A really slow day has seen me perusing the Web and generally ambling along. I ambled right into a news site with the headline "Oil companies defend price hike" and being somewhat concerned about peak oil etc I wandered in for a
read. The opening stated "The latest petrol and diesel price hike has shocked motorists, but oil companies say they had no choice" and I caught myself wondering if many people are actually "shocked' or whether it is just sensationalism. Surely by now even the most ignorant bastards out there have noticed increasing living costs, hell, just look at what has happened to the price of housing (idiot economics aside), food, clothing, electricity, education, health care ...
actually damn near anything. The only things I can think of that drop in price regularly are electrical consumer goods but that may simply because we've passed the buck on the costs to people poorer than us. It also occurred to me that having a large and affluent middle class is not all that normal in history. It's usually a very small ruling class with a really large working class and bugger all in the middle. Makes you wonder where we're headed...though possibly not in a shocking way.
Our kitten now sports a very fancy little sleeping cave thing that we made out of leftover material. I spent this morning hand sewing the base to the top bit while being attacked. We came to a truce when he bit me, I growled at him and he went off to play with a piece of foam rubber. I wish I had a little sleeping cave thing, it looks very comfortable.
School starts soon. I would be lying if I said I wasn't feeling a little nervous. After the two hundredth "It's going to be good" I start to
sound a little less convincing.
A new year rolls around following a Christmas with the families and a New Year in Middlemarch with C's family. Too much food, too much alcohol and way too much chocolate. Good times though was nice to get home.
A kitten has joined our little collective and is causing all sorts of hell. He's a nice little chap with a penchant for high speed attacks on the curtains and
feet (depending on which he hits first). He is very cute when asleep and very destructive when awake. I am guessing he will grow into a very nice cat.
School starts in February so starting to get myself organised for for that. It is proving very hard to get rolling again after the holidays and it seems like I'm not the only one struggling to get back in to work.
The garden finally delivered and we are up to our ears with potatoes, cabbages and lettuces. My first load of wine is fermenting and another load of spirits and beer are in progress as well. The cycle continues.
The rain has stopped and my scooter is running again. Good times.
I got the official sign off on my teacher training this week and was handed a pile of forms to fill in. Having duly filled them in and provided certified copies of everything, in triplicate, stapled to a duplicate set of triplicated documents I am ready to be unleashed on the youth of the world. You are all in so much trouble it's not funny...
I am actually looking forward to teaching next year. The 'computing' course we've set up is looking like a lot of fun and it's been great to set up something that teaches design process alongside technical skills. We've even thrown in some business skills for good measure. If I can just stick with it and make it happen it should be a great thing. Feels a little bit like when I started ZYPE, something new and interesting based on some solid ideals. If I can just stay away from any formal managing positions and stay hands-on I should be fine.
I finally got the new circuit breaker for my scooter after the old one decided to spit the dummy. A bit of a process to install as the scooter has layers of panels that need to be removed to get the wiring but got there in the end. Now the beast actually charges up and goes for distance. We are back in action just in time for good weather.
It is raining ... that nice sort of spring rain, very light, very wet, warm and great for the garden. It's one of those days when it's nice to work in the garage on something meaningless with the door open.
I have learned something new. Birds don't like glazed cherries. We found an old fruit loaf thing in the cupboard that has been there for about 3 years (perfectly preserved I must say) and put it on the bird table. It has slowly disappeared leaving the cherries arranged in a strange tower of little green and red gems. Fair enough I say .. and it makes me wonder what has been done to the cherries to make birds stay away.
During this break I have been re-establishing my military training in the form of the PS2 game - Socom 2: Navy Seals. My original military training came in the form of the same game a few months previously. I suck at it. I am one of those people who can take cover behind a building and still be completely out in the open. Needless to say I get shot a lot and wouldn't last three seconds in any real combat situation. I hardly last three seconds in a virtual combat situation.
I finally bought a set up for making wine so following Xmas I am into it. The first port of call is a simple wine kit to see how it goes but I now have a few
friends who are able to provide reasonable quantities of fruit on the proviso they get a bottle or two of the finished product. That may or may not be a good payment but we'll see.
I wonder what next year will hold for us. We have been given warnings about water levels again but continue to water our lawns frivilously. We have been warned about deficit spending and the impact it will have. We have been warned about the cost of oil and that with the northern hemisphere going into winter the cost will likely only keep going up at an ever increasing rate. All of these issues have a delay on them but all of them are dangerously serious. I've always tended to think that those who laugh in the face of danger tended to be a little unstable.
My partner watches TV in the morning before work and sometimes I am unfortunate enough to catch it. This week I was sitting in my usual morning daze watching something called 'Breakfast. I think it's meant to be a sort of journalistic talkshow. Anyway, they were interviewing Michael Cullen (finance minister) about interest rates, tax cuts and in general trying, and succeeding, to be abrasive. Despite the really stupid questioning Mr Cullen said a few things that made sense [to me]. The first was that he thought we needed to find controls beyond interest rates to slow spending. The second was that one of his priorities was to make a viable market for first home buyers. This struck a nerve with me anyway but he went on to say (after some confused questioning) that he meant a 'home' and not an 'investment'. He very carefully made the distinction that real estate could be a great part of any investment portfolio but that NZers tended to put all there money into it as a single investment...because we tend not to save enough in general. You have got like that guy. He knows full well that when the deficit spending comes home to roost people will blame whoever the finance minister is. I'd be getting my sound bites recorded on TV as proof of my warnings as well.
When I started my business the one predominant piece of advice was "run it as a business and not a hobby". The idea is that a business makes money, a hobby tends to spend it. Both can be fun and be based on ideals and values but the distinction is definite. It has occured to me that the 'investment housing' market is mostly bollocks as is reflected in the general lack of professionalism in the rental market. The phrase "it'll be good enough for a rental property" is common place now which should scare the willies out of any human out there as it effectively defines someone who rents as being somewhat less than someone who owns. Class is alive and well in New Zealand make no mistake.
During the course of a discussion recently I discovered that there are approximately 2.2 billion [human] children on this planet. 1.9 billion of them live in developing countries and 1 billion of them live in poverty. Kinda puts things in perspective when I look at a classroom of students each with a computer and most of them not caring. This is a very challenging world.
We have started harvesting from the garden. I can still hold my own in that area at least.
Ever have a day where you feel you were being used...in a prison bitch sort of way. If you've got something to say about someone, say it to them, not me. I probably don't give a shit and if I did I'd probably still tell you to talk to them instead of me. If you've got something to say to me, just say it but don't be surprised if I tell you you're a wanker and leave you to rot. If you want me to do something, just bloody ask, don't wank around trying to manipulate me. I'm too clever to fall for it and too stupid not to punch you in the mouth for trying. We have seriously become a namby pampy, pathetic excuse for a species and god help if the bird flu isn't possibly just what this planet needs.
I watched another one of those 'we're all going to die' programmes on TV tonight...I think it was the 6 O'clock news but too be honest I'd been drinking for a while and wasn't entirely sure. Either way we're all going to die and we should apparently be stockpiling all sorts of shit to make sure we
don't. Basic rule of nature, over population leads to some change that reduces that population, be it rabbits or humans. Morons will always survive. The good people always seem to die first for some reason...don't ask me why.
The next person who tells me that "their job is the hardest in the world and that they are really busy and that they have people to meet and places to be" gets a solid smack in the face. Go away and leave me alone. You probably don't have a very hard job and you probably watch too much American television to be good for you. Go navel gaze with someone else.
Granted it was not a very good day today but that's no excuse for people being dumbasses.
This has been quite a fun long weekend really. One of experimentation. I have done what I hope is the last lot of distilling for the year and we are now well prepared for Christmas presents. I also had my first go at making bagels setting the dough up in the breadmaker and then boiling and baking. They came out alright
and all. A few more goes and they should be perfectly breakfasty. The less successful experiment with dandelion coffee was also a feature of the weekend. After hearing from a friend that you can make a coffee substitute out of dandelion root and us with an excess of dandelions I rushed off to the internet and found some recipes. Turns out dandelions only have decent roots when you think of them as weeds, soon as you need them they produce the most pathetic little roots you can imagine. Still, I found enough to make a decent go of it, sliced the roots and started roasting. All was going well until I took my eye off them and burned the roots slighty. I crushed them anyway to see what would happen and the result was a slightly burned coffee taste which I'll take as a positive sign. I'm also not dead a day later which I also take as a positive sign. The actual taste (underlying the charcoal) was actually pretty decent.
Went and saw Serenity last night. After being put onto the series recently by a friend and getting completely hooked I was looking forward to the movie and wasn't disappointed. The series was excellent and the movie picked up and ran with it finally showing us those Reaver critters and doing a nice job of explaining some things. Anytime you end up with a great western where the cowboys use spaceships you've got a winner in my mind. In a world where we have endless repetiton of mindless television programmes it's not surprising this one didn't fly but at least in the theatre you
knew you were surrounded by people who had enjoyed the series and probably got it from the internet. My kind of people.
You can tell it's getting close to Christmas because everyone panics. Deadlines that have dribbled all year are suddenly vitally important to the survival of humanity, shops are packed with people trying to beat the 'Christmas rush' and making a whole new kind of clutter, and I simply stop talking to people or going anywhere that people work, live or play. I have a feeling that the whole 'time is arbitrary' argument has been lost somewhere along the line.
Rod Donald, co-leader of the Greens died this week. I don't often feel much when politicians die but Rod seemed to be one of those people who put a stake in the ground and lived by his principles. He made it easy to support the Greens and was a great person to listen to. New Zealand just lost one of its better people.
To my detriment I have started cycling more often as the days have improved. Apparently there are still a lot of cars on the road and apparently the people in them still have very important tasks that require them to drive very fast and get all frustrated and wound up when something gets in the way....like buildings, people, other cars etc. I'm not sure if I'm going insane or if the world is. I now seem to have quite a physical reaction to being in a car and often end up very angry, frustrated and effectively unhappy. This this is very inconvenient for long distant travel but must be the culmination of concerns with petrol costs, peak oil and not being able to enjoy the trip at a decent pace. Don't get me started on the parking side of cars. When I bike I spend about 20 seconds parking, in a car it seems to take ages to go through the whole process of driving as close to the destination as possible and then spiralling out to actually find a gap to park in. Our record at the mall is 3 minutes of spiralling. I can't say how absolutely stupid that is because my partner will smack me one.
Final rant. To the wanker in the van this morning who pounded through the roundabout without slowing down and yelled abuse at me because I was biking around it without my 'indicator' on, "Get a grip. You try sticking out your arm while leaning a tight right and balancing on two wheels". If you're in a motor vehicle you simply don't have the right to shout abuse at cyclists. You're not worthy. It was a Downer Connect van by the way. The side effect of modern advertising saturation is that in small countries we know who you are.
When you ride an electric scooter around town you quickly realise what energy use actually means and it starts to become obvious that we currently burn diamonds. I have a choice when I get on my scooter. It's a simple choice. I can accelerate quickly and sacrifice distance or I can ease back and get another 5km of travel. In a world that is rapidly running low on oil (that magical substance that drives our society) our current approach to travel seems to be more and more obscene. I lean towards going for distance which means I hold my speed down a notch and don't accelerate like a bitch on heat. My scooter is essentially a speedy bicycle where I don't need to pedal. I use it when I am going somewhere sweat is not a great idea or when I've already biked that day and am feeling nutted. While riding a
scooter the true obscenity becomes obvious. Drivers accelerating quickly from a set of lights only to be braking 5 seconds later for the next set and probably using enough oil to support a small village for a month. I no longer feel sympathy for speed related "accidents". Sounds awful? It is but I have come to understand that despite all the warnings we still drive with a throttle jockey mentality and the obvious outcome of that is regular and fatal collisions. You drive too fast you will eventually hurt yourself or someone else. Either way you are a total prat and dangerous. I imagine that tolerance for that attitude will get lower over time.
In a similar vein, the reserve bank keeps giving us warnings about our spending. This is an indication of how insane we have actually become. A sane person would
look at spending and say something like "If I spend more than I earn I am truly fucked". Today the response seems to be, "some magical force of economics will ensure that all my investments will go up and that my return will allow me to constantly upgrade and stay ahead of the economy". I read something recently that noted that intelligent people die in storms more often than "people of lower intelligence" because they think they can outsmart the storm. It makes sense to me. Intelligence without wisdom is just another sort of stupid and it seems to be the prevalent form these days.
I have been hired as a teacher. Be afraid...
This world is weird...and getting weirder by the second. Our new government, announced one month after the election (she'll be right mate) is the result of a fascinating mix of compromise and blackmail. The fact it's Labour led is a small saving grace but Winston Peters as foreign affairs minister? Really? The Greens have been pushed back a notch and if Peter Dunne says one more thing on TV I'm afraid we're going to need to institute political asassination. He really does need to just shut up and count himself lucky.
The reserve bank came out with a warning that consumer debt is somewhat out of control and NZ is entering the role of 'banana republic' (not their exact words but close enough)...ya think. Interest rates look to be going up again, which for us is sweet as we can't afford to enter the big games like housing so our money is simply sitting there waiting. I am kind of glad we haven't been able to do the mortgage thing...I can see only bad times ahead for that in the short
term. No surprise though really. Wait for the results of peak oil to really start to hit home...then we'll no some shit scary pain.
In other news, the garden is starting to look okay, the teaching diploma is coming along and summer looks like it's desperately trying to make an appearance.
My new pair of shorts have been put on hold at the last minute. I blew out the last needle which puts a damper on things. Hopefully I'll be able to sort out a new lot tomorrow. The shorts are looking pretty good though. Had a few days at Maruia and Hanmer springs over the weekend. It was nice to get away but I think I'm more tired now than before so the value of it all was dubious.
The garden is not really getting a fair chance this year. Snow and cold winds this late into the year is not particularly good for getting things started and my poor pea seedlings keep getting frozen. Hopefully things settle down soon so the more gentle veges can have a fighting chance. Even the spuds are looking like they are having second thoughts.
With a little help from a friend I have got the interface switching working on the site again. Really stoked to have it back and for the most part it's working pretty well. Nice to see some of my older styles back in action again. Also nice to see how far I've come with this stuff.
Still really tired but have to get back into this teaching diploma again next week and try and complete it as quickly as possible. This term is likely to suck but there you go...I suck as a student.
I think it's time to start another load of spirits for Xmas.
In the middle of assessment week again following the end of term. Thankfully I started early on this lot and am hoping to finish a bit earlier and have a bit of a holiday. I have mixed feelings about finishing at Hagley, on the one hand I am glad to stop for a while and have a break, on the other I really enjoyed my time there and working with the students. We are heading to Hanmer this weekend for a brief holiday.
I have hit that stage again where I'm really tired and worn out...I always know because I start singing weird combinations of songs to myself. Currently I have
a medley of Kiss' I was made for lovin' you and Burt Bacharac's Rain drop's keep falling on my head. I'm getting a lot of strange looks...luckily I'm too tired to care though should probably start listening to music again and settle my brain down a bit.
We went to a Punk Goth exhibition last night that one of our friends was part of. It was down at Creation and actually pretty cool. I'm not really into the whole goth thing (too much black) but Phil's stuff was pretty cool. One of the holiday projects I've set for myself is to build a new pair of shorts and I'm keen to design a belt to go with them. I'm seeing camo shorts, black pockets and edging, studs, leather, metal utility rings, clips, zips and velcro...in what arrangement I currently have no idea.
Right, enough procrastination, time to get into assessment work.
Not much to say at the moment. Down to the last week on practice and I have been busy sorting out assessment, getting started on my portfolio for the term and generally trying to keep up. My 31st was last week and the weekend was spent in BBQ mode with friends.
We're being overloaded with election weirdness at the moment. I'm assuming that being a small country we don't have a huge amount happening on a normal day so elections and Xmas get wound up months in advance. I am also assuming that tomorrow we will be overloaded with the results of the election. There has been
an absolutely stupid session of campaigning from all parties pretty much reinforcing that they are all dicks and hardly worth vague attention let alone a vote. In a lovely twist of irony I almost got knocked off my bike by some nutter wielding a 'Greens' placard thing on a street corner. I think he was trying get my attention...and I already tend to vote Green. If he'd actually got me I would've shown just how un-hippy today's young Greens are, clocked the shit out of him and then not voted. Odd that the Greens would print off shitloads of plastic (of all things) placards for one-time use only. Kind of seems against the whole point to me but there you go...
On top of that I keep hearing people talking about how they are going to vote strategically like it's some sort of Survivor episode and missing the point that they have much the same say as everyone else in the country. This will, however be an interesting election as it feels like NZ will be deciding between selfishness and selflessness. I hold no hope considering we have been more and more selfish as a society over the last decade. The "What's in it for me" voice has become very loud. It will be interesting.
On a completely unrelated note I have been biking to school every day and have noticed I have developed some bitchin stomach muscles. Cool.
It's the end of another week and it has ended with a bit of a fizzle really. Almost no students in the class today which was annoying and frustrating - two hours I could have spent doing something else. Turns out we're not allowed to beat students into attending so I guess they'll just have to wait until social welfare collapses and they have to pull finger or...starve I guess. Probably 2-3 more years left in the old system yet though so good luck.
The ride home was, unfortunately in the middle of heavy traffic and I keep forgetting how moronic heavy traffic can get. I still haven't figured out if it's the process of driving that makes people behave badly or the people themselves. Either way it's really dangerous riding a bike amongst people who don't seem to understand that the car doesn't end right behind their eyeballs...that whacking great lump of metal behind the drivers seat still follows the basic laws of physics and will crush a cyclist quite quickly I imagine.
I thought this was an interesting comment from James Howard Kunstler:
America consumes one-quarter of the world's daily production of 84 million barrels of oil. More than half of our share is burned in cars and trucks. In fact, our economy now amounts to little more than running 200 million motor vehicles around the suburban metroplexes in the service of ever more slapped-together McHousing developments, big box stores, and fried chicken huts. That's our economy. That's all we do anymore.
The scale is different I guess but it still freaks me out to think that if you took the numbers and the word America from the start out this could describe damn near any western country. Sad really but nothing home made tequilla can't numb. Brave New World anyone?
Back on practice at Hagley Community College. Two days in so it's hard to judge how it's going to go but a couple of things have really started to occur to me about teaching in general: 1) New Zealand has absolutely no idea what it wants and 2) I am getting really sick of learning 3D modelling applications based on
the school I'm in. How great would it be to be somewhere that actually valued the skills I already have and built on them? I'm still trying to figure out how a designer with a technical background is teaching under the Arts curriculum...especially after being involved today in a critique of students work. Unfortunately I'm one of those people who can stand in a gallery and say stupid things like, "I don't know much about art but I know what I like".
I think I might be tired again...I can always tell because I get angry and start doubting whether I want to a) be a teacher and b) want to live. I also start
having a penchant for making lists of things...I am so tired.
I keep noticing that this world is set up for the car, which kinda sucks. So far all the schools I've been at have had incredibly complex strategies for car parking but no secure bike stands...and we wonder why we're all fat bastards.