An in-tents end to 2010

I've just been camping for the first time in a very long time. Mum and Dad took their caravan to Lake Camp, which is next to Lake Clearwater and not very far from Mt Somers. My aunt and uncle parked their bus next to my parents' caravan, while I slept in a tent. We spent two nights there. Caravans seem like a lot of hassle - there's the fag of hooking and unhooking them to the car (and you really need a bigger car than my parents' two-litre Honda CRV) as well as everything that can go wrong with power and water. And then there's the loo. Your business goes into what is known as a cassette. Cassette? I'd dread to think what happens when you push fast forward. Campervans and buses seem more convenient than caravans, especially if you're touring the country, but they're expensive options.

As for camping, well I enjoyed that as a kid. When we were tucked up in bed we used to tell stories; my brother would inevitably change the subject to tortoises or crocodiles. This time, in my one-man tent, there were no stories although I did have some unusually vivid dreams the first night. Yesterday a whole raft of kids half my age turned up, intent on shouting, swearing and getting hammered. My family didn't enjoy this sudden influx of Generation Who-Gives-A-Shit, and neither did I to be honest. The second night, unsurprisingly, I didn't sleep so well. If we'd stayed there tonight (New Year's Eve) it would have been horrendous I'm sure.

Yesterday we went for a walk around Mt Potts and Erewhon stations and saw Mt Sunday, on which a castle was built to great effect in the Lord of the Rings movies.

I've thought about getting my own tent and maybe going on a camping trip with some friends. It could be a lot of fun, but the problem with any holiday (unless you go alone) is that you're in each other's pockets, and camping only makes that worse. I'll have to think about it a bit more.

I watched a fair bit of the Boxing Day test match from Melbourne (Mum and Dad have Sky) and enjoyed seeing England give the Aussies a good hiding. Cricket is perhaps unique among modern sports in that winning isn't quite everything. There are all kinds of subplots and mini-contests going on - sometimes they can even take centre stage. England have already retained the Ashes, but there's still a lot resting on the fifth match in Sydney.

Just a few hours of 2010 remain. It's been an up-and-down kind of year with some happy times as well as some very sad ones, the loss of Emma being the saddest of all. However I am more positive about the future than I was a year ago, and guess what, I haven't been depressed for months. I'm not naive enough to think that my depression won't return, but for now I'm changing my blog title.

'Sydney-Morning-Herald-Unpublished-Me'

(Sensible Christmas Day clobber - big hat, esky & sunnies!)


As an 'activist' I really don't expect to have my letters published in the Sydney Morning Herald anymore, namely because I have been 'reliably informed' that they don't print campaigners (they print politicians though - how does that work??!!)

Notwithstanding that's the truly great bit about having a blog - you can publish yourself!!! So the letter below is 'pure-smh-unpublished-me' in reply to yesterday's article:

===============================================

The fierce academic debate that continues to rage over bicycle helmet laws (‘Authors admit errors in study on bike helmets and head injuries’, 30/12/2010) only serves to highlight the flawed and contradictory nature of this highly questionable legislation.

Prima facie, the evidence pertaining to helmets is conflicting.

Given that most other countries across the globe openly acknowledge mandatory helmet laws raise issues of civil liberties and consequently leave the decision ‘to helmet or not’ to their individual citizens, it is ridiculous that we are still legally compelled to wear one in Australia.

Moreover the ‘bicycle-helmet-I-did-not-wear’ which resulted in a criminal conviction for me in September 2009, will be illegal to sell from next year anyway - now deemed unsafe which is what I argued in the first place.

It is time that Regulation 256 of the NSW Road Rules 2008 was revoked. Unquestionably the ‘helmet decision’ should be relinquished to the realm of choice.


===============================================

Predictably though, the SMH published today an affirming rant (see John Roache's letter) to bolster the omnipresent, ignorant and uninformed 'smoke & mirrors' argument that continues to prevail in the Australian community.

Putting 'laziness' aside and looking at the facts, how is it difficult to internalise that helmet laws are misleading, deceptive, unsubstantiated and the biggest 'safety-wash' ever? - sigh!

Anyway, here we are at the end of 2010 and whilst it would be easy to despair just a little at the glacial progress we seem to be making, we have raised the profile of helmets & laws & most importantly choice, and we have got everybody chatting - well done, us!!!!

So, what are my plans & resolutions for next year?...well, after much thought, I've pared it right down to this 'teensey-weeney-weeney' one...

"Exposing the 'safety-wash' of helmet laws once and for all by whatever means it takes" - and maybe, just maybe, the new provisions in the 'soon-to-be-renamed' Trade Practices Act might help - fingers crossed!!!!

HAPPPPPPP-ppppyyy New Year, everyone! - and here's to our 'wished-for-freedom' in 2011!!

Quiz Questions (12)

Here are four very mixed quiz questions just for fun! The picture above might help you with one of the answers.

1) Who was the ancient Greek goddess of Victory?

2) Who was the leader of the wolf pack in The Jungle Book?

3) Of which best-selling book is this the opening sentence?


Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. If superior creatures from space ever visit earth, the first question they will ask, in order to assess the level of our civilization, is: "Have they discovered evolution yet?" 4) From which book was the name Starbuck taken and used by the coffee-shop chain?



Answers are now given in the comments!

"Figgy Pudding" at last!!!!

(babies no. 3 & 4 - plus "Miffy" too!)


After an anxious 'airport-wait', baby no. 2 just 'snuck' in for the last few minutes of Christmas Day - Yay!!!!!

Merry xmas, everyone!!!! Chat soon xx

Retraction ... sort of

The retraction

Today's mail included a card for each boy with a monetary gift.

The sort of

They still irritate the bejeebers out of me.

Understanding -- and the lack thereof

There are many things I understand.

I understand that Death happens.
I understand that grief changes people.
I understand that some people never recover themselves once they have been changed by grief.
I understand that I cannot understand.

There are some things I will never understand.

I will never understand why my in-laws ignore their son's sons.
I will never understand why they don't send gifts or cards, or even call or email on Christmas.
I will never understand how they can erase their son's children from their conscience.
I will never understand how even today -- on Nick's birthday -- there is nothing but silence from them.
I will never understand how they can not even acknowledge him on this day.

I will never understand.

Happy Boxing Day

I'm happy to report a stress-free Christmas. Five of us (my aunt and uncle, Mum, Dad and I) spent the afternoon down the Orari Gorge. Perfect day for it - not too hot. If I'd had my togs I would have swum in the water. We all ate too much but didn't drink much, and were back by about six. Mum is suffering from quite bad lower back pain - she's always been so fit and healthy; I'm unused to seeing her like that.

I met up with Phil in Timaru today. He's staying with his mother in Waimate but now lives in Dunedin (he studied there for ten years and got a PhD so it's like a second home to him). Just like last year we had coffee at the Purple Lizard café (opposite the Mascot Finance building, now just a shell); just like last year we talked about finding jobs; just like last year we played mini golf; just like last year he beat me by six shots. From our chat, perhaps I should be looking at jobs outside Auckland, but I really don't want to lose my friends.

Sonny Update (2)

Sonny has begun his course of chemotherapy and so far it has gone without a hitch. It is expected that he will begin to feel the bad effects in a few days but there is a possibility he could spend a few days at home starting on Christmas day.

The staff at Great Ormond Street continue to show a dedication beyond what one would have thought possible; he has a strong bond with many of the nursing staff and doctors and has a good understanding of what is happening to him.

The Supporting Sonny Through Lymphoma Group on Facebook now has approaching 300 members. Thanks to the bloggers who have joined. (By the way, a quick way to stop notifications coming as an email every time something is posted to the group is to click on 'Edit Settings' on the top right hand of the group page and take the tick out of the box which says 'Email notifications to...').

In the picture above Sonny is playing a guitar given to him by the Great Ormond Street charity. Last night four burly men from the London Fire Brigade came into the room with sacks of presents for him to choose from. He chose a Teddy Bear.

The family continue to be bowled over by the generosity shown to Sonny and to all of us.

May you have a peaceful and healthy Christmas, New Year and whatever else you may celebrate!

Christmas is postponed...!!!


I have 'postponed' Christmas until our beautiful baby no. 2 is back in Australia with us! - there is no way Christmas can happen at Heathrow Airport - I won't let it!!!!

(We love you, little pippi-lippi! - bon voyage!!!! & don't fret; Chrissie is on hold!!! xxxxx)

Blessings of the season

... from my house to yours.

Thank you for sticking with me even when I have little to say.
Thank you for laughing with me, crying with me, and sighing with me.
Thank you for offering words of support and encouragement.
Thank you for allowing me this little corner of the internet to muse and be amused.

Thank you.

Gorillaz

On Tuesday night I saw Gorillaz with Richard and two others from the Asperger's group. It took a bit of logistical jiggery-pokery for the four of us to actually meet up, but when we did so, the gig was well worth waiting for. We caught the tail end of De La Soul, a hip-hop act who had been around for some time and were pretty famous by all accounts - not really my cup of tea I suppose, but they did a great job of getting the audience in the mood for the main event.

And the main event was brilliant. There was just so much music. I wasn't expecting a full-blown orchestra (or anything like it) but we had a brass section at the front which included one of those crazy tuba things that fits around your body (I've just Googled it - it's called a sousaphone), a string ensemble at the back and of course guitars, drums and a keyboard. In the middle of the show we were greeted with an Arabic orchestra which was a delight to listen to. In the middle of all those instruments was Damon Albarn bouncing around manically. I guess all of this was possible because most of the line-up were guest performers. There was so much going on, including all the cartoon animation on the big screen, that at times I didn't know where to look.

There seemed to be a few underlying political messages - the tour was called Plastic Beach after all, a title that conjures up images of the BP oil spill disaster. There was a song called Super Fast Jelly Fish, or something along those lines, with pictures of greasy all-you-can-eat fast food joints and lyrics that went "you can't see it but you still want to eat it". The Auckland show was their last on a three-month tour, and unfortunately quite possibly their last ever. So I was very grateful to get the chance to see them.

I had an earlyish flight yesterday so I had a nap when I got to Geraldine; the temperature was very conducive to falling asleep. It looks like I'll be in for a hot Christmas.

Can't stop Christmas

Christmas. It's coming and there's nothing I can do to stop it. Apparently it's a whole year since it was last here, although I find that hard to believe. This year, however, I'm going to try very hard not to get stressed by Christmas and perhaps even enjoy it. I'll be heading down to Geraldine this time tomorrow (the first time I'll have been down there for almost a year). Christmas should be relatively quiet stress-free this year - on the day itself there will only be a handful of us.

While I'm in the South Island, Richard will be hosting a Christmas dinner here in Auckland for anyone from the Asperger's group who wishes to attend. I think that's a wonderful gesture - for many people, Christmas can be a very lonely time. If I was staying up here I would definitely have gone. Last Saturday the Asperger's group had its Christmas party. It was great to see such a big turnout - there must have been nearly forty people there - even if it got rather noisy and echoey (is that a real word?).

We've had shocking weather - about four days of non-stop rain. It's also been very humid, with overnight lows (!) of around 20 degrees. Drying clothes has proven nearly impossible so I've been forced to wear my emergency undies. If it's any consolation (and it is considerable consolation), I'd much rather have our weather than what the UK are going through. I don't envy all those poor Kiwis stuck at Heathrow trying to get home for Christmas.

Last week I had a look at Onehunga. I can see its attractions (it would be an inexpensive suburb for one) but I have reservations about living there: it's just a bit too far from everything and I'd be a bit worried about its crime rate. It looked a bit down-at-heel and reminded me of some parts of Birmingham (not that there's anything wrong with that - I liked living in Brum). It had a very good fruit and vege shop, an interesting second-hand bookshop and perhaps best of all the Dress Smart mall. I try and avoid malls if I can, but I do need to buy clothes occasionally, and for some reason you could buy the same clothes a lot more cheaply than elsewhere. So I'll certainly want to spend some more time in Onehunga but that doesn't mean I'll want to live there. I spoke to Richard and he pretty much agreed with me.

Last Monday I played interclub for the last time in 2010. I played with Superman in the doubles (again) and we lost (again), 6-3 6-4. I think we would both do better if we split up (well he certainly would; I'm so bad at the net that it might not matter who I play with). My singles was a different story - I knew my older opponent and thought I should beat him, but never expected to do so 6-1 6-1. I played well but he came to the net too often and I was able to pass him. He also got frustrated, and at times I felt I was the older player waiting for my 18-year-old opponent (he was actually fifty-something) to blast the ball out. We actually had a lot of good rallies though, and the score flattered me somewhat. Superman won his singles 6-2 6-2, reinforcing our need for a divorce from doubles.

My mental health service produces a quarterly newsletter. I'm part of the production team (apparently, although to be honest I'm not all that up with the play). I did however submit a cryptic crossword that I created; I'll be interested to see how that is received. I might even post the crossword on here in the next couple of days.

There will be no rest for me before I go away. My flat is still a complete mess, I've got all my packing to do and I'm taking my car in for a warrant this afternoon. Then tonight I'm seeing Gorillaz at the Vector Arena with Richard and two other people from the Asperger's group. I haven't seen too many live bands (unfortunately) and I've never seen a live virtual band before, but if it's got Damon Albarn in it, it must be good.

Why are mainstream media so wedded to bike helmet laws?

(Photos: Christmas card from Oxford, UK)


Something that has baffled me throughout my campaign to make bicycle helmets a matter for choice is the faith-based attitude our media have towards bicycle helmet laws and why they continue to barrack for them!

Can anyone explain to me why they take this position?

Why are they not intrigued by the continuous conflicting academic discussion (one that has lasted for 20 years no less)?

Why are they not concerned with the limited nature of actual helmet testing?

Why aren't they fascinated by the fact that other nation states are not tripping over themselves to embrace this protection programme (they did when we came up with our 80s HIV protection programme)?

Why don't they investigate who actually funds the main bicycle advocacy groups and why these bodies are so silent on the issue of advocacy?

Why aren't they shouting from the roof-tops that it's ridiculous that we have these laws when the evidence remains contradictory, flawed and largely unenforceable?

Clearly there are notable exceptions like Mike Pritchard from ABC Rural Radio, Jo Jones from Bike-Love, & Matthew Moore from the Sydney Morning Herald who no doubt have personal views on the subject but are capable of putting them aside for genuine 'reporting' purposes. Notwithstanding these individuals, the general timbre of our media has not been one of 'reporting', but one of opinion & unquestioning faith.

Basically it's been:

'Shock! horror! - you're bonkers! - you're totally out of your tree! - what planet are you from?!!!'

...pathetic & predictable - my disillusionment abounds (sigh).

Admittedly, it wasn't really a surprise to get the 'grilling' I received from the '7PM Project', and anyway, the live nature of the show offered me a chance to express my position whilst simultaneously protecting me from being misconstrued.

No, the big 'let-down' was Wendy Carlisle's report for 'Background Briefing' in September.

I have been a 'Background Briefing' tragic for years and I was so disappointed that my 'all-time-favourite-show' failed to deliver its usual balanced discussion on a particular topic. The premise that it had was disingenuous and shallow - any listener could spot the veil of pretense as it blatantly 'cheered-on' the promoters & supporters of helmet laws.

I have no problem with people choosing to wear a helmet, but I vehemently and actively object to being forced to partake in this risky behaviour and will continue to resist this emotional 'battery-of-me' at all costs.

To me, it is clearly evident that helmet spin is:

* inaccurate

* unspecific

* unsubstantiated

* misleading

* deceptive

* 'safe-washing'

In fact all things considered, there's a fine line between 'mandatory standards' & 'recalls' & 'bans', so I cannot understand for the life of me why my government forces me to wear a 'questionable' helmet, that has already sustained a blow, albeit a testing one, so is therefore no longer capable of sustaining another one, so therefore ought to be replaced immediately, whenever I hop onto my bike...

...can anyone?

...& if you can, can you explain it to me?

Thanks!!

Spotlight on a Website (3): Ted.com

TED Ideas Worth Spreading
ted.com is a free website that exists to spread knowledge by posting short talks from experts in all sorts of fields. The videos range from about three minutes to 20 minutes in length and are usually totally absorbing. I try to listen to at least one every day.

It might sound rather dull; if it does that's my fault because the range of topics is far-reaching and the speakers, always in front of a live audience, are at the peak of their field of expertise. Here are some I've watched recently:

  • Malcolm Gladwell: On Spaghetti Sauce. Recorded in 2004, business-based but well worth watching.

  • Seth Godin: Hilarious talk from 2006 called 'This Is Broken' 

  • Tim Birkhead: On the early birdwatchers. Suprisingly attention-grabbing.

  • Julia Sweeney: On letting go of God. Comedienne being deeply thought-provoking.

  • Tan Le: A headset that reads your brainwaves. 'nuff said?

Have a search and find your own favourites and let me know what you find at Ted.com

Oh tannenbaum! O tannenbaum!

(Photos: the perfect 'green' christmas tree)


Funtimes getting our tree from Glebe yesterday, though you wouldn't believe how heavy this little pint-sized thing was!!!! - why, I ask myself, did I choose the one that had just been watered?

But all that aside, my pretty little cargo made people smile as I cycled from Glebe to Newtown - so much friendliness and goodwill - maybe I should cart an xmas tree around all the time?!

Aaahhh! Christmas Tree Karma! - truly the perfect touch to any cycle trip!

...now of course we need to decorate it - and I've got this little tiny hunch, it isn't going to take very long!!!!

Sonny Update (1)

Sonny asked me to paint him a picture so here it is. I copied it from a children's book but he loves it and it's in his hospital room. He has been feeling better these last couple of days but the chemotherapy starts in earnest next week and it will inevitably make him very unwell.

Today he met Mickey and Minnie!

Academia & Bicycle Helmet Laws



During this past week there has been some discussion concerning Associate Professor Chris Rissel’s study published in the August edition of the “Journal of Australasian College of Road Safety”.

Featuring on the Croakey Health Blog, Tim Churches' article and Chris Rissel's response have made for interesting reading - in fact one could say they lend further weight to our important campaign to revoke bicycle helmet laws.

To me the continuing academic debate on the matter only confirms how ridiculous it is that we are still legally compelled to wear a bicycle helmet in Australia.

Why is it that our nation struggles with this notion when most nation states across the globe openly acknowledge that mandatory helmet laws raise issues of civil liberties? Accordingly the decision ‘to helmet or not’ in those countries is left to their individual citizens. It is time this practice was adopted here, and relinquished to the realm of choice.

...and as a little addendum; who is 'Wade Wallace'? - poor darling needs a set of trainer wheels rather than a helmet!!!!

Furthermore, after watching the TAC's salutary holiday reminder, whatever our positions on helmets are, they're completely irrelevant in the current modus operandi of Australian motor-vehicle culture.

Why let truth get in the way of good promotion?



For the past 20 years we have been at the mercy powerful, well connected forces within the 'helmet-manufacturing-brigade'.

Not only have their seemingly entrenched powers screamed discrimination, but they have cleverly fuelled the unfounded hysteria that abounds in our Australian community. Consequently they have effectively 'neutered' our politicians.

Notwithstanding these obvious marketing tactics, our leaders continue to 'duck' behind preposterous protection claims underpinned by opinion and anecdotes.

Undoubtedly a cultural disconnect exists between the 'helmet-saves-lives' rhetoric and actual evidence of fact - and as a result, we suffer accordingly.

I have now reached the conclusion that:

* the NSW Minister for Roads & Transport is never going to write back to me - clearly

* I have stumped him - clearly

* He is at a loss at what to say next - clearly

...so perhaps I can help with this 'simple solution'...

REPEAL MANDATORY HELMET LAWS!!! - they are never going to work!

Eh.

I know I should post more often, but I simply haven't felt like it. Either I've been busy with good things going on or depressed and anxious with bad things going on.  Regardless, I simply haven't been in the mood: Maybe I don't need this blog anymore?  But I'll give a brief summary of goings on...

My mom is having more bad days than good, and her symptoms on her bad days are more pronounced. Needless to say, it's hard to watch.  But her good days are good, and we're enjoying the Christmas preparations. Her younger sister (my favorite aunt) visited for Thanksgiving, and we all had a wonderful time together, including a last-minute jaunt up to the Grand Canyon.  That was probably my mom's last road trip ...

Sometimes, it seems like the boys are making progress; sometimes it seems awful and unbearable and I want to curl up in a corner and cry.  Rock had a 3- to 4-week period of getting into trouble at school every time he turned around; but he seems to be making a concerted effort to improve his behavior and change that. HardPlace turns 13 in February and I cannot begin to tell you how sick I already am of his sulky teenage demeanor. I simply want to strangle him.  Schoolwork is just a constant battle with him. His apathy toward it is so foreign to me that I have a hard time remaining civil about it.  He makes me want to scream. But sometimes he can be so sweet and friendly that he simply makes me smile from the inside out.

We're all looking forward to a great Christmas. The main festivities will be at my house, because my sister is out of town until the 23rd. The boys and I have begun the decorating, and the spirit is building in all of us.  Of course, that also brings twinges of sadness and longing for what we've lost. St. Nicholas Day always brings a tear to my eye, missing that wonderful man I married.

Finally, in a raging bout of self-pity -- which I don't indulge too often -- I am utterly miserable about turning 50 next month. I wouldn't care if Nick were here, but he's not. I see my high school classmates (who are also turning 50) taking romantic trips with their hubbies. And getting beautiful bling from them. Or having huge parties with their friends. I want a romantic getaway. I want bling. I want a big party. But that won't happen.  Yes, I could beg for child care and go someplace.  But I don't want to go alone. Yes, I could buy myself some jewelry. But I want someone to buy it for me. And if I were in Maryland, I would have a great party with my friends. But I'm not. I know it's just a number, but it feels so heavy around my neck. Turning 50 -- as an unemployed single mom without any friends in town -- really makes me feel like I will be alone for a very long time.  I gotta get over that one.

That's all I've got for now. Hardly worth writing about, but there it is.

Jobless again

I played tennis on Tuesday night in what they call a Business House competition. Because one of the earlier weeks was rained off, we played six mini-matches instead of four. By the end of the evening I'd reached the "sod it" stage. If I hadn't known in advance we'd be playing so many games (and many people didn't) I don't know how I would have coped. From memory I won the first match I played, drew the last, and lost all the rest. I've got interclub tonight and another Business House tennis-a-thon tomorrow night.

On the subject of sport, I scanned the football results on Wednesday and this one caught my eye: Leyton Orient 8 Droylsden 2 - after extra time! This was from an FA Cup second-round replay (they had drawn 1-1 in their first meeting at Droylsden). Orient were 2-0 down at one stage, and were still a goal behind when they scrambled an 89th-minute equaliser to keep them in the competition. Then came a crazy half-hour which must have produced some kind of record. The scorer of the equaliser struck twice more in extra time and there was another hat-trick scored entirely in extra time. Both sides finished the match with nine men and the Droylsden manager was also banished from the dug-out! So there is some magic left in the FA Cup after all. From what I could tell, the referee saw pity on Droylsden by blowing for full-time after 119 minutes - with all those stoppages for bookings and sendings-off (and of course goals) there should have been enough added time for Orient to hit double figures. Until last week I had no idea where Droylsden was (apparently it's in Manchester). Its football team (who play in the sixth division and are nicknamed the Bloods of all things) are no strangers to, well, strange Cup ties.

Friday was my last day at work. It was good while it lasted. I had a pretty much stress-free run of three months, which was considerably longer than I expected. I left my details with my boss should he ever need somebody again. I got on well with him, even though our personalities were quite different. I'll miss the F-bombs and his mispronunciations which at first I thought were deliberate. Apparently he drives a Missabitsi. He'd ask me about a claim for a property on Bethlehem Road. You mean Blenheim Road? At least you always knew where you stood with him. It was nice just to have a job that wasn't dressed up into this big frothy career, but now I face the unenviable task of finding work again.

On Friday night I went to a Christmas party put on by my mental health service. It was a bit of an eye-opener - some people I saw clearly weren't in a good way at all. Some of them must have a hard time looking after themselves - while I was in the queue for dessert there was a distinct whiff of pee. The food was reasonable but by the time I got there (almost seven - it started at four) the main course could have done with a quick zap in the microwave. I thought the highlight of the evening was the band, who did a very good job considering they had hardly practised. The organisation is fortunate to have a number of talented musicians in its midst. It was good to meet up with some people from the men's group who for one reason or another no longer attend.


I rang my gran when I got back from the party. I struggled to make any sense of her, although it was clear that she wasn't happy. At least she picked up the phone this time; she has her own phone in her room but hasn't been picking it up of late - either she's forgotten how to use it or just doesn't want to talk. In future I'll try and ring her in the morning (her evening) when she tends to be better.

On Saturday I met up in a café on K' Road with Richard and another regular of the Asperger's group (a female) to talk about the possibility of flatting. I think the arrangement could work very well. My only issue is having to leave the Shore where I've spent the best part of seven years. If the plan goes ahead, the most likely suburb we'll end up in at this stage is Onehunga, a place I don't know at all. I intend to spend some time there on Wednesday to get a feel for the place.

Yesterday the Asperger's group met up for our second picnic in Cornwall Park. Good weather for it - in fact a little too warm if anything. There was a big turnout - there must have been close on twenty. Some of them set up a game of cricket (one of the members of the group is a big fan of the game) and I joined in half-way through (after a bit of a doze - it was that kind of weather). My batting was OK but my bowling was pretty shocking! It was a good afternoon which Richard (who else?) organised. He's also holding a Christmas dinner - a great idea because a lot of them don't have families and must feel quite alone over the festive period.

Tennis tonight then. Hope I don't break anything this time.

Sonny



This is my five-year-old grandson, Sonny. He is one of the most delightful people I have ever met. He is kind, friendly, chatty, funny and very bright.

Sadly, he is currently in Great Ormond Street hospital in central London, one of the world's leading children's hospitals, having had a tumour removed and is now about to begin an agressive course of chemotherapy to defeat B-cell Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood.

Doctors are confident that he will make a full recovery but he faces a tough time ahead.

He is not expected to return to school for six months.

The most remarkable thing, to my mind is, the bravery of himself and his parents, my younger daughter Laura and son-in-law Lloyd. His Aunty Ruthie, my other daughter, gets over 70 responses to some of the update posts she puts on Facebook and she has started a Supporting Sonny through Lymphoma Group.

The huge network of support we have all received is overwhelming and I thank everone who has helped and sent good wishes.

I may be blogging a bit less in the short-term future.

We all love you Sonny!

Silly-season - 'Down-Under'



With summer holidays just begining for many, the TAC have put out a timely reminder - a shocking and devasting montage.

Secret public lives for all



Politics & public life appear to be:

* smoke & mirrors for private interests

* hi-jacked globally by Big Corpa (check 18 millionaires in British 'austerity' cabinet)

* super-eager to attribute 'persona non gratia' status to very 'public' Big Wiki as he broadcasts very 'public' information to public in very 'public' 'sort of way'

...respect!, Julian Assange!, you are a giant!

Wisdom on a 'napkin'!!!



C'est parfait!!!! - I'll give it a whirl tomorrow!!!

Old news

Gran’s mental and physical health tend to go hand-in-hand. I was a bit worried when I spoke to her on the phone a week ago, then on Wednesday she was rushed off to hospital – her gut was playing up again. This has been a recurring problem for her. Dad feared the worst (and so did I – in the past she’s always bounced back but she’s so much weaker now). He booked an emergency flight to the UK which he wasn’t looking forward to. They’re having atrocious weather over there. But somehow her gut cleared later in the week and she’ll probably be let out of hospital in the next day or two. That’s a relief. Dad managed to change his flight to February.

Speaking of the elderly, last night I watched Young @ Heart (or tried to – I was still involved in a poker tournament when it started; I also got a call from my parents). It was a documentary film about a group of elderly people in America who tour the country (and overseas) giving unusual renditions of modern pop songs. Most of them had no singing experience so their director certainly had his hands full. I found their version of the Ramones’ I Wanna Be Sedated hilarious, and somehow appropriate. At the end of the film they showed a chap of about eighty (and probably twenty stone) perform Coldplay’s Fix You. This was supposed to be a duet but his singing partner had recently died of a heart attack. I have to say I found his performance very moving. I don’t know what it is about old people singing, but it reminded me a lot of Johnny Cash when he sang Hurt – it really made my hair stand on end. Just like Cash, the Fix You singer died months later.

There isn’t a lot of news from my end. The earthquake claims have been gradually tailing off, so Friday looks like being my last day at work.

Painting of the Month (12): December 2010, Banksy






laist.com

Who is 'Banksy'? Nobody knows. Well, obviously someone does but the general public don't. (Actually he is Robert Banks from Bristol). He is a British grafitti artist who has taken the form to a new level.
This picture, informally, known as 'Banksy's Maid' is a piece of trompe l'oeil ('trick the eye') painted on a London wall and sinced removed or you might prefer the term 'destroyed by the Authorities'.
His stuff is usually humorous and often bitingly political and always very skilled and expertly executed. But he is a bad boy because he uses public spaces - you generally don't see his work hanging in galleries.
He is a people's artist in the truest sense of the word.

Lady is a Tramp!



"You're a fucking tramp!"

- aaahhh! latest term of 'motoring' endearment received yesterday at red lights!!!

...and I couldn't help humming...

...she loves the free, fresh wind in her hair...
...life without care...

...(tum-tum-ti-tum)...
...(la-la-la-lah-lah-la-la-la-lah)...
...that's why the lady is a tramp!!!


Yup that's me! - thank you, mister, tell me more anytime - love it!!!!!

=======================

(& of course needless to mention, oodles of thanks go to 'Ella' too!!!)

Oil-infusion politics



The notion of a 'Playstation Mentality' sums up the vicarious approach to life dictated to by The West's voracious demands to fuel it's 'oil-infused' lifestyle.

Consequently, we implacably ignore 'real-time' human rights if & when they don't suit us.

This questionable behaviour has set us on a destructive trajectory...& is more often than not state sanctioned.

Providing a 'big win' to Australian motorists only further 'fuels' commitment to 'oil-infused' lifestyles.

To remain this disconnected is to do so at everybody's peril.