Saturday, January 28, 2006

It's my year

Happy Year of the Dog, everyone.

To celebrate, I've been sitting inside my house all day, with the aircon on. It's way too hot to go outside (39C). I did that yesterday, anyway. Twice. Although I might go for a swim later.

Anyway, as it's too hot to think, I'll just do a meme which has been floating around, that I found on the Editter's blog. Even though I wasn't tagged for it. You know how it is.

First line of first post for each month of the last year:

Today I'm moving house across town and flying half way around the world, so it seems like a good day to start a blog. The rapture: When all believers in Jesus Christ, who have been born again, are taken up to heaven. I was meaning to make this map when Violet posted it, but then forgot about it. I was talking the other day with a friend about the implications of living internationally - being someone whose work allows them to work in all kinds of places around the globe. So I just got an email from a friend of mine. Every now and again someone asks me what 4th of July is like in my country - do we have fireworks etc. Anyone here in the US watch Six Feet Under on Sunday? Went to Cape Cod - wonderful. I just got back last night from a week in Cali, Colombia. I made it to Australia. Isn't it funny how people you've never met can influence you?

I quite like it. I think it gives a rather good synopsis of my 2005. You can tell I travelled a lot, I have friends, I like Six Feet Under. Let's just ignore the sentence about the rapture, shall we?


Thursday, January 26, 2006

2005 warmest year in a century

But the way 2006 is shaping up, I don't think that 2005 will be holding that record for more than a year. It's so hot here, I try to have a cold shower and hot water comes out. Just doing the dishes I sweat as if I've just run a marathon (although admittedly I've never run a marathon).

And if you need further evidence of the impact of global warming, the Onion reports on the sad plight of snowpeople in the US.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Satisfaction vs. effort

Tonight I was very much looking forward to trying out Short and Sweet's gnocchi recipe. I love gnocchi and I think it's adorable how it almost rhymes with nookie. I went and bought kumara and spinach and flour and ricotta and water to boil it in (ok, ok, I already had that). I also bought a whole heap of other things. On the way home it occurred to me it that it would take a bit of effort to peel and boil and kumara. And that it would be much quicker and easier to saute some of the scallops I'd just bought.

And I realised that in a tradeoff of satisfaction and effort, the scallops win hand down. I had them with Israeli couscous and salad. Did you know that Israeli couscous is not couscous? I always thought it was a grain. Turns out it's just a wheat pasta. Huh. So anyway, the meal I had scored about a 5, calculated as satisfaction/sqrt(effort). In this case satisfaction = 8 and effort = 2.5. Now, I realise it's quite sad that I've spent the time to work out this ratio, and even sadder is the fact that I've made up a wee graph in illustration. But I like to think it shows my level of dedication to my blog readers.

I anticipate that the gnocchi would have scored about 3.5 (s=7, e=4). The glass of wine I had with dinner scored 10 because it was already open and chilled, all I had to do was pour a glass. It's possible to go off the scale if effort is very low, for example if someone were to pop chocolate-covered raspberries into my mouth I imagine that would score, say, 4957.

Portuguesa Nova's quinoa loaf, despite the fact that I encourage her to make it and report back, scores a dismal 1.5 on my scale. Obviously the scale is scientifically proven and not at all subjective. So therefore I won't be making quinoa loaf anytime soon. Also, I think quinoa is a native American grain and unlikely to be in the supermarket in hicktown Australia.


Saturday, January 21, 2006

Where the kiwi has flown - #3 Lake Titicaca

The Gay Maitre D' and I were standing patiently in line at Lima airport, waiting for our hand luggage to be scanned. We were cutting it a bit fine to get on the plane, but it seemed that most other people in line were going to Cuzco too, and being good little descendents of British colonials, we queued. Suddenly there was a commotion behind us: "Coming through, coming through!". A very loud American voice. "Oh my god! That's Rosie Cheeks!" said the Gay Maitre D'. We forgot our good manners and fell into a trot behind her, letting her elbow her way through. Within minutes we were seated on the plane, where we then waited half an hour for the remainder of the passengers to have their hand luggage scanned.

The Gay Maitre D' and I had spent the night in Cuzco airport, talking a lot, sleeping very little. I'd met up with him in Santiago airport - he'd come from New Zealand, and me on a plane from Colombia that went via Lima (apparently it was cheaper for me to fly all the way to Santiago and then back up to Lima, rather than just get off the plane in Lima, something to do with my round the world ticket). We'd then waited for Rosie to arrive from New York (the Gay Maitre D' holding a romantic "Will You Marry Me" sign - long story) only to have to give up when her plane was delayed arriving. But here we now were reunited on a plane to Cuzco.

We had two days to kill before the Editter and Hepzibah would arrive to do the Machu Picchu trek with us. As long as we stayed above 3000m (so as to acclimatize to altitude) we could go wherever we wanted. And so a couple of snap decisions later saw us ensconsed on the overnight bus to Puno. It was a cold, not very comfortable night. But, for me at least, totally worth it.

The next morning we joined a tourist boat on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. As we did the introductions, everyone booed the Americans and the Americans booed the French. Sigh. Nobody booed the kiwis.

Our first stop was the Uros islands, a group of tiny islands made from reeds. Everything on the islands is also made from reeds - the houses, the post office, the school. Reportedly the indigenous Uros people retreated from the Spanish and eventually were forced onto the lake in a bid to retain autonomy and maintain their traditional way of life. Which is now put on show to tourists. Still, at least they made a little bit of money off us.

The reeds grow in the lake and they gather them, dry them and use them to build up the top layer of the island as the underneath decays. They also eat them and build boats out of them.

We then continued on to Amantani island where we spent the night. It was quite a hike up to the village, where we stayed with local Quechuan-speaking families. We then hiked even higher, to about 4100m, to the top of Pachamama, the goddess-hill of the island (the god-hill is Pachatata). The Gay Maitre D' smoked his last cigarette (he didn't smoke again until we reached Lima, after Machu Piccu - a whole week later).

After dinner (consisting primarily of potatoes and yams) we got dressed up in traditional native costumes to join in a dance with the villagers - who I'm sure never get sick of doing this night after night for all the tourists. Unfortunately for me, it was at this point that the altitude sickness struck. Our host stuffed eucalyptus leaves in my headband and gave me plenty of indian mint tea to drink, but all I could do was sit miserably while the Gay Maitre D' and Rosie Cheeks were spun around in circles by the locals.

In contrast to Amantani and Uros, Taquile, which we visited the next day, was much more touched by tourism. Here there were shops with loads of handicrafts and a couple of restaurants.

On the way back to Puno, the boat crew challenged the tourists to have a swim in Lake Titicaca. The only ones mad enough, were, predicably, the kiwis - me and the Gay Maitre D'. As the lake was around 10C (50F), 'swimming' involved leaping in and then swimming madly back to the boat and getting out as quickly as possible.

That night we braved another overnight bus back to Cuzco, where the Editter and Hepzibah had meanwhile arrived, and an even bigger adventure awaited us: the 4 day Machu Picchu trail.

Where the kiwi has flown #1 Tsunami Diving
Where the kiwi has flown #2 A Vignette of Cali


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

They speak weird here too

I thought I would understand the locals here. Here's a conversation I had with a boy (aged 8 or so) who was cycling past me and stopped to ask me a question.

Boy: Is there a bubba around here?

Me: [looks blank]

Boy: Is there a bubbala around here?

Me: A what?

Boy: A bubla

Me: Huh?

Boy: You know, a bubbler!

Me: A bubble?

Boy: One of those things you drink out of!

Me: Oh! A water fountain! No! Haven't seen any!

Boy: [cycles off, confused as to how I appeared to understand and speak English quite well, except for the word bubbler]


Saturday, January 14, 2006


In a moment of insanity, I sent an email out to a bunch of my colleagues on Thursday, inviting them over to my house for drinks and nibbles this afternoon. In three hours (at 4pm). It's my birthday week, and it's nice to have a housewarming. But right now, as I look around my house, I'm starting to freak just ever so slightly (not enough to leap off the computer and do something constructive, mind). The house is pretty much a mess, so I've got a fair bit of tidying up to do. And dishes. And making guacamole, garlic pita bread and ginger/cream cheese dip (damn, forgot to buy sesame seeds. The other ingredient is soy sauce). And having a shower and getting dressed. And watering the garden. And hiding the dead plants. And figuring out how to play my PMP (portable media player) through my tv speakers (no success so far).

At least yesterday I did the grocery shopping - including plastic cups, as I only own 4 glasses and 2 cups. Yesterday my main mission was to find a birthday present for my sister in Thailand. Everything I found was either pretty much rubbish, or made in Thailand. So I haven't bought anything yet. But I did buy myself some darts (for the Friday pub lunches - I feel like I belong now) and a beautiful new hybrid bike. And then I cycled all the way to Victoria and back (10km or so?).

Anyhoo, I have no idea how many people are going to show up - although there are a handful of definites, so I know I won't be sitting here all my own. I bet Australia is more punctual than Colombia. I'd better get a move on.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

The tally:
  • 1 birthday card
  • 1 e-card
  • 1 phone message (including a rendition of "happy birthday to you" from my nephew which made my day)
  • 2 birthday text messages
  • 3 birthday emails
  • 1 birthday voucher from my hairdresser ($10)
And I got some prezzies from the family when I was back in NZ last week.

I haven't been dropping hints this year that my birthday is coming up, I usually do. So it's quite good really that a number of people who aren't related to me remembered.

Now for the forecast for the coming year. First up what's in the stars.
  • The Border Mail (local rag) said something along the lines of: "Your Birthday Today: it will not be a spectacular year." Well phooey to them I say.
  • Ivillage however says that this is my year to shine (along with all other Capricorns, obviously). According to them, I'm due to meet someone (along with 1/12 of the population) in January or February. I'm going to assume they mean someone special, because if I went for all of January and February and only met one person, that would be pretty boring.
  • Of course the Chinese year of the Dog is about to begin (29 January, I believe), and I'm a Dog, so I'm assuming it's a good thing. But Chinese astrology is complicated - for example in my quick google search I've discovered that 2006 is a fire dog year, but I'm a metal dog, and dog is earth, so who knows what that means. Apparently I have to stay away from Sheep and Ox people this year.
  • A tarot reader in Berkeley told me that I'm going to have a good year, and succeed in my work, and meet someone between 5 and 11 weeks of arriving here. I've been here 9 1/2 weeks. Stay tuned.
  • Also, according to Rudolf Steiner, every cell in the body changes every seven years, which means I'm due for a change today. Ooh, apparently the association centres of the brain come to their peak efficiency at age 35. And after 35, one begins to feel a new restlessness. Considering how much travelling I've done in the last five years, I don't know if that's possible.
And what do I want for the year? Lots of things, some of them are:
  • To travel to at least one more country (got to keep up with the age, you know). Distinct possibilities are Sri Lanka, Rarotonga and / or the Maldives.
  • Have my hair long enough to tie in pigtails
  • Buy an iron. No, just kidding.
But I have only one real resolution for the coming year. And that is to live each day consciously - which is quite different from just being conscious every day, I've just about mastered that one.


Sunday, January 08, 2006


Approximate length of time between moving into my house and acquiring the following items:
  • corkscrew: 1 day
  • coffee grinder: 3 days
  • telephone: 4 days
  • house plants: 1 week
  • video shop membership: 1.5 weeks
  • mop: 2 weeks
  • blender: 3 weeks
  • library membership: 4 weeks
  • line trimmer: 5 weeks
  • table and chairs: 6 weeks
  • internet access: 7 weeks
  • vacuum cleaner: 8 weeks
  • iron: not in the forseeable future
What do my priorities say about me, I wonder.


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Is this what growing up is about?

I used to quite fancy Andre Agassi when he had long hair. I remember feeling a little sad when he cut it off, and I didn't think he was fanciable anymore. Then I came across a photo of him in the Australian Women's Weekly (essential airplane reading, you know), very similar to this one.


What was I thinking?

(at the time it was also asked: what was he thinking - marrying Steffi Graf, but that seems to have worked out for them, so).

Does the fact that I now thinks he looks vastly sexier mean that I've grown up? Or just that I've gotten over another teenage delusion?

In unrelated news there is a winged insect with a long pointy nose on my net curtain. I'm not quite sure what to do about it.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

That new-fangled technology

I've been back a few days from a wonderful family holiday involving waterskiing (my first time - I managed to stay up for maybe 30 seconds), scalloping, sea-biscuiting, wine, food, presents, games.

I tried to connect my new broadband internet connection the day I got home. It connects, but drops every 5 seconds and reconnects - no good for downloading or chatting, obviously. Portuguesa Nova appears to have had the same problem, but she solved it just by unplugging her phone - and my phone was already unplugged at the time. In fact, when I try to have them both plugged in I don't get dial tone on the phone - kind of defeats part of the purpose of broadband. Sigh.

Happy New Year everyone.