Thursday 25 April 2013

Follow Friday - Carrot Facts

Follow @RealCarrotFacts for all your carrot needs.

Lots of vegetables have Twitter accounts (Hass Avocados, for example). Where there's an account though, there must be a parody account.

We Live in a Small Town

We live in a small town, and Twitter makes it smaller.

There's a lot I could say about the relative merits of privacy and the value of knowing one's neighbours, but I just want to share this story about rainbows.

Follow Friday - wwwtxt

What did you do on the internet, in the olden days? @wwwtxt reminds us.

Sunday 21 April 2013

Playing Ukulele

My ukulele band have played two gigs this week. It was the first time I'd performed with them; I've only been playing uke for about six months now.

I'd forgotten how difficult and how rewarding performing can be - the last time I was on stage was high school choir and I certainly didn't get to sing a solo then.
A group of people sitting behind music stands, holding ukuleles, discussing something animatedly.
Playing ukulele is heaps of fun. We practise at the pub weekly, and I toodle alone at home a couple of times a week. It's fun to play, but it's hard to perform in front of an audience.

Our first gig was at a special school in Mangere (imagine quote marks around the word "gig" maybe, but the school gave us each a box of chocolates, so we are technically professional musicians). The kids were a perfect audience - they danced and sang and generally really enjoyed having us there (and not being in class).

It was harder to sing in front of people I know, people I really care about. Especially since I'm not, you know, very good. (What if I miss that note and I see them cringe?)
Jeremy, singing, and me, looking worried.
Despite that, there's something primal about making music in a group. Something about lifting your voice in harmony with others that feels more than right, that feels satisfying on some deep level.

I led the singing on With a Little Help From my Friends and then after the show we sat and drunk beer and talked for hours and I thought about how lucky I am.
Four people, holding ukuleles. I am looking down and smiling - someone else is grinning and waving at the camera.

Tuesday 16 April 2013


Over the weekend, my craft group, G Unit, went on retreat. We left Friday after work, me and Josh and Nat and Annette, and drove through the dark to Taupo, where Josh's family have a place we can stay in.

The lounge is arranged so we can have a lazy-boy each, so we clambered into them and there we stayed.

On Saturday, we went out to brunch and ate eggs bene with pork belly.

We went to the markets, and patted some alpacas.

Then we went back, and sat, until it was time to go home.

Do I need to tell you how nice it is to sit quietly with people, away from home? There are no nagging distractions on holiday. No laundry to do, or errands to run. It is nice to sit with people who understand you, and who also want to talk about the different types of decreases one can knit, and do so without wearing any makeup or underwear and while wearing a tiger onesie.

The things we do daily; those small household tasks, the faces we apply to see the world through, chip away at us, at the essential part which knows how important cable crosses are. Holidays can restore that; they can make us ourselves.

When we were talking about #GUnitRetreat on Twitter, someone quipped, "Never retreat; only go forwards," and I reckon that's about right.

Thursday 11 April 2013

Truth In Advertising

There's a nasty ad in the Herald and the Dom Post today, asking people to pledge to stop marriage equality.

As well as being nasty and vindictive, it fails the advertising standards.

I made the following complaint:

I believe this advertisement in the New Zealand Herald does not meet the advertising standards on the following grounds:

Rule 1 - Identification

This advertisement is not  "clearly distinguishable as such" - the 'advertisement' disclaimer is small, and the main body of the ad is deliberately styled to look like official voting information, such as we saw in the run up to the last general election so it is not "readily recognised as an advertisement."

Rule 2 - Truthful presentation.

The ad contains a number of falsehoods, such as: "The politicians have ignored thousands of submissions," and "They are ramming this bill through without giving it the due consideration and debate it deserves." In fact, parliamentary process has been followed: submissions have been heard and the bill will receive three readings.

Rule 11 - Advocacy Advertising

It is not clear who "My Marriage Pledge" is; whether they are affiliated with the church or the state, who has paid for the advertisement, or how to contact them. With an advertisement such as this, they should be more accountable. The code states: "The identity of an advertiser in matters of public interest or political issue should be clear," and it is not in this case.

The advertising standards can be found here. You can make a complaint here, by uploading a scan of the ad, like this one here.

If you had any doubt who's behind this vitriol, here's your answer. (Spoiler: it's Family First!)

Update: the Wellingtonista also outraged.

Update: they're working on it.

I'll let you know the outcome.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Reading List

I've been trying to read more Important Essays, to balance the trashy novels I swallow, and because it's nice to read that some of the things I'm thinking have already been thought. Here's a few links:

Here's two links I shared with my feminist group on Facebook this month:

Monday 8 April 2013

I live in a little bubble in a wider culture. It's nice in my bubble. All my friends are good people; no one talks about Cosmo magazine or Shorty Street, and generally the world is a very lovely place. But every now and again, I spot something truly vile, which reminds me how bad it is the rest of the world has it.

Today it was a coffee mug. Trigger warning, picture after the jump.

Friday 5 April 2013

Follow Friday - Tricia Lockwood

Patricia Lockwood (@TriciaLockwood) is a poet. That's not hyperbole: she writes books of poetry (none of which I've read); maybe that's why she's so good at Twitter.
I got an email from a friend the other day, which made me feel a lot better about my policy of yelling at tossers:
Speaking of jerks, [Redacted] brought up last year when we yelled at him for using transphobic slurs and he was a jerk, remember that?  He recently did some reading of stuff by trans* people and understands now and apologised!  Wow.  It would have been nice if he had listened to us at the time, but I'm glad that he educated himself and admitted he was wrong.
I kind of remember!! I emailed back.
I have met Redacted, like, twice and I think I was drunk both times?? I vaguely remember yelling, that is NOT okay and SUPER OFFENSIVE and then was unable to articulate why so got another drink instead(??). I remember that it was a fun night, and Redacted probably hated me but whateverrrrr. Yay for their personal growth though!
I'm not 100% sure what you said to him, but I remember him saying "it doesn't bother me, and what else am I supposed to say" and I did my shouty "it's not about you!!" thing.  He said last night that reading stuff about written by trans* people is what changed his mind, so we didn't directly do it, but we pushed him in the right direction.
So it can work, albeit indirectly. The world is a marginally, but measurably, better place because my friend is as coherent after a few drinks as they are over email.

My friends are the best.

If you missed the original post about yelling at tossers, you can read that here.

Monday 1 April 2013

Everything Will Be Okay

I'm a big fan of advice columns. Delicious schadenfreude is certainly part of the appeal, but what I like most about advice columns is they also give the illusion that every problem has a solution, that every question can be answered.

I was going through some files today, and found some questions-and-answers I'd copy and pasted from a couple of advice columns. I have come a long way from when I was struggling with similar issues to the stranger who wrote the letters; I'd found the advice given to be helpful, and rereading it, it was still valid and true.

Here is the complete list of advice columns I read regularly. None of them is perfect: about half the list give some pretty questionable advice on certain subjects. Still, I read them.

  • A Queer Chick and Imperfect Advice From Strangers on The Hairpin. The Hairpin's been rejiggering its advice lately, but these two columns are always good.
  • Captain Awkward is super into having Scripts and Boundaries. This is probably my current favourite advice-fix.
  • Dan Savage's podcasts are occasionally problematic (the dude has privilege like whoa), but on the whole reliably entertaining (and NSFW).
  • Dear Sugar is currently on hiatus, probably for good. (What, you publish a novel and you abandon us forever??) The archives are still worth reading; it's a different take on the advice format.
  • Dear Margo is "the old Dear Prudence". She is the daughter of "Ann Landers" and writes in the same, clipped style. The questions lean towards etiquette, which is often interesting, if mostly irreverent.
  • Dear Prudence is great for absurd, probably fake, questions, and not so great for helpful advice on "modern" issues. Puts out the most content, three updates (plus a video!) per week.
  • Miss Information answers sex and dating question for kids these days over on Nerve. It's interesting, how differently things are handled in the States. It seems more complicated.
I once wrote into an advice column, and my question was published with a cute little reply. It was so nice, seeing my fears and insecurities validated, that my problem was a wider human problem, which a great many people will have to struggle with at one time or another. It was nice that my problem had an answer, that everything would be okay.

The problem had resolved itself (or rather, I'd resolved it?) about five hours before. Still, it was nice to know that everything would have been okay anyway, sooner or later.