Sunday, 23 August 2009

Year-round Fall

There are no deciduous trees native to New Zealand. Though many trees that drop all their leaves in fall have been introduced, the natives are all either fern, conifer, or what Wikipedia refers to as broadleaf. I think we've got one of the latter in our front yard. We have yet to identify it, but it for sure isn't deciduous. There are leaves on the tree year round. And leaves fall year round. I've never had to deal with that before. Constant raking. Annoying. But I guess it is nice that in winter trees here don't look all dead with no leaves.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Flippin' Heck

I've posted on my tumblr this and this, this and this about the cold here.

That pretty much sums it up. The winters are only miserable here because of the miserable condition of the housing. And the biggest problem is the damp. We've got mold on the windows and mold on the walls. We've done our best to eradicate it, but it's a constant effort. We wake up in the mornings and towel all the condensation off the window panes and the puddles off the window sills. We open all the windows to air out the rooms. We run a dehumidifier on the really damp days. We pull the blankets and sheets off the beds during the day to air the mattresses out.

And yet tonight I found mold. The worst type possible. I was flipping the girls' mattress for the first time in 2 months. I discovered mold on the fabric covering the boxspring, and on the mattress itself on the side that had been down. This is tragic, as this mattress is an all organic natural latex one we had gotten specifically because little Nys seems to have allergy issues. Plus it's the most comfortable mattress I've ever slept on. We shipped it over with our stuff from Boston. I don't believe comparable mattresses are available here. Luckily we have two, the second having been in our virtually unused spare room. Because it hasn't been slept on much, it hasn't gotten all that body moisture in it and it's not moldy (yet).

So we pulled a quick switcheroo, and we're going to try to save the moldy mattress. It's not too bad, the boxspring is worse, and just has very light spots of grey. They don't even show up in a photo, so I have no proof for y'all, but trust me, it's there. So I've got both pieces in the spare room now, with a radiator on and the dehumidifier running, and I'll leave it that way all night. (The dehumidifier needs the heat to get the air temperature up or else it doesn't work.) Then tomorrow we're hoping for a sunny day. We'll take them outside, brush them down, vacuum them off, and lay in the sun for as long as possible. And then we're just going to have to be even more vigilant in the girls' room. Running the dehumidifier every day, flipping the mattress regularly. I'll let you know how it goes.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Up for Auction

New Zealand's most popular web site, apparently, is Trade Me. It's kinda a combination of ebay and craigslist, for Kiwis only. I saw stated on the news here the other day that on any given day, 67% of web pages hit by New Zealanders are Trade Me pages. That's kinda insane.

Trade Me is one of two main site for NZ job listings (the other being Seek), and has the most comprehensive real estate listings. We found our house initially on Trade Me, and I got my job through Trade Me. But it's mainly an auction site. So far I've only participated in one auction, which I won, for a kids desk and bench for the girls' art work.

This week, I won another auction. But this time, it was in person. At a real auction house. Maidens and Foster is right next door to my office building, and every Wednesday at 1:00pm they hold an auction for general household items. I've been wanting a desk chair for awhile, but I was loathe to pay the $100 the cheapest new ones were at stores. Several weeks ago I went to check out the auction items during the open viewing time, and I saw a few adequate desk chairs. Not wanting to take too much time out of my day, I placed absentee bids on 2 of them (hoping I would not win both, but since one of them I was only bidding $15 on, it wouldn't have been the end of the world). Well, I lost them both, both by $5. I figured if I had the chance again, I'd have to be there in person to bid.

For the next few weeks there were no desk chairs, but finally this week there were several. They were lots number 140 - 146, and I was told that they usually run through about 100 lots an hour. So starting around 2:00 on Wednesday I stuck my head out the window at work to listen for the lot numbers they were up to. When then got to 130, I went down. I was nervous, as I'd never been to a real auction before. I kept my hands tight in my pockets as I didn't want to accidentally bid on something. All sorts of people were crammed into the room, a lot looked like they were just there passing time. But in those 10 lots I got the gist of how it went. And when lot 140 came I, I jumped in right away. I wasn't going to wait around to let any chairs get by me. The bidding started at $20, another guy bid $25, I went $30, and it was over. Whohoo! It was fun, but nerve-racking. And now I've got a sweet desk chair.

Monday, 3 August 2009

There's this referendum...

A New Zealand Citizens Initiated Referendum that asks "Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?"

Here's the history as far as I have gleaned:
Assault is against the law in New Zealand.
There used to be an exception to the assault law if it was a case of a parent or guardian using "reasonable" force against their child for the purposes of correction. (Section 59 of the Crimes Act 1961)
In 2007 this section of the law was changed, essentially removing the exception and outlawing smacking (what Americans call spanking).
This upset a lot of people who think that as parents they have the right to smack their children.
A group of these people got together and followed the protocol to put this referendum to the public.

This question is very poorly worded because it assumes that a "smack" (whatever that technically means) can be a "part of good parental correction." And using the term "criminal offence" is scary, and not in fact what the current law does.

So I vote Yes, because a Yes vote is essentially saying that I want the law kept the way it is now. I don't think that good parents who lightly smack their children should go to jail, despite my Yes vote. The current law isn't doing that.

Here's an analogy. When my friend from the States was here visiting recently we went out to a night club. An obnoxious drunk was being a jerk to us, and my friend slapped him. Twice. He wasn't happy, but he was too drunk to do anything about it.
Was this assault? Yes.
Do I think she should have slapped him? No
Was she arrested for it? No
Do I think she should have been arrested for it? No
Do I think the law should be changed to make exceptions for slapping nasty drunks? No

In the same way, I think that smacking your kids is assault, and I don't think it should be done, and I don't want an exception in the law explicitly saying it's okay to smack, but I don't think that parents who are loving and kind otherwise should be arrested.

Is that all clear now?