Thursday 15/01/15

It's a strange title for a blog; but a simple concept. Living in an urban environment, it is unlikely that you will have unwanted visitors sleeping in your shoes overnight. At least, until Funnel Web season. Then the chances of finding something nasty in your shoe increases dramatically. Funnel Web spiders aren't looking for permanent lodgings, just somewhere to sleep during the day. A hollowed out log is preferable, but an empty shoe will do just as well. A spider in a boot is an aggressive spider. It's not biting a person, it's trapped in a confined space and it is defending itself from a large animal invading its sleeping quarters.

Clearing your boots is easy. Don't just shove your hand inside your boot and feel around. Pick your boot up and hit the heel against the ground several times, then turn your boot upside-down and shake it. This should dislodge anything hiding inside. This seems obvious, but after watching a grown man squeal because he put his foot on something sleeping in his boot, I thought I should remind everyone about the basics.

Funnel Web spiders aren't the only culprits. Redbacks, huntsmen, white-tips, and black house spiders also like empty shoes. Cockroaches, mice, centipedes, scorpions and other critters have also been known to sleep in boots on many campsites.

Something else to keep in mind; if you're going away from civilisation for a day or two, pack a spare pair of bootlaces. They weigh nothing and take up no room in your backpack. You'd be surprised just how often a short length of cord will come in handy. Also, nothing's more annoying than a boot loosely flopping around on your foot.

Thursday 08/01/15

Like it or not, social media has become a daily part of most people's lives. The positive aspect of this form of communication is that it lets us keep up-to-date with our friends and family. The downside is that you now have people sending you lots of (not so) funny pictures; and emergency alerts that are nothing more than urban legends.

Because social media tends to be an easy going environment, people make the mistake of oversharing. People love to post pictures of their birthday and Christmas presents, as well as other expensive toys they've purchased during the year. How often do you see these sorts of pictures in your own news feed? Perhaps you've posted a few yourself.

People also love to share travel plans, often well in advance of their holiday. Some might even post a daily countdown to share their excitement with everyone. Why not? You've worked long and hard to earn that holiday. Unfortunately, there is a sinister side to oversharing (especially this sort of information). Have you worked out what that is?

Over the course of the year, you have publically announced all the shiny new toys you have in your house, and told everyone when you'll be away from your house (and for how long). The worst offenders are those who make status updates from another town, interstate, or even from overseas. They've just told everyone that their home is unoccupied, and the owners are miles away.

Another downside to social media is that you have no control over who sees your posts. Even if you only share with a select few people, if one of those friends "likes" or "shares" your post, there's no end to who else can see it.

Did you just feel a little knot form in your stomach? Perhaps that was your subconscious telling you that you share too much information in the web. Remember, once you put something on the internet, it's there forever.

Thursday 01/01/2015

Happy New Year everyone. I hope last night was fun and you didn't greet the New Year with a serious hangover.

Everyone knows our roads are busy and more congested than they've ever been. Our cars are getting bigger, but the lanes on our roads and the parking spots have remained the same width. Our hectic lifestyles are also adding to the problem; we are far busier now than we were twenty years ago. Stress on the road and stress in our lives is a volatile mixture leading to short tempers behind the wheel; especially during the holiday season.

As a result, people speed on our roads and aren't as courteous as they should be. Car-parks have become racetracks; too often people are willing to clash bumpers to secure a parking spot. Both of these situations can lead to a road rage incident. Road rage incidents are a no-win situation for everyone involved. If either of you resorts to violence, your immediate future probably involves injuries, legal hassles, fines and possible jail time.

If you feel your temper rising while you are in the car, or think the situation could turn nasty with the driver of another car; take a deep breath and let it go. Remember, the people in the cars around you are only in your life for a few minutes; only as long as you are travelling in the same direction, at the same speed. If they are being obnoxious, driving erratically or doing something that makes you uneasy, remove yourself from the situation. Allow your car to drop back in the traffic flow; then maintain a safe distance from the problem.

If another driver does something stupid or dangerous, don't take it personally. It's highly unlikely their actions were aimed at you. It's just as unlikely they even know who you are. Don't let your temper get the better of you. Don't turn a brief, random encounter into a long-term legal hassle. Your hurt feelings aren't worth getting into legal trouble over.

Even if their stupidity is deliberate, don't take matters into your own hands. Let it go. If there is an incident and your vehicle is damaged, do not become aggressive or emotional. Just get the information you need from the other driver, then get on with your life. No amount of damage to your car is worth getting into a fight over.

Before you act, ask yourself "Is this worth going to jail for?".