Wednesday, March 23, 2011

For those who can't get enough Jeanne Pratt

Yes 50-odd of you today just couldn't get enough Jeanne Pratt.
So I'll give you a little more of her again.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

hold on tight

How much more can the soul endure?

Sugarloaf Point lighthouse

Hold loved ones close, help your neighbours, practice patience, let go of petty hurts and be kind to yourself.

and a little rant I wrote earlier

I was going to dig out my 1986 diary and recount my growing fears in late April and early May that year. But I don’t need to. I remember exactly how I was feeling.

On the 26th of April I was in Amsterdam. The weather was cool and the art galleries were warm. As I’d stayed in that glorious city before I bypassed the space cakes and Heineken brewery. Instead my housemate, her small baby, two of her friends, myself and the boyfriend (who later was referred to in diary entries as “Shit Face”) had crammed into a medium-sized sedan, taken the overnight ferry and ensconced ourselves in some acquaintance’s small apartment in the artisan quarter.

The greyest cloud that weekend was Shit Face, who out of his familiar environment was sullen and petulant. He really was a monumental pain in the bottom but being surrounded by a bunch of stimulating ex-pat kiwis made up for the sulky Brit and I didn’t let his moods dampen the trip.

Heading home the news began to filter through that there had been an accident at a nuclear power plant in the Ukraine. Buoyed by the holiday spirit it didn’t sound so bad.

Over the coming days more news filtered through. From memory it would take 10-14 days for the radioactive cloud to make its way to Britain. Quietly the government banned the sale of Geiger counters. Most people went about their days in total ignorance but unfortunately that was something I found difficult to do. After all I was a kiwi, from nuclear-free New Zealand – I had the badges, t-shirt and lifelong blisters from the marches to prove it.

But more than that, I had Shit Face. His role at a London polytechnic became rather useful. It gave him access to up to the minute radiation levels, recorded just across town from where I lived. Each morning I’d get a call. Often his voice sounded tight and controlled and then before we hung up would soften as he implored me to not go out in the rain that day.

Covens of kiwis met in dank pubs throughout the city. We’d plot our escape if Chernobyl fully blew, the quote at the time was that the current amount of radiation blowing our way was a breath of fresh air in comparison to what was coming next. For those of us with itchy feet, not ready to head back to the Antipodes, Canada was a favourite option, somewhere in the mountains. I don’t know why.

One of my practical housemates (there were six of them, plus two babies, a toddler and three chickens) hit the books and decided we needed to take iodine. I headed with her to the local chemist. The assistant looked at us strangely and got the older pharmacist who patiently listened to our request. Iodine, he informed us, was very dangerous. Exposing our thyroids to iodine may be worse than what the radiation could do he intoned. The practical housemate stayed on track, demonstrated a bit of medical knowledge and finally he relented. We had our little bottle of iodine, a dosage guide for each person in the household and we had to swear on our grandmothers graves that we’d not take a drop more than he’d calibrated.

Iodine is reputedly a foul tasting substance. I have no memory of its bitterness. Just some relief that I was doing something, anything, that might stop me from developing an unnecessary cancer.

The Brits kept calm and carried on. They appeared to have no fear of the substance in the air that they could not see. There’d been through worse in the Blitz and it had never hurt them.

Years later, working in Melbourne with a Polish doctor he recounted the litany of adult cancers, birth defects and childhood leukaemias that skyrocketed in his homeland in the late ‘80s There was tales of super crops, fruits and vegetables growing as if on steroids. I remember seeing cheap jam from the tiny principality of Liechtenstein in a local supermarket, and giving it as well as the Perrier water a wide birth. French wine vintage 1986? Forget it. Even champagne lost its allure.

Twenty-five years on I cannot believe the world is facing another nuclear emergency; that Windscale, Three Mile Island and Chernobyl had been so easily forgotten by governments who commissioned nuclear reactors. Even in countries colonised on stable ground, let alone one on the Ring of Fire.

I’m angry that the nuclear industry is getting so much airtime to defend itself, up sell it’s product and downplay the real dangers. Why isn’t Greenpeace and CND getting equal space in the media?

But most of all, I’m sad that millions of people are being exposed to increasing levels of radiation, that governments fudge the truth at times of danger and that we haven’t learnt from history.

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Saturday, March 05, 2011

popping out for a bit

May the NSW weather be fine and the earthquakes stop in my homeland. Am having a break for a bit, so lack of updates here doesn't mean anything tragic has happened.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

awesome maori guy interview

During my immersion in New Zealand media since 22 February I've developed a deep dislike of John Campbell, the presenter of a kiwi tabloid TV news program. However, his show has an interview with the awesome maori Samoan guy including footage (sans the lifeless body shots).

Watch the interview

In further quake news, hope has faded for finding anyone else alive in the rubble and "with considerable sorrow" the search and rescue teams have transitioned from rescue to recovery mode. Seventy survivors have been pulled from the wreckage, the last being over a week ago, 25 hours after the earthquake.Ten survivors have undergone amputations. While the fatality count is currently 161, officials estimate the final figure to be around 220.

Other than donating to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal what New Zealand desperately needs is tourists. Beyond Christchurch city, the rest of the country is safe and open for business. The quake has shaken the New Zealand economy and the Aus/NZ exchange rate is currently a whopping $1.35. There's never been a better time to cruise on the Fiords, raise your heart rate in Queensland, sip a latte in Wellington or catch the end of the summer sun on Whale Beach (oops, I shouldn't have mentioned that, it's a Northland secret).

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

finally another survivor from the Christchurch ruins

A week after the earthquake Gerry the cat has been rescued from wrecked Christchurch CBD. The uninjured feline who lived in a yoga studio was yesterday reunited with his cat sitter.

In other news, #quakewars erupted last night on twitter. A 4.5 earthquake shook Wellington around bedtime, quickly followed by a 4.6 aftershock in Christchurch. Great to see a sense of humour and gentle rivalry at times like this.

Also emerging on twitter a week on is the economic impact rippling through the country, there's been stories of people in other cities loosing their jobs and general doom and gloom with pundits tipping the disaster could push NZ into recession.

Want to own a piece of earthquake memorabilia?

It's going to take years to rebuild the city of Christchurch and many of the lives in it. Give til it hurts Aussies!
Christchurch Earthquake Appeal

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