ups and downs

December 28, 2013 at 11:05 pm (brain, crafty, musings, out and about, simple pleasures)

today, i feel strong.

i left the house for the first time in a few days, because it’s that time of year. i only went running errands and dropped by a market, but while i was doing it, despite the debilitating heat, i managed to make a few decisions; ones that sometimes i can’t make.

i’ve actually enjoyed this ‘season’. i had a few quiet days thanks to losing my voice and having my father not ring, then a successful bah humbug dinner, then my housemate went away and i didn’t miss people at all: i’ve had the place to myself, it’s been clean enough to cook and i’ve done it once, it’s been clean enough to draft patterns on the loungeroom floor, and i’ve done that too. i’ve done a bit of work soldering and chasing up articles, listened to lectures, tried two ways to draft a pattern to reproduce my hat, labeled them well and made two toiles. i’ve fixed my saws, done some cleaning up in my garage, done washing, gardened.

my to do list for tomorrow involves lots of practical things, including some i’ve been putting off. also a few things with words – hopefully i can start making headway on them too. it’s telling that i feel good when i’m in the middle of lots of practical things, but i don’t know how i can make the most of this considering my life generally demands lots of reading, writing and contacting people – all the hard stuff – and for good reason: my life goals are about changing the world, and that doesn’t happen by fixing overlockers.

be that as it may, what have i learnt, or reminded myself of? having the house functionally tidy is important to me. being able to engage in practical stuff is good for me. having my father ring me daily is disturbing in this mood, though i know it’s a lifeline when things are really bad. i could probably live alone except that i can’t afford it, and i know i’d probably get rather more insular which isn’t great. i need an income so that i can do things like buy garage shelving when i feel like it, and pay my bills without juggling, thus worry less. i can indeed keep my mind engaged without uni, and we’re working on the world-saving and good social interaction problems, though there’s a huge way to go.


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to the knackery with you

November 6, 2013 at 1:46 am (community, musings)

today – err, yesterday, now – was the melbourne cup. though i can’t manage to sequence words on my actually very interesting essay, i’ve spent several hours steadily researching and composing this.


a horse died today. apparently it was heartbreaking. i’m sure it was, you usually don’t have to see these things. but i wouldn’t know, i wasn’t watching a horse race. i was busy reading the information that has come up on how the horses are treated behind the scenes.

25000 horses are destroyed annually. 2000 tonnes of horsemeat is exported, at least half of which is from racers. ok, it offends western ideas of what animals are food and what are friends, but i’d say cows still get a worse deal. and sheep, pigs, chickens…

we don’t know anything about horses being made into petfood, as no records need be kept. this is getting more worrying, as we rely on our faith in oversight and regulation to stop things we generally agree are bad, like the treatment of animals associated with live exports – and laverton knackery.

then we see how these much vaunted animals are treated while they’re still alive, occasionally watched by millions and making obscene amounts of money for people.

exercise-induced pulmonary haemorrhage is when the stress on the is so high that capillaries break and blood leaks out. in the lungs, this type of bleeding doesn’t clear easily, causing venocclusive remodelling, where blood actually blocks normal flow and adds further to the pressure, exacerbating the whole system. 90% of racers experience bleeding lungs, 50% also bleed from the windpipe. the pressure, and thus the bleeding, increases with speed – the very objective of the ‘sport’.

then there are the deep, bleeding stomach ulcers that are often in place within eight weeks of starting to train, and only get worse throughout their career. result directly from being locked up in stables for 22 hours per day and fed a diet deemed good for performance. horse stomachs constantly produce acid which is neutralised when they are free to spend 70% of their day grazing on food full of fibre, but eats into the stomach lining when they are locked up in stables for 22 hours per day and fed only intermittent, protein-based meals. the popularity of this ‘performance’ diet results in almost all racehorses suffering ulcers; between 91 and 100% between studies.

add to all this the more obvious musculoskeletal injuries, the effects of whipping and of isolation – surely we have to ask why we let this continue?

horse racing generates 64000 jobs, and $2.6 billion worth of betting on horses ensure plenty of people who need a job, however tainted, in order to feed themselves. thankfully at least $1 billion of that ends up as idiot tax, even if those who spend the tax are just as bad as those who generate it. however the footprint is even wider, the industry claiming $41 billion of impact, presumably positive, on the australian economy. wealth creation that trickles down to rural areas, and back to jobs: the only defense for unspeakable things, that nobody dares refute. people will die without jobs. there is no way around it a soldier soldiering without a job would just be a killer, so it must translate that drawing benefits from centreling is dishonourable, but if you spend your life causing gastric ulcers in horses, now that’s honourable. as long as it’s systematic. and you don’t miss out on that bigger flat screen tv. you can hold your head high because you’re contributing to something. wouldn’t you die for the chance to line your bosses’ pockets and make more accessible an addictive behaviour that is both more common and more addictive in young people?

and my reference list, or at least the tabs i had open by the time i finished:

p.s. i think i need to rethink my collection of categories. one day.

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same sex marriage passed

October 23, 2013 at 12:29 am (community, gender, musings, poly, queer)

so a small chunk of this country has achieved same sex marriage. but. it really is historic and significant, but. but it still isn’t for everyone. but the only peole who are excluded are people with a ‘legal gender’ of ‘x’, because even if it’s thoroughly problematic that everyone else is slapped with a ‘m’ or ‘f’, they are. is there even more than one person in this country who has achieved an ‘x’ so far? but even if only one person is excluded, it’s both unjust and insulting, the exclusion having been slapped on a previously inclusive bill at the last minute. hmm.
i wonder how many people will now run off to canberra to get married away from their family and friends. i’d think marriage was about celebrating with them, not getting a certificate, but at least three friends have announced their intentions on facebook already.  hmm.
on the other hand, my concerns about success making the movement disappear have not eventuated. the progress towards obviousness is going to be so piecemeal, and so contested, that they’ll keep us fighting for years and years.
i’m glad that my friends who care about this development are happy. whatever happens, whatever it means for the rest of us and the country, if legal recognition makes you feel accepted or vindicated, or you plan to take up the opportunity to get legally married, then i wish you well.
this is my late night contemplation after the emotionally exhausting experience of a long day of election campaigning and an agm.
in other news, it’s raining. hopefully this extends to where it’s really needed.


update: i hear that same sex marriage has been established as something completely separate to ‘normal’ marriage – and if a married person transitions, their marriage is no longer valid and they’ll need a new one of the other sort. ‘different but equal’? ouch.

also, that there are indeed more people who already have a legal gender of ‘x’: some intersex people got shunted onto it by default. so despite all these changes, it seems that the concept of autonomy over one’s own identification is moving much slower than the details.

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August 26, 2013 at 10:48 pm (community, complex pleasures, musings)

apparently the dalai lama was in sydney recently, and he talked about anger. he says that in modern life we get very angry very quickly, citing things like road rage. probably true, though i don’t know how i’d evaluate whether it’s a new thing.

he also said that holding your anger for too long does two things: makes you sick, and makes others not trust you.

i’m not a huge fan of the dalai lama, and this is one of the things that makes me uncomfortable about him (though i also can’t confirm what i picked up third hand was an accurate assessment of his point). as an activist, i use anger. it is very important to me as a valid response to many things, a rallying point, a motivation. its expression is a tool, a demonstration of the severity of my point and catharsis.

anger is better than despair, and sometimes you get to choose between the two.

that’s not to say he’s never worth listening to. that anger makes us sick is something we’ve been struggling with forever, that we still need to figure out more about. that anger alienates others is an interesting thought – i know it pulls some of us together, but maybe its capacity to put people off is one factor in why it’s hard to get our message out to others. what to do about it? have multiple faces of an issue, i guess. allow our anger while being careful to manage its effects on ourselves and on others. make sure we’re using the anger and not letting it use us. understand more about what it is, what it does to us and how it is seen by others. know when to hold it and when to let it go.


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old girlfriends

August 17, 2013 at 3:35 pm (brain, community, musings, queer, travel)

so my first girlfriend’s little green dot popped up on google chat.

i haven’t thought about her for quite a while. she said some pretty nasty stuff about me online, and never made an effort to be friends. the few times we interacted over the last seven years, i’ve been surprised she’s been civil.

my first thought was to say hi; i guess it would be up to me. but i’d have to be prepared to maybe not be answered, and to find something worth saying.

i think over my life; how i would present myself if asked what i’m up to. always an interesting exercise, a good motivator to make my life something i can own with pride. my current situation would probably not look wildly exciting to her, but that’s just fine. i realise i don’t need her approval, i just need to be able to hold my head up. i can.

then i thought that i really don’t know who she is anymore. i’d rather see if she’s still posting her travel blog, than interact personally with her. but i couldn’t remember the address, and i’m sure it was never bookmarked in this computer, which is only a few years old.

i got as far as typing her name into google; guess what, an interview comes up, which reveals that as of last year, she had been living in one place for a few years. that’s new, and good. an interesting place, too, with a radical queer women’s choir.

that all sounds good, perfect for her, in fact. i’m glad to think she’s found somewhere she can call home, i was always a little concerned about the need to up and move to the other side of the world every six months. she obviously has some kind of community, with queer and musical life, and she can probably speak croatian fluently by now. i’m glad for her.

i may look her up if i’m passing nearby zagreb one day, but until then, i don’t think talking to her will improve my life, and i doubt it would improve hers. my five minutes of nostalgia is over and i’m back to my life, happy in the knowledge that someone i used to know seems to be doing well.

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February 12, 2013 at 8:30 pm (musings, words)

another word to use instead of crazy or mad or insane is wacky. but it’s replacing the positive uses of those terms, so maybe i really should still call a fabric insane when it’s over the top and bright and i love it. i don’t know.

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spring of the student associations

September 10, 2009 at 12:09 pm (community, complex pleasures, musings, simple pleasures, ultimo sa)

the mulberries are growing and the student associations are blooming. life is good.

i dropped in at macquarie uni the other day. there are people running around in red, screen printed tshirts for their first student-council-equivalent. and not just a few, there were tshirts everywhere! over the years since i was around, the student council and other organisations got eroded, corrupted and eventually abolished. good people have been working hard for the last several years to create a new, better organisation within the generic association they were bequeathed to replace the whole lot. i’m sure there’s plenty more to do, but on a nice sunny day with people out and talking to eachother, it looks like they’ve gotten somewhere. there’s an energy i haven’t seen there for a long time, perhaps ever. it helps that the wonderful old space that the women’s room never should’ve given up has now become the queerspace, and that people are meeting about a food co-op. people were dancing outside the atrium and i didn’t even feel bad that the old rabbit warren that used to house the student council and the art space has been gutted for the new generic association offices – they’re shiny and glassy and full of people, with a functional reception with a reasonable list of clubs evident at the pigeonholes. the two organisations that the space was taken from were long dead, but indications are that, when their replacements get big enough to be able to use office space, they will have competent enough people to win that fight.

yesterday i was at ultimo tafe and stopped by their student association to catch up. i came away with a similar feeling of hope; there’s been shakeup in the staffing situation, with someone getting a promotion and others shuffling up, and it all seems to be to the better. not only have memberships have gone up to about a third of the population (take a look at that, unis!) but the new board is active, both helping out with the general activities of the association and having ideas. gosh, ideas! all four of them are being put through the frontline management course, which both displays a certain level of commitment and means that there will be four serious student-run projects happening this year. collaboration with departments is going well, including a shiny makeover for the student newspaper that i started, which indicates that it will continue. sports have started up again after a few years of not being able to fill teams, with a soccer competition against eora – one of many collaborations with them which are fruit of the seeds i kept planting back when. all this is in the environment of the tafe pushing a serious commitment to greenskilling, actually surveying people about the footwear courses and trying to work something out, and security keeping up the good work we’ve seen the entire time i’ve been involved. seven of their 21 staff are permanent, and it seems enough to keep up good continuity and make them the best and most understanding service in the area.

i’m no longer enrolled in either of these organisations, but i can delight in seeing results of my previous hard work amongst the bubbling up of good things, even if i’m not there to enjoy them directly. now i’m at yet another educational institution. i’ve gone and nominated for uts’ academic board already, and their student elections are coming up too. i’ll have to investigate…

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May 7, 2009 at 12:23 am (musings, simple pleasures)

at the bottom of a bag of miscellaneous junk i’ve been sorting, i found a bunch of pens. as one would expect.

i dutifully went through and scribbled each one on the back of an A4 envelope from the ‘chuck’ pile; addressed to me with a 45c and a 49c stamp. the top left corner is enblazoned:

Students’ Council
Macquarie University
NSW 2109
Ph: 02 0850 7629
Fax: 02 9850 7633


aaah. over the flap is a circular stamp in blue:


the date is 06/06/01.

but i digress. even deeper into trivial nostalgia, of all the pens i tried, there were several i recognised from a home show in the late eighties or early nineties. they say

TNT Air Couriers
The System

the system? i don’t suppose i’ll ever find out why they thought that was a good byline. i assume the company has disappeared, certainly i know the twin TNT buildings with the overpass have displayed a more forgettable acronym for many years now.

but the pens still work. each and every one.

the big green felt tip called

G. of A. Permagraf

is also going strong.

i’m impressed.

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March 15, 2009 at 10:55 pm (brain, education, musings)

i am a student again. it hits me when i realise that i have a perpetually open word document where i can type in random scribblings on their way to a more permanent home. in the last three years i have not studied essay subjects, have not bothered to open word often, and have instead written in a variety of notebooks, separated by subject. will i lose that clarity now i again have several partial blog posts, email responses and thoughts sitting in the one document below my essay notes? maybe the integration will make me more productive instead, less able to forget and put aside, for better or for worse.

i am obstinate and have just removed all the capitalisation that word insisted on giving me. it was an easy task, considering all but one instance was the letter ‘i’. the fact that most of the themes refer to myself amuses my linguistically trained mind, but of course it’s all about me, it’s a blog. the action concerns me more than the content. when does acknowledging that there is no particular justification override upholding consistency for its own sake? i struggle with that question probably more than i should. is that the definition of obsessive? am i clinging to displays of identity that nobody else will even notice? should i be doing my readings instead of worrying about it?

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November 23, 2008 at 7:55 am (musings)

this morning we shaved my father’s hair off. it’s not that short, but it’s a different shape.

he’s booked in to the royal north shore hospital for three weeks, from tomorrow.

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