February 28, 2006

Memo: 9 Weeks, Not 12

Just realised that dogs are pregnant for 9 weeks, so I miscounted by 3 weeks and must rush to Chch on Thursday. Damn I'm dumb at times! Were the hell did I get 12 weeks from? All this time I'd been thinking "Oh, wow, she's really big for so early in the pregnancy..." and "I'm sure it seemed quicker last time".

*rolls eyes at self and strains an eye muscle*

ow. And yesterday, I transposed my Tuesday/Monday appointments and ended up doing a lot of pointless driving back and forth, panicking. I write things down carefully in my diary but it doesn't help if I don't check it to see that I've remembered it correctly. ahem.

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February 27, 2006

Best Idea Ever

Are you guilty of sheet-stealing? Sick of waking up to find the dog has somehow appropriated the duvet? Visit this: www.doubleupsforbeds.com. Awesome idea! I must make some.

World's Fastest Indian is an uplifting film. If you haven't already seen it, do. It's funny and unpretentious and warm. Exiting a film with a smile on your face is money well spent, particularly as the tickets were free! (thank you, radio). Tim Shadbolt's cameo was funny, and Anthony Hopkins made a most worthy attempt at the Kiwi accent, I thought.

I don't think I'll go and see Capote though. Having seen (or more importantly, heard) the trailer, I doubt if I could stand that voice for 2 hours on end. I could hardly work out what he was saying half the time.

We also had a look at the new skate park down by Frank Kitts. The big-scale photo exhibition is great, you should make a point of having a look at it. Amazing shots. The new development is nice, but I realised that I am getting conservative in my old age:
- The water feature is extensive, shallow, and unfenced. I can't help but think about a small child getting stuck in the gravel/grasses and drowning.
- The skate park is full of sharp-edged concrete and skaters without any safety gear. Is it much more expensive to make concrete edges a little more roundy? It could probably kill someone to strike one of those sharp edges with a fair amount of force.

I had a horrible night's sleep. Disjointed nightmares from end to end. However! Sok, Rachel and I somehow wound up attending a class in the lobby of MOMA in New York, and it had some amazing sculptures, so it wasn't all bad. But when I woke up this morning, my pj's were soaked from sweating all night. Tasty. There's nothing like waking up cold, clammy and smelly to start your Monday off right.

Reading: - For God, Country & Coca-Cola - Mark Pendergrast
Just Read: - The Good, The Bad & The Inevitable - Barbara Holborow

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February 26, 2006

We Didn't Get A Spot Prize

Which is unfair, because Sock is quite spotty. But other than that, the Animates event was great. The gift bags had shampoo, dog chocolate, a big rawhide bone and a roll of doggie bags in it, and she got free worming tablets, too.

We managed to find the flat - it's a nice little spot and the view is great! Sock amused herself scoring tummy rubs and huggles off various people, and I got to see a bunch of wedding pics. It was such a nice wedding!

Today will be a quiet day I think. Must take Sock for a walk in the park. I've got movie tickets that I must use up, too. Hmm. Rialto tonight perhaps...

Reading: - The Good, The Bad and the Inevitable - Barbara Holborow
Just Read: - Going Postal - Terry Pratchett

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February 25, 2006

Superintendent of Luminous Detail

"Basically, I'm in charge of esoteric minutiae," Mr. Librizzi said the other night while resting after a long day of luminosity. Aside from his duties at the Rivington, he had met earlier with film producers who are shooting a movie in Washington Heights and need help casting authentic looking drug dealers. "They're asking me things like, 'What do Puerto Rican drug dealers eat for breakfast?' " said Mr. Librizzi, who among a select crowd is the go-to guy for such answers.

Mr. Librizzi is in his early 30's, dresses in baggy hip-hop clothing, and wears the kind of wispy beard once seen on the face of Village beatniks. His approach to socializing could best be described as democratic; he counts both movie producers and Puerto Rican drug dealers as friends, and his mind works like a kind of pan-cultural hipster databank, filing away references to the Norwegian novelist Knut Hamsun, say, or the African singer Abdoulaye Diabate. He salts conversations with lines like "Duke Ellington once said there are only two kinds of music. ..."

Want to learn more? He bills by the hour. "I'm outrageously expensive," said Mr. Librizzi, who nonetheless declined to say exactly how outrageously expensive he is, "but I'm the best." His is a highly specialized yet somehow nebulous job. After all, lots of people know lots of things, but how many get paid for it? - nytimes.com

I need to find a job that pays me for reading and then talking about what I've read at great length, or to air my shallow-yet-general knowledge. And fix it up with a spunky job title like Director of Benevolent Monologues or Master of Well Actually.

Today Sock and I are going to the Dog's Day Out at Melling Animates and then to a flatwarming which I hope I can find. I have good directions, but I've been known to drive around in confused circles even with a whole map to refer to. Hopefully Sock will be able to follow her nose to the barbeque...

Reading: - Going Postal - Terry Pratchett
Just Read: - Our Story - Reg and Ron Kray

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February 24, 2006

A Horse In The Hallway

More reports of dog attacks on kids in the Herald. It makes me so angry. To keep a dog that is bred for fighting, in a pack situation, in a city - it's simply foolish.

So many people seem to be completely ignorant about how dogs work. A dog pack is not something that you can dictate. If you have more than one dog, they will develop a pecking order, and you will have very little say over which dog is top dog. If you allow an aggressive type of dog to be a dominant dog as well, you are asking for trouble. The dog needs to know that it is at the bottom of the family pack - and that's easiest to achieve when the other pack members are adult humans who understand dogs well in general, and the breed well in particular.

And if you are going to have a number of aggressive dogs, you really shouldn't do it in the middle of a city. It's like trying to dairy farm in your backyard or keep that dream pony in the hallway closet. It might work for a brief period, but eventually something's going to go horribly wrong.

Dogs need so much exercise. And socialisation. And training. And discipline. And affection. And consistency. Personally I think everyone should be required to raise a dog before they are allowed to raise a child. It's certainly made me recognise that I probably should stick to the dogs for the timebeing. I just wouldn't have the energy to housetrain something for 2 years rather than 2 months.

Reading: - Our Story - Reg and Ron Kray
Just Read: - Romulus, My Father - Raimond Gaita

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February 23, 2006

Misdiagnose Me

Studies of autopsies have shown that doctors seriously misdiagnose fatal illnesses about 20 percent of the time. So millions of patients are being treated for the wrong disease.

As shocking as that is, the more astonishing fact may be that the rate has not really changed since the 1930's. "No improvement!" was how an article in the normally exclamation-free Journal of the American Medical Association summarized the situation.

Ok, that's America. What about NZ? I shouldn't imagine our rates are even approaching as GOOD as theirs, given that there is almost no recourse in NZ against medical idiocy. Personal story: A friend's son was misdiagnosed for over a year as having depression and other mental illnesses, rather than aggressive, terminal cancer. The only reason it was ever recognised is because he got sick enough to be admitted to the ER with body failure, basically. What will happen to that GP? Nothing. And what will happen to that man's 6-yr-old son, growing up without a dad?

But this is an interesting idea, from a company in the USA started by a father after his daughter was misdiagnosed with chicken pox (she actually had a flesh-eating virus): The company sells software that allows doctors to type in a patient's symptoms and, in response, spits out a list of possible causes. It does not replace doctors, but makes sure they can consider some unobvious possibilities that they may not have seen since medical school.

It costs about US$750 per doctor or US$80,000 per hospital, per year. A) Does NZ know about this system? And B) can it be made available to at least some doctors/hospitals here? It sounds like a pretty low cost to me, when it comes to saving someone's life.

(all quotes from the nytimes.com. Visit the article at: NYTimes.com)

Reading: - Romulus, My Father - Raimond Gaita
Just Read: - Reaper Man - Terry Pratchett

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February 22, 2006

Just Here For The Tea, God

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that a small congregation in New Mexico may use hallucinogenic tea as part of a four-hour ritual intended to connect with God.

Justices, in their first religious freedom decision under Chief Justice John Roberts, moved decisively to keep the government out of a church's religious practice. Federal drug agents should have been barred from confiscating the hoasca tea of the Brazil-based church, Roberts wrote in the decision.

The tea, which contains an illegal drug known as DMT, is considered sacred to members of O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal, which has a blend of Christian beliefs and South American traditions. Members believe they can understand God only by drinking the tea, which is consumed twice a month at four-hour ceremonies. - nytimes.com

More Reasons To Reduce P

A recent study of 19,000 men in Los Angles showed that new H.I.V. infections were three times higher among methamphetamine users than among nonusers. Further, drug abuse experts and some law enforcement officials in New York say they fear that the drug could follow the trajectory of another stimulant that spread violent crime, death and the dissolution of communities across New York City a generation ago: crack cocaine.

Dr. Richard Rawson, a researcher at University of California, Los Angeles, who has been studying the drug for two decades. says the appeal of meth is even greater than crack: methamphetamine, which can be smoked, snorted or injected, is just as cheap but packs a more potent and prolonged high. And unlike crack cocaine, whose raw materials are imported from South America, methamphetamine can be made locally from widely available ingredients. - nytimes.com

Did You Know?

35% of born-again Christians in America have divorced, almost the same as the 37% of agnostics and atheists who have divorced - and 23% of born-again Christians have divorced twice. Among Pentecostals the divorce rate is more than 40%. And the region with the highest is the Bible Belt.

Perhaps it should be called the Intolerance Belt.

The Latest Thing In Porn

"In some of our martial arts adult videos, the female stars don't even take their clothes off and there are no climax scenes. What you do get, though, is big girls using all their might to pound little guys, put them into strangleholds and generally beat them, which provides all the excitement masochistic men need to find sexual satisfaction."

We don't get it off, you do? Sounds like a more fun sort of role than Bimbo #2.

Reading: - Reaper Man - Terry Pratchett
Just Read: - Every Breath You Take - Ann Rule

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February 21, 2006

The Great Clothes-Off

It's really scary to throw out clothes I've had for the last 13 years because they no longer fit. It makes the weight gain seem very significant and I feel trapped and panicked by it. The nightmares would be funny were they not, well, nightmares. I keep dreaming that I can't breathe or move because I am too heavy. The other night I drowned in a car because I couldn't fit out the windows. I don't know why I didn't just open the doors!

So I am packing up a bunch of size-8-and-smaller garments and taking them down to the Sallies this afternoon. At least that way they are out of sight, and hopefully out of mind. Luckily there's only a couple of things that I really liked among the throw-outs, including a very cool Japanese jacket. It doesn't even do up anymore. :( oh well. Hopefully some other person will like it just as much.

Another change on the clothing front has been getting rid of bras and wearing sports tops instead. A few years ago I broke my ribs a couple of times and they never really set properly and are out of alignment. Ever since, wearing a standard bra - particularly with underwires - has really hurt the ribs down my left-hand side. Sports tops seem to be the way to go. And it's really convenient to be able to take off your shirt in public on a really hot day and not get arrested for chestal exposure!

Reading: - Every Breath You Take - Ann Rule
Just Read: - No Star Too Beautiful - An Anthology of Yiddish Stories From 1382 to the Present - Joachim Neugroschel

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February 19, 2006

My Favourite Klansman

Ron Stallworth, recently retired from police work, admitted in an interview that a major accomplishment during his 30 years as a cop was not only being a card-carrying member of the racist Ku Klux Klan, but he was even asked, as a "good, loyal Klansman," to lead the local Klan chapter in Colorado Springs, Colo. The Klan didn't know he was a policeman. It also didn't know he was black. "It was one of the most fun" investigations he was involved with, Stallworth said. He did all of his contact with the Klan over the phone. When he couldn't avoid a meeting, a white officer went in his place. His investigation started in 1979, and he said he is amazed no one in the Klan ever caught on. (Deseret Morning News) - thisistrue.com

And on the same theme, check out this contribution: KKK Faithful


This article on nursery-care's effect on young children and their later development is worth a look, and this one on deprived condtions/IQ as well.

The negative effects of nursery care did not have a specific threshold or safety level in terms of the hours spent in care. The more nursery care a child receives, the more the effects received, in a proportional amount. The researchers refer to this as a dose-related effect. There isn't a safe level of nursery care usage for the under-threes (but a little is better than a lot). For anyone who knows children, this is common sense. The toddler is emotionally vulnerable, acutely aware of her social environment, who loves her, and with whom she feels safe. A toddler fears strangers, and is strongly bonded to one or two trusted adults. Babies do not have a sense of time; they cannot understand that "in eight hours' time, my mother will be back". Indeed, they are programmed to assume that if their beloved caregiver leaves, they are in danger. Their body escalates into full panic, measurable in rising levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood.

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February 18, 2006

Email Crime Wave

I keep getting emails asking me to commit crimes. Do these spammers just trust that human nature means that a fair percentage of humans will do something illegal with a total stranger if it looks lucrative enough?

It reminds me of a time when I was in Chch and walked out of the mall to see a group of four people standing around the back of my car. Thinking that it this had to be a bad thing (oh no! the precious tapedeck!) I hurried over, only to find that they were passing a cone around. They attempted to hide it, but as I know from experience, hiding a hot pipe is not easy. Shove it in a pocket and you'll burn your jacket, hold it in your hand and you'd better have an excuse for the barbeque odour.

So I winked and said something along the lines of "Always happens, huh? You just find a quiet spot for a smoke and some bastard interrupts you!" so they knew I wasn't going to spring them. They smiled and offered me a toke.

Well, it was nice of them, but 1) I was obviously just about to get into a car and drive it and 2) I'd just caught them, so they perhaps aren't the most security-conscious dopers around and 3) What if it was a bust? And 4) What if I was a cop? It just didn't seem like a good risk, since I only knew the answer to number 4.


TV3 News had a 2-or 3-day-old story on last night. I'd read 2 days worth of articles about in the Herald, and then Hillary flipping reads out the item with no date references (i.e. No "this happened on Wednesday morning and we're only reporting it as 'news' on Friday night" or anything) yesterday! They should be ashamed. I thought they told us they got us the news first, from all over the world? But they can't adequately cover a story in the CBD of Auckland.


It is delightful to eat Vogels toast with good coffee on a Saturday morning, in a big chair in the sunshine, while reading decent journalism from all over the world. I hope the gods grants Steve Jobs and Bill Gates their own personal spot in paradise, and whoever invented sliced bread gets a prime possie too.


Reading: No Star Too Beautiful - An Anthology of Yiddish Stories From 1382 to the Present - Joachim Neugroschel
Just Read: Victim - The Secret Tapes of Marilyn Monroe - Matthew Smith

Listening to: KiwiFM - Streaming worldwide! 91.7fm in Wgtn

(I like Kiwi. The morning show host signed off with "I'm going to kill myself" the other day. And they don't employ a second-banana morning guy whose job description is "Laugh irritatingly and inananely at everything the first-banana says".)

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February 16, 2006

Turning 60

I've reached this milestone with some apprehension and a good deal of mixed feeling. Fear, hope and disgust in equal parts, I think! However. So, in 52 days I have gained 7.5kg. That's about 150g a day. I've gone from 52.5 to 60kg, and my clothes are starting to feel too tight and I can pick up fat off my stomach. Urgh... However. I'm not experiencing the wild fluctuations in body temperature I used to get though, and the attacks of chest pain are much less frequent. So that's good. But I feel depressed and don't like the way I look, and that's hard.

Other than that, the dr has given me some antibiotics in case it's a long-term lowgrade infection that has been giving me all this recent trouble with pain and sickness etc. Hope it works! I haven't taken antibiotics in years tho, I'm pretty leery of them in usual circumstances.

Reading: Victim, The Secret Tapes of Marilyn Monroe - Matthew Smith
Just Read: Rainbow's End, The Crash of 1969 - Maury Klein

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February 15, 2006

Goodly Is Your Beauty

"Bridegroom, dear to my heart, Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet, / You have captivated me, let me stand trembling before you; / Bridegroom, I would be taken to the bedchamber. / Bridegroom, you have taken your pleasure of me, / Tell my mother, she will give you delicacies; / my father, he will give you gifts."

And that, roughly, are some of the words to what is thought to be the oldest love poem ever found, the words of a lover from more than 4,000 years ago.

Ancient Sumerian. Bizarre. Nice poem though, I thought! Liberated for 4,000 years ago. And from a woman to a man, too.

The tablet in fact contains a daring — and risqué — ballad in which a priestess professes her love for a king, though it is believed that the words are in fact a script for a ceremonial re-creation of a fable by the priestess and the king, Su-Sin. The priestess represents Inanna, the Goddess of Love and Fertility, and the king represents Dumuzi, the God of Shepherds, on the eve of their union. - nytimes.com

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Dot Very Nice

The United States and Israel are discussing ways to destabilize the Palestinian government so that newly elected Hamas officials will fail and elections will be called again, according to Israeli officials and Western diplomats.

Basically the plan is to starve Hamas of cash. The Israelis and the USA between them can easily engineer it so that: Beginning next month, the Palestinian Authority will face a cash deficit of at least $110 million a month, or more than $1 billion a year, which it needs to pay full salaries to its 140,000 employees, who are the breadwinners for at least one-third of the Palestinian population.

[Palestine] will blame Israel and the United States for its troubles, appeal to the world not to punish the Palestinian people for their free democratic choice, point to the real hardship that a lack of cash will produce and may very well resort to an open military confrontation with Israel, in a sense beginning a third intifada.

Mr. Asaad laughed and added: "First, I thank the United States that they have given us this weapon of democracy. But there is no way to retreat now. It's not possible for the U.S. and the world to turn its back on an elected democracy."

When will the USA learn that they don't understand foreign policy and intervention? Every time they stick their fingers into something, it gets a lot worse. But that poor Mr. Asaad. The world can and will turn its back on just about anything, mate. We're a callous bunch without a lot of idealism when you get us collectively.

Here's an interesting test for your humanity that I've stolen from a book I can't remember. Next time you're up in a ferris wheel or somewhere high, notice that when you're far away, humans just look like little moving dots. Then imagine that in order to stop a dot from moving, all you have to do is think it, and no-one else will ever know it was you that did it. Then imagine that for every dot you stop with your mind, you get a million bucks. How many dots would still be moving when you finished your ferris wheel ride? I know I'd be several million dollars richer, if I'm honest.

Thought For Today: What do you think the most common "last words" are? My money is for somekind of swearword. Probably "Ah, fuck!" or "Shit!". Unless "Ow" counts.

(All quotes from nytimes.com)

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February 14, 2006

All Paranoid

Now that Sock's pregnant I just keep thinking... what if someone steals her from the car? She's worth several times as much as the vehicle as it is, and with all those little babies inside she'd be a steal (boom boom). So I've started leaving her at home during the day, which she hates. Being left in the car would definitely be her preferred option, poor thing.

I'm strongly looking forward to having the ability in the (near?) future to adopt another dog for protection. I want to get a lab/rhodesian x or something similar that isn't a dog you'd think of trying to steal. Then I can leave them both in the car.

My dog needs a doggy to protect her...

Valentine's Day Intrigue!

1) The Catholic Church no longer officially honors St. Valentine, but the holiday has both Roman and Catholic roots.

And the Catholics say: The roots of St. Valentine's Day lie in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia... [...] For 800 years the Romans had dedicated this day to the god Lupercus. On Lupercalia, a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year. [!]

And the History Channel says: Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

And then this website says: Some experts state that it originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He died on February 14, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. Legend also says that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it "From Your Valentine".

I just love the Simpson's take on it: Love Day is a classic episode and excellent social satire.

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I'm Never Too Good To Last

I've spent the last month and a half eating more as part of my new year's resolution to gain weight. 7.5kg later and I feel very heavy and frankly rather depressed, but then again, as I said to sokky, I guess one can't extract the core obsession of 14 years from a life in one month and expect not to get some whiplash somewhere along the road.

I did have to cringe inwardly at one friend's (genuine and understandable) reaction of "I knew it was too good to last!" ... I know I'm not great with consistency, but a) A few hard days of depression/adjustment does not a ending make and b) I'm still eating. But they are to be forgiven, because they've known me through a lot of tough times and the reaction was probably entirely logical, based on past experience. Not this time though...

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February 13, 2006

Don't Shoot!

The whole Cheney-massacre sounds like a bad joke. "Millionaire VP shoots millionaire lawyer." He's probably one of the few people on earth who could 'accidentally' shoot a millionaire lawyer and get away with just apologising.

"Hey, good buddy. Sorry about shooting you in the head. I thought you were a grouse!"
"Hey, no problem."

This is one of the reasons that I don't handle guns. See, to be a good gun handler, you gotta have experience. The bad thing about experience is that you have to live through it to gain any benefits. I have enough trouble trying not to kill myself accidentally with everyday objects designed to be safe. What chance have I got with a contraption designed solely to cause death swiftly and easily? It's as irresponsible as allowing 78-yr-old men to wander round in shambling groups with loaded guns in their weekends.

Reading - Rainbow's End: The Crash of 1929 - Maury Klein
Just Read - Comrades: The Rise & Fall of World Communism - Robert Harvey

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Body Blues

I've been sick for the last week and a half, which is how come no updates... I have to call the doctor again today, it's getting ridiculous. On the bright side, I did get them to let me out of hospital so I could go to Jenni and Lee's wedding (which, by the way, was fantastic and really fun) so I shouldn't complain too much.

The wedding was awesome, was so nice to see everyone and really cool to see the marriage of two people I've known for quite a while. It was nice and simple, laid back and really lovely. And Jenni looked so pretty! Lee's speech was also straight-to-the-heart stuff... mind you, I always cry at weddings, so I'm not the most objective of attendees.

If Wellington was damaged badly by an earthquake, would they rebuild it or just move things away, do you reckon? Without all the government services and stuff here, it'd be a very different city.

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February 01, 2006

Mothers' Headache Helper

If you have a lot of tension and you get a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: TAKE TWO ASPIRIN and KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN

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Advance Notice

LMNOP and Fastcrew are performing at a concert in Harcourt Park, Upper Hutt on the 11th of Feb. It starts at 5.30 and cost just $5 at the gate. If anyone's keen in coming along with me, I have space in the car, so just let me know. It should be a good evening. And afterwards, I can take you to my favourite Hutt bar/pizza bar (it's good pizza and cheap beer). I won't drink, obviously, since driving, but the pizza is really, really good.


A mate of mine (that I'll name PoohBear) and I had a real good chat last night, even though it was over the phone and brief. She's a girl I met about 3 years ago and she's just one of those people I automatically clicked with. So it was nice to hear that things are going better in her life - she has been through so much very difficult stuff recently, but she is really strong and constantly picks herself up and carries on. We made some tentative plans for her to come up to Wellington in the next few months for a visit. Hope she does, then I can introduce her to all my cool Wellington buddies! :)

I have slept really badly the last few weeks, I keep getting only about 5 hours of nightmare-laden sleep and then being awake and restless for the rest of the night. I think it's cos I'm trying to cut down on the sleeping-meds (cos I don't like taking too many meds for long periods) and so the old sleep patterns that I took the meds to deal with in the first place are re-asserting themselves. But for the moment, I'd rather have nightmares and wakefullness than dreamless sleep that makes you drowsy all day.

Got a comparatively busy day today, will have to be in town for quite a while. This means Sock will be home all alone, I can't risk leaving her in the car for long periods in this hot weather. I always leave water in the car with her and the windows well down, but in hot weather she really needs to be somewhere much cooler than a mobile greenhouse.

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