December 31, 2004

My Dog's So Dry...

She lines her water dish with the New Yorker. Telling her a joke is like chugging weet-bix. Sometimes when I'm especially witty, she quietly dons her raincoat and slips out the door.

Yup, Santa came through! (I love you, Jebus!)

Sock has got a Drizabone, a proper one, a real one, just for dogs! It's just like the coats for people. It's lined with the Drizabone lining with the little bones on, and the fasteners have bones too... and it has two good-side pockets on the back, big enough to pack plastic bags and leads. And it has a little collar and the leather logo on the back of the neck... oh she's just so darling. Really. There are no other words for it.

I shall take a photo and post it but for now just savour my stunning imagery.

"Darling." Feel free to quote me.


I have a secret hope that if enough toy and spaniel-type dogs wear Drizabone jackets, it will influence Speights to take down those bloody, bloody billboards. Surely you don't look sufficiently macho/sexist/racist/homophobic when the Pomeranian Society endorses your outdoor wear...

Posted by phreq at 11:30 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Never Mind the Bollocks

Here's the six annuals:

6 Things To Be Thankful For:


  • Sock

  • Sok + Talula + giffydoll + all the rest (you know who you are!)

  • Neat place to live

  • Good medical/mental health services

  • T the C, and D the D (you know who you are!)

  • Dawn. Every time I sit in a dark sleepless night and watch the building light shadow and shape the air, I'm grateful for dawn. It proves that time moves even when the minutes are glued to yesterday.

6 Things I Wished I'd Done Differently:


  • Wish I'd talked things through with Deb before moving out

  • Wish I'd kept Sock from getting pregnant

  • Wish I'd tried to be a bit more open with my family earlier on in the year

  • Wish I'd not dug myself this deep into anorexia

  • Wish I hadn't bought Henry, that was a good lesson (p.s henry, good hunting)

  • Wish I'd caught the blimmin' mouse in the cupboard. I stalked it over 3 nights but I never got a glimpse. All I can hear is "nibble nibble *snigger* nibble". It's disturbing when rodentia get uppity.

6 Things I'm Glad I Did:


  • Moved to Canterbury

  • Quit smoking

  • Discovered oils

  • Discovered Cocker Spaniels

  • Flying trips up to Wgtn

  • Bought a fridge

6 Things I Want To Do:


  • Buy a vacuum cleaner

  • Paint and develop that as much as I can

  • Write two more 10,000-word stories so that I have a (marketable?) set

  • Concentrate on Sock's training and certification to international Animal Assistant standards

  • Work at my relationships with family, build and enjoy relationships with friends

  • Work hard in psychotherapy and continue to understand my life a little more

That's my annual sixes! What're yours?

ALSO!!!

Every year I say this and every year people say "oh never mind" and then they get their feelings hurt because I AM NO GOOD AT DATES. Or remembering significant days.

So! IF YOU WOULD LIKE ME TO REMEMBER {Insert meaningful and/or fun event or memorial here} PLEASE LET ME KNOW! I am updating my calendar over the next few days so be in to be on.

You can email me or you can post a comment.

AND FINALLY...

Check out this website (better if you have broadband, worth the wait if you don't) www.meettheluckyones.com. It's a car commercial that is really... unusual in its approach.

(and thank you HP for saying my blog is well-constructed! whee! *grin* )

Posted by phreq at 06:54 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 30, 2004

The Earth Is Awesome

And not in a good way. Just in a huge, awe-struck way. The toll from the earthquake/tsunami in Asia exceeds 70,000 and is expected to climb higher.

I was going to say it makes terrorism look like peanuts, but that's pretty silly. It just reminds us that while we're fighting over who's imaginary friend is the real one, the Awesome Forces you can't deny keep ticking along with supreme indifference. The exhibit at Te Papa is accurately named.

What a great pity the billions the USA has wasted on that missle defence program weren't spent on, oh, say... a global early warning system for tsunami. Or disaster respose systems. Governments and CD had several hours warning in many cases but they couldn't evacuate or even warn people about it.

"... relief organizations said that given the scale of the devastation across a dozen countries, they were facing what amounted to the largest relief effort in history." But interestingly, "... [the] World Health Organization emphasized that the biggest risk of an outbreak was posed by survivors. The agency's officials said Tuesday that because there was little danger of epidemics from unburied bodies, immediate mass burials and cremations were not necessary. Instead, they said, family members and friends should be given time, where possible, to identify the bodies first."

I always thought the exact opposite, but apparently, "Disease transmission requires the presence of an infectious agent and exposure to it. So if bodies are infected with an organism, they can spread disease and start outbreaks.

But most infectious agents do not survive long enough in the human body after death, Dr. Connelly said. So the most likely source of outbreaks is from survivors, he said. Health officials are concerned about cholera and other infectious agents present in the affected areas."

I think in many ways it would make one highly cynical working for Red Cross/Crescent or similar relief agencies. "Aceh Province, on the northwestern tip of the island of Sumatra, was the hardest hit by both the earthquake and the resulting tsunamis. Rebels in the civil war in the region declared a cease-fire so rescue workers could gain access to those in need. Meanwhile, refugees foraged to survive, and heavy looting was reported."

How good of the rebels to allow the relief agencies to come in and feed and clothe their families when disaster hits. The rest of the time they'll kidnap or kill you for trying to immunise villagers or provide clean drinking water to 'enemy' children, but when they're threatened... by all means, and would you hurry up?!


(All quotes from the nytimes.com website)

Posted by phreq at 04:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 29, 2004

Like Water For Chocolate Milk

I had a glass of chocolate milk sitting in my desk, all of about 30 centimetres away from my mouth. I typed an email, sent it, and then looked up to see Sock's head snaking sideways towards the glass. She knew I'd seen her. She heard me say "don't even think about it". Her tongue extended. Her eyes maintained contact. Lap. Lap. Lap. "No! What the hell are you doing?!" Lap. Lap. Lap. "Sock! For heaven's sake! Stop it!" Lap. Lap... phreq moves the glass.

I hope she isn't lactose intolerant.

Posted by phreq at 07:39 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 28, 2004

Stayfree

I hope Holding Pattern reads my blog... I saw her entry about the Stayfree commercial and it got me inspired:

stayfree.jpg

So if you'd like it, HP, just send me an email with your postal addy and I'll send it to you when it's dry (oils, so don't hold your breath). If you don't want it, please say, because I wouldn't mind it on the wall meself...

It's probably copyright infringement of some type, but given how hard it bloody is to copy a moving image I think they should overlook this one ;)

Posted by phreq at 07:53 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Cheer! No More For Another Year!

Christmas was and then it wasn't. I'm glad it's over. It was a lot less stressful than previous years, but kinda sad in some ways. A bit lonely, and then when I went over to Deb's for an hour in the arvo, her house was filled with very drunk people, a very very loud woman talking about poos and farts with Alex (he is six, and even he was getting embarrassed), and Deb was passed out on the couch so I didn't say much more than "hi" to her.

Sok and her mum called me (your mum rocks, btw) so that was a high point. For some reason my family didn't call me. Dad sent me an email (to thank me for my emails) and mum sent me a text message (to thank me for my text). It would have been nice to hear their voices. I didn't think I should call them because for Christmas I asked them to pay my phone and doctor's bills because I couldn't. So I didn't think they would appreciate me making a toll call to them when they're essentially paying for the previous bill!

Boxing Day went fine, I got a lot done - then yesterday, I was sooo sick (a bit like a couple of weeks ago, actually!). Sock was very good and didn't have a single indoor accident. It impressed me, she's only 11 months old and holding on for 24 hours is a bit of an ask!

Painting painting today I think, the light is interesting and I ain't got nothing else to do (excepting for perusing that thar grammar thingymewhoosit).

Hope everyone has a nice Xmas... or at least survived it.

Posted by phreq at 05:48 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 24, 2004

Thanks, Eastgate

Eastgate Mall here in Christchurch deserve a big thanks from me this Christmas. I just got in touch with the centre manager and she said "No problem at all! If anyone gives you any problems, just refer them to me." - I can take Sock into Eastgate with the same privileges as a Guide Dog.

That means (yay finally at last) I can get to the supermarket and the warehouse and farmers and whitcoulls and the pharmacy without thinking the whole time "god i hope i don't have a seizure and face-plant onto the marble/concrete/tile floor."

They didn't have to let me so big ups to them. It makes a huge difference to my life.

Next step: waiver for buses. After Christmas, I think...

Posted by phreq at 08:49 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Tinseltown

Sock enters the spirit of the season, joyfully destroying wreath after wreath of shiny, scrunchy, delicious tinsel. My carpet is strewn with a galaxy of [space]dust and golden stars.

Tomorrow she will receive:
1) a spaniel water bowl designed to keep her ears clean
2) a long-limbed rabbit soft toy from the Warehouse for her to dismember
3) a cake of dog chocolate
4) the shinbone and ankle bones of a dead cow
5) a chocolate-flavoured rubber bone

I want to sing christmas carols so I might have to go to church at some stage. Then again I might just see if I can get that "All the Best Christmas Carols" CD from the Warehouse and sing along to that. Yay for Snoopy's Christmas! I love that song. And chances of them singing it at church are about as likely as them singing "New York Christmas Carol".

(btw, heard the cover of that released at the mo on channel Z? Tis very good)

Channel Z sent me the Green Day album American Idiot, so I am thrashing that at the moment and enjoying it greatly.

I am so glad that I am spending Christmas alone. I just don't think I would be able to handle the stress of having to spend such a food-oriented holiday with anyone else. My Christmas dinner is likely to be boiled white rice and tuna. and maybe weetbix crunch for dessert. Would you care to join me? Perhaps Sock's meal would appeal more - beef cassarole Pedigree Pal with rice, and maybe some weetbix crunch to follow!

Food is such a struggle at the moment, I think if I had to do the social thing tomorrow it'd just end up being a panic attack. Shaking and crying and trying to hide under the table is such an elegant look ;)

Hope everyone has a good day, whatever you are doing. Stay safe, travel carefully, and love the ones you're with.

Lots of love and thankfullness to everyone who reads my blog and the support you all give me.

Non-Denominational Greetings and Good Wishes for your Governmentally Imposed Vacation Period!


Little Nicky

Little Nicky is the first cloned-to-be-sold animal ever, produced by Genetic Savings and Clone in California. The woman had her cat, Nicky, for 17 years before he died last year. The nine-week-old Little Nicky is flourishing and his owner says "he's the same. his personality is exactly the same." (from the nytimes.com website)

This has of course reignited the whole cloning and ethics debate and stuff. The one comment I am sick to death of hearing is "Oh, it cost $50,000. That's disgusting. She could have given a whole bunch of strays a home for that amount."

Well, yeah. And couples spending hundreds of thousands on fertility treatments could spend that on adopting or fostering the many kids that need a home. And the actors spending millions on plastic surgery could donate it to burns victims' plastic surgery instead.

In a way, I think this one of the most useful forms of cloning. Domestic animals, whose phisiology and psychology are largely understood more thoroughly than most animals, dogs and cats are the right animals to perfect the techniques on. People love them too much to put up with a high mutation or attrition rate so monitoring will be stringent and the techniques will progress faster.

But also, think of it. We could clone, or through cloning understand how to manipulate certain sections of DNA, to produce animals that are naturally excellent guide dogs. Or hearing dogs, or police dogs, or assist dogs. We could reduce the attrition rate. Dogs that enter but fail the police dogs program have to be euthanised because they are too vicious to live with a family. If we could pick the best right from the start, less money and fewer lives will be wasted. Same with guide dog programs, from the funding point of view.

I don't have too many ethical concerns with this, but I do think that I'd rather have a cloned, neutered, well-cared for kitten that cost its owner $50,000 than a field full of GM corn planted with a maximised potential profit spreading pollen on the wind. Just from a safety point of view.

Posted by phreq at 06:21 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 23, 2004

Let it Ride... Sister Needs A New Condo in Vail...

"Oh, leave me out of this, Homer. Games of chance are strictly forbidden by Deuteronomy 7!"
"Seven, aye?! Got any more lucky numbers?"

From the nytimes.com website:
"The nuns of this city, going, going - going to Atlantic City?

At least Sister de Sales is, on occasion. She says that a sister who is still able to drive will take this gambling-nun posse for a midweek stay at the Showboat, or some other casino where they can get adjacent rooms, eat and see a show. Sometimes they lose a little at the slots, sometimes they lose a little more.

But, as the good nun likes to say, "What is, is.""

Bizarre. It's kind of like seeing a nun smoking (which I never have, but then, I've never seen a nun at a pub or casino, either).

On another topic entirely, I went to see the Epilepsy Foundation here in Chch yesterday, and found out a bit of information on Epilepsy Assist dogs and how to get them registered. They were just so helpful, they've also given me the name and contacts for the EA organisation up in Auckland, so I feel like I've started the project rolling anyway.

The other interesting thing is that there are all sorts of services and things available to people with disabilties or on the sickness benefit - like cards for reductions in public transport or entry to pools and stuff - and WINZ doesn't tell people about it, which I think is stunningly remiss. I could have been using this for years and it would have been very nice if WINZ had at least mentioned it.

I rang my mum and told her about Sock. I was crying because frankly, the whole thing terrified me. I said to her "shit, you know, if the dog hadn't told me I'd almost certainly have drowned" and her response was "well, it was good you have the dog then, ay?"

Is that a normal response? It's a logical response, I guess, seeing as the danger is over and was avoided. But somehow it was rather less comforting than an "oh my god! you almost died! I'm so glad the dog was with you. are you ok? can I do anything?" kind of response.

So thank you for the comments, it made me feel like at least some people would be sad and shocked if I drowned in a bath-tub. Sometimes I feel like mum would be more concerned about damage to the plumbing.

... and then I tell myself to stop being quite such a self-pity-a-thon! *grin*

Yay only a couple of days til Chrissymiss!

Posted by phreq at 08:21 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 22, 2004

Thankfully, Annoyed

Last night was pretty scary. I was taking a bath and for the first 10 minutes it was fine. Then Sock started being a complete pain in the ass. She was barking and biting my hands and generally not dropping the issue. So finally I got pissed off enough to get out of the bath and tell her off.

About 2 seconds after I got out of the bath I had a nasty seizure. If it hadn't been for Sock I probably would have drowned, because I hadn't felt it coming.

It's getting more and more imperitive for me to get her licensed as a assistant animal, because it's becoming more and more apparent that she can pick my seizures about 10 seconds before they come on. 10 seconds is long enough to turn off the stove or get out of the bath or finish crossing the road and make sure I'm in a safe place. It makes such a difference to have that second line (or first line, really!) of warning.

Scary though.

Posted by phreq at 06:26 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

December 20, 2004

Tutu Much

On Sunday morning, the light was streaming into my room filtered by the sheets I had hung over the windows to dry. It was a pretty effect (see pic).

sunday_morning.jpg

Also, this was too cute not to post:

sock_tutu.jpg

sock_tutu2.jpg


Posted by phreq at 04:12 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 19, 2004

Lights Luddites Lie Down

Don't tell me when to Walk/Don't Walk! My family has lived here for generations, and you're trying to tell me how to cross the road?! I KEEEELL you!

... and so forth.

A small community of 700 homes in the Bronx in New York is up in arms because the council has decided to install a traffic light. They are so angry that apparently there are "lots of people" willing to tie themselves to the pole until it's removed. Others are muttering about lie-downs in the road, or vaguely of other forms of "civil disobedience".

There are two main objections:
1) The new lights will be on a traffic island in the middle of the road, reducing it from 120 feet to 80 feet. Apparently this is not wide enough for buses to drive down; therefore, no bus service.
2) My family has lived here for 100 years, and I'll be damned if the gummint gonna tell me how to cross the road!

If they'd just stuck with argument 1, they might not have come across so amusingly in the interview.

Since it's Sunday morning there is religion on TV (even the PowerPuff girls mentioned the apocalypse) and it reminded me of an article I saw in the New York Times the other week.

You know the Crystal Cathedral? (I can't remember the name of minister - he's the 78-yr-old with white hair and a purple stole thing) - well, their director of music, who also worked on a lot of albums with Christian artists, shot himself in his Crystal Cathedral office the other day.

Pretty sad, isn't it. Poor guy. A leader in one of the largest and richest churches in the States had so few options for help - truly, he had come to the end of himself, and had nowhere to turn - that he chose to murder himself.

Posted by phreq at 06:36 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 18, 2004

Rise of the Money-Lenders

Recently I got stung by a combination of my own stupidity and a carnivorous bank.

I won't go into the sordid details but let me just summarise: when I was 15 I chose to bank with the National Bank on the basis that horses were trustworthy. Over the last few weeks I have learnt to:
a) very defintely look a gift horse in the mouth
b) beware the ides of Smarch!
c) If the bank mysteriously grants you money, don't just assume the money free. Ask, and ask often.

Sigh. It was such a wonderful fantasy world. Then it ended, just like all my irrational fantasy worlds. Stupid fantasies! I hate them so much!

Anyway, before I started rambling this had a point.

Is it just me, or does there seem to be an increase in the amount and ferocity of small-sum, short-term lenders recently? Certainly I feel that there are more ads on the TV and radio. But maybe I am just more aware of them?

Questions come to mind about the societal indications of money-lenders. Is it a sign of vigour or stagnation in the economy? I would think it correlates to increased poverty and desperation, but that could just be plain wrong. Does anyone know?

Posted by phreq at 06:40 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

The Cutest Form of Dementia

It's a sickness. I should get help. But Sock just looks so cute in clothes, I can't help myself. You see the photos, you be the judge. Should I make her some little pink jammies with bunnies on them?

sok_dress-001.jpg

sok_dress-002.jpg

I went into Animates today and they have Drizabone raincoats for dogs! In case Santa reads my blog, I'd like to point out that this blog is a work of fiction and should in no way influence the 'naughty or nice' list. And the Drizabone jackets are on aisle three.

Posted by phreq at 12:58 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 17, 2004

Stop Doing That

I guess that is the easiest solution, but it doesn't even begin to answer my question.

I have a tv that uses bunny ears. I have had several different sets over various flats and reinventions so it's not just a weird anomaly of set. Why is it that when I rest my fingers inbetween the 'ears' my fingers ache? 'Cos they really, really hurt.

Unfortunately, fingers are sometimes necessary to hold the reception for epidsodes of 'The Simpsons'. Plastacine was tried but doesn't really cut it.

But more to the point (I'm sure duct tape will eventually adhere even metal rods to a concrete wall so the problem with the tv will resolve itself):


  1. what the hell is making my fingers so sore? and;

  2. what is it doing all the rest of the time, floating around in the air, lodging itself in fillings and radiating through bone and so paranoidly forth? and;

  3. is there any way to use that force to make little paper cars or something move? and;

  4. how comes it we never learnt practical stuff like this at school? and;

  5. is this how teletubbies came to be? could you implant a small screen in the stable fat tissue over the stomach and link it to a tiny tv receiver and aeriel (possibly an external tv pack). I know you can get all those components seperately, so how hard would the surgery be? It would be worth the pain and disfigurement for the general hilarity of the photographs.

hmm. That could be fun, you know. Even doing the whole thing externally without the surgery. I wonder if I could find a small lcd screen that I can link the tv and aeriel to and stash the lot in a backpack with the screen taped to/in a reinforced sweatshirt?

hmm. I wonder if this is how some of the Darwin Awards got started.

This is why I am seeking clarification about the mysterious intense pain before strapping the apparatus to my person.

hmmm.

Posted by phreq at 07:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

100 Things

New And Updated For December 2004!

1) I was born in Masterton Hospital

2) I can't remember living anywhere earlier than the house my parents currently live in. I think we moved there when I was about 3.

3) Apparently I was a difficult child. Which is credible.

4) I only learnt how to spell my middle names when I had to get my birth certificate for something when I was in college.

5) I am the second eldest of six children, all from the same marriage

6) My parents are still married, they had their 25th WA a few years ago

7) My older brother Matt is a car salesman. Well, he's kind of a travelling car salesman and snowboarding instructor. He's irritatingly good at just about everything. And so nice that you feel guilty for being irritated.

8) When we were kids he would steal our toys and sell them back to us at auction. My sister and I were dumb enough to pay for them, too.

9) I once nearly ripped off my little toe playing tag in the hallway where my dad had been laying carpet. A carpet tack went between my toe and the rest of my foot.

10) My earliest coherent memory is of eating Twisties in a pushchair when the car had broken down and we had to walk home. It made a huge impression on me because we were never, ever allowed junk food. I can still remember the Mobil station we got the Twisties from, and the old orange car parked up against the Post Office with mum trying to get the engine to turn over. It was a really sunny, hot day. I think I was about 3.

11) Another early memory is of dancing in the rain at kindy, waving a finger-painting and singing "It's a sunshower! It's a sunshower!"

12) My oldest friend is Regan. We played bible-story-flashlight-trivia-questions at a sleepover at her house once. She didn't know the wood the ark was made out of, and I did, so I felt very holy. (It was gopher wood. Just in case they ask on entry to Heaven.)

13) I used to believe that I could be anything I wanted to be.

14) Then I found out that they didn't mean you can *really* grow up to be a dog if you want it enough.

15) I first thought about killing myself when I was eight. I can remember being in the gardens at primary school, trying to work out how to hang myself.

16) I first tried to kill myself when I was thirteen by slitting my wrists. Cutting, ODing and suicide attempts have formed far too many of my teenage memories.

17) I have been vegetarian and vegan at various points in my life. I think those periods were schemas to cover up my eating disorder, a new and more moral way to cross foods out of my menu. Someone pointed out to me that not eating fish in order to kill myself was an odd way to respect life.

18) I do think that battery farming is a crime of cruelty, though. I think chicken, eggs and all pig products should be boycotted unless they are certified by the SPCA.

19) I'm also deeply troubled by the fishing industry. Tuna and salmon stocks are dwindling in most parts of the world. Every time I eat I feel bad, basically.

20) Where is the astronaut food I was promised in those "The Future" picture books when I was a kid?

21) And, come to that, where is my personal helicopter? I distinctly remember an Usborne book promising me a backyard helicopter.

22) I am working my way through the works of Frederick Pohl. Thanks to Svend for sparking that discovery this year...

23) I love The Simpsons

24) I also like Southpark, Family Guy, and Sheep in the Big City

25) I read a lot of books. I've increased my recommended daily intake of non-
fiction this year and found it's increased my stamina and vitality.

26) I also read a lot of newspapers (mainly online) and science magazines. I like to think I have a reasonable general knowledge

27) I am good at comprehension but poor at factoids.

28) I used to live with a cat named Ruby Tuesday who I adopted from the SPCA about 6 years ago. She lived to about about 15 and died in 2004. Now I have a pet Sock.

29) I used to run a freelance web-design business. I gave it up when I went down to Dunedin early 2003 and doubt if I will do it again. Good experience though. I found I enjoyed making websites and writing code far more than dealing with customers.

30) I love tools. I have a very comprehensive Swiss Army knife in my bag pocket and a Seber tool that fits in my wallet.

31) I wish I could afford more duct tape.

32) I have dropped out of university twice, once at Vic and once at Massey

33) I hoped to return to uni in 2004, but it didn't happen and I don't think it will in the first six months of 2005. After I complete the eating disorders programme, then I'll re-evaluate.

34) I hope they don't remember my academic record from the first time around

35) I especially hope they lost my philosophy exam where I wrote all those nasty things about the philosophy department.

36) They must have really scaled that exam because I passed it. Just.

37) In sixth form I used to take peppermints to class and since the first thing the teachers ever said was "Do you have enough for everyone?" I used to bring along 2 kilos worth and just pass them around the class. I left school after sixth form. I think everyone was relieved.

38) The first job I ever had was a Pak N Save deli assistant. I was 15 and worked about 25 hours a week on top of school for $4.80-something an hour before tax. And I didn't even get my revenge by being lazy and unreliable, because I was all enthusiastic over my first job.

39) The most fun job I ever had was being the 'filing girl' at AMP. It taught me that it's the co-workers that make or break a job, not the actual task in hand. I learnt more about adult social interactions in that job than anywhere else I've ever been.

40) I also learnt that some men are predators who can sniff out 'damaged goods' like sharks with blood in the water and that naive young filing girls will not stay naive for long.

41) I swear more than when I was a kid, but less than 5 years ago. Which is good. Swearing is too easily incoherent.

42) I'm incoherent enough as it is.

43) I have a wonderful brother, Ben, whom I am very close to. He's such an inspiration to me, he has such a hard life (he has physical/intellectual disabilities and juvenile diabetes) and yet whenever I see him the first thing he does is give me a huge hug - how many other 17 year old boys hug their big sisters and tell them they love them - in public?!

44) I live in a very cool little flat in a huge old house that's been chopped up into 12 units.

45) I think my unit used to be the scullery. It is largish, and cold. It gets no sun whatsoever in the winter (unless you count the reflection off the neighbours windows for 5 minutes at around 6 in the morning).

46) There is art all over my walls, and a large yellow, orange and red picture of two nude women on the bricked-up fireplace.

47) I love to write poetry. It's really bad poetry, but I still enjoy writing it.

48) I have written a journal since I was thirteen, and have kept them. I'm so glad I did, they are precious beyond belief to look back on now.

49) I took up smoking in 2003, and gave up smoking in 2004.

50) I smoked about 40 a day, which I would have thought made me addicted, but giving up was incredibly easy.

51) Does one cigarette every 6 - 10 weeks with a friend count as being a smoker still?

52) I like hats. I have quite a few of them. I even have hats I have never worn, and will never wear. I knew this when I bought them but bought them just the same. I like hats.

53) I would like to do something worthwhile with my life. I just can't work out what direction 'worthwhile' lies in.

54) I'm not a big movie person. They're very expensive, even on DVD or video, really. And if I'm watching something, I want it to be good, and really resent it if it's not. At least a book is free from the library and you can skip over any boring parts to speed up the action and enjoyment.

55) I don't like TV much, either, particularly not sitcoms and soaps.

56) I like plain M&Ms

57) I do not care about rugby, cricket, netball, tennis, hockey, the America's Cup, or any of the rest of the sports I'm supposed to be 'obsessed' with as a New Zealander. I watch the Olympics and that's the extent of my interest.

58) Sometimes I will have whole conversations with people about the above sports despite the fact I know nothing whatsoever about them. The secret to this is that most people who will ensnare me in these conversations believe that a good conversation is one where they talk for 99% of the time, and where the other participant has a supporting role, requiring little more than eye-contact and encouraging murmurs.

59) I support decriminalisation of marijuana, and legalisation for medical uses.

60) I don't play any musical instruments, and I can't read music. I love singing though.

61) I took singing lessons at college. I had a neat old teacher who was about 80 and taught opera.

62) I could never quite find the self-confidence to be a good singer. Not just performance, but self-confidence to make silly noises in front of my teacher at practice.

63) I have slept on a pull-out couch for 6 years. It's less uncomfortable than it used to be. Perhaps my bones are changing shape.

64) I have no vacuum cleaner. My house is dusty but I just can't bring myself to pay that much for such a simple machine! They're even pricey
2nd hand.

65) I like to knit but cannot follow patterns and don't like paying for wool. So I knit lots of squares out of spare bits of wool and then sew the squares together to make things.

66) When I was in college I made a pair of trousers out of tea-towels and wore them to mufti day.

67) My hair has been various colours including blue, violet, green, orange, pink, and a strange muddy purple that was a result of trying to dye out the violet with Rich Mahogany the day before school went back.

68) The best haircut I ever had was a mohawk that was black with a bright white stripe down the middle.

69) I have never been to a good rock concert.

70) Once I found a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest. I picked it up and took it home, kept it under a lamp to keep it warm, and found and mushed up worms for it to eat. It survived for about 24 hours. I cried over it and buried it in the garden. The saddest thing was that I realised it has probably been too little to eat solid food, and too hot under the lamp, and I'd just tortured a tiny dying bird I was trying to help.

71) We had pet mice at intermediate school. One night they died of cold. We buried them at school and I got really upset that the other girls insisted on putting crosses over the graves. My mouse wasn't a Christian, but people thought I was just being annoying.

72) I was bought up in a fundamentalist/extremist/culty-religion thing. I personally think it screwed me over big time but my parents keep telling me that I should be reflecting on the many benefits it gave me.

73) I can't get over how angry that whole church bullshit makes me, and how angry it makes me that my parents refuse to acknowledge that it really hurt my childhood and hurt my life.

74) Mind you it was not all the church's fault. My parents and I were probably not the best match.

75) Things have gotten better between us since I started being less honest.
That sounds sarcastic but it's not. I'm not lying to them, I'm just (at their suggestion!) following my big brother's example and not telling them things that might upset them... although lately, they seem pissed that I'm not telling them things. Go figure.

76) I like dark, bitter chocolate. Apparently it suits my personality type.

77) I love romantic gestures, giving and receiving.

78) Clowns make me uneasy.

79) So do police officers. Ever since the Steven Wallace shooting, and all the controversial cases with David Bain, Peter Ellis, and Scott Watson, I have been very mistrustful of the police and justice system in this country.

80) All my bras are about 4 years old. I tell you, when Elle Macpherson makes a black mesh bra, she makes 'em solid. 4 years of punishment and they're still going stong.

81) Sexy lingerie makes me feel good all day regardless of what else I'm wearing and what else happens.

82) In general, I don't like mass-produced items.

83) On the other hand, mass-production is seductive in a way. Assembly lines are almost hypnotic.

84) Sometimes I think I think too much.

85) Some days I just get too overwhelmed to go out. I don't think it's agoraphobia, really, it's more just that I feel like I can't COPE with anything, and silly decisions like "Shall I get the washing in now, or later?" make me feel so sick with anxiety that I sit on the floor and cry.

86) I think I'm bisexual. I've been in a long-term relationship with a guy but have various recreational encounters with women - enough to make me think I could very happily have a long term meaningful relationship with a woman, probably more easily than with a guy. But then again, who knows? It's kind of hard to meet people looking for a serious relationship at bars.

87) I like photographs of flames. Taking a photo of something that doesn't really exist is kind of trippy.

88) I like stickers, but every time I got some when I was a kid they were too precious to use so they stayed pristine until the adhesive dried and yellowed and the stickers fluttered uselessly to the bottom of the art drawer. So now I take the bold route of sticking stickers as soon as I get them. It surprises the store clerks in Whitcoulls sometimes, but mostly they're relaxed about a few glittery additions to their uniforms.

89) I would really like to take part in a picketing demonstration in parliament grounds. I was thinking of writing inflammatory slogans like "Things Are Fine!" "No Complaints!" "Hooray For Everything!", putting them on large signs and then staging a demonstration during parliament's summer recess.

90) When I'm old, I'm going to be one of those cursing, angry old women who hit people with their walking sticks.

91) I am momentarily fixated on The Sims 2.

92) I think I'm just smart enough to know how dumb I am.

93) My favourite food used to be Viamax, but you can't buy it anymore.

94) I once got a medal for taking part in an Egyptian art contest.

95) If I had more courage (and money for fines and court fees) I would re-write offensive and stupid billboards in spray-paint. Particularly Speights ads. "This new Asian cuisine is lacking something." "A fork, boy" - ! Gosh, they must hire talented writers to come up with that. "This new ad is lacking something" "A punchline, boy"

96) I travel when I'm upset, just jump on a train or in my car and go somewhere. It's actually the going that is soothing, not the getting anywhere. There's never anywhere much better than when I started from.

97) I have still never had a deep-fried Mars bar.

98) I have eaten no new animals in the last year. (To my knowledge. There might have been a few unidentified and previously unsampled bugs.)

99) I have a clock that takes so many batteries (6) that I can never quite bring myself to use it to tell time. I still use it as an ornament. And a convesation starter:
"Yep, that's my clock that isn't going."
"Wow, I never knew blondes lived such interesting lives."

100) Only one person (to my knowledge) has ever written me love poetry, and
I never even got to read it.


Posted by phreq at 03:10 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

Books That're Wonderful

This is my recommended book list. I'll add and remove favourites from time to time. (Last updated, February 9 2005)

Non-Fiction
Auto/Biography

General Fiction
Detective
SF/Fantasy
Kid's Books


Non Fiction

Sale of the Century: The Inside Story of the Second Russian Revolution - Chystia Freeland

All the David Attenborough BBC books - Trials of Life, Life on Earth, The Private Life of Plants, Birds, The Living Planet - read them, re-read them, love them. If you can possibly afford to, buy them.

The Holocaust - Martin Gilbert. Also, The Righteous, which is such an uplifting book. It's basically a book full of literally hundreds of stories of ordinary people taking extraordinary risks to help total strangers during the Holocaust. It's all true and all pretty humbling. Martin Gilbert in general is an absolutely outstanding history writer.

So is Alan Bullock, who wrote Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives

Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine by Jasper Becker


Auto/Biography

Frauen - German Women Recall The Third Reich by Alison Owings

Autobiography of a Geisha by Sayo Masuda

Change for the Better - the Story of Geogina Beyer as told to Cathy Casey

There's A Boy In Here by Judy Barron and Sean Barron. This is a book written by a mother and her autistic son about what it is like to grow up with an autistic child from both points of view. It's not a particularly brilliantly written book, but it is so interesting to read about what it is like to be inside an autistic child's head. It's a quickish read, so I'd encourage you to take a look.


General Fiction

Adam and Eve and Pinch Me by Ruth Rendell. This isn't a detective story, it's actually a very accurate and subtle exploration of various manifestations of OCD and schizophrenia. I really recommend it.

Life of Pi - Yann Martel. This is a book with a bizarre premise but once you dip your toe into the water you'll be hooked. I read it straight through propping my eyes open with my fingers. It's that good.

Most things by Marge Piercy

And most things by Margaret Drabble

The Skeleton Woman - A Romance by Renee. A NZ book set in the Hutt Valley. Very skilled writer. And she's written others, as well, that I have yet to investigate.

Breaking The Tongue by Vyvyane Loh


Detective

Agatha Christie. Particularly the Hercule Poirot ones, but really, any AC mystery is the work of a master.

Ruth Rendell, same thing.


SF/Fantasy

Terry Pratchett

Frederick Pohl - in particular, Midas World and The Cool War.

HG Wells - The Time Machine

Jules Verne - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy. This is a great, powerful sf/socia commentary book. It's about a woman in a mental institution (probably in the 50's or 60's) who starts to experience a utopian future in parallel with her own dark present. It's just an amazing book. Read it.


Kid's Books

Enid Blyton. I don't care how out of date, Secret Seven, Famous Five (And Timmy!) are classics and will stay that way.

Winnie the Pooh - A. A. Milne

Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House on the Prarie)

What Katy Did - Susan Coolidge

Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

Books by Bill Peet and Dr. Suess.

Hardy Boys books by Franklin W. Dixon (thanks sokky!)

Trixie Belden books, by various authors including Julie Campbell and Kathryn Kenny (also, thanks sokky!)

Posted by phreq at 01:53 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

Missing The Point (And The Warhead)

The first full test in two years ended in failure for the USA's Missile Defense System (Star Wars). A rocket with a mock warhead was launched from Alaska, and this interceptor was meant to launch from the Marshall Islands and collide with the rocket 100 miles above Earth.

The interceptor failed to launch due to "an unknown anomaly", which is the Pentagon translation for WTF?!

The last test of the system, in December 2002, also failed when the interceptor failed to separate from its booster. The Missile Defense Agency has spent more than $80 BILLION on this since 1985.

"The overall missile defense program is to cost more than $50 billion over the next five years; the first group of land- and sea-based missiles, sensors and associated systems envisioned for deployment is to cost more than $7 billion, and this test alone had a budget of $85 million." - nytimes.com

I can't imagine this is very good for anyone's morale, but particularly the troops in Iraq who have to scavenge tank parts from rubbish dumps while they're being shot at.

I'm so very glad I'm not an American. I think it would be getting embarrassing having to admit citizenship. It's very frustrating to be a rational person living in a cult of personality, which is essentially what every single US president creates within a fair section of the US population.

I'd be pretty damn embarrassed to be seen on TV crying hysterically over Helen Clark's address to the Labour party, waving a banner that says "God Loves Helen" and "4 More Years". Please! They're politicians, and you don't live in North Korea.

Posted by phreq at 05:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 16, 2004

Hawks Are Very Chic

Pale Male and Lola have won their right to nest on a 12th floor cornice in New York, and Mary Tyler Moore has done more for her public image in the last week than for many years.

PM & L are two red-tailed hawks that live in NYC, preying on rats and pigeons in Central Park. MTM lives in the building co-op that the pair nest on.

Many years ago, the architect decided that to deter pigeons from nesting on the building they should install a network of steel spikes. The spikes deterred pigeons but attracted the pair of hawks, who have nested among the spikes on the building for 11 years.

Well, last week the building owner got fed up with the pigeon and rat carcasses littering the street under the nest and removed the spikes, and the nest.

BIG mistake. An instant protest formed on the street below. People holding up signs saying "Honk If You Love Hawks" and "REPENT" (seriously). And when I read that "The co-op is also home to some of the biggest names in New York society" the outcome was really a foregone conclusion.

After a week of protest and daily articles in the New York Times and meetings with bird-lovers and lawyers and architects, the co-op has agreed to reinstall the spikes as a matter of urgency. And to provide a rail underneath to stop debris falling to the sidewalk. And to not move the nest, at all, even when this breeding season is over.

Hawks 1, Co-Op 0, but celebrity was the real winner on the day.

Posted by phreq at 06:20 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 15, 2004

My Name is Santa, I Live on the 2nd Floor

Poor ol' Nicky boy. Apparently things are all just getting a bit much in maniacally merrie olde England.

Santa enrollment at the Ministry of Fun is down by 50%. Santa grottoes in the greater London area are booked solid right out from December 10th. Parents and offspring gather grimly in the pre-dawn chaos outside Harrods, sprint through the store in a fierce competition to out-wit their fellows sufferers, and then wait in another queue - for several hours - before seeing the Jolly Bearded One for a few moments.

Whilst in the grotto, the kiddies must sit on a bench, not on the red-clad knee - just in case, we hear the worried whispers, just in case the police check missed something... you just never know, do you? - and while sitting on said bench, they are observed at all times by a video camera. No more frosted window panes at the North Pole. Apparently it makes everyone feel safer.

A Santa fundraising parade in Scotland has been cancelled and replaced with a static Santa and a very obvious unmarked police car after an incident 2 years ago where a gang of young people attacked the parade with rocks.

And when the poor, dispirited Klauses try to drown their sorrows in beer and brotherhood, what happens?

All the bad news may be getting to Santa. This week in Newtown, Wales, 30 Santas followed up a Santa race for charity with far too much ale at the local pub. It ended in a drunken brawl, quelled by police officers with batons and spray canisters. Five inebriated, disheveled Santas were cuffed and hauled off to jail." - from the nytimes.com website

Yes I think I'm ok, walked in to the reindeer again...

Posted by phreq at 06:13 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 14, 2004

Karmic-Adjusted Travel For The Paranoid

I have come to the conclusion that holidays take revenge in order to balance the amount of fossil fuels burnt in transit. The more wasteful you are, the more likely you will experience a nasty holiday-related injury or illness.

That being the case, I guess my weekend in Welly came cheap at the price of a horizontal Sunday. I think it was either the evil chicken from the cafe, or the evil rice from the other cafe. Because I didn't drink that much. Did I? A few glasses of wine. No spirits. No extra bizarre alcohol or even evening meds! Unusually restrained, in fact.

Anyway, Sunday was spent kind of stapled to any available flat surface, so I didn't manage to fly home until first thing Monday. It was one of those "holding my head very steady and looking intently at the seat in front of me" flights. But I made it in safely and then I:

  1. left my luggage in the taxi
  2. got a letter from my landlord saying bank has dishonoured rent and give it to them in cash immediately (thank god for you giffy)
  3. got a letter from my insurance saying bank has dishonoured ap
  4. realised I had no power on the meter
  5. looked at my calendar and saw I had a drís appt in an hour
  6. found out the Charlie Brown had his wicked way with Sock at Debís place so she might be pregnant
  7. realised I had no petrol in car
  8. realised the car registration had expired
  9. found out my chemist has started dispensing my meds in bizarre quantities
  10. saw Sock eating said medication
  11. rang after hours vet and was told it would cost at least $80 to make Sock vomit
  12. spent anxious night wondering if Sock would die

(Sock survived. In fact, she woke up at 1.30am wanting to play. and have a walk. and play. She nearly got another tranquilizer.)

Hey. Universe. We're even. Go away and leave me in peace for a bit, yah?


Posted by phreq at 06:46 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

December 08, 2004

Honour This

In a remote part of Africa, a woman goes down to the river to get water for her family. A British soldier sees her, assaults and rapes her. Sobbing, she runs to tell her husband what has happened. He is incensed with rage and picks up a knife to seek revenge... on her.

He knew, he said, that the soldier has instigated the attack, but "she brought shame on me in the community."

The difference here is that the woman left, rather than wait to be killed. She fled to a small village of about 3 dozen other women - and only about 5 men.

This village is led by women, for women, an astonishing thing in this patriachal corner of the world. The women work together and sell beaded goods to tourists. They earn enough to buy new clothes, medicenes, and to choose to send their children to school.

Most of the women have been forced to leave their husbands and families from fear of beatings or honour killings. Now, when a husband or brother arrives (there is no divorce available under the law) the women run him off themselves, or go to the authorities.

I admire the courage and dignity these women display. It must be very hard to live in a society that is so different to the rest of the world around them. But they are happy to be free from the demands of the men.

"We are always under men," said Rebecca Lolosoli, who is the leader of the three dozen or so women who live in Umoja, which means Unity in Swahili. "The men treat us like nothing. You are there to give them children. We're like property, and we're mistreated." - the nytimes.com website.

FREEDOM!

Posted by phreq at 06:11 AM | Comments (27) | TrackBack

December 07, 2004

Xmas Collection 2004

xmas_paint2.jpg


xmas_paint3.jpg


xmas_paint4.jpg


xmas_paint5.jpg


xmas_paint6.jpg


xmas_paint7.jpg


xmas_paint8.jpg

Posted by phreq at 11:05 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

God Has No Place Within These Walls

Just as logic has no place within organised religion.

I think I finally worked out what impresses me about Helen Clark. She's rational and does not seek to bring religion into governance. It just drives me nuts to hear the word "sin" in the debating chamber over the Civil Union Bill.

And it drove me even wilder to hear the priests in the Catholic Church tell voters to choose MPs based on the Civil Union bill because "it threatens marriage."

You know what bloody threatens marriage more? Catholic bloody priests and all the other leaders of religion that abuse and warp and destroy little children. Half the bloody priests are self-hating homosexuals themselves, so how is that going to be good moral advice for couples considering marriage?!

"Removeth the bloody Log from your own eye before you go poking around after my Splinter, thanks mate."

Do you know, I can't think of a single case of a gay couple in a long-term loving domestic relationship abusing a child. Not one. There have been many cases of single homosexuals abusing kids, or murdering/spree-killing with a brief associative relationship with another. There have been countless crimes of the same nature by single heterosexuals or heterosexual gangs. There have been so many sad and well-documented cases of nice, married, Christian heterosexual couples that rape, torture, kill, abuse and starve their kids or other people's kids to death.

So perhaps the best way to prevent child abuse and murder and violence in general is to celebrate gay unions as statistically the safest family structure?

Posted by phreq at 07:06 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 06, 2004

Smokefree Through Confusion

My lighter fluid carries the following: Warning! Do not smoke during use.

Now I'm sitting here trying to work out whether lighting a candle and then using the candle flame would be ok.

The lighter fluid is also harmful in contact with skin and there is a possible risk of irreversible effects. No Smoking (they are really insistent with that, it's written in several languages including the one with backward letters)

Bizarrely, they don't tell you what the Flammable Liquid N.O.S 1993 actually is. Some lighter fluids are naptha and some are butane. But thinking about it, I'm pretty sure butane is stored under pressure, so I must have got the right kind.

One way to find out...

BOOM!

Posted by phreq at 04:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Evasion Guilt

I have evasion guilt. I am avoiding news on Iraq, and I feel bad for doing so... but it's not really news any more than "Unrest in Middle East" or "Concern Over Global Warming". 17 Iraquis Killed In Tikrit... yep, sounds like Iraq all right. Hmm, I wonder what's in the Business section?

Then I feel callous so I read the article to make it up to... the dead guys. I don't know. It's just so boring. "We're in a big fat mess and we don't know what to do about it."

Iraq is going to be a mess for a long, long time. Ironically, the only kind of administration that has a hope of controlling and melding together three entirely seperate regions and a thousand different tribes is an iron dictatorship. Saddam must be laughing in his cell. "Foolish Americans! Totally unprepared for the effects of tribal invasion!"

Posted by phreq at 05:44 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 03, 2004

Occupying An Elephant

Brighton Pier has been occupied by Foreshore and Seabed activists. I took Sock for a walk this morning and saw the flag, but other than that it was pretty quiet.

I can't imagine who gives a stuff. Brighton Pier is completely and utterly pointless. At its end it is 17 metres high... and the water is 2 metres deep. It is ages and ages long and seems to exist only to hold commemorative plaques to the donors. You can't dive, fish from an overhead cast, run, walk dogs, or do much of anything except walk out to the end, go "man, it's really cold and windy standing half a kilometre out to sea", and then walk back.

As a symbol of the pointlessness and expense of the F&S legislation, it's perfect.


I've been Christmas painting :)

xmas_paint.jpg

Posted by phreq at 05:23 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

December 02, 2004

The Death That Dare Not Speak Its Name

To adapt Oscar Wilde somewhat.

Suicides are reported very oddly in the news. A young man who jumped off the Empire State Building prompted a nytimes.com reporter to count up how many had suicided there since 1931, when it opened to the public. They decided it was either 31 or 34.

The only one of these incidents that anyone reported on beyond the first couple of days was a case where the jumper had hit someone on the pavement, so while documenting her recovery, the name of the jumper stayed in the news.

I wonder why? Respect for the family I guess: no-one wants to have a mentally ill or suicidally depressed relative. We tend to accentuate the positive and sweep the negative into the hall closet until the neighbours have gone.

But I almost get the feeling that people think suicides have "gotten what they want" and therefore it's not really very newsworthy. "Old man dies happily at home surrounded by adequate care and loving relatives" doesn't make the news for the same reason.

In my opinion suicides never get what they want, because if they think they want to die, they're wrong. They just want a way out of the pain or difficulties or situation they are in, and suicide seems the only option because they can't see a way to fix things.

Surely suicide is almost more sad then - people depressed or distressed enough to kill themselves should seem to evoke a more compassionate response than someone healthy and happy who got killed or died randomly. You know, like I feel better about eating a free-range chicken than a tortured battery hen, because at least the free range one had a happy life. But it doesn't seem to be the case with humans.

Suicide is still seen as wrong and shameful, rather than just enourmously tragic.

Posted by phreq at 07:37 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

December 01, 2004

Why Is Everyone Talking In Code?

There's got to be a logical explanation, but sometime in the last few years people have started talking in code around me. The strangest part is that they expect me to know what they're talking about.

The TV3 News ran an entire show where they referred only to the "Baabaas". Meh?! Who or what are the Babars? Some kind of elephant? Specialised sheep? Earlier in the week they ran an entire show referring to a person only as "Sir Ed".

You know, in my day, we referred to people in the news by their title and last name. But then, this old timer do ramble on sometimes, don't he.

Posted by phreq at 06:08 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack