Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Winter ...

Ah, winter. Yes, it's that time of year when I try and remind myself what I like about it in order to be more positive about the short days and cold nights. Since living in London, New Zealand winters always seem all the worse as I am constantly aware that, on the other side of the World, the days are long and friends are having a summer of European jaunts. So, here is my not-quite-annual-but-something-I-do-every-few-years list of things to be positive about this winter:

1. At least I can fit my nice coats this year. Last year, due to an ever-growing Amotai, I grew out of all my coats some time in May and spent the rest of winter wearing a $30 black monstrosity from the Warehouse. As soon as I shrunk again, I wanted to burn the coat.

2. Soup! Bread! Melted butter! Yum.

3. Dressing Amotai in cute wool sweaters, many which come courtesy of a fabulous knitting Great Aunt. I also like to dress him in woolly hats, but that is less fun now it is apparently funny to throw them on the ground from one's pram. Almost as funny as grabbing at glasses, it seems.

4. Lovely crisp days. We had one of these today in Wellington, and they are made all the more special by just how grateful I feel about seeing sun.

5. Living in a house with a heat pump. I've never had one before and it's awesome.

Does anyone have anything else to add?

(Yes, I know that I did 15 things last time I did such a list, and that some of them are the same, but it HAS been 5 years so figure it's OK ... )

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Stay-at-home fatherhood

One of the best features of New Zealand's parental leave laws is that the year of unpaid, job-protected leave can be split between both parents. Lauren finished up her stint in April and it's my seventh week of being a stay-at-home dad.

I've got a fine role model for this - my father's held the home front and looked after a succession of kids for decades, while mum went to work. It was a rare man who took on that role back in the 80s and it's still unusual now. Though things are slowly changing, even in liberal Wellington there are few stay-at-home dads. For example, when I take Amotai to a baby-focused activity (e.g. sing-a-long at the local library) there's about one man for every ten women. I've not seen another man at the Plunket talks I've been to.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

The world Amotai will grow up in

Is anyone else really really happy that Facebook and blogs weren't around when we were teenagers? I know that a blog is by definition about self-indulgent navel gazing and grandstanding, but had they been around in my late teens/early 20s, it would have been even worse than it is now. I also shudder to think what sort of Facebook updates 15-year old me would have posted. I imagine they would have probably fluctuated between the ridiculous and pretentious to the ridiculous and weird. Cyberspace is a better place for not having a record of my teenage antics.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

E-readers: aye or nay?

I have had a mental block against e-readers pretty much ever since I found out they exist. My reasons are as follows:
  • I love the feel of a book.
  • I am worried that if I have an e-reader loaded with 1000 books, my attention span will reduce, meaning that I will vacillate between books rather than commit myself to reading one at a time.
  • I like having a house filled with books. I also enjoy having little piles of books around the house; my 'to read' pile, my 'to return to the library' pile.
  • You can't borrow books other people have downloaded, or lend other people books that you have downloaded. I enjoy lending other people books, and enjoy borrowing books even more. My sister has a Kindle and recently downloaded a book I want to read. That doesn't help me read it, so I am instead (im)patiently waiting for it to be free at the library.
  • I am worried about what e-readers will do to the book industry. I love a good bookshop and there are some excellent ones in Wellington - specifically Marsden Books and Unity Books.
  • I like the idea of Amotai seeing me reading books. Not looking at yet another screen.
  • I have heard that some conversions from paperback to e-reader have been riddled with mistakes, and in some cases, altered Tolstoy.
Amotai enjoys the classics
BUT, I can see some plus sides to having them. Namely:
  • They are easy to carry around. No more having to carry an extra bag to work to allow me to take a tome with me for lunchtime perusal.
  • I could download every single Agatha Christie. Awesome.
  • You can theoretically read books like Fifty Shades of Grey on the bus and no-one would know that you were reading something rude. Or you could read Salman Rushdie in Iran.  Or enjoy the new Lee Child while in the company of pretentious literati. It would be your little secret, much like listening to the Britney Megamix on your i-pod.
  • It is much cheaper than new books.
  • I do have far too many books. My sister's boyfriend just returned 7 (!) to me that I had totally forgotten having had lent him. Books are a pain to move.  Even with my current attempts to buy fewer books I still end up going to enough book fairs or being impatient with waiting for library books I still probably end up averaging a new one a month.
  • Amotai won't rip an e-reader.
  • The NZ book industry is pretty dire anyway, and sometimes I wonder if the Whitcoulls chain as a bookseller does not deserve to be saved. Their business model is terrible, and the owners seem to think that having 50 of one book in a pile is better than having 2 copies of 25 different books. The shops have minimal variety, and don't seem to stock books at all until they have hit a certain level of popularity. I tried to buy the Hunger Games there last July, the staff had never heard of it. Now there are about 100 copies in store, but it's too late - I got it from the Book Depository months before it was stocked.
So, I am still undecided, but think I will hold off getting one for the meantime. To be honest, I've never really been an earlier adapter to any new technology, so am in no hurry to fix something that's not broken. I am interested in your views though ...

Friday, 8 June 2012

When technology fails us

Is it just me, or is most modern technology built to break? Is it all a sneaky ploy to encourage us to keep buying new items? Or am I just stating the obvious when asking the question at all?

Our household has had three things break during the past week that have brought these questions to the front of my mind:

1. Tane's mobile phone. He bought it in 2003, and it is the only one he has ever owned. Yes, he might as well have been using a tin can connected to a string it is so old. Yes, he has owned the phone longer than he has even known me. Yes, the company that made the phone is no longer in business. But, kept it he did, and now he is faced with a whole new world of mobile phone technology when deciding what to replace it with. I will leave it to him to write an ode to his old phone worthy of its memory, but can guarantee that such an ode will be dripping with sentiment.

2. My 1 gb i-pod that I use for exercise. I bought this in Ealing in 2008, named it "Speedy", and have used it ever since for running and at the gym. I have no idea how many km's I've covered while wearing it, but I have worn it during one half marathon, one trail run, and during enough other runs to get an injury. More recently, I had worn it while going for long walks with Amotai around the streets of Wellington. I hope it's not lame to be sad about a broken i-pod, but I am gutted. I know I can buy a new one, but it won't be the same. RIP, Speedy.

3. Our tin opener. Unlike Tane's mobile and my i-pod, the tin opener is not loved at all. In fact, it is our third tin opener in a year. I was somewhat surprised that it broke a mere 2 months after it was bought. Perhaps it knew that it wasn't loved? Is this a cynical ploy to keep tin-opener makers in business?

Regardless, if any of you can advise any technological items that will last longer than a few years, please let me know. I feel like I have had my fair share of things break on me this week.