“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Scary stuff

Halloween is approaching, but here in New Zealand, I had to go onto the eBay website to be reminded of it. None of the shops are advertising candy and costume sales. No decorations, either. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but you just can't get a carving pumpkin in the spring. I would throw together a party, but it's just prior to our trip to the US and I'm a little distracted. Part of the distraction is the fear that Americans have grown to live with these days. Last week, American author Richard Heinberg gave a talk at Auckland University, "Life After Oil". We attended and the place was packed. His book Power Down was one of the first books Darin and I read about "peak oil", and we also have read The Long Emergency. Seriously sobering stuff, and part of of the reason that we want to buy land and live a more sustainable lifestyle. How do we do that? We're not sure how, exactly, but we're working on the problem. Reading the Omnivore's Dilemma helped crystalize my thoughts about sustainable agriculture on a local rather than global level. NZ's Green Party has a petition to be submitted to Parlaiment requiring all food products be labelled with country of origin. Australia already does this, and I think it's a great idea. I've blogged about China sending contaminated food to other countries before, so I'll just attach the link.
The other scary thing is the secret concentration camps in the US, supposedly 800 of them. When I heard about them for the first time last week, I thought "no way". But in fact, they have been around since 1984, and known of at least since 1987, when Oliver North was questioned about the REX-84 program during the Iran-Contra hearings. Their purpose is unknown, and there are many conspiracy theories. "A Halliburton subsidiary has just received a $385 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security to provide "temporary detention and processing capabilities.""
This, with the knowledge that the US Treasury has the power to sieze and freeze gold, silver, and any other asset in the event of an emergency, leads me to think that paranoia is not such a bad thing.
The cemetery photos are from the Symonds Street cemetery, where a number of important historical figues are buried. The cemetery is in the heart of Auckland, and is obviously very old. The Grafton Street Bridge was built over and through the cemetery, and the motorway is at the bottom of the ravine. There are trails through the cemetery, and as I mentioned in my last blog, it is haunted. Haunted by big, brown rats, living in holes below the gravestones. I didn't see any zombies, unless I count the one apparently indigent guy I see hanging around the area. When I told my Kiwi co-worker I'd been there, she said the cemetery is frequented by drug dealers and prostitutes. I didn't ask her how she knows this, heh heh. Back in my hometown of Fargo, there is a cemetery on a road with a sign that says "Dead End", get it? Ha.

Here's a photo of the mural in Swanson, with an incorrect use of appostrophe (posessive). It looks old, so I like it anyway. The picture of Darin is from O'Neill's beach, just north of Bethell's beach. We went there after watching France beat the NZ All Blacks in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup. We'll get them next time, when the World Cup is held here in Auckland!

In other news, I got my NZ driver's lisence! I also got the motorcycle lisence, because although I don't have a motorcycle (yet), it's easier to transfer the US lisence to NZ than start over from the beginning. In my lisence photo I have an angry face, because their stupid eye exam machine wouldn't allow me to see the 3rd column of letters. I got really upset because I've had an exam recently and know my vision is good (with corrective lenses). Still, I had to go to the eye doc and get a 5 min exam and pay $20 for this certificate saying my eyes are fine. I'm feeling like a real Kiwi now because the local elections were just held, and we got to vote. Darin has joined a hunting group, Deerstalkers, and intends to do a bit of hunting here. Deer are only raised on farms here, typically for export. When they escape, along with the goats and pigs gone wild, they are fair game. To my knowledge there is no hunting lisence or fee to pay, so to hunt a wild deer, pig, or goat is to protect the NZ biosecurity and get "free" meat- a win/win situation.

Darin built me an herb garden using the wood from the old fence in our front yard, and we're supposed to plant the garden today. The wind is blowing so hard, I really don't want to go out. Also, I'm recovering from a minor food poisoning. Yesterday we ate at a purported "Mediterranian" restaurant, where I ordered moussaka. I have ordered this at another restaurant in Auckland, and it tasted nothing like real moussaka. Again, I was disappointed- no eggplant, made with potatoes, topped with tomato sauce/katsup. Moussaka is a classic dish, and I'm just offended that Auckland restaurants serve this pathetic excuse for the dish. But, yeah, I ate it anyway, I was hungry. Based on how I felt the rest of the day, the dish was obviously sitting around for awhile. I'm feeling better now, so I should get some other things done.