Wednesday, 31 August 2016


Willow went to the vets on Monday for an op on her teeth.

I recently took her in for blood tests and a check-up as I was concerned she might have an overactive thyroid. The tests showed her thyroid activity to be high but within normal levels.
They also showed that she has possible renal problems for which I've put her on a special diet.

Her teeth needed descaling and there was the possibility of having one removed. Apparently bad teeth can contribute to renal failure so I arranged for her to be operated on. Having been away for a couple of years with her being looked after by others has had an effect (I used to brush her teeth occasionally with a special cat tooth brush).
I was worried about this as she is getting on (16+) and the op requires full anaesthesia.
The vet put her on IV fluids on Monday night, knocked her out and checked her teeth on Tuesday and kept her in again on Tuesday night fur further IV fluids and monitoring.
I collected her this morning and she is OK. No teeth were extracted as they were successfully descaled for which I am most relieved. Blood tests show that her renal functions are now down to the high side of normal so the diet is working.

She's back home now investigating the house and garden and occasionally coming up to me and meowing loudly - I'm not sure what she's trying to tell me, probably complaining about the last couple of days. She has a shaven chest where the blood samples were taken and a shaven paw where the IV was inserted but otherwise looks the same. I notice that she isn't rubbing her face against the corners of boxes so the descaling has obviously made her more comfortable.

Sunday, 28 August 2016


I listen to The TED Radio Hour - RNZ National 7pm Sunday evenings. One of the joys of not having television.

Tonight the several segments were connected by the theme 'success'.

This programme, like many of them was really interesting.
The first segment was about 'True Grit' and the reason that intelligence and initial academic success isn't necessarily a pointer to later academic success and business accomplishment.
Listening to this I realised that I lack 'True Grit'.

I sailed through school at primary, intermediate and secondary level based on I guess my IQ. I never studied, worked hard or had any ambition other than the rather casual one of my family 'preferring' if I became a lawyer.
It was a bit of a mystery to me that fellow students I knew who were not so 'smart' as me and who were one or two classes below the so called elite class I was in, went on to gain university degrees, honours and masters.
The 'True Grit' segment on TED tonight explained that True Grit ' is not about intelligence but about having the ability to start a job or project with the drive and determination to finish it.
I recognised this failing in myself and everything kind of fell into place. I've had bosses who were basically pretty thick but the 'drive' got them to where (I think) they wanted to get.

The next segment on tonights TED, still under the 'success' them was about 'Dirty Jobs'.
These were the essential things that need to be done to keep society running and who is doing them.
It was interesting hearing about the plumbers, pig farmers and sewer workers who eschewed other careers to do what they liked doing but I objected to the overuse of the expression 'passion in their job' and that narrators obsession with wealth creation from doing 'dirty jobs'.
A good outtake though was in the measurement of success - in challenging sacred cows - is it important to be seen as being successful or  is it better to be happy in what you do. I liked that.

The last segment was about work/life balance and the statement that it is impossible to be both a successful business person and a successful family person, That was challenging but I think that a lot of people need to analyse this closely.

Sorry TED followers who might read this as it isn't a review of the programme but merely some outtakes that I'm using to explain my lack of 'success' in conventional terms but that I'm basically happy in what I'm doing.

Yes I coasted at school. Because of this I failed at university (although I still maintain that the sopping up of culture and information in the many, many courses I did have made me rather rounded in my education). Nevertheless I managed to do reasonably well in my career. Not as well as if I had been 'driven' but well enough to have given us a comfortable lifestyle.

If I had 'True Grit' I could have risen to higher business positions, made a lot more money and have had greater stature in the industry that I have chosen to work in.
Instead I basically coasted in this industry as I did at school. This doesn't mean that I don't like the industry - in fact the opposite - I love it and have a kind of romantic connection with it.

The wealth I have in my life isn't acquisitions, big bank balance and status, it is in love and companionship with my partner and good friendships with people I've known and trusted for a long time.

This is success to me and reminds me of that great Alan Toussant song as sung by lovely Bonnie Raitt:



It's a great day up here this Sunday. No wind, sunshine and warm (for August).

I went for my walk and decided to go up Mount Aubrey which I haven't done for a couple of months.

As I had to stop 4 or 5 times on the way up I've decided to do this walk once a week with the goal of going to the top without a stop.

At the top I scrambled up to the crown which is the highest point and affords magnificent views around the harbour. Usually when I'm up there there's a bit of a breeze but today there was no wind at all. As a consequence there were millions of tiny midge-like insects flying around in clouds but luckily weren't the biting kind.

On the way down I met an old chap coming up (not Richard of RBB). This guy is 84 and he still has a go climbing up this mountain. His doctor told him to take it easy so he said he was only going up to the second viewing seat - about 2/3 up. I'm impressed.
He used to be a solo round the world yachtsman and can often be seen kayaking in the bay.
His wife was a long distance swimming champion and in Summer swims back and forth along the bay. She's in her 80s.

I need to follow their example and keep fit so the Old Girl and I can enjoy our dotage.

Friday, 26 August 2016


Some of this is a bit corny but if you persevere it's worth viewing.

The comments on the fallout from too much social media use is good.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


Richard (of RBB) may take up my suggestion of 'grabbing a seat' on Air New Zealand's discount flights sometime next year. It'll be great to see him and Shelley up here.

Ever practical Robert alerted me to the volumes of wine that Richard will drink and this got me thinking about the other supplies I will have to get in and the adjustments that will have to be made.

I know that it's a year away but best to be prepared.

Fortunately we have the spare bedrooms and extra bathroom and toilet but, in case he brings his double bass I'll have to soundproof a room or the woodshed.

I'll need to get extra wine in.

And I know that he eats a lot of Italian-inspired food.

And, of course he is a bit 'anal' about having enough toilet tissue on hand.

Have I missed anything?

Oh yes, I'll have to get those cows in the field behind the house moved. He's afraid of cows.

Sunday, 21 August 2016


Not this:

Ideas and images like this might mean that Nicola will come back and paint penises on my roof!

But this:

We just purchased a couple of return tickets Auckland to Whangarei for $29 for each journey. It's a great deal but you have to be quick and be prepared to buy well in advance. Our bookings are for the end of February next year.

To take advantage of these deals you need to be flexible on dates and times. There are $29 deals for lots of destinations across the country and when I'm (fully) retired I intend to take advantage of them as I intend to do with the Gold Card and free buses and ferry rides.

I was thinking that Richard, when he becomes a man of leisure next year could look out for these deals and fly up to Whangarei to visit.

I know that he doesn't like flying:

But a quick flight has to be better than a very long and uncomfortable bus ride.

Saturday, 20 August 2016


It's Richard's 64th birthday today.
I spoke with him briefly this morning. He seemed chipper despite the advanced years and was excited about going in to Wellington to buy some rosin!

Some rosin?

Well he is old.

And a school teacher.

And a musician.

I had to cut the call short as Denise, a friend and neighbour was flying over our house in a micro-light aircraft and I had to go outside and wave.

It was her birthday last week and the flight was a present her husband bought for her.
Lucky thing although I bet that Richard wouldn't want to do it.

Friday, 19 August 2016

AUGUST 20TH 1952

A solar eclipse occurred on August 20th 1952.

In London a killer smog killed 4000 people.

 At  the Farnborough Air Show 27 people were killed and 63 injured after a jet fighter disintegrated and fell into the crowd.

Nuclear reactor shutoff failure disaster in Canada

Richard (of RBB) born in Wellington New Zealand.

Just saying.

Happy birthday old feller - join the club.


This is the Peter McIntyre painting we have. It is on the wall in our hallway with some other original oil paintings.
Peter McIntyre gave this one to my mother many years ago.

I took this digital shot of it and cropped out the frame as I wanted to use it as a design on a tee shirt I wear. The painting means a lot to me as my mother left it to me when she died.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

2017 - A PREVIEW (excerpt)

My crystal ball has alerted me to a significant piece of legislation that will be passed in February 2017 on the resumption of Parliament in the new year.

At first I found it alarming but, on checking dates was relieved.

Here is a fragment of the report on the new legislation:

" ....... 9 February 2017, 4th Amendment to National Superannuation Bill 1974, passed by majority. Effective date 9 August 2017. Summary follows: 

Due to severe fiscal difficulties as a result of International Monetary Collapse following the election of Donald Trump as President of United States of America several significant budgetary adjustments have had to be made ............ In regards to the National Superannuation Bill 1974 Amendment (4) has been passed which will bring into effect the following:
1. Current annuity to be re-established at 60% of the existing amounts across all categories.
2. Eligible age to be raised to 70 from the existing 65.
The effective date of this to begin on 9th August 2017.
[Note to chosen date - the anniversary of the establishment of the current National Superannuation Bill was 9 August 1974]

Understandably there will be a lot of discussion and discontent over this next year but the general public, having been already exposed to the 'financial storm' at the end of 2016 will be largely accepting of the change particularly those members of the general public who were born before 9th August 1952.

A further fragment of the report follows:

" ..... nothing in the new legislation - 4th Amendment to National Superannuation Bill 1974 and its provisions will effect current superannuants and prospective superannuants born before 9th August 1952 who will attain the current eligibility age of 65 before 9th August 2017. The eligibility age of 65 years will be honoured for people of these birth dates and the full 100% of current remuneration along with annual cost of living increases will be honoured for their lifetimes."

I don't have time to cut and paste a lot of the narrative from various media sources which as you will appreciate will be substantial but this one, from the Chinese Auckland Times will be interesting:

"The choice of the start date of the radical change to National Superannuation eligibility and payments is of keen interest to our Chinese readers. 9th August 1952 is not an auspicious date in the Chinese Calendar second only to 20th August 1952.
The last date for eligibility to the lower superannuation qualification age and to the current 100% level (40% higher than that which will be paid in future) is 8th August 1952. In the Chinese Calendar this date is miraculously beneficial and seen as the epitome of luck. To explain:

  •  The most important year in the Chinese Calendar is the Year of the Dragon. This is a year that brings luck and beneficence to all those born under this year. 1952 was a Year of the Dragon so the last people eligible for the old Superannuation benefit are those born in 1952.

 The last date of eligibility under the old (and better) system is 8th August 1952 - 8/8/1952. In Chinese mythology the number 8 is the luckiest number and one that Chinese people pay disproportionate amounts for house numbers, car license plates and basically anything that has the number 8 in it. This auspicious date is the 8th day of the 8th month in the Year of the Dragon. More significant still is the year - 1952. Numerology breaks this down to 1+9 =10 =1 plus 5 + 2 = 8.   ........."


That's going to be lucky. I'm glad that I was born on 8th August 1952. I do feel sorry for anyone born later though..

Friday, 12 August 2016


It's my Toyota Ist 2004.

This is the little car I have up north which is useful for getting me to the bus station and for shopping.
Occasionally I drive it down to Auckland but generally it just hides behind the house.

It's a great little car and does the job well.

I'm going to change the oil, oil filter and air filter next week. I should have done it today as it's been sunny and warm - very unseasonal but I have to go to town to buy the 'ingredients'.

I decided to wash it instead. When doing this I realised that it hasn't been washed all year so it was well overdue.

It's now shiny clean and no doubt will go much faster.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016


For the last couple of months I've been entering The Listener weekly caption competition.

At first I was unsuccessful until I realised that the sub-editors nowadays are most likely 20- somethings and that anything that is too witty or erudite is likely to go unappreciated.

I decided to dumb things down a bit and as a result was a finalist twice.

This week my caption was the winner.

It's not exactly high-brow and obviously reaches the lowest common denominator.

My prize arrived by mail today which shows that The Listener is on the ball. It's  the latest J.K. Rowling Harry Potter story.

I think I'll step it up a bit and start entering the 'Wordsworth' competition which requires a bit more thought.


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...