Wednesday, 27 July 2011

BREAKING NEWS

MORE BALLS

The Old Girl reckons that my legacy to her when I kick the bucket will be the hundreds of golf balls That I have around the house. I love finding them. See:

http://grumpyoldmanreturnsnz.blogspot.com/2010/06/balls.html

Today as it was nice out I went to play a few holes of golf. When I got there I realised that I didn't have a single golf ball. They were all in the wash (I put the balls I find in the sink in the second kitchen to soak - it drives The Old Girl nuts).



Before I could play a hole I had to find a ball. I set off on the par 3 5th hole and sure enough found two balls in the scrub at the back of the green. I played about 9 holes in the sunshine and had a good time.
Oh. By the way. I found 28 golf balls in the creeks and bush. I've taken out the previous lot and now these ones are in the sink.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

LIGHT RELIEF

I just re-read my previous post and as it is quite heavy here is something to balance it.

Meet USA's next President.




LIKE PICKING SCABS



I have been reading The Kindly Ones over the last couple of months. Jonathan Littell, an American, wrote The Kindly Ones in French and it was a phenomenal success welcomed by critics as the most important book for 50 years and won the Goncourt and Femina prizes. It sold more than a million copies across Europe before it was translated into English.
It is the Holocaust story told through the eyes of one of the Nazi executioners, an SS Obersturmbannf├╝rher on the Eastern Front who is attached to the Einsatzgruppen, the mobile execution squads whose task it was to kill Jews, partisans and other "undesirables" in the wake of the German advance.


Not surprisingly the subject matter has been controversial and there has been moral outrage at the hero of a novel being so reprehensible. It is though, strangely compelling. Max Aue, the central character is not merely a Nazi thug, he is a very well educated academic and civil servant with a doctorate in law. He is classically trained in arts, music, philosophy and literature and has a sensitive and aesthetic appreciation of history and culture. But, he is flawed. He is a person of his times having been seduced by the idealism of National Socialism and the belief in the dangers of Socialism and international Jewry. He has also had an incestuous affair with his sister, is implicated in the murder of his mother and is a secret homosexual.


The narrative traces Aue’s personal history with a backdrop of France and Germany through the 1920’s and 1930’s and the campaigns in Ukraine and Eastern Europe with stunning references to Stalingrad. The disturbing detail in the murder programmes carried out by the SS is made all the more horrible by the academic discussion and justification that goes on before and after the ‘Aktions’.

 It has opened my eyes to the nature of violence and brutality as practiced by totalitarian regimes. Nazi Germany and the programmes against Jews and Russians was not and could not have just been perpetrated by criminals, thugs and mad military men. The principles of National Socialism, belief in the Volk and hatred of Jews was systemic and ingrained. The sheer scale of the murder programmes required efficient organization and execution that came from academia, civil service, the judicial system and basically all facets of German society and government. No one was innocent or unaware. The cold-blooded calculation in all of this is scary. It shows how ordinary people become killers. 

The first part of the book features an Einsatzgruppen eliminating ‘enemies’. Although there are murderers and sadists among the group most are seemingly normal. They become more and more brutalised and immune as the programmes go on. By the time Max Aue arrives at Auschwitz the immunity has reached its extreme. Extermination has been Industrialised and seen as a normal solution to "the Jewish Problem". 

Throughout the novel there is detailed and interesting discussion of philosophy and music. Max Aue loves Bach, detests Wagner as do many of his associates, has an understanding of Schonberg, Stravinsky and Debussy and has discovered and appreciates Rameau and Couperin. Herodotus, Chekhov, Flaubert, Stendhal, Lermentov, Melville and Chesterton. Literature is discussed along with the views of Sartre, Jung, Freud, Kant, Hobbes, Nietzche and others. There are long sections on the histories of the Baltic, Ukraine, Poland and other Eastern countries that are insightful and interesting.
If you like history, philosophy, politics and music then this book is for you. You need to be prepared to be shocked and disgusted as well though with the most shocking revelation being the statement made by Aue the Nazi and executioner – “I am a man like other men, I am a man like you”.





Tuesday, 19 July 2011

CHLOE FOR PM




I couldn't directly paste the video clip but go to the video on the link, click on the image of Chloe and stroll through to about 6 minutes 40 seconds to get to her interview by Gary McCormick. It is classic and certainly better than Shonkey's performance on Letterman.


http://www.nzonscreen.com/title/heartland-wainuiomata-1994

Monday, 18 July 2011

WHEN LIFE IMITATES ART



I like this episode of Flight of the Concords. The parody of a New Zealand Prime Minister is inspired especially as when it was made Helen Clark was PM. It seems prescient in portraying the PM as a bumbling fool, something that Clark certainly wasn't so it was broad satire. What they didn't realise in creating the character and the various trip scenarios was that soon we would have a real PM who makes Brian the satirised one seem quite normal.
In the New Zealand Town section above where the NZ Tourism department create PR opportunities for the PM the Art preceeds the Life as we now know it. Shonkey is off to USA to meet with Obama. On the way there he was to attend a NZ Tourism event in LA. This has apparently been called off so instead of changing the time of his visit to Washington Shonkey is now going to have a dinner date with his good buddies New Line Cinema the co-producers of the Hobbit in LA and then to visit San Francisco to discuss business opportunities with the Google and Facebook people. What! you might shout. Yes, our PM is going to discuss business with Google execs. No doubt he will offer Google and Face book massive tax benefits to set up in New Zealand. Hell, he might just sell them New Zealand at a bargain price. I grew up believing that leaders of countries, any countries, were more important than corporate execs. Ok, ok, I know I am and was naive. I have since learned how Reagan was in the pocket of Wall Street and successive British PM's have cow-towed to Rupert Murdoch but hell, Facebook?

NICE NATURE

I had a meeting re China in Auckland on the weekend. After a bit of a delay things are progressing now so:
Wo xiangyao yige kaiguan qi.


I got back today and it is the best day we have had for weeks. After a misty start the day is a stunner.
I went out and played 9 holes of golf. The course looked great and, with a clear blue sky and sunshine, the surrounding harbour and hills were outstanding. Mother nature is being nice and I enjoyed watching the deer and sheep  on the sloping paddocks next to the course. At one stage 8 lambs came barrelling along the side of the hill playing a kind of 'catch me' game. The leader, at the end of the slope did a sort of hand-brake turn and went back in the other direction leaving the chasers slipping and floundering. All this amid their little bleats and the louder bleats of the mothers calling them back.
I played very well beating my previous best on a few of the holes. All that and I found a dozen golf balls.
I was thinking when playing a crappy shot how it doesn't really bother me. I don't get upset about it and look forward to doing a better shot next. It occurred to me that golf is a kind of litmus test for personality. Some people I have played with get really shitty when they play badly and are not pleasant to be around. Mike, Tony and I seem to have the same temperament when it comes to golf and for this reason I enjoy playing a round with them.

BUGGER (AGAIN)


It looks like Labour is shaping up to lose the election again. Bugger!
David Lange said some time ago about capital gains tax - "nice idea but it would lose us the election"
Phil Goff seems to have forgotten this or, if not, badly handled the release of the intention.
In fact the proposal will be good for the typical Labour supporter and has a hell of a lot of attractions for the middle ground National voter. It is the Key's Cronies set that would have most to lose. Labour however totally buggered up the spin that should have been put on this. They underestimated the thickness of most people and the laziness they have when interpreting information. What they should have led with is statements like "Your family house and rental investment is safe. Don't Panic. We are after the big boys who have been getting away with paying no tax for years. Let's get them!" But no, they dribbled out the information in a totally bumbling way. I have been a Goff supporter for years but now must admit that it is time for him to go. Labour has to quickly find a charismatic character to combat smiling boy Shonkey.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

AULD LANG SYNE

In the ever excellent blog Hestia's Larder, 'Hestia' recounts the ashes distribution of an old family friend.
See:

http://hestiaslarder.blogspot.com/2011/07/hestia-and-tartarus-say-goodbye-to-jim.html

This reminded me of our own ashes.
We have the ashes, (in their proper receptacles and properly stored) of my partner's son Blair and of our dog Rosie. We fully intend interring or scattering these (on separate occasions) at as-yet unspecified times.

There is a lot of emotion involved as you can imagine and we have not forgotten and we are just waiting for the right moment. for Blair we have a good idea of the location - a small island in the middle of the bay where we live. Perhaps at the next anniversary of his death which will be the fourth.

My partner's father died in 2005 as a result of a road accident. He was cremated and we had the ashes awaiting a suitable time and location to dispose of them. A year or so later the secretary/manager of a golf club that my company was involved with through sponsorship telephoned me to say that they were raising money by selling off wooden seats on the course. I went to see him and selected a prime location which overlooked the 18th green and was below the clubhouse (the 19th green). It also has a stunning view westward looking out over the Tasman sea. The seat is made of Macrocarpa which is a hard and very attractively coloured wood. On buying the seat and location I explained to the secretary/manager that it was to be a memorial for Tom (who was a member of the club up until his death) and that I would like to put his ashes beneath the seat. He was most accommodating and when the seat was ready for installation he gave me notice as to when the concrete base was to be laid. My partner and I went to the golf course with the ashes. The workmen had prepared the ground ready for the interment prior to the concrete being laid. They were most respectful. They gave my partner Lynn a wheel barrow with some earth in it and a shovel for her to place the urn in the ready dug hole and to cover it. They stood silently a short distance away while she did this and said her good-byes. The concrete base was duly laid and the seat put into place. It is a beautiful piece of outdoor furniture and has an inscription plate on it. This was the perfect resting place for a man who enjoyed his golf, not to mention the 19th hole.

I SHOULD HAVE GOT THE CAT TO HELP

I hate machinery and technology. The nerds who create electronic gadgets from TV's and videos through to computers and their attachments need to step back and ask themselves "will my grandmother be able to connect this thing up to make it go?"

Today I had trouble with the 'all-in-one' fax/scan/printers we have. I say this in plural because we have 3 of the suckers and not a single one works properly. We tend to scan off one, print off another and, if we faxed anything would no doubt have to use the third. They are all crap. Admittedly it is cheap crap which is why we have three of them . It is cheaper nowadays to buy a new one than get the faulty one repaired. This is a sad indictment on modern life and the shameful waste of resources.

Why can't these things be idiot-proof? How difficult would it be to have one connection clearly marked 'scan' to go from the computer to the 'all-in one ' device and another marked 'print".
I have the same difficulty with video and DVD players connecting to the TV. God knows what will happen when I have to hook up Freeview.


Sunday, 10 July 2011

PERFECT DAY

Today we went into town to see a film.
Whangarei does not have much to offer cinema-wise. There is one multi-plex that shows kids films, action shoot'em ups, chick flicks and all the other shit that Holywood spews out. Occasionally there is a good one but it is never on long. Today we had bugger all choice - Cars II, Transformers, a couple of other dire offerings and Bridesmaids. We chose Bridesmaids fully expecting it to be crap.



While it wasn't great it did have some very funny scenes so we enjoyed it.
Afterwards we went to the waterfront. This is an under-used resource of Whangarei that could rival Auckland's viaduct area if there was a greater population here. It is named The Basin. There is a nice promenade around the yachts moored in a gentle river harbour. Nice.


We went to the fudge shop and bought fudge ice-creams. The fudge shop should be famous in New Zealand, I have truly found no better elsewhere. As well as selling many varieties of fudge obviously, they have all sorts of other confection. When it comes to ice-cream there is a great choice of frozen yoghurts and ice-creams of many flavours but our choice is the 'make-your-own'. This is where they use a vanilla ice cream base and add fudge of your choice (it varies but there are usually about ten or 12 choices). They put a couple of scoops of ice cream into a blending machine and add the crumbled fudge of your choice. The mixture comes out like a dense snow-freeze into a cone. Yummy.

 I had caramel fudge today. The Old Girl had vanilla fudge. Now vanilla fudge in vanilla ice cream might sound a bit bland but, believe me, it was sensational. There was a concentrated hit of vanilla flavour in the creamy ice cream base. Great.
We sat on a park bench over-looking the water. The winter sunshine reminded us of pleasant times in Christchurch where the winters whilst cold often had nice sunny, windless days that were a pleasure to be out and about in. we used to go to the Christchurch Art Centre (the old university) some Sundays, enjoy a film or the market and just wander about. Today was like that.

Friday, 8 July 2011

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS

Richard (of RBB) may well be sending one of these your way soon.


SUCKERS


The great PT Barnum has been attributed to saying "There's a Sucker born every minute". Whether he actually said 'sucker' and not 'customer' is in dispute but marketing people have followed his lead for over a century. I am a marketing person and I admit have stretched the truth a bit when describing wine products that I have promoted. You would think that I would know better.

I did the vacuuming this morning. Yes, the Old Girl is coming back from Auckland today. I used the newish Kambrook vacuum cleaner. I fitted the Turbo Boost brush that the Old Girl had tossed to the back of the cupboard. She prefers the old attachment from the previous machine. This Turbo Boost brush
makes a very satisfactory whirring and roaring that Tim (the Toolman) Taylor would be proud of.

"More power!"
I whirred and roared around the house for a lot longer than usual. Males love the sound of engines particularly noisy ones. If they have 'Turbo' written on them then - 'Game On'


The Turbo Boost brush has a spinning brush in the head that is driven by the sucking air. It spins very rapidly and makes the aforementioned whirring and roaring noise. The problem is, this is all it does. It is supposed to drag up more lint and fluff. What it actually does is stop a lot of the lint and fluff from being picked up. What it also does is scatter any small pieces of dirt, wood chips, (potato chips) and whatever else is on the floor in a 270 degree arc, generally underneath furniture and in inaccessible places.

I am beginning to think that the 5 star sucker rating on the box does not refer to the suction factor.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER

The burqa has been in the news a lot over the last couple of days with some dipshit bus drivers refusing  women entry on the bus because they were wearing them.
I don't have a problem with the burqa, turban or any form of religious and cultural dress except obviously where identification is essential. I think that it highlights women's eyes and is quite sexy.


This is not always the case though.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

HUNTING AND GATHERING


I went supermarket shopping this afternoon. Stupidly, I did so under the worst conditions. I had not had lunch and only had weetbix for breakfast so I was hungry. Studies have shown that when shoppers are hungry they buy more and are not as selective in what they are buying. I bought lots of fruit. That was good. I bought lots of vegetables. That was bad as supermarkets do not have good vegetables, they are expensive and perish quickly. I bought a bucket of Rush Monroe rum and raisin ice-cream. That was bad. I bought a big slab of Whittaker's rum and raisin chocolate. That was bad. I bought expensive items like razor blades, wine, cashews and Listerine that were not on special. That was very bad. Unbelievably I also bought a can of whipped cream. I've never done that before.  I must have been woozy from medication and lack of food. I'll have to eat all of the ice-cream with the apricot Danishes I bought, smothered in canned whipped cream and hide the packaging before the Old Girl gets back from Auckland.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

CROOK AS A DOG



I've been unwell for the last 4 days 'crook as a dog'. I don't know what the expression means as our dog was always healthy but if she gobbled her food too fast she would throw up so maybe that is what it refers to.


I haven't been throwing up though fortunately. I have had a bout of DVT a painful and debilitating gut infection. As if that's not bad enough yesterday I got a bad migraine. Its quite a few months since I've had one of those. I don't know what set it off.

http://grumpyoldmanreturnsnz.blogspot.com/2010/11/making-no-sense.html

I took antibiotics for the gut, ibuprofen for the pain and paramax for the migraine. I was zonked and went to bed at 8PM and slept for 12 hours. I feel a bit better today but have stayed indoors playing PlayStation. I started and finished Mafia II. This is a well made game but has no redeeming social values. It is amoral and immoral and, believe it or not, there is even a fellatio scene in the cut scenes (the video component that links chapters.


Unbelievable!

"WE'RE A TOILET"

I like John Oliver. His retakes of the news are insightful and very funny. Have a look via the link below at his latest review of Facebook...