A worthwhile cause

As a rule, I don't plug charitable organizations or contests.  I don't have a particular reason not to do so; it's just not my thing. So when I DO promote something, you know it's a big deal. Right? Right!

Charity Wings "is a volunteer run organization that serves as a resource for crafters and artists that want to fundraise for their favorite causes. Their mission is to raise money and awareness for noble causes through unique creativity based events and online fundraisers." They are currently running a contest to determine what organization will win the proceeds from an auction at the summer Craft and Hobby Association trade show. This could be a really big deal.  The trade show is, so the auction could raise a fair bit of money.

Acts of Simple Kindness offers financial support to widows and widowers so that their children can participate in programs supporting education, athletics, music, and the arts. Being able to stay in a favorite activity gives the grieving child a sense of stability; starting a new activity gives them a sense of hope for the future.

ASK is one of the three finalist organizations in Charity Wings' current fundraising effort. I cannot overstate the importance of ASK's mission. Please, vote for Acts of Simple Kindness!

Unfortunately, they didn't make it easy:

1. Go to this blog post on Charity Wings' page.

2. Post a comment saying that you cast your vote for ASK -- if you're a widow with kids, say so! If you know a widow with kids, say so!  Sign your name, so they know it's not a duplicate vote.

3. If you have a blog of your own, feel free to copy this post verbatim to spread the word.

Voting ends July 8. (Maybe sooner -- that's when they will be announcing the winner.)

The Eternal Holding Pattern



So the Hon. Dunk gave me a bell today - well, actually someone from his office did - and the long and the short of the conversation was that he can't meet me but his Parliamentary Secretary can!!!!

...sigh...but I've done that meeting already, and got the 't-shirt'!!!...

"What exactly would be the point?" (I asked his lovely young-sounding advisor)

"I want to change the law not chat about it interminably" I continued

"I feel fobbed off"

"You're just keeping me in a 'holding pattern'"

"How can his diary be so full that there's no flexibility to insert matters of importance?"

...big breath in by beleaguered diarist & I was politely informed that very important & key industry leaders meet Parliamentary Secretaries often...

"They obviously have too much time on their hands - I want this law changed in my lifetime"

AAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

"You've already won me over"





What is it with the Australian media and their utter commitment to whatever persuasion of helmets are on offer?

Fran, Fran, Fran, why did you let Dr Donovan off so lightly during brekkie this morning particularly when he sounded so shaky?...and exactly who are Sports Medicines Australia (SMA)? - why should we be impressed? - sounded like an industry group such as Big Pharma or even Big Helma, most likely both!!

But back to you, Fran & the ABC, why did you give us this blatant helmet advertisement with our croissants & coffee - you're supposed to be 'ad-free' (the ABC that is) - even Dr Donovan had to concede that head injuries were 'not really more'!!!

So what's the go? - & excuse me, since when have high profile deaths provided 'sufficient research and clinical evidence' to call for a law as opposed to...what...low profile deaths?...& whilst I'm asking this tonne of questions, what exactly does the 'protective effects of ski helmets have been more than proven' mean? - can something really be more than proven?

Oh & yawn! yawn! yawn! - we had this 'same old, same old commercial' in June 2009 - BORING!

Give us a break! - but anyway now that Fran & the ABC have given SMA a bit of airplay I'm guessing we all rushed off to check them out!...

...don't SMA's partners seem familiar? - faded family photo-album familiar!

My, doesn't the logo of DJO Global (formerly Donjoy Orthopaedics Pty Ltd) resemble that of SAI Global - are they related? - does anyone know?

...& me oh my, don't these SAI Global & DJO Global (formerly Donjoy Orthopaedics) companies get around? - fancy SAI, almost a rellie of our little bicycle helmet law, & DJO, obviously a rellie of SMA, being involved with so many important tenders - omnipresent one might say!!!!

But why are we barracking for more helmets when other countries around the world are recognising the potential catastrophic consequences of helmet wearing. In March this year, a bipartisan bill was introduced into Congress intending to prevent concussion and other serious brain injuries among high school and youth football players as well as increase penalties for promoting helmet sales using injury prevention claims.

Misleading marketing claims and the fact that helmet industry standards do not address concussion prevention or reduction have long been high-lighted by seasoned anti-helmet law campaigners here in Australia. But our government will not listen to our concerns about 'fraudulent safety claims' & wanton safety washing?

No way, they say - not on your nellie!

WAKE UP, AUSTRALIA! - why aren't we doing the same as the rest of the world?

...& WHEN WILL OUR MEDIA CEASE WITH IT'S FATUOUS PROVISION OF FREE AD-TIME FOR HELMET PROMOTERS?

...sigh

Putting my own job into perspective

Some not-so-great news this morning. My brother is off to Afghanistan. Mum and Dad only found out when a pile of bumph from the British army arrived in the mail. He's already put his body on the line enough thank you very much, which is why he wanted out of the army. But they recently persuaded him to stay by giving him a new (supposedly front-line-free) role. Of course my brother (thirty next month) is experienced and a very useful man to have on the front line, so they'd love him to go. My own job feels pretty damn good all of a sudden.

Last night I attended the Asperger's group, which took place at their offices in Thorndon instead of at a pub. There were five of us, a massive improvement on the previous turnout. Unusually for Asperger's groups, women were in the majority. The other bloke wasn't your typical Aspie at all (there's no way I would have picked him) - I wondered if he had ADHD instead. The two women I hadn't met before were both in their twenties and very easy to get along with. The topic of conversation changed at lightning speed; not every topic would be printable in your local gazette.

My car failed its WOF in style; I was quoted a ridiculous amount to get it up to scratch. I took it in on the way to work and was wearing a suit so perhaps they saw me coming. I don't trust car mechanics any further than I can throw them so I'll get it tested somewhere else, hoping all the "failure notes" didn't get permanently stored in the system, and see what happens.

Being able to survive without a car is one of the (several) great things about Wellington. It's also just as well I've got off-street parking or else I'd face a $200 fine. I'm amazed the local council can issue fines for expired WOFs - it should be a police matter surely. Parking fines for expired WOFs and registrations are a regressive form of tax for two reasons: people with lower incomes are more likely to have to park on the street and get clobbered with the fine in the first place, and of course if you earn less the $200 is a bigger proportion of your income.

Wimbledon is in full swing but it's not the big deal to me it once was. I no longer meticulously write out a draw sheet with all the winners and losers and scores. I no longer bring my bedroom TV down to the living room so I can watch two matches on different channels at the same time. My move to New Zealand didn't help. But still I've been keeping vaguely up to date with the action. The top women's seeds have been dropping like flies. Sharapova must be the favourite now, but I'm rooting for Marion Bartoli. Her unusual playing style and bouncing around between points make her seem completely mad. We need more of that in tennis. She plays her quarter- final tonight. After her last three matches (saving three match points, then winning 9-7 in the third, then beating Serena) she probably thinks she can't lose.

Update: I put the mockers on Miss Bartoli. All that bouncing around caught up with her in the end. She saved three more match points in the second set against Sabine Lisicki, then levelled the match on a tie-break only to lose the third 6-1. Sharapova on the other hand stormed into the semis, beating Cibulkova 6-1 6-1.

'Mention' today - 'Defended Hearing' in 2 weeks



Matter mentioned today in the Scone Local Court - set down for Defended Hearing (Monday 11 July)...which means 2 weeks to prepare 'killer' defence with 'Necessity' starring in the lead role

Academics continue to 'ping-pong' from one academic study to next...which only leaves me ready to ask a string of quezions.

$$$ If this new study is the most comprehensive analysis of hospital data yet, why did the authors omit data pertaining to age and gender of cyclists?

$$$ How is it that new schools and institutes 'pop-up' & 'close' when conveniently required (take for example the UNSW School of Risk & Safety Sciences which only recently claimed to be 'Australia's largest & most research intensive university school' yet by December 2010 had closed 'in response to realignment of strategic focus within the same faculty of science')???

The authors of this latest study concede findings are based largely on assumptions which just ain't good enough when you're dealing in curtailing folks' civil liberties...

In fact in the words of Australia's Chief Scientist there is:

'no place for deliberate misinterpretation of data either by expert or by commentator'

& it's ever so...

'easy to make a dollar or two being the instant expert on everything and substituting decibels for substance.'

in addition to the fact that...

'...most (scientists) would also say that it is extremely rare for the experimental sciences to prove something rather than to reach a view that is beyond reasoanable doubt'

Interesting article in New York Times today on Europe's approach to cars and their urban landscapes - talk about 'poles apart'! - if our own broadsheets did not so slavishly report across the media their self-interested acceptance of helmet proponents' media releases, perhaps our politicians might feel compelled to consider the actual law juxtaposed against the limited evidence available.

-----------------------------------

Notwithstanding missing t'other one immensely, getting used to new bike above!!

Today ...

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church —
I keep it, staying at Home —
With a Bobolink for a Chorister —
And an Orchard, for a Dome —

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice —
I just wear my Wings —
And instead of tolling the Bell, for Church,
Our little Sexton — sings.

God preaches, a noted Clergyman —
And the sermon is never long,
So instead of getting to Heaven, at last —
I'm going, all along.

— Emily Dickinson                               

I miss going to church. I love the liturgy and the music and the prayer. I need the liturgy and the music and the prayer.

But it's okay to stay home, too.

Cockney Rhyming Slang

As I am away again this week (explanation in a later post!), I am repeating this post of five years ago from my previous blog. Cockney rhyming slang together with US Versus UK English were always the most popular topics.




http://www.zazzle.co.uk/
The true definition of a Cockney is someone born within the sound of Bow Bells. That specifically refers to the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow church in the East End of London, however it’s a term generally applied to indigenous working-class east enders and sometimes, loosely, to any working-class Londoner. The word itself originates from fourteenth century English meaning a cock’s egg; a term used by country folk to refer to town’s people. I imagine the implication was that town-dwellers, being unwise to country ways, would not know that hens, not cocks, lay the eggs!





Cockney Rhyming Slang (CRS) is not a language because all of the words used are clearly English, neither can it be called a dialect because those who use it are perfectly capable of not using it. Here’s how it works: Words, usually nouns, are substituted by a pair of words, the second of which rhymes with the original word – but, usually, only the first word of the pair is used. Confused? Read on.





The best way to illustrate the above is by example. The CRS for stairs is ‘apples and pears’, so the word used is ‘apples’. “I’m just going upstairs” becomes “I’m just going up the apples”!





Here are some other CRS words that are still in common use:





Arse= Khyber (Khyber Pass) so “Stick it up your khyber.”





Mate= China (China Plate) so “ How are yer, me old china?”





Phone= Dog (Dog and Bone) so “ I’ll give him a dog tonight.”





Look= Butchers (Butcher’s Hook) so “Take a butchers at Tom’s new jam jar [=car].”





Things can get really obscure sometimes when a double link is used. For example, Arse (again!) can sometimes be Aris. This is from Aris being short for Aristotle, which rhymes with bottle for which the rhyming slang is ‘Bottle and Glass’ and glass rhymes with arse! There are no rules!





If you are new to this try translating the following and I will post the answers next weekend:





1) She’s got beautiful minces.





2) She may be his skin and blister but she’s nothing like him.





3) I can’t see. Where’s me gregs?





4) I bought a new whistle for me wedding.





5) What a lovely pair of bristols she’s got!





It’s a living culture and new slang for modern words appear all of the time. Have some fun by making up your own!

Answers now posted in the comments!

"I'm leaving on a jet-plane"



When did Baby no.4 get to be so grown-up & capable of organising her life without any assistance from her mother?

...it's only 20 years ago that she was the baby in the back-pack below...



...& now at almost 21 she tells me that she's plenty big enough to see the world all by herself!

Since when, & where did that time go?

An amazing thing happened on Facebook

Well, two amazing things, actually. But this post is about the first amazing thing, which I was going to write about when the second amazing thing took precedence.

But first --

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this post. I tend to write the first paragraph of my blog entries in my head before I sit down at the computer. This one was going to start out someone like this:

We all know the bad things about Facebook -- {link to "Ten Worst Things about Facebook"} -- so I won't list them here. And we all know the good things about Facebook -- {link to "Ten Best Things about Facebook"} -- so I won't mention them here either.

Well, I found lots of options for the first link, the Worst Things, but I couldn't find a single usable option for the second link.  There were a few pages of course, but they were all too pathetic for me to link to. Sorry. You'll just have to come up with your own "Best Things."

Now, back to the Amazing Thing.

My high school graduating class has a Group page on Facebook. It's been fun and interesting to reconnect with old names and faces, and it's been strange for me as well, because I always felt like a social outcast. I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in an otherwise very wealthy (very white) school district, and I was a nonbeliever in the heart of the Bible belt.  I never had the right clothes, the right jewelry, the right bicycle, the right car, the right friends, the right relatives, the right attitude.

One morning a few weeks ago, one of my classmates ("John")  posted this on our Group's page:
I believe that severe racism and classism were widespread among members of our class. Memories of the vitriol and hatred and insecurity of many classmates make it difficult for me to want to spend time with our class, in reunions or otherwise. I recall, for example, when members of the football team allowed classmate XXXX XXXX, who showed promise as a runner, to be "stomped." According to accounts, the offensive line simply stepped aside one day during practice and allowed the defense to cream him, puncturing his hands many times with cleats, and in general communicating that a Hispanic player, no matter how talented, was simply not welcome on the team. I remember YYYY YYYY quitting over that, along of course with XXXX. And ... I think members of our class should tell their own stories of witnessing racism and classism as the first step in expiating our collective guilt over that and other incidents.
Needless to say, that created quite a firestorm. John was himself "stomped." Of course, he had displayed a fine bit of hubris in posting that out of the blue: You can't really expect to start a healthy discussion by damning an entire group of people and demanding confession and expiation. John got attacked pretty fiercely. A few people posted related threads, trying to soothe people's tempers. After a few hours, I backed John up in one of those threads -- I didn't want to thrust myself into the main event.  In essence, I said that I shared some of his feelings about reunions. I like the idea at first, but then I remember some of the things that some people did to me, and I turn away from it all. Why would I want to spend a weekend with people who were downright cruel to me? Who shunned me and deliberately excluded me?

The conversation in the main thread cooled down mid-afternoon, but people were still on the defensive. Most people were willing to shrug off the things John mentioned as teenagers being teenagers, as typical teenage angst. There was a lot of "we've all grown up and matured, why are you bringing this up now, and can't we all just get along, kum ba yah." But some mature conversation started taking place: Yes, it was a very white school, and the racism didn't have to be agreed upon: It simply was there.  It was the mid-to-late 70s, and while we were too young to have been very aware of the race riots of  the 1960s (which didn't affect Dallas much anyway), our parents were surely affected and the school reflected the home environment. There was acknowledgment among my peers that today their parents have bigoted perspectives and speak in prejudicial stereotypes that make them cringe. 

In private conversations, I told people that I had a hard time writing it all off to teenage insecurities, and finally, I posted on the main thread:
As a WASP, I can't speak to the racism, but I did experience the classism.

I will be the first to admit that I was socially awkward, but I am pretty sure that if your parents (speaking to "you" as a large group) had known my parents -- through the country club, Junior League, church, all the places where "your families" were and my family was not -- I would not have been ...[incident deleted because it's not germane to this post] ...
Yes, it was over 30 years ago. Yes, I've gotten over it. But yes, the memory of it is still painful.
One or two of the subsequent comments expressed dismay at what had happened to me, most of them didn't acknowledge it; I got a few private messages expressing outrage, and a few wondering that I even want to talk to "those people" anymore.

But the next day there was a shift in tone in that thread and in all the related threads that had been posted, and a few new ones popped up. Other people began telling their stories, how they had been hurt, how they had felt outcast, how they had carried that pain around with them.  The one openly gay student, one of the few Jewish students, the "other" Hispanic student (not the one who'd been brutalized on the football field -- and that's how he referred to himself when he commented, "the other Hispanic"), the guy who was a geek before being a geek was cool ... one by one the stories of being isolated and ridiculed and tormented came out. And then, two days after the post that started it all, came a story that took our collective breath away: One of my classmates shared a stunning secret of her adolescence that she had never told anyone but her spouse and her therapist:  And she thanked those girls who had been her friends and who had helped her, never knowing that they were helping her, never knowing the truth of her home life.  It was astonishing that she told us her story, and humbling that she had trusted us with it. A gentle silence settled over the group, as people expressed their reactions.

A day or so later, someone posted something totally unrelated, and the group returned to its normal banter and chatter. I harbor no delusions that my classmates are now noble and wonderful people. That community is still a very wealthy, very privileged enclave. But what an amazing thing happened: A level of communication and openness that I would never have expected to see in this particular group of people.

I'm still not sure I want to go to any class reunions, but I am very glad to be renewing acquaintances and friendships through Facebook. I have actually built relationships there with people I didn't know very well during high school. And I'm grateful for that. I know that I have changed a lot since 1978, and I trust that others have as well.

 (And now, in the comments, I'll find out if any of my classmates read my blog!)

"...in an Aussie Country Garden"

(Photos: annual visitors in our Scone garden last w/e)



Least our visiting King Parrot family who make a winter sojourn to our garden every year, are not afraid to show their true colours unlike some politicians who privately pretend that they sympathise with our position but publicly allow politics to take primacy.

Their political cowardice allows the excessively shrill voices of helmet proponents to drown out the valid concerns about the quality of the research that government uses to pin their legislation to.

Clearly, this blatant 'gate-keeping' has nothing to do with scientific study or safety but to protect vested interests.

------__o
----_`\<,_
---(_)/ (_)
* * * * * * * *
Bicycle helmet laws are big business & designed to marginalise their competitors (cyclists)

------__o
----_`\<,_
---(_)/ (_)
* * * * * * * *
Bicycle helmets laws are BAD LAW

------__o
----_`\<,_
---(_)/ (_)
* * * * * * * *
BAD LAWS are traditionally repealed by a new government at the start of their term in office


Notwithstanding, this government is a laggard one and continues to dance to the tune piped by 'Big Helma' like all preceeding governments!!!

...I refuse to despair!!!!

Painting of the month (18) June 2011: Raoul Dufy




The Casino at Nice by Dufy 1877 - 1953

The paintings of the French artist Raoul Dufy (pronounced: doofee) may not be the most technically proficient but I find them hugely enjoyable to look at. This one is typical in style; it has been heavily 'drawn' and painted in large blocks of single colour. This makes the paintings often look like poster art as used in advertisements but I can say that these are pictures that one can live with and never tire at looking at them.
Dufy was born in 1877 and was influenced by the impressionists and, later, the Fauves (Matisse and Derain)who were strong colourists. His ever-present optimism lives on in his work.


 How gorgeous is the colour in this picture?

We'll dig, dig, dig, dig" trills the Hon. Dunk

(Photos: NYC bike path)


In a nutshell the RTA has indicated in their usual clear manner that:

'there are routes that would connect with the outside ones that are not the current ones that would be less of a problem with traffic congestion'.

Consequently with great gusto, the current NSW Liberal Government is planning a 'Dig' across the City of Sydney: rare 'cycle-ways' are the treasure in their sights!

Heigh ho! Heigh Ho! - it's off to work we go!!!


-------------------------------------------------------

But hey, Dunk, when are we talking about revocation of bicycle helmet laws like your reps promised at the Punk Commute?

How will you fit this all in?

You're not going to renege on me are you?

...oh & PS thanks for your letter - I note with interest the change of NSW governmental reliance to a new study in order to shore up your position for bicycle helmet laws.

The joys of work IV - and seeing the doc

I saw my GP today; our meeting was hardly a success. He devised a rather ingenious Plan B, which was to keep executing Plan A. In other words keep taking the tablets. "Surely you must have goals at work," he said. Goals? Wha-ha-huh? I guess not getting into trouble is a goal. He made too many assumptions about me. People love to pigeon-hole don't they? He did make one valid point, that I should get more exercise. He said I should be burning those calories first thing in the morning, but with my recent habit of leaving the flat at the same time as I mean to start work, that might be a struggle.

When you work for a multinational company there are a lot of rules, written and unwritten. Now I'm not anti rules necessarily, but I like rules to be there for a reason. For instance in poker a flush beats a straight. That's because you're less likely to make a flush than a straight (half as likely as it happens). In the corporate world a flush beats a straight because somebody says so; the following month a straight beats a flush because somebody else says so; a few months later the rules have changed again - straights and flushes no longer count at all - and you don't know whether you're Arthur or Martha any more.

The death of a friend

A widow friend died yesterday. Kristin was just 42 years old; she suffered a major stroke last Friday and was removed from life support yesterday. It's devastating to those of us who knew her and walked the WidowRoad with her.

I met her just one time and we were never best friends, but still, the bonds of grief and loss, of shared struggles held us close to each other, closer than most people can understand.  She and I joined the same online support group within days of each other, so we shared some of the darkest, roughest hours of the journey.  We'd stay up late at night IMing with each other, sharing laughter and tears and anger and fears. That kind of connection doesn't really go away.

This last week has been filled with emotions.  Aside from the shock and disbelief at something like this happening to someone so young, aside from the profound sympathy and empathy for her now-widowed new husband (John), I was plunged into memories, because John's experience was so similar to my own.  Everything was fine. Then it wasn't. Kristin had the stroke and was hospitalized: Eight days later, John had to tell the doctors to take her off life support.  I know too much of what those 8 days had to be like. I know what that ICU was like. I know what those machines sounded like. I know what tones of voice the doctors and nurses used. I know what the conversations with Kristin's parents and sister were like. I know what those 8 nights were like. I know what signing those papers was like.  And my heart breaks for a man I never met.

Twenty minutes after I learned Kristin had died, I had to put on my happy face, because my entire family was coming over to celebrate my sister's birthday.  We had an absolutely great party: lots of bodies in the pool, lots of laughter, lots of good food, lots of love.  But there was a profound sadness inside that I couldn't share with my family, because they would brush it off.

My family simply doesn't understand how I can be so close to my internet friends, how they can mean so much to me, how I can care about them and share my secrets with them.

I have always said that we widoweds form connections with one another so quickly because we get to know each other from the inside out.  When we first meet each other, we already know what major event has changed our lives. And in short measure, we see how they respond to that event, how they are shaped by it, and how they shape their lives after it.  We quickly learn about their deepest convictions and philosophies and attitudes toward life.  We see all the inner workings of each other that most people never see in the lives of the people around them.

It's only after a long time of knowing them that we learn the surface things that fill the small talk of daily life -- favorite colors, favorite foods, favorite music. We may never know what color skin or eyes or hair they have, whether they're fat or thin, what they do for a living, where or if they went to school, what kind of neighborhood they live in.  All the boundaries that circumscribe friendship in "real life" are erased: Online there are none of the barriers that keep us apart in our cities and towns and neighborhoods.

Kristin and I would never have met if not for the internet; that's a simple fact of geography.  And if we had, we would most likely not have connected on any significant level, because our personal interests and family backgrounds were so very different. But we met on the internet, at the intersection of heartbreak and loneliness. And even though our paths on the WidowRoad were very different, we traveled together and kept each other company.

I will miss her warmth and laughter, her humor and irreverence. I will miss my friend.

May her memory be eternal.

Where to begin

A lot has been going on lately, a lot that I've wanted to write about. But with the boys home from school, the time to write clearly comes in only disjointed blocks.  I'll try to catch up over the next few days, with a series of short posts on myriad topics.

Who are the RTA & NSW Government kidding?

Witness the unnecessary waste of our hard earned taxes:

BEWARE: "TRUE HELMET CAMPAIGN" PITCHING FAKE SAFETY INFORMATION

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

Insist we slip into something a little more comfortable:

HEED: "FAKE HELMET CAMPAIGN" PITCHING TRUE SAFETY INFORMATION

Somewhere over a rainbow...

(happier days: outside Campos after world cup final last year)


...way up high
There's a bike that I knew of
Once in a lullaby


------------------------

Why don't current bicycle police 'changing-the-guard' on Pyrmont Bridge peel themselves away just for once, and start looking for my bicycle?

There's got to be more constructive things for them to do other than book un-helmeted bicycle commuters who have no choice but to pass the 'blue corner' everyday on the ride to & from work...

"Book me a thief instead"

...soonish...

...pretty please!!!

Doing life

It's all a bit of a struggle at the moment. I'm having to force myself to "do life" but at least I am pushing myself. I've made an appointment to see the GP on Monday. I'm almost on the maximum dose of Efexor and it isn't doing the trick I'm afraid.

At work I've been trying to dodge the whole issue of exams. Even if I can stay in my job without doing them, there's a sense that by not doing them I'm "not really participating". Work this week has been tricky: my concentration span has shrunk almost to nil.

Wellington is a great city (more about that soon) but if you don't know anybody and you're depressed, it matters little whether you're in Wellington or Auckland or Timaru or Timbuktu. In fact if you're in the wops (to use a good Kiwi expression) it's in some ways easier because you don't see everybody having a good time with their friends.

Monday's earthquakes were upgraded to 5.6 and 6.3. GNS now say there's a 30% probability of a quake measuring 6.0 to 6.9 occurring in the next year. That raises two questions. First, when we're getting quakes on faults that aren't even on the map, how the hell do they calculate this? Second, what's the probability of a seven or above? Is that too scary a prospect to mention?

OUR BIKES STOLEN BY NEWTOWN BOLT-CUTTING TOSSER



This is all that's left of our 3 bikes!!!

Somewhere between the hours of 23:00hrs yesterday and 08:00hrs today some little bolt-cutting toe-rag snipped through our padlocks, and ferretted away our wheels into some grubby 'get-away' van - SCUMBAGS!!!!

♥ My beautiful Electra Amsterdam Tree of Life Serial Number: SG 902 437 - GONE


♥ Hubbie's 'uber' practical Breeza Uptown 8 - last year's treasured Christmas pressie from me - GONE


♥ Prodigal daughter's funky Giant Via - last year's treasured Christmas pressie from us - GONE


Naturally I've reported everything to the Police, and whilst we're all agreed it's somewhat of a long shot 'getting-them-back', a glimmer of hope is held that my bike may be retrieved given its outrageously 'out-there' showy nature...



...sniff...I miss it so much...sniff...

Far out, Sydney, we're getting bicycle culture!!!!

Swinging madly

I get back from lunch today and there's talk of another sizeable shake in Christchurch. Five point five. I send Mum (who's 130-odd K's from the epicentre) a did-you-feel-it text, but got no reply. An hour later though and she replies: "I felt this one - the lights were swinging madly and the whole house was rocking." That was a six. Even Dad, who has a knack for either sleeping through big quakes or being out of the country, felt that one. This is a big setback, and I think the last straw for many Christchurch residents.

On 31st May GNS Science estimated a 23% probability of a quake measuring 6.0 to 6.9 in the next year, and over 90% likelihood of a 5.0 to 5.9. In two weeks they've already had a six and two 5.5s! One of their seismologists said that "on a world scale this is reasonably unusual in so far as we're getting quite large aftershocks." In other words, this is not normal. Finally!

Sushi is ridiculously popular here in Wellington. I've had it from time to time but it's never really grabbed me. Until tonight, when totally by accident I found a sushi bar on Woodward Street. You see them make it and you can pick and choose what you want. I expected my selection to come to eight or nine bucks but it was only $5.70. Very tasty too. I could easily have had more.

After the sushi I went to the Asperger's group for the first time, except it wasn't much of a group. Just the facilitator and me! It was good getting to know her; I'm amazed we had so much to talk about. I hope this can be the first step towards making contacts in my new city. The group is aimed (I think) at those at the very mild end of the spectrum. We met in a pub for a start.

Dear Minister, can you meet us? Kind regards, 3 VIPs (aka voters)

Photos: Garry Weicks, NSW Parliament House)


REQUEST: meeting with the Hon. Duncan Gay MLC, Minister for Roads & Ports

ACTION: email written & despatched to the Office of Minister for Roads & Ports

FOR WHEN: ASAP


...tum-ti-tum...

So now we await anxiously for news (any) of promised meeting flagged to Punk Commuters by the Hon. John Ajaka MLC on the occasion of the Inaugural Punk Commute.

Once our 'delegation' is allocated an appointment for a ministerial meeting, we intend to persuade the NSW elected representatives that the time has finally come for Australian governments:

1. To finally quit throwing our good money after their bad research

...and...

2. To finally acknowledge that mandatory helmet laws have never been equipped to deliver a 'Magician's Mantle of Safety' for people who use bicycles, no matter how much they (politicians, helmet manufacturers, helmet promoters, SAI Global, & various medical practitioners) all wished (&/or prayed) that they (bicycle helmet laws) would.

...tum-ti-tum...

The joys of work III (and some music)

My boss resigned on Friday. "Could I have a quick word?" he said to me. My heart started to race as I feared my boss and I would soon part company, which indeed we will, although I was worried the circumstances might have been different.

I haven't been in my job long enough to have built up much of a bond with him - unlike in the earthquake job where my boss and I did have a rapport of sorts. It's funny to compare the two jobs actually. Three months ago people were amazed that I could make the same word appear in fifty cells in Excel without having to type it in fifty times. Now it's a case of "What are you doing man? Don't use the mouse, you muppet! Just run this macro, hit Ctrl-Shift-Enter, then press F9 in that pivot table, and Bob's your uncle."

Last week was a frustrating one. I didn't do much at all, and what I did do was of little significance. I don't know what my future holds there. I do find some of the concepts interesting, but I'll be honest and say that between 5:30pm and 8:30am I hardly give my job a moment's thought. Well I think about my job all right, but not what I actually do in it. It simply isn't important enough to me. I can get away with that for now - I'm still the new boy - but eventually I'll be found out.

Lately I've been getting into the Canadian band Arcade Fire. I'm ashamed to say that two months ago I hadn't even heard of them, but I think they're brilliant. I really like two of their songs from their latest album, Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) and The Suburbs.
And if you've got a spare twelve minutes handy, check out this. Putting as much energy into my job as these guys do would be quite something.

The graduate




Dee dee-dee-dee

Dee dee-dee-dee

Dee dee-dee-dee

Dee!

Yesterday saw our Baby no. 3 officially declared:

* 'done & dusted' & eligible for the 't-shirt'!!!

...so now it's on to the next adventure!!!

Sigh! - when did he get to be so big?

'I've been 'working' on the railroad!'

(Photos: Greenpeace Australia, the Upper Hunter line)


Talk about putting your neck on the line for a cause!!!

GO, ERLAND!!!

The guy ensconced in yellow box (as train approaches - eek!) is my 'next-desk-neighbour' at Greenpeace - he's a mad keen recumbent cyclist!!

Clearly recumbent cycling skills transfer seemlessly to recumbent box-sitting!

Brilliantly brave - love it!!!

RESPECT, ERLAND!!!! GO, YOU!!!!

Exmouth, Devon, UK (100th Post)




The unspoiled seafront at Exmouth
Exmouth is a beautiful old town situated at the mouth of the  estuary of the river Ex, on England's south coast in the county of  Devon. It's about 150 miles from the centre of London and ten miles south of Exeter.
My cousin and his wife have just celebrated a big wedding anniversary. They ran away to Gretna Green (really) to get married when he was 16 and she was 17 years old. Despite all the predictions the marriage has lasted and they have four grandchildren now. That part of the south coast is very wealthy and it would help to be quite rich if you want to live there.



Exmouth Marina (http://www.cherrybees.co.uk/)
We just got back from a wonderful long weekend of celebration there and on Thursday we are off again for another long wekend in Bournemouth further up the south coast and only a hundred miles from London. It's a tough life n'est pas?

Antipodeans suffer from 'cycling phobia'



The anthem to cycling safety has been catchy in Australia but after 20 years of singing from the same old song-sheet, the edges have got extremely tatty.

Evidently it's time for Australian politicians to splash out & update the Australian hymnal.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world (bar New Zealand) remains baffled by our cycling phobia and our attendant dogged determination to remain helmeted in the face of...what?...no-one's sure...

...except us...

...because...

...deep down...

...we're the only ones that can see the true 'night-terror' of mind boggling, goblin-lurking, death-defying cycling danger - aaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!...(& kiwis can too!)

The 'Washing' that happens in Australia masks corporate 'moving-on' powers

(Standard ineffectual 'safety-washing' on Sydney Harbour Bridge)


Trivial Pursuit: in 'washing', what do ‘Art-washing’, 'Safety-washing', 'Green-washing' & even 'Park-refurbishment-washing' have in common?

= they are the new chic in 'corporate' moving-on powers!

The current trending towards outdoor public art (revealed in last Friday's SMH article The inside story on outdoor galleries) or ‘art-washing’ as it ought to be defined is nothing more than a bid to develop sugar coated ‘moving-on powers’ ensuring the extinguishment of creative public spontaneity.

Arguably the littering of Sydney’s public spaces with such questionable ‘art-washing’ hides the view of our surrounding 'Sydney-scapes', kills our community perceptions, and then influences any existing perceptive remnants by the very nature of this cunning larceny.

It's impossible not to notice that ‘art-washing’ is most common where public spaces are freely utilised by the public for their own particular purposes. So whilst I'll grant you that Aspire at Ultimo does possess some form of eerie attraction I want to know exactly how its installation has impacted the people who have used that space as sleeping quarters since that public space became available with the completion of the Western Distributor?

Nowhere is safe - Newtown currently awaits a 2.8m electrically lit art tower to be plonked in the middle of the space currently used for the popular informal & unregulated Saturday markets – talk about ‘moving-on powers-extraordinaire' - sigh!- that space is so perfect now - why interfere? - isn't there a 'doggie-doo' bin that needs fixing or could even do with a spot of 'art-washing' itself?...

...although we need to be careful recommending that course of action because that can turn into 'park-refurbishment-washing' which effectively removes a park completely out of the public realm for months on end, maybe even years - people die whilst waiting for their local park to be returned to them, and inevitably when it does come back to them there's nearly always been a little bit shaved off for new exciting commercial ventures - sigh again!

...& before I leave this galling subject, all too often accompanying ‘art-washing’ is another insidious ‘washing’ tactic successfully employed for public-space creep...

...‘music-washing’...I know, I know, I've covered it already this week - still at the risk of appearing repetitive I'm going to bleat this once again:

Why does Central Station waste bucket-loads of money on ridiculous licences to broadcast woeful surround-sound station music when there are so many talented buskers in Sydney?

Where have they ‘moved-on’ our buskers to? & how much more public space can they steal?

Enough is enough - we know what you're up to...

Quit diminishing our Commons!!!

Give us back our buskers...& give us back our public spaces!

NOW!

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

They hang the man and flog the woman,
Who steals the goose from off the common,
Yet let the greater villain loose,
That steals the common from off the goose.

(anonymous protest poem from 17th century summing up anti-enclosure sentiment of the day)

The joys of work II - and some cause for alarm

As I said in my last post, I get on OK with my immediate colleagues. I guess we're all relatively experienced (in terms of age at least) - there are no Kids of '88 in our team, no tricky Gen-Y upstarts to deal with. I'm not so sure about some of the other people on my floor however. The bloke who sits opposite me and works in Finance is six foot five and twenty stone. Now he's fine, but his boss (a she) most definitely isn't. I really feel for the big man, as well as the woman he sits next to. "Now the figures in the 87002 account don't reconcile with the 70501 account, and did you forget about the 54101? How long have you been here now? How could you possibly not remember? This really isn't good enough." And so on, and so forth. It isn't pretty to watch and can be quite distracting. It's interesting though how having a boss from hell can create solidarity within a team. In a similar vein, we had a variety of full-day workshops in my last corporate job, ostensibly to instil in us the company's values: unity, integrity, fraternity and whatever else. But the real reason (perhaps) that they ran the workshops was that most of the staff hated them and would want to rebel, together, against them - thus creating unity and fraternity via the back door.

Last Thursday at 8pm I heard an alarm go off. It sounded a bit like a car alarm, maybe 50 or 100 metres away. Oh wait, maybe it's a fire alarm. It doesn't sound like it's in this building though, so unless I get a knock on the door I'm staying right here. Then someone knocked on my door. "It's a real fire! Get your tag!" What tag?! "OK don't worry, just get out!" And I got down those stairs pretty quickly, thankful that I lived on the fourth floor and not the ninth. Of course it wasn't a real fire at all but a six-monthly drill. The alarm could do with being a bit louder if you ask me. And that tag, well I've since found it attached to the fire extinguisher, which was last checked in June 1989. It was good to meet some of the other residents out in the car park. The subject of earthquakes came up, and supposedly this concrete building (constructed in 1970) would hold up OK, though I'm not convinced. Christchurch had another big aftershock yesterday - a magnitude 5.5 - followed by a string of smaller tremors.

The' Great Australian Ugliness' done in our name



I am ashamed of current xenophobic trends that permeate our lives in Australia. The above advertisement was embedded in my local paper last week.

What has Australia come to?

Do I really want to live here anymore? - perhaps I should re-evaluate my 'much-sought-after' spot & actual needs for it. Clearly there are plenty of other folk who would cherish it - so maybe I should free it up & return to Europe!

...yet notwithstanding the outcome of my decision whether I stay or not stay, or who I vote for, or how many letters I write, or how many times I protest loudly, recent government discussions with Malaysian authorities indicate a perpetual disregard for human rights. This 'Great Australian Emptiness' continues to brutally align itself to the 'Great Australian Ugliness' clearly depicted in Patrick White's "Prodigal Son" essay written upon his return to Australia over 50 years ago...

...nothing has changed & it still continues to be done...

...in our name...

I'm so ashamed.

Affaire-de coeur: Australia & authority



#*! Why do railway staff have to dress like para-militaries?




#*! Why do railways have flags?






#*! Why are they flown alongside national & state ones?




#*! Why do railways waste money on licences to broadcast woeful surround-sound station music when there are so many talented buskers?

Operator! Operator!



One of the best things I've ever purchased is my black vinyl raincoat, which I bought one very damp Copenhagen day. For the past 2 weeks I haven't been out of it, and with it I have somehow managed to remain reasonably 'soggy-free' in this exceptionally wet end of Autumn.

Notwithstanding my fab mac, I must admit I'm so grateful that both the weather & police were so lovely on our Punk Commute Day!!!

...which reminds me: time is running out for the Office of Minster for Roads & Ports!

12 days ago at the end of the Punk Commute on the steps of our Parliament House, the Hon. John Ajaka MLC, and Mr Lance Northey, Senior Media Advisor, undertook in front of us Punk Commuters that they would call me over the next couple of weeks to arrange the logistics for a meeting with me & a small delegation & the minister in order for us to discuss the 'revocation' of mandatory helmet law...

...tick...tick......tick...

It was all so promising - we even touched upon whether I would be happy if the law was changed for adults but not for under 18s!!!

Of course I said I wanted it revoked for everyone given that Australian parents were more than capable of raising their own children without various governments & government bodies breathing down their necks, but I did concede that I understood their position, and it certainly was a step forward...

...so where are they now?...& where have they been for the past 2 weeks? - I've been clutching my little phone continuously...&...'rien'...

...tick...tick...tick...

Their self-stipulated time is nearly over...but I'm certainly not - so come Monday I'll be back on the blower in full incessant force!!!

Operator! Operator!!!!