Sunday, May 29, 2005

Is that sexy or what?

I got so sick of my blog looking like so many others, and the pink for links was really getting to me. So I finally did something about it. Whaddya think?

I'm particularly proud of the header. I hope I haven't infringed any copyrights with the images in the creation of it.

Bonus points if you can correctly name every image on the map and what city / country it's associated with. *

* Family members exempt.


Friday, May 27, 2005


My nephew, when he was four (he's now five, so I'm sure he doesn't do this anymore), would always feel the need for some space of his own on public transport. There would be only one free seat, and his mother would sit with him on her lap. And he would proceed to gently, but insistently, push the leg of the person next to him until they gave up and gave him their seat. To the intense embarrassment of my sister.

I was reminded of this tonight when I went to The Alley with a couple of friends, and there were no seats around the piano. We amused ourselves by wondering what would happen if we sidled up to people and gently, but insistently, pushed their leg.

Juvenile, I know.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005


So this friend of mine, who shall be known as GoatBoy for reasons that will soon become obvious, was drinking tequila with a 70-year old woman once (as you do), it might have been at a wedding or something. Anyway, when he woke up in the morning, the first thing he noticed was that he was half lying in a hammock. The second thing he noticed was that he had the 70-year old's phone number on a scrap of paper. The third thing he noticed was that a goat was trying to climb into the hammock with him.


And because this is a goat-themed post, it needs more than one story about goats. So here's something another friend sent me recently. This is the kind of exciting social life my friends in New Zealand have.

Had conversation with a goat. Didn't go well.
Me: So, you're a goat?
Goat: Maaaa
Me: Good, is it?
Goat: Maaaa
Me: Like some fruit?
Goat: Maaaa
On the whole I think I could have been more persuasive, less angsty.

And then there's that joke, how does it go? I think it's a teacher in a class, and she says: has anyone here ever felt a ghost's presence? Little Johnny puts up his hand. So then she asks: has anyone actually seen a ghost? Again little Johnny's hand shoots up. The teacher then asks: Has anyone touched a ghost? Little Johnny's hand stays in the air. The teacher whispers: Has anyone had sex with a ghost? Little Johnny nods enthusiastically and the teacher faints. Oh, says Little Johnny. Ghost. I thought you said Goat.

Like you couldn't see that punchline coming.



Saturday, May 21, 2005


So, absolutely yonks ago, for some unknown reason, I went along to garden centre to a seminar thingy about worm composting. I thought it kinda looked like fun, plus they have a scheme where worm bins are discounted for Alameda residents. So I ordered a worm bin. It arrived. It sat under the fussball table for months. Then it was winter and too cold to get worms. Then I moved house. Then one day I tried to buy some worms but the guy didn't have any available right then. If I remember correctly, he said: "Come back in March".

So then, one day in May (i.e., last weekend), I went and purchased a pound of worms. Red wrigglers, I believe they're called. Being the good little blogger I am, I took some photos.

Here is the worm bin. It has two more layers which the worms won't need for a while, so they're currently in my wardrobe storing wine. It will be a sad day when I have to drink all the wine just to let the worms have another layer.

The worm bin comes with a brick of coconut fibre, which you soak in warm water and it makes this wonderful mushy mush which the worms apparently adore.

Now the whole point in getting these worms is that they eat your rubbish. Mostly they eat fruit and vegetable scraps, but they also quite happily munch away on other assorted things including newspaper. Good little recyclers. So here is their first meal. Spinach stalks. Who's going to grow up to be a stwong widdle wormie then?

And here are the happy little worms when I first added them to the worm bin. There are apparently about 1000 worms in a pound, so I haven't named them all yet.

So far so good. Worms fed, watered, bedded down. You can't give them too much food at first, so I ignored them for a few days. Then on Monday night I lost my keys. I managed to get a spare for the house, but not for the garden gate. Tuesday it started raining, and I started worrying about my poor, starving, wet worms. On Wednesday I rang the neighbour, who is also the gardener, but she had just lost her key to the gate too. On Thursday I finally located a gate key, and feeling like a Very Bad Worm Mother indeed, I went to check on the worms.

They were perfectly happy.

So far their diet consists of spinach, asparagus, mushrooms, eggshells, teabags, melon rind and lots of coffee grinds. I'm trying to go easy on the coffee grinds. Do you think worms can get addicted to caffeine?


Thursday, May 19, 2005

For all time travellers

I heard about this a few days ago from GWWTG (Guy Who Went To Germany - and that's all I'm going to say about him for the time being), and then chanced upon it on the Best of Craigslist. With recommendations from these two impeccable sources I feel obliged to blog about it. On 7 May there was a Time Traveler Convention at MIT. [edit: link fixed]

Apparently the convention was a mixed success. They say "Unfortunately, we had no confirmed time travelers visit us, yet many time travelers could have attended incognito to avoid endless questions about the future".

The cool thing about this concept is that it is the First and Only Time Traveler Convention. You never need another!

Except, what if there's a competing and much cooler convention somewhere and sometime else, and you can only get funding to attend one. Huh?


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Is there anything anyone doesn't like about New Zealand?

Everyone always seems so enthusiastic when they learn I'm from New Zealand. And they never, ever have anything bad to say about it. Every other country I can think of has a "but":

- Scotland: great mountains, lovely castles, but the weather is crap
- Australia: fantastic weather, awesome beaches, but the PM is crap
- Colombia: beautiful scenery, friendly people, but the kidnappings and other assorted drug trade activities are crap
- Belgium: delicious chocolate and beer, but everything else about the country is pretty much crap (ok, maybe that's a bit unfair)

I'm sure you can fill in your own countries.

If people have been to NZ, they rave about the Bay of Islands, the glow worms, white water rafting, bungee jumping, sheep (not bungee jumping sheep mind you, but I'm sure that would also be something to rave about). If they haven't been, they rave about the Syrah and Lord of the Rings, and how much they want to go.

The only bad thing I can think of is that NZ is small (population-wise). And isolated. And it has Auckland.


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Mi casa

By popular request (ok, ok, The Composer asked), here is a photo comparison of my old house in Colombia with my current house in Berkeley. I just spent two and a half weeks at my old house, because some good friends of mine are now living there. I lived there for two years on and off (basically whenever I was in Colombia) and despite its quirks, it was a great house.

So first up, the bedroom. This is actually my old bedroom, but I had a better bed and some actual other furniture in there. I painted the door a couple of years ago, it has little gold stars and moons on it. There are still white marks on the wall where I had my glow in the dark kiwis stuck.

There are no more angles to take photos from in the bedroom. But there is a pretty cool view out the bedroom window. The house is at the end of a cobbled street in an artsy kind of neighbourhood. This first photo is looking towards the San Antonio hill. Unfortunately I was too lazy to actually go and take a photo of the beautiful church on top of the hill. The white house on the next block, known as La Casa Blanca (duh) has also tended to be a "foreigners' house", and I've stayed there a few times too. It has a fantastic party roof.

This is the view the other way. The street down there is a nasty busy street called la Circumvalacion. It's a nightmare to cross. I once had pretty blue flowers in that windowbox, but it seems the landlady pulled them out for some reason.

The bathroom. Again, hard to get a good shot. Especially as I was trying to avoid being in the mirror. One nice detail about this house is the cardboard furniture, made by the woman who lived there before me (and she's related to the landlady who lives downstairs, who isn't really the landlady, but she's who the rent gets paid to - but anyway, that's why the furniture is still there). The plumbing is incredibly scary - I'm sure The Editter still has bad memories of that toilet.

The shower is also quite scary. There tends to be no hot water in many homes. This isn't too big a deal in Cali, as it's usually quite hot. Even so, sometimes at least a warmish shower is nice. So this is the solution. An insta-heat shower head. Yep, let's connect live elecricity to where the water comes out and then stand underneath it. Definitely an incentive for quick showers.

The dining room. Dining corner. Space in the house where the table happens to be. It's actually quite nice because you can open the window and get a nice breeze coming through. Notice the hats. I'm not sure what to say about them, so just notice them.

Here's a detail of the window. Nice cardboard thingy. One of the things I really liked about the house when I first saw it.

Here's the lounge. Ok, space in the house where the sofa happens to be. There are two stereos because we'd just had a party, so had to borrow one that actually works properly. If you stand in the right place (a little to the left - back a bit - stop) you can see the Tres Cruces (three crosses) through the hole in the wall. I've never managed to get a photo of it. But it looks cool, trust me.

The kitchen isn't quite as dingy as this photo makes it look. But it is small. And that shelf on the wall is crooked, yes. And the sink leaks. And the stove gives you electric shocks sometimes. The door on the left leads to the stairs which lead up to the little rooftop patio. I used to have a hammock up there, that was nice.

On the patio is also what serves as the laundry. This photo makes it look absolutely disgusting. It's not really. But it is just a sink outside where the maid washes everything by hand. Luckily maids are relatively cheap. Still.

I can't end with that laundry shot, so here's another nice part of the house. The little nook with plants. Behind the plants is completely open to the outside so the neighbours can look straight in and when it rains it can get quite flooded. And you can hear the downstairs neighbour (landlady) singing, quite badly, quite often. But aside from all that, it's quite nice to have that open to the outside thing going on.

And that's it folks. Just a wee bit different to my current home.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Three things

Three things I miss about Colombia:
1. Spectacular thunder
2. Patacones ("flattened plantain", according to the translation on the packet)
3. Everything being so damn cheap

Three intriguing things in the Sky Mall catalogue on the plane:
1. The Swiss Army knife with inbuilt flash drive
2. The fake rock to "hide landscaping problems" in one's garden
3. The pet roll-aboard bag (it's not for the pet's belongings, the pet goes in it, in case you were confused)

Three unexpected pleasures about being back in Berkeley
1. The toilet flushes on first go (you don't even want to know)
2. It's light out until 8.30pm
3. My inner elbow eczema has completely disappeared

Three people added to my blogroll
1. The Editter (get that blog rolling)
2. Cesca
3. Whateva Sista

Three things I plan to do now I'm back in Berkeley
1. Blog more
2. Start hapkido again
3. Get worms for my worm bin


Monday, May 09, 2005

Things that are difficult to say when drunk

(Courtesy of a very old email from the Editter that I knew I kept for a reason)









British Constitution

Passive-aggressive disorder

Loquacious Transubstantiate


Thanks, but I don't want to have sex

Nope, no more booze for me

Sorry, but you're not really my type

Good evening officer, isn't it lovely out tonight

Oh, I just couldn't. No one wants to hear me sing

Thursday, May 05, 2005

On being a citizen of the world

I was talking the other day with a friend about the implications of living internationally - being someone whose work allows them to live in all kinds of places around the globe. Which on the whole is pretty damn cool, I must admit. I get paid to go to places like Laos and Costa Rica. I have friends all over the world. I get to live in new and exciting places.

But the downside is not having a base. I'm getting tired of moving all the time, and living out of a suitcase loses its charm. My friend met this guy at a conference a few years ago who was about to retire, and he was saying how it sucks retiring to your home country when you haven't lived there for the last 30 odd years - you have no existing social networks, probably no house even. And while having friends all over the world is cool, it also means there's lots of friends you don't see for ages sometimes.

I'm not complaining mind you. Just observing.

This is why I'm trying to make Berkeley my home now. But it really could be just about anywhere else. And chances are immigration kicks me out at the end of the year anyway. Sigh.