Friday, 30 January 2015

THINGS AREN'T ALWAYS WHAT THEY SEEM




Well I know which version I like better.

I wonder if it was one of these MuncHkins who hanged himself on set?

Monday, 26 January 2015

NEARER MY GOD, TO THEE*

* For Robert to whom I've been a bit mean to recently, making fun of his religion.

To continue the weekend activity theme, this weekend I spent time at my Northland house.



The tenants we have there have become friends and, as we have lots of room (a separate two bedroom living area at the rear of the house), they encourage me to come up any weekend I choose.
I bought a car from them and leave it there.


Rod drives into town to collect me from the bus on Saturday mornings and drives me back on Sunday evenings. This weekend I stayed through until Monday as it was Auckland Anniversary weekend. Magic.

On Saturday Rod and I walked around the bay and up a few hills. The views from the track across Whangarei Harbour are pretty special.

On Sunday we did the Mount Manaia walk.



Having done the "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" midday walk on Rangitoto and Waiheke recently I decided that 9AM should be the latest we headed out. As it turned out 7AM would have been better.
It was hot but the walk (climb) is great and the rewarding views from the top make it all worthwhile.

View from top of Mt Manaia over McLeod Bay where I live


To get to the top requires walking/climbing over 400 metres.
After the massive storm in 2011 which washed out a lot of the track an expensive (and very worthwhile) rebuild has put in a bridge across a new ravine and over 1,000 steps.

Here's 39 of them - 961+ to go (literary allusion for Richard of RBB)

The geology at the top is impressive, weird and interesting.













There is an exhilarating natural viewing platform about three quarters of the way up where you can walk out to the edge of a flat rock and look out. "look out' is apt as there is a 300 plus metre drop off at the end of the  downwardly sloping rock. It is one of those 'funny feelings in the goolies' places which I've experienced when parachuting, parapenting, climbing scaffolds or looking over the cliffs of Mhor.



This was a great walk and one I like to do every month or so.
The thing that 'gobsmacks' me is that it is on my doorstep. To get to the start of the walk it is a simple walk along the road, up the hill at the end of our road for about a quarter of a mile.
Admittedly when arriving at the start of the walk which shares a carpark with the Maniaia Club of which I'm a member there is always the internal debate - 'nice cold glass of wine or beer or a mountain climb?' - that goes on but at least I go walking during the day and not the evening which makes it easier.

After the walk, when I got home I changed into my swimming gear and stepped into the water at the end of our drive (across the road) and luxuriated in cooling (but not too cold as I am a wuss), refreshing and beautifully clear water for about a half an hour pondering why on earth I don't live up here all year round.

MUSIC SCULPTURE ON WAIHEKE




This is a musical installation on the Waiheke Sculpture trail.
Telephone wires set ot on a hillside with music emanating from them.

I don't know how it works but it's neat.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

ART FOR ART'S SAKE

I went to Waiheke Island today to view the Headland Sculpture display.
This is at Matiatia Bay where the ferries dock and runs along the headland in and out of regenerated bush to Church Bay.

There are over 30 sculptures some of them really large installations and the walk is at least a couple of kilometres.

It was stunning.

This is a world class 'exhibition' and it was free.

The walk itself is great with views out over the Hauraki gulf and Waitemata harbour but with the sculptures in the foreground makes for pure magic.



The sculptures range from massive to small; elegant to bizarre; clever to pretentious but most with a great sense of 'place', using the beautiful setting well.







The huge metal dandelions are one of my favourites with the clever depiction of the flower seeds  being  separated by wind.



This mirror sculpture was outstanding. at certain angles the installation almost disappeared, merging with the sky and clouds. The pole mirrors stood really high but somehow were sympathetic with the surroundings as they reflected all about them.









This metal flower tent was both grand and elegant.
You can climb inside and see out towards Rangitoto. It was my favourite.



This spiral project is a great example of something striking that comes from a very simple concept. The lines are 'drawn' using duct tape - lots of it - pinned down to a hillside. It is visible from the gulf and epitomises creative thinking.



This mock cellar door reflects the island's wine history and was really quite clever.



This was just a bit weird.



This one, made of painted cloth strips looked like a grape vine and suited the location. Simple and clever.

All of the sculptures are for sale but of course, given that this is Waiheke and a tourist mecca , they are very expensive but what the hell. This is a great showcase.


Leaving and returning to Auckland's ferry terminal we go past this tribute to greed.





The Serene (should be renamed Obscene) is the $400 million plaything of a Russian billionaire.

Apparently he has made most of his money by owning Stolychnaya vodka.

They would have us believe that it comes from this:



The reality is that this huge wealth is based on this.





MONEY FOR GOD'S SAKE

Thursday, 22 January 2015

THESE BASTARDS ARE TRYING TO KILL ME # 2


Click on this:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?x-yt-ts=1421782837&v=iqakVhE8HYo&feature=player_detailpage&x-yt-cl=84359240&list=PL1rWCDNqC548vW5xKkctCxqPMqtaIfcyT


Notice anything about this ad that is being given prime-time exposure on TV?

Yes, this dick is driving on the right hand side of the road which is particularly scary when going around corners.

Sure you might say, Volvo is a European car and this is a European (or American) ad.
OK, but why fucking well show it on New Zealand TV then? We drive on the left hand side of the road (or at least some of us do). Using this ad in its unadapted format is arrogant in the extreme. I'm really amazed that some advertising standards watchdog hasn't picked up on it. Well, really I'm not surprised as advertising standards in New Zealand is a voluntary standard and the advertisers know that, when advertising dollars are short for TV channels that they can get away with anything.

Bastards!

Which brings me to my theme.

Bastards on the road trying to kill me.

A whole lot of bleeding hearts are disputing the necessity for either banning overseas drivers from our roads or making them sit some sort of test before letting them behind the wheel. A lot of these have vested interests in encouraging tourism and sweep the issue under the carpet. I bet that none of them have come around a corner to find a bloody great campervan coming straight at them on their side of the road.



Now I heven't had a near miss with an overseas tourist but I have had a near miss with someone travelling on the wrong side of a dual carriageway.

It's not bloody funny.

I'm not talking about drivers overtaking and bearing down on you although that's happened to me many times.
The most recent of these was a couple of months ago in Northland when a crazed c**t driving a hotted up red Holden (you can get the picture) was on the wrong side of the road, sweeping around a blind corner, on the other side of double yellow lines - travelling extremely fast well over 100kph.
I was in (yes, I know) a campervan driven by a friend. Fortunately he had his wits about him and managed to hold the road with two wheels in the gravel on the left. The red car missed us by a whisker, clipping the wing mirror in the process.
I remember seeing the Holden driver's eyes - he was almost in our front seat - and they were crazy. Drug induced craziness. Probably 'P'.



Bastard!

The dual carriageway incident was a few years ago in Manukau.
There's a dual carriageway (double lines each way) with a grass strip down the middle - kind of like the Porirua motorway. I was driving along in the outside lane and crested a hill to find a car bearing down on me, in my lane, travelling extremely fast. Fortunately there was no-one at that point in the left lane so I moved left just in time as the crazy bastard went by just missing me. I remember his eyes - you get the picture? Yes, he was just about in my front seat. Yes he was drug affected. Yes probably 'P'.



Bastard!

Now I'm no saint. I speed, or at least used to. I've done some risky overtaking movements (no longer).
When driving in France and Italy I've gone around roundabouts the wrong way.

Bastard!

Yes, I agree. I should have been made to sit a test before sitting behind the wheel (on the left side of the car).



Wednesday, 21 January 2015

CREEP



No, I don't mean this guy although he is a bit disturbing.
What I'm referring to is the fact that old age doesn't just happen, it creeps up on you so gradually that you normally don't notice it.

Sure we all get aches and pains. Some of us lose hair in wanted places. Others gain it in unwanted places. Some get better looking. Some get uglier - fatter - skinnier - shorter etc.

Generally though we don't really feel any different to the way we were when young.

But ...

I'm beginning to notice a shift in the power base.

Remember that old saying that as you get older policemen look younger?


Recently I've noticed in the news that important and powerful decision makers are starting to look ridiculously young.


In bars and restaurants young couples who to me look like students are talking about houses, mortgages, children and future proofing.

Oh, well, might as well enjoy being old.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

REGRETS # 4

I've been lucky to have travelled quite a lot with my work over the last 30 years and to have taken some great trips with The Old Girl.

These trips, both work related and holiday have been to Australia, USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy, South Africa, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, China and various Pacific Islands.

In these countries I've usually visited many different cities and areas getting a good overview of them.

I regret though that I didn't travel earlier in my life.

I should have done so instead of going from school to university or at least should have done so before going to university.
No doubt I would have had a better attitude to study if I'd been a bit more mature and worldly wise.

In the 1970's the world was a different place. It wasn't necessary safer but the political landscape was a lot simpler. It was easier to travel to Middle Eastern, African, Asian and European countries as a tourist especially a non-American one.

Add caption


Air travel was incredibly expensive compared to today (in the '70's and '80's the cost of a ticket was about the same as it is today but not inflation adjusted.
Being young though it would have been cheaper by staying in hostels, camping grounds, sleeping on the floor of people's flats etc - something I wouldn't consider doing now.


It's unlikely that I'll get to see Morocco, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Sudan, Egypt and Iran but could have in earlier days.



One ambition I have is to trace my dad's footsteps in his WW2 campaign - Greece, Crete, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Italy - trying to see things that he would have seen. While the cities and big towns will have changed a lot, the countryside and smaller towns and villages probably less so.

Hopefully, world politics allowing, this is still possible.

Monday, 19 January 2015

REGRETS # 3

I've seen a lot of New Zealand, having lived in both the North and South Island over the years and have taken time to get about.

I used to go tramping a bit and for many years went skiing at most of the country's ski-fields.
I loved the mountains so much that I used to visit Taranaki and Ruapehu in the summer months as well climbing as far as I could. Mountains have a mysterious power which is compelling and I can understand why mountaineers take such risks.

Mount Taranaki
Mount Ruapehu


There are some parts of New Zealand that I haven't seen yet however and I regret not having done so before. I haven't been to Great Barrier Island, Stewart Island or the Chatham Islands and must make the effort sometime soon.

Two years ago The Old Girl visited Stewart Island with a friend of ours from Baltimore. It was the first time that either of them had been there and T.O.G. reports that it was well worth the visit. Being so far away from the centre of things it was like stepping back in time perhaps to the '70's. This appeals to me.

Port Pegasus - Stewart Island


She explored a bit and enjoyed the birdlife there.


ROBERT'S POPE FOR PM

The angel on his shoulder is an advantage


I saw on the news that Pope Alphonso or whatever his name is paraded in front of millions of people in the Philipines on the weekend.


This was impressive (although the yellow poncho raincoat was less so. Why couldn't the bloody catholic church organise a white one?

Anyway the attendance figures make for some useful statistics and I've put together an analysis of these.*

6 million people paraded to support the pope.
4 million people live in New Zealand
If this was extrapolated to New Zealand then 150% of the population supports the pope.
Ergo, the pope should be our Prime Minister

Certainly old pope Pablo would be more popular than our current Shonkey. For a start he has some decent ideas about morality, fairness, equality and anti-corruption. He still has a bit of a way to go re women's rights, contraception and freedom of speech when it is related to lampooning religions but I guesss that is to be expected.


At least he doesn't make a complete ass of himself on the world stage when trying to be clever or funny unlike our pathetic (and inexplicably popular) PM.








* Statistics isn't really my forte. I failed Statistics and Computing at university.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

BLOODY NORA - SORRY, BLOODY SKY

I went on the Rangitoto walk today, something I haven't done for a few years.



Rangitoto is Maori for 'Bloody Sky' with the name coming from the full phrase Ngā Rangi-i-totongia-a Tama-te-kapua ('The days of the bleeding of Tama-te-kapua'). Tama-te-kapua was the captain of the Arawa waka (canoe) and was badly wounded on the island, at a (lost) battle with the Tainui iwi (tribe) at Islington.


Thank you Mr wikipaedia

After walking the tracks around Whangarei Heads over New Years break this was a doddle.

It's a bit steep at times:


No. I exaggerate, it's more like this:



The only trouble was that I took the 12.30 ferry over and started walking just before 1PM.
It was hot. Stinking hot.

You've no doubt heard this expression:



Well it was certainly appropriate today. Sweat perspiration poured off me as I walked briskly up to the top feeling rather proud of myself until meeting little kids coming down. Bastards.

The 360 degree views from the summit are well worth the effort.



I'll be happy to show visitors around over there. Robert, we can kayak over and back as an alternative to taking the ferry. It makes for a good day out.

"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...