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)
Zoe Washburne (Second-in-command)
Wash (Ship Pilot)
Kaylee Frye (Ship Mechanic)
Dr. Simon Tam (Ship Medic)
River (Stowaway)
Inara Serra (Companion)
Derrial Book (Shepherd)
A Reaver (Cannibal)
Jayne Cobb (Mercenary)

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.]