Thursday, October 25, 2012

Don't have a cow, man

I've taken Mum's advice and given up dairy products for a month, starting today. Mum, who can be dangerous when she gets on the internet (remember a certain Wellington-based job she found for me?), stumbled upon a web page similar to this one which gave a list of symptoms (Simpsons?) of lactose intolerance: depression (check), skin problems (check), frequent cold or flu (check), sinus pain (check) and a few others that I could tick off. Giving up milk products isn't that easy. I've always been a reasonably big cheese eater, I normally have one yoghurt a day (sometimes two at weekends), I put milk on my cereal every morning and in each of my six or seven daily hot drinks, and I have the occasional dollop of cream or ice cream. Last night at Pak 'n' Save I got a bit confused: are eggs dairy products? I rationalised that I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen a cow lay an egg, so in they went. It took me a while to find the soy milk, which I've already taken a liking to. It's very likely my experiment will make no difference, but there's a small chance that it could radically change my life for the better.

I took the crack-of-dawn (6:50) flight back from Timaru yesterday, in time for work (well actually I was a bit late). Apart from having to get up so damn early, it was a totally hassle-free experience. It was good to catch up with the family again. We all got on really well. I met my brother's fiancĂ©e for the first time; she's attractive, easy-going and highly intelligent (she appears to be blessed with a near-photographic memory). She's clued up when it comes to money and earns plenty of it. She's of mixed race: her mother's side of the family is a mystery to her but I'd guess it comes from India or thereabouts.

Mum and Dad worry about my brother, just like they do for me. At the moment he's jobless: he's still waiting for the army to get back to him. Unsurprisingly he's finding his driving ban to be a major pain in the butt. He's taken to cycling everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Being the super-fit bleep-test-winning guy he is, Geraldine to Ashburton is a nice easy jaunt.

Saturday afternoon and Sunday were very pleasant days but on Monday I woke up to an unseasonal flurry of snow. I didn't go very far while I was down there, but that was hardly the point. Hanging Rock, where I took this photo, was about the extent of my travels.

On Tuesday Mum and I went to Temuka and put some flowers on my grandparents' grave. While they lived to a combined 180, so many of the surrounding gravestones marked lives cut tragically short. There were several teenagers who died in road accidents, one of whom always sticks out. He died about five years ago; there are two pictures

inset into the stone, one of his face, the other showing an extremely tasteless two-fingered salute on the end of a tattooed arm. At least the empty beer cans are gone now. In late 2009 there was a spate of suicides. It's always interesting (if sobering) to visit the cemetery with Mum, who knows the stories behind the names.

In the last week or two, both Jimmy Savile and Lance Armstrong have featured prominently in the news. They have a surprising amount in common. I found this excellent post about Armstrong on the Guardian website. I particularly like the bit about the so-called American dream ("you have to be asleep to believe it").

Great news: Blogger now lets me add pictures again, and it no longer puts six blank lines after each paragraph, so it's actually better than it was before. Who would have thought it? I might not have to move to WordPress after all.

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