It’s the End of the World as we Know It…

You know we like to keep our fans happy, so at the request of our good friend the Legal Beagle or as he’s better known to his friends Captain Google. This week’s blog is an homage to his request for our guidance through what is proving to be a turbulent time in our lives and in the lives of many of those around us. The uncertainty of not knowing is always a “Head Fuck” for lack of better words and the fact most of Australia is still scrambling for rolls of toilet paper is enough to get anyone in a flap, let alone the people that may actually need it the most. As the country begins to go into lock down, the uncertainty for so many becomes more and more overwhelming and with this we all need a little extra guidance. Many of us will experience hardship throughout this time with the effects of the virus reaching far into our economy and ripping the guts out of many of our industries.

The sad truth is that people are going to die, people are going to lose their jobs, friends and family will be affected. Those are the unavoidable facts of this matter. We are in a time of uncertainty, something that has never been experienced by any of us. There have been depressions, famines and even pandemics in the past but few of us were around to experience any of them. Unless of course you are nearing your centenary, then you may have experienced some of them. As the saying goes “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. You can thank the former president of the United States affectionately known as FDR, Franklin D. Roosevelt, for that little gem but given our current situation, it is oh so very fitting. We fear what we do not know or understand and given this is a novel virus, meaning that we have not seen it before, it’s no wonder most people are in a state of fear.

Whilst taking your time to read through, keep in mind that there are those within our communities that will need a lot more help than most of us. We aren’t just talking about those who are most at risk of contracting the virus, we are talking about those who need a little extra community minded help from time to time. Yes we are talking about the elderly and disabled. These are the people who all you able bodied, panic stricken peanuts are stopping from being able to get the essentials they need to survive. As you panic buy enough toilet paper and supplies to last for the next 8 years. The 400 rolls of toilet paper , the 80 bottles of hand sanitizers, the 100 boxes of panadol and the months and months worth of food you’re stockpiling in every available space in your house and your brand new freezer, consider those within our communities who aren’t able to afford that luxury. Even the supermarkets have started to come to the table and offer concession card holders their own shopping hours.

Unfortunately just like the recent outbreak of COVID-19, panic is also contagious. You only need to head to your local shopping centre to see how contagious panic currently is. That panic is translating into obscene buying habits. This is where we come in, the team at A Mind of Its Own have decided to help you all out. We want to ensure that there is enough supplies to go around and that we flatten the curve of panic buying. It’s a tough ask for a little blog, but what we lack in size we certainly make up for in our ability to write a good piece, in which we hope to spread a message that gets through some of your thick skulls. It’s a little self serving but very community minded, we would all like to stop having to use sandpaper to wipe our butts and stop having to pour the good vodka over our hands in place of sanitiser, all because people have gone against what the governing bodies are advising and bought more than 14 days of supplies. We wrote the other day about the virus (Wasn’t Expecting That…) and in this follow up piece we’ll give you some recommendations for surviving the virus. Something of a ‘A Mind of Its Own preppers guide to surviving in isolation’.

To start with you need to know where to get local information regarding the virus, know how to stay up to date with the latest developments, and you need to know the signs and the symptoms. For those of you that have decided to bury your head in the sand and try and last this out without understanding or knowing what it is, we’ve listed them for you. For everyone else as you might have read or heard, if you are living in the real world that is, people don’t start to see symptoms until 2-14 days after exposure. The virus is transferred through droplets, so coughing, sneezing will transfer the virus if you have it or anyone around you has it and they do anything that allows transfer of droplets. The warning signs are there if you pay attention, so if you start to see any of the following symptoms you should immediately seek medical help and get yourself tested. So ladies and gents if you have a cough, fever, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or sore throat and you have been overseas in the past 14 days, in contact with a confirmed or suspected case of corona, please go see a doctor, the hospital or get yourself tested at one of your local testing centres. If you don’t have any of those symptoms please don’t waste the valuable time or resources of our medical professionals, the healthcare system is already short staffed and you thinking, you have something you probably don’t isn’t going to help.

The next part of preparing for COVID-19 is to ensure the safety of those at high risk, yes those at risk we told you to keep at the forefront of your mind earlier, the elderly and those with underlying diseases or health issues, particularly those with breathing related issues or autoimmune diseases. These are the people most at risk, whether they are young or old they need to be able to be at home and to be practicing social distancing. Guidelines in Australia stipulate that you should have at least a metre and half between you and anyone else in a four square metre radius, that you should also stay home when possible and avoid as much contact between you and others. Stay home for everyone else’s sake, the best way to fight this is to curb the spread of the virus. Listen to the advice of the medical professionals, they went through years of schooling and training to give you the advice and recommendation that they have.

Both the CDC (the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) and the WHO (World Health Organisation) recommend 14 days’ worth of supplies. Both these organisations have the best Epidemiologists in the world working for them to help set these guidelines. So why on god’s green earth are people stocking up on toilet paper? We aren’t talking a couple of weeks’ worth, we are talking months and in some cases years’ worth of toilet paper and other supplies. No one needs that much toilet paper in one hit unless you suffer from chronic diarrhoea and if that’s the case you should be stocking up on Gastrostop and may as well wear adult diapers, oh and seek some medical advice. So 14 days of supplies people, 14 days, that’s all you need, 14 days on top of your usual shopping. If you are a family of four you might go through a max of 3 rolls a week, so a 24 pack of TP will get you through your 14 days where you may or may not be able to leave your house. You also need to ensure that you consider over the counter medications and prescription meds you may need an additional supply of. The best thing to do is create a plan. List out what you need and how much you are going to need to last an additional fourteen days. That’s 14 days on top of your regular shopping people…

That doesn’t mean you need months and months’ worth of meat, frozen meals, pasta, sauces and other hygienic products ladies and gentleman. A walk around your local Coles, Woolies or Aldi will show you just how silly some of us have become in the recent weeks with all of this Coronavirus panic buying. Even pet food has made its way into the trolleys of terrified customers who feel they need stock up in case the shops all magically close down and stocks dry up. It’s not the first time we’ve experienced panic buying and hoarding, back in 2009 during the H1N1 Influenza outbreak we saw countries hoarding vaccines and people panic buying. There is a psychology behind it all, people do it as a sort of ‘retail therapy’ in an attempt to take back some control in a world where they feel out of control, but that doesn’t excuse it.

The hoarding of toilet paper is a lot safer than what our American friends across the ditch are doing, they’re stocking up on guns and ammo. We do not need to do that, thankfully there are laws restricting such actions in Australia, there is not a Zombie apocalypse coming ladies and gentleman… Oh and whilst we are handing out advice we don’t recommend you watch the Walking Dead whilst you’re at home in isolation or any shows or movies about pandemics or viruses for that matter. , It is not good for your mind. Whilst we punch on in the supermarkets over rolls of toilet paper the Americans are rioting and looting in fear, with all of these guns they’ve been stockpiling of late, this makes the situation in some towns scarier than others. So in some ways we are a lot better off, as we are only having to beat the toilet paper and sanitizer hoarders to the supermarkets before they get there and pile their trolleys to the roof but these actions are not the community minded actions we need. Thank the heavens the supermarkets have put in place item restrictions..

Once you’ve managed to store away your 14 days’ worth of additional items, you are going to want to establish a plan to communicate with loved ones and the outside world because you need to be participating in social distancing. Thankfully with the internet, smartphones and the ability to communicate face to face through video chat, we are able to do that and more. You’ll need to adapt to the cancellation of social events because let’s face it in times like these, as much as we are social creatures, we need to be isolating ourselves as much as possible from others. Now that doesn’t mean we can’t still communicate whether it be over the phone, text message, video chat, email or the good old fashioned hand written letter. If you’re looking for ideas there are a plethora of them floating around the internet. For families with small children you need to prepare what you are going to do about childcare needs should they shut down as well as schooling now that most states are advising keeping kids at home if you’re able?

That our friends, leads us to the next conundrum that people are facing, the singles are all looking for their apocalypse buddy and madly swiping right on every Tom, Dick and Harriett. Those in relationships are wondering how they’ll get to spend quality time with their partner and most of all be intimate with them or how to avoid being intimate with them. Remember no glove, no love and try not to sweat on each other, we aren’t scientists but we are pretty sure that it could be transferred through dripping sweat on each other or we made it up to ensure the hospitals aren’t packed to the brim with Corona babies in 9 months’ time. Married couples are wondering how they’ll avoid each other and those with children are wondering how they are going to cope with them being around twenty four seven, three sixty five when childcare and schools shutdown and how they can ensure they don’t end up with another one. Many parents are questioning their ability to teach their own children the basics, just a friendly reminder we no longer have the three R’s. We actually call them what they are these days, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.

There are plenty of articles online surrounding the best things to binge watch and do to keep you occupied throughout this period. Everything from home gym setups to how to date in an apocalypse, oh wait the second one is our next blog for all those wondering how social distancing and dating is going to work. There are plenty of things to do and you can even take up a hobby, if you haven’t already, build a model, do some wood work, paint something, draw or write something or those things your wife or partner have been asking you to do around the house for months now and you keep making up excuses for… Well you could potentially do those.

So to reiterate the best thing you can do is have a plan, plan out what you need, when you’ll need it, who you’ll need to contact and if we’ve learnt anything from all the survival books we’ve read, always have a go bag ready in case you need to leave. Keep 1.5 meters between you and everyone else at all times and for everyone’s sake stay at home. If you need to go outside do it in the safety of your own backyard. If you need to leave your house, get what you need and get back home as soon as you can. 14 days’ worth of supplies people in case you have to go into total isolation that is all you need additionally. The supermarkets are still open and you can still get what you need, so long as people are sensible about what they take. Keep in mind those more vulnerable members of our community whilst you’re out and about activating your Coronavirus isolation plan. We don’t need to hoard things ladies and gentleman, particularly not the dunny roll.

A little like the title of this blog which we stole from an REM song, at present it might seem like the end of the world as you know it but no one is certainly feeling fine. Things are changing and they are going to change, it’s time to accept that, we are going to have a lot of ups and downs but we need to come together and do the right thing for each other over the next couple of months. Check in with your friends and family, check in with your neighbours and your work colleagues. We’ll get through this and there’ll be plenty of stories both good and bad that will come out of it. We’ll keep you all updated over the weeks as we continue to go through the pandemic. Lastly but not least we’d like to both thank and welcome our newest member of the team. We aren’t sure she is open to being officially named so for now we’ll call her Little Miss Competitive. Not only is she good at correcting the team’s poor spelling and grammar but she’s good at adding on and subtracting the parts that don’t make any sense. So to LMC welcome to the team! Until the next blog you keep yourselves and your family safe, do the right thing and stay at home. Hasta Manana amigos.

Wasn’t Expecting That…

A couple of months ago during the height of the bush fire season we wrote about the apocalypse, we didn’t go into detail or discuss the four horsemen but we did discuss what apocalyptic event could potentially wipe us out, which then turned into a little preppers guide to the end of the world. Little did we know that the specific blog would be read by family and friends and the following events would ensue and thus the great people of this country would react the way they have causing pain and heartache for thousands of their fellow countrymen. Well ladies and gentlemen we (not this fine blog) but the nation of Australia have officially lost the plot. We’ve officially gone off the deep end and look it’s a little troubling if we are honest. As we dive into this week’s blog and change tracks like a runaway train we’ll hit you with yet another double punch as we had already started another piece to provide you with when we decided that we needed to weigh in on matters at home.

Let us take you on a little journey to discover the facts and figures around why Australian’s are currently duking it out in the middle of their local Coles and Woolworths. Why panic is beginning to grip the world, why conspiracy theorists are having a field day and why if you own shares you are losing money hand over fist at a rapid rate. In order to do that we’ve decided to look at a chronological order of events. We’ll give you the who, what, where, when and how in the hopes of giving you a little more information and dispelling some of the myths. It might even calm people down hopefully but we’ll see what happens. We may have the opposite effect on the masses and we’ll have riots in the streets inspired by the words from those idiots over at the A Mind of Its Own Blog. So without further distraction or segways we’ll crack the egg of this week’s topic and let the issues of CoVID-19 simmer in your minds while we tap away at our freshly sanitized keyboards in our air conditioned offices where people can easily spread disease.

CoVID-19 or the Coronavirus as it’s better know came to light in late December 2019 when the little, we say little but when there are roughly 11.8 million inhabitants it’s far from little, city of Wuhan in the Hubei province of China, reported a pneumonia that was sickening dozens of people. It wasn’t till the 31st of December that the World Health Organisation (WHO) finally caught wind of this. According to reports Novel Coronavirus (nCov) was identified in early December with the first case diagnosed on the 12th of December. Eleven days later the first death from what would become known as CoVID-19 was recorded. Now depending who you listen to and what articles you read the time lines are little skewed, the number of deaths is inaccurate and the virus was released by the US to kill off Chinese and Iranian’s. Fast forward to the 21st of January and other countries are now reporting their first cases of the Novel Coronavirus. The US, Japan, South Korea and Thailand all recording their first cases. All the people diagnosed had been to Wuhan and all of them had visited a live animal market according to all reports.

By the 23rd of January the Chinese government had decided to impose travel restriction into and out of Wuhan. This could well have been 23 days too late, in an attempt to restrict the spread of the virus they shutdown flights, trains, buses, ferries and ringed the city with checkpoints. By the 30th of January the WHO had declared a global health emergency for just the 6th time in history a designation reserved for extraordinary events that threaten to spread internationally. If you weren’t watching the news on the 5th of February the cruise ship the Diamond Princess was quarantined off the coast of Yokohama, Japan while crew and passengers under went screenings for CoVID19. 700 cases would be later confirmed making it the largest outbreak outside of China. February 11th saw the WHO renaming the novel coronavirus to CoVID-19 with the Co standing for Coronavirus, Vi for Virus and the D for disease. The 19 tacked on at the end is the year in which it was identified. Health officials purposely avoided naming COVID-19 after a geographical location, animal or group of people, so as not to stigmatise people or places.

Yet people are avoiding anyone of Asian descent as they are ignorant, somewhat racist and most of all ill informed. There was even a case in Chinatown, Sydney where a man suffered a heart attack and no one wanted to help him for fear of catching CoVID-19. Our first case was diagnosed on the 25th of January with three other cases being diagnosed by the 27th across two separate states. On the 28th January Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy makes a fatal mistake in telling the nation there is no need to wear masks as there has been no human to human transmission in Australia. By the start of March there were 27 confirmed cases across the country the number would rise quickly as the first cases of human to human transmission were confirmed. To date there have been 91 confirmed cases, only 3 deaths reported in elderly. But what is CoVID-19?

To break it down for you all, CoVID-19 is the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Like our two headed Tasmanian friends from down south it’s a little strange. Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals. In rare cases they are what the smart white coat wearing ladies and gentlemen call Zoonotic, meaning they can be transferred from animals to humans. But how do they transfer you ask? There are 5 main ways in which Zoonotic diseases can transfer from an animal to human.

Direct contact: Coming into contact with the saliva, blood, urine, mucous, feces, or other body fluids of an infected animal. Examples include petting or touching animals, and bites or scratches.

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Indirect contact: Coming into contact with areas where animals live and roam, or objects or surfaces that have been contaminated with germs. Examples include aquarium tank water, pet habitats, chicken coops, barns, plants, and soil, as well as pet food and water dishes.

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Vector-borne: Being bitten by a tick, or an insect like a mosquito or a flea.

Foodborne: Each year, 1 in 6 people get sick from eating contaminated food. Eating or drinking something unsafe, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk, under cooked meat or eggs, or raw fruits and vegetables that are contaminated with feces from an infected animal. Contaminated food can cause illness in people and animals, including pets.

Waterborne: Drinking or coming in contact with water that has been contaminated with feces from an infected animal.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a betacoronavirus, like MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. All three of these viruses have their origins in bats. The sequences from global patients are similar to the one that China initially posted, suggesting a likely single, recent emergence of this virus from an animal reservoir. The science is a little hard to explain and we’ve had to do a lot of research in order to understand what it is but to paint you a tiny picture they are called Coronaviruses due to the fringe they have which is reminiscent of a crown or of a solar corona. The name “coronavirus” is derived from Latin ‘corona’, meaning crown or halo, which refers to the characteristic appearance of the virus particles (virions), they have a fringe reminiscent of a crown or of a solar corona when viewed under two-dimensional transmission electron microscopy, due to the surface covering in club-shaped protein spikes. From what we could translate into our tiny non-scientific brains it’s these protein spikes that attach to cells in the host body and begin replication of the virus. We also found out that the common cold is also a coronavirus, don’t believe us Google it!

So there’s a virus and a disease but what’s the difference? A virus can’t survive without a living host and the disease occurs when cells in your body are damaged as a result of an infection. So the virus in this case is SARS-CoV-2 and damage it causes to your cells resulting in disease has been named COVID-19. Coronaviruses cause colds with major symptoms, such as fever and sore throat from swollen adenoids, primarily in the winter and early spring seasons. Coronaviruses can cause pneumonia – either direct viral pneumonia or a secondary bacterial pneumonia – and may cause bronchitis – either direct viral bronchitis or a secondary bacterial bronchitis. If you aren’t up to date with your doomsday virus and what will kill you the symptoms you need to look out for are fever, cough, shortness of breath and in some cases diarrhea.

How could you get it you ask? Well it is most likely transmitted from human to human via respiratory droplets from either a cough or sneeze, the impact or blast zone is usually around 6 foot, it is also possible that indirect contact via contaminated surfaces is another possible cause of infection as viral RNA has been found in peoples stool samples who are infected. What does that mean for us? Well the usual cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing and wash your hands after using the bathroom or spraying your DNA over them through your mouth or nose. The stats state that at least 60% of the world’s population will be infected with SARS-CoV-2 and mortality rate is something like 3% so there is a good chance if you get it, you will survive. If you are older you are more at risk of the symptoms being more than just mild. Those under 20 seem to be the safest group, representing the smallest percentage of those who have been infected globally.

Ok so you know the who, what, where, how and when now but the burning question for us is why are we having to use rough as guts paper towel to wipe our derrieres because Australia has gone into panic mode and is stocking up on toilet paper? We kid you not, supermarkets can’t get the stuff on the shelves quick enough and the people stocking up like the worlds about to end can’t explain why? We’d kill for just one roll of 4 ply, that quilted goodness against one’s rectum feels so much better than the paper cut razor blade of death paper towel we’ve been using for the past week. Like the potato famine of 1845 to 1849 the supermarket shelves are bare of the number one bathroom product, bogroll, dunny wipes, loo roll call it what you like it’s in short supply or non existent and to make matters worse people are even buying all the paper towel, sanitary wipes, tissues anything they can get their hands on to wipe their bums they are buying in bulk. It’s got to the point we have people throwing fisty cuffs in the isles just to get some dunny roll. We even checked out several supermarkets to see for ourselves, standing in the isle we couldn’t help but laugh at just how far the prepping some people had gone with the threat of SARS-CoV-2 and contracting COVID-19.

Like all crises there are those who are keen to make a quick buck off the misfortunes of others. The fact that we have countries closing their borders and restricting travel and supermarket shelves are left bare of pasta sauce, pasta and toilet paper shows an evident fear in the Australian populace. Check out eBay or Facebook marketplace and people are selling packs of toilet tissue for well above the recommended retail price. The memes that have been generated are both hilarious and disturbing at the same time. There are even cases in which people are stocking up with 14 days worth of food and supplies in case they need to quarantine themselves or hide out for fear of catching the world’s latest Coronavirus.

Viruses mind you which have been around for centuries and will continue to be around for centuries to come. There is some psychology behind why people have chosen toilet paper to stock up on opposed to any other item. It’s an everyday necessity in the modern, western world and therefore the fear of being without it or missing out runs high within the community. Don’t forget in some countries they are still squatting over holes in the floor and hoping for a clean break without having the luxury of toilet paper and here we are punching on in the isles over it. Is it that people have not researched what COVID-19 is, enough to understand or is it just a knock on effect to our already fragile minds after the worst bush fire season to date. There is no doubt some psychologists, looking at the causation and effects of this and the science community, are working double time to understand the virus and whether or not a vaccine can be developed.

For now though we just need to take a couple of deep breaths and chill out when doing the grocery shopping, there is no reason to punch on with your fellow Aussies over bog roll, after all the old saying sharing is caring rings true and last time we checked toilet paper will not protect you from catching a virus despite wrapping yourself to look like an ancient Egyptian mummy. So maybe you don’t need the 3 packets of 24 rolls that are taking up your entire trolley or the whole box of hand sanitizer. Like you do every flu season, wash your hands after using the bathroom or coughing and sneezing, if you are feeling sick stay at home and if pain persists please see your doctor. Chances are you’ve had a coronavirus in the past and just not known about it. That’ll just about do it from us here, we’ve given you an overview of the virus and yes it’s a close relative of the SARS virus and MERS virus, go google them we don’t have time to explain what they are if you haven’t heard of them.

Until next week don’t hog the bog roll, be kind to your neighbours, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze and most of all just be a good human being. From all the crew here at A Mind Of Its Own, look after yourselves and avoid public areas where large groups tend to congregate if you are that worried about catching the coronavirus and for all our slow mind friends no you can’t catch it from drinking the beer, the poor company have suffered enough over the past couple of months with American idiots Googling if they’ll contract it after a hard night on the Coronas. With that said it’s time to sign off for another week… Take it easy!

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…

Things We Lost In the Fire…

After last weeks foray into self-help books and people not being able to be themselves or needing to wear a mask to the world. We thought we’d dive a little deeper into the study of evolutionary anthropology and look at one of only a handful of men who have a number named after him. Once we’ve done all that we’ll attempt to make light of why we struggle when presented with so much choice and why our choices often lead to what is more commonly known as the ‘fear of missing out’ or as the kids tend to say these days FOMO. So as we kick of another week of A Mind of Its Own we welcome old friends and new friends alike to yet another addition of Australia’s favourite blog. The country just doesn’t know it yet…

Being a topic that has piqued our interest us for quite some time now we thought it was only prudent that we lend our hand to spreading the message that is the study of evolutionary anthropology and psychology. It’s only fitting that we start with the man that introduced us to some of the studies that captured our imagination. It was Mark Manson who pointed out Professor Robin Dunbar and his now famous number in a talk he gave about his most recent self help book ‘Everything is F#cked’ at the Brisbane Powerhouse. The team attended as part of our exploration into the self help world and it’s so called gurus. (See previous blog for more context around the topic). So who is Robin Dunbar?, What is the Dunbar number and how did he come up with it? All will be revealed below along with some of our own observations, calculations and salutations.

Robin Ian McDonald Dunbar, born 28th of June 1947, for those that are into Astrology he’s a cancer, yep a crab. The man hails from our motherland, yes England and we wonder whether he’s ever thrown out the convict title when referring to all of us in the land down under. An anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist by trade he specialises in primate behaviour. However when asked what his research is all about Professor Dunbar usually responds with the following. He’s written multiple books on psychology, evolution, anthropology as well as scientific and research journals. Been interviewed on several occasions regarding the Dunbar number as well as had several people try to disprove his theory only to come back to the magic number around 150.

“My research is concerned with trying to understand the behavioural, cognitive and neuroendocrinological mechanisms that underpin social bonding in primates (in general) and humans (in particular). Understanding these mechanisms, and the functions that relationships serve, will give us insights on how humans have managed to create large scale societies using a form of psychological that is evolutionarily adapted to very small scale societies, and why these mechanisms are less than perfect in the modern world. This has implications for the design of social networking sites as well as mobile technology. We use conventional behavioural and cognitive experimental approaches, combined with network analysis, agent based modelling, comparative studies of primate brain evolution, neuroimaging and neuroendocrinology to explore explicit and implicit processes at both the dyadic and the group level. An important feature of our behavioural studies has been the constraints that time places on an individual’s ability to manage their relationships, and the cognitive tricks used to overcome these”.

So how did he come up with the Dunbar number and what is it? There is a complex answer and a simple answer to what is the Dunbar number and if you read on we’ll explain how Professor Dunbar came up with it. But First things first. The Dunbar number, what is it? It is the number of people you can have a relationship with involving trust and obligation. There is some personal history and not just names and faces. That’s the simple answer, the more complex answer goes a little something like this. The way our social world is constructed is part and parcel of our biological inheritance. Together with apes and monkeys, we form part of the primate family. Within that family there is a general relationship between the size of the brain and the size of the social group. We fit within a pattern. There are social circles beyond it and layers within it but there is a natural grouping that averages around 150. The Dunbar number is actually a series of them. The best known, a hundred and fifty, is the number of people we call casual friends—the people, say, you’d invite to a large party. (In reality, it’s a range: a hundred at the low end and two hundred for the more social of us.)

From there, through qualitative interviews coupled with analysis of experimental and survey data, Dunbar discovered that the number grows and decreases according to a precise formula, roughly a “rule of three.” The next step down, fifty, is the number of people we call close friends—perhaps the people you’d invite to a group dinner. You see them often, but not so much that you consider them to be true intimates. Then there’s the circle of fifteen: the friends that you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, the ones you can confide in about most things. The most intimate Dunbar number, five, is your close support group. These are your best friends (and often family members). On the flipside, groups can extend to five hundred, the acquaintance level, and to fifteen hundred, the absolute limit—the people for whom you can put a name to a face. While the group sizes are relatively stable, their composition can be fluid. Your five today may not be your five next week; people drift among layers and sometimes fall out of them altogether.

Firstly, it’s a little confusing as there is no specific number actually assigned as the ‘Dunbar number’, as previously stated above however 150 is a common number which is associated and the answer as to why will become more apparent as we explain how Professor Dunbar came across his numbering during a study. As to how the study came about well thanks to our cousins in the animal kingdom. Yes primates, whilst working on why primates spend so much time grooming each other he wanted to test a hypothesis that says primates have big brains and the reason why is because they live in a complex social world. Grooming being social, he hypothesised that all these things should be able to be mapped together. He started plotting brain size, group size and grooming time against one another in which he came out with a nice set of relationships.

According to the good professor, he had a light bulb moment rather early one morning around 3am where he wondered what would happen if he plugged humans into the study. After doing so he got a number of 150 connections, on first glance it looked implausibly small given that most people now live in cities. It turns out the number was the typical size of hunter gatherer societies. It was also the average size of a village in the Domesday Book (A manuscript record of the “Great Survey” conducted in much of England and parts of Wales in 1086 by order of King William The Conqueror).

The number turns out to be much the same when you have better data available. An example of this is parish registers in the 18th century. County by county the average village size was once again 150, except for Kent which was 100. Professor Dunbar has no idea why it is smaller but hypothesized that perhaps there was a higher density of people with bigger brains in Kent throughout the 18th century. Unfortunately the records available can not prove or disprove this theory. A quick google search though did tell us that the population in England exploded throughout the 18th century which is contrary to the Dunbar number and the parish records that state the average size of the village was 100 people.

The professor further hypothesized that the number most likely dates back to the appearance of anatomically modern humans around 250,000 years ago and by going back in time and estimating brain size we can see community sizes on the decline. Through evolutionary strategy we evolved and adapted as a social species. Most animal species aren’t as intensely social as humans, apes and monkeys. They tend to pair up and mate for life unlike primates, who whilst they tend to mate monogamously it’s not always for life or the same partner. We guess the lesson behind that is there is something computationally demanding about maintaining close relationships over a very long period of time as we all know.

Ok so when we started out on this little exploration into the Dunbar Number we were under the assumption that it was a number based on connections you could have in your life, which is correct but we being the A Mind of Its Own team thought it was a little simpler than it has turned out to be. Like most topics we tackle it’s just raising more and more questions but slowly the pieces of the puzzle are coming together to create the picture. So before we wrap it up for another week, we’ll answer two more burning questions and for once try to tie it all together in a nice neat bow for you, rather than leaving it ambiguous and unfinished as we’ve so often done.

The first of the final two questions is can we grow the Dunbar Number? Again there is a simple answer and complicated answer. In modern times we are caught in a somewhat of a bind as community sizes were designed for hunter-gatherer type societies, when people weren’t living on top of one another. Days gone by your 150 would be scattered over a wide area but everyone shared the same 150. It made for a dense interconnected community that policed itself. You didn’t need lawyers and policemen. If you stepped out of line you more than likely had granny to answer to. For the last twenty-two years, Dunbar has been “unpacking and exploring” what that number actually means—and whether our ever-expanding social networks have done anything to change it.

The problem we face is the sheer density of people, it stretches our networks rather than keeping them compact. Most people will have friends scattered around the world who don’t know one another. This in turn means we no longer have interwoven networks, therefore leading to less well integrated societies. So the question now becomes how do we recreate that old sense of community. That’s a social engineers problem that needs to be worked around. The alternative is that we evolve bigger brains, they’d have to be much bigger and that would take a long time.

The second of our final two questions actually started out our interest in all this and we have written about technology and whether it has killed off social interaction on several occasions in the past. What role does the internet and social media play in the Dunbar Number? Like an onion there are multiple layers to this question. Can you have meaningful relationships online with the old number of 150? Well the answer is yes according to Professor Dunbar. Using the example of Twitter, we can find out what you had for breakfast from a mere tweet. Can we really get to know one another better though? Digital developments have helped us to keep in touch when in the past a relationship might have died through distance of various other circumstances, however due to our biology in the end we actually have to get together to make a relationship work.

As humans we still rely heavily on touch and as hard as the crazy science guys have tried we still have worked out how to do virtual touch, perhaps when we cracked that big nut it may lead to a true Dunbar Number? The last and final piece to our puzzle is where does choice come into all of this? Living in an interconnected world we have an abundance of choice at our fingertips. We have everything we could possibly need at the palm of our hands. Every aspect of our lives can be managed from a device and for every aspect there are multiple choices. If we look at social media and the amount of connections people have on average, most people would say they have more than the average Dunbar Number. Most of the A Mind of its Own team certainly have more than 150 followers or are following 150 people whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or any of the other social media platforms.

Ask yourself this question though, out of all those people who you follow or are following, how many of those people do you truly trust and feel an obligation towards to maintain your friendship. We can guarantee you that number won’t match the number you follow or thought. You may be able to arrange them into the various patterns of Dunbar Numbers but there will be some that float in between groups. So here’s our take on the whole Dunbar Number, the internet why the world is so ridiculously F#cked at present. Whilst many people will blame social media it was the internet that ruined the world. We (Humanbeings) thought that by providing each other with as much information as possible at our fingertips the truth would float to the top. That’s not the case our brains aren’t developed or evolved enough, if you will to compute that amount of data and work out whats fact from fiction.

The internet has provided us with freedom of choice when it comes to deciding what’s truth and what is a lie. The fact our thinking brain and feeling brain can’t make an educated decision due to the amount of data available has led us down the garden path in more ways than one. Unsubstantiated facts have have become the truth for many around the world as their feeling brains take over and that fact whilst not having any truth or in most cases science behind it, it now becomes their truth and the knock on effect is that each time they relay that fact if becomes more and more the truth they believe. Give someone too many choices whether it be selecting one festival to attend out of all them across a year, you are guaranteed that person will have some from of regret or FOMO.

In societal aspects this can be related to dating and the rise of online dating platforms like Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Plenty of Fish and eHarmony. The fact that divorce is on the rise, polygamy and polyamory are now both acceptable in society leads one to believe we now have too much choice when it comes to finding a mate. In a society of swiping left and right, we no longer base our connections on more than just looks and are we truly getting to know people? An example of this are the boys and girls who are seeing multiple people at once as they can’t decide on just one person through fear of missing out that someone better might come along. Again we have too much choice and aren’t making the strong connections we would have made back in the day before we lived in an interconnected world. In relation to Dunbars numbers a lot of these people would start in the acquaintance group and depending on whether a relationship developed or not they could move up or out of the larger number.

On an even deeper level, there may be a physiological aspect of friendship that virtual connections can never replace.

So as we gift wrap this latest blog for you we can sum it up by saying, the internet killed the world and gave rise to anti-vaxxers, flat earthers and a lot of the internet’s other whack jobs. It’s responsible for providing a platform or soapbox to every man and its dog to play their violin and whinge their woe is me story. Or spew their hateful rhetoric across the internet. Whilst we are more interconnected than ever, we are not as interwoven as we have been throughout history and therefore our Dunbar Numbers stay relatively the same. Social media and internet dating sites and applications have given us too much choice and therefore we are not happy with the choices we are making. People no longer try to work things out due to this and sexually transmitted infections, apparently people didn’t like catching a disease are on the rise in 1st world countries. So all in all as Mark Manson put it, “Everything is Fucked” until next week do some thinking and work out who your 5 are. We know ours.

“Words are slippery, a touch is worth a 1,000 words any day”.

Love The Way You Lie…

We all have a past that’s the thing we need to understand, we need to work through and sometimes more than not we need to move past. That’s the thing about the past though it’s in the past, it has already happened and unless you’ve found a way to bend time and travel through it into the past there is not a goddamn thing we can do about it. What we can do though, is live in the gift that is now and make it so great that we have a grasp on what will become of the future, what we can do is make the most of the now as it will greatly impact what the future holds for us. As many a great philosopher and scholar has written we are able to mould the future to an image that most suits us, most suits our purpose.

With all the self help books and gurus in the world you would think by now that someone would have written a survival guide for getting through the day to day. We all experience things throughout our lives. Pain, death, loss, trauma, you name it and you will no doubt experience it at some point in your life. You’ll try to fix what you think is wrong with you or wrong with your life through various different means. You might try to fix it through reading the latest self help book about boosting your confidence or being a better person. Or opening up to pain, opening up to new ideas, new ways of thinking, a new you as all the guru’s books and bloggers will tell you and make you believe. Funny how a little bit of marketing can make you pick up a book, read a magazine and more importantly make you want to improve yourself.

Here at A Mind of Its Own we are all for the betterment of oneself and we encourage learning but does that need to come at the cost of who we truly are? Do we need to change who we are? Do we need to become someone different, someone we really aren’t or is it more a case that we don’t like who we truly are as a person and therefore are always searching to become a better person, a different person, a person that is as far away from our true self. A mask if you will to the public, a front that is put on to hide the real you, the one that stares back at you in the mirror that you lie about because the truth might just hurt you a little too much to accept. Where are the self help books that talk about that, that talk about how it’s ok being yourself and not needing to change.

Scouring the internet we searched and searched for a voice of truth, a voice that would say it’s ok but what we found were that people even the writers of these self help books don’t want to be themselves they found an excuse to believe in their own spin, their own hyperbole. Don’t get us wrong we’ve read our fair share around the office and the closest we’ve got to actually accepting some of the self help is Mark Manson. His style of writing and spin on the self help industry is somewhat refreshing in the fact he basically tells you not to give a fuck subtely. In his most recent book he tells us everything is fucked so in terms of telling it like it is he the closest we’ve come to someone telling us that its ok to be who you are and that things won’t change but here’s some tips and techniques on how to get around it all.

With social media and blog post everyone has become an expert on giving out advice about what and how people should live their lives. Every second person will give you their opinion on what you should do if your life falls into a heap, which books to read, which podcasts to listen to youtube videos that helped them get through a tough time in their lives. They tell you what you should eat, how much exercise you should do, how you should look after your mental health and the lack of educational degrees they have. Oh wait they won’t tell us about that as that would result in less followers and we couldn’t have that. Add to this we have the ramblers.

The social media ramblers who lives are posted across the internet and feel the need to document their entire life as well as telling you what you should be doing to be your best self and get yourself into that frame of mind to become that person you really want to be. These are the people that tend to flip and flop from one cause to another. They go through life bouncing from one place to another with little understanding of who they are and what they truly want. But they have a place in the self help guru guidance arena. Again, opinions are like arseholes everyone has one and the internet has allowed everyone to voice theirs.

So when someone writes the perfect self help book which is to tell everyone that it is more than ok to be yourself and that you are going to have good days and bad days, it’s called life. And life ladies and gentleman is always going to test you to make sure you know you are alive and that you will not be able to float through it, you will have to fight and sometimes you’ll have to get bloody both physically and mentally. You’ll want to give in from time to time but you’ll push through and you’ll actually learn a few truths about yourself that you hadn’t expected to learn or even knew about yourself. Had life not happened and you were forced to take a path and not know what could have happened would have learnt these lessons and things about yourself? Chances are highly unlikely.

After writing most of this blog we sent the team on a mission of exploration to watch the self help guru himself Mark Manson give a talk around his books and the inspiration and research that goes into writing a book for others. If this was a newspaper we may of had to write a retraction and eat our words. After reading his books and diving further into the research behind them it’s quite quickly apparent that the man has a good handle on the fact that life is F*#ked. It’s what you make of it right? We’ll yes and no, a lot of it has to do with psychology and the way we react to things that happen. A lot of it has to do with how we were raised, some of it is even genetic but what it all boils down to is the fact that as human beings we aren’t necessarily mentally equipped for the 21st century and all it has to offer.

We’ll talk about it a little more in next week’s blog but a lot of it has to freedom of choice and living standards alongside the fact that we now live in an interconnected world. All of this creates a social anxiety in which we aren’t often prepared for or know how to deal with on a day to day basis. We only see people on their perfect holidays, with their model girlfriends, having babies, buying a house or car and living out the lives in front of everyone else.

So we asked some hard questions of the team in an attempt to understand why we lie to ourselves and those around us, particularly when we’ve gone through something life changing. Something painful, soul crushing, soul destroying that changes us to be something we aren’t, someone we aren’t and wear a mask to the world. A lot of us choose to run, to hide and further mask our pain and discomfort with the world but for what benefit? A few minutes, hours or days of relief from the pain? Whatever it may be we all choose the path in which we walk and how we choose to react to a situation or event in our lives. Who’s to say it’s right or wrong other than you, we all decide what’s right for us in that moment but if we are going away from who we truly are at some point we’ll call ourselves out on it.

Or we’ll fall too far to save ourselves and become confused with what is reality and what is a lie. We’ll no longer wear the mask but the mask will wear us. We will have become that person we were trying so desperately to be instead of the person that we are because we are either scared of ourselves or so insecure in our own skin that we feel we need to be someone else altogether. By now we are just rambling but the point is this, throughout our lives we will all do it at some point, whether to impress people or make ourselves feel better. The key is to not get lost or entrenched so deep in the lie that it starts to become your reality and something that is far from the truth.

Just so you are aware this is not a self-help blog or the beginnings of a best seller this is and always will be A Mind of Its Own, a blog that will tell you all about the things people don’t want to tell you. We’ll write about the hard stuff, the political stuff, the down right dirty stuff and yeah from time to time we’ll provide you with some advice. Whether you choose to take it on board is up to you. The things we write and the opinions expressed throughout these posts are ours and ours alone. We will always try to be fair and give a voice to both sides of the story in order to let you make your own mind up. That’s part of the reasoning why we started A Mind of Its Own, we wanted to give a voice to the people who don’t have one and the topics that people would prefer are swept under the rug and not discussed.

We are a little public service announcement that no one really wants but everyone really needs. Our readers come from all walks of life and all have their own stories to tell. So when it comes to self-help and wanting to better your life. Leave it to the psychologists and people who have been to university to take advice from when it comes to bettering yourself. As for diet and exercise advice we also recommend you take it from someone trained not the local instagram lady who looks good in active wear who stole her program from her trainer and is now selling it for likes on the world wide web. We might often be a cynical bunch over here but we say a lot in jest we just feel strongly that things should be left to the professionals when it comes to matters of mental health and health in general.

So we’ll leave you for yet another week and remind you that next week’s blog will flow on from this weeks as we dive a little deeper into the psychology behind freedom of choice and how modern life gives us way too much choice that we just can’t cope with due to our brains not being able to process all the information we provide it. But that’s a story for next week’s a mind of it’s own. For now we’ll leave you with some lyrics from Passenger and wish you all a great weekend. Look after yourselves and take it easy hombres. From all of us here we wish you all the best in your weekend endeavours and make sure that if you decide to misbehave make sure you do it well. Ok peace out…

“When I was a kid the things I did were hidden under the grid, Young and naive I never believed that love could be so well hid, With regret I’m willing to bet and say the older you get, It gets harder to forgive and harder to forget, It gets under your shirt like a dagger at work,The first cut is the deepest but the rest still flipping hurt,You build your heart of plastic,Get cynical and sarcastic And end up in the corner on your own. Cause I’d love to feel love but I can’t stand the rejection, I hide behind my jokes as a form of protection, I thought I was close but under further inspection, It seems I’ve been running in the wrong direction”. – Passenger – The Wrong Direction.

She Wants My Money…

Another week and another dollar into the taxman’s pocket. Speaking of tax it’s that time of year where we look at what the government took from our pays shudder a little, palm our faces and start a return in which they no longer make it easy for you to claim the minimum amounts back without receipts. And so the saying “you’ve got to spend money to make money” becomes true because if you want a good return you need to have some things you can claim back. The team here are just hoping to get a return and not a bill this year…

Speaking of taxes the world has gone a little mad lately with equality taxes in the business world. As always we’ll provide you with some examples and to be honest we are not for or against them but it did get the old rusty cogs in the noggin beginning to turn as we thought about the future ramifications that movements like this on the small businesses level could have and furthermore is it actually helping or just doing more damage to society and the future generations who will need to attempt to fix any damage that is done.

Where to start, well let’s just put it out there, we are all for equality and believe that everyone should be treated equal. It would certainly make the world a better place for everyone. So when we take matters into our own hands and decide that we are going to put in places taxes or rules against one portion of society it doesn’t make us any better than the group that was originally being suppressed and so the vicious cycle continues over and over never to be settled. Society just hasn’t learnt and perhaps it’s human nature for one group to rise up and hold another down.

A cafe in Melbourne recently started charging men more for their coffees in an attempt to bridge the wage gap between men and women. Whilst we don’t have an issue with this and are quite happy to be charged an extra 50 cents to a dollar as long as the coffee is good that is. You can start to see that there would be those who would have an issue with it and surprisingly it wasn’t just men who had an issue with it. Women were against this particularly when getting a coffee with there husband before work or during the day. The extra charge to there bill was unexpected and when explained to them it was essentially a “man tax” there were a few deeper conversations had about the total of their bill.

Another example was a festival company in the US who decided to charge white people more for their tickets. Essentially it was a white person tax. Several African American performers spoke out against this sighting it as “racist” and threatening to boycott the festival altogether unless they made ticket pricing the same and equal for everyone. Safe to say the event organisers are seriously looking at a change of heart around the “White Man Tax” but for the time being if you are white or have a white persons name you will have to pay an extra $100 dollars on top of the already expensive $300 ticket price for the two day festival. Again we question the sanity around this decision and why you would want to insight further divide the community.

Whilst we support movements, ideologies, religious views as long as they are not against gay marriage or the community and peoples opinions. As we’ve stated before though opinions are like arseholes everyone has one, some people two. Freedom of speech is encouraged, ranting on social media is encouraged, heck standing in the street holding a sign is even encouraged but what’s not encouraged is people thinking their opinion is more important and valuable than others. That’s not showing equality or being equal with your fellow human beings. It raises more questions than we actually have answers for at this point in time. What it is doing, is pitting women against women, man against man, same sex partners against same sex partners, communities against communities and so on and so forth.

As we scoured the internet for further information and articles on equality, gender pay gaps, racial equality, religious equality, hell any equality we could find we did come across several articles questioning whether we were going too far the other way. One article sighted that we are now being unequal towards stay at home mothers. Or women who leave the workforce to have children. Unfortunately women are still the only ones able to give birth and yet there is a stigma around women who are on benefits choosing to stay at home and look after the child or children. The stigma then tells us that those mothers then have further children to keep those benefits coming and often find skeezy men who hang on their coat tails for said benefits.

Now before anyone gets upset this all came from an article written by a woman, yes a woman and titled ‘Has Feminism Gone Too Far? Or Will We No longer have a place for Mothers in Society?’ by Olga Levancuka. While Feminism is the fight for women’s equal rights, the article questions whether this has backfired as much as it has in the last decade. To quote the article, the women in question are those who want to work, and don’t mind to be equal…but once they decide to have children, they just want to be a stay at home mum. Not the most respected respected task among the career minded professionals, or amidst the men who are tired of being the workhorse for the preservation of their offspring and expectations of their not so distant future where the kids fly the nest and they are left with neurotic, controlling women who have lost their positions of strength with the children gone.

Often what used to be considered caring rather than controlling is now directed at their husbands. Men, given that they have finances coming in, are still in control, often feel free and do divorce the women who fail to become anything else but mothers. Alas, their maternal services not only are no longer required, they are also suffocating to the male who wants to feel manly and respected. Instead their balls are constantly grinded and are blamed for related and unrelated misfortunes to the mother in question. As a result, many men or sons of such men, stay further and further away from the desire to marry. As for women? Women stay further and further away from the perspective of being married and with children.

Is there something, perhaps, the feminists or people fighting for women’s equal rights neglected? Perhaps the right to be a mother? Or is the situation worse for the women who want to be equal and have kids? In a sense that men no longer treat them with a required gentleness and only see them as a restricting harness for their future life? It is no longer a secret that the UK’s demographic would be in shatters just as Japan, Italy and other countries, if not for their high birth rate among their immigrant community. The majority of which are either on benefits or their women do not have as many rights? Or perhaps they are not even interested in equal rights, given they do just want to be a stay at home mums and they expect, yes expect for men to be a provider and always a provider.

Meanwhile more men use the excuse of feeling pressure that she just wants marriage and children, should they have a desire to break up. The article further sights that women are scared to be genuine about their motives in the relationship. It’s not they just need a male for love and a relationship. Biologically women are programmed to give birth. Though lately, it seems to be a punishable desire. While on one side, the campaign for women’s rights is flourishing, women, on the other side are drowning in confidence issues. If they don’t get married and have children by 38, the apparent age of desperation, has been pushed so much further, there must be something wrong with them.

Just while the feminists were fighting for equal rights, men had found an opportunity to fight for their freedom. Why commit when you can have your cake and eat it too? We reached out to the author of the article for a comment, she has yet to respond to the team but reading through some of the feedback on the post their was both positive and negative feedback from the majority of female respondents. Another article in the Irish Times published on international women’s day by yet another woman and titled ‘Feminism has become obsessed with victimhood’ the articles author goes on to speak about how Feminism has turned inward and she feels it is disempowering women because so much of it is speaking about what women can’t do as opposed to what they can do and what they have achieved over the past decade.

It seems that in the last decade the push for Gender equality has out shadowed and in some cases overtaken the push for equality in core areas of basic human rights. Religion still often shadows over gay rights. War crimes and atrocities shadow over the basic needs for food and water. And at the core of all of this we are still battling with each other equality but pushing one side of the equation down while the other rises up and takes the place of the oppressor rather than suppressed. But why?, Do we stop and question that at all? Do we stop and ask ourselves why we are trying to swing equality back the other way rather than wiping the slate and building a foundation on equal footing, together, men, women and children.

So when we look at adding taxes that single out one demographic of our community we are no better than those who have come before us and created inequality in the first place. It made the team scour the internet in the search for further evidence that it’s a need of people within society to create inequality. A thought provoking paper written in 2017 by three Yale scientists argued that is not inequality in life that really bothers us, but unfairness. According to the paper over 10,000 papers have been written around “inequality aversion”, people seemingly have a natural aversion to inequality and there are plenty of laboratory studies to back it up. In said laboratory studies when people are asked or subjects as they are often referred to in studies divide resources among unrelated individuals, they tend to divide them equally.

If a previous situation has led to a pre-existing inequality, people will divide future resources unequally in order to correct or minimise the inequality between others. It’s seen as a moral good when resources are divided equally and often express anger towards those who benefit from unequal distributors. Even studies done with children showed they would rather throw out additional items than have them distributed unequally amongst the other children even if the other children would never find out about the unequal distribution. So if kids and work out the whole equality thing why can’t adults and why can’t we bring the laboratory studies into real world application.

A recent study by Norton and Ariely received a lot of media attention that people underestimated both the amount of inequality in society and prefer a more egalitarian society to the one they think they live in. The summaries were accurate, all participants in these studies did prefer more equality than the current situation. The results also suggest that they were not particularly worried about large inequalities. Subjects claimed that in a perfect society, individuals in the top 20% should have three times as much wealth as individuals in the bottom 20%. When given a forced choice between equal and unequal distribution of wealth and told they would randomly be assigned from the richest to the poorest group, over half of the subjects explicitly rejected the option of equal distribution.

So the data would suggest that when it comes to real-world distributions of wealth, people have a preference for a certain amount of inequality. This preference materialised in a study conducted in 16 other countries across people from both the left and right sides of the political spectrum. So how do you go about reconciling the studies with the real world. One politician tried that by promising to close the wage gap altogether not just between men and women but between on all sectors and roles by bringing everyone down or put to around the $70K regardless of the role you perform or how many years you went to university to obtain a degree to doctors. We could just ensure that everyone doing the same job is paid the exact same regardless of age, sex, race, religion etc.

Perhaps in our generation we will never see true equal rights across around the globe nor will we see equal pay but we are working towards it and we are working at ensuring a brighter future for everyone but that will take everyone and if we are too busy squabbling rather than trying to help each other there is a certainty, we will never achieve any equality whether it be gender equality, wage equality, age equality, you name it we’ll not see it unless we work together. But until we can put the past aside we’ll continue to go around and around in the vicious circle we are currently caught in where one group rises and pushes another down so they feel what the other has almost like a vicious revenge.

So we’ll close the door on yet another chapter that certainly took on a mind of its own as we looked at taxes, implementation of taxes against certain groups within society and then went on to discuss equality or lack there of in our society and try to explain why it happens. Unfortunately we don’t think we accomplished anything we set out to do but hey it isn’t the first time and probably won’t be the last time. So as we bid you another farewell all we ask is that you be a decent human and as the kids say, you do you as it seems to be the thing to do lately for all people in this world. So without further adieu adios amigos until next week…

Who Are You Anyway?…

This week we let the editor-in-chief take the reigns and share a letter he wrote to himself in a drunken haze, while he had to do a lot of editing, rewriting and sometimes guessing as to what he had written we thought it would be a good idea to share it with you all as an example of when things go shit that you can often remind yourself that there is always a future out there that you control. Because when you are at rock bottom the only way is up and sometimes we just need the rope and harness thrown down to us so we can start pulling ourselves out of the hole, hand over hand. So without wasting anymore of your time we’ll handover the keyboard to the boss and allow him to hit Ctrl+V and paste the letter and allow you all to read, ponder and question like we did whether we should have him committed.

Dear Editor-In-Chief,

If you are reading this it’s for a good reason, you wrote this letter to remind yourself that despite how you are feeling right at this very moment in time, as your eyes move from line to line reading every word and taking it all in. Things will get better, they have to get better and you will heal, we all heal. It just takes times and time is something you have plenty of. Make the most of the days, weeks, months and years you have on this planet and continue to have no regrets. There’s a difference between doing something and paying it lip service but you have always known that. It’s ok to be sad and upset, it’s ok to be angry but most of all it’s ok to feel the way you do. It’s natural and it’s part of the process, they say you’ll go through all the emotions and maybe you will, maybe you won’t there will however be a process that you will go through. But remember this letter is to remind you that in time things will get better but before then you will have some choices to make. Some that are easy, some that will be hard but at the end of the day you are the one who gets to decide on them. As you’ve always said you make your decision and you stick by it.

 

Like an absentee voter on election day, you have been missing for the last couple of weeks. While your body fills the seat in which you sit typing this, your spirit and mind are nowhere to be seen. Like a lost cat of dog you may need lost & found posters stuck to every light pole in the area offering a reward for your soul and spirit to be found. They are truly missing and with them you have lost the rest of yourself. You are a walking husk that resembles a zombie more times than not lately. Sleep eludes you as you lay awake pondering the future, past and present. You’ve lost the ability to find joy in life and people are starting to notice. Your colleagues at work and friends question how much you are sleeping and what you are doing with yourself in your spare time. They worry about you as does your family. You’ve never been one to take things lightly and we know you’ll be assessing everything and questioning yourself and everything going forward in life.

You might feel that life sucks at the moment and your life is coming down around you. Those foundations you built and planned on expanding upon are cracking, splintering and starting to literally fall to pieces like some dodgy tradesman’s handiwork. What you forgot to remember was the one thing you’ve told yourself time and time again. No plan survives initial contact and what could possibly go wrong, will certainly go wrong. Life has a habit of throwing people curveballs and though you might not be able to see it in this point in time you aren’t the only person who is going through things at this point in time. That being said you have some decisions to start making and for that you will need the following things.

 

Firstly you’ll need a clear head so do yourself a favour and put down the bottle. Sit and ask yourself how much alcohol you have consumed since that fateful day in late April? How many hangovers have you had? Ask yourself how your body feels and whether it’s coping with all the poison that you continue to pour into it night after night alone in the dark attempting to numb the pain and loss you are feeling. Put on your big boy pants mate, pour the drink down the sink and start to take life by the proverbial balls, take it like a man, yeah wrong choice of words but you know what we mean. You need to take a breath and put your general wellbeing in front of your current need not to feel a goddamn thing. There is a lesson in all of this somewhere and once you clear your mind you’ll have a little bit more of an idea what that might be but until them the wheels will keep spinning in the haze of your mind.

The second thing you need to do is stop looking for answers and reasons as to why. All it is doing is causing your anxiety to sky rocket and your depression to drag you back towards to that dark pit. Having been there before you know it’s not a good place for you to be and you’ll just make things worse for yourself than better if you let this drag you down. You want answers we get that, but sometimes there are no answers and you know that better than most people. You can feel the pain and hurt that comes with each word spoken between you. The tears you’ve shed are only just the beginning of the rough road that you will need to walk over the next couple of months. There will be good days and bad days but firstly you need to stop looking for answers, they’ll come over time and at present there are no answers. There is no one to blame, there isn’t a single moment that lead to this, this is life and unfortunately it will surprise you from time to time.

 

Not having someone or something to blame can be hard but it gives you something a lot of people don’t get and that’s opportunity, an opportunity to still keep some form of friendship, some form of decorum between the two of you and most importantly a piece of your heart still intact. Having that piece of heart allows the memories of the good times to far outweigh the bad. But should you continue to search for answers your mind is always going to be second guessing everything and everyone throughout your life. You deserve happiness and to have everything you want in your life you just need reminding of that from time to time, reminding that at the end of the day you are both good people who deserve the best in life and to be truly happy. It takes courage to speak your truth, remember that as you forge through the fog that is currently your world.

Thirdly don’t close yourself off from everyone and everything, in times like these it’s easy to throw up walls to protect yourself. It’s also very easy to shut yourself off from the world and become a hermit. You though need human interaction, you will go crazy if you are left alone with your thoughts and feelings. We are not saying distract yourself and not think about things we are saying don’t become a hermit. Don’t become detached from all the things that make you who you are. Make you the person that started on this journey, the person you have always been, the person you will always be. You owe it to yourself to get one foot in front of the other and continue on in the world. It’ll be hard, it’ll be damn hard but what alternatives do you have?

Drink yourself into a black hole after working so hard to get yourself out of the pit, spiral out of control and watch your life to continue falling apart? Lose your job because you are two hungover to turn up to work. Your friends give up on you because you don’t want to help yourself and turn them all away as no one could possibly know the pain and hurt you are going through. All that self pity won’t be worth a damn when you are on your own and a full blown alcoholic who needs rehab but no one is willing to help push you there. The only person you have to blame is yourself, you had an opportunity to make a decision early on in the piece how you handled this. Hence this letter. You are better than that and that is exactly why you made yourself write this letter to remind you that no matter how bad things get there is always going to be some good come from the worst of pain and loss.

Chin up and straighten that upper lip soldier, cry when you need to cry and lean on your friends and family. You are not alone and things could always be worse than they currently are. This will pass and the pain will heal with time remember that and if you need a reminder read through this letter and remember all the good times. Until then you are loved and appreciated always remember that. Get back into a routine and get yourself back to the fit, fun, friendly person you know you are. It won’t make the pain go away but it will certainly help you as you’ll have something to focus on and a goal to work towards. Until then believe in yourself you are your own hero.

Your biggest fan and supporter.

You

When writing this the intent was to remind myself that no matter what the darkest days hold there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel. While friends and family will be there to provide support and love they can’t be the ones to push you to forge forward with life that is on you and upto you to pull yourself through the fog into the light. It’ll take time as does everything when you are healing or trying to get past something that has hurt and saddened you to the core. At the end of the day i know I will be fine and I’ll be able to move on with life but for now I’ll shed a tear or two knowing that a chapter has finished in my life and that I have no regrets. Some of the best memories in my life have been made over the past couple of years and I’ve met some amazing and uniquely wonderful people who all have a story of their own to tell.

We all go through tough times in our lives, times that test us and show us what we are truly made of and what it takes to come back from the darkest of pits the lowest of days and highest of highs. Life, it’s never a guarantee that everything will be ok or go the way you want it to, that’s the thing about life it will continue to test you to ensure you know you are alive and show you that you are stronger than you thought. It’s shown me through all the tears that I am stronger than I thought and that at some point i will be ok and I will get on with life but for now, I’ll take it day by day and get one foot in front of the other. After all it’s all i can do while I heal and mend the wounds.

Friends and family are there for me and I am thankful to each and every one of them that has reached out and shown me that I am not alone through this time. Even those who’s support i feel I don’t deserve have shown me that there is a goodness in everyone and that people move on with time and are able to get on with things that means that you can two. They say life is what you make and well you’ve got yet another chance to make something of yours and show the world who you truly are and what you are made of. Though life is hard in these days, never give up for your day will come. Anyone who is a Bliss n Eso fan will know that one and the song those lyrics are from is something of an inspiration as it With Friends like you.

Two songs that remind us to never give up and that we are our own heros and when you reach rock bottom you will bounce right back. Not to sound like a broken record but over time things will heal and change for the better. Like the title of this weeks blog the coming months will be telling in answering the question of “Who are you anyway?” we are no doubt about to learn a thing or two about ourselves and who we are and furthermore who we want to be when we come through the otherside of all of this. With all this advice I have given I hope some of it has sunken in and I’m not going to ignore myself but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done the old, do as I say not as I do speech.

In what was one of our more heartfelt posts for the year we are hoping that we’ve provided you with an example of what you two can do when things aren’t going well in your life. A simple letter can be a constant reminder through the dark times that things will eventually get better. It’s not always easy to remain positive when things are falling down around you but all you can do it try and believe in yourself. It’s all one can do to get through day by day. Until next week remember you too can get by with a little help from your friends and its more than ok to ask for help, heck we should all be asking for help more often. Unfortunately that thing called ego often stops us from reaching out in our moments of need. Park the ego and get on with it. Until next week believe in yourself you are your own hero…

Halcyon…

The Webster dictionary gives us several options as the meaning of the word Halcyon, but we’ll just go with Tranquil, Calm, Peaceful. All things that when you switch on the news seem to things within a pipedream. While there may be pockets of beauty that people would describe as tranquil we live in a world that is far from Halcyon. Most people would say there lives are quite peaceful but what about those that don’t know or ever feel they’ll have inner peace? What about those that suffer from mental health issue will they ever find their own Halcyon or at least a little peace of it that will allow them to have a day or days away from fighting the battle that rages day in day out with there own minds.

When we first started this blog and it’s aptly titled self we never envisioned that we’d actually write several pieces that were personal and a slight insight into the minds behind the publication. Reading back through pieces we can see why people would think that we are mad, or at least a little angry with the world. The world we’ve created for ourselves in a bigger world where all we can do is try our best and be who we are. Not who people want us to be, or believe we should be. Our editor-in-chief has spoken several times about his battle with Anxiety and Depression. About the ups and downs, the highs the lows and the times he’s had to crawl out of that pit and put himself back together like a giant lego set. He’s not alone in going through this there are millions of people around the globe suffering but this isn’t something we haven’t told you before.

What does all this have to do with the word Halcyon besides everything of course. Think of Halcyon as a place in your mind. Now take that image and ravage it with the worst mother nature has to offer. All that chaos and destruction of the tranquil, calm, peaceful place is now replaced with uncertainty and fear. The more information we absorb the further into pit we fall. The black surrounding you like a blanket enveloping your skin and swallowing you up, stretching tighter and tighter around you until you can’t breath. Yeah that’s why this week we’ve gone with Halcyon to point out that you can go from a peaceful existence to a world of chaos within seconds and find yourself at the lowest of lows, you find yourself at Rock Bottom.

So what happens when you hit rock bottom and have to build yourself up again brick by brick. Do you have people you could rely on if this was to happen to you? Have you ever stopped and asked yourself what if? In today’s new age society we have plenty of life coaches that will tell you that you can’t think about the what if’s or have regrets because they’ll hold you back from obtaining growing, achieving and obtaining those future goals. But what if all those people are wrong and it’s not a bad thing to have what ifs and plan for the them. There is no reason you can’t have a future in which you protect yourself against a little pain and angst. Prior planning or preparation, prevents pisspoor preformances. The five P’s used by so many successful people around the world. That’s why people with Anxiety will often fall in a heap if something happens they hadn’t planned for or wasn’t part of their plan. They like to have routine and more importantly a sense of control.

Back to Rock bottom we aren’t talking about trying to prepare yourself for the worst but more so having some safety nets to fall into when the rug is ripped out from under you and your falling through the that floor towards the pit of despair. Because let’s be honest at some point in life we are all thrown a curveball or two that come out of absolutely nowhere and there is nothing we can do about it except stand there and swing. Swing with all we’ve got in the hopes of connecting and knocking it out of the park. There are those people that can bend and not break but for most of us that is not the case. Most of us break when thrown that curveball or proverbial rug is pulled out from under us. As we drift down through the blackness waiting for our bodies to slam into the bottom of the pit that for some people becomes bottomless, swallowing them whole, we are allowed more and more time to think. Time to reflect and this is where the what ifs come into play. By the time you reach the bottom your focus has turned to how in the hell are you going to dig yourself out.

Last time we check shovels and rope didn’t come at the bottom of a bottle but many a person turns to the bottle, while some people need heavier building equipment and find themselves nose deep in Columbia’s finest or Afghanistan’s brown being sunk into any vein they can find. The effects of drugs and alcohol on people’s inhibitions have long been documented throughout history. Hell the CIA and Army used LSD on soldiers during experiments and it was said to open their minds and mouths to things many had blocked out or forgotten. So it’s no wonder that a little dutch courage can have the tightest lipped people talking about their deepest darkest secrets and fears. Give them something a little stronger and they’ll tell you their unedited story word for word to the point your ears start bleeding. Every little nitty, gritty detail will come out, including things you didn’t need to know.

What does this have to do with the pit of despair and climbing your way back out or building yourself back up again. Well we are glad you asked because like always we have little insight and some advice we can provide. Like a shaken up bottle of soft drink it’s not going to spill over until you crack that lid open. Well to a lot of people wallowing at rock bottom in their pit of despair, drugs and alcohol are like those gimmicks people buy of those ridiculous TV advertisements to help them open tight lids on jars. They can often just have a placebo effect, in other cases they can actually work and crack the lid on all those thoughts and feelings that have been pent up well before but also during they time fell through the floor into the pit. Like Mount Etna erupting or that bottle of soft drink you’ve spent the last half an hour shaking. That pressure release can often feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders. As everything spews forth onto the ground around you or the people around you.

Too often though that need to be able to talk and get things out, before it spirals out of control, leads a lot of people become dependant on the bottle, bag or whatever crutch they are leaning on to help them through the dark times. But once we’ve pulled ourselves from the pit and put ourselves into some serviable order it will only hold us back from putting the final pieces of our puzzle back into place to create a new or continue our way forward in life. Whilst everyone will tell you that everything is going to be ok on your way down and then on the way back up their is a period where you gaze up from the blackness and wonder if it truly will be ok. That’s before you stub your toes on those bricks and either start to build yourself back up, decide to solidify your foundation or just build a little hut to wallow in all your self pity like a human hermit crab.

Whatever you chose to do know that rock bottom is a place that we can all come back from, the bottom of that pit allows us a solid base to build upon time and time again until we become that person we truly are or the best version of ourselves. You can learn a lot about yourself, about the true you in the dark recesses of that pit. You can learn about the person you want to be, ought to be and truly are. Out of despair, sadness and pain heroes are often born and as we’ve learnt from history, if you just believe in yourself you are your own hero. We have the unique ability to be able to rebuild ourselves time and time again in any shape and form we chose that best suits our needs.

Lean on those around you, do what you need to do but remember no matter how black the pit there is always a light at the end that we can climb towards either on our own of with the help of friends and family. Look after your mind, body and soul, you’ll need them in the weeks and months to come, they’ll be your greatest asset in the rebuilding and climbing phases you will go through. Times will be tough there is no deny that but you got this far so hang in there a little while longer and you’ll make your way out of the pit, hand over hand, foot by foot, inch by inch. You can find strength you never knew you had in the strangest of places. To quote Ayn Rand, for those of you who don’t know who she was, she was ahead of her time and a brilliant author. Pick up a copy of Atlas Shrugged it’s a great read and a classic.

“Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark in the hopeless swamps of the not-quite, the not-yet, and the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish in lonely frustration for the life you deserved and have never been able to reach. The world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”

― Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

At Rock Bottom we have nowhere else to go, we have no other options but to either give up and as Ayn said let our our fire go out or to spark and ensure our hero doesn’t perish. As we close yet another albeit brief chapter of A Mind of Its Own we are reminded that life will throw you the unexpected, no matter how much you plan or prepare for it things will happen, they will creep up on you and they will hurt you. How you bounce back from it though is in your hands, you hold the power, not that black pit you find yourself in. Until next week, when you find yourself at rock bottom there is always options and always people you can lean on to help you climb. Adios Amigos!

Nine In The Afternoon…

Welcome back to another week, you know that means another blog as we continue to roll out the hits this year. Which mind you seems to be flying by like a seagull hunting stray chips down on the beach as you enjoy some good old fish and chips for lunch. Last week we geeked it up hardcore and played some video games while we wrote in order to pump out a piece about the potential downfall of civilisation as we know it through the release of a super virus created to control population growth. For those of you who are joining us for the first time welcome to a mind of its own, the blog that truly does take on its name and literally takes on a mind of its own each and every week. Not even the team that put together these well choreographed pieces of literary genius know how it’s going to turn out each week. That’s the fun thing about it, anything can happen and at the end of the day you still know it’s going to be good! Expected the unexpected!

So what tale of woe or rainbow of happiness are we bringing you this week, well to answer that you need to read on! See what we did there, marketing one oh one we baited the hook, dangled the carrot and now we just need to reel you in for the rest of the blog.But what to write? It’s hard coming up with good content week in week out and ensuring our readers are happy with what’s been put out into the ether better known as the internet. You know it’s funny, kids growing up these days have the internet and mobile devices readily available but back in our day and we honestly never thought we’d be saying that so soon in life we didn’t have any of this. Internet was dial-up and we can still hear that iconic sound of it dialing up and waiting for a connection. The first phone we had was a Nokia brick, most likely a 5110 before we got a cool upgrade to the 3310 and the also iconic game of snake… Remember snake what a great game that was, you literally grew and had to avoid your own body to get the apple or something. All your phone did was call and text, oh and play snake but that was it! Ah to a simpler time! These days kids have got their Facebook, instagram, twitter, foursquare, Bebo, MySpace, zoom and whatever bloody else social media on top of games and streaming services all in the palms of their sticky little hands.

Remember when you had to actually pick up the phone, the home phone? Does anyone have those these days other than the octogenarian we call grandparents? Remember board games like Risk, Monopoly, The Game of Life, Snakes and Ladders, Mousetrap, Scrabble and Squatter? Oh squatter was an Australian board game where you battled it out to become the next sheep farming magnate. We’ve were damn good too, couldn’t farm to save our lives but could board game farm like a baron. Fork we loved board games and cards, whatever happened to card games other than sitting back at the casino watching your hard-earned money go down the proverbial drain as you try to get blackjack or 21 whatever its called. Technology has changed literally every piece of our lives. There is an app these days that tells you the optimum times for your body to do a number two and it’ll even set you a reminder to go and void your bowel. There are sleep timers and water intake timers, we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if there were timers for your timers. What would we do without it?

We’d probably go back to playing cards, board games, being outside and using our imaginations a lot more than sitting in front of a screen and dreaming of a brighter future. We might actually talk to one another instead of texting or instant messaging from across the room. Heck dating would go from swiping right to the good old days of courting. Wouldn’t that be a shock to today’s Tinder generation all looking for love or a one night stand within and application. They’d actually have to walk up to someone and say hello only to risk getting cooties or worse yet an actual face to face rejection. Technology ladies and gentleman is helping us to breed, lazy, like-minded, weak individuals who have no manners and expect everything handed to them on a silver platter. The verdict is still out as to whether they are actually smarter given they have information literally in the palm of their hands. That doesn’t stop them from being soft, hell we no longer create winners and losers we create tryers. Good job kids everyone gets a participation award and it’s not just the kids we hand them out to people who complete a marathon and fun run regardless of whether they come first on a world record time or 5 hours later as everyone is packing up to go home and thinking they are done handing out the silly participation awards.

So we guess this week’s blog will just be a jumble of things going on in the world that we can have a rant about. Perhaps it could be a weekly part of the blog… Rants off Fridays? What do you reckon? We could include something from our fans each week they want us to rant about. We just won’t rant about Anti-Vaxxing, Crystals, Herbal Tea and Oils as we’d have a lot of enemies from Byron Bay all the way to Tweed City. Might not be a bad thing now that we think about, it could give the team something to write about and respond to each week. The crazy cracks from Byron Backpackers proudly brought to you by A Mind of Its Own. Maybe we should go into marketing and jingles while we are at it? “Do you want your children to be just like Australian musician Ben Lee and Catch my disease? Well ladies and gents have we got the solution for you! Don’t vaccinate!!! It’s that simple! That includes your pets because we’ve all seen and autistic dog or two around the traps and no one wants an autistic dog”

And the budget what’s up with that? Little to no money put aside for discovering that the earth is flat or the environment in general? When will the politicians learn there is no Planet B! We have one earth and that’s it, we need to look after it for the generations to come so they have something to look at. Not just barren landscape filled with concrete jungles and no wildlife. Speaking of politicians we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t at the moment and heading into an election it’s not a great place to be. It’s like an episode of Noddy and Big ears with Scomo and Shorto running around being schoolyard bullies trading blows in an attempt to win the class presidency, neither of them has the people’s best wishes at heart. It’s just a big popularity contest to them at present and the little sheep that are the rest of Australian parliament are just bahing along behind them spending taxpayer dollars on supposed business jaunts until someone calls them out in an attempt to cover the fact they aren’t even a citizen of the country. We’ve seen kindergarten children organise the playground better than our so-called adults on the hill could organise a luncheon down at the press club.

In some ways this blog is aptly titled there are never enough hours in the day lately making a lack of work/life balance it’s no wonder the world is resorting to dating on the internet and monogamy is a dying art along with chivalry and just being a decent human being. But it does sometimes feel like nine in the afternoon. Which leads us to our next point, Forking Brunei and there backwards thinking, we wouldn’t be surprised if they pulled up the old dial-up internet, armed their soldiers with muskets, swords and cannons, banned the mobile phone and installed a gramophone in every household. We live in the 21st century for crying out loud. Stop oppressing the LGBT plus whatever the other letter are, community! (Sorry you guys need to make it easier there are way too many letters to remember) Macklemore said it best in his 2013 hit ‘Same Love’, “Our culture founded from oppression, Yeah we don’t have acceptance for’em”. Culture it’s so ingrained in us that we still feel, we need to follow the directions of books written centuries ago. The bible, the Koran we have a theory here at a mind of it’s own that we’ll go into after we are done with the Sultan of Brunei who apparently is such a staunch muslim that he needs to implement a strict sharia law that could involve the stoning to death of people involved in sex, that’s another thing sex, is sex people, whether you are gay, straight, black, blue, brown, purple, or whatever! Sex is sex!

Several celebrities have spoken out and even gone to the point of boycotting several hotels in the states that are owned by the Brunei royal family. Why does religion not just those that follow christ but also, muslim and several other religions paraphrase a book written centuries ago when man oppressed woman on a level that is still seen in some third world countries and strict religious regions. The bible has several references to homosexuality between gods disciples so why do we feel the need to condemn, judge, oppress and punish those who find the love with the same-sex. Same love people, love is love and in the 21st century the LGBT plus other letters community (Again sorry guys, girls and non-binary friends we’ll get it right one day) has gone through a lot of hurt and pain to get to where they are today. Still not a perfect situation but more acceptance than there was and yet so many of the community still be oppressed, repressed, suppressed. It’s not good enough and Brunei is just taking it all back to the dark days of burning witches at the stake, hunting vampires and living in the dark. Welcome to the real world, people are gay, get over it and move on! We should all be free to choose who we, what we do and who we do.

Now on religion in a topic in which we are sure to cope some outrage porn and no doubt abuse but come one we can’t be the first people to think what we are about to discuss. It’s no secret that the team are a bunch of geeks who love all things video games, comics, graphic novels and the weird wonderful world of collectables we what if Stan Lee and the guys who kicked off Marvel, DC, Valiant all the originals in the comic world weren’t the first to tell stories and tales of people with extraordinary powers, super strength, super sight, the ability to glide on a carpet of ice, extraordinary healing powers. In fact if you look at the bible one could make comparisons to several modern-day superheroes. That being said were religious books such as the bible and Koran the comic books of their time? Filled with tall tales of coming back from the death, fighting of giants, parting or seas. It has us wondering whether or not the bible is more comic book than religious reference book to live life by.

You don’t see us running around in red slicing and dicing people who do wrong thinking we need to be more like Deadpool because we read comics but that doesn’t stop religious nuts telling us we are going to burn in hell for our blasphemy, lack of faith and love and support of the gay community. Even the devil could be a comic book character with his fire, brimstone and horns in fact one comic book artist went as far as turning the sun of satan into a hero in the widely successful Hellboy series. So maybe the team are on to something! Maybe whoever wrote the bible and the Koran, was probably the same person which would turn out to be quite hilarious and a waste of a lives in the past as we fought wars over religion, land and wealth. Perhaps they were just the storytellers of their time after all comics are just stories with pictures not to be confused with picture books but often they do crossover these days as comic artist will write and draw for the junior crew.

Like the name of the blog this week we really have taken on a mind of our own from, reminiscing about the good old days when technology in the household was a minimum, kids had motivation to become exceptional and played outside whenever they could. Through to the bible and Koran being comic books of their day before someone decided organised religion was a good thing. In between we took a stab at the Sultan of Brunei and his ancient laws which gave us a Segway into the religious comic book spiel but we were appalled and a little shocked that in today’s society death for being gay would be introduced and not a quick death either a stone age stoning. Again it’s an interpretation of an ancient text that has been paraphrased and there are those that read way too far into the texts hence why we now have what is termed as radical Islam or muslim extremists who like all things are spoiling it for the faithful who wish to go about their lives in peace living among those who don’t believe in Allah. In some regards there is no such things as freedom of choice as someone will always find fault and or a problem with your choice or decision.

When we started at 3pm this afternoon the cursor blinked at us as a reminder that we haven’t put pen to paper for the week and entered the hearts and minds of the faithful fans. So you’ve ended up with the dribble above. Like an inebriated, wall less army we’ve spewed forth the verbal diarrhea that was on our minds and for once just written without little to no plan of that the hell we were going to talk about. And this it what you got a little rant here and there but no specific topic or theme, we guess that religion took center stage as it seems to seems to be dominating headlines week in week out. From dodgy cardinals to harsh sharia laws they can’t seem to win a trick with the hand they dealt for themselves. So we’ve learnt two things this week. Firstly we can write without having a topic in mind and or researched and secondly that we aren’t massive fans of organised religion it reminds us a little of a cult and the science just isn’t there for us for a lot of what is written to have happened or to be true. But as we say every week and like our anti-vax friends each to their own.

Until next week friends, family, fair weather fans and heavily tattoo prison inmates who have decided to fly the flag for us in the hope we’ll lend an ear to the plight that is prison. No i wouldn’t want a bed, toilet and three square meals a day. Come on guys you’ve got it better than the homeless on the streets. That being said we wish you a fond farewell and hope you have a great week, remember these sage words. Only invest what you are prepared to lose. That goes for everything in life! Be good to your mother and we’ll grace your screens once again next week Ciao! Yep Italian this week folks!

With Friends like you, Who needs Friends…

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, there’s toys in every store if you head to the toy section all year round not just at christmas and if we go to the butcher we can guaranteed unless you are going to play with your Christmas Ham they aren’t going to have toys so the song is doing a little false advertising but that’s ok. Like Easter though as soon as one major event is over it’s time to roll out the next. In this case most shopping centres have been rolling out their christmas decorations since October. Christmas tunes are blasting our years as of November and come the start of December there is no escaping the fact that Christmas is well and truly upon us, followed very closely by new years and then before you know it Australia (Invasion) Day. After Australia/invasion Day you can finally relax and enjoy some down time until easter but you will start to see easter eggs as of the 27th of January.

We’ve lit the candles on another cake and started the macarena in order to celebrate in style. The padlock has come off the drinks fridge and someone has said it’s time to party like it’s nineteen ninety nine. Does that mean we should all hide and worry about the Y2K bug or channel our inner Prince throw on our best purple velvet suit and rock out? Who knows but for the team here it’s GO time and time to celebrate all the good things that came with the year. Time to let the hair down and time to throw the rule book out the window along with all our cares in the world. So tip your head back, throw back a drink or two and settle in with us to celebrate. By the way the title has nothing to do with the Blog as per usual and we are still waiting for someone to tell us what they all have in common…

So with the year creeping rapidly towards a close and A Mind of Its Own reaching yet another major milestone with this post. We thought why not look back on the best of the blog through 2018. With the half century now posted on the scoreboard we are waving our bat and saluting the crowd unlike the Australian cricket team who are still suffering from the ball tampering incident earlier in the year and are coping it from the Indian’s currently tourning. As we salute the stadium and our fans (that’s you guys) from being such good sports and being so patient with us throughout the year. We thank you for providing us with some great feedback, your continued support and your viewership on a weekly basis. Without you guys this blog wouldn’t work and we certainly wouldn’t have managed to write about some of the more stranger topics that we have covered over the year like Trump’s Space Force which we are still super excited about if it ever grows legs. It’ll be the best thing he’s done since the apprentice.

We also wouldn’t have entered contests like shit blog weekly and dunny readers anonymous or the Australian Blog awards. Saving that last one for our 2019 debut into the blogosphere. Truth be told we’ve loved every minute and every edition on of A Mind of Its Own in 2019. We’ve grown the family and added two office dogs who do very little to contribute other than tearing up the cease and desist letters we fail to receive on a weekly basis as our mail clerks seem to spend more time chewing them, than reading them. In some ways we are lucky that we are a totally digital platform otherwise I can guarantee a lot of these blogs wouldn’t have made it to print with those to furballs.

In what was a big year we managed to make a mockery of the Commonwealth Games, attack the plastic fantastics on the Gold Coast on more than one occasion, Harass Trump on several occasions, find the infamous owl statue in Canberra that looks more like a penis, no we are not joking about that just google owl+penis statue+Canberra and laugh continually at the bosses run of misfortune when it came to travelling for the job that keeps the doors open to this fine establishment. The writing was superfluous, we handed over the reigns on more than one occasion and even let the office pooches have there say or two. We put ourselves at the edge of our comfort zones and pushed our bodies to the limit to give you what we call life in a nutshell. There were diets and fads, gym sessions and drinking, fashion and travel. There wasn’t a topic too big or too small that couldn’t take on A Mind of Its Own…

From bumper stickers to ball tampering we covered it all and gave it that special twist that you’ve come to love and respect from the team. There have been heartfelt moments, tears, more than a few tantrums and on the odd occasion a little blood in our endeavour to bring a voice to the topics our fans want covered. A lot pain goes into finding things that people don’t want to talk about. We are raw, open and honest with our thoughts, feelings and often criticism as we poke fun and holes in things throughout each blog. Inspiration has been found through various different mediums whether it be an event, a situation or a person, something has inspired us to write the 49 blogs that have come before this one and the however many that will certainly follow. The team are not done yet unravelling the mysteries of the world around us. With a new year there will certainly be a whole heap of new topics coping our no holds bar approach.

So what did we cover over the year? We started out with Music and discussing everyone’s theme songs before moving onto Arsegate The Commonwealth Games greatest shame, the bunnings sandpaper bonanza, a look at Australia’s most favourite and endeared bird that should replace the emu on the coat of arms. We touched on questionable tattoos, athletes decisions, man’s need to fuck things up. There wasn’t a topic that didn’t make it to the drawing board in the office before some bright spark in legal told us it was a big no, no to write about that or unethical, in fact the works politically correct were used on more than one occasion forcing us to stop, look and listen like we were crossing a mental road. We continue to advocate that it is ok to talk about mental health issues particularly if you are a man and we even reviewed a video game or two.

We’ve renewed our free subscription to Google in order to search for any information we don’t have on hardfile or can’t get off the streets or our trusty informants who continually drop knowledge bombs like red spots specials at your local supermarket. We are also entering into the PodCast arena with a sweet little doozy that will be called ‘Blankety, Blank, Blank powered by A Mind of Its Own’ Your favourite blog gets a real voice unfortunately both James Earl Jones and Morgan Freeman were way too expensive and also unavailable so you’ll be stuck with the not so dulcet tones of the boss as he nasals his way through a different topic each week with hopefully some special guests and hosts otherwise it may not be a long living podcast that you will all grow tired of fairly quickly.

From year to year we’ve set goals, this year was all about discovering our style and setting up a fan base. In the new year we’ll set some big goals and like Buddy Franklin wheel around to our left and let fly from fifty through the middle. Why will we achieve our goals? That’s simple because of the people that read this blog week in week out. It’s you guys that make this blog, it’s you guys that we’ll continue to write for and continue to work hard at bringing you the topics that really matter both home and abroad. So with our 50th blog we thank each and everyone of you for taking the time to read our weekly post. Our fans are our biggest source of inspiration.

Without further adieu happy 50th blog post to us, at the beginning of the year had someone asked us if we’d write almost a post a week we probably would have said NO, but it’s become a religious thing for us by which we feel extremely bad if we haven’t posted for the week. We have some amazing fans who continually leave us comments on the website or for those that know the writers and personally comment to them about one of the posts or a specific line. Again we thank all of the fans from the casual readers to the die hard never miss a post fans.

To the next milestone we are thinking we’ll do it in quarters but who knows we might just let you all know once we’ve cracked the ton and can wave the bat around for the second time proudly knowing we’ve achieved another major milestone. But like they say you have to celebrate the wins no matter how big so we’ll celebrate when we can. In the office we’ve cracked open a nice bottle of scotch shared a dram or two and stumbled out to celebrate with friends and family. Or in some cases on our own or with the office hounds.

Until next week and another new post we bid you farewell and hope you’ve cracked a can or two in our honor. If you don’t read next week blogs we wish you a Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate this time of year. It’s a time for family and friends. And as a side note we don’t condone drinking, we do condone celebrating, enjoying yourselves, having fun and by all means being safe! As long as it’s in moderation! Adios Amigos!