Critical mass on cleaning and cooking

September 7, 2010

Ha-Joon Chang’s theory that the washing machine did more for productivity than the internet (see two posts back) was the starting point for my chat with Jim Mora on Critical Mass  this afternoon.

While on matters domestic we moved from cleaning to cooking and had a look at Something Else to Eat the blog of writer, feminist and keen cook Anne Else.

Her love of words and food is obvious in her posts which are a delight to read and, thanks to the photographs, look at.

I was part way through her post on making pancakes when I realised she’s married to Harvey McQueen and I’d read the post he wrote on eating the pancakes.

The contrast between her description of following his directions And his matter of fact account of the same incident amused me.

She said:

 First I asked where the recipe was. “I just use the Edmond’s one”, he said. So I got it out and showed it to him, because I’ve learnt from long experience that he doesn’t often follow a recipe exactly. . . 

He said:

Anne made pancakes for our brunch this morning. One of life’s pleasures, a simple dish yet tasty.

Deborah at In A Strange Land suggested I look at food blogs, not professional ones but home cooking enthusiasts (thank you).

In doing some very quick research this morning I came across some other gems but ran out of time to discuss them. They’ll keep for another time.

Other suggestions for themes, blogs or websites which might be suitable for future Critical Mass spots are welcomed.


Real world vs virtual world

August 31, 2010

The way communication in the virtual world can affect behaviour in real life was the starting point for my discussion about on-line matters with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

It was prompted by I Tweet Therefore I am  in which Peggy Orenstein asked:

 How much, I began to wonder, was I shaping my Twitter feed, and how much was Twitter shaping me?

She writes on “Alone Together,”  a soon-to-be-published book by Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T., who interviewed more than 400 children and parents about their use of social media and cellphones.

 Among young people especially she found that the self was increasingly becoming externally manufactured rather than internally developed: a series of profiles to be sculptured and refined in response to public opinion. “On Twitter or Facebook you’re trying to express something real about who you are,” she explained. “But because you’re also creating something for others’ consumption, you find yourself imagining and playing to your audience more and more. So those moments in which you’re supposed to be showing your true self become a performance. Your psychology becomes a performance.”

Writers have always been observers, tucking away incidents and anecdotes in mental notebooks knowing they might be the seed from which future writing grows.

When I was writing regularly for the ODT I did this all the time, letting ideas simmer away at the back of my mind before I retrieved them and turned them into a column. In doing so the I in the column was almost always a wittier, more clever woman than the me in the here and now because I had the time to polish the words through which she was shown.

Now electronic media has turned more people into writers, bloggers, tweeters, facebookers  . . . These media enable them not just to chronicle what’s happening to them but to do so almost instantly. There is a danger that in doing that people could let the real world becomes less important than the virtual one for which it provides inspiration and let the virtual one shape the real one.

Like many other phenomena, social networking can be a force for good if you use it wisely and well or a force for ill if you don’t.

To demonstrate that social media can be fun and even helpful, we also discussed the Dry July Star Chart Deborah created which concluded with a post on the efficacy of start charts at In A Strange land.


Did you see the one about . . .

August 26, 2010

Temps perdu – Dim Post on cultural trends.

Clothing and control and wearing the burqa – In A Strange Land on covering up.

We’re still waiting for a Sydney Opera House – Karl du Fresne on the moot that architecture is the mother of all arts.

Shakespeare Stoatspring finds political lessons in literature.

We got to the hospital – a sore toe nearly trumps a caesarean at Private Secret Diary.

This is what the teacher unions  fear – Kiwiblog on how teachers make a difference.

Milking Time – rivettingKate Taylor on sheeps milk and her contributions to the farming year ahead.


Did you see the one about . . .

July 21, 2010

I’m not finished with Duncan Garner yet – Brian Edwards gives credit where it’s due.

Dinner with the Stars – Not PC asks  where and in which period in history you’d pick as being the best in history in which you might get a large number of your heroes around a dinner party table.  He also has a post on the malapropisms of refudiation.

Vagrant spotted in Parnell – Inquiring Mind gets satirical.

Under Aotearoan skies – goNZo Freakpower takes us star watching.

Star the nineteenth – In A Strange Land continues her stellar effort for Dry July.

Question (and answer) of the day – Keeping Stock found a gem from question time.


Blogging as therapy

July 13, 2010

Toll calls were very expensive and we didn’t have mobile phones or the internet when our son was diagnosed with a degenerative brain disorder.

We made a few calls to immediate family but telling most of our friends throughout New Zealand and overseas was done by writing letters and posting them.

There had been little technological improvement in the following two years when we got the diagnosis for our second son. Mobile phones were becoming more common when he died five years later but we still hadn’t heard of the internet.

Now, when people want to spread personal news, good or bad it’s relatively cheap and very easy to do it by text, email, Facebook or blogging.

Writing can be therapeutic for both the writer and those who read it and that’s what prompted me to choose blogging as therapy for my chat with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

Blogs I mentioned were: Annie Fox –  written by Anna Wolfe who among posts on politics and life, wrote about cancer. The last post was written by a friend and includes tributes given at her funeral.

Kismet Farm wrote a variety of usually light hearted posts but mentioned a diagnosis of cancer earlier this year. The last post a few days ago was written by her husband, telling us she’d died.

We Remember is written by Lee Ann from Maryland whose son was killed in Iraq. The name was chosen because

 . . it seems more positive than simply not forgetting. Remember those we’ve lost, remember those left behind, remember why we are here. . .

Stoatspring is a mixture of reflections on life, retirement, reading and disability in poetry and prose by Harvey McQueen. He explains why he started blogging:

 . . . I’ve been diagnosed with inclusion body myositis, a rare muscular degenerative disease. . . . I cannot travel. I can’t garden and I can’t cook for I cannot plant seedlings or lift a casserole out of the oven. . . .  I’ve had to give up driving which means I’m dependent upon other people. It’s very rugged on my wife Anne for it means I can’t help around the house  . . . Thank heavens, I still can read, use the computer, watch television and DVDs, talk to friends. From being a participant in life I’ve become an observer. Hospital waiting rooms loom large as other events narrow down. So I begin this blog to widen my contacts

The last post was a recommendation from Deborah at In A Strange Land. Had Jim and I not run out of time today, I’d have mentioned that she is helping herself in her determination to stay off the demon drink for a month in aid of Dry July with a virtual star chart. A page with links to each day’s post is here.


Did you see the one about . . .

July 4, 2010

New Zealand and Uruguay as sporting equivalents – Pablo at Kiwipolitico compares one small country where sport and agriculture are important with another.

Don’t admit them to hospital then – Macdoctor on the smoking ban for prisoners.

Star the second – In A Strange Land has a star chart to help her stay dry for July.

What makes us happy? Rivetting Kate Taylor on what really matters.

Sparks in the universe – Stellar Cafe on the bright ideas that get away from you.

What determines productivity? – Anti-Dismal on attemts toa nswer the big question.

Biology isn’t destiny but it affects your saving throws – Offsetting Behaviour on nature vs nurutre.

Trio – Quote Unquote on tree planting and muttering and purring.

Mines railways or jobs – Liberty Scott on unintended consequences.

Happy Birthday to us – Gooner at No Minister on the blog’s third birthday.

TraeMe hints – Oswald Bastable knows something but he’s not telling much.

Farewell to the Independent – Liberation bids the paper goodbye with a parody of Chirs Trotter’s writing.

Apropos of which is The Independent 1992 – 2010 at Bowalley Road. He also discusses the redefinition of protest in Russel’s tussle.


Did you see the one about . . .

June 13, 2010

Countdown employee-redfaced – Dim Post at his satirical best.

Devastating, just devastaing – Adolf at No Minister on the NZ Herald’s 7 deadly sins front page.

Life’s a Beach – A Little Whine and Cheese on a family day at the lake.

But the personal is political – In A Strange Land replies to one of the judges of the AIr NZ Best Blog Award.

Busted Blonde – BB’s last post at Roarprawn. I’ll miss her although Cat-astrophe on the BP oil spill shows Brunette has potential to be a worthy successor.

Quote of the Day – Anti Dismal on the absence of market forces in bureaucracy.

The taxing issue of burden – The Visible Hand has a different perspective on tax cuts.


NZ’s Best Blog Award goes to . . .

June 10, 2010

The very worthy winner of the Air NZ Best Blog Award is: Cactus Kate.

Cactus Kate (http://asianinvasion2006.blogspot.com) has won the New Zealand Bloggers’ Union’s inaugural Air New Zealand** Best Blog Award Dim Post .http://dimpost.wordpress.com) was runner up and No Right Turn (http://norightturn.blogspot.com) and Whaleoil (http://whaleoil.gotcha.co.nz) were awarded joint third place.http://hot-topic.co.nz); In A Strange Land (http://inastrangeland.wordpress.com); Kiwianarama (http://www.kiwianarama.co.nz); Liberation (http://liberation.typepad.com); and Not PC (http://pc.blogspot.com).

The union launched the awards after another media awards competition, sponsored by a foreign budget airline that uses decrepit Boeing 767s for its Trans-Tasman services and doesn’t even have proper lie-flat beds in Business Class, failed to follow its own criteria in selecting its short list. . . .

. . . In awarding the Supreme Award to Cactus Kate, the judges described the blog as: “Intelligent, persuasive and influential, with the sort of investigative journalism Metro should be publishing. This is a blog which has contributed to changes in the administration of some of New Zealand’s most important regulatory bodies, as well as providing a healthy degree of humour.”

In awarding the Runner Up Award to Dim Post, the judges described the blog as: “Genuinely world-class political satire on matters both weighty and absurd, delivered almost every day. While clearly demonstrating a centre-left perspective, the writer also has the ability to surprise with unpredictable ideas.”

The judges said they struggled most with the choice between No Right Turn and Whaleoil for third place.

Commenting on Whaleoil, the judges said: “While the writer’s vitriol can be distasteful and his spelling and grammar sometimes leaves much to be desired, Whaleoil is the ultimate right wing blogger, delivering scorching critiques of current issues every day, and undoubtedly influencing real political events.”

Commenting on No Right Turn, the judges said: “While there is some doubt about the degree to which the blog has influenced real events and the lack of a comments option could be seen as against the spirit of blogging, No Right Turn provides extremely well researched and well-written contributions – with a decent dose of hard-left anger – on a very wide range of political, social, constitutional and human rights issues.”

The judges recommended that Whaleoil consider investing in a more advanced spell and grammar check program and that No Right Turn consider opening up his site to community discussion.

Congratulations to the winners, placegetters and NZ Bloggers Union which took the suggestion of better blog awards and made it happen, with panache and humour.

And well done Air NZ on not being upset by having its name and CEO associated with the wards without their knowledge.

The judges comments on all 30 nominees are worth a read too in spite of – or some might say because of –  the comments about this blog.


Did you see the one about . . .

May 16, 2010

Want to win $100,000? rivettingKateTaylor has a run down on the National Bank Young Farmer of the Year finalists. 

Death shapes us all – Alison Campbell at Sciblogs finds death contributes to life.

She also looks at sensing nonsense and gives the reporter an F for assertions not based on facts.

Dig in or adapt. The effect of political views on changing one’s mind – still at Sciblogs, Darcy Cowan looks at the persistance of political misperceptions.

What would I like to see . . . Adolf at No Minister gives his Budget requests.

Day 13 – done! – there’s a new kitchen at In A Strange Land.

Unemployment solved!! Anti Dismal isn’t convinced.

ELEPHANTÉ  Today Is My Birthday on miniature elephants  (Hat Tip Sentence of the day from Quote Unquote).


Sometime’s a cigar is only a cigar

May 14, 2010

An MP who had been upset by something John Key had done was at a meeting with him.

The Prime Minister, knowing he wasn’t in his MP’s good books, made a self-depreciating joke about it.

It was exactly the sort of joke he made about not being welcome at a Tuhoe dinner.

Part of his charm is his ability to laugh at himself and I’ve heard him make similar, self depreciating jokes several times.

I am certain that was all he was doing in this instance.

Not everyone sees it that way.

Over at Tumeke! Bomber and Tim think he was referring to cannibalism.  Deborah thinks it was ignorant and offensive.

On the other hand Kiwiblog says his own sense of humour is one reason he’d never be an MP;  Keeping Stock thinks people should lighten up and  was inspired to make a contribution to New Zealand Music Month. Something Should Go Here thinks it was a good joke.

Macdoctor thinks it was a clever but that would mean John was being deliberately offensive and I’m sure he wasn’t.

It was a joke, directed at himself and while I can see how some people might find offensive meaning in it I have no doubt that wasn’t his intent.

Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar but people will always be able to make something else of it.


Critical Mass

May 12, 2010

In A Strange Land, Latitidue 44 and Musty Moments were the blogs I discussed with Jim Mora on Critical Mass yesterday.

In A Strange Land is on my list of top 20ish blogs. Its author is Deborah, a New Zealander living in Adelaide, who writes from a strong feminist, moderate left perspective on politics and life.

Her posts vary from serious and reasoned consideration of issues to reflections on life, family stories, delicious recipes and lately she’s given us a glimpse of her kitchen alterations.

Jim asked me is she was stroppy like Cactus Kate and Roarprawn. I hope none of them is insulted that I said no.

Deborah wrote a post mentioning Critical Mass yesterday. It includes a selection of past posts which new comers to the blog might enjoy.

Latitude 44 is written by Alex who, after five years working for a software company in San Francisco, is taking some time off to explore the Southern Hemisphere. S/he (I thought Alex was a he but when I re-read the posts realised that was an assumption which may not be correct) is living in Omarama which is one of the world’s best gliding bases.

It’s a newish blog – started in February. Posts so far cover his/her plans, journey to New Zealand, first impressions, an insight into gliding and the latest post is on happiness and the corporate you.

Musty Moments is the work of Ross Horsley who describes himself as a timid librarian by day and a frenzied fan of gory slasher movies by night. It’s an online scrapbook of unusual and amusing snippets he unearths while working at a history library. It also features his comic strip experiment, The Wesleys.  He hasn’t updated that for a while but if you go back a couple of pages you’ll find them.

My plan for my spot on Critical Mass is to discuss both the more popular blogs and also some of the less well known ones.

You’re welcome to suggest blogs for consideration.


Did you see the one about . . .

March 6, 2010

Must have an irony deficiency – Longinius Howard at Born On State Highway One laments the lack of irony.

Thank you for not expressing yourself – Theodore Dalrymple on the civility of silence.

It takes a village but not my one thank you very much – In A Strange Land on train troubles for travelling twins.

The Other Side of The Red Bus Lou Taylor at No Minister

Apropos of that: Labour’s latest taxpayer funded elecitoneering – Liberation reckons Labour hasn’t learned from the reaction to the pledge card rort.

Still on the same topic – Faster than a speeding tax  bus – Keeping Stock couldn’t keep up even when he edged over the speed limit.

The inheritance of face recognition (should you blame your parents if you can’t recognise faces) Grant Jacobs at Sciblogs – provides an excuse for facial recognition failures.

Graham Sydney in North Dakota – Quote Unquote finds nature imitating art imitating nature.

Celebrating pain relief – Opinionated Mummy on birth battles.

Tim Shadblot lays it bare – Southern Squall has an exclusive interview with Invercargill’s mayor.

What parking fines?! RivettingKateTaylor finds communication can counter fines.

The devil made me do it – Macdoctor’s not impressed by excuses.

Pukeko Bridge – Not PC shows there’s art in engineering.

The light dawns reality bites # 82 – Inquiring Mind on media priorities.

One year anniversary – Offsetting Behaviour celebrates his birthday with links to posts readers liked, and some the writerd did but readers didn’t. Also at Offsetting Behaviour – beer and revenue – how hatred led to better health.


Remembering Black Saturday

February 7, 2010

Today is the first anniversary of Australia’s worst natural disaster – the Black Saturday bushfires.

When tragedy like this strikes it makes the headlines and many of us are motivated to do what we can to help, but most of us then get on with our lives.

In remembering the 173 people who died, I’m also reminded of their families and friends for whom life will never be the same again.

UPDATE:

Deborah also rembers at In A Strange Land with links to Black Saturday  and Ashes   from Spilt Milk who lives on the edge of the area which was devastated and whose husband was fighting the fire.


Did you see the one about . . .

November 4, 2009

Probing the depths of snow – Daniel Collins at Sicblogs has some stunning photos from Temple Basin.

Didn’t we learn from 1989 – Liberty Scott

When inanimate objects attack – Opinionated Mummy profiles some perfectly rages.

Motel greenwash – Motella doesn’t want a sermon when he stays away.

Mary Wollstonecraft wept – In A Strange Land adds to my contention that the fashion industry is inherently misogynist.

One of these is not the same – Macdoctor sees signs of sense from a health boss.

The Church of Jones – Roarprawn spots another cult.

October public polls – Kiwiblog paints a pretty picture for those of us who like blue.

Another pet lamb bites the dust – RivettingKateTaylor on life and death and pet shows.

And I like cows because . . . ummm  Kismet Farm has one of those days.

A heavyweight conundrum – Frendmy compares Australia’s roads with ours.


Quite Interesting

November 1, 2009

Deborah  at In A Strange Land  posts on QI – (for Quite Interesting) the British TV quiz show presided over by Stephen Fry.

You can test yourself with the sort of questions they ask with a quite interesting quiz.

The first time I came across it, a few weeks ago, I scored only 9/20.

Today I got 19/20 – I’d remembered a few answers I’d got wrong the previous time but the rest were lucky guesses.


NZ Book Month

October 31, 2009

Today is the last day of NZ Book Month and the post a day challenge.

It’s been fun and the challenge for me was not what to include but which books to leave out.

Deborah kept up with the calendar. In doing so reminded me of some old favourites and added several books to my must-read list.

Family, work, life and other more important things got in the way of Rob’s good intention to post each day, but what he lacked in quantity was more than compensated for by quality. 

 He didn’t get round to Bollard and Buckle’s “Economic Liberalisation in New Zealand’  which he reckoned is a real page turner; nor Malcolm McKinnon History of the NZ Treasury which he promised would have you on the edge of your seat.

Maybe next year. 🙂

Update:

Deborah has posted on a month of books and in doing so reminded me that Karen Healey became a late entry to the challenge and posts here on Margaret Mahy; and that Oswald Bastable also did some book month posts, although none on his own.


Beak of the Moon

October 31, 2009

Not long after I started my first job on a newspaper the chief reporter told me an author was coming and I was to interview him.

The author was Philip Temple who was on a promotional tour for his newly published novel, Beak of the Moon.

It must have been one of those interviews authors dread because I hadn’t read the book. However,  I had heard of the author and was an admirer of his pictorial books like Mantle of the Skies, with its amazing photos of the bush and mountains.

He gave me a copy of Beak of the Moon which I read and then reviewed enthusiastically.

It’s an anthropomorphic story, giving a kea’s eye view of the arrival of people in the high country. The plot is absorbing and the story reflects the author’s knowledge and love of the high country.

Temple is one of New Zealand’s most prolific writers and has won several prizes including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award.

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Post 31 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

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Over at In A Strange Land Deborah’s final post for the challenge is The Best Loved Bear by Diana Noonan, illustrated by Elizabeth Fuller.


Bogor

October 30, 2009

Bogor the little woodsman and the pot-smoking hedgehog added wisdom and humour to the pages of the Listener for years.

Bogor was a philosopher and a conservationist way back when green was just a colour and not a political persuasion.

Every now and then the cartoons by Burton Silver were collected into books like this one.

 

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Post 30 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

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Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Maddigan’s Quest by Margaret Mahy.


Alison Holst’s Complete Cooking Class

October 29, 2009

Several of the 60 or so recipe books which crowd the shelf in my kitchen are Alison Holst’s.

From the small paper back one for using food processors – a birthday gift nearly three decades ago when kitchen whizzes were new – to the large, hard back Ultimate Collection.

Then there’s her Complete Cooking Class. It’s full of reliable, easy to follow recipes with ingredients which are usually on hand or easy to find.

The tatty cover is testament to the amount of use it gets.

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Over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Kaitangata Twitch by Margaret Mahy.

Post 29 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

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The Reluctant Pirate

October 28, 2009

Amos Bunberry is a pirate in training, but a relucant one.

He’s trying pirate life because his mother said he had to. But he’s not enjoying it until he meets Griselda and her gang of forward thinking pirates.

This is a quirky tale in which brains beat brawn.

The author is Pauline Cartwright. Her word plays and jokes are enhanced by Marg Hamilton’s illustrations.

The book was a finalist in the 1994 Aim Book Awards.

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Post 28 in the post a day for New Zealand Book Month challenge

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over at In A Strange Land Deborah posts on Down the Back of the Chair by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Polly Dunbar.


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