December 29, 2003

Darwin Awards

If I am found dead of solvent inhalation one of these days, would someone please tell the police it was through stupidity, not suicide?

I was painting last night and all was going well until I looked at my watch and realised that three hours had just gone past in thirty minutes. Also I felt mysteriously drunk given the amount of alcohol I had consumed (none). I looked behind me and realised the windows were shut. Hazily recalling knowledge from my Girl Guide days, I grabbed the turps bottle. The words "Well-ventilated space" and "inhalation may be harmful or fatal" seemed to stand out like white letters on a black background, which indeed they were.

I got a really good night's sleep. And the painting is really... abstract. The kind of painting people will look back on in years to come and think "man, what was he on?!" And my spirit will look back at them through the eye-holes in the canvas and laugh and laugh ... hold on. Let me go open a window...

Anyhoo, I just realised that the link in the entry below should be credited (couldn't remember where I'd seen it for a while). It's from an email-newsletter thing called This Is True and the website for it is (link will open in a new window).

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December 28, 2003

Powers of 10

Have you ever played with an electron microscope? I found this site that takes you step-by-step from examining quarks to dna strands to an oak tree and out out out to the edge of the milky way. It's incredible and only takes a few seconds to load. You can see it here at Molecular Expressions (This link should open in a new window).

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December 27, 2003

100 Things thing

I wrote my 100 things today (it was a slow day). You can see it here: 100 Things About Phreq :)

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there's a lot of time between xmas and ny...

I just realised how many days there are between Christmas and New Year. Lots! I thought it was about 2 days, which just proves how poor my understanding of the calendar is.

Anyway I'm midly depressed now, it seems like a trough of down time that I am filling by watching Simpsons DVDs with audio commentary and tweaking a piece of search engine code that I wrote last year and for which I now can't remember half the excepted characters in php. Amazing how easy it is to lose fluency in a language, even a computer one. Then again, seeing as I have enough trouble with English and can say "I don't speak [insert language here]" in several foreign tongues, perhaps the atrophy is not surprising.

I'm reading Bob Jones's "Letters" at the moment, which is laugh-out-loud funny in places - he is one intelligent, sarcastic bastard! I also got out "1984" (George Orwell) and "The Genius and the Goddess" (by Aldous Huxley). I have been watching the People's Century video series from the library, just to break up the cartoons a little bit and make me seem less obsessed.

Christmas is such a struggle of a time of year, I'm really annoyed with myself for letting it get to me like this... I think it's having to spend time with my family, I always end up feeling awful even if they don't do anything to get my back up... and then I feel guilty for not liking them when they have done nothing to me (recently). Times like this I wish I had taken Matt's route and done a runner to the other side of the world to avoid the whole family bullshit.

Anyway my stress levels are really high and it's playing havoc with my eating patterns, which I'm really annoyed with myself over, because I had been doing ok for the last month or two since getting back from Dunedin. I just have to get a grip on it again and make myself be good, I'm terrified of it slipping again because it will be such a failure and mean that I wasted most of 2003. So no, can't go back there... it's so perverse to have a disease that makes you want to starve yourself to death. It's so completely illogical and unnatural, but all the logic in the world doesn't fix it. It's like any other addiction I guess, the only way to be 'clean' with an eating disorder is not to do what you would like to do... it makes me so tired to think I have to struggle against hating my body day after day and deliberately not do the one thing that would make me feel better...

God. too much self-pity! sorry folks :) Hmmm happy thoughts:
1) It ain't raining
2) Dave gets back tomorrow
3) I get to see Deb and Lisa (and Margaret, maybe!) for New Year
4) I have canvas
5) I have paint
6) Ruby is smiling at me (she doesn't move her lips, but I can tell)
7) I have great friends that put up with a lot of crap from me
8) Simpsons DVDs
9) Audio commentary
10) It still ain't raining...

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December 26, 2003

Best Day of the Year

It's Boxing Day - the longest possible time before more Christmas!

Well yesterday went pretty well, considering. I stayed at my sister's on Xmas Eve but she's pretty sick at the moment so I felt kind of like I was intruding. So I left her asleep on Christmas morning and went around to my parents' place after watching Bob The Builder Christmas Special.

We went to church which I found hilarious. I don't think Mum approved entirely of my levity. I tried to be good :) The pastor was having an "interactive time" with the kids, talking about how Christmas seems to be about Santa and presents but is really around Jesus. "So if Santa brings you presents of toys, and Jesus brings you presents of Love, Hope, Peace and Eternal Joy, who would you rather have?" And a treasure of a child yells immediately "Santa!" The guy was asking for it, really!

The pastor actually seemed to appreciate the humour inherent in religion - he presented the Christmas Reading as a text message on the overhead projector, and then made the congregation read it aloud together:

N da bggng ws da Wrd, an da Wrd ws wt Gd, an da Wrd ws Gd. An da Wrd ws md flsh, an dwlt amng us.

I chose to read phonetically. Loudly.

Then we went home and opened presents. It's always a marathon at our Christmases. I counted it up and worked out that in total, 79 presents were given yesterday. There are too many kids, that's the problem - there are 6 kids in our family so once each person gets one thing for everyone, that's 56 presents for a start. Anyway it took hours. We go for 90 minutes, break for a quick lunch, get back into the gift-giving, and round it off with dessert around 4.00.

I was good at communicating my desires this year and wound up with mainly things I would have bought for myself, which is extremely rare for me at Christmas. Boxed set 3rd season DVDs of The Simpsons, Simpsons desk calendar, Simpsons wall calendar, Simpsons mug, and non-Simpsons-related gel pens, a ceramic serving dish, CD, and watch. The only thing I got that I wouldn't have bought for myself was the CD, but hey, free CD and it has a couple of songs I like. I would have exchanged it except that as soon as I opened it, mum, dad and Jo all asked if they could borrow it :)

So I got back to my place around 7.30 and had a smoke and watched my DVDs. Very relaxing :) Now I have to download all the photos I took yesterday and email them to my brother.

Hope you all had a good day. I'm planning to hit the boxing day sales in a strange act of self-torture. :)

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December 24, 2003

Christmas Eve Paintings

I've been playing with oil paint for a couple of weeks now and I thought I'd upload some of the results here. Some I like better than others, and none of them are really 'art', but nonetheless...

Blue Girl Crosses
Flowers Mother
Purple Man  

Merry Christmas Eve to everybody.... be safe :)

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December 23, 2003

Mental Health Care in NZ

Ok, this is going to be a rant, so please be patient with me :)

I am a 'mental health consumer' - I have a diagnosis including anorexia and depression - and I've just spent the last several months in a private (ACC-funded) psych hospital down in Dunedin. I'm back home in Wellington now, and since I left without the good graces of the hospital (read: I freaked and bolted) I wasn't hooked up with the mental health services in Wellington so I'm only starting to do that now, a couple of months after I got back.

Anyway I went to see my case worker from the outpatients service at the hospital and we sat there, being awkward... I don't think either of us quite knew why we were there, other than my therapist made us. He was basically asking "what do you want?" and I was saying "Well, I want help with money, with working out student things for next year given that there's no way I can do a full course load, help with dealing the government agencies that do these things and with navigating their baffling rules and forms and loopholes and technicalities. I want one of those scholarships for people who need to rebuild their lives so that I don't have to turn to prostitution to get an education! At the very least I want to know who to talk to in order to find out who to talk to in order to get some information!"

They said: "Have you talked to WINZ? Try asking them."

Then they said: "We could get you in touch with an occupational therapist." I must have looked somewhat blank because they said "It can help with basic living skills and so forth." ... long silence... "for example *cough* if you were bad at shopping the OT could help with that..."

I agreed to see the OT in January. I think it's because a)my brain was still frozen after the WINZ advice and b)I think that means I change caseworkers, which will probably be a relief to us both.

The worst moment came when he asked me in an offhand tone how "things are" for me at the moment. I started crying and saying that I had no money and was really depressed and was finding it really hard to eat anything, but at the same time I'm desperate not to drop back the hard-won gains I made down South, I don't want to go back there but it's just so hard looking like this... and he said:

"Yes, I noticed you're not as skinny as you were before."

This man is a *trained mental health worker*. My file is right there in front of him with 'anorexia' written in it.

I desperately wanted to slap him but instead I sniffled slightly and agreed with everything he said, hating myself for doing it but just wanting the whole interview to end so I could sneak my fat self away into a corner and never see human faces again...

Well that's a little (lot) melodramatic but you gotta admit, the guy ain't gonna win 'Sensitive Empathetic Man of the Year Award'. :)

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December 22, 2003

Premature Nostalgia

Premature nostalgia is a growing phenomenon. I think it's because the pace of life is increasing, so the length of time between 'now' and a 'fondly remember when' moment is getting shorter. I find myself growing nostalgic about those little scooters that were a craze three years ago, in a simpler, more idealistic time, where I believed I could ride one down The Terrace without breaking my rib.

I love this time of year, news-wise. All the retrospectives: "2003 - The Year In Review", "Business News - Christmas Special", "Dumb Things Celebrities Said" and so on and so forth. Ah, nostalgia (almost):

'Gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman' - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger sets the Californians straight

'Reports that say something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know' - Donald Rumsfeld scoops the Plain English Campaign's Foot In Mouth trophy

'Really, if I had an opportunity to shoot Britney Spears, I think I would' - Maryland's 'First Lady', Kendel Ehrlich, in an aside at a domestic violence prevention conference

Read the Observer article here.

And to keep things multi-cultural, an artcle on very special Christmas celebrations in Japan...

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December 21, 2003

Anti-Bush Ads

This is a really funny site. Not sure of it's political backing (ummm... Democrat?) but the ads are funny. People have been invited to enter a contest for the best 30-second anti-Bush ads and the site has received over 1000 so far... you have to log in to view/vote the ads but it is free.

The downside is you have to download and install Quicktime to view the movies, and the ads can take a while to download over a dial-up.

I thought I would add in a photo of my pussy cat, who is currently snuggled down on my favourite chair, shedding hair and snoring gently. I took this photo of her in her 'snuggle box' which is basically a banana box cut down and lined with a sleeping bag made from an old duvet. Ruby spends a lot of time in hers, I think because it's warm, private, and sides of the box give her some protection as well. The duvet is now really, really hairy.


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December 20, 2003

Fantastic This and That

I just had the most fantastic night's sleep ever. My doctor gave me some sleeping tablets (yay, at last) and I slept from 6.30 last night to 8.30 this morning. The best thing about it is that the tablets mean you don't dream, it's more like being under anaesthetic or something. Mmmmmmmmmmmm... Heh heh the trademark symbol for the meds is really cute, it's a smiling teddy bear with arms out to give a hug. It makes me smile back every time I see it :)

My Friday surprise came too late for me to write it up, so will do it now: I went into Bellamy's in Cuba Mall by chance and found two old TIME Magazines - one from January 1970 and the other from January 1978. I'm always on the look out for old newspapers or magazines, it's just so interesting to read a primary resource from a time before I was born. I've only got about half-way through one of them yet, but it's got articles on the forced desegregation of schools in the South, stories on Vietnam (although it's written Viet Nam back then, does anyone know why it changed?) and the War, a story on arming the Middle East and in particular, Iraq - stuff about the Tate murders, James Earl Ray, the Manson Family trial, film and tv reviews... man it's so cool. :) I was stoked! And to find two magazines at once, and in such good condition - that was a real surprise. Haven't found any this good in a couple of years. :)

Maybe next week's theme could be 'winning lotto'...

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December 18, 2003

Christmas blah

I admit it. I am a grinch. I do not like Christmas, not at all, not a jot. In fact, Sam-I-Am, I hate it a whole lot!

I am unwillingly purchasing presents for family members - not my older brother though, he loses present entitlements by being in England.

I don't get Christmas. Ok, some background for my family - I was brought up in a cult that didn't celebrate Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, etc etc. They had logical (if not strictly sane) reasons for not keeping these holidays, so that was fine. Then when I was 14 my parents left the church and all of a sudden these things that before were the mark of the devil and meant the rest of you heathens were going to hell became something that our family did too.... but without any explanation of why the previous unassailable logic that we shouldn't keep Christmas had suddenly transmogrified into a lackluster rationale of "well, everyone else does it... "

So my family celebrates Christmas and I don't know why. I'm an atheist, my parents are christians (I guess) but Dad doesn't go to church services and still considers himself a member of the previous church... which I thought they had left. However I will be expected to take part in the psudeo-religious bits of the day, like going to church and saying grace at lunch. I can't be bothered making a big thing out of it (ok, ok, I'm too scared of my parents to make a big thing out of it) so I just mumble into my glass and hope that I can get drunk enough to be numb, but not so drunk that my parents will notice and disapprove...

I wish my younger brothers and sisters were a bit older so we didn't have to bother with the charade. I shall be practising my 'fixed smile' in the mirror for the next few days in preparation for the big day... sigh. It's only 12 hours, I can handle 12 hours... really...

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December 16, 2003

Andy Warhol

I read a book about Andy Warhol yesterday. It's a subject I'm quite interested in, which is why I bothered getting the book in the first place, but it was one of those books that is written in a way that isn't really bad enough to make me fling it away in disgust, but not anywhere near good enough to be enjoyable. It was full of tiny, annoying spelling and grammatical errors - about one every five pages, just spaced out enough to let me relax slightly before I hit the next one. And the words that were spelt correctly were so obscure I lost the thread of the sentance. I'm not sure if I'm just dumb, but does the following sentance make sense to anyone else (without using!):

"A vacuum - vacuousness, vacuity - doubles as hustler: Warhol felt the void's existential seduction most palpably in the form of hustlers ... through easy art techniques, permitting easy evacuation of his uneasy interior matter, transposed to the skin's outside." - Wayne Koestenbaum, Andy Warhol

It's 189 pages long and it's all like that. It struck me that it is a subject the author is presumably passionate about (why else would he bother?) and yet the whole book is so tied up in the glory of the words he so obviously enjoys that the subject is practically obscured. I can understand the attraction of words and that 'hearing the sound of your own voice' fascination but really, who let this guy publish this book?!

Anyway, after finishing the book I was all inspired to get painting, so my flat now stinks of oil paint and turps. I'm so broke at the moment that Christmas is looking exceptionally lean, so I've turned to the weasel strategy of handcrafted gifts... except for my younger brothers and sisters, who are still young enough to demand something they actually want. My parents and the older kids will have to suffer politely. I hope they don't stumble on the same strategy because I'm hanging out for some nice, crass, commercial presents.

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December 15, 2003

Got to start somewhere

It's kind of strange to actually have a blog at last. I've toyed with the idea for ages. never quite got around to it, and then all of a sudden within the space of a morning it's set up and here I am typing.

My cat is watching me, as she often does, her eyes fixed disconcertingly on me every time I glance her way. It's quite unnerving. It's a very insistent stare that makes me feel that I should be doing something... feeding her, probably. She is a fuller-figured feline. I like to think of her as a role model - she eats what she wants, when she wants it, and exercise be damned if there is a nice spot of sunshine and pillow to recline on. I wish I cared as little!

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