Saturday, 30 June 2012

ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY

 I called out to the Old Girl to get her camera today as a Kereru (Native wood pigeon) was sitting on the deck rail.

Kereru



Deck rail (the cat wasn't there)

As you can see the kereru is not actually sitting on the deck rail. The Old Girl had her camera and was taking ages to get the shot before the bird flew away. "What were you doing?" I asked. "I was trying to get the distance right" she said. "Why didn't you just take plenty of snaps and we could choose a good one later" I said. "You'd excel at being a sports photographer".

For this I got the icy stare.

After that comment I got to thinking of how a catalogue of 'just missed' action photo's could be popular. I suggested that I could publish her best efforts in this direction.

They are along the following lines:

100 metres record being broken


The controversial winning goal at the World Cup

100 airplane flypast

Giraffe eating out of hand

Cat catching toy helicopter


Girls at fashion show

Twin Tower collapse


"Don't you blog that" she said when I told her of the idea.

As you can see I have so am now in the bad books.

The Kereru came back and nestled in the bushes besside the deck.

If you enlarge the image you will see the Kereru sitting in the bush

Friday, 29 June 2012

CRUNCH, CRUNCH ...WTF?

When making my 'Kaimai Steak' last night (my old favourite - savoury mince base with stock, rice, noodles, chilli, curry, spring onion, capsicum,  carrot, shredded cabbage and other bits and pieces - delicious), as I was chopping the vegetables the chopping sound was different and juice squirted from the carrot. Juice from the carrot. I looked closer. It was fresh. Very fresh.

Not as 'Fresh' as this carrot though

I checked the other vegetables I had bought. The broccoli was dense green and crisp. The potatoes had no musty smells. The capsicum were firm and shiny. The cabbage was crunchy. Everything in fact looked fresh, bright and delicious.

Yesterday, as I left work to come up North I stopped at a local rural fruit and veg shop. Where I work there are lots of market gardens and this one was selling a lot of its own farm fresh produce and other that they get from the early morning city markets.

I normally buy from supermarkets. I know, I know, I should know better but do it for convenience. The problem is that supermarkets have to be provisioned from their central warehousing system and the produce that reaches the shelves is never, or very very rarely fresh from that day.


I don't know how many times I have supposedly carefully selected product to discover when at home that: there is a rotten item at the bottom of a bag; the broccoli has dry and discolouring florets; the lettuce, cabbage of other leafy vegetable is saggy and wilting etc.

You kind of get used to mediocrity and it is only when trying something good in comparison that the faults show.

I am going to make an effort to buy my fruit and vegetables from the farm outlet from now on. The effort, in reality. means turning left instead of right when leaving work and driving about 400 metres.

GIVE LITTERERS WHAT THEY DESERVE

I went walking this morning. I went up Mt Aubrey which affords a fantastic view of Whangarei Heads. Apart from the view, the walk up is pretty strenuous, steeply uphill through nice native bush so good for building up fitness which I must do as I've been a bit slack recently.



Half way up I noticed a V can in the bushes at the side of the track.

This was at a stopping point where there is a seat and through a gap in the trees there is a great panoramic view of McLeod Bay. It is beautiful.
So, some dickhead climbed up here, stopped to take in the view, swirled down a poisonous energy drink and threw the can into the bush in front of him/her.

Bloody hell! Why come to one of the most beautiful parts of the planet to do that. Why not skulk around Penrose or Onehunga industrial wastelands and litter to your hearts content. Arsehole!





This is a hazard for litterers I'd like to see in action



Monday, 25 June 2012

DON'T DRINK, DON'T DRINK

I got trashed last night.




I was in the zone so finished the Chardonnay and stupidly opened the Pinot Noir (well, took the third of a bottle out of the freezer) and drank that too.

I'm moving a bit slowly this morning. Thankfully this is the first week (finally) of my three day working week so I don't have to go to work until tomorrow.

Unfortunately the Old Girl has left me a list of things to do so I'll have to get cracking soon.



Sunday, 24 June 2012

FOR SECOND FIDDLE (AGAIN)

No agenda here Robert. Tracey reminded me of "Losing My Religion' this evening and as I've been in R.E.M. mode tonight I checked it out again. It is a song of unrequited love and/or loss and moving on. A great song - one that can change people's lives or, for the more sensible of us, resonates nicely with our personal experiences. I'm sure that you have heard it before. If not, enjoy.

HITTING THE SPOT

Afer dinner tonight (the Old Girl made me a Cornish pastie before she headed south), I practised in the billiard room. I listen to music there while playing snooker, billiards or pool and tonight amongst other things it was REM.  E-Bow The Letter.Wow! I've always liked this track especially since Patti Smith adds to the vocals but I picked up for the first time the reference to Maria Callas. I guess that resonated because earlier today I wrote a post with Callas mentioned in it.

SEE HERE


Edgy, quirky and sexy. I could write the lyrics but just wish I could write the music.


Listen to this:

FOR SECOND FIDDLE

Saturday, 23 June 2012

FEED ME!



I'm pissed off with all the offerings nowadays in takeaway bars.
Years ago, when I wanted Fish and Chips the menu would be:

Fish
Chips
Hot Dog (an actual saveloy cut in half and battered)
Oysters

That was it.

We were all happy.

Even when Golden Chips opened a 'chain' in Wellington in the late 60's the offerings were:

Chips
Sausage
Corn

We were all happy

With the growth of takeaway bars things got a bit more exotic and adventurous. The offerings were:

Burger
Cheese Burger
Egg Burger
Steak Burger
Combination Burger
Chips

They didn't offer fish as that was the domain of Fish and Chip shops.
We were all happy.

McDonalds opened in the late 1970's. The offerings were:

Hamburger
Cheeseburger
Big Mac
Chips

Some people were happy (the ones that didn't mind eating crap).

I don't often eat takeaways and when I do prefer a good pizza or falafel.
The other day, as I was buying a late lunch and the sandwich bars looked like the plague of locusts had descended on them, I went to Burger King.
All I wanted was a burger shot (a mini burger I had seen advertised) and a milkshake.
To get this I had to go through minutes of menu offerings from the server and refusals from me until we agreed that all I wanted was a fucking burger shot and a milk shake. No combos (combinations of crap). No soft drinks. No other burgers. No chips. Just the fucking burger shot and a milkshake (which were both bloody awful).



The menu board above the serving area looked like the trading board at the stock exchange or the periodic table (but probably with more poisonous elements).



When did life get so difficult?

One of the reasons I don't buy coffee at Starbucks (the other reason is that the product is crap) is that there is too much choice.



Once you've gone beyond:

 Espresso
Double shot Espresso
Flat White (a double shot latte)
Latte
Americano

How many other choices do you bloody well want?

Get a  life.

And feed me. Now!





VIVE LA DIFFERENCE



It looks like we have signed over the lease on the townhouse we have been renting and can move back to our apartment during the week in Auckland. The potential new tenants are a nice gay couple. Women. Lesbians. Is the use of the word lesbians PC? I don't know. All I know is that they are educated, have good jobs and love each other. Good for them. Good for us too if it all goes through as we can relinquish the fixed term lease that we are committed to.

Lesbians. I wonder if the word and implications still send shivers through the psyches of NZ males? On one level there is the sexist frisson often heard in bars where the alpha males think that they can 're-educate' the lesbians by giving them a good rogering. On another is the older type of Kiwi (not always defined by age) who are scared shitless about the fact that women can prefer women.

I remember, years ago at Allied Liquor Merchants one of the senior accounts women, M. was a lesbian. This is the liquor industry in New Zealand in the 1980's so it was still dominated by males in all senior positions and most of the middle management positions with a smattering of women in sales and virtually all women in clerical positions. Some of the macho dickhead sales people would make scathing comments about M. ( behind her back). Friday night drinks were de rigeur back then and often people would bring their wives, husbands, girlfriends or boyfriends in for a drink before heading off elsewhere. One evening M. told me that she was going to bring her partner in for a drink. When she did, and introduced the woman as her lover to some of the old crusties you could almost hear the intake of breath around the room. As a consequence M. and her lover were left alone at a table feeling the sharp glances of all the blokes around. I left the group that I was talking with and went and sat with them and had a delightful conversation for half an hour before I had to go.

A couple of years earlier, when I was managing a large and trendy inner city wine and spirit merchants a 'woman's group' was organising a celebratory function and we were providing the drinks and hire items. As it was a very large do and subsequent order I was assisting in the arrangements. One of the young women was beautiful with an almost translucent glow to her that made me think of the women in the paintings by the pre-Raphaelites.


We spent time together planning the wines and requirements and there was some sort of palpable connection between us.
One of the other women, it subsequently seemed to be her other half, noticed and took every opportunity to muscle in between us.


I don't think she liked me and the only connection I felt with her was the sharp jabs of her elbows into my ribs from time to time.

After helping the loading of the van with the party goods my last memory was seeing my Ophelia looking back at me from the passenger window as the group drove off.


Friday, 22 June 2012

GET WHAT YOU DESERVE....NOW!



Matariki is the Maori word for the Seven Sisters, the star cluster which rises in early June. It is referred to as the Maori New Year (I've probably got that wrong if so look it up).
It has gained a little more popularity in recent years with a few minor celebrations and creation of brand names. It is said to mean celebrating New Zealand and the land and previously was a kind of harvest festival. Nowadays schools, Maori groups and hippies celebrate it with tree plantings, song and dance festivals and other people-friendly events. It is a nice, cultural thing that while not hugely recognised, adds flavour to the country.


Matariki Festival performers

I was gobsmacked though when the other day hearing/seeing on TV some bloody retail chain offering Matarki specilas. WTF? Is nothing sacred to New Zealand retailers?



We sem to have the most discount oriented market in the world. Virtually no retailers and certainly no retail chains promote themselves on quality of goods and service alone. Sadly, if they did they would go bust. Everyone wants a bargain even if the bargain they get is shoddy crap that falls apart in a very short time.

Well worth reading



What's next?

Briscoes' World Religion Day on January 17th

Noel Leeming's Buddha Day on 27th May

The Wahouse Ramedan beginning 12 August 



Some retailers and advertisers have no shame.

What are they selling? Men's suits  of course

Saturday, 16 June 2012

BACHING ....


..... this weekend,  like Richard (of RBB) who is also alone as his better half has gone away. With Richard he is also Baching (mad) playing the odd cantata on his various strings.



My better half, the Old Girl has stayed in Auckland this weekend so I'm rattling around in the house alone. The cat woke me early so I've got a few 'chores' out of the way and can look forward to a lazy day and evening. Its cold (well, for Northland its cold at 8 degrees) so I'll get the firewood in and set up for a good evening watching the All Blacks lose to Ireland (just kidding). I'll make that meat pie that I didn't do last week. Pies and rugby go together like strawberries and tennis.


I'll have to leave in the morning as we are going to the opera on Sunday (Rigoletto). A matinee. Seems strange to see opera during the day but Friday night was booked out.  Is this a typical kiwi cultural combination? Rugby and opera?



Well, the Aussi's do football and opera.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE SAFE

In the USA one of the major contributors to road accidents is tyre failure. The new so-called high performance tyres significantly feature in the statistics. Tread separation on steel belted radials is common enough of a problem for there to be lawyers specialising in litigation relating to this.
Here is a what I found on the web:

http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/52597/car_parts/accidents_caused_by_tire_tread_separation.html

and a precis:

Most tires made for the cars that we drive today are steel belted radial tires. The most common defect in steel belted radial tires is tire tread separation. When you add these two facts together, you find that the most common tire defect on the cars we drive is tire tread separation, which can have dangerous and devastating effects for the drivers and passengers of the affected car as well as the people in whatever car happens to be hit by the first car going out of control.

Tire tread separation, which causes the tires to blow out, can drive a car completely out of control. This effect is even worse when the car is traveling at highway speeds, adding a new element of danger. A car with a blown out tire might travel into oncoming traffic, swerve into an extremely dangerous situation like toward a cliff edge, or can roll over, causing damage and possibly further collisions and injuries.

Tire tread separation is an incredibly dangerous possibility, but there is no way to know if your tires are in danger of coming apart short of noticing the early evidence of separation. An accident caused by this defect in the tire's manufacturing could cause grave injuries to your family and loved ones as well as to people in other vehicles should your car go out of control or your sports utility vehicle flip over and roll.



On Sunday night when returning to Auckland I was travelling at about 100km and about 8 km's north of Wellsford there was an almighty noise from under the car and it was difficult to control. I pulled over as quickly as I could thinking the motor had blown up. A quick check underneath (not exactly reassuring when trucks and cars hurtle past on the open road) I established that the front left tyre was disintegrating. 


 The tread in fact was unravelling and the tyre was down to the steel belt on half of it. The unravelled portion had fortunately stayed on long enough to bang underneath the car alerting me to the fact before it totally failed and then it would have been goodnight nurse.



I drove about 80 metres further on to a layby so I could change the tyre. I forgot that  I was driving the Old Girl's car, the Peugeot 206. As I rummaged in the boot I thought WTF there's no spare. I checked the car manual to confirm that this model, the GTi does not in fact have a spare wheel. It has a gas cannister to inflate the low-profile tyre if there is a puncture. A fat lot of use this is when the bloody tyre has disintegrated. What to do? I tried phoning the Old Girl but I was in one of those cell-phone black-out areas.
I put the hazard blinkers on (a great device this) and crawled along the verge for the 8 km to some sort of civilisation (well, it wasn't Palmerston North). 
The first service station I called in to didn't have anything to do with tyres. In fact the attendant just stared at me blankly when I asked if they had a tyre bay. I had to repeat 3 times and point to the car. "Oh, tyres for a car" he said probably thinking I wanted some sort of toy. I could have, after all purchased bread, milk, Weetbix and cuddly toys there . How stupid of me thinking that they would sell parts for automobiles. 

I put the hazard lights on again and drove slowly off to the other service petrol and grocery station at the southern end of town. This one a Caltex. As expected a request for tyre repair was met with blank incomprehension.

I phoned the Old Girl again and fortunately this time got through. I explained my predicament and said that I would park the car up in Wellsford and could she come and pick me up in the Rover (the car with a spare wheel in the boot). The Old Girl, annoyingly, used that female logic, you know, the old 'if its broke, get a man in to fix it". This is totally alien to blokes who, regardless of their mechanical inabilities would rather exhaust all other possibilities before asking for help. She said that she would phone AA. We are members of AA and very rarely use them. Sure enough, in a few minutes AA rang and said that the Old Girl had reported the problem and that they could arrange a tow truck to Auckland. As members we were entitled to a free tow but because of the distance away from Auckland there would be a top up fee. $270 top up fee. I thought for a moment and then said OK. After only 20 minutes the truck arrived (he came from Warkworth, 20 minutes closer to Auckland) and put the car on the back and took me home ( or at least to Beaurepairs where I left the car overnight). Next morning I arrived at Beaurepairs before opening and explained the situation when the franchise owner arrived (nice guy by the name of Owen). We arranged a replacement tyre and, to be safe, replacement of the right hand front tyre as well as they had the same age/wear. Kaching! $570 ( inclusive of wheel balancing.).

Going back to that USA situation there is good argument in tackling the tyre manufacturers. The problem is that the tyres were old (still legal) but proof of faulty manufacture is compromised by age, wear and tear, variability of inflation pressures and incorrect wheel balancing. The stuff of lawyers income. Going back again though to the USA situation, the argument is that safety and quality is being compromised by the greed for volume manufacture and sales.

If here or there there is proof that the tyre manufacturers have been at fault and have caused mnay accidents, injuries and deaths then I know what I'd like to see happen to them.




Tuesday, 12 June 2012

NOISES OFF

I had a phone call from someone wanting to sell radio advertising today:

Caller: Hello, how are you. Do you like rugby? Wasn't the game on Saturday awesome?

Me (what I wanted to say): I don't watch rugby. I hate the game. Why would I want to watch a bunch of overpaid, over-muscled, future wife-beating jocks on steroids running about chasing a stupid ball for no better reason than another entry in the statistics?

Me (what I said): Yes. I thought that the Irish played well.

Caller: Oh yes. The weather's getting cold.

Me: Mmmm.

Caller: I'm calling from the ZB network. You have been especially selected for a great package deal for your radio advertising. We....

Me: We don't use radio advertising.

Caller: ......can put together  something suitable for you with maximum tarps reaching your taget....Oh.

Me: We don't use radio advertising.

Caller Why is that?

Me: There are too many radio stations and the reach is spread too thin.

Caller: Oh. What radio station do you listen to?

Me: I only listen to National Radio and the Concert Station.

Caller: Oh. Why .....

Me: No advertising.

Caller: Oh, but...

Me: I can't think of anything worse listening, while stuck in my car, to a lot of music that there is less than 5% chance I'll like..

Caller: But ...

Me: ... with every unwanted tune being interupted by a loud mouthed poorly educated and rude radio hack making inane observations on the weather, the Kardashians, oppossums in Australia's PM's garden or the dubious merits of the royal sister-in law's bum..

Caller But..

Me: ...and on every hour and half hour a pathetic, sound bite oriented snapshot of news carefully selected to be headline-grabbing, salacious, titillating or vulgar...

Calller: I know but...

Me: and if I switch channels I'll likely get some right wing, red neck boor like Leighton Smith or worse, Michael Laws sucking up to Shonkey or bashing the elderly, the unemployed, environmentalists or anyone sensible enough to vote Labour..

Caller: ..............................

Me: Hello. Hello.


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

EVOLUTION

It was dark when I left home for Auckland this morning but the weather was clear and the roads dry.
Just south of  Whangarei I could see, up ahead something that didn’t look quite right. A vehicle’s tail-lights were off to the left of the road and were a bit askew and headlights were shining at an odd angle illuminating some trees. Rounding a sweeping turn I had to brake suddenly and swerve as a truck-driver jumped out of the cab of his truck that was stopped on the bend. There were other trucks and vehicles stopped on either side of the road. 

 Another driver ran across the road and into a field where a truck and trailer unit lay on its side almost upside down. It looked like a large wounded animal, the steam rising from the crushed bonnet making a hissing and whistling sound. The wheels were still slightly spinning. Another vehicle was also off the road a few metres from the big truck.
All I could see was the underside of it. It was a surprising sight, one that you feel you shouldn’t be seeing. We don’t normally see vehicles from that angle and it reminded me of seeing the back-yards of peoples homes when traveling by train.


I considered stopping but there were already many people there, some with cell-phones in their hands. Another ‘rubber-necker’ wasn’t needed. I continued on to Auckland thinking that as this accident had only happened minutes earlier, if I hadn’t stopped for petrol in Whangarei I might have been involved in this.
The headlights of following cars fell back a bit as they slowed and continued on at a lower speed than previously. To me they personified guilt but it was more likely anxiety and concern.

I hope the driver(s) are OK.

Monday, 4 June 2012

RIP, SHIT AND BUST

Its the only way I know how to do things and today I paid the price.


Today The Old Girl is gardening and asked me to do some weed spraying.

I got out the Roundup and a spray bottle and mixed up a lethal dose (real men don't bother reading the instructions). Walking around the trailer that I had haphazardly parked when i was in a hurry to put the ladder up to check on the chimney before lighting the fire yesterday (in my gumboots on a wet and slippery roof), I collided with a big plant pot that some fool had carelessly left lying about. It cut into my upper shin, taking a good chunk of flesh away. "Never mind", I thought "I'll sort that out later.

Pumping up the spray bottle to maximum pressure to give a decent spray I started my weed destruction. As the power declined I discovered that it was quicker to keep pumping while still spraying. The trouble was that accuracy was compromised with the result that I sprayed my leg. The leg with the open cut.

Holy hell that hurt. The Roundup felt like it was eating its way into me. I went inside and liberally doused the wound with Dettol (that stung but was a relief after the Roundup) and washed it clean.

I think I'll stay indoors for a while and watch 'Come Dine With Me'

Sunday, 3 June 2012

GOD BLESS EE YUR MAJESTY

Well we lucked out with the weather this weekend.
From Thursday through to Sunday so far it has been glorious - warm, sunny and windless.
I went kayaking yesterday before dinner and intend going out again today.


I paddled about a bit on the still water for a while and got a few god photographs although the light was a bit 'flat'.
Coming home I noticed The Old Girl and our guests on the deck and thought I heard the sound of a Champagne cork popping so I stepped up the paddling and made it quickly to the beach.

That's our house in the centre.

Sure enough they had opened a good bottle of Methode Champenoise (and finished it before I got the kayak stowed away).

I showered and put my comfy clothes on. The Old Girl hates my long socks and threatens to chuck them away. "Why don't you put some grown up trousers on" she says along with "I'm not going to be seen with you wearing those Matey!"



Friday, 1 June 2012

IS IT ME?

Driving along an 80k stretch of road today there were road works with a big barrier on the left. There were still two lanes with double yellow lines separating the two going uphill to the crest of the rise.
Fortunately it was reduced to 50k because of the roadworks as a car , on the wrong side of the road was coming right foer me. I swerved as much as I could given that I was restricted by the barrier and the other jerk swerved left cutting in front of the car that he had been parallel to. I don't know if he was trying to overtake on the double yellows or was disoriented due to the road works. Either way it could have been curtains for me.
I in fact thought hat I may have misinterpreted the road worlks sign and had gone the wrong way. I quickly reversed and pulled into the 'site entrance' gap but discovered that I was in the right.
Bastard!


NEW POST - THE RELIGIOUS CURMUDGEON

Robert has freaked out The Religious Curmudgeon. HERE