Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Jewellery Wednesday

I wanted to post a photo of the earrings that I made for the Editter once. I know there is a photo somewhere, because I distinctly remember her lying down on the floor in an airport somewhere with the earrings resting on her dark coloured top so that I could get a good photo. We got some excellent stares from passersby, too.

Anyway, so this is one of my first pieces - I'd been carrying this little piece of amethyst around for ages and hadn't known what to do with it. My teacher called this one my Mage's Ring.

Look at the wonky little star. I'm so not a perfectionist. I am rather fond of it.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Officially, I do not exist

So first of all I somehow fell through the cracks in the university system. I found out the other day that I do not officially exist in the system.

But even better, is the fact that I do not officially reside anywhere. I've just been confirmed as a non-resident of NZ. But I'm also not a resident of the US, because that would involve a) marrying Gerard Depardieu* to get a Green Card, b) a little trip to Chinatown and some money changing hands all hush hush (so I've heard) or c) winning the Green Card lottery. No, as far as the US is concerned I'm on Scholar Exchange. It's just not clear where I'm being exchanged from (or what I've been exchanged with, perhaps).

This all has rather good tax implications for me, so I'm not complaining.

Maybe I'll just buy a People's Republic of Berkeley t-shirt and wait for California to secede.


*[edit] I just realised this wouldn't work. I would in fact have to Andi McDowell. Gross.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A parade and some wine, what more could one want?

This morning was the annual San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. I only found out about it at the last minute, and we already had a day in wine country planned, but decided to check out the parade first before heading out of the city.

We decided to meet at 10am in the city, as the parade was starting at 10.30. It was me, two ex housemates both of which I lived with for 2 weeks (one moved out on me, I moved out on the other one) and a friend of ex-hm #1.

At 10.30 or so I arrived in the city. We met up. We had coffee. We had snacks. We stuffed around. At 11.15 we decided we should really check out the parade.

We possibly should have gone earlier. We completely missed the Dykes on Bikes and evidently all the good floats too. A lot of the floats we saw looked something like this:

And there seemed to be a lot of political ones (more power to them for supporting gay pride, but it's not the most scintillating theme for a float), and a particularly embarrassing Wells Fargo bank one ("You can be proud of us because we are proud of you" - something like that).

I did kind of like this guy on stilts though. He looked even better when he was right in front of me but my camera is a bit finicky and decided not to work until he was already leaving. Oh well. But look how thin the crowd is. It was a bit disappointing. But maybe the party was happening further down in the Castro.

And then there were these really cool people dressed up as tamales. Oh hang on, that might have been a parade thingy we had at work in Colombia once. Now that was trippy.

Then we left the city and drove up to Napa and visited four wineries. It was wonderful, the wine was good (I bought some Syrah and some Zinfandel), we managed to pick cute little wineries with (mostly) friendly staff and (mostly) generous tastings, and a good time was had by all. I completely forgot I had my camera until this moment: the bridge that costs an outrageous $5 to drive across.

And that was the day.

I *heart* the Bay Area.


Friday, June 24, 2005

Australian sons and ostriches*

I'm sick of looking at that green and orange map already. So I need to post something to bump it down.

The Edittor just posted on living in different places, including Australia. So far I've lived in 7 different countries on 4 different continents (for the purposes of sounding more impressive South and North America are separate continents), and am now trying to figure out where to go next.

My contract in Berkeley expires at the end of this year. I'm in the middle of discussing options, searching for funding, and applying for academic positions. In no particular order, the places I could end up next year are:
  • Berkeley, CA, USA
  • Cali, Colombia
  • Vientiane, Laos
  • Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Los Banos, Philippines
  • Regional Australia
  • Perth, WA, Australia

The thing is, if either of the Australia options work out, they would be long term (for me, long term means more than 2 years). Am I ready for that kind of commitment to Australia? I lived in Perth for 2 years on and off, and there's certainly aspects of it I could get very used to - swimming in the Indian Ocean in summer, for example.

I thought that this move to Berkeley a year ago was the beginning of me stopping in one place, at least for a while, but it seems perhaps not. The thing is, right now it's not a matter of making a decision, it's a matter of seeing what pans out.

If you could choose any of the places I've listed to live for 2 years, where would you choose?


*The beginning of the Australian national anthem (actually: "Australians all let us rejoice").

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Art Wednesday

This is kind of random. I meant to post more jewellery, and I will. But I made this image by mistake this morning, and I kind of like it.

It's a species suitability map for tropical and subtropical Americas, but I didn't write the code properly for the oceans. Hmmm, I could do a series of these... Or is that just a bit too geeky?


Tuesday, June 21, 2005


So I finally have a bloggies badge. In the end I had to make my own, because someone who shall remain nameless forgot to make me one. So I went with the exclusive paua design and am rather pleased with the result. Although I have yet to make the bloggies ratings, I feel that creating my own badge (and such a pretty one) shows a level of commitment and... wait, are the judges even reading this?

In other Kiwiana-related news, there is, of all things, a restaurant in Alameda called The New Zealander. Who would have thought? I went there about a month ago with some friends, but was at a loss to prepare them for what kiwi cuisine is all about. It's kind of cute actually. They serve marmite and cheese sandwiches and mince and cheese pies and sausage rolls. And other stuff. They claim to have baby moa sandwiches, but it's actually chicken. They did have a rather wonderful pavlova. I'm wondering whether there are any other NZ restaurants out there?

And the other week I was strolling through the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park (on my way to see the bison, as you do) and came across the New Zealand section. It was just like being on a bushwalk! There were ferns and pohutukawa and kauri and rata (or maybe not, but I don't know that many NZ native trees offhand). I heard a rustling in the undergrowth, and expected to see a fantail or a tui or something, but no, it was a squirrel. We don't have those in NZ. Totally ruined the effect.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

Brush with fame

I met somebody kind of famous tonight. Sort of. I mean, I met him, but then I had to google him when I got home to make sure.

So, if you're Australian and if you're a Triple J listener and if you were paying attention about a year or so ago, you may remember a song called 77% by The Herd. Some sample lyrics:

So I'm left sitting here, staring into a beer
Shaking my head at the same ol' loathing and fear
Stranger in my own land, can't understand
How the very word Australian has been damned
I denounce my ancestors, wounds still fester
If you say it ain't so I suggest ya wake up
This country needs a fucking shake up
Captain Cook was the very first queue jumper
And it was immigrant labour that made Australia plumper
Enough is enough - whiteys pack your stuff

And more along those lines. The title is a line in the song which says "77 percent of Aussies are racist" - which, according to the opinion polls, is the percentage that supported Howard's (warning: do not click on that link unless you are prepared for the nauseating image. Don't say I didn't warn you) actions on the Tampa boat people scandal. As you can imagine it caused quite the controversy. The song I mean. The boat people thing did too.

So the guy I met is a member of The Herd (Alejandro on the artists page on the link). The clue I needed was that he says on that page that he's taking a sabbatical and heading to San Francisco. And indeed, I just met him at a UCSF postdoc wine and cheese evening.

And to think I told his (also Australian) girlfriend that joke about the Australian asking the genie to build an impermiable wall around Australia to keep the boat people out and keep Australia white and English speaking, and the New Zealander asking the genie to then fill it with water.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Art Wednesdays

I'm copying the trend set by LLCoffee with her Artwork Mondays, and supposedly Cesca, with her Art Tuesday (I just noticed the singular - is that why there was only one?). Come on Cesca, post some more art.

Anyway, I don't draw or paint (nothing I would actually take a photo of, anyway!), but when I was living in Colombia I made silver jewellery as a hobby. My designs are always one-offs (because it's too boring to make the same piece again) and I've either kept the pieces for myself or given them to friends as presents.

This one is probably my favourite - I made it for a friend who doesn't wear jewellery, so I couldn't make her a necklace or earrings or a bracelet (you know, something relatively simple). So I made her a hairclip (barrette). It's NZ paua shell (abalone), Colombian silver and the wood is some native Colombian wood but I can't remember what.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Where did the weekend go?

Things I meant to do this weekend:
  • Proofread another chapter of my friend's thesis
  • Start the application for a job in Australia (this is just a backup plan)
  • Tidy my desk
  • Sort out outstanding paperwork from my thumb surgery and physio
  • Start designing the new Berkeley Postdoc Association website
  • Go to hapkido

What I did this weekend:

  • Went to a hilarious improv performance
  • Went to hapkido (it was a mixed adults and kids class so we played lots of games, including one where we had to try and steal each other's tails (belts) and I was Mean Rabbit and almost made one of the kids cry)
  • Played tourist at Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli Square (free samples in the Ghirardelli chocolate shop)
  • Watched three episodes of Six Feet Under, one twice (cos it had audio commentary)
  • Finished The Lovely Bones
  • Went to the Live Oak Park Fair and bought some stuff (including The Editter's birthday present...) and had a massage
  • Went to book club where we ripped apart Wicked and decided on A Round-Heeled Woman for the next read
  • Finally got through level 47 of boxworld

At least I went to hapkido.


Saturday, June 11, 2005


No, not actual real life housekeeping. Although I do have my washing on - I'll just go check if it's finished. I'm back. It hasn't quite finished.

Anyway, so I was updating my blogroll. The names and locations are because I get confused easily with which blogs go with which names.

Please let me know if you link to me but I don't yet link to you. After all, blog-love goes both ways.

Oh and if you're the person who found my blog by searching the words "goat", "joke" and "punchline" I have one thing to say to you. Huh?


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

And now for something completely different

I'm so excited. My Triple J Hottest 100 Volume 12 has arrived. Every year on Australia Day Triple J does a hottest 100 countdown as voted by the Australian listening public. And then they put 40 of those tracks out on CD. It's got a great mix of Aussie (Spiderbait, Little Birdy, Missy Higgins, Spazzys, etc) and other stuff (Franz Ferdinand, Scissor Sisters, Modest Mouse, etc). Every now and again a New Zealand artist even slips in - this year Scribe, last year Salmonella Dub. Warning: some of these websites automatically play music, so make sure your speakers aren't full blast or anything. Unless that's what you want. Up to you entirely.

I'm just going to talk up Triple J a bit now, because they rock. It's a government funded non-commercial (no ads!) radio station playing, according to their own blurb, "the best, the most cutting edge, the now-est sounds you'll hear anywhere". It's broadcast throughout Australia and streamed online. Guess what I listen to at work... The best bit is, the morning show is on at lunchtime for me. Although it hasn't been the same since Adam and Wil left.

Of course, as a New Zealander, I'm officially required to hate or ridicule anything Australian.

Oh that reminds me of a great little news article I read today: When he's in trouble, Russell is NZ-born. Bloody Australians (there, is that better? Can I have my citizenship back?).


Monday, June 06, 2005

Where the kiwi has flown - #1 Tsunami Diving

We’d just finished our third dive off Koh Phi Phi, near Phuket in Southern Thailand. It was the day after Christmas, we were on holiday, the sun was shining, the water was warm, and we’d seen reef sharks, leopard sharks and Nemos; we were feeling lucky to be alive. Just how lucky, we wouldn’t realize for a couple of hours.

We did think it was a bit strange how we were the only dive boat off Maya Beach, where the movie “The Beach” was filmed. There was a capsized longtail boat and the waves seemed to be coming in off the beach instead of the other way around. There were strange spots of turbulence; in fact, during our first dive a strange thing had happened. About twenty minutes into the dive I felt myself rising – I assumed I was just having trouble with buoyancy as my tank emptied. Then I started panicking a bit as the rest of my group disappeared. Even though we had had perfect visibility, suddenly everything was murky. My brother-in-law spotted me and signalled to the dive master, who came back for me and found me some coral to cling to on the wall. He signalled OK and took off.

By this time I couldn’t see anything except for the sea slug that was hanging out on the wall next to me. My sister later reported seeing divers being swept helplessly back and forth with the erratic current. I wasn’t scared, maybe just a bit confused. I may have started worrying if the dive master hadn’t come back, but he did. We rose to the surface and the first thing he said was, “Holy shit, I couldn’t find them”.

Looking around the bay there were divers bobbing haphazardly everywhere. The surface was calm enough, but a huge amount of debris had been churned up. From behind a boat my sister and her husband appeared (whew) – they had almost surfaced right under the boat, but managed to avoid it at the last minute.

Our entire group intact, we climbed aboard and decided to find a calmer spot. Everywhere we tried seemed similarly churned up. The boat crew, who had been out on these waters for almost 20 years, said they’d never seen anything like it. All the other dive boats seemed to have decided to call it a day. Still, we convinced ourselves it was something to do with the full moon, a high spring tide, maybe an underwater landslide nearby. And so we kept on diving.

Eventually we headed back in. The Thai crew said they had heard from other boats that there had been a big wave. They said a baby had been washed out. In hindsight, they probably said “bathers”, but we heard “baby” and worried that it might be my 3-year old niece. We had left her with her 4-year old brother and their aunt on the beach for the day. We reasoned that they probably would have been out of the water by then (when we left for our dive at 7am they were already heading for the beach). And if they had still been in the water, we decided, their waterwings would keep them safe.

As we came into cellphone range, the Finnish dive master picked up a number of text messages – from Finland – asking if she was OK. We started realizing this might be bigger than we had thought. Then the dive shop owner got us on the radio – finally. He had been trying all day and feared the worst. We were told to get to Krabi as quickly as we could, as there were rumours of more waves to come. It was a tense ride back; we were all quiet. Finally we got to the port, where so many boats were docked that we had to clamber through three of them to get to dry land. We decided not to wait for the dive shop bus and instead ran through the streets of Krabi looking for a taxi to take us to Ao Nang. We finally found one, but it could only take us part way – the beachfront road was completely blocked. We dodged bricks and wood and bits of boats and the remains of street vendors’ stalls, not really noticing the capsized ferry just offshore or the waterlogged restaurants.

Finally, lugging our dive gear, we made it to the street our bungalow was on. Right outside was a police stand for missing persons. Seeing this really hit home that maybe everything wouldn’t be all right. But a few seconds later I rounded the corner and there were my niece and nephew and sister. We breathed a collective sigh of relief. My nephew asked if we had seen the Chaos, and my niece wanted to know if it had legs.

Even after all that, it took us a couple of hours and the BBC World News to realise we should probably email home. In the internet café, I logged on and started reading the news stories. And started to realise just how lucky we were.

The Editter wrote her experience of the tsunami (she was of course the aunty on the beach with our niece and nephew) the other day (thus prompting me to finally write down mine).

I'm sure you've all seen this map, or one like it. Krabi and Ao Nang are to the east of Phuket, and were therefore somewhat protected. We were diving just south of Phi Phi (south of Krabi), which incidentally was pretty much decimated, but I think we were protected by being in relatively deep waters.

Here I am on the dive boat mere hours after the tsunami, blissfully unaware of anything except for my lingering seasickness (and apparently my ability to point my toe).

And here is just a small taste of the chaos. This is actually pretty much as bad as we saw - lots of damage, especially boats. The next day we flew back to Bangkok. My nephew says we can never go back to Ao Nang - "it's too dirty and it's too dangerous".

I'd like to take a moment to remember all those who died, disappeared, were injured, lost loved ones or had their lives and livelihoods shattered on that day.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

like the proverbial fish

I wonder how I ever managed without a bicycle. I bought one on Saturday, having not owned a bike since my Christchurch days (4 1/2 years ago). My then-boyfriend got us into mountain-biking (and our friend google tells me he's still entering those competitions and coming last, but at least he's trying, bless him), and many a fun afternoon was spent at Bottle Lake. Not so fun was the time I tried night riding at Bottle Lake (my night vision is not good, I was so tense it was awful), or when he would tell me not to get off and walk when going up hill (do not tell me what to do when I'm tired and grumpy and can't breathe, thank you very much).

Anyway, so I finally decided my thumb is healing so well that I can't use it as an excuse anymore. So off I went to look at bikes. The choices were a pretty purple one (the Editter suggested I add sparkles, a la Cesca), only 50 buckaroos and kind of heavy, or an ugly white one for $150 but nice and light. And being ugly, perhaps less likely to get stolen. According to Missing Link, "the Bay Area is among the worst areas worldwide for bike theft- Over 4 billion bikes are stolen every month in Berkeley alone. The average time of ownership of a bike before it is stolen is only 17 minutes." I'm not sure where they get their statistics from.

I ended up waiting a week after first looking, and then I went into the shop 15 minutes before it closed and had to make a quick decision. So I went with purple. It was cheaper than the lock and helmet. Even though helmets aren't compulsory here, I thought I'd better get one. But I have to admit I've been riding without it, because it's so nice not to have to wear it. I know, I know, it's stupid not to wear it.

And now I've ridden it every day and don't know how I managed before. I can get to work in 10 minutes! And even though it's been so long since I've ridden a bike, I found that getting back on one was, why, just like riding a bicycle!


Wednesday, June 01, 2005

things that make you go hmmmmm

So I just got an email from a friend of mine. She used to be a very good friend, and then we weren't really friends for a bit, and now we're friends again but not really in very frequent contact.

You see, she married my ex boyfriend.

By the time they got married everything was sweet, after all by then they'd been together for 7 years or something. But the year after they first got together was a bit trying, especially as the timing was all a bit dodgy.

At the wedding my ex boyfriend's mother tried to set me up with his single brother. I guess at least that means she likes me, but it was a bit disturbing.

And now, my ex boyfriend and his wife who used to be one of my best friends are having a baby!

I think they should name it after me. It's only fair.