Saturday, December 29, 2007

Me, my elf and I

Today K found an envelope in the Christmas tree with a letter made with letters cut out from a newspaper. The letter said:
To the H Family
A naughty christmas elf hid some of your presents in the laundry cupboard
Signed: A good christmas elf
So, we checked out the cupboards and found three presents. When we unwrapped them there were lollies for H, lollies for K and a lovely beautiful bright green frisbee for me. Now the letter didn't explain who the presents were from but I have my suspicions, the writing and the absence of a fourth present all point to the incriminatingly smug D. I have to agree with him when he says "What a clever way to sneak in late Christmas presents."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mellow and hollow but crisp

OK, I'm not blogging very often at the moment and as I have only 1hr 28 mins of battery for the next two days I'm not going to write anything much now.

I'm intending to write an entry about schema in sports, maybe one on the concept of marital insurance, post some pictures H & K have taken on my phone and update you on my life in general.

Meanwhile I hope that you're having a happy Xmas and are planning a merry new year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

We are the champions

Last week my Ultimate Frisbee team Happy Creature played Jason V's Team and they beat us by nearly 20 points. This week when I found out we were playing them again I felt demoralised. But we had a fabulous game. Everyone put in an astonishing effort. Our captain, SK, seemed to have an extra couple of feet of reach to call on. The final score was Jason V's Team 11, Happy Creature 7. Reducing the margin to 4 points feels like a great victory and if that wasn't enough their team named me female MVP.

I may have a BMI close to 40, run like a penguin with a face a beetroot would be proud of but today I am a sports star. I am expecting to be asked for celebrity endorsements any moment.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Weighing up reality

Wandering around the library today it occurred to me to divide the world into subjects on which there are more fictional instances than real and vice versa. Dragons, fairies, serial killers and princesses fall in the first category. Toilet breaks, sexual encounters, computers and even, I think, first love fall in the second (there are 6 billion people on the planet).

Which leaves me wondering - what occurs in fiction close to the same amount that it occurs in real life?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Driving the light fantastic

A long time ago, before either of us could drive, I had a conversation with my sister about good drivers in which she said that people who drive like they are part of an overall flow are nice to drive with. I have only been driving about a year and during that time I've thought of this from time to time. I've tried to use the metaphor of a river but it hasn't clicked for me.

The metaphor that does work for me is one of dancing, city driving is like boogieing in a crowd. Both driving and dancing involve physical movement which has elements of both constraint and freedom, both are better when done smoothly and, in both, crashing into others is a bad thing. The main constraint in driving is the road, the main constraint in dancing is the music, both are easier if the constraints are familiar.

My niece, I, likes to drive back from gym a particular way because she likes the shape of it. The sweep of the curves her way is a graceful dance.

Proof that geeks have inherited the earth

Monty Python is everywhere: I turn on the TV and Michael Palin appears, I turn on my PC and the Wikipedia article on the programming language Python is open (to assuage the curiosity aroused by this xkcd). Although should confess I haven't been able to look at Michael Palin the same way since he told Rove he'd turn gay for David Attenborough - docu-RPS haunts my imagination.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Moseying

I have many friends participating in Movember and I thought in honour of them and my own facial hair I'd share the gist of a great Cathy Wilcox cartoon:

Two guys drinking beer.
Guy 1 : So, is your new girlfriend attractive?
Guy 2 : Well, she has a moustache
Guy 1 : So, is it a nice moustache?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Independence begins at home

Yesterday I filled in the forms for H & K to go to school next year. There were enrolment forms, contact forms, dental clinic forms, public health forms, new entrant forms and even ICT user agreements for them to sign themselves. Today my babies are so grown up they went to the postbox without me.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

2622 bees' knees

Last Sunday it began with a buzzing. It built up to talking to a local beekeeper for advice and it ended with 261 dead bees in our laundry. Since then 94 more bees joined them on Monday, 52 on Tuesday, 6 on Wednesday, 3 on Thursday, 3 on Friday and, just when I thought they were tapering off, 18 today.

Of the 437 bees 8 were substantially larger. From reading about swarming bees in Wikipedia I think this was an afterswarm and the 8 larger bees were virgin queens. I am sad to have killed them, particularly as feral honey bees are having a hard time here with varroa mites. Last summer we coexisted very happily with a hive of bumble bees in the eaves but I am not prepared to share the laundry.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

10 lies about terrorism in NZ

I have been stuck on this entry for a long time. I'm still not completely happy with it but I'm posting it so I can move on.

  1. I have done a lot of research to make sure that this list reflects a well informed opinion.
  2. I am confident the arrest of 17 people on terrorism charges will discourage activists from carrying out violent acts.
  3. I am disappointed that the Solicitor General ruled against charging them under the terrorism act.
  4. The recorded conversations which mention assassination and acts of violence should be taken at face value. Activists don't say that kind of thing unless they mean to act on it. I never joke with my friends about anything I wouldn't actually do.
  5. The competence of the police in this case is unquestionable and I find it reassuring. The way the situation was handled has been positive for race relations.
  6. I believe that Maori activists pose a real threat to the safety of all New Zealanders.
  7. I can see how a sensible person would decide it was worthwhile to assassinate a New Zealand politician.
  8. I think that extremist groups are made up entirely of sensible people. I always support Tama Iti and understand his point of view.
  9. I think that the police are all sensible people. They certainly had a good reason to remove two avocados and return them later.
  10. I have no lingering sense of disquiet about what happened.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Flying ferrets

xkcd is my favourite webcomic. It describes itself as "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language". It is usually funny, always geeky, sometimes poignant and very rarely irritating. The panels/strips usually stand alone which makes it easy to pick up.

Yesterday I read the early strips for the first time. This was my favourite.

I hang out with people who quote the latest xkcd in conversation before I've read it. But, the other day I found out that JK, multiply manifest internet goddess, hadn't heard of xkcd and so I thought I'd better make sure that you, my gentle reader, had.

The naked logophile

The best thing about facebook is Scrabulous which lets me play scrabble with friends on the other side of the world. We each play a move every day or so and the game slowly unfolds.

But I'm sick and I'm waiting for the other player(s) to move in all my games so I checked out "Join Table". I forgot the internet is for porn. I forgot Rule 34 of the internet: if you can imagine it there is porn of it.

So when I found:
Hara is requesting a Regular game using the English TWL dictionary.
Note: **LADIES ONLY** HAVE A WEBCAM? LET ME SEE YOUR BODY while we play scrabble, I have pictures of my thick hard [...] to share. Send a message when you accept so I know you read this.
I ended up in a giggling, coughing, wheezing, gasping, snorting fit.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Glue ear

One particularly chatty little trick or treater said to me:
I've seen you in my street. My mother said you must have gone to a party and forgotten that your hair was green.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Cultural contamination and begging

H & K love Halloween so for the last few years I have been perfecting the art of attracting trick or treaters to our house. This year we got about 70 which is astounding in a country that doesn't go in for it much. It helps we have easy access and live in a street with lots of families. My technique is:
  1. Decorate so people can tell you know it is Halloween. We stuck pictures of ghosts and jack o'lanterns which H & K coloured in in the front windows and tied some balloons outside.
  2. Be generous so kids will tell each other it is worth visiting. Three wrapped lollies each is considered generous around here.
  3. Look harmless. Two pre-schoolers jumping up and down on the garage roof in their pyjamas does the trick.
Wednesday evening from 6 'til 7:30 H & K alternated between jumping up and down on the garage roof in their pyjamas and woolly hats, and rushing downstairs to answer the door.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

K: "Why did you say 'munch munch munch munch munch'?"
me: "Because it is more fun to eat you than listen to you whine."
Sometimes my parenting surprises me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Angst in her pants

H is very good at putting two and two together. Sometimes she goes a little to far though and makes five. Our student nanny is from Melbourne, yesterday, when I went to Kelburn with H, I realised she had renamed Kelburn to Melbourne in her mind. This kind of thing generates wonderful malapropisms. She had a conversation with Damon about the "Terrible Arks" it took him a while to figure out she meant the "Wearable Arts".

One day I was on my own putting H & K to bed. They had just got settled and were sweetly snuggled down in their beds and I was just about to give them each a kiss, close the door and give a sigh of relief, when H leapt up and started wildly scratching her bottom. My heart sank. I thought I'd finished my motherly duties for the day and now there was a problem. I even knew the cause of the problem - overenthusiastic wiping. And as I pulled myself back into mummy mode I said:

"Do you have bottom angst?" I thought it was a rhetorical question. I thought it was a way to take it lightly, remind myself that some problems are unsolvable and lighten my mood.

"Yes." H replied with absolute conviction. "I have bottom ants."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Creature feature

Yesterday I bravely played Ultimate in the league a for the first time. I am on the Happy Creatures team.

10 reasons why I'm a happy Happy Creature
  1. I played.
  2. I caught the disc sometimes. Once, I believe, when the other team threw it which is extra good.
  3. I threw the disc and someone else caught it at least once.
  4. The person I was marking usually found it hard to make the throw they wanted.
  5. I felt like I was in a sensible place quite a lot of the time and usually, when I wasn't, I knew what a sensible place would be (but wasn't fast enough to get there).
  6. The other Happy Creatures were welcoming.
  7. eloieli was a beam of positive support on the side lines.
  8. I am the proud owner of a golden yellow t-shirt with a smiling Cthulu head/octopus on it.
  9. H & K were given golden yellow t-shirts with smiling Cthulu heads/octopi on them.
  10. Only my left shoulder is slightly sore today.

Cough, cough, cough, cough, cough

I've had a cold/bronchitis/asthma since 1o September and I AM SICK OF IT. I got a nasty cold my last week at work, took the drugs to suppress the symptoms and just kept going. Maybe this was a mistake or possibly I would have had this kind of post-redundancy, sickness catching up with me anyway.

I've been to the doctor who annoys me twice (who I will call Dr WAM), the after-hours doctor once (A-H Dr) and finally today my favourite doctor (my Dr).

First Dr WAM told me that I had asthma with my cold and to take Ventolin. I had childhood asthma so this didn't come as too much of a surprise. Then when Ventolin stopped helping I went to the A-H Dr who told me I didn't have asthma anymore I had bronchitis (probably viral). Then when I still wasn't better two weeks later Dr WAM told me I had asthma, put me on a preventative (steroid) inhaler and basically told me I'd be taking it for the rest of my life. I found this depressing and frustrating. I have enough chronic health conditions already. I do not need another.

I finally got to see my Dr today. She has given me a referral for a chest x-ray to get done if my chest isn't feeling better in 2 weeks, given me a peak flow meter to use at home to monitor my lung capacity, changed the dose of the preventative and given me more information about it including a plan to come of it again. My Dr is lovely but she only works two days a week and not on school holidays.

I'm better than I was, which is better than I was before that, but I'm just not well DAMMIT.

Monday, October 08, 2007

At the age of thirty-six years eleven months and twenty-nine days

Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be listening to Marianne Faithfull singing The Ballad of Lucy Jordon with the volume turned up loud:

At the age of thirty-seven she realised she'd never
Ride through Paris in a sports car with the warm wind in her hair.
So she let the phone keep ringing and she sat there softly singing
Little nursery rhymes she'd memorised in her daddy's easy chair.


You, meanwhile, will be leaving a comment on this blog to wish me happy birthday. If you want a theme for your comment you can tell me something that you're glad you have done before the age of thirty-seven.

Please.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The world is not as it should be.

France beat the All Blacks 20-18 in the Rugby World Cup quarter finals.

A moments silence please.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Baby I miss you

I am helping out a friend who is a sole-parent with a 2.5 year old , J, and a 3 month old, T. She lives 90 miles from Wellington. I drove up Monday and I am staying for 10 days. It has been lovely spending time with J and T. T is a very good natured, easy going baby. The kind that the baby books promise but only a freak of nature delivers. J is a bright, determined and mostly very sensible wee person. He takes being a terrible two seriously and drives his mother to distraction as often as one would expect.

I am homesick for my children. The last few days when T gives me smiley gurgles or, to J's delight, my well placed suggestions enable him to conquer the tall ladder at the playground, I ache for my children. J and T are lovely and loveable but they do not fill the gap in my heart.

This physical longing for children of my own is deeply familiar. It is the feeling I had when I was facing infertility and trying to conceive. Now the ache is for specific children, H and K, but it is the same sensation. My friend told me to go home if it is too hard. Too hard? I put up with two years of this not knowing if it would ever go away, how hard can it be for a few days that I can end whenever I choose?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

An ambivalent review

I read The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios by Yann Martel. I bought it because I gave my mother The Life of Pi by Yann Martel for her birthday and she enjoyed it.

The Facts behind the Helsinki Roccamatios is a selection of three short stories and a novella. They are emotive, interesting and interestingly told. I almost entirely recommend them.

There is one word that makes my recommendation hesitant. One word that sticks in my mind and caused me to rant at the book. In a story told in the first person Yann Martel writes:
"But Paul wasn't gay. He had never told me so outright, but I knew him well enough and I had never sensed the least ambivalence."
Ambivalence! I felt outraged. Ambivalence implies that the person is unable to make a choice or is torn between two conflicting desires. What makes this fictional young man think that gay people are any more ambivalent than anyone else?

Friday, September 28, 2007

The incredible woman

Where am I you may ask? Well I have a terrible cold. H has a terrible cold. K has a terrible cold. My nanny doesn't have a terrible cold but she does have terrible food poisoning so I've kind of been busy.

And doing needlework. Which uses up my evening typing fingers.

You can really tell I've become a lady of leisure (sickness as above excepted): first I went into a toy shop and came out with a needlepoint kit and nothing for H or K, and I've had an odd moment sitting in a cafe sipping hot chocolate and doing it.

The kit is The Incredible Woman designed by Jennifer Pudney. This is a wee picture of what it would look like if I did it according to the instructions:


But I'm planning to add another baby, and make the cat and woman look more like Andy and me. I'm not sure whether to have two babies and a wee man or take the wee man out. I don't feel that D is one of my burdens which makes me think I could take him out but he is important and Andy isn't a burden either...

Let me know what you think.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Artistic license

K has been drawing a lot of fairies recently. She also draws people she knows: H, K, our nanny, me. These people are often depicted with wings.

A week or two ago D overheard H lecturing K: "Remember if you're drawing Daddy don't give him any hair."

Then on Father's Day K bounced up to D with a picture and said "Here you go Daddy, here's a picture of you, but I can't draw boys so I drew you wearing a dress."

At which H piped up "I like drawing fairies."

I think D is beginning to develop a complex.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Book stick

I stole this stick from clarityburntime.

1. You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be?

One that is loved enough to be memorised. (I haven't actually read Fahrenheit 451 but...)

2. Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Often while reading and in the afterglow of a good book.

3. The last book you bought is:
I bought The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr for a third birthday present and before that My Heart Goes Swimming: New Zealand Love Poems, and Dear To Me: 100 New Zealanders Write About Their Favourite Poems which inspired my leaving work poetry appeal.

4. The last book you finished is:

Ten in the Bed by Penny Dale (the board book version). I haven't been finishing adult books recently, just starting them. I think the last I finished was The Other Wind by Ursula Le Guin, the sixth in the Earthsea Series. Despite them being highly recommended to me for as long as my reading age has been up to it I only started the series this year, they lived up to my high expectations.

5. What are you currently reading?
D is reading The Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson aloud to me before we go to sleep. I love being read to and I feel very lucky every time it happens.

On my bedside table I have bookmarks in: Dear To Me, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, Small Holes In The Silence by Patricia Grace, The Rough Guide to Climate Change by Robert Henson, The Fountain of Tears by Stephanie de Montalk, Are Angels OK?: The Parallel Universes of New Zealand Writers and Scientists and The Halstead Treasury of Ancient Science Fiction. Fortunately most of these are short pieces or non-fiction which can cope well with a long break in the middle. Life of Pi is the exception.

I am also reading The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne to H and K, and the very beautiful Fairy Tales by Berlie Doherty and Jane Ray which is K's current favourite. It is wonderful reading Winnie-the-Pooh to people who have never met the jokes before and find them hilarious.

6. Five books you would take to a desert island.
Is this the kind of desert island where I need the book with the biggest covers I can think of for shade, the bulkiest book drenched in water to quench my thirst, the most nutritious book to eat, a book of matches to light a fire and a fishing book with a two free hooks?

Assuming the desert island has a luxurious resort which caters for all my other needs including entertainment for H & K, I'll take a bunch of books I haven't read but want to: the Life of Pi to finish, My Heart Goes Swimming for romance, Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson because I've heard it's good and I'm interested in the politics of terraforming, Captain Nemo by K.J. Anderson which D wants to return, and Of course I love you... NOW GO TO YOUR ROOM! by Diane Levy which I have been meaning to read for ages.

And then I remember that one is generally assumed to be stranded for a very long time on fictional desert islands not just on holiday and, after putting aside worrying about either being separated from or having to educate H and K, I think maybe I should bring some more sustaining things: an encyclopaedia to feed my love of trivia, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis because they will survive much re-reading, Dear To Me for some great poems, an omnibus edition of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy to keep the wolf from the door, and a guide to the local flora and fauna to answer my curiosity.

7.Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
JK and i because they both love to read and sometimes do memes and I'll leave the last invite temptingly open to anyone who wants it.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Please livejournal me

Some of my dear readers have expressed a desire to read this humble blog on livejournal. This requires syndication and syndication requires a paid or permanent livejournal account. If you have such a thing and you'd be prepared to take not usually about penguins there please let me know.



Thanks! This is on livejournal here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tidy in her mind


Once upon a time K had a buddy called Bear, who was a bear, and H had a buddy called Fimble, who was a fimble. Unbeknownst to them their devious parents had a secret stash which contained doppelgängers, Backup Bear, Fimble's Friend and Fimble's Other Friend. This deception was carefully maintained for fear that a rift in the space time continuum would occur if Bear and Backup Bear, or Fimble and Fimble's Friend were to simultaneously appear.

Of course it was inevitable that this would happen. One day when we had searched high and low for Fimble, given up in despair and substituted Fimble's Friend H found Fimble. Our nanny handled the situation with aplomb and H & K were absolutely delighted. Magic! Now K has a fimble too. To avoid confusion both fimbles are called Fimble and only K can pick which is whose.

K is feeling in need of additional security at the moment. One of the ways this manifests is that every night when she goes to sleep she needs a vast collection of objects. Her fimble and bear, pink baby, cookie monster, Shirley, Bear's dad, wee pink bear, my leaving work gorilla, the toy shopping basket, Pooh, some pictures of fairies I drew for her, and the list goes on. Most nights the collection grows and it all has to be arranged just so. I fear that one day it will undergo gravitational collapse, become a black hole and suck not just toys but all our material possessions in.

[This post was inspired by this post about transitional objects.]

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What's on tonight

I don't know about you but when I go to the movies I normally don't have a specific film in mind. An opportunity comes my way and suddenly I want to know what's on tonight. I want to go to a website and see all my options on one page. Sometimes I want to print that page and take it with me so I can discuss which movie to go to over dinner.

Here are some quick reviews of the sites I've found that meet that need in Wellington:

www.noremote.co.nz
+ good, comprehensive and reliable info
+ links to www.imdb.com (the movie database on the web)
= sessions by cinema
- I haven't found a way to print the information sensibly

www.feelinggreat.co.nz/movies
+ sessions by film across all cinemas (a very nifty feature)
+ good information
+ prints OK and you can cut, paste and reformat it
- sometimes incomplete and not obvious when it is
- link changes name from time to time, if it doesn't work go to the feelinggreat site and search for movies

www.tonight.co.nz
- only covers arty cinemas
= sessions by time
+ prints OK

There are a couple of sites which cover all of NZ which have all the information but do not present it on one page. www.flicks.co.nz is very glossy, www.nzcinema.co.nz has info for only some cinemas but I've included it because I like the design.



Actually tonight I'm going to the Northland Toy Library committee meeting but conceptually I might be going to the movies and if I was I'd be using these sites.

Friday, September 14, 2007

50 ways to leave

You just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don't need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don't need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free

- Paul Simon
50 ways to leave your lover

Today is my last day at work. Yesterday it finally hit me as I was throwing out half the stuff in my filing cabinet that this is it. 40 hours a week for 13 years comes to so little. I cried on my way home.

Now it is 4am and I can't sleep. Today I have to pull together my last gasp attempt to finish what I said I would before I go, do something sensible with a few hundred emails, pass on my last words of wisdom and have a few drinks with my workmates (and probably more than a few more).

K asked me a while ago "Do your friends at work love you?" Today I hold them very dear.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ham

I'm leaving work in a week and so I'm clearing out my email. Here are three snippets I thought I'd share:



  1. While sitting down, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.
  2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.
  3. Check which way your foot is circling.
  4. Try to do this without your foot changing direction.



This is a wee snatch of a song that I started inventing:

Beauty's in the eye of the beholder [intro...

There's a woman of size
with massive thunder thighs

And a woman so thin
who thinks eating's a sin

If you think that they're not beautiful [chorus...
you've got ugly eyes.

There's a man in lace
with a brithmark on his face

...



From: me
To: D

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. 'Pooh!' he whispered.
'Yes, Piglet?'
'Nothing,' said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. I just wanted to be sure of you.'

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hell fire

Last night we were happily eating pizza when we turned around to see flames a foot and a half tall in the kitchen. It seems the problem with buying pizzas from Hell is their desire for immolation.

It was all very dramatic but we managed to put the fire out without anything else catching and we even rescued the damp and slightly charred token from the pizza box. The only lasting impact is that one of the knobs on the stove is slightly melted.

It made me realise I cope better with emergencies when there are other people present I can boss around.

The most probable cause of the fire is that when D put the empty pizza box down on the stove top it was heavy enough to trigger the gas self-lighting mechanism and a spark caught but we haven't ruled out spontaneous combustion.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Sweet dreams

Putting K to bed tonight I said "Dream of nice things: fairies and princesses, purple and pink, fimbles and chocolate, ice-cream and lollies."

And K added "Mustard and horseradish sauce."

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Chocolatey goodness

My top ten:
1. Schoc - Lapsang Souchong - individual chocolates infused with smoked tea
2. Whitakers - Dark Orange block
3. dark chocolate covered crystallised ginger
4. de Spa Chocolatier - lime individual chocolates
5. the dark chocolate covered dried apricots you can buy individually from Kirks
6= Cadbury - Energy Chocolate block
6= Whitakers - Bittersweet Dark block
6= Cadbury - Old Gold block
9. chocolate covered hokey pokey
10. jaffas

Friday, August 31, 2007

The poetry of leaving

I just sent out an email to everyone in the company where I work. It said:
Subj: Ruth __'s Leaving Poetry Appeal

After 13 years I am leaving [this company] on 14 September. Instead of collecting money for a gift, I have been inspired by the Amnesty International book Dear To Me (which has 100 famous New Zealanders' favourite poems and the reasons they like them) to gather together your favourite poems, which I will turn into a single edition book. This will be a reminder not just of my time at [this company] but the people who make [this company] special.

To take part, please email me your favourite poem or a link to it, and a short note explaining why you like it or why it's significant to you. All donations will be gratefully accepted, even from those of you I don't know and have never had the pleasure of working with.

I enjoy good poetry and I am looking forward to the results but here I will confess that one of the reasons I did it is that I enjoy playing with engineers' minds.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Ultimately very green

On Saturday I left my comfort zone outside the Northland Community Centre and went to Ultimate Frisbee practice. Really - me - a team sport, for fun. Let me know of any other signs of the apocalypse.

The people were lovely and I was much better at it than I expected. (My expectations were very, very, very low.) I plan to go to practice for the next few weeks and see how it goes.

There is scope for bringing H & K and letting them run wild with their cousins.



One of the things that I realised after Ultimate, is that if I'm learning a new skill I think I am capable of, I direct the person teaching me towards what I think will help me most. I'll tell them when to skip ahead and when to repeat. When I have no confidence that I can learn the skill I don't help the person teach me - I assume that not only do they know what they are teaching but also the best way to get it into my brain. This assumption makes it more likely that I find it hard to learn.

On Saturday was one of the first times I have had enough confidence in my ability to learn a physical skill. I told the person helping me:

"Brain full. Do not give me any more instructions, just repeat the instructions you've already given me."

It really helped.



Finally for those who have asked - my hair colour is Affinage, Colour Dynamics, Green Envy (and check out the Dutch goth site I have a completely logical reason to link to).

Sunday, August 26, 2007

They run for fun in the hot hot sun

Our school reports graded us on effort and achievement. I have been thinking that we should have been graded on enjoyment too. My idea began with PE.

In my view one of the things that school PE should focus on is creating a love of active play. As an adult being good at sport makes very little difference to most people's lives. Enjoying it does. Enjoying it almost certainly makes people fitter and fitter people are healthier.

Focussing on enjoyment would help people in other areas too. Imagine if kids left school with 10% less achievement English and 10% more enjoyment of reading, or 10% less skill at maths but 10% more enjoyment of using the skills they have. Do you think they'd be worse off?

[The blitle is a Dr Seuss quote.]

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Something burnt and something blue

On Saturday we went to a wedding. Beforehand I was in our bedroom getting dressed and D was in the kitchen ironing his favourite shirt. I came out of the bedroom with green hair, I's magical green, purple and blue dress and a purple cape. D said "You look good. You look really good." And just stood there gazing at me admiringly. Until he realised he'd burnt his shirt.

I think I will tell this story for a long time as one of our most romantic moments.



At the wedding I was dancing to some unfamiliar song with a friend who is maybe 10 years younger than me when he said "I suppose you remember this from when it came out?" I didn't but that was fine. Then he said "My dad was hippy, were you a hippy?" Suddenly I felt a hundred.

When I told this story to another friend who is maybe 10 years younger than me, he said "Well if you are 100 then you look really good for your age."



Sorry for the lack of posts lately - my laptop is sick and I'm suffering from work angst.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Playing with my colleagues' minds

I just posted this on the bulletin board on the intranet at work:


Topic: Survey - Breastfeeding in Public

The latest survey on the Intranet home page is:

Should breastfeeding be allowed in public?

And the answers at the time of writing are:

Yes, always 42.6%
Yes if done discretely 49.5%
Not in eating establishments 4.5%
No, never 3%
Unsure 0.5%

202 votes cast.

As a fairly recent breast feeder I would like to say - how do 100 good [company] people think it is possible to attach a wailing infant to one's bosom in public discreetly?

For those of you who have never breastfed I would like you to imagine the following scenario:

You are on call and so have to carry a cellphone with you everywhere you go. Unfortunately the cellphone has been glued to a large siamese cat. Fortunately the cat sleeps a lot. Unfortunately if the cellphone rings the only way to stop it is to press it (with cat attached) against a part of your anatomy usually covered by underwear for 10-30 minutes. In the unlikely event you can achieve this in a position in which the cat is sufficiently comfortable the cat will go back to sleep.

Hopefully this mental exercise will give you sympathy for indiscreet breast feeders and admiration for those who manage it discreetly.

Finally I had twins so those of you who are very brave can imagine that you are on call for two jobs with two cellphones stuck to two cats.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Greener than I'm cabbage looking

Today I got my hair dyed green. A vibrant kelly green. I'm very pleased with it.

Why green?
  1. It is an strange personal joke about 'natural' hair colours.
  2. It will stop me applying for other jobs before I know what is happening at my work.
  3. It's one of my favourite colours and purple is too trad.
  4. I'm feeling rebellious.
  5. It will help me do some other things that are outside my comfort zone.
  6. I've been meaning to do it for years.
  7. My sister's hair hasn't been green.
  8. Our corporate colour wasn't radical enough.
  9. I thought it would make my complexion look less florid.
  10. It is a transition stage from white back to brown.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Feeling quizical



I am Ireland.

Mystical and rain-soaked, you remain mysterious to many people, and this makes you intriguing. You also like a good night at the pub, though many are just as worried that you will blow up the pub as drink your beverage of choice. You're good with words, remarkably lucky, and know and enjoy at least fifteen ways of eating a potato. You really don't like snakes.

Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

And in case you doubt the wisdom of the internet: baked, mashed, roast, hot chips, chippies,
stuffed, croquettes, scalloped, in salad, hash browns, home fries, french fries, leek and potato soup, boiled, gnocchi.



I am Watership Down!
by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.


I am going to die at 87.  When are you? Click here to find out!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

After Pinter

The sound of a cellphone with an annoyingly persistent ring is heard from the other side of the office. It rings for a long time.
Me: Someone who doesn't answer their phone has stolen my ring tone.
Workmate: Are you sure it's not your phone and you've left it in the kitchen.
Me:
I look at my desk. I look for my folio which has my phone in it. I look sheepish. I get up and come back carrying my phone.
We both laugh a lot.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Public nudity

H & K have extremely cute pyjamas. They are polarfleece suits with feet in and they make them look like the cuddliest little people in the world.

Yesterday I bundled H & K into the car in their pyjamas so we could meet D at the airport at 8am. They got heaps of smiles from the morning commuters, especially when they were jumping up and down and calling "Daddy, Daddy" at the arrivals gate.

I don't know if we got heaps of smiles at baggage claim. I was too busy trying to get H dressed again.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The mother of all telepathy

I used to be amazed with how incompetent other people were at knowing what H & K wanted. Now I am amazed at how much easier it is for me to guess than anyone else.

I read an article about some research where they got 30 men to guess emotions from photos of eyes before and after researchers sprayed oxytocin up their noses, 20 of them performed significantly better after.

Breastfeeding produces lots of oxytocin. Maybe this is where some of the maternal telepathy comes from.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Happy blogiversary to me

Here I am one year, 172 posts and a few new friends since the beginning.
I've invented a meme, posted about H & K, being a mum, medical madness and occasionally penguins.

Thanks to everyone who has commented - sometimes you make my day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

When stereotypes backfire

I got spam which said:
You can be as big as an American

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Andy Knackstedt is my star

I have a confession to make: I am an Andy Knackstedt fan girl.

It is worse than that, one of the things that led me to set up this blog nearly a year ago was a desire to post this and see if I got other Andy Knackstedt fans commenting. In fact what I'd like someone else to set up an Andy Knackstedt fan site. I'm too embarrassed to do it myself. If there is one already please send me a link.

Now the question on some of your minds will be: who is Andy Knackstedt? He is spokesperson for Land Transport NZ and before that was spokesperson for the LTSA. He appears in the news saying sensible things like "carrying groceries or dead animals in your car does not make it a hearse" with deadpan humour and a twinkle in his eye.

The other question you have may be: why Andy Knackstedt? Well there is all those usual things - appears to be good looking, intelligent and have a sense of humour, and I don't have to deal with him as a real human being. (I'd show you a picture but google has failed me.) But why not a movie or pop star? Why spokesperson for a government department? Well, I don't know, but I think the fact he seems more like someone I'd have something in common with is appealing.

I've happily considered Andy Knackstedt to be thinking woman's crumpet for several years but occasionally reality intrudes. My problem is not that he disappoints but that he appears. You see, there may be six degrees of separation between a Maasai cattle herder and me, but it is all I can do to maintain two degrees of separation to Andy Knackstedt, any less and I feel I need to start thinking of him with a greater degree of circumspection.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Once was warrior

This post is about the death many years ago of a much loved cat.

Gingy came into our lives as a tiny ball of ginger fur and attitude. We'd been visiting the litter of kittens and their mum, chosen Gingy and planned to get him after we got back from our holidays in January. Then we got a call in late December - could we take our kitten early? He was beating up his mum. So he was an unexpectedly early Xmas present.

I grew up with him. I was 8 when he arrived. I rocked him as a kitten on the lazy boy and crooned Away in a Manger until he fell asleep. When I sing it to my daughters I always think of him. I cried my teenage angst into his fur and delighted in his exploits - skateboarding, chasing a dog, staring down buses and boyfriends. He loved me more than anyone and was the first male to share my bed.

I was the one who found him when he'd dragged himself with a dislocated pelvis down our long path to the house. I came home from school and found him shivering. I put him on my coat and went inside to ring a neighbour to help me. He dragged himself inside following me. Later he was determined to do everything as usual despite having one leg bound up to his body. Then for years afterwards he'd occasionally hop when he was feeling sorry for himself. The experience left him with a fear of vacuum cleaners although I presume he was hit by a car.

Eventually, like many old cats, his kidneys started to fail. For years he went to the vet every 6 weeks for an injection and took hormone pills. His fur became dreads and he spent his time in the sun. I moved out of home and got an affectionate welcome when I visited. You could still tell I was special to him.

His toilet training became erratic. He'd poo in the shower downstairs and pee on the floor sometimes. Fortunately it was lino. Then one day he peed at the edge of the lino in the living room and it soaked into the wood below.

My mother rang me and told me that they were going to have Gingy put down. I knew it would have been my father who had lost patience with him. I asked to talk to my father and my mother wouldn't let me. I cried and cried. I rang back and drew out all the stops. I pleaded for Gingy's life with all the emotional blackmail I could manage. It wasn't pretty. It worked.

A year or so later my parents were going away and they asked me to catsit. He had been going downhill. When I stayed I noticed he was only turning righthand corners and turning right every time the opportunity arose, like someone in a maze. He'd probably had a stroke. I woke one morning to what sounded like a cat fight. He was lying on the floor fitting and yowling. Eyes wide, claws out, fighting death. I rang the emergency vet. They said if he is still fitting in ten minutes ring back. I rang again. By now some of his joints were moving in ways they were never built to. They said bring him in. I put him in a large box (big enough for his battle to continue) and we drove to the vet.

The vet was wearing a heavy metal T-shirt and had an old ford parked at the back. He seemed a bit like Gingy, uncompromising and tough as nails but very kind.

The vet said it was a massive stroke. That he'd never recover. That if he was human they'd give him massive doses of muscle relaxants and then wait for him to die. The vet asked if I wanted him to have muscle relaxants before they put him to sleep so he would die calmly. I thought his battle was his way of going and told him no, just the final dose.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How to harasses the harassers

I'm feeling very pleased with myself for how I handled a situation at work:

Two of my male workmates, G and S, have an ongoing thing where they rib each other about each other's homophobia, for example calling each other pottle (because of the non-work safe definition here).

Recently someone made the text on a website we all use maroon. S and G talked about it and S said he "thought it was a bit gay". So G posted a comment which says "S thinks the Maroon is a bit gay".

I wasn't impressed. I didn't think it was an appropriate remark for the context. So I emailed S and G a link to this site which advertises a cure for homophobia. They both thought it was funny, got the point and changed the comment.

It now says "Scott thinks the Maroon is really lovely and it makes him feel all calm inside."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Brown girl in the ring

Occasionally I realise that some of my fundamental assumptions were set when I was growing up in the seventies. Today I picked up a brown skirt that I've had for a while and never worn, thinking it would go well with the top I'd chosen and would be pleasantly warm. Then I thought "but I can't because I have no brown shoes".
Let me explain my illogical reasoning:
  • Black is a base to which other colours can be added but it doesn't count as a colour.
  • Brown is a base to which other colours can be added but it doesn't count as a colour.
  • You can't have two bases.

Ergo I can't wear black shoes with a brown skirt.

Fortunately I remembered that not only am I a biped but also, sometime after the eighties when black was the new brown, brown became a colour.

My fashion logic worked - at the bus stop I saw a friend who is about 10 years younger than me. She was also wearing a brown skirt and black boots.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Of rats and cats

I had rats when I was flatting. It was a time I didn't want a cat because they don't like moving house, they live so long and I wasn't ready for the commitment.

Rats have lots of personality and occaisionally it is useful to have a pet that you put away when you're out.

The problems with rats are that they are a little bit smelly, they find it harder to communicate with humans than cats (they don't squeak to say "I'm thirsty and my water bottle isn't working" - a cat would meow and pester) and you have to deal with all their output.

One of the biggest adjustments between having cats and rats is that cats (especially Andy) are not very interested in most human food. Rats eat everything we do and many things we don't (like D's expensive speaker wire). Andy has never stolen a tea bag and hidden it under the sofa and he also doesn't clear up all the crumbs on the carpet.

Some day I intend to blog about my rats at length but today I'll just leave you with their epitaphs:
Tanith - best friend and rat

Trillian - her own rat

Monday, July 09, 2007

Mission Possible II

At the beginning of this year I was considering taking on a mission. The two options I was considering were a seriously low carbon diet or dramatically changing my buying patterns to reduce excess production and waste. So far I've done a bit of both, not a mission but a few sorties.

On the low carbon front I have:

  • bought a good book
  • bought a centameter
  • made sure our car is tuned
  • had our insulation assessed
  • installed more energy efficient light bulbs
  • stopped one of the ways that Andy gets under the house
  • started investigating getting solar water heating.

I also intend to:

  • sort out our central heating ducting and completely stop Andy getting under the house (he sits on the ducts making them less efficient)
  • figure out our carbon footprint and then buy carbon credits to offset it.

On the buying front I spent a long time thinking about what rules I should set myself for my mission, things like "Nothing new except consumables, parts, services and presents". I didn't set any but instead I've started trying to think through "reduce, reuse, recycle" twice for every purchase.

First about the kind of object generally:

Reduce - Do I need one? Do I have something else I can use instead? Can I borrow one?
Reuse - Can I fix an old one? Can I buy one second hand?
Recycle - Can I get one made of recycled materials?

Then if I'm buying it about the item I'm buying

Reduce - Can I get one which will produce less waste or uses less resources overall?
Reuse - Can I get a reusable one? Can I get one which I can use for more things (reducing future buying)?
Recycle - Is it recyclable?

50% off costs the earth the same

So far the biggest impacts have been on my clothes and book shopping. I've got less new clothes and made more effort to get my sister's old ones, less new books and more second hand ones. Small beginnings.

[I've put back in the links which got lost due to an error somewhere between the chair and the keyboard.]

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The air is alive with the wireless network

When wireless works I love it. When it doesn't it introduces a whole new layer of inscrutable mystery to minor computer problems. My computer thinks the printer is offline. D's computer thinks it is fine. So I'll just use skype to send him the link...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Meme for the moment

After seeing the clockworkfish's results I decided to do the Serenity (Firefly) Personality Test.

My results:

You am Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)

Honest and a defender of the innocent. You sometimes make mistakes in judgment but you are generally good and would protect your crew from harm.























Malcolm Reynolds (Captain)
75%
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
65%
Wash (Ship Pilot)
65%
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
60%
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
55%
River (Stowaway)
55%
Inara Serra (Companion)
50%
Alliance
40%
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
35%
A Reaver (Cannibal)
30%
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)
25%



Click here to take the Serenity Personality Quiz

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mammals like us

Three snippets about relationships with companion animals:

I used to have pet rats, Tanith and Trillian. Tanith was a small brown rat with white gloves. She was very friendly and affectionate. I taught her not to climb up my legs. She taught me to pick her up if she sat on my foot. Our training regimes dovetailed nicely and were equally effective.

I read something the other day that was saying that cats are different from other domestic animals in that they may have domesticated themselves. Looking for the source I found the story many places including this article from the NY Times, the origin was this paper in Science.

An animal psychologist once told me that dogs and people have much the same psychological problems, most of which are to do with socialising, but cats have very different ones most of which are to do with territory.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Puddle ducklings


[H is the one in purple, K in turquoise and pink.]

Saturday, June 30, 2007

An old cat's new tricks

I read JK's post a few days ago, the second part is about little girls and a much loved evil cat. Here is our story:

Andy is not an evil cat. Well, not to me, or at least not to me often. Well, maybe that's because I'm good at reading his mood and getting out of the way. He's the kind of cat that gets really into being stroked and rolls over to show his tummy but if you touch it you'll have sixteen claws embedded in your arm. He plays fast and dirty; he just watches when you wave a toy in front of him, watches with every nerve in his body then suddenly springs and bites the hand holding the toy.

I was worried about having two naive, trusting, soft, slow, wriggly, defenseless animals around him. Fortunately he found babies about as off putting as kittens and avoided them. As they got older K and him worked out a relationship quite fast: they are both prickly characters who like respect. H found it much harder. She loved Andy, he was soft, furry and beautiful. She wanted to hug him soooo much. Very occasionally he'd let her but then the next time she'd assume too much and he'd bat her away and she'd cry every time he went near her. No claws though and that is a pretty big deal.

Now H & K are older Andy has slowly grown to tolerate them. He mostly puts up with being inexpertly stroked, patted and having toys ride him. When it is too much he just makes himself scarce. I am very grateful for his forbearance.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's a small world


Someone forgot to tell Pluto he wasn't invited.






[I'd love to acknowledge the source of these but I got them zillionth hand in a tacky email from a workmate.]


Betelgeuse is Orion's red toe:


[This image from hubble via a boojum].

Those of you who are under the misapprehension that it is summer will also think that Betelgeuse is Orion's head.

Drain angel

This morning I looked out our bedroom window at the dirty water and food particles from the sink gently trickling across the deck. I spent the next half hour kneeling outside in the cold, bailing stinky water and scooping gritty slime out of the drain. Ever since I've been feeling very virtuous.

I also keep sniffing my hands. I swear I can still smell the stink of the drain on them. I empathise with Lady Macbeth.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My eyes are dim I cannot see

Yesterday I forgot my glasses and both D and I forgot our cellphones. I hadn't realised before that one of the unexpected benefits of glasses is getting extra visits at work from the two loveliest people in the world.

They were in good form. They very cutely answered all my workmates' questions in twinly stereo, and apparently, when they got to D's work, H stood in the foyer and called "D___ C____!" while they were waiting for him.



The title of this post comes from the song "The Quartermaster's store" which is sung by soldiers and children with different lyrics. For the curious here are a bunch of marching songs with unexpurgated lyrics (you have been warned).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

If the suit fits

Warning - the following post includes feminist ranting.


K likes to wear "suits" with matching tops and bottoms. She has recently grown out of her stripy pink suit with butterflies on the top and so I went looking for a replacement.

I got sucked in and bought H & K each a suit and a long sleeve T-shirt at a name brand kids clothing store. The suits were from the girls range and the tops are size 5. The long sleeve T's were from the boys range (because they had better colours). They are the same shape, the same length in the arms and body. The only difference is they are cut slightly wider in the body. They are size 3.

So are 3 year-old boys the size of 5 year-old girls?

From the New Zealand growth centiles the average 3 year-old boy is 96cm tall and weighs just under 15kg. The average 5 year-old girl is 108cm and just over 18kg. So there is 12cm (more than 10%) difference in height and over 3kg (more than 15%) difference in weight.

What about the difference between 5 year-old girls and 5 year-old boys? The average NZ 5 year-old boy is 108cm and just under 18.5kg. So there is no difference at all in height and less than .5kg in weight.

So why are their clothes so different in size?

I think it is because it creates an appearance of more gender difference than their really is at that age. Boys in baggy clothes look bigger, with the implication of more muscular and masculine. Girls in tighter clothes look sleeker and closer to the current slender feminine ideal.

Little kids do a lot of developing their gender identities. I have no problem with that. If K wants to wear a purple fairy dress, own pink shoes and ask me lots of questions about which pictures are boys and which are girls that is fine. What I have a problem with is when gender difference is pushed on children. When it is impossible to buy neutral clothes for children that are androgynous in size and shape. When all the toys are divided by gender.

About now I lose the rational argument and start raving and gnashing my teeth.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Commentary

I have just added 'RECENT COMMENTS' to the sidebar. This lets you see links to the five most recent comments posted here. The first blog I ever read frequently had a feature like this and I really liked it. It helps readers notice each others comments and respond to them. Let me know what you think.

We're all going to the

H and K have recently started wearing undies, rather than pull ups at night and... *drumroll* ...there has only been one accident.

Then on Friday H asked if she could use the toilet at night (rather than the potty in her room) and I agreed. K didn't. K was very upset at the idea that H might leave her alone in their room. H worked out a compromise - when she wants to go to the toilet K has to come too. So up to three times each evening, and once in the very early morning, two little girls patter off to the toilet together.

I'm hoping that before too long our very cold bathroom will reduce the number of unnecessary trips.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

A good days work

At the final count I raised:

$2,758.60

for Wellington Women's Refuge. (The explanation is here and here.)

It is amazing what a whim can achieve.

In other good news the time limit for the nanny we fired to raise a personal grievance against us has now passed.

I'm thinking of going to The King and the Clown tonight to celebrate.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The post that time forgot

Long time no post.

Still here.

Nothing to say.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Workplace guerrilla

Leaving home


At the bus stop


On the bus


At work

What I've learnt so far:

  • choose your gorilla mask carefully
  • children are much friendlier to strange gorillas than strange people
  • adults like to know whose inside and are generous to gorillas
  • people are more surprised by a gorilla when the lift doors open than a gorilla appearing beside their desk
  • wise gorillas carry safety pins.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Making the hat fit

The project I am working on has decided to have a Hat Day on Friday. We've never had one before and I'd like to participate but I'm out of the office on a training course so I've just sent out the following email (workplace identifying details removed):



Hat Day in absentia - for Wellington Women's Refuge

On Thursday and Friday I am out of the office on a training course and I would still like to participate in the Hat Day but with a twist - I am offering to wear a hat to my course for a good cause - Women's Refuge.

If the total sponsorship pledges I have received by email by 5pm Thursday 24 May are:
  • pathetic (i.e. <$5) I will wear a slightly silly hat for 1 hour during the course
  • supportive (i.e. $5 to $40) I will wear a slightly silly hat for the duration of the course on Friday
  • very supportive (i.e. $40.01 to $150) I will wear a fairly silly hat for the duration of the course on Friday
  • amazingly generous (i.e. >$150) I will wear a pretty ridiculous hat for the duration of the course on Friday
I will collect the pledged money upon my return to work on Wednesday 29 May. I will endeavour to supply photographic evidence and signed confirmation from the course facilitator.



I'm feeling smug with this solution to my dilemma.

And if you, my lovely reader, want to sponsor this silliness for a worthy cause you may, the deadline is Thursday 5pm NZST. You can make your sponsorship donation by credit card at the NZ Women's Refuge site online and just email me the amount.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Time flies off to school

I just got an email from the local school which says:
H_ and K_ are now on our list to start school next year. I will send you an information book and [the new entrant teacher] will contact you later in the year to arrange school visits. There will be 3 visits at different times in the day. If you wish to make an appointment with [the principal] and have a look around the school please contact us to arrange a time.

I feel shocked: How did my babies get to be so old? How did I get to be this person? Why am I surprised? What will I put in their lunch boxes?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Can I help you have your babies?

Reading the updates a friend blogged while she was in labour made me really realise how much I'd like to be a support person at a birth again.

So if you're pregnant in Wellington and would like another support person let me know. I'm experienced, knowledgeable and caring.

Experience:
  • Support person for one home and one hospital birth.
  • Laboured for many hours and gave birth to twins via caesarian (my birth story is here).
Knowledge:
  • Attended BirthWise antenatal classes (twice!)
  • Read avidly about pregnancy and birth while pregnant.
Attitude:
  • I believe that the role of a support person is to do whatever you choose in a respectful, steadfast and friendly way.
  • Labour and birth are one of the most intimate, physical, mental and spiritual things that we can experience.
  • Natural birth is the aim but a healthy mother and baby are far more important.
If you like to meet to chat about it let me know (ruthlessly at gmail dot com) and if you choose to invite me to be your support person I would be honoured.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

10 lies about our happy marriage

  1. It is easy and we've never had to work at it.
  2. We never disagree.
  3. Humour is not important.
  4. It would be better if we didn't spend time with just the two of us. I regret having a regular babysitter once a week, it isn't worth the money.
  5. It's all about sex.
  6. I haven't read Love in the Real World by Rhonda Pritchard and I wouldn't recommend it.
  7. I've been an easy, undemanding, low-maintenance spouse with consistently realistic expectations. D has it easy.
  8. Talking to a therapist made me realise that it is all about making D change and that nagging and constant criticism help.
  9. Love at first sight, a public proposal, quick engagement and celibacy before marriage are the building blocks for a sound marriage like ours.
  10. We don't have a happy marriage.

I can see clearly now

Since I've started wearing reading glasses:
  • I am much more conscious of the bridge of my nose.
  • I am developing a whole new set mannerisms (like taking them off and waving them at people while I talk).
  • I keep being at meetings where everyone is wearing glasses.
  • All my friends have got wrinklier.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Bespectacled

I've just got my first ever glasses (for reading) so if I seem both more intelligent and less like a superhero you'll understand.

I looked up glasses on Wikipedia which led me down the following strange paths:

Who knew?

[Updated as the second bullet point got lost in virtual wilderness.]

Monday, May 07, 2007

Walking with cats

As you can see our model has accessorised her professional outfit this morning with a dab of breakfast by the collar. This is an eye catching look which can be achieved simply and in a wide variety of fetching styles to suit your mood. And in the wise words of my big sister: egg is better worn on the sleeve, with the heart, than on the face.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Too cute

I was in bed this morning when H & K came in.
K: H, remember, you were going to give me lots of cuddles.
H cuddles K awkwardly because of the cramped space.
H: Come into the lounge.
H & K exeunt holding hands to cuddle where there is more space.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

In which I support Labour

A friend is in labour.

On TV no one is ever unclear about whether they are in labour, they never wobble in and out of labour indecisively over days and days or have contractions every evening for a week. This isn't what makes me rant at the screen, it is the way they nearly always give birth on their backs which really pisses me off.

For sane information about birthing positions you can check this out. If anyone wants to hear an irrational rant about it just let me know.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

All creatures great and small

As I sit in bed reading about whales (via here) and with Andy purring between my knees I start to think of all the other animals and their remnants in my bed.
  • dust mites
  • little spiders underneath
  • feathers in the duvet
  • a flea (or at least there was one a few nights ago before I treated Andy)
  • wool in my pillow
  • maybe borer
  • book mites
  • eyebrow mites and all the other tiny parasites Andy and I carry with us
  • scales from moths' wings
  • hairs and dead skin from everyone who has slept here
  • tiny parts of insects
  • countless bacteria in and on everything
Biodiversity starts at home.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Age of innocence

When I was at university I had an acquaintance JB who was in the same physics class. For some reason I forget, I ended up with his water pistol.

At the end of year physics exam in I had arrived in good time and was laying out my pens etc when JB rushed in (with, as is happens, one arm in plaster). He started a conversation with one of the little old ladies who supervise university exams here. He appeared disorganised and distraught. She turned to the assembled multitude and said "Does anyone have a spare calculator?" I offered mine.

This is why it made complete sense to me to get up, go to the front of the exam room and remove from my bag a calculator and an object that looked like an automatic weapon.

You should have seen the look on her face.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A tradegy in three acts

Act I

Our heroine receives the Energy Library monthly update. Which contains the following:

Bizarre building materials

Researchers at Michigan State University have proposed that cow manure be used to replace sawdust in the manufacture of fibreboard.

A German architect has filed a patent application for a new type of cement made of dog droppings. The best breed for this has got to be the setter.

In Australia one man is building an energy-saving house from used wine bottles.

To be in the draw to win a king-size bar of energy chocolate email ... any unusual building material you’ve heard about by 4pm Friday 6th April.

She replies:

For the competition mammoth bones are my building material of choice although availability these days is bit of a problem.

Act II

Our heroine receives an email announcing her victory. She is delighted.

We see an inter-office envelope with a block of chocolate shaped bulge deliver to her empty desk.

We watch her franctic typing and the envelope becoming buried, unnoticed under floods of papers.

We watch her work late into the evening, pausing only to stalk the floor ravenously, desperate for sustenance. The scene repeats itself a second night but this time her pathetic moans lure a colleague to share his last muesli bar.

The next day later she finds the envelope. She shares most of the bar with her workmates, perhaps it is the guilt that make her do this? The act ends as she puts the last four squares into her desk drawer.

Act III

A week later. She works through lunch, sustained only by a tiny roll. She takes out the packet, wolfs down the chocolate and peers disappointed into the empty packet, a substantial amount of chocolate crumbs remain. She lifts the packet in triumph, tilts it toward her open mouth and ...

... the crumbs pour into the crevasses of her keyboard.

The lights slowly fade out on the final scene - our heroine staring in despair, past the pile of mixed chocolate crumbs and crud of the ages she has shaken onto her desk, at the brown goodness still caught between the keys.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ceci n'est pas une pipe

Things to do:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What I want to be when I grow up

I'm not clear about what I want to do when I grow up but there have been a few times in my life I have had an absolutely clear vision of what I want to be like. This is about two of those times.

The first time I remember was when I was 12. When I think of it I always have a very strong memory of the exact place - sitting on the toilet at my grandma's house. I can see the turquiose walls and light filtering through the frosted louvres. The curtains moving in the light breeze. Slightly cold but comfortable. The smells of lavender and disinfectant.

In that place, at that time, I decided that I wanted to be popular and have lots of friends. I wanted to be the kind of person that people wanted to be friends with.

When I was 18 at university I realised that I'd acheived that 12 year-olds goal. I was popular. I had lots of friends and I was one of the people who everyone wanted to know. (It helped that "everyone" was a bunch of 19 year-old male comp sci students and I had the winning combination of brains and breasts.)

The second time I want to tell you about happened years later, about 1998. I went to a friend's parents' house and met her father. He in his fifties and was pottering around wearing support stockings and had an oxygen tube up his nose. Despite that, in less than five minutes of trivial converstation he managed to come across as confident, sincere, sensible, warm and interested in me. He had presence. I decided - I want to be like that.

Later I found out he was a manager at a bank. It made sense - he seemed like a person it would be nice to work for. I also realised then that some of the things that I wanted to be were things that good managers are.

Sometimes these days I have that presence.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

That furry feeling

Last night, after I put H & K to bed, I flopped on the sofa, closed my eyes and let my tongue loll, to melodramatically indicate my total collapse.

Andy took this opportunity to jump on my lap (expected) and rub his face against my tongue - ewww!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Snail trial

Last night I went to the cast and crew screening of my cousin's movie The Last Great Snail Chase. I'd read the script months ago, been a sounding board for character development, and lent a variety of oddments and minor assistances to the crew. Our chest of drawers plays an important role in one scene.

I have been living with the expectant parent of the movie for many months and it was amazing to see it out in the light. It isn't independent yet - there are still some special effects to finish - but that will be done soon and it will take its first steps at the film market at Cannes. I am vicariously proud.

It is a coming of age movie with elements of magical realism. It is about twenty-somethings and is set in Wellington against a light hearted backdrop in which the world might be ending. I fear it will be interpretted as a very politically radical movie as some of the leading characters are politically radical with all the enthusiasm, optimism and naivety of youth.

At first I was very aware of what I think of as the Shortland Street Problem where .every. actor makes everything they .say. significant. But pretty soon I was caught up in the story. Well actually, stories. The Last Great Snail Chase has many different interweaving stories and it does it really well - the stories feel like parts of an organic whole. I think it manages multiple storylines better than any other movie I've seen and I don't think that is only my genetic bias talking.

I loved its quirky humour. I loved the way it flits off with minor characters. I loved the depth of detail in it and the feeling that if I watched it again I'd see more.

I hope that one day it will come to a cinema near you, and when it does - go!

Friday, April 13, 2007

A life of sacrifice is the pinnacle of art

I got an email my cousin (who is directing a feature film) saying:

Dear folk,
As you are no doubt aware we're trying to finish the film and it is getting down to the wire.

The people in fx have just told us that their lives would be considerably easier - ie they might get the fx finished - if they had 6 more computers with a minimum of 1 gig of ram.

They would want to borrow these for the next four days...

Anyone got a (some?) lendable computers with 1 gig of ram they can lend us.

ed

So my wee laptop (which is like this) is off to help.

Gandhi said "A life of sacrifice is the pinnacle of art, and is full of true joy." So having sacrificed blogging over the weekend for art I am waiting for the joy.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

To the borderline

Borders has recently opened a shop in Wellington. As someone who has read Dykes To Watch Out For and mourns the fate of Madwimmin Books* I am a little concerned at this but here some of the good things about it:
  • My sister, who used to live in the States, points out that Borders isn't a great bookshop, what it is a cafe which also sells books and that makes it a damn good cafe. The only other cafe which sells books (and music) in Wellington is Parsons. I don't like the cafe at Parsons and I've only ever found the rest useful for buying classical music and birthday presents for my aunt, neither of which I do frequently.
  • Borders is close to my work.
  • The authors I am reading most at the moment are all accidentally Americans (Ursula Le Guin, Tony Hillerman and Orson Scott Card). Borders has American editions so their books are available there first before they have been published by people who can spell.
  • The areas where Borders does best it is competing for my book buying dollar against Amazon not against my favourite bookshop, Arty Bees.
  • Someone once told me that 10% of people buy 90% of books. So to keep Wellington properly supplied with bookshops I obviously need to support 100% of the bookshops.

* Madwimmin Books was a fictional independent local women's bookshop closed down due to competition from fictional bookshops including Bounders.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

That parrot is definitely deceased

Warning: this post contains dark humour and gruesome visual images that may disturb some readers.


K is interested in death. This leads to disturbing questions that I try to answer honestly.

K (pointing to roast chicken): Is this chicken dead?
me: Yes.
K: When did it get dead?
This interest is spreading to H.

H: I want you to be my mummy until you're dead.
me: I will always be your mummy.
Their main overriding interest is still babies. Yesterday, for the first time, they put these interests together.
H (lying against the support for the swing): K, I'm a dead baby - can you come and wobble me.
K (pushes H): You wobbled. Dead babies don't wobble.
Fortunately they get diverted into a different game before I get asked the question I am dreading - 'Mum, do dead babies wobble?'

Monday, April 09, 2007

No news is good news

Our new, new nanny has now been with nearly a month (we had a glitch at the start). She is pleasant, calm and caring. She has fitted into our family with barely a ripple. I feel slightly guilty that I haven't given her the attention that she deserves but I am luxuriating in having a low maintenance nanny after our last experience.

The great thing about her is that she leaves H & K them calmer and happier. She transmits joyfulness.

Blessed are the pee makers

Sing to the tune of Silent Night:
Dry at night, dry at night,
All is calm, all is white,
Round yon virgins, child and child,
Roly-poly infants so tender and mild,
Sleep in urine-free peace,
Sleep in urine-free peace.
H & K are both in pull-ups at night. H is dry most nights. K is dry occaisionally including two nights in a row this week.

This has led not only to the bastardised carol above but also a line in improvised cheers. I haven't yet brought out the pompoms but I'm sure it is only a matter of time.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Another brick in the wall

There is legislation before parliment at the moment usually called the 'anti-smacking' bill. Actually it repeals a part of the assault legislation which says it is OK for parents to punish children with reasonable force. (This excuse is not available to anyone else.)

I have never hit my children. I hope and intend I never will.

As an adult I have deliberately hit people, hard, twice that I recall. Once it was the bride's cousin at a wedding when he was trying to slow dance with me and I was trying to dance with a group and he wouldn't take 'go away' for an answer. The other time it was my recently ex-boyfriend when he looked too smug. In both cases I'd had a few drinks. In both cases if I'd thought before I acted I would have done something different. In both cases I could, theoretically, have been changed with assault but in the circumstances the police wouldn't have cared enough to do so. If I ever hit my children, even if the 'anti-smacking' bill has passed I am confident I will not be charged with assault whatever the law. So really it does not effect me.

It does effect our society. In ways I care about. It gives children the same protection from their parents which they currently have from other adults. This seems obviously sensible to me. I don't really understand why it doesn't seem sensible to everyone.

I can easily understand why many parents are driven by their children to the point of hitting them. What I can't understand is the parents who think it is or was a good idea rather than an unfortunate mistake. Most of the time when I send H or K into time out it is for hitting the other one. The message I am trying to teach is 'we don't hit people'. How would hitting them help?

I can think of one example of physical punishment which I consider sensible in the circumstances. The brother of someone I know was planning to join a gang, his mother gave him a black eye, she knew that the gang wouldn't accept as tough enough someone who got beaten up by his mother. Perhaps it is telling that in this story what the beating taught was the lesson that beating another person teaches most clearly - I am more physically powerful than you. This was a rare occaision when that message was actually worth emphasising.

[For more blogging about this check out from the morgue].

Monday, April 02, 2007

Am I missing something?

(The sign says "buy 2 save $30".)

Normally with shoes the deal is buy one get one free.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Join the nerd herd

I took a test and I'm officially a:


Modern, Cool Nerd
73 % Nerd, 52% Geek, 39% Dork

According to the test:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
I scored better than half in Nerd and Geek, earning me the title of: Modern, Cool Nerd.
It goes on to say:

Nerds didn't use to be cool, but in the 90's that all changed. It used to be that, if you were a computer expert, you had to wear plaid or a pocket protector or suspenders or something that announced to the world that you couldn't quite fit in. Not anymore. Now, the intelligent and geeky have eked out for themselves a modicum of respect at the very least, and "geek is chic." The Modern, Cool Nerd is intelligent, knowledgable and always the person to call in a crisis(needing computer advice/an arcane bit of trivia knowledge). They are the one you want as your lifeline in Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (or the one up there, winning the million bucks)!

The test tracked 3 variables which compare me to other people my age and gender:

I scored higher than 99% on nerdiness
I scored higher than 99% on geekosity
I scored higher than 99% on dork points


Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos




Now I know that some of you who read this are similar in age, gender and some or all of nerdosity, geekiness and dork points - you need to take this test to help make their data set more representative.