish (Segway here) for a blog piece? Well our involvement was limited right up until the time the Weekend Australian published a cover story by Mary-Louise O’Callaghan on the engagement of mercenaries to ‘blast’ Bougainville rebel leadership and the presence of some Sandline personnel in PNG (Wewak to be specific).

Sparkling international support and debate along with the leaking of several documents led to 10 days of civil unrest around PNG that almost resulted in an all out civil war. Between the rioting in the capital and the calls for Chen and his government to resign, the Sandline Mercenaries were rounded up and put on a plane under the surveillance and security of PNGDF personnel and sent home, all except for Tim Spicer who was arrested and would provide evidence in a Royal Commission over the use of Sandline and the signing of contracts by the National Emergency Council (NEC). Australia’s involvement comes in March of 2007 where we as a nation agree at the request of the PNG Government for an aircraft carrying weapons supplied under the Sandline contract to land and for the weapons to be stored by the Australian Defence Force.

Remember those Attack helicopters? Yeah they sat at RAAF Tindal just deteriorating for 20 years before the Department of Defence ordered them to be disposed of. Loaded up in a couple of shipping containers they were shipped off to the Darwin tip and buried in the hazardous waste section in the hopes of never being seen again. At the time that Australia took custody of the helicopters and weapons there was an ongoing dispute between Sandline International and the PNG Government. The dispute lasted for over a decade and left us (Australia) with little choice but to hold onto the helicopters? Here’s where the mystery kicks in!

What happened to the 100 assault rifles, 20 makarov pistols, RPGs and all the ammunition that was on the plane along with the helicopters that had been forced to land in the top end when Australia took custody of the weaponry. We know the final chapter of the Russian made helicopters now continuing to rot in a Darwin dump due to the use of asbestos in their construct but what happened to all the weapons? Where did they end up? We know the PNG defense forces doesn’t use AK-47s and they certainly don’t use PKMs so where did the long laundry list of equipment sent over specifically for the Mercenary force disappear to? We know if made it to Australia in the back of a large Antonov cargo plane. From their it’s a mystery and one that we feel we’ll continue to dig into over the next couple of weeks. A few news stories hinted at the possible use of Russian military rifles in gang wars and crimes throughout the nation. Could these be the Sandline weapons?

The entire duration of the “Crisis” was filled with one scandal after another, the Sandline Affair itself was layer upon layer of scandal between the government of PNG and Sandline. The way the contract was approved, the way they were paid and the use of the contractors are scandals in themeselves. The fact that after all this time former Prime Minister Chen is still backing his play to use a government funded PMC to resolve the conflict is a scandal. The man clearly not once thought of the landowners and their frustrations. The mine had kicked this all off and the government had done the wrong thing whether it be through greed or through some stupid government policy. The situation was something that could have been handled so much better had man not followed his usual instincts.

With enough controversy surrounding the company and links to Executive Outcomes, Sandline International would fold overtime but not before being linked to a couple more international scandals. The people of Bougainville head to the poles this month to vote on their independence as part of an agreement that was made more than 20 years ago during the peace process to end the bloody 10 years conflict on Bougainville. The Sandline Affair marked a period of uncertainty and instability in the history of PNG with the government wanting to use military action instead of hearing and actioning the issues from the landowners on Bougainville. We’ll provide you an update on the vote and any issues that may arise causing yet another crisis with Australia’s closest northern neighbour.

From the team here we wish you a happy weekend and look forward to reading through the suggestions for next week’s blog. Thank you once again to the man we know as the Library Monitor for this week’s blog idea and the endless sleepless nights of research that we actually enjoyed. We could have written so much more on The Sandline Affair, it was truly an international scandal that could have resulted in an all out civil war across PNG. Thankfully a journalist and PNGDF general decided to blow the whistle. Pressure from the international community was enough to force a change in government and bring about a peaceful resolution, there were still over 10 years of fighting and 20,000 people lost their lives and we have missing weapons that were at last count in our custody…

So until next week we bid you a fond farewell and look forward to gracing your screens with more mind numbing blogs on things that tend to come out of nowhere at us. If you are interested in hearing more or going into more depth around the Sandline Affair please contact us and we’ll provide you with useful links and documentation providing a more indepth look at PNG and the history of the Bougainville crisis, Sandline Affair and Project Contravene. Adios amigos…