Friday, 20 February 2015

OFF THE AIR?

I'm off to the UK today for a weeks work there at trade shows and customer visits.

This means living out of a suitcase which I hate.



I much prefer when travelling, to go to one place and stay there for a while but this time I'll be in five different locations during the week and only staying in the one place two nights. Bummer.

The following week I'll be in Canada visiting the Old Girl. She says it's in the minus 20's at the moment but at least I'll be stopped in the one place for the week.




Last time I was in the UK I had a lot of trouble with internet access so may not be able to give you very valuable updates for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY







I like to look at this Christmas video that The Old Girl's work put out at the end of last year.

Yes I know that 'Happy' has been maybe over-used but it is joyous and a deserved classic.

Of course what I really like looking at in the video is The Old Girl in Canada in the snow.
She features at 1 minute 47 seconds and two minutes 40 seconds.

I'll be seeing her over there on the 28th February. I can't wait.

Monday, 16 February 2015

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

CLICK HERE


 Remember this?

 Status can be very important and you need to get it right if you don't want to have your face slapped.

I've said before that the Old Girl and I have been happily unmarried now for over 27 years. This works very well and as my mother is dead now there doesn't seem to be much of a reason to get married.

There is a niggling problem though and that is in describing our relationship to others, particularly commercial and official agencies.

As I don't refer to her as 'my wife' the usual reference is as 'my partner'.

Depending on the context sometimes it is assumed that she is my business partner. This is not too much of a problem as in addition to being my life partner she is my business partner in that we share all our finances equally.

No, the problem is that sometimes in these enlightened times when I say 'my partner' I can see by the reaction of the querant that it's assumed that I'm an old gay guy and my 'partner' is this person.


Friday, 13 February 2015

CRANKING IT UP # 2

Well, this new series has already made it to the second issue.



Now I might be stretching it a bit complaining about the disappearance of a product I last bought in 1965 but there was a chocolate covered toffee bar that I loved when I was a kid.

I don't have an image of it but it was in a rectangle shape about 50mm wide by 90mm long.
It was avery hard caramel (maybe toffee) covered in dark chocolate. It was probably made by local producer Whittakers who seemed to dominate in those days before the international multi's took over supply in New Zealand.
The thing that made this bar memorable was its shape. It consisted of about 6 'bumps' or 'knucles' that theoretically you could break off and eat individuyally. In reality you'd need to have teeth like a horse to bite one off or leave the bar in the sun for a while but then the chocolate would all melt off.

These were delicious and cost 3d I think.

I used to buy one once a week on the way to woodwork class. I went to Marist Newtown which was a small school and didn't have workshops. To go to woodwork class we had to walk down Tasman Street to the polytech in Buckle Street passing the 'dairy' by the Boy's Institute on the way. This place stocked some great things like the afore-mentioned slab and these:





















This 'dairy' was where I first discovered Banana Bikes which had just been introduced.


Yummy
Banana Bikes weaned me off the chocolate thingy.















Thursday, 12 February 2015

HOME ALONE

LOOK HERE

 Richard of RBB tonight is experiencing a night without his wife.
Now Shelley is a wonderful and caring woman who looks after people in need ( I guess that that is self-evident as I did say that she had married old Richard after all).

Anyway, Shelley is looking after an old Scotsman in the neighbourhood (not TSB) because the social services that we grew up believing were the best in the world must be having yet another off day. Ever since Poor-la Bennett got involved in this extremely important part of our society things seem to have been going backwards.

So Richard is spending the night alone as Shelley has to stay next door with the old neighbour.

Poor baby!

Maybe this will give him an insight into me and The Old Girl's situation where we are separated for a year (365 days less the time she spent here at Christmas and the time I'll spend with her in Canada in a week or so).

Perhaps Richard can SKYPE of FACETIME with Shelley to keep in touch.

Then again he's probably discovered the cache of good chardonnay by now.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

CRANKING IT UP

Richard of RBB, via his late beloved mum, is calling me a crank because I was banging on mentioning what food I eat.

Hey, I like a challenge (sorry Gloria) so I think I'll do a whole series of posts about food.

" The Web community, readers, the reader will probably remember that when I decide to do a series of posts they usually run dry after a couple but this time, hot-diggedy, I'm going to break records"

 Today's important announcement:  CABIN BREAD

Remember Cabin Bread?



This great snack has a history going back to the good old days of sailing ships and global exploration.
The large, basically tasteless, 'hard-tack' biscuit is about twice the size of of a normal water cracker and is thicker.

I was first introduced to them in the late 1970's by a previous girlfriend. I don't know why we never had them at home when we were kids - it's not as if it's a luxury item. My introduction was after the girlfriend and I had been smoking a bit of the green stuff in her mother's garden. When Muriel, her mother (one of my 'mother's-in-law') came home she said:

"You kids look like you need a snack"
Which cracked us up no end (wacky baccy does that to a person as well as giving you the munchies) so we laughed a bit.

I don't think Muriel knew what the joke was but then again, who knows.

The snack consisted of cabin bread lavishly smothered with a chunky tomato relish and then with thick slices of Gouda cheese. Bloody marvellous. This 'snack' could serve as one of the best hors d' oeuvres ever. EVER.

"Well, I did have the 'munchies'"

Since then I've often had a slab of Gouda cheese in the fridge and a supply of cabin bread and a decent relish (often home-made) on hand.

When I looked for cabin bread recently in Countdown I couldn't find any. It'd been eliminated. Bugger!

When next in  New World I had no luck finding cabin bread. Also delisted. Bastards!

These supermarkets (a duopoly unheard of around the world) spend millions of suppliers marketing contributions telling us that they have everything the consumer wants.



Bullshit.

I hope that I can find some in some of the few remaining independent  grocery stores.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

THE INCONSTANT VEGETARIAN

In 1979, when I was looking for a flat to live in Wellington I chose one that was infested inhabited by vegetarians.



In my university days the norm was to live in a house for a year and move on the next year - a kind of musical rooms. In 1979 I had the chance of living in a really nice house in Brooklyn that had great views out across the city.

Worth selling your soul for


In my 'interview' the residents stressed that they only ate vegetarian and would not condone anyone eating meat.


Of course I said no problem, vegetarianism is me don't you know. I was duly accepted (hey, I was lovely back then) and planned to move in a week later.



In the following week I went to the library and researched vegetarian cooking. My old stand-by meals of spaghetti Bolognese, meatloaf, wiener schnitzel, sausage and apple bake etc weren't going to cut the mustard with this lot.



I spent a year in that flat doing my share of the cooking (usually once per week) with some adventurous and outstanding dishes. I discovered that the 'head of the household, a guy who had been living there for a couple of years and who had obviously set the vegetarian standard could only cook vegetarian baked beans (out of a can) and deep-fried chips. Prat.

As was de-rigeur, I moved out at the end of the year and reverted to carnivorousness but retained a knowledge of and love of vegetarian cooking.

When I say vegetarian cooking I don't really mean vegetarianism but more a love and appreciation of the use of vegetables, pulses, nuts and beans.



I eat meat about once a week (chicken, beef, lamb) usually in the form of strips in a stir-fry. I eat fish once or twice a week and the rest of the time I tend to make vegetable-based dishes.

OK?


Right. But before you think that I'm some kind of New Age nut let me tell you that I don't take this to extremes.
Basically I'm too lazy to go the whole vegetarian cooking and eating way. It's hard work ensuring that the larder and fridge is stocked with fresh, healthy and yummy-looking things. My fruit and vegetables always look a bit sad after a few days.



Tonight I cooked a 'vegetable dinner'.
I had some broccoli and cauliflower in the fridge that hadn't gone past it's best used date and potatoes in the cupboard. So. Roast potatoes - cut a large potato into pieces and par-boil. Add a little bit of a good oil and herb of choice (rosemary is best) and cook in a hot oven. Quickly microwave the broccoli and cauliflower until cooked but still crunchy (not with the shit boiled out of them like your mother used to do). The cauli and broccoli to go into a cheese sauce - teaspoon of butter or marge, flour, milk and grated cheese with a bit of pepper and mustard (wholegrain French is best).

The result? Bloody marvellous but - it won't win any brownie points with that lovely vegan woman down the road.



But then again, she wouldn't have looked twice at me in my 'salad days'.


Monday, 9 February 2015

PUTTING IT IN PERSPECTIVE

Poor old Richard is wondering what's it all about and can't decide whether to read the Bible or 'Mrs McLarey's Dairy'.

I think he needs some guidance here so I'm recommending a good book for him that will keep him away from that scary higher thought.



CHAMBER OF HORRAS



It seems like most of the blogging community is either joining or leaving orchestras at present.

Richard joined up and now seems to be leaving citing pressure of work and the necessity to do more double bass practise.

It's good to see that he's so dedicated to teaching young aspiring musicians.



Robert, who is going to replace him will do well I'm sure as long as he stays focused.


Sunday, 8 February 2015

WHO ARE YOU GOING TO CALL*

* Grammatically correct version of a famous cinematic tag-line.

I've been working .....


Yes, smart-arses, working today on a sales and marketing plan.
Yes I know it's Sunday and yes I know that I don't get paid on weekends but it's something that needs to be done and I felt like doing it. OK?

To be honest this last week has been a bit slow and I've struggled to fill in the 4 hours a day that I get paid for so when the boss on Thursday asked for help in doing the business plan I jumped at it.
Most of the work was done while watching the Rugby Sevens on TV so no real down time lost.

Anyway, no thanks to your interruption, I've been finishing up the spreadsheets and narrative today (no TV but listening to good music) and doing some domestic jobs.
One of them was filling the dishwasher and setting it to wash. I haven't used the machine for about 4 months preferring to hand wash small amounts of dishes as I go but this time I'd accumulated quite a few bits and pieces as a result of being engrossed by the rugby on TV and knocking together the work documents.

The machine worked OK but on opening it and clearing the dishes I noticed an oozy slime that had seeped out onto the floor. It was viscous and a pale white, almost transparent colour.
The mind boggles as to what it was but my innate politeness and Puritanism preferred to identify it as ectoplasm.



I know who I'm going to call.








Friday, 6 February 2015

THE BIG MONEY MACHINE



I like many many others have relished seeing USA play in recent IRB Sevens competitions and the improvements that they've made.

It's been particularly noticeable in the Wellington Sevens competition in the thrilling Pools match against South Africa.
They really looked as if they were going to trounce the bastards buggers boks.

It's only Friday night so who knows, they might go through yet.

But.

A big but.

Not this one


How come we didn't see the Yanks embracing this wonderfully exciting sports competition earlier?

Were they too busy?



Distracted?



No.

I suspect that it wasn't until the 'big bucks' opportunity of the Olympic Games came calling before they stumped up. In 2016 at Rio the Sevens will be officially a part of the Olympics.

A nation of sports people as they'd have us believe?

No.

A nation governed by greed, corruption and usury as they've been doing since their inception.

Yes.




Wednesday, 4 February 2015

"I NEVER THOUGHT YOU WOULD EVER DO THAT ....."

..... said my mother back in 1970 when she came to watch me playing rugby in my 7th form at school.
My mother had watched me play rugby league in primary and soccer in intermediate right through to secondary and had always been pleased with my gentlemanly behaviour on-field.


While the primary and intermediate results were good, the secondary soccer results were frankly appalling.

St Pat's in the 1960's and before (I don't know about afterwards) had a policy of it being compulsory to play rugby unless you could prove, by showing a doctor's certificate, that you were incapable of playing rugby and thereby had to play one of those nancy-boy sports like soccer. Being totally excused of any sporting activity was not considered. I had played soccer for the last 4 years at intermediate and considered myself quite good at the game. I was a devastating inside right and could score goals from just about anywhere. When, just before winter of 1966 the sporting muster began I said no to being weighed for the 3rd form rugby grade and said that I wanted to play soccer.

The form teacher went pale and had to sit down for a while .

 Time passed. In the afternoon during mathematics class Father Scambury, the sports master came to the classroom and called me out. While nowadays this would have been a great challenge, when you are 13 and made to parade out in front of your peers it is devastating.

Old Scambury (who was later my hurdles coach on the athletics team)  spent the next 15 minutes trying to convince me to change my selection from soccer to rugby. When I refused he said that I had to get a doctor's  letter to excuse me. Bewildered I recounted this to my parents who, as a reflection of the times, acquiesced and my mother took me to doctor Campbell who wrote down that I had a history of asthma and could not be expected to play rugby.

I played soccer.

From third form through sixth form.

Most of the teammates (other than the soccer enthusiasts who had to go through the same ordeal as me) were legally blind, mental, obesely overweight, or, in one case, had callipers on his legs by dint of having had polio. (Readers who are familiar with Richard of (RBB) and suspect that he falls into one or all of these criteria rest assured he didn't play soccer, he played rugby).


We lost.

Every game we played except against St. Pat's Silverstream.

Why? Because every other school (except for St. Pat's Silverstream) didn't have this 19th century Public school mentality.

So, when I was seventeen in the 7th form and, through some good athletic performances and being invited into the elite club at school the 'Athletics Team' where girls, good times and godliness were de-rigeur, I switched to rugby.

Halleluiah.

In the pre-season muster where we were sorted by weight for the grades I was deemed a second grade being that I was (in those days) svelte and kind of like Donatello's 'David'.


I think Richard was in the first grade where he'd been since the third form.

At the pre-season trials I performed very well but didn't understand the off-side rule having come from a soccer background so was relegated to 2B team. This was, as it turned out, pretty fortuitous because 2A crashed and 2B was the only unbeaten team in the school that year. My team.

When my mother came to watch me play, half way through the season, I was playing on the wing in the game against Wellington College. At one point when I had collected a pass on the side-line I set off for the try-line. After stepping around some defenders on my way to the try-line the Wellington College full-back tried to tackle me but I fended him off with my left hand while tucking the ball under my right arm. He was gone and I continued to score the try oblivious to what was behind me.

 bit like this only smaller and slower

Apparently in fending off the full-back I had inadvertantly poked him in the eye. He wasn't permanently damaged but instead of my mother congratulating me on a great try she berated me as per the heading of this post.



No wonder I've grown up to be non-aggressive and have basically been an under-achiever.



Tuesday, 3 February 2015

DIDDLY SQUAT



I've liked Ridley Scott as a director ever since watching the excellent Alien and the outstanding Blade Runner. Gladiator, Black Hawk Down and Thelma & Louise a were OK too so I was looking forward to seeing Exodus: Gods and Kings which I saw today.

Boy was I disappointed.

This film is pedestrian. Sure there is some spectacle and the Red Sea sequences are in fact gob-smacking but you'd think that a story that has plagues, massacres, divine vengeance and the biggest escape in history would be a bit more exciting.

The 10 plagues of Egypt were there. Check off the crocodiles, the red Nile, the locusts, the Angel of Death amongst the others but they were limp. Limp. As a viewer it was a case of "ho um, what's next".



I don't know what Scott was thinking. The vengeful God is portrayed as a young boy. OK, I admit it'd be a bloody cliche if he'd been portrayed as a mad old man with severe eye-brows but really. He could have got his old collaborator Hans Giger who created the alien to knock up a god-like character which would have been better..



In the credits Ridley attributes the film to his brother Tony who died recently. Maybe that's why.


There was Diddly Squat to be had at Q wine bar as well.



Today is The Old Girl's and my 27th anniversary of living together in unmarried bliss.

The problem is that for this anniversary she is in Canada and I'm here. Before she went back a few weeks ago I bought her a half bottle of Pol Roger (one of her favourite Champagnes) to open on the day and I said I'd have a couple of glasses of a Champagne or decent Methode Champenoise at one of our local watering holes. I discovered that one of the closest, Q bar by the Town Hall has Deutz Blanc de Blanc by the glass so earmarked that. I went to the 3PM screening of Exodus: Gods and Kings and at 5.40 (it's a long film) toddled off across Aotea Square to Q. The bar was closed! A receptionist said that all the staff were "in a meeting" which is usually jargon for "we have a major problem and might close soon". I hope not as it is one of the few places in the nearby area that serve a decent drink.

Bugger!

I came home to the apartment and went down to our newly rented lock-up and retrieved a bottle of Louis Roederer Champagne congratulating myself on renting the lock-up as it's much cooler in the basement area that in the apartment so the wine is slightly cool. I've jammed it in the freezer to give it a blast before opening.



I hadn't intended to drink the Roederer as The Old Girl and I normally share a bottle of Champagne but - needs must.

I can always drink the second half of the bottle tomorrow (using that old teaspoon in the bottle trick which does work) as, in Canada time tomorrow is Tuesday the 3rd February.


Monday, 2 February 2015

A COUPLE OF GRIPES. OK?

Now I don't want you to think that I moan all the time but there are some things that get up my nose.

Here are a couple and I may find others as time goes on. Really.

Escalators.

I don't think that Kiwis understand how to use escalators. Not the getting on or off but I have seen some odd exits,


no I mean the etiquette.

An escalator is essentially a staircase. Just because it's moving doesn't change this fact.
Would you stand still in the middle of an ordinary staircase? I think not so why the fuck do so many people just stand there going up or down escalators. This is particularly irritating on long escalators.



These morons should travel to cities like London. They'd soon find that they'd get shunted out of the way in the Underground.



Debit cards.

Sure, these are a great innovation and has made life so much easier in buying stuff without having to visit the bank in advance. But this shouldn't apply to very small purchases.
I've seen people using a card to buy a bloody ice cream for god's sake.



Last weekend on the return bus from Northland we stopped as usual at the Kaiwaka cafe. The stop is only for 15 minutes and as there were a couple of buses there with resultant long queues it was touch and go whether there would be time for a coffee.
Three people in front of me used cards to purchase small items. One - a coffee. Another - a sausage roll. The third a sandwich and a cup ot tea and held things up further by demanding an itemised receipt.
When I ordered my coffee and paid with cash the assistant was relieved as their card system was slow due to a dodgy phone line.

My observation is that it is mainly younger people who are the ones doing this most.



Us oldies like a bit of cash in our pockets.



Sunday, 1 February 2015

SO WHAT'S NEW?

For me the most exciting thing that's happened this week is that I rented a lock-up.

Living in a small apartment means that you can't keep a lot of stuff around you.

I like a lot of stuff.



Initially I rented a lock-up in one of those storage companies. this was OK but was a few kilometres away which made it a chore getting things in and out. I need the space for wine samples as much as for my personal stuff.



During the week a locker came up for rent in our building and I jumped at the chance. It costs $30 a week which is cheaper than the commercial one I was renting. I checked it out and signed the contract.
Today I took suitcases, wine, excess furniture, winter clothes, bits and pieces down to it. This is easy as it is right next to the lifts in the garage area and very close to my car-park. Perfect.

The lock-up is a very large storage room with lots of shelving. It is much better than I was expecting.



It's about a quarter the size of our apartment too so who knows, if Richard (of RBB) visits again he could stay in it.

"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...