April 2012 Archive

Another angle on our garden, I am currently attempting to catalogue.

I have inherited a lovely couple of flowering azaleas. From initial appearances they are not uncommon varieties.

In the space of half an hour, hubby found three of these wee beasties.

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I have accepted my lot as a housewife. IE, non-renumerated and often covered in crap, on permanent shift work albeit with perks. I am employed as Mummy (Mom) in a San Francisco East Bay neighborhood. The father of my loin fruit got a good deal with a short sale on a house, complete with a garden rather larger than I am used to:

My first job is to go through and catalogue the plants so I can converse intelligently with our gardener. Goody.

I don’t mean to be snide, ungrateful or dismissive of that most maligned but worthy of professions. Housewife, that is.
I was born with a strong streak of Virginia Woolf and find it hard to accept that any inclinations towards full-time work must needs be curtailed. Until this point I have always bought in a wage or volunteered extensively.
As a mother of five in a new country, I’ll have plenty to do for the foreseeable future and have to park ambition for now.

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I am shocked at the following story but not surprised. A doctor prematurely signs off the decision to turn off life support on a fifteen month old baby fighting for his life.

“Carol Povey, told the Herald on Sunday their 15-month-old son Paikea – one of twins – was taken to Starship Hospital in a critical condition and put on life support where they watched him fight for his life.

She said family members sat beside Paikea 24 hours a day holding on to hope at every sign of improvement including active bowels and breathing on his own after three days.

But eight days after the accident, Carol was shocked at a decision to turn off his oxygen.”

The medical profession in NZ is very competent and have been wonderful in most of my dealings with them. I certainly don’t believe the Dr in question would ever have taken the drastic step off stopping the oxygen without certainty that the boy would never have recovered – but you CAN NEVER KNOW. The Mother should have been absolutely comfortable with the decision and the way that this story presents, it’s a certainty this Doctor ¬†lives in a more rarefied atmosphere and does not deign to deal with mere mortals. It’s unfortunate. The family could have had a couple of weeks extra with the boy and separated at a time where they wouldn’t have felt the decision was taken out of their hands.¬†
Now they will never know if the miracle that might have bought there boy back to them might have occurred had they delayed. 
I had a stroke in 2006. Whilst experiencing immense pain and prior to going into a coma I told my husband: ” I think I am dying”.¬†
Turns out I was right. By the time the ambulance reached the hospital I was measuring 3 on the GCS scale,¬†Glasgow Coma scale¬†used to diagnose traumatic Brain Injury. I would have been dead without the required equipment. My brain stem had come under such immense pressure it ‘coned’ (been forced down into the stem.) This is usually fatal.
 I believe a similar stroke killed Anita Roddick of the Body Shop.
My husband was told to say goodbye to me and his unborn child, by some very compassionate professionals, working hard to put the globby bits back in the right place while the machines went PING.

Eight hours later I woke up completely physically disabled, and started asking for the morphine. My husband was most relieved that he still had a mother for our eighteen month old baby. The only casualty was my book-keeping business. Three months later I was able to work with the aid of a stick. My baby was born big and healthy four months later under the following scenario:

From Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life”, 1983
Hospital Administrator: And what are you doing this morning? 
Obstetrician: It’s a birth.¬†
Hospital Administrator: Ah. And what sort of thing is that? 
Dr. Spenser: Well, that’s where we take a new baby out of a lady’s tummy.¬†
Hospital Administrator: Wonderful what we can do nowadays.

Personally I don’t believe we yet understand everything that “can be done”. Some doctors are better than others in reflecting the parameters of medical knowledge back to patients and parents, and allowing for a margin of error in judgement. And parents are always the best judges of their children’s condition.

It goes without saying the dad was a dickwad for driving while tired, but there but for the grace of God go we all.

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By the time I read to the end of this story my feelings about this employment incident had done a u-turn.

The JAFUH take on the incident:
Katrina Bach is the Department of¬†Building and Housing¬†Chief. Last May she swore at some useless tit of a junior and followed it up by holding the girl’s head and asking, “what is going on in that head of yours”?

Cue the big fat outcry. Public Services Association National Secretary Brenda Pilott called the findings, “a shameful double standard”. This will be because Ms Bach pulls in a salary that the union regards as indecent. They obviously don’t believe in the mantra: “if you pay peanuts you get monkeys”.

It used to be that the Boss Guy was someone who protected you from the heartless senior execs. In return you didn’t begrudge the toney car or the bigger pay packet. You probably aspired to be in their position of employment one day. In these days of Reality Media, if you push the right buttons you get to pull the Boss Lady down a rung or two.

As for the abuse, what a sooky bunch if a bit of swearing is enough to call for dismissal. In one of my first jobs as a student, I overheard the supervisor saying, “that fuckin Monique had better get her act together”.
I pulled my fucking act together and that was one of the most enjoyable workplaces I ever worked in. I ended up friends with the supervisor and had a lot of laughs on the job.

The swearing will be the tip of the iceberg of a power struggle. One of them will be bullying the other. Overtly and with a bad case of Entitliitis if it is the Boss Lady. It will be interesting to see if other reports of bullying by Bach come to light.  However, the junior may very well have been passive aggressive and trying to pull in some cohorts to back her.

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Fareed Zakaria on Harvard professor Eric Chaney’s paper on the democracy deficit in the Arab World in, “A region At War With It’s history”.

¬†One year after it captured the world’s imagination, the Arab Spring is looking less appealing by the week,
“The promise of a new birth of freedom in the Middle East has been followed by a much messier reality”.
Why does it seen that democracy has such a hard time taking root in the Arab world?

A Harvard economics professor, Eric Chaney, recently presented a rigorous paper that helps unravel that knot.
Chaney asks why there is a “democracy deficit” in the Arab world and systematically tests various hypotheses against the data

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2111248,00.html#ixzz1s5ZRCx7c 

“The real problem in a country like Egypt is that the military continues to keep power concentrated, undivided and unchecked. It maintains the central role in the economy. Even when it has liberalized control of the economy, it has done so to benefit a handful of cronies and friends. The chief challenge in the Arab world remains to create a vibrant civil society, which means political parties and also a strong, self-sustaining private sector. The term civil society was coined during the Scottish Enlightenment to describe the activities of private businesses, an independent force that existed between the government and the family. The Middle East today has strong families and strong governments, but everything in between is underdeveloped.

This is very similar to the situation in Fiji. Fiji with it’s history of military coups since 1987 is as removed from democracy as those middle eastern countries that have yet to move on from the strangleholds of their militaries. Fifi’s longstanding military anchored instabilities would indicate that the Arab Spring has yet to experience consecutive coups.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2111248,00.html#ixzz1s5YeL84k

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Good to know New Zealand’s finest males are championing the causes of today’s Mothers and Babies.

1.Step right up: Carl Davidson of the Families Commission:

Carl Davidson

Carl Davidson (Chief Commissioner)

Carl Davidson is one of New Zealand’s most experienced market and social researchers. He brings to the Commission a range of skills acquired from works as a Social Scientist with the DSIR, an academic with Massey University and a market researcher with a range of companies.
Carl is chief commissioner at the Families Commission. He has never breastfed. He knows naught about the challenges facing women with families returning to work. He has been recently employed to advocate on behalf of families but has thrown the whole of the female workforce under the bus by saying extending paid parental leave to six months is too expensive:

“I mean, wouldn’t it be great if none of us had to go to work and we could just stay at home and raise our kids and get paid for it”?

What a nong employing that kind of condescending tone. I don’t feel confident this man is fit to advocate on behalf of families. And that, don’t forget is what he is employed to do. Not feign concern about the countries finances as a whole.

2. Step right up Uncle Scrooge, aka Bill English:

Bill is a family guy. Bill and Mary have six children.  Bill says paid parental leave is too expensive for the country:


That’s right. Despite having eyeballed plenty of lactating breast in his time, he is¬†putting his foot down, no discussion on PPL, end of story.
It is worth pointing out here, here has always been lots of dough on hand to bailout financial institutions despite the economic climate: Top three bailouts by National governments that Bill has been a part of:

1.  1990.  43rd National Govt. BNZ bailout to the tune of $380 million.
2.   2010.   South Canterbury Finance bailout to the tune of 1.7 billion
3.   2011. AMI Insurance. Cost exceeding 1.5 billion.

Plenty of money on the books to prevent the financial markets from crapping themselves but none for PPL. And it is not money that is ever recouped.
Essentially we pay for overseas companies to take our loan books, add value and make a shite load of money upon the eventual sale. A notorious private company advised on the bailout of BNZ then scooped up over 30% of the company at rock bottom prices. AMI Insurance now belongs to the Aussies just like our banks.

3. Paul Holmes has now put his oar in, demeaning women all around New Zealand:


Paul Paul Paul.  If you had ever actuated you might have a different perspective.

These are the people influencing policies through government and the media that effect the families of today. Not a leaky tit among them.

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The attack on Ann Romney was completely unfair. She is without question Mitt’s best wife.
These tweets are all about the slur by democratic advisor Hilary Rosen who said about GOP candidate wife Ann Romney (her and Mitt have 5 children), “she hasn’t worked a day in her life”.
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If Ann Romney was as good at mothering as¬†Hilary¬†Rosen¬†is at PR, she’d be Casey Anthony.
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Loose, loose women. Daring to have children in this age and day of equal rights. How on earth do we still want to? And surely, if we do we want to, we should be able to save up along with our fellow begetter to support the aforesaid women and child through the period of infancy so as not to impose an indecent burden upon fellow tax payers. A hue and cry has met Sue Moroney’s Paid Parental Leave (PPL) bill that was pulled from the ballot this week.¬†¬†The bill aims to extend PPL from three to six months.

Surely having a child is a “nice to have”? We should be able to suppress those wet feminine urges and not procreate unless we are bankrolled to the nth by a man. Thanks a lot:¬†Cactus Kate: Paid Parental Madness

I say this, ¬†having ended up precisely what I always swore never to be: A “Jafuh”. Or: Just. Another. Fucking. Unpaid. Housewife. In California, actually, after having moved here for my husband’s work.
Needs must, and though I retain tenuous links to financial independence, via a struggling residential property investment vehicle, I am now knee deep in Crappy Nappy City. I worked self-employed full-time for the first two years of having a family, then part time after I suffered a disabling stroke. I was also an active volunteer, chairing up to four committees while living in suburban Wellington. It is only recently that I became a JAFUH. My experience is that you do spend periods not working, but most women will be turning their hands to some kind of volunteer or paid work at most times while raising a family. And this is not the result of some right wing plot to force women into the work place. It’s also not the result of some left wing Clark era plot to force women to participate in the work place. Women are usually nurturers and are good multi taskers. It is in our natures to reproduce and work concurrently. However for the short time that they are joined by the boobs to their offspring they should be supported by both society and their partner if that is the best financial arrangement. This is usually as short as four or five months. This is the length of time Paid Parental Leave should be set for. Not the socialist utopia of a year and even a period of six months is debatable. ¬†I do however believe the primary caregiver should also be recognized with Income Splitting policy.
I work damn hard caring for my family as well as still seeking independence in retirement via my property business, and am annoyed that society doesn’t recognize the valuable role that housewives play.
Communities need a reasonable turnover of infants, to eventually grow and among other professions, to care for the unwell elderly. If society runs short, life will be parsimonious and intolerable both for the anti PPL curmudgeonly and the more delicate of geriatric temperament. Communities are replenished and work well only when sufficient citizens are born and motivated to stay rather than seek new lands; where all the roles in Village Life are turned over regularly instead of being made redundant due to shrinking populations.  I disagree with the attitude that kids are produced solely because of parents desires to create a walking legacy and therefore no subsidies should be provided courtesy of the taxpayer.
For my husband and I, procreating was the next obvious adventure in life. Once we left the excitement of our inner Wellington Warehouse flat: (“nice to know you, 13+ flatties and dossers”, nappy valley beckoned more than the lure of an OE. The OE would have had a better impact on our finances.
Child-rearing is an adventure that should benefit the taxpayer monetarily far more than the gullible parents-to-be. If children are nurtured well, they gain the wherewithal to become net taxpayers. If children are accorded value to society their parents able able to access networks and supports that bind the layers of society and glue families to local shores.
Inasmuch as it is a couples responsibility to ensure the have the financial where-withal to raise a child, it is also society’s responsibility to ensure that educated women, who take on the bulk of the childbearing burden are not penalized to the point that reproducing is unattractive.
If reproducing is unattractive to these women, aging generations are not sufficiently supported by the upcoming broods. Indeed, this is already happening with the Baby boomer generation. Those with money and nous are leaving New Zealand. We are the first generations to easily numb any perceived call to stay and be part of the home scene. ¬†The exciting tales of far off lands and more than adequate salaries provide the pull and once assured we will find our standing within a community, upon landing on overseas shores, there is no real reason to call New Zealand home for both the childless and families alike. Those aging and elderly left behind will struggle to be supported in the style they became accustomed to in the rich post war years. Removing reasons for potential parents not to have kids means that future families are more likely to call far off lands, “holiday destinations”, rather than “home”. ¬†The fact that one quarter of New Zealanders call ¬†overseas home is testimony to this. Of ten of us at Otago University in the mid 90’s, all have travelled and only one couple has returned permanently to New Zealand to raise their family.

The period of infancy is short. For the first six months to two years, a child can be handled by many but must have a strong bond with the Mother or another key adult if they are to become a well adjusted future citizen. Personally I have found children look for outside adventures from the age of two and are not disadvantaged if socialized through daycare earlier.
As far as PPL leave needing to to be concurrent with six months breastfeeding: None of my kids were solely breastfed through to six months. The argument to do so seems extremist rubbish to me. My third son was helping himself to the family fish and chips at the age of four months. They were all eating by 5 and a half months at the latest. Numbers four and five (premature twins) were hoeing it back at three and a half months. All of which would have horrified me as a new Mum.
Disclaimer: I love my kids. I enjoy raising them. I just don’t want to define myself by them. For women the debate highlights ¬†the same old shitty story; always being defined as Mothers or Others.

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Brian Rudman takes a crack at the conversion of the dedicated Remuera Rd bus lane to a T3 lane where cars with three or more occupants can use the lane.
I take exception to the following paragraph:
“Instead of having to live with a nasty bus lane, Remuera will be graced with a T3 lane instead, an exclusive lane for Mummy to rush her two kids back and forth to school in the Remuera tractor, which “.buses will also be allowed to share”.
What that paragraph says to me, is that the female who uses public transport to go to work, who lives in a less salubrious suburb is morally superior than that that procreates and dares to live in a household that can afford a decent gas guzzling, dinosaur displacing SUV to move her dependent Armani clad loin-fruit . 
“Fuck that”, I say. All offspring are people too. why shouldn’t Mom scoot ahead of adjacent traffic-clogged lanes to meet all the weighty commitments demanded of her? Hopefully she gets time for a facial appointment to boot.¬†
HOV lanes or High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes are common in the U.S. 
They appear to be lightly but effectively policed and complement the effective public transport system. In the East Bay of san Francisco where I live the (BART) or Bay Area Rapid Transit moves people rapidly from  the East Bay from adjacent counties and Oakland/Richmond, across land and under water to the city of SF. 
But such effective far reaching pubic transport is not going to met the needs of all. Just as cities and their surrounds are a mix of people and circumstances, so are the needs of those households. A dynamic city recognizes the needs of all these households. 

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