Moata's Blog Idle

Moata Tamaira is a librarian with a black-belt in sarcasm who's been meaning to get one in procrastination too but always ends up watching TV instead. Her blog is an unholy mash-up of whimsy, cynicism and wry observation.

Democracy for beginners

09:32am 16 Sep 2014

Get out and vote! (doesn't have to be at a library)It's a damned hard thing to avoid, an election. Like The Olympics, a new season of The Block NZ, or a Kardashian's nuptials, an election gets full media saturation in the weeks preceding it, so much so that even people who are interested in politics start to get a little weary of it.

I guess I would fall into that category which is part of the reason that the Silver Fox, The Master and I took a family trip to the local library at the weekend and gave advance voting a spin (I should probably mention that The Master was there purely as an observer being more than 17 years too young to legally vote, though we did stick a "Yes, I have voted" sticker on his hat, just to mess with people).

So as far the election is concerned, I'm done already. I'm like the preternaturally organised kids in school who got their end of year assessments done and handed in a week early instead of doing the whole thing the night before. I highly recommend an advance vote if you can manage it just for the smugness aspect alone. Also, if something tragic should happen between now and Saturday you can all take some comfort in the knowledge that I at least got to exercise my democratic rights before the terrible chocolate mousse asphixiation accident stole me from the world. Because I am the kind of person who worries that they might die before the weekend.

As much as I sometimes feel ambivalent about elections I always enjoy voting. For one thing it's pretty much the only time I ever get the opportunity to use an orange vivid marker and we all know how much I love me some stationery. But I also love voting for what it is. Though there may be no setting more lackluster than a corrugated cardboard booth, for me voting comes with a frisson of excitement and grandness that I rarely experience elsewhere. I take extra care to make sure I put my orange tick exactly where I want it to go. For a few brief moments I am part of something much larger than myself. For a second as felt tip hits paper I am democracy.

I think a lot of us take this for granted. We don't know what it's like to live somewhere that doesn't have democracy or which has democracy of a far poorer quality. Because we are lucky in this country. We live in a high-functioning democracy. Our democracy is the Rolls Royce kind. For all the skiting (and camo-gear activities) that the US does in the name of democracy, they aren't even in the top ten of democratic countries. We kick their arse at it.

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Tales from the homefront

09:58am 12 Sep 2014

Rix. (n.d.) [Women at the back door]. Auckland War Memorial Museum album 401 p.101.My son is now 9 months old which means it's been quite a while since my days were spent in an office on the other side of town. I am, for the time being, what could rightly be termed a "home body". This makes me sound a bit like I should be wearing a pinny and spying on the neighbours, perhaps while wearing curlers. This characterisation doesn't really fit. I almost never wear a pinny but when I do it's got R2D2 on it. But I do spend a large proportion of my day in my own home.

There are obvious advantages to this arrangement which include; wearing a bathrobe until it's nearly lunchtime, having a lot of baby supplies close to hand in case of poo-splosion or other catastrophic hull breaches that babies are prone to having, proximity to the contents of the biscuit tin, all the wifis. Unfortunately the lack of change of scene can make things a bit dull and wilfully ignoring various tasks of a houseworky nature becomes a lot more difficult.

The other thing that I wasn't prepared for was how often this domestic bliss of not-doing-the-vaccuming-while-wiping-various-substances-off-the-baby is interrupted. When you're at work for most of the day you sort of assume that your house is basically just sitting there quietly doing nothing until you return and the phone doesn't ring (the only person we regularly get landline calls from is my mother). However I've since learned that this couldn't be further from the truth.

I have been amazed, now that I'm here to answer the door and the phone, how often these are people wanting to sell us things.

I've had door-to-door salespeople of all kinds from those selling tax return services, to insurance, to power supply, to DVD rental. Not to mention the meter reader, the local church group collecting to rebuild their earthquake destroyed building, and people who come bearing religious "reading material". Back when I worked in an office when there was a knock at the door it was almost always the neighbours or a courier, now the proportion of wanted visitors to unwanted is skewed quite markedly to the latter.

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Spirit of '74

10:19am 09 Sep 2014

One of the movies I can watch over and over again is Highlander. Yes, it's somewhat ridiculous in places - a Scotsman with a French accent, an Egyptian with a Scots accent etc, and the less said about the sequels the better - but it has swords, kilts and a cracking Queen soundtrack... what's not to love?

However there's one scene that I've always taken issue with. In it that old smoothy "Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod" gets more than a little wanky about a bottle of brandy. Bottled in 1783 he says, the same year that Mozart yadda yadda, something something hot air balloon, blah dee blah United States independence, ra ra ra is my knowledge of historical world events making you horny, and so on.

Which is all well and good because who doesn't love a Renaissance man (who also happens to be an Elizabethan, Jacobean, Georgian, Napoleonic and Victorian man)? As an immortal Connor MacLeod is centuries old so the assumption is that he knows what he's talking about because he was actually alive in 1783, and because this movie came out in 1986 and Wikipedia hadn't been invented yet.

But here's the thing. I've been alive for roughly half a life time and I can't even remember what year I finished high school let alone what the major news stories of that year were. In fact, the only period of my life where I can easily identify the years that things happened are 1997-1999 and only because I have living in London as a massive clue to narrow down the year range. To me the miraculous thing in this scene isn't that Connor MacLeod is immortal, it's that he obviously has an incredible memory. Over three hundred and fifty years of living is a hell of a lot of current affairs factoids to remember. Unless he only remembers things from 1783 just for the purposes of looking smart in front of the lay-dees.

Mama and Papa circa 1974...
Mum and Dad circa 1974. Nice shirts, guys.
With the not-entirely-dreaded fortieth birthday hovering over the horizon, maybe I should choose a year to be knowledgeable about? And why not the year of my birth?

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The truth about earthquake repairs

09:24am 04 Sep 2014

And so another anniversary rolls around. Another year removed from the point at which Christchurch (and Canterbury) started to become a byword for "busted".

On a personal note, today also marks the beginning of what became our family. Four years on from our first date the Silver Fox and I are older, more tired, and the proud guardians of a three bedroom home in an affordable suburb, not to mention a nine month-old human (also to be found in the same suburb).

A lot has happened, and some of it's been great. Other than reproducing, the other important thing that happened to us in the last year was the earthquake repairs on our house.

We bought our house with earthquake repairs still pending. While it might seem odd to people living outside of Canterbury to buy a damaged home this is quite common in Christchurch as the housing stock continues to be limited (but it's officially not a crisis, m'kay?). It's also appealing to buy a house knowing that even if the colour scheme doesn't tickle your fancy, at some point down the line EQC will be replastering and repainting in colours of your choosing. Boy did we have fun (and by "fun" I mean "arguments") whilst poring over colour charts.

Our house had mainly cosmetic damage with cracks in walls and ceilings in most of the rooms but nothing that rendered it unliveable, just not of a NZ House & Garden standard.

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Moata: Dance like no one's watching

09:48am 02 Sep 2014

It's not that I'm a terrible dancer. If we're measuring on a non-professional scale, excluding anyone who's ever been in The Pussycat Dolls or a member of the Bolshoi Ballet for instance, I've got to be at least average if not above. But when it comes to physical self expression everybody's a bit whakamā, right? Because the terrible thing about dancing is that the overriding pressure to look cool can often take away from the simple joy of music and movement.

Which is why dancing on your own can be such giddy fun.

For years I was forced to clandestinely get down with my bad self in changing cubicles or in the privacy of my own living room. But people, I have found my new spiritual home and it is called No Lights No Lycra.

For those of you not familiar with this relatively recent development in the world of amateur dance, No Lights No Lycra is a basically a disco with no lightshow... or lights of any kind. You turn up, pay $5 and for one hour you can dance in a dark room amongst strangers to a playlist made up of songs that people have requested ahead of time. No instructor. No talking. Just music and mad flailing (if that's what you're into).

When I turned up to my first NLNL session last week I didn't know what to expect. The lady at the door pointed out that the slit of light on the other side of the room was the door to the toilets and this was pretty much the only guidance offered. It was a large space with a low stage on which sat some big speakers.

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