Chronic volunteerism: do you have it?

Remember back to Primary School … do you remember the child who always had their hand up for everything?  The one who knew all the answers, the one who always went up to the blackboard to work out the maths problem, the one who always said yes when asked if they would like to participate in a class project or survey.  They were suffering from Chronic Volunteerism.

In my experience, humans as social creatures, need to fill their lives with human contact.  If your everyday life is not supplying that contact, you do something about it to make it happen.  That’s where volunteering comes in.  Many people do not even realise they are volunteers but without them, things wouldn’t happen.

This is especially true in the Science Fiction Fan Community.  Clubs and conventions simply could not exist without volunteers.  Without people dedicating their time to organising events, or fund raising activities, or movie nights, or even just every club meeting, there would be nowhere for us poor SF fans to congregate, to be able to mix with others of our own kind.

I have had positive experiences with volunteering for the fan community but there is one thing I have noticed over the past year that I feel compelled to warn people about.  It is what I call Chronic Volunteerism.  Volunteering for too much.  Getting so excited about something that you commit before really thinking it over.

This was especially prevalent during the Worldcon last year.  I took over the role of Dealers room liaison (under the very competent supervision of Steve Francis) from another person who simply didn’t have the time.  He at least recognised the fact and resigned early enough to let someone new have time to take on the role and accomplish something.

There were many who didn’t.  The fact that the Worldcon ran as well as it did was a tribute to the hard work of those volunteers who basically gave up all their spare time and indeed had to take time off work to simply keep up with the mammoth amount of work required to get the Worldcon up and running.

Over the past few months, indeed the last year, I have been putting my hand up for anything I can so I can experience something new and meet new people.  I certainly did that at the Worldcon, making many new friends and gaining a lot of respect for some I already knew.

But volunteering is not just about the science fiction community.  I have been thinking for some time now that I needed to connect with people in my area, as I have just moved there and haven’t got a history of growing up in the community like so many locals would.  I decided to volunteer at the local community house so I checked online to see what programs they had.  One stood out above the others.  It is a home tutor program for teaching english to migrants and refugees.

This was a way I could give back to the community while feeling that I was learning something new, expanding my horizons.  Last night I attended my first class in Home Tutoring for Migrant education and while I am excited over the new opportunity, there is the small feeling that I have bitten off more than I can chew.  The fact is, I will have to go into a total stangers’ house (one who can speak little to no English) and somehow get them to listen and understand a language that often escapes comprehension of native speakers!  It is scary but also thrilling as well.  It could become an addiction.

In fact I think all kinds of volunteering could become an addiction.  The feeling of appreciation you get from others makes you feel good about yourself and what you are doing.  It is very easy after feeling that kind of high to go ahead and volunteer for something else, and then for another thing, and another.  Before you know it you are a Chronic Volunteerer who has no time for anything or anyone else except your volunteer work.

Like any obsession volunteering can be bad for the health.  Excessive commitments can lead to stress and as we all know in these current times, stress leads to all manner of health problems.  So all you people out there who have volunteered for something and are now either regretting it or have over committed, don’t stress!!  Let your Volunteer organiser know your feelings.  They will be understanding (in most cases they are volunteers as well), and will advise you as to your options.  You can either volunteer for something else which takes up less time or you can get away from it all together.

Science fiction fandom even has a term for that.  GAFFiating (Get Away From Fandom).  It is where fans, either through over committing with volunteering thus burning out or partnering up with a non-fan, drift away from the frenetic world of Science Fiction Fandom.  Most fans I know have GAFFiated at some stage of their life.  Either they grew out of their interests or they simply didn’t like participating any more, whatever the reason, there is no shame and no condemnation once (or if) you return to the fold.  Mostly you are welcomed with open arms (and a question if you would like to volunteer for something?)

My advice is that if you enjoy it keep doing it, otherwise hand it over to someone else.  Nobody wants to be stuck working on something they don’t enjoy, especially if they don’t get paid for it.  That is what the day job is for!  So all you volunteers out there, keep at it but don’t over commit, that way you will avoid burning yourself out and the Science Fiction Community will have your expertise for years to come.

Review of The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card

I has been quite a while now since I have read a novel by Orson Scott Card.  I went through a phase after reading Enders Game where I devoured anything written by Card.  I absolutely loved the Alvin Maker tales and one of my all time favourite books is Treason, a stand alone novel which is all too rare in the SF genre.

I read a blurb about The Lost Gate and was quite excited about it.  It looked to be something new and different, another thing quite rare in the SF genre.  It is about a young boy, Danny North, who has grown up knowing that magic existed.  His whole family, living in a compound like some freak religious cult, have magic.  Whether it be his Uncle Zog, who can control animals, to his father who was a Rockbrother, someone who can control metal.  Danny himself has no magic.  He is a ‘drekka’, looked down upon by his talented family, constantly harassed by his numerous cousins.

To escape the torment Danny runs a lot.  He often runs so fast he doesn’t know how he got there.  Then one morning, while babysitting the girls and trying to make them mind, he does something impossible.  He gates.  Gatemages have been hunted for centuries.  They are the reason that all the magical families have declined to their current pathetic state.  Those families, who were once gods on earth, used to use the gates to go to another world.  Upon returning from that world their powers would increase exponentially and they were as gods to the poor humans.

Loki, a Gatemage, closed all the great gates, preventing them from increasing their powers.  The families’ powers declined over the centuries and the continual warfare between them meant that any Gatemage born to the families was killed so that no family would have the advantage over the other.

Once Danny realises his power he knows he must make his own way in the world and find out how to use a power that nobody has had in hundreds of years.  He leaves all he has known to go out and learn what he can about his powers and about himself.

This is a classic coming of age story, although I thought the main character, Danny, was a bit of a smart ass and difficult to relate to.  I think more could have been done with the characters in this, although I did find it compelling reading.  Danny’s adventures, while fairly tame, follow a progression of learning and he steadily becomes more of a real person towards the end of the novel.  This is obviously the first in a long series, as nothing much really happens in this one.  The other story, taking place on another world, seems to have a little more promise, with another gatemage who turns out to have a lot of secrets.

It is obvious these two characters will become either allies or enemies in the next novel, as there is really no-one in either world who can stand against them.

While I quite enjoyed reading this novel, it hardly compares with the emotionally wrenching Enders Game, which I feel to be one of the classics of the last couple of decades.  It was pleasant but I think the next novel needs to step it up a notch in the action department otherwise readers will lose interest.  I am looking forward to the next novel but not enough to count the days, if you know what I mean?

Empty musings about the reality of reality shows

I have been a bit slack with the blogging lately, frankly something that is quite in character with me.  I tend to get caught up with reading or catching up with television programs which I have missed.  In this case I have been reading a lot and watching a lot of ‘reality’ tv, trying to avoid doing certain other things I should be doing (like exercise or housework).

I have watched a lot of episodes of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance.  Also I have seen a few episodes of My Kitchen Rules.  Even though each of these reality shows is about a different subject they are all scarily familiar.  The producers carefully edit the shows so that you have favourites right from the start, even though you are not supposed to know whether they are going through to the end.  In American Idol, if they do a back story about some sort of hardship you know for sure they are going to make it at least to Hollywood.

There was an article in the paper today about how the lady from Tassie in My Kitchen Rules was getting death threats because she was cast as the villain amongst the contestants.  Death threats?  It is a cooking show for christ’s sake!  I can’t fathom the depth of fanaticism required to issue death threats to a snarky mum from tassie, whose only crime is to be a bit picky about her food.  My God, every single person I know has complained about somebody’s food before.  Admittedly not on national television but geez it is a competition and she obviously wants to win.

Another report was saying the fans of Justin Bieber (the Beliebers if you can believe it) were threatening poor Esperanza Spalding on Wikipedia just because she won best new talent instead of Justin.

Being part of the Science Fiction Fan Community I am very familiar with people taking fandom too far.  It is very common to see a fan of a sci fi tv show (see me very carefully not mention a particular show so as not to cultivate a stereotype) take it to the next level, living the life so to speak as if it was real and not just a fantasy.

But that is not sending death threats.  These people are generally passionate about their obsession in many ways but certainly not to the extent that if someone dissed their idol they would make death threats to them.  I have seen many a heated discussion about whether Trek is better than Star Wars, in fact it is practically a given that there will be a panel on this at any Science Fiction convention, and the proponents of either side are generally passionate about it and can’t be swayed, but they don’t want to kill the other side either.!

It must be the fact that most Bieber fans are extremely young.  Everything is so much more important when you are a teenager.  When your idol fails, you feel personally affronted and must do something about it.  That famous ‘leave Britney alone’ video springs to mind as an example.

Another example of ‘reality’ shows being far from reality is The Biggest Loser.  As you know, I am on my own personal weight loss journey, but I avoid watching that show, as it only discourages me. People want to hear about great drops in weight, but in reality who can afford to take 3 months off work and have a personal trainer for 8 hours a day pushing you to exercise till you vomit?

Nobody, only people on tv reality shows.  Just how many of these people keep the weight off after the show is finished?  I bet only the winners do as they then have sponsorship to keep the weight off so the program doesn’t look bad.  Nobody real can lose 15 kilos in one week!  It just makes it harder for those of us trying to lose weight the old fashioned way, by trying to reduce the intake of calories and increase the exercise.

Anyway, I have blathered on about this enough tonight and will not bore you further.  I am going to try to blog more often, or as often as I can think of something to write about.  Since this is mostly for myself, I don’t really mind if no-one reads these anyway.

Cheers for now

Paula

Worst music lyrics of all time!!!

Have you ever wondered what the conversation between two 17 year old boys who just had sex (not with each other) would be like?  Read the lyrics to this song below and you will soon know.  I was listening innocently to the radio on the way home from the Nova Mob and this puerile excuse for a song came on the radio.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing so I looked up the lyrics once I got home.  Yes, they were just as bad as I thought.

I Just Had Sex Lyrics

[Lonely Island]
Sometimes
Something beautiful happens
in this world

[Akon]
Oh
Akon
And Lonely Island

[Lonely Island]
You don’t know how to express yourself so
You just gotta sing

[Akon]
I just had sex
And it felt so good (felt so good)
A woman let me put my penis inside her (her)
I just had sex (Hey!)
And I’ll never go back (never go back)
To the not-having-sex
Ways of the past

[Andy Samberg]

Have you ever had sex?
I have, it felt great
It felt so good when I did it with my penis

A girl let me do it
It literally just happened
Having sex could make a nice man out’ the meanest

[Jorma]

You’ll never guess where I just came from
I had sex
If I had to describe the feeling it was the best

When I had the sex
‘Meant my penis felt great
And I called my parents right after I was done

[Andy Samberg]

Oh hey, didn’t see you there
Guess what I just did
Had sex, undressed, saw her boobies and the rest

[Jorma]

Well sure
Nice of her to let you do that thing

[Andy Samberg]

Nice of any girl ever

[Jorma]

Now sing

[Akon]
I just had sex
And it felt so good (felt so good)
A woman let me put my penis inside her (her)
I Wanna tell the world

[Andy Samberg]

To be honest
I’m surprised she even wanted me to do it

[Jorma]

Doesn’t really make sense

[Andy Samberg]

But man, screw it

[Jorma]

I ain’t one to argue with a good thing

[Andy Samberg]

She could be my wife

[Jorma]

That good?

[Andy Samberg]

http://www.elyricsworld.com/i_just_had_sex_lyrics_the_lonely_island.html
The best 30 seconds of my life

[Jorma]

I’m so humbled by a girls ability to let me do her

[Andy Samberg]

Cuz honestly I’d have sex with a pile of manure
With that in mind the soft, nice-smellin’ girl’s better

[Jorma]

She let me wear my chain and my turtle neck sweater

[Akon]

So this one’s dedicated to them girls
That let us flop around on top of them
If you’re near or far, whether short or tall
We wanna thank you all for lettin’ us fuck you

[Jorma]

She kept looking at her watch

[Akon]

Doesn’t matter, I had sex

[Andy Samberg]

But I cried the whole time

[Akon]

Doesn’t matter, I had sex

[Jorma]

I think she might have been a racist

[Akon]

Doesn’t matter, I had sex

[Andy Samberg]

She put a bag on my head

[Akon]

Still counts
I just had sex
And my dreams came true (dreams came true)
So if you had sex in the last 30 minutes then you’re qualified to sing with me
I just had sex (everybody sing!)
And it felt so good (we all had sex!)
A woman let me put my penis inside her (I wanna tell the whole world!)
I just had sex (I just had sex!)
And I’ll never go back (no, no, no!)
To the not-having-sex
Ways of the past

To those of you who got to the end of this without either gagging or laughing your ass off I applaud you!!

Cheers

Paula

True Grit truly awesome

I know I said when I started this blog that I would throw in the occasional book review, but my first review on this blog is going to be about the truly wonderful movie I just saw.  True Grit is the latest offering from the Cohen brothers and if you have seen any of their other movies you know you are going to be in for a treat.

I haven’t seen the original True Grit with John Wayne (or if I have it was not very memorable) so I cannot compare the two like other reviews.  John Wayne won a best actor Oscar for his part as Rooster Cogburn in the original movie, and Jeff Bridges is up for best actor in this version.  If he wins have there ever been two actors win for the same role in different movies before?  Something to look up in my spare time.

The movie is up for 10 Academy awards in total and while that doesn’t necessarily mean mass appeal, in this case they are certainly earned.  I think what appealed to me the most was the beautiful language used.  I was commenting to my friend after the movie about how even the bad guys were polite and eloquent.  Not a cuss word to be heard.

The setting was beautiful with lots of moonlight shots of forests and plains, with a starkness that showed how lonely life would have been out there back then.

I think the best thing about this movie though was the relationship of the young girl, Mattie Ross with the crusty old US Marshall Rooster Cogburn.  She is a determined young miss who mentions her age (14) at every opportunity.  She wants the murderer of her father hunted down and has hired Cogburn to do it.

They clash at every turn as he is a drunkard and she is an annoying brat.  There are some very funny moments with their encounters with travellers along the way.  I found this movie totally satisfying to watch and it shows how master storytellers can put a beautiful movie together without swearing or too much blood and still make it seem like an action packed western.

 

On another topic, I haven’t written in a while as I have been in a bit of a rut.  It is so easy for a lazy girl to go back to bad habits.  Hot weather makes it worse unfortunately.  I will try to go a bit better this time.