Saturday, 27 March 2010

COLD, COLD, COLD.



Its a beautiful Saturday here - lots of sun with no wind - simply gorgeous. The trouble is we are both laid up with colds and flu-like symptoms. This is kind of like what Richard had (damn, is his blog contagious as well as offensive to the senses?). Oh well, we can catch up with reading, videos and crap daytime TV. Whilst I don't really like them the home improvement and cooking shows are better than the alternatives. It is clear to me that the British versions of these are way better than the USA ones.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

GOING SOLO

re Snooker and Pool, when playing with myself (Richard, don't be filthy), it is difficult to be totally non-partisan. When I play Pool it is obviously the unders against the overs and if Snooker it is my best cue vs. the second best cue. Whilst there is no difference in skill involved (mediocre rules for both) I find that I favour one 'team' against the other. Why is this? Is it man's inherent nature to be competitive? When I play the card game Patience, I tend to favour Hearts before other suits and (maybe) subtly influence the result. With Pool/Snooker I find myself playing a better shot for the 'team' I have somehow favoured. Has anyone else experienced this or is it a pre-indicator of Schizophrenia?

OUR DAILY BREAD



I bought a bread-maker recently. A damn good one (was $265 - on special for $160). I've been making bread on average twice every 3 days (small loaves). The quality is amazing and as the machine is very versatile I can make all sorts of breads both gluten and gluten-free. Lynn has in the past got a bit of indigestion from bread but hasn't so far from my bread. I haven't worked out the savings yet as I didn't buy it for that reason but quickly looking at it we should save about $500 per year. We have been spending about $15 or more per week which is about $800 per year before specialty breads, bread rolls, pizza bread etc. The machine cost $160  and the ingredients  possibly 50c max. per loaf which for say 4 loaves per week is $2 or approximately $100 per year. The sums seem to add up but the flavour, versatility and convenience is the real winner.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

...AND THE FOOD IS AFFORDABLE

"Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high"                                    



There are lots of small advantages in living away from Auckland (and the other big cities).
One of them is the affordability of lunch-time food in sandwich bars. I continually present a $20 note when buying a filled roll and one or two other small items like a sausage roll and/or a cake expecting the total price to be over $10. Often the total amount is way less than $5. Today I bought a sausage roll and a cream filled apple doughnut. I didn't have a clue as to how much it should be and was surprised at it being $2.90. It was a large home-made sausage roll and a good sized rectangular doughnut. Great on the pocket but disastrous for the body shape.

HOME IMPROVEMENT?







We watched some house makeover programme yesterday where the changes to three rooms had to be done in 60 minutes. This begs the question - why?
It seems that the various spin-offs for TV shows, both reality and unreality, are never exhausted. They just get more stupid. The designer made a 'pigs ear' of a perfectly normal house. When the woman of the house returned to be 'surprised' at the result she turned out to be a bit of a wimp and mumbled something along the lines of "nice thanks very much".
We were hoping she would turn up and say "what the fuck have you done to my house you stupid arseholes - get the hell out of here."

Saturday, 13 March 2010

QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK





The Queen Charlotte track in the Marlborough Sounds is one of the most beautiful walking tracks in the world. It meanders around Queen Charlotte Sound and then there is a saddle crossing to Pelorus Sound. At almost every point of the track there are astounding sea views through native bush.
We did this walk a few years ago and opted for the luxury version. This was a 4 day walk, each day varying between 6 hours and 9 hours walking but staying each night in lodge/hotel accommodation with great food and wine. At Pelorus there was a half day kayaking as well. I would recommend this walk to anyone who wants to experience the beauty of New Zealand without having to be an experienced tramper.

Monday, 8 March 2010

OUT OF WHACK

When I went for a walk this morning I grabbed a handful of loose change to buy a newspaper. I needed nine of the new 20c coins and as I counted these pathetic pieces of metal I thought of the substantial two shilling pieces with a reasonably high silver content that we had when I was a kid. These were to be treasured, hoarded and secured from marauding siblings. There was real value in them and they had a reassuring weight and feel. Needing 9 coins to buy the $1.80 NZ Herald made me think of when I sold newspapers in Wellington and they were 4 pence each.  With 6 times 4 pence to make 2 shillings and 9 of these needed to buy the newspaper the factor rate is 36. At the time I was selling 4 penny newspapers the weekly take home wage for workers was about 20 pounds. If we factor that up by 36 then the weekly average would be 720 pounds or 1,440 dollars which equates to about $75,000 per year. Now I know that the average wage for workers is not $75,000 per year so the fat cat owners of newspapers have a lot to answer for. Something is out of whack.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

GREAT MARITIME DISASTERS

I'm one. I've never been a boatie-type. Yesterday I bought an inflatable boat tender and today inflated it and launched it. It didn't take me long to lose one of the oars (a 3 piece assembly job - the end paddle bit fell off and sunk). I drifted alarmingly off shore and basically went around in circles. I decided to jump off and swam/pushed it back. I won't make fun of Robert's kayaking exploits anymore. Promise.

BIRDLIFE

Robert posted a picture of a Californian Quail some time ago. It was the first time I had seen one. We have a Californian Quail and her chick living in our garden. I have been watching the chick grow and it now is developing the cute head plumage that its mother has.

SUNNY SUNDAY


I have always been a wuss when it comes to getting in the water and I'm not a very good swimmer. Today however I went swimming on three separate occasions. I'm practising my freestyle and getting better. The water was just so inviting I couldn't keep out of it. There is definitely an advantage in living by the water.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Fiche stupide

re. bargains, if there is one thing better than fossicking in rubbish tips it is going to an auction house and bidding for all sorts of stuff. The assortment at general auctions is a bit like a lucky dip in that you can never really anticipate the type or quality of the offering until it comes up. The best auctions to go to though are usually the mid-week ones where he second hand dealers and 'those in the know' are at. They keep their hands in their pockets when rubbish is presented and when they bid they have a good idea of value and know their cut-off points. The worst to go to are weekend ones when the 'great unwashed' come out. They generally don't have a clue on value and get excited at the prospect of 'winning' something so often outbid what the item is worth. I went to a great auction today run by Surplus Brokers who handle merchandise (mostly brand new) from bankrupt and cash-strapped businesses. Today's auction had stuff from commercial catering supply companies, engineering companies, fishing and leisure companies amongst others. Nearly all of the stuff on offer was new in its original packaging. Given the nature of the trade/commercial offerings nearly all were multi-offerings (same item multiplied by 5, 10, 20 etc.) Now any fool and certainly the dealers can see that in a NO RESERVE auction like this it is better to sit there with your hands in your pockets and wait for the hammer to come down. If there are many items to be had you can buy at the hammer bid. Perhaps I should explain by way of example:

Auctioneer: Lot 143 is a 124 piece tool set, brand (X), trade price for this is approx. $240. Can I have a start bid of $190?
Audience: Silence.
Auctioneer: $150?
Audience: Silence.
Auctioneer: $100?, $90? ...Right, bid there for $60.
Bidder 2: $65
Bidder 1: $70
Bidder 2: $75
Bidder 3: $80
Bidder 4: $85
Bidder 1: $90
Bidder 2: $95
etc. etc. until the hammer price falls at $120.
The successful bidder at $120 is asked how many of the items he wants (there are 18 items). The answer is one. Anyone els in the room can then buy one or more of the rest at at $120.
Now  if the bidders had held their breath and kept their hands in their pockets the start bid at this no reserve auction could have been $60 or less. Because a few idiots got excited the buy price has gone up.

I bid for nothing at this auction, instead crossing my fingers that the idiots didn't push the prices up too high. They of course did push the prices up unnecessarily high but with new items they still were way below shop prices. I bought, when the hammer price had fallen and there were surplus items to be had:

An electric 8" Mitre saw for $60
A 115 piece wooden train set for $70
A rechargeable camping lantern for $30
A 4-tier greenhouse (for lettuce and herbs) for $60
A 24V cordless drill for $70
Two graphite fishing lines and reels for $80
A fillet knife set for $12
A 25 hook set line for $60
A Hunter children's inflatable dinghy with attachments for $50
A 2.8m inflatable tender boat for $300
A 83 piece quality tool set in a metal case with drawers for $80
A 2.6m sit on kayak for $350
An electric outboard motor for $250
A water blaster for $100
Two sets of diver's masks, snorkels and flippers for $120
Some other items like torches, lights, scredriver sets, trailer tie-downs etc at ridiculous prices
and to carry it all home in, a 7x4 galvanised tippable trailer with cage for $1500.

Feeling a bit light headed and guilty for spending so much I also bought for Her Indoors (and the main breadwinner) an Industrial kitchen scales for $45 and an industrial vacuum cleaner for $90.

All of these items were brand new and in their original packaging (with guarantees). They were way below the normal buying price (and could have been bought cheaper if the idiots had stayed at home).

All in all a good day out and I recommend looking out for these types of auctions but be prepared to elbow the idiot next to you in the ribs when he/she gets too excited.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

HEY HO, HEY HO, ITS OFF TO WORK I GO...

Not of the paid variety unfortunately but I am filling in time helping out with a fundraising project seeking to raise $3m. There are some very dedicated locals here doing good work and I am helping where I can. It is a wonderful insight into how New Zealand actually works. In a country of 4 million people Government cannot earn enough revenue to fund everything so additions to schools, hospitals and the like need to be funded by community based projects. It is amazing how individuals and businesses large and small give money, time, labour, product and services to help out in worthwhile causes. It makes one proud to be a kiwi.

NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

**************** Sorry for the peremptory sign but The Darker Curmudgeon took things a bit too literally when I asked him to ...