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The Design with the Shock Factor

Would you touch a magazine that was printed with HIV+ blood? A book printed in blood sounds like the purview of the macabre. But it can also be a pretty amazing design project, and the HIV+ element naturally generated a big response. I’m late to the party in discovering...

The Stranger in the Mirror

When I saw my face falling off in the mirror, it was inevitable that I would turn it into a story. How can I not write something inspired by that? It was alarming! It was shifting even as I watched it, like I was viewing it through clear slow-moving...

How to give a Surprise Gift with Skill and Common Sense

If you say you have a surprise for me, but you don’t say what it is, clearly you have no idea how human psychology works, and the nature of desire. If you remember only one thing from this post, let it be this: Don’t tell someone you have a...

The Noble Thief

Is a person counted as noble, or not, if they hand in a wallet they find…but after relieving it of its cash? I’m glad to have my wallet back, with all its cards. It’s a hassle having to call places, cancel things, and wait for new things. The success...

Teaching Handwriting: Ks and Crocodiles

I hadn’t thought writing a K would be all that difficult. Perhaps I did think so, once upon a time, but I don’t remember it. Of all the letterforms in the English alphabet, I’d thought K was one of the easier ones. Timmy disagreed. Regardless of my teaching efforts,...

What I learned from failing Mensa

Taking the Mensa admissions test had seemed like a good idea at the time. With the high-IQ society offering the test free for a promotional period, in recognition of World Intelligence Day, taking advantage of the opportunity had seemed like a no-brainer. (Ironic, that.) It wouldn’t cost me anything....

Success and Spaceships. And cancer. (A rational assessment of irrational inspirations.)

I’ve been seeing a lot of article headings like this, online: ’7 Things you need to be successful’, or ‘5 Things you must do to be successful’, or ‘Lists you need to keep to be successful’. At what? Successful at what? When I read the lists, they don’t tell...

New Zealand Sign Language and Te Reo

There are two languages that I believe would be immensely helpful for the typical English-speaking New Zealander to know: indigenous (te reo Māori), and sign language (NZSL). I know neither. And thus, I feel like a tourist in my own country. As is the social typicality for an individual,...

How to make a Writers Group an unhelpful waste of time (in one easy step)

My need to write creative fiction overtakes my ability to invent it, so there’s usually been a blog or a typed diary on the go, so I can write creative non-fiction instead. It’s more for catharsis than anything. But sometimes, after enough time has passed, it can also been...

Timmy and the Excessive Solution

This week, what started with a cut on Timmy’s lip ended with his having a midnight surgery in Acutes theatre, staffed by seven sets of blue scrubs. For no serious medical reason. It was just the result of a social tendency I’ve noticed; a near-consistent psychological algorithm: If a...

The Mirror in the Time Capsule

I like to think I’ve changed since I was a teenager. Safely ensconced in my 30s, I’ve never looked back at the maturity and mentality of my teenage years and thought, “I wish that was still me.” I don’t know any grownup who does. We look back on our...

Child see, child do.

I hate being shown up, especially when I’d been sure what I was doing was justified. But an imitating preschooler will demonstrate things with a clarity that adult introspection doesn’t touch. I hadn’t been looking for a self-flagellation opportunity when I read an excerpt from a counsellor’s parenting book....

Multipotentialism: the art of being lured in all directions until you explode and die.

The proverbial ‘they’ say that the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging you have one. I don’t even know if I’ve made that first step, because I can’t decide whether this thing is a problem or a gift. If I figure out a way to make it...

Even experts can be wrong

Psychology—the study of the mind and human behaviour—is fascinating. Knowing how it works is the closest you can get to activating gameplay’s God mode, in real life. Psychiatry—the medical study of mental disorders—is, I think, a bit hit-and-miss. Mostly miss. I had a psychiatric assessment four years ago. Before...

5 Ingredients of an Angry Person

I’m not irritated by much. Well, there’s the reasonable stuff. Indecisive people, overattentive people, clingy people, leechy people, snooty people, wishy-washy people, emotional people, fickle people, obtuse people, naive people, people who expect an answer to a rhetorical question, and Jodie Foster. And pleonasm. And other things. Maybe I...

Sex Scenes: The greatest betrayer of author gender

Outside of the Romance genre, the publishing industry is kinder to male authors. That’s just objective and observable fact. Author Catherine Nichols even did an experiment to demonstrate it—she took the same manuscript and pitched to the same agents, but used a different name. The unsurprising result: the male...

How a pre-schooler out-philosophises a grownup

My four-year-old was sketching some unidentifiable streaks on his Dry-Erase board. I couldn’t make out any particular shape, but he looked intent. “What’s that?” I asked. “What are you drawing?” “Um, I don’t know,” Timmy said, unperturbed. He continued to add another shape. “Are you finding out as you...

Oh, to be a Ghostwriter…

There’s something exciting in the secretive sound that a ghostwriter makes, when he’s ghosting around. A bookshelf he haunts, with no obvious trace— inaudible voice, incorporeal face. You want something written, but can’t write it yourself, or have no time to do so—you should hire someone else! That’s the...

Homeschool by any other name…

Teaching a child to write is like nailing jelly to tree. It’s one of the first lessons of home schooling that I’m learning. Hot on the heels of that, is the realisation that this is going to be as big a growth exercise for me as for them. Maybe...