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Monday, July 20, 2015

Deaths in the family

Ever seen a nature documentary of African elephants examining the skull of a dead elephant?  It's fascinating  because in their behaviour we see a reflection of ourselves and the way we grieve for our lost friends and relatives. Other social animals show behaviour when a pack/herd/... member dies. Depending on our relationship with them we may choose to see it as mourning or as something less like us.

I don't handle death well. Probably none of us do, but I don't handle it in the conventional way either. I tend to crack inappropriate jokes ... I let myself exhibit the emotional side of grieving later in private, it's my way of handling the situation.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Net Hui 2015

Three days of participants from a large number of internet impacted and impacting organisations meeting to discuss the Internet, its societal impacts and its future in NZ is done. Net Hui is over for another year.

Every year for the last few years a couple of these conferences are held, usually one in Auckland and one down country. 

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Stand-up Revisited

Tonight I'm going to Snatch Comedy on Ponsonby Road for my second go at performing a stand-up set since I quit smoking.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Food For Thought. Notes for a comedy set

I'm ready. I'm going back. This rime I know what I want to say and it's going to be funny.

My past attempts

 1. I portrayed Death. A vaguely nineteen fifties movie death, but somehow less competent. Perhaps out was a sub Pratchett death, before the great man's cat got him.

I walked away from this with my head held high. achieve what I wanted I had nothing more to prove.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Finding Liszto, a poem



I searched the net's creative commons
I wanted new comics,
I wanted good ones
I found some art, a three year old would draw
I found sites, years to lie abandonned
Just now I found you, Liszto.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Getting RSS or Atom Feeds from Common Software

I choose to consume media through an rss reader where possible. If I can see the feed symbol on the page it's easy, but not all sources show it. When I can't see it, my News reader (Feed on feeds) may be able to extract it from page headers but failing that I need to find it by searching.

I can never remember what's the modifier for each option, so I've decided to create this page as an Aide-mémoire

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Saying "Goodbye" to Quit-line blogs

Last night one of my Quit-line supporters from my early days through to today since announced that he was leaving the quit-line blogs. As he was doing this because he was feeling bad about something that happened it caused considerable discussion. Included in this were some people saying that if he left they would too. While I had problems with my supporter's departure I've been pondering the other people's reaction.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A smoking dream

I'm sure I've had them before, but this time I woke up in the middle so I got to remember it. I guess this was a lucid dream, it was certainly believable and followed a logical progression.

I was at a social (probably business related social given how people were dressed) gathering at a place very similar to Auckland University's student union quad. There was indoor outdoor flow and I was outside talking to people.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Quitting Smoking, 250 days done.

Smokefree days: 250 days
Cigarettes NOT smoked: 7500
Total savings: $6,725.00

Another "Round" number, I do so like them and like to mark my progress. The problem is that progress, as such, seems to have plateaued. Obviously the behavioural reward part of the addiction hasn't been exercised for 250 days while the chemical part of the addiction was dealt to over 200 days ago.

My fitness levels are back at the "good-enough" level. I can go for my exercise bike rides and have no wish to step up to going to a gym or anything. As I'm no longer seeing any major advances in heath, fitness, or non-smoking, the days are just turning into one after another.

The addiction is still there though, just biding her time waiting for my complacency and comfort  to make it worth her effort to pounce. Unfortunately I think I have been getting complacent.

Yesterday I was fighting Nicodemon who had seemingly popped out of nowhere mid afternoon and decided to push the "Just have one" line real hard. Needless to say I successfully resisted the siren calls. I walked down to the convenience store on Kingdon St and bought an ice cream and some mints instead.

The ODAAT, DDDD, NOPE, etc mantras are becoming more important in my quit now than they have been for a long time.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

A Dot to hospital and back

I couldn't tell you exactly how long ago it was but a few years back, Dot, my Mother-in-law was diagnosed with emphysema. She quit smoking almost immediately, using lozenges and made it seem easy. I didn't know how she managed it but when my own time to quit came around, her example was part of my understanding that I could indeed quit.


Since then she's developed other health problems, and when visiting her in hospital on a couple of occasions where she was in an Accident and Emergency department, I quietly slipped out every hour or so to have a cigarette without rubbing her nose in it.

Last night she was rushed to Auckland Hospital. Tessa was with her for a while and then the two of us went in this morning. It turned out that the situation was both better and worse than I expected. There was a weird bit in that for the first time I wasn't slipping out and leaving the hospital  for the smokes while at the same time, there were times I so wanted an excuse to nip outside.

By midday we knew that she wouldn't need to be kept in for a second night and she was returned to her geriatric hospital mid afternoon.

There's no moral or lesson for me or for you in this story. It just was for us and I needed to document it. Normally I'd write it up for the quit-line blog but tonight I don't feel like putting it there in this form. Perhaps I am finally starting to distance myself from there for real.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My favourite is also the healthiest of NZ's popular potato chips

Neato. Normally I get to report that something I thought was healthy is actually a gluten fueled saturated fat nightmare. Today I found a recent article on Stuff showing that I have it right(*) for once.

Are potato crisps all the same or do some stand out as healthier? Stuff lifestyle put six popular brands to the test. These six different crisps were compared nutritionally. Their total fat, saturated fat, sodium and kilojoule contents were used to determine the "healthiest" brand(s). Comparisons were made using "original" or "salted" varieties (these normally contain fewer additives than flavoured varieties) and 20 volunteers were also asked to rate them on taste. THE RESULTS - FROM HEALTHIEST TO LEAST HEALTHY No 1: Proper Hand-Cooked Crisps - Marlborough Sea Salt (our purchase cost $4.69)

OK, OK. No potato chip is ever the ultra healthy option, but at least I've been choosing the least bad option of many & I do like their chips.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Reading in dreams. A prophesy that wasn't

I've heard many times that you can't read in a dream. For more than 30 years  I've also known from personal experience that this isn't universally true. I first heard the statement many-many years ago,possibly in Carl Sagan's 1977 book The Dragons of Eden which I read sometime before I moved to Wellington in late 1979.

Some time later than this, but while still living where I lived from 1980 until 1985, I had a dream where I read a Dominion Newspaper's front page saying that Scott Base had been destroyed by fire. When I awoke I remembered the headline,  the date of the paper (Month and day), an NZPA byline and the time of day (Early morning).

As the April date of the paper was only a few days after the dream, I was very careful to let a couple of trusted friends know about the dream and was vastly relieved when the date came and went without any reports of damage to the base.

Scott Base, then, as now, was New Zealand's main Antarctic scientific base so it would have been a major blow had the dream come true. Then, as now, I was a rationalist and did not believe in prophetic dreams, so I did not alert the authorities, I believed that I would have been regarded as a kook.

More than thirty years have gone by now, with no major fires reported there. For the first few years I paid attention to the news every April, but gradually things changed so it was no longer reasonable to have any credence that even if a fire happened that it could be associated to my dream. I've never completely kept it secret, but I've also never talked publicly about that dream before.

Other than personal changes, mostly minor to others, there have been major and meta changes. The Dominion is no longer published under that name, NZPA has wound up, I get my news from 24 hour news TV and newspaper sites on the Internet so no longer read newspapers in paper form.

This dream can no longer come true. It was not a prophesy. There was no warning that unless someone (possibly me) changed their behaviour, a deity would smite the base. It was a dream, it involved reading a newspaper front page, something I could do, it did not involve my having an "eye of god" view of the base.  Because it was limited to things reasonable in my life then and it lacked supernatural overtones, it was thoroughly believable, and that was the scary thing.

Imagine if a coincidence had happened? Imagine if a fuel fire had destroyed the base on that day. If I had believed I could have prevented it, I would have felt dreadful. In my defence, I doubted then, as I doubt now, that anyone would have listened to me.I described it to the friends I told about it as a weird dream, not one of them suggested I should try to warn anyone.

I'm not a superstitious person, but I can imagine how one would have felt if they believed that this was a message from God or an Angel. I can understand why they feel a need to warn. What if instead of a dated newspaper, they were simply told that an event was "Near"? Thankfully I was spared this.

Any time after 1995 I could have written about this, so why today? I'm documenting it today because I read a blog Comics I don't understand by "CIDU Bill" where he talked about reading (in multiple languages even) in a dream of his. This reminded me that the 30th anniversary of the last possible date of the dream had passed, and it would be good to document it now.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Election website nominated for Webby award

On The Fence - an interactive web tool devised by Massey University design students - has been nominated for a Webby Award. The Webby’s are the annual awards for excellence on the Internet, with nominees selected by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.

The other four nominees in the political blog/websites category are Rolling Stone magazine’s online coverage of America’s Gun Violence Epidemic, and US political news/commentary sites factcheck.org, truthdig, and politico. Winners of The Webby’s People Voice awards are determined by the number of popular votes nominees receive.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Backpackers "Steal" van by mistake

When I first read this I thought it was young tourists trying it on
Three German tourists say they have become unintentional vehicle thieves through a quirk of backpacker culture.

The tourists said they thought they were allowed to take a van left at Christchurch Airport with the keys in the driver's door as they had been told that backpackers sometimes left vehicles they could not sell at airports for other backpackers to take.
More at Stuff.co.nz
Then I thought a bit more and remembered a trip to the UK with my father over 40 years ago. He'd bought a barely roadworthy car for getting around in and late in the trip the question of how we would get rid of it came up. Before he found a wreckers who would accept it, he seriously considered simply gifting it to an incoming tourist at the airport. I can't remember if he mentioned that he knew of some place where this was expected or if he was just blowing off steam.

It sounds like backpackers are now a bit more organised.

I hope this conviction doesn't overly harm the futures of these 3 young Germans.

Obviously I didn't hear the full story, but from what I read in Stuff, I would have given them the benefit of the doubt.