Studying, parenting, housing and drugs

It is the last bit now - I think they call it a "make it or break it" time - and I am alternating between wanting to throw in a towel and keeping on going. The deadline for getting my school assignments in is looming and I am not sure I am going to make it; if I don't, then there's not much benefit from spending all this time on studying - but I don't know what it'll be like. If I get the assignments accepted then I'll be happy I pushed for this last little bit, and if I don't then I'll be pissed off for having pushed for this last little bit.

Trying to study from around little children is... hard. Very hard.

But then again, doing most anything from around little children is hard.

One of the assignments got rejected with a list of comments for improvements and one of them was that I'd used too many foundation piles on a house I was designing. The law required at least 8, I put in 12, and the instructor wrote that by putting in 12 I am spending too much money on the house, and so I should cut the number back to what's required by law.

I am still undecided about what to think of it. If he'd said that I'd over-engineered it (that by putting in more piles I didn't achieve much more structural stability) then I would've been alright, but because he simply wrote that I used more than what's required by law...

It's a New Zealand attitude, isn't it? Building to standard, meaning - building to minimum standard.

Meanwhile, a house in a nearby suburb of Addington is New Zealand's first Homestar 9-rated residential building. The house is said to be well-designed and makes national news.

National news.

And meanwhile to that, an acquaintance is in the process of designing their house. I had a brief look at the plans - service rooms (laundry etc) are on the Northern side where they get the sun, and two of the bedrooms are in the South-East and South-West corner where they, respectively, only get either the early morning sun or the late evening sun.

If we were living in tropics where houses need air-conditioning then yeah, maybe, but... In a temperate climate designing a new house to where un-heated rooms get sun and heated rooms don't?

Kind of like planting strawberries in the shade.

I didn't dare to bring up a conversation with that acquaintance though because so much around housing here is attitude-based, rather than knowledge-based, and because that family are only an acquaintance of mine then I didn't trust myself to not get into a very awkward situation.


Here I am sitting on a sofa typing into my blog. The Girlie is playing at my feet with a wooden train. The Man and The Kid are both in bed, too tired to stay up, and I cannot focus well with The Girlie playing at my feet so here goes another day of getting almost no studying done...

It reminds me of the assumptions I had before having children.

I had never had much to do with kids so I way, way underestimated the amount of work involved in having kids. But now that I am here, with my kids, I am finding it way, way difficult to get anywhere work or study wise.

Gaining more skills means studying in the evenings, hunched over a tabletop or in front of a computer, to what sometimes feels like exhaustion; and gaining more work experience means sticking kids in daycare - alright for The Kid, but way too early for The Girlie.

But without many more skills or experience it's the reality of a current potential payrate, which isn't much and definitely won't allow for savings, not if we do what we want to do, which is - moving The Man into preschool teaching and me into quantity surveying.

But then I remind myself that I am living where there is fresh, clean water, abundant food, legal protection from being abused due to gender/skin colour/ethnicity - safety, basically - a functioning health system and mountains upon mountains of open space, and I remind myself that in the end, there are things that matter a lot, and there are other things that matter less, and my job is to be able to tell the difference.

Talking of difference: when Radio New Zealand introduced their Saturday morning program and mentioned interviewing a psychedelic-pharmacology professor called David Nutt (!), I was half-expecting a charade of... something, but instead I heard an utterly fascinating story of a person who made sense to me on many more levels than I care to explain.

But in short, professor Nutt has been researching what a human brain does under the influence of psychedelic drugs such as LSD, and I thought to myself, wow. He talked about the part of the brain where ego stems from, and what it means to be self-ruminating versus feeling part of the Universe, and all through his talk I was thinking about religion and my experience of backpacking around New Zealand.

I have a theory about... God, and different religious groups' take on it, and to this day I am fairly certain that what I experienced in my travels around New Zealand is what many people go to church for - we just describe it using different semantics. The base idea, however, is the same.

And now there was someone who explained it to me in terms of brain and its involvement in certain processes of experience, and I went, wow.

Besides, I did get a good laugh out of listening to this interview, too :). I dare you not to laugh when you hear what happens when Kim Hill asks professor Nutt if he's ever tried psychedelic drugs before ;)


  1. I know the feeling. I think I have like 6 school deadlines next week. The year is ending and all reports are due NOW. I do not remember when I slept last time for more than 4-5 hours or went to sleep before 2AM. Studying with children.

    But you know what? It is doable. One step at a time. As all the other big things.

  2. Even here we know to put living and bedrooms on the warm and sunny side of the house; most of ours is set up that way, all bar one bedroom gets afternoon sun which is needed this time of year. If we ever build I'll be wanting to place for the sun, have heat sinks where possible, double glazing (we do now have this thank goodness), solar, a better fire with heat mass around it etc. Warm and comfortable is good, something that can cope with large earthquakes without requiring more than cosmetic repairs is also good. Reducing piles cos it's not required by the building code, silly IMO.

  3. I am right there with you and how your felt when you "should have designed the house to the minimum standard." It makes me SO mad. The houses in New Zealand are crud, the bedrooms and living spaces should be on the northern sides/ends, there should be adequate ventilation in NZ homes because of the dampness/climate, there shouldn't be a mold problem in almost every house I've ever lived in in NZ (that's 15 houses). There shouldn't ever be water ponding on the inside window sills or freezing onto the inside of the windows. UGH! It makes me so mad. New Zealand definitely needs more engineers and designers like you! I'm so glad you're doing this study. Work HARD! Don't give up. It's only for a little while longer. xx