August 31, 2004

Critical Balance

The security lights outside my window have been blazing all night, which has kind of messed up my circadian rhythm. I kept waking up thinking it was seven and time to get up. At 4.30 I gave up and got up.

Isn’t it odd that in our free society, I can’t find a place to scream? I just want to yell for 5 minutes. But pretty much anywhere, even someplace fairly remote, you run the risk of some helpful and concerned citizen calling the cops, or at least coming to investigate. Good on them, I’d rather they did than ignore it, but it still leaves me without a place to scream!

We are silenced and made self-conscious by our proximity to each other and our distance from the land.

Not many news items really need TV. Did you see on TV3 about the 14-year-old who made a rape complaint and her parents weren’t informed (rightly so, in my opinion, but that’s another spiel) – TV3 ran footage of a school in the course of the article, and then the next night had to apologise, because the footage wasn’t of the school in question, and the people at the school shown had been upset. So really, my question is, why show any pictures at all?

I’ve been thinking recently about how much disapproval runs my life. I think it’s largely from the church I was brought up in and also from my parents. But it’s like, I get so scared that people are looking at what I’m eating or buying or how much I’m spending and stuff that I end up walking out of the supermarket with nothing but a loaf of bread. I find it really hard to find the balance in things – it’s like, I can’t just try to budget a little better, I have to go to extremes and try to do the impossible because I’m scared if I’m not trying my absolute hardest, everyone is going to judge me and find wanting. Not even my best is good enough. You know? And it makes it so hard, because I never live up to my expectations, so I fear that everyone else is thinking how useless I am. And that’s why it hurts so much when doctors and other people tell me to “try harder”. I’m always at my maximum, so that statement always sends me into a frantic tailspin.

My life is so ruled by anxiety. But I think it’s a big part for me in terms of understanding and managing my eating disorder. I’ve got to find the balance in there someplace, between pushing myself enough but also recognising limitations and being gentle. Arrgh! Even writing this down makes me panic. Life is so slippery without rules. But I suspect it is a lot more free.

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August 29, 2004

It's A Question Of Degree

I can’t decide if it’s more unethical for McDonalds to sell fat-laden, artery-clogging meals, or to sell salads for six or seven dollars a piece. What do you reckon? Would you rather be screwed and unhealthy, or right royally screwed and still hungry?

Synchronised swimming is frickin’ incredible. I can’t imagine why people would disparage it. It looks like one of the hardest and most technical of the disciplines at the Olympics. A hell of a lot harder than, say, running. I’m sure it’s very hard to be good at running, but pretty much anyone can take a crack at it. Synchronised swimming though – I doubt if 7 of my friends and I could jump in the pool and produce anything even remotely resembling it.

I’m far too uncoordinated to be Greek. So it’s lucky I’m not. The whole synchronous-crowd-clapping bit would probably lead to mass slapping slaughter.

(John Howard looks a hell of a lot like Kenneth L. Lay of Enron infamy. I only just noticed.)

How very sad it is that in our society, it is acceptable for the national news bulletin to go from a story on a two-month-old child dying of starvation in a Sudanese refugee camp to “and next, on Super Sport Sunday, the NPC…” with not so much as a flicker. They say movies are desensitising! No emotion, no reaction, no humanity. Frankly, the guy talking about the match between North Harbour and Wellington sounds more engaged.

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August 28, 2004

Alas, A Clothes Horse

The Peugeot team are perhaps overlooking a lucrative market. Their new 407 ad with all the toy cars makes me think of how much I’d be willing to pay for a car designed to look like a toy car. A wooden block car would be the best, or a Lego car. But how cool would that be! I don’t really care one way or another for the 407 but the other cars in the ad arouse instant desire.

You know what would be a good invention for indoor carparking buildings? Sensors on the floor that can tell if a space is occupied. If the space is empty, a signal is sent to a light on the roof above to switch on, so that drivers coming along the ramps can see easily where the available spaces are and won’t need to drive so slowly and erratically! If anyone from Wilson’s Parking is reading this, *please* steal this idea and implement it in Christchurch. It wouldn’t be that difficult or expensive to do. And the improvement in traffic flow efficiency would probably pay for it and then some.

I saw Fahrenheit 9/11 today and really enjoyed it, although some of it was a bit reactionary for me. The whole focus on how much the Saudis invest in America seemed a little spurious. Isn’t that the whole point of globalisation and wealth creation? I mean, we criticise countries that are closed to foreign investment, and then we criticise countries that diversify. Also, there was no context given – how much money do most countries in the world invest in each other? I bet America, Britain, Germany and France “own” significant proportions of the wealth of many countries in the world on the same logic used in the film. I don’t know if that automatically becomes ominous. The focus on Saudi investments kind of smacked of the Elders of Zion and the international Jewish conspiracy to me.

I do recommend that people see it, it was a very good film, but I wouldn’t call it an unbiased documentary by any means. And I wouldn’t necessarily make a point of seeing it on the big screen. The quality of the film isn’t that high, I think because a lot of the footage is taken from TV, and it comes across quite grainy on the big screen.

Hair is really disturbing when you stop to think about it, so I try not to. But just the thought of those lifeless filaments extruding constantly from my skin, and then hanging there, waving blindly, growing and groping silently… eww. Mind you, just about anything is strange and disturbing if you stop to think about it. There is no such thing as an innocuous object. It will offend or traumatise someone. And if it doesn’t, they’ll pretend it does, to make you feel guilty for mentioning cornflakes in mixed company.

I spent my Saturday morning purchasing a clothes horse from the Warehouse. I can’t think of anything that more perfectly sums up the horrors of suburban adulthood than that this should warrant a mention on my blog.


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August 27, 2004


Heh heh. Second favourite Olympic commentary quote: “These young women do things with a ball and a hoop that you would not believe.”

I should be an advertisement for Pink Batts. Currently I have on:

  • 3 pairs of socks

  • slipper boots

  • polyprop leggings

  • polarfleece trousers

  • polyprop long-sleeved top

  • jersey (grey)

  • jersey (green)

  • jersey (purple)

  • hoodie

and the heater is going, too. The section I’m in is on the shady side of the house, so I get no direct sun at all. Combine that with the swirling snow outside and the high ceilings inside, and you’ll see why I am a moaning Michelin Man.

There’s something about other people’s hospital cubicles that bring out my most infantile side. Freedom (Mel’s friend) and I had a game of hand-puppets over the top of the curtain around Mel’s bed, which was accompanied by those senseless silent convulsive hysterics that are really about nothing particularly funny but are irresistible and embarrassing. :)

(hee hee! Hand puppets!)

The hip-replacement dementia patients in the beds across the aisle seemed unamused.

Oh hey, I saw a neat alternative to essential oils for use in oil burners the others day in a shop in the same genre as Living & Giving – a design/gift store. It’s a scented wax that breaks off in cubes like chocolate. It comes in a whole range of scents like wildberry, coconut, sandalwood and so on. You put it in the top of the burner where the water and oil would usually go, and the wax melts and releases a really intense scent – comparable with any oil I’ve burnt. The good thing about it is that the wax cools and hardens for easy removal and minimal waste. I’ve had one block for the past 2 months and am only half-way through the block, so I’m a convert! They smell so good and are a refreshing change from incessant pine, jasmine and lavender.

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August 26, 2004

Death by Taxes

Memo to the government and to the members of FOE (Fight Obesity Epidemic) regarding their proposal in the news the other night: If you want to reduce obesity, particularly among the poor, lower the cost of healthy foods. Don’t raise the price of food, we’re struggling as it is – just give beneficiaries vouchers for say, $10 worth of fresh fruit and vegies a week, redeemable at major supermarkets. For pity’s sake, protein and vegetables are expensive! The cheapest food in terms of kilojoules per dollar is carbohydrate, preferably coated in fat. The cheapest cuts of meat are fatty. On almost everything (including powdered drink mix!) you pay a premium for sugar-free, low-fat, lite-reduced-ultra-slim-options.

Late night TV – and especially the ads – is very compelling. It’s really fortunate that I am too destitute to qualify for even the most extortionate of credit cards, because otherwise I would be drowning in revolutionary make-up and magnetic bed-spreads. The strange thing is, I read a lot of science magazines and stuff, and yet I never see any of these miracle breakthroughs reported. You’d think that a book that told you how to cure every known type of cancer or a magnetic bedspread that can cure pain would really stir up some interest in the mainstream media, but I never hear a peep. Maybe the science journalists are getting their optimal 8.3 hours of sleep and don’t watch infomercials.

Deb is also easily influenced by infomercials. The downside is that she has a credit card. She buys things that turn up 6-8 weeks later and she can’t remember what she ordered. Most of it goes back. The other week she ordered some make-up and when it was delivered the courier left it on the porch. The dogs got it - $98 worth of make-up scattered across the yard. Luckily it was one of those all-natural-organic ranges, so it probably just made their coats extra shiny. “My, Millie, your spots are looking extra fetching today!” “Why thank you, Charlie Brown, and may I say that the new blush really highlights your nostrils?”

Oh – movie recommendation: The Butterfly Effect. It’s got that guy that plays Kelso on That 70’s Show in it, and he’s a surprisingly good serious actor! The gist of the movie is that a boy grows up and discovers a way to go back in time and affect his past, and therefore the past/future of those around him. It’s very much like that The Simpson’s episode where Homer gets his hand stuck in the time-travel toaster. Has kind of disturbing adult themes and a bit of surprising violence (non-gratuitous) but it’s really well done – I enjoyed it. The ending was particularly good and non-syrupy.

The dresses the women wear for the medal ceremonies are so unflattering! Are they reproductions of ancient Greek dresses? I find it hard to believe that the people that designed such beautiful architecture had so little dress sense. The outfits come into the category “Ancient Greece meets English Middle Ages smashed into American Wild West”. The poor women! An audience of millions and you’re having your 15 minutes of fame in a TinkyWinky costume. And speaking of which (my brain aroused somewhat belatedly): why no men holding the medals? I’m sure I could design an ugly outfit for the guys. I’m thinking tri-corner hat and Elizabethan ruff teamed with a charming paisley toga and perhaps winklepickers to complete the look.

After reading my comments I am stuck trying to think up a clever title for this post.

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August 25, 2004


Favourite quote from the Olympics TV commentary: “He’s a big fan of giving it to himself, and he’s really giving it to himself.” The mind boggles.

The lights make some cool effects in the hockey. All the players have four shadows, spreading out like an “X” – it must be really distracting when you’re playing. Anyway, it looks like a computer hockey game I played once where each player had a little X underneath them to help you line up your shots. But now I wonder if it was a lighting simulation that I misunderstood. Or maybe, the lights are set up to help the players aim. There’s so much about professional hockey that I don’t understand!

Things have been bizarre over the last couple of days, I’ve spent most of my time driving between Mel’s and Deb’s and hospital and home. Mel’s got a nasty problem with her ankle and is in hospital, so I’ve been organising Alex’s clothes and feeding cats and visiting Mel and all sorts. It’s nice to be able to help her out like this. One of the advantages of knowing social dropouts with time on their hands – they’ll come to your aid when you’re sick!

Seriously though it is very nice to be in a position to return some of the favours to Mel and help out where I can. Luckily Alex apparently like me, so that’s cool, and he’s happy to hang out with me and watch TV or read books together. He’s a sweet kid but I worry that he’ll think I’m a bit weird, since I keep forgetting he’s six and launching into long-winded explanations of that Doppler effect or something where an answer of “just because” might be more appropriate!

Thank you everyone who commented for being nice over Henry – it was really hard to make the call to do it, so thanks for not making me feel bad. It’s such a tricky decision to make. Ultimately I decided it was more about motives than actions, so once I was happy with my motives, it became obvious what the best decision for us both was. But lord knows, I can beat myself up over anything ;)

Fantastic! NZ just got gold and silver in the triathlon! That’s amazing!

(In case anyone is wondering, or cares, I write these entries over the evening and then post them the next day – or the next time I get online. If the tense or context is screwy sometimes, that’ll be why)

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August 24, 2004

Vectra Conjecture

You know the Vectra ad where the guy gives his son the car? He chucks him the keys and they walk around the car to swap seats. The strange thing is that the indicator stays on while they do this. I checked on my car and only the hazard lights work when the keys aren’t in the ignition. Do you reckon it’s a special feature of the Vectra? Maybe I should test-drive one and check. Then threaten to do them for false advertising and demand a car in return for my silence.

I don’t know why I got up at 2.30 to watch Sarah take the gold. I have managed to see the replay once or twice since. About twice each ad break, and every second lead-in to the coverage.

Yesterday I took Henry to the SPCA to be re-homed. I wrestled with the decision for weeks so I feel quite settled that it was the right decision, if not a good one. On the one hand, he really loved me and I’d made a commitment to him and wanted to take care of him. But I couldn’t afford to de-sex, de-flea, worm and vaccinate him, and kitten food is more expensive than regular cat food. I worked it out as needing at least $10/week for the next 20 weeks and once I’d crunched the numbers it was obviously bad for him and impossible for me to keep him. So I gave him a special couple of days and then took him in. I feel sad but not guilty.

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August 23, 2004


There are so many aggressively unexplained acronyms in use today. It’s kind of like using shorthand without checking that everyone else is using the same system. I blame the technology revolution. Tech companies invented so many new words and phrases so quickly that we became inundated with acronyms that we don’t know the “real words” for. And they’re not all in the dictionary, for obvious reasons. My main objection to the proliferation of undecipherable language is that aliens would find it difficult to work out what was going on if they read any Earth publications, even if they had an Earth dictionary. And I don’t think we want to annoy the alien dudes, or even make them too curious.

I just saw an ad for Glade “car fresh”. The guy in the ad is apparently in the middle of smoking a cigar while driving with the windows closed. Has anyone ever tried to smoke a cigar while driving? I should imagine it is quite a feat. You have to hold a cigar differently, particularly a corona like that, and the clouds of smoke that cigars produce would be extremely difficult to see through. Cigars are very smoky things. So maybe it’s a pet cigar that never gets lit, because the air is crystal clear.

It’s actually quite unusual for an ad to have smoking references like that in it, nowadays. I don’t recall seeing it anywhere else recently. Are there rules governing it, or just social pressure?

Apropos of nothing, I officially met one of my New Year’s goals – I quit smoking. It’s been 2 months now so I figure that counts as quit. It was surprisingly easy to do. I thought I would be really addicted, because I smoked about 30-40 a day for 18 months, and I have tried to give up before and went back to it. But it was strange – I just ran out of tobacco and didn’t buy any more, almost without realising it. I’ve had a few cigarettes with friends over the last few weeks, but none of my own and never more than one in a week. If I could work out what made it such a non-event to quit this time, I could market it to people and make millions.

The other day I finally read something to explain the whole carbonated-drink-fizzing-over phenomenon. Apparently there are tiny little tubes in the surface of glass (the same reason that flies and other insects can walk up windows) and these little holes are filled with air. When the carbonated drink is poured into the glass, the dissolved carbon dioxide reacts vigorously with these gases and fizzes violently. So if you pour a whole glass of champagne at once, the reaction is so energetic that the glass bubbles over. So the solution is to evacuate the air in the pores in the glass before pouring the body of the drink – pour a little bit in, swish it around, and then fill the glass. I always kind of wondered about that, and now I know :)

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August 19, 2004

Whitman's Sampler

Leon got grumpy at Mel so he went home, so I'm back online!

The Olympics is like this fantastic boxed assortment of exotic biscuits that comes but once every four years. I feel compelled to gorge, metaphorically ripping the wrapping and discarding extraneous cardboard. So I watch the Olympics pretty much solidly for the whole two weeks. It’s really neat! Not only do I get to see sports I don’t see often, but I also get to watch sports that in some cases I didn’t even know existed!

Sport, when it is played by the very, very skilled, is amazingly beautiful. The athlete’s bodies, their relationship with their environment, and the physical shapes and forces that are formed and displayed – it’s quite lovely. And the best thing is, you’re not just watching one stand-out performer among a field of clearly lesser participants. You get to watch the very best from all over the world up against each other, so they’re all very very good.

(Except that NZ boxer. That was kind of embarrassing really. He wasn’t boxing! Didn’t someone check that he could box before he went?)

It makes me feel all enthused. About sport, travel, people, countries, tourist-gouging – it’s all painted with a rosy glow. I’d love to go to the next games, Beijing in 2008 would be fantastic. It’d be so cool to see it in person.

It must be impossible to be an impartial ref. Or maybe that’s just my base nature rearing its sly little head. *wink* But I really couldn’t see me being totally fair. I’d always sneakily help one side to win. As evidence I present the fact that even when I play both sides of the chessboard I secretly favour one. That’s partly because I am really bad at chess so at least cheating means that there is a clear winner. I fear becoming locked in a stalemate against my most cunning adversary, me. It’s like I’m always one head astep of me.

And that is why I will have to regretfully decline the IOC’s pleading faxes.

I have an interesting experiment that someone could nick for a science-fair project. What would happen if you had constant, subtle advertising running in the home in form of LCD screens – a bit like digital clocks? Probably very simple: like “Buy - *flash* - Coke” repeated, a different message on say 6 screens placed unobtrusively in a room where several hours each day is spent by each subject. Would it influence people’s behaviour without them being aware of the stimulus? It should be measurable, especially if you make the message something like “choose red” or “choose 42” and then run a controlled series of tests before and after. Anyway.

Tonight I was watching TV and a news update came on – and some moron in the background in the studio was caught on camera stuffing his face with noodles! How unprofessional! I thought. What’s that idiot doing?! Then I realised it was an ad. Huh. All that indignation just kinda blew up in my face. I’m sure it’s not good for my health. Maybe I should sue the network.

Photos of my flat, the local graveyard, and the snow:


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August 17, 2004

Snow Kidding!

It’s easy to tell I’m Wellington-raised, since it rates a mention on my blog - it’s snowing! I didn’t know it snowed in Christchurch. So pretty :) Today it was 1 with a windchill of minus 6.

I took these photos which I will post later – the snow got to 6cm deep on top of the car, which I found most impressive! I went over to Deb’s and took the dogs for a good hard run in the snow, which they really enjoyed. We spent about 45 minutes off the lead in the park, and when I got them home I bathed them. Gave me the fright of my life! I picked up Millie and there were these grey-brown lumps hanging from her belly skin. At first glance they looked like some sort of tumour (I’ve seen too much “Emergency Vets” on Animal Planet) and I was just at the “How the hell do I break that to Deb?!” stage when I thought “… unless it’s ice.” Which of course it was.

Arrgh! Deb is sick and will be infectious for 5 days, so Leon had to go to stay at Mel’s – and therefore I won’t be able to get online for a week, because he is resting through the day. Personally I didn’t think that letting myself in with a key around mid-morning, hooking in a phone cable, typing and maybe a little washing of dishes and folding of clothes would be so very noisy, especially since he has his 9-week-old puppy constantly in the bedroom with him, and she’s not exactly quiet… but hey, what do I know about it. :( boo sucks. Grrr! I just want to be able to get online for an few hours a day (consistently!) without paying through the nose for it!

I read “The Life of Birds” by David Attenborough, which was really good, as his stuff almost invariably is. Things I learnt:

  • The only bird in the world with a beak longer than its body is the sword-billed hummingbird.

  • All birds have egg teeth, but one hatches without it. The megapode forms an egg-tooth about three weeks before hatching, but the tooth is reabsorbed before emergence. The chick uses its powerful legs to kick its way free, and then spends the next several days kicking its way out from under the pile of vegetation and sand that produced the heat to incubate the eggs. The eggs are all produced with very generous yolks and the chick hatches with most of the sustenance still available. It uses this energy to sustain it through the cycles of digging and rest needed to dig to the surface. It takes long enough to do this that the chick can produce flight feathers in-between hatching and freedom and so emerges from the ground fully fledged and able to fly.

  • The king penguin chick fasts for months in the middle of its growth cycle. Once the chick hatches, the parents feed it desperately for a few months, but when winter sets in the parents are forced to leave to find food to avoid starvation. The chicks have not yet moulted to adult feathers and so cannot enter the water to find food. So the chicks huddle together through the long winter months and starve – many die, in fact, from starvation and cold. But in the spring their parents return and resume feeding their chicks until they finally moult and can return to the feeding grounds for their first winter. So king penguin only produce young every two years.

I learnt lots of other things too, now I think about it. It’s a really interesting book. But I should let you guys read it rather than summarising half-remembered bits.

See you in a week... unless I get desperate and go to a cyber-cafe, which is fairly likely to happen.

Posted by phreq at 10:47 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 15, 2004

No Marriage Without Offspring

The objection to the Civil Union Bill that "marriage is for the purpose of producing and raising children, therefore if you are gay you can't be married" is a compelling one that I completely endorse.

As such, I would like to propose that no couple can get married until the birth and 6-month survival of viable offspring. At that point, they can marry, but they can't divorce until their youngest child is 18. If the child is neglected or abused, the parents are executed to prevent further violation of their solemn trust of producing the next generation of life. If they are unfaithful and break their contract to each other, they are branded and allowed to be tethered by their wronged spouse.

If marriage is so precious to society, we should back it up. No divorce. No unfaithfulness. No mistreatment of children. No marriage without viable offspring, because as the thoughtful Christian I saw on TV put it - "What's the point?"

Society shouldn't have it both ways. Either marriage is a holy institution for the production of the next generation or a charming but somewhat outdated ritual that celebrates the love and commitment of two human adults for each other.

It's rapidly becoming a moot point anyway. So why not continue New Zealand's record of suffrage? We emancipated women first, we have transexual MP's, female HOS, let's give gays a break and celebrate human love and affection.

Posted by phreq at 10:38 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

August 11, 2004

The Car is Bigoted, Officer

I saw on the news last night Jewish leaders saying that these cemetery attacks were damaging NZ in the international media, and I have to say I was sceptical (NZ hardly ever gets mentioned, for any reason… except LOTR). But it’s true. There’s references to the attacks in the New York Times, and the Guardian. They refer to them as the worst example of anti-Semitism in NZ history, and saying that it shows that the government is struggling to contain it.

Which seems very strange to me. I would say there is far more of a problem with hatred against Islam and against Asians, Islanders and Maori, myself. I saw a guy driving a car today that he’d written on: “Islam is filth”. Can you imagine? I’d be so ashamed to drive that vehicle. And I know, freedom of expression, etc etc, but I just don’t think public would tolerate something like “Jews kill children” or something on a car – we’re very sensitive to anti-Semitism because of Hitler, but for some reason it’s acceptable to intimidate other religious groups and races, because, you know, ALL Muslims are now terrorists and deserve everything they get… and the Asians are ALL corrupt, bad drivers who have too much money and won’t “integrate” (i.e. be white)… and don’t get me started on the dole-bludging, lazy Maori…

I still can’t get over that car.

I really recommend “The Vermilion Gate” by Aiping Mu. It’s a really well-written, touching book. It looks really thick but believe me, it’s so good you’ll rip through it.

Heh heh, I saw on the news about the udder-tampering going on in the Brisbane Agricultural Show. Somehow, in between the Olympics doping scandals and the P-supplying Takapuna teacher, injecting plumping chemicals into Bessie’s bosoms in boondocks Brissie seems… well, kinda cute, really.

Ok, now I may be amazingly ignorant, but I only realised the other day that nipples on mammals aren’t in the least like rubber bottle teats, with one hole – they’re more… fungal… milk just kind of oozes out from all around, there’s no clear jet. I actually found it quite stomach-turning. I dunno why, it just kind of seemed so – leaky. Eeeeeeeeeew. Another reason why I cannot have children. I’m sure the fungal-nipple thing is only the start of the unpleasant reproductive discoveries.

I feel very Irish at the moment. Potato, rice, bread. Potato, rice, bread. Potato, canned corn, bread. Sigh. I really don’t understand how the Government expects an anorexic on the sickness benefit to get any better on $30/week for food. It seems ridiculous. I read a Canterbury University study about 2 years ago that said the absolute minimum for a balanced diet for one person in even the cheapest city in NZ was $70. So why doesn’t WINZ take that into account? They just seem to arbitrarily assign money based on some algorithm, regardless of evidence or need. For example, the Dr costs $37. Despite the receipts, they give me $23.50 for a visit. Do they think that the other $13.50 just appears out of nowhere? It has to come from the dole, because you’re not allowed to earn anything, which means that either people don’t eat, or they don’t have power, or they don’t have insurance for the week.

I wish I could get Helen Clark or someone high up in the Welfare system to actually try and live on the dole for a month. No family support, no savings. Just do it, since it’s apparently so easy. I bet after the month, they’ll be stressed, depressed, turning to drugs or alcohol, and have lost some weight. But they might have some credibility when they tell me to “budget more carefully”.

They must put something in the Canterbury water. I find myself becoming (mildly, but it’s a creeping disease) interested in (gasp) rugby. I feel so unclean! I even watched a game the other day. Well, 10 minutes anyway. Which is 10 minutes more than I’ve ever seen before. Perhaps I should plan an intervention for myself before it gets any further out of hand.

I just realised that my blog is a one-sided imagined phone conversation. I ramble on inanely like this in person, as well – it’s just you can skim to the good bits when I write it down :) Plus I have one of those annoying voices that instantly make people want to kill me. It’s much less dangerous in text.

Does anyone else feel offended by the constant swearing in Police ads? You can argue that ‘bloody’ is fair use in ‘bloody idiot’ with a car smash in the background… but it is harder to defend in terms of “you’re a bloody good mate”. Why was there a national outcry over the “bugger” ad while this campaign just goes on and on with the offensive language? I might write a complaint. I don’t think anyone else is allowed to say “bloody” in primetime TV. Kids are watching, for goodness’ sake!

Posted by phreq at 10:23 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

August 10, 2004

Racism and Communist Relatives

Is anyone going to the rededication of the Makara Jewish cemetery this weekend? I would go if I were in town to pay my respects. Racism makes me feel cold, afraid and tired, because human nature doesn’t change – we are passionate creatures and unfortunately that seems to mean that we need to hate as well as love. Racism is so stupid and yet so constant. And so insidious! It always makes me uncomfortable to realise how much of it slipped unnoticed into my mind.

Example: A few years ago (when I was younger, and at about the same level of foolishness I currently maintain) I was talking to a new client, an Indian guy. He knew a guy who worked at the same company as me, and said “Oh, do you know Deepak X?” and I said (cringe) “No, but I know a guy called Mukesh Y.” As soon as I’d said it I realised how racist it was (would I have said to a white client “No, I don’t know your friend Michael, but I do know a guy called Matt.”?), and I was just lucky that my client is an amazing guy who just laughed it off.

But it’s a hard call. I remember in 5th form English my English teacher read us a story about a teacher who did an exchange to India. In the story she described the “long, slender brown fingers of the children forming beautiful script, not like our boys at home.” And then my teacher told us that it meant the teacher in the story was racist. I’ve never understood that. Is description of physical characteristics like that racist? Or comparison of ‘here’ and ‘away’?

I am more hurt by my parents the more I think about them. How dare they accuse me of lying, with no grounds whatsoever?! I can’t believe that it’s a normal reaction – your adult child tells you they were sexually abused as a child and raped as a teenager, and your reaction is “We don’t believe you”. It’s treatment I wouldn’t accept from strangers or enemies. So why the hell am I putting up with it from my family? It makes me feel like shit.

When I was 7 or so I started to go blind (Sok, do you remember this, or were you overseas?) – or rather, as I wonder now, I think I started to lose my sight as a result of stress, because it was around that time that I started to be abused on a regular basis, like I doubt if it was an organic cause. But anyway, the end result of it was, from whatever cause, I started to lose my sight. It was scary. At times I couldn’t see to read, other times it would just be blotches of coloured light all over my vision – it really frightened me. Mum and Dad took me to an eye specialist, but after he couldn’t provide any real answers, they took me home and asked the church to pray for my healing. And when that didn’t provide results, they just insinuated I was lying about it, because I couldn’t be going blind if I could still see to walk across the room. I was so confused, because it did come and go – but I didn’t know that it meant I was lying. It was horrible, because I was aware that my parents thought I was a liar, and there was absolutely nothing I could do in self-defence.

Well, I don’t feel like accepting this kind of treatment any more. They seem to have decided that the nicknames of Wonderful Jo and Terrible Jen are character summaries rather than just cruel childhood taunts made up by father. Fuck ‘em. They aren’t willing to show normal human decency towards their kids? Then I don’t want to be part of their family anymore. I am starting to draft a letter to them basically saying that I don’t want any contact with them until they are willing to treat me with a bit of respect. I want to change my last name, too.

Grrr. It’s like living in Communist China or something. The verdict has been reached before the trial has even started.

Posted by phreq at 10:23 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 09, 2004


I was driving along by the river today watching the water levels rise, and thinking how stupid it is to build a city around two rivers with no stop banks. We’d be screwed if we got a few days of heavy rain, there’d be flooding for sure. Another thing I learnt the other day while driving (or actually, while trying to start the car) is that if you park the car with the steering wheel turned a certain way, the key won’t turn in the ignition the next time you try to start the car. After a good ten minutes of futile jiggling, sweating, swearing and an increasingly-steamed-up windscreen, I admitted defeat tinged with desperation and called Dave, who advised me to turn the steering wheel slightly. I’d tried thumping the steering column and breathing into the lock (I thought it might be cold) but for some reason the steering wheel hadn’t occurred to me!

Things are weird with Deb now… I kind of feel like I have no excuse to be around her anymore – I can’t just drop by for a cuppa given that she is always busy with Leon etc – and yet I don’t want her to think I’m snobbing her. I always wind up with this dilemma: I don’t want to inflict my company on people who are just wishing I would go away, but I don’t want to offend people by having them think I don’t want to be around them. And I never know whether people are pissed off or offended!

I’m just watching the Simpson’s… gods I love the Simpson’s. Which brings me neatly into my next paragraph… does anyone out there have a video recorder and good TV reception? I am a bit of a Simpson’s nut and I can’t handle the thought of not being able to continue recording them, but now I’ve moved out of Deb and Keith’s I don’t have a video – or aerial! Can anyone out there commit to recording them for me? 7 – 7.30pm on TV3 Monday to Sunday, and an extra one, 7 – 8pm on Wednesdays. I am happy to pay for the tapes and stuff, but I’m just really desperate not to miss any more episodes, given that TV3 are fulfilling the noblest calling on Earth – broadcasting every Simpson’s episode ever made 

Man my house is chilly. I can see my breath! I think it’s the high ceilings that does it. The curtains are quite efficient and I keep the doors closed, but the ceilings are about one and a half times as high as usual ceilings.

Mel and I have worked out a really awesome system so that I can get online regularly. I get to come over with my laptop and use her phone line and take a shower with her hot water (too expensive to have that on at home), and in return I’ll do 45 minutes of housework a day while she’s at work. I figure it will save me about $45 a month by not having the phone and hot water on, and it means that Mel gets to come home to a tidy house each day, so we both win with negligible cost.

I was planning to post some cool pictures that I took of my new place and of the settler’s graveyard yesterday, but having managed to remember the camera I just realised I have the wrong cable, and no idea where the right cable is. Hmm. I might have left it at Deb’s, I’ll have to check.

I’m reading a biography called The Vermilion Gate by Aiping Mu at the moment, which got me thinking about naming conventions. Does anyone know, when the translation for a Chinese name is something like “Auspicious Cloud”, is that literally like me being called “White Wave” in English? Or are the words for proper-noun names like this distinct from the words for other verbs and nouns in some way, so it’s more equivalent to being called “Jennifer”, which mean “White Wave”? No one goes to the beach and comments on the jennifers, and I have yet to be nicknamed wavy, so I was wondering if the same was true in China.

I have a puzzle stencilled on my wall so I’m throwing open the floor for submissions… The following pattern is stencilled in a frieze around my living-room walls:
It’s in purple paint and is repeated 27 times. It’s corroding my brain trying to come up with explanations for it, so any brilliant ideas? I’ve tried looking for secret passages, but to no avail.

Henry is driving me insane and so I have decided to start treating him like a cat, rather than a cat-flatmate. Ruby was a good flatmate, but Henry is just constantly demanding of affection and attention. I can’t sit down without him wanting to be on my knee. I can’t lie in bed without him ramming his face into mine. Every time I move, he’s under my feet. It was driving me to distraction. So I hardened my heart and have started putting him outside at night for about 12 hours. The first night I must have got up about 10 times to see if he was crying to be let in. Then when I couldn’t see him I was convinced he’d been hit by a car, or run away because he thought I didn’t like him… he sauntered back in around 9 looking for breakfast, and since then I’ve decided 7 months is plenty old enough to camp out in the back yard.

Posted by phreq at 10:39 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Mr Potato Head

You know the new Grainwaves ad with the Mr Potato Head doll that is like a French drama with the tinkly piano music and the sad fingers on the window glass? Such a cool ad… but it makes me feel so sorry for poor Mr Potato Head it makes me more inclined to buy potato chips, to make him feel better. I’m not quite sure why it makes him feel better to be eaten, but I’m not going to judge.

I go to my new therapist tomorrow – I was meant to see her a couple of weeks ago but managed to stuff up the date… and time… so tomorrow will be the first time. I’m kind of nervous and kind of pleased. Will be interesting to see how it goes.

Posted by phreq at 10:15 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 07, 2004

Thanks Iona!

Luckily Iona reads my comments to myself and told me where to find the log-in page! :) So online once again I am.

Well I moved in to my new place on Thursday. It's quite funky although, being an old house, the ceilings are very high and the windows very large, so it's quite cold. The bathroom door continues to amuse me - it's about a third of the size of a normal door, more like a cupboard than a room!

I managed to get a whole bunch of cheap furniture and bedding from the Sallie Army, which is really lucky since I didn't have a bed or anything, and this place has no storage except for in the kitchen. It's furniture in the indestructible genre, which basically means built in Soviet Russia in the 30's and very, very heavy. The Sallies very nicely delivered and unloaded it... in the common area. Which meant I had to drag a couch/bed, wardrobe and table about 50 metres (it felt like more, ok!) around to my door. Much sweat and swearing.

Then the couch got stuck in the doorway - three of them. And about half-way through the delicate trying-to-keep-it-upright-while-tugging-like-fury operation, the damn thing decided to metamorphose from a couch to a bed. When I finally wrestled the thing through the third doorway (after enlisting Mel to assist in removing it from the kitchen, where I had wedged it) I realised that it was physically impossible to get it into the bedroom (another door that is less than standard width!). At this point I decided that the living room would become a bedsit, and the bedroom a gigantic cupboard.

You know something I've never seen before but wish I had? Power Manager. It's like this little box that sits on the wall, and you get cards similar to a phone card from Meridian Energy. Then you take the card into the service station or supermarket and put it into the Power Manager machine. Then you can load money through cash or eftpos onto the card, take it home and swipe the card through the box on the wall. It then displays your credit balance and starts counting it down. Bizarre! But so much less stressful than waiting for a power bill and not knowing how much it will be. So - is this a system that's available in Wellington and I've somehow remained ignorant of it in the last 6 years of flatting? Or is this another ingenious Christchurch scheme, like free inner-city shuttles and first-hour-free carparking?

Christchurch is neat in that way - I guess because it is so student focussed. Buses are amazing - they don't have sections, it's just a flat rate of $2. And, if you take another bus trip within 2 hours of the first, it's free on the same ticket. So you can get about 80 minutes of travel for $2! Another thing I really like is the extent of the bike lane system - right throughout the inner city, and on main arterial roads right throughout the suburbs. It really encourages cyclists because it means they're not having the fight with cars in the same way - it always looked pretty hairy riding a bike in Welly!

I am covered in itchy dots, which is driving me up the wall! Imagine having about 100 flea bites all over your body... all over. Even on my head! The ones on my nipples and under my armpits are exquisitely dementingly irritating. SO VERY ITCHY! But I don't think it's bugs - partly cos they're too small, partly because they're too liberally distributed, and partly cos I got the dots before I changed bedding, clothes, furniture etc. Is this what hives are? I alway imagined hives as being very large, but that's only because of the association with bees. The only thing I can put it down to is stress. Stress or the plague. I shall start rubbing my socks with garlic, just to hedge my bets.

I shall try to get online again over the weekend or on Monday - I have hopes of arranging with Mel to go to her house and use her phone line and hot water etc while she's at work during the day in return for some money towards her bill.

Have a good weekend guys...

Posted by phreq at 11:28 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 03, 2004

Stupid Stress

Akkk. Why is it that when you most need your body to be onside it decides to flip the bird at the ref? I spent pretty much all of yesterday throwing up - and not, for a change, by choice :) - just too fucking wound up to eat - or drink - or stand up for longer than 20 minutes at a time.

I'm going to go talk to the rental agent today, with a bit of luck I will be able to get the flat I looked at over the weekend. It's in a massive house that's been cut up into about 12 flats. Quite a funky studenty-type place. The main advantage of it would be that it's got a fireplace, which would mean I wouldn't have to get the electricity turned on. Power is just too expensive in Chch. Hopefully I will be able to arrange with Mel or possibly Deb and Keith (maybe) that I can use their phone line and shower a couple of times a week.

The most practical thing to do of course would be to get a room in an existing flat, but I have the disadvantage of a pretty severe form of social phobia and I just don't think I could handle living with a bunch of strangers.

Stupid life. :( in fact... stupid life >:( with angry eyebrows.

Things will be a lot easier once I have this sorted.

Posted by phreq at 10:11 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 01, 2004

The Tridefecta

Come on, universe! Gimme a break!

Deb asked me to move out on Friday night, so I spent all of yesterday searching for a place to live that isn't hideously expensive. I looked at 3 but 2 went by the end of the day so I will have to be quick on the phone to the agent tomorrow morning and hopefully (hopefully!) will get number 3.

My life seems to have been ridiculously stressful in the last week or so. Between my parents, and the eating disorders news, and now having to find a flat double-quick it has just become a bit of a nightmare. Hopefully though, if I can find a place, it will reduce my overall stress by at least giving me my own room where I don't have to worry the whole time that I'm disturbing Leon or pissing someone off. If I get a place close by then I can still come over and help out with housework and dogs etc. But it is just hard to have another big thing to deal with right at the moment.

Deb claims it's not anything I've done but she wants her house back - so I guess I have to trust her on that. She wants to use the sleepout to store stuff in which will free them up a bit in the house. I know it's illogical to feel resentful here but I have to admit I do a little. I guess partly it's because I'm scared of having to cope with more stuff by myself again - landlords, power companies, insurance companies, all of that - but also it's because Deb said to me that I was part of their family - and that's not something I took lightly. But I don't think she would ask one of her *actual* family members in my situation to move out so she could store junk in their room. :( I'll get over it, it's not a biggie, but just coming on top of the rejection from my actual family, it hurts to then be 'kicked out' by my pretended family. It's that kind of "nobody wants me" self-pity trip :) Usually I indulge heavily in self-pity for a day or two and then snap out of it!

Can't think of much else to say really... nothing stunningly interesting is happening. The dogs are raising merry hell outside which must be restful for the neighbours at 9.30 on a Sunday morning. *evil grin* teach that little snot-rag next door to quit playing his stereo through my wall.

Man I wish I had a stereo. I haven't had one in years, not since I left home. I just had a major desire to flick on a cd and listen to it on proper speakers, not headphones or computer speakers... and to listen to the radio... and maybe dub some new tapes because I'm getting damn sick of my single working compilation tape on every car trip! *grin* I get so that when I hear a song off that tape somewhere else, it really annoys me not to hear the "right" song follow it, which is a sure sign of thrashing a mix to death!

Time to go feed the demon-dogs.

Posted by phreq at 10:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack