Sunday, September 29, 2013

The too-hard (food) basket

After two good days (by my standards) at work, I crashed again on Friday. No energy at all. I also had a lot of sinus pain. At least it was Friday. Finding out that next Friday night's six-monthly awards dinner/party will be held on a moving boat didn't help either. The desirability to me of any work event is dictated by how easy it is to escape. Plus I've signed up for quite a hard tramp, starting early on Saturday, and the last thing I need is a hangover.

I'm skeptical about this paleo diet which I haven't yet started. My "different" doctor had these five words to say about it: "It will change your life." Well yes, not being able to eat such basic foods as grain or even most types of potato is life-changing. What makes it so hard for me is the very reason my doctor suggested I follow the diet: my depression, which makes everything take longer, which means I can't afford to spend extra time on food preparation (which might mean I'm half an hour late for work). Also how am I supposed to explain the reasons for my diet to other people? It's very strict, and even if you've followed the rules to the letter for 29 days out of 30, you're deemed to have failed. I don't understand this: we're not talking about smoking here. Still, I haven't dismissed the idea entirely, and I plan to make a start next weekend (this will mean my 30 days include five weekends; it's much easier for me to control my diet when I'm not going to work).

On Friday's Millionaire Hot Seat (yes I watched that rubbish again), one contestant mentioned an autistic relative, saying that autism "is a disease with no cure". He wouldn't win any prizes for political correctness with that comment. Although to be fair, if you think about where the word "disease" comes from, autism makes life hard enough to certainly be a dis-ease. This morning's Attitude programme was devoted to Jimmy, a 22-year-old member of the Auckland group who I briefly met last week. You can instantly tell that he's on the spectrum. His big passion is films, and (all credit to him) he was keen to find work. He got a voluntary job at the Auckland Film Festival, ushering people to their seats in his typically brusque style. "Today I want you to smile," he was told. He then repeatedly got lost as he delivered flyers to shops and cafés. Jimmy's 18-year-old brother also has Asperger's; their mother said it was hard talking about her sons and having to explain everything. Their dad seemed quite outgoing and had a very good sense of humour.

It's that abrupt way of talking that I find most off-putting when I meet people on the spectrum. Tom was like that when I first got to know him. It was almost like talking to a robot. He's improved a lot in the last few months.

Yesterday I met Phil at the Café Breton in town. He was staying in Wellington for the weekend. I didn't mention that I was in Auckland last weekend (he might have thought I didn't care about him); he told me all about the big storm which I pretended not to know much about. The café was run by people from Brittany (hence the name) and I ordered my crêpe in French. It was close to the TSB Arena where the WOW (World of WearableArt) show was happening. It's the second-largest event in Wellington's calendar. There were crowds of people, mostly women in their late forties or older. That's a very different demographic to the one attracted to Wellington's biggest annual event. Phil talked about his struggle to buy property in the crazy Auckland market. He recently went to an auction for a place numbered 44 (that's "double death" in Chinese so he thought he might have stood a chance) but the bids got so high that he didn't even stay till the end. It sounded like my experiences in 2009, with an added $150,000 or so. As I sat at a café in central Auckland last weekend, I saw someone poring over the Chinese version of the Property Press (I didn't know that existed) and making phone calls. It's time they put a stop to foreign property ownership in NZ. Imagine a Kiwi trying to buy a place in Beijing or Shanghai.

Last Sunday's warm weather in Auckland took me by surprise after the storm we'd had hours earlier. I had a sinking feeling after talking to Mandy who updated me on various gossip from our ex-colleagues. She said she has no desire to keep in touch with them either, but feels obliged to from a professional perspective. I'm so glad I'm out of all of that. When she got back to her study I walked along Takapuna Beach, as I did most lunchtimes for about three years. I bumped into a woman who I used to see on the bus when I lived in Bayswater in 2004 (she had an intellectual disability and had supported employment) - I don't think she recognised me.

Judith Collins wants to revamp NZ's antiquated and horribly inefficient judicial system. About bloody time. Judges and lawyers do very nicely out of the current system.

I thought I heard on the radio yesterday that it was the tenth anniversary of Johnny Cash's death. This was actually a couple of weeks ago, not that it really matters. Here's the video of Hurt, which he did shortly before he died. It's hard to watch without getting a bit choked up.

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