One way to blank out the world is to de-clutter, and downstairs, 25 years of papers awaited the shredder.  Up first, old letters,  some humbling, others hateful. I’d written a column for the Listener which upset those who, to put it mildly, disliked Jews - and the  confluence of  dog-eared hate mail along with the slaughter in  a Pittsburgh synagogue  was disturbing. Worse was to come.  The Otago Daily Times reported  a racist  taunt  aimed at  a Southland Philipino family visiting  Wellington.  A woman greeted them by saying:  ‘This country is for white people only…"  So 1950s, but then racism, like rust, never sleeps.

 

Conquering Stress and Anxiety through Four Natural Ways

These days, we see more and more emphasis on mental health—particularly where topics such as depression, stress, and anxiety are concerned. People are more aware of the psychological aspects that affect and sometimes govern our lives. You see it on campuses and hospitals. You see it in the digital space, such as in social media.

Despite this, it seems many doctors still prefer to treat these mental conditions with drugs.

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Acknowledging the truth

Three things cannot be long hidden – the sun, the moon and the truth!  – Buddha

Have you had a time when someone, be it a colleague or friend who was not quite performing or was behaving in ways that was below par?

And yet you found yourself minimising, negating or making excuses for their behaviour? 

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Sunscreen on armpits?

Yesterday I put roll-on sunscreen on my armpits – somewhere that rarely sees the light — forgot the day of the week when looking up the tide times and couldn’t find my phone. I couldn’t call it since I had left the sound turned off after that disturbing movie about billboards.

Today I found the door left open all night (wide open, not just unlocked) and while cleaning out the cupboard discovered a couple of securely packed boxes labelled “jug” and “milk jug”.  I assume I got them for my sister who likes jugs, but, worryingly, have absolutely no recollection of buying them.

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Knocking out hype…

Boxing promoters tend to tag their talent with silly names like The Brown Bomber (Joe Louis), Iron Mike (Tyson),  The Real Deal (Evander Hollyfield), and perhaps the silliest, Tuaman, (New Zealand’s David Tua).  Boxing is a jarring sport  –  our current brown hope, Joseph  Parker, is about to find out just how jarring.

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Miscellany – February

Artificial intelligence

“We’re a species that… can study our own ability to be manipulated,” said Tristan Harris, a former ‘design ethicist’ at Google.

“We have to talk about the advertising-based business model, which, paired with artificial intelligence, poses an existential threat. We have to get really serious about this. If you think about where are the most powerful AIs in the world located right now? Arguably, at two companies: Google and Facebook. The most powerful AIs in the world.

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Listening to your inner voice…

To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. E.E. Cummings

Listen to your inner self!

During our busy year of meeting deadlines and juggling the demands and expectations of others and self, we can be left with little time for meaningful reflection of our lives.

After all, most of our energy is caught up in just keeping things going.

The advantage of the holiday period is that we get to have more relaxed time on our hands and this in turn connects us more to our inner selves.

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Poverty then – and now…

Sometimes the stuff that spills out of  old box files on their way to the bin, are not only worth  remembering, but keeping.

One  we found  was Windows on Poverty, a 1992 Report  from the New Zealand  Council of Christian Social Services on Poverty in New Zealand.  It was well on its way to pile in  one of those  purges we hoarders  are  told  we must do.  But  caught between  the  need to clear  out stuff – and hoard,   we once more hoarded. Why? So  we don’t forget, so we don’t allow it to happen  again. Not in Godzone.

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“Remember when mum clubbed me with the rock.”

When I was a CYFS social worker I knew a woman who clubbed her ten-year-old son with a rock enclosed in a supermarket bag. It would be wrong to assume she was an ignorant person lacking in moral standards. In fact she was a churchgoer who described herself as a fundamental Christian. And she could hold a decent argument on the matter. However, it is fair to say her housekeeping was not as well organised as her Christian beliefs.

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Christmas on the Coast

9 a.m. and the mercury is racing up to 30 degrees. “Better watch out” locals tell us. “It’s going to be a ripper”. They’re right, so we retreat into the air conditioned world which reminds us of home and  what temperatures at Christmas should be.

But then we’re on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and it’s a cloudless Christmas Eve. Still, Christmas is Christmas and though the Mooloolaba Beach is scattered with bodies, the radio station plays – rather incongruously – White Christmas.

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