September 30, 2003

Myst = mysterious

I have been trying to make some progress in Myst lately. I have never played a computer game before, and never wanted to play the graphic shoot them dead types. No-one dies in Myst so far, not even me when I do things wrong, so my squeamishness is unaffected. Or sensitivity. Or empathy for people that aren't there. Whatever.

Anyway, I'm so glad there are web sites that give me some clues. Otherwise i would still be wandering around wondering how to start. Last night however, I discovered that some of the problems I experience aren't to do with me. My copy of the game doesn't let me do some things that the websites tell me other players can do. I'm differently abled in the game. Its frustrating! And if I don't manage to get this fortress rotating, its going to be the end of the game for me.

Am back to working on the spreadsheet for the next chapter - which mean I have finished another one for editing. This is the last experimental chapter to write - hooray. Must be worth celebrating with chocolate...

Posted by Toni at 11:15 AM | Comments (1)

September 29, 2003

bounding happiness

The sprogletto has excellent greeting technique. First he sortof squints at you to check he has the right person. Then his face fair splits apart in the hugest grin. Then he runs towards you, with the grin in place. There follows lots of hugs and happiness. And Talking.

Its a great way to start the week.

Posted by Toni at 04:42 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2003


Well, I haven't defined this in my own head yet. I guess it has something to do with enjoying other people's blogs. I used to read a few project type blogs, a lot of knitting ones. I quite enjoyed them, and I also thought they would be a good way to be responsible. If I tell people what I am doing it behoves me to do something!

I met Iona after not seeing her for about 10 years, and having had no Ctact for 9. One of those fluke meetings related to the ferries. I have always believed if I searched the ferry I'd always find someone I knew on every trip. That day it was true. So I gave her my email, she pointed me to her blog, and there it was, a really simple way to start my own. When I started i planned to make a record of thesis progress, but it seemed to have morphed into a structureless thing where I whiffle about anything that takes my fancy including the thesis.

Posted by Toni at 11:48 AM | Comments (2)

September 25, 2003

Typing without purpose

Iona tells me she sometimes just starts typing and waits to see what comes out - today is the day to try it.

The husband rang last night to check I had successfully rescued the thesis. He was in news exchange mode - both of us just downloaded what had been happening for the last few days, then hung up. He gets particularly like that when he is stressed. I put it down to his maleness. Most of the women I know tend to download a lot of emotions repeatedly when they are stressed. Men download the facts. Just the facts. And this one then rushes back to solving the problem. In this case having to produce multiple presentations for the final week of his course.

This is my final week being on my own. Husband will return either Friday night or Saturday morning depending on how tired he is. And the sprogletto returns on Monday morning on the aeroplane, his first experience of Cscious flying. And he is doing it with strangers! Its nice having such a Cfident and self-assured kid cos I can take him places and he likes new experiences. But I worry sometimes about him wandering off with just anyone. I'm sure he would. Still its not strangers who do the majority of horrible things to kids, its family and friends.

The survey that puts NZ near the bottom of the pile for treatment of its children is interesting when people try to figure out why. There is the predominance of sunny Mediterranean countries that don't kill their kids - is it the weather? But no, Portugal also doesn't do well. Italians don't have many kids (1.8 per woman) and so others have suggested it is a case of cherishing the rare, or the lower financial stress of having fewer children. An article in the Herald today on the editorial pages written by a researcher suggested home visiting and family support was critical, and that since the UK put money into post-natal visiting and support they had actually CHANGED THEIR FIGURES. Bloody rare that. We have a policy document floating round our government at the moment that talks of eliminating child poverty. No budget, No timeline, and No body taking responsibility. Its a platitude. And kids will die of it.

Iona was right - just typing produces words!

Posted by Toni at 11:48 AM | Comments (1)

September 24, 2003

Total gut wrenching panic

Turned the computer on last night and got a black screen saying something about being unable to find a disk. Tried turning the thing off, taking out the cd in the drive, turning the thing off harder, ctrl-alt-delete did absolutely nothing. Tried to remember the last time I saved the thesis, had tea, read a book, had a shower, rang husband. (Note careful use of avoiding the problem techniques). Gibbered to the cat.

Remembered I had put a floppy in the drive last night looking for some old data. Took it out. Computer started up fine. Felt like a fool. Saved the thesis, twice. Felt too stupid to do any work, went to bed!

Posted by Toni at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2003

Wee tiny adventure

Instead of walking on the path above the boatsheds, we walked along the jetty/ramp by the water. Instead of taking the stairs, we scaled the sea wall. I have found a kindred spirit, and we plan to kayak after work soon.

Besides, I'm polishing up my Bartok - I feel more like myself.

Posted by Toni at 01:17 PM | Comments (0)

September 22, 2003

Mentally falling down

After making a lot of progress since R and C went away, this weekend was pretty lacking in anything to send to the great leader. I got out the spinning wheel for the first time since coming to Wellington, and also played the piano. I read books and watched DVD's and went out for walks. I did edit one chapter and send it back, but really I should have done two...

They'll be home soon, and then not all of my excuses will be my own! I'll be able to blame other people. It's an absolutely fabulous day, wish I had an excuse to go outside.

Posted by Toni at 01:34 PM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2003


Part of the Friday theme

It took me several weeks to stop lying awake at night waiting for the earthquake. We have emergency provisions in our house - probably enough for all of you actually.

Wellington is the place were the wind has to get above 100 km/h before it is worth commenting on (I believed the wind literally never stopped before I lived here, I even asked about it at my job interview).

Wellington has The Scariest Roads in the country. They are narrow, and twisty, and have unexpected tunnels. Going down Ghuznee street at rush hour puts your driving mirrors at serious risk.

Wellington has the best bookshops in the country. Bar nothing. The Best.

Wellington also has the government. They are good for a couple of things. When I am feeling immature and silly, they give me perspective. I realise I am pretty mature compared to them. And if I ever get bored, I can watch Parliament just like other people watch Shortland Street. And besides, they gave me a job...

Posted by Toni at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2003


Warning: rather like a lecture

Saw an interesting article about compost: HortResearch Cducted a wee trial comparing 12 different composts. They were mixed one to one with sand and then planted with tomato lettuce and marigolds. As well there was a sand alone and sand with fertiliser. The composts inlcuded were from Living Earth, two from city council operations and Zoomgro.

Three of the composts had results where the plants grew better in sand alone. Four were slightly better than sand alone, and five gave reasonable results. Sand and fertiliser was as good as any of the composts.

This is because compost can have low nitrogen levels (2 mg/litre in some while the ones that grew good plants were up to 75 mg/litre). Plants need nitrogen to grow. They take it up in the form of dissoved salts, often ammonium salts. Because plants take up nitrogen as chemicals the plants can't tell where the Nitrogen came from.

So if plants grow as good in sand and fertiliser as in compost of the highest quality, why does everyone recommend compost? Compost is organic matter rotted down, and is a fantastic improver of soil structure. It breaks up clay to let in more air and improve drainage. It binds up sand and holds more water. And it hold nutrients in the soil so they don't drain away. Because it is black, it warms the soil and speeds plant growth.

If you farm and grow crops on soil you have to cultivate, and when you do you oxidise the organic matter. Soil structure is gradually destroyed. You end up with crappy hard soil, with poor air circulation and poor water drainage that plants can't grow well in. It is necessary to add organic matter if you crop, and that could be as compost or as green plants left to rot. If you crop plants and only add compost then crops will gradually decrease in productivity as you use up the available nitrogen. If you don't add organic matter you destroy the soil. The perfect farmer would add both organic matter to replace that which is destroyed, and add fertiliser to replace nutrients removed by the crops.

Composting has a great side effect of reducing our rubbish, and producing something useful. But it is not nutrient rich enough to feed us. Compost will not save the world, it is only part of the solution...

Posted by Toni at 08:49 AM | Comments (0)

September 17, 2003

Child fear

I talked to one of the searchers involved in trying to find Holly Burrows - they haven't been looking for a live child for a long time now.

When I became a parent I suddenly became a lot more interested in children, even ones that were not my own. The welfare of children seemed much more important, and the right of a child to have food clothing love and education seemed self evident. Stories in the media about children who were abducted from their bedrooms, killed by family members, raped beaten and starved, they are much more personal now, and they effect me much more. Every one of those stories makes me think about how I would feel if anything like that happened to C. And how he would change. He has such fun living his life, and he believes that the world is a good place, full of people who like him and will do good things for him.

Its not that the world isn't like that, but the world is also a place where people are cruel, where bad things happen to people. It can be ugly and nasty. It can make us cry ourselves to sleep. I want to protect him from that. I also want him to know about it - I don't want to raise a child who doesn't know the truth about where he lives. I get Cfused - I want diametrically opposed things. Often.

The kid in question is still with his grandparents. They asked him whether he wanted to go home, and he replied "No. Not yet". I guess I should be grateful that he thinks he will want to come home at some stage!

Posted by Toni at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2003

Choices and Csequences

When I was 12 I had to choose optional subjects for my third form year. I had been having piano lessons for a couple of years, and loved music, so the music option was essential. But music only came with french. There were two options, french and music, or music and french.

I didn't want to take french, I wanted to do art.

Being at that stage terrified of rocking the boat, or having to talk to adults in a meaningful way (ie telling them what I actually wanted), I took french and music.

I have regretted it ever since, as there was no real problem with doing music and art, they would have fitted the timetable no problem. If I had only opened my mouth and asked...

I wonder where I would be now if I had asked for what I wanted? I might have developed earlier the habit of open Cversation, and I might never have ended up doing a science degree or a PhD in populations genetics. I might not have been a science teacher and I may have married someone different. I'd have different friends and possibly a different relationship with my parents - if I had gone the 'arty' way they would have found it difficult I think, as they are pretty money focussed.

I was totally hopeless at french.

Posted by Toni at 08:25 AM | Comments (3)

September 15, 2003

Roses: Why do I grow thee, let me count...

Yesterday after the inagural stonesoup agm I went home and sprayed the roses. And I weeded. And I wondered Why do I really like growing roses?

First up, they have beautiful flowers, which often have a fabulous scent. I can get lots of different colours too. And just to make me really impressed, they have a lot of flowers over a long time frame. They grow big and bushy very quickly, therefore making the garden look full and well established.

SeCdly, there is lots to do with roses. I spray mine fortnightly with a fantastic witches brew of nitrosol, baking soda, thrive, rose spray, sprayfix and water. It makes me feel like a chemist measuring out all the ingredients in a particular order, stirring and filtering and spraying. In winter there is pruning. I used to worry about pruning, but these days I know if I get it wrong and a: cut too much off, they will grow back or b: don't cut enough off, I can cut more off anytime. And I can fertilise and water them and mulch them. You can probably imagine that I have huge roses... I like the formulaic approach to roses. If I do what I am supposed to fairly reguarly I get excellent results. It is a busy, no thinking hobby, quite different from the rest of my life. I like knowing what I am supposed to be doing sometimes!

When you are limited to tiny temporary gardens, which military gardeners are, roses are a magnificant thing.

And to top it all off, when you are posted to a new house, you can dig them up and take them with you.


Posted by Toni at 09:15 AM | Comments (0)

September 08, 2003

catching up

Had a fairly eventful few days, which is a major part of the reason for the lack of posting.

thurs - a mini Cference for people working on my area of research. Absolutely fantastic to get together with people that are working in the same area, and they were pretty interested in my research too. Had a meeting with the supervisor, and it looks like the timetable I am setting is the same as the one he thinks I should be working to. And he also thinks it is possible. Fantasias of happiness.

fri - another day of listening to researchers, and heard a Very Exciting talk on mathematical modelling of biological events - felt like starting to look for a postdoc in the area. but I probably won't due to the great leaders job. Great to feel so excited again though.

sat - more Cference, and this time on ethics and morals and funding and thoroughly depressing.

Sun - caught the ferry with the brat. Hubby in tears to see us go, and also with the stress of getting everyone out of the house on time. Left the car seat (which is essential) behind when we got on the boat, but hubby put it in the luggage after we had waved good-bye. Excellent. Crossing was terrible coming out the heads with 3 m swells and some queeziness. Kid had 'sore tummy' but then fell asleep, and the sea calmed so I snoozed too.
On the drive to parents home was grilled on the progress of the thesis by Pa, and I realized how unsupportive father can be. He never does tell you he is pleased or impressed about anything until the thing is finished. So the fact the book is progressing steadily apparently is of no import. No wonder I didn't know I had a brain when I was at home, or that I wasn't a totally revolting person. Pa wouldn't tell you anything good about yourself until you were perfect. Good thing other people told me of the things I can do well!

Mon - raining steadily today, but went to see friend I have known for 30 years now, and she is looking better and more stable than I have seen her in ages. She made a bad marriage and has spent a long time getting over it and the divorce. Good to see her getting on well with herself.

I'm enjoying doing no actual thesis work for a few days. I am supposed to get heaps done while I am living at home alone for the next week or two - I had better live up to expectations - heh.

Posted by Toni at 08:53 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2003

Miniscule discovery

Last night at dancing we experienced a couple of new and different styles of dancing instead of the usual Scottish Country. First up was square dancing - No, just no. Perhaps no way. All you do is walk in formation. Very boring. Next was old time dancing - boy is that excellent. It is tricky in parts, simple in others and elegant and beautiful and wow wowie wow wow. I also guess it doesn't have much of a future - all the people that do it properly are getting on... And some Israeli dancing. That was okay.

End result of the evening - we picked a good one with Scottish Country. But if I ever see the chance to learn some old time dancing, I'm gonna have to be real busy before I think of not doing that!

Posted by Toni at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2003

Sooky boy

The brat last night insisted on riding his new 2 wheeler with trainer wheels on the skateboard park. He went down the pipe fine, but didn't go all the way to the top on the other side and so went down backwards and fell off in a spectacular fashion.

I wasn't there for any of this, as they get home before me. All I saw was the bloody nose and the swollen lip when they got home.

My problems with this:

1. Since when did a three year old get to make decisions like where he is going to ride his bike he has had for 2 days? Why did dad not show some spine and say no?

2. Since when do you let a kid that old and that experience ride down a pipe and not trot along beside him? What was dad thinking?

3. Since when do you then fluff round the kid all night letting him Ctinue to Ctrol you and decide what you are going to do with your time? Dad must have felt guilty?

4. What the hell is going on when the kid is still very much in charge the next morning, and dad skips breakfast so he can spoon the porridge into the spoilt brats mouth, and read stories to said brat?

It was a damn good thing the train came when it did or I might have established myself as the house dragon...

Posted by Toni at 11:37 AM | Comments (1)

RE rethink

Nah, I gotta find another job, there is just too much silliness here. I'm gonna apply.

Really, this time I mean it!

Posted by Toni at 11:30 AM | Comments (0)

Great sentences

Found in Witches, by Candace Savage:

At first glance, an attempt to "revive" a subversive religious movement that didn't ever exist may not seem to have much going for it.

The next page ends with this sentence:

As the Brothers Grimm reminded us through their dark editorializing, powerful, ambitious women are downright scary.

The first one made me laugh out loud, the seCd reminds me not to scare R too much!

Posted by Toni at 11:28 AM | Comments (0)

September 02, 2003

Rethinking, dithering, ?

Now I think I won't apply. We would like to have another child, and it would be easier to do from here. And I get the maternity allowance, whatever it is called.

Besides, I should finish the damn book.

Posted by Toni at 10:47 AM | Comments (1)

September 01, 2003

To apply or not?

an unspeicified government department has a job going that would probably suit me - but should I apply?

In favour:
1. There is no career path here - to move up it is necessary to move on.
2. I would like a job that used more of my abilities, this one is not stretching me much.
3. The job leads to the kind of management position I would like to end up in.

1. It ups my stress when I am supposed to be finishing the thesis - more stress may lead to less progress (though I actually get more done if I am more wired so it might work the opposite way too).
2. I have only been here nine months, and it seems a bit quick to move on.

I'm thinking that I will apply, and see how I go. The worst that can happen is that I don't get it, and Ctinue on with my full-time permanent position. Its a safe place to be taking risks from. Perhaps I will be offered the job, and I can always turn it down or choose to take it. My thinking has been that I will stay here till I finish the book, but I might change my mind on that one.

Posted by Toni at 02:35 PM | Comments (2)