Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Our Seniors Week Achievement Awards

John and Margaret receiving an award for the club.
Just before Christmas John Moxon our president, and member (and vice president) Judy Joyce received letters from the NSW Government to say that they were to be awarded 2012 NSW Seniors Week Achievement Awards in the category of Lifelong Learning.  John's award was for the club itself, but Judy's award was an individual one.

We were asked to keep the information confidential, but then we received a request to provide names of friends and family to whom invitations could be sent.  The awards were to be presented on the opening day of NSW Seniors Week, Sunday 18th March.

So it was not easy to keep this exciting news secret, but I suppose they really meant we were not to issue a media release.  We didn't.

So many club members came to wish us well.
On the day itself, over a dozen ParraPals members and friends watched as 59 seniors were presented with plaques.  There are bright red and white glass.  The ParraPals award will be given pride of place in our club rooms.

Judy's award was well deserved.  Judy has been a member of the club since July 2007, and very quickly took on a training role.  Judy is a risk taker, and introduced courses into the club in scrap booking in Microsoft Word, CreataCard, and calendars and other stationery.   She has taught a great variety of other courses too - beginners to digital photography.

Looking at the plaque
In the past two or three years, Judy has become an Apple Mac enthusiast, due mostly to receiving much hardware and software from her younger brother Robert Leane.  She was instrumental in encouraging the club to first of all introduce a monthly Mac Enthusiasts Special Interest Group and then set up formal classes.  The club is now running regular 10 hour courses for beginners and more advanced Mac users.

The classes have been assisted through a successful application to the Commonwealth Government for an iMac and a MacBook Pro, and the club's decision to purchase three more MacBooks with its own funds.

Judy is also a proud member of the Darug Nation, and has written and produced photo stories about her Aboriginal great grandmother, Lucy Leane who lived in the Liverpool area.

Judy Joyce receiving a certificate from Microsoft representative Paul
In November 2011, Judy became ASCCA's digital photo stories grand champion, winning a first and second prize for her entries.  Over the past 3-4 years she has also won awards for her digital photos and even more regularly for her poems and stories.

Margaret & John Moxon and Judy Joyce with awards.
I suspect our club won an award because we were able to include in our application a reference from Nan Bosler, president of the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association.  Nan has been watching the development of our club from its very gestation during 2006, and was a guest speaker at our initial public meeting and our first birthday meeting.
The club has attracted well over 650 members over the past five years, and for the two years has had a financial membership of around 250, likely to be exceeded this year.  We now offer courses five days per week in a range of operating environments - XP to Windows 7 and iOS - and have introduced information and practice on using iPads and other tablets.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Success in the ASCCA competitions

Nadia, Florence and Josie attending for the first time

Today, 15 members attended Day One of the ASCCA conference at the Rydges World Square (Pitt Street, Sydney). Great speakers, interesting workshops, followed by the ASCCA Annual General Meeting. The AGM is always accompanied by the Club Competition results, and once again, our club featured in the results.

Judy receiving her 1st prize from the Microsoft judge

In fact, Judy Joyce excelled herself. She is this year's Grand Champion in the Photo Story section of the competition. She received a third prize for Marley and Me (about her dog) and a first prize for Rivers & Resilience, in the family history section.

Judy also received a prize in the Creative writing competition.
Parrapals also featured in the website and newsletter sections of the competition. As webmaster and newsletter editor, yours truly received a third prize in the newsletter competition and a second prize for our website.  Here I am below accepting one of the awards.
Margaret receiving a certificate for 3rd place from the Dept of Human Services representative

What a thrill this was for Judy, and all of us!

And earlier in the day, Helen was lucky enough to win a digital camera which had been brought over from Japan by our international guest.
Helen Nagiel being presented with a digital camera

And we haven't even mentioned the presentations - or the food.  The conference has once again been very well organised by Nan Bosler and the ASCCA directors, and by the staff who include Deborah Martin, who is working at ASCCA part time for a few months.  A wonderful show all round.

Peter and John at the conference

Michael, Margaret & John waiting for the opening session

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2011 AGM - a changing of the guard

Bev checking Honor's financial status
 The Club's 2010-11 Annual General Meeting was held last Friday, 21st October and 45 financial members turned up.  There were many more apologies than usual, including that of our treasurer Hazel Labka who is currently recovering from an operation, and other usual attendees who are engaged in heavy caring responsibilities or are on holidays.
But nevertheless, many of our members turned up to help out, as you can see here.
Margaret, Judy and John presented reports
A number of members of the committee changed responsibilities this year.  I decided not to stand as secretary, having been in the position for over four years - since the club was established in January 2007.
Deborah Martin, formerly our vice president stood for secretary instead.  Judy Joyce was nominated for vice president, freeing up another "ordinary" member position on the committee.  This vacancy will be filled by secondment at the next meeting of the management committee.
Michael Myers and I were nominated for ordinary member positions.
Thanks go to David Moutou from Council for kindly agreeing to act as our returning officer.
John Moxon and Hazel Labka, president and treasurer respectively are not due for election until the 2012 AGM.
John, Jan and Jon trying out the document camera
Unfortunately both our original guest speaker, Michaela Aguilar from ParraConnect and her replacement Andrew Downing from Tapestry were unavailable (with good reasons!), so president John came to the rescue demonstrating an interesting piece of equipment - a document camera. He used Jan Brandon's iPad usage as an example.  The document camera can be used in conjunction with a data projector, showing either still photos or recorded movies.  It also records sound.  It would be a really useful training tool, once the user gets the hang of it.
Over a four year period, this is the first time we've had to fill in at the last moment due to a cancelled guest speaker, so I guess we can consider ourselves lucky - that's nearly 50 monthly meetings!
Marg G and Nadia
It was good to see Margaret Green - a former member of our management committee - back from her overseas trip.  Margaret is one of our members who works hard to make all our members feel welcome.
Morning tea means washing up too!
After John formally closed the AGM, members enjoyed a great morning tea, provided by Margaret, Lyndell, Kate and other members.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Retirement village residents hear about ParraPals

Residents listening to Margaret
This morning John and I had an opportunity to talk to residents at our retirement village - Constitution Hill - about our computer club.

About 30 people showed up, including some of our friendly neighbours, and about 7-8 residents who are already members of ParraPals.  Some other participants are, or have been members of computer clubs at Blacktown, The Hills or Holroyd.
I suppose the residents were looking at me!

John commenced with a potted history of our club, including the help given by other clubs to get us established in 2007; and talked about how our courses and other activities operate.
I then spoke to the Family History slide show that Deborah had prepared, and handed out material on our courses, the club brochure and the family history hand out.

John then demonstrated Picasa, which is taught at the club in the Managing Digital Photography course and is so useful for scrapbooking, writing life stories or family histories as well as blogs like this!

He was able to straight, crop and correct the colour balance on some photos he took during my presentation.
This photo of the Centre was enhanced with Picasa

Participants appeared to enjoy the demonstration, and some may even join the club.  One lady has an Apple Mac and is coming to our Apple Mac Special Interest Group on Friday.

After the presentation we enjoyed morning tea together.

Thanks especially to Keith South - the Resident Committee Secretary - for arranging the room booking and setting up the chairs with some help from Ken Miles; and to Elaine Muddle, Val Craig, Shirley Edwards and Nancy Harris for their hard work in the kitchen.  These residents are all enthusiastic members of ParraPals.
An example of our wonderful gardens at Constitution Hill
And didn't we have a great day for it - as you can see from our photos above and to the right.

Spring has indeed sprung.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Participating in ABC TV's Q & A

Where is John Lee?
Last night, 11 ParraPals, not afraid of the dark or a late night out, shared a bus with a dozen or so students and teachers from Parramatta Marist High School, for a trip to the ABC's Ultimo studios.  We were on our way to participate in Q & A with Tony Jones.
The topics for last night's show were politics and religion, and the guests were Raymond Gaita, author and philopher; Jim Wallace of the Australian Christian Lobby; Kristina Keneally, former NSW Premier and active Catholic; Gerard Henderson, conservative commentator; and Cristina Rad, an athiest blogger.
Guests were asked to email questions before hand for selection to put to the panel.  Only 10 questions were selected, and president John Moxon was lucky (or smart) enough to be selected to ask one.  The questions ranged from the cynical (or cheeky) to the serious, and covered belief; charity and religion; the current responses to asylum seekers and more.

John being checked in by security.
John introduced the topic of euthanasia thus:
There is more to this debate than "I want to decide how and when I die" versus "God should determine when we die", so as a person whose level of disability is often used as a supposedly legitimate and understandable reason to allow someone to be euthanased, I just wonder when we will see a truly comprehensive debate about euthanasia - one that includes a genuine opportunity for people who live quite productively with serious disability to speak out against euthanasia."
On our way to the studios
Ruth, Shirley, Val and Barbara after the show
 Tony Jones appeared to like this question - and indeed told John so afterwards - because he allowed John three opportunities to speak.  Raymond Gaita picked up best on John's arguments - the slippery slope of decision making - and Kristina Keneally, having been a one time Minister for Disability Services and Ageing - was also well aware of the complexities of the issue.  John's argument boiled down to "how do we know how we'll actually feel about ending our lives when something life changing like quadriplegia or dementia actually happens?"  This raises many questions about the use of advanced care directives.
The bus trip home was a great deal noisier than on the journey in.  It certainly was a stimulating evening and it was great to share it with our good friends from ParraPals.
A happy group of young men - all up the back of the bus of course
The young year 11 fellows from Marist High School were very friendly, as you can see from the photo, and many congratulated John on his "performance.  They had been very interested to hear Raymond Gaita's views, since they are studying his books at school.

You will find some more photos below.  You can tell that Margaret was very pleased that John had such a good opportunity to get his point across.  One of our Facebook friends said that he'd never heard Tony Jones going back to a questioner three times.

Back home, it seemed that many of our friends and colleagues had seen the show, and were very pleased with with it.  As one friend said, it was a much better opportunity for a more in depth discussion than Channel 10's Can of Worms, on which John had an opportunity to appear a couple of weeks ago - he wished he hadn't!

Where's Jim?

A bit tricky getting out - but good one ABC, making sure the bus was accessible
A fun night out for Marg & John