Saturday, December 31


It's new year's eve and I'm watching a Mahler concert on TV. They're taking their last opportunity to mark the centenary of his death. I'm loth to take my eyes from the screen, where the English subtitles make it possible to understand the Bavarian lyrics for once.

Who would have thought so much gloom and death could be so beautiful? When I was a third of my current age and I heard it for the first time, I was stoned and tried to dance to it.

Listening last week to a Mahler radio concert, I heard the (Australian) announcer's mispronounciation of Kindertotenlieder. He changed "songs on the death of children" to "songs on the cakes of children", much more seasonally appropriate. It's actually quite common for the Aussie slapdash approach to yield random new meanings, which can add to the richness of language. But is it art when it's purely accidental?

(roboPhone post)

Friday, December 30

headroom for blissheids

On the walk last week, we came to a cave in the cliff, with a narrow opening but a massive inside.

Ivan said that when he were a lad he walked the coast for a couple of weeks with his mates. On their last night they found this very cave. Delighted not to have to pitch their tents, they made a fire in here and slept on the floor. Imagine!

The cellmate's standing on her own, and you can just see two more of our party at the very back of the cave.

Ivan and another rellie, outside the cave:

I took the pictures with the wonderful TopCamera app, well worth the $3. I've been able to delete several different free camera apps, since TopCamera does everything (and more) in one app.

BTW, my least favorite app, of the 700 apps on my iPhone, is the one called Phone. As an applied misanthropologist, what would I need that for?

(iPhone post)

Wednesday, December 28

palindromedia - old dear and her wee sister

It would have been the old dear's birthday a few days ago. This was her and her sister in about 1930.

I know I can

I think I will! I'm going to do it. I know I can! I'm going to open the 8.5% Schneider Doppelbock. I may be some time.

BTW, Albert has twat a link to an article about ecstasy and depression. I can't embed links from this phone, so you'd have to paste it into your browser:

(roboPhone post)

Next day: I'm sorry but I could only get half way through the bottle. That stuff's only godd for getting blootered.

Monday, December 26

one down, one to go

Yesterday at the jamboree that we had to host, I drank a whole bottle and a half of beer, but amidst all the hooha it was impossible to tell if it had any effect. Some pleasures are best enjoyed alone.

On the plus side, the left over food will feed us for days. Someone left a whole bowl of trifle.

Today boxing day it's all repeated at an outlaw's place. This photo from yesterday is all over the place, appropriately.

Sunday, December 25

holiday reading

One thing I enjoy about spending the holidays away from home is knowing that, if I open the diary app on the phone, instead of the usual jumble of reminders and appointments, I see a whole week of NOTHING!

Yet to the cellmate, that idea's a terrifying vision of hell. No people, no distractions.

I've been reading books from the shelves in the mother outlaw's house:

My first Alexander McCall Smith - gentle but meandering, only interesting for all the references to Embra. I won't read any more.

Tear His Head Off His Shoulders by Nell Dunn. This is more like it. The friendship between two middle aged women. Riveting and real. And raunchy, especially when you remember it was written nearly forty years ago. Sexual desire from a woman's point of view. Hot! And there's an impromptu Gestalt session in the middle of it. What a writer! My favorite book in a long time.

A Life Like Other People's. Alan Bennett's memoir about his parents, especially his mother's mental illness. I prefer his fiction.

Now I'm just starting The Weekend, by the Bavarian guy who wrote The Reader.

There's a dearth of computer manuals in the mother outlaw's house, but at least I've loaded a 700-page programming textbook on the iPad, which I have actually enjoyed dipping into, in preparation for next year's work.

Santa brought me nearly nothing, which is appropriate as one gets older. I wish you guys the same, just good health.

Friday, December 23

jogging first steps

Yesterday I went jogging through the neighborhood, for more than five minutes (not necessarily consecutive), and without activating any injuries.

The mother outlaw's house us in a Maori area, where most people are built like tanks, and I don't think they had seen a jogging skeleton before. There's a drug dealer's house next door, which some people might find handy for Christmas presents.

This morning I feel as if I've run a marathon. Jogging must take a different kind of fitness from long walks.

The outlaws are quietly churchy and not very material, so in the spirit of anti-consumerism, I wondered what roadside junk I could make into presents.

I found some colourful gifts for a one-legged new mother.

Safety knife.

Organic clothes brush.

For Albert's stocking

Thursday, December 22

more NZ attractions

Staying at the mother outlaw's place, it was cold to start with, but I found some warm clothes in a wardrobe. The cellmate wasn't pleased with me wearing her mother's gear. Not because of the cross dressing aspect (she's used to that), but because of the disrespect to someone who's not dead yet. Fair enough. Tact doesn't run in my family.

Yesterday 5 of us went out to the coast for a walk. I tried out the excellent free Photosynth app by Microsoft, for pasting together panoramas from several pictures. You can get multiple fingers into one shot.

Last night at the brother outlaw's place I tried another new beer. I wonder how it got its name. It was stronger than Albert's home brew, and more bitter.

If the excitement ever flags, we'll have to use this coupon:

Wednesday, December 21

the Deid Folk Remembrance List

I was telling someone recently that there's only 4 people on my list of dead people I often think of with love.

1. The most recent addition to the list is the old dear. She did her best to look after me when I was wee. Even if she wasn't that good at it, and she wasn't really a very nice person, she still gave me a lot. And since she died, I'm awash with empathy.

2. There's the wee old lady with polio who loved me unconditionally (and when she died left me three grand, back when that seemed a lot).

3. There's Denny, wife of my body, who left me mind blowing loving memories, that'll be with me to the grave. I think of her every day now, even though people would say she's the least deserving on my list. Killed herself or wasted away, the jury's still out.

4. And there's Dazzle who was a proper friend and an inspiration. I abandoned him, but years later he gave me shelter when I was lost. He died young, and I didn't. A guy who never did a single malicious deed ever. I can remember his voice and his repertoire of laughs - choking, screeching, or braying.

That's a total of three women, and one alien.

But wait! There's more! How could I have forgotten the others? Three males. It all balances up.

5. The old man. He's been dead 20 years, and I think better of him now than I ever did when he was alive. If you don't grow to love your father some time before you die, there's something wrong with you, not him. And you would never take pride in the ways you're like him. Ideally, you would be able to love him while he himself is still alive, but you can't have everything.

6. The uncle who was going to leave me all the gold bars one day, even though that's not going to happen. (I sold his gold watch to a pawnbroker last week, for $100). But he gave me insight into how men of power engage with the world. And I admire things about him, though he was nothing like me. He was terrified of death. I'm not bothered if I die tonight, I just don't want the loneliness of a lingering demise.

7. Reluctantly, I sometimes think of the stepfather who died this year. I don't think I ever liked him, but he took care of the old dear for 30 years, and that deserves a medal.

That's my list.

I think the Japanese have this elder-respect at the core of their lives, or at least the Shinto ones do. I used to see it as a repressive tendency, but now I reckon it's also a kind of ongoing meditation, or maybe contemplation.

(roboPhone post)

Tuesday, December 20

NZ for and against

So far, some of the best things about NZ: real apples, proper cheese, chummy people. Ice cream you could eat by the bucket. The mobile broadband is so fast! Possibly because there's not enough people living here to clog it up.

Some less good things: the tap water is disgusting in Auckland, with a nauseating smell - imagine athlete's foot ointment mixed with swimming pool water. The TV is on a par with Bavarian telly, and a good excuse not to even switch on. The only Bavarian beer I could find was big bottles of Schneider Doppelbock - 8.5% alcohol. I would have bought some, but it would only have made me drunk. Local beer here tastes like lemonade.

PS I went back and bought the Doppelbock, but am I man enough to drink it?

Sunday, December 18

a new year resolution

I've got about 100 hours of jazz radio tapes that I made when I lived in jockland. I know all this music so well. I really love it. Listening to it nutritionates nutrifies neuters I mean nourishes my soul. Makes me so glad to be alive.

Ten years ago I copied it all from tapes onto CDs. It took a while.

Yet I never play it! It's always too much trouble, or else the cellmate doesn't like it. Next year I'm going to listen to all of it at least once. Then all the classical stuff too.

In fact, I'm going to play some of the music over the P.A. at work, while I'm with the clients. I'll retire soon anyway, and it's hardly even a sacking offence.

On a related matter, I had two successes at work this year.

One was taking green tea to my work with the clients, despite there being a "no food or drink" sign on the wall.

The other success was when I met my boss last week and he told me what work he had allocated me for next year. I said I'd happily do the tasks I like, but that I wasn't interested in doing the other stuff. This week he fobbed the unwanted jobs onto someone else, and filled up my timetable with more stuff that I like doing.

This last bit might be relevant. I visited the mother outlaw in her old folks home today. She's better than when I saw her in hospital earlier in the year. But drops off every few minutes, at least when I'm there :) These places impress me as an argument for euthanasia (voluntary, but with incentives to make it appealing to the executees). Make it a respectable social ritual.

(roboPhone post)

Thursday, December 15


On the plane yesterday, I watched Midnight In Paris by Woody Allen. Marion Cotillard plays a gorgeous wide-eyed character, reminiscent of a stoned young DB. Recommended but silly (the film, not the DB).

Great to be away for two whole weeks, even if it's not the most exciting place in the world. When I was only 40, I backpacked here on my own, and scrounged a bed in a rural village. There were no curtains in the bedroom, and the view from the bed kept me awake most of the night. Looking down the valley in the moonlight, you could watch the cloud formations unfolding below you. Astounding. The Maori name of the country is Land Of The Great White Cloud.

The first thing we did when we got here was visit the telecoms shop, to buy data for the pocket modem, and SIM cards for the phones. Get the priorities right: land in another country, and immediately cling to the rest of the world. Pathetic really. On our first night here, we played Internet scrabble between bedrooms.

(roboPhone post)

Thursday, December 8


Albert has insisted I post some of his recent animal studies.

The first is a well-fed pigeon.


This chap is called, I think, a water dragon. He's worth clicking on, to see his full majesty.

water dragon

Here in NSC, we have lizards too, and there's currently a fat healthy one resident in the garden. He's got no tail, probably thanks to the dog. For him, the dog's death must be a big relief. It all balances up. I'll get a photo of him some time, but meanwhile here's one of his mates on the road in front of the house. The dog's saying - it wisnae me! Or I'm sure you can think of a caption.

Wednesday, December 7


From a recent walk in the park. These birds live up to 120, mate for life, and are pretty smart. Albert's dog once killed one in the back garden.

reunions, re unions

I've been sent some photos of the recent class reunion. The bad news is that the biggest basturn now looks incredibly well-preserved. The good news is my old friend from my teenage years, whom I last saw when I was 17, looks well-preserved in the sense of having spent a lifetime pickling himself. Hats off to him though, it must have taken a lot of stamina. It would be disloyal of me to post the photo.

Albert used to defend capitalism as the least worst system ever, but the big banks have been an eye-opener, and as a protest he now keeps his gold bars in a hole in the garden. But Albert's about to experience business ethics at first hand. His employer is playing hardball with its thousands of staff, bringing in a specialist hatchet man to eff everyone around until half of them get pissed off enough to leave. Avoids paying redundancy money. The background is even more sordid and devious, and probably best told in an email. I don't want to cause Albert even more grief.

Meantime, Albert says his viewing tonight will include a documentary called My Strange Addiction: "A thirty-one-year-old woman has been addicted to sleeping with her blow dryer since she was eight years old, and another woman has admitted to eating half a roll of toilet paper every day." He's going to tape it for me.

Thursday, December 1


Had to go and farewell the departing clients at the pub last night. One of them, the worst of the bunch, had the cheek to suggest I buy a round for all 20 of them. Fortunately one of the sensible ones bought me my first drink, and set an example.

Lovely to sit with well groomed Asian lovelies, and talk rubbish to each of them in turn. The pub's so loud, you have to lean forward and shout in her ear, but on the plus side you get an eyeful of fragrant cleavage. On the minus side, it's so close up, you'd need reading glasses to focus. Another reminder it's all downhill from here.

(roboPhone post)