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Tactical Ninja

May. 24th, 2016

07:54 pm - So I read Wuthering Heights

Short book reviews by Tats: Wuthering Heights

Half way point: Pretty much all of the protagonists are insufferable. Heathcliff holds the intergalactic record for Epic Brooding and has zero redeeming features.

Curious how it'll manage to salvage a happy ending from here.

Also, I still want to live on a moor. Despite Heathcliff.

At the end: Ok so it seems whichever Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights was a bit obsessed with folks going mad and dying of TB. But the ending was nice and tidy, cousin-marriages notwithstanding.

Heathcliff can eat a bag of dicks though.

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May. 13th, 2016

01:00 pm

Today is my last day of work. As of not very long from now, I'll be unemployed for two whole days. I'm inordinately excited about this.

On Monday I start learning about water reticulation for public supply. By the end of the contract I'll know exactly what's involved in it but still won't be able to do it. Such is the nature of my work.

Meanwhile, Osteodude has cleared me to start doing range of motion exercises with small kettlebells. I went to buy a 2kg and a 4kg and discovered that the tiniest weights are always pink. So now I have a teeny pink kettlebell and I felt like a right knob carrying it through town. I wanted to shout "I can do pullups, honest!" But naturally nobody else gives a fuck about my pink kettlebell paranoia because the only universe I'm the centre of is my own, so nobody actually noticed, never mind judged.

But still, why are the smallest weights always pink?

May. 10th, 2016

03:18 pm

Tuesday of my last week of work, and staying focused on anything is a struggle.

I got the meeting invitation for the first meeting in my new place of work today, and as it turns out their meeting rooms are named after native trees, just like here.

Please tell me your workplace has more original meeting room names! Like, how about Greek Gods? "Yes, big stakeholder meeting in the Hades Room today."

*ahem*

May. 5th, 2016

03:52 pm

Today in Wellington it is raining properly for the first time since January. We've had rain (c'mon, this is New Zealand!) but last weekend when I dug over my garden for winter I was digging to fork depth and not striking damp soil. This is almost unheard of.

You betcha I'm saving seeds from the plants that survived this! Climate change, it's real yo!

Meanwhile, Wellington is hilly as. I mean, some houses are built using helicopters to deliver the materials hilly. And after four months with no penetrating rain, we are now experiencing a deluge that had me arriving at work with boots full of water, hair plastered to my head and my shirt a piebald mishmash of wet and dry bits - and that's from walking for half an hour in it wearing my kayaking gear and a builder's raincoat. What this usually means is that the hills will start slipping. Luckily the topsoil here is thin, so it's unlikely any houses will go with it, but what normally happens is that the Hutt motorway closes and traffic mayhem ensues.

It hasn't happened yet, but I bet by tomorrow morning it will have somewhere.

And over on the Twitters, the Taranaki St Puddle is having a fieldday.

Me, I've opted out of dance class in favour of home, pjs and a blankie. Sometimes you just have to

May. 3rd, 2016

02:48 pm - Body dysmorphia, it's a thing

It really is - it even has its own disorder label.

I don't have it. At least, not to the extent that it'd be called a disorder. That wiki entry talks about thinking you're severely flawed and taking exceptional measures and stuff like that. That's totally not me. But I think many of us do have pretty skewed visions of what we look like.

I mean, at it's most basic I'm always surprised how I look in photos because when I look in the mirror what I see is the mirror image of what I actually look like. When I see a photo, my face looks different from what I expect. I mean, I still recognise myself but it's just.. slightly off from what I think I look like.

Then there's the other part where women in particular tend to have a skewed idea of what their body looks like. We're taught from day one that much of our value is in how we look and that there's an ideal we're supposed to strive to meet, that's mostly achieved by judicious application of makeup and photoshop combined with having streak-o'-weasel-piss genes and some starvation thrown in for good measure. Basically it's impossible for most women to look the way we're told we should look if we want to be valued.

Fun!

Not.

Anyway, being aware of this doesn't convey instant immunity, and most of us being more on the normal side in terms of fitting somewhere other than emaciated 'perfection' on the extremely broad spectrum of body shapes, we tend to see ourselves as, well, less than perfect.

So I think everyone thinks they have flaws, and certainly in my experience the view from above my nose down my body doesn't give me the most flattering perspective.

Cut for literal navel gazingCollapse )

I don't know if it'll last but right now it's quite nice to have an objective reality check for my skewed idea of my own body, what it looks like, and what it can do. I think that was a very worthwhile exercise.

/self indulgent navel gazing

May. 2nd, 2016

09:56 am

OK so now I am more than half way to 90. Neato! So far it's going pretty well. :)

I was born on Beltane, in England. Here, it's Samhain, the day of the dead, Summer's End, etc etc. Being born on pagan festival days is how we roll in my family.

So anyway, I spent the weekend tidying up the garden and getting it ready for winter, pulling out spent vegies and planting winter greens, dumping sheep shit on the dug-over, sad-looking summer soil, and planting bulbs.

Bulbs!

Every year I plant bulbs in a huff, grumbling about the lack of instant gratification and the digging and the number of them that've gone soft in their cupboard over the summer. Every year I spend about $30 buying some new ones. This year, $30 bought me 20 daffodil bulbs (the standard ones with an orange middle bit and yellow around), and 15 tulips in different colours. The first year these new bulbs go in pots on the balcony, then they get lifted and replanted the following year in the garden to naturalise. I'm slowly getting to the point where the garden is a mass of pretty every spring, and every spring I'm thankful that I put on my boots and went out in the dim light of Samhain to bung a bunch of bulbs in.

WHAT IS THIS DELAYED GRATIFICATION THING AM I BECOMING A GROWNUP OH SHIT THAT'S RIGHT I AM 46 NOW

*cough*

Also I bought and downloaded Creedence Clearwater Revival and JJ Cale albums for my birthday, because I'm classy like that.

May. 1st, 2016

02:30 pm - And now for something completely different

The monsters have taken up acro yoga. They've seen all the videos online and wanted to make one, so over summer they nicked the car and went on an acro yoga roadtrip. This is the result.



Monsters - totally more spiritual than you.

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Apr. 27th, 2016

02:32 pm - Couple more, mostly because I like the pencil one

And because not a lot else is happening. I'm back training but it's sporadic and I have to be super careful not to hurt myself again because I'm kind of not good at moderation.  Anyway...

Moar Tats in her undiesCollapse )


Normal programming will resume shortly, in which I am counting the days till I start my new job because I'm excited about such a positive change, while being a little *meep* and a bit of "Oh I will miss my lovely workmates."

But I'm only 5 minutes down the road and I've told them they should give me a ring if they need someone to make up a word for them.

Today's made-up word: uniqueitude.

Apr. 22nd, 2016

11:03 am - Results from photo session

Next weekend I'll be 46. I hope to still be able to do this when I'm 76.

DSC_3212

More pictures of me being upside down while wearing not many clothesCollapse )

Apr. 20th, 2016

10:46 am - Bicycle Day

Quote from a friend:

"YOLO"
- Dr Albert Hofmann April 20th 1943

For those who don't know, today is the day that the man who synthesised LSD for the first time did an experiment on himself that would change the world. He had some inkling that his molecule was psychoactive after having experienced some effects from accidental absorption through the skin. He thought that 250 micrograms would be a pretty safe starting dose to explore this further (apparently experimenting on yourself was pretty common in those times). Normally he'd be right, but LSD was something new and different.

Here is his account of what happened nextCollapse )

Apparently Albert Hoffman took LSD many, many more times in his lifetime. He lived to over 100 years old and was lucid till the day he died. For 50 years, his problem child has been listed as one of the supposedly most dangerous substances known - Schedule 1 in the UN Conventions, claiming high potential for abuse with no medical benefits. In that time there have been no deaths that are attributable to LSD. There have been many deaths that were *claimed* to be caused by LSD, but none of them stand up to scrutiny. Likewise, the common myths associated with it:

- staring into the sun until you go blind
- thinking you can fly
- acid casualties

are also unsupported by evidence. In fact, when ranked for level of harm against 20 other drugs by a panel of experts in the UK a few years ago, LSD ranked 18th*, below cannabis, ecstasy, and khat.

Now, research is finally being allowed again. It's being looked at as a potential therapeutic aid for end-of-life anxiety in terminal patients**, and most recently, images of brains on LSD are finally beginning to reveal how it has such a profound impact on our perceptions.

I think Albert Hoffman would be pleased to know that his problem child is finally getting some understanding, and it makes me a little sad that he didn't quite live to see it.

* mushrooms were 20th
** I would have loved for my mother to have had access to this in her final year with pancreatic cancer. Instead they gave her benzos for her anxiety and she crashed her car because of them, which took away her confidence and was the catalyst to her final downward spiral. She stopped driving, became completely housebound, and gave up. LSD may have helped her retain her identity for longer.

Apr. 18th, 2016

10:19 am - In which I rock the false eyelashes like a boss

Now that it's had time to sink in, I'm still utterly stoked to have a new job. I know I've got a bunch of work to do to sort out how contracting works financially and set it all up so it's straightforward and minimum hassle, but the feeling of being free is really quite something.

One of the things I need is a laptop, because I'll be working remotely a lot of the time. Before I went looking for one, I set myself some parameters based on the bare minimum one needs for the type of work I'll be doing. Then I threw them out the window and bought a gaming capable machine. Because I have that much self control.

Actually it was mostly because once I ticked of all the 'must have' boxes (17" screen, min 4G memory, full size keyboard, at least 1TB storage), it was only another $200 for the same machine but with quad core CPU, 1920 x 1080 resolution, backlit keyboard, dedicated graphics, and 12G memory (which is only 4G less than my desktop gaming machine). So yeah, I was convinced by the shiny.

Must.Not.Install.Inquisition...

Yesterday I did a photoshoot for my birthday. It's not actually my birthday yet but in a couple of weeks I'll be 46. I think I'm pretty tidy for 46 and I wanted to capture some pics of me doing hard stuff because this injury* has made me realise I probably won't be able to be this active forever, and I wanted to record the fact that once upon a time I could do a split grip pencil from handspring for posterity.

Doing this involved false eyelashes. I've tried false eyelashes a number of times in the past and never managed to successfully get them to stick. This time I persisted and after 4 goes they were a) stuck on fully, and b) somewhere near my eyes. Job done! They really do make achieving the panda eyes look a lot easier, however they also leave behind gummy bits on your eyes. Apparently you can get this off with makeup remover, but I didn't know makeup remover was even a thing until someone told me about it last night. I have always used cold cream because of mostly only having used makeup for performance.

Anyway, we did some serious shots and some really silly cheesy ones. If any of them come out looking the way I always dreamed (ie I manage to look muscular, athletic, skilled, and also pretty and not at all red in the face*), I'll post them here.

* Turns out it originated back in 2010 when Smudge the gigantic sheep slammed me up against a wall, and it'll probably never be 100% so I'm going to have to work on strengthening all the little muscles around it to keep doing what I'm doing.

** I read some things about sports photoshoots to prepare, and I'm told that you get both sweaty because hard work, and red-faced because upside down. So you need quite thick makeup that won't run when you sweat. I have no idea how I did at this. I probably know the least about makeup of all the western ladies ever.

Apr. 12th, 2016

02:38 pm

Dr Wheel has been in Americaland for a week, and he's going to be there for another week. I miss him.

Y'all take care of him OK?

Apr. 7th, 2016

09:29 am - Grounded

I have damaged my AC joint (the one in your shoulder where the collarbone attaches to the shoulder blade). I had a separation injury there years ago and it's come back to haunt me now I'm doing a lot more upper body based activity.  The upshot is I'm grounded for two weeks and I have to apply voltaren topically 8 times a day, and ice it for 5 minutes twice per hour.

5 minutes twice per hour is a lot of icing when you're at work.  I have a cold pack rotation going and it's definitely helping, but I'm sure I'll  be over it by next week. Hopefully after that I'll be able to start doing things again.

Meanwhile, I had an interview yesterday for a job I actually want.  I think it went ok, there was laughing and I felt like I established rapport, but you never know with these things because everyone plays their cards close to their chest and I guess I'll know by the end of next week.

I'm having an interaction with one of the Wellington city councillors who wants to ban begging.  Being fairly well versed in the issues surrounding prohibitions, I asked her what support she had for the notion that banning begging will actually stop begging.  She answered something along the lines of 'strong leadership and extra resources'  - which implies she didn't understand the question. So I asked again:

"Yes but how will banning it actually stop it from happening? Do you have evidence that shows this will work? How will you evaluate success?"

So far she hasn't answered. I don't think she's put any thought into it to be honest. Prohibiting things *seems* like common sense, but it doesn't take much examination to expose the flaws in this line of thinking. Like how people for whom the social contract has already failed are unlikely to suddenly decide they need to stay entirely within the law.  Like how when you criminalise people they avoid authority, and in this case the agents of authority are the ones through whom they can access the services they need.  Like how the reason the number of beggars has grown is because inequality has grown.

Sweeping people under the rug leads to dead bodies in alleyways, and I don't think that's a step forward frankly.

But maybe she'll answer, with a comprehensive, well-thought-out plan for how this will work and how they will know it's worked.  And maybe I'll get offered a six-figure salary to do harm reduction work.

pig-flying

Mar. 31st, 2016

11:31 am - Be good to yourself, they say

I was asked the other day why I'm so hard on myself, and it's got me thinking about what  being hard on yourself actually means.

Because I"m not necessarily sure it"s a bad thingCollapse )

So yeah, basically, if I wasn't so hard on myself, I'd be an arsehole with no friends, no achievements, and a very unhealthy body. In fact I'd probably be dead.

Naturally, if there is a way of achieving this without being so hard on myself and you know it, I'm all ears.

Mar. 24th, 2016

08:54 am

Yesterday I woke up from fear-of-abandonment dreams to the news about the bombings in Brussels and the knowledge that last week's ones in Turkey had been almost completely ignored by the media, and people arguing on the internet about which warmonger was the best one to lead the country that does the most bombing of other countries, and it was all a bit pants.

It was also 23 degrees. Apparently New Zealand has turned into Bali. My pole class went as predicted when you're literally running with sweat - I couldn't actually stick to the pole at all and everything I tried ended up with me in an undignified heap on the floor. Except handsprings, which are the hardest thing I know how to do. Luckily they still worked because otherwise I may have just gone home in frustration.

And then there was this, which made my day. Happy is into leg pressing ladies these days, in case you didn't know.

double side star

Mar. 23rd, 2016

09:15 am

Whenever there's an election in the US, the rest of us get bombarded with commentary about it. This doesn't happen the other way around. John Oliver is about the only person who notices when anything non-Hobbit-related happens in New Zealand, and it matters not a whit who our leader is because we don't have a significant impact on the conditions for the rest of the world.

Sadly, it's not like that the other way around. What happens in US elections does affect the rest of us, and even if we didn't care, the internet is so US-centric that we get all the commentary anyway.

The commentary I am reading is not making me confident that we'll be ok after y'all vote later this year.

I know there are probably not a lot of Trump supporters on my flist, but if you are considering voting for him, please consider that when someone talks about bombing the shit out of other countries, there are people in those other countries who will die if they follow through. I know NZ isn't likely to be on any list of Countries To Bomb, but the flow-on effects of the US's record of bombing the shit out of other countries hit here. My city has a whole suburb made up of people who've turned up here because their country was being bombed by the US.

Trump isn't the only one advocating continuing to bomb other countries, he's just the loudest.

I read a bunch of commentary this morning from people who are anti-Trump, which was essentially flinging insults at his supporters, calling them everything from neckbeards to 'whores and morons'. Now, I really really don't want that guy to be the leader of a country that has the power to affect my life, but the people supporting the alternatives who are making these comments seem no better. And if it's people like that who turn out to vote in a democracy* then it's people like that who'll be leading the US, regardless of what colour they wear.

It is entirely unsurprising to me that Justin Trudeau is so popular with people outside of the US and Canada. By comparison to pretty much every other politician we see news about**, he's a fricking saint. And really, all he's doing is meeting what I'd consider to be the minimum standards for a decent human being.

Surely being a decent human being should be the minimum standard for being allowed to stand for election?

* Yes I know there are plenty of folks who'll happily tell me the US isn't really a democracy any more. We can have that discussion another day ok? I'm venting.

** Bernie Sanders also appears to be pretty decent, but a lot of the really gross commentary I've seen about Trump supporters has come from his supporters - which doesn't bode well.

Mar. 22nd, 2016

09:35 am - If you are female, you are feminine. End of story

On changing beauty standards and feminine muscularity. Also on how despite our best intentions, skinny female athletes generally get paid more than muscular ones.


Hawt


Although I'm a bit weirded out by the hyperextension of her knee joints in this pic.

Anyway, yeah. I'm not Serena Williams level of muscular, but I build muscle fairly easily and have overdeveloped triceps from years of dagging sheep. I've always had muscular shoulders and I like them, I consider them to be my best feature. I can honestly say nobody's ever accused me of being unfeminine because of my shoulders, and I completely fail to understand why anyone would want to be anything but as athletic as they can be.

I have heard of women who won't use heavy weights at the gym because they are afraid of getting too muscly. That's mostly a myth - you have to have some pretty special genetics or use steroids to get heavily muscled as a woman. Most women will just develop shape to their muscles rather than size - they'll look strong but not like The Hulk. And I spend a lot of time with women who routinely push, pull, and lift their own bodyweight. That photo I posted yesterday is of two women who spend 3-4 hours a day doing this.

I dare anyone to tell them they aren't feminine.

Mar. 21st, 2016

08:28 am - You may have see this going around

Photographer doing amazing underwater shots of circus arts.

One of the photos in the series is of the two main instructors at the studio I train at:



Giada and Maree, doing their thing underwater like it ain't no thing. It's worth looking at the rest of them too.

Mar. 18th, 2016

07:29 pm - For those not in NZ, P is the kiwi word for methamphetamine

Cold damp homes, not P, the health culprit, says academic.

Fwiw, I think the headline is misleading. Cold and damp homes hurt far more kids' health (won't anybody think of the children?), but P contamination still exists and is a problem worth addressing.

Of course people do it in private houses for the same reason that people who are struggling with P don't come forward - it's Class A and that means possession is 6 months and $1000, manufacture is life. Life in NZ generally means at least 10 years.

P is a drug of poor people, and the laws around it make it easy to keep people poor. Neoliberal economics requires inequality, a desperate underclass that is easy to exploit to keep the cost of business down.

It bothers me that this happens because I know from my study that the poor are not using more drugs, they are just being disproportionately punished for doing what the middle class can afford to do with fewer consequences through having access to more expensive and less harmful drugs.

Mar. 16th, 2016

09:11 am

Last week:
In a meeting with stakeholders, two women and one man. Man starts making 'kitchen' and 'know your place' jokes. Other woman and I try to give as good as we get but he gets the last word because the only step left is to actually call him out on being offensive and.. stakeholder.

This week:
Two men sitting at a table near my desk discussing how many 'females' are needed to create gender balance in an invitation-only event. I cringe inwardly every time they say 'females' but say nothing because at least they are trying for gender balance, and also because it would be rocking the boat in the workplace.

I'm sure there are people out there who will happily tell me what I should've done, but the fact is that I shouldn't have to be thinking about what I should've done, this crap should not still be happening, and I should be able to call it out without it being a problem.

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