Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Conference IV: Thrash's Psychedelic Breakfast

Over the past few days I have noted that the hotel's choice of music in the restaurant can be a little odd but this morning's offering really threw me. Maybe it's just me but I don't think that blatantly sexual 70s disco music is the ideal breakfast accompaniment.

Thrash Cardiom: " flakes.... scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, toast, coffee

Anita Ward: "You can ring my be-e-ell, ring my bell. You can ring my be-e-ell, ring my bell"

Thrash: "marmelade..I like marmelade... porridge..any cereal, I like all cereals"

Anita: "you can ring my bell, you can ring my bell. (ding, dong, ding, do-ong)"

Thrash: "....oh god...."

Anita: "you can ring my bell, anytime, anyway. (ring it, ring it, ring it, ring it oww!)"

Anita on youtube

(Thrash's lyrics from "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" by Pink Floyd)

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Conference III

Camille and I are trapped in our room. Literally.

I just came back to help Camille with her data card which was playing up. When I went to leave I found that our door wouldn't open. It isn't locked or anything. It simply does not work. I have called reception and we are now waiting to be rescued!

I hope there isn't some sudden and urgent need to leave the room as we are on the third floor and there is no fire escape.

Conference II

Camille decided to come to the conference with me. She needs a few days off at the moment, especially as her life is likely to get quite intense over the next couple of months. I think she is enjoying herself. Last night at dinner she was having fun at the expense of the field I and the other attendees are in. She cracked one joke that amused her so much she had to leave the table in order to gain control.

We are staying in a hotel sited in the middle of the geothermal region of New Zealand so there is always this sulphurous smell hanging around. Outside it isn't too bad but inside the hotel it hangs around and clings to the curtains, the carpet etc. Wandering the corridors is like walking around in a giant fart.

I always sleep badly in hotels. Last night's sleep was made worse by the late night/early morning revellers who only finally shut up around 4:30am. If I can identify which rooms they are in I'm going to be hammering on their doors very early tomorrow morning.

Conference I

"You know what I'd like to do", he said. "I'd like to grow my beard and hair long like yours, get on a Harley and just ride across Australia. That's what I'd like to do".

"Nah", I replied. "You don't want the long hair. Riding with long hair will just end up in a bloody awful tangled mess. The bikers I know all have short hair for a reason".

He was short and completely bald. A salesman interested in selling me his product. So far his sales pitch wasn't doing well so he thought he would try another gambit.

"So", he said. "Do you know any hot Asian chickyboos?".

I was fairly stunned by this opener and could only mouth mindlessly back, "errrr,... ahh... what?". He took this to mean that I was interested and launched full throttle into details of his relationships with a number of "hot Asian chickyboos" (a term he used freely through out the ensuing spiel), of which I gathered he had several on the go: one in Australia, one in Auckland, and possibly one near where the conference we were attending was being held.

I have seen him a number of times during the past couple of days and it seems that I am his best mate. I have started eyeballing my way through the throngs, planning my route to avoid him should I spot him up ahead.

I don't think he is going to make a sale.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Economic downturn effects

This article about the growing warehousing of imported cars in the US interested me for one reason: the way it highlights the flow-on effects of the economic downturn in other areas. These two paragraphs are the main part of the article for me:

But the inventory glut in Long Beach is not limited to imported cars. There has also been a sharp drop in demand for the port's single largest export: recycled cardboard and paper products.

This material typically goes to China, where it is used to make boxes for new electronics and other products that are sent back to the United States. But Chinese factories reacting to sharply falling demand are slowing production, so they need less cardboard. Tons of paper are piling up recycling businesses around the port, the detritus of economies on hold.

A sea of unwanted auto imports

Originally from The Strategist (Kotare)

Friday, 21 November 2008

Central Hawke's Bay District Council Rates Review

Yesterday I received a letter from my local council advising me of a working party which was supposed to consider how rates could be spread equitably across the district. The letter included a sample rates invoice showing the effect of the proposed changes. According to my sample rates invoice my rates are going to go up by over 20%.

What is fair and equitable about increasing my rates by such a huge amount when I have no method of recovery? The majority of residents in this district cannot claim back part or all of their rates as a business expense or claim back the GST portion of their rates whereas businesses, including farms, can.

This change is likely to adversely affect those on a low income. What is fair and equitable about increasing the burden on the elderly and others on fixed low incomes?

How can I even decide if the changes are fair and equitable when I have nothing to compare them to? Council should provide ratepayers with a selection of rates samples from both rural and urban areas. We should be given at least two years of rates (2008/09 and 2009/10) along with an explanation of any increases/decreases so we can make a fair comparison.

One of the recommendations by the 2007 Government inquiry into Local Government Rates recommended "...that the power to set differential rates and to use Universal Annual General Charges (UAGC) should be removed in the interests of transparency and equity". I note that Council has elected to retain a UAGC. As the aim of the rating review is to spread rates equitably across the district I fail to understand why the UAGC has been retained. Does our Council want to be transparent and equitable or does it merely want to appear as though it is being equitable?

I don't think Council is doing a particularly good job of consultation on this issue and I think the rating review needs to be reviewed. I urge Council to revisit both the review and consultation and provide its ratepayers with some meaningful information before making any final decision.

As it stands I am totally against the change.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

A recent dinner

Lamb rumps seared, rubbed in a thyme,salt,pepper mix and then roasted for 10 minutes, left to rest for 10 then sliced and left in its own juice. Accompanied by a cucumber/mint salad, tomatoes and basil in olive oil, rocket/spring onions/a soft goat cheese tossed with olive oil, avocado in pepper and lemon juice, small jersey benne potatoes roasted quickly in olive oil.


Our coffee machine died this morning. It wouldn't turn on for a bit and then suddenly did a big hissy fit with the on/off indicator light flicking off and on madly while a big clicking noise issued forth.

Then it stopped.

Shortly thereafter it started to spout what looked like steam from places that it shouldn't come from. I thought it was steam but after its wee fit I wasn't sure so I watched it closely. Thankfully it wasn't smoke. Just steam. I then touched the machine and it was unbearably hot. At this point I decided that it had turned dangerously feral and unplugged it and left it to cool (while keeping an eye on it just in case).

Neither Camille or myself can live without a good/reasonable/bitter and twisted coffee in the morning and for some years we have used espresso machines to provide it. It was decided that I
should go and buy a new coffee machine. I found one at Harvey Norman - a Krup XP7240 which is normally priced at $1399 but which was reduced to $990. I compared brochures, read notes, sales crap etc. I consulted with Camille and we decided thus: We have a GE Card with spare on it and interest free for 18 months so we bought the fucker!

How good is the machine? Well. I took it home and set it up. It's a nice easy coffee machine for people who don't want to have to work at getting coffee. I worked through the setup process - language, date, time, all the other bits and then tried to make a coffee and it went to work: It made lots of noise and ground some beans, made quite a few loud slurping noises. It then started doing pumping noises complete with some steam and hissing. All good so far. Then, like any new pet, it proceeded to piss plain water all over the bench, shat out a lump of dry unused coffee grounds into a built in disposal container and threw up a "Technical Problem. Call your service agent. Error number 07" on its display.

This is not what we expected. It's going straight back for replacement.