May 23


As this piece on The Passive Voice begins by remarking, there are lots of (mostly sad) stories to be told starting from the premise "people, including young people, can easily manipulate images of themselves before posting on social media, in an attempt to reach an unattainable, unrealistic, and harmful beauty standard".

One story I just thought of: a teen subtly manipulates images of herself and her best friend to make herself look better and her friend look worse (to increase the contrast between them).

Mar 04

Kayak is sold

Today, I sold my kayak.

I'm a little sad. I haven't managed to take it out for several years now, in large part because my bad shoulder hasn't usually felt like it would be happy with heaving it onto the car, but actually selling it feels like admitting to a progression of that disability.

Part of the reason I sold it is that it fell down in the garage and was partly blocking my wife's path to her car, and because of my shoulder I couldn't lift it back up again.

I've had some good times on that little boat. But it's sold to someone who will enjoy it, and that was the right thing.

I've had vague thoughts for years about getting a sailing dinghy and keeping it at the yacht club nearby (where "yacht club" means "sailing dinghies and a few trailer-sailers"). Right now, I feel like that probably would ask too much of my shoulder as well. But I do want to do something that gets me outside from time to time, preferably by the water.

Maybe I'll get a good camera and return more seriously to my never-completely-abandoned photography hobby.

Apr 07

Visit to an empty mall

Went to Lynnmall (NZ's oldest mall, and our local) yesterday to pick up medication for Erin.

The supermarket and the pharmacy are open, and they're at almost opposite ends, surrounded by non-essential businesses that are shuttered. But the mall is still lit, and the holographic ads and display screens are still running, making it somewhat less apocalyptic-feeling.

There was a security guard sitting near the entrance door, but he was looking at his phone and paid me no attention, coming or going.

The pharmacy is set up like a fort. I was served at the makeup counter, which is right at the front; didn't go into the store. "Look after yourself," said the young woman in a mask who served me.

I got there right when they opened, and there were no other customers. Not the case at the supermarket; I was thinking of going there too, but there was a long queue (they also are opening at 9am now, rather than being open 24 hours, so that they can restock). Went to the Indian supermarket instead, and bought some maize flour and some chickpea flour, in case the story that's circulating about the supply of flour coming more back to normal is inaccurate. I'm going to have to be creative under constraints, which often produces good results.

I would just like to say at this point that I was making my own bread before the pandemic (which is why I had as much flour as I did and have been able to last this long).

The sight of people queueing at shops for things that may not be available makes me think of Soviet Russia, though it's nowhere near that bad. But it did lead me to a joke: "In Soviet Russia, disease isolates you!"

Mar 27

Shopping run

Decided that I'd try a shopping run yesterday afternoon, thinking that Friday in the middle of the afternoon might be a better time than my usual Saturday morning. The fruit shop was OK; they were only letting 10 people shop at a time, but there were fewer than 10 people when I got there, and I got straight in. No bananas (disrupted supply chains?), but otherwise much as normal apart from all the cashiers wearing face masks and everyone staying 2m from each other.

The supermarket had a queue to get in, presumably because they're also limiting how many are in there at one time. Because everyone was standing so far apart, it looked longer than it probably was; there might have been 20 or 25 people in it. But I decided that I didn't want to wait (I still had some work to finish) and bailed.

We aren't actually out of anything yet, and I can try again later. Erin's suggested maybe trying in the evening after dinner. It's hard to say when will be a good time.

Lots of people out walking, presumably because they've been cooped up in their houses. More people out driving than I expected, but still light traffic for a weekday. After all, most of the shops are shut.

Mar 25

Plague Journal

Since it seems we're all giving up face-to-face interaction for Lent, I thought I'd do something I've been considering for a while, and start a personal journal.

As of last night, New Zealand is at level 4 of a 4-level alert system for COVID-19, and practically the whole country is shut down except for essential businesses. This doesn't include construction or manufacturing building products, which is what the company I work for does, so over the next few days we will be winding things down in preparation for at least a month of no business happening.

We've always said that if there weren't any users, the systes would run perfectly. I suppose we'll find out.

My wife is in a high-risk category (she has an autoimmune disease and is on immunosuppressors), so I've been working from home since last week. That means, with no commute, that I have time to exercise, so I'm feeling fitter than I have for years. I'll need to figure out a way to keep it going once I go back to commuting, which I still assume will happen sooner or later.

We're meant to be on special leave from Monday, though we'll be helping the accountants with month end as usual. Not my turn to do month end, but I'm the senior guy, so I need to be on hand, even if it's just having the phone nearby.

So I'll have more time to write. I'm finishing up revision on Underground War, the second in the Realm Agents series, and I have the third book partly drafted.

OK, time to get ready for work, such as it is. More later or tomorrow.

Feb 24

I’m a tall man with big hands, and the designed world fits me.

I'm a tall man with big hands, and the designed world fits me. It doesn't fit my wife, who is short and has particularly small hands. I knew that, but I hadn't fully thought through how widespread the problem is.