Have you done genetic testing?

Have any of you done genetic testing through 23andMe? Or any other company?

What did you think?

About control, and about bullying

I've been thinking about control, and about bullying.

When a child at school says or does something nasty to another child, and then makes fun of them for going telling the teacher, it's really one of the very few tools they've got - control. They need the victim to be quiet and complacent.


The bully needs the victim to be quiet and complacent, because if the victim is outspoken, the bully gets in trouble. This whole "haha you're such a sissy for telling the teacher" story is actually nothing more than the bully pleading for protection - they need the victim to think that telling the teacher is bad, because otherwise, you know what?

Bully gets in trouble. And when bully keeps on getting in trouble, they cannot continue being a bully. They lose control, and then have to go look in the mirror, and think about things.

It's about control.

The same scenario plays over in the adults' world, but under different circumstances.

The group of people who are in control, well-off and strong demean people who aren't, because, you know what? It's a method of control.

A lot of the people who are struggling to pay their bills, rely on government benefits, are fat, are ill - whatever - keep out of the public's eye and keep quiet. If they speak up, it's very easy for an adult bully to attack them, sometimes in very polite words, saying that it's their own fault for being fat, or ill, or struggling to pay their bills, or relying on government benefits - whatever. Saying that they should work harder, eat better, exercise more.

It's easy for someone who is already successful to speak up; and hard for someone who isn't.

And continuing to keep it that way is the method of control by the group who are already in control, and are already benefitting from the system.

Saying to someone that they don't have a right to complain because they're x, y or z - that they should've done better - is a form of adult bullying. It's the same as the child bully is school who says to another child, "haha, you're such a sissy for telling the teacher", a plea for protection.

Don't speak up, because if you do - I get in trouble.

I keep on seeing people who are doing well loudly standing up for their rights, and people who aren't either quietly working hard to also get there, or just being quiet. But the key word here is, quiet.

I'd like to see more people who are struggling to speak up, and know that whatever situation they're in, it's never entirely their fault. Almost nothing ever is!

I feel a sense of nausea and sometimes almost a need to go vomit when I hear interviews and audio clips from a certain group of people in the United States. I think most of you know what I'm talking about.

The way I see it, that underlying cause of adulthood bullying is the same need for control, and fear of losing it; the plea for protection for people to be quiet, and not stand in the way. They bully, because they want victims to stand out of their way and let them keep bullying, and to remain in control.

I can't change the entire world to my liking, but I can continue having discussions with my own children about the importance of speaking up, and telling teachers, and telling adults.

A 5-year-old can say stupid things to another one, but they're going to learn through me, and through my children that there are consequences. And hopefully, when such consequences come in gentle ways so early in their life, they are going to gradually, gently learn that this is not how we do things around here.

The little chatterbox

And do you remember this other little chatterbox two years ago? ;)

Still working on it

Sorry, I've got some hard language coming up but...

oh my f*cking god I am still doing it!

STILL doing schoolwork. From bloody last term! And it's already new term. It's new term, The Kid is back to school, I am back to school, and I am STILL TRYING TO CATCH UP ON SCHOOLWORK FROM LAST TERM!!!


I was swearing at the assignment of fibre cement, even writing a foreword for my teacher, saying that “fibre” part of fibre cement can mean a wide, wide, wide variety of materials. It can be cellulose, carbon, kevlar, polypropylene, polyvinyl alcohol, polyacrylnitril, ceramic, glass etc. They all act differently, and yet I am tasked with writing an assignment on fibre cement in general.

With clay bricks it was easier, but I was tired, so it took me 4 evenings, about 1.5 hours each.

Now I did an assignment on sealants and I kid you not, I spent about half the time tracking down photos of the f*ckin' failures! Because I could write it up neatly what sealants do when applied in too much heat, or how silicone won't bind with silicone, or how sealant can chalk when organic compounds leech out over time - but I nearly pulled at my hair trying to find photos of what those situations look like. (A compulsory requirement.)

And, bang!, that was 2 weeks of school holidays gone. 2 weeks, about 10 evenings worth of sitting behind a computer, typing, and I did three assignments.

Which means I have one more left.






Life according to The Girlie

If you have two dresses you like and you don't know which one to choose, put on both, over the top of each other.

Now we're thinking!

I am sure it was audible, me pulling into the parking lot of our supermarket in the car.

The only question is, which part: whether it was 'Why Georgia' blaring on the speakers or me singing out loud.


Things I like about Moana

I like that Moana is the first full-feature animation - that I can think of - that includes and presents Polynesian culture not as a token gesture but in a way that looks like a real, honest effort at creating a great movie.

And I think it is - a great movie.

I like that characters have believable proportions. Women actually seem to have space for ribs in their chests!

I like that songs are partially-translated to English, both for giving me an insight into what they're about - I can understand English - and for keeping some of the lyrics in the original language, Tokelauan I think, to give the story its setting.

I like that songs are catchy. My kids are now going around, singing, "Aue, aue!"

I like that they got Jemaine Clement to play the crazy crab. (Flight of the Conchords, anyone?)

I like that the story is complex enough for me to be interested in, but follow-able enough that my kids can sit the whole way through, too.

And to sum it up, I just like it. I like the movie.

Villa versus bungalow

Man! I'm halfway into school holidays and still I am trying to catch up on schoolwork!

Another assignment, another evening.

Today I learned what the difference is between a 'villa' and a 'bungalow'.

For example, the house I am living in now (built in 1925) is a bungalow, but the house we were renting in Ness street (built in 1914) was a villa.

I learned that a 'villa' is basically a pre-World War I type of a residential building where a long hallway ran through the middle, and rooms would go off it. Rooms were not oriented with the sun, joinery was cold and drafty, ceilings high. This article gives a good overview.

Then, as life became less formal and buildings started to gradually make more 'sense' to the way we use them now (lower ceilings, indoor plumbing and sewage, orientation towards the sun, car access etc) bungalows appeared after World War I.

Our house, the one we are in now, is a pretty good example of a bungalow, actually. It's been modified over the years, yes - but it still has a lot of the features retained. And sure, we are still looking at a long time of work ahead of us, but... we'll get there.

It's got good bones :).

Minus the brown mould under the floor where there isn't enough clearance to put in either polyethylene nor insulation at the moment and we'll have to really work around to get it working well but... let's not go there, yeah? :)

Simple pleasures

Baking pancakes to the tune of Bonnie Raitt's 'Angel from Montgomery' on a Sunday morning.

If dreams were lightning thunder was desire
This old house would have burnt down a long time ago

Feels like a holiday, almost

She slept past seven o'clock. SHE SLEPT PAST SEVEN O'CLOCK!

My god, how wonderful it was to wake up and not see numbers on the clock starting with 4 or 5.

Smells like winter today :)


PS. Actually, as the day has got lighter, it's also become clearer that it's not, technically, snow we have down at sealevel. It's hail :). Snow's a little higher.

Estuary walk in the evening


It's relatively straightforward to tempt The Kid into doing things by offering rewards. Stickers, trips, cartoons, crackers. 

This morning, I got him to eat his buckwheat by saying he could do more stickers if he finishes it all. The Man remarked how he's very rewards-based.

I nod towards The Girlie: "So what's her system?"

The Man: "If she wants something, she'll get it."


Snow's coming

Bright blue skies today. The washing's on the line, the frost has melted - even in the shade.

But, it's just the high pressure ridge moving ahead of what will possibly be the biggest snowstorm of this year that will be arriving tomorrow.

Wednesday morning, there is probably going to be cold, muddy slush in my backyard. If lucky, there may even be snow.

And when the highways are cleared and the roads safer again, I am going to take my children higher upland to enjoy the snow which, in all likelihood, will settle for a good few days in a good, decent layer.

Because after all, a winter is to have built a snowman, and ridden down a slope on a surfboard, New Zealand style :)

Taking long to finish homework

The lecturer has already said to me that the way I am doing my assignments, I could actually get away with much, much less - not that I'd want to.

We've sometimes discussed with classmates how long it's taken anyone to do their homework. I am consistently up there: six, seven hours compared to someone's two or three. Pretty much every time it goes like this: I spend way more time on my homework than quite a few other people.

But... I read until I understand what texts say, and I edit until I am happy with what I've written.

Like now: I got given a schedule of quantities to buy - basically, a list of materials a house is made of, and I have to go calculate what it'll cost to get them all - and I got stuck on one 100 mm x 100 mm type of timber.

The assignment asked that I buy 7 metres of 100x100 timber for interior wall framing. It had to be Radiata Pine, treated to H1 level, but... the price list did not have such timber. It only had 100x100 treated to H4, way more than is necessary for wall framing, and it was rough sawn.

I did not want rough sawn. I wanted "nice" timber to frame the house with.

I thought to myself. Thought for a while.

Then I went and looked at what other people have done in their homework - we sometimes exchange our assignment sheets so that when we're stuck, we can try figuring out what to do by looking at what other people have done.

The other people have used rough sawn timber - exactly what I didn't want to do.

And now, although it deviates from my assignment (which was, to rely on the paperwork supplied), I wrote up a note for my teacher saying, look, they don't stock 100x100 H1 pine, but what I've done is this: for interior posts I've used instead two lots of 100x50 timber which, if connected up, are equivalent to one 100x100.

And, yeah, it's taken me longer to get there - and I probably would've passed even if I'd written down the price of that rough-sawn timber instead.

But the thing is: I wouldn't have learned as much.

Although I am one who usually takes the longest to finish homework, I am one of the first to finish any in-class tests.

And I think it's precisely because of that.

I sit and spend time at home, and then during tests, I don't have to any more.

Have you seen it?

The amount of sense this man can sometimes make...


And to those of you who now want to see the full version, here it is.



"I gotta get my barbie, eh."

"Daddy's my best friend, eh."

"It's nice and warm, eh."

"There's ice on the car, eh!"

She's a kiwi alright.

The Girlie, 3.


Also, if The Girlie says to you that you are a buffalo, please don't be offended - she means to say that you are beautiful.


Why don't they just get a remote?

Another law class.

We talk about the New Zealand parliament and the lecturer explains how, in order to vote, parliament members, literally, have to stand up from their seats and walk into a 'yes' room or a 'no' room for their vote to be counted. (The rooms aren't actually called 'yes' rooms and 'no' rooms, but for simplicity's sake, that's what I'll call them here.) (Because you'll probably laugh, but in reality the rooms are called 'Aye' and 'No'. Not joking!) Then doors are shut and someone counts how many people are in either room and that's how they know how many people voted for either side.

I raise my hand and ask the lecturer, why don't they just get some sort of a remote where they can push a button, boing!, and vote?

And the lecturer replies that honestly, he does not know. Tradition, probably.

I raise my hand again. But why? What's the reason behind sticking with tradition for just tradition's sake?

And we get into a discussion about traditions in general - not just in parliament, but in general.

He says, for example, that for years there has been a text ready for a New Zealand constitution - but it will not, in all likelihood, be brought in for many, many, many more years because sticking with tradition is easier than change.

Like, if someone did bring up a topic of a New Zealand constitution then Maoris would probably very quickly point out that they were the original settlers of the land - but then someone else would point out how, going by population size, there are now more Chinese in the country than there are Maoris; and on it would go, a very challenging, opinionated topic...

...so it's easier to just stick with what's now, and not change.

And so, to this day, New Zealand parliamentarians continue to stand up from their seats, hurriedly walk into a room before doors are shut, and let their heads to be counted, in order to vote.


PS. On another topic: we got a heat pump installed today!!! And on Friday we get underfloor insulation :). Yay!

How contract variations are processed

"Draw a flow diagram / chart showing how contract variations are generated and processed. Start with site query and end with the costed variation No VO 03 included in the progress claim."

Well... let's just hope I don't get points deducted for cheekiness ;)

PS. It should open in larger format if you click on it.

Working on formatting

When it takes an hour to figure out the numbers, but then another hour to figure out how to put those numbers on a paper - you know, in a way that makes sense to other people besides me, too.

Time and time again I am learning that it takes time to bloody format the thing. To sit there, play with the layout, then show it to The Man who goes, "What!?"

Then re-format again.


Then sit down with The Man again until, eventually, it becomes semi-understandable what I am trying to do on the paper.

Our teacher has said to us many times that as a quantity surveyor - unless we are working independently in a one-man company - it's important that we work in a way that makes it understandable to people around us. If we take a day off, ill, or go on a holiday - it has to be possible for another quantity surveyor to sit behind our desk and not have to mutter, wtf, as they look at our computer screen. Everything has to be 'follow-able' for people not familiar with the project.

And it takes time. And effort.

Not wanting to be a lawyer

Today I started attending a building law class.

By no means meant as an offense to the tutor, the class reminded me of why I didn't pursue my undergraduate law degree when I graduated 9 years ago...

I mean, we're a world away, in a different legal system, yet the lecture was... very much the same as what I remember most of them being in Estonia: dry, at times confusing, hippety-hopp from one legal concept to another.

It'll probably get better once we get into actual building law - at the moment we're covering basic topics such as rule of law, common law, history - but still, I'm glad I'm not doing it for, you know, a living.

Because if I did... Ehh.

Man I wouldn't want to be a lawyer.

PS. We got a delivery of swampwood (totara and rimu dug out of a swamp and dried) firewood.

The Kid looked at the pile and exclaimed, "Holy heck!" I said to him, like The Man had tried to teach him a day earlier, "Hey, maybe you could say golly gosh instead?" (Yeah, I know, it's a very... uhm... British saying, golly gosh, but The Man did it, so I was trying to show The Kid some consistency.)

The Kid frowned and replied, "Nah, that not good enough." And then looking at the pile again, "HOLY HECK!"

PPS. I just have to wait until The Girlie's gonna come out with expressions she's picked up from people around her. I'm gonna have a field day with her, I think!

The little one who follows in her parents' footsteps

We've jokingly said that The Girlie is building up a team of minions at preschool.

She's figured out that kids are quite eager to help at this age (she's in the room with 2-3 year olds) and so quite often when I come to pick her up, she'd give me a hug and then call out, "Harley, can you get me my bag please?" And little Harley toddles towards the cubby holes, picks up The Girlie's bag and brings it to us. "Thank you Harley!" The Girlie says loudly and with a big smile, "Thank you bringing my bag!"

And now today I looked at The Man and wondered if... I know where The Girlie gets it from ;)

We were getting ready to go shopping, the kids already had their shoes and hats on, and The Man was the only one still sorting out his clothes'n'things. As he was ruffling up his 'puffa vest' (duck down vest) he called out to The Girlie, "Can you get daddy his shoes please?" and off The Girlie went, picking up daddy's shoes and bringing them to him.

And I looked, and laughed, and said out loud that I think I know where The Girlie gets her habits from.

About an hour later as we were returning home, The Man flipped this argument back at me when The Girlie jumped into a puddle, fell over, and promptly made all her clothes wet. "I wonder who she gets that from?" The Man laughed and I had to agree.

I mean... she's like a tank, that girl. And from all I know, I used to be one, too.

I even said to a workmate yesterday afternoon that I have a feeling that for the next few years I am going to focus on keeping The Girlie alive for she has an amazing determination but not yet enough brains to back that up with.

That puddle-jumping-falling-over situation, for example: I said to The Man how, when I was 7, I stood on the side of a large hole city contractors had dug to repair the water mains - it was filled with water after heavy rains - and amused myself by pushing bits of mud into water and watching them float away and sink.

And one moment the muddy ground gave away underneath me and I, too, ended up in that hole, swimming, and then struggling to get out for the muddy sides were slippery. But I did get out, and then ran to my grandmother's house, soaked and muddy.

My grandmother rang my parents, who were at work, and then basically entertained me for the afternoon whilst I was wrapped in some of her clothes and in the evening when my parents had picked up some clean dry clothes for me from home, they picked me up, and took me home.

My parents' lives were filled with stories like that as I was growing up. Filled.

And now there she is, my beautiful daughter, so oh-so-amazingly bright and determined, but not yet filled with much common sense or much caution. She likes being challenged, and thrives on attention and, apart from when she's asleep, she's filled with drive to do things.

She's asking me when she can go to school, like The Kid. I say she has to wait two more years - she's 3. She puffs up and goes, "Bugger."

I know where she gets that from, too ;)

Photos of late

When it's been a long day...

The Kid got an award at school for "always doing his best with a smile on his face".

The school also organised a "fashion show" where kids showed off various costumes they'd made. The Kid used a garbage bag to make a rugby shirt :)

Continuing with the school topic: on Thursday we had a maths games night. Families and siblings got involved!

Meanwhile, at home they come up with contraptions to shoot wooden trains off tracks at great speeds.

And imagine the little one's joy when she realised she's now big enough to wear a tiger costume that used to be her brother's.