It was with a certain sense of pride that I watched last weekend's Olympic opening ceremony. Music, film, comedy, sport, industry, one small island was at the forefront of so much of it, and that small island happens to be where I was born and bred. Once or twice during the ceremony I thought, hey, that's a bit odd, but eccentricity is after all a particularly British trait. The only slight annoyance for me in an otherwise impressive ceremony were those film clips. I wanted to see what was going on inside the stadium. I bet the Chinese found it all rather baffling - it was a very different show to the one they came up with four years ago. I must say it made a nice change to see the teams come out according to the Roman alphabet for the first time since Sydney.
I do like the Olympics. For once individual sports get a look in. In the UK in the eighties and nineties, you'd often see individual sports on TV - athletics, swimming, boxing, snooker, darts, tennis, sometimes even squash or badminton. But in New Zealand in 2012, team sports are totally dominant: the various rugby teams, the Warriors league team, the netball franchises, and more recently the Breakers (basketball) and Wellington Phoenix (football). I gather (from hearing names like Susan Devoy) that people used to care about individual sports in NZ, but those days are long gone.
I've only caught sporadic Olympic action so far. I've enjoyed the weightlifting the most - it's simple, it's dramatic, and there's something quite marvellous about seeing someone lift nearly three times his own body weight (even if he might be juiced up to the eyeballs).
A couple of questions about the London Olympics:
1. Who designed the logo? It's awful! It doesn't help that the zero in 2012 looks a lot like Australia.
2. Who designed the font? I quite like it, but it looks a little too Greek for London.
Last Friday I saw a psychologist at Massey. She thought I did have Asperger traits but didn't think it was worth my while getting a diagnosis. She emphasised the importance of exercise and social contact. Perhaps most importantly she said I need to exercise even when I feel like crap both mentally and physically. The session cost me $130; I decided not to get a report which would have been another $130. It wasn't completely pointless but I still feel rather let down by the mental health system. I don't qualify for any actual help, without paying through the nose, simply because I've got a job. It wasn't always this way but the current government have cut back mental health funding to the bare bones. Now that's a false economy if ever there was one.
I'd planned to come off Efexor completely under my own steam but having reached 150 mg, I made an appointment to see the doctor yesterday. He recommended that I stay at 150. He also said I shouldn't bother taking any supplements, that I need to get back on that e-therapy course that I'd given up on, and that I probably should set aside a couple of grand for a full course of CBT.
On Monday night I played my first ever live poker tournament at the Cambridge Hotel pub, just down the road from me. It was all very anxiety-provoking for me - lots of scary people of both sexes with tattoos; at times it felt like being in a Western movie. I had a reasonable understanding of the game (no-limit hold 'em of course) but the physical chips and cards, as well as all those scary people who were regular players, added several extra dimensions to the experience. I bought in for $10; four hours (and plenty of good fortune) later I took home $85 for finishing in the silver medal position out of around 25 or 30 players. I've been on edge for the rest of this week - I wish there was some way I could calm down.
In other poker news, it looks like I might be getting my hands on the US$1400-odd I tried to withdraw from Full Tilt Poker over a year ago, just before the site was shut down. I'd almost given up on the money but Poker Stars have just bought the company. It's not a massive amount of money but it's still my bloody money, so this is excellent news.
It was sad to hear last week of Margaret Mahy's death. I read plenty of her stuff as a kid, completely oblivious to her Kiwiness.