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l'enfer du North Island

  another milestone Monday, 25 May 2009 link

Maggie turned two last week; happy birthday, dear. Great moment at her creche - I dropped a cake in for morning tea, and stayed while they served it up. Prior to demolishing the cake, Ali had a word to all the assembled kids and told the older ones that since Maggie was turning 2 today, she'd be in the big kids' area from now on, but that she's still pretty little. Then she asked who was going to help look after her and make sure she was OK. "MEEE!!!!" all the kids chorussed, thrusting their arms up. Including Maggie, and a couple of the under-2s, who presumably thought this was more of a general query about whether they wanted cake.

In any case, this general protection was entirely superfluous. On our arrival at nursery at 8:20am, Rebecca had buttonholed her mate Sam (turns 5 in a month or two) and designated him as Maggie's minder for the day. This morning, it was Jake who got the nod. She's a good big sister; setting up the protection.

Heather's parents came and stayed over the weekend for Maggie's birthday, which was nice. I ended up picking them up from the airport (I work 1k from the airport, so it's a no-brainer), which worked nicely.

On the day (Saturday), Maggie got a number of presents. She was very impressed with the "memory game" which was basically a lot of toy farmyard animals and plastic eggs to fit them in (though this may give her odd ideas about how cows reproduce). She really loved the Wishbone trike (designed in Island Bay, folks) we got her: at 6:30am on Saturday morning, in the pitch darkness, I heard her say "Hello bike" as she walked through the house. But it all paled in comparison to the mighty joy of the picnic set Suzy got her. 73 items, the packaging says, and I see no lie. Plastic fruit, croissant, plates, cups, cutlery, and the piece de resistance: a replica plastic stovetop coffee perc. Maggie loves this and plays with it all the time. Massive win there.

And respect to all present on the Auckland Harbour Bridge protest yesterday. That's the spirit; next time, just see if you can get permission first, eh? Might help with the public perception if motorists can squeeze past.

  that came from left field Wednesday, 13 May 2009 link

I spent five hours under the needle today. I have a tattooed forearm (well, it's not huge yet), and my shoulder is finished. I am fucking sore. And happy. Taking bets on how much my forearm bruises; next scheduled session is on the 5th June. W00t, etc. I can canonically say, you would not fucking believe how much being tattooed on the inside of your forearm hurts. Or maybe it was just that a lot of that was happening with an outliner rather than a shader needle setup; either way, I'm expecting a bruise

Got there at 10, courtesy of a very fine lift from my lovely wife. Tim at Pacific Tattoo had a look at how the last session had healed. And he was not happy. From 10:30 to 12:30 was spent merrily re-inking a lot of the big black areas from the last session, plus adding the red bits and inking a couple of black sections we'd missed. By the end of that, I was literally shaking from low blood sugar: cue lunch, frantic gulping of tea, etc. I calmed down a bit and we started up on the new sections. We decided to end the sleeve with a wristband (as I've got a band around my bicep, so it has a nice symmetry to it), with flowing designs going down to it. To give us an idea of the parameters, we did the wristband today. It took about three hours and fucking well hurt.

Pictures and a few notes available at my Flickr set for the sleeve. Next session is on June 5th; we're going to start on the infill between the bottom of my old armband (done by Rog Ingerton way, way back in 1996 or so) and the wristband we did today. Idea is to have it flowing, but geometric. Further bulletins as events warrant.

  social media this Tuesday, 12 May 2009 link

Good ways to start the day: 10am text message from your tattooist, advising that an appointment has come up tomorrow. Excellent. Roll on another 6 hours under the needle, then.

Rebecca is loving school at the moment. I now have a new tool of persuasion in the morning: "No, you can't do your homework until you've got dressed and brushed your teeth." It's like someone's flipped the "must learn to read and write immediately" switch in her mind.

  bit of a hiatus there - hopefully you won't notice Monday, 4 May 2009 link

Went out to the SFBH on Saturday for the gypsy evening. Excellent gig. We had to do some thinking, and came to the conclusion that the last time we'd been out on our own, together, to go to a gig where Heather wasn't playing, must have been... in the UK. Yikes. Don't get me wrong, we actually go to a lot more live music now than we ever have; it's just that most of it is related to Heather getting up onstage with violin. And man, you know you've been out of it for a while when you find yourself reflexively turning up at the venue at the stated start time for the gig, "in case we miss the support" (who, of course, don't actually start playing for another 90 minutes you fool).

Speaking of which, Niko Ne Zna were great; didn't fuck around, just got out there, started playing, and had taken the lid off the place within 5 minutes. You got a sense that a lot of the crowd were friends of the band, but a lot of the crowd weren't, and everyone was jumping up and down. From start to finish they played an excellent set of Balkan, klezmer, and latin-influenced stuff (covers of stuff from the Amsterdam Klezmer Band, Slavic Soul Party, and the like). Very impressive, and I'll definitely be looking out for their gigs in future.

The Benka Borodovsky Bordello Band, on the other hand, were a bit bitsy. When they were good, they were very very good, but when they were bad, you were standing there thinking "fuck the showmanship and play the bloody tune." They were clearly into the spectacle of the whole thing, but they took it a bit too far. I frequently found myself wishing they'd talk less and play more. And they'd fallen victim to the virtuoso trap: they were doing some stuff just because they could, rather than because it was actually a good idea. Yes, it's pretty cool if you can start a song really slow, and then slowly work the tempo up well past the point where anyone can actually dance to it. That's fine once. You don't need to keep doing it. You certainly don't need to do it more than once in the same song. I just wasn't convinced about the pacing; between the long gaps between songs, and the long gaps in the songs (both when everything stopped dead and when they were actually playing too fast to dance to), it ended up a bit jagged.

But when they hit their stride - when they picked a song that didn't fuck around and concentrated on booting it well out - they were blindingly good. Their original stuff was mostly great, and they were obviously having fun up there. On balance, worth seeing; and their album ("Polkapocalypse") holds up very well.

And it was fun being at a gig by two New Zealand bands who are very, very unlikely to get any particular promotion as part of New Zealand Music Month.

On the other hand, it was desperately unfun getting to bed at 2:30am. I was forcibly reminded of the reason why we don't do this very often, when at 6am the girls came through and started agitating for breakfast. I managed to talk Rebecca into taking care of it and slumped back, trying to doze through the sounds of destruction from the kitchen. I heard the following:

Fridge: *beep beep beep* [the "you've left me open too long" alarm]
Rebecca: Maggie, can you close the fridge for me please?
Maggie: *clump swish clump swish clump swish clump* [She's got one shoe on] *noise of fridge door closing*
Rebecca: [Runs into our bedroom and shouts at high volume] Papa! I asked Maggie to close the fridge door! And she did it!

Excellent. Three weeks out from her 2nd birthday, Maggie can help with basic household tasks. Next week: "Maggie, can you pass me a 3/16" hex socket?" Or, and handily, "Maggie, just get under the house and grab this wire when I poke it through the floor, eh?"

And a very happy birthday to my lovely wife for yesterday. And fervent thanks for the babysitting that let us go out for a nice French meal to celebrate it.

Why I don't drink cocktails much: the sheer, horrifying pretension of it all. Note the number of admonitions to chill everything (lest you should, quelle horreur, actually taste the damn stuff); note the attention to ceremony to get around the fact that you're SWIGGING NEAT FUCKING GIN.

I mean, I have little enough time for lushes, but none at all for a pretentious lush.

I love it when other cyclists casually coast up from behind me as I'm waiting at a red light, and drift to a halt just in front of me. You might think that this is a bit rude, but you'd be wrong. It's a direct challenge. "I need to get in front of you," they're saying, "because I'm going to be taking off faster than you when the lights go green and it's easier if I pass you now." They're throwing down. And that's fun. It means that when the light goes green, I can put a bit of wellie on and try to pass them. If I manage it, ha! If I don't, well, they were right that they were faster than me, so no harm done.

There's a pair of piwakawaka (fantails) who seem to have taken up residence outside my office. It makes me very happy to see them twirling and diving around outside my window.

Mostly, Secret Tweet is depressing; occasionally it has entries that are entire short stories on their own.

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unspoilt by progress

calm, peaceful, sweary

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