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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

'Big Brother' was watching me last week!

I'm not referring to that reality TV show, just using the term that people use when trying to describe how 'someone in Authority knows what the ordinary person is up to' as he/she goes about everyday life. The inference has sometimes been associated with an almost sinister overtone, but my experience was much more benign. 
Since 2007, I have been part of a joint research project of Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland, called 'Habitat'. Over those years,  I had filled out 3 booklets of questions about my suburb and its facilities, my health and well being and also questions about my work and exercise.

 Then a month ago I got a letter from the team saying that because of more funding being made available, the team was going to collect data on how people's faculties/physical abilities change as they age, and the team were looking for volunteers. I agreed to be part of this stage.
So that's how a charming young research officer called Genevieve came to my home to 'put me through some paces' :-)
After a short interview, I was given a survey booklet to fill out while Genevieve set up little 'activity stations' on our large side veranda...hmmm what had I let myself in for...? 
Most of the activities were balance started with simple things and gradually built up to the rather difficult 'stand on one leg for 30 seconds...with both eyes closed'...sounds easy? Try it! Lol. I managed the 30 secs on my left leg but could only manage 15 secs on my right leg. ( I hate failing at 'stuff', so afterwards Googled the scenario of standing on one leg with eyes closed and found that the brain uses a number of sources to maintain is one source) 

Your sense of balance relies on a dynamic process in which your brain and body take in and respond to physical information through your eyes, muscles and nervous system as you physically navigate the world. Without this feedback, your body's ability to respond to it and balance itself suffers.

Other activities tested flexibility, ability to change direction quickly and another one was stepping with knees high for 2 the 'marking time' we used to do in marching drills at school. 

This all took an hour, and then it was time to brief me about what I would have to do for this project for the next 7 days...these items and I would have a very close relationship during that week...
The item on the left is an activity monitor...I wore it on my left wrist each day, from when I first got up, until bedtime that evening. It had no screen so I couldn't see what it recorded. The other gadget was fastened around my waist and was a GPS...everywhere I went, it recorded. And I had the yellow  record sheet to fill out with the details of when I took the monitors on and off. 
The week went quickly and in no time at all it seemed, I was putting everything into the replied paid envelope and sending it back to the team at the university. In 2 years I will have to do it all the meantime I 'm planning to keep practising those balance activities! Lol

A bit more about the origin of that term, 'Big Brother'...

Big Brother is a fictional character in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. He is the enigmatic dictator of Oceania, a totalitarian state wherein the ruling Party wields total power "for its own sake" over the inhabitants.

In the society that Orwell describes, every citizen is under constantsurveillance by the authorities, mainly by telescreens. The people are constantly reminded of this by the phrase "Big Brother is watching you", the maxim ubiquitous on display. However, in the nature of doublethink, this phrase is also meant to mean that Big Brother is a benevolent protector of all citizens.

Since the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four, the term "Big Brother" has entered the lexicon as a synonym for abuse of government power, particularly in respect to civil liberties, often specifically related to mass surveillance.


Anthea said...

That all sounds so interesting Maria, & a valuable addition to the gathering of knowledge about community, environment & those who in it... A more sensible Big Brother than the stupid tv 'show'!~!

Una said...

I just tried the standing on one leg with eyes closed and failed spectacularly!!

Vireya said...

Oh my! I can only do about 3 or 4 seconds on either leg!

Think I will have to do a little practice as well.

Mizumatte said...

what a good thing to get know about youself and maybe even givs you more motivation to take care of you. Keep going. Jaana