Thursday, January 31, 2013

End of the oneth month

I had a panic attack at work today, just as I was about to go home. I have no problems dealing with them but they do slow me down.

Today one of the call centre guys used the word "oneth" when reading out a date. It's the thirty-oneth of the oneth today; tomorrow will be the oneth of the twoth. When I think about it, there's no reason why we shouldn't say "oneth" for higher ordinal numbers that end in one. The word "first" is really a superlative meaning "nearest the beginning" (just like "best" and "most" are superlatives); it has nothing to do with the number (or digit) one. It's therefore a bit strange that we use "first" in combinations like "twenty-first" and "thirty-first" which have nothing to do with being nearest the start. But that's English for you, and unlike that bloke at work, I'm not going to start slipping "thirty-oneth" into conversation. (By comparison, premier is French for first, but they say vingt-et-unième for twenty-first.)

My short-term memory (seconds or minutes) is a lot better than it was when I moved into this role, but my medium-term memory (a few days) is as bad as ever. Sometimes I'll ring up a medical centre to ask for information about a patient; I'll often end up leaving a message. When the nurse rings me back two days later, I might vaguely remember leaving the message if I'm lucky, but I'll have no idea of the specifics. I might have left other messages on other phones in the intervening period, and that only makes matters worse. I always imagined my experiences were normal, but I've since learnt that other people do remember specifics of phone messages and other work tasks from days earlier. It seems that when I leave the office in the evening I empty my brain of everything I did that day.

Wellington (and the rest of the country) continues to bask in glorious summer weather. I've been amazed by the number of kids busking in the streets, trying to make a few dollars before school starts. This week I heard one girl singing "it's not about the money, money, money..." You know what, I think it is!
They'll have great weather for the Sevens. They gave out a few free tickets at work for Saturday, but I can't make it (I'm tramping) and anyway free would be too expensive for me - someone would have to pay me to go. I must sound so anti-fun with that last sentence, but the whole dressing-up-and-getting-hammered thing isn't really my cup of tea. I've always found the actual rugby games good to watch, but that's not what going to the Sevens is really about.

There were tragic scenes in Brazil last weekend as more than 230 people died in a fire at a nightclub, most of them from smoke inhalation. You can read an excellent article here about the reaction this terrible incident has generated, in the media and in Brazilian politics. It isn't pleasant reading. These are important times for Brazil - they've got a big population and a booming economy but massive inequalities between rich and poor, and major problems with violent crime. The spotlight will be on them as they stage the world's two biggest sporting events in 2014 and 2016.

Here are some pictures from Saturday's walk: a view of the city, a shot taken in the opposite direction with the South Island mountains in the far distance, and an iconic (I know that word is badly overused) fern frond. What great weather we had. I should also mention bush lawyer, a plant we saw a lot of. Its hooked spines will snag on anything.

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