In which she hangs the washing
Stressed, stress and confusion
zeborahnz
So there I am, hanging up the washing, and this happens:

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

Apparently this has been happening:

closeup of broken pole and all its broken rusty edges

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

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

But I feel further action needs to be taken for the longterm and I don't know where to even start looking in the Yellow Pages....

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In which she woke up and Moffat-era Doctor Who was all just a dream
New Zealand zebra, NZ
zeborahnz
Not really. That doesn't happen in real life. (In real life it's a glorious Saturday morning, you've done all your chores and it's only 8:30am, the whole weekend ahead of you, and then you wake up and it's Tuesday and it's raining.) But wouldn't it be cool if it did?

Spoilers for season 8 ep 11, the '3W' episodeCollapse )

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In which she asks the government to be as civic-minded as a regional gang #feedthekids
New Zealand zebra, NZ
zeborahnz
In response to Metiria Turei's blog post on the Feed the Kids bill, I've emailed the following to our prime minister:

Tēnā koe,

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

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

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

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

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

Please support the Feed the Kids Bill.

Nāku noa, nā
[wallet name, city]

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In which she goes to kindy
books, read
zeborahnz
I've got a lovely two-week holiday so today, instead of leaving for work after my regular Sunday sleep-over with friends, I went with them when they took their three-year-old to his first (half-)day of kindergarten. It was the first time they'd left him alone with strangers so they were a little twitchy though also looking forward to having a bit of time without a preschooler around to catch up on things that preschoolers like to help with, like climbing ladders and painting and varnishing things.

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

(And then it being a gorgeous day we went to the beach and played frisbee and excavated a water channel while building a castle wall beside it and didn't get sunburned because they made me put sunscreen on even though I hate how greasy it is. I'm glad I'm not staying the night tonight because that's going to be one tired kid.)

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In which she proposes a cure for the world's ills
New Zealand zebra, NZ
zeborahnz
Last week New Zealand's centre-right party won the election as thoroughly as you can or need to in order to govern unimpeded for the next three years, and the left-leaning among us are doing the usual post-mortem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

People are inherently good.

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

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

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

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

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

[Links are welcome, as are stories of you or others doing nice things for someone else.]

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In which she has been neglecting LiveJournal
Stressed, stress and confusion
zeborahnz
I just by accident went to my LJ homepage and saw my most recent post was from ages ago. Apparently when I changed all my passwords around Heartbleed time I forgot that Dreamwidth requires my password in order to crosspost. Whoops!

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

In which she watches the second episode (Doctor Who 08.02)
In which she practices her spongebath skills
Fanfic: Really Slowly. In the Right Order. (part 12/12)
In which another Doctor
Fanfic: Really Slowly. In the Right Order. (part 5/12) [NB links to all other parts on Archive of Our Own]
In which she learns a new theory of the elements
In which she baits the phone scammers
In which she produces a unified theory of yellow
In which she submits her hatred of Riccarton Road
In which Easter is all about autumn

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In which she has a timely idea
New Zealand zebra, NZ
zeborahnz
A friend and I were discussing things a week ago and this concept popped into my head of a time capsule website, where you could read something written by someone a {time period} ago and write something of your own for a stranger a {time period} in the future.

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

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

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

You'd type stuff in the box.

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

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



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In which she does a Great Fair Trade Easter Egg Hunt
New Zealand zebra, NZ
zeborahnz
I've switched to Fair Trade chocolate, because it tastes of freedom (and especially dark chocolate, because I can snack on dairy milk until the whole block's demolished whereas with dark a couple of squares are enough, so my money and teeth last longer).

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


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

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



I'm not so certain about:

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



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


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

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

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

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



I've resorted to this method (using Whittaker's Dark Ghana and these silicone moulds. (I know many people hate silicone but it is fantastic at being non-stick which is really important for this purpose.) It's much more time consuming than visiting the store, and the resulting hollow eggs are kind of fragile and messy-looking, while the solid chicks are really solid. But otoh chocolate is a lot cheaper by the block than in Easter Egg form, so I guess there's some savings there.

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In which Twitter moves her cheese
Stressed, stress and confusion
zeborahnz
So I'm back in Christchurch and it's 1:30am and the cat is making it hard to type she's so busy marking me with her scent and I just want to say "I'm home!" on Twitter and also follow someone back before the notification disappears in the depths of my inbox. But

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

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

Whatever, Twitter. Whatever.

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

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

And so to bed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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