Week 22/2021: sunrises and crackers

Week 22/2021: week of 31 May

I didn’t achieve a bunch of things this week, but I think I learned a lot.

The sun rising over a beach with heavy clouds
Saturday sunrise

21 for 2021 update

Vegetable of the week (thing 2)

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. This week, instead of working with a new vegetable, I went back to one of the recipes I’d made earlier, the pumpkin risotto. I was quite delighted when Kramstable said, “this is really good, Mum”.

The Change Journal (thing 4)

I’m still working on the Habits chapter of the Change Journal and haven’t started anything new. I think I need to get moving on this or I’m going to run out of time.

I think my main problem is I want to do each section perfectly to do the book justice, when the point of it is not to do it perfectly but to try some ideas out and see if they work for me.

Stop taking it so seriously!

Kramstable’s videos (thing 8)

I went through the video I thought was finished and pick up a couple of minor issues (and one pretty big one). I need to fix that next week and then (fingers crossed) that video will be done and I can start on the next one.

My mother’s story (thing 9)

An interesting subject came up last weekend, which was cracker night, and specifically, why is the last weekend in May “cracker night” in Tasmania.

I have memories of this as a child but no idea why we did it.

The question generated some discussion on Twitter. Apparently, it celebrates “Empire Day”, which I didn’t even know was a thing, but came about because Queen Victoria’s birthday was on 24 May and it was first commemorated on that date in 1902, the year after she  died. Long live the glorious British Empire.


It was renamed Commonwealth Day in 1958, and in 1973 moved to the second Monday in March. In Australia we don’t have a holiday for this day but there are several states that have public holidays on the same day; for instance, Eight Hour Day here in Tasmania

So it’s perfectly logical to celebrate Empire Day Tasmania in May 2021.

Someone very kindly pointed me to this post from Pauline, who must be of a similar vintage to my Mum, growing up in the 1950s. She says they used to get boiled lollies at school on Empire Day, and that cracker night, the following Saturday, was kind of a nod to Guy Fawkes night, as they’d have a bonfire and put a “guy” on top.

I asked Mum if she had any recollections of Empire Day at school and whether they got lollies too. She said no to the lollies but they got half a day off school for the occasion, which was (wait for it  . . . ) to have the school sports carnival. Her school was clearly ripped off!

And I am no closer to understanding why cracker night persists in Tasmania. (I actually thought it finished years ago and couldn’t work out what all the noise was about on Saturday night. I wasn’t the only one.)

The Compelling Frame course (thing 11)

I finished off lesson 6.

Brainsparker (thing 17)

This week I finished Module 6, with a section that looked at the CIGAR model

I really like this as a simple way to identify your current situation (C), your ideal situation (I), the gaps between where you are and where you want to be (G), the actions you’ll take to close the gaps (A) and the results you get and a review to see how you can do better (R).

What I like about this is it focuses on actions to address the gaps between where you are and where you want to be, rather than just looking at a big future goal and working out steps to get there. It’s a subtle difference but I think a useful one to bear in mind.

21 for 2021 summary

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 3 (1, 18, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 5 (4, 8, 9, 11, 17)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 8 (2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 16)
  • Things not started: 5 (3, 12, 15, 19, 21)
The sunrise as seen from Molle Street Hobart at 7.29 am on Thursday 3 June 2021
A photo from my Hobart Street Corners project: Molle and Liverpool Street, Thursday morning

When did I listen and what did I learn this week?

I worked on the Preventing Dementia MOOC and completed Module 3. It looked at some of the things we can do in terms of keeping our brains active to lower the risk of getting dementia. One of the things that studies have found is that if you have some of the changes in your brain that are associated with dementia, people with higher levels of education have a lower chance of those changes expressing as dementia than people with lower levels of education. They’re still looking at why this may be the case but findings like this could have implications for the entire education system in terms of access and engagement. 

I also learned about the cognitive reserve hypothesis, which is that if you’re exposed to complex learning activities throughout your life, on average you’ll have a lower risk for dementia later in life. This isn’t just formal education; it can also be complex work and stimulating leisure activities like reading, learning languages, or visiting museums. This can affect both your brain reserve (the size of your brain and the number of nerve cells and connections between them) and your cognitive reserve (the efficiency and flexibility of your brain).


Of course, as with everything, none of this is a guarantee you won’t get dementia. But it will reduce your risk, just like the lifestyle changes such as exercise that I looked at last week.

The early morning light on Macquarie Street, Hobart catches the Lands Building
Early morning light on Macquarie and Murray Street

What was the best thing about this week?

I was very proud of Kramstable sending in a letter to the education minister about an issue in schools that he is concerned about. 

What I’m reading this week

  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
  • gulp! The seven day crash course to master fear and break through any challenge by Gabriella Goddard
  • What would Barbra Do?: How Musicals Changed My Life by Emma Brockes

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine(Goal = 5): 2
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 4
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 4
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 2
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 5
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