Echoes of Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" in the Australian Defence Force's search for a new generation of officers..
I remember back in the 90's when a co-worker introduced me to the novels of Orson Scott Card and Ender's Game. This novel was beautifully written with vivid imagery and characters that elicited an emotional response from the reader. I think what struck me the most with this novel, and this is what has made it so memorable for me, was the thematic use of the destruction of innocence and using the cleverness of children to turn them into strategic thinkers through the use of simulated games. As I read, the undertone of violence became more and more disturbing, especially as the reader gradually became aware that what the children were doing, was no longer a game. The protagonist, Ender, finally destroyed an entire race of beings whilst thinking that it was a simulated strategic game. When he realised the truth, it almost broke him.
There has been a lot of conflicting research into the desensitisation to violence through repeated exposure to violence and an increase in aggressive behaviour. However, violence is not the topic in this post...it is how the use of games such as Call of Duty and Battlefield, has caught the attention of Australian Defence Force and their means of recruitment. The ADF places advertisements on sites that review popular first-person games and promote the "adventure of life in the military"(Courier Mail, Call of Duty: Real-Life Diggers, 24 Mar 2015). Of course this seems logical, and intuitively, is a reasonable place to advertise or promote a career in the Military.
The Courier Mail also reports that the Assistant Defence Minister Stuart Robert said, "gaming sites were actively targeted by recruiters because they attracted people with an interest in complex scenario based computing". Well, this is reasonable and on the surface is a logical surmise as Roberts further goes on to say, "people involved in gaming [are] adept, fast thinkers, very natural with technology and they're used to complexity". All great attributes to have and a valuable skill set. However, he went on to say, "If we can find someone with the right attitude and aptitude, we can train them to do anything".
Robert's comments on the attributes of these first-person gamers reminds me of the rationalisations in the novel Ender's Game. As a teacher, I know that many of these first-person gamers are children sitting in our class rooms from year 5 and up. I don't know whether it is right to be able to "train them to do anything".
What do you think?
Itchy, Burning, Stinging Arm with no Rash!
This is for all of you who think that they are going mad, or insane, or both due to a chronic, itchy, stinging and burning arm. This is for all of you who can't escape the itch, can't sleep, scratch until you bleed and can find no relief!
This is for all of you who have gone to the doctors time and time again and come home none the wiser. Perhaps the doctor has just looked at you for the umpteenth time and politely tells you its all in your head! Perhaps that is what you think as well...perhaps you are doubting the reality of your itch and believe that it is all psychosomatic and its just a matter of getting your head together and telling yourself that your itch isn't real! That is until you wake up again scratching an arm that just won't stop itching!
Well...let me tell you it is not in your head. Your condition has a name. If you suffer the following:
Then you just may have Brachioradial Pruritis.
I am not a doctor!
I am not qualified to diagnose any illness or skin condition!
I am writing to you from my own experience and sharing with you the relief I felt when I finally did receive a diagnosis...Even though there is no treatment...I felt better knowing that I was not imagining this itch that had bothered me for over six years! I was sane!
When I finally was sent to a specialist Dermatologist, who took one look at my arm and noted the damage to my skin from chronic scratching, and when he listened to my lament about this itch...he just nodded his head and said, "I know what you have".
I couldn't believe my ears. I was overjoyed that there was a diagnosis...so of course I asked him to tell me what it was and how can it be fixed....He just nodded sagely and said, "I'll get to that later, but for now let's do a full skin check".
What! He'll get to that later!! And so he did.
He patiently explained to me that my arm condition was caused by my nerve fibres and possibly compression of nerves in my neck. Then he let me have the bomb-shell news!! There really isn't a cure...but we can help to alleviate the itch somewhat....and then he gave me a print out with the following information...
I hope that you find this article useful if you think that you may have this condition.
The following article is taken from a very informative and reputable Dermatology site DermNet NZ.
If you suspect that you do have Brachioradial Pruritis...then please go and see your doctor armed with this article and ask him or her to at least consider the possibility!!
Over the course of many years I have read many desperate pleas for help on many forums...all asking the same questions! What do I have? I am going insane with the itch, burning, stinging! Why does my doctor say there is nothing wrong? Will I ever get some help?
Well, I hope that this article helps you. I hope that you can rest a little better knowing that there is help but not a cure...that you are not imagining an illness, and I hope that you can find some relief!
I have to add that Brachioradial Pruritis was what led me to begin making natural soaps. All I use now is my Castile soap or Goat Milk soap and I am able to get through a night without itching!!
Let me know if this article has helped you. Leave a comment and help others with the same condition!
Article from DermNet NZ
Brachioradial pruritus is a condition where itch, burning, stinging, tingling and/or changed sensation arise in the areas of skin on either or both arms. The most commonly affected area is the mid-arm, but forearms and upper arms can also be affected. People often apply ice packs to the affected areas in an attempt to gain relief from the unpleasant symptoms.
The affected skin may appear entirely normal. Visible changes may arise from rubbing and scratching the affected area. These include purpura and ecchymoses (bruises), hyperpigmentation (brown marks), hypopigmentation (white marks), lichen simplex (a type of eczema), prurigo and scarring. There may be changed sensation when this is tested for with pinprick, cotton wool or heat and cold. Reduced or absent sweating may be noted in the affected area.
Brachioradial pruritus occasionally expands to involve the lower legs or generalises to other sites.
Cause of brachioradial pruritus Brachioradial pruritus is due to a neuropathy of the small C fibre nerves. As brachioradial pruritus appears to be more often reported in sunny climates than in cooler areas, long term sun exposure may cause damage to the nerve fibres within the skin
In many cases, brachioradial pruritus is clearly due to nerve damage or radiculopathy in the cervical spine (neck), when it may be due to:
When compressed nerves atrophy (shrink), C fibres in the skin can proliferate.
A localised neuropathic itch may also expand to involve other dermatomes.
Treatment of brachioradial pruritus Treatment is not always successful. Effective measures include the following:
Lavender Soap in a lavender Muslin bag with Lavender flower buds
Sometimes, the old favourite scent of Lavender is just perfect! No chai latte scent, or baked caramel apple or bubblegum...just fresh, natural Lavender!
I made this lavender soap four or six weeks ago. I used my non-stick friand baking pan as my mould. To release the soap, I placed the mould in the freezer but left the soaps in too long, as you can see by the slight mottling effect on the soap. I actually don't mind this effect, it reminds of a glazed pot after Raku firing and the effect of crazing a glaze on ceramics.
I don't like a too heavily scented soap, so I try not to overdo it with the essential oil. I prefer a subtle fragrance...and of course a lightly scented soap is less likely to cause skin irritation.
Packaging the Lavender Soap
The shape of this soap posed a packaging problem for me. When wrapped it just didn't look right...So I went and purchased some lavender muslin bags and dried Lavender flower buds. I then just popped the soap in the bag and put some lavender flower buds in with the soap and presto! ....a soap and lavender scent bag in the same package!
This lavender soap is made with a blend of Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin olive oil, Rice Bran Oil, Sunflower Oil, Soybean Oil, Lavender Essential oil, lye and water.
It is a very moisturising soap and has been super-fatted at 5%...so lots of good nourishing oils available for your skin!
This soap is available now on my Etsy store.
I just wanted to post something beautiful and simple. Something to brighten your day...and then I thought about Henri Matisse and his use of bright, bold colour and shapes...and how his colours brighten my day. I hope that they brighten yours as well!
Sometimes...it is better not to say too much.
Sometimes it is better to simply enjoy the beauty to be found in the world around us and to celebrate the creativity of others.
I love the playfulness that Matisse captures in his art and sometimes I think that we have lost our own playfulness...it is hiding inside us...waiting to pounce and take us by surprise! Matisse helps me move toward playfulness.
His art is a smile!
Have a lovely day!
Re-use and Recycle your Kitchen containers to make Soap Moulds!
When you begin to make soap it is often very tempting to go and spend money on expensive wooden moulds, silicone moulds and fancy moulds from many soap supply sites. Don't get me wrong...these moulds are fantastic and one day you will most probably need them when you begin to make soap in larger quantities. But...your Kitchen cupboards and recyclable packaging make fantastic soap moulds! The Lavender soap in the above pictures was made using an empty Pringles packet. No need to buy an expensive mould. This way you get to eat the Pringles and make soap!
Recycle, Re-use and Re-think
I am sure we all agree it is good to recycle...that is why we place our empty milk cartons, yoghurt containers, paper, cardboard and butter containers in our recycle bins!
Now, I want you to look at these containers differently! Look at them and see soap moulds! Yes...empty long-life milk cartons make fantastic soap moulds! Some of my best soap has come out of a milk carton. Once again you and your children get to drink the healthy milk, and you get to make some great soap and be kind to the environment at the same time! Of course you will end up placing the demolished milk carton in the recycle bin after you un-mould your soap...but you have value added to that humble cardboard milk carton. Below are just some of the once throw out containers that I now use as soap moulds.
I don't endorse any of these brands as I'm sure you have your own favourites. They are simply to illustrate the possibilities.
I have also used my bakeware. I have found that my silicone cup cake moulds make excellent soap moulds and the soap is very easy to remove. I have had success with non-stick bake ware such as my loaf cake tin, friand moulds, and patty cake tins. In fact, you can use anything in your kitchen for a soap mould! As long as it is plastic, wood, silicone or non-stick. I don't advise using your good bakeware all the time!! It is just sometimes fun to experiment with what you have on hand. You can always line your cake tins and loaf tins with greaseproof paper or baking paper to protect them. If you use the non-stick cupcake pans, put the soap in the freezer just before un-moulding and they will pop out very nicely.
There is really no limit to the many ways in which you can use everyday containers as interesting soap moulds...and you don't have to spend any money!!
Soap making is fun...but it can be expensive! The cost of essential oils, oils and butters for making soap, Lye, clays, micas, packaging materials and your time adds up, and if you can cut your expenses just a little by re-using and recycling material...then it just makes soap crafting even more fun and creative!
I hope that you have enjoyed some of the ideas in this post.
I would love to hear from you and learn how you have re-used and recycled containers in your kitchen. Add a comment and contact me via the contact page!
Is it just me, or do other parents go into panic mode when their child comes home from school and tells them they have to choose a science experiment for an assessment task?
'What sort of experiment', I ask?
'I don't know. We have to make one up', He says.
'Well, how about this...or that...'? I helpfully say.
'No. That's stupid'. He says.
And it goes on and on, until the assessment task is just around the corner and still no decision is on the horizon. This is when the parent, myself, goes into panic mode! For some reason, my son does not seem to panic...'It's ages away', he says. Ages of course means one week away and no experiment started, no hypothesis no nothing!
So...off I go to the local nursery and buy four plants. Three for the experiment and one for me, just because I like the plant, and if my son doesn't kill the other three, then I can plant them in the garden.
Our last minute experiment goes like this:
All the plants receive the same amount of sunlight each day. The variables are water and fertiliser. Our hypothesis is that the plant that receives sunlight, water and fertiliser will do best. Sounds OK so far.
Record via photos and see what happens!
A photographic timeline
Science 101 for Mums: How to set up a Science Experiment for your 12 year old! Panic!
Not much happening as yet...looks likes this experiment could be a fizzer! Well I will add to the pics as the experiment progresses. Sometimes I just wish there was no such thing as homework, projects and at home assignments...What sort of teacher am I to say such things??! Well this post looks like it could be one of those never ending stories...I do like that movie though! Well keep posted as I keep posting!!
How Can Natural, Handmade Soap Compete against the cheap supermarket brands? How does it compare to the mass produced product?
I was in the supermarket today...waiting patiently at the checkout and just gazing around as people are want to do when standing in a line. My gaze happened to catch the latest Big Brand Natural Soap promotion decked out beautifully and placed strategically at eye level...and then I saw the price...$2 for two bars!
I couldn't resist going over to the display and check out the ingredients on the back of the Natural Beauty soap wrapper. This is what I read:
Natural? I can't even pronounce most of the ingredients!
I shook my head and then compared it to the ingredients in one of my bars of soap, where anyone could list the ingredients on one hand, and understand what they were! Here goes...
How can any mass produced soap with ingredients that need a dictionary and thesaurus be marketed as natural?
How could I possibly compete against the brand, the price and the marketing? How could any natural soap crafter? There is no way a soap maker, crafting cold process or hot process soap, could possibly sell their bars for $1 each!
My answer came to me very quickly, while I handed my credit card over to the girl at the checkout...I couldn't!
I could never compete on price, and point of purchase sales, and neither could I compete with branding...the only thing that would sell my product is:
A Closer look at Petrolatum one of the Natural Ingredients in the 'Natural Beauty Bar"
Petrolatum is more commonly known as petroleum jelly, mineral oil jelly or mineral oil, and Vaseline. Petrolatum is a petrochemical derived from crude oil. It may run the risk of being contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),1 which are possible human carcinogens found in crude oil and its byproducts. The Environmental Working Group labels petrolatum as a low to moderate hazard, but with the potential for contamination from PAHs, it becomes high risk.The European Union, has banned petrolatum for use in cosmetics unless the manufacturer can show a full refining history and prove that the petrolatum wasn’t produced from carcinogenic substances. Meaning, manufacturers have to prove the product isn’t contaminated by PAHs.2
The following is a quote from the David Suzuki Foundation, "But this petrochemical can be contaminated with cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The European Union considers it a carcinogen and restricts its use in cosmetics. Download our wallet-sized Sustainable Shopper's Guide so you can avoid petrolatum and the other eleven toxic ingredients commonly found in your soap, shampoo, and deodorant."3
While researching Petrolatum, I did find one website that promoted its use as a moisturiser, (and also advertised for Vaseline), however, Petrolatum is an occlusive moisturiser and keeps moisture in your skin. This website concluded by stating that Petrolatum is not petroleum – and cosmetic-grade petrolatum is, by and large, safe.4 By and large safe? What does that mean? It's mostly safe or it can be a little bit unsafe?
So what should the natural soap crafter do against such odds?
Perhaps the small scale soap crafter, like myself will never be financially viable...but does that mean we should stop producing what we know to be better for our skin, your skin and the environment?
I have been thinking on this and trying not to feel totally defeated by something so ubiquitous as large companies, with countless resources and funds, who use key emotive words like natural, organic and beauty, while peddling off an inferior product.
No...I will keep creating my soap because I know that it is better!
Download the Sustainable Shopping Guide from David Suzuki.org
Hi! Welcome to my Soapy Conversations about Soap and AllSorts of other Topics! I live in NSW Australia and I am a mother of five, Grandmother of Five and I sponsor seven children through Compassion Australia. I love making soap, reading, teaching English, and being an Advocate for children and women living in poverty.
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AllSorts of Soaps