So August started with a monstrous, smelly poopy bang. The fan was definitely hit for me. After a couple of really hard months, apparently my reward was a bout of the mumps and cancelling my eagerly awaited, counted-down for trip home. In the grand scheme of things, I was lucky to be insured, have access to medical care and advice and be supported through this, but I am just letting you know it sucked. I was able to come home a few weeks later, and I just had the nicest time, but in the moment, not fun.
You might be asking, how did I get the mumps? So I was vaccinated with MMR as a child, as is standard practice in Australia. However, there’s a few unhelpful catches with this immunisation. In Australia, and other places where rates of immunisation are high, we are protected by something cool called “herd immunity”. We avoid contracting diseases because enough people in the population are immunised, and this works to protect those who cant for whatever reason take the vaccine, e.g. people with low immunity. . However, in a place like Tonga, where few people are vaccinated this is substantially reduced. Combined with the fun fact that this immunisation may reduce in effectiveness over the life cycle, and/or it doesn’t “take” to some people. According to the medical staff who attended me, and backed up by Dr Google, my immunisation simply didn’t stand a chance against the prolonged exposure to the virus (there was an endemic outbreak here in Nuku’alofa).
So basically I spent 10 full days in the house – avoiding unnecessary contact with the outside world, and generally ensuring the message of confinement while contagious was spread to my colleagues and friends. This meant a great deal of reading and TV watching.
Note to Self – 5 Episodes on Climate Change
This series of bite sized episodes on climate change and how technology can assist with fighting for our planet is easily digestible and involves a lot of discussion about whale poop and Mars. Sometimes I wonder why we aren’t getting the message through about the ongoing habits that are causing climate change, and the only thing that I think that will wake people up is slowly chipping away at the barriers to open mindedness by providing information that is digestible, accessible and doesn’t seem to be too challenging. Some days I think the tide is turning, with people focusing on better choices and less consumption and then I see a Hummer, and its like oh nevermind, I’m sure we’ll enjoy year long summers.
War on Waste
I’ve only listened to a couple of episodes of this ABC podcast but I like it. The hosts Craig Reucassel and Wendy Harmer, are funny, approachable and great interviewers. In Episode three, I especially liked hearing from Maria, who runs a shoe (and everything) repair shop, who talks about the fix-it generation. Being in Tonga, and the combination of reduced income for my time here and the lack of shopping opportunities has really made me reflect on how I consume clothes and shoes. My bodgy foot has required me in recent years to really focus on buying better shoes, but now I want to ensure I get the absolute last drop out of the clothing and shoes, bags etc that I purchase. I’ve actually written myself a checklist for the purchase of anything now:
- could the money support something cool/worthy?(Entrepreneurs and good ideas, charities)
- is it affordable (cost per wear, quality)?
- have I budgeted for it?
- is it good quality?
- what else will i wear with it?
- how do I feel in it?
- how is it produced?
- does it support women?
- does it support ethical trade?
- what is the impact on the environment? Is it used? Ethically and environmentally friendly? is it local?
- is the business transparent about their labour and environmental practices?
- what need is it serving and can it be served by what i already have?
- can I fix it if it breaks?
Listening to Maria made me think of all the times I’ve purchased something cheap for it only to break, die or be so poorly made I hate it the first time I wear it. I’m hoping that being a conscious consumer makes me happier.
You Are the Product, John Lanchester, London Review of Books
Just Wow! Social media is fun, addictive and deeply problematic.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine Gail Honeyman
Still not sure how I feel about this chilling novel as the protagonists neatly composed life is slowly unravelled after massive childhood trauma. I’ve started reading HanyaYanagihira’s A Little Life and the combination of these two similarly depressing novels is making for hard reading.
The Hidden Life of Trees Peter Wohlleben
Trees! this non-fiction work, which I’m “reading” audibly, is quite a lengthy listen, but fascinating as the author describes the societies of trees.
This series on Netflix, presented by Michael Pollan is just a visually attractive and substantial look at food traditions based across four elements, which connects cooking to human nature. His books have gone onto my crazy out of control to be read list.
These animals which have zero f***s