Thursday, December 29, 2011
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
He’s done it again. We hoped he might exercise a modicum of restraint this time but when I spied him precariously balanced on his roof, I said to my wife, ‘looks like he’s checking the Christmas lights.’
Our neighbour has once more demonstrated to the whole street, nay to the whole of our town, that Ex- pat. Canadians really know how to illuminate. Now do not misunderstand me, I am all for the traditional seasonal celebrations, however when it is reported that our neighbours massive array of coloured lights, wreaths, flashing Santa and nodding reindeers is numbered, along with China’s great wall as one of the only two earthly landmarks visible from outer space, one has to wonder at the sense of it.
Now you are thinking that I am a mean old scrooge, and what’s wrong with festooning ones abode from gutter to garden and all points in between with New Zealand’s answer to Las Vegas; the city that never sleeps. And you would be right except for the fact that as soon as the lights are turned on we become the neighbours who never sleep. You see this Canadian chap, arrived in New Zealand with all his Christmas illuminations fully prepared to brighten the Southern hemisphere. Unfortunately, he had been kept in the dark regarding the fact that Canadian power outage is not compatible with ours. There is no way he would be able to plug his 110volts into our 240v system. This was a shocking revelation to the gentleman but he re-fused to pull the plug on turning his home into a cross between the milky-way and the Christmas Coca cola advertisement.
‘A converter’ I hear you say, a gadget that will simply allow the Canadian system to up-grade into New Zealand system. Brilliant. ‘Watt? Says my neighbour, ‘I have a far better plan, one that will cost me next to nothing, will not drain the national grid and will allow me to run my lights from 9pm to 11pm every evening for the twelve days of Christmas.
His plan, unlike his lights, is not very bright. He has installed a generator, a noisy, drumming motor that thumps out its monotonous droning from his corrugated iron roofed garage, situated a mere seven paces from my deck. Gone are those special evenings of peaceful fellowship and quiet reflection that my wife and I so much enjoy. The reflection is certainly there from 9 to 11 but peaceful... no way.
To be fair, he’s not a bad neighbour and it is a time of good will and peace amongst men. So we have come up with a plan that will not only allow us to celebrate with a Christian attitude but will counteract the constant hum from his dreadful machine. We will put our speakers on our deck, and wind Susan Boyle up to the utmost decibels; that ought to do the trick...power to the people !
Monday, December 5, 2011
To tell you the truth, we are re-thinking the whole jolly business!!
Christmas has crept up on us and as I put pen to paper, not a single card has been written, not a tree felled and not a cake baked. We have received some cards, I had no idea that the local bank liked us enough to wish us Seasons Greetings and a prosperous New Year. I am surprised they missed our anniversary and birthdays. You begin to realise that the whole world has gone completely balmy when you receive a, ‘Have a happy Christmas’ greeting, from someone who will actually be sharing Christmas day with you. The whole business has become stressful to the max. Do we send Great Uncle Boris one out of the budget pack or an expensive one with lovely words? Who actually reads the words? It crosses our minds that maybe we should follow our English friends’ example and support a worthwhile cause. Will anyone notice that we have spent a small fortune on a card supporting the ‘Outer Mongolia, dumb animals trust, for the preservation of three legged Yaks’, I doubt it.
Then there is the dreaded Christmas card entrapment. Although we have not actually seen this lovely couple since the eighties, for two decades Christmas cards have been religiously dispatched between New Zealand and the USA. Hallmark have made a fortune out of us.
I am now beginning to doubt that the couple in question are still with us. I am thinking that their annual festive card is now in the hands of a ghost writer. Over recent years their Christmas greetings have given a strong hint that we are not first on their ‘people to keep in touch with’ list.
They actually missed us out in 2004, although we sent them a very expensive card which had a lot of glittery stuff and played jingle bells when opened. We wiped them out in 2005 but were surprised to receive one from them, a very small card in a used envelope, we think it was the same envelope that had contained the jingle bells card. They did write a Christmas message, something about their Afghan hound dieing after attacking and eating our musical card. Apparently the poor animal was allergic to the glittery stuff and succumbed to a fatal attack of tinsel-itus. They signed their names as Mr. and Mrs. which seemed quite formal. Of course we sent them one in 2006 because they remembered us the year before. We removed them from the list in 2007 but were horrified when we got one from them. It arrived too late for us to reciprocate prior to Christmas. I remember we opened the card together and you know those times when a husband and wife say the same word at the same time… well, ‘bastards’!! was probably a bit strong. Anyway, just to pee them off we sent them an Easter card. That seems to have done the trick, a shame to lose touch with such good friends….
I am a bit concerned about the Santa Claus business. Having told our Grandchildren not to talk to strangers, I have a twinge of concern when forcing them to sit on the lap of a strange, big fat , bearded, red person. Something is telling me Oh Oh Oh . I did hear about a small child who went into Farmers mega store and was asked by Santa what he wanted for Christmas, he told him. The very same day the child met Santa in The Warehouse store; same question, same answer. That evening the child and his mum happened to be at a Christmas party. Once again Santa asked the child what he wanted for Christmas. The child was growing weary of all this and spoke to Santa in a loud voice,
‘I’ve told you what I want three times, why don’t you write it down’. It’s true, there are so many Santa’s about there is a real danger of kids becoming Claus-trophobic.
(A special blessing to Cro and his Cronies who writes an amazing blog about the wonders of nature, the beauty and happenings in his little French corner of the World. Happy Christmas my old school chum. I was reminiscing and recall that when we were at The Abbey School as small people in short trousers we (along with Michael Coles) established ourselves as a disruptive mischeveous little band who called themselves 'The Imps'. May we still be a little naughty, laugh 'till we cry and thank God for the whole jolly business of life.
God bless you and your family as you celebrate the birth of Jesus, the greatest gift of all.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Thankfully a generous local farmer (we farm sit for him and his wife when they holiday) has offered us a hogget (year old lamb) I helped with the butchering and we ended up with 25kilos for $80. Brilliant!! and enough meat to share with our family.
Oil from the stricken tanker (It's as big as two rugby pitches) has now reached the beautiful East Cape and some of the offshore Islands. They have managed to pump out 100 tonnes of gue but still 1100 tonnes to go!!
NZ all set to win the Rugby World Cup this week-end but we are all aware that the French team is very capable and may well have a few crafty tricks up their sleeves. Look out for sneaky drop goals.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
What a great game, tonight its NZ verses our arch rivals 'The Aussies'. No prizes for guessing who we are supporting.
Meanwhile I have joined the thousands of volunteers ready to clean oil off the beaches if our coast is affected. So far so good, the weather has been kind and pumps are being put in place to extract (marmite like) fuel from the stricken tanker which is a mere 12k off Tauranga Harbour.
What a pack of wallies, how on earth, with modern gps systems they managed to hit that reef no one can figure. Anyway it must be NZ turn for a sea disaster and I always wanted to say that 'I was in oil', so am waiting for the call to arms.
Found a dead frog on the drive today, hope I didn't run it over. And I thought they had all disappeared. Perhaps it is a sign that if NZ play France in the rugby final......guess what?!!!
Sunday, October 2, 2011
In the scheme of things, namely... Riots and mahem throughout the world, drop in confidence regarding the NZ Dollar and the end of the world predicted for 2012... why are we concerned with a game where men get into huddles, kick an egg shaped ball and make passes to other players.
Anyway trout fishing season opened last Saturday and yours truly nabbed a couple of beauties.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
It was only a matter of time before someone suggested introducing a Capital Gains Tax. The NZ Labour Party are preparing to hit us with just such a scheme if they win the November election. Where else was there to go?
On the other hand, in order to glean more votes, the same people have decided to ease the tax burden by not charging a Goods and services tax (GST) (or VAT in the U.K) on vegetables. This has to be wonderful news for vegetarians and vegans.
A recent and quite disturbing advertisement on the telly, depicting vegetables being played as musical instruments has encouraged many people, in the unlikely event of a change of Government, to think along the same lines.
Every time a new tax is introduced some tax avoidance whiz kid discovers a way around it or a way to take advantage of it. All legal and above-board of course. The answer to this ‘no GST payable on all vegetables’ scheme is to milk it for all it's worth. So here's the plan...
Drive around in a pumpkin, it was okay for Cinderella. Sounds ridiculous but a friend of mine who owns a golf driving range in the Medway towns of England cleverly disguised his Mini as a great big golf ball clearly an innovative idea that NZ's could emulate
The possibilities are endless...
Purchase a banana boat with no GST to pay.
Tax on clothing would be avoided if the ladies wore grass skirts and coconut bras and the guys donned cabbage leaves.
Diamonds would be a tax free investment, think carrots.
Instead of a weekly wage, think monthly celery.
I shall not apologise for the somewhat pathetic vegetable puns they are a fair match for the proposal.
On a more serious note, a Capital Gains Tax is unlikely to put money in the IRD kitty in the foreseeable future. We all know that properties purchased a couple of years ago have not yet reached their original value, and will probably not gain a cent for a few more years, so no capital gain there.
Here’s a thought: Why penalise investors and folk who want to better themselves and are prepared to endure the risk of failure, by taxing them on such schemes? These people will be punished through paying personnel tax as well as a C.G.T. whereas the ‘live today and don’t worry about tomorrow’ people will be left alone, tax free. If you are determined to tax people on any gain acquired, why not have a look at, cars, boats, art works, in fact every item that is bought then sold at a higher price.
I have the answer, clear and simple. We need a similar tax to the one introduced in England hundreds of years ago. Such a revenue gathering system will put new light upon the subject of a fair tax for New Zealand. It is a tax that represents a window of opportunity, transparent and well worth looking in to. Simply called, ‘The Window Tax’.
This so called Window tax was introduced in order to raise money from the wealthy, without upsetting them. Many people in Britain opposed the idea of an income tax, saying that it was an intrusion upon their privacy. The populace opinion was that the Government of the day had no right to force any one to disclose their personal income (yes, times have changed). The new tax consisted of two rulings, a flat-rate house tax of two shillings per house and a variable tax for the number of windows amounting to more than ten windows. Of course the tax dodgers would take pains to brick over all windows exceeding the ten exemptions in order to pay less tax.
Typical of the prideful attitude of ancient, wealthy aristocrats, instead of bricking in their windows they put in as many as possible. This was done to demonstrate to their peers that they were extremely well off. Today’s equivalent in such one-upmanship would be to tow your new Lamborghini behind your new Bema. Either way when you consider the glass palaces of our major cities, such a tax could be very lucrative.
An intriguing aside to the story is that the English language was embellished by the window tax because it gave rise to the saying, ‘daylight robbery’, which some would agree is a fitting description for the NZ Labour Party’s proposed Capital Gains Tax.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Blogs are generally oversubscribed by clever political commentators and moral reformists,(probably have been guilty of same) My plan was to come up with an amazing piece of original script, have it down and dusted in double quick time, grab the fly rod and catch the evening rise. That was my goal!
Goal setting. We all have great intentions but who actually grabs a sheet of paper at the age of consent and writes down their life goals? We know we should, if we want to be wealthy and have a go at life,we should put pen to paper look into the future and make plans. Personally I have trouble figuring out what I am going to do the day after tomorrow, let alone jotting down my one year, five year and twenty year goals.
You could say, I have happily joined the camp of, ‘let’s fire an arrow into the wall and draw a target around it’, fraternity. And why not, I say. Where is the fun of knowing what you will be doing this time next year. I hate organized but embrace spontaneity.
I am aware of a well known proverb that advises, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’. So maybe the answer is to have a foot in both camps and be ‘spontaneously organized‘. So for a change, let’s say, ‘go to it, you spur of the moment people’. Yes, I am going against the grain, perhaps even starting a revolution of non-conformists. Today, I say to these well organized, goal setters, ‘Yes I am revolting‘.
No one can deny that spontaneity has in a global sense proven to be, at the very least helpful, often miraculous and sometimes tragic.
Reality television is the ‘in thing‘. We, the viewer, are led to believe that everything happening in a particular program is off the cuff. The fact is that these, mainly American, shows are chock full of ‘planned spontaneity’, without which we would all be bored to death and switch channels.
Once, a long time ago I did attempt to set a goal. When the kids were very young I made the decision to go around Australia and pick fruit. They have their own families now and take great joy in pulling my chain regarding the pending apple picking trip. Needless to say, as yet it has not eventuated but we live in hope.
The problem about setting goals is that for them to be achievable there has to be a date attached. If I had said to my kids, ‘April 20th next year we are going to be picking fruit in Australia‘, well, we would probably still be there today.
With me, things just sort of happen. Like everyone there have been ups and downs, some negatives but oodles of positives. Maybe if I could start all over again I would give the goal setting a go.
So to the younger generation I say think on this; Imagine you are a soccer player for the Manchester United team, it’s a cup final, at home at the Old Trafford grounds. You run onto the pitch to the cheers of a 76,000 capacity crowd. The whistle goes….kick off, …but what has happened…. Someone has removed the goal posts. Result, absolute chaos, you have no idea what to aim for.
So maybe I should try and set myself some goals…. hold on a minute, I believe I did just that …… Now where is that fly rod.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
True there are still one or two puddling around in the bush blocks, but most folk have noticed a definite lack of the once robust species.
We used to see them hopping across the country roads after a healthy rain fall, naturally many were unfortunately squished flat but we didn’t care, after all we argued, there would never be a shortage of frogs. We heard them croaking in the garden, in the creeks and parks, sometimes they made such a din we wished they would go away or croak once and forever. Our kids thought it a great adventure to catch a few tadpoles, put them in a jar and watch them transform into adulthood.
Let’s forget about the puns and frog-kissing for a moment and ask a serious question that at first glance does not sound at all serious...Where on earth have all the frogs gone?
I realise that by writing about the apparent disappearance of the humble frog it appears that I have joined the happy band of tree-huggers. Frankly, I don’t give a damn because the greenies are right in so many ways and after carrying out my own research I realise that there are some things we need to be concerned about.
I am alarmed about the blatant use of dangerous substances. Killer chemicals endanger our wild life and have the potential to harm everything from the bottom of the food chain upwards, to you, me, our children and grandchildren.
Is the apparent decline of the frog due to these sprays, was a question that warranted some detective work. It prompted me to read a few of the operator’s instructions on readily available herbicides.
Apart from making sure to wear protective clothing, tantamount to being encased in full body armour plus face mask, to use said herbicides; you have to be a licensed operator, watch for wind drift, keep away from crops used for human consumption and the weirdest instruction of the lot... ‘When using herbicide sprays on drains or river banks, make certain you are not spraying near water!’ In other words you can spray the sides of drains when they have dried up. (How ridiculous)
What, you ask, has this got to do with frogs or the lack thereof? Well for a start Mr and Mrs Frog like waterways and their preferred habitat is under attack. A herbicide spray called ‘Atrazine’ which in this country is often camouflaged through the use of numerous other product names, is banned in Europe but still available here as a broad leaf weed killer.
I have no doubt that any toxic spray will kill small insects and you do not have to be a rocket scientist to know that frogs eat small insects and by so doing come into direct contact with such sprays.
I could show you reports that claim Atrazine causes the development of prostate and breast cancers and worse in laboratory rats. These reports, readily obtainable from the internet, warn that humans could suffer similar carcinogenic problems as displayed in laboratory tested rodents.
But we are talking about frogs and hold on to your hat because it is not a pretty picture. Apparently, a visiting American scientist studied the effects of Atrazine on New Zealand frogs and came up with a real frightener. Long term exposure to low levels of Atrazine, ... 2.5 parts in a billion of water,... were found to have emasculated nearly 75 % of laboratory frogs. Of these, at least 10% turned into functional females who mated with males unexposed to the herbicide and produced viable eggs, (how weird) the remaining 90% showed fall in libido, lower sperm count and decreased fertility.(how sad)
Is it any wonder they are disappearing!? Look at it this way, what these reports are intimating is that Freddy Frog is not into mating because he is either flaccid or has become Freda Frog.
All this is scary stuff especially when you consider that the four types of New Zealand indigenous frogs are now endangered species. If this deadly product Atrazine and similar herbicides are so lethal that they can chemically castrate male frogs, turning some of them into females, we had better do something about making sure our children live happily (and safely) ever after. Oh! Sorry ladies, you can forget about the Prince idea, after all, how will you know whether you are kissing Freddy or Freda?
Thursday, April 28, 2011
If you were one of the one million people standing in Time Square at one minute to midnight on December 31st 1999, you were probably very quiet. You were waiting for the inevitable stroke of midnight to either change the World forever or announce the beginning of the greatest celebration since V.E day. You were holding your breath; you might even have had a little tickle at the back of your neck. The folk surrounding you were wondering what the future held for their families. The older citizens, were reminiscing, some had prepared for the end, even welcomed it and were at peace. Young lovers, not daring to watch the clock, looked into each other’s eyes. They would face the end together: but it was not the end, it was the new millennium. As those one million Americans erupted into a sea of cheering and dancing, the sense of relief was palpable. Billions of people from every corner of the World also breathed a sigh of relief, thankful that the predicted Y2K time bomb had not eventuated.
Half the World population were brain washed with the fear that a monumental computer crash would knock out every computerised system in every town. Power, water, traffic control, emergency services, sewerage systems and computer controlled dams, all would terminate. Anarchy and confusion would follow. Entrepreneurs with their money making panic books, written for a gullible public, had pulled off the greatest practical joke since Orson Wells ‘Alien invasion’ scare. When the clock in Time Square clicked into the new millennium, machines still worked, computers still functioned and planes did not fall out of the sky.
The Y2K debacle has been described as ‘the greatest display of mass silliness ever experienced on Earth.’ Now we are told to look out for 2012. The Mayan calendar comes to a shuddering stop on December 21st next year. It is said to be the end-date of a five/ 125 year long cycle. Some scholars have disputed the significance others have embraced it. Even our old friend Nostradamus has been bought into the mix. He seems to concur that Earth will be hit by another planet around the same time. Meanwhile the prophets of doom are once again having a field day. The Russians are building shelter pods for America’s elite, Hollywood is cashing in with scary movies and the wordsmiths are celebrating unprecedented book sales.
This time they may be right, or they may be wrong. Either way It could be prudent to dust off the Good book that languishes somewhere on your bookshelf. It’s a best seller that has never been out of print (although some will think that this is also mass silliness) Who really knows? Certainly no one can deny, things are changing on our planet. There are earthquakes in diverse places, the love of most is growing cold and the World has never seen so many wars and rumours of wars. Take a close look at Matthew 24. In the New Testament. There you will find some answers; if you read the whole book you may find all the answers.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
SHAKEN BUT NOT STIRRED
Surgeons, doctors, nurses and psychiatrists have fought to bring wholeness to his body, on occasions even rescuing him from the very brink of death. As with thousands of kidney disease sufferers, Mike is kept alive by being hooked up to a dialysis machine for forty two hours over every two week period. We talk about the man, his life and his faith.
He has undergone three kidney transplant operations, one of which functioned well for seven years, all eventually failed, he blames no one. Mike knows there are many he should thank. To the families whose personal loss made it possible for him to receive new kidneys, mere words seem inadequate. He will never meet them or know what circumstances led to their agreeing to a loved one's donation. What Mike does know is that there is someone who sees these things and shares their anguish
We all know that bad things happen to good people and vice-versa; no one can tell when their time is up or what is going to happen tomorrow. What we can do is live life to the full, ‘Carpe Diem’ or ‘seize the day.’ Mike and his wife Maree, helped by their strong faith are doing just that, although following this latest disaster they will be wondering just what God has in mind for them.
Their move to a place in the country was like a dream come true. They certainly had a lot of help with the big shift, including the moving and setting up of a very heavy and delicate dialysis machine. Friday night they had their first sleep in their new home. Mike was excited that they were not too far from town, his wife could still get to work and he and his son could continue their computer business. He was dreaming of the peace and quiet of the countryside, a few woolies, some cattle and maybe a porker or two, it was all part of the dream.
At 5.30 am on Saturday morning while it was still dark, the dream was frighteningly shattered. A massive mud slide rumbled down the hill behind the house. Tonnes of mud, huge boulders and mature trees hit the dwelling, wiping out the entire rear of the house in seconds. Fifty yards away, the fast moving wall of mud took out Mike’s new office, burying all his expensive gear including laptops and hard drives. The couple’s son had planned to sleep in the office that night but thankfully changed his mind.
Mike and Maree awoke to the roar of the moving hillside. Mud quickly filled the ensuite on one side of their bedroom and the walk-in wardrobe on the other, bursting into the bedroom each side of their double bed, which was like an island with them huddled on top, in the middle of a sea of wet mushy mud. Mike’s Dad had been helping them with the shift. He was asleep in his camper van parked beside the house in front of a double garage. The garage was completely demolished, the wreckage pushing the campervan down the driveway. To put it bluntly and literally it is a miracle they were not all killed.
At the time of writing, the home has been condemned and is in danger of being completely flattened by huge boulders that balance precariously on the hillside. The distraught but philosophical owners have been told that it is unlikely they will be allowed to build there again.
Mike and Maree, through the generosity of others, were able to find temporary accommodation, hopefully a permanent situation has now been acquired. They are shaken but not stirred in their faith and are putting their future in God’s hands. To most folk this all sounds a little naïve but consider this… In his twenties Mike was told he would never father children and could expect just ten more years of life; if he was lucky. They produced two sons and a daughter and at the latest count, three grandkids. He celebrated his fiftieth birthday a couple of years ago.
We wish you well Mike and Maree, you are an inspiration to us all.