Thursday, 30 October 2008

Raspberry and white chocolate muffins

I wasn't going to include this recipe as part of goal #87 - Try 10 new recipes, as I frequently bake muffins. However, this recipe was significantly different to any other I have baked, so I guess it qualifies. The biggest change is that the butter and flour is mixed in together, becoming the dry mix, and the wet mix is added to it - unusual for muffins, which are usually made the other way around. It also uses caster sugar, instead of regular sugar, so I was interested to find out what the effect would be on the final product.

I had some left-over frozen raspberries from something else I'd made (but will tell you about later ...), so looked for a recipe to use them in. Here it is, modified slightly (of course).

Raspberry and white chocolate muffins

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups self raising flour
  • 100g butter, warmed a tiny bit (but not melted)
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Lightly grease or oil spray a 12 muffin tin.
  2. Place the flour in a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour until well combined.
  3. Add the sugar, milk, egg, raspberries and white chocolate. Mix until just moistened. Spoon into the muffin tray.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes. Stand for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.
  5. Dust with icing sugar before serving.

I'd like to say that this picture is of my end result, but the muffins went too quickly and before I even thought to get my camera out, there were only two left! Four were given away to my friendly optometrist in exchange for some free contact lenses, and the rest were gobbled up by family.

I'm going through a creative baking binge at the moment and am in the mood for entertaining, so watch this space ...!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Stevie Wonder - A Wonder Spring Night

I can’t sleep. I didn’t think I’d be able to, because last night I saw Stevie Wonder in concert!! This was the penultimate concert in his A Wonder Spring Night tour of Australia and New Zealand. O M G. Where do I start? This review is favourable, but doesn't really do the concert justice. I can’t wait to do the full post-mortem with my father when I get back home, so here are some ramblings as at 1am, a few hours after the event.

Firstly, why Stevie Wonder? Well, why not, I guess. Billy Joel is playing in Auckland in December, and I’d love to see him in concert, but I figure that the chances of Stevie coming back to New Zealand to tour are slimmer than Billy’s. (I may be wrong, but I’m willing to chance it.) Both are brilliant pianists and songwriters. I grew up admiring Stevie’s musicianship and songwriting ability. The temptation was too much to resist, so I came to Christchurch.

After a late start (40 minute wait – fashionably late, darling?), Stevie was escorted onto stage by an attractive woman, one of the three female backup singers. It turns out she was Aisha (Isn’t She Lovely), and she was, indeed, lovely. First up was a Miles Davis jam and Stevie started the night with a deep harmonica solo. Then, it was into Master Blaster (Jammin). I cried. I actually did. The pure adrenaline and ultimate sound experience can do that to a musician. I swear I’d have been up for almost anything right then and there. (Almost, sweetie. That doesn’t include roller coasters.)

Stevie explained that he and Levi Stubbs, late of The Four Tops (and who died last week) together found a doctor who taught them how to sing correctly, using their diaphragms instead of their throats. I think their doctor did a pretty good job. ;-) As tribute to Levi, the group jammed a version of I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch). A bit slow and deliberate, but still a crowd pleaser.

There was heaps of crowd participation throughout the night, and Christchurch was well and truly ready to have a good time. For Once In My Life was followed by a weird play around with a voice changing thingie, where the group were obviously following Stevie’s jams as he was throwing in bits of songs he liked. I’m not sure how many picked up the first few lines of Crowded House’s first hit, Don’t Dream, It’s Over – a kiwi classic. Bits of What’s Going On, My Girl, Sugar Sugar, Day Tripper, and My Sweet Lord followed. Personally, I’d have chopped this section in half, not matter how much fun he seemed to be having, but anyway, I digress. ;-)

And then it was onto the good stuff. A pumped up version of Living For The City, with the final verse sped up and played three times to end. Very quirky. Straight into Higher Ground. A friend and I can’t quite agree on which version of this song is better; we like Stevie’s original, but prefer Flea’s bass lines on the Red Hot Chilli Peppers' version. The jury is still out. ;-)

Quite a bit more crowd involvement followed, with a few jams and blues snippets thrown in. Then it was Part-time Lover. The bass error after the stop always intrigues me; why didn’t the sound engineer just cut it out of the song? Nevertheless, there was no stop in concert as this was a shorter version. Thankfully, he played Lately in its entirety (another tearful moment – this has to be one of the world’s saddest songs). A bit more jamming and a soulful solo by Aisha followed. All very nice.

And then, the song I was waiting for all night – My Cherie Amour. Sure to put a smile on my face at any point in time. I’m sad that he got the crowd to sing the first verse; it was too low for them, but thankfully he stepped in and finished off the rest. *contented sigh* Short versions of Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I played this for years in my band, so didn’t mind it being cut down), Sir Duke (would love to have heard all of this), and Isn’t She Lovely (ditto) followed. A guest singer, who I understand won a competition of some sort, got to go on stage and sing You Are The Sunshine Of My Life with Stevie; not entirely necessary, but she wasn’t as bad as I worried she’d be. A short version of I Just Called To Say I Love You was next up. I hate the original, but this was slightly modernised and funked up and, therefore, a tad less painful. A bit of a gimmick with some people who were having birthdays for … you guessed it, Happy Birthday.

Then we were down to the business part of the evening: clinching the deal. Superstition (also sick of playing it after several years, but might go back to listening to it now), followed by short versions of Boogie On Reggae Woman, and Uptight, Alright. We got teased with a teensy snippet of Ribbon In The Sky (would soooo have loved to hear all of this!), and then the band’s big outro.

What an amazing 2 hours and 20 minutes of high energy and professional musicianship. There were 15 band members, including Stevie: a drummer, two percussionists, two guitarists, bass, two keyboards, sax, trumpet, three female backup singers and one male backup singer. Such a musical experience! Other than There’s A Place In The Sun, there were no glaring omissions. I would have enjoyed hearing a bit of Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday, I Was Made To Love Her, or All In Love Is Fair, but no great loss.

So, that’s kind of how my dad and I (both musicians) do post mortems of musical events. I know it’s long, and I could go on even further, but will save that for Dad. As expected, there was heaps of overpriced merchandise on sale, including tour t-shirts written in Braille. I didn’t get close enough to touch one out for real and see if they worked. As a venue, Westpac Arena is fantastic and I’ll seriously consider going to more out of town concerts in Christchurch (instead of Auckland) in future. I’m thrilled that I chose Stevie Wonder to help me achieve another of my 101 goals: #85 - Go to a concert.

I’ll definitely put Song Review back into my car’s CD player once I get home to Wellington.

Concert photo by David Alexander http://www.stuff.co.nz/4742241a4500.html Used without permission

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The phantom boat in the sky

When I was in Christchurch earlier in the month for my conference, I made quite a few trips walking between the Convention Centre and one of our other venues, the Cranmer Centre (about 5 mins away). On the day we arrived, a number of us did a double-take; we could have sworn there was a boat hanging off a crane mid-air in Cranmer Square. Deciding to come back the next day armed with a camera, of course it had disappeared. Hmm.

I am back in Christchurch now for two days. On my ride into town, there was the boat in the sky again. Sooo ... determined to not be caught out again, I went for a walk at lunch time to see my boat in the sky. And, once again, it had disappeared.

It turns out that the boat is part of a local biennial art in public space exhibition called SCAPE. See change is by local artist, James Oram. Here is a description of the art piece from the website:
Oram has developed a work consisting of a small sailing boat, hanging from the end of a mobile crane in Cranmer Square. This work brings together two important symbols of the transformation and development in Christchurch and uses them to comment on the changing values associated with urban development: the boats and ships from the past and the cranes from the present. It also refers to the geographical closeness of the city to the coastline, while creating a vision that we do not expect to see in the skyline.
Here's what See change is meant to look like:

But here's what the Canterbury nor-wester has reduced it to today:
Oh well, c'est la vie.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Kayu Manis

I like trying new restaurants and cafés, as well as visiting old favourites. I have taken to reviewing the places we eat at recently on two online forums, Dineout and Menumania. I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due. On the other hand, I believe that feedback needs to be honest and that if people are being paid to provide a product or service, then we as consumers can expect high standards. I don't think it is acceptable to use forums such as these to make personal attacks, or be entirely subjective; nothing worthwhile can be achieved from being overtly negative. Having said that, I stand behind every comment I make (positive or constructive) and hope they can lead to positive change.


We tried Kayu Manis tonight, a new Malaysian restaurant in a location which is notorious for chewing up and spewing out eating establishments. There have been a whole series of them over the years, of various styles and cuisines but, sadly, none seem to last more than a year or two. It makes us wonder about the venue itself; exhorbitant rent? Inadequate facilitites?

Kayu Manis features an extensive menu with a wide range of dishes to choose from. The service was prompt and efficient and we were served in good time. The environment was attractive and stylish, featuring colourful Malaysian decorations in a modern setting. However, we were very surprised and disappointed at how small the portions were, especially one dish which consisted only of three chicken drumsticks and garnish for nearly $19. If we hadn't used our entertainment card, where we received a main for a main, the meal sadly would not have been worth our while. I hope this means Kayu Manis will not go the way of all its predecessors in this venue.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Better late than never

This phrase is applicable in so many contexts, but tonight seems very appropriate.

I have just got home from the music quiz tonight (we did ok, not great, but at least we were in the top half) and one of my team mates commented that she's loving Chinese food lately and had only just discovered how good orange beef is. "Where have I been all my life?" she asked us. Her friend commented that, "that's not surprising, considering you only discovered honey and cheese last week".

Honey and cheese? Hmm. I love cheese, although I have never been impressed by honey. But together?? Like my team mate, I would have thought these foods should always remain separate. (Actually, I think honey should be abolished, along with capsicums, but that's a different story.) Someone else said they remembered discovering that other kids grew up on chippies and Vegemite but weren't allowed that combination themselves when they were a child. (That's a bit more common in New Zealand, as an occasional sandwich treat.) The conversation continued; I think we all learned random facts about nothing.

So, here is what else Café Chick learned today and tonight. As you'll see with some, better late than never, I guess!
  • Jeff Healey is dead! OMG! I just had to come home and check that out. Apparently he died of cancer on 2 March 2008 at the age of 41. How did this fact elude me? The Jeff Healey Band was the first concert I ever went to, circa 1990 in Wellington.
  • You use a programme called HandBrake to convert DVDs to MP4 format for your iPod, cos iTunes won't just pick up DVDs like it does with CDs. (I've tried.) Considering that I bought an iPod video three years ago, I definitely consider this fact better late than never. Guess what I'm doing right now? ;-)
  • Embed code for videos (in HTML) is not that hard to write. OK, so I haven't actually learnt the code yet, but at least I believe now that it won't be too difficult once I'm ready to attack it.
  • The manager of the Wellington Real Groovy shop has bought the store as of Saturday, which will stop the Wellington branch closing down now that they are in receivership. Yay!
  • Jeff Healey is dead!!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Book meme

Of course this isn't my idea. The Well Read Kitty provided the latest meme for me to steal. (Thanks, Kelly!) It's taken quite a bit of thinking, and I'm not sure I've put everything quite as elegantly as she has, but here goes. My Bibliophil list helped me with the bits I needed reminders about.

1. The book that changed my life
I don’t know that a single book or author has changed my life, but one of the most memorable books I have ever read is Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom. From start to finish, what an amazing story told by an amazing man. Read it!

2. A book I've read more than once
The Digging-est Dog, by Al Perkins. Over and over and over again. It was my favourite childhood book and one of the few I owned all for myself (and not borrowed from a library). Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox also gets an honourable mention here, for the same reasons.




3. A book I'd want with me on a desert island
Probably one off my “I want to read this book” list (see below). Hopefully a long novel or biography, as I might be there for a while.

4. A book that made me laugh
Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress, by Susan Jane Gilman.
Not too heavy, not too light; just an honestly hilarious autobiography, including an account of the author’s ‘moment in time’, ie the lead-up to the wedding she never thought she’d have, or ever want.

5. A book that made me cry
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernieres. This novel was such a mission to finish. I laughed out loud (see #4) while reading this, then actually cried as the remaining Italian soldiers were mowed down when they believed their lives would be spared. I found it quite a difficult read, but am profusely glad I persevered. I saw parts of the movie on a flight to Italy, but have never seen it properly. I can’t imagine it would do the original novel the justice it deserves, though.

6. A book I wish I had written
I’m not really interested in writing so have never harboured these feelings of ‘wanting to be an author’. I guess I wouldn’t mind writing some classic, popular, or timeless children’s books, eg Harry Potter series (how unoriginal am I?) or Roald Dahl’s books. Hmm, I’m really drawing a blank on this one.

7. A book I wish had never been written
Lord of the Flies, by William Golding. Yeah yeah, I know it’s a classic and a clever microcosm of the world. But I had to read it twice at secondary school and hated it both times. I don’t think there will be a third attempt, either.

8. A book I am currently reading
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J K Rowling. It’s been on my list for a while, and I’ve kind of put off reading it as I don’t really want to finish the series and say goodbye to Harry and co, but I’m really enjoying it.

9. A book I am meaning to read
Lots! The Color Purple (Alice Walker), The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (John Boynne), The Cider House Rules (John Irving), The Scarlet Letter (Nathaniel Hawthorne), To Kill a Mockingbird (Haper Lee) …

10. My favourite book of all time
Apart from The Digging-est Dog? Sorry, can’t answer this one outright. Some biographies have stuck with me and made a huge impact, and there are plenty of other honorable mentions. Here are a few, in no particular order, and definitely not an exhaustive list:

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
One Were Warriors – Alan Duff
Papillon – Henri Charriere
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time – Mark Haddon
Mao’s Last Dancer – Li Cunxin
Wild Swans – Jung Chang
To Sir, With Love – E R Braithwaite
Tully – Paullina Simons
Portrait of the Artist’s Wife – Barbara Anderson

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Buy a dress

We have a ball to go to next weekend and, not surprisingly, I had nothing to wear to it. I fixed that today: I bought a dress. A ball dress from one of my favourite clothing stores, Staxs.

I also did what I hate; I was out shopping for a mattress with my sweetie, and we stopped for lunch. We just happened to be in a shopping mall, and I decided that now was the time to look for a ball dress. He just happened to be there with me, so I dragged him along. Now, you need to realise that both of us hate shopping, but I've always genuinely felt sorry for the menfolk who are made to warm the seats by the changing rooms in women's clothing stores and give their opinion. I think everyone realises that their opinion is always the wrong one, but I did that today and entirely without meaning to.

Anyway, back to my dress. Here's a picture of it. I love the cut of Staxs clothing; it is absolutely timeless and the Staxs dresses I've bought in the past have lasted me well. I've never worn a halter neck dress before, so that will take some getting used to. It is beautifully boned so will hopefully stay up on its own(!). There's a brooch-type thing in the middle, which my sweetie doesn't like, but this was all part of the changing room negotiating; he liked the colour and style, and I was just happy to have something fit and look good. We'll decide about the brooch in the lead-up to the ball next week.

So that's goal #65 - buy a dress. I'm really looking forward to next week and goal #29 - dance at a formal ball. And now Cinderella has something to wear!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

How to be a man

I have learned so much these past few weeks. Much of it has come from the book I've been dipping in and out of, How to be a man - New Zealand edition (1999), by John Birmingham and Dirk Flinthart. Scoff at my literary choice, you may, but this book has been quite an education. Picked up for $3 at a second-hand bookshop around the corner, it's destined for a friend of ours who we feel could do with some help in life. That's not being mean; there are just some things we think he could benefit from some of the collected wisdom and advice, and hopefully he'll accept his birthday present in the spirit it's intended. ;-)

So, how does one be a man? Apparently the answer's not so straightforward. After all, the authors saw fit to write a book about it. (I'd expect a full encyclopedia to be written about how to be a woman, but also suspect that might not be enough.) It has step-by-step guides on a whole range of topics. For example, how to spot a cheap suit, how to clean a house, how to impress a woman, how to land a jumbo jet, how to defend yourself, and much, much more.

I'll have to be honest and say that some of the recipes look surprisingly promising, and I'll make sure I copy them before passing on the book this weekend. A light-hearted, humourous read, it's a great way to take your mind off more serious stuff (like work) and actually learn something in the process.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

What dessert are you?

Thanks to Sab, here is another slice of my personality, so to speak. Why do I keep doing these quizzes? Cos that tells me something about my personality? Or because I get some cute code to embed in my blog afterwards? Or both? (Probably.)


You Are Lemon Meringue Pie


You're the perfect combo of sassy and sweet.

You always know how to brighten someone's mood, but you're not overly sappy.

In fact, you can be a bit too honest at times. And most people find that refreshing.

While you're always true to yourself, you keep things light. That's how people are able to stomach your slightly bitter outlook.

Those who like you have well refined tastes.

You're complicated - and let's face it - a true enigma.

You enjoy defying expectations, and there are many layers to your personality.

There's not one easy way to define you.



You Are a Cookie-Brownie-Sundae


Totally sweet, delicious, and comforting.

You are a total glutton for ... everything!



You Are A Chocolate Ice Cream Girl


Dramatic. Powerful. Flirty.



Your Ice Cream Personality:


You are an incredibly modest person. You don't feel comfortable bragging about yourself... or even receiving compliments.

You have a wild reputation, but you're not as wild as you seem. You take risks, but only measured risks.

You are a somewhat open minded person, but deep down you're fairly conservative. You don't like trying new things very much. And if you do find something new you like, you stick with it.

You are a natural multi-tasker. You feel alive when you're doing more than one thing at a time.

You can be a big dramatic and over the top sometimes. You are bold in every way.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Sunday Grill (on a Monday)

On a Sunday or Monday, I like to wander down to a local café and read the Sunday paper or magazine over a cappuccino. It's completely indulgent and resembles nothing of the real world. (Well, what would you expect from an Auckland-biased publication.) There are a couple of regular features I enjoy, and this week I decided to rip one off for myself. I know, that's totally unlike me (not really).

Here's my version of the Sunday Grill. I realise I'll never be a semi-known pseudo-celebrity in New Zealand, therefore never asked to do this for real, so instead of waiting, I thought I'd do it anyway.

What do you do on a Sunday morning?
It's usually very lazy, and often involves sleeping in with my sweetie, before us each trying to convince the other to get up and bring back breakfast in bed. If I lose, we both get breakfast. If he loses, he gets breakfast. Sometimes we both win.

Tell us your favourite song lyrics.
On a boat in the middle of a raging sea / She would make a scene for it all to be / Ignored.
"Strange Brew", Cream

What's the biggest fashion mistake of our era?
The grunge look of the 1990s, with emo coming a close second.

What is life's greatest mystery?
Goths. Why? You never see a goth out before the afternoon; it takes them all day just to get dressed.

What is your favourite quote?
I have two: "Qui tutto bene!" (Everything is fine), or "Life's too short to not be Italian".

Give us three words to describe you.
Complex, thinking, determined.

What are the five shallow, materialistic things you can't live without?
My iPod, the Internet, my car, books, and good coffee.

Have you found yourself yet?
I think I've found most of myself - a couple of years ago, after an event which acted as a wake-up call. As for the rest? Not sure yet ...

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Rethinking priorities

It's been a tough, trying time lately. Work has been unbelievably challenging and busy, planning for a conference for more than 2000 people last week. The event was spectacular, and our team achieved so much, yet the cost was also high. The long hours (7am - 11pm most days) have taken a toll on me both personally and physically. I'm sick again and have lost my voice. (Actually, I think my sweetie is kind of enjoying that part.)

It's time to reassess priorities. A couple of years ago, I was completely stuck in a workaholic rut, and I know I have tendencies to do this again. It took a huge wake-up call for me to change my ways. This time, I can see I've entered the decline, but can also recognise that I'm in time to do something about it before too much damage is done.

Two things have made this really clear to me. The first is a video I watched a few months ago after the death of Randy Pausch and revisited today. Randy was a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and his last lecture set the world on fire when it was released on YouTube. What made it even more memorable is that Randy knew he had terminal pancreatic cancer at the time, yet his lecture is upbeat, positive, and focuses on achieving your childhood dreams.

Watch it. All 1 hour 16 mins of it. Right to the end. The last line is incredibly poignant, and puts everything into perspective.



Randy Pausch died on 25 July 2008 and his legacy remains.

The second thing came from a headline I read this morning. Kyah is not expected to live until her third birthday next week, as her battle with neuroblastoma (cancer) returned last month. Her parents brought her birthday forward a week and threw a huge party at their home, some of which she was able to enjoy. Their blog about Kyah's journey is honest and emotional, and I will be glued to it during what might be Kyah's final week.

My situation is not anything like these two, but it's certainly time to rethink my priorities and regain balance in my life. Today was my first proper 'day off' from work in a very long time, and I spent much of it sleeping and a little bit of it getting some relaxation time in the sun. I want to go back to working towards my 101 in 1001 goals, as my intention with this project was to make the most of each and every day. I'm going to go back to dancing regularly, as I've missed it and our friends there. I want to take a lunch break during the day and not feel guilty about it. I want to appreciate my friends and enjoy the parties we are invited to, rather than viewing them as a costly distraction preventing me from getting more work done. I want to read for pleasure more frequently and spend more quality time with my sweetie, instead of working late each night and during the weekends when we should be enjoying the start of summer together.

Now, I just need people to make sure I stick to it!

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Earworms

I learned something interesting yesterday.

Being in Christchurch, I get to scan through a different daily paper in the mornings. I say “scan through” because I have not properly read a newspaper in months, and tend to read news online or over a coffee in a cafe during the weekend (if I get a chance). But with a newspaper laid outside our apartment door every morning, I feel I should at least skim through the headlines.

I read an article from the Washington Post entitled “Songs stuck on the brain”. It turns out that researchers have some new theories on tunes that repeat in your head. I was intrigued.

I have this problem. Majorly. There is always a song or a song fragment in my head (currently “I Fought the Law” by The Clash), whether I like it or not. If I’m lucky, it’s a good song musically. If not, I can get myself seriously annoyed, like the time I couldn’t get to sleep because the phrase “and of course Henry the Horse dances the waltz” from The Beatles’ "Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite" (from Sergeant Pepper) was going round and round, driving me to despair.

Sometimes I can concentrate on changing the song. I try to make it Phoebe Snow’s “Every Night”, which is perhaps my all-time favourite song and a great mood changer for me (usually positive!). But it’s not always successful, and now I know why.

I have what’s called an earworm. Yes, you heard right. Apparently the kind of music that earworms like is largely repetitive and simple, with unexpected lyrics. (Henry the Horse fits this description perfectly!). Some people get earworms more than others. Apparently those most susceptible are musicians (moi) and women (moi again), therefore there is officially no hope for me. My earworms are here to stay. I’d may as well make them comfy and train them with some good music.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Coffee can make the world's problems go away for a while

I have proof of it.

Let me explain. I have been working for much of this year on helping organise a very large conference. This week, 1700 delegates, 200 trades people, and about another 100 staff arrived in Christchurch for it all to come together - the pudding (where the proof is, apparently).

We are working long(er) days than usual. Scheduled on for 13+ hours each day, plus whatever we need to get finished at night. It's going really well but is incredibly exhausting.

Enter the coffee angels. We have a team of ten (10!) baristas on duty to provide free real coffee for anyone here at the conference. We've always had a solitary barista, but the effect was never quite the same; this way, everyone can have their coffee fix and not have to wait forever to get it. Sounds like a recipe for success!

And, so, as I get up for yet another early morning after yet another late night following yet another long day on my feet, I can order my trim cappuccino and have it delivered with a smile. All is well with the world again for as long as there is (real) coffee in my cup. Ahhhh.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

eDay 2008

Saturday is NZ's annual eDay, when you can recycle your old PC or mobile phone at locations all around the country. It's free, and the junk in the bottom of your cupboard will supposedly be either recycled or disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way. There is a whole range of hardware you can hand in, and surely that's got to beat having it collect dust at home, or paying a fortune to dump it yourself.

I'm wondering if I can hand over my dying laptop? (I suppose not, as it's technically not mine, nor legally dead yet, although I'm incredibly tempted. The good news is that I'm getting a shiny new Macbook Pro next Friday - yay!). My sweetie has a computer monitor and a few other bits and bobs from work to get rid of. I'd like to think I can "do the right thing" and dispose of lots of junk thoughtfully, but I don't really have that much that fits the bill in the first place.

But, anyway, there's my tiny bit of green.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Taking it to the streets

I'm not much of an official protester; I prefer to moan to my nearest and dearest, rather than do something decisive and take action. Living in Wellington, and working quite close to Parliament for several years, protests and rallies were happening every time do-gooders hatched half-baked plans over a drink or three. I was walking down Lambton Quay with a friend one lunchtime and he noticed the closed lanes on the other side of the road, commenting (with rolled eyes), "who's protesting this time?". Turns out it was the Victoria University of Wellington graduation parade ... doh!

One would think that, with an election so close at hand, that political protests, demonstrations and rallies would be hitting the headlines. However, once again, the nation is getting ready for a planned protest, and this time it's for a cause I support.

The Sugar Liberation Army plans to protest tomorrow outside the Cadbury's Dunedin premises to protest the chopping of Snifters, Sparkles and Tangy Fruits, favourites of movie-goers for decades. Concerned residents will stage Operation Tang Protest at 5:30pm. A spokesperson for the group says, "in a world of financial uncertainty and economic crisis, we turn to nostalgia for small comforts". They go on to say that, "Cadbury-Schweppes Pty Ltd is denying everyday New Zealanders the sweet, confectionary nostalgia of their forefathers". Hear, hear!

Stand strong, SLA - the nation depends on you to save these fledgling kiwi icons. Kia kaha!