zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
So there I am, hanging up the washing, and this happens:

rotating washing line, laden with clothes, fallen on its side due to the centre pole breaking

Apparently this has been happening:

closeup of broken pole and all its broken rusty edges

So since my washing still needs drying I've now done this:

clothes rearranged on the parts of the washing line that aren't touching the ground and that I can reach

But I feel further action needs to be taken for the longterm and I don't know where to even start looking in the Yellow Pages....
zeborah: Fezzes are cool.  Amy and River blow it up. (cool)
Not really. That doesn't happen in real life. (In real life it's a glorious Saturday morning, you've done all your chores and it's only 8:30am, the whole weekend ahead of you, and then you wake up and it's Tuesday and it's raining.) But wouldn't it be cool if it did?

Spoilers for season 8 ep 11, the '3W' episode )
zeborah: Helen Clark telling an MP: Diddums. (diddums)
In response to Metiria Turei's blog post on the Feed the Kids bill, I've emailed the following to our prime minister:

Tēnā koe,

There's no more obvious moral position that children deserve to be fed. It's so obvious that nothing more can be said about it.

It's almost as obvious that when children are well-fed, it's not only good for their future — better health, better socialisation, and better education — but also, by extension, for the future of New Zealand: lower healthcare costs, less crime, a more skilled workforce and stronger economy.

At the moment, many children aren't getting the food they need. We can argue about who ought to be feeding them, but pointing a finger won't feed the children. We can argue about why they're not being fed, but trying to follow the complex chains of cause and effect back to their origins will open a can of worms that will make better food for birds and fish than children. And we can argue about exactly how a bill should be phrased and targeted and implemented to be most efficient, but the most efficient bill in the world is no use until it's passed into law.

Children are hungry right now, and to solve that we need to do one thing: feed them. Right now.

The Tribal Huks gang in the Waikato have recognised this and stepped up to feed hungry schoolchildren in their region, to an outpouring of public support. Can National, the government, and New Zealand, show ourselves any less ready to give our children the food they need and deserve?

Please support the Feed the Kids Bill.

Nāku noa, nā
[wallet name, city]
zeborah: Zebra against a barcode background, walking on the word READ (books)
I've got a lovely two-week holiday so today, instead of leaving for work after my regular Sunday sleep-over with friends, I went with them when they took their three-year-old to his first (half-)day of kindergarten. It was the first time they'd left him alone with strangers so they were a little twitchy though also looking forward to having a bit of time without a preschooler around to catch up on things that preschoolers like to help with, like climbing ladders and painting and varnishing things.

In due course, we also went to pick him up again. He was looking at a picture book and asked me to read it, and about three seconds into it another boy appeared and handed me another book to read, and that's how I ended up reading "Maui's Fish" and "Princess Lulu and the Sleep Stealer" to four kindy kids.

(And then it being a gorgeous day we went to the beach and played frisbee and excavated a water channel while building a castle wall beside it and didn't get sunburned because they made me put sunscreen on even though I hate how greasy it is. I'm glad I'm not staying the night tonight because that's going to be one tired kid.)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Last week New Zealand's centre-right party won the election as thoroughly as you can or need to in order to govern unimpeded for the next three years, and the left-leaning among us are doing the usual post-mortem.

Do we blame the non-voters? The misinformed voters? The greedy voters? The unappealing centre-left party? The corrupt centre-right party? The naive internet party who thought that people would change their votes when corruption was alleged?

No, I think we need to accept the fact that 48% of voters honestly believe that the centre-right's economic policies are standing us in good stead as a country. Partly they believe this because said party has lied to them about how we're in fact doing. But mostly they believe it because it makes sense. It fits the Story, the story that's wound its way about the globe and is shaping society and economics worldwide by convincing us to fear and distrust our fellow human beings and vote for the government that will protect us from them.

I call the Story "Bludgers vs Bootstraps". It's a story of the lazy beneficiary who's bludging off the state. You know they're a lazy bludger because they're a beneficiary. If they weren't lazy, they'd pull themselves up by their bootstraps, get a job, and become a productive member of society. But they don't have a job so they're not productive so they're a bad person -- or at the very least they've made bad choices and now they need to take responsibility for that. (At worst, they're actively milking the benefit for all it's worth, or even defrauding it.) And if they won't do it themselves, then they need to have their benefit taken away from them in order to motivate them to go and do the thing with the bootstraps.

Like all victim-blaming, this story is tremendously comforting. Because if every poor person made a Bad Choice, then all you need to do to avoid poverty is to make all the Right Choices.

And because people need the Story to allay their fears, the harder you work to point out a case that doesn't fit the narrative, the harder they'll work to identify the Bad Choice that proves it does fit it. (To see this happen, I refer to every newspaper comment section ever.) It's still worth telling these counter-narratives, I think, as innoculation if nothing else, but it's not sufficient.

What we really need is a New Story, and this is what it is:

People are inherently good.

People want a job that's meaningful: a job that doesn't just support themselves, doesn't just support their families, but actually improves the world in some other way too. People will settle for a meaningless job if they have to, but they won't be happy about it, because people want to be useful to their fellow human beings.

And whether luck grants them a job or not, people help their fellow humans in a thousand other ways. They look after children. They edit Wikipedia. They garden, making the environment more beautiful and sharing vegetables and fruit with neighbours and colleagues. They volunteer time in churches and clubs and charities. They write cheques and donate old clothes. They smile at people in the street. They pick up a wallet and hand it in. They give spare change to someone asking for 'busfare'. They yarnbomb construction fences and set up bookcrossing zones. They see a house on fire and go in to rescue the inhabitants and then they carry on to their dayjob.

Running into a burning building isn't a smart thing to do, but it's the human thing to do. Because people are just this incredibly hardworking, generous, caring species.

And when we all believe this story, we won't have to fear poverty because we'll know that people will support us. Just the way we support other people. Because this is what people do.

And we'll want to spread this story, and there are two ways of doing that:
  • Telling the story: Tell your friends and neighbours and colleagues and busdrivers and checkout operators about one of those many times that someone did something nice for you. Obviously you want to try and have this bear some relevance to your conversation, but you know what I mean.
  • Creating the story: Be that person doing something nice for your friend or neighbour or colleague or busdriver or checkout operator, so that they have a story to tell too.
I'm not going to promise that spreading this story will get the centre-left party straight back into power. Actually, I think its real success will be judged by how it changes the policies of the centre-right party. This will take time, just as the old story took time to spread in the first place. But it will spread, because it's true and because it's awesome -- and because each act of spreading it makes someone's life better, and that's what we all want to be a part of.

[Links are welcome, as are stories of you or others doing nice things for someone else.]
zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
I just by accident went to my LJ homepage and saw my most recent post was from ages ago. Apparently when I changed all my passwords around Heartbleed time I forgot that Dreamwidth requires my password in order to crosspost. Whoops!

So if you follow me on LJ you may (or may well not) want to catch up with my posts on Dreamwidth. Despite it being ages ago there's only been about ten since; to wit, in reverse chronological order:

In which she watches the second episode (Doctor Who 08.02)
In which she practices her spongebath skills
Fanfic: Really Slowly. In the Right Order. (part 12/12)
In which another Doctor
Fanfic: Really Slowly. In the Right Order. (part 5/12) [NB links to all other parts on Archive of Our Own]
In which she learns a new theory of the elements
In which she baits the phone scammers
In which she produces a unified theory of yellow
In which she submits her hatred of Riccarton Road
In which Easter is all about autumn
zeborah: The Eleventh Doctor holds a mop. Text: Clean all the things? (Doctor Who)
I'm determined to go into this one trying/expecting to like it, in the hopes that my recent dislike of All the Doctor Who is at least partly due to justified bias against the Moffat.

This lasts literally four seconds. )
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
So upon rising this morning I turned on the lightswitch to no avail. At first I thought the bulb had blown, but when I turned on another lightswitch with similar results I began to get an inkling of my predicament. Sure enough my shower didn't turn on either. My shower is a wonderful device that heats the water as it flows through the system, which is gloriously timely on the 364.4 days of the average year when I have electricity. But when there's no electricity it stubbornly refuses to emit any water either.

Fortunately I live in Christchurch, specifically east Christchurch, and I therefore:
  1. possess at least four torches (in addition to the requisite candles; I also have a supply of glowsticks in my emergency kit and various solar-powered devices in the garden)
  2. have plenty of experience with the routine of the spongebath, though post-earthquake this was mostly from after the electricity came back on but before the water was safe to look at, so used to involve boiling a kettle. It turns out to be much quicker to just fill a large saucepan from the hot water tap and have at it.
By the light of my dynamo torch I prepared for work as usual, except that without electricity I had no internet(1). So I went straight into work, though due to the vaguaries of the bus connections I didn't actually arrive much sooner than I would have otherwise. Called my power company from there, and they seem to have done the job since by the time I got home the lightswitches worked again.

(1) This is actually a flaw in my emergency-preparedness that I feel I should rectify, though I don't think any sparkmunication(2) companies sell open-ended "you don't get charged for this wifi until the apocalypse you start using it in" packages; they tend to prefer monthly deals I need even less than I want to pay for them.

(2) Telecom recently changed their name to Spark. An employee got the task of running find/replace over their entire website. Hilarity ensued.
zeborah: Fezzes are cool.  Amy and River blow it up. (cool)
Standard warning for how I don't think Moffat is all that (at this point I just watch like one watches the depressing parts of the news - in order to keep up with current events rather than to enjoy oneself - and then I come here to rant about it because you just can't keep it bottled up) so if you do think he's all that or even half of that you probably just want to move along.

Spoilers, sweetie (S08.01) )
zeborah: Zebra holding a pen, its stripes forming the word "Write" (writing)
Three (wow) years ago I started posting this Doctor Who fanfic about young Rory and Amy as I was writing the story. I got stuck at a certain point, and distracted by other things, and stuck at another point, and so forth, but recently I actually finished it.

I'm currently posting it one chapter a day on Archive of Our Own. So you can now read part 5 there, or catch up from the start. Or in about a week you can read the whole thing at once; I'll post here again when the complete story has been posted.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
Visiting my friends and their 3-year-old son for a Matariki dinner. We had chips, at the end of which he proclaimed, "I ate all the things that I ate." I agreed this was logically true. He further went on to say that they went into his tummy "and they go round and round and round and round like the washing machine.(1) And then they turn into chocolate, and then they turn into dirt, and then they turn into wood, and then they turn into fire!"

As I was writing this up for posterity he said, "You really like that story, don't you?"

And then he said "I'm going to give you a kiss."
I'm working on that whole consent culture thing, so I said, "Where are you going to kiss me?"
"On your cheek."
"Okay." (So he kissed my cheek.) "Can I kiss you too?"
"Yeah." (So I kissed his cheek.) "That's a sweet kiss. You're a sweet kisser!"

Now he wants to write something too (some spelling and pointing at keys on my part):

zeborah
iaac
mum
IAAC
DAADDDDH





(1) He really likes washing machines.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
I used to bait email scammers, from fake email addresses. The group I was part of would probably disapprove of baiting phone scammers from one's own phone number, but what's the worst that could happen?

(Inundated with scammers thinking I'm an easy target and having to change my phone number, possibly.)

So I've been trying to catch these people for a while, but for some reason they keep hanging up on me when I ask them to hold the line for a couple of minutes. :-(

However yesterday I kept one on the line long enough for them to start believing I'd fallen for their story. Also I kept failing to understand the instructions they gave me long enough I got passed on to a senior phone scammer. I forget his actual job title. His name's Roger, and he's been wonderfully patient with the fact that my computer is in a different room, so I keep having to make him hold for several minutes while I turn it on, and wait for it to start up, and painstakingly follow his instructions, and make mistakes, and have to start again, and now he wants me to buy a license for something so let me check how much money is in my bank account, oh dear, not enough, but maybe my brother can lend me some. So he hangs up to let me call my brother, but when he calls back I have to relate my brother's not back until later that evening, so we go back to him trying to install spyware on my computer and oh, sorry, but my internet's just so slow!

So all that kept him busy for an hour yesterday. (During the course of this I keep reading/coding/whatever while he patiently recites instructions at me or waits for me to get back from following them.)

Today he called as soon as I got home. (This leads me to suspect he'd been calling earlier too.) I let it ring, because I was pilling the cat and she was being fussier than usual. He called back three more times, and by then I'd finished drinking my hot chocolate so I answered it. My bus had been late, I told him. He wanted to know if I'd got the money so I said my brother agreed to transfer it but it's not in my account yet. So we switched back to trying the spyware thing. First he wanted me to install ammyy (so he can take control of my computer) via the start menu. That "didn't work" so we tried doing it via internet explorer.

(For the record, I use Firefox on a Mac.)

Next I "got an error". After a while we worked out it was a hilarious miscommunication about the spelling. So I tried again and it did a google search and the results talked about some scam!!!! This was the best, he talked for several minutes trying to reassure me while I read everything in my RSS feed reader and occasionally (every time he was winding down) said that I was really concerned about this. So eventually he convinced me it was safe and I tried it again. (Okay, really I watched a kinky video and caught up on Twitter.)

Unfortunately for him I proved hopeless at following instructions, so after a while he gave up on that and we started trying some other product www.support.me. Again I prove hopeless at following instructions. He's getting really frustrated by now, being pretty polite but telling me I need to do it faster so the code he gives me for the software doesn't expire. So I finally succeed at starting to download the software and my computer crashes! :-( At which he loses patience and tells me to hang up, restart my computer, and he'll call me back in quarter of an hour.

About ten minutes later I thought, nah, and took the phone off the hook. When I've had my dinner and feel interested in talking to him again I can just tell him my brother called and he's worried about transferring the money to me after all because he heard it's a scam, etc.

In the meantime I've wasted at least two hours of their time, maybe three depending on whether he got any work done between trying to phone me all those times. This should translate to saving a few dozen people from having their evenings interrupted.

Hmm, what for dinner? <off to hunt in the kitchen>
zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
Yellow is a cheerful colour but still subject to gravity.

After the summer solstice the sun begins to sink a little lower every day in the sky. By autumn it hangs predominantly in the leaves of certain deciduous trees, and from there it falls even further so that you see the sun not in the sky (which has in the meantime turned grey with clouds) but rather scattered on the ground around the treetrunks. The rain may also wash finer particles into cracks in the pavement, or drifts lining the gutters. From this point, all the yellow leaches deep into the ground to hibernate.

When winter is over it springs up again, first as daffodils still near the ground, then in the gorse shrubs and kowhai trees. And from these flowers the honeybees collect it and fly it still further up, and once more the sun rises higher every day into the summer sky.

This is why you should never eat the yellow snow, because doing so will leave less sun for the new year.
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
There's a new plan out for bus routes in Christchurch, one part of which means I'd only have to take a single bus (the new 80) from home to work, w00t! The downside is that it still travels partly via Riccarton Road, an ancient one-lane thoroughfare eastward along which approximately 50% of Christchurch simultaneously attempts to travel between around 4:30 and 5:30pm every evening.

(I really think everyone's lives would be improved if we could just bulldoze all the shops on one side of the road in order to widen it, but (un)fortunately there was insufficient earthquake damage in this area to justify doing this. A fact which probably contributed to the popularity of the area. A new-to-Christchurch colleague asked me the other day what was so special about Riccarton Mall (not its real stupid commercialised name) and my first thought was that none of it fell down in, or really closed for long following, the quakes. Little things like having the only operational movie theatre in a town of 400,000 people turn out to be quite the selling point.

((Or did Hornby Mall have one too? During the quakes I stopped considering Hornby part of Christchurch, it was so unaffected. And I'm still bitter about the laundromats available in "3 Christchurch locations: Hornby, Kaiapoi and Rangiora". Kaiapoi and Rangiora are in Christchurch like Toronto and Ottawa are in the USA, and were approximately as accessible to many of us power-and-water-less folk in the East as Alpha Centauri would have been. So much rage. --But moving on.))

So I've just spent a couple of hours thoroughly filling out a submission form with all my thoughts about the proposed changes; I shan't bore anyone with all it, but below are my comments relevant to Riccarton Road, from the section What would you change about the proposed services?


Riccarton Road is a blight on the face of the city, yet you route more buses along the worst-congested part of it than anywhere else except the Central Interchange. For the love of all we hold dear, why? I had brief hope when I saw the 80 was to go along Blenheim Road (not that that's much better, to be honest), but then you make it *turn right* into Riccarton Road. Seriously, has anyone involved in this plan ever been on Riccarton Road, let alone in rush hour? I regularly get a good night's sleep while my bus crawls along in the evenings, and wake up maybe half a block further on. And that's just going straight ahead; I fear that if my bus has to turn right into that standstill I may be forced to just get out and walk the last 5 kilometres home.

If there was only a way to transfer from the 80 to the 140 without touching Riccarton Road I think I'd gladly forfeit the luxury of the single-bus journey I'll otherwise have. If the 80 must turn onto Riccarton, what about letting it go down to Mandeville Street first?

The 7 ends so tantalisingly close to the 80. What really is special about Richmond Ave? Turn on Whincops instead, then up Halswell Junction Rd - or the other way and up Quaifes/Marshs - and in a couple of minutes you've connected Lincoln and Prebbleton to Halswell. I'd seriously consider trying an 80 -> 7 -> 140 route, even though anything involving two transfers (especially where one of them has 3 digits) ends only in sorrow and regret. Look, I just really hate Riccarton Road, okay?


And under Would you like to make any further comments?:

You probably have no control over this, but Central Interchange *desperately* needs a convenience store, cafe, coffee cart, or at least an overpriced vending machine. Now that the library's gone[*] it's a miserably boring place to wait for a connection at. Plus by the time you've made it the looooong traffic-ridden road into town after work, you're pretty desperate for some provisions to tide you over until you can get the rest of the way home to dinner. Alternatively, a wifi hotspot so you can check Facebook/Twitter and let people know that you're not dead, just commuting via Riccarton Road.


I'm really hardly exaggerating at all about the amount of sleep I get on Riccarton Road.


[*] Central Library closed due to quakes. A temporary library was erected by the bus interchange, it was great. Books and free public wifi. Anyway then they had to move out to another temporary library on Manchester Street (which I haven't visited yet because I don't think I've seen Manchester Street since the quakes; does it still exist?) while they bulldozed the first temporary library to start construction on the new Justice Precinct. A permanent library is in the brainstorming stage.

I've spent many mornings and evenings watching the progress of various tonka trucks pulling things down and sorting and carting off the resulting rubble; currently digging for foundations is getting well under way. Other than the entertainment afforded by watching a months-long construction project in realtime -- or turning in the other direction to watch the demolition of the old city council building, old bus exchange, and various other old buildings -- the only location of interest in the vicinity is the Restart Mall, which keeps tourist hours useless to commuters.
zeborah: I believe in safe, sane, and consensual Christianity. (christianity)
Every now and then Northern Hemisphereans will muse about how having Christmas in summer or Easter in autumn is weird and not just weird but wrong. Southern Hemisphereans have never found it to be either, mostly because we've grown up with it, but also because come on: autumn is what Easter's all about.

Do you think the disciples were wandering the garden that morning squeeing over cute bunny rabbits and spring flowers peeking out of fresh new grass? God, no! They'd just lost their friend and teacher, and they'd come to bury their hope for a better world there in the grave with him.

And then they find his tomb desecrated. His body stolen. Who the hell would do a thing like that? How ugly has the world become? The men returned helplessly back home, and Mary stayed crying so bitterly she couldn't see through her tears or recognise a friend's voice through her sobs. If a fluffy yellow chick had been peeping in its shell in front of her she'd have trod on it without even noticing, and wouldn't that just figure? It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and everything sucked.

Just like it sucks today, with earthquakes and floods and climate change and war, and racism and misogyny and beneficiary bashing, and companies decimating their staffing while economists promise this "bubble" is going to burst, and as the world goes to hell in a handbasket the days are getting shorter and the clouds are dimming what little light remains to us and even the goddamn leaves are falling off the goddamn trees and clogging the drains all brown and slimy.

And that is the moment when Mary learns, and we remember, that Christ is risen!

Love triumphs over hate; life over death; peace over war; justice over injustice; public holidays over the erosion of workers' rights; Maccabeus over thunderstorms; and chocolate over all. Happy Easter!
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
A friend and I were discussing things a week ago and this concept popped into my head of a time capsule website, where you could read something written by someone a {time period} ago and write something of your own for a stranger a {time period} in the future.

I like this idea, and I could make the technical side of this idea happen; what I'm wondering is whether enough other people like this idea that it'd be worth me spending the time on it. So this post is that question.

How it'd work
For the first year after launch, it'd be seeded with diary material that's in the public domain, because otherwise it'd be boring. So you'd arrive on this page and it'd say "100 years ago today, someone wrote: {random diary entry}".

Then below this would be a box asking you to write about something that you think will be forgotten in a year's time. (Or some other prompt, or a choice of prompts.)

You'd type stuff in the box.

There would be metadata, with explanations why each is necessary. Definitely:
  • a timestamp, autogenerated. (Needed so it can be retrieved at the appropriate point in the future.)
  • language, to allow for multilingual capability
and I think demographic metadata (for purposes of "Am I getting sufficiently diverse submissions or do I need to reach out to other audiences?" and potentially for research/historical value, see below on human ethics discussion):
  • a city- or country-level location, guesstimated by computer but correctable. (Plus because it might be cool to give future-people the entry closest to their location.)
  • gender? age? ethnicity? sexuality? religion? I don't know, what would be useful/appropriate/intrusive? Anyway they'd all default to unspecified, and have a dropdown menu with options including a "write-in" option that'd pop up a box (whose contents would be added to the drop-down menu for future visitors)
And then before you hit the 'submit' button there'd be a permissions section (here's my attempt at being a good human ethicist), telling people that:
  • linky link to privacy policy, which will be:
    • I'll keep their submission as private as I can but NSA and warrants exist
    • the text only (no demographic metadata) will be displayed to someone in one year's time and potentially at other intervals thereafter (eg ten years, a hundred years (I can dream big))
    • I may publish aggregated demographic data but it won't link in any way to the entries
  • in the event that I can no longer maintain the website they can choose whether I will:
    • delete all their data
    • include their entry, but not the demographic metadata, in a bundle licensed CC-Zero and posted to figshare for the benefit of researchers and other interested parties
    • include their entry *with* the demographic metadata in said bundle
In a year's time, visitors would start seeing these user-submitted entries.

Important enhancement: email list/RSS feed/twitter that sends out a random entry each day and prompts people to make a submission.

[If the poll below doesn't work for you, try the PollDaddy version.]

Poll #15210 Anonymous poll!
This poll is anonymous.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 1

Would you personally:

View Answers

visit the time capsule
1 (100.0%)

tell people about the time capsule
1 (100.0%)

subscribe to the time capsule by email/rss/other
0 (0.0%)

submit an entry for future time capsule visitors
1 (100.0%)

give permission for your entry to be (in the event of the site's demise) published with or without metadata in a time capsule bundle
1 (100.0%)

donate a little for server costs and/or other enhancements
0 (0.0%)

be pretty disinterested
0 (0.0%)

think it's a terrible idea
0 (0.0%)

other
0 (0.0%)

ticky box
0 (0.0%)

Do you think other people on the interwebs would:

View Answers

visit the time capsule
1 (100.0%)

tell people about the time capsule
1 (100.0%)

subscribe to the time capsule by email/rss/other
1 (100.0%)

submit an entry for future time capsule visitors
1 (100.0%)

give permission for their entry to be (in the event of the site's demise) published with or without metadata in a time capsule bundle
1 (100.0%)

donate a little for server costs and/or other enhancements
0 (0.0%)

be pretty disinterested
0 (0.0%)

think it's a terrible idea
0 (0.0%)

other
0 (0.0%)

ticky box
0 (0.0%)

I have other thoughts, to wit:

zeborah: zebra-striped biscuits (cooking)
I've switched to Fair Trade chocolate, because it tastes of freedom (and especially dark chocolate, because I can snack on dairy milk until the whole block's demolished whereas with dark a couple of squares are enough, so my money and teeth last longer).

So I've been looking around for Fair Trade chocolate Easter eggs and wow that's not so easy. The options I've found are:


  • Cadbury's 65g Fair Trade Dairy Milk Easter Egg. Note that Cadbury make a big deal about how all their Dairy Milk chocolate is Fair Trade. It's really important to note that Dairy Milk refers to one of their products. It doesn't mean all of their milk chocolate products (like Black Forest, Caramello, etc) are Fair Trade. In fact you can tell they're not because they don't proudly sport the Fair Trade logo. Webpages like this, I can't even tell where the spin stops and the doublespeak begins. In short, if you can't see the Fair Trade logo with your own eyes, it's not Fair Trade, it's Cadbury hoping they've misled you with a sequence of carefully selected and phrased facts.

  • Plamil's 85g organic Easter egg. I'm a little concerned at the idea of dairy-free milk chocolate, but if you like milk chocolate and can't tolerate dairy this is probably awesome. If you don't live in Auckland the Cruelty Free Shop appears to ship.



I'm not so certain about:

  • Moo Free Bunny Bar, because this is described as "using a combination of natural, organic and fair trade ingredients" which has ambiguous scoping (is it combining organic-and-fair-trade ingredients, or is it combining organic ingredients and fair trade ingredients?) and doesn't sport a Fair Trade logo.



Another alternative seems to be to hop on a plane to Melbourne and buy from:


So the other alternative is to buy some chocolate moulds and some:

  • Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate, the kind that has the Fair Trade logo on it

  • Whittaker's Creamy Milk or Dark Ghana chocolate, see also re Fair Trade logo

  • Green and Blacks any flavour, look how they all have the Fair Trade logo!



I've resorted to this method (using Whittaker's Dark Ghana and these silicone moulds. (I know many people hate silicone but it is fantastic at being non-stick which is really important for this purpose.) It's much more time consuming than visiting the store, and the resulting hollow eggs are kind of fragile and messy-looking, while the solid chicks are really solid. But otoh chocolate is a lot cheaper by the block than in Easter Egg form, so I guess there's some savings there.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
So I'm back in Christchurch and it's 1:30am and the cat is making it hard to type she's so busy marking me with her scent and I just want to say "I'm home!" on Twitter and also follow someone back before the notification disappears in the depths of my inbox. But

a) Tweetdeck is acting up, and
b) twitter.com is telling me to download apps. I have an app, it's not working, therefore I want to login on the website but there's no login button and it's 1:30am and I DO NOT UNDERSTAND!

...Oh, apparently logging in on the website counts as "other devices". I. Just.

Whatever, Twitter. Whatever.

Handy tip: at least if you present as a harmless white female and it's midnight and the line at customs is somewhat long, if you declare some technically declarable but really super harmless product like dried ginger, they then wave you right past the x-ray machines that would require you to take your laptop out again from the bag whose zip is a nuisance to close when you have to put it back in.

(Though I've actually now mostly got the hang of the precise angle at which to hold the zip, the bag, myself, my tongue, etc in order to make it work.)

And so to bed.
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
Today started (after a certain amount of groaning and dragging myself out of bed) with a vendor breakfast. I avoid vendor things labelled as "hors d'oeuvres" because they're generally at the time of day when you're exhausted and starving and they want you to stand around attempting to subsist on food that would barely satisfy a sparrow and alcohol that would inebriate an ox. But a seated three-course breakfast seemed worth tolerating some vendor speeches for, even if it was at seven thirty in the morning. Luckily my cold was much alleviated overnight plus I planned ahead and took my own tissues.

Course one was muesli, yoghurt and fruit; course two was a breakfast steak, bacon, poached egg, tomato, mushrooms, and smashed potato; course three was various breads. Courses one and two were actually on the table the whole time, along with tea, coffee and juice; the above order is based on the menu which we all, more or less, obediently followed. Smashed potato, for the curious, appears to be what happens when the cook is too lazy to either mash the potato properly for hash browns or cut it properly for fries. I sound like I judge, but it does create a fun random mix of soft and crispy.

There followed eight hours' worth of sessions and mingling. I caught up with an old colleague who now works in Dubai, various other old colleagues, a lot of vendors at their stalls (they like someone to tell about their products; I like the free USB sticks. Also some of the products even if mostly we still can't afford them - actually it's often most useful to talk to the vendors whose products we already subscribe to because they can tell us the goss as I can nag them about those bugs we keep reporting), and a few strangers who have migrated to a system we're going to migrate to. After the last session there were drinkies and sparrow hors d'oeuvres, but it was bearable because there was also icecream (provided by a vendor, I think) and a magic show.

Then I came back to my hotel to crash for a couple of hours before dinner and realised it was already seven twenty. So that was a day.

In new and unexciting random maladies, my socks are perhaps too tight for twelve hours of conferencing because I now have an achy ankle. Also using my salbutamol inhaler because my lungs like the air conditioning (plus virus) as little as the rest of my respiratory system, yay.

--Okay, the "30 free minutes per 24 hours" doesn't seem to have a set rollover time, it wants to be at least 24 hours since you last used it.

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zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
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