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Tactical Ninja

Jul. 29th, 2014

09:02 am

Last night I listened to The Division Bell for the first time in years. For me, it's the definitive Pink Floyd album.

Yes, I'm aware that makes me some kind of uncultured music dunce. To add to that perception, I have always preferred David Gilmour's contribution over Roger Waters'. I find Roger Waters' stuff harsh on my ears and his overwrought angstifying somewhat annoyingly whiny. Gilmour also seems to have graduated from the School of Whinge, but at least his music is pleasant to listen to and threaded with the occasional glimmer of hope.

Anyway, yeah. The Division Bell was released in 1994, and so it formed part of the soundtrack to my escape from Dargaville and all the crap that went along with it. I played it endlessly between 1995 and 1998, so for me it's the music of transformation and healing. I think perhaps given some of the lyrics, there's some introspective stuff in there about the Gilmour/Waters split, but for me, two songs stand out as relevant to my own situation at the time; Poles Apart and Coming Back To Life.

Did you know...
it was all going to go
so wrong for you?
And did you see
it was all going to be
so right for me?

I am not above feeling the joy that comes with the revenge of a life well lived. Just saying. And then there's this:

Lost in thought and lost in time
While the seeds of life and the seeds of change were planted
Outside the rain fell dark and slow
While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistible pastime
I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life.

That was totally me hiding out in the boonies and chasing sheep and avoiding people while I started to rebuild myself. Nothing at all subtle there, eh? I don't have Gilmour's vocal range, especially in the low notes, but you can bet your arse I was singing along like a champ. Loudly.

I've come a long way since those days. I'm glad I still like the music from then though.

Jul. 24th, 2014

08:58 am

Day 4 without Voltaren. The pain is back. Not badly, I can still put my undies on while standing, but each day it gets a little more noticeable.

I emailed my MP, who happens to be the Opposition spokesperson for health and the ex-Minister of Health, and asked her wtf is up with a health system that has such insufficient resources that people are going without treatment. She asked me to send her the letter so she could follow up on it. I did, with the disclaimer that while my own health is of concern to me, I'm more worried about the overall situation and am mostly interested in hearing about policy that will alleviate it.

So far, I've heard nothing back.

If the pain is worse again tomorrow I'll call the doctor and make another appointment. Because fuck this.

Meanwhile, the other day I posted a video of Oona Kivelä working out. Today, have a video of her performing:

So when I said pole dancing wasn't sexy? I think that needs a qualifier. Pole dancing can be sexy - when Oona Kivelä does it. I watched the 2013 winner and it seemed to me that she performed a much more traditional-looking piece that had that "I'm doing a trick now applause" feel about it. Not to detract, it's still an amazing performance, but it isn't hot.

Because I'm totally entitled to be judgey about pole performances based on my vast knowledge. Yep.

Jul. 23rd, 2014

09:24 am - Pink is the new.. oh wait, no it isn't.

A couple of weeks ago, that thing about the Bic Cristal For Her pens went around again. It sparked the usual hilarity regarding only writing under the supervision of our husbands, how nice that we can now lift the pens easily, etc.

In me, it also sparked curiosity about ladies' fishing rods. Because I can't for the life of me work out what you'd make different in a fishing rod to make it gender-specific. I thought for a while about length for casting (against the fact that women are generally shorter than men) but reality is that casting is mostly about technique, and the only place where height makes a difference is in surfcasting. I've yet to find a 'ladies' surfcaster. So anyway, because there are assumptions and then there is research, I went and had a look at the available fishing gear that claims to be 'for women'.

Results may shock you!Collapse )

I can see an argument that *some* women might like to have a special rod that's their very own, and because of the way our society has gendered pink as a women's colour, *some* women might be encouraged to see that as more theirs than the regular ones. And for a small number of women, that may encourage them to take up fishing.

For me, I find it both patronising and insulting that these manufacturers are making claims about the design of this gear being tailored to women's needs when all they are really doing is providing a normal spec rod and reel - in pink. They are shouting, loud and clear, that what women need is pink. And as a subtext, they are also suggesting that a) women don't know enough about fishing to notice that there's really no difference, and b) every other rod in their range is for men, because women and pink. And no other reason, because there isn't one, but look - PINK STUFF LADIES!


I'll keep sourcing my fishing gear from the men's regular section thanks. And I think Penn and Daiwa will be getting my money from now on.

I'll keep you posted if Ugly Stik, Shimano or Okuma ever get back to me about their ladies' gear.

Jul. 22nd, 2014

12:11 pm - short

Day 2 without voltaren.

Contorture class last night did not render me immobile today. My back is not that bendy, but I can see it could get bendier fairly quickly. The dull ache over my right kidney is still there. ;-/

Adding OsteoDude's exercises to my morning core routine means I'm now doing half an hour of core and shoulder work in the nude every day at 6am.

What? I find it much easier to get enthused about calisthenics when I'm not already dressed. Don't knock it till you've tried it!

Jul. 21st, 2014

11:29 am - I'm on a pole!

Actually, I'm not. But on Saturday night I went to the Wellington heats for the NZ Amateur Pole Performers competition.

As you're probably aware, these days pole is a gymnastic dance sport instead of something you only see in strip clubs, and there are studios springing up everywhere. This comp has been running for 5 years, and has categories for everyone from Fairly New through to Been At It Forever. There were about thirty competitors, three of whom were men. One of the men was Dr Wheel's brother, and he was my main reason for going along.

He didn't disappointCollapse )

That having been said, I enjoyed myself a great deal. There were a couple of standout performances, and it was very cool to walk in knowing almost nothing about pole as a sport, and then watch a large number of talented people giving it heaps. I learned about fundamental moves, how they can be strung together, what constitutes difficult in the world of pole, and a lot of interpretations of moving up and down and around a solid object 4m high. I can see the appeal for performers, and the packed room suggests an appeal for a wider audience too.

Oddly enough, for me who is usually all I WANT TO DO THAT whenever I see something cool, pole is not on my list, even after seeing it done well. Put simply, I prefer climbing on people. There is something about the interaction, the trust, the constantly renegotiated sharing of space, and the slightly unpredictable way that people move, that makes acro so much more interesting, for me, than any static apparatus. Also, people are warm.

No, I am not referring to my base as an apparatus. OK, maybe just a little bit...

* More on this later, maybe. I've been thinking a lot about it lately.

Jul. 18th, 2014

10:16 am - Thoughts on the public good and why half-and-half healthcare doesn't serve it

So I got a letter last night from the rheumatologist. To summarise, they are underfunded and only taking 'the most urgent' cases. They regret that they can't offer me an appointment. They realise that this will probably cause me some distress, but they wish to be honest, and I should go back to my doctor to discuss my options.

Okay thenCollapse )

And this is the basis of my resentment. This half-pie thing we have in New Zealand is not working, because I was refused healthcare that I am paying more than most people for. I am being directed by this system to shun the public good that I put 30% of my income into, and instead to use my privilege of income to pay for more privilege, which separates me further from any vested interest in helping support public health. I am trying to do the right thing, and it's being subverted into the complete opposite of what I believe is a good life.

I can see that someone who was less stubbornly determined to live by their principles than me, would very easily think "Why should I pay into this at all? It's not as if I use it!" and start working out ways to pay less into the public good. And from there, it's not hard to see how a class of wealthy people with zero interest in furthering the public good can become so detached from the concept of shared wellbeing that they no longer feel any sense of social responsibility - which leads to being completely ok with some people being unable to have the same access to quality of life that they themselves have.

I think Sandel is right. There are some issues that can't be effectively discussed without including moral judgements about what is right and good. And in my opinion, 'the good life' is one where we are all invested in each other's wellbeing, where we share difficult burdens and where those who have advantages use them to make everyone's life better. I would happily pay more tax if I knew it were going to make sure everyone gets to see a rheumatologist when they need one. But everyone includes me, and our system is excluding me because the tax I pay is not going to universal healthcare. It's going to fly ministers to the US to discuss dodgy trade deals - made by people who can afford to go private - that will put healthcare even more out of reach for most kiwis. But probably not me, because I have a high income. So that's ok, right? Because choice is justice!

I don't think the current managers of our healthcare system have the same view of what is good as I do, somehow.

* I have had moments since I got that letter in which I've berated myself for being a hypochondriac. Maybe I'm not really sick enough to warrant wasting valuable healthcare resources finding out what's wrong with me. But then I remember that I've been waking up in pain every day for the last 10 months - pain bad enough so that I've on occasion needed help to get dressed - and that the only reason that right now I feel ok enough to question myself is because I'm taking twice-daily doses of a medication that'll eventually destroy my stomach. I deserve healthcare. I have to keep telling myself this.

Jul. 16th, 2014

10:22 am - Shiny shiny shiny!

My brother likes to blow stuff up. Lately, he's been enjoying blowing stuff up using high voltages. One of the side effects of this is the pretty shiny lights that are produced when preparing to blow stuff up. Here is an example:

WTF is that thing anyway?Collapse )

It bothers me a little bit that NEEDS MOAR LEDs has become something I actually say sometimes. Mostly because of how much I've teased other people about this.

Also, surfing electronics websites - I should know better by now...

[edit] The word from LAX is they let Dr Wheel into America, and that it's quite warm there.

Jul. 15th, 2014

11:18 am - Dear Dr Wheel,


(also, send me pics of interesting things)

(and, don't go fuck this shit and jump out a window like that horse, mmk?)

(maybe more like honey badger, but less nasty)


Jul. 14th, 2014

09:26 am - What I did on the weekend

Clothes hacking!

In which I take a top I'd bought online that didn't fit me right so I wouldn't wear it, and turn it into something that I'll probably wear quite a lot.

Cut for picture of said topCollapse )

I also stuck bits of leather on to bits of plastic in further development of the Saarebas costume, hung out with my brother, signed up for a contortion class, and spent a warm afternoon/evening playing around doing easy and (often) ungraceful partner acro for secret and nefarious purposes!

Meanwhile, Dr Wheel leaves for his Big US Adventure tomorrow. I have set him the task of finding something cool and famous and taking a photo of himself with it. Surely this should be quite easy in the US! He is going to have all sorts of adventures, including taking a train across the continent. I envy that one quite a lot. He's also going to that thing in the desert, so if you find him there, please give him hugs and smooches for me.

I'll be over here, high on leather glue.

Jul. 11th, 2014

08:49 am - You know how it's never lupus?

Well, apparently it might be.

Last night my doctor called. When they call you instead of texting, it's kind of a headsup that things are not going to be straightforward, right? So I was braced for what she told me, which is apparently that both my antinuclear antibody and rheumatoid factor (antibodies for rheumatoid arthritis) are positive, and that she's going to refer me to a rheumatologist.

What this means - cut for medical waffling about my healthCollapse )

Meanwhile, I'll keep taking the voltaren because I'm liking being able to sleep through till 5am, and being able to put my undies on without lying on the floor. The doc also advised to keep up the visits with OsteoDude on the off chance that the back thing is just coincidental. Basically she said if it helps, keep doing it. It's too early to tell right now but in a couple of weeks I'll try another day without voltaren and see what happens, and then I'll know. And since none of this stuff is slowing me down much, until I see this specialist and get a proper diagnosis, it's business as usual.

In other news, I dreamed last night that I was in DA: Inquisition. I was controlling an army against the Orlesian invasion of Ferelden, and I had a dragon. I was basically having orgasms over how beautifully rendered the dragon was, and confused about how the Fereldans had discovered oil and were powering ships that looked like the Titanic, along with generators that ran lighting. Anyway, I sent my dragon off to deal with the Orlesians, and then we had nothing to do so we sat around in Varric's house and laughed about the silly things that are written on tampon packets.

I really hope the game is not actually like that. Apart from the dragons.

Jul. 10th, 2014

08:45 am - An attempt at a book review that turns into a rant about literature. Oops.

I'm not much cop at book reviews, at least not compared to the literate and articulate brainboxes on my flist. But I'm going to have a go because while I was in Australia I read a book by someone who is also on my flist. It was Pictures of You by tedwords.

Cut for words about booksCollapse )

Gosh, I wrote words about a book. I haven't done a lot of that since 1988. Wait, aren't I supposed to say something about how we are all awful and life sucks because reading? Oh wait, that was 1988. Anyone who was a teenager in the 80s may remember the overarching atmosphere of 2 minutes to midnight in which we are all basically doomed at the whim of superpowers determined to out-nuke each other, and by the way there's not much chance of a job when you leave school but here's a movie about a rich white kid who gets whatever he wants by thinking positive. You are the agent of your own destiny and never mind that we screwed destiny so you start about a mile behind where your parents did, you can be like Ferris Bueller if only you try hard enough, and if you don't make it it's your own fault. Also, AIDS - so don't think you can sex your way into fun times, you'll die if you do that...

.. Gosh. That got a bit dark. But then, that's a lot of what I recall of my teenage years, and I guess that was reflected in the literature they thought was worthy at the time.

Fact is, we don't all suck. Most of us are good people, trying our best with the tools we've been given to live a good life. But like reality TV, that doesn't make for good literature apparently.

I wonder what they teach in English Lit in the 21st Century, and how that aligns with the current zeitgeist regarding the chances of doom we all face?

Jul. 9th, 2014

08:49 am - In which I draw inferences and extrapolate with minimal evidence LIKE A BOSS!

I'm still learning countries, capitals and flags of the world, by the way. About a month ago I learned the Stans - Pakistan (Islamabad), Afghanistan (Kabul), Kazakhstan (Astana), Uzbekistan (Tashkent), Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek), Tajikistan (Dushanbe), Turkmenistan (Ashgabat). I think that's all of them. They were quite hard to memorise because a lot of the capitals have a 'sh' sound in them, and remembering which was which required some mental gymnastics:

Turkmenistan - starts with A, like the Akhal-Teke horses that come from there.
Kazakhstan - Astana sounds sort of like Kazakhstan and has 'stan' in it.
Kyrgyzstan - has a bit that sounds like 'curds', and the capital sounds sort of like 'biscuit'. Food goes with food. (what?!?)
Uzbekistan - Tashkent sounds a bit like tent, and in my head everyone in Uzbekistan lives in tents.
Tajikistan - has a nice rhythm if you say them together. Try it - Tajikistan Dushanbe, Tajikistan Dushanbe.. see?


Anyway, I noticed something funny about the Stans as I was learning them.

Observe on the map my brilliant political deductionsCollapse )

No news yet on the blood test front. I am seeing this as a good sign. But just for entertainment purposes, I've now broken out in a weird, non-itchy rash that looks like mini-ringworm on the outsides of both my thighs. I suspect this is either psychosomatic, or caused by the voltaren. I'll mention it to the doctor cos you're supposed to, but the timing is very suspect.

Bodies are weird.

Jul. 8th, 2014

09:18 am - And from the "WTF did I just watch?!?" file...

(i may be trolling dr wheel, or i may be genuinely wanting to share this craziness. we will never know for sure)

.. At least they are enjoying themselves?

Also, you'd be surprised how much hilarity you can milk by dropping a 'walk walk walk' into conversation randomly. Just saying.

Jul. 7th, 2014

01:18 pm - When your puppies fly the nest, or something

Yesterday the YoT left home. Like, properly. With a trailer and taking his bed and lugging furniture up stairs to his Typical-Wellington-Low-Income-Housing flat and everything. You know the type, built in the early 2000s, monolithic cladding, two flights of stairs to get up there. But his room is large and north facing, and it looks like it may have missed the leaky building problems and will be insulated because it's new enough. He emailed me this morning to tell me they failed to get his bed up the internal stairs but that his computer is set up. Good to see he has his priorities straight..

I do feel a bit weird about it, mostly in a 'hope he'll be ok' kind of way. But mostly I'm just damn proud of him. He's come a long way from the angry kid that turned up at my place in early 2009. And realistically, we've seen stuff all of him the last few months between his night shifts and his girlfriend. So yeah. He knows the door's always open but it looks like my offspring is, well.. off.

Also, I am a bad parentCollapse )

On the pain front, this morning was morning 1 without voltaren, and it was straight back to having problems putting the undies on, and being overtaken by little old ladies as I walk down the road. Doctor appointment revealed that she wants to test me for rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and lupus* among other immuno-inflammatory type things. If it's not any of those, I have the choice of continuing with osteo/voltaren for a month, then trying to get in to see a rheumatologist without a referral.**

I'm kind of hoping for it to just go away by itself to be honest.

* It's never lupus, right? The doctor did a double take and added it to the list really fast when I told her my maternal grandmother and one of my cousins had it. Eek.
** This is where the NZ health system gets expensive - when you don't have obvious indicators to qualify for publicly funded specialist treatment. I could go on a waiting list that may be over a year long, or pay to go private. With a referral, I'd be in within a couple of weeks and it'd be minimal cost.

Jul. 4th, 2014

09:56 am

Today is one of the days when I feel like I'm on top of things. I am hesitant to attribute this to waking up with no pain two mornings in a row, because we've also had two days of sunshine, I'm wearing clothes I like instead of boring business ones, for the first time I can feel my lower abdominal muscles engaging as I walk, and tonight I get to see rivet. And I'm ovulating, which always makes me feel 10 feet tall and bulletproof.

So while I can't rule the painlessness of my back out as a factor, there are lots of other reasons for feeling that I'm not actually an impostor into the adult world of competence today. Just saying.

Voltaren update: Day two, no pain. I can feel it niggling round the edges and *wanting* to hurt. When I stood up this morning my back went "I really should get onto that hurting thing, but I can't be arsed." I suspect that this morning would have been one of the ones where I'd have to lie on the floor to put my undies on, if not for the Voltaren.

I think that means it's working. I'll call the doc and make the blood test appointment today.

Jul. 3rd, 2014

09:13 am - Life

Spending a week doing acro nonstop did a lot of things for me. One of them was to bring into focus just how much my back problems are limiting me. I would wake up every morning unable to bend properly, and spend significant parts of the day struggling against what felt like locked-up muscles preventing me from holding my spine in correct form, or lying in child pose trying to relax. On our down day there was a lot of walking, and the pain didn't stop all day. I dislike pain and I hate being limited, so I decided to take charge.

Yesterday I went to see OsteoDude. He's fixed me twice before, so I have a fair bit of faith in his abilities.

EekCollapse )

So I'll keep taking the Voltaren and get the blood test and prepare myself to be told Welcome To Your Forties, Have A Nice Freakout, and meanwhile I'll keep doing bloody handstands because fuck you, estrogen. You don't rule me.


For those who don't give a crap about that, have a thing grist made. He's been experimenting with creating high-voltage electrical arcs in a vacuum. Turns out they are very pretty:

His latest vid is with 21k. Ooooooo!

Jul. 2nd, 2014

09:48 am - So here is a thing

I'm doing a beginner swordfighting class on Sunday. I'm quite excited about it. And this morning, because that's how things go, this article came through on one of my feeds. It's about Samantha Swords winning the longsword competition at an international invitational tournament. She fought with the men and won. Yay!

I watched the interview with her and instantly detected the kiwi accent. Turns out she's a kiwi/aussie Canadian. I think this means she's from NZ, has lived in Australia and is now based in Canada. But OMG kiwi! Complete with armour made by a friend at Weta. Eeeeeee!!

Meanwhile, it did make me twitch that the title of the article calls her a female. I find it dehumanising when female is used as a noun. Interestingly, the first comment says the same thing. The responses to that seem to be a whole lot of mansplaining (including from the author of the article) about how actually it's ok to do that because reasons, that 'woman' and 'female' are interchangeable (they aren't), and us 'females' should stop looking for things to be offended about. Interspersed with the occasional bit about how shouldn't we all be congratulating Samantha instead of getting het up about grammar?

I agree, it should be about congratulating Samantha. And the easiest way to make it about that would be to have the headline read "Samantha Swords Wins Longsword Competition At World Invitational Tournament." Because what she did is far more important than her gender. Making it about her gender and then using a dehumanising term to accentuate that was almost guaranteed to cause problems.

Why is this so hard for people to understand?

Jul. 1st, 2014

09:56 am - Bring Sally up, bring Sally down

I don't really know what to say about 6 days of solid acro. I am struggling to get my head out of the physicality space and back into the cerebral. Meanwhile my body wants to know why the hell I'm sitting still and when I'm going to get up and do something. Resisting the urge to quit my job and run off to join the circus full time. The understanding that I have so many things to learn, but that there are pathways to get there.

You know when you spend a significant amount of time focused on one thing, your world narrows down to that view only, and it becomes difficult to process anything else? And how there's a quietude to be found in the exclusion of distraction that's difficult to achieve in the default world?

I am a lot of things - a crafter, a developer, a mother, a partner, a drug policy geek, a writer of wordy and introspective blogs - but for the last week I've been nothing but a body, and it's been interesting. Kind of like a meditation retreat, with pain. It ends up being a nice place, one that's hard to leave.

This morning as I did my core engagement exercises, I found myself missing Sally.


Jun. 20th, 2014

10:02 am - I will try not to drop Happy on his head

Wait, there's some kind of sports thing on? Really?

Just kidding. I know because the Google on my phone insists on telling me who's playing who every time I open it, and I saw a picture of the people who'd been evicted from their houses in Brazil to make way for sports tourism bollocks.

We had that, when the other sports thing was held here. They mopped up all the homeless people and sent them *somewhere* for the duration, and fenced in an enclosure for fans to get drunk in. I avoided it as much as possible while griping about the $500million it cost us to host it, in an environment where the government was making a huge deal out of ~$20million of benefit fraud.

But yeah, meh. Soccer. I don't even care enough to get indignant about how NZ has taken on the US name for the sport instead of calling it football which would be more in line with our cultural heritage.

Although, soccer players often have nice legs from all that running, and aren't all meaty and lumpy like rugby players. But in order to admire the nice legs, I'd have to sit through a lot of watching people kick a ball around, and when you're not invested in identifying your wellbeing with a team's performance, the payoff isn't worth it.

I'd rather get my aesthetics here - Hot Circus. Exactly what it says on the box, and sometimes NSFW. Not just guys, not just women, not just legs, all sorts of body shapes, not always beautiful but inherently hot because it's people doing things with their bodies. Thoroughly recommended.

Speaking of circus, I'm off to this on Saturday. 6 days of acro and adagio.

*will be ded*
*will also be improved*

Jun. 19th, 2014

10:37 am - Ehkä valosapelit?

So my little foray into jokes in Finnish yesterday almost started a flamewar on the Finnish Language facebook group I am in. Apparently there's disagreement about whether 'droideja' or 'droidit' is the right way to refer to the droids.

As it turns out, 'droideja' is correct because it refers to some droids which are not there, whereas 'droidit' would refer to the specific droids you can see and are indicating.

So by extrapolation, if I were to be saying "We are not looking for these droids" then I would use 'droidit' - but because I'm saying "These are not the droids we are looking for" I should use 'droideja'.

Who says word order doesn't matter in Finnish? Also, I learned something. Yay! I am sure this will be extremely useful in my day-to-day life.

Meanwhile, at work I made a survey. It ran for a month and got 59 responses. In my industry, that's pretty good going. But my stakeholder leadership group decided it wasn't broad enough coverage (fair enough) and stepped up with a larger distribution list. In its first day, the second go already has 35 responses. Neato!

Only, as the one who has to crunch the numbers and knows it's going to run for another 2 weeks, I am crapping myself at the potential for it to explode into the Survey That Ate Wellington. Send lawyers, guns, money...

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