Dear Morgan,

I managed to embarrass myself again.  I seem to do this at regular intervals. But I want to share this with you as it is quite funny.

I called in to drop something off at my friends work.  She’s a receptionist at one of the medical centres here. She’s also a great friend, with a great sense of humour and fellow photographer. I know a few of the others at this medical centre as well, all photography related, and it always seems such a great place to work – busy but relaxed, and lots of humour.

To give you somthrush1-01sm-Edite background, you know I love birds, and I have a resident bird in the garden who has been there for a while. Over the hot dry summer, I installed a small round swimming pool for it, and I loved watching it take a dip each morning and afternoon. At the end of January, I headed away for a week. When I came back my resident bird was no longer there. I wondered if another cat had picked it off, and I felt really sad. I had told my friend about the missing bird earlier in the week.

Anyway – this hot afternoon I was catching up with her at her work, and she was telling me about her daughters bird, and I suddenly remembered!

“oh oh – I said – guess what? – My Thrush is Back!” I said really excitedly. In my excitement I must have spoken just a tad loudly, and all of a sudden there was dead silence. I looked around and everyone was looking at me.  For a minute I wondered what I had said, then I realised I was in a medical centre and Thrush has a totally different meaning for them.  ‘The Bird – The Bird – Thrush – the brown bird” I said and everyone cracked up.

Heaven knows why they thought I’d be excited about the other kind of thrush!





Dear Morgan,

I’ve spent the last few days researching how to increase traffic to my two blogs, my general one and my photography one.  Blogging isn’t a get rich quick scheme, it’s a slow and laborious way to use up lots of time you don’t have in the hope that someone may click on an advertisement, or buy one of your images, or buy one of your books in the hope of making a small amount of money.

The surefire way of doing this is to increase traffic.  You need to write interesting or informative or hilarious copy.  In doing so you hope to connect with a reader who feels the same way, and with any luck will share your blog-post with their million facebook readers or twitterers.  Unfortunately that doesn’t happen very often.

The first thing you need to do is get traffic.  Fortunately my blogs are already getting that for a couple of reasons. The first is because I started them back in 2008, and I’ve kept them up to date.  The second is because I’ve registered them to a couple of blogrolls.  That is, when I post something in the blog, they go automatically into a blog-reader for several thousand people to read if they wish.  The problem with my blog readers is that they are ‘deaf’ orientated, and I’ve really stopped writing about deafness and am now concentrating on photography.

The other important thing about blogs is to have the right tags for the search engines to find you.  A good example of this is my blog about the Sculptor Ron Mueck and the accompanying photography.  I have a photo of his sculpture called Naked Pregnant Woman with it labeled as such inside the blog.  This is attracting a huge amount of pageviews from Google.  I’m getting between five and eight thousand pageviews a month from this.  Unfortunately, they’re not staying around to click on ads or buying any photography because they’re not getting what they’re really after!!   The only good thing about this is that the advertisers think I’m good and therefore I am getting good advertisements on the blog for people to view.

In the last two days to help increase readership and then revenue, I have…

  • Added the privacy policy for Adsense which apparently will increase revenue somehow.
  • Added share buttons from ShareThis on each of my posts in both my blogs.
  • Joined Chime.In, a place where you can add a link to your blog each time you update to gain more readers.
  • Joined Blogcatalog with my general blog to gain more readers.  It’s quite the social network as bloggers love reading other blogs too.
  • Downloaded Hootsuite to manage social media.  I have yet to learn how to use it, but the whole idea is to do regular postings to drive readers to your blogs.

I have yet to research..

  • Other advertisement (Adclick) programmes
  • An affiliateship with perhaps Amazon or other advertiser
  • Become a Guest Blogger or ask a Guest blogger to submit an article to my blog.
  • Join a Blogcarnival

Several things i have learnt in the past month when researching all these processes…

  • You can make a six figure income from blogging
  • I know of a woman writing about homelife making $40k USD a year
  • You need to diversify .. eg. Have more than one blog, offer different income streams from say books, photography, writing, but have links to theses in your blogs.
  • You do need to spend time researching, commenting on other blogs, reading, and developing and planning what you are going to write yourself.
  • Everything I’ve learnt here doesn’t just apply to blogs, but to any website you might want to increase traffic to.

I’ve enjoyed doing the research.  Even if this doesn’t work, the exercise has been entertaining, I’ve gained more knowledge, and I’ve met new online people within the blogosphere.  So all is not lost.

If I see any success with what I have done, then I’ll do the same on this blog as well.  If anything, it might buy us a cup of coffee from time to time!



Dear Morgan,

I was reading our blog today and realised that nothing really funny has happened to me lately.  I must be getting all old and sensible all of a sudden.  Makes a change.  Even my cat has got old and sensible too.  No mice, rabbits, or any other creepy crawlies.

However, today I found myself setting up a new printer that I had bought a couple of months ago.  After unpacking it from the box and doing a quick set up, I grabbed hold of the user guide/manual that clearly read ‘READ THIS BEFORE YOU SET IT UP’.  Fortunately, I’m of slightly above average intelligence and had done it correctly, but I did spend five minutes reading it to make sure I hadn’t done anything stupid.  I have to say the guide was pretty boring reading after the 50 shades of grey trilogy.  It was so… well… clean!

Anyway, I set it all up, plugged the printer into the power supply.  Popped the CD into my player and went to install the software.  The instruction said ‘Please connect your computer to the printer by the USB cable’.    What USB cable?  I searched the box.  Nothing.  Nada.  I checked where I had opened it in case it had fallen out.  Nothing.   Maybe it’s kinky after all?  50 shades of printers!

The printer was not going to work without it, so into the car to drive the 15km back into town (grr) to talk to the store owners.  They opened the same printer box on the shelf to find…. No USB cable.   ‘Oh – this printer doesn’t come with the cable, you have to buy it separately’, they told me.

I have to say I’m rather gobsmacked.  The printer doesn’t effing work without it.   No one told me when I bought it I needed a cable.  It’s the stupidest thing I’ve come across for a long time.  To top it off, the printer is a Canon – a company usually reknowned for good service and products – but I have to say they really have let themselves down on this one. Why on earth are they selling products that are incomplete?   I liken it to selling a car without any ignition installed.




Dear Morgan,

I just re read a comment of yours from ages ago on this blog.  You were wanting the recipe for my home science experiment potato soup.  So here it is.  Good luck and enjoy…

Once upon a time, about 25 years ago, in another life, I was newly married.  Being newly married and not having much experience in the kitchen, I proceeded to experiment with different foods to try and please my new husband as all brides mistakenly tend to do.

It was a cool day, and so I decided to make potato soup for lunch.  Nothing like a hot soup to warm you up from inside out.  I searched the recipe books, to no avail, not one recipe could be found.  This was in the days before  home computers, internet, and Google.  When one used grey matter to be innovative.  I thought long and hard.  Lightbulb moment!

Out came my hardly ever used juicer from the back of the cupboard.  I peeled the potatoes then put the potatoes through the juicer.  Surprisingly I needed only a few potatoes to get the required amount of juice to make soup for two. I remember thinking how clever I was being, and how easy this all was!  I then poured the juice into a pot, and placed this on the element to heat it up gently.

As I brought it to the boil, the liquid rose.  And rose.  And rose.  Turning the element down in heat did not stop it.  I put the pot over the sink quickly as it overflowed.  I tipped a bit out, added water and put it back on the heat.

No sooner than I did that, the liquid rose again.  And rose and rose and rose.  Once again I put it over the sink where it overflowed.  Once again, I tipped half out and replaced it with water.

Once again I replaced it on very low heat.  Once again the bloody thing rose and rose and rose, and once again it overflowed into the sink.  This time it kept overflowing.

I yelled for my new husband for help.  This time I tipped half of it out and replaced half with water, and put it on the element again for him to see what was happening.  Once again it rose and rose and rose, and once again I managed to get it to the sink in time for it to overflow.  I felt like I was in a middle of a science experiment going badly wrong, not cooking lunch!

There was only one thing for it.

New husband went outside and dug a hole in the garden.  (After several expletives)

He came back up and got the pot and tipped the contents into the hole.

He then filled the hole in.

We decided to go out for lunch.

As we were leaving, I noticed the potato soup rising and bubbling out of the warm earth.

I didn’t say anything.

Not for 25 years!

I’ve long since moved away.  I still scan the papers in Auckland to see if anyone is reporting weird substances bubbling out of the ground, of the emergence of giant earthworms in a certain local area.

25 years later, in all things kitchen – I no longer use my grey matter for innovation.  Google is my new best friend.

Dear Morgan,

Do you ever have those moments when you say something, then realise perhaps it didn’t come out quite the way it should have?

I rarely get embarrassed, but last night was probably my most embarrassing moment since I packed myself up in the rocketship and crash landed down here in the top of the South Island…  It was like this…

Background:  Because I’m totally deaf at night, I have no way of waking up in the morning, except by a special alarm clock.  Instead of making a noise, it wakes you up by vibrating.  Quite simple, and most of my deaf friends and I simply call it ‘The Vibrator’.  We don’t even think of associate ‘vibrator’ with anything but our alarm clocks.  It’s a simple contraption and very effective.  You simply set the time, then clip it to yourself or to the pillow.  Go to sleep.  At the designated time you will be vibrated awake.

So last night at our committee meeting the conversation went something like this…

Me: ‘So what time should I pick you up on Sunday?”

Committee member: “Well we have to be at the station by 8.00am”

Me: “That’s okay I’ll just use my vibrator that morning”

Silence.  Laughter.  Silence.  Laughter.

Me – finally realising what I’ve said:  Vibrating alarm clock!”

Too late.  I do hope they don’t add it to the newsletter!!! The group hasn’t really realised the significance of me being embarrassed!!! A very rare event indeeed!!!!  Maybe I should give my clock a name instead?



Breeding like Rabbits

Posted: April 3, 2011 in Humour, Rant

Dear Morgan,

That mouse that the cat brought in, never turned up again, and I fortunately do not have the pitter patter of tiny mouse feet anywhere in the house.  I’m sure if I did, my cat would alert me to it, but she has not been interested in anything.  Although she does go into my wardrobe occasionally and I get suspicious, but as soon as I take an interest, she walks out – so I gather there is no mice in there.

But, rabbits are another matter.  Since the great big macho cat over the road got knocked down by a car and killed, it’s been completely up to Kassia to keep the rabbit population at bay.  But it’s worn her out totally.  Either that or she’s gone on strike.  So instead of being outdoors and hunting, she keeps moaning in front of the hall cupboards until I take out a fluffy brown blanket.  It then goes on the leather couch and she retires there for most of the day.  It’s not cold enough for her electric blanket yet!

Anyway.  There are rabbits galore.  Everywhere.  I never thought I would ever want to kill a living creature, but when several rabbits start eating up your $2000 lawn, you start to want to deal in arms and buy the biggest bazooka you can get your hands on and nuke the bloody things.  They are no longer CUTE or SOFT & FURRY.  They become monster ogres with giant paws that are making holes the size of china in your lawn.  They even eat the roots of your trees.  Grrrrrrrrrr!

To give you a lesson in the size of the problem imagine the following.

One house next to a vineyard.

100 yards away at the end of the vineyard, there are 15-20 rabbits frolicking.

100 yards away at the other end of the vineyard there are 15-20 rabbits frolicking.

These are not cute, as they don’t seem to understand boundaries and slip into my yard.  I know the grass is greener on my side but that is not the point!

Lets for the sake of making things easy we’ll say there are 20 rabbits at one end and 20 rabbits at the other.  40 rabbits altogether.  At least half of those are females.

Week 1:  20 female rabbits get together with 20 male rabbits and do a bit of rabbiting hanky panky.    40 Adults. 20 Females
Week 2:  Holes in my lawn
Week 3:  Holes in my lawn
Week 4:  Holes in my lawn
Week 5:  Holes in my lawn
Week 6:  Holes in my lawn
Week 7:  20 Female rabbits give birth to 8 babies each.  That’s 160 Babies. 40 adults, 20 Females, 20 * 8 Babies (160)
Week 8:  20 Female Rabbits get together with 20 male rabbits and do a bit of rabbiting hanky panky
Weeks 9: Holes in the lawn
Week 10:  Holes in the lawn
Week 11:  Holes in the lawn
Week 12:  Kassia brings in four baby rabbits and puts 3  under my bed and one under the dining table.  So that makes 156 babies.

Adults – 40  (Females 20)
Babies – 156 (Females 78)
Total  – 196

Week 13-16: Holes in the lawn
Week 17: 20 female rabbits give birth to 160 babies.  Total baby rabbits: 316

Adults: 40 (Females 20)
Babies: 316
Total 356

Week 18: 20 female rabbits get together wither 20 male rabbits and do a bit of rabbiting hanky panky.
Week 19-24: Holes in lawn.  Kassia too exhausted to get any more babies and lounges around sleeping on the furry blanket in the lounge.
Week 25:  20 Female rabbits give birth to another 160 babies.  Total Baby rabbits: 476

Adults: 40 (20 Females)
Babies: 476
Total: 516

Week 26: The first babies are now sexually mature.  So out of the 156 babies, half of these will be female (give or take a few).  That’s 78 new females – add that to the other 20 – that 98 females doing a bit of rabbiting hanky panky.
Week 27-30: Holes in lawn.  Cat still too tired to do anything after the last 4 rabbits, and the magpies are onto to her and won’t let her into the vineyard anyway.
Week 31: 98 females have 8 baby rabbits each.  Total baby rabbits: 784 plus the last two breeding of 320 which now makes a total of 1104.

Total adults: 196  (98 Females)
Older babies:  320
New babies: 784
Total:  1300

Week 32:  The adults get it on again, plus the second lot of babies….
Week 32-40:  My lawn now looks like Craters from the Moon.  There’s an odd patch of grass, and my trees have all died as they have eaten all the roots.
Week 41 – the female populations of 98 + 80 (178) give birth to 8 rabbits each. Total:  1424 babies born.
Week 42 – I no longer have any lawn or any trees.  The ground is too dangerous to walk on.  If you do you’re likely to break both legs when accidentally tripping over a rabbit hole.  The ground is a seething mass of brown fur.  The cat is too scared to go outside for fear of giant bunnies.   Now 260 pairs of bunnies are in bunny heaven mating with each other to make more babies.   You can’t sleep at night knowing all this sexual activity is going on outside.  The ground reverberates and it’s not another earthquake – it’s just the earth moving for all these bunnies.

6 weeks later They give birth to 2080 rabbits.
I can’t count any more.  But in six, 6 week periods, a total of 4960 bunnies!

Adults females babies per adult Number of babies Total babies
Week 1 40 20 8 160 160
2nd 6 week 40 20 8 160 320
3 months 3rd 6 week 40 20 8 160 480
4th 6 week 40 20 8 160 640
5th 6 week 200 100 8 800 1440
6 months 6th 6 week 360 180 8 1440 2880
7th 6 week 520 260 8 2080 4960
8th 6 week 680 340 8 2720 7680
9 months 9th 6 week 1480 740 8 5920 13600
10th 6 week 2920 1460 8 11680 25280
11th 6 week 5000 2500 8 20000 45280
12 months 12th 6 week 7720 3860 8 30880 76160

Now where is that Bazooka – it hasn’t arrived yet!

Rodent Take Over

Posted: March 12, 2011 in Fun, Humour
Tags: , , , ,

By Morgan MacLaren

This post is rated R_18 for humans and R_50 days for mice…

Dear Robyn,

I think you are in serious trouble. I laughed my arse off at your last post about the mice. I hear you still haven’t caught the two that were hiding in your bedroom. This doesn’t bode well because I did some research into mice and there are some alarming statistics for what “two” mice of opposite gender are capable of in their lifetimes… Did you realise:


  1. Mice are a bit like, ahem… rabbits… in that they like do house maintenance. (Particularly screwing in lightbulbs*)
  2. Mice have litters of 10 pups on average after a 20 day gestation period
  3. 25 days after the pups are born and have been weaned the females are ready for lightbulb duty again
  4. 50 days after pups are born they themselves are old enough to go to Uni and get up to no good with their own lightbulbs and the other student mice their own age.

This makes for rather an alarming possibility. A population explosion in your bedroom! If we presume that your two mice are a boy called Bertie and a girl called Beatrice and that all litters created are 50% split male and female, I imagine your mice population might unfold something like this over the coming year – remembering that with each generation of pups there is a growing number of partners available:

(And in case you are wondering – yes, I did actually do the math for this! I am not guessing. You can download my calculations and check them with this .xls mice breeding )

Day 0 (The day you lost your two mice)
Our darling little pair, Bertie and Beatrice notice the lights aren’t working in your bedroom and decide to screw in a lightbulb* for you. (Aww, such thoughful guests!)

Day 20
Bertie and Beatrice become the proud parents of 10 skirming “pinkies” called Boris, Benjamin, Bucko, Baldrick, Bartie, Britta, Bronhilda, Berta, Betsy and Brenna (aka “Team 2”)
Population: 12

Day 45
Whatdaya know? That bloody lightbulb blew again. Bertie and Beatrice to the rescue.

Day 65
Bertie and Beatrice become the parents of 10 more little darlings: Curtis, Calvin, Colin, Clayton, Clem, Carla, Crystal, Cybil, Cindy and Cloe (Team 3).
Population 22

Day 70
The 10 “B” named boys and girls from Team 2 reach University age and learn to screw in their own lightbulbs at their student flats (your sock drawers)… (that’s 5 girls and 5 boys with the potential to make 50 kids each litter)

Day 90
Bertie and Beatrice have a romantic evening “celebrating” after the birth of their first 50 new grand children from their “B” Team 2 children (aka Team 10**)
Population 72

Day 110
Bertie and Beatrice spawn Team 4 (Douglas, Dorris, D… oh b*gger the names! Who can keep track of 30 kids?)
Population 82

Day 115
Team 2 make repairs in the student flats again and teach their Team 3 siblings how to do this at the same time.

Day 135
Bertie and Beatrice have a ANOTHER romantic evening “celebrating” the birth of their next 100 grand children from both their “B” and “C” children (Teams 11 and 12).
Population 182

Day 140
Team 10 fix some lightbulbs

Day 155
Bertie and Beatrice create 10 more sproglets called Team 5
Population 192

Day 160
Teams 2-4 have a mass celebration to welcome Team 10’s litter of 250 pups (affectionately called Team 38)
Population 442

Day 180
Bertie and Beatrice go out partying, get pissed and make a boo boo after celebrating the birth of their 150 extra grand children to their kids from Teams 2-4
Population 592

Day 185
Teams 10-12 have a party

Day 200
Bertie and Beatrice obtain 10 new screaming pink things with stinky nappies (Team 6)….
Population 602

Day 205
Teams 2-5 have a great time in the sock drawer and Teams 10-12 relocate to bigger premises in the wardrobe to accomodate their 750 new pups born today (Teams 39-41)!
Population 1’352

Day 210
Team 38 screw in 125 lightbulbs and blow a fuse.

Day 225
Bertie and Beatrice who’ve decided they definitely don’t want any more kids ditch that idea when they see their newest and cutest 200 grand children to Teams 2-5 and decide to make one more litter…
Population 1’552

Day 230
Party at the student flats with lotsa socks flying for Teams 10-15 and 1’250 sprogs are born to Team 38.
Population 2’802

Day 245
Bertie and Beatrice deliver their Team 7 set of 10 sprogs.
Population 2’812

Day 250
Teams 2-6 launch Squeak-Fest in the linen cupboard to mark the opening of a great new nightclub and visit the hospital (the bathroom medicine cabinet) afterwards to visit Teams 10 – 15 and see their 1’500 little ones (Teams 42-47)
Population 4’312

Day 255
Teams 38-41 hold Squeak-A-Thon party at Club Linen

Day 270
Bertie and Beatrice accidentally screw in a lightbulb and Teams 2-6 produce 250 more grand kids (Teams 20-24)
Population 4’562

Day 275
Teams 10-19 find 250 accidental lightbults also but are not put off using them even when greeted with 5’000 new screaming arrivals from Teams 38-41
Population 9’562

Day 290
Bertie and Beatrice decide with the arrival of Team 8 that 80 offspring is more than enough and they’re never doing round the clock feeds and nappies again.
Population 9’572

Day 295
Teams 2-7 are happy to have more sprogs though and hold another party at Linen while 2’500 new sproglets are delivered in the BIG new hospital (the bathroom vanity cupboards) to Teams 10 – 19
Population 12’072

Day 300
Teams 38-47 find the mirror ball in the walk in closet and start a new night club called “Ball” which requires the installation of 1’250 lights, while Team 73 introduce 6’250 future club goer to the world.
Population 18’322

Day 315
Bertie and Beatrice attempt changing a lightbulb with “protection” (the plastic lunch wrap from the kitchen Pharmacy up the hall), Teams 2-7 spawn 300 new members to create Teams 25-30
Population: 18’622

Day 320
750 party-goers boogy at Ball for Teams 10-24 while the hospital in the vanity unit has a catastrophy trying to deliver 12’500 pups for Teams 38-47 all on the same night.
Population 31’122

Day 325
Teams 73-77 mate for the first time. All 6’250 of them. Seriously? Don’t they know what a hassle they are making for the hospital in the future?

Day 335
Bertie and Beatrice get the fright of their lives when they discover the plastic wrap didn’t work and they now have a Team 9!
Population 31’132

Day 340
Teams 2-7 shout Team 8 free drinks at Ball and Teams 10 – 24 spit out 3’750 new pinkies.
Population 34’882

Day 345
All hell breaks loose as Team 38-57 do a bad thing at a club crawl of Linen, Ball and the new Attic Club. Mondo sized Teams 73-77 overload the newly created “Bathtub Hospital” with 31’250 pups making Teams 109-113
Population 66’132

Day 360
A quiet one. Teams 2-8 create 350 new kiddies
Population 66’482

Day 365
Mondo Mayhem. 25’000 pups born to Teams 38-57 making the total population 91’482!!!

So there you have it. If you don’t manage to catch those mice by the end of the year you will have 91’482 little stinky inhabitants in your room!

Of course there is something else to consider here. Generally speaking critters from the same close family don’t mate otherwise you get inbreeding (well, except in some countries….). So either this means a good thing – you won’t have 91,000+ mice in your room, or a bad one – you will and they all have 2 heads, five arms and seven tails!

I wish you and the cat A LOT OF GOOD LUCK!

Morgan 🙂

Q: How many mice does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
A: Two. But I don’t know how you get them in there!

I named the teams in generations:

Team  1              = Bertie and Beatrice
Teams 2-9        = Their own children (litters of 10)
Teams 10-37   = Their grand children (litters of 50)
Teams 38-72   = Their great-grand children (litters of 250)
And so on…. up to Team 113 (litter of 6’250)

Some teams did not produce offspring as they were born less than 70 before the end of the year.

I’m smarter than a mouse

Posted: March 2, 2011 in Fun, Humour

Dear Morgan,

I outsmarted a field mouse tonight.  This may be a funny thing to be proud of to you, but to me it was a jubilant moment.  Up there with winning lotto, or trips overseas.  Of even hearing again.  It also gives me hope for the human race.  Despite having morons running things like our health system, we do seem to be slightly higher up the food chain than a field mouse!

Cat is being quite challenging lately.  For the last week, she has ceased bringing in dead rabbits as offerings, and instead, bringing in little live presents of field mice.  These she lets go in either the lounge or my bedroom, then proceeds to chase around the room at 90kmh.  Occasionally catching them in her mouth, and at this stage of the proceedings I try to catch the cat and put both mouse and cat outside at the same time.  This doesn’t always work.  Either she drops the mouse inside just before she goes out, then I get left with mouse, or if I’m successful at getting both out, she runs round to her cat door at full speed and brings it in again before I can even get to the garage to lock it!

Two nights ago I was chasing a mouse around the bedroom.  I lost it.  Mouse: 1.0  Cat 0.0  Human 0.0

Last night I was chasing a mouse around the bedroom at 1.30am.  I lost it.  Mouse 2.0  Cat 0.0  Human 0.0

Tonight at 9.00pm I was chasing a mouse around the lounge.  I lost it.  Mouse 3.0  Cat 0.0  Human 0.0

But then I got a lucky break.  It peeked out from under the ranchslider door.  I crawled over to the door, put my finger down so it couldn’t get under it again, and miraculously, after two dummy runs I caught it barehanded.  It’s now outside.  Mouse 2.0  Cat 0.0  Human 1.0

I can’t help but think of other people at this stage.  There are some people (mainly females), that start screaming at the sight of a mouse.  Why?  They’re a). Tiny.  b). don’t bite  c). very cute.  They are not scary at all.  They don’t even have teeth that will hurt us, not like sharks.  They can get into extremely small spaces.  Is this what females are afraid of?  That they might invade personal space?   It wouldn’t happen – they are animals and need to ‘breathe!’

Anyway – I now have two left to catch.  Both in my bedroom.  I’m confident with my new-found skills I might get them in the next week or so.  Either that or the two that have been left to run around my bedroom will mate and by the weekend I’ll have 32 of them to catch!

Life is always interesting in the country.




by Morgan MacLaren

Dear Robyn,

Here’s a story to make anyone wonder what sort of bureaucratic monkeys are running our health system in New Zealand.

As you know my mother has to go to the hospital four times a week to do dialysis. Luckily she is training to operate her own machine at Greenlane Hospital (which, as you’ll remember from your numerous stays there with your vertigo, has wonderful staff and a good culture). So Greenlane Hospital is great. No gripes there.

However, earlier this week she had trouble with her fistula which prevents her from doing dialysis properly so the Greenlane guys got her an urgent appointment at Auckland Hospital to get an ultrasound scan done to find out what can be done. So far so good. She turned up at 0900 this morning for her appointment and ended up waiting several hours before being told the appointment would have to be postponed. That’s not particularly unusual though for Auckland Hospital. Unexpected emergencies happen often as you might expect in a hospital. That’s understandable.

But here’s were things get really stupid. Today is Tuesday and there isn’t another appointment available now until Thursday lunchtime. So they booked her the available appointment. Seems straight forward enough – except it’s not. Now that she is booked to have the scan on Thursday she CANNOT LEAVE THE HOSPITAL because that would cause her to become classed as an “out patient” and she will lose the appointment as soon as she walks out the door. If she becomes an out patient she will have to wait a whole month to be seen again! … even though there is a slot free on Thursday. Eh?

This is completely crazy but there’s not much she can do about it because she cannot wait a month have a scan – she has to do dialysis every other day so the Thursday appointment is ideal. So, even though she is not actually sick she will be taking up a hospital bed for the next two nights just to keep her place in a line. Never mind real sick people who might actually need the bed… one supposes they are expected to wait outside with the other out patients.

Fuck-me. How ridiculous can you get? My father started making some sort of excuse for this earlier stating that New Zealand is bankrupt and we don’t have enough money to fund our health system properly. Bugger that. This really has little to do with money and everything to do with bureaucratic idiocy. It does not cost money for human beings to get up in the morning and screw their brains in the right way so they can think. Any intelligent person can see the logical simplicity of the situation:

My mother has an appointment with Auckland Hospital at 1200 on Thursday.

It’s that simple. Period.

All that is required is for her to turn up at the hospital at that time.

There is no intelligent reason for her to take up a bed that someone else who is sick will need.

It’s clear that we have monkeys with brains in their bums making up the hospital rules in this country. I feel sorry for the staff who have to enact such dumbarse nonsense. (Apparently they were really nice people and very apologetic).

Maybe this sort of garbage is pervasive in government department type institutions. (Personally I have no objection to National trying to make them more efficient so long as any changes are intelligent and fair).

I’ve had first hand experience of the Governmental “Ministries of Stupidity”. Years ago when I first started working I was a “civil servant” for the Inland Revenue Department. It would have to be one of the most innane and inefficient places I have ever worked (as well as not being much removed from George Orwell’s 1984). We had some really brain dead rules. One was that you could not start work early. You had to work from 0900 to 1700 (and take lunch from 1200 to 1300) – LITERALLY. Trying to start work a few minutes early or come back from lunch at 1250 was NOT ALLOWED UNDER RULE #358, SUB SECTION #8925 OF RULE BOOK #452. There was a radio in the corner of the room tuned to one of those “proper” BBC emulated stations that goes “Beep Beep Beep Beep” on the official, scientifically calculated hour. You could start work AFTER the radio went “Beep Beep Beep” and not a second before. Stupidly, we also had a glide time system of some sort were you could vary your hours but it was so mathematically complicated that no one ever bothered to use it. And it involved filling in a million forms about two months in advance to get approval from 5 very important people with official glide time approval duties in order to gain even a few minutes deviation from Beep-Beep-Time.

Another idiocy was that if one of your colleagues got a promotion and you were pissed off about it because you wanted the job yourself (never mind that your colleague was better than you and the most appropriate person for the job) there was a special pink “I’M PISSED OFF BECAUSE I THINK I SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN THAT JOB AND NOT MY COLLEAGUE IR666/3” form that you could fill out and submit to the monkeys upstairs. Once the monkeys got the form they would action it like automations and you could pretty much have the job straight away since you had formally complained on “an official looking special piece of pink paper with an IRD logo and identifying IR code number on it”! (That means you have to action it without thinking intelligently because it looks suitably like it comes from some authority you see…).

From my mother’s experience today it looks to me like not much has changed with this type of government department run institution since I worked in one. The most ironic thing about my Mum taking up a hospital bed for two pointless nights is that during the week a friend of mine had to go to Accident and Emergency because he has gall stones. And guess what? After waiting several hours he had to check himself out and go home again because

wait for it…..

they couldn’t find a free bed for him!!!

Morgan 🙂

Dear Robyn,

OK, here are my answers to your 20 questions.

1). What was the naughtiest thing you did as a kid? How did this impact on your life now?

I think the naughtiest “thing” I did was just being generally stubborn, questioning everything and not automatically doing what I was told! I was one of those kids who is always going “Why? Why? Why? Why? But Whyyyyy?” and if any adult could not give me an intelligent answer why it was fair I had to do something then there was no bloody way I was going to do it just because they told me too. (After all, I figured blindly following “authority” without questioning it might be a bad thing since it might be unreasonable or dangerous).

How does this impact me now? I haven’t changed!!! (I only care about rules that are fair and will challenge any that are unreasonable).

2). How many times did your mother break the wooden spoon on you, and what did you do for that to happen?

I think she only did that once and I can’t remember what it was for (wow, must have been really effective!) We think it is hilarious now. I could always tell if I had been really bad by the sound of “STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP” followed by the wooden spoon drawer opening. We still joke sometimes that if I misbehave she will get the wooden spoon out!

But I do remember once when I was in primary school (I think), I wouldn’t eat my vegetables so my mother threatened that if I didn’t eat them she would put them in the fridge and I would have to eat them the next day. I didn’t eat them. So the next day guess what I got to eat for breakfast? COLD hard vegetables. I still didn’t eat them. It’s a wonder my mother still has hair. Poor woman.

3). What is the best book you have ever read, and why do you rate it as your best?

There are a few:

Einstein: The General and Special Theory of Relativity

It’s just fascinatingly beautiful and thought provoking and Einstein had a great way of explaining himself as well as possessing an absurdly fun sense of humour. Anything by him is fascinating and fun – even his writings on the surface tension of water!

Jung: Psychological Types (Psychologische Typen)

My favourite of Jung’s works and where my interest in personality theories started. Whilst it’s not actually a theory and hasn’t been validated as true I have so far failed to find sufficient evidence that either it or the Myers-Briggs Indicator that was inspired by it to be untrue. And newer theories that are now taken more seriously seem to somewhat validate it.

Richard Dawkins: The Greatest Show on Earth

Chosen simply because it is his latest offering but anything this guy produces is brilliant. This is one of the most intelligent books I have ever read. What he doesn’t know about science probably isn’t worth knowing. After reading this I can’t see how any intelligent person could refute evolution as a scientific fact.

4). What was the animal that most influenced you as a child?

The horse. I love them. They are beautiful to look at, gentle, noble, strong and make intelligent companions for humans either as friends or workmates. As a child my friend had a gelding called Amigo. He was awesome. If we went “camping” in the back yard he would have to come too – even going so far as to sit in the tent with us and share our tea and damper bread and join in our silly games. And he did this “thing” with his feed bucket just to make us laugh (by sticking his hoof in it and biffing it around the paddock.) I am sure they have a sense of humour and love the way they “test” you when you first ride them to see what they can get away with. There is no zip in the back of a horse’s head that is for sure!

5). Have you eaten anything really stupid?

No, but I’ve tried smoking something stupid. When I was 12 a friend of mine and I decided to try making roll your owns. Only problem is we had neither roll your own papers or tobacco. So we improvised by using eucalypt leaves from a tree in back garden and A4 typing paper! They came out like giant sliffs, were a stinker to light, smelled like roasted koala bear and were about as horrendous as those awful menthol cigarettes you can get when you are trying to fool yourself you don’t really smoke. They didn’t exactly inspire me to never take up smoking but they didn’t inspire me to want to start either!

The most unusual thing I have eaten is jellyfish which I am rather partial to and eat whenever I can find it in Japanese restaurants.

6). What has been your most embarrassing experience in your life?

Well, I am shy so I could say the whole thing so far!

7). What is the funniest thing that has happened to you in the last year?

Running around the house playing games with Lia and Glyn’s 3 year old son Zac under strict instructions not to make him laugh too much otherwise he might throw up. After much giggling and more running around I threw up! So now the instructions go more like “Zac, don’t make Aunty Morgan laugh too much or she’ll barf!” I love kids. We have so much in common….

8). Who was your first boyfriend and why didn’t it last?

A super intellectual nerdy Mensa member who regularly devoured 4 books a day. He lived further down the country. We were only about 14. We spent several years writing very long intellectual letters to each other and sending them via the post 3 times a week and sometimes visited each other! I still have them somewhere. Particularly cool is the one where he had decided (at the grand age of 15) he wanted to marry me. But he wasn’t sure how I’d react so he made a hidden compartment in the letter and said to only open it if I really want to know. Our long distance communications didn’t last because he eventually moved up to Auckland and I decided I wasn’t so keen on his party animal side!

9). If you could have anybody in the world as your life companion, who would you choose and why?

A Burmese cat like your Kass. It would be cool to have such a loyal companion and be able come home at night to millions of hugs and someone who would listen for hours to your philosophical ramblings without complaining they are bored! I just love the way cats are always content just to be with you and don’t make any judgements about how much housework you’ve done today.

10). What is the gadget you would most like to buy and why?

Considering I have absolutely no sense of direction a Navman wouldn’t go a miss. Only my model would need to be able to give me really specific instructions – like how to navigate to the bathroom in a restaurant and find my way back safely to my table! I kid you not. Twice in the past few months I have gone to the bathroom in restaurants and ended up getting back to my table via the kitchen much to the surprise of the staff!

11). If you could live in another country for a year, which country would you choose and why?

Germany. I have always felt an affinity with Germans and when I was in Germany I loved the way it is organized so efficiently, that train timetables makes sense and they turn up on time, that it’s so clean and tidy you can lick the roads and that the people are so thoughtful (and above all else MAKE SENSE!)

What I love about the German people is that they are really honest and mean exactly what they say. So for example if they compliment you, you know they really mean it and are not just hiding the truth to keep the peace, saying what they think you want to hear or to manipulate you so they get what they want. And they tend to think of doing things in a way that will be helpful to other people. Like planning a project effectively so everything is well thought out from start to finish or designing windows for tall buildings that open inwards so occupants can wash the outside of the window from inside rather than having to clamber up the outside of their dwelling on a dodgy ladder (like we do in New Zealand!)

I also speak German so having the opportunity to speak completely in a foreign language for a year would be interesting! (Which incidentally should explain the occasional lapse into strangely Germanic spellings of Englisch words and capital Letters imposed on far too many Nouns!)

12). What would you study at university now if you could?

Hmmm, well in the past I have seriously considered studying Psychology, Philosophy, German, Computer Science and pretty much all the other sciences. But realistically I am interested in EVERYTHING (see question 18) so I get more fun out of watching Uni lectures on YouTube without spending any $$$ to change my mind all the time! (I find this guy’s lectures on Steganography really fun).

13). If you suddenly won or came into a lot of money – what would be the first three things you would do with it?

1. Come visit you

2. Stick the rest in the bank and live off the interest

3. Use it to help other people

14).What was the turning point for you which made you realise you were Atheist?

When I was seven I thought it might be worthwhile trying out church since my friends went and it seemed to be about nice morals I believed in like “love your neighbour” and “god is love”. When I got there we learned that God is vengeful and jealous and will throw anyone who does not obey his draconian and unfair laws into the eternal fires of hell where they will be burned alive forever…. It was at that point I figured the Christian God was a horrendously cruel entity, probably didn’t even exist and certainly didn’t deserve followers!

So when I say I am an Atheist this means I am 99.9% sure the probability that there is some spiritual entity in charge of the universe is incredibly unlikely (.1% is for the off chance I am wrong). But I am 100% sure that the Gods of organized religion are no more real than tooth fairies or Santa Claus.

15). If you could write a book, what would it be about?

Personality Theories or Aliens.

16). What has been the saddest moment of your life? The one that has affected you most of all.

I can’t think of any particular personal one. But in general it makes me sad that on the whole humans are not always very supportive or understanding of each other. Especially when things go wrong. I’ve been surprised when people criticise me for supporting things like the Auckland City Mission because “you shouldn’t give money to those homeless bums. Why waste your time caring about them?” My answer is always “why not? That could be to you one day”.

17). What would you most like to achieve in the next 10 years?

1. Become an A grade photographer like you

2. Record some decent songs

3. Get good at programming

4. Still have a job that contributes something meaningful to society.

5. Spend lots of quality time with friends and family

6. Get a Burmese cat!

18). If you could choose a complete new career – what would it be?

Web Developer. Though I can think of lots of others that are completely impractical and won’t be done in my lifetime:

Alien Hunter for SETI, Professional Skeptic, Songwriter, Poet, Photographer, Philosopher, Jazz Drummer, Hermit, Theoretical Physicist, Astronomer, Evolutionary Biologist, Robot Inventor, Programmer of Artificial Intelligence for Robots, Mathematician, Artist, Writer, Psychologist (in which case I would want to be the Richard Dawkins of Personality Theories and come up with a VALID one or crack what consciousness really is), Sound Engineer (take two as already been there, done that) and start something called “The Alien Abduction Company” that produces humorous but intelligent games with alien vs spy themes.

19). If you could change any part of your body – which part would that be?

I wouldn’t. I like me the way I am, although it would be quite cool if my eyelashes and eyebrows were naturally darker. I am so pale that without makeup on I look like the White Witch from Narnia! I have the kind of Scottish complexion that Billy Connolly refers to as “Pale Blue” (or “Pale Bloooooo” in his accent!) A friend of mine used to joke that I shouldn’t be allowed outside in the moonlight because I glow in the dark.

20). Write me two paragraphs of an opening of a ghost story…

Er, well I am not very good at this sort of thing but here goes.

Mando was relieved. Finally he could sit down beside the freshly lit fireplace with a good book and relax after a day of hauling boxes into his new abode – a cute little cottage in the countryside, right up on the hill. It had been wet and windy all day which was a bit depressing but Sally would arrive tomorrow and he knew she’d love the place and brighten it up with her laughter. He opened the book and paused to listen to the sounds of their new home – the fire crackling, the rain outside, the trees scraping up and down outside on the window pane making a squeak, the wind swirling around making howling and whimpering sounds… whimpering sounds? “That’s strange”, he thought. “I’ve never known wind to make that sort of sound before. It almost sounds human. How creepy”.

He ignored the uneasy feeling something with a tortured and unwell soul was creating the noise and resumed reading his book. But he couldn’t concentrate. He began to feel increasingly like there was something glaring at him from the hall. “Don’t be silly Mando”. The whimpering sounds became more elaborate and deep like growling. “Definitely not the wind then. Maybe an animal?” He started feeling distinctly uncomfortable and wished he had turned more lights on now. If Sally were here she would ease his fears and convince him it was just his overactive imagination, just what he needed because now he was petrified and reluctant to look and see if anything was really there. But he had to, just to reassure himself.

He stared into the fire for a while longer hoping the warm glowing colours might help him muster up more courage and that the noises would stop. They didn’t so he decided to bite the bullet and just do it. That is what Sally would do with her logical mind. He cautiously glanced down the dimly fire lit hall. A creeping sensation passed through him. “What the hell is that hunched over in the corner?” He let the flames play over the emaciated looking object, animating it slightly. “Did it … move? Surely that is just a pile of dirty rags. It’s just my mind playing tricks with the firelight”. He grabbed the torch he had been using earlier and pointed it down the hall. Two beams of light at floor level shot back at him from within the pile in an angry glare. Definitely eyes! He dropped the torch. “Shit! What is that? A starving dog?” He fumbled around for the torch while his mind started racing “What the hell do I do now? I can’t look. But if it’s an injured animal I have to do something, I can’t just leave it to suffer.”

He started making his way gingerly over to the doorway to look for the light switch. The eyes seemed to follow him. He felt around nervously on the wall for the switch and found it just as he stubbed his toe on a toolbox. “Ow!” The eyes suddenly rose up to a height of seven feet and started coming at him. “FCK! What sort of dog is this big?” He flicked the switch. Then he saw it, whatever it was with its hideously thin limbs and protruding ribcage, its drool covered mouth and wild eyes with pinpoint pupils boring into him.

At that precise moment the whole village of Devonsmire was woken by the blood curdling screams from the cottage on the hill. And that was the first and last time they ever heard the voice of Mando Alexander.

Sorry! I can’t count. So you get a whole intro instead of two paragraphs!

Morgan 🙂