What A Messed Up World – part 2

Posted in Family, Food, Mental Health, Personal Thoughts, Politics, The World on April 24, 2017 by Neal

What is a “lucky country”? 

Is it lots of land and freedom to live we’re you want? Is it the ability to protest or disagree with the government and not fear reprisals? How about wealth that makes you not want for anything? Religious freedom? You could probably ask thousands of people and you would get a mix of these things plus many more definitions. In fact the idea for a lucky country is so broad that it all boils down to a simple common factor, it’s people. This is what makes a country lucky in my view. Without people all you have is land that no one uses. People shape a country, give it focus and direction. That being said we can easily loose sight of what it means to be in a lucky country. 

My wife recently got back from a missions trip with her school to Cambodia. She was talking about some of the things that could be said and not said which we would normally take for granted. Yet the biggest thing that stood out to me was the resourcefulness of the people there. For a developing country they certainly don’t take anything for granted. Wallets made from recycled tyre rubber, iPad cases using recycled paper and fabric, laminated newspaper wallets and pencil cases, coffee cup wrappers made from upholstery scraps. This might not seem like much but for many it’s the difference between eating that night or going hungry. 

Perhaps it is necessity that creates a lucky country? How many of us would spend 13hrs a day sifting through garbage piles looking for materials to use or sell? After all many of us take what we have in life for granted. We have food, roof over our heads, safe place to sleep, if something we own is broken we toss it out and usually get a new one (seems to include spouses as well if you look at statistics 😁 ). Without a necessity we don’t seem to have a driving force in our lives. Keep in mind I am being very general here so it’s not the same for every individual. 

If you read stories of life during the two world wars, there are loads of examples of people using their ingenuity to help keep things moving with limited resources. Recycling was an everyday thing. Growing your own food made it possible to extend limited rations for many valuable days for those not on the front lines. Those fighting also used creative ideas at times to get by with their own limited resources. 

To me a lucky country is made by its people. Those who take what little they have and find ways to live a full life. People who help their neighbours to thrive. Diversity of cultures and nations that learn together to be a greater country as a whole than a country of singular people.

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Why So Negative?

Posted in Anxiety, Burnout, Coping Mechanisms, Depression, Family, Mental Health, Personal Thoughts, Reasoning, Self Doubt, The World on April 19, 2017 by Neal

My mind isn’t working properly these days. “Well no kidding you have depression. Of course your mind isn’t how it should be” some will say. Others will simply say “It’s only in your mind. You can get over it” or they’ll say “It’s all with the choices you make so make positive ones and think positive all the time”.  Sounds logical and easy doesn’t it? Perhaps it is, after all depression is a state of mind right? The mind is the most misunderstood organ in the human body and we know very little about it in the grand scheme of things. I can just think happy thoughts and before you know it I’ll be flying around like Peter Pan…oh wait I need fairy dust as well. Damn there goes my easy commute to work.

The real problem for me I suppose is the crossed wires I have in my coping processes. For most of my life I have tended to look at the negative side of a situation. If there’s a problem or situation I put up the negative aspects first instead of finding a solution that has a positive outcome. It’s just how I’ve always thought of things. List the possible faults and then diagnose a process that fixes things. Odd I know and trying to explain that to people can be very difficult. For the last couple of years I have worked hard on giving positive responses to situations, despite my natural trends. It’s not very easy for me but to help improve my interactions with family and friends I’ve been giving it 99%. But the stupid thing is I keep falling back into old habits and I end up at the bottom of the hill again and have to start climbing again. Not a simple thing when the depression keeps throwing boulders to stop your ascent.

Yet I know my wires are crossed. At work I put on this fake happiness in front of customers. Sure I still talk about the negative stuff to them but I laugh it off and smile the whole time. The quote I give when asked how I keep going is a stupid one because it only applies to work. “I can either laugh about it or cry in a corner, which doesn’t get a thing done” So while at work the introvert puts on all the pomp and ceremony of an extrovert just so the day goes by without complications (some I can’t control but such is life). However when I get home that facade is lost and I find myself ready to curl up in a corner and ignore the world. It’s not gone straight away. Sometimes I can keep things on the brighter side for a few days but eventually the stress of home life sheds way too much light in my imperfections. Don’t get me wrong, my life isn’t close to how bad some people have it. I have family, a house, clothes, food, a job…things we all tend take for granted. Each of my self criticisms has a tiny voice in my head, gnawing away at the foundation of normality that I put in place to function. Over time they get louder as things are added to each voice. “Not enough money to pay certain bills, that’s cause you are a shit financial planner. You spend way too much time dealing with work stuff at home. Why can’t you have nice conversations with the kids? Not a lot of food in the house because you can’t manage the money properly.” Little comments like “can we have hot chips for dinner or do you have to work on your day off” suddenly get amplified out of proportion by my mind and depression.

Self-doubt seems to be the biggest voice in my head these days. I want to talk about things but the internal dialogue with anxiety and depression really ruins things in a hurry. Though if I simply blurt out things before I have time to think it usually doesn’t make sense and then I have to think on it to explain things and we’re back at square one again. Silly right? Said my mind was a mess. It’s like doing these blog posts. If I just write on a whim and let my fingers do their own thing, I can generate stuff that is of interest yet may not make sense. When I start to reread what I write and focus on giving an articulated view with deep thought I get stuck in that self-doubt circle that catches me when I think too much. The part that troubles me the most is making things sound like a cry for attention and pity. A sort of “Oh look my life is so bad and I feel so helpless….” feeling I can’t stand when I see some of the posts on my Facebook feeds. I’m not looking for attention so much as trying to reveal how my mind works. Depression and anxiety isn’t just the same thing for everyone. We all have it affect and impact us differently and at differing levels. Sure some people will see this as attention seeking while others might see it as a constructive way to defuse the mental time bombs to limit the damage when things finally come crashing down.

One thing I know for sure is I need to get rid of the negativity while I’m at home. I need to bring the work facade home with me so that when I get out of the car and walk inside I’m not a miserable old man. I have a good life and won’t allow depression to direct how I interact with my family and friends. Going to take some time to rewire the pathways for that to happen but I will make that change. Stay tuned to see how things go 🙂

What A Messed Up World – part 1

Posted in Parenting, Personal Thoughts, Politics, Religion, The World with tags , , , , , on April 17, 2017 by Neal

Who hasn’t heard of sponsoring a child? You’ve probably walked past sprukers in shopping centres or seen donation tins at the counters of stores. There are a wide range of NGO’s that help children in less developed countries with food, clothing and schooling. All stuff we take for granted. These organisations help improve the lives of children, their families and their communities with stuff we take for granted. After all everyone in the world should be able to buy fast food and throw away most of it because it isn’t what you really wanted to eat, able to leave the tap running into the drain while arguing over which celebrity wore a particular dress better, complain that there isn’t a single thing to wear despite having several wardrobes full to the brim and not to forget that school is so dull and why do I need a job when I can get a government hand out? 

The sad part is some people actually behave and think like this. We are supposed to be the more developed countries yet we act like children most of the time because we have access to everything and more than we need. The real catalyst for my ramblings is a radio add I heard this morning for child sponsoring. It wasn’t for Somalia, India, Rhowanda or any of the normal countries in dire need of assistance. No it was for a country that I had never figured would need child sponsorship, Australia. 

This got me thinking which is always a bad idea. In particular I was stunned that poverty levels in my own backyard were so bad. I’m not deaf or dumb to the way things really are. The media goes on about statistics and figures which seem to just smoke screen a lot of the real issues. Governments can spend millions on a royal enquiry for this or that but can’t support community shelters. Hundred of thousands can be spent on exclusive state dinners but funding the school breakfast programs is too much of a burden for tax payers. There are thousands of children that are being miss treated by their peers simply because money is now the biggest factor in their lives. Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke was derided for his pledge that “no child will live in poverty by 1990”. Yet after 30 years, assorted governments and global situations there is an increasing number of children every day being affected by poverty, something they have no control over and should never have to worry about in the first place.

I know that there are a wide range of problems, causes and solutions but when did the lucky country become so desensitised to the common person (would use common man but that starts a whole arguement of sexism) and their plight? When did the have nots outnumber the have lots by a billion to one? The sad part is that there is no easy solution to this problem. To tackle things on such a large scale would require a lot of time, planning, money and compassion for others. 

That being said I am guilty of allowing our finances influence my children. The stress of juggling bills and income tends to bleed out from my control and affects my kids. I remember telling myself when I was younger that I wouldn’t allow money matters to trouble me or my family like it troubled my parents. Don’t get me wrong we never lacked anything but the stress of running a small business and family at the same time took more of a toll on my parents than I ever could know. 

What I want to stress is that children should not be troubled by the burdens of poverty in a country with as many opportunities as Australia. They should be allowed to be children and not grow up to think like an adult before they’re old enough. The same for developing countries, children should be happy and not wondering if they will eat at all today. If you can help someone please do so. It doesn’t have to be financial, sometimes a random act of kindness can help remove the cloud of doubt that hovers over us for a while. If you have loose change then give to charities or if possible sponsor a child. 

Remember: you can’t move a mountain intact, but you can chip away at it one rock at a time. Change the lives of others with one deed at a time.

I Can Wait Till Tomorrow

Posted in Cosplay, Family, Parenting, Personal Thoughts, The World on March 13, 2017 by Neal

My youngest boy is a strange little man at times. He’s got the gift of the gab, can sweet talk like the best and is a world class negotiator. I’m sure some people think I make these stories up but even I would have a hard time thinking up some of his responses to things. The amazing thing I find about him is the limitless imagination he seems to have at times and an ability to come up with some very interesting things when he plays.

A classic example is when I work on costume parts for some of my ideas. When he was 2ish I was experimenting with foam Halo armour when he grabbed some of the parts to use as a Shell-Phone from the Nickelodeon’s version of Ninja Turtles. After some negotiation I got my parts back after making a quick throw together for him.

This then lead to him wanting to be a Ninja Turtle so I put things that I was working on on hold to experiment with some ideas. The end result was an unusual turtle shell, made from sign board and foam, and some foam weapons.


Since I experiment with my building at the moment he tends to end up with some of the parts that are too small for me or the other kids. For example the Demagol helmet that was too small for me fits him perfectly so I can use that as a test and give it to him when finished. The funniest part though is his 4yr old concept of time. He asks me to make all sorts of things and my usual response is “I’ve got a lot of things I’m working on. I’ll try to make it when I can.” I know sounds like I’m making excuses not to do things for him, the trick is I’d be making stuff for him all the time and not have time for my own things. His usual response is along the lines of “that would be great” or “when you finish yours”. 

His latest response has been the best so far. He comes out and asks me to make him a Stay Puft costume as he likes the char from Ghostbusters. I gave a usual response that I would when I have some free time and it may take a while to make and design as it’s a little complicated (I like to give my best to costumes for him to show I value him). He simply nodded and while walking back to his room shouted “That’s ok. I can wait till tomorrow to wear it”. 

I Am The Law – Part 1

Posted in Cosplay, Judge Dredd, Movies, Personal Thoughts on March 10, 2017 by Neal

I’ve always been a big fan of Judge Dredd and the 2000AD universe. It’s a brutal view of how things in the world could become so easily given our current trends of the last half century. The Sylvester Stallone version was almost comical in its portrayal and blended other 2000AD characters into the mix. The most recent version by Karl Urban was very close to the source material and very gruesome. But I’m not discussing the movies or the political connotations to today’s society. I’ve been inspired for another cosplay idea by Dredd.

Presenting Judge Death


Now before people that know me start commenting how I don’t have the stature to play such a thin character, keep in mind by the time I get around to making this costume I’ll probably resemble death himself. Yes it would be a challenge to make some of the components of this but that’s what has my interest. We shall see what happens.

He’s No Good To Me Dead – Making a Mandalorian Part 2

Posted in 501st, Cosplay, Mandalorian Mercs, Personal Thoughts, Star Wars on March 7, 2017 by Neal

Having looked at my current Mandalorian helmet and the design of the legacy armour I didn’t like how they looked together. So after some searching I found patterns for a range of different helmets. I’ve settled on doing a variant of Demagol’s helmet design.


As usual I managed to get the sizing slightly off. The helmet on the right fits me but doesn’t allow for any space and would need to be clam shelled to take on and off. However as usual it currently  fits my youngest so his armoury increases once again. Did some more resizing and the new one fits with enough space I can slide it on and off easily. 


Smaller helmet was a good practise as it helped me identify some of the tricky points that needed to be focused on during assembley. 


Next step is to fibreglass the helmets and then begin the slow process of filling out the shape and form with body filler. The armour I need to take a good look over so I can decide on the best way to connect the various parts together. 

Experiments in Cosplay – Part 1

Posted in Art, Coping Mechanisms, Cosplay, Craft and DIY, Depression, Mental Health, Personal Thoughts, Reasoning, Self Doubt on March 3, 2017 by Neal

The last two days I’ve been in a depressive slump. No reason that I can think of just felt like ignoring the world and staying in the dark. While my wish to be a vampire is whimsical it was a good thing I’d taken a few days off work to use up some over time I had earned. Now for me, I rarely have these negative slumps to such a high level. Usually if I have a slump I’ll just mope while around everyone at home. I function but it’s almost on autopilot. 

So what does my slump have to do with cosplay? My mind tends to wander around into all sorts of things and comes up with some very odd connections to an idea. For example – I was curious about what I would need to finish off my vacuform machine (will document that later when I can find it in the shed), this led me to look at ideas for furnaces to smelt your own metal, which in turn took me to making castings for props, then to plastics to use and finally recycling hdpe plastics. 

Yes confusing isn’t it? When I find the time I’m going to see about recycling milk containers and lids to us with my vacuform machine so I can do test forms without spending lots of money of plastic sheets. If I can get it to work properly it would give me plenty of  material to use and also help reduce our Eco-footprint. 

Stay tuned.