Monday, 21 December 2009

Cactus Kate and Whale Oil

Cactus Kate and Whale Oil take on David Farrar's troll farm.  Very amusing.

Cactus and Whale on Act putsch


Friday, 13 November 2009

Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

What is it? Not good is what it is. It's a trade agreement that will affect pretty much everyone in New Zealand including YOU and we have little idea of what is actually in it because it is being negotiated in secret.

Fortunately for us there have been leaks and what has been leaked isn't pretty. I won't go on at length about it as there are people out there who are far more capable than I writing about it. Here are a few links that you should read:

Michael Geist - Wikileaks

On the Gripping Hand

Colin Jackson on Speaker (Public Address)

Glyn Moody @ The Linux Journal

Paul Matthews - New Zealand Computer Society

Wikipedia's article


Fish for dinner

Last night's dinner was a very simple but delicious one. It consisted of asparagus, terakihi and egg. The asparagus was steamed until bright green and still crisp. The terakihi was cooked in a little butter on a low/medium heat and then finished with lemon juice for the last minute or so. Malden sea salt and pepper were applied. The eggs were poached until the white was firm but the yolk still soft.

Asparagus on the plate first, the fish over the asparagus and the egg topped the plate. The lemon/butter in the pan was spooned over the top.

Absolutely delicious

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Sanctuary Sounds

My Sister and Brother in Law run a small music festival twice a year. It has good line ups of acts, runs from 2:00pm to 1:00pm on particular Saturdays and has free camping on site. Food and alcohol can be bought on site (no BYO!).

It's a very pleasant and relaxed atmosphere is a lot of fun. Each festival is themed and the site is transformed each time to conform with the theme and several acts will build their show around the theme. Past themes include

  • Through The Looking Glass - an Alice in Wonderland theme
  • Out of This World - future space
  • Aquarius - Hippy fun
The theme of the next festival is "Under the Sea". More information plus photos and videos can be found on their website http://www.sanctuary-sounds.co.nz

Friday, 23 October 2009

Stairway to Heaven






Saturday, 17 October 2009

Conference stuff


Yesterday was a very full on day for Camille and somewhat less so for me. Camille started at 5:30am which is incredibly early for her. However, being the conference organiser she was required to be on hand for pretty much the whole day - so it was up and breakfasting, checking e-mails and ensuring certain things were in order prior to heading to the conference facilities at 6:30am. I headed down to be there by 8:00am when the attendees were supposed to be arriving.

It was a long day and I thought it went very well. The Sky City staff were excellent. Nothing but praise for the woman who was our main liaison for the day.

My role was pretty much limited to helping people who had experienced problems with the membership database. For the most part this was in the shape of "I can't recall my login details" and the answer was a quick demonstration on how to retrieve their login details. It was a bit of an eye-opener for me though as I had considered the way I had written the database login retrieval and its display to be fairly straight foward - and it is for people who are used to computers and the internet. However, many of our client's members are older and are not very computer/internet savvy and need more of a guide. I'll have to think about this and see if I can produce a more obvious method.

The day went on. There were presentations on all sorts of subjects that I know almost nothing about though I do know more now. Meetings were held, breaks were taken, lunch was eaten, displays were perused and vendors spoken to. The end part of the conference day at Sky was the organisation's AGM which was, I gather, very successful with a number of important points being resolved.

Then it was off to the Muddy Farmer where a large bar tab and been plunked down for a cocktail/drinks evening. We had organised a small map to show the attendees where to go as the bar was a few minutes walk from Sky. And here Google Maps let us down again! We had printed a map off from Google and given it to all attendees so out of towners could find their way to the bar. The map was WRONG!

I ended up standing on a street corner in the middle of Auckland holding up my Executive conference card in an effort to flush out conference attendees from the milling crowds. It was at this point I discovered that I have an almost complete lack of authority. I ended up with about 30 attendees gathered on the corner who all ignored my instructions on which way to go though they did listen to me when I said "The map is wrong!". They insisted on asking a passing policeman who had no idea where the bar was. However, he was a Figure of Authority and he eventually directed them to head down the street where I had been trying to get them to go.

The Muddy Farmer was a good bar. We believe all those who made it there enjoyed themselves. Camille and I eventually made it back to our hotel room by 9:00pm or so.

It was a long day.

The photo above is of the main conference room set up for the 240+ attendees.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Breakfast


Last night when ordering breakfast I decided to have something different. Any ideas on what it is? None?

Seared salmon, pickled ginger, steamed rice and nori. Quite a tasty wee dish though the stock was a little salty for me.

Hotel Hotel

In Auckland again and in the Sky City Hotel, not the Sky Grand Hotel. Back in June we stayed in the Sky Grand and I wondered at the difference between the two hotels, the SG being a 5 star and the SC a 4 star. We are staying in an executive suite in Hotel 5 which puts us on the top floor. We have a large living area and large separate bedroom, both larger than most people's living rooms/bedrooms. The bathroom is separate from the toilet and shower and there is a dressing room. Not too bad.

However the 4 star rating kicks in with
  1. No bathrobes!
  2. No bottle opener
  3. No utensils of any type at all except for 3 teaspoons
  4. Lots of other small bits
The one that really gets me is the lack of bathrobes. You get used to things like this in hotels. Even the Jimmy Cook provides them in their standard rooms. Yes; one gets used to them and so fails to pack them. This can cause embarrasment in the morning when breakfast arrives - so I made Camille get up and answer the door.

I'm pretty suprised by the lack of various items in this suite. Have they forgotten to stock it or did they deliberately remove everything just in case we decided to pack our bags with extras? Either way, it's been noted down along with a fairly long list of other things about Sky City Hotel which I won't go into here - suffice to say we won't be organising any more conferences here unless they buck their ideas up.

Mystery Headshot


Any ideas who/what this photo to the right is of? None?

It's the back of Oscar Kightly's head. We saw him and some cronies in Napier airport when we were on our way to Auckland. He was being affable with a group of people, some of who wanted their photo taken with him.

I was tempted to do the same but decided he might not appreciate an almost 50 year old man running through the airport like a lunatic screaming "OSCAR, OSCAR! I can give you some hair if you need it" and so did not.

When we got on the plane, Oscar was seated right up in the front row on the right hand side and we were seated as far back from him as you could get in the rear seats on the left hand side.

I was jealous of all the leg room he must have had.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Well worth reading!

An excellent article about children, risk, and the way adults are being vetted as possible abusers while ignoring the real risks.

A small excerpt:

Further, experts such as Professor Gary Melton are increasingly coming to the view that rather than treating all adults as potential abusers, the more adults that are involved in a child's life, the chances of the child being maltreated or abused are reduced. This makes sense. Think back to the cases of egregious child abuse in New Zealand. A common thread is isolation: not knowing the neighbours, moving address frequently, not being enrolled in childcare or school and so on.

Risk and Children: Time for a rational debate


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Wellington

Camille and are in Wellington this weekend. For once it's a social instead of business trip. We came down last night after we finished work for the day. Around 5:30 or so we were feeling a bit peckish, not having had any lunch, so we decided to get fish and chips. As we were nearing Masterton and had no idea what was a good fish and chip shop we got one of the laptops out and did a Google search on "Best fish and chips" +masterton. The results pointed to the Four Seasons Takeaway so the next step was to look them up on Google Maps on one of our phones as they have built in GPS. That done we started following the directions.

Google Maps let us down and let us down badly. Instead of taking us to the Four Seasons, we ended up outside McDonalds which is not a place we ever wish to eat at. Not good.

However, we decided to drive around looking as we figured Four Seasons couldn't be far away. We found it on the main street, duly ordered a feed and continued on our way.

Were the fish and chips good? Yes, they were. The fish was very good. Pleasantly moist, lightly battered, lovely flavour, not greasy. All things I look for in a piece of fish from a fish and chip shop. The chips were good as well. I recommend the place.

We are staying in a small cottage in Belmont. The cottage is called "Gate Cottage" and is one of two cottages available at Belmont Cottages. It's a very nice place that gives a feeling of seclusion. I woke this morning to the sound of tuis which I really enjoyed. We don't often get tuis at home.

At present we are both lying in bed. Shortly I will make us breakfast which will be raclette cheese melted on garlic toast with poached eggs and bacon. Looking forward to that!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Live cross overs on the news

Something that has annoyed the hell out me for a while is the habit of television news crossing over to a reporter "Live On The Spot" even when there is clearly no reason for them to be on the spot at all as all the action happened there hours ago. TVNZ news is full of them and they are, for the most part, totally pointless.

Bill Ralston voices his opinion here.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Eggs II

or should that be Eggs V? Unbelievable. Earlier tonight I cracked an egg into a dish and got another double yolker. So that's five in one week.

  1. two double yolked eggs in scrambled eggs with my sister
  2. one double yolked egg in breakfast yesterday.
  3. one double yolked egg in breakfast this morning.
  4. one double yolked egg whilst preparing crumbed fish for dinner
All from two different six packs of eggs picked up at the local supermarket on Saturday morning.

Somehow I feel privileged.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Eggs


Some things in life are worth celebrating. This week it's the fact that I have had three double yolker eggs while preparing breakfast.

To the right: Blackball black pudding, vogel bread, a double yolker all quietly cooking in a litttle olive oil.

It must be breakfast!

Update: FOUR Double yolked eggs now as I had another this morning!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Roadworks

There is a long stretch of roadworks between home and work at the moment and the speed limit has been dropped to 30km/h. This limit is for both the protection of the workers and of travellers for there is a lot of heavy machinery on the site and it crosses the road frequently.

I have to admit that I get a perverse pleasure in ensuring that cars behind me are travelling at 30km/h as I have noted that very, very few people actually obey this limit. I'm quite happy to be leading a line of 15 or more cars through a couple of kilometres at 30km/h.

In fact, woe betide you if you come speeding up behind me when I am half way through the roadworks as if I am in a cheerful mood, and I often am when driving, I'll happily travel at 15km/h to ensure that you haven't saved any time.

Monday, 31 August 2009

A map of things

A map of some of my videos and photos located on the map. You may have to do some zooming in as some of the icons overlap and can't be clicked on until you zoom in close enough for them to separate. Each photo is a link to the larger version.





And here is a link to the map just incase this one doesn't work too well. Some people have had problems with the embedded videos

Sunday, 23 August 2009

The Bolton Hotel

A good hotel which we have stayed in before. The woman at reception was pleasant enough but needs to think about the way she approaches things. I enquired about the food style in the hotel restaurant and was startled to be told that it was 5 star dining and that I may find it a bit expensive and that there were good but cheaper restaurants elsewhere. Ok, I'm not one of the best dressed members of society; in fact I can look very rough. However, I would have thought hotel staff would know not to make assumptions about their guests.

We were given the key cards to our room and headed on up to the 3rd floor which is the same level as the Gymnasium but we were told that we were far enough away from it so we wouldn't be disturbed by the noise. We got to our room and it wasn't quite what we expected. Instead of the suite with kitchenette we had booked, we were in a tiny room with barely enough space to get around the outside of the bed. A quick "There must be some mistake" phone call was made and we were transferred to the 14th floor into something more like what we were expecting.

The staff in the hotel are very pleasant people and quite chatty. I like this and have had several conversations with them in the lifts and corridors.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

An Annoyance

Camille and I are in Welllington today, having driven down yesterday. One that that annoyed us intensely about the drive is something that a lot of New Zealand drivers are guilty of. I refer to the practice of cruising along at 90km/hr until you get to a passing lane at which point the driver slams his or her foot down on the accellerator and hammers along the passing lane at 110km/hr or faster thereby preventing anyone behind from being able to pass. Once they reach the end of the passing lane they ease their foot of the accellerator and slow down to 90 again.

We encounter this sort of behaviour all over the country and it's time it was stamped out. I propose that if you end up behind someone who does this you should sit behind them with your hand firmly on your car horn button and just keep it on until they pull over.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Swallows over Rainbow Lake

As I said below, I caught the swallows flying over the lake on Video:





I have to say that I am amazed at the slope this lake is on. It's a wonder that all the water doesn't run out!

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

We went away

Camille and I went away for a few days for a much needed break from our usual life. We did a bit of work while away - not too much, all very casual. We ate extremely well, drank some good wines, and generally relaxed doing nothing and seeing no-one.

Below are a few panoramic photos. Click on them to see the full size:

1) the view from our apartment in Paihia around 7:00am. The morning this was taken was unusual as it wasn't raining.



2) Rainbow falls near Kerikeri. The lovely Camille is visible in the right hand side taking her own photo. I know the critics out there will say the falls should have been framed better between the trees but I wasn't willing to go wading in order to do that.


3) The view from the Sky Grand Hotel in Auckland on the opposite side to where our room was. This was on the way home. If you look at the post titled Skycity Grand Hotel below you will see the view we had on the way to Paihia. On the way back we were much higher up but still had a crappy view. Mind you, we weren't there to stare out of the window admiring views, particularly as it was dark most of the time we were there. We also didn't get to eat at 'Dine' as we were just too tired. Couldn't be bothered leaving the room so we ate in again. Another excellent meal though.


4) The lake below Rainbow Mountain near Rotorua. This was interesting as there were hundreds of swallows flying around either dipping into the water or catching insects just above the surface. I caught this on video so I'll post it on youtube at some stage.


5) Not a panorama. This is one of the originals that makes up the panorama immediately above.
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Thursday, 11 June 2009

Damn!

We had planned to eat at the Salt Brasserie while here in Paihia. It has very good revues in Dineout. We wandered past it today and there was a sign in the window announcing that they are closed until sometime in July.

Damn, damn, damn!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Knives

Before leaving Auckland we splashed out on some new kitchen knives. We like knives and find them good for paring, carving, dicing, slicing, cutting, stabbing, slitting, dissecting.... Sorry - getting a little carried away there.

Good knives are essential. Normally when we travel we carry a set of knives with us along with our favourite pan - a 12" calphalon hard anodized aluminium pan - but this time we left the knives behind along with the pepper grinder. This was an excellent excuse to buy new ones and so off to The House of Knives in Mt Eden we went.

There, after a little discussion with the very helpful staff, we selected three knives, a steel, a knife fold and a small pepper grinder. The knives were all Wusthoff Solingen - 1 23cm cook's knive, a 16cm utility knife and a 23cm carving knife. I'd have liked to get more but these pretty much cleaned us out.

I'll have to hide them when we get home so that only we get to use them.


Bitch about Auckland

We are driving around Auckland trying to find our way out of here using Google Maps. Google Maps is good. Everything is nice and clear, well marked etc. It's a great pity that Auckland isn't the same. This has to be the most poorly signposted city I have been in.

I haven't been anywhere else where you can pull up to a reasonably large intersection and have absolutely no idea of what the streets you are facing are named as there are very few street name signs.

Skycity Grand Hotel

It's about 6:00am on Wednesday morning and I am tucked up in bed in the Skycity Grand Hotel in Auckland. Camille is here too and is still asleep. We are complete opposites. I wake early no matter where I am whereas she will sleep for as long as she can. We are on our way to the Bay of Islands where Camille is going to be working. I'll be working as well but in a slightly more relaxed mode.

The trip up was fairly uneventful though the weather was crap in places and there were a fair few logging trucks on the road. They did tend to make it difficult to see the road due to the amount of spray they caused. This does cause problems when they are travelling slowly and you simply cannot see to get past them. There is no way you can see the road ahead.

Personally I think that logging firms should find a way that this spray can be reduced.

So... the Skycity Grand Hotel, not to be confused with the Skycity Hotel. The Grand is a 5 star hotel whereas the other is a 4 star hotel. What do you get for the extra star? A bigger, more comfortable room for one (judging by photos on the websites). A better selection of the minibar and other facilities - good, full sized bottles of wine, a wider variety of beers and other beverages, quality snacks, small personal touches like providing lubricated condoms for those special moments. In these ways it reminds me of the Bolton in Wellington. We haven't availed ourselves of any of these. The wine I would like to drink is $60.00 from the minibar whereas I can buy it from one of two wine stockists within two minutes walk for a somewhat lesser price.

The in room dining service certainly is of excellent quality. We chose to dine in last night after our journey and I am impressed by the quality of the food.

The entire menu was tempting and I really wanted to go for the 450gm angus beef fillet steak but it was a bit too much. In the end I plumped for Horopito roasted lamb loin on whipped kumera accompanied by roasted root vegetables and sauteed pika pika (a native NZ fern).

Best hotel in room dining I have experienced.

We will be staying here again on our way back from Paihia and will be dining in Peter Gordon's 'Dine' which is one of the restaurants in the hotel. We are both looking forward to this.

View from the room? Not that impressive!








Saturday, 23 May 2009

Dinner

Last night's dinner was a very simple but excellent meal. I took the thick end of a piece of whole fillet and marinated it in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Salt was sprinkled over it and lots of black pepper was ground on. I then cut some potatoes into bite sized pieces and thoroughly washing the starch out of them and leaving them to soak while the oven heated to 230 celcius.

Once the oven was up to heat the potatos were tossed in olive oil and put into roast. I then heated a heavy cast iron pan up and put some oil in. The oil was just off the smoke point. The fillet was seared on every side and then put into roast for about 15-20 minutes - just over rare. The pan was cooled and then deglazed with the remains of Squawking Magpie Syrah and the remains of the marinade.

Once the fillet was done it was removed and left to rest for 10 minutes. During this time I cut up onion, red and green peppers and some very clean button mushrooms. These were then tossed in olive oil on a high heat. In between tossings, I sliced the meat and finished the sauce with a bit of cream. The tossed vegetables were arranged on a bed of rocket. A few slices of beef with the sauce and a few potatoes completed the place.

I do enjoy a good piece of beef.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

More Wellington

Camille and I did another wander around today spending money, mainly on books today. I'm not sure what Camille got but I got

  1. 3 William Gibson (science fiction) books that I have wanted for years but never bothered to buy

  2. "I, Claudius" by Robert Graves. I enjoy Graves' books and the Claudius books in particular. I was looking for Claudius The God as well but no bookshop I entered had a copy. I have another shop to check so I may yet get it.

  3. "The Fabric of the Cosmos" by Brian Greene
We also met Spike for a couple of beers and a late lunch at the Herd Brasserie in oriental Bay. Spike had an excellent blue cheese and mushroom linguine while Camille and I both opted for the lamb salad with rocket, red onions and feta. Biiiigggg disapointment! While the lamb was good and rare, there was fuck all of it and huge amounts of rocket. Camille had bugger all red onion and NO feta at all. Not worth the price. I could produce something similar for two people for about $5.00 (seriously!). It cost us $40.00. Don't eat that dish if you choose to eat there.

In fact, food wise today was a bit sad really as we started out doing a brunch at some cafe. Camille got a flat white which was good and I had an espresso which was the most bitter espresso I have ever had. Camille ordered french toast and bacon which was ok. I ordered a single piece of fish in tempura batter. Bad, bad bad! Over cooked, dry and tough. Fish should never be cooked so much that it can get stuck between your teeth but the first mouthful got jammed in between them. Awful. Camille had a second coffee and that came out bitter as well.

Hotels

Everytime Camille and I stay in a hotel, something happens. This time we are having problems with our key cards.

In this hotel you have to flash your key card over a reader in the lift before the lift will work. Yesterday I did this and the lift worked. However, when I tried the key card on the door of our room it didn't work. So in the space of about 30 seconds it had expired. Down to the reception I went to get it reprogrammed.

Later that day Camille got in the lift and flashed her card and nothing happened. It was then that she discovered that you can't even open the lift door without an operational key card. Yes, she was stuck in the lift. Appallingly, when she used the emergency talk button NOBODY ANSWERED! She rang me on her mobile and I raced out to the lift to try and call it up to free her. Fortunately someone else had done pretty much the same thing and had released her but she had been in there for at least five minutes by that time. She made a trip to reception to get the card reprogrammed.

We went out today. On coming back to the hotel we got in the lift and I tried my card - not working AGAIN! Fortunately Camille's was working but back to reception I went.

Be warned - if you are staying at the James Cook Grand Chancellor in Wellington, New Zealand you need to be prepared to be stuck in the lift as their key cards seem to be bloody unreliable and they don't seem to like answering the emergency service.

I'll just repeat that hotel name to ensure it gets found by google - James Cook Grand Chancellor, Wellington, New Zealand

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Mmmm... Beef!

A week ago Camille and I headed to Levin for Camille's brother's 50th birthday. I have half a beef walking around in the brother's back paddock so while there I took the opportunity to check out my side of beef and and it looks like it was checking me out in return. It's looking pretty good to my uneducated eye. Can't wait for slaughter day!


Wellington

In Wellington for the weekend. Camille is working and is in a meeting until at least 5:00pm. I've been wasting my time wandering the streets spending up large. New trousers, boots, jersey, car seat covers.

Car seat covers??

No, I didn't actually buy those. They came with the boots which is a kind of odd thing to give away with a pair of boots, particularly boots bought at Kirkcaldie and Staines.

I also bought a couple of green teas as the Jimmy Cook (ok - James Cook Grand Chancellor) hotel doesn't have green tea as one of its options in the room or with breakfast. How slack is that? The teas I bought were Gunpowder tea, so named because the leaves are rolled up very tightly and resemble coarse gunpowder grains. The other tea I bought because I liked the name which is.....

Iron Goddess of Mercy

Now that's a real tea! It isn't actually a green tea though. It's an oolong tea. Sort of half and half.

I also bought three books from Borders. They are all cheaply published Penguin books and they are:
  1. The Classical World - Robin Lane Fox
  2. What is History - E. H. Carr
  3. The consolations of Philosophy - Alain De Botton

I'm really pleased that those Penguin books are being published again. When I was a child we had one room in the house that was lined with Penguin books. They bring back memories. They also bring back value for money as they cost $12.99 each. This is so much more attractive than buying a single paperback for near $40.00. They just aren't worth that and I am no longer prepared to pay it - except for the occasional impulse buy.

Over and out!



Monday, 27 April 2009

Google map swine flu tracker

Here is a google map that tracks outbreaks of the mexican Swine Flu

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Oxford Writing Set



The nice folk at Dineout have just sent me an Oxford Writing Set courtesy of Mr Lu, one of their reviewers. I won it in a draw that was held as a competition for Mr Lu's first column, Around The Table, for Dineout.

Thanks Dineout and Mr Lu!


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Hogarth Exhibition Update

An anonymous commenter left the following about my post on the Hogarth Exhibition:

Howdy, I happened along your blog while searching for information on a hogarth print entitled: Credulity, superstition, and fanaticism. A medley.

I saw your picture of the rabbits and the question of what they were about, well as it turns out Mary Toft gained alot of notariety for giving birth to bunnies in 1726, here's the link to the wiki page, and if you already found this out, then have a day!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Tofts

Friday, 17 April 2009

How tedious

Yet another abusive and semi-literate comment on my youtube channel from some outraged Huntly dweller frothing at the mouth over my "Huntly: The ugliest town in New Zealand video". It amazes me how a bit of light hearted fun can rile some people. (I deleted the comment).

Monday, 13 April 2009

Dave's Bus

My friend, Dave, has bought a double decker bus which he plans to use for mobile functions. The bus is a 1948 model, one of very few of its particular type left in the world. It comes with a trailer that has a chiller built in and which opens up to a pull out barbecue. Camile and I went out to Dave's the other day and had a quick ride on the bus and had dinner and drinks in the bus. There are a few videos on my youtube page.












Saturday, 11 April 2009

A short trip

My brother in law had hired out his PA system and needed to go and pick it it up. The PA was sitting in a house about an hour's drive south of here. He asked if I wanted to come for the drive. Being a farrier, he also was going to clean up a horses feet while in the area.

On the way we stopped in Dannevirke to refuel. While BIL was dealing with filling the van I stood next to the footpath observing people and traffic. There was an old guy well into his seventies wandering down the footpath towards me. He stopped and watched as an old Chevy drove past and then resumed his walk.

"Gidday", I said as he got near me.

He stopped directly in front of me and said, "Did you see that Chevy that drove past? Did you see that Chevy?"

"Yes, I did", I replied.

"I got taught how to drive in exactly that model Chevy! I learned how to drive in one of those. My brother taught me. He taught me to drive at 50 miles an hour because he said you'll be going that fast any way once you have your licence. 50 miles an hour - that was the speed limit back in those days. Everything was in miles per hour.

"I bought a Chevy like that. It was a two door Chevy just like that one that went past before. I liked my Chevy. It was a good car to drive. I knew a bloke who had the four door model of that Chevy. I was driving down the road one day and he was driving the other way and I thought he's going to hit me! So I pulled right over to the side of the road and stopped and you know, the bugger came right over to my side of the road and he hit me! He bloody hit me! I couldn't believe it. Any way he had a rifle in the back seat of his car. It was sitting on the back seat and when he hit me it leaped off the back of the seat and hit him in the back of the head and it hit his wife in the back of the head. When it hit his wife in the back of the head she went forward and broke her nose on the dashboard!".

At that point I heard BIL start the van and had to try and gracefully extract myself from the one sided conversation. I left him on the footpath mumbling to himself. Obviously the Chevy had opened a window into his past.

The rest of the trip was good. I got to try on a new hat. I watched BIL do the job on the horse's hooves and give a bit of instruction on care to its owners. On the way back we stopped and watched a top dressing plane doing its bit. We also stopped at the Beyond the Bridge cafe in Balance, a farming area on the edge of the Manawatu Gorge. The BIL used to live in a horse drawn wagon on the premises quite a few years ago. The owners of the cafe were in the process of making a clay pizza oven outside the cafe. They were making the clay workable by trampling it with water in an old bath.


Thursday, 2 April 2009

Atheists taking over New Zealand!

According to an article I have just read in the New Zealand Herald 40% of New Zealanders profess to having no religious beliefs. This is good news! Amazing what a bit of education and freedom to think does to a society.

Interestingly while 30% described themselves as religious, 53% of people said they believed in god - though half of them had doubts. Aren't they usually known as agnostics?

Oddly 60% of people in the survey said they would like to see religious education in primary schools with a preference for studying all faiths - an impossibility I would have thought given the preponderance of beliefs and lack of school time. Perhaps, in their woolly mind way of thinking, they just mean the major ones. How would you choose?

"I'll take a bit of Christianity (split it between, ohhh.. catholics, protestants and happy clappies), an almost equal portion of Islam, a dash of Jewishness, a sprinkle of Shinto, Confuciousness, Buddhism..." etc. etc.

Original article is here.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

A t-shirt slogan


A friend's t-shirt which he picked up somewhere down south. I like it.

A birthday


Camille's eldest son turned 21 last week and had the obligatory party thrown for him. It was surprise party organised by Camille with the help of the eldest's girlfriend and cousin who kept him carefully in the dark and removed him from the premises for the day while the last preparations were made.

To the right is the lovely Camille. Not only was it a surprise party, she also decided that as her eldest had been terrified of clowns as a child that everyone should dress up as a clown so we could see if they still affected him.

When he arrived home he did say that his heart was racing and that he wasn't sure if it was because of the surprise or because of all the clowns so I guess they still have an effect.

It was a quite spread out party. A lot of it was centred around our circular driveway. Most people hung out here. The garage was cleaned up and had a professional sound system, all the fancy lighting etc and music. Inside the house was a DVD blasting out some heavier music on the big screen. Down the back of the property we had a large fire going. It's fairly traditional for the fire to happen. It's starting to chill down at night at this time of year and its very pleasant to be able to stand/sit around a huge fire while drinking.

To the right is a photo of the fire taken from the second floor of the house. It's right at the back of the property behind the pool area which may give you an indication of it's size.

I have to say that I enjoyed this part of the party the best. It's quite convivial sitting on a couple of logs around a fire at night. I slunk off to bed reasonably early but I believe the stayers were still there at 4:00am.

Around 8:00am a few of us restoked it and got some embers going and cooked potatoes in it for breakfast. It's one of the nicer ways to have potatoes. Pierced, wrapped in tinfoil and completely covered in hot embers (no flaming bits!) for about an hour. They come out with lovely crisp skin. Cut them in half and score the flesh and then place plenty of butter or sour cream (fuck the cholesterol!) on it and grind a bit of black pepper over. Absolutely lovely. We didn't bother to wash these potatoes so the skin wasn't edible. A pity as it really is good.

[edit]: I just noticed that behind Camille to her left you can just see the net camera I installed under the eaves. I set it to update every 5 seconds to the internet and to ftp the image to a storage area. Sometime in the next week I will create a timelapse of the event. Most of it is pretty dark so I'll speed those sections up.

[edit 2]: That would be Camille's right and our left!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Aerobatics

A clip of aerobatics being performed just over my backyard fence.




Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Gidday! How's it going?

Gidday! How is it going here? Things could be better!. Camille's mother is living next door to us in her own home. She has been diagnosed with cancer and is now basically bedridden. She requires a lot of care and we are the main caregivers or perhaps more correctly, Camille is the main caregiver. It takes a shitload of her time which isn't great for her work. However, this has to be done and is being done. We all thought The Mother was going to die a few weeks ago but she has rallied since then and appears to be getting stronger. Typical of her really.

Camille is holding up well though is naturally quite stressed by all of it. Her physical health seems good though.

I'm on anti-inflammetries at the moment having tripped while going upstairs and punched my left hand into the banister. Result was a hugely swollen hand. An osteopath friend thinks that I probably gave myself a minor fracture in the knuckle. Pains all up the forearm and an inability to lift things with my left arm are getting in the way a bit. It's getting better though. I also went to see my doctor about it but he was away and I ended up talking to a short, American doctor about the joys of being able to touch type and how it was tragic that it wasn't a required subject in schools these days given the importance of the keyboard.

How do I get into these conversations? Oh, that's right. I initiate them. Yes, I am a geek.

My brother, Spike, isn't in a good way. He was in the Cuba Street Carnival in Wgtn a couple of weeks ago and decided to leap over a barrier and did so. Unfortunately he landed on a curb and rolled his foot 90 degrees. A very badly broken ankle. He then leaped back over the barrier because he decided, "I can't stay here". 12 hours in the hospital A&E. 28 hours waiting for an operation in which he had plates, pins and wires inserted to hold the shattered remains together. Our sister brought him up here this weekend. He gets a bit tetchy from time to time which is understandable when you realise the pain he must be experiencing. He is being ultra careful with the pain medication because he is scared shitless (and rightly so) of getting addicted to them.

On a brighter note, I now have a weather station. This may not sound like much but it is a big thing to me. Camille bought it for my birthday. She admits to having trepidations about it and she now thinks they are coming to fruit. She complains about the heat and humidity and I tell her its only 25.4 degrees with 67 percent humidity and that the humidity was over 90 percent earlier in the day so she should be feeling a sense of relief. This doesn't go down well. Neither does informing her that it isn't that windy when the average windspeed is only 3.2kmh although we did have one gust of 18.2kmh. I can't wait for winter so I can tell her how cold it is - or more probably how it isn't that cold.

I have had a happy time building a mount for it and putting it on top of the garage and then running wires to the temperature gauge which is under the eaves of the side of the garage. This is a major for me as I am mechanically declined and I put the thing together with part of an old aerial stand and some bits of plywood and a bit of 4 by 2. As I said to Camille at the time (via e-mail as she was away), "I got to use my drill, wire cutters, hammer, level, screwdriver, socket wrench and crescent spanner so I'm feeling particularly manly at the moment.".

The base station for it reads the results wirelessly every 2 minutes. However, that isn't good enough for me so I have made a very long cable (between 30 and 40 metres) and have run it from the gauge back to the house and up to the third floor and along the wall to the far end of the house where all my servers are. The base station is attached to our main server and a small program reads the data every 8 seconds and stores it in a database. Next I need to write a program to extract the data from the database, organise it and display it on the internet. There are a number of programs available that do this sort of thing but I want to do my own. Fuck knows why as I have enough to do as is. Still it will be fun writing it


Is there such a thing as being too much of a geek? If so, I think I'm probably past that point.


Update: Spike says, "The weather! I'm also impressed that you've managed to turn it into a tool to annoy Camille. That takes a rare talent ;-)".


Tuesday, 10 February 2009

I don't see that link

From the New Zealand Herald:

"Polynesians gave the English language the word tattoo which is derived from the Samoan word tatau, so it should be no surprise that Pacific Islanders and Maori were also far more likely to have had tattoos than others," said a director of the research company, Tim Grafton.

Let's reword that:

"Persians gave the English language the word pyjamas which is derived from the persian word pajama so it should be no surprise that Persians and Iranians were also far more likely to wear pyjamas than others," said a director of the research company, Tim Grafton.


Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Let's hear it for Volunteer Fire Brigades


They do a stirling job and none moreso than the brigades of Central Hawke's Bay. Yesterday they averted a potential disaster after a glider crash on an airfield.

I have outlined a part of the photo in red. This is the site of a large AV-Gas installation which includes both above ground and below ground gas tanks. If the AV-Gas had gone up, then a fair portion of the housing you can see would have been devastated.

Included in the blast would have been the fuel tanks for two gas stations and a processing plant. If they had gone off, then most of the town would probably have been wiped out.

Click on the photo for a larger view.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Chicken and Brie Pie

Original Recipe
(my adjustments follow on)

1 small cooked chicken (cooled)
4 sheets flaky or filo pastry (need more filo)
1 onion
1 tblsp butter
1 large bunch spinach / silverbeet roughly chopped
1/2 teaspn grated nutmeg
250gm sour cream
1 egg
salt/pepper
150g brie, thinly sliced

Discard fat and skin from chicken and roughly dice meat. Line a deep sided pie dish with pastry, covering bottom and sides. Saute onion in butter until soft, add spinach and nutmeg, cook till all liquid has evaporated. Spread over pastry base. Cover with chicken meat. Blend sour cream, egg and salt/pepper and pour over top. Cover with slices of brie. Cover with pastry and bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes then 170 degress for 25 minutes - basically until pastry is golden.

My adjustments:

4 chicken breasts with the skin removed. melt a little butter in a saute pan with a lid. Put chicken in, sprinkle with sea salt and a few grinds of black pepper, turn over and repeat. Squeeze in juice of one lemon, swirl it round the pan and put the lid on. Poach for 20-25 minutes on low-medium heat turning once.

This provides you with 4 beautifully flavoured chicken breasts which can then be used in a variety of recipes or eaten as they are (hot or cold). You also have a quantity of lemon/chicken stock for use in other dishes or: Occasionally I throw in a handful of roughly chopped spring onions and parsley towards the end of cooking. Combine with a bit of cream and you have an excellent sauce. A splash of white wine can be used instead of lemon juice.

Dice chicken into cubes about 1-1.5 cm across.

I often use 2 small onions and saute until soft in olive oil. If using spinach I don't cook until all the liquid is gone. I wash the spinach and dry it extremely well (salad spinner dry) and then just push it around in the pan with the onions until mixed. Any more than that and it goes squishy and loses colour etc.

I will also use 2 eggs with the sour cream as it gives a better consistency when cooked.

I also use two small rounds of brie. Some of it gets eaten as it is being sliced or layered on the top of the pie.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Orchestrated Goodbye


"Ok. You all stand in a line over there and wave goodbye as the helicopter takes off."

I hate orchestrated crap like this. It's such a fake. It's like some pissy children's story.

Goodbye, Mr Bush

... and they all waved goodbye to Mr Bush as he flew away in the helicopter and everyone lived happily ever after.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Disappearing Posts

I have been requested by a central government organisation to remove a number of posts on a particular subject. I have agreed to do this. This isn't a form of censorship and there has been no pressure applied. It's all in a good cause.

I will put them back up as soon as I can.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

R.I.P. Ron Asheton

Guitarist for Iggy and The Stooges. Dead at the age of 60. Ron was pretty much the founder of 2 or 3 chord rock and roll and a huge influence (along with Iggy and the rest of The Stooges) on punk. If you are into punk of any decade, you should have a serious listen to "The Stooges" (released in 1969), "Funhouse" (1970) and "Raw Power" (1973).

Saturday, 3 January 2009

The Past I : Moments of Weirdness

As soon as I saw the pig sitting on the couch I should have known the weekend would hold its moments of weirdness. In hindsight I should have realised it was telling me something but realisation after the fact is the only thing hindsight is good for.

We were in Upper Hutt, a city in New Zealand, for a wedding. I had walked into my friend's house and the pig was sitting there along with J, her husband T and her two children. They were watching TV and waiting for us to arrive. J used to acquire animals. At this point in time she had dogs, cats, ducks, geese, chickens, a goat and, now, a kuni kuni pig. All on a regular (but large) suburban property in an up-market area of Upper Hutt. She used to put the pig on a lead and take it for walks around the district.

Camille and I sat and chatted to J for some hours, catching up on the gossip about various acquaintances The most interesting bit was that Elaine/Allen had booked in for a double mastectomy as the next step in the transformation from female to male. Elaine used to be a reasonably normal, heterosexual woman until her marriage split. Now she was in the process of redesigning herself as Allen,a gay male. Elaine always did throw herself into her roles with enthusiasm - and to think she once wanted to be a nun.

The wedding was held at a Yacht club. It was ok as weddings go. A couple of people stood up in front of a bunch of others, said various things to each other as everyone else strained to hear. There was a wide variety of people there. The bride's family and friends , all dressed up in suits and looking very smart and straight. They seemed like a bunch of traditionalists. The groom's family and friends were a lot more casual and relaxed.

G was there. G is a tall woman with very large breasts which she thrusts at people, both male and female, in a very sexually aggressive manner. People tend to be very aware of G and try to gauge her moods. Sometimes its a good idea to give her plenty of room. I should have known that she was going to be bad when she made a pass at the bride.

We were standing outside and G was quite stoned. The bride walked past and G hit on her.

"You can't do that, G", I said. "You can't hit on the bride at a wedding. It's just not done. It's very naughty behaviour at a wedding!"

"Well, Thrash", she replied. "I do like to keep the door open" and then she pointed her breasts at me and started advancing. I beat a hasty retreat behind the rapidly receding figure of the bride.

The night went on and various things happened. G bailed various people up. My sister was thrown to the ground by a huge, aggressive lesbian who was intent on catching the bouquet. It was a strange wedding. When the bouquet was thrown it was noted that almost every woman waiting to catch it happened to be a lesbian.

We ended up back at the home of another lesbian who lives right at the end of Eastbourne where the houses run out. G, my brother and I were the first to arrive. Much to my brother's and my horror, G went very weird on us. She started chanting strange magical incantations and waving her hands at us. Yes, G claimed to be a witch and it was time to demonstrate it. I was sitting at a table bemusedly watching her casting spells when suddenly she leaped up and came up behind me and jammed the back of my head between her enormous breasts, bent over my face and started spitting on me.

Well.. I was stunned to say the least. My brother was shocked. He stood next her saying, "Oh, come on. You can't do that. You can't spit on my brother."

But she was and she thought she was doing a good thing. Very weird behaviour. In all she spat on me about half a dozen times before she realised that this probably wasn't as a good a thing as she originally thought it was.

Fortunately for us others, including Camille, arrived shortly thereafter and G started to behave herself a bit better.

I ended up stalking the streets of the industrial area of Eastborne at 7.00am looking for my car. I was lost and in a very dazed state and there were all these weird industrial noises but no traffic and no people. Every now and again I would see a dead fish lying in the road. They had been run over. It was a bit like being in a Stephen King novel.