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.


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