During the four months between finishing university and leaving the country for an interesting, well-paid job overseas, I worked at the part-time job I'd had for two years and loved. I was getting a top-up from Winz, ideally until I left, which worked well until they told me I would have to quit my steady, professional job and find full-time work.
Under threat of withdrawing the top-up, they sent me to workshops where they kept us locked outside for half an hour before letting us in to read the job sections of newspapers and use computers with three-week-old lists of depressing jobs. They had an expert write a new CV for me - it absolutely screamed "I've been on the dole, how about you" with phrases like "I am seeking to re-enter the workforce" and "I am willing to work on an unpaid basis with assistance from government departments." Ugh. In the end I gave up the top-up and just budgeted to within an inch of my life in order to keep my dignity and the job I enjoyed.
On the DPB note... my solo-mum grandmother had no DPB and had to work long hours while her five kids ran riot at home with no shoes and nothing to eat. If she and people like her had had a benefit to allow her to raise them properly, it's entirely possible there would be far fewer f=ck-ups in the newspapers these days making us all despair. Now that there IS a benefit to help struggling parents, for heaven's sake, don't lets let politicians start removing good parents from their homes, eh.
My sister met her husband at the Loaded Hog and is now about to have their second kid. They are astonishingly happy (perhaps because they never go to the Loaded Hog anymore).
Meanwhile, a friend of mine met her ex through NZ dating - he knowingly gave her herpes, cheated on her repeatedly, to the point of having a secret cellphone to facilitate it, and she realised in the end he was a textbook sociopath and left him. The only reason she's not back on the dating site is because she's about to leave the country for a new job.
Meanwhile, I met one of my first boyfriends on the early days' irc and we're still really good mates.
I reckon that for people who enjoy it when other people can spell over 50% of words properly, seeing how they choose to describe themselves and having the opportunity to sound somebody out via email is a really good option. Nothing wrong with it.
Yay for dating!!
Oh, whoopsie - that was what I originally meant to bring up but I got sidetracked:
The drinking age in Japan is 20, but there are beer vending machines everywhere, with no supervision - yet underage drinking isn't a problem.
(Overage drinking can be, though, when your retirement-age colleagues get smashed at drinking parties and start trying to feel you up - heh.)
Another aside: plenty of young drunks may yet turn out to be entrepreneurs - I have seen underage NZ drinkers fashioning bongs using anything from beer cans to fruit to CD cases to a gumboot.
That's part of the irony - with all these safety measures in Japan, there's no requirement for kids - or anybody in the back seat - to wear seatbelts in moving vehicles. It's perfectly common to be driving along and see kids standing on seats, hanging out the windows, happily hammering the arms and neck of the parent who's driving, lurching around between the two front seats, etc. With the horrible result that two of my students in this small town have died in crashes in the last six months.
And yes, incidentally, the Japanese culture is pretty anti-entrepreneurial - they're spectacular at improving and refining things to efficient perfection, but seldom invent.
Here in Japan, the vast, vast majority of kids don't ever go to the beach, largely because "the waves are dangerous and so are sharks." Kids don't generally climb trees because they could fall. There are signs around all over the place reminding people about what's dangerous and what's not allowed. They have entire assemblies about it. There are "give way" signs in school hallways where kids have to stop and look both ways before proceeding carefully (this even though there's no running allowed). Swings are banned in most playgrounds. Schools even have special "pervert sticks" to trap a potential kiddie-feeler up against a wall if one should somehow manage to sneak into a classroom. It's completely overdone - in one of the safest countries in the world, the relatively recent obsession with danger has almost completely removed risk and excitement from the realm of childhood. Though I do love many things about Japan, it's sad. Let's not become like this.
I mean, I've never seen a kid with a broken leg or arm in over a year of being in schools here. Not that I want more kids to break their limbs, but... I dunno. I never broke anything in all my years of falling, climbing, tramping, jumping in the bowels of Waitakere, etc., but I was always jealous of kids with a cast.
NB: Kids have no qualms about picking up enormous pinching black beetles that can draw blood if you do it wrong. So that's pretty cool.