February 28, 2005

Do You Numa Numa?

This is a short video of a guy who taped himself singing and "Numa Numa Dancing" to a Hungarian pop song that translates as "Love Among The Linden Trees".

It takes about 5 minutes to download on a 56k modem but it is worth it!

Numa Numa Dancing is apparently a dance form that involves sitting in a chair. You'll see. Join the phenomenon!

Posted by phreq at 08:52 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Car Advice Needed

Well. My car is a (goes to check rego sticker) 1988 Ford Laser. The rego expires in a couple of weeks and the WOF in about a month.

The car is a fundamentally good car. But:

1) The boot cable is broken or slackened so the boot pops open randomly (tied down with bedsheet).
2) The fan belt is slipping so the car shrieks when it's cold.
3) The driver's-side passenger door is dented from a parking column.
4) The roof has a patch of rust.
5) The speedo cable has also broken or slackened so the speedo don't go.
6) The tyres probably need replacing.
7) The driver's-side rear indicator cover is broken (the light still goes).
8) The heating/cooling fan system needs a new fuse.
9) The horn doesn't work.

By fundamentally, I mean that the engine goes.

So. Should I:

1) Carry on with the ol' girl and get her fixed to WOF?
2) Sell the bastard for $X in the next coupla' weeks as "Needs work" while it's still in WOF and rego?
3) Invent a third option?

So. The car cost $1000 3 or 4 years ago. I need input on the following:

1) Should I sell it; and
2) For how much; and
3) How?

I feel all helplessly inexperienced, because I am.

Posted by phreq at 07:23 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

No-One Told The Ducks

As I drove by a stretch of the Avon river the other day, I noticed signs nailed to the trees: Warning! Polluted Water. Please Avoid Contact.

The ducks and other life in the river don't seem to have been informed.

I'm sure I would be even more concerned if my life wasn't so divorced from my environment. If I had to use that river for washing, drinking and fishing I'm sure I would be far more sensitive to such events.

River life in Chch has had a hard time recently, what with the oil discharge into the Heathcote and now this pollution of the Avon. I wonder how I can actually help? Rivers are so hard to treat because they are a living, moving system. And all the more crucial to help for the same reason.

Posted by phreq at 06:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 27, 2005

These Things I Believe

I've never really sat down and written down my own personal religion. But now I'm going to. First Draft Of The Book of Jen. Feel free to comment, vitriolic or not.

I believe in God, the all-powerful being (at least from the perspective of a being in our universe. God may not be all-powerful outside of our universe).

I think God created the conditions for our universe. God wrote the program and then set it running, a bit like a train-set. So the Big Bang was "Go!". That'd have been pretty satisfying.

But God is creative. Rocks and physics and orbits and comets are really cool to watch, but after a few billion years, the satisfaction kind of wore off. The fire of the creation was cooling. So God searched through creation and found various planets and places that were interesting. Then God created an exception to the rules in those places and made life.

"Life" to me is about a creature that can respond in some way. I think that's why God made life. God wants little friends. The friends got more and more complex and interesting as evolution went along and it must be like having a giant terrarium. The urge to tinker and bend the rules is overpowering. Every now and again God sees an weary honey-bee and supplies a spoon of sugar, or that 1-in-a-million-chance comes around 9 times out of 10 for some cat.

It seems to me that God is a lover of passion and interest and enjoys meddling in the natural order of things - tipping the balance towards life, playing with the odds. God made the rules, so God can change them. I think God is interested in creatures that are interesting. Does that sound dumb? Probably. But I do think that the people who have interesting and/or lucky lives are also people who life lives of passion. Usually, I notice, in a group of animals that are all seemingly the same (newborn pups, for example) there is one that I bond with. I think "yeah, if there was a [insert catastrophe] that's the one I'd save". I think God does the same.

My God has a sense of humour. And a keen sense of irony. And a gentleness and compassion, but also utter power. And with utter power comes a certain ruthlessness. Not a malevolent way, but a way in that you do not shed any tears over the ant you had to poison to clean the bench.

So the best way to suck up to my God is to be interesting, and passionate, and loving, and pray - as long as you're directing it in God's direction, it counts. Joy is prayer. Sex is prayer. Chatting to God about the news is prayer.

I don't know about life after death. I can't do anything about it, anyway. And really, religions are for life, or they should be. Religions should teach you how to be happy now. I'm sure if there is a life after death, there'll be plenty of time to learn about that life then. This life is interesting and complicated enough, don't you think?

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Smoking Is Bad For You! (Want One?)

Mmmmm... a cigarette would be good right about now.

It's true what they say about smoking in movies and tv programs, and in books. I don't know personally if it influences people to start smoking, but it sure makes the quitted hunger.

I was watching a dvd last night and one of the characters lit up and man I really wanted a cigarette so much! If I had had money I probably would have bought some, just on the impulse desire.

Maybe they should include in the TVNZ charter that all programs have to be entirely smoke-free? Including drugs and alcohol. Show it *only* when it is a crucial part of the plot (like the character dies of lung cancer or heroin or something). Otherwise it is just a tease. Characters can quite easily catch up in a bar for a juice or a pie. I understand the need to show the setting to establish mood but unless the character is going to drive drunk or something, a fluid other than alcohol can be imbibed.

Even the Quitline ads that show people smoking have made me want a cigarette. How self-defeating is that?

Posted by phreq at 08:29 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 26, 2005

Sam Hunt In Governor's Bay

I went to Governor's Bay last night
In shattered evening light
Parked up a battered car
Against a battered shed
And smoked

I went to Governor's Bay last night
With a young dog's nose
Out the window
In the wind
And we parked up in our battered car
And spoke our smattered minds

I went to Governor's Bay last night
To feed my ears of words
A passing poet lay cadence alive
My thoughts intent on his
A waterfall of starts and stops
He tumbled out his verse

I went to Governor's Bay last night
I watched the view and felt the words
I drank house wine
(It's cheaper, you know)
And watched the houses that were homes
As they darkened towards sleep

I went to Governor's Bay last night
I wandered to the battered car
Stroked the young dog's nose
We parked up by a battered shed
And smoked our soothed mind
We slept last night
In Governor's Bay.

Posted by phreq at 06:40 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Bextra! Bextra!

Ten of the 32 government drug advisers who last week endorsed continued marketing of the huge-selling pain pills Celebrex, Bextra and Vioxx have consulted in recent years for the drugs' makers, according to disclosures in medical journals and other public records.

If the 10 advisers had not cast their votes, the committee would have voted 12 to 8 that Bextra should be withdrawn and 14 to 8 that Vioxx should not return to the market. The 10 advisers with company ties voted 9 to 1 to keep Bextra on the market and 9 to 1 for Vioxx's return. - nytimes.com

This is why I am glad that in NZ, we don't really have a "lobbyist layer" to our government - I mean, I'm sure it is there, but it's not a known job: Oh yes, when I grow up I want to be a political lobbyist for EEEEvil Companys.

Hopefully the NZ Govt will stick to its guns and keep Vioxx withdrawn and withdraw the other cox-2 inhibitors. Pfizer chief in NZ claims to be "mystified" as to the government's decision. I wonder what bit of "Your drug kills people" he missed.

Health officials say people taking these drugs should see their doctor about stopping:

Vioxx has already been withdrawn from sale

(from the nzherald.co.nz)

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February 24, 2005

Wife Swap (Nun Pleas)

Aw... I just watched Wife Swap on Prime. I feel all warm and fuzzy, kinda like I learned something. I didn't, I just watched other people learn something. But still.

I read an interesting book called New Habits. It's about younger nuns in England and the UK. It's in the form of (largely unedited) interviews with the Sisters. I found it quite enlightening and also thought provoking. Their candid views on sexuality and the nature of God were intriguing and counter to my prejudice.

It's by Isabel Losada. I recommend it as something zesty for the mind to sample.

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Buncha Dogs & A Cat (Pinball)

I went to see a mate this afternoon and, since it was sunny, I left the car windows down.

Sock and I returned to the car about 2 hours later and I opened the front passenger door and let her jump into the back, as per usual.

KAPOW!!! A dark object bounded and rebounded from dash to back. It was just like a pinball machine, with much hysterical barking from the dog. When my senses recovered somewhat I managed to open the driver's door. A very fluffy and freaked out cat streaked out of the door and over the fence.

Last time he takes a nap on the back seat of a stranger's car.

Beadle has had 9 puppies, and been speyed. She is a lovely faithful dog and I'm pleased for her that she got to have a last litter, because she does thrive on motherhood.

Forte (Deb's sister's dog, and the father of the pups) was killed by a speeding driver today. The guy ripped down a hill so close to the edge of the road that he hit the dog and killed it instantly. When he stopped (finally) he invented a truck coming the other way that meant "there was nowhere to go, man."

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The Dog Is Pleased

I wonder what she's been up to? She keeps stealing washing and eating it. I have a wide variety of crotchless panties (particularly attractive if you are turned on by the whole "moth-eaten" look) and heelless socks.

Is heelless a word? It sounds like an artificial respirator: Heelless. clunk. Heelless. clunk. ... aaand so on.

My phone mysteriously stopped working yesterday - well, actually, just the '1' key stopped working. I took the phone apart and the circuit board seemed to be corroded just under the copper receptor bit for the '1' key. Not much you can do about that and so down to Cash Converters I went, and now I have a $5 blue phone. The old one was a good phone though. I've had it for 7 years and 6 changes of house.

Posted by phreq at 10:56 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

National Bank Of New Zealand

The National Bank of New Zealand needs to get their heads out of their backsides and give some actual customer service to their customers. If you go to the National Bank and ask for your transactions from December 28 through January 28 - less than 2 months ago! - they charge you $4.00 per page for the December transaction record. Why? Oh, we have to go in archives for that.

And yet! When you go to National Bank's online banking, you can access up to the last 100 days of transactions. So why didn't I print it out off the net? Because the transaction statement is for WINZ and it needs to be stamped and verified by the National Bank.

$4 PER PAGE is just completely and utterly unjustified.

The National Bank of New Zealand, which I'm hoping this post will get high search selection for, is a terrible bank and I advise any potential customers to go to Kiwi Bank or BNZ instead.

As anyone who's read my blog for a while will be aware, The National Bank of New Zealand has screwed me over time and time again. This however was the $4 fee that broke the extremely pissed off camel's back. The National Bank of New Zealand can go and do unpleasant things to themselves, because the Earth will be a small cold lump of coal before I willingly bank with The National Bank of New Zealand ever again.

Posted by phreq at 06:12 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 22, 2005

Djelibabi Unde Sockte

I just walked into the kitchen and I wish I'd had a camera. Sock, with an *extremely* guilt look, was hoovering up a bag of jelly babies. Frantic chewing and pawing as the sticky little suckers protruded between various teeth... a couple got stuck in her ears.

I don't think my discipline was particularly fearsome, I was just about pissing myself. There's something just inherently amusing about a puppy with a glued-up mouthful of multicoloured jelly.

Posted by phreq at 06:41 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

200 Posts And An Affirmation

I had to mention the posts thing, I'm not entirely sure why. Same human instinct that leads us to photograph the speedo ticking over, I guess.

The point of this post is to point out that everything Incremental Progress says about her youngest son is not only true but wildly understated... he is the most engaging little boy, he made me smile the whole time I was with him (I got to babysit!). Talk about placid! He laughed when Sock tried to lick his face off. He laughed when I (inexpertly) got him out of the carseat. He laughed when he got a Milk Arrowroot. You get the idea.

It's the kind of dangerous child that makes suggestible types think that they'd like one just the same. Of course, their chances of producing a similar personality is about as great as their chances of winning lotto - on yesterday's ticket. It's the same impulse used to great effect by puppy stores and real estate agents.

Gosh he's gorgeous. And as you know, I'm not big on babies. This one though... yeah, I could get attached.

**Pink Fuzzies**

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February 21, 2005

Influential Apples

McDonald's is now the largest purchaser of fresh apples in the USA. The apples are washed, cored and sliced, then packaged, refrigerated and shipped to McD's all over the country as a fries-replacement option called Apple Dippers. (They come with caramel dipping sauce)

Since March 2003, McDonald's has sold 300 million Premium Salads at US$4 each. That translates to $600 million a year, about 10% of McD's domestic revenue in the States. Just about anything else on the menu can be had for around $3.

That sounds ridiculous, and it pisses me off here in NZ too - salads at Burger King are over $7 each! - but the article (from the nytimes, as usual) went on to explain some of the logistics.

Healthier fare does not come cheap, for McDonald's or its customers. Fruits and vegetables are much more expensive and complicated to ship and store than meat and potatoes. Unlike meat patties, chicken breasts, French fries and other items on the McDonald's menu, salads and fruit cannot be frozen and stored for a month in distribution centers. Shipments of Apple Dippers and salad components leave McDonald's warehouses several times a week.

So now I feel a little better about being fleeced.

I was reading about the different ways people are choosing to scatter the ashes of cremated loved ones. One that I quite liked was having the ashes put into fireworks shells like the ones used for the harbour displays. Another nice one is to have the ashes mixed with concrete and used to create an artificial offshore reef.

Of course, Americans also have to have the extreme showy ideas - packing ashes into a rocket, compressing ashes into diamonds.

And the most bizarre and yet most accessible: have your ashes interred, with a brass plate to tell the world your name, next to a putting green on your favourite golf course.

"I just thought it was a good idea," [Barry Laney] said. "I have two adult children, and they play golf, too, so I figured this would give them something to do when they visit. They could putt and talk to me. I told my friends. They're interested. I hope so. I don't want to be alone."

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February 20, 2005

Guerilla Magazine Drop

I completed my first search-and-annotate mission on Friday, dropping one Time and two New Scientists and inserting three "Food Pyramid" leaflets into the gossip mags in the waiting room.

Just by-the-by, doesn't anyone else find it offensive that these pieces of crap are classified as "Women's Interest"? Why aren't they labelled as "Gossip Magazines"? That's non-biased and accurate. I'm going to write to Whitcoulls.

Just another wee plea - anyone with back issues of magazines that require at least one actual journalist to produce, send 'em on to me at: 4/23 Woodham Road, Avonside, Chch. I'll see they get a worthwhile home.

(If you've got back issues of gossip mags you want incinerated to avoid them falling into impressionable young hands, send them to me as well.)

Posted by phreq at 05:43 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

February 18, 2005

Pride Goes Before A Flail

The Exhibition was fun but unprofitable. A lot of people said nice things about them but I didn't sell anything - the only consolation was that no-one else was selling much either. It was cold and rainy which might have kept a few punters away, but also it was so big - there were heaps of displays and most of it was landscape or still life, with a definte bias towards watercolours.

My primary-colour abtracty-impressionist people stood out like lipstick on a nun.

The worst part of the whole trip was actually showing my paintings to grandma. She made a kind of nice deal about coming into the lounge and sitting down to see them properly... I started showing them to her and she said: "Oh, no, they're terrible! No, I don't like them at all. All the people are obese... they're horrid!"

Quote. I wasn't quite sure what to do. Stop and not show her the rest? Try to laugh it off? It's not like someone saying "Oh, hmm. Not really my cup of tea..." which is gentle enough to say "yeah, that's cool, they are a bit bright!" or something. But what do you say to the words "terrible" and "horrid"?

In her defence I guess she is probably tired and in quite a lot of pain. Maybe she just said what she was thinking without considering the impact. But it really hurt, and it still does.

Sigh. So I spent $60 on petrol and didn't even cover my costs by selling one. I think maybe I need to consider the market for them more carefully. Conservative older people that predominated the Exhibition probably don't have the money to buy something they're not absolutely "safe" with.

I need to sell 'em thru a cafe or a designy-type-store I think. In a big city.

Posted by phreq at 08:07 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 16, 2005

A Phone For The Deaf

I spent half-an-hour at 3.00 this morning searching blindly for my glasses. Sock had removed them from their customary place and left them somewhere. I found them eventually in a dark corner behind the bed at 6.30 (I had to give up and go back to bed because it makes me feel physically sick within about 10 minutes when I don't have my glasses on! 30 minutes without them and I'm risking a migraine.)

So. You know what my glasses need? A remote beepy device that I can put on my keychain that makes my lost glasses light up and beep. Anyone out there good at mini-electronics? I'd pay. I'm sick to death of crawling around on the floor with a rising sense of panic!

Off to Dunedin today. I'll report back on Friday...

Posted by phreq at 06:00 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 15, 2005

Call Me Cynical

but has anyone else noticed the new McDonald's ads since the trans-fat news broke?

It's a clever campaign. It makes no claims about anything other than "McDonald's Fries Are Cooked In 100% Vegetable Oil" but it somehow makes it sound like a good thing.


Let me put it like this. The FDA has an acceptable dietary level of *acrylamide* for goodness' sake. For them to declare no acceptable dietary level of trans-fat, and move within 12 months to change the labelling laws, you've got to understand: This is really, really serious

Switch to butter. For pity's sake, I'm screwed in head over food and this has convinced me to switch from lite margarine to butter. And remember the analogy from that dr: it's like sand in a clockwork mechanism. Your body cannot process this artificial fat, and it simultaneously destroys good cholesterol and raises bad cholesterol.

What's the bets that partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is revealed as the missing link between processed food and the soaring rates of obesity? You can drink flipping olive oil and not get that obese. But since trans-fat cannot be metabolised... you can see how it would toxify the old system pretty quick.

Get on to Annette King, the minister for Food and Health. Her email is: aking@ministers.govt.nz. Ask her what action New Zealand is going to take over this threat to public health...

Posted by phreq at 05:51 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack


I'm so pleased. It appears that Sock has had a phantom pregnancy - right down to the milk production and false labour! YAY! I'm so pleased cos I was really dreading not having her around for 6 weeks or so. And it means that next time she's on heat, she'll be ready to breed for real and we won't have to rest her as we would have if she had whelped this time.

Having said all that, I can just imagine Sock turning around and having one pup which will be just as much as a pain as 8 or 9, and much less financially rewarding.

Well the art show is on this Thursday. I will take a bunch of photos of the collection (I'm taking down nine canvases) and post them somewhere with a link from here. I'm pleased with the way most of them have turned out, although of course I can always see room for improvement.

The bloody bloody bloody National bloody Bank have shat on me once too often, so I'm changing banks. The bastards! They just randomly took $240 (despite me having a careful arrangement worked out to pay the amount off slowly) and then dishonoured payments all over the show to the tune of $30 a time. YOU SUCK, NATIONAL BANK!

Yeah! You scared?! Cos if you don't shape up, man, I'm going to take my entire net worth of $500 and go elsewhere! This is not an empty threat!

It's so hard to exert any sort of influence when you are a maddened pauper trying to besiege a castle by filling in the moat with a teaspoon.

Posted by phreq at 09:47 AM | Comments (24) | TrackBack

February 14, 2005

Valentines AIDS Check

I read this morning about a new strain of HIV that doctors worry has mutated in two important ways: It is resistant to anti-retroviral drugs, and it progresses from HIV to AIDS within months, rather than years.

It's not exactly unexpected; they've been predicting such a mutuation for years. It's still scary, since we don't have a way to combat it.

I went to a really good tsunami-relief gig at the Dux yesterday. I went with Steph and we met up with her mate Julie, and as we sat in the sun for 5 hours drinking and listening to great bands, it seemed as if everyone knew everyone (as often happens in Chch) - we must have had 20 people or more come and go at our table.

It was a really, really good time. Everyone was friendly and welcoming, and the bar staff not only worked like dogs with the huge crowds, they also donated 25% of their earnings!

We got a little tipsy and they started auctioning magnums of wine... you can see where this is heading! We ended up pooling our funds and buying a litre-and-half of Pegasus Bay pinot noir. For $110. The guy said it would be best aged to 2008, but it didn't even see 6pm.

We felt very charitable, drinking marvelous wine in the sun in our comfy-cosy lives. Then some of the people at our table started saying how much they'd donated to Christian Relief fund. I had to say it: "Weren't most of the people killed Muslim or Bhuddist? So I guess you guys reckon they're in hell, huh? What are you giving money for? Perhaps this is your god's judgement on the infidels."

Luckily they had consumed enough wine to be reasonable and see the funny side of my stake-worthy comments.

The only stain on the day were two jail-bait 13-yr-olds who got up, all alone, and danced with each other on the stage platform. One was chubby and one was thin and blonde. They were wearing white micro-mini skirts and tight pink tops. At one point, the blonde one lifted up her top.

Now, one of them was wearing purple panties and has pubic hair. The other was wearing black panties and the hair situation was ambiguous. If the straight, mothers-of-teenagers women at my table couldn't help but look, discuss and be distracted by that, how are the young guys who've been drinking for several hours supposed to manage?

They were too young to be in the bar, but since it was kind of a family thing, there were a few families with young kids. What were their parents thinking?! And why weren't they asked to leave? It was totally, totally inappropriate. If somebody had taken them home or hit on them, they'd have a case for thinking they were over-age, since they were at a drinking fest.

Today it is raining and I am babysitting (although we don't call it that) with Alex. I think a visit to Science Alive or something might be in order.

Posted by phreq at 06:00 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 13, 2005

Partially-Hydrogenated Non-Dairy Gum-Based Beverage

Trans fat is a type of artificial fat that not only clogs your arteries, it destroys good cholesterol as well.

While the cells in your body need natural fatty acids in order to function, trans fat is artificial and cannot be absorbed by the body. One scientist compared its effect on the body to grains of sand in the mechanism of a clock. The FDA in the States has declared that there is "No safe dietary level" and as a consequence, all food labels must be altered to show the level of trans fat by January 2006.

It's sending the food-processing industry into something of a tiz. Trans fat is their favourite! It's made by pumping vegetable oil full of hydrogen to get partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil. The great thing about it is that it stays solid at room temperature, which is vital if your processed cookies have to stay stable and ready-to-eat for several years.

They are having a terrible time trying to find a healthy replacement with the same qualities. Partially-hydrogenated oil is the type in crackers, biscuits, frozen dinners, cereal bars, peanut butter, margarine, and microwave popcorn. It's used by just about every fast-food outlet in the world. The really ironic thing is that when McD's changed from beef tallow to partially-hydrogenated for their fries in the early 90's, they managed to make an already incredibly unhealthy product even worse.

Fast food (surprise) is unaffected by the new labelling rules. So the 6 grams of trans-fat per large fries will continue unabated. But you *might* start looking at the nutritional info on the food you're buying.

Bad Oil With Trans-Fat Nastiness
Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil.

Better Oil Without Trans-Fat
Non-Hydrogenated Polyunsaturated

And if you don't believe me, believe this guy:
"There was a lot of resistance from the scientific community because a lot of people had made their careers telling people to eat margarine instead of butter," said Walter Willett, chairman of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and one of a handful of medical researchers who have led the fight against trans fat. "When I was a physician in the 1980's, that's what I was telling people to do and unfortunately we were often sending them to their graves prematurely."

(from the nytimes.com website)

Oh and also, a cute thing happened yesterday while I was in the supermarket. A couple (I think they may have been tourists) were asking a very young-looking supermarket girl for assistance to find "Ice Wine". Their English was kinda accented and after getting them to repeat it several times, the poor girl was red in the face and flustered and ended up steering them towards the chiller in desperation.

I stalked them a little until she was out of sight and then directed them to the ice wine section. The unusual bit for me was I then took my courage and sought out the supermarket girl, and just quietly cleared up her confusion. I was afraid that she'd think I was hassling her, but she actually thanked me profusely. So that was nice, she learnt something new and I got to help tourists :) And the tourists got wine, so everyone was pleased!

And finally... I worked out a solution to my "too many slogans, so few t-shirts" dilemma.


Posted by phreq at 07:47 AM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

February 10, 2005

The Great Magazine Project

In the waiting room for the Eating Disorders Unit, there is a magazine that details the diet secrets of the stars. It seems like every waiting room in the country has to have at least one sad, dog-earred testament to making women feel bad about themselves.

The EDU example is the final straw. I am going to do something about this, and I want your help. I'm thinking particularly here of people like Svend who have magazine subscriptions and don't like chucking old issues in the bin.

Please send me your old magazines that cover subjects other than "[Gender] Interest". Computing, news, science, cross-stitch, quilting, anything other than having to see "10 Great Diet Tips" five minutes before weigh-in.

You can send the magazines to me at:
4/23 Woodham Road

Then I will take magazines with me to every appointment I have, and add the good magazines while hiding the the rest. Phase Two of the program will be to try and raise awareness among health professionals of this issue, but Phase One is to get the alternative reading material out there.

If you don't want to send the magazines to me, just start doing it yourself. And if you are in any way in charge of a waiting area, think what message it sends about your company to provide such trash to your customers. Would you put out a magazine with ads for smoking?

Posted by phreq at 07:06 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Softening Up

I am having earthy conversations with Deb regarding the relative softness of Sock's vulva. It is an odd way to start a chat: Hi there, I'm calling to discuss a vagina...

But she is on the way to giving birth, should happen over the next day or two. Hopefully she will only have one or two pups, since she is pretty flighty still and quite frankly, it's almost impossible to imagine her as a responsible mum in a few hours' time.

Zephfi gave me the COOLEST PRESENT! It's a little box, and inside the box is a teency-tiny book with recipies for dog-biscuits, and three little cookie-cutters. One is bone-shaped, one is cat-shaped, and the other looks like a fire-hydrant.


For all my fears over Z going off air, I have to say that Kiwi is not actually that bad at all. Karen Hay on the morning show is great, much prefer it to the Coleman/Homer show.

More updates on puppiness as it happens...

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

What Does This Ad Say About Harpic?

I think that the best time to be highly neurotic about the perceived cleanliness of one's home is when one has just had a new baby, and I fervently hope someday I have friends so good that they judge me by my toilet when they drop round unexpectedly.

Posted by phreq at 05:25 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 09, 2005

Prescription M&Ms

I went to see various doctors this morning and basically got told to eat more 'calorie-dense' foods, such as chocolate buscuits, chocolate milk, and deep-fried Mars bars.

While it strikes me that for some this would be the joyous equivilent of a doctor instructing you to smoke more to help your asthma, it's all a bit tricky for me, because I genuinely do not like sticky-sweet-milk sort of things. Neither do I like anything that falls in the "congealed" group. Salty things are ok as long as they are not slimy. The only kind of potato chips I can eat without gagging are Pringles because you can't taste the fat on the back of your tongue like the others...

I'm thinking that M&Ms (the sugar shell cuts the chocolate suffocation feeling) and Cola lollipops are likely to be major components of the calorie-dense pursuit.

It just reminds me so much of the Simpson's episode where Homer deliberately gains weight to get on worker's comp.

Dr. Nick You'll want to focus on the neglected food groups, such as the whipped group, the congealed group, and the choc-o-tastic.
Homer What can I do to speed the whole thing up, doctor?
Dr. Nick Well, be creative. Instead of making sandwiches using bread, use Pop-Tarts. Instead of chewing gum, chew bacon.
Bart You could brush your teeth with milkshakes!
Dr. Nick Hey, did you go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College, too? And remember, if you're not sure about something, rub it against a piece of paper. If the paper turns clear, it's your window to weight gain.

Posted by phreq at 01:48 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Platform Nine and Three-Quarters

Boadicea's supposed grave beneath Platform 10 at King's Cross is the reason why Harry Potter's Hogwarts Express leaves, magically, from Platform Nine and Three Quarters - Robert Lacey, Great Tales of English History.

Really? Anyone know of anything corroboratory or otherwise?

Also from the Too Lazy To Research pile:
You know how in Central America etc where they take salt and goods to the levy - river bank/loading area - is that also where we take 'levy taxes' and so forth from?

Nepalling: A Nasty Surprise for Nepalese

Six days ago Nepal's king ended the country's 15-year experiment with democracy and took power for himself, imposing a state of emergency and suspending a host of civil liberties, including freedom of expression. Nepalis have been facing something between fear and a farce since then, adjusting to a combination of royal rule and martial law. Those in politics and the news media feel particularly under siege.

In a televised address last Tuesday morning, King Gyanendra said he was taking power for three years because the country's fractious political parties had failed to hold elections or bring Maoist rebels to peace talks. As he spoke, phone lines and Internet connections were being cut, political and student leaders were being detained and soldiers were arriving at news organizations' offices to take on their new role as censors.

Nepalis now have no freedom of assembly, expression or opinion; no right to information, property or privacy; and no protection from preventive detention. The government has banned any criticism of the king's action for six months, and any public comment that could affect the morale of the security agencies.

Whether road repair or kerosene distribution, he said, "We will get things done." He blamed the country's political parties for squandering and pilfering resources and distorting the bureaucracy with political pressures.

It is a sentiment widely shared among Nepalis, who wrested democracy from their king in 1990 only to find themselves saddled with corrupt and feckless democrats. That fact, as much as the communications blackout or fear of the military, helps explain why Katmandu residents have not yet taken to the streets to protest the king's actions. - nytimes.com

I guess it is easy to see why the king would wish to do this, and given that almost his entire family was shot by his nephew a year or two ago I guess maybe he is still grieving and ill-prepared for administrative power.

It also reminds me of a book I read recently on the Second Russian Revolution, post-communism.

Gorbachev's rhetorical question: 'Should we give power back to the communists?' was greeted by enthusiastic clapping and shouts of 'Yes, the Communists! It was better then', 'You sold out the country' and 'Russia needs a strong hand'. Gorbachev, the only ruler in Russian history to give way to a democratically elected rival, was aghast. 'Do you think some sort of Tsar can save you?' he scolded. 'I think we need not a strong hand but a wise head.'

A quote from a middle-aged, professional woman also struck me:
'My deepest wish now is for my sons to live in another country,' Lana told me. 'It is God's punishment to be born here. It's a terrible thing to say about your own land, but this is a country of theives and idiots. In Russia, it is impossible to be a patriot.'

Posted by phreq at 06:02 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 08, 2005

No Stroking, Please.

It is damn hard to compliment my father! I spent several minutes last night trying to get across to him that the photo he was showing me was a really beautifully composed shot, and he just kept talking sideways about the printer, the camera, the nice day at the beach and luck. Eventually I said "Can you just stop putting yourself down for 2 minutes and accept the compliment that it's a really beautiful photo you've created?"

To his credit, he did try, but mumbled something further about "luck" under his breath. It kind of makes me feel very arrogant to accept their comments on my paintings! Maybe they are secretly thinking "Gosh, we're giving you so many opportunities to be humble and you just keep on saying 'Thanks!'"...

My sister seemed a little strange to me, I feel like I've done something to *seriously* piss her off at some stage, but I have no idea what I've done! God knows, it could be anything, my life not being a model of role at the moment.

One amusing moment did come when my sister asked me if I went to church. I replied jokingly that I was a card-carrying atheist and got the eyebrows of death, so I quickly amended my blasphemy to "well, I believe in a form of god, but not the Christian one..." (which didn't help the ol' eyebrows, but I was digging a nice hole so why stop mid-sentance?).

My brother asked me what I did believe in, so I gave him the 2-minute-theological-precis-that-will-change-your-life. With the charming bluntness of the socially unfettered he informed me with a grin that it sounded pretty silly to him. Then, thoughtfully, he mentioned the Israelites in the desert and the manna-from-heaven trick, which gave me an opportunity to wink at him and say his bread-throwing-god sounded just as silly to me! I do love that fact that with the younger three kids you can always have a fun, good-humored and interesting conversation about pretty much anything.

Mum and Dad seemed pretty well and pleased to see me, which was nice. We were sitting around looking through these books (nice coffee-table ones with many pictures) on South America, which is where my big bro is travelling at the moment. Last I heard he was in Bolivia (for some reason, that just sounds so made-up!) and heading back to Brazil for Carnival... one thing about him, he knows how to have a good time so I look forward to the war stories!

(The great thing about his war stories is his penchant for documenting them extensively through photos and video. I dine out on his stories! Ah, Vicarious Living, as magazine has it.)

Going to the doctor tomorrow. It is utter madness to feel this weak and shitty a full seven days later.


Also, seeing my psychiatrist tomorrow. Maybe there is a link.


Posted by phreq at 03:21 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 06, 2005

Never. Ever. Again

If I ever start talking crazy about taking ferries and trains again, please strap me to the floor until I see sense.

I was so bloody sick I was in shock by the time the ferry docked in Wellington - I couldn't walk. It took a full 56 hours before I could lift my head without chucking. So. Never. Ever. Again.

And now I finally feel human again (Sunday midday) and my phone battery has died so I can't bloody text anyone. This is not going to be the best holdiday ever, I suspect.

Posted by phreq at 10:01 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 02, 2005

Weather Closures In The Middle Of Summer?!

Crazy Wellington weather. All the Origin Pacific flights to Wellington were canceled today due to the "absolutely foul" conditions (booking lady's description). This means of course that all the people were bumped to tomorrow, so it's absolutely chokka. No seats, same on Friday.

Now see, this is how much I love you guys. SO YOU'D BETTER BE AT MERCURY!

I abhor the ferry. Actually, I abhor all boats that aren't kyaks. I have been on the ferry 3 times in my life and that is really quite enough for me. Planes I have a wonderful feeling of peace, search me as to why - but on the water, I stress constantly, because I'm trapped and I can't get off and there's water everywhere! With hungry fish. And also I always worry that I'll feel sick, and be trapped feeling sick for hours and hours on the wretched boat.

Tomorrow I will board the train at 7.30am and travel to Picton. I'm really looking forward to the train trip, very scenic (and only $37!). Then I will take the 1.30pm sailing and wind up (hopefully) in Welly at 4.00

Just my luck, it'll be howling a gale and then there'll be an earthquake and the boat will drown just like the Wahine distaster. I bet they have rabid sharks in the Strait, too.

Actually, if it's looking at all dodgy on the weather front, I will pop a sleeping pill and knock myself out for a few hours. I'd rather deal with grogginess than gagginess.

So yeah! I'll be in town from tomorrow night onwards, so if you're around and wanna catch up, text me! 021 257 3591. If I sound unconscious, I might still be on ferry ;)


Posted by phreq at 04:21 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Fish On The Nose, Delicate Dairy Finish

"Produced with the aid of fish and milk products, and traces may remain."

It's chardonnay. WTF?! I thought that wine was vegetarian. Don't tell me I have to find free-range viticulturalists!

Apart from that unpleasant moment, the wine itself was not too bad. Also, I won the Incubus DVD off Channel Z last night after a few glasses of said wine, and that was extremely pleasant.

Oh, and dudes - I'm coming up to Welly for Waitangi weekend! Doing the Merc thing on Friday?

Hey does anyone have the new Snow Patrol album? It's a nice record, I'd be keen to borrow if it's around...

Painting for the art exhibition is almost completed. Once I have them all done I will post the collection. I'm really looking forward to it now, I've got 8 or 9 canvases of saleable quality, so I feel a bit more prepared!

Another food oddity: Why is shepherd's pie called shepherd's pie? I would have thought that shepherds would, by and large, not eat their charges. It disturbs me in much the same way as finding out that it's legal to serve pets petfood made from pets. Apparently the meat industry (in the States, anyway) buys dead cats and dogs from shelters and grinds them up, then feeds them to cattle, pigs, hens, and pets. I always thought the dog on the tin was a recommended recipient, not the main ingredient...

(by the way, Emba, I'll bring back Fast Food Nation this weekend... )

Posted by phreq at 05:56 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

February 01, 2005

I Want Gold

Lots of it.

I want to buy some jeans that FIT me. And some make-up from MAC. And some hair-dye. And some new Doc Martens boots. And some new socks. And some scissors. Man, I'm materialistic.

I wonder if I could buy something with gold? Probably they'd make me go to the bank and change it into notes. Do banks change notes into gold? I like the idea of gold. Lots of it.

Sock is two weeks off whelping. She has stopped eating the dog biscuits she gets as treats and started burying them in my bedclothes. She spends a lot of time building nests (also out of bedclothes, and the clean washing).

It's quite reassuring to see this behaviour, because it shows that she has strong maternal instincts - hopefully this means it will be clear sailing with the babies. It does rather make for unusual surprises when slipping into bed. Last night I found two biscuits and the much-gnawed shinbone of a cow.

Mmm. Shinbone surprise.

Today I must go get bloods done. Pointiness.

Last night I had a bizarre dream about a rabid shark. Sock and I were both in the water stabbing the shark with my SA knife. I was really concerned that someone was going to bitten by the shark and then bite Sock, making her rabid. I was running on the beach saying "but it's not her fault! that guy did it!" and no-one would take her to the vet.

Posted by phreq at 07:33 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack