The Weekly Wrap | 22-Jul-2016

So this week I… got my boobs squished and scanned, became better informed on boob scanning, marveled at the effects of Berocca and asparagus, realised I will never master Continental knitting, endured a Holter monitor, and discovered the carnal thrills of Twinkies and Pop Tarts.

It’s the middle of winter and I’m sure a cold virus is itching to pounce. To stave it off, I started downing a Berocca a day. Not that I believe it’s a magic pill, but it does no harm, provides a vitamin boost and tastes nice. Like asparagus, however, it colours your waters quite luridly. Happily, without the whiffy after-effects of those tasty, crunchy, green spears of goodness… mmm, hungry.

After dithering over endless Craftsy ads for Continental knitting classes, and watching the same promo videos over and over and over again, I finally said no. I calculated that the time it would take me to become proficient enough in this method to knit 1.4 times faster, versus the knitting years I have left to live… well, life’s too short for that shit. I shall carry on English-style, and be happy that hobby knitting is all about the journey, not how fast you roar into the station.

The Sisterhood belatedly celebrated the 4th of July. Had to be done, because one of the Sisters is American, knows where the American food store is, and more importantly, knows exactly what American junk food is needed for such a celebration. Twinkies and Pop Tarts! OMG, squee!! So frickin good. Kiwi-fied American hotdogs were also whipped up (damn, they were good), as was a pizza – but not that weird-looking giant cardboard stuff ‘Muricans eat on TV and call pizza. Nah, mate. Got it from New World.

Continuing in pursuit of a diagnosis for the chest-hammering of last week, I wore a Holter cardiac monitor for 24 hours. So far, this has resulted in blisters and permanent adhesive residue. Those monitor lead pads are itchy and scratchy (hence, blisters) and the adhesive takes forever to come off. The data collected will apparently be shared next week. Good thing I’m not in a hurry. Yeah. On the bright side, am still not dead.

Squished boobs and pap smears. Oh yeah, I am woman, hear me roar, alright. Bloody hell. This was my second breast screen. As I stood there, pinned by the tit to a cold, whirring machine, I idly wondered whether it was more painful for big boobs or little ones, would they find anything, and what about the cumulative radiation effects? So I decided to find out a bit more.

While digital mammography (what’s used in NZ) uses a lower dose of radiation than film-based mammography, it’s still radiation going into your body. The long-term effects of that (and other harms) are controversial, and have been for many years. So, eschewing Facebook and David Wanker Wolfe for Google, I searched for “how effective is breast screening” and clicked on some likely prospects. First I read an article on breast screening in the NZ Medical Journal. Then looked at the National Screening Unit page on Why should I be screened? and also their position statement on the benefits vs harms of breast screening. It was all very interesting. That’s cheerfully inconclusive, isn’t it.

The bottom line seems to be that although breast screening is far from perfect, and the risks are real – within a population, the benefits outweigh the risks. That basically means X out of Y women will get breast cancer and/or be harmed by screening, and you don’t want to be on the X side of the equation.

As with anything where you are not an expert, avoid becoming polarised by opinions, and don’t lose your mind all over the internet. That just makes you a tinfoil-hat-wearing alarmist. And a dick. Don’t be a dick. Become better informed, keep your paranoia in check, and mind your manners while you do your research.

I feel informed. Do you feel informed? If not, go get some new knowledge and feel better about your awesomeness.

Aaaand, I’m back

It would seem I’ve not blogged in a couple of years. Years! Not that I haven’t been doing things, because I have. I just lost my blog-voice for a while. Still not sure if I want it back or not.

I started blogging back in 2006, and although life has moved on a lot since then, I can’t quite bring myself to delete those early posts with their craptastic writing and even worse photos. Not that much has changed there. Blame it on the sentimentality of nostalgia, but every now and then I’ll go right back and fondly remember my first attempt at spinning, or that crazy year of heavy metal, tattoos and stadium rock concerts (none of which I regret). Even before I started blogging on my own domain, I was an early adopter on Blogger and made a lot of blogpals under the name of Wired JAFA, wherein I regularly vented my spleen about Auckland traffic (still venting) and the tragi-comedy of having to deal with stupid people (oh so stupid). Blogging was new, fun, exciting and you made real friends, some IRL!

In the last 2 years, I’ve traveled to Turkey, poked my nose outside of Auckland (briefly), seen my nieces and nephews grow like weeds, spent far too much money on my hobbies (I so freakin don’t care), survived putting together Creative Fibre’s National Festival, changed my hair colour numerous times (still going), made lovely new friends, and even though the world seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, my nearest and dearest are still here.

I may stick around and blog about stuff. Or not. It may be inconsequential fluff, or serious stuff from the heart. What I know is that, once again I feel the urge to write. Quality TBA.

Christchurch Quake – One Week On

Two weeks ago I had just returned from a two week stint in Christchurch for my job. While there, we experienced a couple of aftershock jolts from the big 7.1 quake on 4 September 2010, but everyone was pretty much used to it and getting on with life. Following the locals’ lead, we regarded them as minor and ‘novel’ events – nothing to get excited about. After all, they’d soon be gone.

Then the shattering 6.3 quake hit at 12.51pm last Tuesday. I’d just got back to the office from a meeting and went to access a server in the Christchurch office – nothing. I assumed it was a power outage that had gone on long enough to sap the UPS batteries – until I saw my Twitter stream start to fill up with the awful news.

Those first few hours were horrible as we tried to get in touch with friends and colleagues. Some text messages got through, most didn’t. We relied almost exclusively on Twitter for news of what was happening. Fortunately, everyone was fine. Yet that’s turned out to be the least of it. Some of our staff have resigned and left the city immediately, and possibly permanently – they can’t endure any more, and who could blame them? Our plant there is crippled, with much of the work having to be transported to other cities for processing. Without water and sewerage, that’s how it’s going to be for the foreseeable future. Everyone’s under huge stress, not just about their jobs and all that that entails, but what the future might hold for them and their families. Of course, everyone’s doing the best they can, but the fact is that the future is very uncertain and not terribly bright.

Today, just one small week later, the country came together to observe 2 minutes of silence at 12.51pm. At work, we gathered in the lunchroom and boy, it was hard to keep from bursting into tears as we watched people on TV, paused and still, just like us. The feeling of being connected to fellow Kiwis in this moment was powerful, moving and yet oddly heartening.

In a lot of ways, it still feels pretty surreal, as if part of me still can’t believe that it was Christchurch of all places that has been devastated. But it really has. The city I strolled through to restaurants after work just two weeks ago, in warm summer sunshine, is irrevocably changed.

Yet with all the heartache, there are some extraordinary heartwarmers. The huge outpouring of support from around the country and the world, the incredible kindness and humanity shown between people, and the extraordinary hope for the future embodied by the likes of the Student Volunteer Army.

When the tears are close, these thoughts bring a smile.

Back in Town

Now that I’ve returned from the shaky South, it’s time to catch up… and display the goodies purchased on my aforementioned road trip to Oamaru.

After a week’s work, the Hitchhiker scarf in Noro Kureyon is coming along nicely. I’m loving the colour gradations, and have been assured that this yarn will relax and bloom after washing. Probably not very bright of me to purchase sock yarn for wearing round my neck, but the colours were irresistable:

Noro Hitchhiker

Whilst at Ashford, I reluctantly put aside the thought of purchasing a Joy spinning wheel (the treadle action is soooo smooth!) and instead got 2 x 500g bumps of soft chocolate brown merino. This is destined for a jumper, either this winter or next – depends how fast I can spin it up:

Ashford Chocolate Merino

In Oamaru, we came across the Oamaru Textile Exchange, which I’d been reading about last month in the Creative Fibre magazine, so it was lovely to actually set foot in the place. I didn’t see any yarn that grabbed my fancy, so got this 3-in-1 tote and Doe Arnot’s handy book on spinning camelid fibre:

Oamaru Textile Exchange

Before I went away, I went a little nuts at Payless Plastics, who were having a 50% discount closing down sale. My craft room is now a supertidy delight:

Crafts Restashed

My spinning mojo has also returned, and inbetween doing some rows on the Hitchhiker, I’m finishing off Hades from Southern Cross Fibre:


God knows what I’ll knit with it, but it may turn out to just be colourwork edging to something. Not sure yet. Anyway, that’s where I’m at with all my projects. The never-ending Upstairs Shawl is taking a break, but will be dragged out again as soon as the Hitchhiker is done.

That is all. As you were.

A Trip South

I have spent the last two weeks working in our Christchurch office, and yes – I experienced a couple of tremors. One which gently rocked the bed back and forth, and the other was a hefty jolt in the middle of a meeting. General response was “4.3? Nah, 4.1” – and we carried on.

Because I couldn’t nip back home for the weekend, I headed further south on a road trip to Oamaru with a new yarnista pal, who I met briefly IRL, but got to know online. Our Saturday started around 9am and we headed off to… Ashford in Ashburton! Halleluia! We spent an inordinate amount of time oohing and aahing over everything in the shop, I pondered the pros and cons of purchasing a Joy wheel right then but instead opted for 1kg of chocolate merino and 2 balls of Noro Kureyon for another Hitchhiker scarf. And some needles, because it was of course necessary to cast on right then.

Two hours later we made our way across the hallway to the cafe where we fortified ourselves for the trip to Oamaru, and I cast on the Noro Hitchhiker.

Another two hours (and several blink-and-you-miss-them hamlets) later, we arrived in Oamaru and promptly hit the pub for a drink to wash the dust from our throats. Then it was shoppity-shop-shop, wander around and in and out of all the cool stores in the Historic Quarter, lots of photos, munchies at the Most Awesome Bakery Ever, coffees… and generally satisfying mooching about.

We had the best time on this road trip and we’re so glad we made the effort. Next time we’ll stop off and visit every town we go through, and be sure to overnight in Oamaru – a sweet little town that is not to be missed if you’re heading south.