Parenting, babies and sleep deprivation: what parenting is really like

A very good friend is going to be the proud father of a bouncing baby…  Very soon now.

However, none of us are too sure if he’s up for baby sleep deprivation.  He posted recently that “baby has nothing on this post-operation insomnia – I keep waking up at freaking 3am.”

As a helpful and supportive mate, I felt I should tell him what it’s going to be like.

“Mate, baby will have everything on this. It will be 2am, the baby has been crying for two hours, mum will be vomiting in the hallway having caught gastro from a kid in mother’s group. You will learn the precise number of seconds it takes to microwave a bottle to the right temperature. You will learn to distinguish vomit stains from strained pumpkin, which is quite a feat as strained pumpkin basically is vomit. You will become a master in the art of nappy-changing avoidance.

You will wake at 11pm, 1am, 3am and then 5am. You will want to stab friends who tell you that their child slept through the night. You will marvel at doctors who say that waking up at 5am is in fact “sleeping through”. Actually you will tell them to go f@#$ themselves.

And then you will realise that this is your life until about, say, 2014. You will scream and yell, but you will do this, you will love it. Well, except for the strained pumpkin part.

But frankly, I have to say, the baby has game when it comes to sleep deprivation. Baby has everything on this.”

Poverty in Australia

A friend of mine on Facebook posted up a quote:

“You need only do three things in this country to avoid poverty – finish high school,marry before having a child, and marry after the age of 20. Only 8 percent of the families who do this are poor; 79 percent of those who fail to do this are poor.”

William Galston, Clinton White House

He wondered whether the states would be the same in Australia; that question intrigued me to investigate the differences atwixt here and there.:

Current poverty rate in the United States is 15.1 percent. The measure is based on income received – $22,350 per annum for a family of four, or about $428 per week.


Poverty rate in Australia is also based on income received. However, here the poverty level is defined by the Henderson Poverty Index from the Melbourne Institute (based upon the Henderson inquiry of 1973). Using this basis, the Poverty Line in Australia is $776.71 per week for a non-working family of four, or about $40,528 (as of September 2011).


The current estimate is ‘1 in 10’ Australians, or 10%, live in poverty according to this definition.


To put that lot in perspective, in the US you are considered to live in poverty if you live on $US428 per week for a family of four – poverty rate 15.1%. In $US, the equivalent Australian measure is $US823 – and our poverty rate according to that definition is 10%.

In Australia, the same non-working family of four is entitled to a welfare payments (again according to the Melbourne Institute as above) of $686.41 per week. I believe I am correct therefore in saying that Australia has a welfare system that prevents people from being in the situation that does not even begin to define poverty in the United States as welfare payments exceed US’s threshold. So in my brief sojourn into the world of social welfare research (rather than my actual research), there are three measures of poverty:

  • Objective – you earn less than this, you don’t have enough to survive on the staples with. For this kind of poverty, dumpster-diving is a way of life.
  • Relative – you earn less than a majority of people in your country, so you live in relative poverty (x-boxes aside). For this kind of poverty, surround yourself with friends who are less well off than you.
  • Subjective – you feel like you don’t earn enough to live off. This is everyone, because everyone defines someone else as rich if they earn about 10% more than you do.

When I look at the toys my kids get compared to what I got growing up, and then they announce ‘I’m bored’ – well, I could just throttle them :). I can tell you, I didn’t break my Christmas presents on Christmas day – heck, I still have my Christmas present radio from 1986 (it’s looking a bit battered and I’ve finally retired it).

In the States, too, the point was made that the wage arrangements allow wait staff at cafes etc to be paid $3 and make up the difference to the minimum wage via tips.  Apparently if the waitstaff don’t get sufficient tips to make the minimum wage the employer is supposed to cover it.  Apparently, a lot of people don’t know that rule (thanks Sam!).  And Sam also pointed out that there are a lot of ‘private/public benefits’ of the welfare state – she has had to buy a more expensive house in a ‘good’ area, and security firms are a way of life in some parts of the US, due at least in part, probably mostly, to the grinding level of poverty and the complete lack of a welfare safety net.

To be clear: I think it’s a good thing to have safety net. I also think its a good thing to have a high-ish minimum wage. You hear of unskilled people in US working huge hours and getting paid next to nix. I’d rather they had training options available to build a future for them and their family. Sam also pointed out the difference between purchasing power in Australia and the US; that’s very true, especially given housing costs here versus there.  Nonetheless I think the overall conclusion remains – Australia is much more insulated from ‘real’ poverty and thus the Occupy movement here in Australia is not quite full of the 99%ers.

So, just wow. Two countries alike in many ways and yet so very very different.

Facebook Ticker Box and Privacy Settings

The new Facebook Ticker box on the right is an abomination unto privacy, but it is designed to only show you items you could always see on other people’s pages. So if I wrote on Random Friend from Uni’s wall, my Random Friend from School in 1987 could still see it if my uni friend has the ‘friend of friends’ or ‘everyone’ access to the wall privacy setting in place. Or has an open profile. What the Tickerbox does though is bring it right up in my “random friend from school”‘s face without having to browse my wall or all of my friends’ walls. And so it does a great service: “Privacy? Facebook cares not”.

How to Present While People are Twittering | Pistachio

Courtesy of @ekreeger, I thought this blog post might be a good one for anyone who presents in a world of Twitter:

How to Present While People are Twittering | Pistachio.

Having been involved in Rostrum for years, public speaking is, you know, one of my things, so it is interesting to know about how Twittering might affect a presentation (hmmm, must add to the PD of Rostrum).  However the only thing I think is that there are negatives for a speaker – it isn’t all Pollyanna and light.

I know that when I was lecturing at QUT I found it very distracting to have people on Facebook chatting away with others – and I think you do lose something if you aren’t paying attention as an audience member.  Still, the problems probably are outweighed by the benefits.

There’s a dead snake in the tank…

This little ditty was inspired by a Facebook status update of a friend, for clear reasons:

(to the tune of any bluegrass song you like)

Oh we found a dead snake in the tank
It’s really rather rank!
We found we were drinking water
When we really shouldn’t oughta!


Oh that wasn’t all we found in our water tank
There also was a dog, a possum and a gypsy.
Who do we think we really should thank?
Well I think the gypsy was rather tipsy.
And the dog was chasing a frog.
But that possum – he was just flotsam!


Oh the dead snake in the tank
It’s really rather rank!
The gypsy there was tipsy, the dog chased a frog
But I’m here to tell you
The possum was just flotsam!

(ta diddly a da – da da!)

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