zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
2016-02-23 11:25 pm

In which five years

White lilies are blooming and peaches are ripening. Road cones sprout their own flowers.

This is a few days late because I've been debating whether to write it or not because on the one hand, it's been five years; and on the other hand, it's been five years.

Quick refresher:

  • "September": 4:35am Sunday 4th September 2010: 7.1 - you'll note I don't even count from here

  • "Boxing Day": morning of Boxing Day 2010

  • "February": 12:51pm Tuesday 22nd February 2011: 6.3; killed 185 people

  • "June": two big ones an hour apart in June 2011, both 6s I think

  • 23rd December 2011

  • "Valentine's Day": 14 February 2016: 5.7

And 14000 others in between. (Animated map; may hang for a while before the big events, just wait for it.) These above are just the ones with their own names, the ones people still share stories about: Where were you when?

(Rolling out of bed. Watching the Doctor Who Christmas Special. Holding onto the desk legs at work. In a temporary workplace, and then in a colleague's car as she drove me home. Shopping near my motel while my house was being repaired. Clinging to my kitchen/lounge doorway shouting "Not again, no, no, no!")

There's another Doctor Who episode, the Fires of Pompeii, where the Doctor and Donna visit Pompeii pre-eruption. And we see an earthquake hit and the inhabitants with a quick but practised air grab their breakables to prevent them toppling off shelves. The more earthquakes I go through the more I think... yeah I see what they're trying to show us (earthquakes as normal daily life) but they're showing it wrong. I mean, the only way I'm going to save a breakable in an earthquake is if it's already in my hands (eg my laptop) and even then odds are 50:50 I'd dump it on the way to shelter and worry about it afterwards. (Literally I don't know: I consistently have brief discontinuities in my memory between being aware it's a big one and being aware I've taken shelter. Not like gaps, more like blinking. But in that moment, there's no reasoning.) So if earthquakes in Pompeii happen that often, at similar magnitudes, then:

  • all the breakables would be broken by now, because earthquakes will strike when no-one's around to catch them

  • remaining precious breakables would be stored on the ground, or in a secure cabinet, or glued or otherwise fastened down

  • SOP would be: quake -> duck into shelter -> quake dies down -> check everyone's okay -> "Tertia, sweep up that amphora, and send Marcus to the forum to buy a new one, and tell him to tie it down properly this time." -> check everyone's okay again

  • for a smaller quake nothing will fall over, you don't worry about shelter, and after a brief pause to make sure it's not ramping up to something bigger you finish your sentence.

This is what adrenaline does to me:

  • 30 seconds of terror

  • an hour of shaking

  • some hours of being fine except I do wish I didn't have to hear the helicopters flying overhead

  • evening, and exhaustion hits

  • next morning I'm fine, and then on the bus to work I see a billboard advertising gym membership ('Get your heart rate up!') and want to burst into tears and spend the rest of the day just waiting to go home

  • some days of swaying back and forth between fine and an aching despair and a desperate fury at our government who assure us the country is right behind us, while simultaneously cutting our mental health funding again

  • life resumes (rage at the government may continue)

  • occasional random moments of sudden: An earthquake could strike now. Deep breaths.

Status of the recovery as it affects me:

  • My third claim got "not covered" and "pre-existing" right down the list. When signing off on this I wrote in that such-and-such was not pre-existing but if they weren't going to cover it then fine, see if I cared. I also forgot to show them the cracks in the slop with which they filled the cracks in the foundations on claims #1/#2. I don't feel that remembering would have much advantaged me.

  • There has been no progress since last anniversary towards completion of the finishing work on the gas fire surround.

  • My books therefore remain almost all still in boxes.

  • The next door property continues wilderness.

  • One of my bus routes is still-again detouring. Most routes have some temporary detour at any given time; this is a semi-permanent / semi-regular detour. Separately, it's also got a detour which is going to become permanent.

  • The CBD is making really good progress. Art gallery has reopened; new business buildings, new shops, lots of street art. In Sydenham, the convenience store operating out of a shipping container now has an actual building. (This was disconcerting.)

  • My workplace is still to finalise its insurance claim.

  • My church is raising funds for a new building(s); in the meantime visiting with another congregation/denomination nearby.

  • In a fire drill, I grab my bag and then head for the door: no trust that I'll be allowed back in afterwards. I no longer have to take my bag everywhere with me otherwise though. But I still leave my laptop under shelter when I go to bed, and I keep my cellphone charged.

Five years is a strangely long, strangely short time.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
2015-02-22 04:17 pm

In which four years

I got up early this morning and cut a lily and went out to find a road cone to put it in. I didn't have to go very far. I guess I'll stop putting lilies in road cones when there stop being road cones to put them in. (See many flowers in many road cones.)

(I have some white lilies that always bloom around earthquake anniversary day. Also I always know the earthquake anniversary is coming up because a) I have a calendar and b) my peaches ripen: in 2011 spending a day with my mother bottling All The Peaches was one of the 10 productive things I did the weekend before the quake. I ate my first peach of the year this Wednesday.)

In other personal earthquake recovery news... Okay, so a bit over three years ago EQC were repairing my house when another aftershock hit. The workers there at the time pointed out some things I ought to get someone to look at so I put in another claim. Also they removed my gasfire to take down my fireplace because it was made of brick, and couldn't put a new gasfire in because the person (seriously. The. Person. In the whole city) who approved new gasfire installations was on holiday, but after several months, winter encroaching, and me playing the asthma card, I finally got a new one put in - just the installers didn't also do the fireplace surround.

Thereafter, every six months I'd get a phone call saying in bewilderment "So it looks like you haven't signed off on the work?" and I'd explain, "That's because you haven't finished the work," and they'd say, "Oh! Oh, we'd better get right on that!" and I'd be all, "Yeah. Sure. Talk to you again in six months, huh?"

So when, in September last year, I got a phone call from EQC, and had done blurting out "Oh my god!" in my surprise thereat, I didn't actually have terribly high hopes of anything coming from it. And they said they were the Remediation Team and they said they probably wouldn't get to me until February/March/April, but they'd call again in December, and I shrugged because all I wanted to know (or was capable of crediting) was that I was still in the system.

But then they called in December. And they called back in January. And then they called to make an appointment for a site visit. And then they came to the site visit. And they called for a followup to the site visit, and I've gone so far in my trust of them as to pick out some possible tiles for the gasfire surround.

They have said they're unlikely to do anything about the damage from my other claim, because reasons (the salient reason, though they didn't say it, ultimately being that they've been fixing the whole city for four and a half years and money is finite and they're not as generous as they were when they first started fixing my house). I hadn't expected much because it is pretty minor, so as long as they fix up my fireplace I'll be happy.

(Because then I'll be able to put my books back up - long packed in boxes out of the way of plaster-dust - and get started in my plan to replace my threadbare 70s carpet with nice thick carpet plus the luxury of underlay. And while I'm at it maybe splurge and replace the sofa suite I got second-hand for $100 with a suite less battered and begrimed. The only downside of either of these things is the immense difficulty one has these days to buy anything in a colour other than some shade of beige or grey.)
zeborah: Zebra standing in the middle of the road (urban)
2014-05-07 10:45 pm
Entry tags:

In which she submits her hatred of Riccarton Road

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)
2013-12-18 10:36 pm

In which she uploads some more earthquake photos

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)
2013-12-18 04:07 pm

In which she meets the proverbial whinging Pom

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: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
2013-11-11 09:36 pm

In which Christchurch makes an artform of the temporary

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.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
2013-07-22 07:06 am

In which people are *really* quick to stock their emergency kits

(This is in Wellington this time, I didn't feel a thing.)

Masonry fell, people started panic buying at supermarkets and one person was knocked out by a falling TV in the 20-second quake that was followed by a flurry of aftershocks.

For background, New Zealand is a series of seismic faults with a bunch of volcanic cherries on top. So yeah, technically this one was 'bigger than February' as another headline puts it, but in a different situation so no-one was killed and damage seems relatively minimal - nuisance value. I mean, absolutely all sympathy/empathy during the aftershocks and confusion for friends and family and others there, especially those who left Christchurch, but at least it relieves my own reflexive anxiety.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
2013-06-25 10:34 pm

In which she writes more bad earthquake poetry

My city, whose highest things
    are cranes' arms and the moon,
her face nightly changing.

The following photo almost, but not entirely, fails to bear any relevance to the preceding verse-thing. (Also my camera goes grainy in interesting ways when it's still on the dark side of dawn.)

zeborah: Zebra and lion hugging (cat)
2013-06-17 07:16 pm

In which Boots tries to eat things

To be fair, it's possible I forgot to fill her kibble bowl before I left the house for 30-odd hours. It's also possible I forgot to put my teatowel covered Herman cake in the pantry. But look, as my friend says, it's not about who's at fault, it's about who I can blame.

Also, I've now filled her kibble bowl and she's still trying to eat my sandwich. This is clearly unacceptable.

The bulldozer next door is now gone, as is the remaining rubble of the foundation. The garage remains, and I think the fruit trees do too.

The land assessment people visited my property this morning and discovered that there's a couple of patches of silt and some uneven pavers. This is approximately what I already knew, except that I wouldn't have mentioned the pavers because I think that predates the quake: it's an area of the backyard that regularly swamps in winter, and I keep a couple of bricks for the express purpose of placing there as stepping stones. But apparently I'm going to get an information package in the post in a few months which may or may not include some kind of compensation offer. Or maybe not, they said something something excess. I'm not clear on the detail especially because I hadn't quite clicked that one got compensation for silt in one's backyard: I'd just mentally classified the sand volcanoes as the remnants of a temporary water feature and moved on.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
2013-06-13 06:39 pm

In which the house next door is gone, and other stories

I knew this would happen one day. In fact I suspected it would happen today.

Because a while ago when I came home there was a fence up around the house next door. And yesterday when I came home there was a bulldozer on the driveway beside the house next door. So today when I came home it wasn't terribly surprising that there was a bulldozer on the small pile of rubble that is all that remains of the house next door.

But I am disappointed that I can't share any photos, because it's winter and my commute is about 1h15 each way, so when I leave in the morning it's dark and when I get home at night it's dark.

In related news, I got a surprise voicemail from EQC/Fletchers last Thursday and after a couple of rounds of voicemail tag they asked me if the repairs on my house had in fact been completed. No, I replied, in fact they had not. Much as I told you last time you asked me this five months ago. Oh, they said, and asked for details again, which I told them again. It's possible that this time they'll do something about it, but I'm not in a rush. (It's just aesthetics around my living room fireplace. It's serious aesthetics, so sometime in the next five years would be nice, but people are living in their cars and using bubblewrap for insulation, y'know?) Mostly I just want to know that their records reflect the fact that they haven't finished, so a call every several months suits me fine.

A few days later I got a further call from EQC related folks but in this case it was land assessment, wanting to check what damage my land sustained. I could have sworn they'd already assessed my land (you know, before spending all that time and money mostly-fixing my house 18 months ago) but I'm a librarian, not a geotechnical engineer so what do I know? I managed to get agreement that they don't need access to my house because, while they'd like to check the land underneath it, they respect my desire not to have my new insulation and plastic sheeting torn up for the purpose. Peering through the vents will apparently be fine. This means they can come and skulk around the property by themselves while I'm at work.

In unrelated news, I've been baking a series of Herman the German Friendship Cakes, which involves keeping and feeding a yeast-based starter. Whether it's particularly warm of late, or the ingredients have got off-balance, or what, but the last several days he's really taken off with serious bubbling. He also smells increasingly alcoholic. :-D

I mentioned making curtains: I now have the three incorrect ones up and will make the fourth one correct in due course.

I may have also mentioned dehydrating fruit. When my trees are in fruit this is peaches and plums; right now it's mostly cheap apples and pears; but sometimes I have some persimmons or honeydew melon going soft. So I can come home of an evening and grab myself a slice of dried persimmon, and it is good.

And at work I have been making a javascript bookmarklet to provide a permalink to bibliographic database pages. This is more complex than one might expect if one doesn't know bibliographic databases; but it's also a lot simpler than I initially feared. Not that this cut down on any hours of debugging. (One of the most frustrating was a bug introduced only in IE when - as I eventually tracked down - the page's doctype is malformed, which happens on more databases than you might think.) But it's now good enough that I'm getting a colleague to send it to a couple of potential users for testing purposes. And it's so pretty.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
2013-05-10 11:50 pm

In which roadcones = progress

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)
2013-02-22 12:51 pm

In which two years make a tradition

I passed through town late this morning and saw families going in for the memorial service, and hugs between friends, and old rubble and brand new buildings, and everywhere flowers in roadcones.

When I cut some lilies from my garden to take to the roadworks at the end of my street, their stems wept.

Road cones on Cashel Street
"Road cones on Cashel Street" by Christchurch City Libraries, on Flickr; licensed Creative Commons BY-NC-SA
zeborah: Zebra with stripes falling off (stress and confusion)
2012-06-08 07:33 am

In which she has a panic dream. Or not...

So I was sleeping badly anyway due to my nose having a tendency to block. (Winter, new gas fire drying it up, something like that.)

Then I dreamed I was back in Korea taking a taxi to our apartment, and accidentally got it to drop us off in the wrong apartment block. So we were walking through to get to our own, and came around a corner to where just a few fragments of brick walls remained - fragments of murals painted on what had been the inside - and I realised it was the church I'd last visited there before the quakes, and even though I'd only been there the once it hit me really hard. I had my hand over my nose and mouth just sobbing and sobbing and sobbing...

...and woke up sobbing and sobbing and sobbing, and got the waterworks going too, and then suddenly I thought: Wait, am I actually emotionally affected here or was this just a breathing problem? And I took one deep breath to stop the sobbing and then I was absolutely fine.

So that was anticlimactic; and then my alarm went off before I could get back to sleep. Le sigh. OTOH I've just had too full snowdays off work so I suppose I can't complain too much about going in to work for today.

Oh look! I made you a bonus haiku thing:

I thought, "Wait for spring
to see the cherry blossom," but
here are snow and dawn.
zeborah: Zebra holding a pen, its stripes forming the word "Write" (writing)
2012-06-01 05:30 pm

In which she's been swallowed by a fanfic

I may be some time.

I would like to briefly affirm, for personal future reference, that the best way ever to get myself to eat is to so arrange things that I come home to the delicious smell of pumpkin ready to be mashed and have some coconut cream stirred in. Once it's heated again (in the slow cooker, I'm in no rush) I can eat with bread.

Also, in case anyone's curious, when one has some coconut cream left over, this does make a different but extremely serviceable substitute for milk in hot chocolate.

Oh and I may as well do another earthquake update.
  • The latest big one we had, I dutifully shifted out from among the bookshelves I was weeding but I only figured it for a 3.9; turns out it was a 5.2. I'm at the ehh, whatever stage.
  • I have my gasfire finally reinstalled, five months after they took the old one out to rebuild the (previously brick) fireplace and discovered it wasn't up to standard to put back in. So now I have heat again which is nice.
  • The Cathedral is to come down, which is sad and gives the city a bit of a dilemma about all its logos, but I do think that, in the absence of money from nowhere, it's the right decision. What I'm a little more distressed about, because my bus goes past it each day and it's the building where I had my first job ever, is the demolition of the old railway building. Again I'm sure it's the right decision and all. But I just have this conviction that this building is the only thing that separates the CBD from the southern suburbs and hills, and once it's demolished there'll be nothing to prevent the two realities from bleeding into each other in some vast Escherian nightmare of epic distortions. We have to do something! The very fabric of space-time is at stake!

    Although actually, as the bulldozers hack away at it from the west, it's revealing the old Magnum Mac in its row of buildings on the other side of the railway tracks; while not so imposing as the old clock tower, it isa solid unbroken line, so perhaps all is not lost.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
2012-04-14 11:06 am

In which her subconscious is adaptable

It's official: my old anxiety dream about trying to get students out of the library at closing time but they keep refusing and meanwhile more are coming in...

...has transformed into a new anxiety dream about trying to evacuate students from the library after an earthquake but they keep refusing and meanwhile more are coming in (earthquake? what earthquake?) and also Security won't let me get my bag-that-goes-with-me-everywhere.

(Though otoh, the students were so slow at leaving that I had to stay inside to keep shouting for their attention and must have evaded Security after all because in the end as we were making our way to the assembly point I triumphantly showed someone I had my bag after all.)

Also, level 2 was a maze of a layout complete with bridges to other sections of the library, and the gazillions of fire escapes included a spiral slide made of sleek polished wood. I slid down it. :-)
zeborah: Vuvuzela concert: This is serious art. (art)
2012-04-08 06:08 pm

In which she decorates a road cone for Easter

I read Artist's road cone Easter makeover and I had a spare empty milk bottle, so I made this:

Easter Bunny

There's not as many roadcones in my neighbourhood as there used to be, but I still didn't have to go very far.

Cheryl Bernstein also writes about Easter bunnified roadcones and public art. (I also borrowed from her post the idea of affixing the bunny to a stick before putting it in the cone: the original instructions say to cut a hole big enough to fit over the cone, but the top of a roadcone is actually too big to make this practical.)
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
2012-02-22 10:57 pm

In which we remember a year

Today I:
  • slept in a nightgown in my own bed
  • woke to an alarm clock and not an earthquake
  • used and flushed the toilet
  • took a shower
  • talked to people on the internet
  • knew without checking that my friends and family were safe
  • baked with electricity
  • received a phone call
  • went outside without a dust mask
  • walked on asphalt rather than mud
  • bought some things I needed from the local supermarket
  • caught a bus that goes straight from home to work
  • worked at my own desk in my own building with my own phone number
  • didn't leave work until my scheduled end of day
  • came home to find my house and contents as I'd left them
  • got a bill in the mail
  • put my emptied rubbish bins back in their spots
  • fed my cat
  • drank water from the tap
and spent a lot of time on or past the point of tears, because I remember.

Because we all remember.

When we had none of this. When we had only fear, and the kindness of strangers, and rumours of destruction and death - rumours replaced by news of worse. Waiting for an ambulance that never came, not just because the traffic was impossible, but because a minor motorcycle accident doesn't rate compared to the CTV building and others.

The official number now is 185 dead.

My memories are the most vivid for me; but for me it's the wider context, the "we", that for joy or sorrow makes me cry. I didn't go to the memorial, because to be confronted right now with that "we" remembering -- I just can't. But I made biscuits for my colleagues, and watched out the window of the bus at the roses, sunflowers, lilies and agapanthuses in roadcones along the way. When I got to work my colleagues who hadn't gone were streaming the ceremony, and I just couldn't, but I brought up the #eqnz Twitter stream and watched the dots mark the 2 minutes silence.

I also spent a lot of time today not thinking about tears, because I had emails and customers and websites and books to deal with. Because, despite being aware that large chunks of the city remain broken, of its people in dim and dire straits, and despite all the new habits formed (by so many of us) from the bone-deep knowledge that any moment the world might turn upside down again, my own life is essentially, weirdly, weirdly unweirdly, back to normal.

But not and never the same.

Because I remember; because we remember.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
2012-02-13 10:26 pm

In which she avoids TV

Seems like there's been a rash of #eqnz documentaries recently. I haven't watched any of them. There's also a (number of) memorial services coming up on the 22nd, to which I won't go. I thought for a while all of this was merely being tired of being interested, but I'm now sensing enough emotion behind it that I think it's actually at least partly avoidance.

(I can haz tears right now, apparently, which kind of settles that.)

The thing is that... There's a lot of things. 10,000 quakes and 17 months of being between quakes.

One important thing is that I can be sitting on a bus thinking about my mortgage, and out of the blue (or grey: I remember the shape of the cloud I was staring at in the sky) will be the wordless thought, It could happen again now.

Another important thing is that a little part of my backbrain, the part whose logic is pure emotion, sometimes wants it to happen again, one big final jolt. Because my backbrain apparently thinks that a) if I feel bad then it'd be nice to have something present to feel bad about and b) there is such a thing as one big final jolt without continuing consequences.

Another important thing is that sometimes, if I'm going to the tearoom for 15 minutes, I might leave my little bag with phone and keys and such under my desk. Not often. But sometimes. There'd probably be opportunity to grab it before evacuating anyway. --If I'm going to another building, though, not a chance.

(These things are important in triangulating where I'm at, but they're not important. I don't have PTSD or anything, I just have memories and emotions.)

Random assortment of interesting things:
  • The cheerful yellow sign letting people know that Animates on Moorhouse is no longer open, behind which one can see that the reason for this is that Animates on Moorhouse now consists of several piles of rubble
  • Signs advertising summer sales, which when one thinks about it turn out to be referring to summer sales a year ago
  • Graffiti on yet another demolition site reading Bad Wolf
  • Gapfiller's cycle-powered cinema "where Cycle Trading and Print Stop used to be"
Sometime hopefully this week I think my colleagues and I will be able to move back into the building we worked at up to a year ago. (Over the summer a building on either side of it was demolished.) So, there's going to be weirdness, possibly involving emotions or possibly just involving an anticlimax. Hard to tell at this point.
zeborah: Zebra with stripes shaking (earthquake)
2012-01-31 10:46 pm

My #eqnz repairs story

(Written primarily for fellow ChurChurians interested in the process, so I bid friends elsewhere be tolerant of old news and unexplained dates/terminology.)

There were, in 2010 and 2011, various EQC assessments - the initial post-September one followed by a more thorough one on February 19th; and the initial post-February one followed some months later by a couple of guys with iPads and about a month after that by a report in the mail. My house wasn't that badly damaged - cracks everywhere but mostly cosmetic and the structural damage was pretty minor all considered; all thoroughly inhabitable once the emergency repairs had been taken care of - so I expected to be waiting a while before I heard any further. I was quite happy with that in fact, knowing there are plenty people far worse off than me. Then late last year I got a sudden phone call saying someone else wanted to postpone their repairs (they didn't want it done in the Christmas period) so a slot was available for me.

So things happened in a bit of a rush. I met with the project manager, who I immediately liked. We went over the scope of the work again. I met with the foreman, who I also immediately liked. The original plan was for me to stay in my house while the repairs were carried out, but someone noticed my asthma inhaler and suggested all the plaster dust involved would be a Bad Idea. My cat and I would have to move out.

This was up to me to organise, so I phoned my insurance company. They'd cover accommodation costs for me, but no cattery. A friend suggested somewhere I might get a short-term rental, but it was too short-term for the landlord. I ended up calling the Canterbury Temporary Accommodation Service, which I suspected was not what it's for (they're mainly for redzoned folk) but I hoped they'd be able to point me in the right direction. They put me through a gruelling verbal questionnaire (nothing nasty, just long and much seemed pointless and I was tired; by the end I was almost in tears) and promised to call me back. To my surprise after that inauspicious beginning, they did so very promptly, a lovely woman who confirmed exactly what I needed and within a couple of hours found two motels that would accept me and my cat. I visited both, picked one, and got the insurance company speaking with the motel about payment. There was some kerfuffle regarding documentation the insurance company needed from EQC and my EQC contact needing some repeated nagging to send it, but it happened in the end.

I packed my house into boxes - fortunately renovations weren't extensive enough that I had to worry about storage, they could just shift things around inside as they went - and moved into the motel for three and a half weeks. (The motel owner was fantastic and left me to my own devices during this time, other than giving me free wifi and the run of the laundry, so it was like a second home except my cat hated it and yowled every time someone next door turned on their spapool.) The 3.5 weeks would let the contractors do most of the work, let me get back home, and then they could finish off the other bits around me.

I popped in a couple of times a week to pick up mail and keep track of things; there was a sign-in sheet I had to use the same as the contractors did.

...There were delays. I'm not sure what happened in the first week other than "very little"; I think some of it involved supply bottlenecks. In the second week things really took off. Of course then in one room when they stripped the lining paper, chunks of the wall fell out. This caused more delay... They pulled the bricks down from the fireplace, which necessitated removing the gas fire, then discovered the gas fire wasn't up to standard so couldn't be put back in. So they were running a bit behind schedule, and then did I mention the day I was meant to move back in was December 23?

So December 23 happened. After a suitable length of time had passed, I sent a text message saying I hoped they were okay and should I plan on staying on at the motel? They phoned back saying someone had fallen off a ladder but just got a bruise, and though a bunch of the guys had wanted to go home to their families the foreman had got them to stay long enough to make the place at least habitable for me to return as planned.

For this alone, I'd ♥ them forever; it really was above and beyond.

So I was home for Christmas. And right from (I forget, the 26th or 27th), and every day except Jan 1st itself, they were there from morning to evening valiantly working on various rooms around me. This was all by arrangement, I hasten to add; they were very happy to work around my schedule. But I was fine to fit in around them too, to get it done. Admittedly it had its inconveniences. The "no curtains and no lighting in the bedroom" thing was okay - being summer, I just took to going to bed when it got dark and getting up when it got light. The paintfumes and my asthma meant I had to keep the windows always open, but it was good weather. I tend to spend great amounts of time sitting in one place on my laptop anyway, so it didn't matter that a couple of rooms at a time were out-of-bounds, but ducking under scaffolding every time I needed to go to the bathroom or make myself a snack was irritating, especially when someone was busy painting said bathroom. (Again I'm certain they'd have got out of my way if I'd been irritated enough to ask.) So sometimes I escaped for an afternoon to friends or family; and in due course I was back at work anyway.

It was mid-January before we got to the point where most things were done. (Relined and painted almost every room in my house, often including skirting boards and windows; rejibbed ceilings; repiled a section of flooring; hammered out an old hearth to put in new flooring there and polish the whole floor in one room; eased doors and cupboards; filled cracks in the foundation ring; replastered the doorsteps; put up new weatherboards where an old chimney was and repainted the whole wall to make sure the colour matched; filled cracks in the garage walls; and various bits and bobs I'm forgetting. And cleaned up of course, and got someone to tidy the garden where they'd been working, and mowed all the lawns.)

At that point I did a walk-through with the foreman to see what remained. Some things were waiting for something (suppliers on holiday delayed the leadlight window and apparently Canterbury Heating has one person who has to sign off on everything in the whole city and is on extended holiday so the gasfire's on hold); some things had been forgotten; some things had become issues along the way - like painters getting a tad sloppy about the dropcloths, so needing to clean up paint or even repaint surfaces; or an admittedly fragile dining table getting its legs dragged off (they repaired it) or a chest of drawers getting a corner irreparably bashed off (the foreman was horrified, asked how I wanted to handle it, and promptly accepted my suggestion).

Of course, Murphy's Law, after the walk-through I noticed a couple of other things. And for a day or two there I thought we were going to get trapped in an endless cycle of painters repainting over paint spilled while repainting something else. (Important Life Lesson: No job is too small for a dropcloth!) What really helped was when I typed up the list of what I thought still needed to be done and gave them a couple of copies so it was all clear and they could tick the things off as they went.

All along the way, they were the most fantastic people ever. They fitted in around me, fixed everything I pointed out, even did a few small things that weren't technically in scope but they couldn't bear to leave undone. And these are people whose own homes are damaged and are waiting on EQC themselves (conflict of interest to work on their own properties, of course), and have other earthquake-related things going on in their lives. Plus, while the newspapers are full of Bad Contractor stories, I heard some Bad Homeowner stories to match....

So finally we got to signoff. (With the exception of the leadlight window and gasfire; these exceptions were noted on the signoff form. Also there's a 90-day period in case anything makes itself apparent later.) This involved me, the foreman, the project manager, and an EQC person walking around to check everything yet again, and then I signed.

To be honest there were a couple of niggles. I ended up taking down a curtain rail and putting it up the right way around myself; I've also been cleaning up some small remaining paint spills with meths. But they've just essentially renovated my whole friggin' house after a series of major natural disasters, so I've got zero complaints.

--Well, almost zero. The January aftershocks have dropped the floor in my toilet, which aside from wrinkling all the lino there and in the laundry, has structural implications; and cracked the fresh paintwork at every corner of the exterior, causing weatherproofing issues. So I could grumble about that a bit.... Ah well, one EQC claim settled, another one to file!
zeborah: Zebra with mop and text: Clean all the things! (housework)
2012-01-26 07:57 am

In which she learn a valuable life lesson

When you've got a tiny bit of touch-up painting to do, and you think, "It's not worth using a dropsheet for a job this tiny," you're wrong. Always use a dropsheet.

This was not my mistake, this was the professionals' mistake. Several times. In fact, every time they've tidied a spot where they'd dripped paint before, they've dripped a new colour of paint on something else. I foresee this taking us recursively into the new new millennium. I'm going to see if I can convince them to leave me some of the interior paint so I can just sign off on the project already and fix it myself.

After having procured a dropsheet.

ETA: When reminded to put the curtain rod back up, you don't have to interpret this too strictly; you could also put the curtain itself back up too. Except no, you couldn't, because you put the curtain rod up back to front. --I fixed this eventually, though I managed to warp one of the thingammies so one of the screws isn't really exactly holding anything, but nothing's fallen down yet so it must be good.


In entirely other news, one step closer to a replicator in every home. (Well, one step closer to replicator patterns in every home, the replicator itself is more expensive and thus far limited in the materials it can work with.)