“What show from your childhood would you love to bring back?”

This one is an easy question for me, and only has one answer.

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My all-time favourite kids show.  I’d love it if they bought it back.  I remember watching it when I was little – I used to call the show “Chucky”.  It wasn’t until I was about ten I realized it actually had a different name.  I remember when my sister was a toddler, mum wouldn’t let me watch it “because it’s making your sister talk funny” (not true, as it turned out to be an actual speech issue and she had to go to a speech pathologist for it.  Despite that, the ban still stayed for quite a long time).  I love all the characters and that in some way, they’re all relatable.  I adore the movies.  I even really enjoy the “All Grown Up” series, although nothing beats the original.  They just don’t make shows like this any more!  My favourite character is definitely Tommy (like most people!) but I also love the adult characters like Betty and Stu, who seem to become so much more relatable now I’m grown up too.  Let’s be honest, despite the weird hairdos and horrendous lack of parental supervision, we all secretly wanted to be part of this family!

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This prompt, and many more, can be found here.

Time to Change – Day Forty-Six

Today was a day I think I’d rather forget.  I slept badly the night before, had to wake up early to head into training in the city, ran out of time to eat breakfast, got onto the bus to find my Myki card wasn’t scanning (a problem that had been happening on and off more frequently for the past few weeks), so had to line up at the service desk at the station to get it swapped over.  I missed my train while waiting in the line.  In my haste to catch the next train (after waiting almost ten minutes for the card swap to happen) I forgot to tap on, only realizing this after I’d gotten on the train.  Great, I cursed.  Nothing I could do about it.  I got off, tried to get out of the station but it wouldn’t let me because I didn’t tap on (gahhhh) so the customer service rep had to let me out…and I walked straight into a bunch of Authorised Officers (aka Myki Police) who quickly established I didn’t tap on.  I tried to explain what happened but they didn’t believe me – or I guess, didn’t care – so I copped an on the spot fine of $75 and was delayed even further.

I raced to the building where training was, cursing the awful morning I’d had.  I was supposed to be there at 8.45am for a 9am start…I landed in my seat at 9am on the dot.  I hate running late, it makes me feel flustered and disorganised.  Add that to the annoyance and frustration of the public transport dramas and I wasn’t feeling particularly positive.  Plus I was hungry but didn’t have time to eat.

Trying to force all that out of my mind, I attempted to enjoy the training.  The morning was bearable but I wouldn’t say completely enjoyable, though the guy running it was pretty cool and it was nice to get to know some more of the people I’d be working with soon.  By the time lunchtime rolled around, I was starving, and happily ate the healthy food I’d packed – saltanas, an apple and light n crispy shapes.  This filled me up more than I expected, and I felt good that even if the rest of my day was terrible, at least I could say I ate well.

The afternoon training was more interesting, learning about all the new technologies the new store will be decked out with.  Very excited to see them in action!   Despite the interesting topic, a headache had inevitably started, as it usually does when I’m cooped up in a room all day.  I took painkillers, finished the last of my water and counted down until afternoon tea break.  When that finally came, I raced downstairs to the convenience store, bought more water and a couple of chocolate bars and some more painkillers.  I drank half a bottle of water and downed the chocolate and started to feel a bit better.  I don’t know what it is about training, but I always feel awful by the afternoon.  I guess I struggle to focus for that long, and a sugar hit seems to help.  It made me a little frustrated that I ruined a good diet day, but I’d rather that than risk the headache turning into a migraine.

After training finished for the day, I met up with one of close friends who I hadn’t seen in awhile.  It was good to see him again.  We went to get dinner.  We took awhile to find somewhere because he’s very into health food and I’m a fussy eater, but we wound up at Spudbar, where we both found stuff we liked.  I wound up getting a roast potato stuffed with cheese, shredded cabbage, corn and garlic butter.  While not 100% healthy (especially the butter part), it had a lot of cabbage and corn, so it was definitely one of the healthier options we could have eaten in the food court.  I wasn’t sure I’d like it (I’m always a little apprehensive about things like cabbage) but I really enjoyed it, and I feel good that apart from the chocolate hit and the garlic butter, I had a really good food day.

By the time I’d said goodbye to my friend, it was 7pm.  I headed down to the station (making sure it tap on, I wasn’t going to make that mistake again!) and waited for my train.  It was a long trip home, with it getting darker and darker.  By the time the train arrived at my station, the streetlights were on.  By the time my bus had arrived, it was completely dark and on top of that, raining.  Seems like an appropriate end to an overall shitty day, I thought to myself as I got off the bus at my stop, hunched over as the rain fell.  I walked as fast as I dared, but I have a tendency of being gravity-challenged (I slip over a lot and am quite uncoordinated) I didn’t want to risk running home.

By the time I stepped through my front door, it was 8.30pm, I was wet, tired and worn out.  I’d managed over 8500 steps (one of my highest days so far!) so I felt pretty good about that, if nothing else.

Tomorrow I have to do it all over again.  At least I feel like I’ve gotten my bad luck out of the way.  My Myki card is new and working properly so I won’t have to worry about missing the first train, not tapping on and I know I won’t get another fine.  I also know by not missing the first train tomorrow, I won’t be so late and flustered.  I’m going to try to allow myself time to eat breakfast tomorrow as well, to make doubly sure my day starts off on the right foot, and I’m going to pack lunch again as that worked well today.  I’m getting my Lite N Easy order delivered tomorrow, so I’ll also be able to have a good dinner waiting for me when I get home!

Hope your day went better than mine did 🙂

Showdown at Big Sky

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Showdown at Big Sky.”
How do you handle conflict? Boldly and directly? Or, do you prefer a more subtle approach?

I hate conflict.  Like, it actually makes me extremely uncomfortable to the point it can leave me feeling physically sick.  It’s almost like I’m allergic to it.  I don’t know when that reaction started happening…I don’t remember it being there as a kid.  I also don’t know where it stems from, though I suppose my years in retail haven’t helped the issue.

In terms of how I handle it, I guess it depends on the situation.  If it’s between friends, for instance, I am all about subtly and talking it out.  I guess I’m bold in that I’m usually the first one to openly address the problem, but I won’t do it in a confrontational way, even if I’m angry or upset about it.  I know most people tend to shut down when you approach them that way, and the last thing I want is to lose one of the few good friends I have left over something that, even at the time, I can usually appreciate is small and probably trivial.

When I was in management at my old job, I handled confrontation differently.  I wasn’t afraid to tell angry, abusive customers where the door was, and that they are out of line speaking to staff in that manner.  I was never comfortable in those situations, but it was part of the job, and I learnt pretty quickly that subtly doesn’t usually work as they think they’re winning and getting their way.  My worst confrontation happened about six months or so prior to me leaving the job.  It was a flat out Saturday, all the staff were exhausted and run off their feet, and an older lady (not elderly, but not young either) came in, carrying on about her bill and the wait time to get served.  Basically, just being a real sour puss.  One of the girls served her and tried to explain the situation but the lady wouldn’t listen; she’d overtalk and argue and basically was being a rude cow, intentionally drawing attention to herself by speaking loudly and looking around the shop at all the people patiently waiting to be served.  This went on for a long time, I think maybe half an hour.  That’s a long time to put up with someone’s rudeness, even in retail.  Eventually the girl couldn’t handle it any more and excused herself to take five minutes out the back and cool off before she lost it at her customer.  Anyway, I was serving a different customer but I’d been keeping tabs on the rude bitch since she came in (that’s what managers in telco have to do in case it suddenly escalates).  My store manager was also on the floor, serving customers, listening to everything.

The rude bitch decides she’s had enough and gets up and marches over to the store manager, demanding he help her at once.  At this stage he’s at the register and there’s at least five people waiting, and her issue was one we actually couldn’t fix in store (the girl who was serving her tried to explain that many times).  Anyway, the store manager tells her in no uncertain terms that she is to sit back down and wait, and he’ll be over when he can.  He wasn’t rude about it, though he was blunt.  She wasn’t happy about this at all, and decides she wants to speak to the original consultant right then and there.  She marches over to the door leading into our back room and slams her fists against it so hard I thought she was going to punch through it.  I was standing right next to her (literally about 30 centimetres away) and I lost it.  I’d been getting pretty angry at her from the moment she’d come into the store, though I’d kept it inside as she wasn’t my customer, but I couldn’t handle it any more.  I completely forgot I was halfway through serving a customer.  I whirled around, screamed at her “EXCUSE ME, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”
The lady took a second to realize that the yelling was actually directed at her, and from a member of staff no less (I have a feeling she didn’t even notice I was standing there).  She looked up at me, anger dancing in her eyes, but also a little bit of fear.  I’ll bet she wasn’t expecting anyone to stand up to her.  “I want to speak to the girl again.” She spat.
“SHE’S OUT THE BACK CRYING FROM THE WAY YOU TREATED HER.  YOU WON’T BE SPEAKING TO HER AGAIN.  NOW GO AND SIT DOWN LIKE THE MANAGER TOLD YOU TO OR GET OUT.”

I’d never raised my voice to anyone in public like that before in my life, let alone a customer.  I was seething.  She was rude, aggressive and wasn’t willing to listen.  The whole shop – which was still packed with customers – had gone dead silent the moment the old bitch started trying to break down the door.  I guess she’d only just noticed because suddenly, she looked around, embarrassment slowly overtaking her anger.  She slunk back to her seat, sat there for about ten seconds, then got up and left.

The customer I was midway through serving was so nice.  “Are you okay?” she asked.  “If you need to take a break, I’ll wait for someone else to serve me.  I worked in retail for awhile, I totally understand how that must have felt.  People just have no respect or manners any more.”

I assured her I was okay (a giant lie) and finished serving her, before going out the back.  Three staff members (including the girl who’d been serving the bitch) couldn’t stop talking about what happened and how brave I was and how it took them a minute to even work out it was me yelling because they’d never heard me do that before.  I felt physically sick.  I sat down, hunched over, my stomach in severe pain.  I don’t know why the yelling caused that reaction, but God did it hurt.  It took a good twenty minutes for it to start subsiding.  I was the hero of the store for the day, but I felt rotten for it.

This is why I’m kind of glad I’m not in management right now.  I mean, I enjoy leading the team and organising events and whatnot, but having to be the one to resolve conflict and disputes…it’s tough for someone who can’t handle fighting or aggression.  I’ve definitely gotten mentally stronger since I started in telco all those years ago (the first few times I got yelled at, I started crying), but the trade off is physical pain instead of mental.  Why can’t everyone just be nice to one another?  It’d make my life so much less complicated!

My Top 5 Movies of All Time

My Top 5 Movies are:

The Shawshank Redemption
This movie was introduced to me as part of my Year 12 Media curriculum.  I’d heard it mentioned in all the “Top 100 films” countdowns, but I didn’t understand how a prison movie could possibly make its way to the top of each countdown.  Then I watched it, and was blown away.  I love the storyline and how it keeps the audience guessing.  I love the characters and how different they all are.  I love how it’s not a romance movie, but you don’t even notice that it’s missing.  I love the actors, I think they do a phenomenal job.  Everything about the film is timeless and awesome and so well done.  I could watch this anywhere at any time and get just as much enjoyment out of it that I did the first time.

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Titanic
This movie has been my favourite since I was about ten.  Leo was my first celeb crush, I watched the movie so many times I knew it word for word (and probably still do).  The film inspired me to learn all about the sinking, and when I was about twelve I’d read about it for hours, scouring the library for books on it.  I was devastated when I accidentally taped over the movie…so much so both my parents and my uncle bought me properly copies of it that Christmas.  This was back in the days of VHS, so I’d constantly have to rewind the tapes every time I’d finish it so I could watch it again.  I had the soundtrack, I had posters and movie stills stuck up around my room and on my desk at school.  Obsessed was an understatement.  When we finally bought a DVD player, I bought the ultimate collections edition, which had 4 disks worth of extras.  While my obsession has since subsided, I still love watching this film.

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Interstallar
This is the newest addition to my list, and I was in two minds about whether to add it, but it wound up on here.  I saw this in the cinema and it completely caught me off guard.  It’s fantastic, in a crazy, far-fetched sort of way.  I love how it keeps you guessing, it gets you thinking about the future, about decisions somebody at some point in time will probably have to make.  It touches on space travel and science, both things I’ve watched many a documentary on.  I know the film is probably not accurate at all, but it’s still pretty cool and really interesting.  I love movies that can make you think about things in a different way.

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Shutter Island
Another Leo movie, although vastly different from Titanic.  This movie scared the shit out of me the first time I saw it.  It’s dark, morbid and creepy, but the twist at the end is mindblowing and fantastic.  It highlights how mental illness and the way it’s dealt with has changed over the years, and shows how it used to be handled.  The storyline is interesting, the characters fascinating and the setting mega-creepy.  You constantly have to question who to trust and what to believe and I love this.  I’ve watched it many times and I always find new things that I’ve missed previously.  Leo is fantastic in it, as always, as are all the other actors.  It really does feel like you’re stuck on the island with them.

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All 3 Rugrats Movies
This one seems to be a stark contrast to all the others on my list, I know, but I adore kids movies, and 9/10 times that will be what I put on if I want to watch something.  I can’t decide which one I like best, so I cheated and said all three of them.  I love Rugrats so much.  It reminds me of childhood and fun.  I grew up with Tommy and Chucky and all the others – I started watching when I was only a couple of years older than them!  While the storylines aren’t as complex as any of the other films I’ve listed, they’re a lot of fun and easy to watch.  I remember seeing the first film at the drive-ins with my parents.  All those memories make watching the films so enjoyable that I often pick these over any of my other favourites.

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What are your top 5 picks?

-JD

This prompt, and many more, can be found here

Time to Change – Day Forty-Five

I’m struggling.  I have officially hit the wall.  For me (maybe for everyone, I don’t know) there is always a point where all my good intentions and positive thoughts and motivation vanish.  Sometimes, it happens suddenly.  In this instance, it’s been more gradual, but it’s definitely happened, there’s no denying it.

About 90% of me wants to give up.  Being fat sucks but it’s all I know.  I’m not going to give up though.  I’m allowing myself some time to refocus, as if I don’t I feel like I won’t be able to properly get back on board, then I’m going to get right back into it again.  I need to.

I’m taking it a step further this time.  Since I can’t trust myself to make healthy choices after a long day at work (this has become extremely apparent), I’ve ordered Lite N Easy for the first time in my life.  My friends swear by it, and I think it will really help me, firstly because it’s calorie and portion controlled and also because I don’t have to cook it.  It’s dead easy.  A majority of my issues at dinnertime stem from the fact I really hate cooking.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, when I say I hate cooking, I don’t mean all the time.  If I’m relaxed or feeling creative, cooking is fantastic.  I hate cooking, however, when I’m tired and hungry and grumpy.  I hate it when it feels like a chore.  So I really think Lite N Easy will be good for me.  I’m really surprised about the meal choices too.  That was one of the reasons I’d never done it previously – I was worried they wouldn’t have stuff I like, being a fussy eater.  Instead, they have a huge selection and I feel a little spoilt for choice.  I really hope it tastes as good as it looks in the pictures and doesn’t turn out to be the standard cardboard flavours of frozen dinners.

But what about breakfast and lunch?  I hear you ask.  I did consider going all out and ordering those meals as well, but having a look through the options, there were some that I didn’t particularly like the sound of, and this program isn’t exactly cheap.  I guess there are more expensive options out there, but I didn’t want to spend big bucks on meals I wasn’t going to enjoy either.  I find that during the day – provided I pre-plan and bring food from home – I’m generally okay with my eating habits.  Even if I’m hungry, I’m working so I just have to suck it up.  My plan is to eat healthy for breakfast – either eggs, weetbix or fruit & yoghurt – and have fruit for lunch.  While probably not the most filling of meals, it’s healthy and easy.  As I’ll soon be doing the long public transport commutes to my new job, I know even if I’m hungry by the time work ends, I won’t have the luxury of a sneaky trip through a Drive-Thru any more, which is generally what happens currently.  Plus, I’ll be walking a lot more as part of the commute, so I think I’ll start losing weight again.

Aside from the new focus on dieting, nothing much has changed since my last post.   It’s a public holiday today, so I’m getting paid to sit around at home in comfy clothes and catch up on my writing, which is great.  I’ve got three days of training coming up, which generally I’d be dreading – and maybe I should be this time – but it sounds like it should be interesting.  It’s all about the expectations and operations of my new store, as it’s going to be big and new on a scale they’ve only attempted once before.  I love that I get to work in an environment that is all about embracing the future, and I see it as a great opportunity for experience and – hopefully – advancement.  Plus, having such a huge team means I’ll no doubt wind up meeting some cool new people!

I’m procrastinating going grocery shopping.  I’ve been putting it off since Saturday, and it’s crunch time as I’ve run out of dog food and need to go.  I’m trying to hold out until at least 7pm, as trying to find a carpark there on a weekend or public holiday during the day is crazy.  At least now I’ve ordered dinners for the next two weeks, my shopping trip should be pretty quick and easy!

Have any of you tried Lite N Easy (or other similar programs)?  Let me know what you think!

-JD

Versatile Blogger Award

I was nominated by startwithsparkles a little while ago (thanks heaps!).  Any sort of award or recognition is always a nice surprise, especially since this blog is relatively young compared to most people’s.

The basis of this award is simple – write seven facts about yourself, and nominate fifteen people who you think deserve this award.  If you want to read up on it some more, click here.

1. I’m currently sitting on my comfy couch in comfy clothes, watching a rerun of Bones (one of my favourite shows ever), loving that it’s a Tuesday but I don’t have work because it’s a public holiday.  Yay for getting paid today to do nothing!
2. I hate chores just as much as I did when I was fourteen, and I still avoid them at all costs.  Today, I have washed the dishes, mowed the lawn and washed the bedsheets.  That is some kind of miracle for me!
3. Today, I placed my first ever order for Lite N Easy.  At the moment I’m just doing dinners, and I’ll just eat healthy for breakfast and lunch.  I’m surprised by the versatility of the menu options – coming from a fussy eater, that’s a great thing!  I’m just hoping the food tastes good and not like frozen dinners usually do.
4. A house is slowly being built next door to mine, and it’s actually quite educational.  I’m seeing how an empty lot turns into a house, one step at a time.  Given I’m going to be building my own soon, this education is going to come in handy!
5. I’ve only started drinking alcohol within the past year, and I’m only beginning to learn what drinks I do and don’t like.  My new current favourite is Strawberry Midori.  Mmmm, so good.
6. I can’t even deal with the fact Christmas is a month and a half away.  Didn’t 2015 just start?
7. My absolute favourite thing about summer is the smell of BBQs in the evening.  It reminds me of childhood, and trips to Bunnings, and all sorts of fun gatherings that I’ve been to which involved standing around (or near) the outdoor cooker.  Plus, BBQ’d meat always tastes better than cooking it normally.  Always.

My fifteen nominees are:
Mommy Blogger Bliss
Audrey Driscoll’s Blog
Still Chasing Dreams
Time No Matter
Lyrics and Chocolate
Tess Can Do It
a2eternity
Not a Punk Rocker
Banded Carolina Girl
the V-Pub
ScaleSimple
KaboodleMum
Simple Living Over 50
Dazzling Twilight Firefly
Crazy Phat Mommy

If you’ve got some time to kill, I suggest having a look at these bloggers! 🙂

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The Old Man

They talk about me like I’m deaf. Stare at me like I’m blind. They assume that behind my tall stature and solemn eyes, that I’m tough. How can I tell them I’m just a baby inside? That their words keep my eyes open at night, and their actions make my insides cold?
At my age, everyone assumes I’ve heard it all. Maybe they’re correct in that assumption. Hearing something more than once, however, doesn’t lessen the sting that the echoed words create, nor does it heal the heart it breaks. Doctors have told me I’m what they call ‘depressed’. Back in the day, you were told to have a stiff drink and move on. Now they’re jumping at any chance to medicate me, educe me into some faux-happy stupor. Oh, sometimes I think it’d make for a nice change. Sometimes, late at night as I stare up at my well-studied ceiling, I can’t even fathom my own reasons for denying the drugs. Sitting in the warm spring sunshine, watching my youngest grandchild learning to walk in my favourite little park, however, I realize this is what all the grief and unhappiness has led me to. Rebekah is constantly wishing for me to take the pills. It’s the accepted norm for the world now, a world that has shunned me into it’s darkest corners and rooms they politely call ‘retirement villages’. Those places that cater for our ‘heightened needs’, but in actuality are lonely rooms filled with lonelier souls, forced together by families who now see us as burdens instead of caregivers. Oh, the place has a games room and the nurses are polite and at times even seem to care slightly, but this is always outweighed by the crisp air that follows a death and the cereal that lands in our lap extra-soggy for the ‘retirees’ who refuse – or forget – to put their dentures in of a morning.

Like any place that forces strangers together for extended periods of time, I have a few people I am more fond of than most. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to name them as ‘friends’. I can’t remember the last time I’ve called anyone that. One of the more lively of my acquaintances is a Ms Sally Wheeler. She’s always ready to entertain us with a funny anecdote from her past, or give a hug – surprisingly strong and warm, given her age – to clear our heads from the clouds of doubt. Possibly I would call her a friend did I not think she lied through her teeth on a near-constant basis. In this place, this isn’t unusual, however it’s not usually with consciousness that they are uttered, but rather because of mental illness or lack of memory. Sally, though, suffered none of that, and lied nonetheless. For peace’s sake, I kept my observations to myself. After all, who was Ms Wheeler really harming when most of her audience wouldn’t remember the next day, or the next hour?

Those people who suffer from memory problems, I envy them. It seems strange to others, possibly, but should I suffer like the man simply known as Billy, I’d never have to dwell on my past, on my mistakes or on the words of others. I’d simply live in the moment, completely. Of course Billy never knows what day it is, nor recognizes me or anyone else, and for that he does suffer. Yet, he always seems perpetually happy compared to the few of us completely conscious of where we are and what we’ve done.

It’s funny, I suppose, that Billy doesn’t get hounded by doctors wanting to medicate him. They’ve pretty much written him off as a lost cause, spouting ‘the damage is done’ to his family each time they enquire with the false hope that maybe one day a miracle pill will form and he’ll remember their names once more. I say ‘it’s funny’ because the damage has been done to me too, in the past, and is what almost solely has formed my depression and yet, I never hear the the end of doctors telling me how wonderful their medication is. If they are so willing to help cure a patient who isn’t interested, why can’t they help Billy’s family, who desperately are? The world is cruel like that, I suppose.

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This is one of my old attempts at writing fiction.  I say ‘attempt’ not because I think I’m no good or I can’t do it…I just never have the patience to follow through to the end.  I’m sure if I could, I’d enjoy writing professionally.  Alas, it remains a hobby instead.  This was written back in 2010, but has always been one of the short stories I’m most proud of.

This was inspired by the prompt ‘Post a previously unreleased chapter from one of your books’, which can be found here

“Tell Us Your Best Practical Joke Story”

I love practical jokes and am always the mastermind behind them!  These are my best two, though I have heaps more that could easily be listed instead!

The best practical joke story I have happened about three years ago.  My then-housemate and work colleague had just signed up for a new phone, and she was so excited about it.  It was her first Samsung after coming from iPhone and she was over the moon about it.  She treated it like it was her baby.

She didn’t have a passcode on it, so it was a practical joke begging to happen.  She’d left it out the back at work, and so we decided then was the perfect time to prank her.  We downloaded an app that made the screen appear to be broken (it looked pretty convincing).  Then we called her into the back office, poker faces in play, all looking upset and guilty.

Someone told her that her phone had fallen off the shelf when it was charging.  She flipped out.  She was stressing out and close to tears and asking how it could have happened.  It went on and on, with it getting harder and harder not to laugh.  Finally I cracked, I couldn’t keep a straight face any longer.  When she was told it was a joke, she laughed but was really angry too (as most joke victims are).  She was very relieved her phone wasn’t broken.

Ironically, about a month later, someone dumped their heavy bag on her phone at work, and the screen actually got broken.  She didn’t believe it at first, assuming it was another joke, but it wasn’t.  That made us feel a little guilty!

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My other good practical joke story happened last year, again at work.  My two best work friends had gone to get coffee and they sent me a selfie of them halfway there.  I decided payback was in order as they didn’t invite me with them.  I emailed myself the photo, printed it off about 30 times, then stuck it all around the back room, including in the safe, in the fridge, on the microwave and on the roof.  I had to do it quickly as I knew they’d be back at any moment.  Luckily the back room was tiny so 30 copies basically covered everywhere.

They walked back in and only noticed one of them at first.  They were confused as to why I’d printed it, but didn’t say anything.  Then suddenly, another one caught their eye, and another, until suddenly they realized they were staring at themselves all over the room.  Everyone else taught it was hilarious, and they spent the next five minutes taking all the pictures down.

What’s your best practical joke?

This prompt, and many more, can be found here.

“Top 5 Social Media Tips”

Being a Gen Y-er and growing up with social media, this is something I’ve had plenty of experience in, both good and bad.

1. Privacy is really important.  Seriously.
This is one of those lessons I had to learn the hard way.  When MySpace and MSN were all the rage, nobody really cared about security.  It was all about talking to random people, collecting friends, sharing statuses.  I guess back then, privacy wasn’t really an option.  I mean, I’m sure there were basic features, but it wasn’t talked about or really known, and nobody did it.  It’s only relatively recently that companies such as Facebook have gotten people to seriously focus on it, myself included.  My social media settings are pretty much on maximum now – I only share things with people I’m friends with on Facebook and Instagram, people can’t message me on Facebook without being friends with me first, people can’t see any personal details about me without being my friend.
The trigger for all this started about six years ago, when I started to become really close to one of my now best friends.  He was going through stalker issues that at the time, I knew nothing about.  He was embarrassed and we’d only just gotten to really know each other so it just hadn’t come up.   I was contacted on both Facebook and YouTube by someone who was telling me awful things about my friend, stuff that I at first assumed to be true as I didn’t understand what was going on.  It really upset him I believed it, but in my defense, it was early days and I’d never had any sort of contact with stalkers before so I just didn’t really understand.  After that, I removed all my YouTube content and switched to super private mode on everything.  It’s not worth the risk or hassle to have it set any other way, and ultimately I’m not sharing things for my friend’s brother’s cousin’s wife to see, I’m sharing it for people I know.

2. Parents, perverts are real.  They’re out there.  Take it seriously.
Again, I know this from experience.  While kids use different platforms than I used to, I guarantee the same sickos still lurk there, waiting for your child to try to meet some new friends in cyberspace.  That’s why I started talking to people I didn’t know on MSN.  I don’t even remember where I met them (maybe they added me), but they seemed nice enough at first.  They’d let you talk about school and friend dramas and they always seemed relatable.  They’d talk to your for awhile, and you think “okay, this is fine”.  This one guy I spoke to didn’t even bother trying to hide the fact he was 30-something, which I suppose was lucky in one way – if he had of pretended to be my age, who knows what could have happened?  After awhile, he started asking more personal questions.  One I remember in particular was “what bra size are you?”.  Then suddenly, he’s sending naked pictures of himself.  Luckily, I was smart enough to delete and block him straight away.  I wasn’t out looking for this kind of thing, but it found me anyway.  Kids are online more than ever (a lot more than I was back then), and it’s so easy for pervs to contact them.  Most gadgets and social media have privacy controls.  Learn them, set them.  More than that, educate your kids.  You can change settings all you like but kids can always turn them off.  Don’t expect schools to monitor your children for you, don’t expect your kids to listen to their boring teacher when they try to teach cyber safety.  Sit them down and explain it to them so they’ll understand – you know your kids better than anyone else.  If you don’t understand technology, research it.  It might save your child’s life.  Also, don’t think “oh, they’re too young for me to tell them about the mean old world”.  I know I just said you know your kids better than anyone, and it’s true, however I firmly believe if they’re old enough for gadgets such as iPads, laptops and phones, they’re old enough to be told the dangers of it.  My friend is a grade one teacher (the kids are between 6 and 7 years old).  For the two years she’s been teaching that level, she’s had countless awkward situations where she’s caught the kids looking up porn, googling “girls kissing” and all sorts of other mindblowing stuff.  Your kids are curious.  They see it on TV, their friends talk about it.  If you don’t educate them, they could end up learning about the dangers the hard way.  I can’t stress this enough.

3. Don’t send game invites.  Nobody is going to start playing because you sent them.  You just piss everyone off.
I know this is one of the biggest annoyances on social media.  No, we don’t want play Candy Crush, we don’t want extra corn on FarmVille, we don’t want extra coins on Bingo Pop.  If we wanted to play, we’d do it without you spamming us.  Thankfully, there’s a way to turn off these annoying invites on Facebook, and anyone who has those annoying friends who don’t seem to get it should probably learn how – it’ll save your sanity.  And to those of you who do it, think before you press “invite to play”.  Sure, you might earn a small bonus for it, but you also lose the respect of all the people you spam.

4. If someone posts an offer that seems too good to be true, it is!
You’d think people would be able to spot a scam when they see one by now.  We aren’t in 1998 any more where everything is new and scary.  Sure, scams aren’t quite as obvious as the old “Prince of Nigeria” emails, but they aren’t challenging if you’re aware of them either.  I see countless people in my newsfeed posting things they shouldn’t be, spreading the scam further across cyberspace.  The easiest way to spot something dodgy is to look at the link – does the website look like it’s legit?  Most scams on social media these days pretend to be from major companies.  Do you really think Qantas would use abc.squizzers.com to give away “free tickets”?  Second thing to look for, is the spelling and grammar correct?  Almost always, the website is poorly written, have extremely bad grammar and often the spacing in weird too.  If American Express were to run a promotion, don’t you think they’d pay someone big bucks to make an impressive website and, I don’t know, use spell check?  Lastly, use your common sense.  Do you really think your local movie outlet is giving away free screenings “for the first 1000 people”?  That would put them out of business.  Do you really think your favourite airline is giving away “a trip anywhere in the world” if you share the link with all your friends?  Nothing is for free in this world, and that is especially true in cyberspace.  A lot of people have the mentality of “well, if it’s not real then I haven’t lost anything”.  Wrong.  Firstly, those scams ask for personal information.  At best, you’ll probably get heaps of junk email now flooding your inbox.  At worst, you could open your computer up for malware and wind up being hacked.  On top of that, if you’ve shared the link with people and they’ve been sucked in too, you’ve also dragged them down the same path.  If the link is even potentially dodgy, don’t click it!  If it’s from a big company, go to their official website.  If the offer isn’t listed there, it isn’t real.

5. Don’t post things you don’t want the whole world to see.
I know I harped on about privacy settings and educating your kids about cyber safety, and I’m not taking anything away from the importance of that.  You just need to be aware that anything you post has the potential to be saved, shared, copied and otherwise spread around, no matter how careful you are.  If you don’t want to risk that “cute” picture of your naked toddler winding up on some perverts computer harddrive, don’t post it.  If you don’t want your dick pics or boob snaps shared, don’t send them.  If you don’t want people knowing where you live, don’t check in there.  While privacy settings are generally pretty good, it doesn’t mean other people have the same settings or your best interests are heart.  It doesn’t take much for things to get leaked, and 99.9% of the time, it isn’t going to make you famous like Kim K.  It’s more likely to do a lot of psychological damage to you instead.  There was a big focus on sexting the media a little while ago, and victims were saying how their ex’s shared their naked pictures and sex tapes with everyone, and how it’s ruined their lives.  When asked why they thought it was a good idea in the first place, they went on and on about it being their choice and nobody has the right to tell them they can’t do it.  I’m not going to argue with that – if those people still have that mentality after all they’ve been through, then I say let them do it, but don’t be surprised if it happens again.  It doesn’t matter how in love with someone you are, and how amazing a person you think they they are, if things go south, they have some seriously damaging stuff.  It might seem like cheeky, harmless fun at the time but it can come back to haunt you.  Think about it before you share it.

That’s my top five tips.  What’s yours?

-JD

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