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Archive for April, 2008

I got up earlier this morning so I could go on the computer and send a couple of emails with photos, but just after I switched the kettle on for a cup of tea the power went off.  The lodger hadn’t retrieved any bread from the freezer and I didn’t trust the yoghurt, so my breakfast was a glass of juice and a “muesli bar” (there’s nothing healthy about those things they are so full of sugar and sickeningly sweet).

I sat calmly thinking on how dependent we are on power.  I couldn’t boil water.  I couldn’t watch breakfast TV (if I wanted to, that is).  I couldn’t use the computer.  I went into my bedroom to retrieve something and automatically reached for the power switch (it’s getting darker in the mornings) but of course, no light.  Everything we do is dependent on electricity.  If the power goes down at work, we basically have nothing to do.  It really is shocking.  We’ve become a species of animal dependent on one resource and when that resource is no more, we’re in big trouble.  And yet we blithely continue as normal, changing nothing.

At least I could clean myself.  We still had water.  Then as I closed my bedroom door to head out to work, the power came back on.  Huh.

The clouds drew apart revealing the sun and it was a very pleasant non-rushed journey to work.  The autumn leaves were highlighted and looked absolutely wonderful.  It was one of those moments when you felt very appreciative of being alive and able to enjoy it.  I thought any number of those scenes would make a lovely photograph.  But there was nowhere to stop.  So often as I drive around New Zealand I see a view that deserves to be captured, but there’s nowhere you can stop to take a photo.  Even on the Desert Road past Mounts Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, there are very few places to stop in order to take a photo.  I find that rather astonishing.  There have been a number of times that I’ve seen a coach parked precariously on the side of the road so the tourists can take photos.  It wouldn’t take a lot to provide safe places to pull over.  Then you see numerous posters about pulling over if you feel tired.  Where?  The rest areas are few and far between and usually on the opposite side of the road.  Nope, the only way you can get a good photo from a New Zealand highway is if you’re walking or cycling.  Good luck with that!

Our lives are controlled in such “small” ways – we can only go where we’re directed and there are few alternatives for which you have to pay dearly.

Here endeth my morning’s musings.  Now the time has actually come to start work!

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I just read a little article on the back of the latest Times Higher Education magazine which tickled my fancy.  (There were no other interesting magazines around at the time I had coffee).

A psychology lecturer was walking along the coast in England when his bag of 140-odd first year student projects was snatched by the wind and went tumbling over a cliff.  That wasn’t the first time such a thing had happened to him.  On a previous occasion a knapsack of 150 2nd year student projects was snatched by an eagle.  I laughed out loud.

Perhaps he should stop going for walks with his marking?  He’ll have a reputation now.  I can imagine the jibes back at the university.  People will start disbelieving him, thinking he’s trying to get out of marking!  I hope the students had backup copies.

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Music in the workplace

I had a drum beat rhythm in my head and tapped it out on my desk at work.  It was then I got thinking – “I wish I had a job which involved listening to music” and then thought “or even just allowed to listen to music at the workplace”.  Just imagine how much more pleasant it’d be instead of sitting in the relative silence of an air-conditioned room with only the creaking of chairs and the tapping of keyboards.  Of course if everyone played their music it would be a bit cacophanous (is that a word?) but if colleagues agreed to a type of music you could play it quietly in the background.  I’d love it.  I’m sure there are many places of work where you’re permitted to listen to music through ipods, etc, but not my line of work.  Even if I didn’t have to serve customers there are places I’ve worked with no contact with customers at all where you were not permitted to listen to music – it’s regarded as too distracting.  Far from it, I say.  It would calm you when feeling stressed.  It would get you through a particularly dull batch of work.  You’d be way more productive in my opinion.  Oh well.  I can only wait until I get to my car then turn on the stereo.  In the meantime there’s the dull silence as it darkens outside.

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Mourning the trees

I’m not happy at all this morning at work.  This morning there are men outside with chainsaws chopping down beautiful gum trees.  I love gum trees – they remind me of Australia.  I loathe the sound of chainsaws.  One of the trees just came crashing down and my heart plummeted as if watching the death of an animal.  It can get very windy on the hill here and those trees were a windbreak.  I wonder if the wind will break the glass door again…

They seem to be fond of chopping down trees lately.  But NZers seem to hate trees – like they’re a constant threat.  The trees “get too big” and there seems to be a fear that the trees will fall down in a big wind… or something!  (Yet even with a huge cut at the base that tree didn’t want to come down no matter how hard the tractor pulled.)  Or they’re “too messy – too many leaves”.  For goodness’ sake!  (I’m screaming silently.) 

My father disliked this Kiwi tendency to chop down trees.  He used to say about New Zealanders that their dictum was “If it moves, shoot it, if it grows, cut it down”.  He’s not wrong.  I do notice when I travel overseas that there are more trees everywhere.  Here, the landscape is mostly barren.  NZ is always made out to be beautiful but the pictures that appear on those glossy posters are of the same landmarks in one tiny corner of NZ.  The rest is bare paddocks and barren towns of boring architecture.  The only thing that’s “green” is the grass.

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I’ve found another website

I started reading an interesting book called “Net, Blogs and Rock ‘n’ Roll” about digital music.  It mentioned a couple of websites in the first chapter – www.allmusic.com and www.last.fm.  I didn’t find the first website at all useful for music I searched for – it was decidedly lacking, but last.fm is brilliant!  I’ve been browsing this site now for over an hour and it’s wonderful for listening to excerpts of albums you might buy and listening to similar artists and finding more new music.  And they all play automatically without constant clicking.  Up until now I’ve used sites like Amazon or CDbaby to find new music similar to music I already like but this site is even better.  So now I can listen to more of the music I’ve enjoyed at the WOMAD festivals I’ve been to and find more German rock.  Brilliant!  The trouble is finding copies to buy.  I’ve ordered a couple of CDs off Amazon but there’s often a delay for international artists.  This was the case with Huun Huur Tu last year and the same with Titi Robin this year, which just makes me want to download stuff earlier so I can listen to it NOW.  Naturally local CD stores do not stock much in the way of international music but ‘Borders’ in Wellington were pretty good.  I found quite a few artists from past WOMADs there, but not, of course, the ones I wanted.

I saw a cheap MP3 player on Friday.  I was tempted to buy one but haven’t until now because I don’t really listen to music much away from the house where I can use the stereo.  But then I thought I could play all the wonderful music I’m now finding while out gardening or just reading a book and cover up the awful sound of the neighbour’s ghastly music which he loves to play in the weekend – ruining my peace when I sit outside with a coffee and book.  So, I might just go back and buy it.

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But he always lurks in the background – in the shadows so I don’t notice him.  It coincides with the shortening days and the cooler, wetter weather signalling the beginning of the longest period of the year – from autumn to spring it’s basically winter – always cold and always wet.  But of course it’s not just the weather.

I was feeling irritable on Saturday then surprised myself at over-reacting (negatively) to a disappointing email from a friend then felt depressed and grumpy for the rest of the weekend.  Someone rang one evening “Is Mrs … there?”  I was so grumpy I said “no” and hung up.  I’m not a Mrs and anyone who knows me knows that – it was mostly likely a telemarketer.  The phone rang again.  I hung up.  The phone rang once again.  I hung up and left the phone off the hook.  I was NOT in the mood for a phone call no matter who it was.  If it was important or business-related they can contact me during work hours or email!

I haven’t slept well either.  Part of my grumpiness can be explained by another period – they haven’t abandoned me yet.  It’s quite astonishing (to me) that they affect my mood so greatly.  All these years I had assumed that it was just who I was when it’s now obvious I am very definitely short-tempered just before my period.  You’re thinking, good god that’s not news to anyone, particularly men.  But I can’t remember not having bouts of grumpiness and depression from childhood onwards.

Anyway, that also only partly explains my current state.

My fun boss has left (moved on to another job)  leaving just me and another staff member (who doesn’t have the same sense of humour).  I’m now working on my own for much of the day with the gloom outside and it’s rather miserable.  There’s a prospective new boss who is nice but it’ll be a month or two before she starts.  I’m job-hunting anyway because I desperately need a better-paying position.  Absolutely everything has gone up in price and my salary has stayed stagnant.   On top of that I’m having to pay for the use of two cars (mine and my daughter’s as she drives to her art course every day).

Ho hum.

I had an unexpected visitor on Sunday afternoon as I was watching a documentary about Wal-mart.  I usually only see her once a year at about Christmas time at a pre-arranged Xmas get-together.  It’s typical isn’t it, that I was feeling depressed and hadn’t got around to finishing the housework, so there was art stuff on the table, unwashed dishes, un-mown grass out the back (yes she had a nosey and looked) and beer bottles cluttering the kitchen.  I can just imagine the gossip when she catches up with others who know me – she, of course, being one of these active women on the go 24 hours a day – has two jobs and also manages to redecorate her house and build a brick wall in her garden, not to mention keeping the garden and lawns under control.  I just don’t have the energy.  Just thinking of all she does exhausts me.  But do I care?  Not a wit.

Time to get ready for work.  There’s enough to do but it’s just rather lonely and I do miss the (now) ex-boss.  We had similar tastes and interests and the day went quickly.  Now it drags and I can’t wait to get home…

I’d rather just stay home and let the tears flow.

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