July 31, 2003

The Sprog


Posted by Toni at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)


We went to our Scottish Country Dance Club annual dance in the weekend. Beginners are not encouraged to go to the Saturday night dances in the first year of dancing in general. The idea is that you go to your club nights for the first year and learn the dance steps, and formations, and even some dances. Then when you have gained some base competency, you can inflict yourself on the danceing community at large. Your club's dance is the exception. We have been practicing the same dances for the past four weeks, so our beginner status wasn't such a problem. So we went.

By gum, I haven't had such a good night out for ages. We got to dress up, R more than me as I don't have the gear, but he has a kilt, and wears it with his mess kit. And then we danced with a whole heap of Nice People for the night. No alcohol, but a huge supper, and very delicious too. It is traditional that you don't dance with your partner more than the first and last dance of the night, so we both met new people.

Both of us were stunned at how competent we actually are. Some of the people that have been dancing for literally years don't have any more of an idea what is going on than we do, some actually less. Next year we will definitely be going to more than one formal. And we are seriously Csidering going to the summer school in Hlton especially as we do not have to pay for accomodation - my brother in law lives in Morrinsville, and he might do some of the baby sitting for us too. If we are very nice! The only problem with this plan is that we are going to have to save some money...

Posted by Toni at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2003

Because it's fun...

Lance Armstrong has just won the Tour de France for the fifth time. He has really struggled this year, and won by a minute or so, which is not very much of a margin in the scheme of things. And he plans to be back next year and to win it by a greater margin. This win was "not satisfactory".

And I wonder why? Why or what is driving him to want to keep coming back and winning this race? What is the motivation? He has won it, proved all the people that thought he was ruined by cancer wrong. Proved it wasn't a fluke. I mean, it seems really wierd and foreign to me to want to keep going back and putting himself through all this training, pain and so on. I don't understand. Maybe he is mad.

Then I remembered I am doing a PhD. I keep paying out vast sums of money so I can put myself through having a limited family life, and very little leisure. I stress myself, and am trying to do one and a half full time jobs. I make Lance Armstrong look like a balanced normal person, with a clear and well defined career path. Really, I am probably doing as much as him, only with my brain, not my body. It must be very mysterious to some people.

Reguarly now, I spend time thinking about how I am going to spend my time when this is over. Instead of depressing me it is motivating. And besides, I sent my last lot of stats off to the stats guru, and he has sent it back tonight saying what I did was right. Fan-bloody-tastic. Now I can finish off the chapter on hybrid seedling survival. Maybe I ain't so dumb at this stats thing.

Posted by Toni at 08:51 PM | Comments (1)

July 24, 2003

Endless responsibility

I never knew what responsibility really was till I had a kid. Every other job I had I could quit, or at least have weekends. But not so with parenthood.

At present I have a cold, I am off to bed pretty damn soon. Tomorrow I am likely to be at home feeling a bit crappy, but will be looking after the equally sick child. Being a typical selfish needy child, it will be all about him tomorrow. I am child in an adults body, its supposed to be all about me, especially when I am sick.

I suspect tomorrow will be a martyrs day...

Posted by Toni at 08:35 PM | Comments (0)

July 22, 2003

My husband is afraid of ...

I used to be a fanatic knitter and belonged to KnitU. One day someone mentioned something called Flylady, and I went to investigate. WARNING: this site is not for the delicate of mind or stomach! The Flylady is a southern american woman, she is very bossy, and her spelling is weak. This site is about housework. And motivation. She preaches (and I choose the word deliberately) routines and babysteps. And I think that is the message, the whole message and ... Members of her email list are called Flybabies, and I think I have belonged for a couple of years now. Since joining the house has got a heap tidier and cleaner at times, and when it gets out of hand I know how to fix it. The other change is I have a sense of humour about the house. So the fact that my Dear Husband keeps his clothes on top of the drawers rather than in them doesn't usually Ccern me.

Said DH has always had this habit of closing my drawers if they are open - he reckons he will walk into them if they are open, and in our old house this was a valid Ccern. But in the last month I made the Cnection.

He doesn't like my drawers being open because he is afraid. He doesn't open his drawers because he is terrified. DH believes in drawer monsters!

Posted by Toni at 08:55 PM | Comments (2)

July 21, 2003

I was reading today...

and it was Accordian Crimes. In it, an accordian player is described as having music playing in his head all day as if it was something unusual - do any of my readers have a Ctinuous background music playing in their head? Full instrumentation and all?
Four point counterpoint?
I do, and I was always under impression it was normal.

Speech vs Communication

There was an article today in one of the papers we get at work about the use of sign language with infants. Apparently, some people are using it to try and hot house their babies, as babies can use sign language long before they have much speech. Other 'experts' think this is a bad thing, and that learning sign language will stunt the development of speech. Seems to ignorant little me that the point of both systems, speech and sign, is to communicate. The thing babies are learning with both systems is communication. (And two languages are better than one for brain development according to a majority of experts.) So why would learning sign be a bad thing? The baby is learning language, and the Cnection between a communication system and the world around it. No-one seems to be suggesting that speech is prevented by signing. Many say that baby/toddler frustration is reduced through signing as they can tell their parents what the problem is without all that frustrating guessing by the parental ones. It almost seems to be like there is a hierarchy (sp?) of communication systems going on here, and sign is not winning.

You know, I never thought about that, a hierarchy of language, with the language of the differently abled being Csidered less valuable. I might be spending too much time with the blind! I see 'em on the train, I see 'em in the weekend. Sure makes me think about different things... and think differently

Posted by Toni at 08:01 PM | Comments (1)

July 18, 2003


It's been a quiet week on the old blog, with a distinct lack of entries. Guess that shows a lack of problems and issues that are occupying the cranium. Mostly I've been going from home to work, reading on the train. Working has been fairly busy, but not quite as full on as I like it.

I've read a great book this week, Breathing Lessons. Its been on the to-read list for a while. At first i couldn't understand why it had been so popular when it came out, as I didn't like the people involved at all, and there was no plot. By the end of the book, even though I would not be friends with these people, I did like and respect them. Maggie seemed without any guts/integrity etc at first, but by the end I had changed my mind. Ira seemed the silent strong type with that wisdom thing going, and I changed my mind on the wisdom thing too, as he seems to not understand his own life. The writing was excellent, and the characters were interesting. I don't know that they developed any, but my understanding of them did.
Then I tried Uncle Oswald, by Roald Dahl. Its silly, and I've read it before many years ago. It certainly doesn't repay a seCd reading, so I have flagged it. And moved on to
Accordian Crimes, E. Annie Proulx. Only onto p55 and already throughly hooked...
The parental ones are coming to visit in early Aug, and so the house needs to have some of the corners cleared of accumulated stuff, that comes in from the garage as projects to be completed, and then languishes unmolested and unreturned to their natural environment. Lots of irritation in the house for the next week, till a few of these things go back to where they belong. Be bloody good to see the parents again, I miss living within driving distance. I have been tasked with getting all the siblings together at some stage during the visit. Should be a greater challenge than finishing this thesis chapter.

Posted by Toni at 08:56 AM | Comments (1)

July 15, 2003

Gardening as hope

I planted 7 roses in the weekend, the weather was pretty good on Sunday. I'm aiming for a garden with a lot more structure this time round, cos those truly cottagey gardens defeat me. I can't remember what I have planted, so I don't weed. Then off course anything I have planted won't grow because it is being smothered. So all I have is roses and weeds which I won't pull out because of the bulbs underneath.

This time I am having a garden in only two colours of flowers, yellow and blue. And then all other colours can be pulled out. And I have marked where the bulbs are.

The other thing I discovered in Burnham, is I hate gardening out the front of the house. Call me neurotic, but I don't like pointing my butt at the passing traffic. This house has the high maintenence garden out the back, in the sun, away from the street, and the house opens onto it. And it is tiny, giving me some hope of maintaining it.

Posted by Toni at 07:07 PM | Comments (0)

July 10, 2003

Female mutilation

After posting briefly on the worlds smallest waist I Googled the name of the owner of said waist, Cathie Jung, and ended up here. Scroll down to the bottom and admire Spook (I'm gonna have to re-name that cat) and her boots.

I am still getting over what this woman has done to herself. The idea of 'ballet boots' makes my pampered feet wince. The ugly extreme that she has corseted herself too makes me sick (literally). I can't imagine hurting myself that much in my search to be beautiful. I can imagine having toxic chemicals put in my hair to change the colour. After all, I have. I'll put goop in my hair to change the way my hair lies. I have removed other hair by shaving it and by having it waxed. I'm even seriously Csidering having some hair removed permanently by laser treatment. I do exercises solely for their vanity gains. I buy expensive creams to put on my skin, even though my science brain knows they don't acheive much. I apply makeup, and wear clothes that are not the most comfortable. I wash daily, and shampoo daily too, even though I don't need to. I wear heeled shoes.

What makes me different from Spook?

Posted by Toni at 08:53 PM | Comments (2)

July 08, 2003


Turns out I was not being hyper-sensitive about heating at work. The vents that are supposed to blow air at thirty degrees celcius and warm the place up have only been reaching twenty degrees. No wonder I needed thermal underwear on Monday.

Spent an hour on the phone to the supervisor today discussing stuff, progress seems to be speedy. Having submitted a paper only 3 weeks ago (or so) now it looks like another will be off next week perhaps. Or the week after but no later.

Have made great strides with the present chapter, but now have ground to a halt due to results being a bit wierd. Will email them to the leader and see what he thinks.

Two other stonesoupers have got library jobs in the past week it seems - I want one. I always fancied a job with books so I could read books and claim it as on the job training.

Posted by Toni at 08:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 07, 2003


Recently I commented on the homeless of Wellington - they were back in the news today with the council Csidering a bylaw to make it illegal to (I think it was) sleep in public. The Demon Post editorial featured the Bucket Man again as they commented on this bylaw. Apparently it would make falling asleep in a meeting an arrestable offence. Good to see some councillors saying they would not support it. Perhaps they too get tired of listening to bores...One week a vagrant dieing is front page news, the next week the council would make snoozing in the park criminal.

It was so cold in the office today I went up the road at lunchtime and bought long underwear to help me through the afternoon. They turn the heating off for the whole building in the weekend, and as it is not turned on again till 7 on Monday morning, it is a cold start to the week. So many complaints they actually rang the heating company to do something about it, but then we had a fire drill in the afternoon, perhaps as revenge. The building certainly felt warmer after spending 20 mins on the side of the road in the southerly.

R ended up telling Shona to bring us the kitten. She got named Spook, and she deserves it.

Thesis pounding along well. Looks like we are going to submit another chapter for publication in the next month. It's a major expansion of this paper, which shows only one turnip population, while the new one has 6. I think!, it has been a while since I wrote it.

Posted by Toni at 09:59 PM | Comments (5)

July 03, 2003

Life in the fishbowl

As some of you will be very aware, there has been a review of ERMA and how it works. Greater minds than mine have produced the report, and greater minds than mine are now picking over it. It was even top of the news stories last night on National Radio.

It makes me think I am not terribly bright. One of the reasons I left teaching was because we were in the news so much. When we were in pay negotiations, it was much quicker to find out how things were going by listening to the news than reading anything from the union or the school. And when things went wrong, our Cditions changed, our syllabus (or whatever it is called these days), the qualifications system, all of it, the way to find out was to read the paper or listen to the news. It started to piss me off. We, the teachers, weren't part of any information loops. So when I left teaching one of the things I wanted to achieve was a quiet life, where the things I did were not fodder for the media. When I started the Masters, I had never heard of genetic engineering, and so the movement of genes between species was a subject that just interested me. Academically. I never realised the implications of what I was getting into.

So in my search for the quiet life, the place I work for is involved in the most vitriolic and politically charged issue in New Zealand. As we say round our house: Good one, Bob!

Posted by Toni at 07:59 PM | Comments (0)

Wierd, very wierd

The world's smallest waist. Brought to you by America. Where else?

I tried to copy the picture - need more computer skills, need more computer skills...

Posted by Toni at 07:40 PM | Comments (2)

Wellington and its Indigents

Yesterday the local paper ran with about a quarter of its front page dedicated to the story of the death of a homeless man. He had worked in the public service for 20 years, and then had become homeless. He walked around town carrying a bucket and a bedroll. He slept in the bush. The only thing he apparently wanted was a hot cup of tea. He had a huge growth/tumour on his forehead, and he died in the gutter this week of causes unknown, while waiting for an ambulance.

Wellington is different from other cities. In Auckland where I lived for five years, the homeless are invisible. They apparently sleep under the motorway bridges, but they don't walk around downtown very often. In Wellington the perma-drunks and the homeless spend a lot of time in Cuba Mall, one of the main shopping districts. When my mother in law came down last month she was amazed to see them right in the middle of society, shocked, horrified and even angry that they were right there to be seen. I never saw any homeless in Christchurch, and they would be pretty hard to pick out in Nelson; some of the wealthy landowners and successful craftspeople dress so they could be easily mistaken for being homeless! If any one of the homeless in these cities died, the paper would not know, only the charities that work for/with these people and the homeless themselves would notice one of them had died.

What does this mean about Wellington?

Perhaps the city is more accepting of a range of people. Wellington might be one of those tolerant societies that doesn't want everyone to have a job, change their clothes every two days, only drink socially, or get platered only at the appropriate events. Wellington might not even be holding up White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) as the definition of success. Heh! Perhaps the presence of Government, the source of political correctness and legislator of tolerance has permeated the Csciousness of the people, but only where we can actually see the parliament buildings.

Maybe the homeless of Wellington have developed a political strength, and when attempts are made to move them on, they resist? Perhaps the police are unable to remove them from public places because they don't resist as individuals, but as a community. I haven't been here long enough to know.

Maybe it is all those hills that push us together and make Wellington a big village where we can walk around the city because it has not spread out. There is no-where else for anyone to be, so we have leant to co-exist.

There is a fondness for its indigents in Wellington I have never seen in any other community. When one man had his blanket stolen, a member of the public bought him another one, and the story was reported in the paper. When they die, it is front page news.

I like it but I don't understand, how it has happened?

Posted by Toni at 10:32 AM | Comments (3)

July 02, 2003

Slacking around

Read a book Tuesday night instead of writing one. Read The hound in the left-hand corner, by Giles Waterfield. This is a clever book, showing how a whole lot of different people involved with a museum approach a single event, the opening of an exhibition. The book is written initially as a series of vignettes, which gradually develops into more of a traditional linear story. Its very competent clever witty writing, the twist to the plot is slightly predictable, but the final outcomes are surprising. Overall, good.

Posted by Toni at 09:20 AM | Comments (0)

July 01, 2003

Pussycat Cnundrums

This might be really wierd - I'm going to try and work out whether we should get another cat, here out loud in the blog. You can voice an opinion too.

We already have a cat Sophie. She is a tortiseshell, fat and funny. She likes to chase her tail and play with things. She also has this distressing habit of ripping up wallpaper. We like her.

Shona has been breeding Siamese cats. She has one kitten left from the last litter. Its a female, and it is not the most beautiful kitten ever created. Its third eyelid doesn't retract fully, and last time I saw her the skin round her eyes was a bit scabby, but I think that has cleared up. She is a cuddly sort of cat, and has been raised under the tender ministrations of three kids, so she is used to the kind of abuse c is likely to hand out.

We used to have a Siamese, her name was Grace, and she would be the most loved pet we have ever had. She was also the most challenging, and medically expensive. But we already know we like the Siamese way of being.

We have a relaively small house, but it does have a cat door, so the critters can come and go. We could do with a lot more trees round the place, but there is only so much we can do about that.

Sophie prefers to have company, she has always made a friend in our other houses, someone to lie round with and to play with. It seems she hasn't found a soul mate at Heretaunga, which has left her bored and restless - read the wallpaper is getting a hammering!

R wants a silver cat - probably a British shorthair. He certainly does not want three cats. This silver cat is supposed to be a birthday present.

So what do you think? Should I give this cuddly friendly female Siamese a home or not? Opinions and further information requests welcome...

PS I haven't broached the subject with the Great Leader.

Posted by Toni at 10:19 AM | Comments (6)