Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”

Pokemon Go.

me in a PokeballI wanted to look at this issue from two perspectives – me the blogger and me the teacher (who is also a blogger). So I’ll put something up here and then do something similar but slightly different over on the PerryPerrySource.net – and then link the two.

Pokemon Go was an incredible effort by Niantic. A year ago, it exploded into the public consciousness. We took over Lilydale Lake chasing Dratini. We scared the penguins down at the St Kilda pier and got shot at by the owner of the Glen Waverley Golf Club while chasing Charmander.

Finding Damo and his buddyLooking at my buddy stats, with one of my Pokemon buddies, I walked over 300km, and that’s just one of many Pokemon companions I have had over the year.

It has been really exciting to see the evolution of the game from a buggy, crashing mess to a completely different buggy, crashing mess.

I kid. The stability of the game has improved out of sight.

I understand that Niantic completely underestimated the impact that PoGo would have on the world. They couldn’t deal with the influx of customers. And then they couldn’t deal with the tracker they had implemented. And then they couldn’t deal with the spoofers and hackers and cheaters who flooding the game with fake names and hugely inflated Pokemon.

When Niantic decided to do a huge event to celebrate the first year of PoGo, I predicted that it wouldn’t go well. I hoped that it would, but I assumed that it wouldn’t. Sure enough, the phone towers couldn’t handle the traffic, people who had flown in from all over the world were left high and dry and the lawsuits have begun.

I want to say “It’s just a game, get over it.” But it seems like more than that. Niantic wanted to create a phenomenon. They created a phenomenon. And they let it loose on the world without any way to control it.

I’m still playing a year later. I take my family on raiding parties to catch legendary Pokemon. We go on long walks to hatch eggs and incidentally explore and discover new places. It’s like playing a board game or participating in a family activity. We’re spending time together, being active and having fun.

I really want to see what comes next. The Harry Potter AR (PottAR?) game seems to be on the cards. There’s a fantastic-looking horror game that uses your phone, although it seems to have been lost in development hell. And there are a HEAP of other AR games that were already well established before PoGo reared up out of nowhere, including Niantic’s own Ingress. There’s a market for augmented reality. With Trump running a country, we need to insert a bit of fantasy over the top of the weirdness that is real life.

TrumPokemon

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Terms and Conditions

TERMS-AND-CONDITIONS-MAY-APPLY-APPLEShereen just upgraded her IOS version. Every time we do that, it comes up with the “I have read the Terms and Conditions” button. We click that, we state that we are using the software as long as we agree to follow whatever mandatory rules the company put forward for us to follow.

And we lie.

We lie because only a tiny percentage of people actually read the terms and conditions. For anything. Rented a house? Sure, I’ve read the terms and conditions. Bought a new car? Sure I’ve read the terms and conditions. Adopted a child? Sure I’ve read the … wait, did that say Son of Satan?

Here are a couple of the things you are signing away when you click the button/sign along the dotted line/dip your quill in the bloody ink.

IMG_5162From my car insurance:

“We will not cover any loss, damage or liability as a result of:

  • War or warlike activity:
    • War does not have to be declared
  • Hostilities, rebellion, insurrection or revolution
  • Contamination by chemical and/or biological agents, which results from an act of terrorism
  • Anything nuclear or radioactive

From Apple:

  • You can only belong to one Family at a time, and may join any Family no more than twice per year.
  • Consult a doctor before using the products offered through the iTunes Service
  • APPLE DOES NOT REPRESENT OR GUARANTEE THAT THE APP AND BOOK SERVICES WILL BE FREE FROM LOSS, CORRUPTION, ATTACK, VIRUSES, INTERFERENCE, HACKING, OR OTHER SECURITY INTRUSION, AND APPLE DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY RELATING THERETO.
  • Apple reserves the right to take steps Apple believes are reasonably necessary or appropriate to enforce and/or verify compliance with any part of this Agreement.

This is what you’re signing when you click “I agree”. No changing families. Buy the virus-filled apps and ibooks. And if Apple decides that they should murder your first-born to enforce and/or verify compliance with their agreement, well, you just agreed that that is ok as well.

futurama-devil2Did you hear about the company that had a clause in their T&Cs that gave them ownership of the user’s immortal soul? It was an April Fool’s joke, but it made a very clear point: people don’t read the terms and conditions. Any self-respecting evil overlord would take advantage of this.

So, I’m going to create an app. It will be marvellous. Everybody will want it. And I’ll have all of the basic terms and conditions. But, just for those people who don’t read the terms and conditions, I’ll add in a few of my own.

So as a warning, here they are. Read them carefully. And choose whether you want my cool app, or whether it’s just not worth it.

CoolApp Terms and Conditions

  1. The developer takes no responsibility for any damage this app might cause to the machines or devices the app invades.
  2. There is a good chance that this app will never be updated again. The developer makes no apologies for this, so get over it.
  3. The developer will remove access to any user who scores the app less than five stars on the app store.
  4. The developer might make certain demands of users. By accepting these terms and conditions, you are accepting that these demands are fair and reasonable and that you will abide by these demands in a timely manner. These demands may include (but are not limited to):
    1. The user will provide safe haven for the developer and any associates that may need sanctuary.
    2. The user is expected, with fair notice, to contribute to a standing army to defend the holdings and lands of the developer in times of war.
    3. The developer may, on occasion and again with fair warning, visit the user’s home and at that time, should be provided with food and lodging. Moreover, a ball should be held in the developer’s honour, at the full expense of the user.
  5. The app has been extensively tested, but the developer will not be held liable for damages caused by effects outside of the standard test cases. For example, portal rifts leading to alien invasion shall not be deemed the fault of the developer.
  6. In the case that the developer requires a liver, spleen, brain, heart or other vital organ, the user will go to any length to provide the developer with said organ (no questions asked). The developer will endeavour to return the organ in a timely manner but cannot assure the quality of the returned item.
  7. Your genetic code, facial likeness and other personal information may be used by the developer for various purposes set out in the privacy document. The user accepts any liability for actions taken by the resulting robotic clone.

Did I miss anything? You have been warned.

2015

Everybody has to write one of these, don’t they?

Let’s see. What happened in 2015? It might be just writing at this time of the year, but in my head, the year was categorised by stress. Which is weird, because in 2014 I:

  • wrote two plays,
  • performed in two productions,
  • published and launched my first novel,
  • completed a certificate III in Game Design,
  • holidayed in Halls Gap,
  • turned 40 and was painted into the TARDIS,
  • created a CGI opening for the school production which almost killed me,
  • saw my daughter perform at the Melbourne Arts Centre,
  • had our first cancer scare with our dog Amy and then
  • lost my grandfather to cancer (which doesn’t seem that long ago).

2015They were huge things, and very draining. And still, I finished this year completely shattered and I’m just getting out of it now, after a good few days down at Dromana soaking in the ocean (my calm down place). My 2015 list on the face of it is much longer. This year I:

  • Wrote a book starring my daughter as a werewolf
  • Saw They Might Be Giants (again)
  • Watched my lovely wife graduate from university
  • Ran the school radio show and podcast for a year
  • Spent a week in Sydney
  • Ramped up the school 3D printing program
  • Started learning to program in Python
  • Got my debating team into the finals
  • Had a number of articles published in educational journals
  • Had a reunion of the Five
  • Fixed the shower head
  • Ran the sound for Macbeth
  • Wrote half a dozen stories for a sequel to Dwarves in Space and found them mostly awful
  • Discovered Netflix and Stan and Presto
  • Had a Marvel Universe movie marathon
  • Went to a number of art galleries
  • Attended a few Guides functions
  • Started an educational blog
  • Read the Harper Lee sequel nobody thought would ever happen
  • Flew in a very old bi-plane
  • Finished my wedding video – three years on
  • Celebrated Grandma’s 90th

And that’s just the ones that come to mind going back through my photo gallery. Of those, they were all incredibly positive, life affirming and creative pursuits, which didn’t bring me down in the slightest. So why am I so mentally exhausted?

I think all that I can say is: don’t get involved in politics in the workplace. Just do your own job as well as you can and let what’s up top run itself.

I just wish I believed that was a good idea. Anyway, as always, I promise I will write more in 2016. And I have actual things in place to make that happen. AND I did actually write a lot in 2015 – just not on FindingDamo.

Evolution of an opinion.

don't deserve to be robbed

A convtroversial picture to get a conversation started.

I know I’ve been away for a bit. It’s because of the picture above. I created this because it was something I was genuinely interested in knowing the answer to: why is this image different from the “Still don’t deserve to be raped” images going around the Internet and social media? My contention: I never want to blame the victim for things that happen. The reason why bad things happen to people is because there are bad people out there who don’t care about human rights. However, knowing that there are evil people in the world who do the wrong thing even with all of our laws and protections in place, isn’t it a good idea to make yourself less of a target?

That was my opinion. So I created this picture. I posted it privately on Facebook, only to my friends. And I invited conversation. I wanted to go through the conversation and post a summary of what was said. But I honestly think that the conversation shows the explanations and crossing of lines better than my summary ever could. So I’m posting the whole thing, names changed to protect the opinionated. And no, I don’t believe the picture above is a good picture to put out there. But as one of the conversationers says: the more conversation out there, the better. Just don’t use it as an excuse.

The conversation:

Male1: I wouldn’t recommend posting it. It won’t change anyone’s mind, because it is such a sensitive issue that people feel strongly about.
This particular example only applies to some people and those victims don’t need to be reminded of dumb decisions made at the time, and it discounts that, short of wearing a bubble, women are at risk anywhere.

Damian Perry The number of times it comes up, and I think “There are so many screwed up evil people in the world, with such screwed up senses of morality, that this argument is less valid than you would expect”.

Damian Perry But yes, I’ve been very hesitant in even putting the picture together

Female1 The picture sort of implies that being a girl wearing “sexy” clothes, or even just walking somewhere alone is a stupid thing to do. The guy in the picture looks like an idiot, who would do that, really? It implies that the parallel message of “still doesn’t deserve it” (with women and rape) is a message of the women doing something dumb and that being the result.

Damian Perry Yeah, and that’s why I’m trying to feel through the situation here rather than in public with people who will, hopefully, forgive me for saying something ridiculous.

Damian Perry Nobody deserves to be raped. Nobody deserves to be robbed. However, there are bad, evil people in the world. If someone walked down an alley with bad people around and (to be less ridiculous) was fiddling with his iPhone, we might say “you idiot”.

Damian Perry Nobody deserves the bad stuff that happens, but bad stuff happens, in these cases because of the bad people. Knowing that there are bad people, is it worth taking the precautions to avoid the bad situation?

Female1 I think the point of the rape issue is that even with precautions many women are still in danger. It’s not always the ones who are flaunting themselves, they could be fully dressed, and conservatively, but still be just as at risk.

Damian Perry Ah. Have I been misreading these pictures then? I thought it was “even if I’m dressed sexy (or naked) I don’t deserve to be raped.”

Female2 This is not the blog I was looking for but it’s close. The difference is is that whilst most men don’t feel entitled to someone else’s money / shiny thing, they are increasingly feeling entitled to a woman’s body Everyday Feminism link When even the ‘sane’ men start questioning misogyny in our society it’s pretty frightening to women. I have no answers, I’m just trying to tell you it’s not the same.

Female2 Ok. Think of it like this. You rob me – I am immediately the victim regardless of circumstances and you are the evil person.
You rape me – I am immediately judged on my clothes, where I was, did I fight back etc etc and you may be misunderstood, you may have not understood no. Etc.

Female3 You’ve got two issues within the spectrum of the rape culture thing, I think – the straight up idea of women being assaulted in lurky places, and the “dressed in tooth floss does not equal rape me” factor. And as someone whose had enough street harassment to varying degrees to want to retire from society forever, I actually find this parallel offensive for the same reasons Female1 has mentioned. Feminism and issue aside – don’t you dare post this because the shadowing on that face and money needs some serious revision.;)

Damian Perry I wanted to create a painted version of the guy to take away any copyright issues of stealing faces and bodies from Google and Photoshopping them, but in the end it was taking too much time for something I wouldn’t be allowed to post anyway, so I just gave up and posted it as is. Sorry Female3!

Female3 That’s what I wanted to hear, Damo. I can deal if its a mock up. I’ve been doing print ready files all day today and feel ready to set adobe on fire.

Female2 It might be more on the money to have a big, macho looking dude telling some cops that he was robbed and them saying – but what were you wearing? Women of the jury?

Female3 I like that idea better. there’s just something about putting a comically dumb man’s face on the issue that sits badly with me..

Damian Perry I’ll repost with the original guy’s face but it didn’t seem to fit

still don't deserve to be robbed seriousFemale4 I am unsure of the message you are trying to imply. Particularly with your comment of taking precautions. The point of the rape pictures is that often in sentencing, and general attitudes of the community it’s the victims responsibility to not have gotten so drunk or not have behaved so provocatively. It is about changing community attitudes that shift the blame from the victim and educate men that consent must always be sought.
To be honest, if I saw that as a blog post I would find it offensive as it implies that women and girls should be taking responsibility through their choices. It is as you said a very sensitive issue.

Damian:

Damian Perry From that article: “The clothes we wear do send messages to the world – if they didn’t we would all be content to wear the same thing. Learning how to decode and respond to the messages being transmitted by a woman wearing a low-cut top is a skill many struggle to ever master.

Again, this is not to argue that a scantily clad woman deserves anything she does not want, and that includes lewd comments and judgment. But women are definitely aware of the attention a nice bum in hot pants will attract, and are generally careful of the context in which they don them. Nightclub: yes. Workplace: no.”

Damian Perry And yes, posting this as a blog could give some people an excuse to use it against women, so I’ll leave it alone. All of the “still don’t deserve…” pictures are trying to reclaim some of the rights that women have lost.

Damian Perry Another point from another source, is that women need to take risks so that they can feel empowered. They need to be able to wear what makes them feel good, even if it does sexualise them, and walk home alone, even if it does put them in danger.

Damian Perry So yes, the picture does say that women should be taking some responsibility through their choices. Not because women are to blame for the things that happen to them. But because there are some evil bastards out there who don’t care that they hurt women.

Damian Perry But I’ve been convinced that posting it would do more harm than good, because we need to live in a world where women will take risks and feel safe and empowered, rather than living in a world where everyone wears loose sweaters and won’t walk anywhere alone, feeling unsafe in their own world.

Damian Perry I like to believe that most men are good, if slightly ignorant. These are the men who can be educated. But not all of them can.

Damian Perry “In the social utopia we all know will never eventuate, of course women ought to be able to do as the chant says: ”Wear what we want when we want.” But in the real world we live in, that is a dangerous motto to live by.”

Damian Perry “Sexual assault counsellors often post leaflets in the toilet cubicles of Melbourne’s busiest nightclubs giving tips to women on how to stay safe : appoint a friend to watch out for your group, make sure your phone is charged, always have a cab fare etc. This is practical advice that does not spark a movement suggesting the counsellors are blaming victims of sexual assault. But in cautioning women against placing themselves in the sort of situations that can make them more vulnerable to rape, are they not saying the same thing as Mr Sanguinetti?”

Damian Perry This is what I’m trying to say. Not to be offensive, just honestly wondering.

Female5 Interestingly… I was on holiday with a gf whose image (choice of jewellery, dressing up in the day time, her choice of window shopping) gave the impression that she has lots of money. Actually she has expensive taste and appears to be a bit “precious”. To me, she looked as though you could easily take advantage of her. On the very crowded train my choice is to appear organised, knowing which stop to get off, looking alert and confident. .. and she loudly says “where are we? What stop are we getting off?” While fixing her lipstick.

She’s MY friend and I made judgements based on her behaviour and appearance that she was vulnerable (“pick me” in a evil persons language)… I feel bad for even thinking it… I’m used to changing my exterior when I Feel vulnerable… and this includes living on a “rape timetable” as one male friend called it. He said: I couldn’t imagine having to live on a rape timetable, be home before dark, don’t walk- take a cab etc. .. I don’t even think about it as a man.

And therein lies another layer to a delicate issue.

I love the point above re: clothing and image communicating… 🙂

For me: I choose to reduce risk of harm. I will change my image, appearance and energetic vibe to camouflage or hide. I will change my behaviour including timing of outings to ensure my behaviour does not say “pick me” in evil language. .. although of course, I shouldn’t have to. Xo

Female3 I can’t comment on this anymore. Damo I am pleased you wanted to discuss this but I think you’d do well to leave it, as you said.
Female5 has a valid point about images and appearances, but that argument makes me tired. A vast majority of rapists are people you know, statistically friends, family etc, and sexual assault perps have been found to care less about skanky clothes and more about vulnerability (I.e drunkenness, Female5’s friend having no idea where she was, being alone). I’d source that but I’ve just woken up and have forgotten where it’s from. I got sexually assaulted on a tram because I had my hands full, carrying stuff home from university. I dress like a mountain potato. If you want to discuss it, maybe approach the issue from the concept that women don’t owe men anything, and vice versa. Safer to do, easier to talk about.

And I agree about the original image – he’s kind of leery, but I can’t say how.

Male2 It’s a discussion we can never have, because all it takes is for someone to say “so it’s the woman’s fault she was raped?” and the rational argument about taking responsibility is over. I’m sure Godwin has some law about it

Male2 Maybe you could make a meta-poster with a picture of yourself creating the original poster. I’m sure there is a great caption you could put on it but can’t think of one right now

Male3 There are so many nuances of the argument that this picture does not address that it becomes a bit pointless. For example, if you had 100 men like this, would one of them be giving all his money to anyone that walked past, and maybe 10% have gone to the alley(nightclub) with the express purpose of finding someone to give their money to, and would the guys in the alley have spent their formative years watching other guys give their money away for free on the internet, would a couple of the guys have gotten so drunk that they gave all their money to someone that they didn’t really mean to and wake up wishing they could get it all back? Is the alley in fact the right place for this scene? Don’t just as many crimes occur in lounge rooms, bed rooms, etc.

Male3 I should also mention that we are not constantly bombarded by popular and social media with content that reinforces the idea that our money belongs to the world, it should be a certain size and shape, and you should post pictures of it online on an hourly basis for the enjoyment of others.

Damian Perry Well, I’m glad that I posted it, just to get so many varied and interesting reactions. But, yes, we do constantly get bombarded with popular and social media content telling us to give our money away, and we do take thousands of pictures of our money (or what we spent it on) to post on Facebook.

Damian Perry And I KNOW that there have been nights where I’ve gotten drunk, woken up the next morning to find that I’ve given my money away and desperately wishing that I hadn’t done it.

Male3 And I guess therein is also part of the problem with the analogy. You may place a different value on your ‘money’ to someone else and the emotional attachment you have to your ‘money’ may be different. It doesn’t give anyone the right to take your ‘money’ but if enough people place little value on it then it creates societal expectations. Add in booze, drugs, mental illness and just plain bad people and you would do well to put your money away and perhaps use something else to make friends. Friends who will still love you when your ‘money’ isn’t as young as it used to be :o)

Female2 When I was at uni my psychology professor said that he once asked his male students to line up at one blackboard and female students to line up at another and write what they do every day to make them feel safe. They could not repeat what another student had written. That was the only rule. The sexes were split fairly evenly. The guys eventually filled up maybe a third of their blackboard. Mostly it was locked their door, make sure that they didn’t leave ovens on etc.
The women filled their blackboard and some of the white board and while it had some of the same stuff as the guys it also had things like don’t make eye contact after dark, don’t walk home alone when the sun goes down, don’t give the taxi driver our real address, etc. He said that women are brought up with a siege mentality, that we were taught how to survive the attack as well as to minimize its happening. He couldn’t then during the exercise, and while telling us about it, begin to imagine what living in constant fear all the while knowing that whatever happened it would always be viewed as our fault. He said that until men decided as a group that this was unacceptable and that no female regardless, was to be thought of as a product to be owned, and until females believed that they meant it the status quo wouldn’t change.

Damian Perry There’s the statement that explains all of the pictures. Finally I get it. Now: would taking all of this conversation, drawing it into a cohesive whole, leaving off attributions (unless you want them) make a good post that would justify an exploration of the picture? If you say no I won’t bother, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who had this picture in their head.

Male3 Do you follow Collective Shout Damo? They bring up some interesting material including the recent Wicked Campers controversy. This is an interested read along the same lines as Female2’s post:

If we reject you

Female2 I don’t mind Damo. The more discussion there is about this subject the better I think. You can’t change someone mind with silence.

Male3 My real problem is this “men must decide as a group it’s unacceptable”. We have. It’s against the law. It’s prosecuted when it’s reported. I don’t know a single man who would condone this behaviour and if I did I’d slap him. To paint all men as complicit in every occurrence of sexual assault is as ridiculous as painting all men as accessories to every murder, robbery, car jacking etc.

Female2 But that’s your group and who you know. I would always presume that people that I hang out with, the people they hang out with would think mostly like me. But do you immediately think predator arsehole when you read about a woman laying charges against a football player or do you think – what was she wearing?

Damian Perry I think that I and my friends are pretty good. I also know some of the conversations we have in guy nights, just as a joke, that prove the exact opposite. I’ve tried to pick up girls in bars and nightclubs (when I was single) which is, according to one of the articles above, a no-no. Men as a group might be outwardly ok with it being unacceptable, but the point is that we all still have our inner apes.

Male3 I try not to judge without knowing the facts. That’s a job for the courts.

Female6 In regards to those we call ‘famous’ getting charged with a crime and society asking who’s really to blame. It’s hard not to question motives when some ‘victims’ wait for so many years. As for people flaunting money, power, fast cars, boobs! Yes you have the right to but it will always draw attention and not necessarily from the right people. I do believe most people are good but there are still dirtbags out there that choose to go against social norms

Female2 See. The way you wrote victims just upsets me. Think of the most traumatic thing that ever happened to you. Make sure that there was a shit load of guilt and self-shame associated with it to make it really work. Then think about how long it would take to tell someone about it. Now think if the person who did all that to you was known to others as good person. How long do you think it would take you to come forward now? Just because you think you are a strong enough person now doesn’t mean they are in the same place. I know a person who wet herself in 5th grade in from of the class. I can bet you she doesn’t talk about that at all.

Female6 ‘Victim’, a word I chose to incorporate a vast group of people. I am a victim of several crimes and I own that word. Being a victim clarifies that I am in no way to blame for what others chose to do to me. I have never felt shame or guilt over any of it and have always come forward. I’ve worked with girls about that age in the same situation, it doesn’t have to be like that and schools aim to teach children to be more accepting these days. Hell, we use to get belittled for blowing our noses in primary school!

Female6 Female2: what are your thought on the siege mentality that your psych professor demonstrated? I would love to live without it and feel safe enough to go to gigs on my own but there have to be some up sides right? It means we should kickarse at risk assessment!
I guess it can explain helicopter parenting. I’ve heard it blamed on Gen X growing up with Stranger Danger that we are terrified of letting our children do anything. Hence why so few kids walk to school or play outside or any activity that a parent can’t hover over.

Female6 Ok, I’ve think this is what I should’ve said all along.
I am glad to live here, I can wear what I want, when I want and stand up for myself when I do it without fear of persecution. Most people will still come to a woman’s aid if she needs it.

Male3 We were at Fed Square on Sunday with our kids then read later about an attempted child stealing. Nothing wrong with reasonable helicoptering! I think part of the ‘blame game’ is also a way of risk assessing. Is there something that person did that, done differently, would have reduced the risk of becoming the victim of the crime. When we establish that we establish the risk to ourselves and also establish how we can protect ourselves and our family from becoming victims.

Female2 I think it’s like anything. Too much is bad. Focusing totally on nothing but your safety means that you will miss out on a lot of awesome stuff, not focusing at least a little means ‘bad’ things can and will probably occur.
What we forget is that towns used to live under siege for many, many years sometimes and the people would get used to the sounds of warfare and just get on.
Heightened awareness is not a bad thing.
To me what has changed about stranger awareness is that WE are more aware of the dangers. 50 years ago no one thought a thing about letting your kids run mad, the dangers were still there but we didn’t talk about or acknowledge them. Now we have pulled the bogeyman out of the closet we are not sure how to deal with it.

Damian Perry Holy crap this became a very in depth discussion.

Male2 It’s certainly a lot better than some other discussions i’ve ever seen on the subject! A rational discussion on a sensitive subject is a rare and wonderous thing.

Male2 Some parallels between the MH17 shootdown here… lots of comments like “how dare you blame Malaysian Air! The people who shot it down are at fault, not the pilot who flew a plane where shootdowns were known to occur”

Male3: http://www.news.com.au/…/story-fnki1jcy-1226995419163

 

Conclusion

Don’t blame the victim. Don’t blame the victim. Don’t blame the victim. There’s no other way around it. Men will never really understand how women feel, but through discussions and actually listening to what is being said, we can start to get an idea.

That’s out and about now. I can get back to some slightly lighter topics.

Parents and Social Media

This post comes out of a conversation I had on Twitter. I made the comment that parents need to have Social media accounts so that they can have a meaningful dialogue with their children. The quote I stole from the presenter I was listening to was “You wouldn’t take your kid swimming if you couldn’t swim.”
I thought it would be just one more tweet in the Twittersphere – ignored and moving on. But it gained a bit of attention, and started a lively discussion.
I’m going to paste the conversation here, because Twitter is a hard place to have a good conversation. Feel free to weigh in. I’m also going to post it, and then edit it when I get to a proper computer, so that I can add in some pictures and links to yesterday’s presentation from the AP at Kilbreda.

Here goes, in some vague order but with no guarantees:
Dan: what! Thats not true surely…I cant swim but take my kids to swimming lessons …
Fiona: But are you the one teaching them to swim? 🙂
Dan: no of course not …. but will get in the water with them… I am an esafety advisor btw for ceop and afp

Emma: No you dont. Dont need to be a swimmer to teach swimming. Dont need a SN account to understand SN
Emma: dont agree you need SN account to protect kids. You need to supervise your kids’ account #havetheirpassword
Fiona: Spying on them? No thanks.
Emma: it’s called parenting.
Emma: How else would you recommend parents see what their kids are doing online?
Dan: hiya, not sure what you mean ..how do they see?
Emma: suggested having passwords was “spying” on kids. Wondered how she suggests knowing what kids are doing
Fiona: just developing an open, honest relationship with them
Emma: That is definitely important, but also not enough. Abuse is not always because they did something wrong. More often because someone else did. Keeping tabs on their account aids watching other people. dealt with so many abused kids whose parents thought they had good open honest relationship

Dan: not all teachets on twitter or social net… thats also an issue
Emma: Why do they need to be on twitter. What if their kids are on Whatsapp or Snapchat? Do they have to create?
Dan: I agree.

Dan: I put a free site together http://t.co/yUtnJLB96Y and its got a parenting section
Dan: Why do they need to be on twitter. What if their kids are on Whatsapp or Snapchat? Do they have to create?
Dan: having done loads of presos to parents in uk and aus ..same issues everywhere for them.
Emma: Yep. Usually the knowledge gap between the two and a fear or lack of motivation by parents to close it

Dan: I agree but parenting is complex… lots of analogies. . Analogies are mostly stupid. Need to focus on the issues.
Dan: fr example do you need to be a football player to coach football
Damian: you need to have played football to coach it ^properly^… Surely
Emma: No, you need to understand the sport I have seen coaches who have clearly never kicked a ball in their life

Emma: I have never used snapchat or Instagram, but am well versed in problems therein and what parents can do.
Dan: absolutely I use most but but not all of them


Ok, that’s the conversation so far. Excuse spelling and grammar errors. I’ve just copied and pasted directly from the Twitter feed.

There is a lot more in this, but not during keynotes. I’ll write more about it tomorrow.

Two final tweets from me:
I can’t talk to my students about Scrillex. I haven’t listened to it. Likewise I need some experience with SM to have a dialogue.

Parents who make decisions about their child’s SM use w/out experience can make judgements based in fear rather than knowledge. #DLTV2014

May Challenge on WEBook

May Challenge on WEBook

I try to get involved in the WEBook challenge every month. Last month I was runner up. This month I’m going for the iPad 🙂

Must. Read.

asleepLast night, I did something I never thought I would ever do: I asked my step-daughter to put the book down and go to sleep already!

Now, before you lynch me or put me in the same category of book burners and fundamentalist christians, let me explain.

She’s 8. Her bedtime is 8.30. She loves to read. And her imagination doesn’t have an off-switch. So if we let her read until she’s tired, she’ll still be reading at midnight. And then we have to deal with the consequences. So when I saw the light shining from  under the door (again) at 10pm, I had to do the unthinkable.

Normally, I’d be quite happy for her to read all night. Let the stories invade her mind and set fire to her imagination. She is a voracious reader and, at 8 years old, she’s reading well beyond her years. She had to beg us to let her read the second Harry Potter book, and I think we’ll probably relent on the third book as well before she hits ten.

But her mum and I just can’t handle the almost-teenager-like reading hangover that results from a late night. So we have to limit her, like a crack addict, to small doses per night.

Her reading list at the moment:

1. Bridge To Terabithia – I’m reading this to her. I don’t think you ever get too old to have someone read to you, and it helps me bone up on my American accents.

2. The Hobbit – I started reading this to her, but she started making very clever “guesses” about what was going to happen next, and I found that she’d read the whole thing over a couple of nights of subversive torchlight reading.

3. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She quotes from Philosopher’s Stone all of the time, so it was only a matter of time.

4. Brer Rabbit Tales by Enid Blyton. She read 15 Secret Seven books in two weeks and was re-reading the Faraway Tree, so I figured she was up for something new.

On top of these, she still reads the grade-two level readers her school gives her, which I agree with educationally (I was able to teach her how to read comics properly, for example) but wish that the school could challenge her a bit with reading.

We were pretty dismissive when we gave her Esio Trot to read and she returned to me in an hour saying it was great and could she have another one. Almost half-heartedly, I’d ask her a question about what happened in the book. She answered promptly. Surprised, I tried something a little more analytical. She had it down pat. From then, I’ve just watched in amazement as she worked her way through dozens of books over the past couple of years, making incredible comments on genre and comparisons to other books. My year 10s can’t do it, that’s for sure.

But I didn’t start this to rave about my step-daughter, who you don’t know and doesn’t enter into Finding Damo in the slightest. I was going to use it as an introductory stepping stone and got carried away.

So… Hop! Next stone.

I used to read in bed as a child. I utilised the torch for my own illicit reading. But I was often found, fast asleep with a book on my face. I’m pretty sure it still happens sometimes.

This is the version I read and still own.

I read The Hobbit in Grade 3. I read the Wizard of Earthsea in Grade 2 – Mum was studying it for school and we were travelling through Queensland and it was there so I read it.

I read Bridge to Terabithia in Grade 5 or 6 – the teacher was giving me and a couple of others books to challenge us as the regular reading was way below us. In primary school I found Encyclopedia Brown, The Three Investigaters, Biggles, Blyton, Asterix and Tintin. As I got older, I devoured all of the Doctor Who novelisations, Judy Blume (Forever was an experience, I can tell you!), Victor Kelleher and Douglas Adams.

Scarily enough, I didn’t discover Terry Pratchet until university. Dave and I had been introduced to a MUD (multi-user dungeon) on the Internet, and we were having problems with some of the quests. “Oh,” said a helpful player, “that one’s straight from the books.”

“There are books?” I asked, to the general hilarity of the online world. Soon after, Dave and I were annoying the crap out of a busload of people as we read Reaper Man and Small Gods on the way to Queensland. And now I’m on the organising committee for Nullus Anxietas IV.

There are a few novels that completely changed my life.

The first, I just finished again, this time on audio. 47 hours of unexpurgated Stephen King. The Stand. A work of genius that draws me in, over and over. I think I’ve read it at least once every two years since it was published. And yes, the re-release was better.

IT, I’ll lump in with The Stand. It is King’s mind at work. But these two, above all of the others, make me come back and read them for the sheer depth of the worlds he created. I also read Christine and Pet Sematary on a regular basis.

Ben Elton’s Stark was the first book I’d read that didn’t have a happy ending. It shocked me, but also opened me to the possibilities. It was incredibly well written, great characters and then… what the hell?

Tad Williams’ Otherland series blew me away. It’s slow going in places, but again, the story had a scope that I hadn’t seen in a novel or series for a long time. That one’s due to my aunty Joan, who put me onto them.

Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time gave me a new insight into magic. It was a world that touched on hundreds of different mythologies and wove them into an incredibly complex world. And then Jordan wrote books 7-10 (which were unnecessary). And then he died. Brandon Sanderson has revitalised the series, and I’m really looking forward to the last book.

Clive Barker was another writer who pushed boundary after boundary. Imajica redefined horror and fantasy for me. He wrote about things that I would never have the courage to write about under my own name.  He’s not for the weak hearted, but he is an incredibly good writer.

I could go on. I might. But as a youngster, these books changed the way I looked at the world. I still like to get back to them on occasion to revisit writing that makes everyone else look bad. Don’t attack me for the people I’ve left out. I could add at least 20 more books that have also changed my life, but this was meant to be an off-the-top-of-my-head account and these are the ones that came to mind.

Oh, by the way: I’ve written ten more pages of Finding Damo. Word count to come when I’m home.

The Three Muses

The Three Muses by ShagThere’s an artist called Shag who creates these visually brilliant works, one series based on ancient Greek mythology interacting in modern/fifties society. My favourite work of his is a triptych called The Muses. In it three muses inspire three different artists – a writer, a photographer and a musician.

My sister Elise was the first person to point out that this very aptly represented us: Elise, my brother Justin and myself. Since then, I’ve been trying to match a time frame where I have the money to buy them and the prints are available. One for me the writer, one for Justin the musician, one for Elise the photographer.

You know about me. I never shut up about me. But I think it’s well worth talking briefly about my siblings, blessed of the muses.

Justin is two years younger than me. We were extremely close as children, often decked out in the same clothing and doing everything together. I was very excited when I heard he was born: “Guess what! I have a new brother AND a new dishwasher!”

As a child he was a crazy thing. The number of times he would end up in hospital with stitches… Well, it probably wasn’t that many times, but it seemed like a LOT. And I only caused a few of them. Off the top of my head: the time I pulled him off the top bunk, and the time I stuck a dinosaur in his head. Did he get stitches when I almost chopped his thumb off with the hatchet? At least that homemade bomb didn’t work.

Justin was the one who jumped off the High diving board first, climbed the highest up every tree, discovered that you could jump off the garage roof, onto the trampoline and then somersault into a pile of cushions we dragged from the caravan.

He hated reading. He even wrote a book about it: The Bird that read too much.

the Bird who Read Too Much!

Once we were in high school, we grew apart. We argued, we fought. He was sporty, I seriously wasn’t. Apparently I ignored him and he was resentful of that. I just remember that my friends and me were extremely uncool and so had to be shunned. Both of these are probably correct.

And he was right into the piano.

Both of us had lessons. I think I started earlier, and had very traditional lessons. Justin had a teacher that taught him to listen to music, taught him chords and how to belt out a tune that just sounded cool. I pretty much gave up on the piano then.

The three of us stayed away from the others’ areas of expertise. We can all draw well, play one instrument or another and write. I’ve even taught photography. But I’d never say I was a photographer or a musician.

We started spending time together again when we found out Dad had cancer. Our first Christmas together after this involved us going to the Juice nightclub and drinking way too much. So much so that we were still drunk the next day at Christmas dinner.

By this stage, Justin was playing the guitar, the piano and the drums. He basically just picks up n instrument, fiddles with it for awhile and then has a pretty good grasp of it for the purposes of ‘jamming’. He’s the musician, and he’s damned good at it.

Strewth!Now, he’s married with two kids and is incredibly successful at what he does. He worked as a park ranger for years, and the stories that came out of that job could easily fuel their own blog. He is saving the environment in a thousand different ways without the exposure of Steve Irwin. Although he has been on TV.

Elise’s muse leads her to a deep well of photographic creativity. She has an incredible eye for what is happening around her. Her sons are going to grow up absolutely hating the lens, but Elise is making the most of their cute years.

Elise is seven years younger than me. We’ve always been close, to the point where we lived together for a time at university. She did photography at university while I was completing my teaching degree. And then she did a teaching degree, which is where she met Daniel, her husband and father to their two wonderful boys. And a fellow pop culture aficionado.

I missed most of Elise’s high-schooling. I know that she was in a TISM music video, being taught by one of the singers. I know that she drank too much coffee when she was going to school at Ringwood SC. But that might be just because I was a country boy and didn’t know what coffee was until I was at university. Even then, Double Jolt was my caffeinated beverage of choice.

At uni, she was a major band head, right into her music. Then I started to see how good at drawing she is. She has a number of guitars with sketches on them, and was a regular photographer for a number of bands. Her eye for an image is spot on.

A few major images I have of Elise:

Elise the gumnut baby1. As a cute, pig-tailed pre-schooler dressed as a gumnut, which won her… I want to say Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I don’t know why that picture and that image of Elise are linked together. It’s a weird prize, if that’s the case.

2. Lying on her back squealing with laughter after we’d held up a finger in front of her. Her face red with laughter and her eyes streaming, we could keep her going for half an hour, with mentions of E-Kidneys.

Us looking snazzy at the Grad Ball

Us looking snazzy at the Grad Ball – 2002

3. In her graduation gown, with me in mine, both entering the grown-up world (me for the second time). The food that night was horrendous.

4. Dressed in red, standing in the sweltering heat, freshly married to Daniel and directing the photography. I never saw her happier.
Elise is a published artist. Together with Daniel, she’s been published in a book called: Co.lab Words and Art. That makes all three of us published now!

I honestly feel blessed by the family I ended up with. They say you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family. Someone chose me a pretty good one.

Instant offspring

From the last blog:

The other night, I had a dream that my brother was only a child say about ten years old. He had a red parka on with the hood up and I couldnt see his face. He was autistic. He was playing in the playground and fell over. I ran over to help him up and to hug him better and he pushed me away because he didnt like being touched. It broke my heart. I woke up sobbing and it took me a good five minutes before I could wake up enough to realise it was a dream, calm down and go back to sleep. Im not sure what Shereen thought. She was very sympathetic. When we were talking about it the next morning, I said that if we found out she was pregnant any time soon Id be highly nervous following that dream.

And so the dice is thrown again, and another reality is realised in blog form. This is how the blog could have gone.

stork

I was sure that there was more to having a child than this…

I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to tell you that Finding Damo is, in part, about my finding out that I have a son. It is the first chapter of the book. The mental challenge has been: how would I react to having a son? How would he react to me being his dad? And what are you meant to do with a teenager when one is dropped on your doorstep?

The dream made me think through this in a lot more detail. How much luckier am I, who has perfectly happy son, who is a stranger to me, than the woman with the autistic child, who is an alien to her? She loves her son with all of her heart, but can’t get inside his head or in many cases understand his motivation.

But how would Damo react to the first fight? What would the major power struggles be? How has he been disciplined by his mother before Damo was on the scene?

I have to believe that being a teacher would give me a bit of an advantage over someone who has never dealt with students before. The “dealing” with teenagers is what I get paid to do. But apparently there’s more to it than that. All of a sudden you are not just responsible for his grades and schoolyard behaviour, but you have to take responsibility for his every action. Some of it I could blame on his mother – her genes and her rearing. But for the most part, all of a sudden, when a teacher complains about his behaviour in class, it’s my fault, at least in part. And I’ve felt it – even with students in my homeroom. I know what they’re made up of. They are so much better than how people see them. And I want to protect them. God knows, if that’s how I respond to students who aren’t genetically related to me, it’s going to be worse for my own son.

On the bright side, now I’d have someone to join in on the destruction of the evil forces of the Horde. Someone to train in the ways of Red Dwarf fandom. I’d have him do drills of Coupling quotes… That brings up another issue.

A student comes up to me and said “hey. I finished GTA IV last night. That last scene was an absolute killer. Blood everywhere!” And I responded: “Are you kidding me? You’re in Year 7!” I’m incredibly strict with anyone I have responsibility for. And totally lax with anybody else. My aim as a child-rearer is to create someone as self-aware and together as I am. Hey, don’t laugh. I wasn’t allowed to watch M-rated movies until I was 15 and it didn’t hurt me. I did, of course, go to my friends’ places for access to anything more adult – Predator and The Toxic Avenger come to mind, not to mention the videos I won’t mention (incredibly educational). More on this in a sec.

Sidebar for teachers: have you ever (and you know you have, don’t deny it) sat in Parent-teacher interviews and seen an attractive parent and thought “hmmm”? And then seen whose parent it is and put all those thoughts out of your mind. Luckily, I found the mother with the most gorgeous child imaginable. And not during parent/teacher interviews…

I try not to talk about my current family too much on Finding Damo. This blog is about a man that I used to be, that never was, but could have been. The person I am now shouldn’t enter into it. That’s spoilers! But in this situation, my current family is relevant.

My two stipulations for dating, two-and-a-half years ago, were:

  1. Must love cats.
  2. No children.

Now, I am married to my lovely wife, who doesn’t like cats and has a seven-year-old daughter. Which means I now have a seven-year-old step-daughter. Voila! Instant parent. And it’s all been very easy. Too easy, he says, eyeing the forest uneasily. I love my wife. I love my step-daughter. They both love me. Shereen’s favourite story is of the time Young Miss O said to her “I love you so much! I love you as much as Damian!”

O’s other major comment on me is “He’s strict. He’s teaching me manners!”

I’m really not. I’m teaching her my manners. The rules of conduct that I was raised with, and that served me well in polite society. I will admit here (and try and dissuade Shereen from reading it) that it might not be the only way of interacting with society. But it worked for me and, like a basic knowledge of Christianity (and Buddhism, and Islam, and SCIENCE!), at least knowing the rules is an invaluable part of getting on with the people she’ll be dealing with. Most of them, anyway.

How is this relevant? Young Miss O has been like research. How would I respond to this situation? Well, that was enlightening? What would she do if I did this? Oh. Well, there you go! Scribble it all down in the little note book and get back to the book.

As for the book, I’m going to start posting a word count at the start of each blog, from next blog onwards. It’s time I start progressing again and get this one finished. I have a clear understanding of everything I want to happen, I have an incredibly detailed plan. I have a multitude of interesting characters, with most of the names changed to protect the guilty, and all I have to do is get it all down on paper. So here we go.

WoooOOOOOOoooooo!

This little titbit is another one of those “I keep hearing this in completely unrelated forums, so I feel like I should make mention of it” news items. In this case, it is the Loch Ness Monster. It started with Dave showing me photos from his trip to Scotland, and his trip to Loch Ness. Unfortunately, he didn’t get a shot of the famous Nessie, but it put the creature in my head. Then my step-daughter was telling me how the Loch Ness monster is actually a dinosaur. My gentle assertion that the correct phrasing was more along the lines of “could be a plesiosaur if it actually existed” were met with the scorn it deserved. Finally, from two different sources, the final being Kevin Smith’s Smodcast, I hear that in America, the education department is funding a text book for schools that states that the Loch Ness Monster is real, is probably a plesiosaur (dammit, foiled by a 7 year old again), and its existence proves that evolution is false.

Socrates would have a field day with the logic involved in that one!

From here, I have a real Sliding Doors blog moment. Or a Trousers of Time scenario. Or a Community dice roll.

Depending on where I go from here could mean the difference between being picked up by a major newspaper or wallowing forever in obscurity. Or ending up evil, or with only one arm. Here are the options:

  •  Trouser leg one: from here, I go on to talk about education and the teacher stereotypes that are prevalent in the media, compared to those that are prevalent in my ten years of teaching.
  • Trouser leg two: from here, I go on to talk about all of the weird and wonderful things in this world, which ones I believe in and which ones are absolute rubbish.
  • Trouser leg three (I’m Jake the Peg, diddle-iddle-iddle um) – there is NO leg three. Although I’m going to do a blog soon on being a sudden parent, in order to stay within the realms of the Finding Damo universe.

Shooting myself in the foot – career-wise – I’m going to go with spooks and the unexplained.

We love Ghost Kitty

Girls With Slingshots – another great web comic

The other night, I had a dream that my brother was only a child – say about ten years old. He had a red parka on with the hood up and I couldn’t see his face. He was autistic. He was playing in the playground and fell over. I ran over to help him up and to hug him better and he pushed me away because he didn’t like being touched. It broke my heart. I woke up sobbing and it took me a good five minutes before I could wake up enough to realise it was just a dream, calm down and go back to sleep. I’m not sure what Shereen thought. She was very sympathetic. When we were talking about it the next morning, I said that if we found out she was pregnant any time soon I’d be highly nervous following that dream.

We are still largely ignorant of the universe we live in. There are thousands of strange and unsettling occurrences that – well, that occur – every day. Some people say that they can explain it, WITH SCIENCE! but they often just ignore the element that isn’t explained.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if Shereen had been pregnant and a doctor had told me that the baby would be born autistic. Because I’d dreamt it. I might have been surprised if they doctor had told me that the baby was made out of strawberry icecream, and I’ve dreamt that as well. But I’m quite happy to believe that I had a prescient dream.

I mean seriously, who wouldn’t be? It means that I’m a super hero! I can see the future! The day that I stop dreaming is the day I can tell the Prime Minister that the world is about to end! If I ever dreamed of tattslotto numbers I’d be set for life!
Of course, that’s rubbish. I seem to get déjà vu more than the average person. I remember dreaming it and then it comes true. Or I just live an incredibly boring life where I do the same thing over and over again, and have shocking short term memory. But I’m not dreaming true dreams, and don’t place a lot of credence in the words of other people who say that they do.

But I believe it’s possible. I just haven’t done it yet.

True dreaming. Out of body experiences. Aliens, ghosts and poltergeists, clairvoyants, past lives, the yeti and the panther living in the Rushworth forest. I’m quite happy to believe in all of these things. They aren’t outside the realm of possibility. They’re as plausible as God, heaven, guardian angels and the like, and some people get quite upset when you laugh at those beliefs.

OK, ghosts. That I can give a little more personal experience about. I have two personal ghost stories and one that I’m going to butcher because I can’t remember it properly. I think it comes from one of Shay’s friends, so Shay, if you remember the conversation, feel free to weigh in via the comments.

Ghost story no. 1:

I was living at the Terraces in Bendigo. Every Tuesday, I’d walk over the hill in the dark to where Mark lived to watch Star Trek: TNG. And then I’d walk back much later at night over the same hill. At the top of the hill one night I noticed a pure white cat sitting in front of a car wheel. As Death says: CATS. I LIKE CATS. So I watched it. It watched me. As I walked past the car, it should have passed beyond my line of sight behind the wheel – it was just sitting there looking at me. To my shock, I realised that I could still see the cat, through the wheel of the car. Now it was slightly transparent, but it was still there.

I kept walking. I never saw it again. It could have been a trick of the eyes, but that’s my story.

Ghost story no. 2:

I’d just broken up with Cath, back when she was still Cath. We were civil, outwardly friendly, but there was still a bit of stress there in the relationship. She was flatting with Dave in Middleborough Road, a brilliant house that we almost destroyed in the time we lived there. Those two stayed in the same place for another… year? after I left. I was back for a visit and stayed out in the lounge. During the night I woke up and stared into the face and torso of an old man staring back at me out of the roof. I felt the thrill of fear but he wasn’t threatening. He seemed more evaluative. He was trying to get a measure of me. When I sat up, he faded.

I told Cath about him the next day and she said “Mmm. I know him. He looks after me at night. He’s very protective.” To top that off, I emailed a clairvoyant who dealt with ghosts and spirits. She emailed back saying “Oh yes, that’s the man who used to own the place. He’s looking after Cath and he has always been a little bit curious about you. He never quite trusted you in your relationship with her. He isn’t threatening, just curious. He watches you on the loo, cos he liked to read there too.”

Quite apart from being freaked out by the fact that a ghost is watching me on the loo, I hadn’t told her most of that information, so it was an impressive feat of either ghost whispering or making stuff up.

Ghost story no. 3:

This one is absolutely freaky. But it was ages ago, and I’m not sure if I can tell it properly. It happened to a friend of a friend of mine… But the friend experienced a number of the ghostly symptoms, so I give it a lot more credence. OK, let’s see what I can get out.

This girl’s boyfriend lived in a flat. He experienced a number of elements of a haunting – The lights would turn on and off by themselves. The taps would turn on when he left the room. There was a cold patch in the lounge, directly under the fan. He loved it. A haunted flat. And then, somehow, he found out what had happened. The guy who’d been there beforehand had committed suicide after his girlfriend had died (I’m making up the reason, but he committed suicide). After he found out, the spirit started to get angry. Objects would move around the room. My friend’s friend (the girlfriend) was hit with a glass one day when she visited. And then the guy had a dream where he died, hanging from the fan like the man who’d died in the flat. It wasn’t fun any more.

He started to look for a new place. He started to get angry very quickly. He withdrew, argued with his girlfriend. One morning, his girlfriend came over and he didn’t answer the door or his phone. You know where this is going. He was hanging from the fan, attached by his belt around his neck.

I can’t explain that one. I have another friend whose ghostly companion follows her from house to house. There are hundreds of stories out there. You can’t explain them all. Oh, you could say they’re lying, deluded, psychotic or mad. There are atmospheric anomalies and magnetic disturbances and the like.

But for now, I’ll keep an open mind.

Remember Alfie Dog and my stories. Apparently they’re selling well. Thank you to everybody who as supported me.

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