May 2012 Archive

I refer, of course, to to the tragedy in Doha that claimed the lives of the New Zealand triplets. Rather than the mawkish tripe the Herald pushes, I wish to link here to the Blog site No Minister. From Psycho Milt whose suspicions are backed up in The Gulf Blog:
It’s worth considering that the building standards in other countries may not be up to the same level as those in our home country and MFAT may have a role to play in alerting NZ citizens of this. Well before the 2022 world cup.

My family have been New Zealand expats since last New Years Eve. We’ve been living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have been irreconcilably and immovably homesick but I have busied myself organizing schools and preschools for our five children.
I carry with me the conviction that America is a place that knows how to do things properly. I haven’t enquired too thoroughly about the safety practices. I have established in each institution we have visited, that there are emergency procedures; we have supplied emergency contacts to schools and I have assumed that should an emergency happen, the buildings would be up to a certain standard to prevent the spread of fire and mitigate the effect of an earthquake. I trusted the carers would be well versed in the escape plans, and my children would escape any threat.

I will never assume again. I have a set of twins and a three year old booked into a local KinderCare tomorrow and today when dropping my three year old to their preschool, I eyeballed the sprinkler system, established the presence of smoke alarms and bailed up the centre director. The fire escape plan was practiced only two days ago and they have had one incident where nearby construction set off the alarms so I am now confident of their safety when in Kindercare.

I should have done this already.¬†I had examined their “unusual incident”, register but had an uneasy feeling I had left something out for examination. Their fire safety procedures. I had blogged before about establishing a fire safety plan when staying in new houses, but my natural assumption is that a centre would have to be dreadfully remiss for childcare facilities to not meet standards that would contain a fire and not to have a fire escape plan that is regularly practiced. Any parent would never imagine that this Doha type of horror could occur.

Poor poor parents. to loose so much so quickly.
There is a special type of bond with multiples. You have your parent-child bond and you have the relationship between the children and reflected back to you.
I pray on occasion though I am not particularly religious as much as experimental. On this occasion I pray that the parents feel the bond with their children as strongly as they ever have and this stays with them in their grief. Our deceased may have departed but they still fish in another stream.

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An eyeful of nipple put this likely lad off his food:
A 17 yr old boy was reported to take a photo of a young lass breastfeeding at a New Plymouth food court:

The poor boy was roundly whipped regarding his action in posting this picture of a breastfeeding women on Twitter:

“A 17-year-old male who published a photo online of a woman breastfeeding at a food court has apologised for causing offence.
A women’s health group says the saga highlights that some people still view breastfeeding as unnatural.”

WTF? Of course breastfeeding is unnatural. Both on the part of observer, and breast milk provider alike.
During our early decades, we women sport mammary glands that are both trustworthy and unchanging. For years there is not so much as a milky dribble to indicate the presence of any function other than decorative. Once pregnant, all hell breaks loose. As soon as you test absolutely, positively pregnant, you start leaking like an ACC whistleblower.
Once your loinfruit has been birthed, within days, your breasts turn into bags of painful marbles. I’ll never forget the hospital midwife walking into the room and taking one look at my face before saying sympathetically:
“Is it the titties, love”? When I nodded to the affirmative she bought me cabbage leaves and a cup of milo and I set about mastering the art of latching on.
I had never before had Titties in my life (Flatties, more like) and now I had both the awesome responsibility of a newborn baby and some Titties with which to nurture him.
I think I thrust them in front of many cameras in those early days and probably wouldn’t have cared if a 17 year old youth had stalked me for photos. I was proud of both their form and function.
To me this kind of reaction from the women’s health droups makes breastfeeding seem more unnatural than the boy’s initial reaction. Whether a boy is 7, 17 or 70, you sometimes have to ignore some of the more outrageous stuff and just get on with the task at hand. Future generations are depending on you.

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This was shot 22 days ago during the “Supermoon”:


¬†Today, on the morning of the old lady’s 75th anniversary, the Golden Gate Bridge was shrouded in cloud, but still majestic:

The above photo was taken from nearby China Beach:

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From: Justin Flecker
Date: Sunday 6 May 2012 6.52pm
To: David Thorne

Subject: Lamp
I received your note but you cant go onto other peoples property and take things, that’s trespassing. Massanutten is a wooded area and I installed that light for security. It’s a safety issue. I can’t help it if some of the light goes across the road, close your curtains if it bothers you.
From: David Thorne
Date: Sunday 6 May 2012 7.41pm
To: Justin Flecker
Subject: Re: Lamp

Hello Justin,

Thank you for your email. While I accept that curtains are usually the key to community accord, in this instance they would need to be constructed of eight-inch-thick lead sheeting. Last night, with my curtains closed and bedside light off, I read a book. Wearing sunglasses. Under a blanket.
Though unconvinced that blinding local fauna is the best solution, I do understand the heightened need for security living in a wooded area such as the gated community of Massanutten demands. Having formerly lived my entire life in Australia, I am unfamiliar with much of the local wildlife but I did see my first raccoon last week. I stepped outside to have a cigarette and the raccoon, sitting less than five feet away beside an up-ended bin eating the remains of a Domino’s Artisan Tuscan Salami pizza, hissed at me. Surprised, I threw myself backwards, rolled several times toward the door, and sprang to my feet holding the welcome-mat above my head to appear taller. Sometime during the roll-spring-mat maneuver, probably during the roll part as it was over gravel and I was wearing shorts and a thin t-shirt so I had to take it slow, the raccoon left. Which probably isn‚Äôt as exciting a story as it should be but this isn’t Borneo and I‚Äôm not Jack London.
I did see a snake the other day though. I picked up a stick to poke it with which also turned out to be a snake. Jumping back in panic, I threw it away from me, but our dog thought I was playing fetch and I had to run and jump over a creek to get away.
As such, this weekend I intend to set up a canister of poisonous gas in my yard with an industrial fan behind it. I can’t help it if some of the gas goes across the road.
Regards, David.
From: Justin Flecker
Date: Monday 7 May 2012 2.14pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Lamp

Is that meant to be a threat? Put something up in your window if you don’t like the light, we lived here 5 years before you even moved into the neighborhood and got along perfectly with Ryan who lived at your property before you. We went to his BBQ’s and I loaned him our mower. We get along with all our neighbors. I dont know what you people do in your own country but in this country we dont go onto other peoples property and touch their stuff.

From: David Thorne
Date: Monday 7 May 2012 3.37pm
To: Justin Flecker
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Lamp

Dear Justin,

In my country, terawatt globes are reserved for police helicopter chases and warning sailors of hazardous shoals. This is despite the fact that practically every living creature there can kill you in under three minutes. Our primary spoken language is screaming.
I’m not surprised you get along well with all the other neighbours. If you put fifty children with Down’s syndrome in a room there is going to be a lot of hugging.
And no, it was not a threat. It was an exaggerated response to an uncompromising stance. I was taught never to make a threat unless you are prepared to carry it out and I am not a fan of carrying anything. Even watching other people carrying things makes me uncomfortable. Mainly because of the possibility they may ask me to help.
I did consider installing a floodlight as bright as yours, but this would require some form of carrying things, electrical wiring knowledge, and access to a power supply capable of producing that amount of wattage. Probably fusion. As I am told off by my partner for wasting money when I leave the light on in the bathroom overnight, I can only speculate to what her reaction would be to an electricity bill eight times our annual income for retaliatory garden lighting. She would probably have to get a third job.
It would be much cheaper to stand in my driveway and throw rocks. I can’t help it if some of the rocks go across the road. You should probably put something up in your window.
Regards, David.
From: Justin Flecker
Date: Tuesday 8 May 2012 10.01am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lamp

Did you take our lamp again ashole? What part about not being allowed to go on our property don’t you get?

From: David Thorne
Date: Tuesday 8 May 2012 10.32am
To: Justin Flecker
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lamp

Dear Justin,

No, I did not take the light again. I relocated it again. Its current location may be discovered by deciphering the following set of clues to its whereabouts. Perhaps you could invite your friend Ryan over and treat it as a kind of treasure hunt:
1. It’s in the letterbox again.
2. Look in the letterbox.
As I realise this probably won’t narrow it down much for you, I will give you a third clue in the form of a riddle:
What burns with the light of a thousand suns and is in the letterbox?
Regards, David.
From: Justin Flecker
Date: Tuesday 8 May 2012 11.15am
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lamp

I put a smaller lamp in so you can shut the fck up now. Don’t email me again and if you ever trespass on our property again I will press charges.

From: David Thorne
Date: Tuesday 8 2012 12.02pm
To: Justin Flecker
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lamp

Dear Justin,

What if I have a barbecue and need to send you an invitation? Is it ok to email you then?
Regards, David.
From: Justin Flecker
Date: Tuesday 8 May 2012 12.18pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lamp

No it’s not ok.

From: David Thorne
Date: Tuesday 8 May 2012 12.27pm
To: Justin Flecker
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lamp

Dear Justin,

What if I need to borrow your lawn-mower? I can’t invite people over for a barbecue and expect them to stand in long grass. Someone might be bitten by a snake. It’s a safety issue.
Regards, David.
From: Justin Flecker
Date: Tuesday 8 May 2012 3.26pm
To: David Thorne
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Lamp

Fck off back to Austria.

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My eldest son has just participated in his first school play in the US.
He was a purple zebra in Middle America Elementary 1st grade drama production.
This was not wholly positive. He was meant to participate as a normally hued zebra. In a play full of African animals there was not much deviation from the archetypal African beasts. No purple lions, purple tigers and nary a purple antelope. He stuck out; in a not very positive way.
I have found suburban America to be very keen on process and uniformity. A lot of the humor in Seinfeld mocks this, but as a newcomer I want to fit in before choosing to buck any social norms in pursuit of individuality.
 I ordered a costume from Amazon prior to the play.There were three other zebras. One of the other moms ordered the other costumes from Amazon, but had not realised my son was also a zebra, so we were left out of the loop. I assumed I had ordered the same costume as the other Moms.
This was not the case. My mistake.
¬†I forget sometimes that I am now in a culture of many millions of other people and this impacts on the number of consumer options available to me. America’s market is much bigger than in New Zealand and the product lines are vastly more numerous than a small town gal like me can easily comprehend.
I bought the first zebra costume option I came across online. The other Mother had selected another more zebra-like option.  In the night of the concert, my zebra had a stripy furry torso, the other zebras had smooth stripy legs and torsos.
My zebra also had a purple shirt on underneath his costume:
On the night of the performance, I dropped my son off at the changing room, before leaving to staunch out the other Moms for a front row seat. I had made my son promise to take off his favorite purple shirt and dress in his furry zebra top.
Like many boys he can’t pay attention to verbal instruction. After five minutes of watching him perform exuberantly, I started to steam. “How could he”?
He was up there in front of the entire school; a furry purple zebra in a group of uniform black and white zebras.
I was only able to talk myself down ,when I saw one of the monkeys had no mask and and a toy kitten for a tail.
He came off the stage as high as a kite. I shut down the urge to say in my best Medusa voice:¬†“Did you not think to take your shirt off? You don’t listen“. I hugged my purple zebra, took a few photos and he sang all the way home.
We live in an age where medicine is readily available to help boys like my son focus on all the female voices in their lives so Moms and teachers can have it easier:

I sometimes feel quite self conscious in this new nation but I try not to shut down my purple zebra self to fit in, but try and channel our creative energy. My son’s singing teacher says he has a good voice so I’m now on the lookout for operas with animals of varying hues.

                                          Embrace your Inner Purple Zebra

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Penny-pincher President Angela Merkel is coming under fire for promoting austerity measures in the Eurozone. Her critics wanting to spend German money to get Greece out of trouble have an unlikely ally ¬†in US President Barack Obama. The Group of 8 9 (wealthiest countries) ¬†leader’s meeting at Camp David over the weekend bought pressure to bear on the German president with the main promoter of growth spending over austerity appearing to be the U.S President.

This from the New York Times:

Greece will default on it’s debt. There is now no question on this. The issue of who owns the debt will need to be answered promptly but European leaders have been preparing for this event for at least six months so it is not an impossible task, the main issue will be who is responsible for the recapitalisation of at risk banks. the Eurozone as a whole via the incoming European Stability Mechanism or the sovereign nation, prior, which wouldn’t be in a position to do so anyways – think Spain’s troubled institutions..

Charlemagne’s Notebook (The Economist) has a good overview of the possibility of Grexit i.e. Greece leaving the Eurozone.

An exit will not happen given 75% of Greeks want to stay in the Eurozone, but the Euro football looks to be kicked around for a while given Greece’s looming default and the U.S 2012 presidential elections. It won’t hurt Obama’s chances to look to be playing the Occupy D.C. card.

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Warning shots have been fired across the bows as Education Minister Hekia Parata talks freely about nothing concrete as reported in the Herald:

Typical Union flashpoint 1. Capping teacher numbers thereby increasing classroom numbers:

“Ms Parata said the Government had continued to invest in the quantity of teachers over the last decade but student achievement had not risen in that time.”

The Government had continued to invest in the quantity of teachers mostly because of the GrandBaby Boomer bubble. There has been a minor baby boom from 2006 through to 2011. The number of births has now dropped off and New Zealand’s population is in terminal decline due to an aging population and an increase in net outward immigration. In this respect it makes sense not to budget for an increase in teachers in 2016 onwards.

Typical Union flashpoint 2. Performance pay:

Parata uses the above “increase in numbers”, non-argument to justify looking at performance pay for teachers:

“That tells us we have to have better quality teaching and better quality professional leadership to get the best possible learning for our young people.”

The government has very cleverly fudged the issue of performance pay with nebulous references to a two year “work programme”, which then takes us past the next election. Parata can now stir the nest of vipers and promise much but deliver little.
Political warfare tactic 101 dictates that you identify an “enemy of success”, (the under-performing teacher) and then you proffer the “solution” to the perceived problem. My concern is with the use of Standards to supposedly identify teaching excellence. With the Standards approach in place you inevitably get this:

This is two weeks worth of homework at my son’s elementary school. He has only recently turned 8. It is a volume of work more appropriate to a Middle School (Intermediate) student. It is pages and pages of worksheets that my son could do blindfolded and upside-down as long as his iPad was surgically removed from his hands.
This is known “Teaching to the Test”. Nothing new is taught to the majority of the class as there is a continual focus on getting the whole class to meet a certain arbitrary level of fitness as measured by ongoing “tests”.
The teacher has a certain quota of worksheets to be filled by each student to meet her performance target so she throws more and more mindless worksheets at the kids. We parents get a gee-up if her performing seals aren’t making the grade. We received this email tonight:

Hi Parents,
I know that it is the end of the year and that the children have been
focusing on their biography reports, but the scores in our timed tests have taken a dramatic decline.
Practicing addition and subtraction facts need to be done nightly, even if its only for 5 min or less.  I know this is a part of homework that gets pushed aside, but it is very important.
Practicing math fact fluency keeps children sharp over the summer and they¬†should continue to practice daily…trust me if will help they start 3rd¬†grade out ahead of the game.
Thanks so much!

1. Never trust a teacher that finishes an email so perkily Рthe claws are inevitably sheathed. 
And any immediate reaction to this email is that any teacher that expects me to focus on formal education through the summer holidays is out of luck.The chances of that happening are either slim, or fuck all.  
Over summer, the kids and I will be focused on actual learning via the outdoors. This is more the Kiwi approach we have taken with us to America. It would be a shame to see this lost from New Zealand classrooms ¬†as many a Kiwi student has been inspired by “unusual lessons”.¬†
My son in recently talking about his old Kiwi teacher in new Zealand, “Miss T taught us that if you stand on one nail it hurts, but if you sit on a bed of nails your force is evenly spread and it doesn’t hurt at all”.¬†
She was a wonderful teacher, here she bought in the concept of force and engendered discussion about basic science concepts, giving the kid’s literacy and maths skills a workout.
To be fair, my son’s American teacher is also giving them material he comes home passionate about but I suspect they are being talked at and bought to task far too often.¬†
One valid point ¬†from Parata’s speech is the need for the delivery of better pay for good teachers without them having to take on a management workload which has the counterproductive effect of taking effective teachers out of the classroom:

“From that a career progression pathway would be developed to allow excellent teachers to stay in classrooms.”
Expect a strong reaction from the Unions.  

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While there is such a force of nature as a deadbeat Dad, we will have solo Mums. And they are not the cause of the unraveling of the fabric of society as the scaremongers on the right would have us believe. All around us they are the forces holding many of the volunteering positions in society and give away far more than they have themselves, including sage advice and impromptu, “cheering up”, parties.
This is a beautiful column from The Atlantic.

Paula B might want to invest in the technology of the future with regards to the contraceptive needs of the aforesaid Deatbeat dads. Nothing like a Tesla gun to scare off the feral male cats:

this from the Verge:

Loving that little testicle tightener.

Both the right and the left would have you believe they had the answers to the welfare conundrum. As last weeks welfare commentary roundup dictates, the chasm is too wide to bridge.
The patriarcial Paul Holmes on the right said: you have to start somewhere, 
The alarmist on the left Paul Little says it is a measure short of compulsory sterilization to enhance the quality of life for women on the DPB:

Housewifely logic tells me that both the left and the right are so sure they have the answer; no-one does.
It is like the Mormons staunching out the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Both Gods can’t be the only saviour. Therefore ne’er the twain shall meet.
The obvious answer is to cease using welfare as a political football. The majority government of the day needs to cap the spending at a certain level, but representatives across the political spectrum should decide where the money is best spent. Only then will the ugly divisiveness across the middle and beneficiary classes subside. Maori and National have so far not come to blows over Whanau Ora. Shearer would do well to sharpen his speech making around the need for Labour and the Greens to be allowed a place at the welfare bargaining table for the future harmoonious wellbeing of New Zealand communities.

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This welfare policy from John Key and Paula Bennett is the most disgusting policy in the history of welfare reforms. From the Herald:
50% of the population written off as nothing more than walking uteruses or uterii just like that.
The message inherent in this policy is that, if you’re a women (any woman) in certain situations, the state and the welfare department’s case managers can have an opinion and influence over what you do with your uterus.
I get quite grumpy over anyone who has an opinion over the number of kids I have. ¬†It’s a private matter for women and their partners. Moreover, this policy is an insult to my value as a female member of the human race. A message that is picked up by the violent and the crackpots. Watch the rates of domestic abuse, violent sexual offending and child abuse rise. This always happens when a government sticks the boot in to females.¬†
Yes, there are a few cases of women who have further children while on a benefit. For the most part these women have been taken advantage of, by a MALE. Or they may have a lower emotional or actual I.Q. This still doesn’t give the state to have a right to have an opinion over whether they or THEIR KIDS, (and that part is the bit that shocks me), should be on the pill. It must be reiterated here that most individuals on the DPB are on it because their situation changed dramatically and suddenly.
There are always a few bastards at any end of the scale; those who abuse benefits are at one end. The middle of the bell curve is where policy should be set and the piss-takers should be targeted by demographic or region with the birth control options being made available, subtly. This broadly announced policy indirectly and negatively effects 50% of the population, just as the 1991 welfare reforms did. It is not going to help National to walk to victory in 2014.
I have spent time defending John Key and Paula Bennett to friends and family, as a support party to the party I supported ūüôā ; I’m sure most M.P’s are good people just doing their often difficult jobs. ¬†
I met three of the four MP’s in my electorate, and felt they all wanted to do their best for the community and New Zealand including the lovely National M.P ¬†Katrina Shanks.¬†
But if the women don’t speak up, National now has a high chance of screwing up and losing the 2014 election.¬†¬†
I would like to see what the parties with Supply and Confidence with National have to say over this piece of junk. I also wonder where the Exclusive Brethren are and whose ears they are in.

More than likely we’re in for a long cold socialist winter in 2014. ¬†
This absolutely disgusting policy seeks to control the reproductive choices of all women.  
¬†I won’t rant at any particular individual but it’ll be a man driving this policy. And whoever he is:
I may have a uterus but it is ……….. who is the ..nt.
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I enjoyed reading this opinion piece on bullying in the Herald.
I suspect the enjoyment arises from relating to the writers experience. Others who enjoy reading this piece were probably bullied in a similar fashion. At my high school, a bully sometimes threw stones at me and I was once punched in the face by another. I was sometimes excluded and generally made to feel like an outsider. It was more incidental treatment by passing douches than systematic bullying.

Sometimes I fought back. I stamped on one girls foot on a school trip. Generally I just tolerated it, and, like the author of the piece above I dispassionately and powerlessly observed the bullying of others.
The bullying died away as I moved through high school and onto varsity.
I attended a self help group in my twenties and was again bullied by fellow adults¬†when I violated some unwritten rules established over time by elder members of the group. The experience became almost cultish as one person, “set”, the rules and members secretly reported back to her on other members progress in an area of, “weakness”.
 I left the self help group and took the wisdom I discovered here onward into the next phase of my life Рjust as I did at high school.
The sage lesson I learnt from all this is that where there are groups, there are bullies. In an effort to establish a hierarchy, an overbearing hen will sometimes peck the life from others.
After I left the self help group I heard of suicides by people associated with this woman. She had been investigated by the police in her past, but continued to operated informally in a counseling capacity. I was fortunate enough I could see beyond the “salvation” that was promoted by this woman and I see how easily cults can take root and are more common than we might realise.

I have started reaping the rewards of the bullying I experienced at the hands of these sociopathic individuals.
I am experienced at detecting bullying. I don’t tolerate it now. It took me a while to fine-tune my bullshit detector and not to want to ruffle feathers but I have discovered a new freedom. This is helpful in smoothing my path through life, but the quality I am now grateful for, is the strength to stand up for my children in their passage through school. Or, as I once taught my niece”:

“Sticks and stones will break my bones, but if you come any closer I’ll break your face”.

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