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: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
Once upon a time there was a bus-stop four minutes' walk from my house.

Then there was an earthquake and there were no buses at all. Then they started running for part of the route but the nearest stop was ten minutes away (and my erstwhile 30-minute commute became a 2-hour commute due to omg the traffic, but that's another story). Then some many months later after various permutations of the route My bus-stop started being used again and I might have cried a little.

Then roadworks came to the street. Even before the recent "[image of a roadcone] = progress" propaganda posters went up I've always believed in the sentiment, and the challenge of trying to find a new route across the road every time I want to visit the supermarket is all part of the fun of living in a post-apocalyptic society. (Another is jumping over the semi-filled-in ditches they dig across the footpath away from every house when they're fixing the sewers. It's like playing Super Mario in a virtual reality system.) But it did put My bus-stop out of use again — at least the one I go to on the way to work; the one I get off at on the way home was unaffected.

But tonight! I was on my bus on the way home, and I pressed the buzzer and started collecting my bags. And the bus started slowing down at the lights. And I'm all, "Wtf, driver, don't you know those are flashing orange lights because of the roadworks, you don't need to stop at them!" And then the lights — wait for it — the traffic lights turned red.

So I'm all, "Zeborah, play it cool, this is just a thing traffic lights do." But, I mean, they turned red, so when we reached my bus-stop I said to the driver, "Did those traffic lights just start working today?!"

And he said, "Yeah! And I was like, where are all the roadcones?!"

Which passed me right by like it was just a figure of speech, because pff, you can't have roadworks without roadcones! That's just logic! So we said goodnight in good spirits and I hopped off the bus (carefully so as not to sprain an ankle on a pot-hole). Then, just as I was about to turn into my own street, I chanced to look back the way we'd come and I saw that the roadcones were gone.

(Okay, there are still several scattered at various spots, but it's less in the way of someone having set up roadcones to delimit roadworks, and more in the way of someone having missed picking them up. It'd be pretty easy to overlook a few bright orange cones with reflective stripes, because that sort of thing just blends into the post-apocalyptic landscape along with the "Safety is no accident" hi-vis vests: you only notice them if you're really looking for them.)

I... I think the roadworks are finished?

At least on that side of the road.

And I think that means I'm going to get My bus-stop back.

And you know what that means?

Poll #13405 It means I have 5-6 extra minutes every morning!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 8

What shall I do with this extravagance of free time?

View Answers

sleep in!
1 (12.5%)

eat breakfast!
3 (37.5%)

brush my teeth!
1 (12.5%)

do a modicum of housework!
0 (0.0%)

follow more links from Twitter!
2 (25.0%)

other (please comment!)
1 (12.5%)

zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
It's been a while since we had much aftershock activity -- the unprecedented pair of snowstorms we had three weeks apart seems to have insulated against them or something, which was one good thing about the snow. (I also enjoyed playing in it and having time off work; otoh I didn't like being cut off from being able to feed my cat, twice; and it made life harder for people who didn't need life being made harder in the slightest.)

But we did get a 4.2mag. aftershock at 5am-ish today, which seems to have ruined a lot of people's mornings. My own reaction was a groggy, "Bah, I'm not letting a piddly - hmm, feels like a low 4 - stop me sleeping in." And went back to sleep. From evidence, the cat's reaction was similar, which is gratifying progress.

In other recent EQ news, I got my letter from EQC listing all the damage the inspectors noticed while they were around here. It takes a page and a half, each line being one wall or ceiling or window or other feature, notated with a super-brief "Collapsed chimney" / "Structural damage" / "Floor has moved less than 100mm" / "Impact damage" etc. I also get a "Broken glass" and "Broken power fittings" and "Cracks to ring foundation", but the vast majority is "Cosmetic damage".

There's also a new Red Cross grant which was called the Alternatives to Sewerage Systems grant until someone noticed the acronym and changed it to something I can't remember because it's nowhere near as fun. Anyway it's NZ$500 for anyone who went without city sewerage for more than 90 days, and after a few days of being vaguely aware of the grant, it suddenly occurred to me that that included me again.

This perfectly solves my voucher-from-work dilemma: I can pass said voucher on to Women's Refuge and never have to think about it again, and use the grant money to buy myself something nice without any unpleasant aftertaste about where it came from (plus not limited to shopping at the single mall).

On the subject of Red Cross grants, there are three broad philosophies:

1) the Red Cross is making it too easy for people to get money;
2) the Red Cross is making it too hard for people to get money;
3) the Red Cross is doing pretty well actually, as evidenced by the fact that the Letters to the Editor display a perfect balance between philosophy #1 and philosophy #2.

My uncle, it turned out at my Mum's sixtieth birthday dinner, holds philosophy #1, believing that the Red Cross should investigate more exactly which people need exactly how much money. My sisters pointed out that investigating would cost money and delay people getting anything, and corrected him on some points of fact, all the while referring to the Red Cross as "we" (with admirably faint emphasis) until it clicked for him and there was this brief pause and he said, slightly horrified, "You mean you both work for the Red Cross?"

This is how my family celebrates our sixtieth birthdays, people! --Actually it was all good, and we stuffed ourselves full of mains and dessert and cake and then went to Scared Scriptless (a theatre sports show which is a Christchurch institutions -- their normal venue has been red-zoned so they've been bouncing around, at the moment performing in an intermediate school's auditorium) which was brilliant as usual. (I mean there was the game that's funny because foreign people have silly accents, and the game that's funny because date rape's hilarious, and the games that are funny because homophobia and transphobia; but y'know, it was my Mum's birthday so I'm just going to give in to the kyriarchy this once.) The brilliantest thing was that one of my family managed to get a note slipped to their coordinator about Mum's birthday, and so he asked her some questions and then got the guys in the team (yes, they're all guys, this may have something to do with the kyriarchy both cause and effect; see also the demographics of QI and the predictable "Women just must not be as funny as men" that you get when you point this out to fans on their fan-forum, but that's a story for another day) -- anyway, he got them to improvise a song for her which really was utterly fantastic.

Oh oh! And apparently my bus, my normal bus, my dear #23, is now running out my way again! I saw it! This means I could catch it straight from here straight to the door of my work again! --If that building is ever my workplace again, anyway, which to our rage and dismay is sounding increasingly unlikely, but that's a rant for another day. In the meantime the #21 gets me almost-straight from here straight to my current workplace, just takes a bit longer.
zeborah: I found this humerus (humorous)
Conversations on a bus:
Three teenagers (two girls and one boy). One of the girls was rehearsing her defense for the school board of trustees about drunkenness at school. It wasn't that she got drunk at school, see, she got drunk before school and just happened to still be intoxicated when she got there. Also when she gave some drink to another student it was because said student wanted it, not because she'd peer pressured her or anything.

The conversation turned, as conversations do. In due course the boy was telling how once, when a friend had been pressuring him with "Bros before hos", the boy retorted, "Mate, chicks before dicks."


The Press cheerfully mentions that over 50% of the buildings in the CBD may have survived. This is a stunningly glass-half-full mode of reporting for the Press these days. Also, I shouldn't read the newspaper while waiting at the supermarket checkout: going shopping is enough of a punch to my emotional immune system as it is, and today is pouring with rain and I spent all morning looking after part of the church fair's white elephant sale so resilience has been going steadily down all day anyway.

(On the plus side, at said fair I got two skirts for a dollar, and some violets, and some feijoas in red wine which I'm planning to take to friends for a dessert with the plan that she and I can eat the feijoas and he can drink the wine. I restrained myself from going near the book stall, it seemed for the best.)


Boots has returned to her ordinary self, ie restive with outbreaks of annoying, and the vet's battery of tests all read back in the normal range.


There are all sorts of things I keep meaning to say, but I've forgotten them all. Oh! One of them was that I worked out what's been splitting my skin open when I empty my chemloo tank; I then put one bandaid on my finger and one bandaid on the jaggedy part of the tank.


At work I'm still bouncing between three locations, though one predominates. Unfortunately it's the one I hate the most. It's deathly quiet; we share with people we don't know that well and they complained about the beeps of our virtual reference application, so now we need to wear headsets if we want to notice our customers calling us. The only redeeming feature of this place is that it has my computer in it -- my actual computer from my actual office, with my lolcat version of the 5 laws of library science taped on and my rights to modify the software on it which IT accidentally-on-purpose left me because they trust me not to modify it too much. And on Monday we get a new manager and he's going to be sitting at that space.

Sigh. Oh well. At least I worked out how to get my desktop picture (of The Sistine Hall of the Vatican Library) onto the other computers I have to use. Why I mentioned work was really to keep on with the alcohol theme, because in one of the other locations the tiny little tearoom has, next to the coffee and tea and milo, two bottles of wine. They must have come from some function or other. No-one would ever actually open them on worktime, but I feel it's comforting just to know they're there.
zeborah: Zebra and lion hugging (cat)
It's terribly thematic for Boots to get desperately sick in time for Good Friday, but once (2009, ate the netting from a roast) was quite enough. This time it seems to be some kind of infection maybe? Ridiculous fever anyway, and lethargic and severely off her food. The vet this morning plied her with injections and pills and super-nommy tinned glop, and Boots did have some of that at least, but remains lethargic and is currently hiding under the couch (whether photosensitive or just sick of me trying to get her to eat more). If she doesn't miraculously recover overnight I'll have to take her to the afterhours clinic tomorrow.

On the upside of today, while she was under the house sulking from too many injections and pills I got a tweet from [personal profile] keieeeye that a box had arrived for me, so I hopped on a bus waited 50 minutes for a bus (for a route where they should come every 10 minutes, seriously, wtf? some of the roads are appalling, but I've never before seen the buses running more than two iterations late) -- anyway, I went around and retrieved the box.

Inside the box was some paper padding and another box, and inside that was another box, and inside that was some cardboard padding and a bubblewrap package, and inside that was a thin-foam-stuff package, and inside that was my PocketBook 360.

Then I walked home playing with it, rather than sit at the busstop waiting 30+ minutes. (I cunningly went first to the busstop with the realtime estimate doodacky, which they've managed to get working again recently.) I was nearly home when the bus went past, and had managed to visit a couple of shops on the way too. (Though one was just poking my head in the door and seeing that they didn't have what I wanted.)

I like my PocketBook 360. I like that I can poke around their websites/forums and discover that someone's coded a Tetris for it, which I can then download and install. --For the record, an e-ink based ereader is not the best format for a Tetris. Sudoku works though. Also, um, that reading function, that works too. :-) Plus and also, it's really pretty.

--That aside, though, running low on cope at the moment so may be only spottily communicado for a bit.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
There's a moth here determined to prove the adage.

Three unpleasant blips that make it sound like life sucks more than it does:

1) Thursday I went shopping to Barrington. My book-of-the-bus-trip was an Amnesty International collection of stories about human rights; in particular, I reached one about residents walking to get water after Hurricane Katrina and being blocked on the way. This... proved to be mildly triggering. Especially because the 'moral' at the end of the story was that people have the right to go where they want in their own country - nothing about the right to have clean drinking water. This right was only resolved fairly recently and New Zealand first opposed it then abstained from the vote.

You know what, I have strong opinions about the right of people to have clean drinking water. I really like clean drinking water and am willing, when necessary, to take half an hour out of my day to go and collect it.

So there was that, and then I had to buy as many groceries as I could feasibly carry back to the bus, which proved really heavy and so I was feeling quite worn down even before the busdriver (I think the busdrivers are being pushed too hard; a lot of them are... not themselves) took off before we'd all managed to get seats, and proceeded to drive as fast as one can drive on bumpy roads and several times failed to hear people ding the bell for their stops so had to be shouted at. Which doesn't make anyone happier.

2) Yesterday I visited New Brighton to go to the library. The roads that way were bumpy, and there were more shops fenced off or shored up with timber, and by the time I reached the library I was feeling distinctly glum. I read a C. L. Moore story (the only one by a woman in the Mammoth Collection of Golden Age SF or whatever it was called) while looking out over the pier and grey-green waves and seagulls. That library has one of the best locations ever. Then I went to wait at the busstop. Or anyway, at the lamppost which is the de facto busstop since the previous bus shelter got buried under a pile of bricks.

(When I got home, I candied the petals of two roses while watching two and a half episodes of season 2 Buffy. Practice might speed things up I guess? Also there needs to be a way not to leave brown bruise marks from holding the petal with tweezers.)

3) Today I met some new quake-friends for a writing meeting at the Borders cafe. Riccarton Mall was busier than Christmas Eve and Boxing Day combined. It reminded me of being in a Seoul mall soon after its opening when it was The trendy place to be and so crowded I felt mildly claustrophobic.

Also then this evening we got a lovely 5.3 aftershock. This was possibly my fault: earlier today I reshelved a pile of my books. (They were blocking access to the gasfire which someone's coming to look at on Monday, hopefully to say that it's safe despite the rather visible shifting of the chimney. If not, I guess I'll have to try and get the chimney removed before winter.) On the plus side none of them fell down, though they did wobble distinctly towards the edge. Also the light swayed and piano wobbled as I made my dash to the safest-looking place in the room; but nothing fell at all.

Some water did splash out of the toilet cistern.

I have power still but was told my parents were cooking over gas anyway so came as normal to our Saturday evening dinner.

Anyway, really life's pretty good when one's on leave from work. I could definitely get used to being on leave.

Will post this when they get power back or I get back home, whichever is first... --Ooh, power's back! Unfortunately the ISP isn't. Fortunately we have access to another network. You know, snuffing out a candle looks a lot suaver in the movies.

There's a moth lying on the table, slightly singed.
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
The awesome thing about my bus home from work is that it goes straight through the Bus Exchange and to my home without me needing to transfer. Remember this, for it will be important to my story.

Last night, I left work half an hour later than usual, and my bus was running 20 minutes later than usual, and I still had to cook and eat dinner before going to choir. Eventually I decided to just go to choir late. So I worked out an alternate set of buses to go on. The first was just a bit late, but I still had plenty of time to wait before going out to the stop. I worked on my laptop, glancing up at the real-time arrival information. My connection was ten minutes away... eight... five... five... five... been and gone. I wearily considered going home but really wanted to sing, so I found yet another bus going that way and waited another twenty-odd minutes. Finally I got to choir (in the part of the building which hasn't lost bricks), an hour later than normal.

Singing is good.

On the way home, I missed my favourite bus by a minute so had to wait for quarter of an hour for the next one. It was raining, and the bus shelter might be brilliant, for all I know, at sheltering buses, but it's terrible at sheltering humans from the elements. By the time I was inside I just blobbed in exhaustion, and thus at the Bus Exchange forgot that this wasn't my bus home from work so I had to actually get out and get onto a new bus. I remembered before it had gone far, but then had to walk in the dark, dodging the rain and the cordons around red-placarded buildings, back to the Bus Exchange and wait another twenty minutes for my bus.

[It should here be noted that when I finally got home, Boots was waiting for me. She didn't stay the night, but did return in the morning to wake me up and then wait outside the bathroom for me to finish showering and come feed her.]

So then I had a full day's work, which is... busy with coping-ness. Good to be doing stuff but oh my brain is getting fluffy. It'd be easier to focus on one big thing than lots of little things. Plus it's not so good to learn an external colleague has lost her house and an internal colleague was hospitalised yesterday with a heart attack and my local library is still closed until further notice and my choir can't sing at a certain church because it's getting an increasing number of cracks. Anyway I was very relieved to finish the day. Even more relieved to have the bright idea of phoning my siblings to invite myself to their place for dinner, during which conversation my coherency skills deserted me utterly (in particular, I failed at prepositions, eg substituting "to" for "from").

So there I was finally on my bus home bus, telling a colleague about my failure at buses last night, and reminding myself constantly that although this was my bus home from work, I wasn't going to my own home so I'd have to get off at the Exchange and transfer. Then we reached the Exchange and my colleague and I said goodbye as normal and she got off as normal and I stayed on as normal and the bus left the Exchange as normal and I silently swore a little bit.

Walking through the central city during daylight you can see the brick dust on the pavement. It's not layers thick or anything; probably about the same as pollen in spring, hardly noticeable in places but very clear in others. In areas where actual bricks have fallen, grittier pieces crunch softly underfoot. There's probably a poem in this -- spring comes, bricks and blossoms fall -- but Mum's already dreading the inevitable influx of bad earthquake poems so I won't inflict mine on the world.

Eventually I got on another bus. And not only was it the right one but I got off at the right stop! I just needed to walk past my childhood library (cordoned off) and my secret dream house could I ever have afforded it (chimney fallen down) to get to my siblings' place. And lo, we had dinner and watched Serenity and there was much familiality without any requirement for thinking.

[Then I came home, and Boots was waiting, and I decided I'd move back into my own bedroom, and just as I was bringing something back out to the kitchen bang! There's me under the dining table and Boots out the door. These are just getting silly. (Hmph, just a 4.4. Shallow and fairly near but still, the #eqnz tweeps agree it felt (and sounded) bigger.) ...Also I really need to clean my kitchen floor.]
zeborah: Map of New Zealand with a zebra salient (Default)
It turns out there's a right way and a wrong way of offering unsolicited advice and help to random strangers.

Some weeks ago, someone solicitously advised me that I oughtn't to use my laptop at my bus-stop in the evenings in this part of town. I said I was happy taking the risk. At which, much offended that I wasn't taking his advice, he said huffily, "Well, I hope nothing bad happens to you." I may not have sounded terribly sincere when I returned the good wishes word for word to him. As soon as someone invents lolcat videos, this scene gets tagged with "Chivalry: ur doin it wrong".

And probably around about the same time, I read a conversation on the interweb about respecting a woman's "no" instead of asking again and again on the assumption that she's just playing hard to get. In frustration some guy announced, "Okay, ladies: if I ask you out and you say no, that's it: I won't ask you out again!" At which I blinked and thought, "...Um, this is supposed to abash us? If only everyone did that as a matter of course!"

(I think he was operating under the assumption that only men can ask women out. If that were true, then his only asking once means that a woman only has that one chance to say yes or no, so his taking her no at face value when she means yes would be a disaster. But it's not true. She can say no, and see him turning away, and if she wants she can run after him and say, "Actually yes." Or if she means no but changes her mind an hour, day, week, year later, she can phone him up and say, "Hey, if you're still interested, would you like to go out with me?" And then the ball's in his court again.)

So, bearing in mind this pattern where someone makes an offer, is refused courteously enough, and responds to the refusal with anger or cajoling or the like...

Last night I was walking down the street from one bus stop, where the bus was 18 minutes late, to another, which has a telepathic doodacky that tells you when the next bus is coming. I was glancing behind myself as I went in case the bus overtook me on the way, and as I did this a car full of young guys pulled up alongside me. I prepared for wolf-whistles. Conversation ensued:

Driver: "Hey, d'you need a ride somewhere?"

Me: "Nah, I'm good, thanks."

Driver: "Okay!"

And he cheerfully did a U-ie and drove off; and I blinked a couple of times and walked cheerfully on to my bus stop.

"No, thanks."


It was that simple.


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

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