There Is No Free Reign

Well, at least, there shouldn’t be. There is always time in an 8 year term though I guess for the world to crumble and the reign of those who have a finger on the hot key to change life as we know it.

That’s not what this post is about though.

So as I was saying, there is no free reign. There is however, such a thing as a free rein.

This is one of those statements that everyone knows, but at least half the people who use it, are doing so incorrectly. In order to educate the masses…or the 4 people who will read this blog post, I’m going to clarify the difference between the following:

free rein v’s free reign

The origin of the saying, and therefore the correct usage, is actually equestrian. It comes from the process of holding a horses rein freely, that is, to keep it loose, and therefore allowing the horse freedom of movement.

Over time, as often occurs, the term free rein has been the subject of a semantic shift which has not only changed the phrase, but has also changed the meaning of the phrase. Admittedly the word rein is probably not all that common for those who have no connection to an equestrian train of thought. In what has most likely been a result of folk-etymology, (when the original word, or phrase in this case, changes gradually over the years because it is incorrectly exchanged for a more familiar word), rein, has been replaced with reign.

What’s interesting…okay, sorry, what I clearly meant to say is, whats interesting to me and probably only about 11 other people who inhabit this planet, (and let’s be honest, those other 11 people probably have very interesting jobs and lives and are not reading my silly little blog because they are busy writing some sort of academic research paper or something…and you know what, that’s their loss because if they did read it, I really believe that they would find it interesting, but you know…whatevs), …………..*sniff*…..I’m just going to get a cup of gin tea… right back……

As I was saying, what is interesting is that despite the exchange of the words, and the subsequent change in the meaning of the phrase, it is actually a sort of derivative example of the original. To give free rein to a horse, means to give it freedom of movement. To give free reign, means freedom to rule, possibly unchecked.

Consider it like this: if you told your husband that your friend lets her child have free rein of the house, you probably mean they can pretty much do whatever the hell they want. If you said the child has free reign, you more than likely, mean exactly the same thing.

So, this second example, though interesting, is not the correct choice for this purpose. And as the purpose of this post, and in greater degree, my little blog, is not only to clarify the difference’s between the words or phrases which have become entangled, but to highlight that which is the original and encourage its correct usage, I therefore call upon myself to set those who are wonky, onto the straight an narrow. Only with words and the use of the English language though. Don’t….you know, give up drinking or anything.

Okay that’s all.

Have a great week ahead; don’t be an arsehat to your fellow humans; and try to learn something new.

Cheers dears,


There Is No Free Reign

Stationery Versus Stationary


I’m part of a Facebook group which has more than 100k members. Naturally, in a group this large, one which is not geographically specific, the members come from all areas of the globe. Last week a member of the group posted a tip that she uses to remember the difference between the words stationAry and stationEry.

The responses to this comment were many and varied, ranging from thanking her for the tip, to those who have never identified that the word has two meanings and not knowing that there were two different ways to spell it, to a tempest of other word clarifications people had up their sleeve. One person, I think they may have been a non-native English speaker, made the point that they cannot understand why people are so sensitive about, and feel affronted whenever someone corrects their grammar. As they pointed out, it is after all, how we learn.

Being the geeky logophile, (a lover of words), that I am, I jumped straight into this thread and read all of the 186 comments, (there were also 1.5k likes), and added a few of my own. One of my comments was my tip for remembering the difference between the two words.

This thread lead me to an idea to share my tip on my own blog, and that idea led me to a realisation, which in hindsight, I’m surprised I didn’t come to earlier. That my love of words is one of the things that takes up quite a large bit of my brain, (see what I did there?), and which I enjoy writing, talking, thinking, learning and knowing about. My struggle to make this blog into a real passion has always been my inability to find a common thread to tie it together. That thread is words. Okay, maybe words and learning.And writing. And reading. Oh and thinking about all of the above.

So to kick off the slight adjustment in direction which That Bit Of My Brain is taking, I will share the two tips for remembering the difference between stationary and stationery, my own, and the one shared by the member of my group, Karen.

These are the two words we are wanting to clarify:

  • stationary (adjective) – not moving; and
  • stationery (noun) – material objects, pens, paper, envelopes, ink, used for writing

My Tip:

You can remember that the word for the material object definition includes an ‘e’ by remembering that the word ‘envelope’, an item of stationery, starts with an E.

Karen’s Tip:

You can also remember the difference between the two words by remembering that the word ‘paper’ is spelled papER, which correlates with the word ‘stationERy’.

Both useful tips, however my objective opinion is that ‘E for Envelope’ is the easier trigger for your brain.

Thanks as always for stopping by and I hope you found this tip helpful, and that you’ll enjoy the direction I’m planning to go with the blog and come back soon.

My daily code – have a great day, don’t be an arsehat, and find something new to learn.

See ya,


Stationery Versus Stationary

Not just for Christmas

I wanted to write this after I was extremely annoyed by a customer service rep over the phone when I called one of my providers of something or other, (I honestly don’t remember what or who it was), but I made myself wait in order to calm down a little and not just fill the page with a vituperative fountain of hate.

You know how those calls go and how they often manage to annoy you, pretty much regardless of what you’re even calling about. Its the automated queuing system at the beginning of the call that keeps sending you where you don’t want to be; or the inexplicably long wait times; or some nube on the other end of the phone who is working in the “Tech Support” area of your ISP who clearly has no Tech Idea and has to keep putting you on hold so they can go and look up the problem in their troubleshooting manual.

These are all worthy reasons for being a bit pissed off before…(perhaps slightly prematurely, but then again maybe not), during and after a call to any sort of customer service center. None of these reasons were what set me off my ranting rocker however.

My customer service officer was extremely courteous and helpful, was dutifully going about the business of solving my problem with no issues or delays, and I hadn’t even been transferred 17 times or had had to wait for long. All in all the call was heading down the line of one that would receive all 5 out of 5’s in the customer satisfaction survey that I would be unlikely to complete as it hit my email 3 seconds after disconnecting.

We were actually at the point of that killing time conversation that you sometimes get into with the complete stranger on the other end of the phone when it all went downhill. You know that bit where you’re waiting for something to update or they are doing whatever they are doing and they start saying things like “how’s your day been today?” and so on to fill the awkward period of not talking.

At one such moment of my time on the phone with this young guy, (Tran, I think from memory), Lola the puppy, began the process of jumping all over me resulting in my making weird utterances down the line as I tried to get her off me. I apologized for the oddness and explained what had just happened. This immediately led to Tran making ooh-ahh noises and asking what sort of puppy. I said Lola was a lab cross rotty. “WOW” he exclaimed, “She must be huge huh?” I said she was already at that time, about 4 months old, but full grown she would indeed be large.

Feeling some sort of mistaken dog owner comradery, Tran then launched into the story of his pet owning life. He had brought his girlfriend a puppy for Christmas. “Oh yes”, I ask on queue, “What type of puppy is it?” It was a Pomeranian or something I think. He mentioned it was a ‘mini’ and I’m not sure that you can actually get a mini Pomeranian, unless crossed with something else at least, so I don’t know exactly what it was. It sort of sounded like Tran didn’t really know either!

Then he went on to tell me that the puppy was so cute and fluffy and adorable when they got it, but now, “it had grown a bit bigger, but it was still really small, but its not as cute now and not as fluffy and it’s…like… weeing all over the apartment” and how neither he nor his girlfriend liked picking up after it and so now they think they are going to have to get rid of it!!!!!!!!  Let me just add a few more !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! so you get a full understanding of how utterly appalled, infuriated, shocked….flabbergasted…disgusted…I was at this comment.

Against my better judgment, (purely due to the fact that I had some sort of account with this company and this guy was looking at my details as we had this conversation), I nevertheless launched into a tirade of rebukes at the extraordinary lack of thought and responsibility and overall bad humanism of he and his girlfriend. I’ll spare you the exact replay version because I’m sure you can imagine how it went. Are you kidding me? You can’t just get rid of it? What the hell dude? That’s unbelievably uncool and irresponsible behavior. And so on.

He naturally laughed this off and claimed he was kidding, which I’m certain he was not, and I ended my call with my issue, hopefully, resolved, but I was so incensed by this entire situation and his attitude of abandonment and easy come easy go-ed-ness that I spent the rest of the day feeling wretched for the poor Pomeranian and hugging my own sweet little girl and reinforcing her trust and knowledge of my love and commitment to her.

So the end of this post is just a cry to all to PLEASE think long and hard about your decisions, in general, but also where pet ownership is concerned.

If you are not willing to commit to an animal, completely, for at least, AT LEAST, the next 10 -12-15 years, if you’re lucky, then please DO NOT GET A PET!

Commitment means that no matter what, you will not abandon this innocent being who is looking to you for love and care. It means if you have to move, unexpectedly, on purpose, across the country, across the world, you take them, you move to a place where they are allowed to be and able to be. You don’t move to a 1 bedroom apartment that has a NO PETS clause, if you have a dog or a cat or a bird. No matter how much you might love the place. No matter how close it is to the train. You just don’t. You find a different place to live. A place where they are allowed and happy and have what they need.

You don’t decide one year into your pets life with you that you are going to go backpack around Europe for a year. Because you know what? They cant go!!

Don’t even get me started on pets and having kids. If you are a good and responsible pet owner, you should not have to sacrifice your 4 legged love because of your 2 legged love. And I’m a mum of a 6yo boy who is the light and love of my life, but that didn’t mean that when he came home from the hospital, that our old girl Molly got shoved outside and the door slammed in her face. In fact when the maternal child health nurse came to visit and TOLD me the dog was going to have to stay outside from now on, I put her outside, called her agency and told them to send me a different nurse and that ‘Judy’ was not welcome back. Molly was an exceptionally gentle and loving dog but as far as other animals go, I know caution must always be front and center but,…they CAN ACTUALLY COEXIST…not only that, they can be the ultimate of buddies. You just have to put the time and effort into making it work. This is a whole other post that I’m going to come back to another time because I think it really needs to be discussed further.

Anyway, the point is.. a dog, cat, bird, rat, teacup piggy, raccoon, goat, pony…whatever….IS NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS.

In fact, you know what, they are not good presents at all.

There are obviously exceptions to this: responsible parents giving a child a puppy for Christmas when the family has thought LONG AND HARD about the decision and the child is aware of the requirements of responsibility involved and the parents are willing and accepting of ultimate responsibility is one such example.

Surprise puppies or kittens or any other animal for your girlfriend, who is completely irresponsible and unwilling to chip their nail polish and devoid of a soul… is not.

Buy them a bloody beanie boo instead!



Not just for Christmas

Pet life

A few months back we lost our gorgeous 10 year old lab, Molly. It was a horrible horrible day. She had, what we are told was either a heart attack or a blood clot, and was gone within minutes. The only thing that I can consider a saving grace was that we were there and with her when it happened and that she died in our arms.

While it was happening her eyes were unfocused, as though she were suddenly blind and she was in some sort of, I don’t know how to describe it, a state of shock or something. I was nose to nose with her on the floor, but I could see that she wasn’t really there. Her breathing was extremely shallow and she had collapsed into the position a dog lies in when it’s asleep on its tummy, head between its paws.

As she took what became her last breaths, her eyes came back into focus and she blinked and looked at me and for a few seconds. I thought whatever had happened had passed and she was going to be okay. But that wasn’t the way the story ended, she slipped away again, but I know that in those few seconds when she was able to see me, lying on the floor with her, saying her name, telling her we love her, that she knew, that she understood, that she felt our love and knew the place she held in our hearts.

I cried solidly for about 3 weeks and then I cried intermittently. And I’m still crying. I’m not sure I’ll ever stop. She has left a hole in our lives and in our home. She was that dog that you only get once in your life of pets. Beautiful. Gentle. Protective. Cute as hell.

She was amazingly intuitive with Archie from the moment we brought him home. As soon as we arrived we introduced them. After gently placing her nose at the top of his head and breathing him in, recognizing him, confirming that he was a precious thing, she rarely left his side.

She showed a similar nature with the cat. When Suki and I moved in, I knew this was a relationship I didn’t have to worry about or supervise at all. Molly quickly took up the role as Suki’s guardian and protector and asserted herself as such if Suki were ever being bullied or in danger.

You should have seen the state she would get in if she ever heard a cat fight taking place. She would snap into frenzied action, racing around the house whining as she looked for Suki. If she found her, safe and sound and probably asleep in a pile of clothes somewhere, it was back to instant calm and she would trot off and go back to sleep herself on the couch. If however Suki wasn’t to be found, virtual hysteria would take over and we would have to go out to find her. Molly would either come to Suki’s rescue and run off any bullies, or, find she wasn’t involved at all and run off the cats that were making the horrendous noise, then continue searching wildly around the yard or street until Suki would mysteriously appear from nowhere.  The poor little grey cat was then always greeted with a thorough checking over by Molly and finding all was well, was usually ushered inside anyway, just to be safe.

She was a beautiful soul, and that was so clear in her that you could see it just by looking into her eyes on your first encounter with her. One of the things that I find so unfair about the divine beings we are lucky enough to share our lives with, is that their time with us is so short. If you have a cat or dog, or a rabbit, or Guinea pig, a bird, a carpet python, a teacup piggy or a monkey, you know that pet life is precious and that it can be short and that at the end of that time you will be left heart broken and feeling like a horrible gaping hole has been left in the middle of your life. That’s the hard bit.

But it’s a small part of what, if you’re very lucky, is a long period of a love and a bond that’s different to any you can have with a person. A trust that can’t be faked with fancy words and a joy that comes from sharing time with a being who gives no craps about how you dress or what you drive but sees you as the centre of their world and is just so damn happy that you are you.

Pet life

Time out in the Dunce Parenting Corner

There are a few sounds you just don’t want to hear when you’re in the shower and your almost-5-year-old is roaming free throughout the house.
The sound of their, or in fact any siblings, screaming is clearly at the tip of the list. Similarly the sound of any pets screaming or breaking their way out of the house to escape torture is probably a close second. The voices of strangers, police sirens and any sort of loud crashes all come to mind. For me, it was the shrill screeching of the smoke alarm that sent panic ridden shock-waves through me during the first lather.As I clambered out of shower, hair still full of shampoo, a small and somewhat sheepish face appeared at the bathroom door.
“Mum,” was all it said.
“What have you done? Why is the smoke alarm going off? What did you do?” I was all accusations as I hustled him out of the bathroom toward the source of trouble and found that the house was full of smoke.
I slid across the tiles in the kitchen, and I mean literally slid on account of the fact that I was butt naked and dripping wet. The first thing that I noticed was that the microwave was lit from within. This was cause enough for concern because it doesn’t have a working light. If that hadn’t been enough to cause alarm, the fact that the entire area surrounding the microwave itself was black. That was nothing compared to what was going on inside the appliance itself. I cautiously peered, worried about the possibilities of an explosion in my face, to find that a ball of flame was actually flying around on the inside of the appliance.

Now I don’t know about you, but I pride myself on the idea of being cool and calm in a crisis. But as it turns out that is much more of an idea, an idea of bullshit, than an actual fact. I realised in the split second that I stood there trying to figure out what to do, that I had no idea what to do. So I pressed the stop button. So far so good. Nothing exploded in my face. You know the other thing that makes it hard to think clearly, let alone coolly or calmly, in a crisis? The incessant, high pitched, eardrum shattering sound of not one but two, smoke alarms going off in close quarters. It’s like your brain just begins to disintegrate under the harassment and you find yourself trying to think your way through a bowl of pudding-brain. So it’s fair to say there was a moment of confusion, which translated into a ridiculous display of me, still starkers, trying to dart in two directions at once ,where I thought the first thing to do was stop the alarm, followed by the clarity of realising the fireball in the microwave was actually the greater issue, but oh man that noise, but, agghhh fire, fire, (which was made more absurd because at that exact moment I heard it in the voice of Peppa Pig’s Miss Rabbit) ….at which point logic kicked in. The fact that the voice of reason in my head is a cartoon rabbit with a severe case of workaholism and possible split-personality disorder is not lost on me!
There’s that moment when you’re dealing with these situations in your home when all those lessons you learn when you’re a kid sort of go out the window for a minute. You know the ones like, don’t stick a knife in the toaster and that sort of thing? So my first thought was to throw water on the fire, but you obviously don’t throw water on an electrical fire. What about smothering it with a tea towel? Maybe, but I could just as likely set fire to the tea towel and complicate the situation. So I went with the next idea and grabbed the still burning lump with tongs and threw it into a frypan on the stove where it quickly burned itself out.
Right, the fire was taken care of, but the house was still full of smoke and the alarm was still blaring. So naturally I grabbed a tea-towel, because jumping up and down and waving a piece of cotton that is about 40x60cm in size is going to clear a house full of smoke. I switched to a blanket. The stupidity of the situation dawned on me, standing wet and naked in the middle of the lounge room flapping a quilted blanket made by my mother at the ceiling. So I climbed on a chair and stood on my tippy toes as I tried to press the button on the top of the smoke alarm that turns it off. Unfortunately that’s not what that button is for. Pressing it will do exactly: jack shit. Oh my god, that noise, the neighbours are going to be calling 000, I’m going to be busted dancing naked in a cloud of smoke by a bunch of fire fighters who I won’t hear coming because of this friggen alarm, the dog is whining and running around looking for somewhere to hide, the smoke is combining with shampoo on the surface of my eyeballs, that bloody noise won’t stop. At that point I did what any sane person would do and just ripped it out of the roof. That didn’t help AT ALL. It just meant the blaring noise was now coming from my hand rather than the roof. I smothered it in a towel. Slightly better. The battery! You have to take the f*&king battery out. AHHHAH!!! Oh sweet Jesus, the silence, oh it was golden.

As much as I’d like to believe that these are the firefighters who would turn up at my house, I know I’m just not that lucky!

Back at the microwave area, I inspected the cremated package about the size of a grapefruit. It’s popcorn my little love tells me. What? Do we even have popcorn?? Not anymore. Whilst inspecting the incinerated remains again, I catch the motion of my son take a bite of something from his hand and turn to find out what it is. So while rummaging in the top of the pantry, which he got to by climbing on a chair and then up the pantry shelves, he’s not only found a packet of popcorn I didn’t know we had, but a block of chocolate as well and has now eaten all but 6 and a half squares of it. And started a fire in the kitchen. At quarter to 9 in the morning.
A closer inspection of the microwave. He had actually taken the plastic wrapping off the package before he attempted to microwave it, but he placed the bag up the wrong way so that it wasn’t able to expand. Not to mention that he was trying to cook it for 987654321 hours! His words. I don’t actually know how long that translates to in microwave years, but its long enough, minus the 44 or so minutes that I THINK, were left on the clock, to turn a packet of microwave popcorn into a flying ball of flame; shatter the glass plate; melt, burn, blister and/or scorch every surface on the inside of the microwave; warp and buckle the door so that it won’t close properly once opened and melt numerous items which were sitting on top of it. The clock still worked though so that’s good news. If that’s all you wanted to use your microwave for. Which we didn’t!

The damage.
The damage.

He was very apologetic, with earnest little statements like, ‘Mummy I’m very sorry I broke the microwave,’ and, ‘I’m sorry Mum. I’m sorry for what I did to the microwave,’ being uttered amidst big blue compunctious eyes randomly for the next few hours. damage.

"I'm sorry I broke the microwave Mum."
“I’m sorry I broke the microwave Mum.”

The lessons – Archie is a menace. I knew this one already but every now and then he generously issues a reminder that I need to stay on my toes. I wasn’t actually all that angry about it all, after all, it’s our own fault, I’ve been encouraging him to do things for himself in the preparation for school next year and he is at the age where he wants to investigate his independence. Post-kitchen fire conversations revealed that the lesson of age appropriate food preparation was now pretty clear in his mind. It was all me spending time out in the Dunce Parenting corner. One minute per your age. That’s A LOT of minutes of reflection. I think I’m going to need a glitter bottle.
The other lesson I learned was a pretty serious one. Smoke detectors. Pretty handy! We should all listen to that ad we hear on the radio once or twice a year but don’t pay any attention to, that tells us to change our smoke alarm battery when we change our clocks for daylight saving. Or as another funny joke doing the rounds at the moment suggested, ‘Change your Prime Minister, change your smoke alarm battery.’ They are as painful as a punch in the face when they go off while you’re burning your toast, but they really could be the only thing standing between a small containable combustion and something that can quickly become a much larger problem.
Got any stories of crazy crap your kids got up to that damn near burnt the house down? Please God, if you do share them in the comments so I can feel less alone in the dunce parenting corner.
Till next time.


Time out in the Dunce Parenting Corner

They said I should write something.

It’s taken me, so far, 4 attempts to write this first post.
I keep starting it and getting a few hundred words in, worry that it’s boring and then succumb to the invisible pressure I’m putting on myself, because this is the first, the introductory post, if you will. It has a lot of pressure associated with it. It’s like the airing of the pilot episode of a new show. Some people, like me, will always give that new show a second and sometimes, third chance if they see some potential. Everyone deserves a second chance, don’t they, and sometimes, it takes a couple of goes at something to find your rhythm.
But I know, we live in the fast lane these days, not everyone is as tolerant, or has the time for second chances and if it doesn’t hit all the right notes in the first 17 seconds, that’s it pal, see you later! (Incidentally, that 17 seconds, is actually 7 seconds when it comes to web pages, that’s the average time you have to capture someone before they either decide to stay, or move on). True story!
So, there’s some pressure to get it right.
I wrote a draft and then deleted it. Then I tried again. And deleted it. Third time lucky? Nope, apparently not.
‘I think this was a dumb idea. I can’t even write the first post.’ I said to my husband with my face down in a pillow.
‘Are you over thinking it?’ He knows me pretty well. Which is funny really because he never knows what to get me for Valentines Day!
‘Why are you doing it?’, was his next question.
The answer; because people keep telling me to! Write something, they say. Publish a book, they plead. Okay it’s more of a suggestion than a plead but you get the idea. ‘So, just write about that’, was my husbands final advice before falling asleep.

So this is it. The first ‘final’ version of this post was way, waayyyy too long. So this one is the extremely short version of it. I want to tell you what you’ll find here, but I honestly don’t really know myself. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. Some funny stories. Some serious stories. Some random reviews. Some random thoughts. Stuff you ask to hear about. Whatever comes out of it, I hope you like it. I hope its what those of you who have been encouraging me to do this for a long time expect to see.

I still have a whole heap of things that are to do with following and subscribing and all that gaff to work out but at the moment, I’d just be really chuffed if you liked the Facebook page, and told your friends about it.

That’s all for now.

Till we meet again.


They said I should write something.