Posts Tagged ‘cruelty’

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 🙂

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Dear Robyn,

I had a lot of fun this week laughing at the poems Lia wrote about us. I wonder though how many people thought she was exaggerating when she wrote about what scares us. The first time you told me you were phobic of sharks I thought that sounded perfectly reasonable until you mentioned they were sharks……in SWIMMING POOLS! Hilarious! I can just imagine trying to get you to swim with me would go like this:

.

Me: “Hey Robyn, I’m going swimming, want to come?”
You: “In a pool?”
“Yes”
“I can’t swim in a pool”
“Why not?”
“There might be a shark in there”
“(WTF!) Sharks can’t go in swimming pools”
“I know”
“So what’s the problem then?”
“Well, there might still be one in there anyway”
“But if you can see there is no shark in the pool what is there to worry about?”
“Well,..It might sneak in secretly when I’m not looking!”
“Sneak in? How is it going to get in there?”
“Through the filter system”
“Eh?! What sort of size shark are we talking about? A wee baby one or something bigger?”
“A Great White”
“How the hell is a GREAT WHITE going to squeeze in through the filter system?!”
“Um.. well, it might be one of those special ones with a body evolved especially for squeezing into filter systems”
“No sharks have ever evolved to exploit swimming pools. Richard Dawkins would have mentioned it!”
“Well, they could, there’s a first time for everything!”
“Er…. do sharks drink coffee in cafes too?”
“No, don’t be silly, of course they don’t! How the hell would a shark get into a cafe?”
“It might squeeze in through the milk frother”
“Now you are just being ridiculous. There are no sharks in Cafes”
“True, let’s just go and drink coffee!”

But it gets worse. I have been petrified of the tele ever since I was 4. How ridiculous is that! And not just stuff that most people would think is supposed to be scary but also really stupid stuff like music videos, kids cartoons and 15” ads. I am not 100% sure it is really a phobia. Maybe just the result of having a nervous disposition, super hyperactive imagination and a brain that insists on thinking about everything from 50,000 different angles in lots of depth whether I want it to or not. Looking for the truth behind the truth behind the truth and coming to the final conclusion in under 0.2 of a second that “WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!” Next Tuesday actually… right after lunch.” Which is true. Eventually!

(Case in point, when I was a kid Watership Down came out. My class watched it and all the kids thought it was a great movie about cutesy bunnies – except me who thought it was about police states, tyrannical Generals, vicious and cruel bullies, escapees being mutilated and put on display by them to discourage other escapes, insidious plots, the destructiveness of mankind, being farmed for food, buried alive, shot, stuck in traps, beaten up, bullied, frightening visions, blood filled fields and war. Which it basically is. Not sure what my classmates thought was cute about a story that starts with the line “Why do you cry out thus unless at some vision of horror?” I clearly missed the plot somewhere).

So you trying to get me to watch a movie with you would go something like this:

You: “Hey Morgan, want to come to my house and watch Watership Down on tele with me?
Me: “Sorry I can’t, I have a really, really important project I have to do tonight.”
“Work?”
“No.”
“What?”
“Razor my eyeballs”
“Ew painful. Wouldn’t you rather watch the movie with me? Way more fun. I have chocolate!”
“No. I’m happy with razoring my eyeballs thanks! I’ve been looking forward to it all week.”
“Well, that won’t take you long. How about you come over after you’re done?”
“Impossible sorry”
“Impossible?”
“Well, after I’ve finished doing my eyeballs I have to drown myself in the handbasin…so it could be rather a long time before you see me.”
“Wait a second… are you saying you are scared of the little cutesy bunny wabbits?”
“Yes”
“But they are only line drawings like Bugs Bunny.”
“And your point is?”
“THEY AREN’T REAL!”
“How does that make a difference?”
“Sigh. Well, I’d really love to see you but I don’t want to miss the movie so how about you come over and I’ll watch with the sound off and lip read the bunnies and you can hide under the sofa with Kass the cat and read your book by torchlight and I’ll pass you  bits of chocolate on a long stick?”
“Sounds good. See you in half an hour.”

Anyway, since we have such silly phobias I thought we should at least have the courtesy to invent some Greek names for them since there don’t seem to be any yet. That will be because no one else is stupid enough to have phobias like this. Also I found out you have to do this in Greek apparently otherwise “fear-of-some-thingummywhatsit” doesn’t sound impressive and scientific enough. So far I got:

Selachophobia = fear of sharks.

Kinimatografophobia = fear of  films (but not being Greek theoretically speaking I could be saying anything. Fear of nostril hair for instance).

And just as I was feeling proud of myself for figuring out that lot I came across this impressive gem:

Hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia = fear of the number 666

Damn it! If I am going to have a phobia I at least want one with a decent sized name. Hmm how about:
Kinimatografohexakosioihexekontahexaphobia = fear of films with the number 666 in! (or if I am wrong, I’ve just said fear of films with 666 nostril hairs!)

A few days ago you hit a record number of comments to something you said on your Facebook page and it evolved into this topic and a couple of people joked that you and I should take our collective phobias to Waiwera Hot Pools where they have a Movie Pool and watch Jaws together! They have a sick sense of humour but I think we could do it. How’s this for a plan?

You bring the sexy guys Lia was talking about in her poem (I’m liking this already). Kass the cat and I will come kitted out in full scuba diving gear with a water proof book (anyone who knows where I can have scuba gear made for a burmese cat please contact me….) This way the two sexy guys can patrol the waters and keep imaginary sharks at bay with imaginary spear guns.  And Kass and I will be able to hide under the water in the scary bits and read (or check the filter system for stray Whites). There could be a slight complication where Kass and I overheat and die before the end of the movie but that’s just a minor shortcoming in my opinion. Done! See you there next weekend.

Cue shark music:
Doo….Dom…. Doo….Dom… Doo Dom Doo Dom DOO DOM DOO DOM DOODOMDOODOM

Morgan 🙂

Dear Robyn,

OK real real short one. What do you make of this? (video at end of post – if anyone needs captions I can make some but the donkey is the only one with an sort of intelligence and he doesn’t really say much…)

This morning on the Breakfast programme news they ran a story about an animal cruelty investigation in Russia where some beach hooligans strapped a donkey to a parasail and power boat and sent it for a fly around the beach (just like the tourists do). They are now likely to get two years in jail for this thoughtless act and good job too! Cruelty to animals is a horrible thing.

Hosts, Pippa and Paul Henry’s reactions to this were classic. Pippa of course thought it was mean and didn’t find it funny at all but predictably Paul cracked up completely in hysterics and I confess to replaying the article a few times just to watch him lose it! And I am ashamed to say that despite my (sometimes overly) kindhearted nature with these sorts of things, a hurtling donkey in space does look pretty hilarious and I joined the “rofling” party with a disturbing lack of restraint…  (rofl = rolling on floor laughing)

But it got me thinking that it’s interesting how we perceive things. It’s easy to agree with Pippa that the beach goers’ actions were cruel since the experience for the donkey would no doubt have been pretty stressful. But would sending it for a fly have earned those “hooligans” the same cruelty charge if the situation had been very different? What say there had been some sort of natural disaster and it was stranded on the beach and likely to drown if someone didn’t act? What if those same guys saw it’s predicament, harnessed it to a helicopter and sent it into the air in order to rescue it? Perhaps risked their own lives to do it? The donkey would still have been scared witless but  those guys would now be getting media attention for their kindness instead and we’d be calling them heroes not hooligans!

The bottom line though is donkeys were not built for flying. It’s pretty mean to send them into space for no good reason. Sheep and cattle were not designed to be hurtled down a motorway at 100 kph, crammed into a rattling, dusty truck full of manure and other nervous, frightened animals for hours on end either but we do this sort of thing to them every day in the name of dinner without batting an eyelid. We don’t care. It’s called farming. On the other hand, if  “hooligans” were to do the same thing by borrowing a sheep from a paddock, stuffing it into the back seat of their souped up Nissan Sylvia and go for a jaunt around the block for half an hour before returning it, that would easily grab the SPCA’s attention and get everyone fired up with cruelty accusations!

Kind of weird how things look to us in different contexts huh?

Morgan 🙂

Here is the video for anyone who wants to test their cruelty <–> hilarity meter… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x1G_e_0GIw or here…