tevere: brad looking away towards explosion (brad)
Recently I was sitting in one of the parks in my area, reading, surrounded by the kind of people who frequent parks in well-off inner city suburbs during the middle of a workday in spring: young, nicely-dressed white mothers with expensive prams; a lone dad doing crunches while his toddler played on a mat; a couple of students sleeping entwined on a picnic blanket; two young guys sitting under a tree playing the djembe. At one point I looked up and was suddenly struck by a sense of the extraordinary: how safe everyone was, how free of fear, as babies played in the sandpit and parents chatted and the students slept without bothering to keep half an eye open. How lucky we are, I thought, to never have to worry about violence happening to us. And then I finished my book and went home.

Two days later one of my ex-flatmates was cycling to work not far from that park. A little further ahead he saw a pedestrian walking towards him in the bike lane. Perhaps the footpath is closed for repairs or something. Mildly annoyed, he made to swerve around the pedestrian. As they drew level, the man suddenly raised his arm and, revealing a sharp stick in his hand, drove it directly into my friend's face. The force of the blow broke his nose; the stick penetrated his sinus cavity and lodged there. Thrown to the ground, my friend-- somehow still conscious-- attempted to stagger to his feet and had to be held down by a horrified passer-by ("Dude, there's a tree branch sticking out of your face"). It made the news that evening: Cyclist, 35, in stable condition after surgery. The pedestrian had gone on to brutally assault two more people-- a man standing texting at a bus stop, and a woman walking down the street-- before the police tracked him down.

We saw our ex-flatmate a couple of days after he'd been released from hospital, looking like the loser of a pub brawl with a black eye, split lip, nose splint, and a line of black stitches across his cheek. "Still," he said, musing on it, "something like this is so random that it's kind of like being hit by lightning, isn't it?"

I guess for us, it is.
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
Background: You, someone from Australia, are travelling to a remote community in the Solomon Islands for two weeks. You are vegetarian and thirteen weeks pregnant. The community has no doctor, clinic or pharmacy. Ciguatera (reef fish poisoning), while not common, has been known to occur in this and other Solomon Islands communities. As it is the wet season and water supplies occasionally become contaminated, food-borne illnesses occur with some frequency.

Situation: The community offers you their traditional feast foods of mashed root vegetables, reef fish and barbequed pork. Being a not particularly well-off community, meat in general is considered a delicacy and is usually reserved for honoured guests and special occasions.

This poll is anonymous.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 16

What do you do?

View Answers

Eat everything, meat and all. It's important to be respectful.
0 (0.0%)

Eat just the vegetables. The not-insignificant risk of food poisoning has potentially severe consequences for pregnancy.
4 (25.0%)

Refuse meat on religious grounds, which is a more face-saving excuse (for everyone) than mere dietary preference.
10 (62.5%)

Eat only pre-packaged food you brought from home. Best not to take any risks.
0 (0.0%)

Something else, which I will tell you in the comments.
2 (12.5%)

So here's my normal (i.e. not pregnant) response to this situation: I'll eat it all, including the meat. People have made the effort to prepare food, often expensive food, for me; I want to show my gratitude for their hospitality; ergo, I will eat what they provide.

However, in my current situation I would also like to avoid the experience of a food-poisoning-related miscarriage while five hours away (by boat) from the nearest medical facilities. While being vegetarian hasn't prevented me from a few cases of food poisoning in the past, I feel like the risks of food-borne illnesses from vegetables are lower than for meat (especially fish).

tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
I expected a fair bit of culture shock when I changed careers last year, but one particular aspect of my new job's office culture has caught me completely by surprise: food policing.

I hesitate to attribute this to the fact that my previous job was a male-dominated, military-offshoot environment and my current one skews female, but... that's kind of what it's starting to look like.

So, don't get me wrong: at my previous job, female bodies were discussed constantly by others, both male and female. Who had the biggest tits, who was hot, who dressed like a slut. But it was the kind of gossip that tended to happen behind people's backs-- probably the worst I ever got to my face was when I wore a low-cut top and at least four different guys said, "Oh, so you have a promotion interview today? Hur hur." Which isn't cool, but given that so much worse happened in that office, it was kind of the least of my problems. But in all my time there, you know what I never heard? People telling me not to eat something. People telling me not to eat too much. People commenting that I "eat a lot", that I'm "constantly eating", or "Oh my god, are you eating again?" People making snide comments: "How can you eat that and not be the size of a whale?" People commenting on my weight as a greeting. "Hope you had a good New Year! Ooh, looks like you've gained some weight over the holidays." (I think this last was supposed to be some kind of awkward joke.)

What the everlasting hell?

Okay, I know that my fairly petite build has sheltered me from being the subject of public food or weight policing, but this is honestly not something I expected to have to deal with professionally. Just this week I've had my eating habits commented on by two separate people (one of them twice!), and my boss saw me reaching for a chocolate biscuit displayed on the free-for-all snack table and said in a jokingly hectoring tone, "You shouldn't eat that." Uh, I'm sorry? I wasn't aware that we shouldn't eat the food given to us to eat.

Is this what other people's workplaces are like?

I am confused and annoyed.
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
I always forget how fast things move outside of government, where it can take a full year between submitting a job application and walking in the front door. I interviewed on Friday at a sensible little NGO, and they called me back on Monday: "The job is yours, if you want it."

"Well," I said. "I do want it."

"When can you start?"

"When do you want me to start?"

"The sooner the better!"

So, come Monday, I'm moving to Sydney on a one-way ticket. Which is a little unexpected. On the other hand, this year has been a complete waste-- I wanted to take it off and achieve things (nb: always a good idea to know what one wants to achieve, beforehand), but instead spent most of my time doing annoying menial labour for my much-unloved previous employer, applying half-heartedly for jobs, and doing a lot of not-writing. It's about time for a fresh start, and I suppose this is as good an opportunity as any.

On the down side, I feel quite sad at having to leave my husband and garden and Thursday evening writing group and Melbourne's bike-friendly streets. I also still have to find somewhere to live-- which, given that the choices seem to be limited to "non-stop party house in Bondi!!" or "we need an eighth person to fit into this inner-city apartment bedroom!!", is a task hardly filling me with enthusiasm. Did you know Sydney is apparently second only to Hong Kong for having the least affordable housing of a major metropolitan market in the English-speaking world? (Although I do remember reading somewhere that Angola has one of the worst disparities in the world between average incomes and average housing prices, so I shouldn't complain. And you should have seen what USD3000 a month would get you in Dili.)

In other news, during our Sydney trip I discovered the wonderful Kage Baker (courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] kaneko), who writes wryly funny novels containing all my most favourite things: timey-wimey angst, time-travelling cyborgs, and the Tragically Doomed Epic Relationship (not a spoiler). If you're a T:SCC fan, they're totally worth checking out. I'm feeling a bit exhausted due to powering through six books in about three days, but I have to know how it ends, goddammit. Three more to go! Pity my eyesight and my iPod battery.
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
Today was my first day volunteering at the local crisis accommodation centre for homeless men (in a rather unfortunate coincidence, it shares a name with a well-known prison on HBO. Inside, though, it looks more like my old residential college, or a well-worn Canadian YHA). I've been assigned work in the kitchen, which suits me just fine: it's fairly arduous, but constantly busy with the kinds of repetitive individual tasks I find quite pleasant-- things like "please break these ninety eggs into this bucket," or "go through all the pre-packaged donated salad and pick out the slimy bits."

So I generally like food prep, but I have to admit there's one very mundane task I loathe-- I mean, I'd rather skin a bucket of chicken necks or whip six pavlovas worth of egg whites than have to do this. At home I always make The Boy do it; when we have guests, I make them do it. So you can guess exactly what happened the minute I stepped into the kitchen. Yep: the coordinator handed me an apron and six kilograms of cheese and said, "The food processor is broken; can you please grate all of this by hand?"


It was uncannily like the universe looked inside my head to find the one thing that would truly test my resolve to keep volunteering. But I mean, what can you do but laugh and get the hell on with it? I think the other volunteers wondered why I found grating cheese so hilarious, even after I grated the tops off both my thumb knuckles.

But then, when I got home, I found that our local supermarket had mailed us a random little promotional freebie: precisely two high-tech new Bandaids, the perfect size and shape for my wounded knuckles.

So if it was a test, I guess I passed.
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)

When you barrel into a roundabout without either looking or slowing down and plough front-on into a cyclist, smashing said cyclist off the bumper of your Nissan Patrol and into the middle of the opposite lane of traffic, you are not the one having a fucking bad day.

Christ on a bloody pogo stick.

I always find it funny how the brain processes sudden events-- like everything is a series of isolated snapshots with nothing in between:

FLASH: Approaching roundabout
FLASH: Entering roundabout
FLASH: White car to the left (well, it's my right of way, they'll stop)
FLASH: White car doesn't seem to be slowing down
FLASH: White car is going to hit me (huh)
FLASH: (dim registering of crunching sound)
FLASH: Sprawled in the middle of the road with my bike on top of me (still alive!)

Well, [livejournal.com profile] isilya, looks like you got the odds of this one right: ride in Melbourne, and you will get hit by a car. Still, I'm incredibly thankful for being lucky on this one:

(a) alive!
(b) nothing broken!
(c) all parts still attached!
(d) brain apparently okay!
(e) computer not smashed!
(f) bike still working!
(g) even made it to class on time! (albeit dazed and still dripping blood)

On the other hand, I just had my bike serviced; I have road rash on my left hand, right forearm and right hip; a wrenched right shoulder, sore lower back and bruised right thigh; and my t-shirt is shredded.

The main thing that annoys me is that it's not worth even chasing up -- I mean, I'm fine -- so despite her carelessness, that woman basically gets off scot free.

I hope I at least dented her fucking bumper.
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (sunshine)
Hope you all had a good one, full of deliciousness! I was in Adelaide with my family -- the first CNY I've had with them for ages -- and it was surprisingly decent. (That 'never discuss religion or politics at the dining table' maxim? Excellent advice!) It was kind of hilarious how nothing -- literally nothing (okay, except the dessert) -- was vegetarian, but hey: that's my family for you. I ate approximately my body weight in yee sang *g*.

So, yes. Here I am back in Australia, and feeling pretty weird about it. Reverse culture shock, I think, as well the unsettledness that comes with having bounced constantly between cities for the past fortnight. Things will probably even out in the next couple of weeks as we move permanently down to Melbourne and start semester.

In lieu of actual content, I give you some books I've read recently on various aeroplanes:

De Niro's Game by Rawi Hage. Lebanon torn apart by sectarian violence on the eve of the Israeli invasion in 1982. This novel blew my mind-- the prose is just astoundingly good, balletic and violent and as unique as I've read in a long time. The story itself is masterfully handled, and the ending is like a punch in the face. Follow it with Waltz with Bashir for another perspective.

Wetlands by Charlotte Roche. Ha! I wanted to read this ever since the epic kerfuffle surrounding its original release (in German). It's unashamedly a manifesto -- a call for acknowledgement and ownership of all aspects of our female bodies, no matter how 'disgusting' (shit, piss, secretions, orifices, embarrassing medical conditions, you name it) -- and it definitely comes across as a bit of a one-note piece. I kind of got all I wanted out of it by the second chapter, and the characterisations and ending were fairly unsatisfying. Still! It was interesting gauging my own reactions to the text, especially when reading it in public. Also a great conversation starter-- two separate people (male and female) approached me while I was reading and struck up a conversation about it, both enthusiastically!

Stripping the Body Bare, by Mark Danner. Danner writes on foreign policy for the New York Times and New York Review of Books, and authored some of the NYRB's flagship pieces on torture last year -- including the breaking piece on the leaked ICRC torture report. This collection includes his earlier reporting on Haiti, the Balkans and Rwanda, as well as his ongoing coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan. The sheer breadth of the collection is useful for giving historical context to US foreign policy. The newer articles are available online in various places, but I've found the collection handy for dipping into.

Admin note: I'm slowly trying to consolidate my reading list onto DW, so that's what's up with the defriendings on LJ. This is probably a good time to add that if you've been following me for East Timor or Generation Kill, you may want to give me the boot from your own flist-- I foresee little of either in my immediate future!
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
We have a flatmate at the moment -- our former upstairs neighbour from Jakarta, who's in town to do some reporting -- which is pleasant way to ease back into our soon-to-be sharehouse in Melbourne. This guy is just the kind of flatmate you want in East Timor: when I say something like, "You don't mind a couple of weevils in your beans, do you?" or "This egg isn't quite vegetarian-- are you okay with that?", his reponse is a cheerful, "I eat anything as long as it's fully cooked."

Does that sound like a challenge to you?

International Stabilisation Force (AS/NZ) 24-Hour Ration Pack, Menu B

Previously on "Dissection of an MRE":

- My initial acquisition of the Ration Pack
- [livejournal.com profile] kaneko goes beyond the call of fannish duty to roadtest beef teriyaki, freeze-dried rice, marmalade and tea
- I comment on the surprisingly delicious Shrewsbury biscuits (picture here) and Vitalife Wellgrain crackers
- [livejournal.com profile] kaneko sacrifices herself to the greater good of chocolate rations, tinned cheese and a Forest Fruits muesli bar

And now...

Potentially disturbing images within )
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
You know another way Darwin is peculiar?

Yesterday I was walking from the Territory Library through a city park when I heard this strange whooo whooo sound emanating from the undergrowth to the side of the path. I just figured it was some kind of bird; Darwin at the start of the wet season is lush and moist, and even urban shrubs seem full of exotic-seeming wildlife.

After I'd taken a few more steps, a rustle directed my attention to a gap between two large bushes. Oddly, the first body part I managed to identify from the scene was a pair of oversized pink testicles. During the following split-second I involuntarily discerned the shape of a man, facing away from me, bent over at the waist into some kind of naked and wildly inappropriate yoga pose that presented me with his spread buttocks and the vaguely horrifying suggestion of a hairy arsehole.

I wish I'd had more of a hip reaction, but instead I just gave a classic Candid Camera gasp of horrified embarrasssment-- "Oh my god!"-- and made the sharpest 90-degree turn a person can make while wearing flip-flops and hightailed it out of that park at speed.

I don't know what it is about indecent exposure and travel. I'm fairly sure I didn't see a single inappropriate penis the entire time I lived in Melbourne, and the worst that happens here in Timor is having men randomly attempt to grab at my breasts or between my legs if I go jogging too close to nightfall.

But for instance, there was this one memorable time on a sleeper train in Thailand. The Boy and I were travelling from Bangkok to Chiang Mai overnight, and we were both quite impressed with the way the staff came around and magically transformed the seats into full-length bunk beds, with real sheets and pillows and everything. The Boy, being tall, took the top bunk and I, being small, took the bottom bunk.

"Night!" I said, pulling my curtains closed and buttoning them along the edges of the bed. I found the effect amusing, like sealing myself inside an giant empanada.

I'd been asleep for a while when there was an unbuttoning noise at one end of my bunk.

"Mmm?" I said, sleepily, as someone climbed into my little dark enclosure and started taking his clothes off. "Boy?"

In my half-awake state I muzzily presumed he'd come to cuddle, until it gradually dawned on me that the patterns I could dimly make out on the person's arms and shoulders were tattoos, of which The Boy had none. The person pushed his pants down and I shrieked, diving out the other side of the buttoned curtain like a cat on fire. With the curtains now flapping open and letting in light from the aisle, I saw my erstwhile bunkmate pull his dick out and start pissing on the sheets. His eyes were shut; in fact, he looked like he was still asleep. Or blind drunk. Or both.

"Boy!" I shrieked again, reaching up to shake his leg, until he grumbled and climbed down and then became instantly alert at the sight of the man still casually pissing in my bunk. Some of the piss had overflowed to pool on the floor, tilting back and forth into elongated liquid fingers as the train rocked along.

The Boy eventually managed to evict the man -- a completely intoxicated Russian backpacker -- out of my bed and into the ajoining carriage, used the old sheets to wipe down the waterproof mattress, and obtained new sheets from the train staff. Despite his best efforts, though, it still kind of smelled like piss, and the curtains were suspiciously moist.

But I was already blissfully asleep in the top bunk, and when I woke up -- refreshed and cheerful -- we were in Chiang Mai.
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
So, do you remember how I posted that the USS Bonhomme Richard came to town? And you remember how I jokingly said,
What are the chances, do you reckon, that Brad Colbert or any other GK marine is out there right now?
Well, hell. [livejournal.com profile] minzky has dug up photos of Brad Colbert and the First Recon Battalion Marines doing their pre-deployment training with the 11th MEU. The MEU that is on the fucking USS BHR.

Yep. Brad Colbert was chilling out within eye distance of my house -- hell, for all I know he came and chilled out at the fucking bar next to my house -- and I DID NOT KNOW.

(Yeah, yeah, even if I'd seen him on the street I would've totally ignored him -- I mean, what the hell would I say? -- but that's not the point!)
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
I handed in my resignation on Friday, it's a long weekend, and I'm sitting outside on a bright blowy day just enjoying being surrounded by the mad rattle of leaves and dancing hibiscuses and glimpses of whitecaps out on the water. It reminds me of Australia, actually: the clarity of the light and colours and the feeling of having one's head emptied out and filled up by the sounds of a lively natural landscape.

So, you know, life is pretty good right now.

Here are some other things currently adding to my cheer:

1. No-knead bread. It actually works! Fancy elastic bread with big holes in it, perfect for toasting, and probably the best (and least stressful) bread that's ever come out of my kitchen. But the recipe calls for instant yeast, so if you're using normal dry yeast then use at least a teaspoon (I used a tablespoon, but that was probably paranoia-induced overkill) and activate it in water beforehand.

2. White Collar. After an initial period of resistance I finally caved and watched the first two episodes, and it's just delightful eye-candy fun. Although I was disappointed that spoiler )

3. Mooncups. I first heard about these little gizmos right here on my flist, but it never occurred to me to use one until I moved here. The thing about Dili is that there's no regular rubbish disposal mechanism; what you do is dump your rubbish in a concrete receptacle on your street, where it's progressively reduced by ragpickers, pigs, dogs, chickens and eventually the government sanitation crew, who cart the remnants to a rubbish dump at the top of a hill (which then promptly washes down into the sea, where it's trapped inside the reef until an unusually high tide). You can probably tell where I'm going with this, but-- yeah, one of the most common sights in Dili is one of those shifty yellow dogs trotting along with something in its mouth: a used nappy or sanitary pad, which it then half-eats and leaves by the side of the road. You think the idea of a silicon menstrual cup is gross? Try accidentally stepping on someone else's sanitary pad and tell me that. Anyway-- I was raised to think tampons are gross and unnatural (I think it's an Asian-mother thing, since women in Indonesia and Timor think the same), so if I can adapt to the weirdness of an insert-y type thing, so can you. PS: CHANGED MY LIFE.

4. Yuletide! I'm surprised Generation Kill made it in, to be honest-- I feel like we're almost a mid-sized fandom now. I think this year I'm going to focus on the truly eeny fandoms-- i.e. not GK or SCC, but we'll see.

Separately-- I'm kind of idly contemplating remixing 'Sixteen Days' to make it original fiction, sort of as a side project for next year. It may not be the book I ever thought I'd write, but I figure if I wait for the Great Australian Novel I may be waiting a while-- and if I already have half a book then why the hell not, you know? The thought of the research is making my head spin, though. Handwaving is all very well and good in fandom, but-- omg, characters from Senegal and Algeria and Bangladesh and historical fiction, WHYYY.
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
There are three book exchanges in Dili. All are in a pretty sorry state, because desperate readers (like me) have gone through and picked out all the good items, exchanging them for things like the photocopied Charles Dickens we bought at the airport in Vietnam in 1995. After about a year, the only books left in circulation are a sad flotsam of 1980s murder mysteries, Tom Clancy and fantasy novels with the covers ripped off.

But just the other week, the hotel next to my house opened a book exchange. And it is amazing. Not just for the fact it has non-fiction, or that most of the books look new. Observe this photo and tell me the reason why I started laughing to myself in a manner that made the receptionist edge away nervously:

THAT'S RIGHT. After all my trials and tribulations with Amazon, Nate Fick has made it to the Dili book exchange next to my house.

The sheer improbability of this is hard to encapsulate. It's Heart of Gold improbable. It's like walking into the Simpson Desert and finding an esky by the side of the road that contains a still-frozen pint of Ben&Jerry's Chunky Monkey.

Who knew

May. 3rd, 2009 02:45 pm
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
Did you know it's actually possible to comb out dreadlocks? -- I mean, granted, it took two hours and half a bottle of conditioner,* and it wasn't exactly a soothing way to spend a Sunday morning, but I'm now shiny-haired and dreadlock free.

All in all, an interesting experiment. The conclusion: if you want to have cool, fashionable-looking dreads, go and get them made. Under no circumstances attempt to let them just... form. If you do, chances are you'll end up looking like a hairy-legged, soymilk-making hippie who wears dust-coloured clothes and lives on a desert island.

Oh, wait.

*In case this seems incredibly speedy, I'd only let 20% of my hair dread up -- and most were still fairly loose (although I did have to resort to scissors on one). Can you imagine how long it'd take to untangle a whole head of well-established dreadlocks?

Anyhow! I'm bored and I don't feel like reading or (creative) writing, so let's christen my first Dreamwidth post with that meme that was going around a while back.

Ten Things I Assume You Know About Me

Actually, I don't really assume anything, since I try not to post too much about myself online anymore. So maybe this is an even more narcissistic version of the meme: Ten Things About Me.

1. [livejournal.com profile] ineke. This was my first fannish identity, starting in 2004. As [livejournal.com profile] ineke, I wrote in Due South and Stargate SG-1. Those stories aren't online anymore, but I'll archive them once AOOO opens to the general public. As [livejournal.com profile] ineke, I also posted a hell of a lot about myself. Which is why I'm now [personal profile] tevere. Lesson learned!

2. [personal profile] tevere. At the moment I'm writing Generation Kill, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and So You Think You Can Dance (RPS). I'm a slasher at heart, although I write a mix of slash, gen and het. Although I finish one, maybe two stories a year, the ratio of my WIPs to finished stories is (depressingly) about 10:1.

3. Chinese. I'm Chinese...

4. ...But not a POC. I'm Asian, but white! You have no idea how many people's heads explode over this idea. Genetics is a funny thing. In university I used to dye my hair black, and that was the only time people ever asked, "What are you?" or "Where are you from?"

5. East Timor. I live in East Timor (Timor-Leste). What you might not know about East Timor is that it's beautiful. I guess all countries are, in their own way, but Timor is harsh and stark and lush and pristine and dusty, and its sunsets make you catch your breath and feel like the world is poised and waiting for... something.

6. Simple-living. I dislike society's constant message that the things we buy and own are somehow the measure of our worth. I like knowing where my food comes from, and the slow, thoughtful process of making it into meals. ...I acknowledge this attitude may change when I have kids.

7. Vegetarian. I came relatively late to vegetarianism, in my mid-twenties. Apart from the usual reasons (animal welfare, the environment), I have a completely selfish one: I like the fact that each time I eat, I'm reminded of a choice I made. It might be an illusion, but choice makes us feel free, right?

8. Teetotaller. People generally accept vegetarianism. But social drinking is such a large part of Australian culture that the polite refusal of alcohol tends to cause confusion -- or, occasionally, offence. Seriously, people get hostile about it. WTF? Funnily, nobody has a problem if I claim I can't because of 'religious reasons'. Or if I'm the only one sober enough to take them home.

9. Atheist. I'm always embarrassed when The Boy (also an atheist) reads his family heirloom Bible on the plane, in case we crash and that's the book that's found on our dead bodies.

10. Not a good person. Once, an interviewer asked which religion I was. I said I was an atheist. She looked at me and said, puzzled, "So what do you base your morals on?" Afterwards, when I was done being violently offended, I realised it was a fair enough question. These days, I think about what it means to be a good person quite a lot. I read about ethics and jurisprudence, and what we owe to each other. I try to question my choices and do what I believe to be right. And yet... I still fail, most of the time.

What else do you know about me?
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)

Nothing like strolling beachwards through Dili's bright, sunny backstreets, only to emerge at one's destination and nearly getting run down by a passing French warship. I'd forgotten it was coming in today, and it gave me quite a turn. Sadly my cameraphone doesn't do it justice; in real life it looked like it was practically nudging up on the sand. It was fun to look at, too, unlike the sullen American ship that came in last month. Compact and prickled all over with fern-like antennae, and trailing a bustle of activity around its skirts: little landing craft picking up and setting down and zooming towards shore.

Meanwhile, the camouflage crew have apparently moved from Green Delta Four status to White Echo Five, meaning they can patrol while equipped 'only' with assault rifles, and they don't even have to point said lethal weapons at pedestrians like yours truly! The times, they are a-changing. Although since I also got caught in the street yesterday between two groups of intoxicated young men throwing chunks of concrete at each other, maybe not changing all that much.
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
Life for animals in the developing world is one of those odd situations where it's both better and worse than in the first world. Animals like chickens and goats and pigs and buffalo all roam free, and their deaths are arguably more humane than in your average first-world slaughterhouse. On the other hand, animal cruelty is widespread and unthinking (kids beating a chained monkey with a stick, people keeping ferrets in a tiny cage in the hot sun), and starving cats and dogs are such a part of the landscape that you sort of become inured to their suffering after a while.

So a first-world pig has a rough time of it, but a first-world cat is pretty lucky, right?

Except that today some motherfucking idiot's dog came into my mother's front garden in Australia and MAULED MY CHILDHOOD PET CAT TO DEATH. And it's been hot in Australia recently, and she was fairly old, which is why she probably couldn't get away in time. My mum found her body amongst all the broken flowerpots.

So I recognise that she lived a pretty happy, privileged life as an Aussie cat, but it's still a shitty way to die: alone and frightened and unsuspecting.

Dear thoughtless dog owner:

I hope that when you're old and frail, a cat bites you on the ankle and you die of blood poisoning.

No love,
tevere: Jihae, solemn with hint of smile (Default)
My tip for you: avoid Airnorth like the plague, if you have any choice at all in the matter. Sadly, choice is in short supply for us island residents, and now I'm entering my third day without luggage (most important missing item: my laptop charger omg. Not like I can just nip down to the shops and buy a new one!). Of course, this being Dili, there's also no such thing as an organised system for matching passengers with their delayed baggage: you just have to turn up at the airport for every flight, hoping that your bag's aboard. Fortunately there's only two flights a day, but still.

My day has been brightened by two events, though: Yuletide and SCC. Although in the latter case, when I say 'brightened' I actually mean:

Spoilers )

In summary: SCC, you are AWESOME, please keep doing what you're doing.
tevere: girl in gloomy cityscape (city girl)
So, I was just pulling out of a parking space today when one of the guys who'd been lounging at the side of the road -- I hesitate to say 'parking attendant' -- ran up and knocked on the front of my car, the way you do to warn someone that they're about to back into a taxi or a careless piece of livestock.

Given that all the restaurant's goats seemed present and accounted for, I wound down the window and stuck my head out. "What is it?"

The guy was fiddling with something at the right-hand corner of the car, and I knew instantly what it was. I sighed. "Oh, don't bother fixing it, just hand it here."

The right indicator had fallen off the car. Detached, it didn't even look like an indicator: it was just a big clear pod about the size and heft of a baby's head, hermetically sealed and strangely independent-looking.

We'd spent the weekend camping and hiking on Mt Matebian ('Mountain of Dead Souls'), a remote peak near the eastern end of the island. "A mildly strenuous three hour climb!" said the Lonely Planet. "Oh, it was only a mildly strenuous three hour climb," we told each other bitterly as we staggered into camp eleven hours later, dehydrated and starving and sunburnt, and fell like rabid dingoes upon the only sustenance available for purchase in the village: warm cans of Indonesian Coke, three years past the use-by date and tasting of rust.

The sun was ominously low in the sky, and it was still two hours to the nearest paved road. Six hours back to civilisation; two-thirds of the length of the country to be crossed before nightfall.

The Boy and I made it halfway before dark, past the badlands and into the twisting narrow road through the eucalypt forests. The car lights sometimes picked out solid shapes amongst the trees -- tiny dark hutments, silent and still -- but most of the time there was nothing, just the road cutting through a neverending press of jungle. The Boy was driving. I stared out the window and thought morosely about Thinner by Stephen King, and Lost Highway, and every road trip horror movie ever made.

Sometimes there was the gleam of eyes from the underbrush: semi-wild dogs, chewing thoughtfully on dead things. Occasionally one of them would wander out onto the road, dazed by the oncoming lights, and then whimper and run confusedly in a straight line in front of the car until The Boy swerved around it.

"So," I said, breaking the silence. "If you ran over something, would you take it home and eat it? I mean, you'd have paid the owners, so it's kind of like you own it anyway. Maybe it'd be unethical if you didn't take it home and eat it, because then it'd be wasted."

The Boy made a face. "Nah. What if its intestines burst when it got run over? And I don't know enough about gutting animals; I've only ever gutted fish."

In fact, we knew about the burst-intestine thing because once The Boy had slipped while gutting a fish, and the entire thing had been ruined: rank tasting and awful.

"Yeah, I guess," I said, pensive.

Suddenly there was a flash of grey streaking in front of the car at an impossibly close distance; The Boy yelled and braked, there was a terrible solid thump, and then we were stationary amidst an eerie quiet.

"What was that," I said carefully.

"A pig," said The Boy.

We sat there silently for another moment. "Is it dead?" I asked.

"Oh, yes."

I turned on the hazards, since we were still where we'd stopped: the middle of a deserted country highway, a hundred kilometres from anywhere. The hazards were loud, a weird unnatural ticking sound that seemed to grow louder by the minute, and they cast a ghoulish orange strobe across the dense undergrowth to either side of the road.

"We should pay someone," said The Boy.

"Who?" I still remembered my arrival-in-Timor briefing: "Ten dollars for a chicken, forty for a goat, pigs are a dollar a kilo. And if you don't hit an animal at some stage in the next two years, it'll have been luck more than anything you did." Roadkill is a daily fact of life in a country where goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and dogs roam and nap freely on the roads. Timorese buses average a dog each trip. But here, there was nobody to pay.

"We could--"

"Ugh. No." I imagined a hundred-dollar note stuffed in the pig's mouth, like an apple. "Anyway, that's just finders keepers; it's not like the owner's going to be the first who finds it. And are you sure we don't want to keep it?"

"Ugh," echoed The Boy. "No." He set his mouth in a grim line, and went outside to investigate. "Good news," he reported, when he got back.

"For us or for the pig?"

"The car's not damaged."

"Oh, thank god," I said heartlessly. "Let's go, before it reanimates and eats our brains."

"What?" said The Boy.


As we drove away, just for a moment we thought we heard a little pig-like snuffling from behind us, but it was probably just the wind in the trees.


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