September 2008

Due to popular demand, here’s the top five reasons to have children, according to Che, and in no particular order. All these are based on watching other people have children, and it working out well (as opposed to the bad reasons, which usually but not always, did not)

Reason One: “I’m pregnant”

I’ll happily admit to being anti-abortion, but pro-choice. Essentially I think that the morning-after is contraception, but termination is not. If you’re pregnant, think seriously about having the child, regardless of whether you think you can afford it.

In fact, being poor is probably the absolute worst reason to terminate a child. Plenty of kids grow up in poor households and go on to perfectly respectable lives. Yours truly being a case in point.

Reason Two: “We’re ready to start a family”

As I mentioned in the other post, and taking reason One into account, having children shouldn’t be done for it’s own sake. Have children because you want to change a functioning, happy partnership into a family. It’s like another stage in a working relationship.

Reason Three: “I just plain like kids”

If you don’t like kids, then why would you create one you can’t ever get rid of?

Reason Four: “Free stuff”

Ok, I ran out of reasons that weren’t cheesy, like, “the way babies smile” [ack…]. But if you like free stuff then you’ll likely find lots of people giving you it. Which is great on two levels. First it shows that people care and are willing to help and support, which is, quite simply, *awesome*. But also it shows that community isn’t just something academics wahrp on about.

Reason Five: “I know the difference between a pet and a baby”

Yup, really struggling now, but I’m serious. That’s a little person you’re guiding into adulthood there, not a chihuahua whose collar matches the colour of your handbag.


who has saved my life, and the lives of millions.

Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov.

Just read this in Charlie’s Diary, and I was astounded. I knew that we’d come close to nuclear annililation a number of times, and I think I read about it a few years back. But I didn’t realise we’d come this close.

Yet another good reason not to believe right-wing hysteria (or left-wing hysteria for that matter). You can’t characterise entire nations, peoples, or religions as ‘evil’.

So though I’m a day late, I’d like to ask any readers to remember this guy, and thank him when you walk outside into the air today.

Brainstormed this one a little with Second Chef, and here, in no particular order, are the Top 5 Five Worst Reasons to have a child.

People do lots of things for stupid reasons; love, jealousy, envy, hatred. But bringing another human being into the world should not be one of them. Nonetheless, stupidity around childbirth seems to abound.

And now that I’m in the position to lecture, I’m going to!


Worst Reason One: “To keep us together.”

I’m sure we’ve all heard this one. A couple is in the death-throes of their relationship, so they make the decision to get pregnant in the expectation that a life-changing, potentially traumatic experience will bring them back together.

There’s only one response to this.


Worst Reason Two: “My biological clock is ticking.”

This is a common one. A woman reaches an age arbitrarily determined by her expectations of life, be it 21, 29, or 35, or 39, and thinks that she’s better get a wiggle one. Mission #1 becomes finding a mate.

Sorry to be so frank here, but anyone who claims this reason isn’t making a decision to have a child, she’s making a decision that her needs should be fulfilled.

I’m expecting this reason to draw the most flak in comments. Let me pre-empt by stating that I know it’s easier for guys (longer fertility), but, read the next reason before you fly off the handle.

Worst Reason Three: “The continuation of the species.”

This one really gets my goat. Someone who uses this reason attempts to justify their decision by regarding their choice to breed as a necessity to ensure the general continuation of mankind. Now, this might have been the case a few generations ago. Maybe 20 generations ago… But there are currently SIX BILLION PEOPLE on the planet. It would take a disaster of epic and/or biblical proportions to threaten humanity.

So how is your wee tacker going to escape that epic fail? Are they named John Connor by any chance?

Worst Reason Four: “My children are my income”

I’ve actually heard this stated as a serious justification for a person’s children. And before I heard it I thought it was some kind of meme propagated by the vast right-wing conspiracy to discredit people on the Domestic Purposes Benefit… I was floored.

And person who stated that, if you’re ever reading this blog, just go out and get a job, you goddamn idiot.

Worst Reason Five: “I don’t want to be the only one of my friends without children”

There are a few iterations of this. But, generally, refer to reason three. I mean… peer pressure as a reason to have children?! What the?!

(Photo lifted from Irish Health)

Well, despite the weather being crappy we made the most of our holiday and tried to get into the water every day. And we pretty quickly learned that the guide-book we bought at the airport was pretty much 50/50 on accuracy. Big chunks of the reef in Rarotonga are over-fished and pretty sparse on the wildlife front. (more…)

You can do anything, but lay offa my blue suede shoes

While sorting through the mountain of gear family have kindly given us, Second Chef asked the very excellent question,

“Why do they need tiny tiny shoes?

They can’t walk…”

Let’s face fact here. There’s something like a baby boom on, and all us guys have to pick up on our end of the bargain. And there are plenty of things we can do, like putting the washing into the machine and not mixing the towels with the t-shirts. Or doing the bottle feed and letting mum sleep.

And, doing the cooking. Unfortunately, not all guys have a huge range of recipes in the repertoire. But when it comes to those days shortly after the birth of your first (or latest) tacker then even a limited range is really given the opportunity to shine. With the partner doing 4 hour feeds then both she and yourself are highly likely to be too pooped to be focussed on what you’re cooking, and entirely focussed on just getting some food into yourselves.

The easy thing to do would be to just order pizza and get on with cat-napping, but I’m inclined to think that this is a bad idea. First you need decent food to ensure you’ve got the strength to make it through that first week. Second all those takeaways will cost a fortune. Third low-vitamin foods adversely effect your moods. And fourth you’ll start to put on a few kilos…

So! What to do?

Well, first thing is not to ever cook just enough for today. Make a big meal and put at least two serves in the freezer. If you have the space, put four in. If you do that every time you cook a meal, you’ll double your spare time.

The second thing is not to be too ambitious. We aren’t aiming for duck confit here. A spag-bowl is more than adequate (although… that said, you can confit a heap of duck and keep it in a dark, chill spot in the pantry for several weeks at least. Would free up space in the freezer!)

What these two points add up to is relatively quick, relative easy recipes that get you the major food groups while not soaking up too much effort or money.

And here are a few recommendations.

  • The aforementioned Spaghetti Bolognese, followed by sliced, fresh fruit (and maybe ice cream, but at very least fresh yoghurt)
  • Scrambled eggs and toast. Simple meals are good meals, and eggs are really nutritious. Just don’t buy anything that would make Jamie MAD (and for god’s sake don’t freeze left-overs…)
  • Pasta with sauces of various descriptions
  • Hearty meals with loads of carbs, and vegetables, like Rookwurst, roast chicken or lamb
  • Exotic but actually very easy curry dishes
  • Or, just make yourselves a toasted sandwich. Let’s face it, you can’t go past cheese and onion.

On the other hand, you could just go get KFC like a useless girly-man

Tourists, bless ’em. It would be hypocritical of me to rant too much about them, having just gotten back from a stint acting as one, but man, they’re a pain in the ass.

It’s always rankled me that New Zealand is so heavily dependent (in mindset at least) on tourism. While the thought of big fat wallets landing in Auckland just waiting to be fleeced is an appealling one to many, I find the thought sets off warning bells.

This isn’t just because of the number of tourists who conform to the stereotype of “socially fat”, obnoxious assholes, but because of the way in which you need to shape your society, and economy, to pander to them. More often than not once you have large numbers of tourists turning up in your town then services will appear to satisfy the visitors. And concomitent to service is the local being servile.

This wouldn’t be such a bad thing if service was an equal relationship, but service in tourism is frequently not. Instead, for some reason tourists all too often exhibit a belief that bringing their money to a place entitles them to some kind special or preferential treatment, an attitude that can only be described as a perversion of the customer-client agreement.

I’m inclined to thing that this is a product of the social background of the tourist themself. People who travel frequently are (in my experience) more likely to treat service workers with dignity, while those who do not, do not. Less frequent tourists seem to want to make their trip or experience ‘special’ in some way, and that makes them many times more demanding than their more wealthy colleagues.

What Rarotonga seems to be experiencing is something I witnessed in Mount Maunganui in the 1980s. Increasing numbers of people visiting your shores leads to most locals being employed to pander to tourist needs, more pressure on local resources (good luck finding shellfish or molluscs anywhere anymore…), and more people laying claim your home-town as “their special place” (even though they’ve only visited twice, for two weeks, over the course of a few years), and consequently demanding rights and space.

Then there’s the economic divide caused by pressures on accommodation and a two-tiered service industry (read: food), one for visitors, one for locals.

It looks a lot like Rarotonga is losing its soul in this particular battle. Second Chef and I got to listen to lots of visitors whinging about how services and ‘stuff’ wasn’t up to their expectation, and how the locals wouldn’t jump through hoops enough for them. And it was, quite frankly, appalling. Further, most of the money being spent by tourists seemed to be heading to the pockets of ex-pats of various descriptions.

Certainly makes me glad to be working in a city that doesn’t depend on these people. You sure as hell won’t get me living in Queenstown or Taupo any time soon.

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