Friday 6 May 2016

How has CFS changed my identity?

Martin's niece recently interviewed me on how my identity has changed since developing CFS.  It was a good question, and one I've found interesting to reflect on.

Before I got CFS in 2003, I strongly identified (and was seen) as a successful person, although I wasn't very sure of myself.  I also thought of myself as a good critical/analytical thinker and as someone who was somewhat intrepid/bold.  I identified as a Christian, an environmentalist, a caring person and a good listener.

All of that was severely challenged when I suddenly became very sick and lost most of the abilities that identity was built on.  I felt like a 'thing', rather than a person.  A kind friend made me a badge with the words "I am a person": to remind me (and the world) that I was still human.  I wore it a lot.

Wednesday 4 May 2016

Soft plastics recycling bag

Since late last year, it's been possible to recycle soft plastics in Auckland.  As well as actual plastic bags, you can recycle all sorts of things - small things like muesli bar and sweet wrappers and bulky things like bubble wrap.

The recycling is collected at supermarkets*, rather than with the other kerbside recycling, so we needed a separate container to accumulate it in.  Initially we used a plastic bag sock, but that wasn't very suitable: small things fell out, and transferring the contents into a plastic bag to put into the recycling container was a pain.  I realised I wanted a way to accumulate the recycling in a container that could itself be recycled (to eliminate the double-handling we'd been doing), was quite capacious (to accommodate bulky things like bubble wrap) but that had a firm base and a tight top (so little things didn't fall out).

*find your local collection site here - they're in Auckland, the North Shore and Hamilton, with hopes to expand throughout the country over the next few years.

Inspired by the rubbish bin we had when I was a child (which held heavy paper bags securely in place by folding the top of the bag under a rigid ring), this is what I came up with.

A bag that contained a regular supermarket plastic bag, with the handles of that bag folded over a rigid ring and secured by a loop of elastic.  When the bag is full you tie the handles of the supermarket bag together then remove it through a zip at the bottom.

On not paying the Living Wage

As I've mentioned here before, I'm generally a big fan of paying people a Living Wage: i.e. enough to provide for the basics of food and accommodation, alongside participation in the community.  However, two things have recently given me pause.

Firstly, this documentary on RNZ National, about a company in Southland who hire staff with intellectual disabilities to sort rubbish for recycling.  The company has a minimum wage exemption, enabling them to hire about 30 people to do work that could just as well be done by three people and a fancy machine.  If they had to pay them the minimum wage, the business wouldn't be economic, and they'd buy the machine instead.  But, by getting a minimum wage exemption, they've been able to greatly improve the quality of life of 30 people (all of whom waxed lyrical about the joys of having a job), whilst still getting the job done.  So, by allowing this employer not to pay the minimum wage (which is significantly less than the Living Wage), we, as a society, have greatly improved the quality of life of those people.  We've also, presumably, reduced the amount we need to pay them collectively: topping up their wages surely costs less than paying them a benefit.

Sunday 1 May 2016

Feijoa paste

Having seen feijoa paste for sale in a fancy deli last year,  I decided to have a go at making my own.  This recipe was all over the internet, but it looked awfully fiddly, so I decided (encouraged by this site) to simply use the guava paste recipe I invented a few years back.  It worked well!  It was pretty easy to do, and has a great feijoa flavour :-)