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Tactical Ninja

Nov. 21st, 2015

09:59 am - Someone asked

For a pic of my tacky legwarmers with the sparkly black hearts that look like bats:


Nov. 20th, 2015

11:11 am - Drinking coffee in my activewear

I bought a foam roller.  I have never done foam rolling before and the process was punctuated with me going "Ow!" indignantly as I rolled around on it, but afterwards I was all "MMMmmm..." because it's nice.  I suspect I'm a convert.

Other things I never expected to be a convert to - leg warmers.  I have never felt the need to warm just my legs.  In fact, I'm not generally a sweaty person but the two places I do sweat freely from are my face and my shins. Yes.  I didn't know this till I started pole but since they are the things you use for climbing it's really noticeable when they are sweaty and I apparently have excessively sweaty shins.  Go figure.

So anyway, leg warmers seemed a bit pointless to me - that is, until I decided that my Dance Routine of Nooby Doom needs a splits in it, and so I'd better start working on being able to do the splits.  This involves lots of time sliding around on hard wooden floors with my legs splayed in an ungainly manner, and bruises on the tops of my feet.  Padding seemed like a good plan.

And since I have zero dance experience (unless you count belly dance or the three hip hop classes I've muddled my way through), I also joined a choreography class.

*brief choreography interlude follows*  The class involved dancing with your eyes shut, followed by picking four moves at random and attempting to put them together into a sequence by including other steps and filler, and then showing each other our sequences.

*back to the leg warmers* The showing each other part was great, until I got cold sitting around in basically a bra and shorts, and my towel only covered my midriff and I was still cold.  So - leg warmers.  They warmed my legs, as advertised.  And since my shins had sweated on them (damn you excessively sweaty shins!) I bought them.

They are handknitted in purple and cream and pink stripes, with a row of little black hearts* up the back.  Yes they do look every bit as tacky as that sounds, and I love them for it.  I wore them to make coffee at 6am this morning, and then got back into bed in them, and only narrowly avoided wearing them to work**.

I think it's fair to say I am a leg warmer convert.  Words I never thought I'd say, right there.

* I thought they were bats and that's part of the reason I bought them.  But at least the hearts are black so my goth aspirations have not been completely foiled.
** Wellington is just coming out of Shitsville and heading into Spring 2.  Yesterday it was sunny and warm and still.  Today it's 11 degrees and we've a light spring breeze of 50km/h.  Vis:

Wellington seasons

[edit] They just changed the forecast to predict gusts of up to 120km.  So now it's a bit windy by Wellington standards.

Nov. 18th, 2015

09:52 am - In which I throw myself in the deep end again

I entered a pole competition.

Am I insane?  Yes, a little bit.  But that's not why I did it.  I did it partly because my instructor said I should, and partly because it gives me some motivation to do something other than muck around learning individual tricks and watching my biceps get bigger.

It's not like I haven't performed before, but this will be my first public pole performance, and it's a competition - in 5 months. Eek!

Let the excitement begin!Collapse )

Witness my remarkable ability to make mountains from molehills!

In other news, there is no other news. This is filling my head right now and it's probably all you'll get from me for a while.

Nov. 12th, 2015

12:01 pm - Apropos of nothing

I've been eating a lot of cheese lately.

Last night I dreamed that I did CPR on Carol from Walking Dead, saved her life, and we became lovers.  We went to Kiwiburn and I was supposed to light the Temple but someone kept beating me to it and then all these people turned up with dogs and I spent the rest of my dream escorting them off the premises while they argued with me about how *their* dog's turds aren't unhygienic.

Coincidence?  I think not.

Nov. 7th, 2015

07:27 pm - Dr Wheel took a pic of me and it came out nice


Nov. 4th, 2015

09:46 am - My two left feet, let me show you them

Second hip hop class last night, this one with the Projekt team.  These guys seem to have much better idea of what beginner means, and they cover all styles of street dance.

That having been said, what we were doing last night was actually 90s boyband styles, so we were smooooth.  Well, some of us were. Others of us were flaily *ahem*.  Class was the same format as last week's - learn a move or two, practice a few times, tack it onto the previous move, try it with music.  Only this time, the music wasn't going three times as fast as the practice and for the most part I could keep up without getting my arms and legs tangled up.  For the most part....

Anyway, after an hour of this we'd learned about 10 seconds of dance which included about 12 different steps.  Apparently next week we'll be consolidating that and adding a bit more.  The music was Faded by soulDecision, - 90s/2000 funk basically. We got as far as the bit where it goes "Couldn't we do what we did last night again" - one verse.  And we were only two lines into the first verse when I got down to a singlet.  Being smooth apparently requires effort!

I felt slightly less unco this time, possibly because of the more appropriate pace, but maybe because I'm learning something?  I can feel my brain working in an interesting way while I'm doing it - I've never done any formal dance training before so this idea of teaching my body to do movements and then remembering a sequence of them at high speed is completely new to me.  Maybe I'm creating new neural pathways and this will ward of senility!

I also had a pole class yesterday in which we were learning to do this:

upright pike

As you can imagine, getting into this from standing involves serious hip flexor and core action, and staying in it involves serious armpit action.  Adding the hip hop onto this with flexing my brains while jumping up and down and trying to coordinate my feet, and a job interview as well, and I feel like I burned all the protein yesterday.  Today I slept until my alarm went off.

I am totally going to be the funkiest granny in the rest home.

Nov. 2nd, 2015

09:09 am - The result of the weekend's intensive acro sessions

Apart from my sore bum I mean. Whips involve significant amounts of butt-clenching, it turns out. On the upside, if I keep it up I'll be able to crack walnuts between my butt cheeks. Because that's a useful life skill, yes?

Anyway, we think we invented a new pose. Witness the Open Box:

open box
(done by happy and me)

As opposed to the closed box, or mushroom pose:
(done by some people who aren't us)

Name might need some work, especially because everyone was calling it Wendy's Open Box.  *cough*

Tonight I'm having a night off.  Well, I'm shifting furniture in Tonka, because any excuse to drive it right?

Also, we watched Chappie.  Now I think Dr Wheel should cosplay it, and go round carrying a rubber chicken and running up to people shouting "Why you steal my Daddy's car?"  He would totally be my hero if he did this.  *hinthint*

Happy says he is impressed with Die Antwoord's dedication to maintaining their identity.  I'm just impressed with Die Antwoord.

Oct. 30th, 2015

10:26 am - Shorts

* I can almost handspring-to-ayesha. When I can do it, it'll look like this:

I'm getting a moment of suspension! It's not the sort of thing you can practice for long because *hard*, but yay!

* We bought a ute. It's got a big deck. We called it Tonka. Vis:


Silly gender-normative pics to follow.

* Last night I went to a beginners hip hop class. Now I know that I should actually be attending pre-beginners class (which I don't think actually exist). I am pretty much the most unco person in the world once the beat goes past about 150bpm.

* We are actually getting quite good at acro. We can chain crocodiles for about 6 in a row now. We're doing a whips workshop on the weekend. Whips involve timing. Timing isn't our strong suit, so I expect much laughter and some bruises.

* I like that commentary from those who see us practicing is that we always look like we're having a good time. I see so many acro partners arguing with each other and getting angry about who needs to fix what to achieve the goal. Seems like our goal is mostly to enjoy ourselves, and that makes it far more fun.

* Planted the vegies a couple of weeks ago and it stopped raining. I'd just given up on my beans coming up when we finally got a good soak and now things are popping up all over the place! Yay!

* This means we're mowing the lawn weekly. Boo.

Does someone want to come mow our lawn?

Oct. 20th, 2015

05:15 pm

So you know how Playboy used to show you pictures of boobs? Well now they're making harm reduction videos. This one's on how to identify psychedelic mushrooms (short, 2 mins). Click the pic below to check it out:

title pic

Oct. 19th, 2015

10:04 am - In which I read genre fiction

I've just finished reading my third book this year that deals with the topic of homosexual male relationships.

This started when I read As Meat Loves Salt (well worth reading, just saying), and noted that almost all of the homosexual male relationship fiction I've read has been written by women. I asked for recommendations in the genre written by men, and picked a couple.

First was Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Witi Ihimaera, a New Zealand novel by an author whose works (not the gay ones) are often given as set books in NZ schools. It's about a professor of film studies who comes out as gay at the height of his academic career, while married with two young daughters, and during the depths of the panic about AIDS. It's a good read, emotionally wrenching and gritty, full of flawed characters and scarily familiar cultural markers. It weirds me out that his wife calls him Sport, especially when in true Witi style, one of his wordplays is that the people he actually loves get called by their real names while everyone else has a nickname. Recommended.

Next I read Giovanni's Room, a classic of the genre apparently. It's set in 1950s Paris, and is essentially a tragedy. It's been described as 'gorgeous' and 'vivid' - and indeed the writing is beautiful. Unfortunately I disliked the protagonist - he seems incapable of feeling anything, and in a novel with basically no action, what's happening in the protagonist's head is what carries the story. And I found Giovanni too pathetic to like, so the passion between them didn't feel supported by the kind of strength in either character that such passion really requires. However, I stayed interested till the end, and I think I'd recommend it - just not in the same year as As Meat Loves Salt, which in my opinion is superior despite having an even more unlikeable protagonist.

Interestingly, both male gay relationship fiction authors I have read this year are also PoC. Ihimaera is Māori and Baldwin is African American. Ihimaera's David is pakeha and has some interesting views on Māori activism (this author's always been a bit tongue in cheek like that), and Baldwin's David (yep, they both have the same name) is not characterised by race at all.

Anyway, of the three I would rank As Meat Loves Salt #1, Nights in the Gardens of Spain #2, and Giovanni's Room #3. YMMV, I don't know how much international appeal Ihimaera would have, but I think he's a better writer than Baldwin.

Now I think I'll leave the genre alone for a while. The book I'm reading at the moment is The Stonor Eagles, a reread for me but not since I was 15. It's already reminding me why I loved it so much as a teenager..

Oct. 9th, 2015

09:59 am - Obligatory post Seed reflection

At Seed, someone asked me if it was my first burn. After a minute's thought I realised it was actually my tenth. Gosh! I've been to:

Kiwiburn (6)
American Kiwiburn (2)
African Kiwiburn (1)
Australian Kiwiburn (1)

I think that makes me a veteran. *pause here for those who've been to more burns than me - including Mangle - to comment about how they've been to 592 burns and I'm just a whipper snapper*

Right, now we've got that out of the way, I was reflecting on this 'been to a lot of burns' thing. Seed was quite different from my usual burn experience - it felt more chilled, less frenetic. I didn't feel the need to see and do everything and everyone. I missed stuff. Hell, there were people there that I knew that I didn't even run into. I only went out all-night dancing twice, and I didn't go back to the life modelling thing even though I enjoyed it the first time. I passed up the opportunity to participate in a pole jam in favour of hanging with a newfound friend, and went to bed straight after the Temple burn on Sunday night.

Am I getting old?

Yeah nah. This burn was just as much of a lifechanging experience as every other burn. But there's lifechanging in the OH WOW OMG I JUST FOUND COMMUNITY LIKE WHOAH AND ALSO LASERS kind of way, and there's lifechanging in the slight shift in perspective kind of way. My first burn, Psyche in Nevada, was the first. How could it not be? I probably turned into a burner bore for a while* - at least until my suntan wore off. After my second burn I started thinking about how I could bring the parts of this culture I loved into my day to day life - the Wellington Dance Collective was born, and I got involved in Kiwiburn.

I've been living that ever since. Because of burns, I rediscovered my talent for sewing, creating, and costuming. Because of that, I kitted out my community with clothing they would not otherwise have had, got into cosplay, and discovered a whole new community. I've learned electronics, (very basic) coding, risk management, event planning, and how to facilitate diverse groups of people. My work in drug reform stems from the positive experiences I've had and the community I've built through being part of burner culture, and that's taken off after 8 years because my associations within the culture led to another community that contained people who could help me (Foo).

And I think that's what I've taken away from this burn - the recognition that going to burn events isn't really the lifechanging part of burner culture for me. It's the little changes of perspective that have led to little decisions that have led to growth and expansion of my communities, which in turn have created more little changes in perspective - and so on and so forth. It's kind of neat how that's worked. As a flow on effect I've had a constant stream of personal growth opportunities, learned a bunch of new skills, and been able to give back to my communities in new and varied ways.

I quite like that I don't have to prance down the street dressed as a unicorn in order to feel that sense of community. I quite like that for me, the real burner culture happens away from the burn, dressed in jeans (or PJs, or whatever the fuck I want), and involves having potato chips with MPs or craft nights with cosplayers or sitting alone in my room listening to Faithless while soldering stuff. It was all catalysed by the OMG LASERS revelations of that first burn, but that's all a burn event really is - a catalyst for individuals to decide whether they are motivated to be who they are at the burn, all the time.

So when I was thinking about what life-changing thing happened to me at Seed, what occurred to me was the juxtaposition of the above realisations and coming home to find the TPP had been signed. The theme for Seed was Revolution. Like all themes it didn't really get reflected much in the art or the attitude - but now I'm thinking about how to effectively revolt against the TPP, and I think that my quiet revolution will be to continue to grow my communities, and consciously consider how I can continue to be who I am at the burn, all the time. Because that person doesn't give a crap about multinational corporations or profits or copyright. That person is interested in making her immediate environment a better place for herself and her communities, and is capable of making that level of difference. Which, based on what's happened so far and how I feel about it, is all the difference in the world.

(yes this does read like a Burners Will Save The World post. I don't think they will. But *this* burner will save *this* part of *my* world. Bite me.)

* You know the type - every sentence starts with "When I was at the burn..... and suddenly their life becomes about preparing for the next one or reliving the last one, and they make sure everyone knows it.

Sep. 25th, 2015

01:33 pm - Meme thing

How this works:
You comment, I give you an age (please tell me how old you currently are - I don't know all of your ages unfortunately) and you fill out the meme questions with what applied to you back then, and now:

I have 26.

At 26...

I lived in:
Dargaville, at the end of a dead end road just out of town, on a 50 acre kumara farm. The YoT said his first words in that house, on my 26th birthday. We had junked out cars on the front lawn and I gave up trying to battle the kikuyu to make the garden pretty, or the junk to make the house tidy. It was a pig sty and I hated it. Luckily I left shortly after.

I drove:
A 1973 XB Fairmont with a 351 V8 in it. It cost about $10 to start it up, and when I tried to see how fast it could go on the Ruawai straights one day, I chickened out at 126mph. My husband pranged it into a ditch while drunk and dinged it up quite badkly, and after that I wasn't so keen on it. When I left him I swapped it for two cows.

I was in a relationship with:
My ex husband.

I feared:
Going to bed.

I worked at:
I was stay at home Mum, which basically meant I did a lot of cooking and cleaning and also I was responsible for waking up said husband each morning which was no mean feat.

I wanted to be:
Anywhere except where I was.

- - -

NOW! (45years old)

I live in:
Wellington, in an art deco rental that has lovely views and is stunning in summer and like living in a refrigerator in winter. My vegie garden feeds me horse food daily and we have flowers. I made a rule that I would never tolerate junked out cars on the lawn again and I've stuck to it. The YoT is 20 and has moved out Wow.

I drive:
I recently pranged my Galant, and it was replaced by the people we car share with, with a Honda Jazz (affectionately known as The Granny Car). Dr Wheel and I are about to buy a ute, because we're hardcore like that, and also because we don't want to get caught out unable to pull our trailer up the hill out of Kiwiburn again.

I'm in a relationship with:
Dr Wheel. He is the awesomest of the awesomes. 7 years this December.

I fear:

I work at:
Writing qualifications for builders, drug reform, organising a festival, acro, pole, and being a better person.

I want to be:
Independently wealthy so I can live in the country and grow fruit and vegies and flowers and breed The Better Sheep.


09:04 am - I'm famous!

Not really, but I wrote a guest post for a social science blog and they just published it:


In case you're not keen to read the whole thing, here's the tl:dr:

If you ban a previously legal substance, people will only stop using it if it's not as good as illegal alternatives.

Or, No Shit Sherlock.

Sep. 23rd, 2015

10:42 am

In a bizarre turnaround for the books, yesterday's attempt to find work pants that accommodate my shrinking arse yielded only a single pair of size 8 pants in Farmers, in a sea of other pants varying between size 10 and size 22.

They told me it's because they sell out so fast. Which leaves me going "Uh, buy more then?"

I'm aware that this problem is usually reversed, and that larger women often have limited choices because the world assumes everyone's thin - but in this shop, there is a whole section dedicated to size 14 and up, full of what I think are lovely clothes that don't fit me, and I ended up buying the goddamn pants because they were the only ones they had.

Luckily they are for work so I don't actually care that much, I was just a bit weirded out by the whole thing.

Clothes are hard.

Sep. 22nd, 2015

10:06 am - Wellington in spring

Last week it made it to 20 degrees one day and I wore a sleeveless dress to work.

Today, it's the third day of a howling, gale force southerly with a windchill of zero degrees.

Next week, we're going to Melbourne for Burning Seed. It'll be my first Seed after years of trying to get there. We're being tourists and hiring a camper van, which is the first time we've done that ever. Will be interesting to see if it's any better.

Part of me is pretty sure it will be, because of having a sort-of proper bed, curtains, and a place to live in that is unlikely to attract snakes.

What? I'm a kiwi, kiwis don't understand about snakes and deadly spiders and shit, and I'd prefer not to have to think too hard about how to avoid intimate interaction with them.

Yes I'm serious. Normally when I go to Australia I stay in main centres - this place is in the wops, and unlike the Black Rock Desert, things are *alive* there. There were spiders and other wildlife at Afrikaburn, and that was still a desert. Seed is basically a paddock with trees and bush and stuff, and in my imagination, it's teeming with things just waiting for an unsuspecting kiwi to step barefoot on them so they can kill me. Having said that, I saw nothing bitey at Rainbow a couple of years ago - so maybe they all vacate the premises for the duration. Come to think of it, if I were a self-respecting taipan, that's what I'd do.

Anyway, I expect the event will be equal parts catching up with old friends, making new friends, and talking shop. Hopefully not too much of this last one. I want to get my dance on!

Sep. 10th, 2015

11:31 am - On the ridiculousness of how much we pay to keep drugs illegal

I've been looking at the BERL study again. This is the most comprehensive study ever done into the cost of alcohol and other drug use in New Zealand. it's nearly 10 years old now, but it's still the only one that goes deep.

Some interesting info from the study:
1. Total annual cost of alcohol and other drug use - $6.52billion

2. Of that, $1.58billion is associated with 'other drugs' (ie not alcohol). That amounts to approximately 1% of GDP.

3. Around 16% of adult New Zealanders will admit to having used illicit drugs in the last year*.

4. Of this cost, $85.2million is spent on healthcare: $11.8million on pharmaceutical dependence treatments such as methadone, $52million on community based treatment programmes, and $11.3million on hospital costs for road injuries, drug psychoses, self harm, or accidental poisoning.

5. $395million is spent in the justice sector**: largest costs are imprisoning people $129.7million, police and prosecution $105million, theft and property damage cost $52.6million.

6. Lost output accounts for $188million - lost output being made up of premature mortality $141million) and incarceration ($87.9million)

7. Resources diverted to drug production total $518.7million, mostly going to the cannabis production market.

8. BERL put intangible costs (years of life lost at $106,600 a year) at $386.5million based on road fatalities, homicide, and early deaths.

So I went through this list and divided it into costs associated with drug use, and costs associated with drugs' illegal status. Here's how it came out:

Costs associated with drug use (healthcare, half of theft and property damage***, half of premature mortality lost output, half of intangible costs): $375.25million.

Costs associated with drugs' illegal status (justice costs, half of theft and property damage, incarceration lost output, half of premature mortality lost output, diverted resources****, half of intangible costs: $1239.05million.

This is per year. Gosh.

Meanwhile, I also looked at some 2011 figures on addiction treatment in New Zealand, just to see how up to date BERL's figures were on that.

Turns out that these days we are spending about $134million a year on treatment services *for BOTH alcohol and other drugs*, and that covers about half of the people who want help to reduce their use. There are 50,000 people a year who want treatment but don't get it.

To double the services provided would take the cost of treatment services to New Zealand up to $268million a year. Let's be generous and say $300million.


If we were to decriminalise drugs and focus all that enforcement money on treatment and support for those who need it, even with inflation since BERL's study we would be able to pay for it three times over. And that *includes* alcohol treatment.

Or we could just pay for what we need and divert that other $900million into fixing child poverty, or something.

* Personally I'm ok with 1% of what I produce being used to cover the cost to enhance the lives of 16% of the population. YMMV.

** Yes you read that right. We really do spend 3.5 times as much on criminal approaches to drug use than we do on health ones.

*** I halved these because it's impossible to differentiate between theft associated with drug use and theft that happens in association with the illegal market. Likewise premature mortality. I think I'm being overly harsh here, since for example, opiate OD deaths in NZ could be mostly prevented if naloxone were available, and people who can access drugs easily tend to avoid being criminals if they can.

**** If these things were not illegal, 'diverted resources' would just be resources, bought and paid for legitimately, with GST and such.

Sep. 9th, 2015

11:51 am

Last night I did a number of deadlifted shoulder mounts in a row. I'm getting stronger! I swear I saw an ab or two in there somewhere...

I am not, however, getting any more graceful. Natural grace isn't one of my talents. Strong, yes. Impressive, yes. Graceful, not even, au!

So if and when I ever feel like I'm good enough to start performing, I suspect I'll be looking at men's choreo for inspiration, because women's seems to be all either sexy or graceful and I lean more towards grunty and comedic. Hmm.

Also, I miss acro. Happy's been away at Burning Man and I am not an acro-skank because I am weird about being touched by strangers, so I've done no acro for three weeks. I'm looking forward to being upside down without having to hold myself up* with my hands.

* Scared the crap out of my pole instructor when I discovered, while trying to do caterpillar, that on pole you actually *do* have to hold yourself up with your hands. Luckily I know how to breakfall.

And for those of you who wanted a video of Tensegrity, here's one from the last night of the festival, when Dr Wheel threw caution to the wind and ran it as fast as the electric motor could go:

Sep. 8th, 2015

11:41 am

In case you hadn't already heard, NZ has banned a book.

Well, it's temporarily banned while they work out what to do with it.

Apparently it contains references to sex and drug use, along with offensive language, and some Christian group (that also is big into Right to Life while lobbying to be able to bash up their kids) thinks that this might damage the poor wee darlings' psyches or something.

Did I mention the book won an award a couple of years ago for young adult fiction?

Anyway, I went and bought it on Kindle.  And I'm happy to lend it to people because fuckem.


Sep. 4th, 2015

03:42 pm

So the whole 'looking for a new job' thing fell over for a while, first because I had to prioritise my health and reducing stress, and second because all of the jobs that actually interested me were paying $15,000-$20,000 less than my current salary.  Which would be ok, but it doesn't align with my life goals, or those of Dr Wheel.

Stuff about life goalsCollapse )

So that's a bit exciting, and may provide a chance for us to get with the lifestyle cost reduction and working less, a whole lot faster.


Sep. 1st, 2015

11:45 am - Shameless plug for my blog/site/tutorial thingy

About 18 months ago, I decided it was time to make a proper blog for my making stuff stuff, since it was getting to be such a big part of my life.  So I quietly set about figuring out how to use Wordpress, getting plugins and whatnot together, deciding on a style* and beginning to upload content.

Fact is I haven't even come close to uploading all the historical content I have, but I'm quite good at updating with my latest work so it has fairly regular posts and new pages being added all the time - particularly tutorials.

Here it is if you're interested - I Make Stuff.


My competition costume for Auckland Armageddon last year,
Saarebas from Dragon Age 2

That picture was published on the day my site had the most views ever, because it was featured on some obscure Italian cosplay site.  375 whole views! In one day!

I don't really look at the site stats very often, because I'm not out to make money, don't host any advertising, don't really promote it, and don't care all that much. It's more of a repository for my WIP shots and tutorials that I can  point people to when they ask me questions than anything else.  Despite that, it seems to consistently get about 40 unique visitors and about 60 views a day.  Not exactly fame or fortune, but given that I'm just some random cosplayer from Nowheresville, it's a little gratifying that people actually go look.

By far the most popular page is the tutorial for the Grey Warden costume (the costume in my icon, can be seen fully here).  Partly I think because it's the least obscure costume I've made, and partly because it was featured on CosplayTutorials.

And it's had over 11,000 visitors since I started it.  Again, I'm not about to start my own fan club, but it's nice to think people are getting something out of my ramblings.  I guess I'll keep doing it then.  And maybe one day if I open up commissions, it'll come in handy to have it be a little bit known among obscure nerds.

* I don't really have any style and my blog looks oldfashioned but I don't care.

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