December 2012 Archive

But first of all a non-alcoholic cocktail for the grievously afflicted from New Years, and those who don’t indulge:

Grapefruit Mimosa:
Add sparkling water to the juice from two ruby red grapefruit.Shake with crushed ice and decorate with lemon twists. My celebratory alternative to green tea.

Pisco punch was an alcoholic beverage invented by Duncan Nicol at a bar named Bank Exchange at the end of the 19th century, in San Francisco, California.
Pisco is a grape brandy from Peru. It is a clear beverage and is aged in ceramic or metal rather than in barrels. 
For visitors to the city in the mid-1800‚Äôs, this potent mix of the clear Peruvian grape brandy called pisco and pineapple was the drink to order ‚Äď kind of like going to Venice for Bellinis or to Tijuana for margaritas. People overindulged in Pisco Punches to the point that in 1856, police tried to limit consumption to one a day. Prohibition was in full swing.

Pisco Punch:
Pisco, pineapple juice, lime juice, simple syrup
Take:
3 parts Premium Pisco
2 parts pineapple juice
1 part lime juice
1 part simple syrup
3-4 drops gum arabic  (a common natural additive from the acacia tree which promotes fizz). This can be replaced by egg white. 

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients in a shaker or collins glass with ice. Pour into a tall or rocks glass and decorate with pineapple or lemon twists and mint. Enjoy.

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The following filed by Howard Fineman on a recent trip to New Zealand:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/howard-fineman/america-view-from-abroad_b_2385788.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

“AUCKLAND, New Zealand — New Zealand is about as far from the Washington Beltway, physically and socially, as you can get and still be on planet Earth.
They don’t care a whit for status here, and not that much for money or power. They love the outdoors and with good reason, for this is arguably the most beautiful place in the world. Kiwis say “no worries” instead of “you’re welcome,” and they would rather charge you less for something if they deem that fair.
Maybe I had to get this far away to see Washington for what it is these days: the world capital of small-minded, cowardly, selfish thinking”.

New Zealand is indeed at the furthermost end of the earth and isolated from all other hubs of modern trade and the advanced trappings of civilisation.
¬†I didn’t realise this until we emigrated from NZ to California one year ago. It is so interesting reading this article by Fineman.¬† I made the trip the other way.
 Culture shock is very real phenomenon. America is as different from New Zealand as Korea is from India. And everything in our being strives to view the foreign country in the same light that we have become accustomed to seeing the old country in. We are completely unaware that this is happening but experience feelings of dissonance, elation, excitement and at the opposite end of the spectrum, loss and yearning.
¬†We don a set of glasses engineered from our inbuilt fears, assumptions and and previous joys and comforts. These give us a perspective on the new country that subsides after a time. It’s almost as though familiarity brings down a curtain that is raised when when we travel. I imagine that this is why people become habitual travelers. That awakening feeling probably releases a good deal of serotonin and no doubt can be addictive.

There is a lot on this article; I’ll do a series of posts.

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Times they are a changing. In the same way that encyclopedias are no longer sold door to door, print newspapes are becoming yesterdays news.

New York City’s Newsweek put out its last print edition today. The first January edition will only be available by phone, kindle or ipad:

Newsweek was the second largest weekly publication behind Time magazine.

it will now be produced electronically and has been renamed Newsweek Global.

 In the Southern hemisphere, Fairfax media has written down the value of its assets by 80%.

Fairfax New Zealand Holdings valued it’s newspaper titles (including the Sunday Star Times, DOmionion Post and Chistchurch Press) at 175.2 million as at at 30th June 2012, down from $950.1 million from the year before.

Perhaps newspaper subscriptions are a thing of the past.  And we look to be ushering in a new era of Cult of Personality. We are now in an age where the public shuns the factual serving up of information and prefers the dissection of scandal and sensationalism.
It may be that columnists and bloggers dominate the quest for high ratings and in turn, dictate the high revenues.

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currently I can’t get worked up about anything political. I am too full of goodwill and fresh out of misanthropy.

I am veering into a spot of food blogging. The following is a recipe for a colorful holiday time salad:

Fig, Pear and Gorgonzola Salad:

Ingredients:

2 or 3 handfuls of greens. I used spinach and beet from the following salad kit from Safeway.

10 figs, chopped

1/4 of a cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled. Gorgonzola is a crumbly blue cows cheese with a mild creamy flavour.

Seeds from 2 pomegranates. I used the packaged variety:

Chopped figs, pomegranate seeds and crumbled gorgonzola
2 pears, Bosc or similar variety. Peel, chop in half, in half again and then into bite sze pieces.

 Combine the above ingredients. Use more or less according to taste.
Dress with Balsamic vinegar.

Serve in a large white salad bowl or on individual salad plates:

Embrace your inner housewife and enjoy the fresh produce.

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I begin toilet training twins in the New Year. Goody.
Every new early childhood stage is a variation of; “Out with the old and in with the poo”.

Last year our family moved to The United States of America. The seven of us: Mom (that’s me) Dad and our five loin-fruit got on a plane in Auckland international Airport outbound to SFO. San Francisco International airport.
We traumatized the exclusive Koru lounges in both Wellington and Auckland. It was just a pity we didn”t bump into NZ politician, Chuck Chauvel who is on record as decrying screaming kids mid-flight.
We left on New Years Eve in New Zealand and touched down on New Years Eve in Northern California. 

The twins were infants when we left New Zealand. Now they walk and talk and are going to a preschool on their second birthday.There has been a lot of change in our lives and a lot of metaphorical poo to get through in the last year.

I was initially unenthusiastic about moving. My close friends and my sisters commiserated on what a hard task it would be to move five kids and our entire household across hemispheres. It wasn’t easy and it was a drawn out process.
A couple of years previously my husband had received acknowledgment of the success of his patent application. It was cute. We began receiving mail from the US patents office addressed to Mr Watson, Cortina Avenue, Johnsonville. 

Li’l ole us from the back blocks of New Zealand. My husband from Otago and myself from Taranaki.
The window panes in those patent office envelopes started the “through the looking glass” process in which we stepped into our new home in California.

We were entrenched in Wellington at that stage. We had spent 15 years in there. We grew up in the tech scene in the early 2000’s. At weekends we would drag our computers to the underground “Lan Place”, on Willis St.

Lan Place had been set up by an enigmatic businessman with the handle “Goose”, Gamers would flood in to an office floor filled with monitors; we would attach our chunky boxes (no mac books in those days of separate monitors and computers ) We would spend an entire weekend gaming. Midday on Saturday to midday Sunday. Stopping only for V, Red bull and beef Rendang from the Malaysian restaurant across the road. We gamed with others from successful tech businesses. Intergen, Datacom.¬† Provoke, Mindscape and Knowledge Cue. are a few that come to mind. My husband gamed with Rod Drury. A lot of us, including the Drurys were having our first babies.

I had my own projects. An over leveraged property investment business. I’d gone back to work: A combination of book-keeping and journalism. I spent¬† a good chunk of that last year dabbling in politics and volunteering for Santa Dunne who recently gave us small business owners a lifeline:
Legitimate tax minimization is OKAY.

I rubbed sholders with a small army of UnitedFuture volunteers and we largely failed to make inroads on the psyche of New Zealand in no small part due to the posturing of Winston “Peacock” Peters over the cuppagate canoodling between Key and Banks. UnitedFuture carries on undaunted. A buffer between the hysterical harridans on the left and the entitled misogynists on the right.

During the run up to the NZ 2011 election, It became obvious. We were leaving for the United States of America. Any hope I had that my husband’s new role might remain in New Zealand disappeared. I drew back from my volunteering and¬† started shutting up shop. The writing was on the wall in October. we applied for our visa’s at the US embassy in Auckland¬† on the 1st December 2011.
Just after Christmas 2011 we were on the international flight to our new home.
Over the last year we have got through all the poo and made a home here. A big move for a family of born and bred New Zealanders. I didn’t want to come here but now I’m here I love it.

I’ll blog more about the differences between¬† America and New Zealand later. The most obvious difference to me is how good Americans are at talking themselves and success up. My New years resolution is to talk myself up more. Housewives are the lynchpin of civil society, after all.

¬†My New Years resolution: Figjam. Or: Fuck I’m Good. Just Ask Me.

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US newspaper The Journal has published an interactive map of individuals who have obtained a gun permit and includes details such as names and addresses:
http://www.lohud.com/interactive/article/20121223/NEWS01/121221011/Map-Where-gun-permits-your-neighborhood-

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If you’re a geek then I don’t have to explain who Kurzweil is.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/kurzweil-joins-google-to-work-on-new-projects-involving-machine-learning-and-language-processing

Wikipedia entry already updated. Director of Engineering:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ray_Kurzweil

Wow, it looks as though someones already been supping on immortality pie. A very young looking 64.

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To those who truly believe that personal gun ownership is primarily to blame for the mass shootings in America, I would suggest that you a speaking from a political point of view rather than from commonsense.
If you’re a leftie, you hate guns irrationally and if you’re a righty you defend them passionately and sometimes irrationally.

 But think: How is gun ownership different from personal drug use or even gay marriage rights issues?

You can’t ban drugs, you can’t ban love, and you sure as heck can’t ban guns. It’s not that hard to make them for starters. The manufacturing of guns came a long time before the manufacturing of modern toilets.

¬†For me, it boils down to personal choice tempered with parenting. No one but the killer made the monster that killed the defenseless Sandyhook children. Not US gun policy, not the fact that by all accounts he was crazier than a can full of rattlesnakes. There are plenty of crazy people who don’t kill.
The only mitigating factors may have been the medication he was on and the type of parenting.

Turns out the mother of the killer was a nutter herself.

http://www.examiner.com/article/was-adam-lanza-s-mother-a-doomsday-prepper-she-was-stockpiling-guns?CID=obinsite

According to her former sister-in-law, Marsha Lanza, Nancy stayed home to take care of Adam. Marsha Lanza also recalled that Nancy had turned her home into “a fortress” in which she was stockpiling guns and food to prepare for what she believed was an apocalyptic event associated with impending economic collapse. She had withdrawn Adam from school after “battling” with them over their unspecified “plans” for him.

So he was odd to start with and she poured some kind of religious poison into his ears which fed his paranoia.

I’ve woken every night since the shooting like many other American parents, thinking, how could he, is there something really wrong in this culture. The poor parents.

I banged the TV off in disgust, half an hour after the news coverage started. I checked in again this morning and the main channels are covering the funerals so I turned the TV off again.

Friday was a weird day to be part of American culture. I arrived home after the school run to hear reports of “some shootings” in Connecticut. I thought, “God, I hope there’s no fatalities”, only to be shocked at the carnage shortly afterwards.
I encountered others that afternoon. “NO ONE MENTIONED THE SHOOTINGS.”. It was eerie. I didn’t volunteer comments to friends or shopkeepers. No-one else broached the subject with me. We got on our way in a state of¬† bloodless suspension. It was the closest to the Zombie Apocalypse I have ever seen.

That evening there was a concert at our school.  We all looked out our kids on the school stage with the image of another devastated school not far from our minds.

The next day, we were waiting outside Costco (shopping nirvana) when the talking started. It started with joking. The Costco staff wouldn’t let the waiting crowd in, even though there was only two minutes until the opening hours.

This is very American. Everything is precisely timed. It is a bigger crime to be early than late.
The staff looked at the row of us standing ten deep and pulled down the roller doors half down in the event that the crowd got shopping induced vertigo and fell into the store before the opening time.

The man beside me yelled out, “we can still get in you know.” The crowd chuckled as we waited at the half open roller doors and poked gentle fun at the staff.

Then another man said, “There are some really dumb people in America. That animal who shot the kids”.

Another stranger said, ” they weren’t even kids, they were babies”. “Just babies.They were so young. just babies”.

We murmured, wiped our eyes and cooed over my twins in the buggy I was pushing. Then the doors opened and I ran ahead of the human tsunami to get to the chilled goods section before I got trapped in haberdashery.

 My son and his friends at the school concert the night of the shooting. In America, the show always goes on.

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There’s an old Texan saying. Never try to teach a pig how to dance. You‚Äôll waste your time and just annoy the pig.

The hand-wringing  about gun control started immediately after the horrific Connecticut slaying.
It was started by the media.¬† The media who interviewed some of the surviving children. There is no better ratings driver than to follow the mantra, “if it bleeds, it leads”.
Never-mind the ethical issues about exposing traumatized children to the media glare less than an hour after their classmates were shot.
Never-mind that the next screwy individual may be watching and plotting to kill, for the notoriety that the media provide.

In my books, the media has more to be held accountable for than American gun policy.

And it’s useless to call for gun control measures in the U.S. Hence my reference to the saying above.

The Second Amendment (Bill of Rights) specifically states:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed
This prevents totalitarian state rule. It was included specifically the population at large could overthrow an oppressive government as the Americans did overthrow the oppressive British government to establish a self ruled nation,

It may sem highly removed 200 years later, but the fact is that if you did ban guns outright, you’d disempower civil society and disarm the largest army that can be called on to fight for the benefit of the population at large without a political agenda.
The army of Civil Society fights only for the three founding principles of all laws. To protect youth, protect property and protect the mass scale destruction of human life in the name of religion and culture.
An armed government (as opposed to the army of a government (militia) founded on democracy )¬† only has it’s own preservation at the core of it’s modus operandi and that is why the politicizing of these tragedies and the cry for banning of private arms is so repugnant.

Unless you think China and fiji are models of freedom.

If not enough members of civil society are also equipped, you are sandwiched between the layers of criminals and the police force and at the mercy of either.
This is demonstrated by the Wikipedia link above where low private gun ownership is common in the most corrupt countries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Number_of_guns_per_capita_by_country

The NZ government isn’t totalitarian but we’re not so far removed from our more violent past. 200 years (since the declaration of American Independence) isn’t a long time by any measure. And you only have to return to some US/NZ townships to experience life where civil society is squeezed thin and criminals and police are at an uneasy impasse. Think Wairoa. Think Wanganui. the first thing I would get if moving to those towns is a gun license.

Hurricanes and earthquakes kill more people than guns do.

With regards to gun control, it takes a seriously defective brain to orchestrate such a horror. If any control is legislated it should be around the rights of mental health patients, And maybe there is a way to stop Crazies, sorry, ‘mental health patients’ from getting access to guns, maybe not. It would take a society who was willing to call a spade a spade and not care about hurting the feelings of a few nutters.

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Tomorrow we are driving to Los Angeles. Anaheim to be exact.
My idea of hell is an eternal theme park that you are forced to experience as an adult. However I trust that seeing Disney through the eyes of children will put some sparkle in the visit for us adults.
And there are certain libations that can make the unendurable more tolerable.
Unfortunately I must avoid coffee for a year less I turn my spangley new braces an off-putting curry colour. Curry is another discoloring substance that I must avoid. So it may be shopping or sightseeing of which I partake:
A recent nanny told me what to expect in LA and the attractions to attend or avoid, She is well acquainted with La-la land. One of her last gigs n LA was nannying for Prince Michael Junior (Prince), Paris and Prince Michael II (Blanket) Jackson.
She said the Dad was lovely. Doted on his children.
The children couldn’t of course, go to a normal school so they spent a lot of time at activities and various LA attractions. I got the insiders lowdown from her on the best theme parks.
 Goody.
On my time off, I’m going to Rodeo Drive. To visit dermatologist to the stars,¬† Harold Lancer.

Why? Ever since I was poring over my mother’s 1960’s beauty handbooks at the age of thirteen , I have been an avid follower of skin care trends.I’ve got nice skin which makes up for only sometimes having breasts.
And, I’ve got a benign but ‘Wicked Step-Motherish’, lump on my face and some age spots I want to get rid of. You naturally want to put that shit only in the hands of the best.
It also gives me a kick to have the same dermatologist as Oprah, Ryan Seacrest and Beyonce. It’s a long way from my birthplace in Taranaki, New Zealand to sharing the same waiting room as the stars of Hollywood

 Julia Roberts. Gives good face.
(Nice teeth). 

So here I come, Dr Lancer, oh ye with the dewy glow and the uncanny resemblance¬† to The Muppet’s Swedish Chef:

Just don’t expect me to be talked into your signature¬† stem cell facial ($600) on my first visit.
Though, a treatment with the stem cells from the umbilical cords of newborn calves does sound rejuvenating.
And supplying calf placentas sounds like a great business venture for someone in Taranaki,
Birthplace of some of the best cows. 

 

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