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.


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.


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.