Thursday, November 30, 2006

Web Diarists Are Challenging Censors

Der Spiegel are running a story that about equates with my idea of the only place where democracy actually has room to be ...

Authoritarian states like China, Iran and Egypt are having trouble dealing with the burgeoning number of critical online diaries. These blogs, which multiply by the second, expose news about incidents that many regimes would prefer to keep hushed up. In many countries, blogs are giving people their first real taste of democracy.

Vote for the 2006 Word of the Year

Merriam-Webster is an American publisher of language-related reference works and they're calling for submissions for the 2006 word of the year ...

They write: We're trying something a little different this year. Instead of reviewing millions of searches in the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary to find our most frequently looked-up words, we're asking you to submit your choice for the one single word that sums up 2006. Which one of the hundreds of words you've encountered this year do you think best represents the year now quickly drawing to a close? Maybe it's one you've seen again and again in the headlines of newspapers and magazines, or one that seems to be a particular favorite in the blogosphere, or maybe it's a word you've heard bandied about ad nauseam by various TV and radio pundits. No matter where you've seen or heard it, every word is eligible to take the top honors for 2006.

You can find out more here .

Thanks to David, at Public Address
Peter has an interesting post titled Is Microsoft Vista “Policeware"?

He begins: Although Microsoft will do its utmost to make you believe otherwise, its new VISTA operating system is actually disempowering the user. You no longer decide what can be done with your “Personal Computer”, VISTA (ie Microsoft) decides. Not convinced? Let me give you a couple of url’s to relevant articles.

Orhan Pamuk, Writer

You can skip this if you like but I love reading of Orhan Pamuk and The New York Times has a lovely article on him here .

I like what he has to say about his life, lived inside and out of his beloved Istanbul ... “As I waver back and forth,” he wrote in his memoir, “sometimes seeing the city from within and sometimes from without, I feel as I do when I am wandering the streets, caught in a stream of slippery contradictory thoughts, not quite belonging to this place and not quite a stranger.”

Thank you Erkan .

Pulitzer Prize and Blogs

As usual, Erkan is posting interesting things ...

He linked to Bloggers where you can find the latest news on the Pulitzer Prize and bloggers.

New guidelines for the prestigious Pulitzer Prizes allow the submission of a blogs. A press release from the Pulitzer Board discusses the widening of the range of online journalims to include blogs and other online content.

The purpose of the new category is to encourage and honor exemplary local journalism, marked by strong reporting across a spectrum of potential subjects. "The Pulitzer Prizes have long valued such reporting," Gissler said, "but this makes our interest much more explicit."

While the local category replaces the Beat Reporting category that was created in 1991, the work of beat reporters remains eligible for entry in a wide range of categories that include-depending on the specialty involved-national, investigative, and explanatory reporting, as well as the new local category.

With its new rules for online submissions, the Pulitzer Board will require each online element to be a single, discretely designated presentation, such as a database, blog, interactive graphic, slide show, or video presentation. Each designated element will count as one item in the total number of items, print or online, that are permitted in an entry.

The 'How to Submit a Entry' PDF File can be found here

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dental Visit 3, Belgie

The numbing injection is taking so long to wear off and I'm not meant to eat until I can feel my mouth again ... I'm starving, and so ends another dental appointment.

It was better this time, no root canal but worse because she realised that a crack in the tooth next to the one she was working on was causing the pain. Needless to say, I have to go back next week.

She told me an interesting thing ... those black fillings I had put in over the years have a tendency to expand with hot drinks and food, causing cracks in the teeth and it was this that contributed to me losing points on 3 different teeth over the last couple of years.

It is exacerbated by the fact that I grind my teeth while I sleep but mmmm, all the best people do ... she hopes to repair the tooth crack she discovered today, before it snaps off and then there's the final known snapped point to work on on the other side of my mouth.

It's lovely to have found a dentist I trust but still ...

Istanbul Wanderer

Istanbul Wanderer, originally uploaded by - di.

I was going through some of the Istanbul images I had stored on cd and found this one.

My Australian friend and I spent the day wandering through the streets of Istanbul - she was saying goodbye to the city that had been her home for awhile and I was saying bye to her.

It was a magical day in terms of results ... I took some of my best photographs in the city that day.

We stopped for a coffee in Taksim ...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - Let's talk European

I enjoy the online version of Der Spiegel but today they led me to a new online news source called

Signandsight offers an informative view of cultural and intellectual life in Germany. In Today's Feuilletons summarises the highlights of the cultural pages of the major German language newspapers.

The magazine roundup seems interesting and it's only a small selection of what is on offer there: Merkur testifies to the eccentricity of Europeans. In L'Espresso, Umberto Eco reads the Koran and Tertullian. The Weltwoche interviews Ahmed Scheikh of Al Jazeera. In Figaro, Alain Finkielkraut protects Robert Redeker from his "Yes, but..." defenders. The TLS is fed up with political moral apostles and writings from the new politics of values. The British are buying Bulgaria, says Przekroj. And Nepszabadsag longs for capitalism with a human face.

MEPs to shame 11 EU states in final CIA report, EU Observer

The EU Observer is running an interesting article ... The European Parliament in its final report on alleged CIA kidnappings and prisons in Europe is set to name and shame 11 EU member states with Poland coming in for some of the heaviest criticism, Polish press agency PAP reveals ahead of the study's Wednesday (29 November) publication date.

Italy, the UK, Germany, Sweden and Austria saw terrorism suspects snatched on their territory the report by Italian socialist MEP Claudio Fava will say, while the UK, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Romania and Poland hosted hundreds of secret CIA flights.

The density of the flights - suspected of being used for "extraordinary renditions" or transfer of prisoners without trial or legal redress to sites such as Guantanamo Bay or Uzbekistan - was the greatest in Germany (336), the UK (170) and Ireland (147).

... EU justice commissioner Franco Frattini has in the past clarified that any EU member states caught violating "fundamental human rights" could face suspension of EU voting privileges under articles six and seven of the EU Treaty.

Amy Gahran, Content Strategist, Info-Provocateur

An intriguing post over at Amy Gahran's Poynter Online column ... Smart Blogger or Photo Vigilante?

There are other bloggers who have snapped their attackers in action ...

It's a subject that raises interesting questions.

Amy writes: On Nov. 24, Jackie Danicki (an American blogger and social media consultant living in London) was physically and verbally assaulted by two men in the London Underground. She reports, "The assault took place on the southbound Bakerloo line platform at Baker Street, and the abuse continued from there to Piccadilly Circus." She also noted that this abuse went on for 15 minutes before anyone tried to intervene.

Danicki went one step beyond what most people -- probably even me -- would have done in that situation. She took a photo of one of her alleged assailants. After she returned from making a lengthy police report, she posted that photo to her weblog along with a description of what happened, and asked people to identify this man to the British Transport Police. In the comments, she also included a description of the second alleged attacker.

Neal, Nowhere To Go But Up

Coming in as Point I on Neal's About New Zealand post was: I) Kiwis are nice, almost to a fault. I never saw a kiwi get so much as agitated. Granted, most of the people that I dealt with were in the tourist industry, so it's their job to be nice. Even when I stayed with the locals, they were just really positive and happy.

I guess when you live in paradise, it's hard to find a reason to get annoyed.

He's an American who has been blogging on Nowhere to go but up down in the South Pole for the last year. Who can resist reading a person who writes in little 'about me' piece that I used to just be a nerd, now I'm an action nerd.

Meanwhile, an old friend called Paul has just arrived at the South Pole and doesn't yet realise that regular updates will be expected ...
I was reading Expatica this morning and noticed an odd story about a rather odd little man who has set up a group to deny the Holocaust happened.

Reynouard moved to Brussels in 2002 to create a neo-Nazi group, 'Vision historique objective' (VHO) or objective historical perspective. This group, which principally aims to deny the Holocaust and the existence of concentration camps during WWII, is the French-speaking branch of the 'Vrij historisch onderzoek' a neo-Nazi group created in 1985 by the leaders of the Vlaams Blok, renamed the Vlaams Belang from November 2004.

What does he hope to achieve?
Will his next group be established to deny that the sky is blue?

This affair is likely to have repercussions for Reynouard's contacts in Brussels, who supported him and helped him propagate his writings. Reynouard was housed by a catholic community in Ixelles, the same community who took in Olivier Mathieu in the 90's, another French neo-Nazi.

Monday, November 27, 2006

This is why I want to go home ...

I grew up living with nature.
Bare feet were commonplace in summer, the beaches and rivers were places we ate and sunbathed between swimming. Horses, dogs and cats lived on an open-door policy ... an inside pet was unimaginable and my dogs always had some kind of swimming area close by.

The people are some of the friendliest in the world, the air is so clean I almost cry everytime I go home.

What am I doing out here in Europe ...?
You know what, sometimes I really don't know.

Jeff Derosa, Astute Bloke

Jeff Derosa wrote this superb description of New Zealand's South Island ... otherwise known as Di's Place.

He wrote, But New Zealand’s beauty is in a league all by itself. Another way to describe the South island is if you took an area the size of the state of Maine and then picked out the best of the Maine Coast, Colorado’s mountains, Ireland’s country side, tropical-looking water, and placed a cool city like Charleston, SC in the middle of it all … that would be New Zealand’s South Island.

In terms of both culture and natural beauty, is there a more attractive country on this planet? If so, let me know!

Well Jeff ... I don't think there is any place more attractive actually.

Poi E and the Patea Maori Club

I am beginning to love Public Address , a community of New Zealand-centric weblogs.

Graeme Edgeler posted this youtube over there as a kind of blast from the past ... it's dated but full of memories for people like me.

There's an interesting 'how it happened and what it all means here .

They write, The whole Poi-E concept was born in 1982 after linguist Ngoi Pewhairangi asked musician Maui Dalvanius Prime how he would teach the younger generation to be proud of being Maori and Kiwi. He told her he could do it by giving them their language and culture through the medium they were comfortable with.

Poi-E became a huge hit and was 22 weeks on the NZ hit charts in 1984, charting at number 1 for 4 weeks. It was also a big hit overseas, Dalvanius taking the Patea Maori Club on a tour which included The London Palladium, the Edinburgh Festival and a Royal Command Performance.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

24 hours in Antwerpen

It's been frustrating moving to Belgie, I might have mentioned it once or twice ... and every now and again I've ask myself ... would I do it all again if I knew how it was going to be?
Lately the answer has been yes.

I still get angry about the ridiculous paperwork and time wasted in arriving but ... if it hadn't taken so long, I wouldn't have developed as a blogger and photographer, I wouldn't have had time for the projects I'm working on with all kinds of interesting people, and I simply wouldn't be living the kind of life that involves me singing the Antwerp football supporters song at the top of my lungs in a smoke-filled pub with the family and friends of an Alderman celebrating his 40th birthday, then picking myself up the next morning to take photographs at a cultural exhibition and breakfast ... two completely unrelated events that allow me to see how it is to really live in this city I'm coming to love.

For me, travelling in other countries has to be about people ... without people, the experience feels one-dimensional. When I went to Rome, I was fortunate. Marco took me home to his family on the back of his scooter, his wife cooked Roman food for me and their family made me feel welcome in a country that wasn't my own.

I met two Paolo's, an artist who took me to coffee and a tour guide friend of a friend, who took me to lunch and showed me some of the city. And then there was Enzo, my waiter for the evening ... the man who made my last evening hilariously memorable by showering his attentions on me, that blushing kiwi woman trying to work out how to be less visible alone in a restuarant in Rome.

Turkey was superb ... the people, the people and the people. The Turks are surely amongst the kindest and most hospitable people in the world. I still miss them today and am happy to be moving in circles that will bring me in contact with the ones who live here.

Australia and my brother's friends and family there welcomed me in ... how I loved it, such a surprise after years of 'friendly' traditional rivalry.

Fiji and a taxi driver took us under his wing, showing us the island while we were stranded there on the way home once.

Belgium has been more difficult. Belgians don't rush in and embrace the foreigner, that's how it is here. Sometimes I have despaired, wanting out, wondering what had made me so unpalatable in this new world ... but slowly, give them time and there are moments of people magic to be had in this country too.

So, reporting from Belgium today ... I'm saying 'Alles goed' and 'tot straks'.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Final Score

New Zealand 45 - Wales 10

I hope never to have to listen to a BBC commentary again ... the French was so much better. I don't understand French.

Running out to an Alderman's birthday party.

Tot ziens.

Welcome to the PC 21st century in Welsh Rugby

Halftime score: New Zealand 28 - Wales 3.

But there was no haka at the start of this weekend's All Black's rugby match against Wales ...

Stunned, I googled it and discovered some silly little men felt menaced by the throat-slitting gesture at the end of the latest haka ...

The same gesture that made me laugh when I saw it.
New Zealanders are known the world around for their peaceful natures.
We don't have rugby fans acting out in deadly fighting during and after matches.
What are these pc idiots talking about?

Okay, so I'll come down off my soapbox and report coherently. Wales great Gerald Davies has become the latest leading rugby figure to say the All Blacks should drop the "throat-slitting" haka pre-match ritual, insisting it was "unworthy of New Zealand rugby" and had "no place on the playing field."

"We await with interest to see which one of the two hakas the All Blacks will perform on their tour of Europe," Davies, one of the outstanding wings of his generation and a star of the victorious British and Irish Lions side which triumphed in New Zealand in 1971, wrote in his column Thursday in The Times.

Well Gerald, they decided to perform behind closed doors so as to not psychologically traumatise those forced to watch this traditional pre-match display.

"It is devoutly to be hoped that they have left behind closed doors the one they chose to offer us last year.

"The one, that is, with the somewhat-menacing slitting-of-the-throat gesture," added Davies ahead of Sunday's match between England and New Zealand at Twickenham.

In New Zealand, this kind of nonsense would result in dear Gerald being addressed as 'Girl's blouse'.

The New Zealand newspapers are already reporting that The move wasn't warmly accepted by the 74,000-strong crowd at Millennium Stadium, with boos ringing out when it became clear there would be no haka performed.

Dervla Murphy, Stories from Siberia

The Independent is an interesting paper to wander through ...

Today I discovered this article about what draws the veteran travel writer Dervla Murphy to this coldest of places?

Nick Coelman asks: Its vastness, the quality of the silence, the sheer beauty of the landscape ... a few of the reasons why she chose it as the subject of her new book.

Alexander Litvinenko

Paris Parfait wrote on the death of Alexander Litvineko.

Pointing her readers in the direction of an Independent article

They wrote Alexander Litvinenko was a man who could be taught little about the seamy side of modern Russia. A KGB agent for 18 years, he occupied a world where intrigue, betrayal and ruthless trickery were the tools of working life.

But even a man whose job was to fight organised crime and counter subversion in the name of the Kremlin would have been surprised at an event as mired in low chicanery, high drama and cold-blooded cunning as his own passing. The spy novel saga of the life and death of the 43-year-old secret agent turned vehement critic of Vladimir Putin entered its most extraordinary phase yesterday when it was revealed that he died from exposure to a radioactive poison.

Last night, the Government was dealing with a public health alert and diplomatic crisis after traces of polonium 210, a by-product of uranium, were found at Mr Litvinenko's home as well as a sushi restaurant and London hotel he visited on 1 November.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) confirmed that traces of the heavy metal, which is lethal if ingested in tiny quantities, were found in Mr Litvinenko's urine.

"Urban sprawl in Europe – the ignored challenge"

By 2020, some member states' population will be up to 90 percent urbanised with EU funding contributing to uncontrolled sprawl in some cities, a new environment study has said.

Paulo Coelho, Writer

Aart left news in my comments section ... telling me of Paulo Coelho's website and blog . And there is a FAQ section for those curious about his life.

Thank you Aart.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Erkan posted news of an interesting study ...

A 34-page discussion paper that examines the social integration of immigrants into host countries within Europe .
I had the loveliest time this afternoon ...

I went visiting and spent a couple of hours drinking a little of the Spanish version of Beaujolais Nouveau, snacking on herring, olives and yummy cheese while looking through photographs and talking.

Lut had invited me over and had a delicious pile of photographs from her recent visit to Turkey ... not only that, she has a gorgeous old dog who was happy with the attention I paid him. I miss dogs here in Belgie ... Gert isn't convinced by my need for one.

Her photographs captured a Turkey I recognised and I sighed over breakfasts and dinners but there was more ... boats on a stunningly blue Mediterranean, pink graves cut into a hillside and stone stairways that had led ancient people up hidden pathways on a now abandoned island.

It was dark by the time Lut's husband lifted my bike down the steps of their house ... hmmmm, we noted my bike doesn't have a dynamo for the lights and Gert wasn't answering his phone and then there was the fact I wasn't biking home through the park in the dark which meant ... hmmm.

I walked on. My conditioning is a lifetime of riding on the left side of the road ... I figured this wasn't the best plan when biking without lights and a little uncertain of the way home. I walked a while, made a plan and the phone rang.

I talked Gert through my route home and being a patient man, he pretended he needed talked through my route home ... he corrected me and there I was, back on a cycle path and relatively safe. He updated me with the news that my bike has never had a dynamo ... my battery-powered bike lights were at home in the basket in the washhouse, but of course.

I came home with a bag full of goodies. There's the delicious jar of Turkish honey and nuts, and the Irish cds which are playing as I type this.

Dank u wel Lut, I had the loveliest time.

Wear Sunscreen ...

Dank u wel Peter .
Last time I listened to this I was younger ... it's true about knees.
"I believe in the concept of 'anima mundi' (soul of the world), where each person, through total dedication to what he does, comes into contact with the inspiration of the universe."

Paulo Coelho

Live and Let Live ...

Guardian Unlimited covers a range of topics. I did smile when I found this one ... Flap over a tale of gay penguins .

It was a love story that touched the heart of New Yorkers. Two gay penguins at Central Park Zoo who - after trying unsuccessfully to hatch a rock - were given a fertilised egg and raised their own little chick called Tango.

The tale of Roy and Silo was even made into a children's book called 'And Tango Makes Three'. But, while liberal Manhattanites may have sighed at the sweetness of it all, not every American seems quite so pleased. The book has caused controversy in a number of small towns in the American heartland, where teachers and parents have complained that it is not suitable for children. In Shiloh, Illinois, some parents insisted that the village school library restrict access to the cartoon tome.

Translating Poetry

People say translated poetry is like the back of embroidery, same colours but rather a mess, but a really good version gives you two poems for the price of one.

I enjoyed this article found on The Guardian website.

Ruth Padel wrote : Having my poetry translated in Córdoba last week brought out the best and worst of me in Spanish.

What I must give up ... as soon as I come down

I know I shouldn't eat M&Ms ...

There are a million reasons, or the side-effects are so bad that they feel like the million reasons not to eat them.

But what's with selling them in bags big enough to allow people to feel like death as the resulting sugar and colouring high kicks in????

It's like constantly improving cars so that they do 160km per hour effortlessly then slapping the 100km per hour New Zealand speed limit on them.

So okay, we shouldn't do it ... but we can!!!

I'm sitting here, remembering to breathe and waiting for my head to stop spinning, wondering if my 3 monthly binges have cumalative side-effects.

So yes, I slip and M&M binge about every 3 months, I'm improving ... but 3 months is only long enough to make me forget how very bad I feel aftewards ... long enough to make me imagine I might have matured enough to 'STOP PUTTING THE M&Ms IN MY OWN MOUTH'.

I was wrong ... again, and these effects are only the consequence of a portion of a 250g bag.

I think this is it ... the last time, from now on the only substance I'm going to abuse is red wine.

It's so very much nicer than shiny dangerous mouthfuls of brightly-coloured candy-coated chocolate.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Catch of the day

I found this while out wandering ...

Titled Catch of the Day , it's an article by Guardian film writer Diana Dobson.

Whangara is home of the Ngati Konohi people and inspiration behind Witi Ihimaera’s Whale Rider . She writes, The tribes of Whangara have thrived in spiritual harmony ever since Paikea, the whale rider, travelled across the Pacific to the east coast of New Zealand 30 generations ago. We hook up with the modern-day wave riders who keep these Maori traditions alive

Today in Antwerpen

I have averaged about 50euro per dental visit recently however 3 visits and my root canal filling is finally done.

The good news is that the Belgian government refunds some of the cost so okay, I'll pay my taxes and Gert will continue to pay his massively high taxes. Somehow the refund takes a little of the sting out of both the dental treatment and the high tax rates.

Now for the other two teeth ... I'm back there next Wednesday.

Children, look after your teeth and when moving countries, try not to get tied up 'in process' for excessively long periods of time.

Everyone else, check that your travel insurance offers realistic help with dental treatment ... it's very important because my cover just wasn't good enough.

I've got an exciting outing on on Sunday ...
There's a rather special breakfast here in the city and I'm popping along to take photographs.
A volunteer's life can be a highly interesting one ...

Gert had one of 'those' phone calls today.
'Hi Gert.'
'I'm on Korte Beeldekens straat. Can you tell me how to get back to the main street?'
'Where are you?'
'Korte Beeldekens straat and I've just come to Laange van Bloer straat now.'
'I see ...'

He's silent while he pulls his city map up on the screen.
Some time passes ... 'Where are you again?'
'Well you know the street with the big concrete lions at the entrance to the Chinese area?'
'I'm meant to be there but I'm not ... '
'Okay, I've found you ... how did you get there???'
'I think I turned right 2 streets too soon.'
'I see...okay, so turn right and then left onto Kerkstraat ... then walk straight ahead and that should take you back to the main street.'
'You're a good man, thank you. I was so very very lost this time.'
'I noticed ...'
Knowing that I treat my blog a little like my own personal scrapbook, a place for storing precious things ... you'll forgive for posting this version of the All Blacks Rugby Haka from this year.

It's the best I've seen yet and the commentary gives you a taste of New Zealand.

Thanks to Rob over at Public Address .

C-List Blogger

The Middle Authority Group
[C-List Bloggers]
(10-99 blogs linking in the last 6 months)
This contrasts somewhat with the second group, which enjoys an average age not much older than the first at 260 days and which posts 50% more frequently than the first. There is a clear correlation between posting volume and Technorati authority ranking.

You can check your ranking here .

Ummm ... thanks Erkan .
BBC is running an interesting story on the suppression of freedom of expression on the internet.

A list of 13 "enemies of the internet" has been released by human rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

For the first time, Egypt has been added to the list while Nepal, Libya and the Maldives have all been removed.

RSF has been outspoken in its condemnation of Yahoo. The search engine has been criticised along with other companies for helping the Chinese authorities block access to some online material.

Oh those New Zealanders ...

Houtlust posted this image from a New Zealand road-safety campaign.

The faster you go the bigger the mess.

They describe themselves as being about nonprofit advertising and social campaigns. On the edge of marketing and activism, it's a meetingplace about communication for all you folks of the advertising industry, good samaritans, grassroots, activists and social entrepreneurs.
Thanks Erkan .

An Accidental Immigrant writes:

I can see that I'll do what they want sooner or later ... and get out of Europe.

Disturbing but increasingly common in European countries: 'Far-right politician Geert Wilders gained an unexpectedly high number of nine seats having run a campaign with strong anti-immigration tones'.

The The EUobserver reports: The Netherlands faces difficult coalition talks and potential complications for its position on the EU stage after Wednesday's elections saw huge gains for leftists and the far-right, with prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende scoring a victory over Labour.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Blogging About ...

I'm heading out for photographs and lunch soon but I was web-wandering, as I do and found this post over on Stepping Stones.

Kim had written under the title Important Reading that James, an American in Amsterdam, has a fantastic post of an article written by Oliver Thomas.

And so I trotted off to the site of American in Amsterdam and read.

It's worth exploring if you've ever questioned the Church as the moral authority on the topic of homosexuality.

A little of this and a little of that

I was writing a post on my 3 most-loved fictional television dramas, complaining about the fact that two of them tell me far too much of medical conditions I would rather not know details about however the actors and storylines are superb.

And the third almost required me to sign up for counselling last week ... and then I wandered into the last of the sites for a link and it did something nasty and I had to crash out of it, losing all.

Anyway, it's probably for the best if I don't put my tv addiction out there for judgement, although those who would have mocked me back home rarely, if ever, read my blog.

Did that happen to anyone else ... that thing where you move away from home and 4-gazillon friends and family want you emailing them regularly and at length and so you start blogging and they pretty much all reject the blog because they only want to know how you are, or they want more personal stuff than you're prepared to blog about, or they don't like the news and information items you put out there, or you simply blog too often.

The end result?
Well these days I don't think anyone I started the blog for actually reads it.

Meanwhile Gert has left his mp3 player on my desk ... well his desk but possession is 9/10ths of the law. Who knew he listened to ... 'In de hemel is geen Dylan'

The photo ... taken in my beloved Istanbul. He was a sweet guy, woken up by his friends laughter as they watched me photograph him.

Postscript: Mark phoned me to remind me that he reads my blog, as does my sister (who never leaves comments). My dad says I write too much and he wants to know more about me without all the other stuff. My brothers have a history of criminal neglect of their sisters (and live far enough away not to be able to beat me a little should they happen upon this). And my lovely friend Corryl reads me. Hmmm, I think that's about it ... however I have met a whole world of new people out here in the blog world, and that's been delicious too.

Sorry Mark.

An update on Josh Wolf, Blogger

ABC News blog, The Blotter , is running this story on Josh Wolf, who now could end up spending almost a year in prison for his refusal to turn over unedited video of a San Francisco protest he filmed over a year ago.

Morillon says jailing journalists for protecting sources is becoming a "chilling trend" in the United States. "More and more journalists are being subpoenaed by federal courts; they are being forced to reveal their sources," she says. "If confidentiality of sources can't be granted, where is journalism going to go?"

Last month in the annual ranking of press freedom by Reporters Without Borders, the United States dropped nine places to number 53, in line with such countries as Botswana, Croatia and Tonga.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Jack Kerouac and Steve Allen

I've never heard Jack Kerouac speak before ...

Here he is in a youtube on the Steve Allen Show back in 1959

Thanks to Rolf Potts and Boing Boing .

Iran Chamber Society and Shirin Neshat, Photographer

Iran Chamber Society offers an interesting taste of Iranian life.

They write: In the absence of a well-documented, comprehensive and permanent source on Iran/Persia that can accommodate many viewers' needs and wishes in providing information on all aspects of Iranian/Persian history and culture, and in compliance with the needs of those who are concerned with Iran/Persia and its issues, "Iran Chamber Society" (Andjoman-e Otagh-e Iran) was founded in 2001. "Iran chamber Society" is nonprofit without any political, religious and otherwise affiliations with any governmental institutions.

It was here that I found more on Shirin Neshat , born 1957, Qazvin, Iran. Although she lives and works in New York, the United States, her artwork explores issues of her native society, Iran, especially the position of women. She uses the specifics of her background culture to create works that communicate universal ideas about loss, meaning, and memory.

George Soros

"An open society is an imperfect society which holds itself open to improvement."
George Soros.

EU is running an interesting piece ...

US billionaire financier and liberal political activist George Soros has said the EU should "shelve" its planned constitution and instead take concrete steps to effectively promote a "global open society."

The Hungarian-born US citizen, who became famous as a financial speculator in the 1980s and 1990s, currently heads the Open Society Institute which promotes liberal democracy worldwide and which has been particularly active in the former Soviet bloc.

Speaking at the European Policy Centre in Brussels on 20 November, Mr Soros hailed the EU as an "inspiring" example of what he calls an "open society," with none of the member states dominating and with human rights prevailing.

"To my mind the EU embodies the principles of an open society," Mr Soros said also referring to the "step by step" building process of the union since the 1950s, with Europe's founding fathers gradually exploring new forms of co-operation while being aware of their "imperfections."

You can read more about George Soros and his Open Society Institute here .

Wikipedia have written him up here.

Who knew it was possible ...

Director Peter Jackson has been told he will not be hired to direct a movie based on J.R.R. Tolkien novel "The Hobbit," despite the nearly $3 billion global box office success of his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, according to a letter Jackson wrote to fan site

In his letter, Jackson said he and his producing partners have refused to discuss a "Hobbit" film until the lawsuit is settled, and he added that New Line informed him the studio had limited time to make the film so it must move on.

"Given that New Line are committed to this course of action, we felt at the very least, we owed you, the fans, a straightforward account of events as they have unfolded for us," Jackson wrote.
Haddock has written up Resveratrol and its presence in red wine over on his blog. I went searching and liked most of what I found ...

Resveratrol is a phytoalexin produced by several plants that is sold as a nutritional supplement. it has a number of beneficial health effects, such as anti-cancer, antiviral, neuroprotective, anti-aging, anti-inflammatory and life-prolonging effects have been reported.

Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and as a constituent of red wine may explain the “French paradox” that the incidence of coronary heart disease is relatively low in southern France despite high dietary intake of saturated fats.

Monday, November 20, 2006


Blogger is having technical difficulties and won't allow me to release peoples comments onto my blog ...

The message goes like this: This server is currently experiencing a problem. An engineer has been notified and will investigate.

Status code: 1-500-3

Thanks to Amanda, Manic and Galip for comments.
I'll publish them as soon as the machine allows it.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Laura Fraser, Writer

After finishing the delicious curl-up-on-a-cold-Saturday book, I went searching to see if the author had an online presence ....

She does.

You can find Laura Fraser's site here.

She writes: Hi, welcome to my website. I'm a journalist, author, writing teacher, traveler, Italophile, and long-time San Franciscan. My last book, a travel memoir called An Italian Affair , was a New York Times bestseller. My previous book was an exposé of the diet industry called Losing It.

I work with several other San Francisco writers and filmmakers in a collective called the Grotto . I don't have another book coming out soon, but thanks for asking.

News from New Zealand

Mathew sent news of an iceberg floating close to my home city, back in Dunedin New Zealand ...

An iceberg has been spotted from the New Zealand shore for the first time in 75 years, one of about 100 that have been drifting south of the country.

The giant ice chunk was visible Thursday from Dunedin on South Island but has since moved away, driven by winds and ocean currents. The flotilla of icebergs — some as big as houses — were first spotted south of New Zealand early this month.

Scientists have been reluctant to blame global warming.

"We've been monitoring these things for such a short time, it's impossible to see. To say this is unusual and related to global warming is just not possible," Paul Augustinus, an Auckland University glacial geomorphology lecturer, told the New Zealand Herald earlier this month.

"It's a fairly frequent occurrence; it's just unusual for such large bergs to get so far north," he added.

Poets Against

Ascender Rises Above left a comment on my post about poets as legislators of the world, directing me to this website ... Poets Against

It's worth checking out.

Thanks Jacquelyn.

Robert Pirsig, An Interview

Metaphysics is a restaurant where they give you a 30,000 page menu and no food.
Robert Pirsig

The Guardian has this superb interview with the man who wrote 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance'

The Seventies bestseller Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was the biggest-selling philosophy book ever. But for the reclusive author life was bitter-sweet. Here, he talks frankly about anxiety, depression, the death of his son and the road trip that inspired a classic.

Poets as Legislators of the world, Adrienne Rich

In this piece from The Guardian newspaper, Adrienne Rich argues that in our dark times we need poetry more than ever,

Extracts: I'm both a poet and one of the "everybodies" of my country. I live with manipulated fear, ignorance, cultural confusion and social antagonism huddling together on the faultline of an empire.

I hope never to idealise poetry - it has suffered enough from that. Poetry is not a healing lotion, an emotional massage, a kind of linguistic aromatherapy. Neither is it a blueprint, nor an instruction manual, nor a billboard.

There is no universal Poetry, anyway, only poetries and poetics, and the streaming, intertwining histories to which they belong. There is room, indeed necessity, for both Neruda and César Valléjo, for Pier Paolo Pasolini and Alfonsina Storni, for both Ezra Pound and Nelly Sachs.

Poetries are no more pure and simple than human histories are pure and simple. And there are colonised poetics and resilient poetics, transmissions across frontiers not easily traced.

And, Poetry has the capacity to remind us of something we are forbidden to see. A forgotten future: a still uncreated site whose moral architecture is founded not on ownership and dispossession, the subjection of women, outcast and tribe, but on the continuous redefining of freedom - that word now held under house arrest by the rhetoric of the "free" market. This on-going future, written-off over and over, is still within view. All over the world its paths are being rediscovered and reinvented.

There is always that in poetry which will not be grasped, which cannot be described, which survives our ardent attention, our critical theories, our late-night arguments.

There is always (I am quoting the poet/translator Américo Ferrari) "an unspeakable where, perhaps, the nucleus of the living relation between the poem and the world resides".

Saturday, November 18, 2006

All Blacks versus France - Final Score ...

New Zealand won ...23 - 11 France.

France was stronger than last weekend but New Zealand won anyway, which is lovely for this homesick Kiwi living in Europe.

We might be only 4 million in population we play good rugby.

So what is this strange desire to turn on the oven and make some of mum's cheese on toasts ... ?

I remember her mixing grated cheese, an egg, a finely chopped onion and 1 tomato, loading the mixture onto bread toasted only on one side ... grilling said toast, then feeding us all after watching a good game.

I suspect the Belgians might call us 'Boeren' ...

All Blacks versus France update ...

We're going well ... the French commentators just shouted 'Aux abris!'

It means, 'To the shelters' ... as in 'under attack'.

Les plaquages sont impressionants

'The tackles are impressive!'

So ... halftime, 16 New Zealand, 5 France.

Unfortunately France is playing quite a good defensive game ... thank goodness for Danny Carter ... whose name you really haven't heard until you've heard it said by French rugby commentators ... let me assure you.

They say 'Carter' kind of like 'character' but more deliciously.

Did I mention this game is a game that commemorates the first game New Zealand played against France back in 1906 ...

You know, I'm not suffering too badly as long as New Zealand is winning, the French commentary adds to the whole exquisite experience.

All Blacks versus France, Rugby

I feel another terrible bout of All Blacks induced homesickness coming on ... no matter, I will valiantly watch the French play the All Blacks, listening to French commentators who have already pronounced our national anthem 'Magnificent' but with a beautiful French accent and talked of 'Le 'Aka!

It's all terribly sexy for this kiwi chick ... perhaps the French commentators add to the game, now that I think about it.

I love this youtube ... posted again.

About falling in love with foreigners

To say that moving countries isn't for the fainthearted sounds dramatic and yet it is true ...

Lately, as money has begun slowly to trickle in, I have allowed myself to dream again, of all that I took so forgranted before Belgium ... hairdressers, clothes that I love, travel and going home ... most of all it's about going home.

Belgium wears the immigratory finery of royalty and it took me more than a year and a marriage to arrive here ...

The six to eight weeks in process promise was a lie on the grandest of scales and my money ran out after 3 months.

Slowly, as I begin establishing a business here, I am dreaming again, and it feels good.

Fall in love, by all means, but do check out the immigration policy of your lover's country ... the little grey people in suits prefer not to share the land that God made specifically for them during those 7 days of creation.

New Zealanders ...

Martin sent news of an iceberg for sale on TradeMe, the New Zealand version of EBay.

I went out in my boat & towed this sucker home.. up the estuary. I had a cunning plan to tow it up Auckland Harbour to the waterfront, grab some carpet grass, pick up some cheap chairs and show Mallard & Co how they could have a cheap (& latter disposable) stadium.

But it go stuck.. forgot about the 90% below.. what u see is only the "tip of the iceberg". So I tied up in the channel..

For sale are 20litre chilly bin chunks.
Sold on basis u bring your bin..I will blind fold u for secrecy.. u cut your own chunk.. it's cold stuff.

Will consider air freight to any drought starved Aussie (at a price).
Please hurry.. melting real fast.
Buy now is price per 20litres!

The attached Ask the seller a question is amusing this rainy weekend in Belgie.

Example: My husband wants to know it this item is registered and is the warrant up to date? Can you also tell us the mileage (or is that kilometerage,) and can you guarantee it has not been wound back while sitting in port? Does the Consumer Guarantee Act apply to this Berg or is it a Mc D Berg-er so has no value at all? posted by: arrabella (737 ) 7:12 pm, Sat 18 Nov

Sorry cannot help you. It came with no papers. Bit of tricky one as I couldn't find any odoberger., nor WOF (Warrant of Floatability),nor Rego (recognised Earlier Guarenteed Owner). Only really go thing about it.. doesn't require any coolant or anti-freeze. Heaters stuffed though. Buyer beware! 7:54 pm, Sat 18 Nov
Poet Mom made me smile with the Tony Hoagland poem she posted over on her blog.

It's titled Operations.

Me and My Toshiba Satellite

My poor little laptop has been around the world more than a few times. It didn't expect this, it's a humble homebody type ... bought mid-way through 2003.

Not only that, I discovered it was a non-drinker after splashing a little red wine on the keyboard back in Istanbul. It required a prosthetic-limb-type external keyboard afterwards.

I adjusted to the new unsexy, unportable look.

Later, a little glue was applied to the keys so they would stop flicking off as I typed. Only one or two keys were involved but enough to be deeply annoying when missing.

And slow ... I almost forgot slow. It works as though powered by pedalling, a one-legged pedaller I think. I emptied out files and folders last night, tired of waiting 6 days after pressing the start-up button but then Gert opened it, turning the on/off button upside down because it had also worked loose and occasionally my laptop wouldn't turn on.

Today it seems the on/off button might be just a little too tight because my laptop turned itself off mid-post this morning ... uneven pressure applied by an invisible fairy is my guess.

And so it comes down to this ... I am a photographer for hire .

Friday, November 17, 2006

Just lately ...

It's so surprisingly exciting to have a new cellphone ...

I never bothered with one before leaving New Zealand. If I went out, I preferred not to be found. I walked beaches, drove, did whatever ... there was no need for a phone.

But then Istanbul was whole new life. The phone became a link to the world when lost, not that my little pale orange Nokia was ever entirely reliable.

Remzi Bey had taken me across the bridge and into Sirinevler to buy it, the cheapest new one we could find.

I've finally buried it and now there's this pretty little Sony Ericsson that actually works like a real one. We even managed to change over to BASE and keep the same number. The phone gods were smiling down upon me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A Little Bit of Magic ...

You know those magical days when you find things you didn't even know you were looking for ...?

I was filling in time at my favourite secondhand bookshop in the city when I discovered a book I had read once and left back home in New Zealand.

An Italian Affair by Laura Fraser was, as I recall, was a rather delicious escape.

Later I discovered a copy of a movie I loved and also left back home in one of the big plastic boxes filled with my books and video tapes ... Media Markt was selling Fried Green Tomatoes ... delighted I am.

Both were 4euro ...
Today was a good day.

Glenn Colquhoun, Poet

When I get home, I have to try and remember to hunt down this man's poetry - I've had tantalising glimpses but would like to read more.

To the girl who stood beside me at the checkout counter of Whitcoulls bookstore in Hamilton on Tuesday

For ten seconds I fell
in love with you.

The first second we met.

You were buying recipes.

The second second we turned,
Taking pieces of each other out of our eyes.

The third second we held each other gently.
Your skin was a small kitten playing with a curtain.

The fourth second we kissed.

Front gates clicked against our fence.

In the fifth second we married.
Your dress was made of Nikau palm.

The sixth second we built a house beside a lake

It was never tidy and the grass was up to our knees.

The seventh second we argued:

About toothpaste and poetry
and who would put out the rubbish.

The eighth second we grew fat and happy
and laid on the ground after eating.

Your stomach wriggled with a round child.

In the ninth second we were old in the same garden
of the same house by the same lake in the same love.

The tenth second we said goodbye.

Your hand slipped away from mine but
seemed to me like something I could feel.

We passed again beside each other without turning

As though we had somehow only met at the checkout
counter of Whitcoulls bookstore in Hamilton
on a faintly blue September Tuesday.

Glenn Colquhoun , born in South Auckland in 1964 and currently living in the Hokianga, follows in the great doctor–poet tradition.

What if online portals had nothing but 'digital fish wrap'?

The story running in SF is interesting because I lost faith in many mainstream media newspapers a long time ago and because the author seems to think that withholding news from the internet for 24 hours would send people like me running back to newspapers when actually I prefer to search the internet for credible news sources, selecting a sampling and checking out bloggers and/or writers actually on the ground.

Peter Scheer, a lawyer and journalist, is executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition offers up this idea.What to do? Here's my proposal: Newspapers and wire services need to figure out a way, without running afoul of antitrust laws, to agree to embargo their news content from the free Internet for a brief period -- say, 24 hours -- after it is made available to paying customers. The point is not to remove content from the Internet, but to delay its free release in that venue.

A temporary embargo, by depriving the Internet of free, trustworthy news in real-time, would, I believe, quickly establish the true value of that information. Imagine the major Web portals -- Yahoo, Google, AOL and MSN -- with nothing to offer in the category of news except out of date articles from "mainstream" media and blogosphere musings on yesterday's news. Digital fish wrap. And the portals know from unhappy experience (most recently in the case of Yahoo) just how difficult it is to create original and timely news content themselves.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Christina Conrad, Artist

"What makes outsider art memorable is not its outsider origins, but a level of artistry and power that withstands comparison with any other kind of art."

- Roberta Smith, NY Times, January 22, 2000

I discovered this site while searching for New Zealand poetry ... I wanted a poem that captured home for me.

Anyway, I found Christina Conrad completely distracting. The site displays some of her art and explains that she has been called New Zealand's greatest living artist. She is certainly its greatest eccentric. An obsessive poet, playwright and "outsider" painter & sculptor, she lived as a recluse for twenty years without electricity or running water, where she "kept her paintings in cupboards instead of food".

Her work is disarmingly original and not easily pigeon-holed, nor does the term "outsider" sit easily with her, suggesting as it does someone who is untrained. Conrad's paintings and clay sculptures possess a focus that reflects a rigorous self-training. What one perceives as polish is essentially her obsessive preoccupation with allowing the paint its own life.

"One must leave the ego at the door of the tomb, and create like a blind beggar who hears nothing and knows nothing," she explains. "In this way the painting has a chance to be born whole, without the insidious tampering that adulterates false creative acts."

Pieter Bruegel, Painter

I noticed this painting in the Italian-restuarant-we-can-never-eat-in-again because the food was so bad the last 3 times we called in there, and was curious to know more ... I guessed it was the Tower of Babel but that was all I knew.

It was painted by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, otherwise known as ‘Peasant Bruegel’. He was probably the most significant, exciting painter in the Northern Europe during the middle part of the sixteenth century. His nickname “Peasant Bruegel” indicated to his subjects: peasant life, proverbs and genre scenes, the New Testament topics set among common folks of contemporary Flanders.

“Although Bruegel was famous in his own lifetime, the archaic tone of much of his imagery and his refusal to adopt the idealized figure style evolved by Italian Renaissance artists had, in sophisticated circles, an adverse effect on his reputation both during his life and after his death”.

It wasn't so bad ...

Sometimes the argument within myself, the one that says 'That root canal wasn't so bad last week' ... is an exhausting argument, lacking conviction.

I didn't realise my root-canaled tooth hurt all the time until I noticed an absence of that continual pain post-dental visit.

And pre-dental visit, I couldn't have imagined how good it would feel to have the broken point on my molar rebuilt, leaving my tongue to experience the giddy delight of no longer snagging on said snapped off point.

Today I have to go back and have the dressing taken off and refilled with permanent material. And there are two other teeth needing snapped points repaired now that I no longer rely on my appalling 'in-process immigrant' travel insurance dental coverage.

I'll wander off and work on conviction ...

TIME's Person of the Year

Arianna Huffington writes on her fallback choices for TIME's Person of the Year .

Do all immigrants have to become soccer stars?

I found news of this advertising campaign over on Erkan's blog and as it's something that Gert and I often 'discuss' ... I thought I would pass it on here.

Surprising campaign from the Belgium Minderheden Forum (Minority Forum), an association of more than 700 Belgian organizations with a common goal: defend the minorities’ interests in today’s society.
Goal of the campaign is to make people think about the consequences of the growing inequality between people of foreign origin and the rest of the Belgian population.

It's hard to become accepted as a minority, unless you're a soccer player
Do all immigrants have to be become soccer stars just to be accepted?

Agency Duval Guillaume Brussels
Thanks to Matthias from Duval Guillaume Brussels and Maarten from the Minderheden Forum for sending.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Dieting ...

Surprised, Gert watched me put 2 teaspoons of sugar into my coffee ...

I thought you were going to cut down on sugar?

No, I replied, I said I was going to cut sugar out of my diet, that's something completely different ... plonker.
He who seeks to understand violence belongs to no country, no religion, no political party, no particular system.

What matters to him is the complete understanding of humanity.

According to one school, violence is found inside a man; according to another, it is the result of his social and cultural heritage.

Neither viewpoint interests us: they have no importance;

what is important is the way that we are violent, not the reason for it.


A little bit about me ...

A new week, a second dental appointment and Gert is on holiday ... which is good, since I have many tasks for him to complete ... a pause for slightly evil laughter.

Opinion is divided at our place. I have the clearly defined boundaries of a princess and am therefore regularly referred to as 'princess' ... something I am happy to point out when wanting praise for various household tasks I have made the effort to do.

Over time I've learned that it's all a matter of how one presents work done.

To announce 'I washed ALL the windows today' in tones used to describe the first seperation of co-joined quadruplets is a sure way of winning the praise and gratitude of that person you require praise and gratitude from.

The other rumour doing the rounds at our place is that I may have been some kind of Roman soldier in a past life, which would explain the mounting evidence of my apparent lack of fine motor skills while violently weilding the vacuum cleaner or washing the dishes. I accidentally chipped every piece of Gert's divorce replacement cheap crockery although things have improved since we purchased a set of Denby dinner plates.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind cheap but my little Roman soldier-like hands were clearly working on memories of pewter plates and cups, and probably some kind of serf to wash said equipment.

The vacuum cleaner has experienced a loss of lifestyle since I arrived. Apparently I should wear my glasses more often or perhaps it's merely a Roman soldier's impatience with silly things, but bits often break.

For months I was discretely slipping the entire head of the vacuum cleaner back on, not wishing to explain the big crack in the plastic piping. Plastic obviously experiences fatigue over time with me and soon the head of the cleaner wouldn't stay on.

Gert noticed the duc-tape.

The problem comes down to the fact that I consider housework a necessary evil. I love a clean house but I prefer not to get too involved the constant maintainance of that pristine environment ... and anyway, I can whip the apartment into shape in 30-60 minutes if need be.

Allowing myself time, I tend to start on what has become known as my 'Stepford Hour' about 5pm but 6pm isn't impossible ... it's all about when Gert will walk in the door. And it's not that he's an ogre, I am merely fighting the demanding voices of generations of Scottish and Irish housewives who inhabit my mind as a genetic memory, trying to shame the soldier and princess into silence.

Anyway, princess or Roman soldier ... Gert often has reason to say, with a smile of course, You're just a wee bit special, aren't you.

Well yes ... I believe I quite possibly am.

(Note: the photograph isn't me ...)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Final Score: New Zealand versus France

Parochial: having a narrow outlook or scope. (But really, only in rugby ... )

All Blacks (New Zealand): 47
France: 3

It was a great game, writes the kiwi living in Belgium.

And do you know, we don't have rugby hooligans ... there is no violence, no dirty fighting between fans after the match.

I liked this youtube, it gives you a taste of the game ...of my people.
New Zealand is the team in the black jersey ...

New Zealand versus France ...

Did I tell you ...?

The New Zealand All Black Rugby team is playing France in France tonight.

I wondered how I would feel about the French commentary, as we're watching the game on the French channel Antenne 2 ... however, when the French commentator said 'Ai ai ai ai ... ai ai ai ai!' as Daniel Carter touched down for a try, then converted it - making the score 23 NZ 3 France ... well, I felt a certain amount of pride and pleasure.

Yes, I am generally a citizen of the world, curious and interested in every culture ... but rugby is quite something else.

It occured to me that there was an Armistice Day poem waiting to be written and so I did ... while I was lying on the lounge floor, making do with red wine as opposed to some terrible New Zealand beer ...

I titled it Armistice Day

I come from the land
where 'gods' in black jerseys
stalk green fields in other countries
chasing a ball
and winning.

That 'same god-type',
stalked mud-filled Flanders Fields,
winning back European ground from the enemy.
... just ask that village called Mesen

And today we remember them.

Forgive me the poetry but the rugby is filling my homesick little kiwi heart with so much pride and pleasure.

And Di disappears as the second half starts.
An update to follow ... meanwhile, a trip down memory lane to one of the biggest of our rugby 'gods' ... Jonah Lomu.
“How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.”
Coco Chanel

Yesterday, I went out to take photographs of strangers and it confirmed something I had already known ... that photography is a little like fishing, perhaps fly-fishing because you work in the most subtle of ways.

Blog-reading is something else but it stills feels like some form of hunting.
Gentler, so long as you acknowledge the landscapes where you found gold.

I loved the quote that started this post and found it over on the After Hours Blog .
Abigail Mozley is a body-building grandmother and cruising widow. She is emphatic on the subject of Alpha Females - the post menopausal women who are the new sex, the new super-eunuchs - freed from all that oestrogen - as irresponsible as dandies but with far more gravitas.

I found a painting, a poem and that excerpt over on the blog of Ascender Rises Above .

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing is a field.
I'll meet you there."

- Rumi

Thanks Paris Parfait .

Friday, November 10, 2006

Shirin Ebadi, Iranian lawyer and human rights activist

In the introduction to my speech, I spoke of human rights as a guarantor of freedom, justice and peace. If human rights fail to be manifested in codified laws or put into effect by states, then, as rendered in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, human beings will be left with no choice other than staging a "rebellion against tyranny and oppression".

A human being divested of all dignity, a human being deprived of human rights, a human being gripped by starvation, a human being beaten by famine, war and illness, a humiliated human being and a plundered human being is not in any position or state to recover the rights he or she has lost.

If the 21st century wishes to free itself from the cycle of violence, acts of terror and war, and avoid repetition of the experience of the 20th century - that most disaster-ridden century of humankind, there is no other way except by understanding and putting into practice every human right for all mankind, irrespective of race, gender, faith, nationality or social status.

Shirin Ebadi
from her Nobel Lecture , Oslo 2003

Her book, Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope .

Thanks to Sidestepping Real as the source.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A journey into memory

Some mornings, Gert wakes to find that I need to take a journey and with remarkable patience, he listens while I talk him through driving from the top of New Zealand's South Island back home to Dunedin.

The most difficult decision is always which way to go after leaving the Ferry in Picton.

Much as I love the State Highway 1 journey straight down the east coast of the island, I can't resist the drive through to Nelson ... missing Kaikoura's seal colonies and whale watching.

Stopping in Blenheim , an old home of mine - there would be wine tastings of the most superior kind before driving on through stunning country to Nelson , a lovely little city ... with an international populace, attracting people looking for lifestyle.

Down the Coast, through Greymouth and then on down into Hokitika .

Main street Franz Joseph and I remember a cafe with a wooden picnic table outside - watching people walk by, helicopters a constant, taking tourists up mountains, over glaciers.

The West Coast road is a favourite of mine ... a homecoming I can't explain.

Fox Glacier slides by as I make for the Haast , crossing through the mountains and into Lake Hawea, on through to Wanaka .

I lived in Central Otago too and so I said that we would have to pop through to Queenstown and on down into Te Anau, another town with an old home of mine tucked away in a corner.

And then home ... to Dunedin .

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

India Arie - Video

Gert came home and searched for this song

He had heard it in the car on the way home and was almost sure I would love it.

He showed me the lyrics and of course my interest was piqued.
I went searching and found India, who sounds to me like a female version of Jack Johnson ... and I do like Jack.

V-grrrl, Blogger

I haven't yet written this delightful event up yet ...

V-grrrl wrote me up over on Expatica Belgium. It was lovely.
If curious, you can click here .

Tot ziens from the smiley one.

Ascender, Blogger

A stunning post over at Ascender's site .

Click on the links throughout Max Ehrmann's Desiderata ,written back in 1926 and you will see that there is even more besides what meets the eye.

Laila El-Haddad, Blogger

Laila writes: Raising Yousuf, Unplugged is a blog has been about raising my son Yousuf in the occupied Gaza Strip while working as a journalist, and everything that entails from potty training to border crossings.

We are currently in the United States, where we have re-joined Yassine, Yousuf's father and my husband, and Palestinian refugee who is not allowed to live or visit us in Gaza. Together, we endure a lot, and the personal becomes political. This is our story.

A good day ...

It's been a good day ... it's been a good few days really.

I had an 11am apppointment in the city where two interesting possible photography projects were discussed. Exciting projects, so let's see how that goes.

And last week, a friend asked me if I might wander over to London in spring and take photographs for his next book. Of course I said yes.

I bought a new, much faster card reader and later found Gert a Christmas present he'll love.

Celebrating all, I stopped in at my favourite Turkish cafe and ate durum for lunch, reading while Turkish television played in the background.

It's been a good day so far.
I raised my eyebrow and looked over at Gert's 9 year old son.
He called out to his dad, saying he didn't understand.

I called after him, 'Nooooooooo, I did the toothbreast thing again.

Tanden ... teeth.
Borst ... breast.
Borstel... brush.

And let's not even talk about how Groot wit brood niet gescheiden, alsjeblief has hard-wired itself into my little linguistically incompetent mind.

Niet gesneden or not sliced is what I am meant to say when asking for a big loaf of white bread, please in the bakery ... the baker doesn't need to know that I want my white bread not divorced.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Flower Series, Belgie

Flower Series II, originally uploaded by - di.

And then the day came, when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Anais Anin

So far, so good ...

My new dentist is an angel and as a stranger in a strange land, I'm so grateful.

Today was Part 1 of the root canal filling.
It seems that I may have a few more Tuesday appointments ahead of me.

Leaving the dental surgery without any of the imagined horrors happening, the whole world seemed like a better place to be.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Note to self ...

You know, sometimes I put so much energy into fearing the unknown and in reality, my imagination is worse than the reality.

I have to go to the dentist but more importantly, I can go to the dentist ... I have that choice. I even have the antibiotic cover ... luxury really.

It's all about how we look at things, isn't it.

Anita McNaught. Journalist

Anita McNaught was a highly professional news presenter back in New Zealand before disappearing overseas into other work.

Today I found this article titled Lessons from a hostage crisis at

She wrote: You just know when the Head of News for the company your husband freelances for tracks you down at a Damascus hotel late in the evening that he’s not ringing to offer you a job. You know as the unfamiliar TV executive hastily introduces himself that he’s calling you with extremely bad news.

Probably to tell you your man has been killed. So it was with a perverse sense of relief that I heard the man from Fox News tell me that Olaf Wiig had been abducted at gunpoint in Gaza City three hours previously, and had not been seen since.And my first coherent thought following that relief was: “Get to Gaza.

You get an idea of what is special about her when you read ... When it came to Olaf Wiig and Steve Centanni’s abduction I had one strong gut feeling: That this was a problem that had to be resolved by the Palestinian people in their own fashion, and that any clumsy or less than benign outside interference would at best only prolong the crisis, and at worst turn it into a much more serious one.
Our tram home was delayed Friday night and so we wandered off to another tram stop ... later we heard the reason.

The story in Expatica Belgium ... The Antwerp police are still looking for witnesses in an incident that claimed the life of a young man last Friday.

The victim was apparently thrown under a tram on the Franklin Rooseveltplaats. He died instantaneously.

No suspects have been identified and the reasons behind this crime remain unknown, the police said.

The police understand that there was a disagreement involving the young man and the driver of a dark car who got back into his vehicle and escaped towards Astridplein after pushing the 26-year old under tram 11.

The police insisted that anyone who was in the vicinity of the crime-scene - in the tram, on the platform or in cars - should report to the nearest police station or call the following number: 0800 91119.

Mark, Blogger

Mark whipped up a post specially for me ...

New Country, New Dentist

I looked up neurosis ... a relatively mild mental illness, not caused by organic disease, involving depression, anxiety, obsessive behaviour, etc. but not a radical loss of touch with reality.

I ordered my antibiotics for my dental work tomorrow ... rheumatic fever as a child and I am left with the legacy of antibiotics before root canal work ... a precaution they tell me.

Why do they imagine they can soothe my fevered imagination with the ominous use of a word like 'precaution'.

It's a word used by policemen as they rope off the area where the suspicious package is sitting alone at the railway station ... used by other professionals doing alarming things.

This time tomorrow and it's me and my new dentist in this foreign country.

So far I have noted that she doesn't x-ray before deciding to dig out the broken filling and that she doesn't have a dental assistant.


I want a dental assistant. I've always had a dental assistant working with my god-like-man-of-safe-dentistry back in New Zealand.

He worked, emitting an aura of confidence and calm assurance that always (as I was paying the bill), left me filled with feelings immense gratitude, making rash promises about not leaving it so long till next time ...

This time I've been out of the country since 2003 and could never afford him when I went home, says my little chicken heart.

Let's not examine that statement for truth.

I'll let you know ...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Lisa, Blogger

I forgot to link to this when I read it last night but ... Lisa, over at Raison D’être, has written a highly amusing post titled Death of a nose piercing - or - why our phone bill is so huge .

She begins with this: (Fade in to a woman sitting at an office desk in her suburban home, speaking to her husband on the mobile. Both are 38 yrs. old, have three children and live in a small town in Germany, although each is from a distinctly different culture. She’s trying to get his opinion on her appearance, specifically concerning a nose ring she decided to get without seeking his opinion on the matter approximately four months ago. Let’s listen in and find out what happens…)

New Zealand versus England = Homesicknesses

82,000 spectators are expected at today's rugby match in England...

Odds are 8 to 1 that the Kiwis will win.

I went searching and found a Haka ... it's what everyone asks me about out here in the world.

The game is live on BBC1 at 4.30pm Belgian time (3.30pm London).

Halftime Update: New Zealand 28
England 5 (with one controversially denied try)

Sitting watching the game here in Belgium, suffering from BBC commentators and sports analysts and I'm getting homesick. I can't help but think about the people back home in New Zealand, wondering who got out of bed to watch the game live at 4.30am.

There might be some beers, definately coffee to wake up and people gathered round televisions all over the country, enjoying that delicious feeling of pride about being a Kiwi and watching your team shine on the rugby world stage.

Fulltime score: 41 New Zealand
20 England :)

Bruno Morandi, Photographer and Traveller

Manic sent me a link to the photography site of this stunning photographer .

It has been difficult to find information on Bruno Morandi although there is an interesting interview with him here .

Perhaps his photography says it all anyway ...

Did you know ... ?

Britain has emerged as surveillance society number one, while Germany is the only EU country offering significant privacy protection, according to a study by civil liberties group Privacy International.

It estimates that there are now over four million cameras in Britain, one for every 14 residents, a 300 percent increase in just three years.

The average Briton is captured about 300 times a day on film ...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Pam, Nerd's Eye View Blogger and Radio Personality

I can't believe I didn't post this yet ... my only excuse is the state of my life.

Pam, the woman who splits her life between her Austria and Seattle homes, with occasional sidetrips to my place in Antwerp became a radio star the other day.

It makes delicious listening, moving too.

Follow the instructions to listen to her here .

Paris Parfait

Tara is back from Spain and writing up a delicious storm on her blog.

I enjoyed all that she's recently posted ... you can read her work here.

The Life and Times ...

Saturday night finds me relaxing with one of my favourite Australian red wines after a crazy few days ... favourite because it was one of the first that I loved, favourite because the first time I tasted it I was with old friends up in Bannockburn back in New Zealand ... a place where you can see a million stars on a clear night and air itself is stupendous.

My best memory of the wine is of Jude and I dragging the armchairs outside at their holiday home in the country, eating one of her superb and much-missed pasta dishes and opening the red wine while we waited for the boys to come back from their wanderings.

Her husband is the fabulous New Zealand photographer ... David Wall and he was out wandering with Paul, an old friend and school friend of Dave and I.

As I write this, Paul is actually ice-breaking his way down to the South Pole, towards 6 months on the ice. I'm hoping he'll lose his conservative politics somewhere along the way ... still waiting for him to come back from the dark side ;)

But back to my crazy days ...

Brussels was a disaster. I wrote of it this morning because it was disasterously amusing but staying in theme it was lost as I posted it.

I had a Plan A and a Plan B for my yesterday ...
After the demise of Plan A, I moved to Plan B and found the right tram ... choosing the wrong direction, too busy being triumphant about remembering to click my ticket before boarding this time I guess. I have to get used to this two platforms going in different directions thing ...

After running through my challenging Ms Bean repertoire I realised, 2 stops down the track from Montgomery, that I was on the right tram going in the wrong direction. (I'll leave out the details of what happened in between because it's crazy-making.)

I disembarked that wrong 24 and looked for a new 24. I stepped over to the next set of tram lines, the only ones I could see ... another 24 came along but travelling in the same direction as the previous one.

Giving into the inevitable and unsolvable, I decided to see the city - how bad could it be?

47,000 stops later and even I, the lost one, had to smile as the Atomium came into view.

On the bright side, at least I can present my guests with an Atomium tour if Gert and his car are at work. That kind of mistake indelibly etches itself and associated tram numbers on ones memory.

So many things happened, then so many more ... I can't summon the energy to write it all up again.

And Plan B ... well I walked away when I received new directions on how to reach Shannon's place. I had been riding the trams and the metro for some time by then.
I went home.

Today I was feeling like I was being saturated by so many new experiences, adventures and exciting opportunities and being assisted by so many kind and generous people that I just couldn't find my balance to think and then a wise friend wrote and advised me. She said, Just put your damn skates on and let's go!! Never fallen before? It bruises, but heals...says the former ice skater

Thank you wise friend and everyone else - I guess it's time to go skating (and you will undoubtably hear of the falls).