Wednesday, 29 December 2010

LAZY DAYS


The Bus Station is reprimanding everyone for slackness in posting. What he forgets is that it is the holidays and posting is not the most important thing on the agenda. There are also other reasons: Second Fiddle is busy hanging doors upside down; Man of Errors has lost the ability to type and spell correctly; The Wine Guy is still recovering from Christmas Eve; The Pink Paddler is being winched by helicopter out of flooded South Island rivers; Fflur is probably eating her way through all her baking and can't fit through the kitchen door to get to her computer; TSB is no doubt under a few metres of snow and is suffering withdrawal symptoms from not having naked nubile pictures to download; Nicola is busy rounding up neighbourhood cats and taking them to the knackers yard; Richard's alter egos have hopefully disappeared and I am relaxing and enjoying the break.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

ADONIS

I bought a 'wimp shirt' for swimming. This is a tight swimming shirt that helps to keep you warm - ideal for surfing and kayaking. I am a wimp when it comes to getting in the water taking 10 times the time the Old Girl takes to get in. Yesterday, with the shirt on, I walked straight in. The corollary advantage of the shirt is that being tight it holds in all my flabby bits and makes me look like Donatello's David sort of the way I looked 30 years ago. All good as long as I don't breath out too much. Then I have a resemblance to a sausage roll.

HO HO HO..

... he thinks he's talking Indian.
No no no, there's no way we'll let him in...




Merry Christmas.
We woke this morning and opened presents. Nice sensible things except for the fibre optic pohutakawa flower I bought for the Old Girl. I like my Soda Stream machine. I can't wait to try it on Chardonnay.
Kathleen Battle's Grace is playing in the background and there is communal breakfast cooking going on (we have three friends staying). We are all set for a day of preparation for the big dinner (roast ducks and vegetables. trifle, home made plum pudding etc.. with lots of yummy wines. This to be followed by a snooker challenge and maybe a play station Tiger Woods golf challenge. It will be a good day. It is a bit overcast and cool at present but I'm sure that it will warm up. I went for my first swim of the season yesterday - lovely, and will probably have another one today. We may go to Ocean Beach (a magnificent surf beach nearby) and frolic.

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM TSB

TSB on seeing the previous photograph reminisced on his childhood thus:
"I've got pictures of my brother and I taken in Scotland that look frighteningly similar (except I'm much more handsome, but with stick-out ears)"






Thursday, 23 December 2010

BROTHERLY LOVE


My sister sent some photographs with the christmas parcel that arrived today. One of them was this one of my brother and I as children. He is the older, taller one. We wore matching outfits. His motif was a dog. Mine was a cat which sort of fitted in our choice of pets. We are standing in Liardet street in Vogeltown outside our house. Today if you tried to do that you'd probably be mown down by traffic. Mum liked this photo (one of a series - subsequent ones showed me sticking that flower up Terry's nose) and said it was good that we got on so well together. She was unaware that at other times he would be chasing me with a stick and I would be hurling rocks at his head. Ahh brothers.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

It's Christmas - Music Video



Nicola started it with a superb music video 'Stuck in the smoke hole of my tipi".
Now Second has set a new low with an abysmal Obama Christmas video.
Here is one to make you gag.

Farewell Captain



I learnt via Mad Mike's America that Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart has died. He was 69 and had been suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.


I like his music (Captain Beefheart's Magic Band) with its blend of traditional blues and jazz with quite adventurous stuff. His lyrics most often drifted into the surreal. Its no accident that his best is quite like Frank Zappa's best as they did cross over with Zappa producing some of his recordings. Ry Cooder performed on Safe as Milk and, I think, Mirror Man. Mirror Man is still my favourite. I remember at my flat in Upland Road in Kelburn, Roger turning Mirror Man to maximum on the stereo at 2 in the morning and the upstairs neighbours having to come down in their dressing gowns to politely request " that we turn our jazz down a smidgeon". Terribly polite people these Wellingtonians, at least in the 1970's.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

TÂKE Â WAY

We were busy today indoors (thunder and lightning and very heavy rain outside) baking bread, blanching and freezing garden vegetables and generally just mucking about. The Old Girl returned from Auckland yesterday and will not be doing any away trips for a month. She has worked very hard this year and is exhausted so it was no surprise that she fell asleep on the couch. I took a photo of her because she looked so cute but promised her that I wouldn't post it on the blog. She is very photogenic but I respect her privacy. When it came to dinner-time the planned leek/broccoli/cauliflower/spring onion/potato pie (all from the garden) didn't happen and we opted for Billy T James favourite kai from the local. Our local is a place named The Deck in McLeod Bay. It is a cafe/takeaway/dairy on an elevated site with spectacular views across the bay. When The Old Girl suggested fish and chips I was very sceptical. It is not Friday after all. Being Catholic educated the 'fish on Fridays' rule is ingrained and normally the only time that I have fish and chips is on a Friday. As a compromise we had fish burgers and chips. In my 'rules' this is permissible. At this point I should tell you that I drive The Old Girl crazy with my 'rules'. Some things should only be done in a certain way or at a certain time and otherwise should not be done. When it comes to food here are some of my 'rules':

  • Marmalade should only ever be spread on toast, never on plain bread
  • Poached eggs are a breakfast dish and must never be eaten in the PM
  • Breakfast cereals may be eaten in the PM but as a dessert following a 'normal' dinner (note: this does not include porridge which must only be eaten for breakfast)
  • Mushrooms must never be eaten but the flavour of mushrooms is permissible in cooking
  • Tomato sauce is an OK filling for a sandwich but this must be fresh white bread only (never toast)
  • The only permissible fruits in toasted sandwiches are pineapple when combined with cheese and banana when combined with tuna
  • Fruit jams are allowable in sandwiches and on fresh bread. Combinations are ill-advised except for Vegemite or Marmite with raspberry jam
  • Canned baked beans can be consumed at any time of day but canned spaghetti is not allowed at all
  • Mint sauce must be put on roast potatoes but never on boiled, mashed or sautéed potatoes
There are many more 'rules' but I won't bore you with them.

The fish burgers were superb. The Deck use Snapper or Dory as their fish and it is freshly caught. They are traditional enough to offer beetroot in their burgers along with fresh salad vegetables and tartare sauce is an option to tomato sauce. The chips are always beautifully cooked and plentiful. Great.


Friday, 17 December 2010

PLAYING MY GAT

Some bloggers have suggested that Richard's new gypsy look is more like a gangster.
Now we've all seen those images of tommy guns in violin cases.


What sort of weaponry could a gangster carry about in a bass bag then?

RED CROSS PARCELS





Prisoners of war in WW2 must have looked forward to their Red Cross Parcels with longing and excited expectation. In our recently imposed austerity I know how they must have felt. Today The Old Girl's 'red cross parcel' arrived from Scotland. With Christmas cards and presents it also contained Caramac bars, Gold Bars, Thornton toffee and Thornton chocolate truffles. Luxury.

FRY UP

I sampled a bit too much of The Wine Guy's new wine acquisitions last night and am feeling a bit jaded this morning. There's nothing for it but to employ the good old remedy - a fry-up. As The Old Girl is away I can do this without the 'tut-tuts' and disapproving looks. Some sort of savoury, fatty and non-PC food is always the answer after a night out. Sausage rolls and meat pie sales must benefit greatly the morning after major sporting events. I'm going to pre-cook a large potato, chop it and fry until golden brown. (The result will look better than this web photo.).

I won't go the full hog - (I've cut out eating bacon) and will have a poached egg on toast with them.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

GYPSY LOOK

Richard (of RBB) is looking for a gypsy look for his band's photo shoot. I 'googled' gypsy images and the one that seems most suitable and probably easiest for him to adopt is this one.


Hope this helps.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

BLUE MAN


Have you ever been blue? Sometimes a feeling of blueness can hit you which is unrelated to happiness or unhappiness. It just is a feeling of melancholia. We have a Stephanie McEwin painting in the study, above the computer. It is titled 'The Blue Man' and seems fitting for this post. It has been raining really heavily today which is good for my garden and Northland farmers but does little to lift my mood. A nice glass of Chardonnay (not Chardhhay) helps - no doubt The Wine Guy will mention it - and perhaps a funny post from Richard will raise my spirits.



I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core. 

NEW NEIGHBOURS

Scary Terry is on the move. When asked he said "I've always wanted to live close to the sea and to be close to other nutters. I heard that 'Two Sheds' Robert was looking for kindred spirits to bond with so have arranged with Housing New Zealand to live in Bolton Street. I'm really excited about this but I just have to arrange to get my stuff there. Maybe 'Two Sheds" will help.

Full interview with Terence 'Scary' Kelsen - Story - Entertainment - 3 News

Sunday, 12 December 2010

RIVER CRUISE

We just got home from a trip up north to Paihia for the Old Girl's Christmas work do. The company she works for has regional Christmas parties and she gets a choice of whether to attend the Auckland or the Northland one. As the Auckland one was a bit formal, at a restaurant, she chose the Northland one. This was a good choice. We drove to Paihia on Saturday morning (a couple of hours north from where we live) and checked into the Copthorne hotel at Waitangi. After a pleasant afternoon in and around Paihia we went to a restaurant on the wharf for pre-dinner drinks (good wines) before boarding a dinner-cruise boat. This was very well appointed and comfortable. We cruised for a few hours up the Waitangi river to Hururu Falls then back again.
Haruru Falls

All the food was cooked on board (mussels, prawns, fish, lamb, steak) and was excellent. Employees of the Old Girl's company and their partners relaxed and enjoyed the good food and wine without any intrusive 'company messages'. It was one of the nicest staff Christmas 'do's" I have been to.
We had a leisurely morning around Waitangi and Paihia before driving home. This has been a nice weekend.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

"PROOF?"

Second has unearthed some nutter named Marilyn Adamson who he seems to think offers proof of the existence of god.

I searched Adamson and discovered the following Harold Schuckart who challenges Adamson's ravings. I tried to post this as a comment on Second Fiddle's blog but it was rejected because there were too many words.

Harold Schuckart contests Marilyn Adamson's "six reasons to believe in God"
August 18th, 2009


"Ms. Adamson is described as a former atheist who is now a Christian. She has written a list of six reasons why people should believe in God. www.everystudent.com/features/isthere.html She starts out very badly by comparing an atheist with a person who doesn’t believe that people have walked on the moon. She suggests that those ‘moon-walk unbelievers’ will reject all evidence, such as photographs and moon rocks and that ‘God unbelievers’ may reject evidence for God in much the same way.

"As a former science teacher, I understand the use of physical evidence and I understand her argument. For example, many of my students had difficulty accepting the idea of the Big Bang and asked for evidence. Fortunately, there is ample evidence for the Big Bang - enough for a separate article. I must wonder what physical evidence Ms. Adamson is going to present as proof of God.

"Before I discuss the reasons she offers as ‘evidence’, I should point out the effect of real evidence on the value of faith. Many religions demand faith in God, in a creator, perhaps in God’s son, Jesus, and His miracles. The existence of real proof negates that unconditional faith and makes it mere acceptance, which might not be sufficient for admission into heaven.

"The first four reasons that Ms. Adamson gives are statements like the Earth is the perfect distance from the sun, physical laws are consistent in the universe, the human brain and eye are complex, and DNA is long. This is the anthropic principle, the idea that since the universe is perfectly fitted for humans, it must have been designed for humans, rather than the reverse. If we were incompatible with the universe, we would not exist, and some compatible being would be writing this article. Ms. Adamson plays the Intelligent Design game by quoting eminent scientists out of context, making them appear to support her case.

"These four reasons of Ms. Adamson are basically ‘beautiful sunset’ arguments. I have a good friend who is very religious. The best argument he can make for the existence of God is that sunsets are beautiful. “When I see a beautiful sunset,” he says, “I know that God exists.” If sunsets were ugly would it be proof of God’s non-existence? He was dumbfounded when I proposed that beings living on a different planet might find purple sunsets beautiful and thus prove the existence of ‘their’ gods. We may find sunrises beautiful because they signal the end of night, and sunsets beautiful because they signal a time to return to the companionship, food and warmth of the cave where we are safe. Our eyes have evolved to see the light from our sun and the changing sky colors as night falls or day dawns are pleasing because we evolved here. Humans living on Mars with a pink sky and purple sunsets may not find them beautiful, but I am sure the Martians enjoy them.

"Her fifth reason for God’s existence is that “He actively pursues us.” Talk about chutzpah! God created the universe for us; He controls the forces between every particle of the universe, even those so far away that we will never know they exist, and yet He actively pursues us like we are a reluctant lover. This is a step beyond the idea of the ‘God shaped hole’ in the human soul – the idea that humans long for a God because they perceive emptiness in themselves. Ms. Adamson says God is so needy that He tries to seduce us into loving Him. Not only does she anthropomorphize God, she makes Him into a weak and drooling suitor. And what a suitor. If we have something He wants, why is He so cruel to us, causing or allowing so much suffering in the world, not only to humans, but to all living things. The lives of most living things are filled with terror and inevitably end in being killed and eaten, or eaten alive, by some other creature. And consider this. Ms. Adamson admits to the Big Bang happening and scientists have determined it happened 13 billion years ago, which is 12 billion, 999 million, 996 thousand years before humans began worshipping God in the middle eastern desert. Who was God spending His time with before we came on the scene? Who was He wooing before us? Are we getting Him on the rebound?

"Her sixth argument is that Jesus, unlike other founders of major religions, claimed to be God. God exists because of the delusions of a first century apocalyptic prophet. And what proof is there that Jesus was Devine? Jesus is said, by the Bible, to have performed miracles. What Ms. Adamson misses is that every prophet of that time claimed the same miracles – healing the sick, raising the dead, and so on. What do we have for the proof of these miracles? We have rock solid testimony from the people who talked to the people who knew people who had been in the area when the story of these marvelous occurrences was going around. And the people who wrote down the miracles didn’t really have any ulterior motives for claiming Jesus’s divinity, now, did they?

"Ms. Adamson has presented the reasons why she believes in God, but she has not presented anything like a photo of a man walking on the moon or a rock from the moon. She presents ‘pie in the sky’ evidence. The first four reasons can be explained in other ways. The sixth reason is questionable. Jesus may have existed, and he probably preached some sort of ‘end of the world – now’ stories. Jesus may be more like the guy with the ‘The End is Nigh’ sandwich board than like a God. His followers saw a good thing and promoted it by exaggerating and perhaps creating stories from whole cloth.

"This leaves us with number five – God pursuing us. I guess I would attribute this to a mild case of paranoia. God is after Ms. Adamson just as aliens and black helicopters are after other nuts."



BEING NEIGHBOURLY

One of our neighbours who lost the roof to their house in July in a big wind storm has just had the re-roof finished.

This is good news as we have been storing furniture for them in our spare rooms and we will soon have visitors pre-Christmas. I helped them install solar panels on the roof today.

This was a big job as the roof is extremely steep and slippery being new metal. Paddy, the owner's father built an M.C. Escher-type scaffolding system that would have been worthy of something I would build. Just as well The Old Girl didn't see me climbing on it - she would have vetoed the idea.
The panels were very heavy taking four of us to carry them up onto the scaffold and to the roof and to hold on to them while getting them positioned, connected and installed. They were built by Paddy (a plumber) who hopes to market them. (I suggested that he looked to using lighter materials). Its a funny feeling when the muscles in your legs spasm through a combination of sustained effort and a cramped position but you cannot release as this would mean that the unit could fall or it could endanger someone else.  Slipping and sliding and breaking every OSH rule we finally got all the panels installed after 7 hours. None of us fell off the roof (there were some close calls) and it ended up a job well done. Doing hard manual work with a bit of engineering thrown in (plumbers are really engineers without OCD) gives a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment. Add in the good feeling from helping a neighbour and it makes for a good day. Note: no Jesus worshippers and god-botherers were in evidence.

Monday, 6 December 2010

OUTSPOKEN

There is a lot of debate at the moment about cyclists rights to the road and the aggressive attitude of New Zealand drivers towards them. Well New Zealand drivers have always been inconsiderate towards cyclists. I was knocked off my bike and hospitalised when I was 11. I was also run over by a cyclist when I was about 8 so I guess it balances it out.

 I rode a bike to school and had a few near misses. The first dead person I saw was a 4th former named Tony Gilligan when I was in the third form. The priests at St Pat's decided to put him in an open coffin in the second floor chapel (how they got it there I don't know) and it was compulsory for everyone to file past and look at him. Great experience for impressionable young minds I'm sure. Gilligan was killed while riding his bike on the Hutt main road (now Motorway). I rode a 10-speed to University and weaved in and out of traffic. I don't know how I survived. When I went to Auckland from Wellington in the '80's traffic was heavier and it was becoming too dangerous to ride. A burglar stole it anyway so that put paid to that. Following the debate on television there are several parts to the argument. Cyclists want proper cycle lanes on all roads and for these to be maintained properly. There is some merit to this but it is very impractical. For one thing who is going to pay for this? Motorists? Another problem is that most of the roads in this country are too narrow and unsafe for motorists let alone trying to narrow the motoring lanes down to allow for cycle lanes. Cyclists also want to ride on roads that have higher than 50KM limits. This is just plain stupid given the fragility of cycles and the fact that they cannot go at decent speeds. Traffic will become bogged down Motorists object to cyclists cluster-riding and holding up traffic. Cluster- riding I agree should not be allowed but, in 50KM areas motorists could be a little more tolerant. My main objection to cyclists however hasn't come up in the debate and this is my dislike of the ridiculus fluoro-outfits they wear that have all sorts of wanky brand names on them. What are they thinking?

Saturday, 4 December 2010

CHRISTMAS LETTER 2010

Geoffrey and Hermione


Well here we are with almost another year down and not a lot to show for it. The months seem to have gone really fast (4 weeks in each this year) and I’ve found it hard to keep up. When I say ‘not a lot to show for it’ you are obviously aware of the changes that we have undergone. My sex-change operation went reasonably well with now only a little chaffing causing discomfort and Hermione’s hip replacement was eventually remedied once they put it back in the right way. The poor dear was going around in circles for a while. How we laughed. Uncle Jim passed away in August and we still haven’t been able to find old Aunty Bev. We are reliably informed that pieces should show up eventually given the cyclic nature of underwater systems so here’s hoping. We had a windfall earlier in the year. The roof is now fixed and most of the motorboat that was dropped by the tornado has been removed. They never did find the driver. Nevermind.  Another windfall was getting a cheque from the estate of someone named Roger whom the lawyers believe is Hermione's great uncle. We haven't the heart to tell them that we have never heard of this Roger chap. All the animals are fine with only Trixie the turkey showing any signs of anxiety. The children won’t be home for Christmas this year.  Gus still has some time to go before release and we haven’t heard from Jennifer since she took up with that religious crowd in America. Have a pleasant Christmas and New Year everyone and don’t eat too much. Drink in moderation and don't drive unless you are playing golf. Ha ha. That was Hermione's joke. Gets me every time.

Friday, 3 December 2010

SALAD DAYS...


...although in those days the nearest we came to a salad was the lettuce in the after pub-hours hamburger which we invariably threw away anyway.
Tonight I was reminded of one of the most pleasant periods of my life.  I 'did the right thing' tonight and made myself a vegetable stew from; some items in the fridge (pumpkin, courgette, cauliflower); some items from the garden (leek, spring-onion, broccoli); and other vegetable (potato, frozen beans, chilli). It was scrumptious and heart warming. Feeling virtuous I tidied up the kitchen, did some correspondence and settled in to watch some TV (not much worth watching on a Thursday night but I caught up on the Boardwalk Empire programme I missed on the weekend. Half way through this I felt a craving for something sweet and savoury. I made myself a 'mousetrap' . These are made from bread (toasted or untoasted) covered in grated cheese, bacon, tomato and onion with a touch of relish, grilled in the oven. I made mine from just the bread, cheese, relish and tomato. Why this reminded me of a very pleasant period of my youth was that in my early university days, a frequent Friday night event was 'back at Tony's place' after the pub if no parties were found or, if as was usually the case, we were kicked out early. Tony lived in Heargreaves Street with his father George. The rest of us at that stage in our lives still lived at home. Tony, living with his dad in this recently bought two bed-roomed house in a (soon to be) trendy urban setting was akin to flatting. George was out late most nights and away early in the mornings so 'back at Tony's place' was always a good fall-back plan if the number one plan failed. In the '70's there wasn't much option for late night entertainment. Pubs closed at 10PM, night-clubs were virtually unknown (or illegal) and the only thing going was a party. Now no one in their right mind would throw a party at their own place so you would just hope that some loony was doing it somewhere else. We used to go to the Grand Hotel in Willis Street. Why, I don't know. It was one of the two or three frequented pubs by Victoria University students of the time. The party plan was to hang around and hear of a party somewhere, stock up on some essential supplies (beer usually, not condoms as we didn't think we'd get that lucky) and head off to the location on closing time. The secret weapon was usually Mike because he was good looking and charming and could engage someone at the front door while the rest of us slipped in. Generally this worked, at least getting into the party but to quite various results.We never knew what sort of party it was going to be as we of course didn't know the hosts from a bar of soap. Sometimes the party could be a religious group (Second would have been at home).


At other times it was a bunch of hippies, or accountants or, worse still, other students (they didn't have anything worth drinking either). The worst though were fringe connections of Richard's (Music Faculty) or any contacts of Tony's. A contact of Tony's probably originated from the Karori Rugby Club ( a euphemism for down and out degenerate thugs of low IQ) and any 'social gathering' connected with that lot was going to end in tears. I might mention in another post how Richard and I attended one such gathering and (instigated by aforementioned Tony) we ended up getting roughed up. I still remember the clear imprint of a hob-nailed boot on Richard's face the next day. But I digress. If no parties were indicated or. if said party was a no-go, we would often go back to Heargreaves Street. The gathering was usually Tony, whose place it was (but not always as being an old villa-type house the windows would easily open so we didn't need him to be there), me, Richard, Noel, Mike and some others. We would have some cheap offerings that was the party fare (DB beer, out of condition other beers from the wholesalers we worked at - Bass, Brew 22 etc.) but also some better stuff (kept for emergencies in case we met up with a woman - wine, Southern Comfort, Kruskovac etc.).
 These little gatherings could last for a good few hours during which time we would get hungry and want to have something to eat. Now Wellington in 1972/3 was a bit different to today. KFC, McDonald's. Pizza Hut. Wendy's etc., did not exist. There was very little take-away options (fish and chip shops closed at 8PM) and whatever was open at 2 in the morning was a serious health risk. We chose to make 'mousetraps' using Tony's bread, tomatoes, onions and cheese until it was all used up. This used to piss George off as I guess we were eating the best part of his Saturday breakfast which he needed before he headed off to work. We did bring along provisions but I think we always ate more than we brought (maryjane munchies). These little gatherings  with all of their lunacy, bonding, good-natured sparring and discovery of interesting music and other things were memorable and tonight they came alive for me. I didn't have any Kruskovak but have had a couple of Gledronach 15 y.o.'s to help the memory along.

A Salad experience for TSB

Thursday, 2 December 2010

OK, I'M FIRST...

... to say -  enough!
I am as upset as anyone over the Pike River disaster and feel very sorry for the friends and families of the victims. Significant loss of life is always worth noting and deserving of exceptional mourning and acknowledgement by everyone. But, in the last fortnight how many other families have lost loved ones through illness, accident and crime? They have all experienced the intense shock of losing a friend, lover, family member or close associate. Do they or should they feel any different from the families of the Pike River victims? No. The sense of loss, outrage, pain and sorrow is the same. What we are seeing now and have been seeing over the last two weeks has been a media circus that, in this country, hasn't been seen since that Diana fiasco of the '90's. We have seen and are seeing public outpourings of grief that have less to do with real sympathy and more to do with the 'need' to be connected. I saw, on a web-news feedback, a comment from a 'Diana'-like sympathiser the comment "They gave their lives so that we all could live" What? This I'm sure was not a deliberate ironic statement, it was a bubbling up of emotion that had been whipped up by the media frenzy.
Seriously, RIP those miners and, believe me, I can empathise and sympathise with their grief. But, enough already. And, who the hell dreamed up the yellow ribbon crap?

BUSY BUSY BUSY

I had the busiest day today from the standpoint of busy days. Donald Trump has reinvented the concept of hyperbole so I feel that I can e...