There are either rats or mice in the walls. I can hear them squeaking and scuttling around. I hope it's mice, and that they stay there.
In fact, the sounds are coming from two places - the wall behind the head of the bed, and the wall behind the heat pump.
I dread to think what kind of creatures are living in the 3 disused (and inadequately bricked-up) chimneys.
Now I'm freaking myself out. Must... stop... visualising... and... sleeptite... dontyouletabedbugbite!
The NZ Blood Service is really short on blood at the moment. They called me last night and asked if I could come in and donate, and the targets on the wall showed they were struggling to get quota.
So, if you are able to give, now might be a good time to take 30 minutes and save a life or two.
I always think that beneficiaries like me should give blood unless they have a good reason why not. I take so, so much from the health system in this society, and it feels good to be able to give them back something they cannot buy and really do need. In fact I'm going to start platelet donation, because that can be done more regularly (about once a month instead of once every three months) and it takes about an hour and a half (and I have time to do it).
I went over to see Sock yesterday and I'll go back over again tonight for a little while I think. I have managed to keep it all very civil thus far and I am aiming to maintain that. I should get her back in about a week and a half I think. God that seems like such a long time. Smile and talk only about the pups seems to be my script until then. Everyone loves pups.
I will post photos soon too. Everyone likes photos. :)
I can't drink V anymore. The "cockroach" series of ads sticks in my mind, unfortunately.
That Zip coffee ad that says "for people who can't stand bad coffee." How on earth can he tell that the very sexy "european" girl would have bad coffee? I would pick her more for the type who would make excellent coffee and probably have her own grinder. But, if you'd rather go to a service station and pay for a coffee in a paper cup...
It was nice to see some real mates over the last few days. Things with Deb and co. are not the best at the moment and I just can't wait to get Sock back out of there and back with me. She's not even being kept comfortable, I went over there yesterday and cut about 10 or 12 large matts out of her coat. Then Deb ended up saying that Sock was not actually my dog and they had right of recall on her whenever they wanted, "but, I wouldn't do that to you, you know that."
Yeah right. Why keep that stipulation if you're not keeping a card up your sleeve? It's horrible. If Sock is not actually my dog, why the hell is she registered to me? As I understood it, they had given the dog to me because she didn't fit in with their pack, and they weren't sure if they wanted to breed from her or not.
Now, just because she threw brown puppies, they are muttering about how Sock's not really mine. It's really fucking nasty and all I want to do is get my baby back off them as fast as possible. She won't even sell Sock to me, now. I'm really fucking upset about it but I can't do shit about it and I have to keep things civil between us until I get Sock back from them.
Fuck. I'm so fucking upset. Maybe I should just buy one of her puppies outright and give my baby back to them. I can't stand the uncertainty of "we can just take her back whenever... oh, but we wouldn't..."
Hey I have a friend who wants to be invited to gmail. Does anyone know of someone who can do an invite? Send me a mail to email@example.com, it'd be much appreciated.
He Can't Be Serious
Anyone who saw that debate between Helen Clark and Don Brash the other night will get a laugh out of this one:
After the debate, Dr Brash told reporters he restrained his attacks because Miss Clark was a woman.
"Well, I think it's not entirely appropriate for a man to aggressively attack a woman and I restrained myself for that reason," he said.
"Had the other combatant been a man my style might have been rather different. - herald.co.nz
He's basically saying he's too sexist to be a good debater. That doesn't bode well. He and Cullen will be having brawls on the floor of the Chamber next.
I got this via email this morning from thisistrue and it bears repeating:
[...] She stands accused of multiple counts of unlawful sex with one of her 14-year-old students, including once in her classroom. Her attorney, John Fitzgibbons, isn't protesting her innocence. Rather, he says, his blonde client is just too pretty for prison. "To place an attractive young woman in that kind of hell hole," he says, "is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions." [...]
Only in America! (Or possibly Italy). If I ever get snapped I will use the "too ugly for prison" defence and see how far I get. "I will need my face blurred, at all times. If you can't make me seem blurry on and off camera then you can't lock me up."
Speaking of defenses you should possibly take note of, if you get done for speeding (say, doing 115 on a straight 4-lane 100km zone in bright sunshine on a summer's day with no other traffic around):
Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven says critics should "not be too prissy" over officials exceeding the speed limit. - herald.co.nz
He had earlier told the Herald on Sunday that "every driver out there when overtaking [exceeds the speed limit]. It's just one of those things that happens."
And given that the notorious Motorcade travelled at an average speed of 128.5km, I think this will be a useful defence if I ever get done for it. Let's be 'reasonable' here. I mean, Speeders Kill A BusLoad of People Every 3 Months and Speeders: They're Killing Us and Slow Down: You're A Long Time Dead, So What's The Hurry, but let's not be prissy!
Everyone speeds while overtaking, in the advised and informed view of the honourable Transport Safety Minister. That's good enough for me. Couldn't you mount a defence that, if everybody does it, it's unfair that the cops would single you out for prosecution?
One of the most interesting things about the war in Iraq is how many of the troops on the ground are actually mercenaries - about 16% of the total. These (mainly men) are part of private companies (Blackwater USA, Triple Canopy and so on) that provide "security" for troops, bases, buildings and supplies.
Many of the men in these companies are retired soldiers - some from the USA, but many from Fiji, Chile, South Africa and Ukraine, etc. They are not under the command of the US Army. Instead, these companies bid in very secretive bidding wars for secret defence contracts. It keeps it all very cosy, of course - political ties and cronyism seem to be as vital as the guns and trucks that these companies sometimes do, and sometimes do not, have in good supply.
It's all very strange to me. It's a pretty new phenomenon for the USA, and I find it kind of alarming. There's hardly any oversight of these companies. Everything is so secret and classified that there is very little accounability, especially publically. You can read more about it here.
Mercenaries in general of course are as old as the art of war. They were especially valuable in earlier times because it was important for soldiers to be experienced and skillful. As guns became widespread mercenaries began to fade because, hey, it's not that hard to train a raw recruit to fire a gun. Experience became less of an asset. Then the Geneva convention basically outlawed the use of mercenaries in wars between nations.
The private companies were basically formed and used in Iraq because the US military simply does not have enough troops or equipment. And the US is finding out just how difficult it is to maintain an all-volunteer force in the midst of a dragging, violent war that increasingly seems unwinnable.
The article referenced here has a couple of conversations with the guys involved that I thought were quite telling:
After a career in Special Forces, the man said, he hadn't seemed able to survive in the civilian world. Work in construction fell apart. He drank heavily. He took a job as a cashier in a convenience store -- ''till I found out I had to smile at the customers.'' He laughed ruefully at his inability to adapt. But now, when his 16-year-old son sent him an e-mail message from back home in South Carolina, with a picture to prove that he'd mowed the lawn the way his mother had asked, he could buy the boy some tech equipment as a gift. ''I'll stay until this is over,'' he said. ''The money's too good.'' - and I think, well, fair enough. Take the job you're good at.
But this bit... well, not even mercenaries are treated equally:
The non-Westerners earn far less. Triple Canopy's Fijians and Chileans make between $40 and $150 dollars each week and sleep in crowded barracks at the Baghdad base, while the Americans sleep in their own dorm rooms. The company explained the difference in salaries in terms of the Americans' far superior military backgrounds and their higher-risk assignments.
Just to prove that he's a macho man at heart, Cullen relates this story: He tells, with obvious relish, a story about how he and Prebble "nearly had a stand up fight in caucus ... He suddenly realised I was bigger than he is. He sat down." - nzherald.co.nz
What a dickhead. Does he plan on pulling the heavy with Helen? Probably not. She strikes me as a woman who aims for the genitals on the first shot.
This is rather amusing and very well done. Magazines Of 2105.
I have wiped everyone's email address. Arrgh! So I'll have to post this here:
To the lovely Chelle
I had a really good conversation with a mate the other night. She's really smart and very successful and has seen a lot more of life that me, and to be honest I'm quite flattered that she seems to enjoy my company. Anyway, I was over at her place and she and I had a really good convesation about food, eating disorders and so on. She kicked my ass. But it was what I needed. She (kind of brutally, but for some reason it worked coming from her) sliced through every defence, every excuse, every cop-out and just kept on bringing me back down to where she wanted me... I felt a bit like a bug on a pin but man, what she did and said made an impact.
I called her back last night and said to her - please, do that again. It's the most helpful conversation I've had about my eating problems with anyone for several years. And she was really cool about it, and also glad that somehow, she can just slice me into shreds while still making me feel liked.
Bizarre. Right person, right time, I guess. The hour and a half with her was probably worth a couple of hundie in therapist fees! Plus I was drinking her wine.
Her wine illustrates her perfectly. She had lived with a major wine distributor and a chef, so she's had access to amazing, good wines from all over the world for free. She runs a very successful business she built from the ground up and she is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You know what's on her shelf? A cardboard cask of supermarket dry white wine.
I really like her character and her very down-to-earth, no bullshit approach that she manages to temper with a wicked sense of humour and genuine empathy. I met her through her boyfriend, who is also a really cool person. Great couple.
My stupid body temperature mechanism is broken again. Too hot, too cold, too sweaty, too shaky. What the bloody hell is with that? And I've eaten plenty today, so I don't think it's that. Actually, it's probably listed as a side-effect on one or more of the pills I take on a regular basis, but it's easier to complain about that check the product laballing.
Moan moan moan. Pick from a topic below:
Petrol is expensive.
I hate elections.
What's with kids nowadays?
There's no speed available anymore, it's all bloody 'P'.
Drugs are expensive.
Doctors never listen.
I miss my dog.
Cheese is expensive.
"If I had a microwave" and other money pitfalls
It looks like summer outside but it's not.
I have no paint.
Oh! For a working shower (Deodourant is expensive).
We're a pair and it genuinely feels like I'm missing half of me. It's weird not having anybody to talk to, sing along to the radio with, and no tongue straight in my face as soon as my eyes open in the morning. Sock is so proud of her babies though. I'm really glad we decided to breed her, she is loving the experience.
I have put my foot down about one thing though. No docking, with the unfortunate possible exception of pup that we are obligated to give the breeder who supplied the stud dog. She has over 50 dogs and if you breed them on that scale - particularly breeding females - it's just too messy to have all the extra feathering of the tail.
I was saying to Deb, no way, none of them should be docked - and then she kind of explained to me that this was a big enough deal to be jepoardising her relationship with the stud-dog breeder, and by extension, the high breeding circles both in NZ and the USA, UK and Australia. So I said to her, well, you know your business - unfortunately, they have to be docked within the first 5 days before the cartilage in the tail turns to bone. But I'm not having anything to do with it, I think it's cruel. Thankfully all the others are keeping their tails.
I mean, look at that face and tell me you want to chop off its tail.
Graphic Novels (The Good Kind)
I can't remember the name of the author of the book, but if you have read and enjoyed/learned from the Maus books then you should read Persepolis which is the story of a girl growing up during the Iranian revolution.
It's More Than Most Get
I'm in the middle of a letter to my grandparents. I write to them probably once a month or so. I keep struggling to find things to say that are neither offensive, boring or patronising. I probably (as usual) err on the side of saying than silence. I just keep telling myself that not many 24yr-old grandchildren write to their grandparents 12 or 15 times are year.
I have no idea if mum has mentioned to them that I'm no longer speaking to my parents. I decided I may as well raise the issue just in case they haven't, because I want my grandparents to understand why I won't be attending a wedding later this year.
I tried to be straightfoward and make it factual and non-accusatory. I just said that things aren't the best between my parents and I, and that I am taking some time away from them to work through some feelings, especially around the church/cult my parents bought us up in.
Either Grandma will hate my actions as much as she dislikes my paintings, or she will understand, given that my parents basically cut themselves off from their families in the early days of their association with the church. So I should imagine there are few parallels.
Either way, I don't particularly mind. But one thing I really don't want to buy into anymore is the culture of 'least said, soonest mended' because I think that too often, least said leads to mental gangrene. I'm not ashamed of my actions in this situation and don't intend to act guilty.
A Hacksaw To Escape This Fucking Prison, Please
I have put on quite a lot of weight (more than a kilo) and it is provoking the age old dialogue of "I need to gain weight but I can't stand the way I look when I do." I just don't know what to do about it - I mean, I need the nutrition but surely it is possible to be well nourished without also gaining weight? It just makes me so anxious and confused and sad all the fucking time, it makes it so tempting to just go with the path of least resistance.
It upsets me a lot to be able to pick up fat rolls on my stomach and stuff. I can't possibly be this fat and also describe myself as anorexic anymore. That is good. I need to do more exercise to build the fat into abs. Sit-ups, here we come...
The painkillers my specialist gave me are not working anymore, not even at twice the maximum dosage. I think I see him sometime this week so I will have a begging session with him then. The problem is that most doctors simply don't believe me when I earnestly explain in great detail that my metabolism becomes tolerant to drugs extemely quickly. If they saw the hours I spend rocking to and fro each day and night trying to find a position that hurts a little less, they might believe me... or they might think that rocking and twisting are a mental disorder involving the compulsion to collect cats and tinfoil. Who knows?
I think I have been hypnotised into wanting a cigarette every time I hear, see or read about one. I'll be reading a novel about sex, drinking, drugs and many other vices and not turn a hair. Then a character steps out on the balcony for a cigarette and I think "mmmm, a cigarette would be good right about now."
How weird is that? I must have been hypnotised. I don't even like cigarettes unless I am already drinking or smoking. Cigarettes 'cold', as it were, are just not nice.
Sock had a total of 8 babies, including four chocolate-brown-and-white pups - and even better, two of them are female. Chocolate brown is a new colour and only 3 breeders that we know of can currently can get that colour - it's very hard to get. Deb has bred 38 pups in the last year with a brown daddy and these are the first brown pups. So as you can imagine, Deb is over the moon and so am I.
The other 4 are a nicely marked blue roans (black and white, like their mum). Deb is strongly considering keeping one of the brown females, just in case this is a miracle and she never has another brown, in which case Deb'd be kicking herself up and down the street.
Here are the pictures. The first is the first-born pup about 5 minutes after birth, and the second is a picture of the litter at one day old. Just like dalmations, they carry more white in the coat when they're young. The deeper colouring, feathering and roaning comes in fully when they're about 6-9 months old.
The thing I am most pleased about is that Sock is in fantastic condition. She has managed to keep her bodyweight at the same time as having good-sized pups, which means she has a bit of extra fat to put in the milk, and is muscley and very fit so she won't lose her condition. I mean, only a day before giving birth, she was having her walk around the park and chasing balls. She's just flown through this pregnancy and I'm glad that I followed my instincts about her.
And the really special thing is - she didn't do what all the others have done and find a hidden corner to give birth in. She came up as close to me as possible, right on the bed next to me, licked my hand and got a bit of a pat, and then just got on with the job. I was blown away by the amount of trust she showed. It's not uncommon for bitches to hide their litters, or have them outside or something. Instead she came right close to me by choice.
This morning when I woke up I was sure that Sock would have her pups today. I took her over to see Deb who thought she was about a week away... and 3 hours later, 2 pups have arrived and Sock and her new puppets have been whisked away to Deb's place.
I will calmly watch the TV until 8.30 and then pack some stuff and go over there. Maybe I will stay the night.
I knew it! I knew she'd have them today. We know each other pretty well I guess. We spend at least 95% of our time together; apart from when she is waiting in the car while I do something, we are within a metre or so of each other all the time.
I am charging up the batteries for the camera and will post (probably endless) photos of the puppets and their Mom. (Oh, Iona - don't worry about bandwith, I am storing the images on a separate server and putting in an external link, so they are not counted as part of stonesoup's file total.)
Oh! Puppets! And a damp spot on the new duvet. Sigh. Puppets. *inane grin*
The crisis in Niger is caused by human greed, not act of gods. There is food, abundant food, but a large portion of the population can't afford to buy it, and so are starving to death.
World Vision, Oxfam, and Red Cross are gathering money. For what? I mean, why aren't the people of Niger helping the people of Niger? If they can let their brethen die within 10 minutes walk of a bustling food market, perhaps the aid is likely to be stolen and diverted before it can help the needy.
At some point, the world has to decide whether it is going to babysit Africa or help their own selves. Personally I'd rather see money going to NZ families too poor to eat well, or afford books for their kids, or have electricity connected.
There is need for your money in NZ. Invest in your children's future and ACT LOCALLY to make the world a better place.
Don't salve your conscience sending money to be made into kickbacks to well-fed officials in Niger. It's bullshit and you know it is. Why not take that $20 and give it to the local primary school? Seriously. Let's all donate to the primary school geographically closest to us. That would make a difference that would be on the TV news in short order, a few hundred people doing that.
The best way to get the scent out of scented wax candles is to not set them on fire. Intstead, combine the best elements of "essential oil" burner and scented candles.
Put the scented wax in the top part of the burner, and put an oridinary tea-light in the bottom as per usual. Light the tea-light and it will slowly melt the wax in the cup above. The wax will start to release purfume as long as it is liquid. When you're done, just blow out the tea-light and let the scented wax re-harden. It'll come out the top-part nice and easy for future use. There is so much scent in the wax that you can reuse it for months. They have to put in heaps to get any scent at all from a burning wick.
You can use those 'simmering waffle bars' that Aquisitions has, but it works just as well with Warehous scented candles. At the moment I have chocolate, cinnamon apple, and wildberry waxes. Yummy and much cheaper than incense.