Secrets, Lies & Chat

Friday, October 21, 2005

Love Bytes

Comment for RADAR re Love Bytes
The Sydney Morning Herald
19 October 2005

Love Bytes

As a once 'addicted to chat' female who also experimented with online dating websites, I found the article interesting for a couple of reasons.

It was clear to me that the writer has never personally been involved in either chat online or dating websites. This, of course, lends itself to people coming out of the woodwork to comment, and a way for the writer to perhaps find out some of that information not readily available.

I too, have been approached by journalists for information about chat and dating, and the repercussions primarily, but their ultimate aims were to have me provide other contacts for them to interview to produce a 'grab' story. I know only too well, that the people I used to spend time online with, would never speak to anyone they don't know and trust about their experiences online.

I appeared on Today Tonight and spent over two hours being interviewed for a segment on online dating. As an author of a novel about my life online that was about to be released in the USA, I was promised promotion for the book in the segment. The cameraman painstakingly took footage of the book in strobe light, and I was impressed. Not so when the story hit the airwaves. What I saw was not what I expected and I learned a good lesson about the media. There was not a single mention of the book; however they did use my real name. They also used a stand-in actor in part of the segment about me that angered me immensely. The story was what I regarded as absolute trash, and the fact that I was a part of it made me shudder.

People who use the Internet frequently, who become involved in whatever way with the opposite or same sex, are not going to come out and tell their stories freely. Anonymity is the name of the game online and that's exactly what most people want.

The 30% quoted of married people online is way below the mark and I would put it closer to 90% of the males over 30 online are married. Women fall into a lower percentage, but many married women chat during the day to fill in their hours alone, and some extend it into the nights when their husbands are either at work or in bed.

If writers of articles on online chat and dating spent some time online themselves they would see that at night, for instance, the married and flirting rooms are full of people. The name of the room has little to do with what is actually going on in those rooms for a large proportion of the chatters.

A room of say 60 people, where maybe only 6 are typing on the screen, says a lot for what is going on in private. Not with everyone, no, but the majority yes. Enter one of those rooms with a suitable nickname, and the private conversation requests will astound you, both in the sheer number you receive, and the comments made about what the other person wants from you.

Cyber sex is a priority for many people online. It fills a void in their lives where they can fantasise with a willing, anonymous partner, and go to bed feeling a bit better than they did earlier. This participation often leads to a meeting in reality and can, and does, then lead to marriage breakdowns and broken hearts.

These people believe it is their right to share intimacy with strangers while their partners are asleep, or at work, or out for the evening. They don't see it as a new way to cheat, as they have no fear of being caught and losing their safe lives.

The Internet is another form of society, and I repeat, an anonymous, and insidious one. The owners of dating websites are laughing all the way to the bank as the majority of people using that medium to look for love, are sadly disappointed. Yet they join up in their thousands, in the hope they will find their perfect match in what they consider to be, a safe place.

A large proportion using the medium are looking for free sex, even to the extent of making up lies to tell their spouses so they can escape for a weekend. The sad part is, these people usually hook up with someone who is genuinely lonely and looking for love and affection, and is single.

Manipulation by words online gives the lonely surfer the notion that they may very well have found their soulmate, so they throw caution to the wind and allow themselves to be used by those that have no consciences. Some people can be very persuasive with the written word and, if you are like me for instance, meeting someone online who can string more than two words together, is a definite plus; and of course, a fantastic bait.

The Internet is growing in leaps and bounds as millions come online each year. If you put everyone on an island together that use the Internet in the search for a soulmate, you would have a huge population of people from almost every corner of the globe.

My advice to anyone contemplating entering the world of the Internet in search of love is, be aware, be wary, and beware. Many people have already been hurt, and some are no longer with us, due to liaisons that began online. I personally know of women, young and not so young, who have been raped and stalked by men they met online and then chose to meet in so-called reality. I don't consider the Internet as fantasy; it is a very real and very dangerous place, depending on how you use it and how tuned in you are to people you can't see or hear.

What the Internet brings to the world in other ways is outstanding and I doubt anything will ever replace the good it can, and does do, for people all over the world. But, as in all societies, there is that darkness there. Many never find it and scoff at those that say it exists. I for one can attest with all honesty to the fact that there are some fairly obscene and dangerous things going on under the surface, and some of them I have experienced first-hand, by choice.

Instead of looking for stories to blast across the Internet or newspapers or magazines to grab readers, I believe journalists should start to work in the other direction. They should use the tools they have at their fingertips, and the voice they have, to tell the real story and to make people aware that all in the garden is not so rosy.

Educate people about the Internet. Warn parents about their children being exposed to things they would never allow them to be exposed to if they knew about it. Make the Internet safer, just like many are already trying to do. The Government of Australia, and I imagine Governments of other countries are doing the same, has websites set up for children and parents where information is readily available on the dangers of the Internet and how to handle issues and who to contact if help is needed.

That's my opinion anyhow, for what it's worth, after six years of surfing, three of which were intense and centered on chat and online dating.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A note to my blog visitors :)

Thank you to a group of people for taking the time to visit my blog and leave a message. However, I would appreciate it if you want to use my blog as an advertising tool for dating websites etc., that you refrain from doing it. I don't have a very good opinion of dating websites or some of the people who belong to those groups, having met a few myself and having my fingers burned.

I don't wish to appear unfriendly, but if you came here to read anything I wrote then your comments sure didn't show that you did bother to read anything. Just a 'this is a great blog I'll sure visit it again' and then the link to your own business. I find this annoying and in my face and, once again, if you had read anything I wrote, you would have come up with one plus one equals two .... I don't like dating websites.

Thanks again.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Devastation in Kashmir

It's Sunday evening, 10.17 pm, Sydney time. As I sit here at my computer I seem a world away from the tragedy that is Kashmir, as reported in our papers tonight. 30,000 dead, as an estimate, with thousands more suffering probably horrendous injuries, and thousands upon thousands homeless. It's hard to imagine what it must be like for those people. For those mothers and fathers who saw their children off to school and now know they have all died in those schools, what comfort can anyone offer them? As a mother my one fear always was that something would happen to one of my children, or to me, when we were not together. I couldn't have faced that.

I extend my most heartfelt feelings of sadness to the people of those countries affected by this latest world disaster. I know it means little, nothing really to anyone, but it's all I can do. Sitting here in the relative safety of my own life, I have no measure of what it must be like for those people and I thank whoever that I am safe here. The sadness and grief that must be overwhelming those countries is more than I can fathom.

I won't accept that it's an act of someone's God. I am more inclined to wonder at what men are doing to this world of ours. How many nucleur devices have been allowed to be tested both in the atmosphere, and underground, and in how many regions of this world? How can anyone say that these actions are safe and will cause no harm or damage to the earth? Are we all so intellectually lacking that we believe that?

Perhaps it's time for people power to start a wave of revolt against the powers to be who wreak this havoc on our earth. Perhaps it's time that we began to say, "enough is enough, it's time to stop testing devices that you say will never be used". If there is no intention that they ever be used then why do they need to be tested? Maybe it's time to stop being complacent and accepting, and get back to standing up to be counted, as they did in the 60's.

When are the peoples of the world going to realise that there is only so much the earth can stand before it starts to show strain from abuse. It's no different to anything else that exists; stress will eventually break it down and perhaps that's why all these disasters are occurring now; it's simply had all it can take and is cracking under the strain.

I'm no scientist, I'm not even particularly academic or highly intelligent, but I don't think it takes too many brain cells to know that something isn't right and that it's probably a man made illness that our earth is suffering from.

It's too late for the people of Kashmir and for the other countries affected by this disaster, but perhaps it's not too late to stop killing our earth, this beautiful place where we all live. Just look around at the sky, the land, our sun as it rises and sets, cloud formations, the sea, the animals, the people even, and see the beauty. Imagine all that gone. It may well happen and it will no doubt be the fault of man; note I have deleted the human part of man as there is little that is humane about a lot of the people of this earth.

As always, these are my thoughts alone.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

An Australian Movie - The Proposition

Saturday night, 8 October 2005. Arrived home a short while ago after having visited Penrith Plaza Hoyts Theatres to see 'The Proposition', a new Australian movie starring Guy Pearce.

As is the normal for Australian movies screening in Australia, there weren't many patrons in the theatre and you could choose just about anywhere to sit that you wanted. It's a real shame that we do not support our own creativity, and a sign of a trait in Australians that stems from a long way back. We are the biggest knockers of our own people I'm sure of any country in the world. No matter how hard you try, how well you may do, try and gain recognition here at home and you will soon have your teeth kicked in, and you will be put in your place, or where your fellow Australians believe is your place.

As usual I thoroughly enjoyed the local product. It showed our country for what it was, and really, in the remote areas it was filmed, still is. It's a harsh dry country where only flies should live. Anyone who looks at a map of Australia will see that we all live around the coast, and mostly in the larger cities too. Very few live in the centre, or in the very hot regions up north, or the very cold regions down south.

The film reminded me of another Australian movie I saw a long time ago 'The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith'. It was a raw and cruel movie too, and yet, if you read about our past, then the films are pretty well spot on without creating dramas that didn't exist. Men were cruel in those days, and those who were supposed to be upholding the law, were evil and often worse than any of the so called perpetrators or criminals.

I would imagine that a lot of people wouldn't go to see the movie because of its starkness and the reality of it. Many would choose to believe our past is not like that. I choose to see movies that shock my senses because I know that in the main what they are portraying is a true rendition of what did happen in this country. I'm Irish heritage, and I feel it when I see movies about the Irish families in this country and what they went through to survive. My great grandparents arrived here from Ireland as dirt farmers, and my family history is one of hardship. But no one will ever destroy the Irishness in any of us, not even fourth generation like me.

I recommend this movie to those who aren't afraid to step outside their safety circle, who are thinkers and believers, and who choose to believe that our past should be remembered, as should those that were treated so cruelly. It may be fiction, but this kind of thing happened with regularity. The Aboriginal people were slaughtered, and the white people were slaughtered in retaliation. The English white preyed upon the Irish and others, and that's all part of our history as well. The oppression of the Irish in Ireland travelled to our shores with them, because their lords and masters were over here running this country.

So if you aren't afraid of the sight of fake blood, of mutilated bodies, of raw evil coming from man towards man and woman, then go see the movie. The setting is spectacular, the scenery is savage and yet, in its way, beautiful. It's like Ned Kelly, Jedda, Jimmy Blacksmith all rolled up together.

As an Australian I applaud Nick Cave for his script and all those involved in the movie. I would judge that this is definitely the best movie I've seen Guy Pearce in, and he played a very believable part. Congratulations to all involved, and I just hope that the Australian movie goers get off their rear ends and go support you by paying for a ticket.


Australian Icons - The Angels

It's Saturday night, October 8, 2005, and I'm filling in some time, drinking tea, before I hit the hay. Bryan and I have an early start in the morning as we are booked to do a market day at Gordon, which is about and hour and a bit away from where we live.

I wanted to write a short blog about one of my favourite bands, an Aussie band of course, The Angels. The Angels were around in Oz when my 'kids' were in their teens, and the three of them saw the group appear live. I don't remember their music from then as I think I was too busy in those years to have much interest in any music that wasn't on the radio and I didn't hear before work, in the car on the way to work, or in the car on the way home from work.

Australian singers and bands had a hard slog to get any airplay in Oz, and really things haven't much changed. I found that out with my book. No one is much interested unless you have the money to expend on a huge campaign and get yourself through some doors that are bolted.

Anyhow in 2002 I began a relationship with a guy in Brisbane. He was 41 then and I was 56. Yes, I did like men younger than me (and still do :) I live with someone 5 years younger now and call him my 'toyboy' lol. Ian (my friend in Brissy) asked me to see if I could find a song for him, The Angels and "The Dogs Are Talking". He told me that he thought I would like it and encouraged me to suss it out. I eventually did get a copy of the song, and he was right, I did like it. I then began to get together a collection of their music and loved the live versions much more than those done in a studio. I played them all the time and when Ian and I were together, we always had their music with us. Even after we broke up I remained loyal to the sound and I introduced other people to their music as well. I knew all the words to my favourite songs and wondered how come I missed out on seeing them when I was younger.

I read some time ago that the band was going back on the road, but I also read that one of the members, Doc, wouldn't be with the other four as he had started his own Angels Band up. I didn't think much about it after initially reading the article, but a couple of weeks ago my partner noticed a billboard on a telegraph pole advertising they were going to be appearing at Rooty Hill RSL Club in Sydney. I rang the club, subsequently went along and joined up as a member, and bought two tickets to the concert. The original four members of The Angels had regrouped, but Doc, who sang lead all those years ago, wasn't with them. It didn't matter to me, as I was hellbent on seeing even some of them sing and play live.

My partner, Bryan, and I rocked along to the club on the Friday night, 30 September. We played the poker machines for a short while then went to the auditorium for the show. There didn't seem to be many people there and it didn't bother me at all as it meant I could enjoy the music without a lot of yobbos around. The first act, Black Label, was what I call a 'hard rock' band and the sound was so loud that it was distorted and made my ears ring and go sort of deaf. I thought they were chit, just woeful and when they left the stage I destressed!

The next act wasn't much better, although Kevin Borrich did at least sing so I could understand what he was singing about and the sound was down a few decibals and my ears were very grateful. Kevin was trying to gee the crowd up and get people up dancing, but only a few game ones made it to the dance floor and made a pretty poor attempt at dancing. Bryan and I had a great table looking across at the stage and once the intermission came after Kevin and his crew finished, we decided to go into the club and have a smoke between acts. When we came back, our table was taken by four young people, so we had to stand up as the place had filled up with people by that time. Obviously there were a lot who knew the other two bands and they didn't bother coming into the auditorium until The Angels were due on.

The Angels came out; I was spellbound. They played all the songs I had become so close to, and sang them so well. Doc being missing didn't mean a thing, the sound was there, the music was divine. I stood up against a wall with Bryan and rocked along happily, and sang along too. People filled up the dance floor and applauded and whistled and called out often. It was just as I had imagined it would have been in the pubs all those years ago. When the band finished and left the stage I was feeling euphoric, the sounds still in my head. But something was missing! The one song I wanted to hear, they hadn't sung. I wondered if because of the audience participation that went with that song was in a coarse language, the club had banned it being sung.

We all started to chant 'more, more, more' and the announcer came out and started to get the crowd going. Next thing we were doing just what the pub patrons used to do; we were chanting 'Angels, Angels, Angels' and of course, out they came to the uproar of the crowd. By now almost everyone was on the dance floor, although Bryan and I, probably two of the eldest people in the room, stayed seated (yes we had managed to score a seat by this time). They started playing again and I was disappointed; it wasn't the song I wanted, although I still enjoyed it.

After that song finished, John Brewster, lead guitarist and singer, said a few words of thanks and assured the room that the band would keep on keeping on. Then they started to play again, and, yes you guessed it, my song ..... 'Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again'. The room erupted, everyone on the dance floor crowded around the stage and we all chanted, in the right places, after 'Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again' .... 'no way, get fucked, fuck off' ... over and over again. It was a total buzz out and when it was all over I wished there was more.

So to anyone in Australia who knows The Angels music I recommend you go along and see The Original Angels live as you will definitely not be disappointed. The tickets were $22 each, cheap as chips.


Monday, October 03, 2005

Bali - Not on my list of places to visit

After I wrote a blog last night I read the Sydney Morning Herald online and was astounded to read about bomb attacks in Bali. I thought I must have logged into the archives, but noted the date was right.

Dumbfounded is a word that could describe how I felt reading about the latest attack on tourists in that country. Disbelief is also a good word to describe how I felt reading that once again, Australians have been killed and injured critically in that country. It sure beats me how anyone would still be travelling there for a holiday, in spite of the cheap rates, after the horrendous events of not so long ago.

I read the story and then switched on the TV to the ABC news and saw the horror, with vivid pictures, of course. One man was being interviewed as he waited at the airport to board a plan to Bali for his holiday. He maintained he would still go because he didn't intend for the terrorists to win by scaring him off. Sorry if I missed something, but haven't the terrorists already won?

The perpetrators no doubt were suicide bombers so they can't be captured and tried. Now they are wiped off the face of the planet, their mates will take their places, and so it will continue. To die, for them, is an honour, and they believe their rewards in the next world will be grand. It's beyond the comprehension of the ordinary person to understand their thinking, and yet there are probably hundreds of thousands of them willing to die for what they believe in, and they will do just that.

So to the traveller who won't be stopped by fear I say forget it, find a new place to have a holiday. The terrorists don't care who dies, as long as someone does, so playing with fate isn't a very sensible option for any sane thinking person. And his death won't make a damned difference to anyone except for those that are left behind to mourn him, and those unfortunate enough to have to gather up his bits and pieces and try to identify who he was. Perhaps it's time our Government banned travel to Bali by anyone except those needed in the aftermath of the terror campaign. My thoughts, totally of course, so don't go blaming anyone else.

Vena McGrath

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Glaucoma - The Silent Thief of Sight

It's Sunday evening in Sydney, the Sunday of a long weekend. Tomorrow, Monday, is the worst day in the week in my opinion, so having that particularly negative day off work is a bonus. Don't you just love long weekends? I'm always on countdown to the next one, even if it's three months after the present one; it gives me a goal to work to.

Fortunately, working for the Government, I am entitled to 26 flex days off a year. A flex day is a day you have to work extra time to earn so in order to have a 9 day fortnight, I would need to work 3/4 hour extra for 9 days to make my 7 hours up. Even dangling the carrot of a day off a fortnight isn't enough to get me to work all the extra time. I've only taken 11 of the 26 days this year and the year finishes in November. All days not taken are then lost, therefore I'm looking at losing probably 13 days minimum that I could have had off if I didn't find going home at the end of my core hours more of a priority than having a lot of time off work. I am taking a flex on Tuesday so my long weekend is extra lonnnnnng and a three day working week has a certain sparkle to it!

Yesterday and today Bryan and I spent at the markets trying hard to get his toy business up and running. It's a hard slog and this weekend was probably one we should have just stayed home due to it being a long weekend with an RDO (rostered day off) for a lot of people on Tuesday, and on top of that, it's school holidays. We had three customers today and sold $42 worth of toys. Not even enough to pay the cost of the market site. Yesterday we sold $86 worth of toys and did make our stall site cost plus petrol plus an extra $30. But unfortunately Bryan's stationwagon had a problem with a radiator hose and there went the $30 on a new hose.

It seems like he isn't supposed to get up and running in the short term. Yesterday was a beautiful day in Sydney and we attended a street market in Chatswood, but the people just weren't around. Today it was even hotter, 30 degrees, and again, the people weren't around. The market today was at Moorebank, in a park, next door to Flower Power. There was even music to shop by as Leather and Lace were there for most of the day doing brackets of songs. Just a lousy weekend for all marketers I imagine.

Bryan is starting to wonder whether he will ever find his nitch in the Sydney markets. We have been to a lot of different ones now, with our best sales being at Castle Hill Craft Market where we sold $152 worth of toys. I know it's only been a couple of months but we expected things would be going good now as Christmas approaches. If you don't sell stock then you don't have the capital to buy timber and paints to make more product to sell. That's where he is now; but we are forever optimistic, and we have markets lined up for the weekends in October. Here's hoping they come good for us.

Now to the subject matter - glaucoma - the silent thief of sight. I found out a few weeks ago, when I visited my eye specialist to arrange for some day surgery on my eye that has been ravaged by keratitis for over 20 years, that I have something even worse wrong. I have glaucoma in both eyes, with nerve damage, and have already lost a large percentage of the vision in my left eye.

It's been explained to me that even if the drops I am now using daily stop the progression of the damage, or slow it down, I will never regain that sight again. It may stay as it is, but the odds are that I will eventually lose the vision in that eye. My right eye, suffering damage also, is nowhere near as bad, with only a small percentage of sight lost. I'm fighting a battle now in a war I can't win. Where once I thought keratitis may eventually take my sight in my left eye, I now know glaucoma has already stolen a lot of it. Daunting thought, losing your sight, so I'm going to think positive that it won't become any worse than it already is.

I have a problem when I'm looking at things, like faces when talking to people. Their right eyes and the top of their heads disappear as I look at them and it's very offputting and annoying. I used to think I had hair over my eye or my glasses were dirty. Little did I know what really was going wrong. My eye specialist was sure that the problem was my eyelid was drooping as a result of keratitis and age and he intended to cut the eyelid and pull it up a bit. When he was doing the tests to see what he would need to do, I had to read the chart on the wall with my right eye covered. All I could see were the two bottom lines, not read them, but I could see them. The rest of the chart was in darkness. Next thing I'm having different tests done and after a field test the prognosis was bleak.

No operation to lift my eyelid will make any difference to my vision. Anyone who is reading this should seriously consider having an eye test for glaucoma even if you don't wear glasses and don't think you have eye problems. If you have ever taken or used drugs or ointments with steroids in them, go have the test done NOW. I believe that the reason I have glaucoma could be because I have used eye ointment with steroids to treat the keratitis. But then it could also be hereditary and that's something I don't know about.

My three adult children are having the test done and my brother has just been for the test. His eyes are okay but he now has to have the test six-monthly as a precaution. If I had known I had this earlier, I perhaps would be in a better position to save my vision than I am now. How no-one ever twigged to this is beyond me as I have spent a lot of money in the last 5 years going to eye specialists for treatment for keratitis. I can't understand my specialist not testing me for glaucoma at some stage except that every time I saw him my eye was ravaged by ulcers from keratitis so any tests were out of question. I also wear glasses and it's two years since I had my eyes tested last. It seems the glaucoma must have hit me pretty quickly, as I know each time I saw the optometrist I had a glaucoma test.

Please don't leave it like I did. Go have the test done and keep going every year or so just to be on the safe side. Trust me, you don't want problems like I now have where even new glasses don't help very much. A simple test could save you from something you couldn't imagine happening to you.

Take care.