Friday, 31 October 2014

DRIVING FURIOUSLY

I have always liked that description - 'Driving furiously'.


I remember studying this in Criminal Law, one of the law papers I did at university.
I think it's still on the statute books. It related to driving horses and carriages in the pre-car days.

It also reminds me of a story an Aunt told me about my Dad during the war. Dad was in the Divisional Cavalry and drove light tanks, staghounds and bren carriers.


On a furlough back to NZ he 'borrowed' his father's car one Saturday night and took his sisters on a jaunt around hometown Blenheim.
Travelling a bit fast down the main street he encountered the new roundabout and managed to swerve to avoid the mound in the middle but went through a hedge and onto a public garden. The sisters shrieked and started to panic but Dad said "don't worry, I've driven through rougher places in the desert" and proceeded to continue across the lawn and through the hedge at the other side.
Next morning on the way to Sunday church Dad's father (in the cleaned up and polished car), when he saw the mess to the park said something like "Darned hooligans, driving furiously". It was all that my Aunt could do to not laugh and blurt out the truth as she was one of the sisters in the car the night before.


Anyway, I'm off to watch Fury, the Brad Pitt WW2 film about tank action. I hope it's good. We haven't had a decent WW2 film since Saving Private Ryan. There have been a couple of other ones but they were pathetic (Inglorious Basterds and The Monument Men). Pity we don't get any good British WW2 films anymore.



Wednesday, 29 October 2014

FAST FOOD



Living on my own it becomes a bit of a chore cooking every night.
I like cooking and think I do a good job. We used to take turn about but for the last year as The Old Girl was working and I wasn't I did all the cooking. This current year as she's on her own in Canada and I'm here we have to fend for ourselves.

Cooking for two is easier than cooking for one as the portions are easier to manage.

I haven't quite got the portions right for cooking for one and always make too much.




I freeze the remainder of course but get a bit tired of reheating something out of the freezer.

Living in the central city is a plus though as there are plenty of options within easy walking distance whether dining or takeaways. Although there are no decent, old-fashioned fish 'n' chip shops - see here:

http://grumpyoldmanreturnsnz.blogspot.co.nz/2012/08/because-its-friday-for-phuks-sake.html

there are plenty of burger places.


Burger Fuel at the top of Queen St is good. I like the different combinations they offer and the quality is great.

I think I'll have one tonight.




Tuesday, 28 October 2014

RENTERS



Unlike Second Fiddle who seems to get a half hour off a year and often then works through that to earn more money to feed his family and dog, I had the long weekend off.

I went up North and back by bus as usual and was collected in my car by our tenant at the other end.
I bought a small car from them which I leave at the house. it's useful for me when I'm staying there.

The weather was superb, especially Sunday morning when I rose early and went for a long walk around the bays before the breeze came up.
This confirmed to me that we made the right decision buying in Whangarei Heads and how much I look forward to getting back there full time.

We have the house rented out but get on really well with the tenants who have invited me to stay anytime I come up. This is manageable because the house is large with two of the bedrooms, an extra bathroom, kitchen and lounge making up the annex or flat at the end of the house. I can then be self-contained but spend a bit of time with them in the main part of the house as well.

They have offered the house to us at Christmas time when they go away for a couple of weeks. This will suit well as The Old Girl will be back from Canada for Christmas/New Year and we'll be able to spend time there with friends.

I watch 'Renters' on TV, a programme about awful tenants who trash the houses they live in and make landlord's lives a misery. It brings home to me how lucky we are with our tenants who not only look after our home but have actually improved it. They have repaired a lot of things, have built a woodshed and keep the trees and garden in good state.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

SAME OLD



The Lewis Road/Whittakers chocolate milk excitement is all the news at the moment.

This brand is based upon two New Zealand icons - milk and Whittakers chocolate.
Simple?
Yes, but there's some clever beat-up going on behind the scenes here.

The source of the milk is a large independent and organic dairy operation.
The source of the chocolate is obviously Whittakers a large and very successful provider.
The packaging is superb and has been heavily invested in. The 'creamery' wording is extremely evocative and sensuous. It flies in the face of the 'low fat', 'non fat' and 'fat reduced' messages that we are being bombarded with.

The viral advertising campaign that we are being seduced with - only available at small and specialised retailers (Farro Fresh eg), limited production, shortages, one delivery being made by an 81 year old man, queues, security firms needing to be present to prevent riots etc. - all smack of a clever campaign.

 This takes me back to 1977 when Baileys Irish Cream was introduced to New Zealand.



At this time there was great excitement at the brand because it was groundbreaking. The product was of no known category being a liqueur that was self-mixed being spirit, additives and a mixer (milk and cream) all in the bottle. We were drawn in. I remember when we tried it at the wholesalers - in the afternoon - we opened the first bottle and each had a sip and then we openedtwo more bottles and all had a drink. I bought two bottles that day which was about a third of my weeks wages.
The whole country went mad. The product was sold out so it never had to be discounted.
People then thought about why it was so expensive. Milk, cream, Irish whiskey, coconut and chocolate - how hard would it be. All over the  country (including my Mum) people started brewing up this concoction.

Home-made Baileys


Before there were any serious 'P-lab' type explosions though the commercial business took over and many 'Baileys-type' altenatives came out.


On TV3 tonight there was a story on this with a reporter concocting a Lewis Creamery and Whittakers type product.

The 'original' he said cost abour $9 a litre. His copy cost about $2 a litre.

 The taste test was in favour of the original by about 5 to 1.



We in New Zealand quite often get sucked in to these types of promotions. It's a throw-back I think to the old days of shortages, quotas and of course being at the arse-end of the world.
Why else would people queue up for Play Stations, iPhone, iPads etc.


CRIPPEN HECK!

Are you aware that manufacturers of cleaning products are not required to list the ingredients that they use in their potentially dangerous products that are on supermarket shelves?

It's a voluntary standard according to NZ Food Safety because they aren't foodstuffs.

Well, whoopdy-do. Why do these toothless watchdogs think that you have to ingest something for it to be dangerous. Haven't they heard about topical application of poisons?

Doesn't 2-4-5T, 1080 and Agent Orange ring a bell? 





These nasty things are all related and do poison and harm through skin contact. 

A real nasty that over the last few years has crept into almost every cosmetic, shampoo, soap or cleaning product is METHYLISOTHIASOLINONE.




See earlier Post here:


https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=7619654581009531930#editor/target=post;postID=4476884946452621633;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=2;src=link


This bastard chemical is being used because it prolongs shelf life and of course is cheaper (or more profitable to the manufacturers) than safer chemicals. It began its life as an anti-algae treatment on the bottom of cargo ships and oil tankers. Apparently it kills plant life trying to attach to hulls. It also kills marine life and contaminates harbours.

I'm allergic to this stuff along with millions of people around the world. I carefully read the back labels of everything I buy from washing machine powder to wet-wipes and choose brands that don't have it listed in the ingredients.

Tonight I shopped at the small corner store and couldn't find the ECO brand of dish washing liquid I usually buy. This brand voluntarily lists the ingredients and methylisothiasolinone is not one they use.
The shop didn't stock this. All of the other dish washing liquids (there were about 8 variants across 2 or 3 brands) had a panel on the back label stating  - LIST OF INGREDIENTS TO BE FOUND ON OUR WEBSITE.

C***ts!

I refuse to use all the big brands and indeed any brands that don't have the guts to list ingredients.

They're hiding something if they don't.



Wednesday, 22 October 2014

POST PIGEON

.....with luck.


One downside of living in a high rise apartment is this little bugger.


He and his friends want to sit on my balcony.



This would be OK except for the mess that they leave.

Mountain of guano

The neighbour on the floor above feeds the scavengers as does someone a couple of floors below.



I've complained to the building manager who says that there's not a lot he can do but he will advise them of the hygiene problems.

Meanwhile I throw balled up socks at the window to scare them away when they settle on my balcony.




This works but I  have to be careful with my aim when the balcony door is open.

Monday, 20 October 2014

SOUL SURVIVORS

Second Fiddle aka Rob The Boring is banging on about religion again.

This time he's convinced that there is something called the 'soul' that will last forever.
When people die their 'soul' will endure and somewhere in the universe all these 'souls' will be sitting around appreciating the creator.


Mmmm...

Maybe it's a spelling thing and by 'soul' he really means 'sole' and that christians will be sitting somewhere on their own.




WTF?



I saw today that Ebola hazard suit costumes will feature in Halloween dress-ups this year.




I was thinking can there be any worse ideas then of course I realised there are and have been.







Here's just a few of them:




Good old Charles proving that the royal family really do need an injection of fresh genes as the old in-breeding plan they've used for the last few centuries is really not working.








Our answer to in-breeding. Sure he's intelligent but man he can be bloody stupid








The guy who designed the New Zealand Airforce roundel.
WTF?
The kiwi is a flightless bird .......hold on. This was prescient. He foresaw what no-one else did, that by the turn of the century New Zealand wouldn't have an airforce.




And lastly......



I won't disappoint Richard of RBB by not slinging off about his favourite instrument.
The guy who invented the double bass. What the fuck was he thinking? As if a single bass wasn't bad enough he had to double it!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

WEEKEND IN THE CITY

I didn't go up north this weekend as it was my niece's 21st birthday party on Saturday.

She's a great young woman, the youngest of my sister's three girls.
They all are marvellous - well educated, clever and with great natures which gladdens me.

Yesterday was very rainy in Auckland so I stayed indoors  but today, Sunday the weather has improved a bit so I'll have a good walk around.

Walking around is about the only thing you can do for nothing in Auckland. It's getting to be pretty expensive to live here.
The Herald on Sunday announces the massive increases in property values as determined by the city council which of course is accompanied by a massive increase in rates.
The inner city where I live has averaged a value increase of 36%. I'm dreading the next rates bill.



The problem with these capital value (CV) increases is, that while making people feel all warm and fuzzy at their vastly increased (theoretical) wealth the increased rates will increase the cost of goods and services. The little coffee bar or the dairy on the corner will have to pass on the increased cost.
That triple shot caramel and hazelnut latte that you enjoy will soon cost 20 bucks.



We'll need wheelbarrows of cash to go shopping soon.



I just bought a car park in the building where we live.
I guess the 48k we paid for it was worthwhile because the council will be patting me on the back telling me its now worth 65k while slipping an increased rates bill into my pocket.



Anyway, I'm off for a walk in the wonderful Auckland Domain soon and then scooting downtown to pick up a coffee before I need to take out a loan to do so.

Friday, 17 October 2014

SINCE THERE'S A SPEED OF LIGHT AND A SPEED OF SOUND, SHOULDN'T THERE BE A SPEED OF SMELL?





Richard (of RBB) confesses to having smelly feet. I certainly hope that it's a local problem and one that doesn't spread to the nicer parts of the country (like up north for example). I hope that the speed of smell is slow enough for us all to get clear before being overpowered.

I suppose that of all instruments that there are connotations attached to them then basses are doomed from the start. It's not as if it's called a 'fine' or a 'sweet and delicate'. No it's a bass.
Its smaller variants are called fiddles but we won't go there.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

BEING PREPARED

I've become used to apartment living and basically it's not too bad.
Admittedly I've got the house up north to escape to but after living in this Auckland apartment or a couple of years and the Toronto one for a year I've kind of acclimatised.

There are lots of rules and etiquette attached to apartment living that is a bit different from regular living. An example is noise.

The body corporate which governs behaviour and sets rules generally outlaws any noise making that can be heard by your neighbour who most often is on the other side of your walls. This is at any time of night or day.

I'm normally a bit tolerant (yes, I said tolerant) as our apartment is in a university area and I accept that music can be played in the evening. What I'm not tolerant over is when music or noise making goes beyond what is reasonable in terms of volume or time.

Last week the neighbour on the opposite side of our living room wall was playing some diabolical bass music - thump, thump, thump etc quite late. I assumed that he'd give it up and go to bed before midnight but no, the bloody racket went on much later. This was a Wednesday night. I couldn't sleep.
At 2.30AM I got up, got dressed and went around the corridor and banged on the neighbours door. He eventually fronted and I told him how unacceptable his music making was. "Sorry, sorry, sorry " was the reply and, sure enough the music or whatever it was stopped.



There hasn't been a repeat I'm pleased to say but it just might happen again.

This time I'll be ready.

I might ask Richard (of RBB) to make me a tape which I can play.

I'm thinking here of what could be the most annoying possible sounds that I can have in my arsenal to play through the wall in retaliation.

The answer?

Bass solos accompanied by Tibetan throat singing which I understand Richard is learning to do.


This can be made I'm sure with or without doing 360 degrees turns while wearing funny hats.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

I GUESS THE PS4 ISN'T GOING TO HAPPEN

Talking to The Old Girl today I dropped a hint that a Play Station 4 would make an ideal Christmas gift for me.



"I'm going to be your Christmas present matey" she said "and that costs about $3000!"







She was referring to the fact that she's coming home from Canada for Christmas which will be good and I must admit the best present I could have.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

AND THAT WAS SUNDAY IN AUCKLAND

It was a pretty nice day in Auckland today so after a lie in I went for a wander around town.

The Diwali festival was in full swing with thousands of people enjoying all the food and entertainment tents in closed off Queen Street.

The video I took with my iPhone won't upload but imagine here Indian street performers beating drums and making a lot of noise while walking up the street wearing colourful costumes (move over Michael Seresin).

There were some unusual stands like this scary one.

I know, I know, the symbol represents Vishnu in Hinduism but really....


and this one with promises of delight.




 After enjoying the festival I went off for a late lunch at Mezze in Durham st.
This is a great place that I'd like to take Richard and Shelley to when they next come to Auckland. There aren't many places like this in Auckland unfortunately. It has a Wellington feel to it (the owner used to run a restaurant/cafe in Courtenay Place).
I like it because it's unpretentious. It has a homely feel with old wooden furniture and doesn't get refitted every other year. You buy and pay for food and drinks at the counter from an extensive tapas-type menu. Lots of choice.

I had my favourite - Spanish Tuna Dip which was up to standard and a glass of Odyssey Chardonnay. Yum.

Yes I got strange looks when photographing my meal


I then walked to the end of Queen Street and watched the ferries coming and going on the harbour.
I sat looking at the wonderful old Ferry Buildings that house Harbourside restaurant and what used to be Cin Cin but is now named Botswana Butchery.



What on earth someone was thinking to rename a celebrated restaurant (Cin Cin) as the extremely ugly sounding Botwsana Butchery is beyond me. I won't set foot in the place and I'm not even a vegetarian.

Wandering back up Queen Street again, I decided to see a film. Of course, being the school holidays the choices were pretty dire.


and,



I used to blame the poor offerings on the theatres catering to school kids but now I think that the crap school holiday selections are because the teachers want to watch vampire films, animated 3D  rubbish and anything featuring Bruce Willis.

From a poor offering I chose The Equalizer (American spelling).




This film was extremely, extremely violent, totally implausible but stylish. Richard will love it.
I enjoyed it.

And so home to a glass of Church Road Hawkes Bay Chardonnay and a chicken stir fry.






BRAIN DEAD

Certainly the reporters for the "SPY' section of The Herald on Sunday are.

In their report on Miley Cyrus's leisure-time activity while in Auckland they say that Miley "loves New Zealand weed" and recount how she told her teen audience in London to "quit smoking and start smoking weed instead ..because weed wll keep you young and get you laid"



Now am I missing something here?

It's my understanding that marijuana (cannabis) is controlled by the Misuse of drugs Act 1975 and that possession of any amount is illegal and can result in a fine of $500 for possession.

What the fuck is a skanky celebrity bint using it freely in Auckland and is allowed to get away with promoting its use to minors?

Now we all know, unless you are already brain dead from overusing the stuff that cannabis is dangerius, patrticularly to developing bodies ie. teenagers.



So where was even the slightest note of condemnation in the 'SPY' report?









Saturday, 11 October 2014

THE WILD WEST

I did go out to the west coast today after all, having a walk around Muriwai.



This is a stunning part of Auckland's coast featuring the black sand beach, aggressive seas pounding the rocks and fishing platforms and of course the gannet colony.



I walked around the cliff area which overlooks the colony.



It's great watching gannets at work and, with the ever strong winds here it takes them ages to land. They hover above you waiting to come in to their favourite spot, nest or to be beside their partner.
It's sort of like watching a plane land at Wellington airport.



The rock area (actually, it's more like well sandpapered surfaces as the pounding surf has worn off all the sharp edges of the rock) is very slippery and dangerous but it's a thrill when the seventh wave comes in and spouts up.






I couldn't walk far down the beach because there's a stream to cross.



The Old Girl normally piggy backs me across so that I don't get my feet wet but she's in Canada so it was no go.




FEELING GUILTY

I hate to say this but in a way I sympathise with Robert and his hatred of retirees and beneficiaries and the handouts that they recei...