Sunday, 26 February 2017

THE NICEST PEOPLE I'VE KNOWN PART 2 CANCELLED


The nicest people I've known - Part 2




Part 1 of this series unfortunately attracted too much negative comment and indeed threatened to blow up into a major religious war.

And this was just limited to Catholicism!
Imagine if the post had attacked other religions and beliefs like - gasp - Islam.




Geremy/Robert's witterings would be nothing compared to what these idiots might do.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

THE NICEST PEOPLE I'VE KNOWN PART 1.

I haven't written a post series for a while like the 'lucky' series, the 'stupid' series, the 'worst' series etc. that I've done in the past. Usually I start off with great intentions and then the series sputter out after a few.

This time I'll see if I can do better and the theme is THE NICEST PEOPLE I'VE KNOWN.
Fortunately I've met a lot of nice people who have enriched my life so I'll do the posts in groupings rather than individuals.

Part 1 will be the Religious people that have crossed my life. Religious is written as a proper noun to denote people who are part of religious orders rather than just those nutters and 'god-botherers' who don't belong to religious orders but who still feel that they should bang on about it to all and sundry - you know the sort of people I mean.

The Religious orders I will refer to are all Catholic as I was educated in the Catholic faith so consequently was taught by Nuns, Brothers and Priests.

Not all of these were nice people but the majority certainly were.

NUNS

Not Ray Nunns who worked at Murray Roberts years ago. While not exactly not nice, Ray was a funny rogue but a little bit bent. A bit of a con man and definitely dodgy.

No, I mean these people.



When I was at primary school (St Joseph's and St Anne's) from 1957 through 1961the Sister of Mercy nuns wore the whole kit and kaboodle like in the photo graph above - the second from the left not the scary one on the far right. Nowadays nuns have gone 'mufti' wearing normal clothing which kind of takes the fun and mystique out of it in the way that Mass services lost it in the late 60s when they dropped the latin service.

Over the four or so years that I was in Primary there were some nice nuns who took a real interest in what we were doing and who were really good teachers. Being cloistered and celibate, let alone having to wear those heavy black togs through all seasons though took a toll on some who were just plain mad or frightening.



One, I can't remember her name, used to wander around the classroom holding a two foot ruler which she would slam down on fidgeting hands or use the long leather belt she wore to slap
 the backs of thighs.
I'm sure that this later boosted Wellington's dominatrix business with some of those little Catholic boys becoming regular customers.



A couple of nuns who I do remember were Sister Mary Agatha (they all had the middle name Mary) and sister Mary Lucille.
Agatha was pretty old (or seemed so to a 5 year old) but was caring and looked after us if we were sick and used to visit my parents socially.
 Lucille was young (probably late teens or early 20s) and I remember being confused about her name thinking that she was a seal



which wasn't helped by the fact that she was wearing black head to toe.
















These nuns and others helped shape who I am from an early age as the 3Rs were accompanied by teachings of social values of honesty, fairness and integrity and, at this stage weren't confused by the bullshit of catechism.


BROTHERS




I was taught by Marist Brothers through the Intermediate years from 1962 through 1965. In old money this was Standards three through to Standard six. I went to Marist Newtown which was a superior school (Richard and Robert went to Marist Thorndon which was a bit dodgy).

I  thoroughly enjoyed my time at Marist although I can't remember the names of the Brothers who taught me except for the sociopathic Brother Paulinus. See Here:


Paulinus was a bit of a nutter I think but I remember a really nice teacher in Standard 5 who seemed a lot more 'normal' than the others. He didn't cane us the way the others did, especially Paulinus. I remember once getting a real thrashing by Paulinus for something as innocent as a bit of fun and pushing on the bus home and got 'the cuts' on my hands and bum that left marks for ages. Bastard!



The 'Standards' were a time of learning things beyond reading, writing and arithmetic, and science, social studies (geography and history) featured along with that godawful catechism. The nuns had glossed over this gobbledy-goop in a kind of naive acceptance of its 'truths'. The Brothers, all wannabe priests I think took it a bit further but in a totally unquestioning way. You had to accept that Jesus resurrected himself miraculously and 'ascended' into heaven and Mary his virgin (?) mother was assumed (good word that) into heaven by Jesus's power kind of like the way that the money and receipts in James Smith and DIC department stores whooshed along those vacuum pipes on the ceiling.



If you didn't accept this you got caned.

Despite this however, and probably due to the care and attention of the couple of nice Brothers (the one in Standard 5 and another in Standard 3) the concepts of right and wrong - basically conscience were formed which have guided me through my life.

Here is an interesting take on this period by Stephen Oliver who I think was a year or so ahead of me at the same school. His memory is much better than mine but I remember the music teacher and Stephen Keith the soloist. Go to this link here:





PRIESTS

I attended St Patrick's College from 1966 through 1970 - third form to seventh form.
This was a pretty good school - actually at the time one of the country's best secondary schools and from it I got a good education.

The catechism continued now under the guise of 'Religious Studies' although from memory we only ever studied the Catholic version of Christianity and certainly never went near any non- Christian religions.

The teaching priests were all Seminary educated and had various teaching degrees and some had Divinity degrees. This meant that the blind and naive teaching of catechism (by rote) was replaced with an enquiring and searching analysis of the concepts - or at least that's what they pretended.
The basic tenets of the Catholic faith and Christian and non-Christian religions are of course bullshit and indefensible. Some if not all of the priests knew this I guess and almost wryly referred to it from time to time. This is why we had a dedicated religious teacher in each form which meant the science teacher could concentrate on science (definitely a conflict for Catholicism) and the mathematics teacher could concentrate on mathematics etc. There were a lot of teaching priests (and some lay teachers) so Richard and Robert didn't necessarily have the same ones that I did.

Father Bliss (I kid you not, that was his name) was the dedicated religious teacher that I had through the years. He kind of latched on to me in the third and fourth form realising that I ducked out of chapel services, confessions, prayers etc. and so he conferred on me the honour of being a Sacristan (my role was ensuring the numerous chapels throughout the school were stocked daily with fresh hosts for mass service). This didn't really have the desired effect. See here:




So, Father Bliss kind of gave up on me from then on but I found him to be an intelligent and interesting man. In the religious studies, named at one stage Christian Doctrine I think, I ignored all the claptrap that Robert obviously soaked up and instead concentrated on the more interesting and useful stuff - the science of morality. This teaching rounded out the social values teachings from the Nuns and the sense of conscience from the Brothers to become Ethics - a way of living that I try to follow.


There were a few oddballs at this school given that it had such a large teaching staff. I'm not aware of any paedophillic behaviour from the priests (although a lay-teacher was dismissed because he caned pupils bare backsides) but there were a couple who had alcohol issues. There were some really nice blokes there who really shouldn't have been priests and should have lead normal lives. Hopefully in the future, the stupid Catholic Church will allow priests to marry (partners of either sex) and become more natural. Maybe this new Pope can get something going there. Perhaps Robert can enlighten us.



I recall a good mathematics teacher, an excellent if eccentric science teacher, a reverential rector (headmaster) and a lot of others who helped in my studies and and growing up.



There were a couple of bastards as well, one being a psychopathic discipline master who was almost as bad as Brother Paulinus. Generally though these priest/teachers could happily have been friends or associates in a different life. Some of my classmates kept up contact with these guys but once I went to university I no longer had any further connection with them. I hope that they fared well in their lives.


Friday, 24 February 2017

TOWN HALLS

This is what a town hall looks like to me.



I guess that you've been hearing about the 'Town Hall Meetings' going on throughout America that threaten to bring down Trump's dubious presidency.



In USA 'Town Hall Meetings' denote public forum meetings.


Wikipedia tells us:

Town hall meetings, also referred to as town halls or town hall forums, are a way for local and national politicians to meet with their constituents, either to hear from them on topics of interest or to discuss specific upcoming legislation or regulation. During periods of active political debate, town halls can be a locus for protest and more active debate.[1]
Despite their name, town hall meetings need not take place in a town hall. They are commonly held in a range of venues, including schools, libraries, municipal buildings, and churches. A number of officials have also experimented with digital formats for town halls. Town hall meetings organized by national politicians are often held in a variety of locations distributed across a voting district so that elected representatives can receive feedback from a larger proportion of constituents.
Historically, no specific rules or guidelines have defined a town hall meeting.[2] Any event that allows constituent participation with a politician may be called a town hall, including gatherings in person, group phone calls, or events on Internet platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. Attendees use town halls to voice their opinions and question elected officialspolitical candidates, and public figures.[3][4] In contrast to town meetings, a type of direct democratic rule that originated in colonial New England,[5] attendees do not vote on issues during town hall meetings.
In the United States, town halls are a common way for national politicians to connect or reconnect with their constituents during recesses, when they are in their home districts away from Washington, DC.

Bloody Americans!

In New Zealand we don't use the term 'Town Hall Meetings'. We just call them 'Meetings' or 'Public Meetings'
Much more sensible and practical.

I recall a few years back when I was working for a company that had been taken over by a bigger USA company and the CEO/President of that company came down here (on his private jet) to visit. In each region he called for 'Town Hall Meetings' to take place so he could address the serfs.

I told our New Zealand CEO, my boss, that the term 'Town Hall Meetings' was alien and frankly stupid in a new Zealand context and that it would underline the hostility that some people felt to a USA takeover and would undermine any benefit from the get together. Now my boss was either too stupid or too sycophantic (probably both) to see this and proceeded to promote 'Town Hall Meetings' to all of the staff - much to their bewilderment and resentment.


The US CEO came in on his magic carpet and sped around the country doing his meetings (I set up the Auckland one in a neighbouring community hall rather than our offices - I don't think anyone got the joke). The US CEO was a bit of a joke. He was a very short guy with a squeaky voice and was bumptious as a lot of short people in power are. He didn't have much 'mana' and, for the first time ever in any of our meetings, used a teleprompter to make his (from the heart) speech. What a laugh.


Thursday, 23 February 2017

NEW YORK IS WHERE SHE'D RATHER STAY ....


See here:

GREEN ACRES


Ok, as you might have gathered The Old Girl is off to New York tomorrow for a couple of weeks.
I'm not sure if she's allergic to the smell of hay but she certainly likes New York.

One of her colleagues from the Toronto office is celebrating her 40th in New York so The Old Girl is off to share in the festivities along with catching up on some of her favourites (opera at The Metropolitan, play on Broadway, music at Birdland etc) as well as meeting up with friends in Baltimore which isn't far away. No doubt she will have a great time and get all the gossip on what it's like living in Trumpland.

I'm going to Auckland on the weekend next week so will stay in the apartment for 5 days, this time while she's not there. I've been given instructions not to make a mess which might take the fun out of it.

"Tidy up after yourself Matey!"


I've got work meetings in Auckland but will get a chance to catch up with friends and maybe take in a movie or two. It's not The Big apple but Whoohoo, it's a bit flasher than out here in the sticks.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY ...

... makes Jack a dull boy.

I don't know about Jack but I've been getting duller lately what with not working at a high level and only working part-time.

Am I bovvered?



Not in the least. I've discovered an excellent work/life balance that suits me fine.

This morning I did quite a bit of work (or a lot for me anyway), sorting out emails and organising some big sales.That left the afternoon for some recreation given that The Old Girl is in Auckland so housework and gardening weren't on the priority list.

The afternoon weather was great - sunny and no wind and the bay looked lovely so I went kayaking. I couldn't be bothered (bovvered?) getting the double/fishing kayak out  as it was all covered up with the kayak cover I bought off Trade Me and it requires putting on a trolley to take down to the water.
I used The Old Girl's single kayak instead which I can carry down.



I prefer kayaks with a rudder but the advantage of easier access outweighed the fankle of getting my kayak into the water. It was great with calm water and a quiet bay.


I tootled around for a while before coming back to our little beach and then went for a swim. The water is still reasonably warm so I stayed in for a while 'wallowing' (as The Old Girl describes it) before putting the kayak away, showering, and now enjoying a nice glass of chilled Rose.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

GEREMY-ROBERT MEETS THE JEHOVAH WITNESSES

Geremy aka Robert reported in his post of strange goings on in Wellington on a Saturday morning when normal people the rest of us are still in bed.

See here:

 Market day and Jehovah Witnesses



Apparently Geremy-Robert woke at 3am to do god only knows what until 4.45 am when he 'was out the door '
Where Geremy-Robert lives the moon apparently behaves differently to how it does where I live ...."The moving moon was directly above the mast as I carried my folk craft sailing ship to the car." Either Geremy-Robert himself moves incredibly slow giving the illusion that the moon can be seen moving or, as said, the moon in Petone Heights scuttles along a bit quicker than it does everywhere else.

Mind you, Geremy-Robert's moon isn't the only heavenly body to behave strangely. His sun also is a bit different ..."The light dawned almost suddenly". Wow. That would have been scary. Kind of like a nuclear explosion. Bang!



Geremy-Robert's universe is different to ours including Time ..."That series of inexplicable moments we call time were lost to my consciousness until  I was aware of a Jehovah Witness at the car door". Yes, well a Jehovah Witness at your car door is a bit much. They're bad enough at your house door. Maybe they're stalking him.




Geremy-Robert states that the Jehovah Witnesses set up a 'suicide assistance stand' next to his cake stand. Now I'm not really sure what he means by this. Are the Jehovah Witnesses counselling against suicide or are they providing a service to help suicides along? Either way I don't think it's a good look for the cake stand next door.




Geremy-Robert seems to have spent more time building his boat and talking to the Jehovah Witnesses than in actually selling cakes. The boat building thing seems a bit allegorical especially given the context of the religious discussions that were going on. Was he trying to prove a point to the Jehovah Witnesses? The boat representing a vessel that would lead to Heaven? Mmmm?. Anyway the Jehovah Witness joker was much too practical. I'm bewildered though that an engineer could be a Jehovah Witness. Engineers are all about empirical knowledge and proven theories. Maybe that's why he's a Jehovah Witness and not a Catholic. Sort of like a half-way house to common sense.

Geremy-Robert says that the Jehovah Witnesses ..." don't believe in hell nor believe that God is three persons in one.They go back to basics. None of the writings of Saints or theologians for them. At their assembly they read extracts from the bible. No priests."

To me that makes a lot more sense than the gobbledy-gook that was drilled into me at Catholic schools by way of 'Catechism' (cataclysm).







Geremy-Robert concluded (about the Jehovah Witnesses not about the success or other of his boat building or cake selling) that they were.."Really nice people but maybe a little mislead"

A bit of the old 'pot calling the kettle black' I think.




Thursday, 16 February 2017

ROBERT, ARE YOU OK?

I heard a very disturbing news flash on National Radio this late afternoon.
In the Christchurch fires RNZ reported that 11 homes and TWO SHEDS were destroyed.

Two sheds!

A chill went up (or down) my spine.

Two sheds.
That rang a bell. I remember something in the dim, dark past when Richard ..... no, not that, and he never got prosecuted, no.....two sheds.... 'Two sheds Robert' that's it. Robert, for some reason, had two sheds. This was probably at a past residence. Actually, at the rate that he moves houses it was most definitely at another residence.

I hope that he's OK and that he didn't move on a whim to Christchurch. You never know.

Anyway, now that I've dug up the ghost, why did (or does?) Robert aka Geremy (his spelling not mine) have two sheds?

What was, or is, he hiding?
Is one shed for the 'normal' stuff - tools, bits of wood, old furniture, home brew equipment etc. and the other for ....... the mind boggles.


I recall an excellent Tom Wait's piece:

WHAT'S HE BUILDING IN THERE?



Tuesday, 14 February 2017

CEASE AND DESIST

I was sorting through some stuff today and found a small velvet pouch with some rosary beads inside.
These were my mother's and I bought them for her many years ago in Rome, inside Saint Peter's courtyard outside The Vatican.

The religious collectibles emporium (I'm sure that there is a special name for it) stocked exclusively Catholic odds and sods so good luck with trying to buy a Buddha statue or a bur-qua but there you go.
The rosary beads are quite nicely made from some ruby lookalike glass. The vendor who looked a bit like a gypsy assured me that they had been blessed by the pope. I thought "yeah right" and would have been a bit more convinced had they been sold to me by a nun or a cardinal.

I was a bit surprised that the stuff on offer was all a bit tatty. I wasn't exactly expecting the Book of Kells or the actual cross that Jesus humped around but it was Saint Peter's after all.




There were a lot of crucifixes, all in various degrees of garishness. Why on earth do Christians (I guess mainly Catholics) like to have these things in their homes and in churches, particularly the ones with painted on blood seeping from open wounds. Horrible.




Maybe Robert can enlighten me.

Mind you, he's more likely to tell me that I'm the Anti-Christ and that his god will punish me.


Monday, 13 February 2017

MACHIAVELLIAN

We finally put the Harold Coop triptych up this weekend. It's in the snooker room.


Miles had to be moved across the room to the other wall but I'm sure that he'll like the change.




The Coop looks really good here and has the added attraction of distracting competitors when we play snooker, billiards or pool.



Sunday, 12 February 2017

GROWING UP

I've long time been a critic of American humour finding it to be immature if not actually puerile.
The dumbing down I guess has been to cater to the lowest common denominator so we had for so long on all channels inane sit-coms with annoying laugh tracks (to tell the viewers when something funny has been said).

When it comes to 'news' comedy shows we were subjected to low-brow Johnny Carson tripe and even lower brow David Letterman shit. In place of laugh tracks this show employed an orchestra with an unfunny little gnome who would  direct 'musical puns', cymbal crashes etc to underscore the 'boss's unfunny comments.

UNFUNNY PAUL SHAFFER

Probably chosen so as to not be funnier that the unfunny David Letterman.

Remember the national embarrassment to New Zealand when John Key ill-advisedly went on to this programme.

JOHN KEY ON LETTERMAN

The stupid musical side-kick concept is used by Stephen Corbert and was used by Jimmy Fallon's version as well. Dumb and unnecessary. I don't really like Corbert much preferring the excellent Jon Stewart who has been off the air but does a guest spot on previous rival Stephen Corbert's show here:

JON STEWART ON STEPHEN CORBERT'S SHOW


One thing for me that the Donald Trump 'news' over the last year has done has been to introduce me to some excellent alternative news sources (not fake news or alternative facts).
I have been watching John Oliver, Bill Maher and Trevor Noah and find them to be clever, very funny and not prepared to pull punches. They get right to the issues and don't feel the need (or at least not excessively so) to dumb things down. This I guess is a result of the splitting up of news and information sources as a positive side of the growth of social media and alternative communication channels. Instead of chasing a mass audience these channels 'channel' themselves to target audiences.

See below at your leisure some excerpts that are highly recommended. *

TREVOR NOAH


BILL MAHER


JOHN OLIVER



* Note: No unsolicited religious messages are contained in these clips.

Friday, 10 February 2017

CINEMA VARIETY

Variety? Really?

Well not on the various sites that I've signed up for.
We get Lightbox for 'free' because we are signed up with Spark for phone and internet.
I've subscribed to Netflix which costs a few dollars a month and am halfway through a trial subscription to MUBI which features classic films and 'art' ones that are normally seen in film festivals.

The problem is that the choices are pretty limited. There are a lot of them don't get me wrong but they are subject to other people's tastes and selections.

Lightbox is the most commercial and I find that 95% of the tv series, tv shows and films are unwatchable as they are 'lowest common denominator' stuff.

Netflix is a little bit better and I have found some good HBO-type tv series but generally the film selections are those chosen by some people definitely half of my age who have never seen a really good film and probably don't watch anything made before 1990.



MUBI has some good classics and hard to find 'real cinema' stuff but once again I am subject to someone else's selections and in this case some poseur types who 'wannabe' the next Leonard Maltin or Pauline Kael. MUBI's selections also only last for a brief period of time so you have to be watching every night.




Monday, 6 February 2017

TWENTY NINTH

The Old Girl and I celebrated our 29th anniversary yesterday and went out for dinner.

Battling on


She arrived on the early Friday morning bus and worked from home up here. The restaurant we chose for dinner last night was booked for regular sitting times but had free tables later (from 8.30) or earlier (6pm). As it is indeed our 29th and as we are getting on a bit I chose the earlier sitting. This turned out to be an inspired choice as the restaurant is based above a yacht club and as such is by the water. At 6pm there weren't many other diners and the late afternoon sun was lighting up the water nicely and shining, not too brightly, into the restaurant. We had been given a nice table by a window looking out to an island in the bay. Perfect*.

Foregoing appetisers or entrees (excellent as the offerings were) we decided to do a main and a dessert. Normally we don't eat desserts either at home or in restaurants but the menu looked very inviting. I chose gurnard as my main and apple and cranberry filo tart as dessert. The Old girl chose duck for main and affogato for dessert. Man were these the right choices.

My fish dish was served as pan seared fillets of gurnard topped with whitebait and capers served in a broth with roasted tomatoes. The Old Girl's duck was oven baked and sliced and served with mulberries in a mulberry type sauce - magnificent. These dishes came with a side of roasted potatoes and a warm salad.

The deserts were great - mine an individual filo pastry parcel of apple and cranberry served with home made vanilla ice-cream. The Old Girl's favourite affogato being espresso coffee which she poured over scoops of home-made vanilla ice cream. It came with home-made biscotti.

We had a couple of glasses of excellent wine to match each course.

* No violin players came around the tables

Thursday, 2 February 2017

CHEATING*

I bought a kayak from Trade Me last night and am collecting it on Saturday.



Once again I bought it on the Buy Now option like I did with The Old Girl's one last week.



A few weeks ago I was watching a nice one but dithered and someone else bought it on the Buy Now option. With The Old Girl's one, as I have an alert set on the Trade Me site I bought it within about a minute of it being listed. The seller had put a Buy Now price of $200 and I think regretted it.
With my one, the yellow one, I checked on-line and discovered that the Buy Now price with the extras was way less than half the NZ advertised price (new) so I'm pleased with that.

I've been missing my old kayak that I sold before going to Canada so it'll be good to get back into a serious one with a rudder. This one is all kitted out for fishing. It is a two-man one but will operate really well as a single. The extras include a couple of top of the line, adjustable paddles, an anchor, detachable rod holders and an electronic fish finder *(hence the Cheating title of this post).

I will probably have to take up fishing now that I've bought this but it is stable and with the anchor and rod holders it should be a breeze. There's lots of snapper out in the bay in front of the house.

"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...