Making Patterns Out Of Chaos

For years, I’ve been blaming the wrong person. 

For years, I have been teasing EG Dad about his need for structure and order.

Clearly, our 17 years of non-fatal co-habitation shows he has mellowed over time, which has been good for him. Because there are very few neat-freak, organised perfectionists who can survive in a family of evil genius without succumbing to a bit of their own chaotic evil genius. 

It has been a huge sore point; to be completely honest, it still is. I am not a neat person. I often refer to it as organised chaos.

But today I realised there is actually a lot of pattern to my madness. 

I would even go as far to admitting… I think I am the one who is obsessed with patterns, and not EG Dad obsessed with order. 


I love finding patterns in anything. To me, it’s the easiest method in problem solving. Look for the pattern and then analyse the bejebus out of it. 

Sounds very mathematical doesn’t it? And yet, ironically I was told at school I would never succeed at math; I had too much humanities and not enough logic. 

This year, Sinister is in year 6 OC (gifted program) and the homework aid usually falls to me, mostly due to time availability. And I’ll be honest: I am more self-conscious this year, with those long-ago voices rearing their ugly heads again.

Just last night, Sinister asked for help on this one:

This is for test preparation and thus, time is of the essence. 

Now, for what it’s worth, the answer is D–36. Congratulations if you had that. 

Last night, there was no chance in any potential reality for me to have even guessed it right. 

But when I looked at it this morning, I sat down … And looked for the pattern. Calculate corners. Break it down to a smaller model. 

And I had it!

And then I looked around at my messy home, and realised even in my chaos, I can see the patterns. Which is why the mess never seems as bad to me as it does to others. 

The patterns soothe me. Like stanzas in poetry. Like Shakespeare’s spoken word. It is a musical flow that resonates with me, even to the point of observing and manipulating others. 

Both my mother and my high school math teacher had it wrong. My humanity did not exclude me from mathematics. In fact, it was a direct result of a core concept in mathematics: pattern recognition.

I’m not saying maths will solve every human-related issue, but I now have a new way to approach homework this afternoon. 

I’ll be more confident. I will show a better way to break big problems to smaller problems to identify the patterns. I will show them better ways to build patterns from there, and thus manipulate their results. 


Let’s start with a game of Qwirkle and see how I go.

“MUM!! Look what Dad did to the Qwirkle tiles!!”

Oh yeah, and back to blaming the other guy. Can’t let the spawnlings know all my quirks. 😉

What Jobs Can Minions Do Better Than Machines and Computers?


This post is part of a new series “If I Ran The People Zoo“, looking at the impact Artificial Intelligence will have on directly on our spawnlings and their future. 

We are in the midst of the next big sociological change: automation, and more specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Better Than Computers

You could be forgiven for not knowing this. It wasn’t considered an issue in the recent Australian Federal Election, nor have we had a breeze of it in the US Election discussion. Nevermind a little thing like the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) 2016 report released recently. It only predicted 40% of Australia’s workforce would be replaced by automation within the next 10 to 20 years.

Let that sink in, because it is a key feature of this post – and in fact, this series.

40% of current jobs will probably not exist by the time our spawnlings are finishing school and looking for a job to provide a SALARY. To pay for their LIVING.

In regional areas, that number could be as high as 60%.

It’s important to note, we’re not talking loss of industry here. The work will still be there; it is just done by a robot rather than a human. You can’t jump in and say “We still need that group of workers!” because we will still have the work, just with fewer coffee breaks and toilet stops.

Makes you wonder what will be left for our spawnlings.

So let’s start with a process of elimination. The easy target is the manufacturing industry. Factory work. Dock workers. Any routine repetitive task that can be easily programmed.

Next obvious target is the mining industry: Already done. There are mines in the Pilbara region in Western Australia, entirely automated; from the hard labour roles through to ‘driverless trucks’. Ironically, for every time you hear a regional politician propose faster trains across Australia, another driverless battery-powered truck is being tested on the long haul routes.


Photo from Public Domain


Think it is just the manual/physical jobs at risk? Think again. Remember – we are initially looking at any role that is routine. Repetitive. Easily programmed.

Start thinking about the ‘safe’ jobs those Tiger Mums are pushing for their precious miracles: Accountants. Real Estate Agents. Lawyers. And yes, teachers.  The ‘area of risk’ has now expanded from the lower and base level to middle level of employment.

From personal experience, I completely believe the risk to lawyers. The paper pushing in most litigation is very ‘routine’. There are already programs out there, able to do the data collating role of a paralegal across multiple documents – at more than thrice the speed, and half the cost. Again, the legal profession will always be here; just less emotional.

It is no longer simply a question of what jobs will be left for our spawnlings. It is more a question of which jobs can our spawnlings do better than machines and computers?

But hark! What do I hear from the Conservatives, unwilling (or unable) to see the path of the future? It is the chant of ignorance, a chant brought forth from the Industrial Revolution: ‘loss of traditional role = creation of new job’.

Nope. Nope, nope, nope. There are not enough new jobs being created to equal the same amount of roles being replaced by robots. We’re not talking a simple equation like one machine equals one person. We’re talking one machine equals hundreds.

Of course, the easy Band-Aid solution is to just teach the next generation how to be the programmers. But be honest – How many colleagues do you know have the natural ability to excel in tech-based work, at the level needed to gain these jobs in the future?

Remember: your spawnlings’ competition is no longer the kid sitting next to them at school; it is the other 750 million kids in the region – all learning coding at the same time, and all brought together in a global market across the interwebs. Technology is overcoming geography in so many ways. For example, EG Dad leads a team of people across Australia, UK, and the US, because those are the locations of the people with the best skills. I contribute to an international news service (GeekDad/GeekMom) along with other writers from the UK, NZ, UAE, UK, and so many others I lose track of them in the social chat!

Robot-BarristaRight now, right this minute, the best employment options are in the service industry. We’re talking about the high demand for our basic needs. Aged care providers for our ageing population; baristas for our morning motivation; nail technicians for the beauty pick-me-up before the rise of the robots… Oh wait, we already have robots in McDonald’s in the US, as well as other food outlets around the world. Scratch another off your future jobs list.

The common theme across these examples: an increase in casual, part-time, and fragile jobs. And this is already happening right now.

Sure, this isn’t always a bad thing. Some people are genuinely looking for part-time work; be it work/life balance or personal interests, or whatnot. But not everyone is. And with 2/3 of all new jobs advertised in Australia being part-time, fewer people are having a say in this.

On top of that, our spawnlings will also be competing with the robots for the jobs. The cost of technology is far easier to justify than the cost of human resources. Every company is trying to ensure they maintain their bottom line, so why not take the cheaper option?

Did you hear about the AI robot and his plans to keep his human creators in a People Zoo? That people zoo doesn’t seem so fantastical now, does it?

Where do we need the jobs in the future? Health care, science, innovation, entertainment. And yeah, I still reckon we need some human interaction in our education system. These are the jobs I see as needing a human element involved. The jobs where there just might be a competitive edge in favour of the spawnlings.

My next post in this series looks at the skills our spawnlings will need to compete with technology in the future. Are the schools of today really prepared for the skills they need tomorrow? Do all schools have the resources to teach the next generation, or will we end up with an even greater class/education divide? And if there are fewer jobs generally (and more competition), who will do it cheapest?

And don’t think you’re off the hook – we’re going to look at what EG Parents are doing to give their spawnlings the competitive edge. All bragging is encouraged in the comments below, or in our Facebook discussion.



Horrible Histories: Pirates in the Museum!

Tell your spawnlings you’re heading to a pirate exhibit at the museum, and even the least academically inclined child will show an interest in coming along.

Tell them it’s a “Horrible Histories” exhibit, and they will probably try to drive your doom-mobile themselves.



If you’re lucky enough to live in Sydney, you can still catch the Horrible Histories Pirate Exhibit at the Maritime Museum (Darling Harbour). It finishes at the end of the April School Holidays – 27 April 2016 to be exact.

And it is worth catching. EG Inc has been twice. We’re going a third time this week, broken wrist and all.

Horrible Histories is pretty popular in itself – there are books; tv series; spin-off books about geography; and museum exhibits like this. The appeal of the brand is, of course, their ability to be absolutely honest about the dark and dirty but in a funny gross way that clearly works for kids.

And juvenile evil genius parents.

There is no singing Pirate King; no Errol Flynn swinging past the sails. There is definitely nothing romantic or cinematic about any of this.

I knew I was in the right place when the entry has an interactive “rat-squashing” game. Using a projector and motion sensor, kids can stomp on the rats scurrying along the floor to the exhibit. It is hilarious fun when you see the blood and guts spread across the floor in a spectacular cartoon fashion. It kept Zaltu (and myself) entertained for at least 15mins.IMG_9007

Inside the exhibit, there are plenty of visual displays, very informative posters, and a range of tactile play areas on show. We each had fun creating our own Wanted Pirate posters along with exploring for hidden treasure on the little beach.Nefarious the Fearless

But the winning feature – the one we are really going back for?

The big battle scene in the very middle of the exhibit.

Kids split between the two sections, each with a stack of soft(-ish) balls and an air-powered ‘canon’. Then the battle begins across the sea!! And woe be the parent who strolls across the firing range. Pirate spawnlings have no mercy.

There’s no time to be ‘dilly-dally’ on this one – as mentioned above, the last day is 27 April (two weeks from publishing this article). Details about the exhibit can be found on the website.

No affiliation or sponsorship for the post either. EG Nan and Pop gave us an annual pass for a Solstice present. Brilliant idea two years in a row. Our spawnlings simply had way too much fun learning to keep this quiet.

Apparently Thursday (both weeks) look like possible rain…if you need a suggestion of a day…


Forensic Friday 4.5 – Non-cook play dough recipe 

Normally, we have blue sky – sunshine, lollipops and rainbows and everything. Well, you get the idea. Lovely weather. The type of weather that entices you towards world domination … If it just wasn’t so damn cruise in your high wing-backed chair…

But not today. No, today is day 3 of having EG Dad home sick and I’m over it. Sure , yeah, “oh poor guy! Here let me take care of you like the other spawnlings!” 

So, to entertain Zaltu away from EG Dad’s man-flu, let’s make PLAY DOUGH!!

The best part about this is no standing at the stove cooking it. Yes, i have done a post about this before, but a change in circumstances (read: chaos) led me to look for an even EASIER recipe. Do you any idea how much trouble Zaltu can get up to while I stand cooking something like play dough?!? It took all of 10 secs to climb over our ground floor balcony to jump to the park next door. When she was 12mths old. She’s now 18mths old. I’m not ready for this.

So how to make it:

  1. Mix the flour, salt, Cream of Tartar (what is this stuff anyway, besides essential for play dough), and oil together in a bowl.. 
  2. Add the food colouring to the boiling water and then gradually add to the “dry mix”. Mix around until it combines (we split the mix for 2 colours – red and blue)
  3. Let it cool a bit, then knead the crap out it, until it is smooth and malleable like minions, I mean play dough. 
  4. Then go and play. Simple, ja? Oh yeah, and keep it in an air-tight container.

No guarantee on your crew, but this bought me 15mins of “drinking my tea in peace” time. Worth it’s weight in Tim Tams, and then some.

Now excuse me while I go and check on the glowing mucous that is trying to escape the virus-riddled host I call a husband. This is starting to look more and more like a biology prac gone wrong. 

EG Parent Award #51

Hmm. Been awhile. Again.

Well, when you have the choice between blog and sleep – ZZZZZZZZZZ

Since EG Lair became a crucible for mixing together every fraking childhood illness in the immediate area, sleep has become that rare commodity I would ransom the moon for.

At first, I was stunned about how many different illnesses the spawnlings brought home: gastro, chicken pox, hand foot mouth, school sores, chest infection, sinus infection. It just keeps going. And every other parent was telling me that this normal with school age spawnlings.

Well none of them are damn geniuses.

The problem is not the little Petri dish of school, however. Though, that germ factory is not completely innocent.

The problem is with other adults who have no concept of the personal space of children

I almost wish I had ugly kids.


See, on the walk to school pick-up, Zaltu was approached TWICE in her pram by complete strangers.

Apparently, it’s a social norm for strange women to just walk up to a pram and punch or rub babies’ faces, without asking.

But it’s not a social norm for mothers of said babies to rip off said strangers’ arms and beat them around their heads with the bloody stump?!?

I did point out to both “You don’t want to do that. She has Chicken Pox.”

One of them even replied “Why didn’t you tell me?!?”


The thing is, adults spend all day telling kids to cover their mouths when they cough; blow your nose; wash your hands. But I see adults doing the same things all the time – and then touching other people like there is nothing wrong. I totally believe that half of the illness Zaltu’s had this year is from the grown- up minions who won’t leave her the frak alone!!

But one dear minion (Traci) has an idea.

“Whenever you’re out, give the kid something to eat. My fave is a Cheddar Scroll. Not too bad for the kid, but just messy enough to keep the crazies at bay.”

So we tried it – and it worked!! Genius!!

Traci – you rock. And to the next stranger who approaches my Spawnling without permission or invite – a pox on BOTH your houses!