It’s just over 100 years since Ada Wells became the first woman ever elected to the Christchurch City Council. And what an uproar she caused! A beautiful, brave, bossy, bloody difficult woman. My five sisters and I are proud to be of her tribe.
Something’s just become clear to me: the reason why I like sudoku is because it’s a sociable, strategic game. Sure, I play alone, in theory. But equally, the numbers are playing me. Each one has a distinct personality and they use their unique strengths to the hilt.
Anyway I’ve just spent a happy pointless hour with my pals, numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 and 9. I’m still getting to know them, but so far, here’s how I read them. They’re all female except for 6, 7 and 9.
- is the head prefect, calm and reliable but without charisma
- is a cooperative type, often negotiating with best friend 3
- is placid, phlegmatic, floating along with no apparent interest in proceedings, easily underestimated
- is probably my favourite: bolshy and rude, sometimes sneaking in the shadows, sometimes elbowing her way into the action; does her dirty work with an umbrella
- is kind and will help you when she can
- is a dancer, musical, enthusiastic, but often clumsy
- is an entrepreneur, bold, sharp, super-energetic and a bit scary
- is large, hungry, a squatter
- is enigmatic and dignified. He has his mind on higher things. He has more natural authority than number 1 but never needs to exert it: the others just get out of his way.
I have no idea whether the personalities of numbers are due to genes, environment or star signs. And I have no idea whether they show different characteristics outside of the sudoku playground, or maintain their identity in all circumstances.
For answers, I’m looking to you. I’ve googled the psychology of numbers etc. to no avail but I cannot be the one person in the world to whom they have revealed their personalities. Please share your knowledge: knowledge is power, and you could earn the gratitude of sudoku players worldwide.
In fact there’s a business here for somebody, an industry even … you’re welcome!
“Have you ever paused to contemplate the idea of home?” asks Robyn Haynes in her blog, Big Dreams for a Tiny Garden. On a trip to Outback Queensland, she felt a deep connection with the land, and her sense of home expanded from house, garden and family to something much broader—Australia. (I’ve distorted her thought flow by summarising it — please read the original article for context.)
We all have at least two homes: a tiny home and a vast home. The lucky ones also have a roof over their heads, a location where they live, and a country.
Body. Roof. Neighbourhood. Country. Planet.
Our tiniest home is, you could argue, our body and we all have one of those. I am my body and I live in my body. When all is well, I feel at home in my body, and we take care of each other. (Mostly.) Difference is, I never leave this mini-home, even when I go to sleep.
My apartment, the roof over my head, brings me great delight. I step in the door and am instantly at home, meaning comfortable, relaxed, at peace—and grateful. But now, even New Zealand, the original model of a working welfare state, faces a crisis of homelessness. About one in 100 people here do not have a place to call their own. They are moving between temporary and insecure accommodation such as garages, garden sheds, cars and caravan parks, night shelters, emergency housing, and refuges. This is terrifying, mystifying, heartbreaking.
We have a neighbourhood if we have a permanent roof over our heads, no matter how humble. Then our home includes a town or a suburb or a province where we move around at will. But even a familiar neighbourhood is denied to the 40.8 million people worldwide who have been forced to flee their homes to another part of their country.
Most people belong a country, usually the country they were born in. At times we feel a bond that is profound, even spiritual. For voluntary travellers, a trip away triggers a surge of patriotism as we suddenly see what makes our odd little country unique. (I’m a Kiwi.) We leave, we return, we love our home regardless of its shortcomings.
I can return to my country, that’s the thing. But that is not an option for nearly 21.3 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. Children!
The only home for these people is the one we all share, the glorious, the hospitable, the fragile planet Earth. Is that any consolation for a refugee?
So Robyn, thank you for your question — I have been contemplating the idea of home.
UNHCR: Figures at a glance (image from UNHCR)
Here I am at the mysterious Zq post, published by me, apparently. Some of you commented when this page was nothing but the headline: Zq.
You were puzzled. So was I. What did Zq mean?
To reveal that Zq was accidentally posted by a fat finger on my iPhone is too simple. Surely everything has a purpose? Or a meaning? Or a metaphorical significance in retrospect?
My initial thoughts seemed rather trivial so I waited for some more deep and meaningful deductions to emerge. And waited. And waited.
Nope. Here are my first thoughts, served cold.
Z & Q are both precious letters in my consciousness.
I am a New Zealander who lives in New Zealand. We have a superpower: a unique way of scanning every page or screen: the letter Z leaps out and wiggles and woggles and tickles our eyeballs. (By the way, we say Zed, not Zee.) Zed is structural: every other word clusters around ultra-visible Zed. No Z can hide. No Z is safe from our nanosecond reconnoitre.
And when our eyes find the Z on a page, we sigh with relief, vindicated and authenticated. (We need that, coming from a country that’s just a few insignificant dots in the south Pacific ocean.) Never mind if the Zed is attached to zebra or fez or zebibyte or Alzheimers — we are home!
Zed wears a yellow safety vest.
Zed is precious. Zed is rare.
Zed is proud. Zed is ours.
Zed is me. Where Zed is lurking
so are we.
And hello Q!
Q is for questioning, questioner, questions frequently asked or not at all. I will cling to this faculty and never let go: the ability, the eagerness to ask questions.
To question is human. Children’s questions build a picture of the world — and also build their brains. To continue questioning into old age is to keep the brain alive and yes, even to keep it growing.
Specific types of brain activities are known to protect our brains from the ravages of Alzheimers. They include learning, choosing novel experiences, and meditation.
How can this be? Learning and complex thinking strengthen connections between nerve cells, building up “cognitive reserve” so that the brain can compensate for damage. (You knew that.) Meditation protects the brain in mysterious ways — and hey, meditation may be something you learn (big tick) and a novel experience (big tick).
Q: How come the brain instantly understood Zq and never wavered?
A. Fast thinking?
Zq is shorthand for inquisitive Kiwi
Maybe I should get a Zq identity tattoo. That would be a novelty.
How about you? What are your special letters and what do they mean?