Friday, December 31, 2004

The trouble with big secrets

The trouble with big secrets is that you can't tell them to anyone - of course. And if it's big, then it's going to be on your mind a lot; you try seeing people every day and not telling them all about something that's occupying all your thoughts, or blogging every night without mentioning it because someone you actually know will probably read it. I suppose that's what paper journals are for, but they really don't have the same effect as telling a living person, even if that person lives on the other side of the world and has never met you.

Obviously, I should be going somewhere with this. But that would be telling.

A year is not a very long time

No doubt just about every journal-blogger will be writing a "Looking back at 2004" post, but I have New Zealand time on my side - perhaps I could be one of the first...

In 2004:

- I started library school
- I became licensed to drive a bus
- My income increased so much that I was now able to buy myself clothes sometimes
- The boy told me it would be nice to have kids together
- We went on our first holiday together for longer than a weekend
- I saw my first real, live whale
- I gained a niece
- My blog got mentioned in the newspaper, and it looked like people were actually reading it on a regular basis
- Finally, after many applications and interviews, I got a new job close to home

Bloody hell. I haven't managed a very exciting list, have I?


Geez, what a time to get a cold. We've had Summer for exactly four days, and now I have a cold.

I should have taken heed when I woke up in the middle of the night, three nights in a row, with a really dry mouth. That feeling I had, as though there was a brick in my stomach, should've warned me. But, no - I didn't realise until I'd sneezed several times and felt the lining of my osophaegus attempt to rise up through my throat and exit through my nostrils.

It's really annoying because it means I probably won't be out for New Year's Eve. Just think what a tragedy this would have been for me if I were still single i.e. have no-one to stay at home with tonight...

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Sloth is bliss

Aaaah...slothfulness...sleeping in, taking a long time to have breakfast, watching television and DVDs, reading and going for walks - these have been the mainstays of the last few days for me. I'm loving it.

The days go by more slowly because I'm not rushing around trying to do stuff, but no so slowly as to bore me. So, yay! - I still have another eleven days of being a total slob and it feels like a long time...

Perhaps I'll get around to playing with the pastel-by-numbers landscape which someone gave me for my birthday months ago. Or I might get on with reviewing and writing up my India travel diaries. Or go to the library and get tons of books out, just to read for fun.

The fact that I should be working on assignments, and that classes start up again on January 5th (according to the prospectus), hasn't affected my newly-slothful habits at all.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

superheroes with beer bellies and big bums

We went to see The Incredibles last night. (It was a couple-y thing - the boy and I, his friend and his friend's wife. Until recently I never did couple-y things of course, although I was often been the fifth wheel at dinner parties.)

Packed with stereotypes it may have been (the shy teenage daughter, a shrinking violet called Violet; the slightly Homer-esque father; the all-nurturing mum; the mischievous son...), but it was very funny. I liked that Mr Incredible had a beer gut, and that Elastigirl had little boobs and big hips. Frozone's wife may sound like a caricature out of Oprah, but she got the funniest line. And the age-old English distrust of red-haired people is put to use too, for the villain is a carrot-top.

This was way better than those film versions of comic book super heroes, probably because it wasn't trying to take two-dimensional characters and give them complex personalities. But perhaps I'm only saying that because I have no interest in comic books either.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Buffy novels vs The Da Vinci Code

I finally got around to reading Immortal (by Christopher Golden and Nancy Holder), the Buffy novel which my manager picked up from the library book sale, and gave me.

Up until now I've been avoiding the novels, instead reading only the scholarly non-fiction books about the TV series, thinking that surely the novels would be poor substitutes for the TV episodes. But I'm going to have to amend my opinion. I really enjoyed Immortal; the dialogue was believably Buffy-like, the story was exciting and the main villain was interesting. This doesn't mean I'm going to go out and buy them all - there must be a hundred Buffy and Angel novels, and not all written by these two authors - but it does give me more choice next time I go to the library (as a customer) for some leisure reading. And in 2005, I have promised myself more time for leisure reading.

I certainly can't be as positive about Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. It's just a boring thriller. An un-thriller. For a start, the first (and only? I'm only a quarter of the way through the book) murder victim is shot in, or close to his stomach. He must be in agony. He's dying. Yet he manages to crawl up and down the gallery in the Louvre, hide keys behind paintings, scrawl anagrams on the floor with his own blood and arrange his body to resemble the man in Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man - before he dies. Yeah, right.

The weather

After moaning about the crap so-called summer we're having over here, I suppose the environmental gods could be a lot meaner. At least we aren't being engulfed by a massive tsunami. I just received an email today, from a friend who's visiting family in Thailand. They were actually on the beach when it happened - being told by security guys to get off the beach; seeing the big waves in the distance before breaking into a run; finding cover behind their hotel and being glad they missed out on a beachfront bungalow...And some of them were out on a dive trip at the time too - it's amazing they made it back to shore safely.

Meanwhile, back home we're experiencing our first warm, sunny, non-galeforce day in maybe two or three weeks. The last time we had a day this nice, I was spewing because our inconsiderate neighbours were still partying full-blast. (I'm an old fogey who likes her peace and quiet, especially when its only 9am). The boy and I went into town for lunch and a walkaround, and it was all I could do to stop myself from complaining that it was way too hot! That's what happens when you get used to wintry summers...

Sunday, December 26, 2004

3am thoughts

The boy woke me up with his slightly-too-loud long-distance phone calls to his family in the UK, so here I am looking to the 'Net to keep me entertained until I'm ready for sleep again...

The turkey was a huge success - my sister-out-of-law did a great first-time job in roasting it, and the flesh was as tender and succulent as the poultry advertisements would have you believe.

My nephew had managed to open all of his presents (as well as some that weren't for him) well before we arrived mid-afternoon; the lounge floor was covered in little dinosaurs, books, colouring-in books, an inflatable snakes'n'ladders game and lots more. I'm sure that the addition of more dinosaurs and books from the boy and I will be lost in the heap by tomorrow.

My brother and his partner gave us an alarm clock with a picture of Mao Tse-tung on the face; wind it up and his arm waves back and forth, clutching his little red book. Cute.

Secret Santa
At most places where I have worked, the workmates have played Secret Santa. You draw a name out of a hat, and then spend around $5 on a present for that person - it has to be anonymous, of course. It's a good idea which really works best when the participants know each other fairly well. Well, in my case, it's been an opportunity to find out how little people know about me. The last Secret Santa gift I received was a set of tea-light candles. One of my workmates got a can of builders' bums. Why couldn't I get something funny and silly like a can of bums?

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas dinners

Our library Christmas dinner was last night, timed to start just as the council's drinkies ended. There was a ton of food at the drinks, and the restaurant dinner was American-size (that means too much for an average person to eat without exploding). By 9pm the post-binge doziness had set in, and I had to drive home in a glutinous stupor.

Meanwhile, the humungous serves 10-11 turkey is quietly defrosting in the fridge, awaiting a damned good roasting in my brother's oven. I thought it was a bloody good deal - I supply some raw food while someone else cooks it for us.

Back when my brother and I were living at home, Christmas Day used to be a pretty boring occasion. There'd be a ton of food at lunch or dinner, followed by the two of us exchanging presents - Mum didn't believe in giving presents. In fact, Mum has never given us presents (unless you count re-wrapping a box of chocolates gifted to us and re-addressing them to someone else). I can't blame her religion because she's been a regular church-goer for several years. In fact, when she gave me a red packet with money in it for my fortieth, I was astounded. Mmmm...perhaps that's the Christian influence.

Anyway, more than the food and the prezzies, what I'm looking forward to is two whole weeks of sleep-ins.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

My haircut

Never get an impromptu haircut, especially if:

1. you don't know for sure what you want
2. you're very trusting, and it's a new hairdresser
3. you've been drinking

I hadn't been drinking, but the first two points were certainly true for me this morning. For months now, my hair has been too long for my body size and shape; on hot days the extra head cover made me feel over-heated.

I'd been looking out for cheap presents for the library's Secret Santa thing, when I came across the Cut'n'Go hair salon. Now, I've been there once before and was very happy with the results that time - perhaps because I'd only asked for a trim of about an inch all around. This time around I asked for above-the-shoulder hair. Then I said I wanted a bob. Obviously the hairdresser had particular ideas about how short a bob should be. About three inches shorter than my idea.

Back at work, the feedback was mostly positive. I, however, thought she had gone too far. You could put me in a Mao suit and I'd look like I'd just got off the boat from China - about forty years ago. In fact, I distinctly recognise my haircut in a family photo from long ago; one in which a ten-year-old little girl had just had a classic Chinese bowl-cut. I expressed these fears to one of the librarians, and was a bit put out when she nodded in agreement. She wasn't supposed to do that.

Oh well, at least it'll grow out.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Does this make me Lorne Green?

Commander Adama

What classic sitcom character are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

(found at Imperfect Pedant)

A little bit more Asia in NZ

What a nice gesture to international students unfamiliar with sit-down toilets. Auckland University are converting some of their loos into the squat variety. Personally, I wouldn't object as long as I get to choose. Sometimes one is just not dressed ideally for squatting. Skirts and flat shoes, no problem. Long, wide-leg pants and high-heels, maybe not.

Having experienced such facilities on my travels, I'd certainly agree that it's much more hygenic if one's bum doesn't have to touch anything which has already been sat on by another bum. (My short legs make it difficult for me to execute that manoeuvre I've heard about amongst other women - that one where you have your feet on the ground and yet still avoid resting your bum on the toilet seat.)

It's also a good exercise in flexibility, I've been told.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Square eyes

We kind of went overboard on the DVD-buying this weekend. With The Shining (not the Stanley Kubrick version), The Singing Detective, Angel Season Three and Buffy Season Four Part Two still to view, you'd think that we'd have no reason to go out and purchase more.

But the collection has now been bolstered up to include The Return of the King (special extended DVD), a trio of trendy action movies (for the boy's mystery Christmas present), Band of Brothers (which I had to get once the boy told me that was what he really wanted for Christmas) and The Office (both seasons, and only because I told the boy that's what I really want for Christmas).

I've utterly lacked motivation to study this weekend, mostly because I've been thinking about the latest assignment and I don't even know where to start (I have to write a research proposal, but first I have to pick a publishing house and find out everything about it in order to define a problem which the research would solve). So I've been watching a lot of original Star Trek, Angel and Return of the King.

You know, it's not true that I'd be bored without a full-time job.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Counting down

Today was the last time I would work on a Saturday - after today no more travelling for ninety minutes, just to work for 2-3 hours. From now on, every Saturday is my own (as long as I can avoid it becoming an additional shop-with-Mum day).

- Only one more week of work until my two-week Christmas and New Year break.
- Only three more weeks until my leaving do.
- Only four more weeks until the end of my much-regretted MLIS course.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Bad Chinese food - the cons of growing up with great cooking.

Tonight was one of those nights when the boy prefers ordering home-delivered fast food, to cooking up something nice and wholesome pour moi. We had one of those nights already this week, so I wasn't keen on pizza again even when it's devilishly good. So Chinese it was. I've had a bit of experience with Chinese food in my lifetime, so I tend to avoid paying money to eat it. This makes it all the worse when the only Chinese restaurant nearby which does home deliveries, is not very good. (In fact, there are only two Chinese restaurants in town which I'd heartily recommend and neither of them do takeaways.)

Even I, a non-cook, can do a decent vegetable stirfry in which none of the ingredients taste like raw grass. The roast duck and pancakes were edible though.

An addendum

Now that it's official, I'd like to just add a word of advice for anyone out there who is looking to leave their job for a better one - use Murphy's Law.

Things only started to get rolling (getting interviews and stuff), when I did something to prove I meant to stick around for the long term - I brought my own personal coffee mug to work.

I don't know why I didn't think of it much earlier, but it works. For example, I only lost interest in karate after I spent all my study money for the semester on an imported book by the master; I only lost my obsession for yoga after I purchased a super-deluxe yoga mat for at-home practice; I only stopped painting with a passion after I made my first (and only) sale.

Think about it. Murphy's Law can work for you too.

Tying up loose ends

Yesterday the police came over to pick up on the whole "Little Shit" affair.

They've served the kid (or was it his parents?) with a protection order, which means he isn't allowed into the library for twelve months. He was passed onto the Youth Affairs people, who are arranging a group session meant for him, his family, and his victim (that's me). Apparently if The Little Shit has to confront the person he hurt, he's more likely to realise that what he did was wrong. However, I won't be working at this place by then, and am not particularly interesting in travelling all this way just to meet the nasty little boy. I don't care about him, and I don't want to be involved in his rehabilition. I realise that I may eat my words one day in the future if The Little Shit, all grown up, attacks someone with more ferocity, all because he missed out on an early moral lesson. I don't care; it's time to move on.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

I'm outa here

I resigned today. That's the big news - I hope it was worth waiting for. (Were you shaking with anticipation, Darth?)

My last day is on January 14th, which means that I have two weeks and two days left to work at my current place (because of the time off I've booked over Christmas).

The new job:
The new job starts a week later, as an Information Officer. Not strictly a library job, I'll be spending my time maintaining their databases, making content changes to their website, doing the computer back-ups and helping with mail-outs of information material to branches all over the country.

The best parts of the new job are:
1) it's twenty hours a week, which means I can finish my MLIS sooner and still have free weekends (and I won't have to work weekends or evenings any more)
2) it's close to home so I can walk home from work in half an hour (and save about $30 in petrol money every week)
3) no more smelly people and messy children to be nice to

And the worst things about leaving the present job are:
1) no more blog posts about smelly patrons and messy children
2) feeling a little guilty about leaving because, due to Christmas and New Year coming right up, my employers have little time to get a replacement
3) knowing that my team mates will have to pick up the slack and take over the bus-driving duties

I was so relieved to finally be able to tell my boss - I'd accepted the job offer last week but we only had on paper and signed this morning - now I get to blab about this to everyone.

Come back in ten hours

I'll have big news (big for me anyway).

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

going over the line

We had a little glass-painting session this morning, for kids on the summer reading programme. Outlines of sea creatures, pirates and ships were already outlined in black acrylic paint, on the external windows of the children's area - all the kids had to do was pick a colour and paint within the outlines. It was all going swimmingly well, with us adult supervisors possibly having more fun than the kids were (yes, we had a go too).

A well-sized two-year-old, whose sisters were hard at work on a penguin and a pirate respectively, also got in on the act. At this point I have to add that two-year-olds probably don't even have a concept of what a line is, let alone the idea of putting blobs of bright colour within designated areas.

Our unofficial children's librarian let him have his way with the orange paint, all praise and encouragement as his loaded brush went in all directions. I actually couldn't watch - it might be the rule-obeying part of my personality, I dunno.

Should we wipe it off, and keep the window looking halfway attractive, or leave it on so that our budding action-painter has the satisfaction of seeing his work appreciated? I'm voting for the former.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Vanity - the eighth Deadly?

I had this idea several weeks ago to make an enormous Christmas card, from the library staff to the library patrons. Letting my mind wander outside the square it normally resides in, I imagined little photos of seasonally-dressed staff members as doors in an advent calender. Okay, that didn't happen.

But a couple of weeks ago the idea was resurrected, albeit simplified. That's why, over the past few days, I've been taking pictures of startled library folk wearing silly headgear (take your pick - Santa hat, antlers or mini-Santa figure).

Some people really had to be bullied into submission - one refused to ruin her fresh hairdo, another deleted several attempts until a suitably attractive picture was taken and two team leaders preferred to cover their faces with the props. One or two posed willingly but not smilingly. Even the women whom the camera loves (the bitches) were difficult.

I, on the other hand, absolutely knew from experience that I would look like I'd just finished a heavy physical workout after too little sleep. And had forgotton to bring some much-needed face powder. But you can bet that my well-oiled mug will be on that Chrissy card, and that I didn't bother to get re-takes...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

old white guys and young Asian women

The very thought of it creeps me out.

When I was an innocent undergraduate, living at home and therefore lacking in that famous student-style social life, I used to see this guy hanging around the library. He must've been about fifty, all white-haired and crinkly-skinned, though he assured me he was a bona fide student. I was a lonely wee soul in those days, so I chatted to him whenever I saw him. He never asked me out, thank gawd, but later on I found out that he made a habit of selectively chatting to the younger female Asian students. Years later, when I was working, I found out from a Chinese guy friend that his younger sister actually lived with that old guy for a while.

And now it seems I have an old-white-guy stalker. I take my mum to the open-air produce market every Sunday morning, and I keep seeing this one guy looking at me. I spoke to him once - he started a conversation and my customer service habit made it impossible for me not to reply - and ever since then, I'd spot him noticing me. He'd wind his way around the fruit and vege crates to get to where I was standing, while I'd pretend not to see him as I wandered in the opposite direction.

It just reminds me of that time I was in Thailand, when I was walking behind a tall, middle-aged white guy holding hands with a very young-looking Thai girl (us Asians look young for our age, I know - but even so, she can't have been more than twelve).
I hoped like crazy that he was just a friend of her parents', taking her out for a platonic ice-cream...

The origins of "dooce"

Thanks bizgirl, for showing me the way to the answer to that difficult question "What is the origin of the word dooce?". Dooce was the nickname of the first known blogger to get fired for blogging about work. It was her nickname because she kept mistyping dude in her emails.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Seven Deadly Sins - ish

I’m a bit of a sinner. Fortunately I’m agnostic, so I can rest easy knowing that I’m not going to spend my afterlife in some nasty, sulphurous inferno – ‘cos there is no afterlife and no inferno. What follows is going to be my own take on the Seven Deadlies, as I feel about them right now. Feel free to tell me your own.

It must be Spring, because – apart from the four-seasons-in-one-day weather we’ve been experiencing – the boy has been rather frisky lately; it’s like when we first moved in together.

Someone gave me a Whitcoulls discount voucher on Thursday, which runs out tomorrow (Sunday). I don’t need to get anything from there – only last weekend I bought myself a copy of Trinny and Susannah’s What You Wear Can Change Your Life. Yet I spent an hour in the shop looking for something to save 25% on.

Gluttony: I love food. It must be part of being Cantonese, since the culture uses the giving and eating of food to symbolise love, respect and prosperity, among other things. One reason I gave up running was because the activity has to be preceded by two full hours in which you mustn’t eat anything at all. Also, my diet doesn’t match my ethical ideals; I’d be vegetarian but I really, really like eating meat.

All my life, I’ve envied people for being taller, thinner, prettier, richer, more easy-going, more popular, more intelligent or happier than me. But that doesn’t mean I’d willingly swap my life for somebody else’s. There are aspects of my life which are really good and which I worked hard for.

Sloth: The need to do less has been the driving force of my last five years. The fact that I’ve ended up in a full-time job which is 45-50 minutes drive from home, and spend ten hours a week studying for a library degree, may lead you to believe I’m a workaholic. I’m not – I just lost my real focus when I found my career focus.

Pride: Last year I did a course with the Open Polytech (using Open University materials), and I mostly got A’s. This year I started my MLIS and seemed to doing really well still. I was damned proud of myself. And then came the fall. I’m a poor book Historian.

Anger: Little things make me angry – people leaving rubbish all over the library, knowing someone else will tidy up; having to breathe someone else’s tobacco smoke; having to drive with the sun in my eyes or behind a slow-coach driver. Big stuff makes me even angrier – people thinking its okay to treat other people like shit; people being cruel to animals; stupid political decisions.

Friday, December 10, 2004

What's your Chinese mythological being?

Xuan Wu ~ Turtle
You are Xuan Wu!

Mythological background: Because the turtle has a
thick, solid shell that serves as protection -
this animal is associated with stability. You
enjoy intellectual pursuits.
Also, in Feng Shui (the Chinese myths behind
choosing a house), the black turtle's solidity
is used to protect from cold northern winds.

Which Chinese Mythological Being Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

A turtle, huh? Turtle tastes like beef (just being Cantonese).

Thursday, December 09, 2004

What's that word for it?

There's a word for it, but I can't remember what it is. It's when you get disciplined by your employer for blogging about your job, on the job. It hasn't happened to me yet, but we all got an email today about appropriate use of the Internet in work time.

Time on the Information Desk, when it's quiet, is the best time to check out blogs, TradeMe and anything else interesting on the 'Net. But our manager says that "they" can tell who's been surfing for non-work purposes and how much time we're spending doing it. That means I've got to somehow fit the recreational 'Net surfing into my lunch hour - time better spent eating lunch, reading or sitting in the sun. (Okay, I suppose I can just wait till I get home.)

Apparently "they" will audit staff members with high Internet usage, and one of my workmates has already been slapped on the wrist. I hope all those librarian blogs I read aren't mistaken for personal sites! (gasp!)

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

In a time-warp

At one of the old-folks homes where I parked the library bus today, an elderly woman came on board looking ever-so-slightly intense. She opened her mouth to speak. I leaned forward to hear her. "Could you please help me get in touch with my parents?". Only twenty minutes before I'd promised to find a book on dowsing for another library patron, so I assumed this lady was interested in communicating with the spirit world.

So I asked her whether she meant séances and stuff like that. Nope. It turned out she really wanted to let her parents know where she was staying. Assuming she didn't have Nừmenorian ancestry, I assumed she must be having that "second childhood" I've heard about regarding oldies. So I gave her a bit of paper to write down her parents' names and phone number, promising to let them know. It's just good customer service, eh?

Hooked online and sunk

What disappointment I felt when I got home yesterday to be told that our friendly ISP and cable company had experienced some sort of power outage, meaning that both our television reception and our internet were out of action. I'd been all ready to get home and blog my heart out; now I had to make do with Angel DVDs (okay, it wasn't that bad really). It just goes to show how much I depend on my cyber-jollies...

So I got my grade on that assignment
I shouldn't have been too surprised. After all, this course has a reputation for tough marking and a heavy workload. Plus, I knew that my presentation stank like a thousand-year-old egg in last week's rice gruel. All the same, it was a shock to see that symbol, C+, right under my name. It was just as well that my annotated bibliography, the other half of the assignment, scored a little better; the overall grade was almost respectable. All afternoon I felt a little sick in my stomach, and it wasn't due to the dust blown up from the super-powered fans drying out the library's carpet. I was just getting used to getting As and Bs, that's all.

Monday, December 06, 2004

A Big Fat Turkey

I had a few Flybuys points, the result of dedicated credit card use, so I was ripe for reward-picking. Although the big push for using such a loyalty card is that you can get cheap or free flights, I've never used it this way. In the past I've gotten free movie passes, magazine subscriptions and even a dinner set. And now we have a size 5 frozen turkey.

Did you know that a size 5 turkey is about ten times as large as a size 5 chicken? I certainly didn't. I'm not sure our oven is big enough to cook it.

But - why?

Here's an explicitly-illustrated article on how to give your rat an enema. At the end, there are pictures to show you the poos which should result from your tender lovin' labours. (Found at memepool.)

Books Ahoy!

Books Ahoy happens to be the name of our library's Summer Reading Programme, but that's not what I'm going to write about here. We have an aluminium dinghy in front of the circulation desk to go with the SRP theme, but this morning it could have been useful - because overnight, there was a bit of a flood at the library.

The storm over the twenty four hours which ended early this morning, was pretty powerful - gusts of over 100km/hr and plenty of precipitation to go with it. It meant that my relatives' last day in town would be spent indoors, cooking and dozing. Fortunately for me, the roof has held tight over several storms including this one; the weather was an opportunity to snuggle down and feel safe, not a scene from a disaster movie.

In a typical move from the weather gods, the cyclone-ish conditions of the weekend have died down and it's currently lovely and sunny. I'm now back at work of course.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

How's it hanging?

I read an interesting article today about a survey of German men buying condoms in the wrong size. It says that most men don't bother to measure themselves first, and just get the Extra Large size - no surprises there. The surprise is towards the end of the article, when it quotes these statistics:

"only 18 per cent wore the right size, with nearly half squeezing into condoms that were too small and 34 per cent trying to use those that were too big."

Surely this means that, far from overestimating the sizes of their respective tackle, a large proportion were in fact underestimating themselves...

Another restaurant fight - torn between two elders

Last night we all went out for dinner again - nine adults and 2 kiddies. One of my aunts had already explained to me that she was going to pay for dinner; she assured me that it was expected, and made it clear that neither my brother nor I were supposed to give her any opposition.

My mum took me aside shortly after, to tell me that - at all costs - I was not to let my aunt pay for dinner. I was to pretend to go along with it, then openly disobey my aunt's wishes by throwing down my credit card just in time.

Shortly after that, my uncle whispered in my ear that it had been agreed among himself, my aunt and my mother, that he and my aunt would pay for dinner. Getting in their way would earn his displeasure.

Figuring that my aunts and uncle will be gone in a couple of days, but my mum will be around to nag me indefinitely, I knew which path to take.

It came down to my uncle sneaking off, ostensibly to use the men's room; my realisation that the men's room was in the other direction and that the race must surely be on; and crawling around three other diners to catch up. I succeeded in waving down the manageress before my uncle did, but not before he'd grabbed my arm and told me how disappointed he was. He was very convincing - I felt really guilty for not let him get his way - but luckily my brother was just there to keep me on track. With my free hand, I threw my Visa down and blocked my uncle's handfuls of bills. I countered his expressions of indignations with my only defense - that I was only following orders.

The only thing missing from this all-Chinese show of hospitality was the Cantonese shouting match.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Party of Nerds *

The boy's work Christmas function was really fun, but first I had to sit politely through about an hour of in-jokes and Geek-of-the-year presentations. Modelled on the Academy Awards, the trophies were little gold-painted Barbie ripoffs from the Two Dollar Shop. A nice touch, I thought.

Thankfully, it wasn't that long before the buffet was served. Having learned from past experience, I knew this time not to fill my plate up too soon. (Last time I did this, I ended up layering portions of hot food on top of the salads and cold meats. I don't know who was more embarrassed for me - me or my boy. Mind you, I would've been even more embarrassed if I had been seen to finish it all.)

On the way I commiserated with a couple of other IT-wives, about the frozen smiles during the no-doubt hilarious tales of the programmer who had to do a major hack whilst stoned or whatever (I'm not sure, I think I was dozing when they told that one). I was a wee bit jealous of the female employees, who were not only model-thin but clearly had salaries which enabled them to buy actual designer clothing.

One IT-wife I chatted with is in marketing/communications. I mentioned my interest in writing, she mentioned how hard it is to find copywriters in this country. She told me to send her samples of brochures I'd written for the library. I had a vision of her reading my work, and of my credibility disappearing with every word. Best to keep it as just a dream for now, methinks.

* They're mostly nice blokes actually. Especially J., who really is quite nerdy but took the trouble to learn to dance because everyone knows it increases a guy's attractiveness factor enormously.

Friday, December 03, 2004

I'm with yer boss

I'm going to the boy's work Christmas function tonight. It's a costume dress-up affair, and the boy can't wait to get his pirate costume. He's going as Captain Jack Sparrow, otherwise known as Johnny Depp - this is either because he wants an excuse to get really drunk ("I'm in character!"), or because he believes I have a crush on Johnny Depp (I don't - believe it or not, I just like his choice in movies).

Being a much less photogenic sort, I've declined the opportunity to pretend to be someone famous, tall and glamourous - I'm going as myself but more expensively-dressed than usual. Probably in trousers too.

In the boy's past work functions, I'd be talking to one of the staff and when I casually mentioned who my date was, that person would find an excuse to leave and mingle with someone else. Apparently it's because the boy is an extra-scary senior manager and no-one wants to be accused to trying to chat up his woman. Well, that's what he tells me anyway.

Last Christmas it was a barbeque the boy ate a bad sausage and missed the gastranomic delights of home-cooked festive meals for over two weeks. I hope he's more fortunate this year.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

You must be mistaken

For some reason, the elderly are much more likely to think I'm not from New Zealand, despite my assertive Kiwi accent, than other people.

Just yesterday, an otherwise-lovely senior citizen asked me what I had planned for the Christmas period - would I be going home to China for the holiday?

I gave her a blank look, but she didn't get the hint. I tried something more blatant, like telling her I was born here; moreover, so was my older brother, and my mum has been in New Zealand for over fifty years (much longer than your average skin-head).

Every now and then I get someone (with no ill intentions, mind) referring to me as "you people". It always turns into a monologue about how much they like Chinese food.

Just as well those people don't matter.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Oh, rigid am I ?

This quiz was kinda appropriate, since I just spent the last four weeks researching an assignment on the type and type design of a book called The Kama Sutra for Cats.

Roman Capitals
Roman Capitals- You have a proud and noble bearing,
and are of ancient pedigree, but you tend to be
very rigid and set in your ways.

What Calligraphy Hand Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Found at Meme Freak

Bah Humbug

Grumpiness is not an unusual mood for me, and if you've been hanging around either myself or this blog for a little while you'll know this is true. Well, I'm grumpy right now and here's why:

The folks at Mr Tran's, the sandwich shop near my work, made me a filled rolled with Cantonese-style barbeque pork filling. Yummy Chinese-y food. Why on earth then, did they feel compelled to add raw tomato, hard-boiled egg and grated cheese to the filling? Grated cheese and barbeque pork??

Another case of a mis-placed Asian ingredient - the library bus was parked outside an old-folks' home when I went in to return some things of theirs. On the way out, I noticed an elderly Asian woman - obviously a non-English speaker because of her age, her old-fashioned bob, her village-style clothes and the fact she was set apart from everyone else - sitting in the common room. She looked lonely and out of place in that way that someone does when they are surrounded by strangers. It made me really sad.

It was a lovely hot day today. It was certainly the wrong day to forget to take my water bottle onto the bus with me.

The drive home was hot too. As my car has no air-con, I have to wind the window right down and turn the fan right up. This has unpleasant results when the vehicle in front of me is spewing nasty, smelly diesel fumes.

I thought I'd drive to the pool in town today, instead of the one just past my house. Unfortunately, everyone in the city decided to drive to the same part of town. I couldn't get a park when I got there, and still took half and hour to get out of there.

When I got home, I still had to do the washing up before the boy would cook for me.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A nice surprise

A profile of yours truly is in the latest edition of our library newsletter. Unable to resist being at least a little tongue-in-cheek, I completed the sentence "Ask me about..." with the words "Buffy the Vampire Slayer". Well, the newsletter is now hot off the photocopier.

I had a thought that patrons might come to the desk to ask me about the novels rather than the television series, which would be a bad thing since I don't read the novels.

No-one has yet taken the bait, however.

One morning I walked up to my desk and there was a withdrawn Buffy novel on my chair. I asked one of the catalogers, since they are the ones who decided which books get withdrawn. Then I asked the woman who wrote up my profile. Finally I sent an email to the whole library to thank whoever it was who'd given me this present.

It was my manager. I think we'll keep him on for a while.

I'd rather be Casablanca

That's the movie which represents Make Tea Not War's love life. Why couldn't I have been that too, or at least a movie I've seen? I may have to rent this out now...
hedwig and the angry inch
Your romance is more of a love that needs to bloom
within, just like Hedwig of Hedwig and the
Angry Inch. The film features an East German
transsexual who is seeking her "other
half" after constant betrayal. You must
love yourself before you can need another.
You're starting to realize this, along with the
fact that you don't need a significant other to
be a complete person. Your "other
half" has been inside you all along.

What Romance Movie Best Represents Your Love Life?
brought to you by Quizilla

Monday, November 29, 2004

The agony is over -Type and Type Design for masochists

My presentation was the middle one of three. The first guy did his presentation on Stinky Cheese Man, and it turned out to be a fabulous choice. Much more experienced in the ways of children's fiction than I, he'd found a book to talk about which had a great variety of typefaces and layouts, heaps of funny lines and ingenious page designs. AND he knew who did the typography, what the typefaces were and what was the ancestor of each type. I was just relieved he didn't also have a charismatic speaking style.

I was pretty damn nervous when it was my turn. To make things worse, there was something wrong with Chatterbox so the slides couldn't be presented on-line. Too late, I had realised that I could've picked an easier topic to do my assignment on. Once, I talked for a good thirty seconds before realising I had taken my finger off the CTRL key, which meant that no-one could hear me.

The guy who presented after me cheated - he picked an artist's book by a typographer whose aim was to present a variety of interesting typefaces.

I have come to this conclusion - there are many types of geeks in this world, and book-geeks are the ones who measure book type to the nearest millimetre; they are the ones who can talk for a whole fifteen minutes on how to make vellum from the skin of a newborn calf without saying "Oooh, the poor little calf"; they are the ones who prefer to describe a book's physical appearance using code rather than just taking photos.

superstitions about sneezing

I found this, which still doesn't answer my question of why we couldn't have roast duck at my mum's birthday - but it's still kinda interesting. It's a list of superstitions surrounding sneezes, from cultures around the world. Fascinating.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

A Chinese custom, but not for the faint-hearted.

We all went out for Yum Char today, and towards the end of the meal one of my aunts started getting all fidgety. Before I could see it coming, she scrambled out of her chair to retrieve that piece of paper that all the waitresses put marks on - the one which is used to calculate the bill.

It was obvious there was going to be a fight over who got to pay the bill - there always is when Chinese take their friends or rellies out for a meal.

My aunt held that bit of paper tightly in her fist, and whenever I tried to take it away, the surprisingly agile seventy-something woman flicked it just out of my reach. My brother had an idea though, and this was one of those times when we were glad not everyone at the table could speak good English...

Despite that fact that we'd all stopped eating and there were plenty of leftovers, my brother announced that he wanted to get another plate of spring rolls - for his son at home, he said. We had to wait a long time for them to arrive, and in the meantime I kept trying to get my mitts on that piece of paper - unsuccessfully.

Then, the spring rolls arrived. My brother whispered in the waitress's ear that my aunt had the paper for her to mark - could she please hand it to him when she got the chance? My aunt caught on pretty quickly, but she was powerless to counter the attack. She had no choice but to give the waitress the paper, and my brother almost ripped it out of her hand in his haste. In the ensuing hilarity, somehow my mother got the credit for the ruse.

the right article at the wrong time

The evening before one is scheduled to do a presentation (worth thirty percent of the total grade for this paper), is not the best time to receive notice of what could have been an extremely useful article on presentations for librarians.


At this stage all I have time to do is talk myself through the Power Point slides until I can speak without using so many "um"s and nervous pauses.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Chinese Superstitions

In an effort to find out why exactly it is not a good thing to eat duck at an eightieth birthday (or any birthday?), I'm looking into Google for answers. (If you know of a good book which has the answer let me know.)

This site didn't have the answer, but it did have this interesting thing to say:

"Beating a person with a broom will rain bad luck upon that person for years." Well, it'll certainly seem like bad luck on the poor person getting beaten up won't it?

Joyce Jue reckons that you have to serve noodles as the last dish of a birthday banquet - we didn't. I wonder if it doesn't apply to octogenarians?

Here are some I know Mum believes in:
- Don't talk about people after they are dead
- Don't give candles as a birthday present - candles are a symbol of mortality or something
- If your palms are itchy, you're coming into money
- If a stray dog wanders into your home, feed it - it's good luck
- If you sneeze a few times and you don't have a cold or hayfever or something up your nose, expect to receive mail from someone you haven't heard from in a long time
- Don't have duck on your eightieth birthday (but chicken is okay and roast pork with crackling and fish are must-haves)

I'm sure there are more than that which I've forgotten.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Fri-day and Fri-night

Field Trip
Our team had a field trip today, to another city library two hours' drive away. The van ride over was pretty bumpy, frustrating any attempts to catch up on sleep after a restless, wild-weathered night and an unfeasibly early wake-up time (6.30am).

The library building was quite impressive - it looks quite like the Wellington Central Library but bigger. The day's tour also included a rundown of their Summer Reading Programme; a walk through their impressive archives rooms and computer room; and visits to their mobile library (it has a couch at the back!) and a branch library. It was obvious that they had more money to play with than we did, even taking into account that the population of the city is more than twice that of the city our library is in.

By about 3pm, the affects of sleep deprivation started to really affect me - my eyes were just begging to be allowed to close and stay that way. I was also worrying about getting away in time so that I wouldn't be late for my mother's birthday bash. I will always be grateful that no-one tried to persuade me to do my share of the drive back - grateful for as long as I remember, anyway.

The Eightieth Birthday

It was actually a lot more fun than I'd expected. We had a booking at a small northern Chinese restaurant known to be frequented by the likes of Peter Jackson and the Chinese Ambassador - we ordered heaps of food and everyone seemed to approve of the quality of it. My little nephew made a game out of "tunneling" under everyone's chairs around the table, popping his head up to greet whoever's knees were in front of him and disappearing as soon as a digital camera came out of an aunt's bag.

It was the first time any of the aunts and uncles had met my boy, and I was pleased that they seemed to like him despite his lack of Chinese ancestry. One aunt told me he was hot stuff (though not in those words) and that our future children would be very attractive; my uncle, a smoker like the boy, bonded with him outside over a couple of cylinders of the toxic weed. My wee niece was everyone's plaything; they were all falling over themselves to give her hugs and kisses and make silly faces at her.

It was all quite cool, really.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

The other big reunion

Too busy
This afternoon on the bus was a bit hairy - most of the good folks at the first old-folks home were on a Christmas outing, leaving some clueless skeleton crew (clueless in the sense that they didn't know to bring back the returned books and some afternoon tea things on a trolley). Not only did I not get tea and biscuits, but I had to haul a large crate full of hardback large-print books to the Home and bring the equivalent back again.

Then, at the second old-folks home, I had about ten elderly patrons both on and off the bus, to select and issue romances and family sagas to - all at the same time. I sure could've done with some back up. Then when it was time to pack up for the day, it took a good fifteen minutes for the laptop to log off.

And the boy is home again...
The boy arrived back in the country at noon today. No sign of the Levis or Clinique foundation I'd asked for, but I did receive two great souvenir t-shirts (one says NYPD on the chest and the other is a Yankees t-shirt, made in Taiwan).

Coming straight home to greet my long-lost love meant missing the only gym session that I could fit in this whole week, but there's no sense in being totally anal about stuff like that is there? Damn, but it's good to have him back, and not a day too soon because tonight's the night to put the rubbish out.

If only humans were always as nice to animals...

Dolphins protect a group of swimmers from a great white shark. I hope these creatures never end up in a tuna net.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Emily Strange

I came across this site and realised it was what a classmate was talking about, when she first saw my Bad Kitty t-shirt.

Initially it sounds a bit teenage, yet it reminds me of that character in the Ghost World movie - the girl who's really sarcastic and cynical and too intelligent for her own good.
I found it at Well dressed Librarian
Actually, I don't see myself as being anywhere near this fluffy. But the last two lines came true for me :-)

You Are a Lace Bra!

Dreamy, romantic, and ultra-feminine
You're a womanly woman who makes guys feel like men
Your perfect guy is strong, determined, and handsome
With a softer side that only you can draw out

What Kind of Bra Are You? Take This Quiz :-)

Measure your chances of dying from a horrible disease, here

Well, your chances of succumbing to diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and stroke anyway.

Created by the Harvard Center for Cancer Prevention, and sent to me by our resident archivist.

I did the diabetes test and scored above average on the likelihood of getting adult-onset diabetes - but I already knew that anyway. I didn't need any more bad news, so I haven't yet done the tests on the other conditions.

It's quite simple to do and easy to understand. Perhaps it's even over-simplistic, but hey, life is probably a lot simpler than we humans try to make it...

The Big Reunion

Tonight was the first big dinner with the whole family - my mother, the aunts and uncle who'd come over from Hong Kong and Auckland, my brother, his partner and their two kiddies. I know I did a bit of a rant and rave earlier about feeling pressured into spending more of my precious non-work time with them than I wanted - but it was genuinely nice to see them. It's actually been approximately nineteen years since I last saw the "rellies".

They all looked older of course; they're in their seventies by now. They told me I looked fatter, but I'm pretty sure that was meant as a compliment.

There was a huge spread of food - soy chicken and roast pork with crackling (Cantonese style of course), little won ton-like dumplings and stir-fried capsicum with bits of chicken. I surprised myself with the relative ease with which I joked with them. I thought I'd be much more awkward; unlike my brother, I never felt that close to them. It's a bit like socialising with one's old school headmaster - you can be friendly but you can't really relax.

The atmosphere changed once my brother and his lot left to put the kids to bed. The conversation turned to my mother's difficulties with getting around and with housekeeping. I was told that in Hong Kong, it's quite acceptable for the offspring to hire a housekeeper or cleaner for their aging parents.

They had a point. Mum is getting that way and there's always a chance that Mum wouldn't want to go live with my brother. It's certainly well worth looking into.

The Other Big Reunion
The boy rang up last night, sounding a little unhappy. The ex-wife is getting him down, and he can't find another place to stay because it's coming up to Thanksgiving. So the result is that he's coming home two days early. Being purely selfish about it, I'll be bloody glad to see him.

Monday, November 22, 2004

A clever-clogs book for clever-clogs people

I've just managed to finish The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde. Perhaps I should have started with the first in the series, because it took me a while to warm to the characters. Anyway, my overwhelming impression of this book is that it's very, very clever.

Fforde has incorporated tons of humorous literary references into this imaginative story of Thursday Next, literary detective, and her adventures in Book World. I can imagine that readers who are already familiar with the works of Austen, Dickens, D.H. Lawrence and so on would find it a huge chuckle. I got a chuckle here and there, but I'm certain that I missed a large number of in-jokes. My saving grace was perhaps knowing enough about computers to enjoy the software upgrade references to Book World's upcoming Book Operationg System. Despite my handicap though, I enjoyed it enough to finish the book and check out the previous one, Lost in a Good Book.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


I must apologise to my boy, for accusing him of stealing my nail clippers. I looked everywhere except where they're supposed to be. I hope he forgives me. Meanwhile I must've trimmed off enough of the keratin stuff to do some scratchy damage to any unsuspecting epileptic who might have a fit on my living room rug...

Looking for love on the Trade & Exchange?

I'm going to tell you about a blind date I went on. It was years ago, well before my boy was even a newly-minted immigrant.

There was this friend-of-a-friend, quite a bit younger than me, who was keen to meet someone. I wasn't averse to meeting someone nice either, although putting an ad in the local buy'n'sell newspaper wasn't how I'd hoped to do that. She wore me down though, claiming she was far too shy to advertise alone - too shy, in fact, to even ring up and place an ad at all.

This was possibly one of those times when I could have said "No".

I agreed to put in an ad for both of us, in the Trade & Exchange. The request was for two attractive men aged between 25 and 35 to meet two attractive women in the same age group. There was other stuff of course, to suggest that we were also highly intelligent, interesting and more than slightly sexy.

My friend was hoping for replies from men in their twenties, and - despite the fact that I was about 34 - so was I (this preference comes from experience - men my age seemed to let themselves go and get boring). I was a little disappointed that all the younger men who rang to leave messages, asked for my young friend; the men who wanted to talk to me were in their forties.

Eventually I called someone back, only because he had a nice voice. I don't remember his name, so I'll call him Lonely of Featherston. I let it pass when he told me he was single because his wife of twelve years had run off with another bloke. Then a little alarm bell went off when he mentioned that he liked Celine Dion. I silently chided myself for being so shallow. We talked further - he made leather jeans for a hobby, which he sold to friends. A strange hobby, I thought, but once again I let it go.

My friend had already selected a candidate to meet with at the pub the following Friday, so I took a gamble and arranged to meet Lonely of Featherston at the same time and place. That's when he said he hoped I didn't mind all-over tattoos, and that I would be able to identify him by his shirt with the large red dragon logo on it. By this time I felt I couldn't really back out without seeming rude (now I'm older I realise it's okay to be rude if you really need to).

I met him at the pub on the Friday. He was a skinny white guy in his late thirties, wearing leather-covered jeans and a shiny shirt with the promised dragon design. I lasted five minutes before I made a really feeble excuse and left the table.

Now, if it had turned out that he looked like Samantha's boyfriend from Sex and the City, I probably would've stuck around - at least until he brought up Celine Dion again.

p.s. My friend's blind date ended up meeting and falling into unrequited love with our mutual friend.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Nine tenths of the law

The boy has taken to using my face moisturiser. I wasn't all that happy about it, because I was the one buying it and it was thirty bucks a bottle (admittedly less than half as costly as that nice but criminally expensive Lancome product). On one of his pre-New York shopping trips (the staff at the Calvin Klein counter really love him), he actually took a detour to the cosmetic counter and bought a bottle of moisturiser to take away with him. Well that was gratifying.

But he didn't buy his own manicure set to take away; he's surreptitiously packed mine. This wouldn't be a big deal, but I'm an occassional eczema-sufferer who must always have trim nails. Removing an eczema-sufferer's nail clippers is like distributing thumb-tacks on the floor of an un-medicated epileptic. If I'm all scratched up and blotchy when he gets back it's his own damn fault.

Still miss him though.

All work and no play is making my eyes go all funny

Panic set in towards the end of last week when it really hit me that I have only a week and a half of non-working/sleeping/gyming/family hostessing/mother's taxi-driving time, in which to research, write up and present my assignment. I've responded to this by checking out, oh, a dozen very large books on typefaces, typography and book printing so I can bulk up my work with details.

I've only been staring at those books for two hours and already my neck is cracking like - I dunno, those scenes in the movies where the hero cracks his neck a lot before beating someone up...

I don't know which is more appropriate - valium to calm myself down, or mega-caffeine pills to speed up on the speed-studying.

All those times when Buffy's pals spent all night at the books looking for demon-identification tips - you'd think their eyes would go all funny too. But they were always bright-eyed and ready for demon-hunting action in the morning. Not I.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Happy Anniversary to this blog

This blog had it's first birthday on Monday. I'm not throwing it a party, and won't be giving it any presents. But thanks for hanging out with me :-)

Quiz Night

Since I don't have anyone to come home to for the next week and a bit, I decided to join our library team for the LIANZA quiz night. We didn't dress up, though a couple of other teams did, but we did come up with a prize-winning team name. Boguns' Heroes. (For my own personal definition of the word "bogun", see this post.

My best effort was in correctly matching four of Zeus' offspring with their respective mother's (or, in Athene's case, the oriface from which the offspring was born i.e. Zeus' forehead). My worst was telling the team scribe that Eurydice was the girl who had to spend every winter in Hades - it shoulda been Persephone.

Our team came sixth out of nine - nothing amazing but we beat the other two teams which were from public libraries. So you could say we won our category.

Anyway, I'm all tired because my boy woke me up at 3am with his phone call from New York, and I haven't done any study tonight because of the Quiz Night. That's why I'm blogging instead.

Oh yeah - no sign of The Little Shit this afternoon. I was almost sorry because I had a large black umbrella ready to fend him off, and one of the sterner librarians had come along for support.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

A tissue (gezundtheit)

Today, I inexplicably succumbed to hay fever. Inexplicable because I normally get it all-year round anyway and have the nasal spray to deal with it. I had the morning off (went for a walk, ended up in town, bought stuff), and when I got to work that familiar annoying tickle in my nostrils showed up. It's not a good look to be constantly pushing and pulling at one's nose, though it didn't seem to put off the kids signing up for the Summer Reading Programme. I had to keep swerving off to the Information Desk because I know there's a box of tissues there - possibly the only tissue supply in the whole library.

Use of public money to fund personal stomach-stapling is bad
I'm so glad that ACT is allowed to fire Donna Awatere-Huata. Knowing that she was still on her fat MP salary even after being found guilty of misappriating charity money, really appalled me. Now I can say nah nah nah nah nah...

Tonight's my second night on my lonesome. I've joked about having wild parties while the boy is away but I've become so accustomed to not having wild parties (and so much older and less able to stay up past 11pm) that I know it ain't gonna happen. It'll be early nights with one of my books, hours at the computer either researching or reading blogs and really crappy cooking (my own). Without my regular dose of loving neck- and back-rubs, I'm afraid I'll be rather Quasimodo-like by the time he gets back...

The reluctant hostess

The aunts and uncles from Hong Kong will be arriving on Monday. My brother has already sent me a schedule for the next two weeks, and it looks quite a lot like a tour schedule. We're at the the morning market so it must be Sunday - that kind of thing.

I suggested that, since they are here to see mum, not the country, we should give them heaps of time for lounging around. Perhaps let them have their mornings and only take them out some afternoons and evenings. They're seventy-somethings after all, and some of them aren't terribly mobile.

I'm planning on fighting familial pressure to spend all my non-working (and some of what should be my working-) time being a gracious hostess, by pointing out that:
(i) I have no paid leave left this year, and
(ii) I still have to study (including an assignment - already - due right in the middle of their second week in town.

There's no point in saying I want time to myself, since that isn't a particularly valid option in my family.

Have you had your chuckle yet today?

Mak's account of beyond-the-envelope family discussions nearly made me wet myself.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

He's so lovely...

The boy left for New York this afternoon. We talked briefly on the phone at midday, but I won't hear from him again probably until tomorrow sometime. What a pleasant surprise to find, on coming home, that he had already put out the rubbish and recycling before he left. He's so lovely (sigh).

Meanwhile, The Little Shit Incident continues to haunt me as my manager asks whether it's okay for him to bring it up at the Council-wide meeting tomorrow. Apparently this kind of thing has never happened here before (though it's a different story at the Winz offices where the benefits get handed out - or not). My manager wants to be sure to confirm what one is supposed to do in such a situation. For example, if I had retaliated by throwing a heavy book in The Little Shit's face, would I have gotten into trouble? How much force is an employee allowed to use to protect herself when threatened by violence, or attacked? How does one call on the Library Avenger for help - by taping an "A" to one's window at night?

I knew it!

A flirt and a charmer I may be, but beauty-obssesed I definitely am not...
Thanks, Meme Freak.

You are 67% Libra

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Do I see what you see?

Geez - all this time I thought that I didn't have a bruise on my cheek, but at least three people at work today told me they could make out some faint blueness. I can't make it out at all. I had my eyes lasered about four years ago, and my vision has gone back to shortsighted - though to a much lesser extent. So it's possible that I just don't see it because my eyesight's not as good as theirs. It kinda makes me wonder what other unsightly bits people see when they look at me. Perhaps all those pimples, moles, warts, birthmarks and freckles aren't being disguised by the application of foundation after all (don't be scared, I'm just exaggerating for effect here).

It takes me back to my teens, when I was already really shortsighted but just didn't realise how bad it was. I'd look in the mirror and be totally content with the soft-focus glow of my reflection. Regularly wearing the corrective spectacles plunged me into bouts of the blues; it was then that I noticed I wasn't as easy on the eye as I'd thought.

It gives deeper meaning to the saying "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder", doesn't it?

Monday, November 15, 2004

He's leaving.....on a jet plane

My boy's leaving me - just for a week and a half, mind. He's off to New York to visit his wee daughter, whom he hasn't seen for maybe two years. He's looking forward to seeing her, but apparently not so looking forward to seeing her mum (and I should bloody hope not!). I'll miss him, sure, but the silver lining is that I'll be able to spend more time studying (or watching Star Trek episodes) without worrying that I'm neglecting him. I should give him my shopping list before he goes, too - some Clinique foundation, some Levis jeans...

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Retail therapy as treatment for post-bashing trauma

I've been very surprised indeed that my face hasn't come up bruised from Friday's unpleasant incident. I've always bruised easily, (which is one thing I envy Buffy, apart from the fact that she's gorgeous, has truly legendary friends and can stake a vampire with a flick of her wrist) and was expecting tell-tale yellow and purple patches by now. So, no visit from the local police photographer.

I also went shopping; that always helps. My spoils include:

1. One interview-friendly jacket (y'know, just in case), just right for summer interrogations (are you sure that library book already had a tear on page 55?...)
2. Two Angel DVDs; now I'm only one away from a full Season One collection
3. One Emily Strange t-shirt - it's not as cool and alternative as the Bad Kitty t-shirt but it's a close second.

I've almost forgotten it happened.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

She's a boy!

Bloody hell. On the front page of the Dominion Post today was an article uncovering the real bizgirl.

That is, Natalie is a bloke.

It's news because the blog won the Netguide Best Personal Blog award at an award ceremony last night. The audience was expecting it to be collected by a girl in a slinky dress (she does after all call herself "international librarian of mystery") and was more than a little surprised when a very male-looking person claimed it.

I always thought it was suspicious that someone on a mere librarian salary could afford to dress herself in World.

Friday, November 12, 2004

The Little Shit

One of the library bus stops is in a relatively rough part of town. It’s not like there are drug deals going on outside the shops, or prostitutes at every corner – it’s just a bit more low-income, with a bigger share of recent immigrants than the rest of the city. It’s the stop where gloomy-faced B. nearly always shows up to collect her senior fiction and browse the Woman’s Weeklys. It’s where the bald English playwright comes to borrow from the Talking Book collection. It’s also where I got punched in the face this afternoon.

The kid, whom I’ll refer to as The Little Shit, is a skinny African kid who looks maybe twelve years old. He was hanging around the bus, but not coming in. Finally he did come on board the bus. The Little Shit asked to look at the soccer book which I had only just this minute checked in and shelved; I gave it to him. Then the other two people on the bus left. It was a couple of minutes before I had to leave this stop and drive the bus back to the main library. Then The Little Shit, who’d been polite though slightly strange, asked me about the CDs, etc. – normal stuff that kids on the bus always ask. Anyway, it turned out he didn’t have his library card and I couldn't wait for his sister to show up with it ‘cos it was already time to go.

And that’s when he socked me on the cheek with a strong right hook.

He scooted out the door before I could grab a dictionary and hurl it at him, and I’m embarrassed to say that I immediately lost my temper and called him a “little fucking bastard”. More than once, and really quite loudly the second time.

I was sooo angry. So angry that I did what I often do when I’m really angry. I cried (and that’s even more embarrassing – why couldn’t I express anger by simply beating him up?)

Back at the library, I told my boss, who really looked after me. She went with me to the police station where I gave a statement (and realised just how un-prose-like my speaking style really is), offered to do my Saturday shift tomorrow (of course I said yes, I’m a big softie but I’m not soft in the head) and made me promise to ring her tomorrow and assure her I’m okay. (She’s usually way too motherly for my liking, but this time I really appreciated it.) The rest of the library staff were really supportive too – I got lots of concerned murmurs and a second offer to do my Saturday shift tomorrow.

I came straight home instead of going to the pool – I needed to tell my boy about it and hear him offer to “kick the shit out of him” and indeed that made me feel a lot better.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

dry with a capital "D"

Considering how appealing The Art of the Book sounded in the prospectus, and how engaging the first class was, the readings we have to do are as dry as dust. Surely even a scholar should be able to write interestingly about a subject as fascinating as books-as-objects. Or maybe there's a job for the Carl Sagan of bibliography, if there is one.

Actually, that's something I'd really like to do - rewrite dry-as-dust texts to make them readable, understandable and fun. Unfortunately this would require in-depth knowledge of these texts in their original, dense form. Life is too short.

ugly bridesmaid's dresses

No Milk has been to a wedding in San Francisco, and one of his post-post links is this one about ugly bridesmaid's dresses.

I've never been a bridesmaid, so I've been spared the potential horror of wearing something embarrassingly unflattering in public, captured forever in the wedding photos. Maybe Kiwi brides are classier (or kinder); in the last few weddings I've either attended or seen photos of, the bridesmaids wore elegant, understated gowns which wouldn't have looked out of place at the Oscars.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

car trouble

Yesterday morning I was on a mission to get into town for a quick (and secret) appointment and then go on to work, hopefully not getting in too late and thereby attracting concerned looks and questions from my boss. Speed was of the essence.

Rushing about so much that I forgot to take my gym gear for later, I was shocked and stunned (a cliche, but perfectly accurate in this case) to see that some idiot had parked across my driveway. Normally when this happens, nothing makes me jump with glee more than getting the Parkwise guys over and watching the offending vehicle be towed away. But this morning I had no time for such fun. Fortunately I was pretty sure the person who'd parked there would be found in the double-storey house opposite. And she was.

As if that wasn't bad enough (I was almost late for my appointment), I had a problem when I was ready to leave town and go to work...

My car was parked in a car parking building, and at the time there were no other vehicles there. When I returned an hour later, my car was flanked by fat four-wheel drives (or four-by-fours or SUV, depending on where you're living). I couldn't get my car out.

Actually I could get my car out, but only with the help of the parking attendant who directed my eight-point turn. It was not a good day to have forgotten to wear anti-perspirant.

I was half an hour late to work. Just as well my boss didn't show up till midday.

vampire watermelons and spider phobias

The boy sent me this Wikipedia article about vampire watermelons. I was very skeptical, and there's always a chance that upon revisiting the site I'll find it's been 'corrected'. But if it's true, then isn't it fascinating! According to the article, it's an old Romanian thing which also applies to pumpkins and anything else left outside after around Halloween. Halloween pumpkins would certainly make more sense, knowing this. But watermelons? Apparently they aren't too scary to Romanian folk because watermelons don't have teeth.

One of my co-workers has a spider phobia - this explained why she sent a library patron to me, to colour photocopy some pictures of spiders. But the amusing thing was that she felt compelled to wash her hands after having to handle some books on the subject. (We all know books are great germ-carriers anyway, so it wasn't wasted effort.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

local hero...kind of

I don't actually know Sandro Kopp, but I feel as though I do in an acquaintance-y kind of way. He's a painter of nudes whom I came across in a prospectus for an art school, way back when I was considering going there. I really like his nudes - they remind me a little of Lucien Freud - and now I find that not only was he an elf extra in The Lord of the Rings, but he's also going to play a centaur in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He doesn't look beefy enough to me, to play a centaur, but he certainly could pass for an elf.

Monday, November 08, 2004

The Grudge (the original one)

We saw this last night on DVD. You can tell it's by the same guy who made Ring, because some of the same motifs are used - the loud ringing phone, the distorted photographs, the blurring of the border between tv/video-land and real life, the dead who come back...

It'll give you the heebie-jeebies too (full marks for creepiness), but the story doesn't make as much sense as the plot of Ring did (and Ring's plot didn't give much closure either). It'll be interesting to see how the American version works out, whether it tries to spell out an understandable story line for Western viewers.


Due to a major balls-up in the roster, I'm working half an hour less than I should. It's only half an hour earlier than normal, but - due to the fact that I had rostered time off this morning to make up for working this coming Saturday - my total work time for Monday is...four and a half hours. Woo hoo!

(small pleasures...)

There's money in them thar first editions

I was finishing up on the reading I've had to do for the first module of my course 'The Art of the Book', and there was one thing left to do before the class tonight. I was to pick a favourite book, and search online for all the various editions it's been publshed as, including finding the market value for first editions and so on.

My favourite book is Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Philosophy.

I wasn't expecting to be able to find much, and sure enough I didn't. As far as I could tell, there has only ever been one edition (2003), and it's not worth any more now than it was when it was first published.

So, racking my brains for a more likely candidate, I though of The Golden Bough. It's a book I haven't even seen a copy of yet, much less read. But it is a book I've been looking for on and off for the last year, ever since a similarly mythologically-inclined library patron recommended it to me. It turned out to be a fairly good choice, because there are lots of editions of this book, most of them being variations of the 1922 abridged edition. There are several editions before that, too.

It's left me wondering why the 1890 first edition was just two volumes while the 1906 edition was twelve, for one thing. I do know that someone is selling their third edition copy for one thousand dollars US.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

good food, bad food

What a small world...
On Friday night we went out for curry 'n' fireworks with some friends (it was Guy Fawkes night). I'd arranged to meet one of my friends at a local Irish pub; spotting him, I went over and found him sitting next to a guy he'd just met - who turned out to be an old tramping buddy from my university days. I then found out that his girlfriend at the time, whom I also knew, used to go to school with my friend! We missed half of the fireworks on the harbour, but what we saw of them was great. I just love fireworks.

Family blahs...
Yesterday was the kind of day that makes me fantasise about leaving the country, freeing myself from daughterly duties forever. My main worry is that I'm going to just as much of a pain in the arse when I get to my mother's age; if my boy leaves me by then I won't be able to hold it against him. According to his partner, my brother has apparently been showing signs pain-in-the-arseness too. It's a kind of fixatedness they have, which results in major tantrums if they don't get the half-price bargain they really really want right now. I think that my brother's partner and my nephew are the two sanest people in my family right now.

Dicing with porcelain-hugging...
Then there was a house-leaving barbeque last night; a past brush with the deadly cryptosporidium has left the boy extremely wary of barbeque food. I bought a couple of pork steaks so that at least I would have something to eat. It was very ironic when the boy caved in to temptation but chose to eat a sausage instead of one of the steaks ( was the sausage that did you in two Christmases ago...).

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Relatives en masse

I found out a couple of weeks ago that a bunch of relatives are coming over from Hong Kong for a visit - my uncle (my mum's brother), his wife and my aunt (my mum's sister) have taken advantage of some cheap airfares to come to New Zealand. So they're stopping off in Auckland to visit another aunt and the four of them are coming to my hometown to visit my mother.

It's going to be a houseful of seventy-somethings.

My brother was complaining that they could've chosen a more convenient time to make the journey; he's an architect and in the middle of the busiest time of his working year. For me of course, there are only two three-week periods of the year in which I'm not juggling full-time work with part-time study; this is not one of those times. Still, it would be nice to see them, and we'd be bad hosts if we didn't at least try to spend as much time as possible showing them around the place. For two of them it will be their first time ever in this country.

It was a revelation to realise that they are all here to celebrate my mum's eightieth birthday, something which the birthday girl herself denied wanting to doing anything about.

My brother has arranged a late lunch meeting at my mum's house today, to work out among the three of us how we are going to keep everyone entertained. Perhaps I'm paranoid, but I interpret it as a meeting to bully me into doing the bulk of the driving. I should have told him that the two of them could just work it out themselves and let me know later - that's what they usually do anyway.

Unfortunately, the boy isn't going to be around much of the time - he's going overseas for ten days to visit his wee daughter. So not only will I miss his support, but the rellies aren't going to get to meet him.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

email fiends, unnecessary lists and the challenge of making church history look interesting

For the second time in as many months, the Information Management department at the university has succumbed to some sort of e-mail virus. My in-box keeps filling up with multiple copies of some meaningless piece of mail, sent from the university; I can't delete it all in one go without also deleting the stuff I want to keep.

Plus, I think I've joined a couple of Book History-related dscussions lists too soon. So far I've received about ten e-mails about the history of Jane Austen's Emma.

I've got two displays to put up next week, one for an Anglican church and the other for a Catholic rest home. The use of fake religious relics would be tacky. White is a nice, Christian colour - but not terribly interesting (unless I add gold, then it might become tacky). At least they aren't going to incite any religious warfare, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

no accounting for taste

I don't understand it, and I probably never will. Why oh why oh why does the boy insist on buying DVDs of movies which even he admits are rubbish?

He came home with Van Helsing last night; apparently he just couldn't help it - he had to get it. And yet we both went to see it in town a while ago and I'm sure he was just a scathing of it as I was. Well, maybe slightly less. He certainly didn't rave about it.

The boy just has a habit of wanting to see films even if everybody he knows has derided it. I only narrowly missed being pressured into seeing the second Tomb Raider movie (the first one was one of the suckiest action movies I've ever seen).

If I'd just met the guy, and he revealed his taste for awful movies, I woulda dumped him then and there - so it's just as well for him I already fell for him by then, eh?

More Tim Tams for me.

Usually when I do the bus on Wednesday afternoons I'm accompanied by another library assistant, because there are heaps of oldies to help up and down the steps on this particular run.

My usual accomplice has been bitching for ages about the waste of resource in sending her with me; last Friday she got her wish - I was to do the run alone in future.

So today was my first Wednesday afternoon bus run on my own; obviously, this coincided with a busier-than-usual afternoon. The most worrisome thing was that I would have to reverse the bus for about ten metres without anyone to watch and ensure that I didn't run over an old biddy and her walking frame.

The most rewarding thing was that the nice people at one of the nursing homes brought out Tim Tams and tea to the bus, and the ex-accomplice loves Tim Tams (cookies with multiple layers of chocolate in various textures, for you North Americans).

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Questions, questions

Yesterday's difficult request from a customer:

"I want to see a map of Poland as it was before World War II, showing all the towns. But I can't remember the name of the town I'm interested in."
(Not in the two books of Polish history, nor in the world history atlases).

Today's unusual phone request from a customer:

"I've got dog hair all over the flooring in my car, and using the vacuum cleaner hasn't helped get it off. Can you tell me how to get the dog hair out?"
(A quick answer, found on the Internet, was to rub it with your rubber-gloved hand or roll some sellotape over it). My boss overheard me and told me I should've just told him to come to the library for the house-cleaning books.

I think it might finally be summer. In my lunch break I went outside to read, and had to return indoors after a while because my black hair soaked up too much heat and cooked my brain (that's my excuse anyway).

Monday, November 01, 2004

The original celluloid blood-sucker

We watched Nosferatu on DVD last night. It was genuinely creepy; Count Orloff is damned ugly and not at all seductive like, say, Dracula; his shadow is even creepier than his person.

I did find the soundtrack a little distracting; it's a load of avant-garde music which is alternately spooky and simply peculiar. Also, knowing how old the film is was a distraction too. Every time I saw a scene of waves crashing I'd think "Those are waves crashing eighty-odd years ago...". I'd see young Ellen, the heroine, and think "She's no doubt dead and rotting in her grave by now...".

We saw Shadow of the Vampire quite a while ago - I think I should watch it again so I'll get the jokes.


Thanks, Pickwick.
Lots of this applies to me, but I certainly do care what others think (though I wish I didn't). Also, I only love children when they aren't being bratty, noisy and messy. Not sure about the outer beauty either. You'd have to ask someone else.

Loves to chat. Loves those who loves them. Loves to
takes things at
the center. Inner and physical beauty. Lies but
pretend. Gets angry often. Treats friends
importantly. Always making friends.
Easily hurt but recovers easily. Daydreamer.
Opinionated. Does not care of
what others think. Emotional. Decisive. Strong
clairvoyance. Loves to
travel, the arts and literature. Touchy and easily
jealous. Concerned. Loves outdoors. Just and
Spendthrift. Easily influenced. Easily loses
confidence. Loves children.

What does your birth month say about you?
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The study break that wasn't

My current study break is three weeks long - that is, there are three weeks between the last class in trimester two and the first class of trimester three. But it's really so much less than that; the first week of the study break was spent finishing an assignment, and the last week will be spent doing the required reading in preparation of the next class which is next Monday. So, in all, I had a break of a week in which I could read purely for pleasure, research only the subjects I'm interested in and write for fun instead of for credit.

And the next super-sucky thing is that, over Christmas, I get a mere one and a half weeks off school.

One of those big questionsI wonder why, when I forget the key to the branch library, I don't remember I need it until I've already driven the fifteen minutes through the suburbs to get there from the main library?

Making Murphy's Law work for me
Considering how I've often been passionately interested in something right up until I commit to it by spending up on materials, classes, outfits or whatever...I should commit myself to being a library assistant at my library for forever - thereby ensuring an offer to work for big bucks at an art school library doing whatever the hell I like...

Sunday, October 31, 2004

More of the usual

Emotional torture
Today I spent a whopping 5 1/2 hours doing daughter-ly duties. That's two hours shopping at the market (including one hour of my mother telling me what was wrong with me), one hour at the cemetary and another half hour at the supermarket. I settled down after I got home and went for a long walk up the hill and back, but it's days like these which make me consider telling the boy to get a job in Seattle.

Yeh-yeh's garden
My brother and my nephew came along to the cemetary to do the ancestor-worship thing; my nephew calls it "going to Yeh-yeh's garden" (or "going to grandfather's garden"). I think it's a cute euphemism, since it's essentially what we're doing. We go to the grave, we replace the dried up flowers from last time with a fresh bunch, and we kow-tow.

Angel revisited
We bought Season One of Angel yesterday, and watched the first half of it last night. I'm enjoying it the second time around heaps more than when I first watched it.

Friday, October 29, 2004

The curse of the culinarily inattentive traveller

Reading through the old travel diary I wrote when I was in India (many years ago), it strikes me that I’d spent quite a bit of writing effort in describing what I ate, how much it cost and how delicious it was. You know, I’m one of the few people I know who actually gained weight in India. Not so lucky was Sarah P, who was in my tour group; she got sick after her first dinner in Bombay, and over the remainder of the three week trip she never got to ingest anything more than chai and moderate amounts of plain, white rice.

It’s not as though I have an iron digestive system though, because I’ve succumbed to variations of Delhi Belly/Bali Belly/Montezuma’s Revenge/[enter your euphemism here] all over the world:

1. Right after I graduated from university, I went to China with my brother and my mother. It was only for nine days; I got sick right after a particularly delicious vegetarian lunch and for the next week I couldn’t go anywhere near food without going a nice Kermit-green.

2. I went to Paris with my brother and stayed in at a mate’s place. Our thank-you to the friend was a pot of homemade won tons in soup, created from ingredients at a local Asian supermarket. Not used to central heating (it was mid-winter), I didn’t realise that it would be extremely foolhardy to reheat and eat the leftovers which had been sitting on the stove for three days. This was on the last day of my stay before returning to Edinburgh; I was so sick and miserable that when my male flatmate got home I rushed out to meet him and garner some sympathy, in my underwear. Also, I missed Hogmanay, which I have always regretted.

3. Before I went on the Inca Trail, I was told that water boils at a lower temperature at altitude. Boiling water therefore isn’t sufficient to kill all the germs that make a person hug her toilet bowl. I ignored this piece of information because I didn’t get around to buying purification tablets. While I didn’t get really sick this time, I did have a queasy four days.

4. Back at home, I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve made myself sick with inadequately thawed beef and four-day old milk-and-sugar sweets which I bought from an Indian stall in a fit of nostalgia (yes, that was only this last week).

Meanwhile, Rough Guide has been a little harsh about various bits of New Zealand. I think the author's view is fair though, and I'm inclined to agree with him/her about Auckland and Wellington.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Habits, body fat, angry people and books (not at the same time)

It's got to mean something when just for one evening I can't seem to access my favourite blogs, nor post to my own blog, and I get all antsy and anxious in that tight-around-the-shoulders kind of way. What a relief when I tried again tonight and it was all a-ok.

After almost a whole year since my last fitness test down at the gym, I relented and said would get another one done. I haven't been particularly keen because, even though I've tried to go three times a week, I know that my exercise levels are lower than they were. What hasn't helped is that the boy, who is in charge of the cooking in this household, has been feeling a bit tired in the evenings and resorting to home-delivered fast food or supermarket pizza. My reluctance to have the results of the last ten months of gym attendance quanitifed was completely justified though - although I am much fitter than I was last time, I am also heavier and wider. I was not pleased.

I've been a bit unlucky with getting "difficult" customers in the last couple of days:

a woman who complained bitterly how bad she thought the library was (when pressed, all she could come up with was that it's not big enough and not open for enough hours on Saturdays);

a woman who somehow had two library accounts but only one library card (and so did her daughter. I didn't say so, but we blame her);

a woman who wanted to print off a file on a disk, and didn't realise that her Microsoft Works file would not open on the library computer because it only has Word etc., and doesn't have the Works-Word translator software loaded. She then spent the next hour re-creating a lengthy document on Excel, only to find that we couldn't get the file to print out properly (it's a long story, don't send me any fixes!). Red-faced and pissed off, she left in a huff.

I've only just realised that all those customers were women - I'm sure it's just a coincidence. Anyway, it was really draining.

I'm really enjoying Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex, and Paul Linde's Of Spirits and Madness - the former is about a Greek family starting from the moment a brother and sister realise they're in love with each other, told from the point of view of their transgender grandchild Cal. It's really easy to read considering it's a literature award winner. The latter is a really interesting and well-written account of an American psychiatrist's time in Zimbabwe, trying to meld his own rationalist education and culture with the spiritualist one of the locals.

It's only a couple more weeks before I have to abandon the leisure-reading for the text books...