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: All, 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.
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
Okay, so this thing with the sore throat and stuffy nose which is totally the air conditioner and not a cold? It might be a cold too. In that I spent all of today's conference raiding their tissues and feeling faintly scatter-brained. However this was all stuff we really need to know at work so I stayed on infecting people for the bulk of the day and just bailed at the start of the wrap-up session.

I wasn't so sick that on the way home I couldn't stop off to do a bit of vital tourist shopping including these loves of my life:

Blue sandals, purple soles

On the rest of my way home I came across an incredible number of police at a couple of intersections, like a dozen per intersection, a pair of whom at each intersection were directing traffic. Possibly some traffic lights were broken, though most of them looked fine? It was a mystery and most of the police were just standing around on the corners in hi-vis vests. Anyway, while I was trying to a) work out what on earth they were doing there but b) not attract attention because law-abiding citizen foreigner or not, that many police in one spot is slightly intimidating especially when one of them gets real mad at a car not paying attention and starts shouting at it -- so anyway, this other car pulls over halfway across the intersection in what seems a really weird way to be behaving when there are all these scary police massed in one location, and then a taxi cab pulled over behind it, and then I remembered that Australia has this weird traffic rule for turning right.

(US folk should here substitute "turning left" for "turning right". It's the turn that goes across the oncoming traffic.)

In the rule I'm familiar with, if you want to turn right and there's only one lane, you pull as far into the intersection and to the right as you can go without getting sideswiped by the oncoming traffic. It's possible that doing this isn't entirely legal, but short of a right-turn arrow it's often the only way to turn right, because as the lights change anyone who's already in the intersection has to complete the turn to get out of it, whereas anyone who follows the rules and waits behind the lines has to just stay there.

In Australia, apparently what you do is you pull as far into the intersection as you can go, except you pull to the left. This seems really counterintuitive to me. At the same time I can see that pulling to the right could cause problems with trams which run in the centre of the road. Is this the reason for it? Or is it to allow the traffic going straight to "pass on the right"? It looks really weird but it seems to work in that everyone other than me knew what was going on and all the traffic present seemed to get where it wanted to get to.

(ETA: explanations in Dreamwidth comments.)

After all this excitement I spent the rest of the afternoon/early evening dozing. With the air conditioner off because air conditioning is still evil and it's a lot cooler today anyway: there was cloud and wind and even spots of something trying to be rain. Currently attempting to eat something despite a complete lack of appetite, and hoping I'm better for tomorrow's conference because I don't have my favourite aloe tissues here.
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
So I succumbed to the lure of the opals; I ended up preferring the white because if I wanted shiny-irridescent blue jewelery I'd get paua. (Paua doesn't do the thing with the red, but a proper black opal with red is not really in my discretionary budget.)

Then I got on a train out to meet [personal profile] deird1. The countryside in this area feels much like Canterbury (in fact there's a town?/station called Canterbury, but that's a complete coincidence and of course I don't mean that one, nor the original in England, I mean Canterbury New Zealand as in home) except with vastly more eucalyptus / gum trees. We drove up the hill and it turns out that when there are lots of gum trees all together, being all forest-like and such, they grow straight instead of gnarly. It's a little strange and very pretty because gum trees have the most gorgeous bark with those patchy colours. --And then we had lunch, and then we wandered through all the crafty stores in the areas (there's a toy store with puppets and Sylvanians! I'd forgotten about the Sylvanians! also a lace store and kitchenware store and soaps-and-oils store and a place with those trees crafted out of wire and gems, and this great place with wooden chests and globes and magnifying glasses and rugs and all, you half expect to come across the wardrobe to Narnia). And we compared notes on childhood lollies and generally had a great time.

In due course I took the train back home again, which went well for the first few stops. Then there was apparently a power outage at some station so we were hanging around Ringwood station while they tried to arrange buses instead.

(Have I mentioned there's a bit of a heat wave going on here at the moment? The hotel has this electronic noticeboard that insists that the high is 32 degrees and the low 21 degrees -- however I've just noticed that it also insists that the date is Thursday 30th January. I remember Thursday. It was quite warm, but it's grown significantly warmer since then.)

Buses not being immediately forthcoming, after a while I decided to wander around Ringwood, to wit: walk ten minutes to the shopping mall which had air conditioning and a McDonalds, who sell this fantastic salt delivery mechanism they call 'fries'. Having been drinking substantial amounts of water and possessing a general awareness of cell biochemistry, this seemed like a good idea. I also got some grapes (I was right, fruit's cheaper in supermarkets that aren't in a train station in the Melbourne CBD) and drank more water.

I got back to the train station in time to squeeze onto a replacement bus. It was very much standing room only and hot enough that I had the sweat literally running down the backs of my legs. This isn't quite the first time I've had that, but it was probably the most dramatic and it's a really weird feeling, like someone's turned the tap and just opened up your pores.

So eventually we got back to a train station that had trains that a) could take us back into town and b) had air conditioning. Got back into town and my swipe card wouldn't let me out the turnstile. I don't know what the problem was (did it get confused at the 3-hour journey? did I fundamentally misunderstand the fare structure and overdraw the card? was it a random malfunction? no-one will ever know) because the nice Metro man just swiped me out with his card.

Upon which I came back to the hotel via a shop window which has these awesome shoes in it. You guys, I normally have real trouble shoe shopping. Currently I quite desperately need more sandals and I love that at the moment there are lots of sandals in nice colours (like, there are sandals in colours!) and lots of sandals with low heels and in fact these two sets overlap a reasonable amount. Yet until now, all summer, I've been seeing pairs that have slightly too high of a price:motivation ratio. They look okay, they're just not convincing. But this pair, love at first sight. Just as soon as I walk past this shop when it's open, if they feel as nice on my feet as they look in the window they will be mine.

Back at the hotel I took a shower in my clothes which I've never done before but it was fantastic, I should do it more often when it's 40-something degrees out, and then I got into dry clothes and crashed on my bed.

When I woke up I felt cooler because air conditioning and it was late, so I put on my jacket and wandered out for dinner. Hahaha, what was I thinking? I so didn't need my jacket. But I got some fantastic kimchi soup in this restaurant playing a fantastic sequence of Korean pop and "Do you want to build a snowman?" and more Korean pop and "Unbreak my heart". I don't know who programmed that mix tape but they're probably going to be recognised as a genius by generations to come.

After depositing my jacket back in the hotel, I went to wander the South Bank (thanks [personal profile] deird1 for the tip!) Currently it's full of stalls with South-East Asian foods and plants and toys and fans and knick-knacks; and a concert going on and wow that woman can't hold a note to save her life but major props that she's managing to dance in this weather. On this leisurely wander of less than an hour I drank a third pint of water for the day (not counting soup or multiple glasses of water at meals): I'm staving off dehydration pretty well if I do say so myself, but my inner ear appears to be a little bewildered by the weather all the same.
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
After Friday night's penguin adventures I slept in a bit Saturday morning, but still managed to be wandering the shopping precinct a few minutes before everything opened at ten. So for a few minutes there I was thinking Melbourne was a startlingly sleepy little town of a weekend.

Shops seen include the magic shop which is adorable but most of the stuff for sale seemed to be little tricks of the whoopee cushion variety (not saying I don't have fond memories of the whoopee cushion); teddy bear shop ("for every bear that ever there was"; an intriguing number of jerky shops; a pen shop and a bookbinding shop and cupcake shops and chocolate shops and all the clothes and shoe shops.

While I was in the complex that is Melbourne Central Station I also visited the Shot Museum. Because when you're a developer and want to build a giant shopping mall but there's a really tall heritage building in the way what you do apparently is enclose it in a giant glass dome and build your shopping centre around it. The museum is in the back of one of those clothes shops that sells manly clothes for manly men.

After a two-hour wander over a half-hour distance I ate my lunch in the park where I was mobbed by flies so small at first I thought they were mozzies. They're not quite that small but they're about halfway between mozzie size and proper Kiwi fly size. Then I went to see the exhibition in the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre in the Melbourne Museum - as well as the more permanent looking displays they were showcasing a project where about thirty kids around Melbourne got to work on making traditional possum skin cloaks.

So a couple hours later I came out and wandered through what looked like a Russian (or possibly more generically Slavic) cultural festival; at least the stall where I got pancakes and a drink of mors was fundraising for the local Russian Orthodox Church. Some incredibly staunch people wearing traditional clothes designed for Russian temperatures were dancing in temperatures that made the more sensible seagulls sit down in the shade of the trees in the park to rest.

I decided I was done walking so found the free city loop tram and sat there until I found an interesting looking stop, which happened to be the Lightning Ridge Opal Mines store. It was fairly quiet and the shop assistant gave me a lesson in varieties of opals (using the game of "Guess which one's $60, which is $600, and which is $6000") and let me hold a big lizard. I'm now pondering. (I'm definitely not going to get the $6000 one, gorgeous as it was.)

Wandering back from there through the lanes, which are a lot cooler than the roads because the sun doesn't reach all the way down, I stumbled across the city library. And a few shops near to the "dollar shop" style variety.

And then I got back to the hotel and crashed for the evening. Until I wanted internet and discovered the hotel's "30 free minutes per day" day runs from midnight to midnight instead of checkin to checkin, so then I wandered out to a spot where the map said had free wifi, and lo! there was free wifi and it was glorious.

(The sore throat is too long-lived without other symptoms to be a bug, and I've been drinking water fairly constantly so it's not dehydration per se, so definitely blaming the air conditioner.)
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
In Christchurch, even on an overcast day I have to wear sunglasses against the glare. (Not on all cloudy days; there's just a certain kind of high cloud.) In Melbourne, it seems to be frequently very comfortable for me to not wear sunglasses even when it's perfectly fine.

Also, at the conference I was at yesterday the air conditioning had been turned on a little too well, so at lunchtime when I was talking to someone we went out and talked in the sun. We were there about half an hour. In the full summer sun at noon. What was I thinking? --And yet I didn't get burned.

--

I bailed on the conference early due to the last session being of no interest to me whatsoever, either professional or personal, and instead took the opportunity to go find the Koorie Heritage Trust which otherwise would have been permanently scheduled against all my other conferences. Unfortunately baggage allowances these days limit you per bag as well as by weight, which I hadn't paid attention to before choosing the bag I'm travelling with, but I got a few books I should be able to squeeze in.

Got back to the hotel and changed shoes, then met my co-traveller who had hired a car and conceived the notion of going around to see the penguins come in from the sea at sunset. I'm not yet used to the scale of things here, which is not a reference so much to the rush hour traffic out of Melbourne or the two hour trip (although I did eventually realise that the reason my backbrain was convinced that we were heading north, even though the setting sun was on my right at the time, was because in Canterbury if you've got the sea to your right then you're heading north) as to expecting there to be a couple dozen people hanging around on a beach watching these penguins come in. Instead there were a few hundred, sitting in actual amphitheatres and well outnumbering the penguins.

The penguin place keeps calling them the "little penguins" which I thought was just, you know, being cute for the tourists, until I saw them next to the seagulls massed on the shore. In the end I'm not sure which of the two species were actually bigger, but the penguins would definitely collect in little groups before venturing through the gauntlet of seagulls. So tiny.

(No photos of penguins allowed, though jerks kept trying. So I got a blurry sunset photo on the way, and then a blurry photo of a bird which my backbrain promptly decided was a cassowary. Was my backbrain right? Is it possible to tell anything from this photo? Maybe it's a moa.)

--

Woke this morning with a sore throat which I'm going to treat like it's dehydration rather than early onset con-crud, because the latter would be a blasted nuisance given that I've got three conferences still to attend next week.

So far have visited/attended things at three separate universities, two of which are in walking distance from me and basically next door to each other. Monday is at a fourth, and then I think the next ones are back at universities I've already been at. [ETA: Oh no, just realised Monday's conference isn't at the university, it's at the university's conference centre here in the CBD. So disappoint!]
zeborah: Zebra and lion hugging (cat)
Boots is on a hypoallergenic diet because we can't figure out why she's sick and protein allergies was an early hypothesis. Might have helped, might not, who can tell. Cats.

She's also on pills to help with blood pressure, which definitely do work. But heretofore the only consistently reliable way I've found to get them in her and keep them there is to crush them up in tinned food.

And my hypoallergenic tinned food supplier is running late and I've run out and she needs her pills so I'm casting my eyes desperately around the kitchen thinking about all the foods that'd work really well if she wasn't maybe allergic to them, and suddenly I remember:

Frozen peas.

Boots adores frozen peas. I don't know why. I know why I like them, but I'm not a cat.

And it turns out that if you cut carefully into a frozen pea, you can pry a quarter-pill into it and Boots will nom it down without hesitation or regret. (I gave her an additional unadulterated one as a treat afterwards as prophylactic against second thoughts but I'm not sure it was strictly necessary.)

This changes everything. Also resolves one more anxiety about being about to abandon her for ten days with a (most capable) catsitter while I'm at conferences in Melbourne. Even if the tinned food doesn't arrive in time I can prepare a dozen pea-pills before I leave and leave them in the freezer for easy dispensation.

(I really should pack for that, I guess.)
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
I'm kind of hoping the heat wave will break first. Either way though I'll be flying in on the evening of Wednesday 29th and flying out on the evening of Friday 7th February.

This is a work trip so most of my time will be taken up with two site visits to libraries followed by four conferences on four different subjects. But the weekend (1st/2nd) should be my own and I probably won't be spending *every* evening at vendor cocktail parties. (Actually I usually avoid vendor things unless they include food more substantial than hors d'oeuvres because by that time of day I'm starving and my feet hurt. But there are some where attendance will be politically preferable.)

So does anyone I know live in Melbourne and want to catch up? Or does anyone have any recommendations for Must Visit places?

(Also does Melbourne have mosquitoes? I've heard it doesn't but what I really need to know is does it have mosquitoes this summer. Because traditionally Christchurch doesn't have mosquitoes either, And Yet.)
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (New Zealand zebra)
Chez Cecile is a column in the locale by a French native adjusting to New Zealand. In this case to our relatively indirect mode of communication. I didn't think New Zealand had that much of a Guess culture - obviously the degree varies - but I recognise so much of what she describes and not all from my own insecurities.

"Interesting" seems to me a natural thing though. I mean, obviously a non-native speaker has to learn that it has a secondary meaning as a euphemistic insult. But in the situation described, when you really want to rant to a group of friends about another person in your group, but have to bear in mind the possibility that maybe the rest of your group think said person is the bee's knees, it just seems incredibly useful to be able to broach the possibility with sufficiently plausible deniability that you can rapidly backpedal as needed to avoid becoming a social outcast.

I guess in Ask cultures one just goes ahead and says, "Wow, she's a real poophead," and then if everyone retorts, "No, you're the poophead," one just goes ahead and backpedals with actual words or something? Or doesn't. Either way this just seems made for TV drama.
zeborah: Zebra looking at its rainbow reflection (rainbow)
The "Ask culture vs Guess culture" meme seems to be getting around and generating much discussion. On the Captain Awkward post's comment thread someone thought Guess culture = rape culture and Ask culture = consent culture.

My response got long enough that I thought I'd post here too (and am not sure if it successfully posted there after all that.) As follows:

I think rape culture is a dysfunctional thing, and either Ask culture or Guess culture can be functional and non-rapey.

Eg in a functioning Ask culture, a man can ask if a woman will go out with him and the question isn't itself intimidating; and the woman can say no and he won't take offense. And a woman can ask a man out and it's not skanky, and he can say no and it's not the most unheard of thing ever.

And in a functioning Guess culture, a man can pay attention to the cues that a woman's putting out (those 'she glances at him and touches her hair!' things or whatever) and if things look favourable then he can say hello and pay attention to the cues that result from that, and if she starts putting out unfavourable cues then he can politely end the conversation and walk away. And a woman can pay attention to a man's cues of interest too and respond accordingly (flirting).

In rape culture, a man can ask a woman out and she's not allowed to be intimidated even though if she says no he'll take offense. Because women are expected to only communicate by putting out cues even though men aren't expected - are even actively discouraged - to notice or abide by them.

And a woman can't ask a man out without insulting his manliness, and if she did he couldn't say no without serving himself up as fodder for jokes about his virility. And a man who tries to communicate by cues will be ignored because women are taught that men don't do that, they only ask.

Ask and Guess cultures have reciprocity, and responsibilities that match their rights: Both men and women have the right to ask and the responsibility to accept a no. Both men and women have the right to have their cues respected and the responsibility to respect others' cues in turn.

Rape culture breaks all of this. It's a systematic double standard designed so that men (but not women) can ask but don't have to accept no; and women (but not men) have to put out cues but can't expect them to be heard.
zeborah: Zebra in grass smelling a daisy (gardening)
Okay, I never do my nails, but I'd been pressing violets for crafts and had a whole lot left over and they were just the right size:



So I 'glued' them on with a layer of clear polish (I considered dark green but clear is all I have and in the last fifteen years I've only used it for crafts and the back of my corroded watch strap that I'm allergic to):



And then I covered them with another layer of clear polish, which brought out the colour that had faded a little in two days of pressing:



And then I did the other hand, and who invented handedness anyway? So awkward. And managed to find sufficient settings on my camera for a fingernail selfie:



Probably it really needs a third layer of polish, but I was lazy and also had a bus to catch.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
So in light of my earlier post I thought I should get around to uploading some of the photos I've taken recently. I ended up creating an EQNZ set which includes photos dating back to 22nd February 2011 before it gets onto the recent ones.

(Also am currently wishing I'd had the wit to ask the dude three questions to try and get him to grok the logistical nightmare this was and remains:
1) How many buildings do you think were destroyed? (And then correct him because I bet he'd have lowballed it.)
2) How many people do you think it takes to deconstruct and rebuild a building? (And then correct him again.)
3) Multiply those two numbers. Bearing in mind again the answer to #1, where do you think all those people were supposed to live?

A lot of reconstruction couldn't start until after we'd constructed villages for the tradies who were going to construct them. I mean, plus and after we'd got back electricity; water supplies; sewerage; roads and railways to move rubble and goods over; etc etc. Oh, and I forgot to tell him about liquefaction!

But there. Half an hour just wouldn't be time for anyone, no matter how prepared and eloquent, to say everything.)
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
I have nothing against UKish people. In fact I have lots of UKish friends. Hi there, friends in the UK!

But there I was at the bus stop, waiting for the airport bus in a doomed attempt to pick up @thelittlepakeha from the airport (a whole nother story), and there was this tourist dude from the UK, white, probably 30ish, with a backpack, and he asked (after enquiries about the bus) "There isn't really anything around here, is there?"

And me and this other woman looked at each other and said, approximately, "In the Christchurch CBD? No. No, not really."

I mean there's the Re:Start Mall, but he'd already been there. (Oh, btw I just discovered there today, if you need a quick lunch ignore the queues at the cafes and go into the bread place: they have filled rolls for $5.) And there are restaurants again around the Art Centre area, but he'd already eaten. There used to be the temporary library, but it's being torn down today. I forgot to mention the museum and the Pallet Pavilion and the Transitional Cathedral and Alice's and so forth, but the thing was he wanted to buy things. We suggested the suburban malls but he'd already been there and they didn't have anything he couldn't find in Australia for cheaper.

He was starting to get oddly complainy, so I said something with a pointed emphasis on "post-quake Christchurch". And then he said in very nearly these words: "How come you haven't fixed it yet?"

I got mad. I told him I was mad and he shouldn't dare diss what we've achieved in three years. I attempted to give him an idea of the scope of what we're talking about here, but he didn't get it. He reckoned that if the centre of London was levelled it'd all be rebuilt within a couple of years. I told him I hope that never happens. He said sure, but still.

At one point I stepped back and let the other woman talk to him about the weather for a bit. When we were settled on the bus I thought of just getting out my laptop and writing. But then I was looking out the window at our Rubin vase of a city:

Christchurch as a Rubin vase

And I just... went over to him and said, "Look, if you want, I'll tell you about the things you're not seeing."

And he agreed, so I pointed out the artwork on fences, and the art gallery that housed Civil Defense, and yeah timber houses did pretty well but office buildings not so much.

And repairing all this, I said, well, first you've got to check— And I remembered right back to the start. First they had to check for survivors. He asked how many died; I told him; he said wow; there was a pause. And then you've got to check for structural integrity. You've got to decide what level of structural integrity you want. You've got to bring it down without damaging the buildings next door. And then you can start thinking about rebuilding.

And behold: a half-built apartment block, and Hinemoana Baker's poetry, and Knox Church which is just now starting a rebuild, and there've been 450,000 claims to the Earthquake Commission and tens of thousands of repairs done already but so many more to go and that's just residential.

And there's where the temporary bus exchange was - one of them, connected by a shuttle to the other at Hagley Park, where they used tarps and a spare bus as shelter from the elements. And that building back at the current temporary Bus Exchange that was being torn down today? That was the temporary central library; just like in my suburb the library was damaged and had to be rehoused temporarily and now has a permanent location in the mall and it's just fantastic.

And I talked about when getting up in the morning to find that a newspaper's been delivered is like a goddamn miracle. And how when you've been without electricity for four days you're pretty damn grateful to the electricity company for getting it back on, and likewise when you no longer have to trek to the Sallies for your water, and when you can stop boiling all your water, and when you don't have to use your chemical toilet anymore.

And how the University of Canterbury had taught in tents, and Lincoln University lost 40% of its teaching space, and funny story: I was video conferencing the other day with an Aussie working out of her laundry, and later I heard that she was mortified to learn that we'd realised that, and I blinked because I'd forgotten that it wasn't completely normal for people to be working out of borrowed spaces like that.

But to this guy, everything here was strange, and not just in an "unfamiliar to me" sense. Not just because of the quakes. The fact that the airport was so far (20 whole minutes) away from the centre of town. Strange, even when I explained that in New Zealand (as opposed I guess to more built up areas where you have no choice, though in retrospect I think he was just full of it because no-one has an airport next to the CBD) we get to have quiet and peaceful houses so don't want to spoil it with planes flying overhead. Totally strange.

So I tried to explain, "Strange is just what you're not used to," and this struck him as a revelation, though not one that sunk in very far. He just couldn't understand why everything was so much more expensive here than in Australia. I tried to explain that things have to travel further, and petrol costs money; in fact even within New Zealand the farther south you come the more expensive petrol is because you have to transport that too.

But he couldn't get it. He just kept saying that everything's cheaper in Australia, cheaper in the UK. Okay, he admitted, the economy's not great here but in Greece where the economy's crashed everything's dirt cheap.

And it was just on and on like this. There were these moments where he'd say something particularly clueless: When he'd visited the US they'd tidied up after the Twin Towers! (He honestly couldn't see the difference in scale.) Australia never has disasters! (He grudgingly admitted to bushfires but I don't think he actually gets the scale of those either.) He was startled when I had to tell him no, no it's not possible to predict when an earthquake is going to strike, in fact we didn't even know there was a fault under Christchurch, we thought if a quake did strike it'd be Wellington or the Alpine Fault.

When we got out to the airport he mentioned having five hours to wait for his flight. I suggested at least giving the Antarctic Centre a visit, since that's nearby, but I don't know if he took me up on it. It felt like he was just going to sit in his little box with the lid pulled safely down, thinking about how strange it is that he can't see anything anywhere around him.
zeborah: Fezzes are cool.  Amy and River blow it up. (cool)
People who enjoyed the episode have the entire internet to squee in. To them I will cheerfully say, "It was classic Moffat. So how about this weather?"

To everyone else, I dedicate this post. Warning: squee-harshing about to commence )
zeborah: Zebra holding a pen, its stripes forming the word "Write" (writing)
This novel took have a dozen versions over a dozen years to finish to my satisfaction; I submitted it a few places, then gave up, and haven't seriously thought about it in years.

Yesterday, for a random reason, I started reading it again. And... I liked it. The prose is perhaps a little purple, the pace a little slow, the hints at things I should have just said a little opaque. In the middle half, some of the soap factor needs to be reigned back. But by and large...

The more serious problem (which I've known for ages and is probably one reason I abandoned the novel as a lost cause) is that I was doing this 'post-feminist' (with all the quotation marks) thing of "Sure, a woman can run a starship if she wants, but sometimes a woman just wants to go home to one's hyperpatriarchal society and be owned by a man with no real recourse if he decides he wants to kill her". Which: Young Zeborah, what were you thinking?(*)

But also, I noticed this time and not then, the entire rest of the novel is steeped in all the rape culture. It's all terribly asexual, but wow. The main character is harassed and almost everyone including herself blame her for not reciprocating; the author-at-the-time saw Both Sides of the Story while now I'm all, "Dude, she said back off. Back off!" In an important subplot, her best friend makes a complaint of harassment and all the focus is on exonerating the poor guy she's complaining about and then it turns out she made a terrible mistake and he's innocent after all. In other really important subplot, same person defends herself from super serious charges by explaining about the super serious harassment she was undergoing and no-one including the main character believes her.

It's... wow, it's really bad. Or... they're some really horrible situations, narrated uncritically. So now I can't help but feel that if I told them more critically, and was also more critical of some of the politics behind Federation and space exploration and post-war peace treaties -- I could make a really powerful theme out of boundaries and the violation thereof and the reclaiming of agency afterwards.

Or possibly waste my time on a novel I filed away seven years ago with very good reason.

It's not like I don't have a pile of unfinished things I could be working on instead....


(*) I'm pretty sure what I was thinking was that I was young and nervous about being an adult.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Posting here because Blogger won't let me comment where it should be. Full history:


"They started bringing that joy back mere weeks, maybe days after the quakes."


My sister and I made sandcastles out of the liquefaction the morning after February. We'd barely slept after a night of three quakes a minute (the bloody Port Hills kept reflecting them back on us) and the world had brought us sand, so. It made a few neighbours smile: well worth the time.

One thing I was thinking the other day — walking past the chalkboard on Colombo and (Tuam?) and an empty block which is mostly carpark except for the footprint of one shop taped off, with "No parking" sprayed in pink on the aggregate, and signposted "GapFiller coming soon" — is that Christchurch is making an artform of the temporary. Sandcastles, and yarnbombs, and Easter bunnies made from milk bottles atop road cones. We might have four seasons in a day and we sure don't have a clue what the roadworks are going to do tomorrow morning, but we also never know where a GapFiller might pop up next.

There's a tremendous beauty in that. And a pain underneath it that for me makes the beauty all the sharper. And this beauty is everywhere in Christchurch these days, like and in the wildflowers blooming in the piles of rubble.

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