Category Archives: Life

My girl, the vampire.

  

This is my daughter, Bella, in her Halloween costume from Saturday night’s local Halloween movie night. Yes, it was a ‘boy’ costume (on the packet, on the label, in the section), and yes, it’s freaking adorable. I didn’t choose it to politicise my child, nor did I choose it to prove a point. I simply bought this costume because it was much more awesome than the ‘girl’ costumes available. 
I didn’t see this selection as an issue, but apparently I was somewhat alone in that mindset. When told about the outfit, people close to me said, “oh, people will tell you that ‘he’s a cute little boy’” and “make sure you’re ready for everyone to think she’s a boy“. Someone even said that she’ll “be put in the costume contest in the boy category“. 

On the night there were certainly some onlookers who were clearly confused and politely dodged mentioning gender when complimenting our little vampire. Others said she’s an “adorable little boy”, and some realised (and mentioned) that she is a girl. None of it bothered us in the slightest, nor did it bother anyone else to realise that the adorable little vampire they were talking to was in fact, a girl in a ‘boy’ costume.  

At one point during the evening, we even had a photographer ask if she could take a photo of our “little vampire” for the newspaper. When we gave her Bella’s name for the form, she wasn’t confused or shocked at all, despite being ambiguous in her references to Bella before learning her name. It simply didn’t matter. Most telling of all, the people who were initially concerned about her potentially being confused for a boy ended up praising her little costume, despite it not fitting the typical ‘girly’ style. 

Here’s the thing – she wasn’t dressed as a vampire to make a statement, but nor will she ever be made to adhere to gender stereotypes. Quite simply, she’s a vampire because vampires are awesome. When she’s older and can decide for herself what she wants to be for Halloween, I want her to see that her very first time dressing up has set the precedent wherein she can wear any costume she wants, without being concerned about gender stereotypes. 
  
I guess the point is that you don’t need to adhere to gender stereotypes but you also don’t need to go out of your way to avoid them either. If Bella wants to, she can be the most glittery, pink little princess one Halloween, and Batman the next. Her imagination will determine her choices, not her imposed gender.

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Through The Eyes Of A Brain: How The Brain Truly Sees The Human Body

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Source: London Natural History Museum

The cortical homunculus is a visual representation of how the brain truly views the human body. More specifically, it depicts the differences in the brain’s dedication to individual areas of the body.

There are two types of cortical homunculi – the motor homunculus and the sensory homunculus. The motor homunculus model is based on the information exchange between the body and the part of the brain responsible for motor function – the primary motor cortex. As the name suggests, the motor homunculus is a proportionate representation of the brain’s dedication to the parts of the body responsible for motor functionality. In other words, the more brain power involved in the planning, execution and control of a body part’s movements, the larger the body part is on the clay figure, thus giving a simple, yet accurate visual representation of the brain’s dedication to different areas of motor function.

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The motor homunculus pictured from different angles. Source: London Natural History Museum

Similarly, the sensory homunculus model is a visual representation of the brain’s dedication to the sensing of information of each body part. Again, this directly translates; the larger the brain’s efforts in sending/receiving sensory information to each body part, the larger the body part is on the figure. The part of the brain that is responsible for this sensory exchange is the primary somatosensory cortex, and with the visual aid of the sensory homunculus, we can gain a better insight into the relationship between this cortex and the different areas of the human body in relation to sensing.

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The sensory homunculus. Source: London Natural History Museum

Both the motor and sensory areas of the brain value the hands above all else. The hands help to navigate our way through this world in what seems like an automatic function. Little do we ever stop to think that as we type, lift or even gesture, that our brain is concurrently dedicating so much to these functions, let alone the idea that it’s focusing more on the hands than anything else. On the other end of the scale, the brain is giving perhaps the least amount of dedication to areas such as the limbs. The limbs work only to move our hands and feet into place, so while they do require attention, they don’t necessarily need the same amount of dedication as the eyes, mouth or hands.

This concept was developed by Wilder Penfield in the 1930’s. Penfield performed surgeries on patients with epilepsy and often made use of his valuable time with the live brain by mapping the specific areas of the brain as related to parts of the body. This resulted in the first, more primal cortical homunculus, which shows (in the diagram below), which areas of the brain coincide with specific parts of the body.

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While incredibly creepy, the cortical homunculi provide for a more mindful experience. As you read this, pay attention to your body – which areas are most utilised? It’s an awakening experience to acknowledge how powerful the human brain is, rather than to simply function automatically through every single process without ever giving it a deeper thought. The human brain is truly an astonishing masterpiece that we often take for granted; stay mindful.

Arsonists Strike In Blakeview, SA On New Year’s Eve

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A calm NYE afternoon. A dry grass field that is only hours away from being lit.
Source: Leesa Little

The small, semi-rural suburb of Blakeview (near Adelaide) was struck by arsonists this New Year’s Eve, threatening the many homes that were separated from it only by a single road.

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Working quickly – this far-left area of the blaze was dealt with promptly.
Source: Leesa Little

The grassfire spread quickly across the dry field, meaning that the response to the scene had to be quick – and it was. Given the size of the field, the strong Adelaide winds tonight and the dry heat, the threat to the area was very real, as the locals quickly realised.

Five Country Fire Service trucks and two Metropolitan Fire Service crews attended the scene and worked for nearly an hour to completely eliminate the blaze. While it did take awhile to rid of each spot-fire, they had the whole situation under control relatively quickly. Maneuvering their trucks over the tricky ditch, firemen worked with grace to handle what was a potentially disastrous scenario. Police did their best to divert any traffic away from the blaze, which started around 10:30pm. Police also issued a search helicopter that explored the site for around 20-30 minutes after the blaze was eliminated, seeking the three male suspects that were witnessed fleeing the scene.


Source: Leesa Little

The Metropolitan Fire Service initially reported that houses were under threat, but thanks to all involved, the fire has been eliminated and there has been no property damage. Again, given the circumstances, it is incredible that the men and women of Elizabeth’s Fire Services were able to put an end to the threat so quickly. Watching one of the firemen stumble towards the police officer who was assisting them – looking absolutely exhausted – served as a sobering reminder that these men and woman are always working tirelessly behind the scenes to protect us.

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Weary, one of the firemen discusses the situation with a police officer, then reflects on the battle he just emerged from.
Source: Leesa Little

What many viewed as a side-show, was indeed a very real threat to homes and lives, and these people saved us all. So to them, and to the assisting police officers, thank you and sorry that this is how you had to begin 2014.

Personal note: I saw a single firework from the same area only minutes before the blaze took hold. While police believe this to be arsonists, I am sure that it will soon emerge that this was a result of illegal fireworks. This information has been reported to crimestoppers.

Frightening Trends: Rooftopping

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Source: Rooftopper, Tom Ryaboi’s website.

While the unbelievably dangerous act of ‘rooftopping’ has emerged as a scary new trend throughout the country, it has in fact been of international popularity for a number of years. In recent months, it’s either just started to spread throughout Australia, or has only now been noticed by authorities. Either way, there’s no denying how incredibly risky and terrifying this trend is.

‘Rooftopping’ involves climbing to ridiculous heights and without harness, taking a photo to commemorate the moment. Photographer, Tom Ryaboi even boasts this dangerous pass-time as being his photographic edge. Posting numerous photos of himself in compromising positions, Tom’s main attraction on his website seems to be his first-listed category – rooftopping.

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Source: Rooftopper, Tom Ryaboi’s website.

Though most well-known rooftoppers are proud of their activity, many deny that they are influencing others. Particularly at risk are the impressionable youth, who, with all of the means to share their photos via social media, are becoming increasingly willing to do anything to give their amateur photography an edge.

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Instagram user and high-school student, ‘Nadanator’ posts one of Tom Ryaboi’s photos, along with her enthusiasm to follow the trend.

Like many other rooftoppers, Tom Ryaboi makes sure to conceal his identity in each of these shots to protect from the authorities – a move that is now being imitated by Australia’s more impressionable youth as the police try to crack down on the perpetrators. According to abc.net.au, Queensland police have started to use the images posted on social media sites to identify and fine the culprits as a possible deterrent. Unfortunately however, while the police are doing their best to put a stop to the trend, rooftoppers are proving to be defiant and brazen about their activity. ABC (abc.net.au) reports the response from Brisbane rooftopper, Blu Art Xinja, who says that the consequences don’t serve as a deterrent; he told them, “I think it is dangerous for people to get on top of buildings, but I personally don’t mind danger – a lot of people don’t,” continuing with, “Even if someone died in an accident from it I don’t think it would be deterrent if you like doing it anyway.” – from abc.net.au

Despite the fact that ‘rooftopping’ is what most consider to be a life-risking activity, well-known rooftoppers have a collection of loyal followers that believe in the “art” of their work. After doing the interview for ABC, Blu Art Xinja took to his Facebook page to brag about the article and of course his fans had his back.

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Source: Blu Art Xinja’s Facebook page.

While we’re all hoping for the craze to subside for the sake of safety, Blu Art Xinja has only one reason for his hope that the attention falls away – “I do hope the craze dies down so I can keep doing it with less eyes watching me.” he told abc.net.au